Premier Winde on why Western Cape outperformance on growth, jobs, security set to continue

The Democratic Alliance’s ‘Governance Prospectus’ is flourishing. The Western Cape province, the only one of nine run by South Africa’s official opposition, is already well established as an economic growth and security outlier. Of the 169 000 net new South African jobs created in 2022, 167 000 were in the Western Cape. Those with the means are ‘semigrating’ in growing numbers, with a net 129 000 people moving into the province last year. But how sustainable is this oasis of prosperity in a sea of stagnation? Provincial Premier Alan Winde makes a solid case for the Western Cape experiment continuing and being adopted elsewhere, during this in-depth interview with Alec Hogg of BizNews.

Timestamps for the interview below:

  • 00:35 – Introduction
  • 02:33 – Alan Winde on the increase in foreign investment
  • 08:52 – On the Western Cape generating 1000MW of power and the effect of loadshedding
  • 16:21 – Progress on policing and safety and the drop in the murder rate
  • 23:11 – On if the abandoned power station can be repurposed
  • 26:32 – The possibility of Cape Independence

Excerpts from the Interview

Alan Winde on the Western Cape generating 1000MW of power  

So it’s going to actually grow exponentially more. I mean, we’ve set ourselves a target now for our own generation and when I say our own generation, it’s not about us setting up an SOE. It’s about the private sector putting power into the grid, but for the region. So at the moment we use 4000 megawatts in the Western Cape at our peak and we’ve set a target now for 5700 megawatts between now and 2035. So in other words, we are planning for expansion and growth.

Read more: Alan Winde on booming Western Cape emigration – up another 20% this year to over 120k

Progress on policing and safety and the drop in the murder rate

So first of all, it’s a major fight. And, you know, the harder we push, the more Bheki Cele seems to dig his heels in. But I think what we have shown in dealing with safety – using technology, data and evidence is that you can make a difference. So you will now see that the murder rate in the Western Cape is growing at a slower pace than the murder rate in the rest of the country. Cape Town was always spoken about in the parliament, as being the crime capital of South Africa –  the murder capital of South Africa. 

There was a document showing that we are now sitting at number 20, if you rate ranked cities in the world, you will see the metros of other cities in Africa are now sitting in the top five. And Cape Town’s moved down to the 20th on that position. 

We initially put in 1 billion rand, and have now spent 2.3 billion on safety issues. We have only got 1300 safety officers. We call them LEAP officers – Law Enforcement Advancement Plan – which is the LEAP program. My initial plan was to put 3000 in place. But of course, then we had a pandemic. And our budgets have just been slashed everywhere because of the energy crisis, we just don’t have that kind of income. 

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But those 1300 officers are now using technology, and focusing on where they are deployed, is reducing the murder rate. It’s a ten year plan because you can’t just turn a switch on and off and change murder. I mean, murder is something that needs behaviour change. It needs you to understand the casualties. But the first part of the program is boots on the ground. We have 20,000 police officers in our province, and the 1300 LEAP officers in our province, and they are focussed on these focus areas, these 13 focus areas. 

And so you will see in Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain and Nyanga, they are no longer in the top murder police precincts in South Africa anymore. In actual fact, the murder numbers have now moved from the Western Cape to the Eastern Cape, and to KZN and Gauteng because of this project. We have 4000 people in our province that are murdered every year. So hopefully over the next few years that’s going to drop to 2000. Even 2000. You can’t contemplate that number. 

There were 26,000 people murdered in South Africa last year. And I would have thought a long time ago that there would have been a major freak out about the top management. The police minister would have lost his job, it’s a double digit growth in murder in the percentages all across the board every single year. That’s just an unacceptable number. And of course, we don’t have those competencies within a constitutional mandate. But those are the boundaries that we’re pushing. We want to change the Constitution, we want to change models. 

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The possibility of Cape Independence

As you know, even when Helen Zille was the premier, we started that process of calling on the then president to put the regulation in place to allow for a referendum. That still hasn’t happened. In the discussions that we have been having with other organisations in the region, it looks like there might be a court challenge, from outside of government, to say let’s actually put pressure on getting either the understanding that you can call a referendum without those regulations and a province can just go at it. 

So, we’ll wait and see what happens with that. But I also must say that a referendum is not necessarily the thing that says, okay, well, now it’s done, it doesn’t work that way. And of course, in the current system, even if there was a referendum of 100% that said we want to be a different country, and we are one country at the moment, we have to go through processes for that to happen and I can’t see the National Assembly approving it. I can’t see that happening. 

So for me it’s about devolution of power and federalism, because quite frankly, the Cape exit is based on a political problem. We are unhappy with the politics of South Africa, so we want to have different politics in the Western Cape. It has to become a different region, a different country. And well, let’s rather fix the politics. It’s much easier. 

Fix the politics, vote out the ANC. Don’t put all of that energy into trying to tell everybody that we’ve got to be a different country based on whatever. Why don’t you put all of that energy into consolidating the vote to actually change the country. And that, again, will give you the opportunity to get federalism to a way better space than possible, because we just spoke about policing powers and that’s a fight between a provincial government and a national government. And hopefully more provinces will join in that fight. And I actually think it’s attainable. And I can see there’s a movement towards attaining those changes.  

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