In a broad ranging State of the Province Address in February 2014, Premier Noxolo Kiviet reflected on progress and obstacles the provincial government had to overcome since the beginning of the fourth term of government.
The Premier’s address covered progress in broad areas drawing inspiration from priorities captured in the manifesto of the African Nation Congress in areas of creation of decent work, health, education, infrastructure development, rural development, crime and corruption.
The Premier believes that progress in these areas in the term under review has been significant and contributed immensely towards making the province “a much better place now – than it was in 1994”.
The 2014 State of the Province Address was also a bittersweet moment for the country in particular the Eastern Cape, as it was the first of its nature that former President Nelson Mandela, who passed away in December last year, was not around to witness.
The Premier began her address by saluting the leadership of the country and the democratic movement for the stewardship provided during one of the most difficult times in the history of our democracy.
“The dignified sendoff that was given to this son of the soil was indeed befitting. Similarly, we take our hats off to uTata Madiba’s comrades and fellow citizens of the Eastern Cape for the somberness and discipline you displayed during this period” stated the Premier.
In tackling creation of decent work the Premier noted that the impact of global economic recession was particularly significant to the Eastern Cape especially in the manufacturing sector. The Premier stated that in responding to this crisis the provincial Government developed the Provincial Industrial Development Strategy and the Jobs Strategy and intensified the implementation of the Expanded Public Works Programme. “The combination of these resulted in more than 5000 jobs saved and the creation of 707 286 job opportunities far exceeding the target of 489 920” said the Premier.
The Premier added that with respect to logistics projects in the term Transnet have radically increased their project portfolio in the Province, with significant investments going into our three ports (Port Elizabeth Habour, East London Habour and Port of of Ngqura) to the collective tune of 19.5 billion
Furthermore the Premier also reported that the work of provincial Industrial Development Zones is beginning to yield results in securing investment for industrialization.
Addressing progress in the area of building social and economic infrastructure the Premier stated that since 2009 the province built 61 131 houses against a term target of 54 000.
In addition, the Premier said that in the past twenty years, Eastern Cape Government built 1 516 new schools in the Province, 202 of which were constructed during the current term.
The Premier also stated that through the support of SANRAL, over R11 billion has been spent on road construction and maintenance in the Province.
Turning to provision of basic services the Premier remarked that 1 472 880 households are now benefitting from water provision, compared to 1 174 187 in 2009; 1 301 615 households now have access to sanitation services, compared to 920 308 in 2009; 1 301 615 households are currently benefitting from electricity provision, compared to only 602 961 households in 2009.
In the area of rural development, land, agrarian reform and food security the Premier reported that through the Siyakhula and Massive Food Production Programmes, a total of 33 801 hectares were ploughed over the term. Maize and other grains yielded from this benefitted 67 273 households.
On strengthening education, skills and the human resource base of the Province the Premier stated that working with various partners matric results reached 64,9% in 2013. “This performance could be taken to another level with improved working relations amongst various stakeholders in the education sector,” said the Premier.
In addition to this the Premier also reported that 5 552 schools in the Province and 1, 6 million pupils are now benefitting from the school nutrition programme plus 5 336 schools, with 1 580 738 pupils, have been declared as no-fee schools.
The Premier also boasted that the Eastern Cape was the leading Province nationally on the procurement and timely delivery of Learner and Teacher Support Material which has improved to 100% of textbooks over the past two years.
Regarding the implementation of Strategic Skills Project aimed at building critical and scarce skills amongst the youth the Premier reported that through partnership with various Sector Education and Training Authorities an annual investment of more than R20 million has resulted in 2750 youths being trained. “In addition over the term the Province has provided bursaries to 10934 students studying fulltime at institutions of higher learning” stated the Premier.
With respect to the improved Health profile of the province the Premier reported that the National Health Insurance, which is being piloted in the OR Tambo District, currently, infrastructure repairs and rehabilitation are being implemented in all the 154 clinics and hospitals at a cost of R172 million.
Regarding government efforts to eradicate poverty the Premier remarked that annually, government invests over R19 billion in the Eastern Cape economy as transfers to the 2,6 million beneficiaries, 72% of whom are children.
In concluding her State of the Province Address the Premier stated that “based on the account of key development indicators, nobody can doubt that the quality of life of citizens in the Eastern Cape has improved significantly since 1994. Levels of poverty and inequality have declined, and the human development index continues to improve, qualifying the assertion that the Eastern Cape is now a better place than it was in 1994”.