These two articles explain what is happening, as South Africans of all ethnicities are uprooting themselves to go to the Western Cape, where they can live with a DA government, and not under corrupt, disintegrating ANC rule. They are voting with their feet.
Why the Western Cape is pulling ahead
As despair about the rest of SA becomes pervasive, the province is a place where innovation, foresight and collaboration are translating into real gains. It shows what’s possible with good governance
Source: Financial Mail
25 AUGUST 2022 – 05:00 CLAIRE BISSEKER
It’s easy to find instances where the Western Cape is more innovative than other provinces or the national government. What’s harder to determine is whether its approach is translating into faster growth and job creation. Or is it simply impossible for the province to move forwards when SA as a whole is sliding backwards?
“That’s the core question,” says premier Alan Winde, when we meet at his gracious Leeuwenhof residence on a rainy winter’s afternoon. “Can we, in a constitutional democracy, with the framework given to us by the constitution, paint outside the lines?”
Painting outside the lines, or pushing the boundaries of the province’s powers, has come to define Winde’s role as premier. The problem is that the core mandate of SA’s provinces is health and education. Winde has no control over issues such as policing, harbours or rail — areas where he is desperate to assert control over failing national departments and entities.
“We can always be a few percentage points better than the rest of SA,” says Winde — a reference to how economic growth in the province typically outpaces the national average. That’s to be expected of a large, urban, services-orientated province with world-class tourist attractions.
“But we can’t be exponentially better. Why? Is it because of [national deficits in] energy and infrastructure or is it because of our [limited provincial] policy mandate?” Winde asks.
Unable to usurp national powers — police minister Bheki Cele recently said Winde would get control over policing “over my dead body” — the premier has had to take a roundabout route.
In the case of policing, for example, he is exploiting a legal “loophole”, which holds that while a province may not deploy extra police officers, it can help municipalities do so. Since February 2020, the province has given R1bn to the City of Cape Town to employ more than 1,100 additional metropolitan police officers, with more to be recruited and trained in the coming months.
These law enforcement advancement plan (Leap) officers have been deployed to 13 crime hotspots around Cape Town, backed by a multimillion-rand investment in crime-fighting technology, from cameras to drones to gunshot-location technology.
During the pandemic, the Western Cape developed the means to map superspreader events down to the exact street. Now, using data from hospitals, it can map where someone has been attacked and when crime is at its peak, and deploy officers accordingly.
The aim is to halve the province’s murder rate.
The results speak for themselves. For many years, Nyanga was the murder capital of SA — but since the Leap intervention, it’s no longer even in the top 10, and Gugulethu is no longer in the top 30.
Overall, there’s been a decrease in eight of the 13 Western Cape hotspots, based on SA’s first-quarter crime statistics for 2022, at a time when the national murder rate is up 11.5% year on year. Of the 13 hotspots, the biggest declines are in Mitchell’s Plain (-42%), Atlantis (-30%), Mfuleni (-25.9%), Kraaifontein (-16.4%), Harare (-13.8%) and Khayelitsha (-14.3%).
“Surely that’s showing that, with management and using technology and data, you can change things?” says Winde. “So, imagine if I could manage the 20,000 police officers in this province, not just the 1,100.”
‘No more load-shedding’
It’s not just in matters of crime prevention that such efforts are paying off. The Western Cape has been building a strong green energy ecosystem for years.
Winde got the ball rolling 13 years ago, when he obtained legal opinion as to whether provinces could get involved in energy provision. The answer was that they couldn’t, but municipalities could — so, again, the province worked with the City of Cape Town to get things moving.
Today, it is the only municipality in SA that can avoid stage 1 and 2 load-shedding by Eskom.
This is partly thanks to the Steenbras Dam hydroelectricity scheme, which supplements Cape Town’s electricity when needed. Though the province can’t take credit for building the dam, it has taken care of maintenance and has put expansion plans in place.
It has also been quick to take advantage of reforms that allow municipalities to purchase power directly from providers other than Eskom, and has made the most of regulatory changes allowing energy self-generation. There are now thousands of household and business rooftop solar installations that alleviate power demand and feed electricity back into the grid in exchange for cash at a set municipal tariff.
