The needs of the Eastern Cape

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THE State of the Nation Address, which descended into a circus last Thursday, will today be followed by the State of the Province Address (Sopa), expected to be a much more stately affair.Premier Phumulo Masualle will be reflecting – and looking forward – on the state of affairs in the Eastern Cape.

The information he will share will have been supplied by various departments and advisers to give the people who call the province home a comprehensive picture of the challenges, potential and future plans.

What would you highlight if you had the opportunity to spend time with the premier, sharing your thoughts and views on the Eastern Cape prior to Sopa?

There are many areas in need of focus, most of which are shared on national level, but let us highlight a few. Firstly, education, particularly infrastructure, needs attention. The department can ill afford not spending another R530-million from the Education Infrastructure Grant this year – a feat which made headline news last year.

Secondly, there is a great need to address safety and security. HeraldLIVE reported this week that South Africans are increasingly feeling unsafe‚ with most households (41.7%) of the view that violent crime had increased in their areas in the last three years compared with 31.2% in 2010 – this according to a Victims of Crime survey released by Statistics South Africa in Pretoria on Tuesday.

While this is a national figure, chances are that people in the Eastern Cape have similar perceptions and, while this is a national function, much can be done in the province to make it safer.

Thirdly, there is a need to ensure capable and efficient municipalities that are held accountable for spending and delivery of services in their communities, even if it is by an autonomous body, with consequences for those who fail to do so.

At the same time, build up the infrastructure. Focus on fixing what’s broken – the vandalised electricity boxes, the collapsing stormwater drains, the leaking water pipes, the potholes – and ensure continued maintenance. Maintenance equals less money spent on costly repairs later on.

Another area in need of focus is employment and the creation of an entrepreneurial spirit. The Eastern Cape has phenomenal success stories of people who have achieved greatly despite battling some immense odds. Use their expertise and emulate their achievements. Create a province that delivers and job creation will grow.

We are all heedful of the challenges facing the province and that implementation is far more difficult than words on a page. The reality is, however, that a good leader will inspire, encourage and lead by example.

The eyes of the Eastern Cape will be on Masualle to do exactly that today.

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