Honourable members of the Provincial Cabinet,
The Honourable Leader of the Opposition,
Honourable members of provincial parliament,
The District Mayor and Mayors present here today,
The People of Genadendal and the Overberg,
The People of the Western Cape:
It is a great honour for me to once again deliver my State of the Province Address to you in one of our communities, some distance away from our parliamentary chamber in central Cape Town.
It is an even greater honour for me to be able to do so before this community - in the town of Genadendal.
Our “Valley of Grace”.
To the residents of this historic place,
Thank you for welcoming us here today.
The work of this Parliament is your work.
Its debates are your debates.
The laws it passes are your laws.
And so, it is only right that you are part of this State of the Province Address too.
For most people in our province, travelling to Cape Town to observe our parliamentary sittings is not possible.
And so, bringing parliament to the people in this way is an expression of our commitment to sharing our plans with the people of the Western Cape, to democracy and to our Constitution.
I thank you and the members of the Provincial Parliament for affording me this opportunity today.
Genadendal is inspiration for courage
To the people of Genadendal,
While I was preparing for this address, I drew inspiration from your town, its people, and the remarkable resilience they have shown.
As the first missionary settlement in our country, this place not only has a rich history, but a painful one too.
It is where hundreds of freed slaves found sanctuary more than two hundred years ago.
It is a place that many Khoi people called home at a time when they faced oppression, contributing to the cultural and linguistic history of this area.
Like the rest of the country, its history has also been stitched together by the crimes of our past: of racism and Apartheid.
It had the pride of being home to the first teacher’s college ever established in South Africa, but also the pain of seeing it closed in 1927 because of the ugly belief that the colour of someone’s skin, and not the content of their character, should determine their future.
And so Genadendal’s story has also been one of struggle, of standing up to hate and to overcoming adversity.
This is a place from which we can learn a great deal.
It is a place of pain and strife.
A place of diversity.
But also, of freedom and of courage.
Above all, as it still stands here today, it is a symbol of hope.
Hope that we can overcome some of our greatest challenges.
Hope that our past, no matter how difficult, will not determine our future.
This is an inspiration we all need to draw on - now more than ever.
Because the Western Cape will need to have both courage and hope in what will be a difficult year ahead.
Our three ‘North Star’ priorities
In October last year, I delivered a special address to you at a sitting of our parliament.
I talked to you about the bravery and courage that is needed of each and every one of us - regardless of our political affiliation - as we make the bold choices necessary for our recovery.
I shared with you our plan to create jobs,
To ensure safer communities,
And above all to give effect to the dignity and well-being that every person in our province deserves.
And I explained that we now all face a mammoth challenge as we pursue these ‘North Stars’.
The Covid-19 pandemic, and the consequences of nearly a year of constrained growth and various forms of restrictions, have cost both lives and livelihoods in the Western Cape.
The courage to get the job done is still what is needed by us all.
But, Speaker, I have realised more and more that it will require something else as well.
It will require that our province takes the lead in getting this job done.
It requires us leading from the front in South Africa: with new ideas; with better policies, and with good, clean and accountable government.
We will not hesitate to take the lead in the year ahead. Because a strong and successful Western Cape makes South Africa stronger too.
And while we will always respect and honour the constitutional principle of cooperative governance, we will not hesitate to tackle any obstacle that stands in the way of delivering jobs, safety and dignity in this province.
Today I will provide a report back to you on the progress of the plans that I announced to you in that special address.
While it has only been 4 months, it is important that we keep the momentum going, as we now land these interventions in our government.
They are, as I said then, our recipe for hope and a real change.
They are how we will lead from the front in delivering jobs, safety and dignity for our people.
Leading from the front on delivering a successful vaccination programme
Speaker, honourable members,
Before I share this update with you, I want to first address the single, most important ‘moon-short’ for our province in 2021:
The successful rollout of a Covid-19 vaccination programme in the Western Cape,
So that we vaccinate as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.
Because if we don’t, we will continue to be held captive by Covid-19, watching as more of our family members die, or lose their jobs.
The second wave has shown us this clearly. Caused by a new, more infectious variant of the virus, many more people in South Africa have been infected, and at a faster rate, during this second wave.
We have now lost nearly 11 000 people in this province.
There are many husbands and wives, friends and children, who have not ushered in this new year with joy.
Instead, they have had to face the great sorrow of saying goodbye for the last time to someone they love dearly, or not being able to say goodbye properly at all.
They are all in our thoughts and our prayers.
At the same time, many more people across our province have lost their job or have had to close their small business.
They now face the indignity of not having the means to support themselves and their families.
This has indeed been a time of great loss.
A loss of life.
A loss of opportunity.
And a loss of dignity.
There can therefore be no greater priority than ending this pandemic as soon as possible.
It should be energising each and every one of us.
It should force us to all be asking: what can I do to help?
That is why the Western Cape will not just be a spectator, especially when there are clear solutions that can bring back our freedom to live healthy lives, and our freedom to work.
That is why this province will also be leading from the front on delivering a successful vaccination programme.