Today, Premier Alan Winde delivered the budget vote speech for the Department of the Premier, detailing how this department will lead from the front in the rollout of recovery initiatives focusing on jobs, safety, and dignity and wellbeing, as well as on the response to Covid-19 in the Western Cape.
The Department has been allocated a budget of R1.748 billion in 2021/22.
Premier Winde said: "In the year ahead, we will harness innovation and collaboration even further, to become leaner, smarter and even more agile and responsive."
The Department of the Premier has played a leading role in coordinating our whole of government response to Covid-19 and will continue to do so in any subsequent waves and in the rollout of our vaccine plan. As part of our response, our Western Cape Contact Centre scaled up their work, playing a pivotal role in our humanitarian response, as well as in contact tracing and in the VECTOR telemedicine programme.
- In the last year, the Western Cape Government rolled out the biggest communications campaign on record, utilising radio, print, social media, posters, billboards, loudhailing and SMS campaigns to share information that members of the public needed to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.
- In the year ahead, a further R20 million has been allocated for communications on Covid-19 and the vaccine rollout.
Premier Winde said: "For our vaccination campaign to be truly effective, enough people must get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. We know that there is still a lot of hesitancy around vaccines which is made worse by large amounts of irresponsible fake news. In countries around the world, communications and social mobilization are key components of this vaccine rollout.
"The Western Cape Government is committed to sharing factual, science-based information with our residents so that they can make informed choices when their turn to be vaccinated comes around. Just like we have done throughout this pandemic. "
Recovery response in jobs, safety, dignity and wellbeing:
The Department of the Premier, as the engine room of the Western Cape Government, has led the Covid-19 response and recovery interventions, providing the leadership, support, strategy and data that all departments rely on to deliver services to the public.
In the year ahead:
- The Department will provide policy support to the ECD sector, which has been identified as an essential service by the Western Cape Government, to ensure the smooth transition from the Department of Social Development, to the Department of Education.
- R1.5 million has been budgeted for a scoping exercise to understand the behaviours affecting early childhood development outcomes in the Western Cape, using behaviour change techniques focusing on parents, learners, centre managers and teachers, and partnering with global and local experts.
- A similar partnership between the WCED, institutions of higher learning and international partners is being rolled out to conduct a needs assessment at 10 schools in Cape Town to assess perceptions of violence in schools. This will allow us to see how learners and others in the school community experience and perceive violence. The results will be used to design a pilot study to test the efficacy of violence prevention techniques which we can scale up, if positive results are found.
The Department of the Premier will continue to provide the data and information required in order to respond in a data driven and evidence led way to service delivery, the Covid-19 response and recovery, as well as the Western Cape Safety Plan.
Broadband and wifi:
- One of the key services this department delivers to the public is the rollout of broadband and wifi.
- Premier Winde said: " Over the past year, we have seen the importance of being digitally connected. Whether it was a patient who was able to video call their loved ones from one of our temporary Covid hospitals, learners using the internet to continue learning, or job seekers connecting to opportunities, access to broadband and wifi, has helped us to stay connected at a time when we couldn’t be connected in person."
- For the year ahead, earmarked allocations of R375 million and R30 million have been made available for the rollout of broadband and wifi hotspots respectively.
- As part of the Western Cape Government digital ecosystem, we operate 47 Cape Access Centres, 1045 public wifi hotspots, 1911 broadband sites of which the majority are over 100 Megabits per second or higher, 13 citizen contact channels and the Western Cape portal.
The budget for the office of the Children's Commissioner also falls within the Department of the Premier. In the year ahead, this office has been allocated R9.8 million to complete this important work. Ms Christina Nomdo was appointed as the first Children's Commissioner in June 2020. Despite the difficulties she faced getting into communities during the lockdown, her office has taken enormous strides, with support from the Department of the Premier.
- She has recruited 45 child monitors, with 42 of these currently still working with her, to advise her and give inputs on issues impacting their lives. The group includes children with disabilities, from the LGBTQI community, and children who live in care homes. They connect regularly using digital platforms like Whatsapp.
- The monitors have advised her for submissions to the United Nations and on the Children’s Act. They have made submissions on the reopening of schools during the pandemic, and matrics in the group launched a campaign to make their voices heard to cancel the rewrite. They have also made submissions to her on topics including sex education and mental health in schools.
- Ms Nomdo has also allowed children to be part of the interview processes to appoint staff for her office, and they were instrumental in helping develop her brand, and have lived up to her office’s slogan “Little Voice Must Count.”
- The Commissioner has also just recently launched her new website which can be viewed at www.westerncape.gov.za/childrens-commissioner/
Innovation and culture change:
One of the key areas in which the Department of the Premier leads is the development of Innovation and Culture, as part of the 5 vision inspired priorities (VIPs) identified by Premier Winde at the start of this term. This priority is aimed at developing innovative ways to respond to service delivery and creating a culture in the Western Cape Government which makes the people of the Western Cape feel that they are our priority.
- The department has budgeted R18,1 million for innovative initiatives in 2021/22
- This includes an allocation of R3 million in this year, and an additional R4 million in the outer years, for the transformation of the Provincial Training Institute at Kromme Rhee into an innovation and learning hub. This hub will allow us to use new methodologies and technologies for skilling and training and help us come up with innovative solutions to service delivery.
- R4.2 million has been allocated for culture change interventions aimed at identifying talent, developing staff and maturing leadership capabilities.
Premier Winde said: "Effective service delivery requires every single person in this government to share our values of competence, accountability, integrity, responsiveness and caring. To be truly citizen-centric, we must become a leaner, smarter and more agile government. The Department of the Premier will be taking the lead on this, developing a New Way of Work, which focuses on intergovernmental collaboration, and encouraging the kinds of exciting innovation which we put in place in our response to the pandemic, in all areas of our government. "