Makhura: 500,000 jobs lost in Gauteng due to COVID-19 pandemic

Gauteng Premier David Makhura made the announcement during his State of the Province Address where he also laid out his four priorities for the new financial year which include plans to boost the economy.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura delivers his State of the Province Address in the Gauteng Legislature on 23 February 2021. Picture: @GautengProvince/Twitter.

JOHANNESBURG - Half-a-million jobs have been lost in Gauteng and 42% of small businesses were forced to close due to the pandemic.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura made the announcement during his State of the Province Address on Tuesday where he also laid out his four priorities for the new financial year, which include plans to boost the economy.

Makhura has also highlighted that the province, seen as the economic hub of the country, is deeply concerned that many municipalities deteriorated during the pandemic.

This was due to a loss of over R8.75 billion in revenue between April and July last year.

Makhura said this year had been devastating for residents and the state, but there was hope.

“We are at a moment now when we begin to see a sign of hope as we enter the vaccination phase of the battle against COVID-19. We will remain wounded and we are wounded but we are not defeated. We must bounce back, and we shall bounce back as a province.”

Makhura said his administration hoped to improve governance and lives through accountability and integrity this year.

Getting the country's economy back on track during a global pandemic is a tough task but Makhura said he believed it was achievable.

Makhura is deeply concerned that more than R8 billion in revenue has been lost by municipalities due to the pandemic.

He said this has had a direct impact on service delivery.

As a result, Makhura said many municipalities struggled to pay creditors like Eskom and Rand Water.

“Provincial government has been working very hard in addressing some of this, intervening with Eskom and with Rand Water. Emfuleni Local Municipality reached a stage where it is not able to meet basic commitments.”

Some departments have also regressed during the 2019/2020 financial year, failing to receive clean audits.

However, the premier is hopeful that this province will be able to lead by example and get through the tough economic situation.

VACCINES MUST BE ROLLED OUT BEFORE WINTER TO SAVE LIVES

Makhura said as vaccines act as a decisive weapon against pandemics, the COVID-19 inoculation plan must be rolled out with urgency before winter to save as many lives as possible.

So far, 5,000 healthcare workers in Gauteng have been immunized in the past few days since the arrival of the Johnson & Johnson doses with more en route.

READ: Gauteng's Makhura warns of third wave if COVID-19 vaccine isn’t rolled out soon

More than 402,000 people have contracted the coronavirus in the province, of whom 9,496 have died.

Makhura said the vaccination plan must be sped up to ensure the elderly and those with comorbidities were also vaccinated before the winter season.

“We must make it clear that coronavirus is still around and the third wave is a real possibility as we approach winter.”

Government's aim is to inoculate more than 215,000 healthcare workers in the private and public sector as part of phase one of the rollout program.

Makhura said now was the time to put the country and the province first and leave petty professional rivalries and political squabbles behind.

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