Freedom Front Plus
Freedom Front Plus

Northern Cape SOPA: More promises while the province’s potential remains unrealised

The Northern Cape Premier, Dr Zamani Saul's State of the Province Address (SOPA) was once again filled with promises of better service delivery and economic growth. Unfortunately, very little came of any of the previous promises.

New job opportunities are created despite the provincial government, not thanks to it. It is still remarkable that with 22% the Northern Cape is currently the province with the lowest unemployment rate.

It was also announced that the past year's provincial economic growth was 2% (the same as for the country on the whole) and that 2,7% is projected for 2023 (compared to the national rate of 1,7%).

One example of what a difference a private investment can make is the nearly R400 million that cell phone companies spent on infrastructure to promote the provincial broadband strategy.

The provincial services that have the greatest impact on ordinary citizens' lives are education, roads and health. The state of these ranges from unsatisfactory to critical.

Although some roads are in a good condition, the main routes used by mines between Kathu and the export ports cannot carry the heavy loads.

Responsibility for large parts of the route has been transferred to SANRAL, which will establish a Northern Cape office. It should alleviate the burden on the province.

Additionally, gravel roads are seldom scarified and are sometimes inaccessible.

The Northern Cape Department of Health usually makes the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Provincial hospitals' infrastructure is fairly good, but in many instances, administrative support is inadequate. Saul, however, gave the assurance that they are working on improving this.

The announcement that the Vendanta Mine at Aggeneys will develop an oncology ward at the Springbok Hospital highlights the provincial government's ineptitude.

In general, clinics leave much to be desired, which creates a crisis particularly in remote settlements.

After a number of preventable deaths occurred due to a lack of ambulances, Saul announced that new ambulances were delivered last week. Frequent maintenance is the key here.

Northern Cape schools range from excellent to basically dysfunctional.

Since 1994, when this province boasted the highest matric pass rate in the country, things went downhill and the province frequently found itself in the last place. In 2022, however, that doubtful honour was exchanged for the penultimate place.

Saul made mention of e-learning strategies according to which all schools must have internet connections. The R80 million that was spent on tablets for matriculants forms part of it.

Whether it will in any way improve education remains to be seen.

On a positive note, the province offers ample development opportunities for renewable energy and green hydrogen.

The provincial government is actively involved in creating infrastructure for it.

The provincial construction company, established for projects of this nature, also received a lot of attention.

Regarding local government, the fact that all municipalities submitted their financial statements on time was held up as an achievement. But it points to the extent of the crisis in this area.

What makes the Northern Cape SOPA a pleasant experience is how much Afrikaans one hears. The province is predominantly Afrikaans and whoever wants to be understood must be able to speak the language.

Another striking element was the presence of the Russian Consul General, Mr Aleksei Malenko. What it is supposed to mean in the chaos that is South African diplomacy remains unclear.

This SOPA reaffirms the need to abolish cadre deployment and Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) to develop the Northern Cape's full potential.



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