South Africa

Gauteng State of the Province Address

David Makhura talks of big achievements in Gauteng despite Life Esidimeni tragedy

Archive Photo: Gauteng premier David Makhura during an interview at his office on December 01, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images / City Press / Leon Sadiki)

In his last State of the Province Address, David Makhura drew comparisons to his achievements as Premier of Gauteng with the DA-led Western Cape. And in what will be a hard-fought election terrain, Makhura celebrated the province’s economic activity, rising matric results and the quality of life as performance indicators that he said will trump the Life Esidimeni tragedy.

According to Makhura, over the past five years of his administration in the provincial legislature, Gauteng has attracted R199-billion in foreign direct investment into the economy which has created over 30,000 jobs. The Democratic Alliance-led Western Cape, on the other hand, only celebrates R100-billion with 19,000 jobs created over 10 years.

And as a result, the province’s economy has grown five times from R293-billion to R1.5-trillion in 2017. Not only is it an economic hub in South Africa but the seventh largest economy in the continent, said Makhura.

Makhura gave his last SOPA speech as premier at the Alberton Civic Centre before the 8 May national and provincial elections.

The speech in many ways was a rebuttal to Helen Zille’s last SOPA speech as premier of the Western Cape three days before on 15 February where she celebrated the party’s achievements since taking the province in 2009. ANC members walked out during her speech and staged their own state of the province address outside the legislature.

The scale and impact of what we are doing with industry leaders in various sectors in our economy are incomparable,” said Makhura.

According to Makhura, the population of Gauteng has grown since 1996 from 7.8 million to 14.7 million which makes it “the most populous province in our country”.

According to Makhura, Gauteng has become the best performing province with grade 12 results. Gauteng achieved an 87.9% matric pass rate with Western Cape at third with an 81.5% pass rate. Furthermore, 8 out of the 10 best performing districts in the country are in Gauteng. Makhura stated his support for President Cyril Ramaphosas early childhood development (ECD) project mentioned in the State of the Nation Address.

Furthermore, R53-billion has been invested in Gauteng infrastructure over the past five years compared to the R42-billion that Zille announced had been put into infrastructure since 2009. Gauteng also has a 5 year- infrastructure plan worth R1-trillion said Makhura.

In just over the past 5 years, we have invested more than what the Western Cape has invested in 10 years and created 120,000 jobs,” said Makhura.

The outgoing premier pronounced Gauteng as “a towering monument of progress in the 25 years of ANC government in a democracy” and that the province must “continue to ensure that opportunities are enjoyed by all in Gauteng”.

Access to basic services has increased from an average of 60% to an average of 85% in 2018.

Quoting the 2018 Quality of Life survey, Makhura noted that the report records that access to formal housing has improved and sits at 81%, and piped water at 91%, access to electricity at 92%, sanitation at 91% and refuse removal at 81%.

Furthermore, the ANC government in Gauteng has provided housing to 1.2 million people and provided decent shelters to more than 4 million people, he contended.

Gauteng residents have experienced continuous significant improvement and satisfaction with their quality of life,” said Makhura.

According to Makhura, when he took office in 2014, employment in Gauteng was at 4.4 million and it now sits at 5.1 million at the end of his five-year term. As the Western Cape celebrates creating 500,000 jobs in 10 years, Gauteng has created 469,000 jobs in five years, he said.

Other achievements mentioned by the premier include selling the premiers residence to pay fees for 40 university students, a “pioneer of the revitalisation of township economies” and the launch of the Youth employment project Tshepo 1 million, which has trained 510 000 young people “on demand-led skills” jobs.

Makhura continued on his campaign to scrap e-tolls in Gauteng. In November 2018, Makhura led a march to the Union Buildings to persuade the president to reconsider removing the e-tolls. And although he agrees with a user-pay-system, Makhura said that “urban tolling increases the cost of living and is therefore unsustainable”.

ANC Gauteng Provincial Secretary, Jacob Kwane wrote an open letter to Ramaphosa, pointing at e-tolls as the unaddressed elephant in the room heading to the 2019 national elections.

President Ramaphosa has just reassured me again that the resolution of e-tolls is one of the issues receiving his national attention,” said Makhura.

It as at this point that EFF Gauteng Provincial Chairperson, Mandisa Mashego rose on a point of order to say that the premier was misleading the house when he says that he is not opposed to the user pay system but wants to scrap e-tolls.

However, she was stopped by the Speaker of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature, Ntombi Mekwe, before she could finish her order.

You were supposed to state the rule under which you are rising, but if you want to debate the speech, Thursday is coming,” said Mekwe.

Despite many challenges, Gauteng health care outcomes are improving,” continued Makhura.

For Makhura, “heartlessness” crept into the public decision making that led to the Life Esidimeni tragedy that saw 143 mentally ill patients die when removed from specialised hospitals to an unlicensed charity. Saving lives and serving people took the back seat.

Once this tragic incident happened, we took responsibility and put into place corrective measures,” said Makhura.

After the Health Ombudsmans report was released, Makhura said they instituted an inquiry led by retired Deputy Chief Justice, who later “ordered our government to pay financial compensation” and “we moved swiftly to pay all claimants by June 2018”.

Makhura then took a jab at the DA by calling their use of Life Esidimeni victims’ names on their campaign billboard “a result of heartlessness and big-headedness”.

I call on all the voters of our province to come out on the 8th May to exercise their hard-won right to vote and vote for a party of their choice,” said Makhura. DM


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