Working together with parents of learners to improve education, increasing the number of tourists visiting the province, upgrading provincial roads and supporting struggling municipalities are top of the agenda for the Eastern Cape government.
Delivering his State of the Province Address, Premier Phumulo Masualle said government and citizens of the province should work together to overcome the challenges faced by government.
“These challenges are not insurmountable. Working together we can, and we will overcome them. This we shall do in fulfillment of the commitment we made to the people of the Eastern Cape to lead a collective effort towards a better life for all.”
He added that partnering with the people of the province has brought success.
“In partnership with our people, we have improved access to services for most of the citizens of our province, we have built houses and we have made health services more accessible.”
Working together with parents
Premier Masualle urged parents to protect the right of learners to education.
In Port Elizabeth recently, parents who were unhappy with government decided to keep their children away from school to send a message to the department.
“The unjustifiable acts by some sections of our communities of keeping their children away from schools as a way of expressing their displeasure with government services are unacceptable and cannot be condoned. We should at all material times protect the rights of learners to quality education.”
He also added that the provincial government would support the implementation of broadband connectivity.
“In order to assist the education e-learning initiative targeting 560 identified schools, support of broadband connectivity will be implemented.”
Boosting tourism in the province
Premier Masualle said the province should take advantage of its popularity as a tourist destination.
“The Eastern Cape is also a popular tourism destination, and more work is being done to ensure that the number of tourists visiting the province increases.”
He added that in the 2013/14 financial year, the province saw an increase in the number of people visiting.
“International tourists arrivals have improved by 9.3 percent from 2013/14 and domestic arrivals have increased by 57.2 percent, in the same period.”
Local government plays an important role in delivering services to the people. Premier Masualle said it is important that all the struggling municipalities of the province are assisted by the provincial government and this will be done through the Back to Basics approach.
“Through the Back to Basics Programme, we are providing hands-on support to municipalities throughout the province.
“We are also rolling out War Rooms in all wards in order to promote citizen participation in planning and programme implementation.”
He added that one municipality is already getting this assistance from the programme.
“As we speak, the Chris Hani district has been leading in the rolling out of these War Rooms at ward level, with 112 of them established and functional.”
To increase efficiency and service delivery at local government level, four municipal boundaries have been re-determined.
“This will result in the amalgamation of 9 municipalities into 4 new municipal entities from July 2016. We are working hard to ensure a smooth process of amalgamation and formation of the new entities,” he said.
Since 2015, the country has been experiencing by severe drought leading to the death of many animals. The provincial government has assisted farmers through different drought relief strategies.
Five districts in the province have been declared disaster areas.
“As part of our mitigation strategies, these districts were declared drought disaster areas, and to this effect more than R129 million has been reprioritised towards supporting farmers in the affected areas as part of the drought relief,” he explained.
He urged citizens to continue using water responsibly. “We cannot over emphasise the need to conserve water and minimise water wastage.”