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Premier Saul delivers State of the Province address

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Northern Cape Premier Dr Zamani Saul delivered the 2024 State of the Province address at the Mittah Seperepere Convention Centre in Kimberley on Thursday.

Around 3,000 guests attended the 2024 State of the Province address at the Mittah Seperepere Convention Centre. Picture: Sandi Kwon Hoo

NORTHERN Cape Premier Dr Zamani Saul delivered the 2024 State of the Province address (Sopa) at the Mittah Seperepere Convention Centre in Kimberley on Thursday.

This annual address serves as a crucial platform for outlining the Province’s achievements, challenges and future plans.

The counsel generals of the USA, Netherlands, Lesotho, Cuba and Russia, the Deputy Minister of International Relations, Alvin Botes, the Deputy Minister of Small Business Development, Dipuo Peters, and former premier Sylvia Lucas were some of the guests present at the event.

The provincial leader of the EFF, Shadrack Thlaole, had excused himself from the proceedings as he had to attend to urgent organisational issues

Saul told the crowd of around 3,000 attendees that he was confident that the 2024 national general elections would have a large voter turnout.

Saul said that serious progress has been made in the Northern Cape despite challenges, including backlogs, inadequate water infrastructure and an inadequate budget. He indicated that the R2.5 billion grant from the National Treasury will address all water problems and enhance water quality.

The premier also announced that in addition to the R365 million Hull Street housing project that is under construction in Kimberley, 1,000 more houses will be built in the municipal district.

Saul said that the provincial matric pass rate had improved by 10 percent during the term of the sixth administration. He added that Bachelor’s degree passes at “kasi” (township) schools during the period 2019-2023 had increased by 10 percent.

He noted that parent involvement had played a critical role at top-achieving schools in the Province.

Saul stated that the Northern Cape had the highest percentage of public health users. He said the life expectancy for men had increased from 51 to 58 years and women from 56 to 68 years.

He added that maternal deaths had reduced from 109 to 80 deaths for every 100,000 women over the past five years.

Saul said that R200 million was spent on the procurement of 146 ambulances and emergency vehicles since 2019.

He indicated that ambulances would be fitted with trackers as personnel were misusing emergency vehicles.

The premier stated that social grant recipients in the Northern Cape had increased from 66,000 in 2019 to 540,000 in 2024.

“As of August 21, on average a total of 150,000 unemployed people benefited from the social relief of distress grant at a value of more than R1.5 billion over the past three years.

Saul said that after the elections, in June, he will account on how he will tackle job creation projects in the Province.

“The total spent on goods and services amounts to R25.9 billion. The preferential procurement spending on women-owned businesses amounts to R5 billion, youth-owned suppliers R1.48 billion and businesses owned by persons with disabilities R51 million. Provincial government has spent R13 billion on small businesses.”

He indicated that close to R1 billion was invested in broadband connectivity in the Northern Cape where cellular network connectivity coverage stood at 98 percent.

Saul stated that total spending on infrastructure, including schools, clinics, libraries, roads, human settlements and hospitals, since 2019 to date, amounted to R14.8 billion.

He added that R1.5 billion was invested in housing through the Human Settlements Development Grant.

Saul said R690 million had been invested by mining houses towards improving public education and health, water, roads and infrastructure in the Northern Cape.

The premier noted that four hemp permits had been approved for cannabis farms in the Province, which would help stimulate the economy.

Saul announced that R30 million would go towards renovating the Mayibuye Cultural Centre and R10 million to upgrade AR Abass Stadium.

He stated that R154 million was awarded for bursaries for critical skills and 530 beneficiaries in the Province had their study loans settled.

He was proud to announce that trainees from the state-owned construction company had been recruited by private construction companies.

He added that the mid-April to December 2023 intake of trainees was busy fixing potholes, particularly in Kimberley.

Saul stated that the exchequer account of the Province was closed on a positive balance.

Pictures: Sandi Kwon Hoo

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