By Koketso Mamabolo
Jobs and hospitals on the Provincial Government’s agenda
“I think the time for diagnosis is over. It’s now time to do something about it,” declared Western Cape Premier Alan Winde during his State of the Province Address (SOPA) in February. The Premier presented his administration’s roadmap for recovery, emphasising the importance of job creation and the well-being of the province’s residents.
COVID lessons for job creation
With the COVID-19 pandemic winding down, the province’s focus has shifted. “This new stage provides us with a window of opportunity to make the bold changes that are now needed, so that we push back against going back to normal and so that we push forward, to do even better,” said the Premier in his address in the town of Velddrif, which marked the official opening of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament (WCPP).
“Because … we face a crisis too big to ignore, and one that requires our immediate intervention. This is what I have often called ‘pandemic number two’, a pandemic of joblessness and hunger.”
The Premier has chosen to be proactive when it comes to the challenges residents are facing, determined instead to exercise the full capabilities of the public and private sectors. At SOPA, he reiterated what he had said in October of 2021 about his priorities for recovery: “…our single biggest priority in the year ahead must be to create an environment where the private sector creates jobs and lots of them.”
The province is taking lessons from the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and applying the coordinated response approach to unemployment. The provincial government has identified two “clear pathways”.
- Facilitate private sector investment which can create jobs
- Invest in infrastructure that can help business grow and employ more people
The approval and gazetting of the Atlantis Special Economic Zone (SEZ) as a Schedule 3D public enterprise is an example of the progress that is already being made on the job creation front. Two investors have expanded their interest and created 400 jobs. Even more exciting are the 2 000 jobs created in the Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone.
Housing opportunities have also driven job creation with the Premier noting that “Since the start of this government’s term of office, we have provided over 32 000 housing opportunities, helping create over 2 700 job opportunities in the Western Cape”.
To achieve the same effect that was seen in the pandemic response, an interdepartmental cabinet has been formed which includes the newly created Infrastructure and Mobility departments. Also included in this group are Provincial Treasury and the departments of Economic Development, Tourism and Agriculture.
“I will also include private sector representatives so that we lead with interventions that will unlock growth and help business [sic] employ more people,” said the Premier.
He also highlighted the potential for further growth, going through the province’s progress and stable footing:
- The agricultural sector has steadily grown over the last five years, creating more jobs
- The Western Cape is hive of tech-related activity – recognised as Africa’s “green tech hub”, with potential for even more growth
- Cape Town is Africa’s Business Process Outsourcing capital
“According to the Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2021, Cape Town is listed as the number one performer in Africa for technology ecosystems and is home to almost two-thirds of all start-ups in South Africa. We are truly Africa’s Tech Capital.”
Focusing on the well-being of residents
The COVID-19 pandemic saw major wins for the province:
- 2.2 million medicine parcels were delivered to people’s homes
- The largest field hospital in Africa was built at the Cape Town International Convention Centre
- The VECTOR programme, which monitored 20 000 diabetics, won an award
“The most important lesson from our COVID-19 experience is that we are capable of breaking down silos, and working quicker and more in sync.”
The Provincial Government has five “mega health” projects set in motion for the medium-to-long term:
- Belhar Regional Hospital
- Klipfontein Regional Hospital
- Helderberg Regional Hospital
- Tygerberg Central Hospital
- Swartland District Hospital
“Preparation is commencing for the Belhar and Klipfontein Regional hospitals, and detailed planning to enable a Public-Private Partnership for the Tygerberg Central Hospital development has also begun, working in collaboration with the World Bank.”
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