Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane has promised that his government will stimulate the economy in order to create much-needed jobs.
Mabuyane, who was delivering his second state of the province address (Sopa) on Tuesday at the Eastern Cape provincial legislature in Bhisho, said: “We must also acknowledge that the majority of our people remain spectators in the mainstream economy. The greatest challenge we face in our province in this 26th year of our democracy is unemployment and youth unemployment in particular…”
“We are going to offset the slow economic growth and unemployment through a range of initiatives and decisive interventions.”
Proceedings were delayed for a few minutes at the legislature as EFF members refused to leave the House after being ordered to do so by speaker Helen Sauls-August.
The members of the EFF, who were clad in their traditional red overalls, had to be physically removed by security after they were told they were “inappropriately” dressed for the occasion.
Chairperson of the EFF in the Eastern Cape, Yazini Tetyana.
EFF chairperson and leader of the party at the provincial legislature Yazini Tetyana, said the overalls had nothing to do with the real issues.
“What have these overalls done? If you look at the National Assembly everyone is wearing them. What is different? What is so peculiar about the legislature of the Eastern Cape that we can’t be allowed to participate and sit and listen to the premier and debate next week?” Tetyana asked.
“If they are using that kind of chaos we are going to use the same kind of chaos we are using now. So we are going to continue with this. Even next week when we come for the debate we are going to wear what we are wearing up until they succumb to the pressure that we are going to be putting,” he said.
Speaker Sauls-August said the dress code for the state of the province was only formal and traditional.
“People by now, after 26 years, know the rules of the Eastern Cape legislature. The rules have not changed all of these years in terms of the dress code. That does not mean you cannot come dressed all in red. The issue is just a particular brand of clothing that they are wearing,” said Sauls-August.
“This is not National Parliament. National Parliament took a particular decision to say they are setting back their rules,” she added.
Meanwhile, Mabuyane said in his address that the provincial government will fully utilise the R1.1 billion approved over the medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF) for the provincial economic stimulus fund to ignite economic activities and to create new jobs.
“We are currently disbursing the stimulus fund to key sectors of the provincial economy such as agriculture and agro-processing, film, ICT, industrialisation, manufacturing, ocean’s economy, tourism, rural and township economy,” Mabuyane said.
He said all three spheres of government were making a consolidated investment of R41 billion for the development of infrastructure in the six districts and the two metros over the MTEF in line with the district development model.
“This is the realisation of what President Cyril Ramaphosa calls the ‘One Government, One Plan and One Budget’ agenda of the sixth term,” he said.
“As I indicated earlier, all our plans are meant to create jobs mainly for our youth. We have set up a directorate in the Office of the Premier which will ensure effective mainstreaming of youth programs in government,” Mabuyane announced.
Some of the interventions include support for young people to sustain their businesses and receive skills training.
He added that the government will also ensure that the youth of the province benefit from the package of youth development programmes that were announced by the president in his state of the nation address.
“We are also engaging various Setas to provide skills training to graduates and unemployed youth,” he said.
“We welcome President Ramaphosa’s pronouncement to build new TVET college campuses this year in Sterkspruit, Aliwal North, Graaff-Reinet and Ngqungqushe. We will ensure that the curriculum of these TVETs is in line with the requirements of the economy and the skills needs of the province.”
The premier also announced plans to take advantage of the ocean’s economy from the maritime resources along the 800km stretch of coastline.
He said a lot of work had been done to develop the Oceans Economy Master Plan, and that the executive of the province has approved it for implementation, with the plan expected to inject a projected R10.4 billion into the provincial economy and create about 33 000 jobs after the first five years of its implementation.
We appreciate the focus on the economy in general. It shows that the premier shows deeper understanding of the difficulty that is facing our country which is joblessness and an economy that is not growing.
Luthando Bara, president of the Black Business Forum
“We will include projects proposed and identified in the Master Plan into our provincial investment book. Our plans to establish small harbours in Port St Johns, Hamburg, Port Alfred and Gonubie will be speeded up,” he said.
Mabuyane added that there would also be more jobs created through the Extended Public Works Programme.
“To this end, we are going to expand access to social policy related services, which include community development, psychosocial interventions and initiatives, special programmes and direct improvement into anti-poverty programmes. We will also create 478 000 jobs over the MTEF, through the Expanded Works Programme to fight poverty among vulnerable groups,” he said.
Luthando Bara, president of the Black Business Forum welcomed Mabuyane’s focus on economy and creation of jobs.
“We appreciate the focus on the economy in general. It shows that the premier shows deeper understanding of the difficulty that is facing our country which is joblessness and an economy that is not growing.
“You would know that the Eastern Cape in the last quarter between October and December has lost about 18 000 jobs. So, it was important the premier assures the nation that he was doing something about it,” said Bara.
United Democratic Movement leader in the legislature, Mncedisi Filtane, said there was nothing new that Mabuyane had said.
“He was just repeating the last speech, that is all,” Filtane said.
“There is absolutely nothing new. He does not give us any details as to exactly what is to be done differently to make sure that job creation is actually delivered.”
DA provincial leader, Nqaba Bhanga, shared Filtane’s sentiment.
He said instead of fixing the province, the ANC-led government had broken it down.
“The premier promised us nothing. He did not provide a plan just like last year. What he promised last year was that he was going to fix the problems that SMMEs are confronted with in terms of payments being made on time. Our SMMEs are still not paid on time,” Bhanga said.
“What he has done instead is that he has broken down our province; more than 39.1% of the people of the Eastern Cape do not have jobs. Meaning half of the people in the Eastern Cape do not have job opportunities. We are number one in South Africa in terms of the highest rate of unemployment because this premier does not have plans in terms of creating work opportunities,” he said.