Western Cape Premier Alan Winde. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)
Cape Town - Premier Alan Winde will be in the hot seat facing opposition benches this week as the debate on his State of the Province Address (Sopa) gets underway.

Winde delivered his maiden speech to a packed Western Cape Legislature on Thursday, with a strong focus on building the province’s economy and taking effective measures to combat crime.

On Tuesday, members of the opposition will tear into Winde’s speech, which parties have already described as lacking in depth and being more of the same routine of playing the political blame-game with national government.

Winde will then deliver his response to the debate on Thursday.

Some of the key elements to come out of his address were:

* Education: Winde mapped out how the provincial government had over the years invested R171 billion in the education system, with 40% of schools in the province being no-fee schools and R53 million allocated to pupils going to fee-paying schools. However, Winde failed to address the growing discontent in the province over overflowing classrooms in some schools and the demand for more teachers, schools and placement for learners. By March this year, around 3 900 learners had still not been placed.

* Spatial planning: Winde spoke on the number of developments taking place in the province, of which some address the undoing of apartheid spatial planning. He added that there were five pieces of national government-owned land that if given over to the province, would allow for low-cost housing opportunities across the city.

The province faces a huge housing backlog with more than 500 000 people still on the waiting list.

* Local government: Although the province continues to receive the highest number of clean audits, the Auditor-General's office has warned of a regression on compliance issues.

Winde said in his address, the province would not “slow down a single second of delivery for the sake of compliance”.

Speaking on energy matters, Winde said the province would continue its work on growing the solar PV.

“Eskom remains a major risk to the South African business continuity and confidence.

“To mitigate this unacceptable risk, I will continue to push the Minister of Energy to authorise municipalities to buy power directly from Independent Power Producers,” he said.

The City of Cape Town has taken the Minister for Energy to the Western Cape High Court to be allowed to buy power from independent producers. The case is expected to get under-way in August.

Meanwhile, energy expert Chris Yelland said this court case would be closely monitored as it could lead to review of the law which only allows for the minister to determine who can supply energy.

“The province is saying if they lose this case, they will challenge it in the Constitutional Court because they feel it will be unconstitutional to deny municipalities the right to arrange the best deals for their citizens and they feel that they could either generate or procure electricity from IPP at cheaper prices than Eskom,” Yelland said.

“All major metros are looking very closely at the outcome of this court challenge because many other municipalities want to do the same, this is not a party political issue but rather one around service delivery at local government level and I believe the consequences for the electricity sector will be very significant if Cape Town wins.”

Weekend Argus