Growing inequality in the Western Cape

Albert Fritz MPP

Western Cape Minister of Social Development

Let me say at the outset, that we do not deny the existence of inequality in South African, and yes, traces of inequality in all provinces including the Western Cape.

However, let us at the same time look at how the Western Cape compares with the other eight provinces in terms of inequality – i.e. the gap between the rich and the poor.

IHS Global Insight, provided by the South African Institute for Race Relations (South Africa Survey 2012)

INEQUALITY

THE PROVINCES COMPARED

GINI COEFFICIENTS

Province              2008       2009       2010       2011

Eastern Cape     0.66        0.65        0.64        0.61

Free State           0.66        0.65        0.64        0.62

Gauteng              0.65        0.63        0.62        0.61

KwaZulu-Natal  0.67        0.66        0.65        0.64

Limpopo              0.65        0.64        0.63        0.61

Mpumalanga     0.67        0.65        0.64        0.62

North West        0.64        0.63        0.63        0.61

Northern Cape  0.65        0.65        0.64        0.59

Western Cape   0.61        0.60        0.58        0.55

South Africa       0.66        0.65        0.64        0.63

Source: IHS Global Insight

So why is it that so many people flock to the Western Cape, from other provinces? I’ll tell you why. Life is better for everyone, where the DA governs. People have access to more services, better opportunities, and ultimately a better life. This of course speaks to a systemic problem in other provinces.

We will keep mopping up the leak, when in fact the tap must be fixed for example in the Eastern Cape. The entire province is dysfunctional, so naturally people will migrate to the Western Cape as they seek ways of providing for their families. Let me be clear. It is their right to move around freely in South Africa and settle in any province of their choice.

How interesting that very often, the policies, that perpetuate inequality, are not DA policies, they are in fact ANC policy.

Let me give you an example: RDP Housing. This policy comes straight from Joe Slovo, with the rubber stamp of the ANC all over it.

Drive through any community, not just in the Western Cape, but anywhere in South African and you are greeted with the striking picture of inequality, painted by RDP housing.

But let us look for a moment at what is being done in the Western Cape, to address the needs of the poor.

Human Settlements

In terms of this province’s delivery record, the stats speak for themselves:

  • From April 2009 to 31 March 2013, 94 228 sites and houses, were delivered
  • Since April 2009, R166.3 m has been spent on individual subsidies, creating 2 385 new housing opportunities.
  • R121 million has been spent on the Extended Enhanced Discount Benefit Scheme, which uses a housing subsidy to write off old housing loans, and which enabled 3 911 householders to receive title deeds.
  • Since April 2009, 789 social housing opportunities, where people pay a reduced rental based on their income have been delivered
  • Since April 2009, a further R714.7 million has been spent on upgrading and renovating existing Community Rental Units.
  • In addition, R129.7 million has been spent on the procurement of land for housing projects.
  • Not to mention the millions of rands spent on fixing the poor workmanship on housing delivered under the ANC Government.

Education

One of the most important ways out of poverty and inequality, is education.

  • In 2009, the Western Cape Education Department introduced a telematics pilot project in 10 schools to help assist learners in improving academic performance after school hours. Subjects include Mathematics, Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, Accounting, English First Additional Language, Afrikaans Home Language and Geography. The programme also allows learners to interact with the presenter in the studio through the Internet or a cellphone. They can also pose questions to the presenter after the broadcasts. Since the success of the pilot in 2009, the programme has continued to expand year on year in the Western Cape. Today, a total of 146 schools across the province receive the broadcasts.
  • In 2011, learners in Grades 1 to 3 and 10 and 12 received textbooks in core subjects and readers. Learners in Grades 4 to 6 and 11then received their textbooks in 2012. The WCED has now begun the roll-out of the third and final stage of our plan. This stage will include supplying all learners with CAPS-aligned textbooks in Grades 7 to 9 and further textbooks in Grade 12.  (Mention Limpopo).
  • The Western Cape Education Department has already met its objective of universal access to Grade R by 2014. Currently, a total of 1 288 schools offer Grade R in the Western Cape.

These include 932 public schools and 356 private pre-schools. While we have reached the national target of universal access to Grade R, the WCED will continue to expand access to Grade R in public schools across the province this year.

Healthcare

  • The Western Cape Health Department recently announced state-of-the-art radiation equipment that has been procured by Groote Schuur Hospital for the treatment of cancer patients. The acquisition of this equipment will provide high quality and integrated treatment to cancer patients. The new equipment is able to treat 50 patients per day, whereas the equipment that was acquired in 2007 was able to treat 25 patients per day.  Last year Groote Schuur Hospital oncology unit treated 2922 new patients.
  • The Western Cape Government Health is providing free polio and measles immunisation to all children under the age of five years.  Health workers visited children in schools and crèches and administered polio drops to protect them against polio. At the same time all children from 9 months to 59 months received a measles vaccination.
  • In 2012 Khayelitsha Hospital was opened. It has a large obstetric and maternity unit, an emergency unit, an x-ray department, pharmacy, rehabilitation unit, a mortuary and operating theatres. This hospital provides access to quality healthcare straight to approximately 500 000 to 1 500 000 people in the Khayelitsha area.

Youth Development

While the ANC’s focus is purely on short-term fixes, we see the value in long-term sustainable development that will have the effect of reducing the gap between the rich and the poor.

In my department, we recognise the value of investing in our youth. With more than 70 % of all unemployed people in this country being under the age of 35, it is no secret that significant moves must be made to turn this picture around.

To this extent, my department now has a youth development narrative in place that envisages the following:

‘By age 25 all young people of the Province should be economically self –sufficient and independent, healthy, with positive family, personal and social relationships, and should be active in their community’.  In pursuing these outcomes for young people the narrative identifies a wide range of services, programmes, and support for young people that will ensure that they have access to the kinds of opportunities they need for their own development.

We also recognise that the implementation of this ambitious strategy requires the cooperation of all of my departmental programmes and sub-programmes, transversal linkages with other government departments and most critically, implementation partnerships between ourselves, NGOs, communities, families and most importantly, the young people themselves.

We are focussing a lot on those young people that are colloquially referred to as NEETS- not in employment, education, or training.  At the risk of sounding trite, we want to ensure that we have more EETS than NEETS! Our NEETS strategy is a transversal one and involves ensuring that we create the broadest spectrum of opportunities, services and support for these young people, via the EPWP, Community Works Programme, PAY Programme and other similar initiatives.

This is how we are narrowing the gap between the have’s and the have not’s in our province, in the long-run.

The point I want to make is that while there is a degree of inequality in the Western Cape, we are working hard to narrow the gap between those who have, and those who don’t.

We have built hospitals, built well over 50 schools since 2009, improved and expanded roads, delivered serviced sites for housing, provided young people with work and skills opportunities, and much, much more.

We will continue to extend opportunities to people that will enable them to better their lives and their living conditions. So instead of accusing the DA and the Western Cape of not doing enough for the poor, the ANC should be striving to improve inequality levels in all eight other provinces under their governance. The Western Cape stands a head above them all.

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