The eradication of violence against women and children, youth employment, eradication of informal settlements, an improved health care system and infrastructure development are some of the key priorities the Gauteng Provincial Government will be focusing on in the year ahead.
Delivering her annual State of the Province Address at the opening of the Gauteng Legislature today, Premier Nomvula Mokonyane outlined plans for the year while reflecting on the successes and achievements of the previous year.
Mokonyane said that youth unemployment remained one of the province's most critical and urgent challenges and that one of the ways the provincial government addressing it was through effective skills development coupled with workplace experience, placement in sustainable jobs and the promotion of youth entrepreneurship.
"We have assisted over 5 000 young people through arranging internships in the public and private sector, including in critical skills areas such as ICT and artisan programmes.
"In the year ahead, working in collaboration with business and SETAs, we will ensure that a further 6 500 young people are placed in learnerships, internships and workplace to gain experiential learning," Mokonyane said.
Charting the road ahead, Mokonyane added that the skills for industry programme will result in the training of 2 255 artisans and technicians up to 2 016 in the automotive, ICT and other sectors.
"We will work closely with the national Department of Higher Education to ensure that our young people and industries take advantage of the massive opportunities offered through the repositioning of FETs in our province, linked to the automobile sector in Tshwane and the manufacturing sector in Ekurhuleni," Mokonyane said.
The Premier also raised concern about gender-based violence and said that efforts will be intensified to deal with the scourge.
"The eradication of violence against women and children is a central pillar of our social crime prevention efforts in the province. In as much as we have clear policies and strategies in place to address this scourge, based on an analysis of the causes and solutions, it is clear there is not a simple explanation to what is happening.
"Abuse occurs in different circumstances, even in conditions of opulence. As a society we need to pause and reflect on what has gone wrong in our society. We invite men and women to engage on this matter so that we can find a sustainable societal intervention programme to make Gauteng and our country a safer place for girl children and women," Mokonyane said.
A further priority for the year ahead will be the repositioning of the Emergency Medical Services in the province to improve response times and the quality of service, said Mokonyane.
"We will add 100 new ambulances to the Gauteng ambulance fleet and 20 specialised Obstetric ambulances will be added to respond to obstetric emergencies.
"The re-engineering of the Medical Supply Depot is underway and in 2013/14 we plan to commence the construction of a new Gauteng Medical Supply Depot," Mokonyane said.
Reflecting on the journey so far, Mokonyane said that the law enforcement agencies have executed their duties with diligence despite the continued onslaught of organised crime syndicates and the scourge of corruption "We can now show that we have reduced crime in our province and that we have made Gauteng a safer place in which to live.
"Overall serious crime decreased by 8.1%, murder decreased by 11% and attempted murder which decreased by 16.3%. Trio crimes saw an overall decrease of 12.9% in the province," Mokonyane said.
Furthermore, Mokonyane said that during the 2012/13 financial year, the province has created over 22 000 direct permanent jobs, 44 000 direct temporary jobs and 151 000 work opportunities through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).
"The number of funded vacancies filled by Gauteng provincial sector departments increased from 3 346 in December 2012 to 5 421 by the end of January 2013.
In 2013/14 we intend to create 196 000 EPWP work opportunities at both provincial and municipal levels. In addition, 51 000 temporary and permanent jobs will be created," said Mokonyane.