“Within three years, Cape Town should have no more load-shedding because the first bid from the city to purchase 200MW of renewables directly from independent power producers has gone out and the second one, for 300MW, goes out in October,” says Winde.
Cape Town has attracted more foreign direct investment into green technology over the past 20 years than any other city in Africa, says Wesgro CEO Wrenelle Stander. “The foresight and collaboration of local and provincial government, supporting agencies like GreenCape and Wesgro, and the investment into the only green-tech special economic zone in Africa [in Atlantis], is what is differentiating the Western Cape right now.”
Planes and trains
Another example of where the province has bucked the national trend has been in increasing air access to Cape Town.
In 2015, it realised that to grow tourism it needed to increase the number of direct international flights to Cape Town. At the time, national policy was to have international planes fly into OR Tambo International Airport in Gauteng and then on to other provinces — a hub-and-spoke approach.
In response, the Western Cape formed Airlift — a partnership with the city, Wesgro and the Airports Company SA (Acsa), among others, with the support of big corporate donors. Through destination-marketing campaigns, which drove against national policy, it has added 19 new routes to Cape Town and 23 more flights on existing routes since 2015, generating about R5.5bn in additional tourism spend.
Winde recalls his trepidation on recently meeting new Acsa CEO Mpumi Mpofu, the wife of advocate Dali Mpofu, the former EFF national chair. But she told him all about this amazing new programme called Airlift.
“I said I thought it was fantastic and I would give them all the support I could,” he recounts, chuckling. “I love it when a plan is so successful that national government ends up thinking it’s their own policy.”
The sad reality we face is that while we try to move forward, they try to hold us back. What we try to build up, they try to break down. Where we seek to open up, they seek to shut down
Rail is another national government responsibility that has fallen into disrepair in Cape Town. The central line, which should be carrying 600,000 people to the city each day, has become a linear informal settlement with 12,000 households living cheek-by-jowl with the tracks.
But the reality is the system hasn’t been functioning properly for years. There were just 33 operational train sets in 2020, compared with 95 in 1995.
The province and city authorities are working to create an entity to take over the running of the metro rail from the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) — assuming they can obtain permission from transport minister Fikile Mbalula.
In June, Cape Town issued a tender for a feasibility study, with the approval of the National Treasury. It prompted a testy response from Mbalula, who tweeted: “The City of Cape Town does not need to vroom past me and go to the finance minister. We can engage. Don’t just vroom past me.”
However, the move is in line with the new white paper on national rail policy, which acknowledges the importance of devolving public transport functions to the municipal level and allowing private third-party access on the rail network to drive efficiencies.
Winde would be happy with the creation of a new joint entity with Prasa, but insists that it be run on business lines, involve private competing concessions and, if necessary, be managed by a proven international rail operator.
The Western Cape is the only province to run internationally benchmarked annual systemic tests in language and maths for grades 3, 6 and 9. These showed that pupils were making progress until the pandemic, but have since suffered severe learning losses from schools being closed for long periods or classes being put on rotating timetables.
Education MEC David Maynier recently announced that an extra two hours a week will be allocated to reading, and an extra hour a week to maths, for all grade 1 to 3 pupils. That will add an extra 60 hours of learning time in these subjects for the rest of the academic year — without increasing the length of the school day.
Winde expects this intervention alone will allow the province to pull ahead in terms of educational performance.
Another big innovation is the province’s collaboration schools model.
At a time when the national government is seeking to restrain the power of provinces and school governing bodies through the Basic Education Laws Amendment (Bela) Bill, the province has passed legislation to protect its collaboration schools’ model, which gives these schools’ governing bodies wider powers.
The Jakes Gerwel Technical High School in Bonnievale (featured in the FM of June 23-29) is one example. This model allows the private sector to jointly build and run public schools in collaboration with the province, allowing poor communities to access the equivalent of high-quality private education for free.
Despite delivering excellent results, the model is being opposed by the SA Democratic Teachers Union and NGO Equal Education. The latter largely favours the Bela Bill’s proposed restrictions of governing bodies’ powers, because this will provide “a greater opportunity to pick up and prevent discriminatory practices at schools”.
