Eastern Cape Premier, Oscar Mabuyane, has expanded on the provincial government’s plans to stimulate economic growth. These included announcements on numerous infrastructure projects related to road construction and governmental property developments.

Mabuyane also touched on the investments of the private sector in the two special economic zones and the automotive industry.

Water provision and what is going to be done to improve that was also on the table, with reference to the Mzimvubu Water Project that will include the building of three dams.

Mabuyane’s address gave an account of progress made in some of the projects and commitments they made in previous years. It also touched on how COVID-19 has affected the province. The emphasis was on growing the economy of the province.

Mabuyane says the two Industrial Development Zones (IDZ) in the province still have a key role in economic development.

“Our two established Special Economic Zones – the EL SEZ and Coega SEZ – continue to be our shining stars for investment attraction and job creation. Through these SEZs, we have been able to attract over R19 billion worth of investment into our province. In the last year, the EL SEZ completed the construction of nine investor facilities and the expansion of three existing facilities. These facilities will create an additional 1 534 manufacturing and services jobs and these will be operationalized within the next two years. The construction phase created an additional 4 039 construction job opportunities between 2019 and 2020,” says Mabuyane.

Mabuyane says the province will also use its natural endowments for its economic benefit.

“Our province has an 800 kilometre coastline, from which we aim to benefit from several opportunities, including fishing, bunkering, oil and gas industry development, coastal and marine tourism, as well as marine transport and manufacturing. Since the approval of the Oceans Economy master plan, we have invested R206 million from the stimulus fund for the development of the first 100 ha of the Aquaculture Development Zone in Coega. Phase 1 construction started in September last year and will be completed in November 2021. This project is targeted to create 500 construction and 5 600 operational jobs,” says Mabuyane.

Meanwhile, opposition parties’ views on Mabuyane’s address differ.

Bobby Stevenson of the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Yazini Thetyana of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) says, “The premier paints a rosy picture with these projects, but in practice, many of the projects in the Eastern Cape are collapsed due to maladministration and lack of consequence management and this is one of the uphills of his speech. He put no emphasis on consequence management that ensures that those who undermine the work being done are held to account,” says Stevenson.

“In our view, SOPA should be able to respond to the commitment that was made in the previous SOPA, in 2019 there were lots of commitments that were made. Firstly, it was the issue of 30-day payment of service providers. Today, we are told of a new arrangement there was no commitment of. We are still going to check,” says Thetyana.

The provincial government has further committed to strengthening its fight against corruption, by consolidating an anti-corruption forum and council into one body that will be chaired by Mabuyane.