Decisions of the executive council meeting of the Eastern Cape provincial government held on April 28

OPTIMISTIC: Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane
Picture: RANDELL ROSKRUGE

COVID-19 UPDATE: The Executive Council welcomed the progress report on COVID-19 which shows that there are currently 207 active COVID-19 cases in the province. The overall provincial recovery rate was 94% and all districts reported a recovery rate greater than 90%.

The ultimate focus of the provincial government is the elimination of the COVID-19 epidemic, achieving herd immunity, prevent the third wave of COVID-19 infections, prevent severe diseases, hospitalisation and deaths, ensure more stringent application of Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions to keep the community level infections, new cases and deaths low.

Based on the surveillance of the COVID-19 patterns and trends, the province remains committed to ensure the enforcement of the Alert level 1 regulations and the awareness towards commitment to the None-Pharmaceutical Interventions to ensure infection containment.

The province has undertaken to ensure the accelerated efforts to the implementation of the Eastern Cape vaccine Rollout programme. There have been increased consultations with technical structures with the department of Health, other related stakeholders, the Provincial Disaster Operations Centre, the provincial vaccination coordinating Committee, the Provincial Coronavirus Command Council and its extended committee.

The province is facilitating preparations for the beginning of phase 2 of the vaccine rollout with additional vaccination sites being prepared across the province, which will also include private sector sites to improve the efficiency and speed of the vaccination roll-out programme.

Stakeholder engagement, collaboration, communication, messaging and media engagement remain key success factors in both the resurgence and vaccination management and rollout of endeavours, especially to counter vaccine hesitancy. To date, the number of active SARS-COV-2 cases has decreased significantly in the past 15 weeks. However, week 15 witnessed an increase in the incidence of COVID-19 across all the districts but more in the two Metros and Sarah Baartman. The incidence of SARS-Cov-2 has increased beyond 5 cases per 100, 000 populations for Nelson Mandela Bay Metro and Sarah Baartman.

The Executive Council supports the rollout of the vaccine programme, it supports the online registrations on electronic vaccine data system of community members who are 60 and older in the province and those in workplace setting who are 40 and older.

All offices should be incrementally be empowered to be platforms for citizens self-registration.

The Executive Council approved an in-principle agreement towards the procedural resource support towards the vaccination acceleration:

A) Supports the finalisation of the vaccination of health workers by May 17,

B) Retention of the current nursing resources in order to ensure that the capability to implement the vaccine programme rollout is available

C) Tactical provision of additional resources in areas of Human Resources, transports, equipment and IT.

E) The provincial budget facility to be activated to support a funding model for this plan.

F) supports the inter-sectoral participation and the broader community buy-in through targeted participation in the area of social facilitation, communication and public awareness.

MEDICO LEGAL: The Executive Council received a report that a strategy to deal with Medico legal claims is being finalised and will be presented to the cabinet budget committee on 19 May 2021.

The strategy looks broadly at various aspects of the issue and is aimed at improving provision of clinical services to prevent medical negligence, improve filing of patients records to ensure that prudent account of medical procedures are filed and availed when there are complaints from patients, that a proper strategy to fight litigations is mounted by the legal team of government.

Stakeholder engagement, collaboration, communication, messaging and media engagement remain key success factors in both the resurgence and vaccination management and rollout of endeavours, especially to counter vaccine hesitancy.

To date, the number of active SARS-COV-2 cases has decreased significantly in the past 15 weeks. However, week 15 witnessed an increase in the incidence of COVID-19 across all the districts but more in the two Metros and Sarah Baartman. The incidence of SARS-Cov-2 has increased beyond 5 cases per 100,000 populations for Nelson Mandela Bay Metro and Sarah Baartman.

The Executive Council supports the rollout of the vaccine programme, it supports the online registrations on electronic vaccine data system of community members who are 60 and older in province and those in workplace setting who are 40 and older.

All offices should be incrementally be empowered to be platforms for citizens self-registration.

The Executive Council approved an in-principle agreement towards the procedural resource support towards the vaccination acceleration:

A) Supports the finalisation of the vaccination of health workers by 17 May 2021,

B) Retention of the current nursing resources in order to ensure that the capability to implement the vaccine programme rollout is available

C) Tactical provision of additional resources in areas of Human Resources, transports, equipment and IT.

E) The provincial budget facility to be activated to support a funding model this plan.

F) supports the inter-sectorial participation and the broader community buy-in through targeted participation in the area of social facilitation, communication and public awareness.

The Executive Council resolved that the MEC for COGTA engages the Municipal Council and bring to their attention the implications of the current situation. EXCO will then receive a report from the COGTA MEC on this matter. Upon receiving the report from the MEC, EXCO will then take a decision on the way forward.

PROVINCIAL ECONOMIC RECOVERY PLAN: The Executive Council welcomed a report showing increase in the number of businesses supported by the Provincial Government as part of the ongoing Jobs Stimulus fund rollout to prevent job losses. About 60 companies have now been funded by the provincial government benefiting from the R41. 695. million of the Jobs Stimulus fund. In the list of funded companies, we have now assisted 38 additional companies as part of this programme and increased the numbers of jobs protected from 1,123 to 2,156 jobs. These companies are in agro-processing, services, manufacturing, pharmaceutical and tourism sectors of the provincial economy. The provincial government t continues to promote the province as a truism destination of choice with a diverse campaign led by the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency.

As at February 15 2021, R3.206 billion of the COVID-19 Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme was paid to 78 employers benefiting 775,243 employees in the province. The establishment of the Wild Coast Special Economic Zone was approved by the Department of Trade and Industry and Competition as a State-owned industrial park, which will follow an incremental development towards an SEZ due to revised designation requirements with a R1.5 million signed implementation ready investment.