“The sad reality we face is that while we try to move forward, they try to hold us back,” says Maynier. “What we try to build up, they try to break down. Where we seek to open up, they seek to shut down.”
On patrol: Officers from Cape Town’s law enforcement advancement plan. Picture: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach
Bus and rail commuters benefit from government subsidies that keep fares as low as possible, but the collapse of commuter rail has forced increasing numbers of workers to shift to relatively expensive minibus taxis to get to work.
The province believes it has found a model to subsidise taxis in a way that encourages more responsible driver behaviour. The initiative was born out of necessity during Covid, when the province introduced 100 dedicated Red Dot taxis to transport hospital staff during curfew.
“Historically, the authorities and the taxi industry have been at loggerheads, but during Covid we found each other,” says Winde.
Backed by R175m in provincial funding, the province has now initiated the Blue Dot taxi programme in partnership with the SA National Taxi Council.
So far, more than 800 eligible taxis have been fitted with trackers to monitor their speed. Passengers are also encouraged to rate their Blue Dot taxi trip via their phones. This influences each taxi’s unique star rating, with the province rewarding better driver behaviour and service with a cash subsidy at the end of the month.
Thanks to these interventions — and because the subsidy means drivers no longer need to speed to maximise the number of trips they make in a day — the programme has resulted in a 50% reduction in speeding incidents among the taxis involved.
“It needs to become a national strategy,” says Winde. “Just imagine if we could get full national behaviour change.”
WHAT IT MEANS:
The province has adopted many innovations to bolster growth and attract investment, but it often finds itself up against national government intransigence
Given how innovative the Western Cape has been in addressing thorny challenges, one would expect its initiatives to add up to faster growth and job creation. But, while the province can certainly point to numerous successes, it is harder to see a material difference when it comes to GDP growth.
The Western Cape grew its economy by 20.3% in real terms in the 10 years to 2019. The figure for KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) was 20.5% and Gauteng 22%, according to Stats SA data.
Over this period, the Western Cape’s share of national GDP remained constant, at 13.6% in nominal terms. KZN’s share dropped from 16.3% to 15.9%, while Gauteng — which typically grows 0.1-0.2 of a percentage point (pp) faster than the Western Cape each year — increased its share from 33.8% to 34.5%.
(Gauteng contains 26.6% of the total SA population, followed by KZN with 19%, and then the Western Cape with 11.9%.)
When it comes to unemployment, however, the differences are stark. In the first quarter of 2009, the Western Cape’s unemployment rate was 5pp lower than the national average (18% vs 23%), according to Stats SA’s quarterly labour force survey. By the first quarter of 2022, that gap had doubled to almost 10pp (25.2% vs 34.5%), suggesting the province is pulling away when it comes to job creation.
KZN’s unemployment rate has held roughly constant, slightly below the national average, but Gauteng is clearly not coping with the rising demand for jobs. Between 2009 and 2022, its unemployment rate went from almost 2pp below the national average (21.4% vs 23%) to 2.2pp above it (36.7% vs 34.5%).
According to Stats SA data, Gauteng absorbs 311,000 migrants a year, mostly from outside SA, while the smaller Western Cape receives just under 100,000 on average, almost 40% of whom are from the Eastern Cape and most likely poor. Another 20% of the Western Cape’s migrants come from Gauteng, with Winde confirming anecdotal reports that semigration from Gauteng and KZN is boosting the growth of the province’s towns.
The Western Cape’s outperformance on jobs probably reflects the fact that it is a services-driven economy in a country where this tertiary sector has grown much faster than the primary (mining and farming) and secondary (manufacturing) sectors.
Of course, better governance and smarter policy choices by a DA government, which has been in power since 2009, haven’t hurt.
“We’re definitely launching the lifeboats, not shifting deck chairs on the Titanic,” says Winde. “Despite all the budget pressure, we fight above our weight. Certainly, it would be easier if the province had a more friendly national government, but if you get leadership and innovation right you can definitely get performance and bring about change.
