Job creation, a focus on innovation and recovering the economy is the clear picture for the year ahead, said Western Cape Premier Alan Winde as he outlined the state of the province, on Wednesday in Genadendal.
The province lost 270,000 jobs last year, said Winde, but had created 37,000 in the third quarter. The premier said the “first” priority was to create jobs, but maintained that the private sector was responsible for this job creation.
“The role of our government is to support the economy by creating an environment where the private sector thrives,” said Winde’s written speech. He did not speak directly from his speech, but instead spoke off the cuff.
He noted the province’s recovery plan, which by December 2020 had created 7,493 jobs in the private sector. This is alongside R4-billion in investments secured over the past financial year.
Winde also made extensive reference to a stable energy supply.
“Load shedding, like Covid-19, costs us our economy,” said the premier, adding that load shedding cost the province R75-million a day. He announced the province would provide R20-million over a two-year period to municipalities, which would assist them in procuring, generating and selling their own electricity.
At the end of January, Stellenbosch Municipality announced that it would conduct an investigation into the use and generation of alternate electricity energy supplies. This, it said in a statement, “puts Stellenbosch in the lead to potentially become the first municipality in the country to eliminate load shedding”.
One of the biggest announcements coming out of Winde’s speech was the “Remote Working Visa”. Winde said he would lobby President Cyril Ramaphosa and Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi for the creation of such a visa for foreign “digital nomads” who stay in the Western Cape for months instead of weeks. In his written speech, Winde said these kinds of tourists were “enjoying our tourism offer while working on their laptops”.
However, opposition parties were not happy with Winde’s speech, or lack thereof. Sole Good Party provincial parliamentarian Brett Herron said: “It is disappointing that the premier did not honour the people of this province by delivering his actual Sopa”. Herron said the party would study Winde’s speech and respond to the content.
The ANC’s parliamentary caucus leader, Cameron Dugmore, told Daily Maverick that Winde did not “come with practical and concrete plans”. Dugmore said Winde had not mentioned anything about land and hunger in the Overberg, where the Sopa took place.
“The premier spoke to the elite and the privileged; he did not speak to the majority of the people in the province who do not have jobs, who are not in the mainstream economy and have no access to land in this province,” said Dugmore.
Winde’s speech will be debated on Thursday 18 February at the Emil Weder High School in Genadendal at 9.30am. After the debate is concluded, Winde will respond. DM
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