SPEECH BY HELEN ZILLE
WESTERN CAPE PREMIER
WESTERN CAPE PROVINCIAL PARLIAMENT
FRIDAY 29 MAY 2009 - 11H00
Leader of the Opposition
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Leaders of political parties
Leaders of local government
Director-General and Heads of Department
Colleagues and friends
Citizens of the Western Cape
Welcome to the opening of the fourth democratically elected Western Cape Provincial Parliament.
I am mindful of the context in which I stand here today. We have a public mandate following a change of government in an election. The very fact that a government has changed hands peacefully through the ballot box is excellent news for South Africa. It means we are in the process of consolidating democracy, which requires not only the holding of regular elections, but also the ability of citizens to change their government through their vote. Too many emerging democracies have faltered at this crucial pass. Our recent election is a cause of optimism that we will not join the ranks of failed transitions.
On this side of the House, Speaker, we recognise that our province remains deeply divided, and we are profoundly aware of our responsibilities in this context. All of us, on both sides of this House, should be. This government remains committed to our election promise of one nation, with one future, but this should never imply a one-party state. I will do my very best to be a Premier for all the people.
By the same token, Jacob Zuma is the President of all South Africans. Every one of us here, in the government and in the opposition, acknowledges his position with respect. I repeat my commitment to abide by the principles of co-operative governance, as required by the constitution.
In this connection, some questions have been raised about why we are opening the Provincial Parliament today, ahead of the State of the Nation address next week.
The answer is simple: this date was set a while back to fit the timetable originally submitted to the Provincial Parliament by the National Parliament, which scheduled the President's State of the Nation address for 22 May. Our sitting was then scheduled for today, 29 May. Even then, there were concerns that this was cutting things fine because the budget must be passed by the end of June. Before that, it must go through the various portfolio committees so that we can align it with the priority objectives of this new government. When the national Parliament postponed the State of the Nation address by almost two weeks, it created a very difficult scheduling situation for the Province. If our sitting today had been postponed, it would have left only two weeks to get through all the work of the portfolio committees. This was insufficient for the task required. So the Provincial Parliament stuck to the original schedule. It is as simple as that. I have personally explained this situation to President Zuma and he understands the pressing work schedule involved. It is now time to move beyond the endless debates on style and symbolism, and get down to disciplined deadline-driven work. There is no public fanfare associated with this sitting. There is too much work to do. When we start getting the substance right, some of the symbolism can follow.
The description of the speech given at the opening of a Parliamentary sitting as the “State of the Province” address is a relatively recent development, and I think a misnomer. I want to use this opportunity to look forward to the enormous challenges we face. We have been in government for just over three weeks now, and we are in the process of doing a comprehensive situation analysis in each department, as the basis on which to build our detailed work programme going forward. This will unfold as work-in-progress over the next six months.
I have also just returned from a three-day national Cabinet Lekgotla, which was a new and interesting experience. I learnt a great deal, and I was in fact encouraged by the congenial and professional working relationship. I expressed some distinct differences of opinion on key issues, and I got the sense that the President had meant what he said in his inauguration speech when he invited South Africans to participate in democratic debate and air different views.
The tone at the Lekgotla stood in stark contrast to the ongoing slander emanating from the ANCYL and the MKMVA. I notice that the honourable Skwatsha and Ozinsky are getting the same treatment. According to these two organizations, the DA committed the cardinal sin of winning; while the ANC committed the cardinal sin of losing.
Just a week prior to the national Lekgotla, we had held our provincial Lekgotla. It is for the President to translate the themes of the national Lekgotla into his State of the Nation address next week. It is good to know that some of the main themes of the provincial Lekgotla will fit well into the emerging national framework. There are obviously some key differences in strategy, but in my view these are compatible within the framework of co-operative governance.
At our provincial Lekgotla last week, we resolved to align our work to our overriding objective of combating poverty and promoting opportunities for all, through policies that encourage sustained economic growth; that attract, develop and retain skills and capital; and that drive infrastructure development.
Every other key policy and strategy must be tested against this objective.
We believe the state has a crucial role to play in socio-economic
development. We are not free market fundamentalists. By the same token we do not believe that a state, with limited capacity, should over-reach itself.
