Gauteng is still SA's economic powerhouse – Makhura

Lizeka Tandwa

Johannesburg – In his two-hour State of the Province Address on Monday, Gauteng Premier David Makhura unpacked his plans to improve the economy.

Makhura delivered his speech to a packed hall at the Saul Tsotetsi Sports Complex in Sebokeng. Those in attendance included struggle heroes Ahmed Kathrada and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who was accompanied by her daughter Zindzi Mandela. Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba was also present.

Makhura focused on job creation, interventions needed to stabilise the economy in the province and the provincial government's plans for a modern and innovative Gauteng.

"We are already working together to transform, modernise and re-industrialise our provincial economy," he said.

"Despite the tough global and national economic conditions, Gauteng had maintained it's position as the economic powerhouse of the economy... Our economy has consistently been growing above national average at 42%," he said. Township economy and enterprises
Makhura said he was pleased with the province's township economy revitalisation strategy. He said government had spent R1.8bn on procuring goods and services from township enterprises.

"As of January, 1 805 township enterprises are now benefiting from our spend," he said.

While Makhura outlined his plans, the 11 Economic Freedom Fighters members of the Gauteng legislature disrupted proceedings by chanting "Gupta Must Fall" while holding placards with the words "EFF is the only hope", "Gupta Must Fall", and "e-tolls must fall".

After numerous unsuccessful efforts to call them to order, Speaker Ntombi Mekgwe asked them to leave.

The EFF Gauteng caucus leader Mandisa Mashego told journalists they interrupted proceedings to draw attention to police violence. "We have been through this violence before," she said.

"In 2014, we were evicted by security soon after we joined the legislature. We wanted to raise these issues to the premier. At the University of Pretoria, as he speaks, students are being treated violently by police. Last year, at the University of Johannesburg we saw excessive violence against students."

Mashego and other Gauteng EFF leaders protested under the watchful eye of armed police.