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Five key takeaways from Gauteng Premier Lesufi’s speech to a tough Nasrec crowd

Five key takeaways from Gauteng Premier Lesufi’s speech to a tough Nasrec crowd
Illustrative image | ANC Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi. (Photo: Gallo Images / OJ Koloti)

Delivering his second State of the Province Address, Premier Panyaza Lesufi emphasised job creation and cracking down on crime. The e-toll debacle will be resolved within weeks, he claimed.

Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi faced a tough crowd at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg on Monday evening when he delivered his second State of the Province Address.  

Shortly after he took to the podium to deliver his 37-page speech, Lesufi was interrupted by members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and a retaliation from those who appeared to be ANC members.  

Members of the legislature hurled insults and heckled one other. Plastic water bottles were thrown.

At the heart of Lesufi’s speech were crime prevention efforts and plans to make Gauteng an investment-friendly destination. Here are five key takeaways: 

1. Crime wardens

A year ago, Lesufi announced the establishment of Crime Prevention Wardens (CPWs), also known as “amaPanyaza”. Daily Maverick has reported that their training programme was poorly managed, carried out by people without the necessary competencies, and insufficient to equip them with the skills and knowledge needed to perform in a dangerous and difficult environment. 

In his address, Lesufi came to the defence of the programme, saying that the wardens had been undergoing specialised training from the South African National Defence Force and were deployed alongside members of the SA Police Service and metro police at crime hotspots.  

“Thus far, they are receiving advanced training on firearm competence, as drone pilots, training in crowd control, advanced driving and training on anti-land invasion and infrastructure vandalism, while others will be on monitoring cameras in our three interim command centres.” 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Army training for controversial Gauteng Crime Prevention Wardens raises concerns

The programme began with 7,000 officers. Lesufi said, “We are increasing the number of Crime Prevention Wardens to over 12,000. The current recruits, who will be military veterans, will remain on a two-year contract. 

“No corner of our townships, informal settlements, CBDs or hostels will go unpoliced. Our war on crime knows no bounds; it is real and it is uncompromising.” 

AmaPanyaza on 6 October 2023 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Frennie Shivambu)

2. CCTV cameras and helicopters 

The premier announced a recent public-private partnership with Vumacam that will give the government access to more than 7,000 cameras in efforts to revitalise CBDs and rid them of criminal activities. 

“From now on, Small Street [in Johannesburg] will be under 24-hour surveillance with CCTV strategically deployed along the area. We are putting up a permanent deployment of 350 law enforcement officers… When we get it right in Small Street, we will surely succeed in other CBDs in the province.”

The cameras will also be used to monitor crime hotspots, including hostels as well as high-risk schools identified by the department of education.  (Johannesburg MMC for Public Safety Mgcini Tshwaku alleges that Lesufi is claiming a project that had been rolled out in the city first)

In addition to the cameras, Lesufi said helicopters had been instrumental in crime-fighting operations across the province. In one incident, 85 suspects were apprehended for illegal mining in Roodepoort. 

“Despite the doomsayers, we are proud to report that we have acquired two new helicopters and drones that have allowed us to establish the Gauteng Air Wing unit that did not exist before our last Sopa,” he said. 

E-toll gantries on 8 December 2021 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo: Sydney Seshibedi / Gallo Images)

3. E-tolls  

During his maiden Sopa in 2023, Lesufi announced the “permanent” demise of disastrous e-tolls in the province, which had been a headache for residents for over a decade.  

This year, Lesufi stuck to his guns and said e-tolls were likely to be gone by the end of March.

“I am happy to report that on the 26th of January 2024 a final meeting was held between the Gauteng provincial government and the ministers of finance and transport, respectively.”

He said they found common ground on issues related to the user-pay principle of debt related to the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP), past capital expenditure costs and yearly maintenance costs.

They found common ground regarding repurposing the gantries, repaying debt from the first phase of the GFIP and funding phases two and three.

“From where we sit as the province, we remain confident that we should be able to end e-tolls by March 2024,” Lesufi said.  

Daily Maverick has reported that e-toll roads in Gauteng make up 1% of Sanral’s national network. The Gauteng road network is in desperate need of restoration, which will be costly. According to Sanral, 85% of Gauteng’s roads are beyond their design life cycle and need significant maintenance investments. Where funding for this exercise will come from is a mystery.   