“Just imagine what we could do if we could win a national election,” he muses. “But let me not get carried away.”
Source: Financial Mail
This is what’s driving semigration to the Western Cape
The province’s lifestyle, schools and safety appeal to those moving south
15 SEPTEMBER 2022 – 05:00ANNAMIA VAN DEN HEEVER
The steady move of middle-class South Africans to the Western Cape because of its promise of a more balanced lifestyle in a safer environment continues. Semigration, particularly from Gauteng, is happening across age and ethnic groups.
This is confirmed by the CEOs of property companies and the advisers of people on the move.
Commercial interest in the Western Cape is also picking up as the province leads the recovery of the real estate market, with metro and provincial governments perceived to be more innovative and business friendly. Cape Town is positioning itself to be the first metro in SA to be free of load-shedding. It already has fewer blackouts.
“Crime is driving people away from Joburg to Cape Town,” says René Stegmann, director and owner of Relocation Africa, which helps individuals and corporate clients to settle their relocated families and employees into new environments.
Among the consequences for the Western Cape are higher rents and property prices, and schools running out of places for children.
Samuel Seeff, chair of the Seeff Property Group, says: “Semigration is often seen as a better option than emigration. South Africans generally do not want to leave the country, but they want to live in areas which are seen as safer and where service delivery meets expectations.” He makes the point that semigration is different from urbanisation — the movement of people from rural areas in search of better economic opportunity.
Andrew Golding, CEO of the Pam Golding Property Group, says: “The Cape lifestyle and its natural scenic attractions, wide open spaces and good schooling, [attract] ‘semigrators’ seeking a more appealing and healthy way of life, which this region offers in spades.”
Security and the ability to work from home are high on semigrators’ list of priorities. Sound investment, beautiful surrounds, convenient amenities and, for younger families, excellent schools are all factors taken into account.
Cape Town was initially the primary destination, but the trend has spread to more affordable coastal areas, from Blouberg to Milnerton, Somerset West, Pringle Bay, Hermanus and Gansbaai.
Winelands towns such as Paarl, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch are also proving attractive, if more expensive. All are in proximity to the Cape Town metro, the airport, good medical and other facilities and highly desirable schools.
Golding says affordability is significant in inland areas such as Robertson and Montagu. “Here we find an older age group seeking good amenities and affordable homes where the cost of living is lower. They also want to be part of a smaller community where they can enjoy the natural surroundings but still be two hours’ driving away from Cape Town.” Young home buyers, especially first-time buyers, are “flocking” to smaller, more outlying towns such as Malmesbury, Wellington, Worcester, Elgin and Grabouw.
Seeff says Garden Route towns such as George, Mossel Bay, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay are seen as quieter and more wholesome alternatives to Cape Town for raising children. These are also popular for older buyers looking to retire or downscale.
Crime is driving people away from Joburg to Cape Town
Some semigrators want to open branches of their existing businesses, or start new businesses.
Lynda Smyth, CEO of 50Plus Skills, moved to Somerset West from Gauteng to test the retirement village market for herself after Covid normalised online working and she no longer had to meet clients in their offices. She says one of the downsides of moving from Gauteng to the Western Cape is that properties of similar size are more expensive. On the upside, service delivery is better. “Coming to the Western Cape felt like arriving in another country,” she says.
Stats SA reported last month that Western Cape building plans passed between January and June 2022 increased by 33.2% (or R17.86bn) in value compared with the same period last year. The value of plans passed in Gauteng was R16.8bn, a decrease of 7.5%. “This is a strong indicator for economic growth and job creation as construction on these projects begins,” says Georgina Maree, spokesperson for the Western Cape finance & economic opportunities department.
Real estate investment trust Spear says its “Western Cape only” investment strategy is proving to be the right one, as the province’s real estate market recovers ahead of that of the rest of SA. CEO Quintin Rossi told shareholders recently: “The effects of semigration and the localisation of supply chain solutions have provided great opportunities.” He said good governance across provincial and metropolitan spheres “enhances the investment appetite for Western Cape real estate”.
Rossi says the growing property rates base will benefit the metro as well as other municipalities.