20 January 2024
Western Cape Cabinet Meeting
Premier Alan Winde chaired the first meeting for 2024 of the Western Cape Government (WCG) Cabinet.
Opening the meeting, the Premier said, “We are facing challenging months until the end of this administration’s term and beyond. We must continue to steady the ship, all the while keeping the needs of our residents foremost. Long-term thinking and planning should guide everything we do. The Western Cape will continue to be the province of hope. We have become the hope for South Africa.”
Premier Winde also reflected on the past festive season, “We had an amazing festive season. Visitors from all over the country and the world chose our province as their holiday destination. We must build on this positive momentum in 2024 to keep growing our economy and creating more jobs.”
He also expressed his gratitude to all disaster management officials across the province for all they did over the festive season in battling fires and managing other incidents. “This was a challenging festive season for our fire fighters and we know that they still have a way to go – thank you to all of our officials for working so hard while some of us had a chance to relax and refresh,” said Premier Winde.
Premier Winde also spoke of the opportunities and challenges that we must address in engaging with Artificial Intelligence (AI) as the WCG. He said, “When used constructively and positively, AI can enhance decision-making, especially in the longer term, and bolster our efficiencies to further improve on the work the WCG does for its residents. We also know there are potential risks – as a government we must engage with the technology and see how we can make it work in the interests of our residents.”
Local government interventions
Cabinet considered two reports on the worrying state of Beaufort West and Knysna municipalities.
It received an update on the implementation of a Financial Recovery Plan (FRP) at Beaufort West municipality. The municipality has a long history of financial problems that stem from governance and administrative failures. The FRP sets out a plan for the municipality to achieve a funded budget position over three years. These reports show evidence of progress towards achieving several of the financial targets contained in the plan.
Western Cape Finance and Economic Opportunities Minister, Mireille Wenger noted that Beaufort West is moving in the right direction, but more still needs to be done and that the WCG was working with the municipality to ensure the financial stability of the municipality. .
Knysna Local Municipality is experiencing significant service delivery challenges. Provincial Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning Minister, Anton Bredell, said, “The municipality is failing in all core services. We cannot keep assisting it financially as this is not viable.”
The WCG has engaged with the municipality on several occasions, with letters also being sent to Mayor Tsengwa reminding him of his responsibilities to alert the provincial government of serious problems affecting the municipality.
Cabinet was also told about concerns of “mafias” attempting to infiltrate various service delivery functions in the town. “This is completely unacceptable. We are considering our options.,” stressed the Premier.
It was resolved that the WCG remains committed to supporting and strengthening the capacity of Knysna Local Municipality to manage its own affairs and perform its constitutional functions as a separate sphere of government. ”We have a responsibility as the provincial government to support the municipality to deliver services, but we also have to respect that it is a separate sphere of government that must also be held accountable by the residents,” concluded Premier Winde.Emergency Municipal Load-Shedding Relief (EMLR) Grant
Cabinet received an update on the progress of the R88.815 million Emergency Municipal Load-Shedding Relief (EMLR) Grant given to municipalities across the Western Cape early last year to protect critical services during high stages of power cuts.
2023 saw the worst year of load shedding to date which placed services such as the supply of water and sanitation at serious risk. The provincial government stepped in and made the emergency funds available to local governments to address this risk.
Cabinet is pleased to note that municipalities have made notable progress on their EMLR Grant projects.
Premier Winde concluded the meeting by urging his Cabinet and the WCG family to work even harder this year, with increased determination, to keep improving the lives of our citizens.