The State of the Province Address (SOPA), took place at Mittah Seperere Convention Centre on Thursday last week. A full house attended to hear what the Premier had to say about the state of affairs in the Northern Cape. With all protocol present, Premier Sylvia Lucas delivered her 40-page address on the occasion of the sixth session of the fifth legislature.
The main features of the SOPA were; Good Governance, Bursaries and Study Loans, Municipalities, Effective Council Outreach, Economic Transformation, Innovation and the Knowledge Economy (ICT), Agriculture and Agro-Processing, Mining and Mineral Beneficiation, Kimberley International Diamond and Jewellery Academy, Tourism Market Development, development of the energy sector, manufacturing and trade, competitive infrastructure development, the Maritime Economy, Environmental sustainability and Resilience, Social Transformation, Education, Crime, Gender Based Violence and Youth.
With 71 days to the elections, Lucas had many proud achievements to report on stating that improving the lives of the people is a common purpose for all who have the power to do so, “Even though tremendous efforts have been made over the last 25 years, there is a need to identify innovative ways of addressing the triple challenge of poverty, unemployment and inequality which is still entrenched in our Province,” she began.
Touching on numerous challenges and solutions to problems that the Northern Cape is experiencing, Lucas emphasised the high unemployment rate and the importance of calling out corrupt governance, “We have a high unemployment rate in the South Africa, and a lot of the people that are unemployed are actually graduates. The Country’s skills shortages urgently need to be addressed via serious departmental intervention so as to rid our country of this problem,” she continued, adding that “If people are corrupt and you know it, you need to go and report it at the law enforcing agencies. We need to develop a conducive work environment to stop corruption and we have done so via the anti-corruption strategies and policies that have been implemented at every single provincial department. We stand firm alongside the president of the Republic when he called for stronger action against corruption and crime; be it in the public or private sector”.
ANC Provincial Secretary, Deshi Ngxanga was pleased with the report delivered by the Premier, “We are very impressed and happy with the speech, we thought it was well balanced. We are excited about the youth development fund that will ensure that we involve the youth in pro-active things like business initiatives in the province. We are also excited about the establishment of an infrastructure fund, through this fund, we will be able to employ a number of youth which will in turn assist with reducing the high unemployment rate”.
Pakes Dikgetsi, leader of the opposition party, COPE, on the other hand, was not impressed. “It was an incoherent speech which lacked substance. Since 2014 there has never been a plan, the Premier has no plan for the Northern Cape. All she tells us about are the National plans. All we wanted was the plan for the Northern Cape. She has nothing to account for the five years that she has been Premier. The result is that 52% of the people of the Northern Cape live in poverty, 27% of them are unemployed, the result is that there is only a 43% labour absorption rate which means that for every 100 students that leave school, only 43 of them have hope of finding employment. It is not surprising therefore, that she cannot report on anything”.