If you analyse each of this provincial government's ten departments, it will be clear that if we just do our basic jobs properly, without any corruption; if we develop a functional public transport system; if we enable people live in a safer environment; if we deliver decent accessible health care; ensure that many more of our learners can read, write and calculate at the required level and are equipped with values-based life skills; if we provide increasing numbers of housing opportunities, and produce enough food -- taken together these things will make an enormous progressive difference, step by step, in the lives of many people during our five year term. And we will create a climate of public confidence, which is the catalyst for economic growth. The challenge is to keep going in the right direction.
But we must be honest with ourselves: Just getting more of the basics right will be an enormous challenge in the current economic climate, which is now officially a recession. We must resolve to turn this crisis into an opportunity and change the way we do things.
We will better achieve most things in partnerships with other key stakeholders, than we can alone.
The key to growth and development is identifying which roles are best fulfilled by the state, and which should be left to the private sector and civil society in its myriad manifestations, from universities to NGOs. Our job is to create synergies.
Partnerships are not confined to organizations, institutions and businesses. Every citizen must regard him or herself as an active partner in their own development and that of our country, using each opportunity to become the best they can be, and fulfill their social duties. This is how development happens. The constitution establishes the essential balance between rights and responsibilities upfront, even before it gets to the Bill of Rights. We must not allow the constitutional imperative of individual responsibility to lapse by default. Apart from accepting our own responsibilities as a government, we will emphasise, in particular, the responsibilities of parents. Parental - and especially paternal - responsibility must become engrained in our national culture. Unless it does, our development as a society will remain a pipe-dream. This will be the underlying goal of our social development strategies and projects.
Another element of our constitution that we should not allow to erode through lack of use, is the set of powers envisaged for provincial Parliaments and governments.
Our constitution devolves significant powers to provinces. They are distinct spheres of government, that can develop their own policies, programmes, and projects -- and legislate for them -- within the national framework. Provinces are not merely administrative arms of the central government. The constitution is also clear that if provinces lack the capacity to fulfil their functions adequately, the national government is compelled to build their capacity to do so, not remove and centralize their functions.
The Western Cape provincial government has the capacity to fulfil its function and turn its electoral mandate into a legislative programme. We will do so within the constitution, and adhering to the principles of co-operative governance with other spheres at all times. Indeed the very concept of co-operative governance implies that provinces are governments and not merely administrative arms of the central state.
This does not mean that we wish to be separate from the rest of the country, nor that we want to secede, nor that we hark back to a discriminatory past. On the contrary. It means that we are at the leading edge of democracy and that we are giving life to the significant federal components within our constitution, in the interests of all South Africans.
During a conversation with President Zuma yesterday, I asked him to regard the Western Cape as an opportunity, and not as a threat. I told him that we would always act in good faith and in the interests of all our people when we propose alternative approaches to solve some of our country's most pressing problems. I said that we need the space to implement them. No single party has the monopoly on wisdom and solutions. It is in everyone’s interests to establish which policy interventions work. This applies particularly to the raft of policy proposals to increase jobs for unskilled workers in the short term -- while undertaking the long and arduous task of improving education and increasing our skills base so that we can take our place within the global knowledge economy.
We need to show that investment friendly policies offer real and better opportunities for the unemployed. The poor already know this. That is why they are moving here in such significant numbers. In the City of Cape Town over the past three years, we focused our attention on "infrastructure led economic growth" a policy that has helped to attract R43 billion of investment into the metro region. The infrastructure and built environment programmes implemented have proved to be a lifeline during this recession. It makes sense to continue the thrust, at a provincial level, towards “infrastructure-led economic growth”. We could do so much more if we are given the space to free ourselves from cumbersome legislation and excessive regulation and to implement policies such as Special Economic Zones (or what we call Job Zones) and to give first time workers the chance they need to become economically productive. Investors are not enemies of the poor. And a growing middle class is essential to provide the resources, the capital and skills to fight poverty. In fact, this is what most middle class Capetonians want. They realize we are in this ship called South Africa together, and if it goes down, we all go down with it.
That is why it was so disappointing to learn that a resource, central to addressing many of our crises, was removed from the province on the day before the election. I am referring to the transfer of over 1000 hectares of Public Works land to the newly established National Housing Development Agency on 21 April. We regard this as a cynical move that treats public resources as party political tools. The loss of this land severely limits our delivery options, especially in housing. It was our plan to grant the City of Cape Town housing accreditation, together with land, because the City is by far the most efficient housing delivery agency.
