Challenges aren't insurmountable
In his state of the province address this year, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu outlined some of the issues which continue to plague the province.
Poverty and inequality remain persistent, he said. “We are not at all pleased about the fact that the percentage of people in our province living below the food poverty line of R318 per month rose from 25% to 28% between 2010 and 2014, despite the fact that we had set a 2015 target of reducing this figure to 18% by 2015,” he said.
“Similarly, social inequality measured as the share of income earned by the poorest 60% of the population remained unmoved at 17.6% between 2010 and 2014, not materialising the target of 19.4% we had hoped to achieve by 2015. It is clear therefore that a different and more coherent approach is required to address the challenges related to poverty and inequality.”
Land reform is a fundamental policy of government and is a necessary route to the full realisation of the Freedom Charter, he added. “It is now accepted that the ‘willing buyer, willing seller’ principle has posed its own challenges on the pace of required reforms. Granted, the land issue is very sensitive. But if not resolved, it undermines our efforts to building a prosperous South Africa.”
He pledged to fast-track cases of restitution to unlock the agricultural potential of land, thereby impacting positively on issues of food production and food security.
Mchunu pointed out that KZN has seen an increase over the last year in crimes related to murder, attempted murder, assault, arson, stock theft, shoplifting, business robbery, truck hijacking, as well as drug related crimes.
“This is a situation that is not only placing us as individuals and communities at risk, but it is also impacting extremely negatively on our prospects for economic growth. It is for this reason that we have to ensure that our people and businesses are and feel safe,” he said.
Related to this, a total of 130 police stations are being evaluated to identify challenges, to improve policing in the province. “Community safety structures are also being established to improve relations between communities and the police. We aim to establish these structures in all 828 wards.”
Other steps the province is considering includes a review of the KZN Liquor Licensing Act, in order to act more decisively against illegal trade in liquor, and declaring consumption of liquor in public as a criminal offence.
Mchunu said he was equally concerned about the escalation of farm murders and tensions between commercial farmers and farm tenants/labourers. “This is an extremely destabilising factor. It places our people and the rural economy at risk. Issues related to stock theft are further exacerbating this situation. We therefore call for intensified action from policing and criminal justice structures to stem the tide of such crime.”
In spite of these challenges, Mchunu said the province was determined to be “a prosperous province, with healthy secure and skilled people, acting as a gateway to Africa and the world.”
“We have a clear plan of action expressed in our Provincial Growth and Development Plan setting [out] clear targets of what it is that we have to achieve to ensure that we realise this Vision. As we move into the next five-year cycle of the NDP and the PGDP, we would like to reconfirm our commitment to the five Key National Priorities, namely the creation of more jobs, decent work and sustainable livelihoods for inclusive growth; rural development, land reform and food security; improved quality basic education; a long and healthy life for all South Africans; and fighting crime and corruption.
“These National Priorities, and for that matter all 14 outcomes of the NDP remain the foundation of our PGDP.”