Freedom Front Plus
Freedom Front Plus

Northern Cape State of the Province Address: Focus areas sound fairly good, but will the ANC’s “developmental state” be able to implement them?

The State of the Province Address (SOPA) by the Northern Cape Premier, Dr Zamani Saul, focused mainly on the modernisation of the province, with particular reference to the fields of communication, education, health, safety and energy provision.

He, furthermore, stated that clean and effective governance is a prerequisite for South Africa to function properly as a developmental state.

Although the FF Plus supports modernisation and clean governance, the party believes that a free market with a government creating an environment that is conducive to growth is more appropriate.

Saul subtly contradicted President Cyril Ramaphosa's State of the Nation Address by strongly emphasising the role of government in job creation.

He boasted that unemployment in the province has decreased and that the province has the lowest unemployment rate in the country. The standard that he is using as a measure is, however, so poor that the apparent achievement carries very little value.

His emphasis on training the youth is positive and warrants support. In addition, he stated that the province itself will take over more and more of the functions that are currently being outsourced.

Adding value to mining products and the industrialisation of the province were also strongly emphasised. In this regard, the Premier highlighted cooperation between the Northern Cape, Namibia and Botswana through Special Economic Zones (SEZs).

This includes the development of the deep-sea port at Boegoebaai in the Richtersveld along with the associated railway development, and the Northern Cape hydrogen strategy.

The province is, therefore, allocating significant amounts to infrastructure development in its budget, while Sasol is investing heavily in the production of hydrogen. This is the type of development that the FF Plus supports, on condition that it must not end up in the quagmire of corruption and poor management.

The Premier also boasted of how cellular communication networks have been expanded in the province, but many rural areas still do not have access to it. In fact, the network availability in some places is worse than before.

Plans to completely modernise the provincial health care system could fill an essential gap, as long as the execution of these plans is effective.

The same goes for his plans for education (including post-school education and training), roads and municipal government. Each of these could bring the provincial economy to its knees if not executed properly.

Although the Premier spoke of the importance of food security, he paid very little attention to agriculture – the very foundation of food security.

It is a vital sector in the economy, but it is currently haunted by uncertainty due to populist statements about landownership. The FF Plus laments his silence on the matter.

On the topic of provincial support for sports teams, the Premier spoke about the Hungry Lions soccer team that is working hard towards qualifying to participate in the premier league, but he made no mention of the Griekwa rugby team that has been playing in the Currie Cup's premier league for decades. The FF Plus finds this absolutely baffling.

The team's funding is irrelevant; and its ongoing performance is indeed something to be proud of.

The FF Plus agrees that a strong focus on infrastructure, industrialisation – particularly as regards value addition to mining products – education and training of the youth, and energy provision through solar, wind and hydrogen production will help the province reach new heights. But agriculture must not be forgotten.

The question is whether transformation and Black Economic Empowerment (BEE), in terms of the current legislation, will be seen as more important than effective execution.

After all, that is the rock that has shattered many good plans in South Africa.



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