EC premier Oscar Mabuyane unveils stimulus package to grow jobs

Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane delivers the State of the Province Address in Bhisho on June 28
Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane delivers the State of the Province Address in Bhisho on June 28
Image: Michael Pinyana

In a drive to halve the 37% unemployment rate in the Eastern Cape within the next five to 10 years, premier Oscar Mabuyane on Friday announced that 16 new projects were in the pipeline as part of a stimulus package that would bring new, sustainable jobs to the province.

A provincial investment council will be established to push for investments across the province while in a month’s time an investment envoy would be appointed to co-ordinate the initiatives.

Delivering his maiden state of the province address at a scaled-down affair in Bhisho, Mabuyane announced a number of game-changing projects he believes would bring a much-needed boost to the province.

These include:

● Support packages to local fishermen in coastal towns, including small fishing boats and facilitating reforms in acquiring fishing licences;

● Capitalising on the value chains that cannabis has to offer as the plant is in abundance in the province;

● The development of small harbours in Port St Johns, Cape St Francis and Port Alfred to create jobs within five years;

● Setting up an infrastructure co-ordinating council to include district and executive mayors, to drive infrastructure development across all sectors;

● Appointing 500 unemployed nurses and 300 support staff to ensure clinics and hospitals are staffed and clean;

● Developing a province-wide local government “dashboard” to monitor project implementation in municipalities;

● Assisting the youth in manufacturing, ICT, tourism, maritime, agri-industry, sustainable energy and arts through the Isiqalo Youth Fund; and

● Establishing a Home of Legends Museum and annual Home of Legends Awards.

Mabuyane said: “We are taking a stand to end [the] silo mentality in our province, particularly [in] investments.

“It is detrimental to the

bigger cause of building the Eastern Cape we want.”

Earlier, he said the 16 projects that would benefit from the R336.9m set aside for the year to stimulate the economy would be unpacked by MEC of finance Mlungisi Mvoko when he delivers his policy speech.

Concrete targets would be given in February when Mabuyane delivers his next state of the province address.

With a big focus by the sixth administration on agriculture, Mabuyane said: “We will heighten the introduction of more black emerging farmers in the processing of commodities, such as deciduous fruit.

“We will also consolidate the already existing efforts and research on the development of cannabis value chains in a manner that ensures inclusion.

“We cannot be missing in action when our province is endowed with a crop that can be ploughed and processed to make medicinal products and create jobs for our people.”

He said tea factories had to be re-nergised and refurbished, telling journalists earlier that all government departments and municipalities in the Eastern Cape would procure Magwa tea – and not any other tea – as this was the government’s way of protecting jobs at the Magwa Tea Estate in the Lusikisiki area into which it has pumped millions of rand.

With young graduates battling to find jobs, Mabuyane said he had instructed director-general Marion Mbina-Mthembu to ensure all departments adhere to the national directive that the jobs experience requirement for all entry-level posts be done away with.

The government would also be forced to recoup money from staff who processed invoices and paid for shoddy work. “We must see value for money with every invoice we pay and I urge civil servants to do due diligence before paying for services rendered,” Mabuyane said.

He has also tasked Mbina-Mthembu to look into how officials could introduce lifestyle audits in the public sector as a measure to fight corruption.

“If you start working in government with five sheep, surely you can’t have 1,000 livestock after five years.”

Mabuyane said he would knock on the door of police minister Bheki Cele to send more police to Nelson Mandela Bay and Mthatha.

He said a probe had to be launched into the reasons for the high levels of crime in the two cities.

More schools would also have wi-fi connections as the provincial government wanted to intensify the roll-out of Elearning.

“A child in Lusikisiki and other previously disadvantaged communities will know what a tablet is and how to use it,” Mabuyane said.

Reacting to the speech, DA leader in the legislature Nqaba Bhanga said Mabuyane had failed to address youth unemployment.

“These plans sound nice but they are clouded by corruption,” Bhanga said.

He said the speech had not given hope to the people of the province and it did not inspire confidence.

“These are all plans. It’s the same rhetoric and I am going to challenge him and lay out a plan on Tuesday when I respond to the Sopa,” Bhanga said.

EFF MPL Yazini Tetyana said Mabuyane’s speech did not explain how the plans would be implemented.

“The speech speaks about opportunities but it did not say what jobs we are going to create. People are asking where the jobs are and if you are going to talk about plans you must be able to explain how you are going to employ our people. We are generally unhappy with the speech,” Tetyana said.