Cablegate: South Africa: Gauteng Premier Shilowa Reports On the State

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R 201237Z FEB 08





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1. Gauteng Premier Mbhazima Shilowa addressed the provincial
legislature on February 18, outlining achievements of the past
year and setting priorities for 2008. As in previous years,
Shilowa's main emphasis on was on service delivery achievements,
poverty alleviation, and measure taken to promote economic and
job growth. However, he led off with an appeal to the
citizenry to join in fighting crime and in promoting road
safety, noting both unnecessary road deaths and the tendency of
mini-bus taxi drivers to see themselves above all traffic laws.
His comments that 2010 was not only about building soccer
stadia but also about having Bafana Bafana become a world-class
soccer team met with resounding applause. End Summary.

2. Premier Mbhazima Shilowa opened the 2008 legislative year
for the Gauteng provincial parliament on February 2008. The
audience and members of the legislature were treated to
entertainment commencing at 6:30 a.m., with live community media
coverage also starting. Youth groups provided entertainment,
although one group of energetic dancers had numerous wardrobe
malfunctions that were taken in good part by the male members of
the audience. Shilowa opened his speech by encouraging the
citizenry to join hands in the fight against crime and for road
safety. Departing from his prepared text, he deplored recent
incidents of violence among mini-bus taxi-drivers and noted that
their perception of themselves as being exempt from all traffic
laws needed to be brought to an end.

Service Delivery and Poverty Alleviation
--------------------------------------------- -------------

3. The Premier said that Gauteng had seen a massive
in-migration into the province, with 10.4 million people now
residing there or one out of every four South African
households. Despite this, the number of residents in informal
settlements dropped to 22.6 percent. Gauteng registered the
highest proportion of electricity users in SA, at 83.5 percent,
and 97.9 percent of households had access to piped water. In
addition to road upgrades and new water works for the Vaal
region, Gauteng will have delivered 58,552 new houses for the
year ending in March 2008. An additional 103,000 dwellings
were upgraded during the year. Shilowa said that the adoption
of the Gauteng Framework on Indigent Policy set out a common
approach for dealing with the poor across the province. An
integrated database was being developed to maximize services for
the poor, to include free water and electricity, rates rebates,
social grants, free health care, free education, indigent
burials, free scholar transport, and home-based care for those
affected by HIV/AIDS. Access to skills development and
economic opportunities would also be addressed.

Economic and Job Growth

4. Shilowa noted that 146,000 new jobs had been created in
Gauteng for the year ending in March 2007, with a total of 3.4
million jobs currently in existence in the province. Shilowa
said that continued implementation of the growth and development
strategy, including investment in key economic infrastructure
and addressing energy and sustainable development, was a
priority. He added that the province had agreed on a number of
energy conservation measures and cited the Gauteng Legislature
Building as one of three departments that failed to switch off
lights at night. Shilowa said he was pleased that large
investors, such as Ford Motor Company, had not been deterred by
the electricity crisis and would proceed with a R1.5 billion
investment in South Africa, including an expansion of the
assembly plant in Tshwane. He added that 4404 direct jobs had
been created at the Automotive Supplier Park between 2002-2007,
with 70 percent of those jobs going to Historically
Disadvantaged South Africans. Gauteng also planned to establish
a one-stop shop for businesses interested in investing in
Gauteng, which would reduce red tape and streamline approval
processes. Another economic growth effort was the
implementation of the G-link initiative to provide affordable
broadband to 95 percent of the population within five years.

Services for Children

5. The percentage of children between ages 5 and 24 attending
educational institutions increased from 66.9 in 2001 to 68.8 in
2007. The Bana Pele program continued to provide services to
the poorest children in the province, such as exemption from
school fees, free transport to and from school, health care and
school feeding programs. Under this program, 80,000 free school
uniforms had been distributed during the financial year, up from
24,700 the previous year. Priority areas included phasing in

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Grade R (reception aka kindergarten) and making it compulsory.
41,736 children were currently attending publicly funded grade R
and the number of sites offering preschool education had
increased from 960 to 1360 in 20007. School fees in the
poorest schools had been eliminated as of January 2007,
benefiting 378,000 children in 426 schools. As of April 2008,
49 percent of students would no longer be required to pay school
fees, thus benefiting 865,000 children. In addition, there
were programs to ensure a quality education and an emphasis on
science and math. In addition the province would offer free
immunizations against preventable diseases such as measles and
polio to all children under age one.

Health care and HIV/AIDS

6. On health care, the premier said that Gauteng would
introduce multiple therapy to prevent transmission of HIV/AIDS
from mother to child as of April 2008, and aim to reduce
transmission rates to less than 5 percent. Gauteng had
exceeded its target to train 3000 community health workers, and
now had 3500 on the rolls, with then number of sites offering
comprehensive care due to increase to 63 from 52 currently
established. Shilowa also noted that currently 104,560 persons,
including 10,195 children, were receiving anti-retrovirals in
the province.

Crime and Corruption

7. In addition to leading off with the condemnation of road
safety and violence among taxi drivers, Shilowa also condemned
recent price fixing scandals in the bread, milk and
pharmaceutical industries. He said that further expansion of
the public call centers was planned, which allow citizens to
access a variety of services including bookings for drivers'
licenses. Shilowa noted that there had been issues with call
center operators and people working in testing centers to
undermine the centralized booking system in order to receive
bribes. Shilowa committed to rooting out fraud, corruption and
unethical behavior in the public and private sectors.

8. On crime, Premier Shilowa said rates for some crimes had
been falling but remained unacceptably high, and said that he
was horrified by the extent of violence associated with crimes
committed in the province. He noted that the 10111 emergency
call center was now operational in Midrand and that vehicle
location systems had been installed in 1800 to allow faster
dispatch to the sites of emergencies. Shilowa said that all
6200 provincial vehicles would be fitted with monitoring units
before the end of the financial year. In addition to
increasing community safety volunteers, Gauteng was increasing
social crime prevention and improving and expanding its police
performance system.

Preparations for 2010

9. Shilowa said that Gauteng had successfully hosted Soccerex,
the convention on the business of football, in November 2007,
and progress had been made in making Gauteng the home of
competitive sport. Tourism facilities were also being upgraded,
with 100 percent grading of accommodations to be completed by
2010. There had been a threefold increase of facilities around
Dinokeng and the Cradle of Humankind. Departing from his
prepared text, Shilowa noted that building soccer stadia was
only one part of the 2010 preparation and the other part
involved having a national soccer team of a caliber that brought
the nation together behind it, and Bafana Bafana needed to get
its act together. Most members of his audience appeared to
agree with Shilowa's assessment.

Foreign Relations

10. Shilowa said the province had signed a declaration of
intent with Katanga province in the Congo and would participate
in an economic summit in Lubumbashi in April 2008. Gauteng had
also signed a cooperation agreement with Moscow Oblast and
renewed agreements with Ile de France, Bavaria and Baden
Wurttemberg. He said the agreement with Moscow would provide
capacity in nanotechnology and space technology. Shilowa said
that he expected to strengthen relations with Beijing, Ontario
and Havana in 2008.

© Scoop Media

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