Joint media release: Selfless work of civil society & public servants celebrated in Premier’s “Listening Tour”
This week Premier Alan Winde’s “Listening Tour” moved to Paarl. The aim of the “Listening Tour” – which has crisscrossed the Western Cape over the past few months – is for the Premier to visit communities across the length and breadth of the province to see for himself how critical services are being delivered, where improvements can be made and to hear directly from residents about their issues.
At the TC Newman Community Day Centre, where Premier Winde made an unannounced visit, he was impressed by the spacious waiting area and how clean the facility was. “This is the first step to offering people dignified services,” he remarked.
The visit coincided with a two-day province-wide taxi strike. A manager told the Premier some staff could not report for duty due to the stayaway. The Premier said, “It is unfortunate that strikes like this, while protected in most cases, do impact on service delivery. This action by the South African Taxi Council, though, has been marred by violence and must be condemned in the strongest terms.” Continuing with the tour, the Premier was taken to the pediatric unit. Some of the unit’s staff go beyond what is expected of them by using their own money to buy things like tea and biscuits as an added treat for young patients.
An official told the Premier the centre is well-run but could use some extra maintenance, as evidenced by a few broken windows, as well as more social workers for its mental health unit.
From healthcare to help and services offered to gender-based violence survivors, the tour took Premier to the Athlone House of Strength (AHOS) where he was joined by Provincial Social Development Minister Sharna Fernandez. Ahead of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign a few days away, the Premier and Minister Fernandez were shown around the facility, which since 1999 has been offering a safe space to domestic abuse survivors and their children.
The Department’s Victim Empowerment Programme (VEP) funds AHOS at a unit cost of R542, 640 for 20 beds. This is in addition to operational costs, which the provincial Department also contributes towards. The Western Cape Government (WCG) delegation was told a boundary wall needs to be constructed for added security. The Premier and Minister assured staff they will expedite this request with the help of Drakenstein Municipality.
Winde said, “I cannot thank the people of AHOS enough for the work they do. But addressing the root cause of GBV and related crimes becomes increasingly important every time we hear of another atrocity being committed against a woman or a child. As the WCG we take a multi-disciplinary, transversal approach looking at socio-economic issues to try stop crimes against women and minors, instead of reactively addressing the issue.”
Minister Fernandez added, “Over the course of this annual campaign South Africans must become even more mindful of the need to take a firm stance against gender-based violence. It is also during this time that the work of NGOs that provide support services to victims of violence is thrust into the spotlight. While it is imperative that we show our support to these organisations and use the time to spread awareness, the WCG believes in fighting gender-based violence – and all other forms of violence – 365 days a year, not just during the 16 days of the campaign. I was privileged to visit one of the NGOs the Department of Social Development provides funding to, AHOS in Paarl. This facility provides shelter services to women and children who are victims of crime and violence. It also provides accredited skills development to women who are current residents or have exited the shelter. To the staff of AHOS, and all the other amazing NGOs providing an invaluable service to communities: we salute you and we will continue addressing the social ills that lead to violence every day of the year.”
In late October, Premier Winde’s “Listening Tour” peddled into Montagu. On the sidelines of a Transport Month event that promoted safe cycling, the occasion was also used to mark the completion of upgrades to the Cogmanskloof Pass, which involved the Western Cape Department of Infrastructure. “It is for these kinds of projects why we established a department dedicated to infrastructure development. We need to keep pace with the growth of our province by constantly innovating and improving crucial infrastructure, and ideally, we need to anticipate growth areas and support their development with critical infrastructure” said the Premier at a ceremony in Montagu to celebrate the conclusion of the upgrades, which started in May 2019.
The Premier also paid an unannounced visit to the Montagu Hospital. While caught off guard, a senior nurse was only too happy to have the Premier pay the hospital a surprise visit. The nurse even encouraged the Premier to spring another unannounced visit. She detailed how services need to be improved through:
• More regular maintenance and
• Hiring more personnel.
Her call for more staff was echoed by two paramedics who, while washing one of their vehicles, said more ambulance workers need to be stationed in Montagu, especially over the festive period when the town sees an influx of visitors.
The facility had recently been hit by a fire in its maternity ward. But according to the nurse it had a minimal impact on services. While inspecting the damage and repair work, Premier Winde said, “I am impressed at the ingenuity of the staff at Montagu Hospital as well as firefighters who, through quick-thinking, ensured the blaze was contained and no one was injured.” He assured the nurse he would relay her issues to the Provincial Department of Health and Wellness.
Source: Government of South Africa