Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane. Picture: Alan Eason
Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane. Picture: Alan Eason

In an effort to improve the capacity of municipalities to deliver basic services, the Eastern Cape government has developed a blueprint that will help local government.

In the fight against corruption, the provincial premier Oscar Mabuyane said it has consolidated the government’s anti-corruption forum and council into one body that will be chaired by the premier.

He said the number of officials doing business with the provincial government has decreased from 1,272 during 2018/2019 to 421 during 2020/2021.

“The majority of these remaining 421 officials are in health and education [departments]. We expect the relevant accounting officers to take action against these officials still doing business with the state,” said Mabuyane.

Municipalities, which are at the coalface of service delivery, have been marred by allegations of corruption, maladministration, mismanagement and inefficiency. In the Eastern Cape, only one of its 39 municipalities received a clean audit outcome from the auditor-general during the 2018/2019 financial year.

Delivering his state of the province address on Tuesday, Mabuyane said he is improving the capacity to intervene in provincial government departments and municipalities.

“We have also developed a municipal support intervention framework that will guide the interventions for the municipalities in the province,” he said. The interventions will be made in the areas of governance and institutional stability, financial management, public participation and land development.

“We have identified the source of some of the problems that cause instability in our municipalities, and in line with our constitutional mandate, the provincial government will intensify support to municipalities to arrest these political and capacity-related problems so that municipalities can continue to deliver on their mandate,” said Mabuyane.

On infrastructure development, he said the water shortages in the largely rural municipalities risk undermining Eastern Cape’s economic potential. The province commands an economy of about R350bn and is home to the manufacturing plants of Mercedes-Benz SA, Volkswagen SA, Ford SA, Isuzu Motors SA, FAW and BAIC.

Mabuyane said more than nine bulk water infrastructure projects, valued at R4.9bn, are at varying stages across the province.

The SA National Roads Agency will invest R16.8bn in the province’s roads over the next two years, while the department of higher education and training will invest R569m to build four new Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) campuses in the province.

Mabuyane said that through the expanded public works programme (EPWP) the province managed to create 95,697 jobs in January 2021, “which is equivalent to 102% of the EPWP annual target of 93,687 work opportunities”.

He said a number of strategic infrastructure programmes aimed at connecting, networking and rendering the province “one big construction site”, are being rolled out.

Special economic zones

The East London special economic zone (SEZ) and the Coega SEZ continue to be the province’s lodestar for attracting investment and creating job. He said these zones have been able to attract investment worth R19bn into the largely rural province.

In 2020, the East London SEZ completed the construction of nine investor facilities and the expansion of another three facilities.

“These facilities will create an additional 1,534 manufacturing and services jobs and will be operationalised within the next two years,” said Mabuyane. “The construction phase created an additional 4,039 construction job opportunities between 2019 and 2020. This year will see an additional six investor facilities constructed on the East London SEZ platform, while an additional two investors will be expanding their facilities in the zone.”

A new cheese factory in the SEZ will create 409 jobs during 2021/2022, while the factory’s construction phase is expected to create 1,800 jobs.

“Similarly, the Coega Development Corporation created 481 operational jobs and 3,951 construction jobs by the third quarter of the 2020/2021 financial year. We expect these numbers to increase by the end of the fourth quarter,” Mabuyane said.

Bobby Stevenson, DA leader in the Eastern Cape provincial legislature, said the party welcomed the announcements relating to infrastructure development, economic growth, and job creation.

“However, unless these initiatives are built on the rock of good governance, they will be swallowed up by the quicksands of corruption, cadre deployment, and maladministration,” said Stevenson. “The premier needs to ensure there is a strong foundation of consequence management, so that those who undermine the work being done are held to account.”

Update: February 23 2021
This article has been updated with comment and new information throughout.

mkentanel@businesslive.co.za

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