We are all too aware of what happened to Thubelisha Homes, the national government's housing company, which gained access to the City's prime housing land for the N2 Gateway project and went bankrupt in the course of its stalled delivery programme. It is essential that we do not compound this failure. We are at risk of doing so, having been stripped of the land that would have enabled us to choose an alternative course. Much of the transferred land is now also earmarked for the N2 Gateway Project, with its poor track record.
In addition to this, we are investigating attempts to transfer a further 400 hectares of prime housing land shortly before the election. This land, which is former Housing Board land, should have been transferred to the City of Cape Town in terms of the National Housing Act (1997). Instead the Province allegedly sought to make it available to the National Housing Development agency as well. The Minister of Housing, Bonginkosi Madikizela, will brief the media on Monday, when he has collated all the details. While the ANC ran the Province, it always denied the City access to this land - which the municipality needed for many purposes including flood relief. It is essential for a provincial government to have access to a resource so crucial to delivery. We are still establishing exactly what has occurred and what remedies are available.
Speaker, as we begin the work of implementing our policies across the Province, our departments will, in the weeks ahead, unpack the details of their respective priorities and short term projects. I am sceptical of gimmicks, such as 100-day deliverables, especially if they distract attention from the longer term systemic improvements that are so urgently required, but that only produce results over time.
Today I will briefly outline some of the key priorities that we have identified for each department.
We must start by ensuring that all departments function according to international best practice in respect of financial and human resource management.
Our first analysis of the Provincial Government’s finances, assets and spending patterns has convinced us that we are not taking over a thriving enterprise.
Poor financial management across various departments has seriously undermined their capacity to deliver on their core mandates.
Earlier this year, in her State of the Province Speech, former Premier Brown stated that new hospitals were to be constructed in Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain, scheduled for completion by 2012. Now we have found that there is only money for one hospital. The former administration prioritized Khayelitsha.
In the Department of Transport and Public Works, there is a looming shortfall of R100 million for bus subsidies.
And our contingency reserves are insufficient to deal with emergencies or disasters.
We have found, in many cases, that departments have not been using public resources to maximum public benefit. Last year’s Erasmus Commission is but one example. Hundreds of millions have been spent on jamborees, marketing strategies and a host of consultants whose added value is not immediately apparent.
The budget that we will fine-tune in the weeks ahead, cuts R426 million of this kind of ‘fat’ from the Medium Term Expenditure Framework across all departments, and we must still trim a lot more.
Several departments are in deep financial trouble as a result of past practices, and do not have funds to fill staff vacancies at the delivery-end of government, like nurses and teachers. All of this has been concealed by the secrecy applied to tender processes, and often shockingly weak controls on spending.
To address these problems, we intend to bring in a new regime of tighter financial controls, and open all tender processes to the media and public as far as possible. At the very least we intend to make it compulsory that all information on successful bids be made available on the websites of all departments and provincial entities, or preferably on a central provincial website within the Cape Gateway portal. This must include the contract number and description; name(s) of the successful bidder(s), the contract price(s), brands, delivery basis and where applicable, preferences claimed. However, I would like to see the actual committees opened up as well, wherever legally possible. This is what we did in Cape Town and it worked very well to combat corruption, and reduce the number of time consuming appeals against tender decisions.
In addition to these reforms, we will also carry out audits of suspect tenders, suspect leases, financial inefficiency and misuse of discretionary spending. Provincial Treasury has already launched an investigation, in co-operation with the Auditor General, into questionable financial practices within the Departments of Local Government and Housing, and Transport and Public Works, particularly around the hiring of consultants. Of approximately R380 million spent on consultants by the Provincial Government in 2008/09, nearly R200 million has been spent in these two departments.
The audit will, amongst other things, include a review of tender processes and compliance with legislation, weigh up possible conflict of interest between consultants and the department, offer training and transfer of skills around financial management, implement tighter performance management and closer monitoring of value for money.
