National and provincial government leaders have given residents of the Cape Winelands District an undertaking to address challenges communities face with crime, health and labour in the Cape Winelands District in the Western Cape.
These commitments were represented by more than 4 000 residents who attended the sixth District Development Model Presidential Imbizo led by President Cyril Ramaphosa in the Drakenstein local municipality town of Paarl today, Friday 19 May 2023.
Executive Mayor, Ald (DR) Elna von Schlicht, officially welcomed the president and delegation to the district, stating, “The district economy is built around agriculture, including the production of wine, fruit and vegetables, as well as tourism and innovation. Communities in the district are, however, affected by different degrees of poverty, unemployment and inequality.”
During the Imbizo, residents were afforded extended time to put grievances, questions and proposals to the President, the Premier and Ministers who formed part of this interactive engagement with citizens and stakeholder groups.
Residents who had travelled from all parts of the district raised issues such as unemployment; loadshedding; the movement of undocumented persons into the district for seasonal work in the agricultural sector; violence in communities, including at schools; the destruction of family life by drug addiction; dropout rates in basic education, and other matters.
Among the responses provided was an undertaking by Minister of Police Bheki Cele is to visit a police station in the district where residents are demanding greater responsiveness from the South African Police Service.
Western Cape Premier Alan Winde has assured residents that the province will direct more funding towards dealing with health challenges in the district.
Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi acknowledged residents’ concerns with regard to undocumented workers working on farms, thus reducing available options for local citizens, and said his department was working with the Department of Home Affairs and the South African Police Service to address this challenge.
The Imbizo identified issues in the Cape Winelands District that hamper service delivery and economic opportunities and highlighted successful projects involving public services and private sector initiatives.
The Imbizo at the Dal Josaphat Athletics Stadium was preceded by the President’s visit to the nearby Vlakkeland Catalytic Human Settlement Development which is the largest public housing development to date in the Drakenstein Local Municipality.
The multi-year project, which commenced in June 2017, is located equidistant between the towns of Paarl and Wellington on a major connector route.
As part of the Imbizo, government departments and agencies operated mobile service-delivery units where residents could access services such as applications for identity documents.
President Ramaphosa welcomed the enthusiasm with which residents engaged government leaders and reiterated government’s mission that no one will be left behind in the transformation of people’s lives and the country.