Premier David Makhura
Fellow residents of Gauteng
Ke a le dumedisa
We are finding ourselves currently in uncharted territory, where millions across the world finds themselves living in fear induced by a virus that is determined to bring the world to its knees, while taking many lives in the process. Madam Speaker, we can say that South Africa, like many other countries on the continent has had an opportunity to react much quicker in somewhat slowing the spread of the virus, unlike most Western and Eastern Countries. This doesn’t mean that we should start celebrating. In fact, the worst is still upon us and calls for visionary leadership reciprocated by a cooperative citizenry, if we are to emerge on the other side.
We need firm action where people put themselves and those around them in danger by not following regulations. We need to do all that we can to save as many lives as possible.
Let us also thank the men and women on the frontline who are working tirelessly to ensure our safety and good health, while putting their own lives on the line.
One of the saddest realities highlighted by this pandemic, is how many of our people still live under the cruel shackles of poverty. Desperate families who are struggling to feed themselves are now more than ever asking for intervention from leaders. The haves, have a choice on whether to take their children back to school or continue with online learning, while the have-nots have no choice as it is either their children go back to school or don’t get education for the rest of the year. This also happening on the back or parents thinking on whether to forage for food, or stay at home and face starvation.
Businesses on the other hand is begging for the economy to start moving again, for them to survive and to keep the labour force employed.
Amartya Sen in Development as Freedom states that “What people can positively achieve is influenced by economic opportunities, political liberties, social powers, and the enabling conditions of good health, basic education, and the encouragement and cultivation of initiatives”.
The Economic opportunities are becoming less and less for many in our province, Premier. Every year, without fail, you Sir announces during the State of the Province Address (Sopa) that the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) will focus on creating job opportunities for the unemployed in the province. With specific focus on the youth, women and people living with disabilities. This is usually done through the Tshepo 1 Million programme or through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).
While you Sir constantly brags about the successes of the Tshepo 1 Million programme, the quarterly reports for this department during the last financial year paint a very different picture about how successful the Tshepo 1 Million programme has been. Every quarter there are job creation targets that are not met. For the 2019/2020 financial year the programme, the Office of the Premier failed to meet its target of training 200 000 economically excluded youth as part of the Pathways to Earning through the Tshepo 1 Million Programme. Only 127 426 economically excluded youth were placed.
This trend within the Office of the Premier is extremely concerning, given the current unemployment rate in a province that is seen as been the economic hub of the country. And yes, the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly changed the way in which we do things, however we cannot have a situation where the pandemic is used as an excuse as to why job creation targets are not going to be met for the next financial year. Programmes like Tshepo 1 Million are important as it provides our youth with opportunities to find jobs or to start their own small businesses, especially at time when the country and rest of the world are dependent on using technology to do business. Therefore, it is imperative that government embarks on training programmes that will equip our people with skills, particularly the youth as this will help them seek out sustainable job opportunities.
We propose that government become more friendly to business and ensure that partnerships with the private sector are entered into, enable the abortion of, and ensure that youth who do not have skills are to adequately given valuable on-the-job training as apprentices and interns, thereby giving them an opportunity to broaden their knowledge base and open the door to acquiring a permanent job.
Today we have a “new normal” where we are forced to embrace the 4th Industrial Revolution. Last year, the Premier committed to establishing a 4th Industrial Revolution Advisory Panel, which appears to be just a pipe dream of Premier Makhura. When asked about the progress made in this regard, it was found that this panel is yet to be established.
Given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic it is extremely concerning that no progress has been made in this regard. Having a panel in place that is able guide government on best practice is extremely important as this will go a long way in assisting SMMES and our youth in embracing the use of technology. In addition, this panel will also give government guidance on how best to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the digital industrial revolution in order for the economy to grow. This in turn will ensure that the right environment is created for businesses to be able to offer the unemployed sustainable job opportunities.
This is extremely important for our youth, as they will be equipped with digital innovation skills, that is needed in today’s age of modern technology. Gauteng cannot be left behind in the digital revolution as the way in which business is done by both government and the private sector is indeed evolving.
Our proposal is that government would ensure that an advisory panel of such a nature is established as a matter of urgency and that quarterly meetings are held to assess government’s use of new technology that could assist in streamlining government services.
The DA sincerely hopes that during this financial year, the Office of the Premier will ensure that the 4th Industrial Revolution Advisory Panel is established as a matter of urgency. This is the only way in which we can ensure that government is constantly updated about changes in technology that would assist in growing the economy of Gauteng, which will then boost job creation efforts in the province.
The Office of the Premier is supposed to be the crank that pulls and pushes all the pistons which are the departments, to ensure that the engine is moving forward. It doesn’t help that the office is performing better, if ultimately the departments aren’t following suit.
Premier, If we are to reach that which Amartya Sen describes as Positive achievement in the Development as Freedom, then the engine that is Gauteng Government needs to fire on all cylinders, and that calls for you to get all departments in line and do so quickly. The people of the Province demands that of you and all of us.