I have urged the Ministers to look for similar problem areas in their departments and, where appropriate, execute audits and financial reforms. If necessary, we will bring in external auditors to assist, as the City of Cape Town did three years ago. That exercise resulted in the sequestration of several senior officials, including the former City Manager, and a number of criminal cases. It also resulted in significant improvements. The City’s Supply Chain Management Department became the first in South African local government to qualify for recognition in terms of the rigorous ISO 9001 international quality management standards -- and the time taken to finalise tenders was halved.
We intend to bring clean governance to this administration, and make sure that taxpayers are getting value for money. We will ensure that assets and property are managed in the public, and not the party interest. Our goal in the medium term is to raise the entire provincial government (including its entities, and municipalities) to at least level 4 out of 6 on the National Treasury/Auditor-General financial capability measure of financial governance (a ‘good’ rating). This shows just how weak the present system is.
The financial difficulties facing this administration are exacerbated by the fact that our revenue base, together with that of National and Local Government, is shrinking with the contracting economy. National government has had to reduce our share of the national funding allocation by R684 million over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework, and our asset financing has been reduced by a further R222 million for the period. This means we will have to do much more with nearly R900 million less over the next three years.
Speaker, the second key area that we need to address across the entire Provincial Administration, is to ensure our staff management systems work properly. This has become a top-heavy organization, with too many administrators, and not enough staff delivering services. We are seeking expert advice to assess whether our staffing structure is designed to achieve our functions.
I note that there have been efforts in recent years to improve performance management. We will step this up, starting with the basics, like time and attendance registers, which currently are not being implemented consistently (if at all). We will also overhaul management systems.
We are already in the process of introducing a provincial version of the same IT-based ‘dashboard’ management system that has proven to be such a valuable tool in the City of Cape Town. This will monitor the performance of each Minister, Department head, and manager. It provides high level data that measures outputs against clear targets, and allows managers to drill down for more detail against each performance indicator on every project.
It is critical that we have proper data to monitor our performance accurately, without media spin. Otherwise we cannot assess where we are falling short, or rectify problems early. We have to be honest with ourselves about what we are really achieving.
In analyzing former State of the Province speeches we found several examples of impressive sounding statistics, which on closer analysis turned out to be less than accurate.
In a recent speech, the figures for housing delivery, for example, describe a housing budget which grew from about R500 million to over R1 billion in four years delivering 45 114 houses, 53 877 serviced sites, and 37 334 “emergency accommodations”. At national level, these figures were then added together and announced as over 100,000 housing opportunities for the province. But this was not so. Most of the 45 000 houses were built on the 53 000 serviced sites. That means about a total of around 12 000 real housing opportunities were delivered per year. And most of these were delivered by the City of Cape Town, which receives 70% of the Provincial housing budget, not the Provincial Government administration itself. If you produce spin statistics you only end up fooling yourself and falling short.
In reviewing our staff and performance management, we will therefore focus on getting functional information systems in place, getting the right people in the right places to do the job, and ensure that they are held accountable for delivery.
We also intend to foster professionalism in the public service. As we start an investigation into the prima facie evidence in the Erasmus Commission Report, we must re-emphasise the importance of officials respecting the distinction between the party and the state. Officials must implement the policies of the governing party, within the constitution and the law, without becoming embroiled in party political agendas.
Speaker, I will now turn to a brief survey of some of the priorities in the various departments of this administration.
In relation to the Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, we will be aligning our budgets with those of local governments, especially the City of Cape Town. And I will be asking our Minister and his Head of Department to engage with their national counterparts on the formula under which we receive our equitable share of national revenue, in particular to test whether that formula is in fact being worked out on the basis of sound information. We need national spending to address the developmental patterns in this country optimally, in the interests of all provinces.
In Economic Development we will focus on assisting and facilitating enterprise in the region, and ensure, as far as possible, that government helps and does not hinder investment. We aim to improve the global competitiveness of the Western Cape region by identifying and tackling constraints to investment, marketing the destination, cutting red tape, encouraging a fair business environment, and promoting the participation of citizens in the economy, particularly small and emerging enterprises. We already know, from the research done for the Micro Economic Development Strategy, what some of the key strategic growth areas for the region are: services for the oil and gas industry, tourism, information communication technology (ICT), business process outsourcing (BPO), call centres, human resource development, and small business development. There are other exciting possibilities in newly emerging fields such as Agri-processing, a field in which the Western Cape could emerge as a leading international player. We will continue, in the years ahead, to nurture these sectors by encouraging industrial clusters and providing appropriate infrastructure where possible. Some of our short term initiatives to further assist investment will include introducing a quarterly Western Cape pulse-taking and forecasting bulletin for investors and a user-friendly citizens’ guide to economic opportunities in top industries in the region. We will also get to work on resolving the current complications around the new provincial Liquor Act, and then implement it.
