PPEs scandal, GP to become cannabis hub feature in Makhura’s SOPA

In his state of the province address (Sopa) on Tuesday, Makhura said corruption, particularly on personal protective equipment (PPE), undermined all provincial government’s efforts in fighting Covid-19 in Gauteng. He said the corruption dented the position of his administration which is to run a clean government.

“We will set an example that all those involved in corruption and maleficence both in the private and public sector will face the consequences of their own misdeeds and evil actions. We will set an example that where money was lost, money must be recovered and people who were involved in wrong doing must serve a jail term,” Makhura said.

Gauteng provincial government has been rocked by several corruption scandals during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Last year, Royal Bhaca Projects was linked to a R125m PPE  contract in the province.

Royal Bhaca Projects is owned by chief Thandisizwe Madzikane II Diko, the late husband of presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko. The Dikos were close friends of then Gauteng health MEC Bandile Masuku.

Masuku was fired by Makhura for his alleged involvement in the tender. He has since taken on review the Special Investigative Unit report which was used by Makhura to fire him.

Another scandal that shook the province this year was when reports came that the Gauteng Education department spent over R400m on decontaminating schools in just three months.

In his speech, delivered in the Gauteng legislature in Johannesburg, Makhura said the highest priority for provincial government this year would be to defeat Covid-19 in the province which has devastated lives.

About 400,000 people have contracted Covid-19 in Gauteng and close to 10,000 have died of Covid-19-related illness.

The province has also lost 500,000 jobs during the pandemic. This is the second problem that has to be addressed by the province immediately.

Makhura wants Gauteng to be South Africa’s industrial processing hub for cannabis, reports Mduduzi Mphahlele.

He said the provincial government has plans to capitalise on the decriminalisation of cannabis for personal use.

The Constitutional Court decriminalised the use of cannabis in 2018, but the government has yet to formally regulate its use.

“The new sector of the economy is the cannabis industry, we want to be the industrial hub, we already have the industrial infrastructure for industrial processing of cannabis, not to smoke,” Makhura said.

“The processing of cannabis, particularly cannabis for health purposes and for other parts of improving the quality of human life … has got many properties that help.”

“We focusing on our high-growth priority sectors and infrastructure investment projects that will unlock the transformation, modernisation, and re-industrialisation of the different corridors and districts of our city region,” he said.

Makhura also detailed the successes of the past five years, and outlined plans to unlock economic opportunities across the five economic corridors in the province. He also shared the progress of projects currently underway in these corridors.

“The progress being made at the Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone (TASEZ) is inspiring.

 The three spheres of government are investing R3.3 billion in infrastructure, which has unlocked R4.3 billion investment by suppliers and a further R15.8 billion announced by Ford Motor Company on February 8. This is the biggest foreign direct investment since the 2010 World Cup,” he said.

Makhura said the TASEZ would produce over 200 000 vehicles by 2022, with 262 SMMEs lined up to secure both financial and non-financial support while 3288 new permanent jobs are set to be created.

Image (GP Premier David Makhura says cannabis should be prioritised).

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