Gauteng Prime Minister David Makhura outlined his plan for economic development and job creation on Monday, promising it will be realized in the next two years.
Makhura, who delivered its eighth Sopa, said the province was recovering from the impact of Covid-1.9, which saw millions of jobs lost as the pandemic devastated an economy already on its knees.
With Covid regulations still in place, Makhura said, the fight against Covid-19 has been limited and “could just quickly become endemic”.
“In this context, we are boldly shifting our main focus and energy to tackle unemployment through economic recovery and reconstruction.
“I want to reassure the people of Gauteng that we will focus on all the reordered priorities outlined in this state of the province, with economy and jobs at the top of our agenda over the next two years.”
‘War space to grow small businesses and create jobs’
To tackle these challenges, the province has set up a ‘war room’ where it has joined forces with the business community.
The war chamber will coordinate and boost economic recovery, promote growth, create jobs and support SMEs.
“In partnership with the Public-Private Growth Initiative (PPGI), we will work with businesses, organized labor, state-owned enterprises and relevant national government departments to revitalize Gauteng’s economy.
“Both the nature and magnitude of the economic and other challenges facing our province is that it is imperative for all stakeholders and partners to find ways to embed the practice of partnerships as our modus operandi,” he said.
For the tourism industry, Makhura announced what he called a “Gauteng Air Access” partnership with the airline industry to encourage air travel and tourism through the province’s two airports – OR Tambo International Airport and Lanseria.
As for the cannabis industry, the prime minister said a dedicated cannabis entrepreneurship unit is in the pipeline and the industry would work with the national government.
“Stakeholders will address regulatory and licensing issues, attract investment and facilitate black participation in this new sector that has enormous medicinal and industrial potential.”
In his State of the Nation (Sona) address last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa identified cannabis as an important emerging sector for the economy, adding that the growth of the cannabis and hemp trade could create at least 130,000 new jobs.
’11 new clinics in two years’
The provincial government plans to build 11 new clinics by 2024. According to Makhura, 334 clinics have reached “ideal status”, representing 91% of primary health facilities.
“Ideal clinics are facilities that are open on time, patient-friendly, safe and supported by adequate medical facilities and clean equipment.
“The Gauteng public health system remains the largest public health system in southern Africa. The province continues to strive for better health outcomes for the entire population, including reducing non-communicable diseases.”
With most senior management positions still vacant, Makhura said 33 of the 37 CEO positions in hospitals have been filled.
He said the recovery of Charlotte Maxeke Hospital, which was destroyed by fire nearly a year ago, was on track. Makhura and his team came under fire for delays in repairing the hospital.
The decision to remove the infrastructure development department in the project and put the national health ministry in charge, Makhura said, due to “not on-time delivery” and budget concerns.
“Both the provincial and national health departments are now collaborating with the Development Bank of Southern Africa
as a performer. We will make sure that the work is done and done professionally, on time and at cost.”
The province’s public health system has so far served 1.3 million patients in the Ministry of Health’s centralized chronic drug dispensing and distribution program, Makhura said.
Gauteng was listed as the worst offender in PPE corruption by the SIU on contracts worth R6 billion. Doubtful service providers, senior officials and political parties were involved in the scandal.
Makhura tried to assure the public that his government was closing gaps to prevent corruption, and said proper processes would be tightened to ensure clean governance.
“Following the PPE saga, we instituted fraud detection assessments for all contracts worth over R10 million. Where we pick up irregularities, we terminate such contracts with immediate effect.”
“On the level of preventing corruption and strengthening the detection of fraud in our contracts, we have asked the Treasury to review its effectiveness, to avoid loopholes that go undetected,” he said.