Johannesburg – Premier David Makhura wants Gauteng to be South Africa’s industrial processing hub for cannabis. Speaking during his State of the Province Address (SOPA) on Tuesday, Makhura touched on the provincial government’s 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.
The massive Covid-19 corruption and procurement irregularity scandal has revealed substantial governance weaknesses in the Gauteng provincial government, Makhura said.
He said that the wrongdoing exposed by the auditor-general and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) had constituted a serious dent in the progress the provincial administration had made on clean governance and integrity during his tenure.
“We must and we will set an example with all those involved in malfeasance, both in the public and private sector. They must be brought to book and all monies must be recovered by the state,” Makhura said.
Makhura, however, hailed the efforts made by both the provincial and national government in putting up plans to combat the spread of the virus, care for those who were infected, and the current rollout plan to vaccinate 67% of the population, which he said needed unity to succeed.
“We have come a long way in building a credible response and there is no time for complacency and cynicism. We need to put our country, our province and the people above any petty professional rivalries and political squabbles,” Makhura said.
Of the approximately 40 million who will be vaccinated to reach Covid-19 herd immunity, 10.4 million will be in Gauteng.
Makhura said despite the socio-economic gloom that was enforced by the economic damage caused by the pandemic, the provincial economy had registered significant progress in terms of investment and opportunities for job creation.
Political Bureau and IOL