PROVINCIAL OUTLOOK OVER DEVELOPMENT
The province, despite its wealth of natural resources, has experienced disappointing economic performance in the past years like the rest of South Africa. In 2013/14, provincial production in the auto sector was hampered by severe industrial action. Structural inefficiencies in the economy exist whereby the economy undertakes limited value addition to primary production. However, the provincial outlook remains positive for 2014 as public sector investments are driving provincial growth. In addition, the province has a competitive manufacturing sector which is of national strategic importance, but linkages between the two sectors need to be enhanced.
South Africa’s economy is expected to accelerate its recovery to an estimated growth rate of 2.7% this year to 3.5% in 2016. This continued recovery in growth is premised on maintaining macroeconomic stability, and improving resource mobilization and utilization. In addition, investment in priority sectors including the commencement of major infrastructure projects will spur economic growth.
At this year’s State of the Province Address (SOPA 2015) Premier Phumulo Masualle stated that his government drew up a set of clear principles to guide the execution of responsibilities to realise the provincial developmental goals. He further committed to strengthen levels of accountability, partnerships and sense of urgency. Eastern Cape government signed delivery agreements for the year and reviewed performance levels of Heads of Departments in order to instil a culture of execution with discipline to deliver services.
“The Eurozone – which remains one of the country’s and province’s main trading blocs – continues on a low growth trajectory, while China’s phenomenal growth has also started to slow down.”
Premier Masualle adds that: “We have also received fiscal transfers from National Treasury as a consequence of our slow population. This requires us a province to do more with less and manage resources efficiently.” The province needs to engage in partnerships with other spheres of government, state-owned entities, and the private sector as well as mobilisation of developmental resources.
In his address Premier Masualle, prioritised promoting quality education and skills development. As part of the mandate the province has a responsibility improve access to education and to afford the poor with quality education. Furthermore, the province increased the number of registered Early Childhood Development Centres (ECD) from 1 324 from previous year to 1 460 in the 2014/15 financial year.
“In 2015 we will focus exclusively on the professional development of ECD practitioners with a view to increase the number of practitioners obtaining the ECD Level 6 qualification to more than 3 500 by 2018” says Premier Masualle.
In improving school infrastructure, this year alone, 7 school hostels have been renovated, with the remaining 8 hostels targeted for 2015. We also completed renovating 30 schools that were affected by disasters, with another 28 being planned to commence in the 2015/16 financial year. Furthermore, 60 schools were provided with water and sanitation facilities. “A slight improvement in the 2014 matric results, we cannot be content with the below average performance in most of our schools”. – Premier Masualle says.
Provincial government is particularly pleased to note the plans for the revitalization and establishment of four FET campuses at Aliwal North, Sterkspruit, Graaff Reinet, and Ngqungqushe in Lusikisiki.
During SOPA 2015, it was stated that the province is making good progress towards achieving an improved health profile. “We are determined to ensure that in our lifetime, the objective of the Freedom Charter, of establishing a preventive health scheme that is run by the state, as well as of providing free medical care and hospitalization to all, with special care for mothers and young children, is realised”, says the Premier.
Consequently, as part of quest to provide health infrastructure, the province reported many projects as completed. These include the work on sections of Dora Nginza and Frere Hospitals. According to the SOPA 2015 number of projects are also at various stages of construction at St Patrick’s in Mbizana, St Elizabeth in Lusikisiki, Khotsong in Matatiele, Mthatha General, Sipetu in Ntabankulu, and Frontier in Queenstown.
In the 2015/16 financial year government aims to complete the 530 bed flagship project at Cecilia Makiwane hospital, at a cost of R935 million. The Frontier Hospital’s casualty unit, paediatrics and outpatients department, costing R245 million will also be finalised. A further 17 clinics will be completed at a cost of R332.2 million, most of which are in the National Health Insurance pilot district of OR Tambo district. In making sure that we have qualified and trained professionals we are strengthening our collaboration with the Cuban government and we are making a significant impact in the reduction & treatment of TB and HIV & AIDS infections – says the Premier.
RURAL DEVELOPMENT, LAND REFORM AND FOOD SECURITY
As one of provincial priorities government has committed in making sure that land is distributed equally shared amongst those who work it in order to banish food shortage and hunger through its agriculture and agri-based industry. Eastern Cape has great potential to be the country’s food basket. “During this term we are going to devise measures and strategies to tap on this potential to ensure the contribution of agriculture in improving the province’s economy particularly the rural economy” – says the Premier.
Coega IDZ, houses an agro-processing facility worth R86 million. This facility will enable small, micro and medium enterprises to expand their value addition activities in the Eastern Cape. Prospective investors involved in the processing of coffee, cereals, protein and energy supplements have shown a keen interest in the facility. These winds of change sweeping across our province will ensure that food shortage and hunger are banished.
Since the establishment of the Eastern Cape Rural Development Agency, the province has launched two rural enterprise development hubs at Mqanduli and Ncorha to the tune R45 million each. The hubs already have 1 500 and 900 tons of mealies in storage respectively. In the 2015/16 financial year two additional hubs will be established at Ludeke in Mbizana and at Mt. Arthur in Lady Frere.
Out of plans listed by the Premier from the address as citizen of the Eastern Cape how are you contributing in the development of economy? Read the address as made by the Premier and analyse it before making any comments.
For more information on the Address visit: www.ecprov.gov.za/