In terms of entities under the Department’s watch, we will review the efficacy of WESGRO and CTRU. To support entrepreneurial and business skills development, we will launch a pilot project for subsidized one year internships for 250 participants. We will be carrying out a similar project for tourism, in the form of an induction programme for 1000 participants, which will result in a short-list of 100 candidates for a comprehensive tourism business training course. And, to further encourage tourism in the Southern regions of the province, we will find innovative ways to get the Outeniqua Choo Tjoe (the last scheduled steam-train in the world) back on track. We will do so by involving business in investment for the train and other tourism related attractions in the area.
In terms of education, our focus must be on equipping our citizens with the skills they need so that more and more can compete in the global knowledge economy. This starts with literacy and numeracy. Reading, writing and calculating are the gateway skills for all others. Although we fare better than other provinces we have a long way to go to be international competitive.
Our key priorities in the medium to long term will therefore be, to develop and implement turn-around strategies for the 74 dysfunctional schools in this Province; to ensure quality instruction in literacy and numeracy at primary schools; to expand early childhood development so that more learners enter school with adequate cognitive and motor skills; to increase the number of learners in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM); to emphasise vocational skills training in the curriculum; to improve school infrastructure and resources, and, to strengthen school discipline and safety.
We want to see the 5 ‘T’s implemented in all of our schools: Time on task, dedicated and well prepared Teachers, good Textbooks for each subject, Technology for curriculum delivery, and the regular Testing of learners. And we want to develop an ethos of respect, courtesy, integrity, pride and discipline in each classroom. These are essential to learning.
In the Department of Health, there will be a focus on rationalizing the use of available resources to achieve maximum efficiency and make more funds available for our core services. Our current health services are buckling under demand, not only from residents of this province, but also from surrounding regions where health services are failing. This is especially challenging for the Western Cape because patients from other provinces often come here for expensive specialised services not available elsewhere. The national division of revenue is disadvantaging the Western Cape – 26% of the formula for national revenue allocation to provinces is based on patient numbers, but in the Western Cape, in the area of specialized services, 2% of patients take up around 20% of the funds.
This is of particular concern given that we currently have an R800 million maintenance backlog and need R5.8 billion to meet the demand for new infrastructure. The Mitchells Plain Hospital is one of many projects that is desperately needed, but is currently without allocated funding.
We will therefore increase the total budget allocation for infrastructure, and embark on a review of property use by the department in order to maximize efficiency. We must release any latent capital tied up in under-utilized fixed assets that can fund infrastructure development. We will also seek out public-private partnerships and joint ventures that will help meet demand. In the short term, there are a number of projects that we can drive, including the procurement of new ambulances, new helicopters, and new beds for patients. The Department will implement the new Occupational Specific Dispensation (OSD) for health workers in this province, in line with the OSD models accepted, as soon as we get a firm guarantee by the National Departments of Health, Public Service and Administration and National Treasury that the province will be reimbursed. Minister Botha will provide details of these and further initiatives in the weeks ahead.
Turning to Social Development, we will ensure that this Department is promoting access to opportunity for citizens through socio-economic support services. We intend to review the constitutional mandates guiding this Department, and measure the extent to which they are being implemented. We will also assess whether the approximately 1800 Non-Profit Organisations we are funding are adding sufficient sustainable value, and ensure that there is a functional system to monitor their performance. We must find ways to introduce the principles of social entrepreneurship rather than fostering dependence. There are some exciting new partnership prospects in this regard.
In the shorter term, we will inject R18 million into the budget to improve conditions of service for social workers, whose scarce skills are especially important for Early Childhood Development, victims of crime and violence, and assisting school pupils with emotional and learning problems.