ENERGY: The Executive Council welcomed the three projects from the Province that were approved as bidders under the national risk mitigation IPP procurement programme. These are Karpowership SA Coega, Mulilo Total Coega and Umoyilanga Energy.

These companies will focus on gas to power technology mix, wind energy, battery power. The provincial government will support these projects through the process to ensure their successful and prolific implementation.

Enabling Wind and Solar Projects round 5 and beyond: There are wind and solar farm projects in the province with a total investment value in excess of R30 billion that are in the process of parring to submit bids under the round bidding window. Some of the institutional arrangements that must still be managed for this process include processing of the EIAs, land lease on state-owned land, municipal permissions, mining and exploration permits. The EXCO approved a process to provide support to these projects to address these challenges before August 2021.

The EXCO resolved that the provincial government attends to the challenges experienced by some of the sites identified for the construction of wind farms in the province so that these can be resolved for the projects to continue for the benefit of the people of the Eastern Cape.

PROVINCIAL INVESTMENT CONFERENCE: The Executive Council approved a plan to host Investment conference aimed at promoting investment opportunities in the province as part of the implementation of the PDP to increase investment rate, grow the economy, create jobs and eradicate both poverty and unemployment. The investment conference will be held at the East London Convention Centre from 28-to 29 May 2021. The one-stop investment shop is in the process of being completed in East London and will be rolled out to other investment platforms like the Special Economic Zones. The government is packaging its investment portfolio on infrastructure, agriculture, properties, manufacturing, agro-processing.

SCHOOL RATIONALISATION: The Executive Council approved the school rationalisation and realignment plan for the province’s schools. It is anticipated that at the end of the process, schools in the province will decrease from 5,961 to 3,663 through mergers, closures, realignment and conversion. Some 48 new schools were also recommended for construction to ease pressure on overcrowded schools. Out of 783 small and unavailable schools targeted for rationalisation in 2019/2020 financial year, 122 schools are no longer operational, 166 of these are recommended to be retained, 495 schools are still earmarked for closure. In cases where either scholar transport or infrastructure were indicated as necessary, those schools will be prioritised, and they will not be closed if government is able to provide those enablers. Government will continue to monitor community and learner migration trends in our circuits and districts.

The government will make arrangements for learners too young to walk to amalgamated schools, put in place proactive action to ensure that closed school buildings are repurposed for other purposes like converting them into nurses’ homes. The department will ensure that when learners are moved, adequate infrastructure and furniture should already exist to accommodate the children being absorbed into a new school.

Geospatial planning has been involved in the planning on the rationalisation of schools and the department will ensure that scholar transport is provided for learners travelling in excess of 5 kilometres, both funds and teachers will be moved to the school.

UPDATE ON AGRICULTURAL SCHOOLS: The Executive Council approved the plan to increase the number of agricultural schools in the province, expand the size of the farmland of these schools so that schools have adequate land for agricultural production. Before 1994, the province only had three agricultural schools; Marlow, Winterberg and Phandulwazi. All these schools are situated in the Western part of the province, and the rest of the province did not have any agricultural schools.

After the pronouncement and development of agriculture schools, more agricultural schools, especially in the Eastern part of the province, where there were none, were then established.

Currently, there are 17 agricultural schools spreading over 8 districts in the province. There is a plan to prioritise the above districts when the expansion plan is implemented to make sure that all 12 districts of education have at least one agricultural high school going forward. Exco approved the plan to recruit qualified personnel for these schools, provision of agricultural equipment, appropriate infrastructure for an ideal agricultural school, farming unit led by a farm manager, farm foreman, farm assistants, formal classrooms, practical skills. The two departments of Education, Agrarian Reform and Agriculture, will work together in implementing this plan.

Education is progressing procurement of PPE in preparation of the projected 3rd wave to curb the spread of the virus – the plan is to first find suppliers in the province to provide these services before going outside.

PROVINCIAL PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENT PLAN: The Heads of Departments, Chief Financial Officers congregated to take stock of the government performance in the 2020/2021 Financial year, do introspection, identify mechanisms to support collaboration, determine non-negotiable performance improvement areas. They presented a report with recommendations to the Executive Council. In the report they made the following commitments:

A) induction of Heads of Departments

B) Development and implementation of a peer feedback mechanism for provincial management

C) Provincial governance improvement pledge

D) Setting of 3 non-negotiable performance improvement targets per department and committing to achieve the set targets.

E) Identification of areas of support on which departments will collaborate and support one another

F) Review of the Government Cluster System

G) Development of a provincial medico-legal claims mitigation strategy The Executive said the performance of the provincial government remains a challenge, and it directed that Departments must double their efforts to do more than they are currently doing in implementing plans and programmes. The Executive Council appreciates the commitment of the HODs to support the political leadership by committing to attending to issues of governance. The Executive Council welcomed this commitment by the Accounting Officers and resolved to use it to hold them accountable for their work going forward.

AFRICA DAY CELEBRATIONS: The EXCO resolved that the provincial government’s Africa Day celebrations will focus on the commemoration of the centenary of the Bullhoek Massacre that took place in Ntabelanga in Komani on May 24 where the then South African Police under the government of Prime Minister Jan Smuts used live ammunition and shot at a large number of Israelites after they refused to disperse from Ntabelanga where they had squatted for some time. About 200 people were killed, more than 100 people were wounded and 141 people, that include Enoch Mgijima and his sons, were arrested.

The provincial government has injected R200,000 in the development of a photographic exhibition on the Bullhoek Massacre that will be unveiled at the Indoor Sports Centre and will later be showcased at the Queenstown Museum for members of the public, visitors, and more importantly, learners will be able to access it throughout the year.

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