The Gauteng Provincial Government has announced its key priorities to fast track the province’s path to prosperity as the country forges ahead to realise Vision 2030 of the National Development Plan (NDP).
The key focus for the next five years will be on the economy; jobs and infrastructure; education; skills revolution and health; integrated human settlements and land release; safety, social cohesion and food security as well as building a capable, ethical and developmental State.
These priorities will be driven under the NDP and the provincial “Our Roadmap to 2030”, which will be finalised in the first 100 Days of office, after consultation with various sectors and stakeholders.
Under each set of priorities, the province said there will be bold initiatives to deepen the implementation of the programme for Transformation, Modernisation and Re-industrialisation.
This was announced by Gauteng Premier David Makhura on Monday when he delivered his first State of the Province Address (SOPA) following the 6th General Election in May.
At a packed University of Johannesburg campus in Soweto, Makhura said Gauteng -- as the engine of South Africa’s economy -- will contribute more to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s initiatives on economic recovery, investment, industrialisation, youth employment and township economy.
The Gauteng economy attracted R199 billion of foreign direct investment and 469 000 new jobs were created in the past five years.
Makhura said this will be the ground the province will use to attract new investments such the Tshwane Automotive Hub, which is going to see significant investments and job creation in the Gauteng economy as a special economic zone.
Going forward, Makhura said his administration will focus on huge employment potential sectors such as automotive, capital equipment and rolling stock manufacturing; agro-processing, food and beverages; business process services and ICT.
Finance and retail; tourism and hospitality; creative and cultural industries; logistics and warehousing; and the green economy will also be key focus sectors.
“The joint sector-based initiatives between all government and business are beginning to unlock the growth and job creation potential of different regional economies or corridors. This is a social compact in action,” said the Premier.
Another focus, which Makhura hopes will reignite and grow the economy, is township business, cooperatives and SMMEs.
“We believe more jobs can be created by small and medium-sized businesses if they get appropriate support from the whole of government,” he said, noting that the province has learned some lessons in supporting township business through infrastructure development and access to markets through government procurement worth over R20 billion.
Going forward, Makhura said they will, among others, target and enforce procurement from businesses in townships to the value of 30% of the Gauteng Provincial Government’s procurement budget.
The province will also ensure that all SMMEs and township businesses working with the provincial government are paid within 15 days to boost their sustainability. There will be a sustained drive to rejuvenate township industrial parks, agri-hubs and local produce markets.
“In the next five years, the province will be releasing land and unutilised buildings to allow those who can create real jobs and businesses in our townships to apply for leases from the provincial government for properties where they can start those businesses,” Makhura said.
The nine Ekasi Labs will be expanded to provide high-speed broadband in all townships where young people can practice new digital trades and learn through existing programmes such as Tshepo 1 Million.
Increasing economic footprint, securing jobs for youth
Currently, the province has more than 200 active FDI projects emanating from Gauteng-based businesses in different regions of the continent. These projects sustain 45 000 jobs in the provincial economy and also create jobs in the destination countries.
Over the next five years, the province will introduce special economic zones (SEZs), where feasible and necessary, to add momentum to turning the Gauteng City Region into a single, multi-tier and integrated SEZ.
With regards to youth employment and empowerment, Makhura announced that government is working towards placing 250 000 young people into long-term jobs in the various growing sectors of the economy in partnership with Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator and the Youth Employment Service (YES) programme.
A further 250 000 young people will be placed in long-term public works employment programmes. The Welfare-to-Work programme will also be expanded to reach 100 000 unemployed young women, who are currently dependent on child support grants.
The province will also continue with a mass digital learning and digital skills programme to reach over one million young people, especially out of school youth.
The new policy, which will be implemented after engaging the sector, will make it mandatory for all service providers that do business with the Gauteng government to hire and train young people.
Essential infrastructure and 4IR
Turning to infrastructure, Makhura said Gauteng will use its R60 billion infrastructure budget to improve access to water, sanitation, electricity, housing roads in deprived areas, completing urban renewal projects as well as the maintenance of existing government buildings, including schools, clinics and hospitals.
Makhura announced several initiatives that the province will introduce in the next five years.
One such initiative is the appointment of an advisory panel that will advise the provincial government on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) in the first 100 Days.
“Our dream is that Gauteng should be a hub of Fourth Industrial Revolution skills and a centre of excellence for digital economy breakthroughs such as Artificial Intelligence, crypto currency and big data,” Makhura said.
Other initiatives include increasing the number of Schools of Specialisation from 17 to 35, and visiting health facilities to improve standards.
Health and safety
As part of improving mental health services, Makhura said they will ensure that 10% of district hospital beds and 5% of regional hospitals beds are set aside for acutely ill mental health care users.
“We will integrate mental health and rehabilitation services in all public health care facilities. We will also strengthen community awareness campaigns on mental health.”
In collaboration with municipalities, the province will make available 100 000 serviced stands with minimum building standards as well as fast-track the rollout of mega infrastructure projects for new nodes and cities over the next five years.
On safety, one of the new initiatives will be regular performance audits of all 142 police stations and Community Policing Forums and the release of bi-annual reports on the performance of every police station to enhance accountability. Makhura hopes that this will contribute to the target of reducing crime by 50%.
School safety will be elevated to Makhura's office for priority.
“We want our children to be safe in all schools. We will focus on the worst schools [when it comes to] gangsterism, violence and drugs and regular raids and searches will be conducted by the SAPS. We say no to weapons and drugs in our schools,” the Premier said.
In the first 12 months, Makhura said they we will deploy 10 patrollers per ward in all 508 wards in Gauteng and revive and professionalise Community Policing Forums in all police precincts. – SAnews.gov.za