Read more in Daily Maverick: Even the opposition cheers as Gauteng Premier Lesufi announces the scrapping of e-tolls 

The youth who got employed during the Nasi iSpani Mass Recruitment Programme Hand Over at Dobsonville Stadium on 11 February 2024 in Soweto, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Fani Mahuntsi)

4. Nasi iSpani 

In June 2023, Lesufi launched the Nasi iSpani (Here is a Job) campaign offering 8,000 jobs in the provincial government. The department eventually received 1.3 million applications — 1,273,604 online and 73,396 paper-based.   

Lesufi used his State of the Province Address on Monday to claim victory and announce more job opportunities in the pipeline. 

“The provincial government that I have the honour to lead can confidently assert that close to 90,000 young people, the same number it takes to fill FNB Stadium, are no longer unemployed, hopeless and without the ability to contribute to their families. 

“We are taking Nasi iSpani to the next level. We are targeting 40,000 young people on the Nasi iSpani database to take advantage of the 333 opportunities in the labour activation programmes to be launched in April 2024 by the Department of Employment and Labour.

“Our commitment remains to expand opportunities to young people. But the government cannot do this alone. We call on the private sector to continue to partner with us,” Lesufi said.    

5. Economy on track

Lesufi said that over the last year, South Africa’s economic hub had seen an increase of 96,300 jobs, with 31,300 jobs added in the last 90 days, meaning the economy was firmly back on track.  

Following the fifth South African Investment Conference in April 2023, R1.14-trillion worth of investment commitments was made across a range of economic sectors — R22-billion of which is destined for Gauteng, he said.

“We are proud to declare that since the Covid-19 pandemic, our economy is now firmly back on track and we are ready to pump our economy further. Our province has attracted more than R68-billion in investments from 261 foreign companies and created about 23,000 direct jobs in our economy,” Lesufi said.

“These investments cut across the 10 high-growth sectors of our economy. Our province proudly hosted the fifth South African Investment Conference in April last year, bringing together leading minds in business and government to unlock new opportunities for growth and development in SA.” DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Dennis Bailey says:

    Would be nice if true. Any way of getting this fact checked?

  • Brian Cotter says:

    “From where we sit as the province, we remain confident that we should be able to end e-tolls by March 2024,” Lesufi said.
    Missing is “by not later than” to give us a final promise date rather than “should”.

  • Denise Smit says:

    You should be very scared in Gauteng of the 12000 “soldiers” deployed by Lesufi of which some are ex MK soldiers when ANC support falls further

    • Geoff Coles says:

      I thought this programme was aimed at the young and unemployed, not Military Veterans from the MK era who must be now, 30 years on, in the region of 50 years old.

  • Hilary Morris says:

    Delusional and dangerous?

  • John P says:

    “The current recruits, who will be military veterans, will remain on a two-year contract.” This is confusing, are they military veterans who have already been recruited in which case they have aged remarkably well based on their pictures? They should all be at least 50. Alternatively will they be considered military veterans after their 2 year contract? Seems strange that peace officers would become military veterans but then they are Lesufi’s private army.

    Another problem for me is how the ANC are so proud of creating jobs that involve working for the state. How are they going to pay all these employees? Maybe by taxing business to death until the only jobs left are working for the state? And then where does the money come from, the money tree? They just do not seem to grasp how this works.

  • Rod H MacLeod says:

    He’s on the right track – not perfect, but he knows Mayor Giuliani [when he was still an honest man] had the right idea with his “broken windows” strategy in New York. Fix the crime and grime and prosperity will follow.
    It just remains to be seen how long it will take before this strategy impacts the slimy rats nest of cadres in Gauteng.

    • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

      He’s not. The desire may be sound, but the approach of creating a separate policing body is going to be an unmitigated disaster. Happy to check back in on this discussion in 5 years.

  • Rae Earl says:

    In true ANC fashion, Lesufi is completely out of touch with reality. He talks huge numbers without disclosing the sources of income (if any), to fund all these grand schemes. If his promise of scrapping all outstanding debts by citizens to Eskom is a fact of reality in his head, then he needs to seriously investigate the premises on which he bases such insane proposals. This appears to be an IQ problem of note.

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