The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs recently approved a process to increase the number of women ward councillors. This was announced at the Women in Provincial and Local Government Summit held in Bloemfontein in August. The process is expected to be put into practice ahead of the local government elections in 2011. Since 2006, women councillors have increased from 29 to 40 per cent. The aim is to reach 50 per cent in 2011.
The John Dube Disability Friendly Clinic in Scenery Park, Buffalo City (Formerly East London) has been upgraded. This will ensure that the needs of all patients are met, including those who use wheelchairs and the deaf. Disability toilets have been fixed, ramps were built and special beds were bought for people in wheelchairs. Sign language interpreters will help nursing staff to communicate with deaf patients. The clinic will also cater for those affected by HIV and AIDS.
To bring government services closer to people living in remote rural areas, the province's Department of Social Development is to build 27 one-stop development centres. Services will include the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), the departments of health, home affairs and labour and the South African Police Service. The centres will also be a market where local communities can sell their produce. In addition, each centre will have its own community garden.
A Business Development Resources Centre (IBDRC) was opened in Siyathemba township, outside Balfour in August. The centre will encourage the growth of small, micro and medium enterprises (SMMEs) in the area. It is a joint project by the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) and mining company, Great Basin Gold. Services at the centre include business information and advice, as well as improving access to finance and training, mentoring and coaching in business skills.
President Jacob Zuma launched the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme (CRDP) in the village of Muyexe in Giyani in August. The CRDP is government's national plan to fight poverty, hunger, unemployment and lack of development in rural areas. It aims to create jobs and boost economic growth in rural communities. It will also ensure the delivery of clean water, decent shelter and proper sanitation.
The provincial government will hold a summit this month to discuss the effects of the economic slowdown in the province. It forms part of efforts to boost economic growth and development in the region. The meeting will include role players from business, labour and civil society. It will address issues related to co-operation between different sectors of government, as well as the private sector and other social partners.