COSATU Eastern Cape reflections on the State of the Province Address (SOPA)

The Congress of South African Trade Unions in the Eastern Cape welcomes the State of the Province Address (SOPA) delivered by the Honourable Premier Lubabalo Mabuyane on 24 February 2023.

The SOPA was tabled at a time when the province is faced with numerous challenges. Because of these challenges, there was an apparent interest and curiosity for the provincial government’s plans led by the premier and its approach towards the eradication of the shortcomings and backlogs in the province. The premier covered a lot of ground in his address, and we will reflect on the highlights.

With Eastern Cape being among the provinces hardest hit by a triple crisis of unemployment, poverty and inequality, Mabuyane mentioned the outcomes of the Investment Conference as the biggest investment value ever attracted to the economy of the Eastern Cape in one year under the democratic dispensation. He further indicated that these newly announced investments, projects worth over R1.3 billion are underway with 1,198 jobs created. This will impact positively on economic growth.  However, he was quick to indicate that sustaining the momentum on economic growth and job creation we need more investors to come to our province.

A lot of effort to lure the investors to come to the province must be made and infrastructure as one of the incentives must be up to competitive standards. We hope that infrastructure development taking place across the province is geared towards realizing this objective among others.

Development and the revitalization of infrastructure at Industrial Parks in the province would turn to reality the long-awaited operations which will result in job creation in areas where the Industrial Parks are located,

COSATU welcomes the establishment of an Eastern Cape Economic Development Fund which we will recapitalize with private partners to unlock future investments.

Considering that we are a rural province, the work of establishing a Veterinary Faculty at Fort Hare is a commendable development. This faculty will assist in ensuring that maximum support is provided even to small scale famers in the rural areas and enhance their development.

Establishment of an auto sector aftermarket programme that will benefit 300 panel beaters and mechanics in our province is another initiative that is welcomed and appreciated by COSATU. The skills acquired in the implementation of this programme will enhance the standard and quality of the panel beaters and mechanics as well as sustain their businesses coupled with job creation.

Taking opportunities that come along with tourism is critical for the SMME sector. Upscaling the SMME’s will enhance job creation and economic growth. Government intervention in that space is appreciated.

COSATU is encouraged by the ongoing government intervention in the provision of student debt relief. Majority of the students who encounter challenges of debt are from the working-class communities and find it difficult to keep up with the high cost of tertiary education.

Empowerment of women isa revolutionary necessity. COSATU applauds provincial government’s commitment to scale up interventions of ensuring the full participation of women in the provincial economy. Government must monitor the implementation of legislations that promote women participation in the economy on the part of private sector.

Education is a societal matter. Organs of the Civil Society must join hands in addressing the challenge of learners who are not finishing their schooling. Government alone cannot succeed in resolving this challenge alone.

COSATU finds comfort in the establishment of the Provincial Forensic Laboratory and the announcement that it is now operational. This will improve the ability to resolve cases of GBVF which are on the rise.  This is another area where society must stand up in defense of women who are brutalized by male counterparts with some ending up committing suicide.

Despite determined efforts by the South African Police Service to conduct operations, murders in the province of the Eastern Cape are on the rise. This unpleasant situation is aggravated by the incidents of mass shootings and killings in some parts of our province. Police and other law enforcement agencies will never win a fight against these murders and mass killings without active citizens. Our communities must stand up against these acts and reclaim our streets working with the police service.

COSATU applauds the Provincial Government working together with Medical Bureau for Occupational Diseases (MBOD), Tshiamiso Trust and Qhubeka Trust in facilitating the compensation for over 18 600 ex-mine workers for occupational diseases. Furthermore, over 5 400 former mine workers have been paid their Unemployment Insurance Fund by the Department of Employment and Labour while 197 have been paid Provident Fund by the Mine Workers Provident Fund. Unions must also play their role in assisting former members and ex-workers in getting what is due to them. 

There is a need for the provincial government to improve public service delivery in line with the contents of the Public Service Delivery Campaign launched by NEHAWU in Mthatha on 17 February 2023.

      Issued by COSATU Eastern Cape

      Mkhawuleli Maleki-COSATU Provincial Secretary

     Mobile: 082 339 5482