Premier Helen Zille delivered her 2018 State of the Province Address on Thursday, 22 February 2018. Find out what the priorities are for the Western Cape this year.
Premier Helen Zille delivers the State of the Province Address 2018
Premier Zille congratulates Capetonians on water saving, warns against complacency
Premier Zille congratulated the committed Capetonians who have worked so hard to reduce their water consumption, but warned that now was not the time for complacency on water saving.
“Your efforts have been pivotal in pushing day zero back to July the 9th. But we cannot let up now. If we are complacent, the date will inevitably creep forward again. We need enough water to see us through next summer and into the winter rains of 2019. We cannot take that for granted, and we cannot rely on rainfall alone. Saving water even during winter – and harvesting the rain that falls – remain of crucial importance. We must change our water culture permanently,” said Zille.
National funding insufficient
Premier Zille said although bulk water supply is a national mandate, the national Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has not made funding available for augmentation in this crisis, because the national Treasury has literally turned off their funding tap following a disastrous audit outcome.
“I note that in yesterday’s budget, R6-billion was set aside for both drought relief and infrastructure for the five provinces hit by the current drought. Although R6-billion is a lot of money, divided between five provinces it will hardly touch sides if it is intended both for relief and new infrastructure. The City’s infrastructure-build programme, on its own, amounts to almost R6-billion. No local government should have to shoulder the burden of capital and operational costs for what is a national function,” said Zille.
City and Provincial interventions
Premier Zille said the City of Cape Town has stepped into the breach with aquifer extraction, water reuse and desalination projects to the tune of almost R6-billion over the 5-year Medium Term Revenue Expenditure Framework.
“The City is ramping up augmentation from about 120 million litres per day by July 2018 – mainly from aquifers - to about 300 million litres per day by September 2020, including re-use and desalination,” said Zille.
Premier Zille listed various interventions the provincial government is undertaking as a constitutionally mandated disaster management authority. These include:
- Diverting a total R369 million from core provincial functions to supplement disaster funding since 2015/16
- A further R82.5 million would be diverted for water security measures in the Saldanha Bay, Drakenstein and Swartland municipalities, which all rely on the same water supply scheme as the metro.
- Groundwater and maintenance projects that are also on track in other municipalities at risk – Beaufort West, Knynsa, Kannaland, Bitou, Matzikama, Langeberg and Theewaterskloof.
- Saving an estimated 90 000 litres saved each day in key government office facilities, with a 46% reduction in water consumption overall since 2015/16
- Drought assistance for more than 2 000 farmers per tranche, including livestock feed for 80 000 animals
- Water security measures to ensure frontline service points remain open in the event of a Day Zero. This involves a major procurement and logistics operation to secure water supply, which includes the drilling of boreholes, water collection and storage systems, water treatment works and reticulation networks.
Delays in key DWS Water Supply Projects
Premier Zille said a major water supply project for the Cape metro - the Berg River-Voelvlei Augmentation Scheme - was behind schedule. The project is the responsibility of the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS). Delays have included a two-year wait to appoint consultants, completion of the project design, and a lack of available funds.
“This delay has cost us dearly. The DWS had originally intended for this project to be complete in time for the winter rain of 2018, according to the department’s official Record of Implementation Decision, dated December 2012. This would have meant an additional supply of 230-billion litres of water per year for greater Cape Town’s supply scheme going into next summer. It would have given us far greater water security,” said Zille.
The Premier said that even if Minister Mokonyane sticks to her commitment of winter 2019, “it will be too late to help us through our current crisis”.
The Premier also referred to two critical dam projects for agriculture and the economy – Brandvlei and Clanwilliam.
Brandvlei Dam - at a minimal cost of R15 million - an additional 4 400 hectares can be irrigated, with the potential of creating upward of 8 000 new rural jobs.
“Minister Mokonyane recently gave us a firm commitment to expedite all necessary approvals for Brandvlei. The agricultural sector has already indicated its willingness to provide funding support for this project,” said Zille.
The Premier also said the Province would not allow national government to abandon the Clanwilliam Dam Wall Raising project, while the site offices, machines, equipment and personnel are still in the Clanwilliam area.
DWS staff have been located in Clanwilliam since 2014, waiting for the project to start. This has cost the taxpayer an estimated R100 million to date.
The Department has since announced that it has run out of money to complete the dam wall raising, despite R2 billion being allocated to the project as early as 2013/14.
“There was no mention of Clanwilliam Dam in the Finance Minister’s Budget Speech yesterday, and we will formally engage the national government on what urgent steps they intend to take for this project to proceed, given the severe economic impact of the drought in that region,” said Zille.
“The tragedy of the Clanwilliam dam wall project is unfortunately not an isolated case, as we have seen. For every high-risk municipality in the Western Cape, there is a failed, delayed or abandoned DWS water supply project.”