In terms of addressing Substance Abuse, which currently falls under this department, we must bring all Provincial management and monitoring structures into line with the National Drug Master Plan (2006-2011), so that they can align properly with other spheres of government. Substance abuse is our most serious social problem in the Western Cape. An adequate response involves co-ordination between many departments. We will set up these mechanisms in the Department of the Premier to ensure that all our strategies are aligned to deal with this scourge.
This week saw a flare-up of vigilantism in response to drug dealing, and we can expect more of this kind of thing if we do not act decisively in this matter. Let us not end up, as we so often have in the past, applying police resources to pursue frustrated community members while the real criminals continue to ply their trade. We must work effectively within the law against criminals who are adept at covering their tracks. This can take inordinate amounts of time, as we found in our on-going eviction of drug dealers from Council housing in the City. The newly established dog unit, working in co-operation with the SAPS, the metro police, and neighbourhood watches, should enable us to make greater progress.
Apprehending drug dealers is one of a number of high priorities for the Department of Community Safety. Substance abuse, murder and crime in general, are serious disincentives to capital and skills, and directly ruin the lives of a growing number of our citizens. In terms of the Constitution, the Provincial Government has an oversight function in relation to the South African Police Service, although it is the National Commissioner who hires, fires and deploys the provincial SAPS leadership.
We have the function of monitoring the performance of the police, setting priorities for the region, and appointing commissions of enquiry into problem areas in policing, such as endemic corruption. We will first assess the situation properly before making any announcements. As we enter the first year of office, our priorities will include conducting research for evidence based policing policy and strategy, and strengthening co-ordination between the Metro Police and SAPS, especially around support for neighbourhood watches and substance abuse enforcement.
We will start work on these priorities by piloting a region-by-region safety barometer for communities, and carry out a full evaluation of strategies currently being implemented, including the Gang Framework Strategy. Following the previous example of the Multi-Party Government of Cape Town, we are also going to implement a strong civilian oversight programme for the SAPS to improve accountability of the police in the Western Cape’s main centres.
The Department of Community Safety is also responsible for traffic enforcement, together with municipalities. We are going to tighten up co-ordination of road safety initiatives with local governments, by, among others, implementing an integrated winter traffic enforcement plan. And to build staff capacity in the traffic services, we will establish a consolidated traffic training operation in the province.
In terms of housing, the biggest barrier is a shortage of suitable land. We will embark on an urgent land audit. Minister Madikizela has already met with the City of Cape Town to begin the process of transferring land to the City for flood relief and to insist with roll-over in situ upgrading of flooded settlements. In this spirit, we have also started the process of giving the City of Cape Town housing accreditation, up to level 3, so that it can take charge of housing delivery in the metro region. At the same time, we are going to assemble an intergovernmental project approval task team to cut red tape, which is also a major source of delays in housing delivery.
To improve the sustainability of housing projects, and give communities more options for housing, we will increase funding for the People’s Housing Process. This allows beneficiaries on the housing waiting lists to add their own funds to subsidized housing projects, and so increase the quality of their houses.
And, in order to address the critical conditions in informal settlements, we will develop a Province-wide plan for in-situ upgrading. We cannot deal with the scale of our provincial backlog using only conventional methods.
A similar principle of working with local government, and, where possible, devolving functions, will inform the approach of the Department of Transport and Public Works. The Integrated Rapid Transport system in Cape Town will be one of the most important public investments for facilitating regional economic growth, improving access, reducing congestion and freeing high-rise developments from Transport Impact assessment restrictions. We will therefore stop the Province’s previous duplication of functions and unnecessary interference with the City of Cape Town, and instead focus on synergy between the two. We want a public transport system that is more regulated, formalized and co-ordinated. We will continue our negotiations with the taxi industry in good faith but we will not tolerate lawlessness.
Mr Speaker, agriculture is another critical area for economic growth and sustainable rural development. The Western Cape farming sector and its related industries has suffered over the past decade, but is recovering, especially in the area of wine farming and wine tourism. In this regard, Minister Van Rensburg and his Department has set out a number of priorities aimed at further strengthening agriculture and related rural industries. Beneficiation of food products for the modern consumer is a major new international growth area, and one the Western Cape is well positioned to compete in.
We therefore intend to encourage the development of scarce farming and farm engineering skills in our province’s next generation of learners. We will introduce incentives for school leavers to pursue studies and careers in agriculture and related industries, including bursaries, and support for post graduates.
