SOPA 2021: WHATSAPP-ENED TO THE PLAN?

STATEMENT BY BRETT HERRON, GOOD MEMBER OF WESTERN CAPE PROVINCIAL PARLIAMENT & SECRETARY-GENERAL

17 February 2021


The Premier wasted our time and provincial parliament resources. Fifty of us travelled to Genadendal. Guests from nearby towns joined us, as did members of the local community and of the media.

But instead of delivering the State of the Province Address we had travelled to hear, the speech was sent to us by WhatsApp and we were subjected to a rambling monologue of fuzzy ideas.

The Premier started by saying he could read his speech but it would take two hours and probably bore everyone. So he said he was tabling his speech, and that it would be Whatsapped to members.

He patronised the people in the audience who had come to hear a State of the Province Address. SOPA is a state function, not a DA Town Hall.

What we needed to hear was a detailed plan about the major challenges facing us, including:

COVID-19: VACCINATIONS & A PLAN FOR THE 3RD WAVE

The Province has promised to “go-it-alone” and procure its own vaccine.

The Premier needed to spend a lot of time detailing to the people of this province how our province will secure additional vaccines and how these will be rolled out.

Instead, in his Genadendal ramble, the Premier just confirmed what he stated to the media a month ago – that we are phoning vaccine developers looking for vaccines. That is not a plan.

As we come out of the second wave of the pandemic the next most important challenge, after vaccinations, that the Premier needed to speak to is how we will prepare for the third wave in a way that will avoid the need to return to a lockdown again.

The third wave is inevitable.

If we don’t plan differently to how we prepared for the second wave then another devastating lockdown is also inevitable.

The Premier’s failure to detail a proper plan, different to the one that failed for the second wave, is deeply disappointing and a dereliction of duty.

 
RESCUING OUR ECONOMY & CREATING JOBS:

In October 2020 the Premier announced that he would focus on building and repairing infrastructure using a dedicated Infrastructure Agency that would hold assets, borrow money and invest in infrastructure.

We welcomed the promise of investment in infrastructure. There is good precedent for the role that infrastructure development can play in resuscitating an economy and creating large numbers of jobs.

For every one job on a construction site seven jobs are created off-site in the supply chain.

But the Premier failed to address the progress of this Agency in any real detail. This is a massive intervention and it deserved a lot more attention than a passing mention.

What we needed to hear was how the agency will work, what infrastructure will be built and prioritised, and a real plan that the people of this province, and businesses in the construction sector, can rely on.

It was disrespectful of the Premier to fail to address this with the seriousness it deserved.

A TRANSPORT AUTHORITY: BACK TO THE FUTURE

The Premier has called for the establishment of a single Transport Authority for the greater Cape Town area.

In 2012 we established that Transport Authority and attempted to secure its longevity with a Transport Authority By-Law.

In December 2018, shortly after I resigned from the DA and the City of Cape Town, Mayor Dan Plato led the Council to rescind the by-law and destroy the Transport Authority, TDA, together with all of the work that had been done to create a reliable and efficient multi-modal transport network.

This was in line with the recommendation of the infamous Steenhuisen Report, prepared by DA Leader John Steenhuisen, which “found”, despite my detailed submission to refute this, that a single transport and development authority was too large to be managed.

Nevertheless, we welcome the about-turn and urge the Premier to persuade Plato to re-visit the TDA By-Law and the recommence the meetings of the Inter-Modal Planning Committee and the Land Transport Advisory Board.

HOUSING CRISIS:

The delivery of free and affordable housing is in crisis.

The delivery of free basic housing is falling in real numbers and the quality of the housing, and the location, entrenches and perpetuates the policy of apartheid.

The Premier failed to address how the Province can “lead from the front” when it comes to housing and find a way to increase delivery despite funding national funding cuts.

The delivery of inner-city affordable housing remains zero.

Last year the Premier promised to settle the Tafelberg School litigation. This would by implication mean rescinding the sale of the public property and making it available for a public purpose – like affordable housing.

The Premier did not settle the dispute and it was litigated to the end.

The Province lost the case and instead of announcing that the property will now be used for affordable housing the Premier is appealing the court decision.

The announcement of 13 000 housing opportunities in “CBDs” is reminiscent of the promise of 10 000 inner city affordable housing opportunities promised for Cape Town two years ago in March 2019.

In 2019 the Province committed to delivering 10 000 inner city affordable housing units.

Two years later and the Premier is unable to announce a credible plan for inner-city housing in the City of Cape Town. This is because as of two weeks ago, in response to my parliamentary questions, the MEC for Housing replied that there were no plans for inner city housing developments linked to the 10 000 units promised in 2019.

It is disappointing, but no longer surprising, that this government will not prioritise restructuring our apartheid planned towns and city so that affordable housing is available in well located areas and in areas that were declared “whites only” by the Group Areas Act.

THE REAL SOPA

Its is disappointing that the Premier did not honour the people of this province by delivering his actual SOPA.

We will have to study the speech and respond to that too.

ENDS…