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Zille delivers State of Province Address

Helen Zille says the Western Cape has seen a reduction in the number of under-performing schools.

Helen Zille says the Western Cape has seen a reduction in the number of under-performing schools.

CAPE TOWN - Western Cape Premier Helen Zille on Friday said the province noted a reduction in the number of under-performing schools since 2009.

Delivering her State of the Province Address in the provincial legislature, Zille announced what her administration was doing to improve education, create jobs and help start-up businesses.

Zille said the number of under-performing schools in the province was reduced from 85 in 2009 to 26 in 2013.

However, she said burglary and vandalism in schools remained a serious problem.

"Too many people still do not adequately appreciate that a functional school is a precious resource in a community."

On the issue of unemployment, Zille said the province had expanded the Work and Skills Programme, the province's version of the Youth Wage Subsidy.

She said the Development Bank of South Africa granted R64 million to build the programme.

Earlier this week, the ANC accused Zille of not doing enough to address the challenges facing the poor.

The premier said the province was anticipating significant job losses in the agricultural sector which would be a major setback for the province.

She acknowledged challenges in the farming sector and what her administration was doing to improve education, create jobs and help start-up businesses.

Zille said farmers in the Western Cape traditionally paid workers above the minimum wage and that was the reason seasonal workers migrate to the province.

"There is a particularly tragic irony in the fact that farmworkers leave the most fertile agricultural regions in our sub-continent, from our eastern seaboard to our northern neighbours, to seek work on the stony mountain slopes of De Doorns."

She was then heckled by ANC members in the legislature which prompted the Speaker to intervene and call for order.

Zille said farming was one of the last remaining sectors in the economy able to absorb unskilled labour, a feature at risk of changing with increasing mechanisation.

Meanwhile, the new minimum wage of R105 a day for farmworkers will become effective on 1 March.

This follows months of violent strike action by farmworkers who were demanding a daily salary of R150.

The ANC also slammed Zille's government for doing little to tackle housing, crime and education.

The province has a housing backlog dating back to over 20 years.

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