The Western Cape Government is adamant to take the advice and experience of citizens into account to improve its services to communities. Premier Alan Winde therefore took his “Listening Tour” to Ceres and Malmesbury this week.
Joined by Provincial Health and Wellness Minister Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, the Premier started off at Ceres Hospital which in February implemented a Quality Improvement Plan. He was encouraged to hear from the medical facility’s management that progress has been made in some areas such as adding a 4-bed mental health unit at the hospital. “Making more bed space available is an important aspect to ensuring health care services are professional,” the Premier emphasised. He told officials: “We must continuously prepare for projected pressures on critical services like health care, and so we have to improve future planning.”
The Premier then visited an infrastructure project in the town, with Western Cape Infrastructure Minister Tertuis Simmers. The Van Breda bridge and road are being upgraded and widened. The entire project, costing R66 million, will be completed by late 2023. Standing at the base of the bridge, Premier Winde said: “As a government we must ensure we keep investing in infrastructure that enables businesses, both locally and beyond, to grow. We’ve seen on a national level what happens when you don’t plan properly for growth, and in our government that will not happen. Such largescale infrastructure projects are also good for job creation.”
One of the highlights of this leg of the “Listening Tour” was the handing over of title deeds to three elderly housing beneficiaries. “Our goal is to build hope, quite literally, in this community,” he remarked. He added “People wait for too long for homes and even longer for title deeds. These deeds symbolise dignity to these recipients, who are now officially homeowners.”
Further down the road, the Premier and Minister Simmers inspected a model of a house at the Ceres Vredebes Incremental Housing Pilot Project. The idea behind such programmes is to offer low-income earning residents affordable homes, which they can incrementally expand, if and when they are able. Premier Winde remarked on the innovative design: “When you give people homes, you give them optimism, and some may want to then go further and start small businesses from these incremental units.” Thousands of these units can be rolled out each year as they are easier and more affordable to build. Minister Simmers noted: “The Incremental Housing Project is another innovative initiative of the Provincial Government as we seek to restore the dignity of all our citizens.”
At the DuToit Group agricultural company head offices in Ceres, the Premier was given a tour of a cherry packaging facility which is under construction. Despite the challenges facing companies and agriculture the DuToit Group is forging ahead by investing in the region and provincial economy by growing its operations. “This means growing more jobs,” the Premier said. The owners used the opportunity to outline the problems they face. These include:
• Load shedding;
• Some roads in the area which need to be upgraded or repaired.
Winde explained to them the energy crisis is affecting every aspect of life, particularly economic growth, and added that while Eskom and energy is a national government mandate, the WCG is doing everything it can to ameliorate the wide-ranging risks that ongoing power cuts cause. The Premier vowed to help companies like the DuToit Group wherever he can to keep growing. The Premier said: “Our Agriculture, Finance and Economic Opportunities Departments are constantly looking at ways to increase access to markets for our local agriculturalists.
The next stop was the Malmesbury Community Sport Centre. This astonishing facility was made possible by the Hope Through Action and Score NGOs. The centre is so much more than just a sports facility: it runs various youth intervention and development programmes, including two computer labs and an Early Childhood Development (ECD) centre. It also runs the @HomeLearning initiative, a partnership between the Western Cape Departments of Education, Finance and Economic Opportunities and Cultural Affairs and Sport, together with the Year Beyond programme. “This is another fantastic example of partnerships,” the Premier said.
At a ceremony where the keys to new homes at the De Hoop Housing Project were handed over to recipients in Malmesbury, Premier Winde told the gathering: “We are building hope in De Hoop.” He implored recipients to take pride in their homes, adding: “With such opportunities comes responsibility, but also a foothold for upliftment for families.”
Source: Government of South Africa