The Home of Legends produces favourable report
We join the rest of South Africa in marking the centenary of the birth of one of the fathers of our liberation struggle, Oliver Reginald Tambo. In Tambo, we recognise a revolutionary intellectual; a human rights activist; a fighter for our liberation struggle; a father of African solidarity; a youth activist; a fighter for women’s emancipation; and a protector of the vulnerable.
This address was preceded by a pre-state of the province address roadshow, where I sought to come face to face with the citizens to take them on board as we reflect on the road travelled, and take honest stock of achievements and lingering challenges. This address is boldly premised on seven broad strategic priorities set by government for this term.
On education, I am excited that, during the 2016 school year, the province did not experience any lost school days due to civil or worker-related protest action. This is important as it displays that all stakeholders, parents, teachers and education officials are united in recognising that learning and teaching are priorities.
In the area of higher education, I applaud the ongoing constructive engagement established with the vice-chancellors and principals of Technical Vocational Education and Training colleges in the province.
We have galloped to improve the health profile of our people. The maternal mortality rate has been reduced from 156 maternal deaths per 100 000 births at the beginning of the term, down to 135.2 in 2016; while the infant and child mortality rates for children under five have been reduced to 12.8 per 100 000 children in 2016. We have also managed to reduce the rate of prevalence of HIV/Aids in people aged between 15 and 49 from 10.4% in 2014 to 7.7% by 2016.
Year on year, we continue to lead the pack, outperforming other provinces in housing construction by overachieving our set targets. To date, 38 345 housing units have been delivered and installed since 2014.
In the coming financial year, we will be focusing on new housing units for the destitute, on our military veterans and those affected by disasters.
Our unemployment rate has, sadly, overtaken the rate of economic growth. We are pleased that a provincial economic development strategy is anchored to six economic sectors on which the province has a comparative advantage, namely: agricultural development; oceans economy; tourism; renewable energy; light manufacturing; and the automotive industry.
The Coega Industrial Development Zone has signed 61 new investors, with a combined investment value of R35.8 billion. The recent investment of R11 billion by China’s Original Equipment Manufacturing and R4 billion by Volkswagen has consolidated the province’s dominant position as the strategic motor sector hub. Furthermore, Coega has created 18 366 jobs thus far, of which 7 174 are operational jobs and 11 192 are construction jobs.
In an effort to bring to life the centenary celebration of the legendary OR Tambo, the Nkantolo road linking the R61 and his birthplace is being surfaced.
The national departments of public works and transport have started with a feasibility study that will lead to the construction of the Port St Johns fishing harbour, and Transnet will commence with processes to establish a maritime training centre at the Port of East London in the first quarter of the new fiscal year. This has in effect helped kick-start the province’s oceans economy programme.
Regarding renewable energy, the province has been awarded 16 wind farms and a single solar energy farm, with a total investment value of R33.7 billion, and the creation of 18 132 decent jobs.
We are pleased and welcome the further creation of 430 600 work opportunities and 135 609 full-time equivalent jobs through our Expanded Public Works Programme during this term.
The people of the province hold their heads high as they have produced the 2016 Female Farmer of the Year – Vanecia Janse from the Kou-Kamma Local Municipality.
There are many young people who are trying to make it in agriculture, but they need extra support to go from “trying” to “succeeding”. In line with Operation Masiphathisane, we have decided to focus on youth who are already involved in agricultural activities by providing them with financial and nonfinancial support. They will also be assisted with access to market opportunities, including providing produce for school nutrition programmes.
We appreciate the good work achieved to improve tourism. The hosting of the Ironman SA contest and the national and provincial tourism careers expos, which attracted about 80 000 spectators and more than 10 000 participants, including pupils, is worth applauding.
Our nation-building and social cohesion initiatives have been central in helping us fly our flag high. The continuous hosting of big performing arts and cultural festivals across the province, as well as the admirable talent that continues to spring up, serves to enhance our slogan – Home of Legends.
We wish to congratulate all the citizens of our province who have brought home awards and excelled in various sports.
We are vigilant in the implementation of government’s policy prohibiting public servants from doing business with the state, and have managed to reduce conflicting interests, which tended to creep in during tender processes. For the past three years, the number of municipalities with unqualified audit opinions increased from 12 municipalities in 2013 to 21 in 2015.
In spite of hurdles, in spite of storms, our province is in a sound state. Let us all arise to the task of making our province a better place. It is through unity in action that true power can be advanced to all our people.