New EC Premier pledges to tackle poverty

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Bhisho - The new Eastern Cape Premier, Noxolo Kiviet, has promised to tackle the high rate of poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment in the province.

Ms Kiviet addressed the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature in Bhisho shortly after being sworn in as Premier on Wednesday.

"Patterns of uneven and unequal development remain; as evident in the high levels of poverty and joblessness in the rural areas of the province, especially the former Transkei," she said.

A recent assessment of the Provincial Growth and Development Plan showed that the province needed to drastically scale up economic development in the province, she said.

However, the Premier conceded that many of the gains made in addressing unemployment and underdevelopment have been negatively impacted on by the global economic crisis.

"The automotive and components sector is particularly affected, and our rural areas are feeling the effects of ongoing job shedding in the mining sector," she explained.

Ms Kiviet promised to develop a new level cooperation between government, its entities, industries, labour and civil society to curb the current shortcomings.

"It is our intention to strengthen partnerships with key role-players with a view to find solutions to urgently stem the tide of job losses and create new jobs," said Ms Kiviet.

The Provincial Industrial Strategy, aimed at strengthening efforts to diversify the economy and grow sectors that can quickly absorb the unemployed, is also currently being finalised.

Premier Kiviet also announced the new provincial Members of the Executive Committee on Wednesday.

Sicelo Gqoba was named new MEC for Local Government and Traditional Affairs and Phumulo Masualle was appointed as the MEC for Health. The former Premier Mbulelo Sogoni was appointed as MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mcebisi Jonas is to be the Finance, Economic Development and Environmental Affairs MEC and Gishma Barry was appointed MEC for Transport and Safety.

Mahlubandile Qwase has chosen as MEC for Education, Nonkosi Mvana as MEC for Social Development and Xoliswa Tom as MEC for Sport, Recreation, Art and Culture.

Pemmy Majodina was appointed MEC for Roads and Public Works and Nombulelo Mabandla will head the Housing Department.