We will actively support and encourage market access for emerging farmers, and play an advocacy role in terms of international trade issues. And we will improve rural infrastructure and services in order to facilitate farming logistics as far as possible.
The first task of the Department of Local Government, Planning and Development will be to build better intergovernmental relations with municipalities. The Department’s mandate is to support local governments, not unnecessarily interfere in their functions.
In relation to planning, we will be reviewing outdated legislation, especially the Land Use Planning Ordinance (LUPO), in order to streamline planning processes in the various municipalities. LUPO predates the Constitution, and duplicates a range of municipal planning processes at Provincial level, with no apparent benefit. The red tape this creates holds up investment, and is contrary to our objective of creating jobs and building the economy. At the same time, of course, we also need to plan for sustainable human and rural settlements. We must get the balance right between the natural environment and the needs of economic growth. An important intervention, in the medium to long term, will be to find ways to allow cities like Cape Town and George to expand vertically, instead of extending urban sprawl. In the short term, Minister Bredell will be setting up a development and facilitation unit to assist municipalities with planning applications, and to look at unfunded mandates that negatively impact on municipal finances.
The Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport has set out several key priorities to ensure that our amenities are functioning optimally, and serving the public properly. This includes a review of Museum legislation, the extension of rural library services (wheelie wagons), and the improvement of library IT systems, especially increased internet access to facilitate IT skills among young people.
Minister Jenner will also work to encourage the development of sports clubs and school leagues, which will offer our youth the opportunity to get involved in constructive after-school activities. Part of this side of the Department’s work will be to implement a 2010 Social Legacy programme to ensure that the benefits of hosting this event will be spread across as many communities as possible.
The Department of the Premier will work together with Minister Jenner’s department in coordinating 2010-related projects. If we get 2010 right, it will be our best opportunity since 1994 to dispel Afro-pessimism, and increase investor interest in the sub-continent. This region has already benefited from R12 billion in public sector investment, which has led private sector investment. The lead agent for 2010 in this region is the City of Cape Town, in its capacity as a Host City. The Province will support Cape Town and provincial towns that will be used as possible base camps or supporter bases. We will also work together on public transport for the entire event footprint, as well as safety and security, and the facilitation of economic opportunities.
Another important development in the Department of the Premier will be the establishment of a legal ‘resource’ unit for local government, comprising qualified experts in municipal law. Its role will be to assist municipalities with advice on drafting of by-laws and other issues, and repeal outdated Provincial Ordinances currently constraining local government functions. It will also seek to bring clarity on roles of the different spheres of government. In some regions, for example, Provincial government, District Municipalities and Local Municipalities overlap, and there is uncertainty over who is responsible for roads and other infrastructure. This leads to some areas falling through the cracks of service delivery.
In the Department of the Premier, I intend to implement the Provincial Constitution’s provision for appointing a children’s commissioner, with a support unit to address priority issues facing children and their mothers in the province. This includes the failure of many fathers to pay maintenance, the escalating crisis of teenage pregnancies (which destroy the opportunities of young girls), and the horrifying incidence of sexual abuse and statutory rape.
The Premier’s Department will also take responsibility for strategic partnerships that require the integrated involvement of various departments and other partners to achieve a co-ordinated result. This would include partnerships to promote community involvement in safety initiatives, countering substance abuse, effective public participation in decision making, and many others.
This brings me to the end of my overview of departments. To conclude, we are going back to basics, applying principles of good management and best practice to everything we do, so that we do the right things, within budget and on time. We will apply the “fitness-for-purpose” principles to appointing staff. Where programmes are working, we will retain them.
The following two years will be difficult as we chart the waters of an international recession. At times like these, it is essential to maintain stability, foster confidence, and avoid actions and statements that exacerbate perceived risks.
If we use this period to get all the basics of good, clean, accountable governance in place, we will have firm foundations on which to build when the upswing eventually happens. If we learn to align all our plans and actions behind the key goal of creating jobs and fighting poverty, we will have made good use of our lean years. We all know that a nation’s conduct in the fat years, induce the lean years and vice versa. Let us learn to live within our means, and use these means to create real opportunities for all.
This government commits itself to building a better province in the interests of a better future, in a better country, for all.