Western Cape creates 598 000 jobs since 2009
Premier Zille said the provincial economy remain resilient, despite the drought and other natural disasters.
“A total of 598 000 new jobs were added in the Western Cape since the 4th quarter of 2009, the year we took office,” said Zille.
The province has also once again recorded the lowest official unemployment rate, which now stands at 19.5%, against a national rate of 26.7%.
On the broad definition – which includes discouraged jobseekers – the Western Cape rate is 23%, compared to over 36% nationally.
“Our unemployment rate is a full 10 percentage points lower than Gauteng, the next province on the broad definition,” said Zille.
Zille also announced that, since 2014 the Province has secured:
- Over R7.2 billion of investments in the province.
- A total of 64 trade deals to the value of R11.1 billion
- R691-million in deals through its African Expansion Programme
Premier Zille challenges mobile operators to match Province’s cheap data rates
Premier Zille announced that her administration had completed one of its biggest flagship infrastructure projects of its final term - the Broadband Game Changer, launched in 2014.
“We have reached our target of full broadband coverage with a total of 1,875 sites, including over 1,200 schools; over 200 libraries and approximately 400 other public facilities,” said Zille.
The provincial government had also so far launched 178 WIFI hotspots across the province, benefitting over 250 000 citizens to date.
Users currently get a free data allocation at these hotspots, and can thereafter access the cheapest data-bundle costs in the country, up to 5 Gigabytes for R45.
“My challenge today to all major mobile operators, is to try and match the data rates we are providing to citizens of the Western Cape,” said Zille.
Zille added that the Province would now improve even further on its original promise of a Wi-Fi hotspot in every ward in the province.
“This would have numbered a total of 384 hotspots. We are now in a position to improve that offer significantly. We are in the process of converting as many as possible of the province’s broadband points into free Wi-Fi sites. This will make approximately 1,600 free wi-fi sites available across the province at speeds of 10 megabytes per second. This roll-out will follow the process of upgrading our 1,875 sites to 100 megs per second and some to one Gigabyte over the next two years,” said Zille.
Premier Zille said schools had been a top priority for internet connectivity, as part of the Province’s eLearning Game Changer.
“We recognise that reliable internet connection is essential, if we want to create the foundation for an effective learning environment in our schools and prepare learners for life in the 21st Century,” said Zille.
“By the end of March, we will have installed over 6 400 smart classrooms, and upgraded technology in 910 ICT labs at schools. This is an increase of just over 2 400 smart classrooms and 705 labs over the past two years. We have also delivered 28 808 learner devices,” said Zille.
Premier Zille calls for changes to National Land Reform Policy
Premier Zille said that since 2014 the Province had facilitated over R500-million in conditional grant funding to 357 businesses operating on land reform farms.
“When President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed an ANC rally in Cape Town recently, he said that we need to ‘plant the seeds for a revolution in agriculture’. He stated that he would order a study into returned agricultural land. I have good news for President Ramaphosa – We have already undertaken this study. The Western Cape is the only province with an audit of all land reform projects to date,” said Zille.
The Western Cape’s audit found that the provincial government’s pioneering Commodity Approach had led to the success of 62% of all land reform farms in the Western Cape.
“This is a remarkable success rate given the many challenges facing the agricultural sector. One should also compare this to the estimated 90% failure rate of land reform initiatives in the rest of the country, referred to by Matthews Phosa, when speaking on a national agricultural platform last year,” said Zille.
Premier Zille said there were two obstacles she wanted to place before President Ramaphosa’s door.
“The first is national government’s intent to cut the CASP grant by 20%, which is the tool we use to support emerging farmers, and which accounts for the success of land reform projects in the Western Cape. In order for this to continue, this funding must be retained,” said Zille.
Second is the issue of title to the land on which emerging farmers operate their businesses.
“National government policy - known as the State Land Lease and Disposal Policy – only allows for 30-year leases to be obtained by black farmers, with an option to renew for 20 years. Only after 50 years may ownership of the land be transferred to the farmer,” said Zille.
The implication of 50 year leases is that farmers do not have fixed collateral to access production capital from financial institutions. This poses a risk to the entire business as the farmer will have to seek government support to bridge the shortfall needed for input costs.
“The Western Cape government whole-heartedly supports a position that farmers be given title deeds, provided they can demonstrate the capacity to run a successful agri-business. But 50 years is far too long, and cuts farmers off from accessing funds through financial institutions,” said Zille.
Premier Zille said that most people weighing into the debate on land reform do not know that it is national government policy to withhold title from black farmers.
“Many of the solutions to the risk of farm failures can be addressed through the commodity approach we are successfully applying to assist farmers. There should be a national switch to this approach and the pace of successful land reform will gather, as it has done in this province,” said Zille.
Read Premier Zille's full 2018 State of the Province Address.
Spokesperson for Premier Helen Zille
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