Gauteng to invest R100bn on revitalisation plan


JOHANNESBURG — Gauteng Premier David Makhura on Monday announced detailed plans for restructuring the province’s spatial configuration and stimulating economic development, and its strategy to invest more than R100 billion in the next few years.

The premier put the economy at the centre of his state of the province address, pledging incentives for private business investment and jobs for the ever-increasing number of residents.

The province expects to carry out its plans in the next three or four years and to facilitate more private-sector projects.

With next year’s local government elections on the horizon, Gauteng is under pressure to provide jobs for thousands of economic migrants, deliver basic services and to try to outpace the sluggish national economic growth rate.

The Reserve Bank has forecast that the economy will grow at 2,2% this year, down from a previous estimate of 2,5%.

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille boasted about 2,3% growth in the Democratic Alliance (DA)-run province last year, while Gauteng’s growth was 2,2%.

The African National Congress is conscious of the need to keep control of all Gauteng’s municipalities except Midvaal, run by the DA.

“We are making three macro interventions — spatial reconfiguration, township economy revitalisation and massive infrastructure investments — jointly with municipalities and private-sector partners to change the space and structure of the economy of our province in order to address unemployment, poverty and inequality,” Makhura said.

The detailed value of the province’s investment in these programmes will be released next week by finance MEC Barbara Creecy when she delivers the provincial budget for the next three years.

Makhura emphasised the creation of economic development nodes, housing and transport corridors in the province’s four main regions — Johannesburg, Pretoria, Ekurhuleni and the Vaal.

Makhura said more than 680 000 houses would be built in the next four years in areas including Hammanskraal, Boiketlong, Syferfontein, Diepsloot and Germiston.

Private investment in mixed residential property developments in the province — in places such as Rietfontein, Modderfontein and Midrand — were expected to provide 267 000 jobs in the next 20 years at a cost of R175 billion. The government will provide bulk services once the project was completed, said Makhura’s spokesman Thabo Masebe.

These include the R84 billion development of Modderfontein, the R24 billion Savannah City 18 000 unit mixed residential housing development in Sedibeng and the development of Waterfall City into “the biggest post-apartheid city in SA”, Makhura said.

Over the next five years, over 120 000 houses would be built in Sedibeng region.

Makhura said the provincial government would support the R40 billion Gauteng Highlands mixed-use development in the same period in the Vaal area.

Masebe said the provincial government would fund parts of the economic development projects in partnership with the local and national government.

“It will be implemented in phases and those details will become available in due course. Some will be funded by local government and others national. We are looking at intergovernmental partnership as well as private funding,” Masebe said.

To broaden the province’s energy mix, Makhura said the province would finalise plans to bring in 1 200MW of electricity online from revitalised coal-fired power stations, including Rooiwal and Pretoria West and Kelvin in Johannesburg.

He said an R11 billion “hydropolis” would be developed in the Vaal region which provincial government hopes would create 7 500 jobs during the construction phase. He said the Masingita city industrial park project in Protea Glen would receive R3 billion private investments, which would create 15 500 jobs.

Industrial and residential developments would be coupled with investments into public transport, including R123 billion from the Passenger Rail Agency of SA into Ekurhuleni for the next 20 years and R2 billion for the expansion of Rea Vaya in Johannesburg.

Makhura called on Gauteng residents to be patient over the highly unpopular e-toll programme as the provincial government and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa develop “a better dispensation” to mitigate the negative impact. The lack of clarity on e-tolls was criticised by opposition MPs.

DA leader in Gauteng John Moody said the Makhura’s address should have addressed e-tolls, preferably by announcing a referendum on the user pays system. The DA said the speech lacked any new plans for economic growth.

Makhura averted a stand-off with Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MPs who raised points of order at least five times. EFF MPs accused him of lying whenever he announced a major development project in the province.

EFF MP Mandisa Mashego told reporters that the party had raised points of order during the address because Makhura was “peddling a string of empty promises and lies”.

“We know full well that the economic transformation that the premier wants will never be achieved until we address the issue of land.

The reindustrialisation won’t be addressed until we deal with education,” Mashego said.

Mashego said legislature speaker Ntombi Mekgwe was “hellbent” on stopping the EFF from participating in the legislature.

“We have seen this suppression of debate on many occasions. But we will appear for the state of the province debate on Thursday with strong concrete arguments, as well as thorough debate, and even then we will not be allowed to speak,” she said.

The DA’s Moody said Mekgwe dealt with the points of order appropriately.

Inkatha Freedom Party leader in Gauteng Bonginkosi Dhlamini said that while he welcomed new announcements on Gauteng’s economic development, it was worrying that the address contained few updates on Makhura’s last state of the province address in July.

— BD Live