Port Elizabeth – With just a few weeks left before the official end of the current term of government, President Jacob Zuma has expressed satisfaction about government’s performance in the Nelson Mandela Bay region of the Eastern Cape over the past five years.
On Tuesday, President Zuma, flanked by at least seven of his ministers in government, visited Port Elizabeth as part of the Siyahlola Presidential Monitoring Programme. He was in the area to monitor progress made in the delivery of services such as water, sanitation, energy and housing by local authorities.
The President’s activities in the Eastern Cape coastal town included meetings with local authorities, the business sector as well civil society. Earlier in the day, President Zuma was hosted by the region’s biggest radio station, Umhlobo Wenene FM, where he had an opportunity to communicate to the Eastern Cape’s population of more than six million.
He wrapped up his day with a report back to community members, who had gathered at a community hall in New Brighton township. There, President Zuma told the packed hall that the three spheres of government had presided over several successful infrastructure programmes which, he said, continued to make a difference to the province’s economy and its people.
He called on the people of the Eastern Cape and South Africa to go out in their numbers and vote for a government of their choice during the national election scheduled for 7 May.
President Zuma, who arrived in New Brighton to cheering throngs, acknowledged how improvements had been made in the Eastern Cape economy and service delivery since his last visit (in his capacity as the President of South Africa) to the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality in 2012. The Eastern Cape was now seen more and more as a booming young investment destination in South Africa.
He said government had, over the past five years of the current administration and the 20 years of democracy in South Africa, managed to steer an economy that would help sustain better livelihoods and reverse the inequalities engineered by the Apartheid system.
True to his charismatic character, President Zuma, whose mother tongue is isiZulu, addressed the more than 5 000 people entirely in isiXhosa, which is the dominant language in the Eastern Cape. But when the President tried to persuade ministers to do the same – speak isiXhosa – this proved to be a mission for Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.
“Well Mr President, I can speak a bit of Setswana but I will have difficulties with my Xhosa, which is not good at all,” Minister Davies said, to good natured laughter from the crowd.
He reported though that his department had spent more than R1 billion in investment incentive schemes in the Eastern Cape over the past three years. These were aimed at encouraging investments in the automotive sector and the Coega Industrial Development Zone (IDZ), said Minister Davies.
Government had also committed to support local manufacturing throughout policy initiatives such as the New Growth Path. As a result of this commitment by government to support companies that encourage local manufacturing, companies like Aspen Pharmacare had expanded their operations in the Eastern Cape.
Investor confidence in the Coega IDZ, which is South Africa’s biggest IDZ, has continued to grow, with six new investors committing to the IDZ in the second half of 2012, and new investments injecting R1.7 billion into the Eastern Cape economy in 2012/13.
First Automotive Works (FAW) China and the China-Africa Development Fund have also invested in the first commercial vehicles plant in the province and the investment is set to eventually produce 5 000 trucks a year.
Earlier, Eastern Cape Premier Noxolo Kiviet reported that over the last five years, the provincial government had managed to refurbish hospitals, including the Cecilia Makhiwane, in East London.
More than 600 nurses were trained by the Ilitha College, while R32 million was spent on a rehabilitation centre situated in Port Elizabeth’s KwaDwesi township. To date, said Premier Kiviet, over 5 000 people had been employed at the Port of Ngqurha. – Chris Bathembu, SAnews.gov.za
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