The premier of Gauteng, Mr David Makhura presented a State of the Province Address (SOPA) on Monday in which he promised to create tens of thousands of jobs in the provincial economy but conveniently did not mention how the provincial government would finance this noble creation.
Mr Makhura spoke of the building of several ‘post apartheid’ cities that were being built as possible pockets of investment by the province. These are, the Waterfall City near the M1 freeway in Midrand, the Steyn City, the Moddertontein City and the Masingita City, all of which would inject a staggering total of R220 billion into the provincial economy and create a total of more than 300 000 jobs during and after construction. Makhura also mentioned that the second phase of the Steyn City near Fourways would add an additional R50 billion rand to the Gauteng economy. As Makhura read his address, there was an increasing awareness among his listeners that no part was being mentioned of the provincial government’s financial involvement particularly in the financing of the projects he seemed to be unrolling with such gusto. In particular, this was more evident in that most of the projects he outlined were started before he took office, critics of his address said.
Another project that the SOPA presented was the construction of “proposed residential units, commercial property and distribution, warehousing, retailing and educational facilities” in Rietfontein. Makhura mentioned that he intended for this project to go ahead despite concerns that the area of land this construction would be done on was made up of graves of people who had died of plague, smallpox, leprosy, or TB, among other diseases. The provincial government anticipated that the project would result in the formation of an estimated 17 000 jobs during and after construction and would cost about R2 billion to bring it to its completion.
Makhura then went on the offensive in his speech and anticipated the biggest concern of his critics in that he conceded that all the construction would mean a massive increase in the demand for electricity which was already buckling under the pressure of the current demand. He put into place several ‘measures’ to ensure that there was adequate electricity to cater for the increased demand. He proposed to increase the power generating capacity of the province’s two electricity power stations, the Rooival and the Kelvin Power stations by adding 1 200 MW to their combined capacities. In addition, Makhura said that they would install rooftop solar electricity producing panels on all government buildings and would also work to turn organic waste into bio-gas fuel.