THE Eastern Cape remains the province faced with the largest socio-economic challenges compared with the rest of the country.
This was revealed by Statistician-General Pali Lehohla to a Dispatch Dialogues audience, who listened to his report via Skype at the Guild Theatre last night.
The Dialogue was held in conjunction with the University of Fort Hare.
He said many of the challenges engulfing the province were a result of poverty and mass exodus of human capital.
“Human resources in the Eastern Cape contributed to the state of the province. There was a lot of human capital that moved out, which affected a lot of things in terms of governance.”
He said close to a million people had moved from the Eastern Cape to Gauteng since 2011.
“Eastern Cape people move to Gauteng and the Western Cape, which means that there is no growth in the Eastern Cape.
“The proportion of working population in Gauteng is significantly greater than the Eastern Cape.”
He said the province had a younger population and more children than the other provinces and that its unemployment rate was 34.4% by the middle of 2017, an increase of 2.2%.
“The province has experienced an unemployment rate higher than the SA average.”
He called for Eastern Cape schools to be functional, adding that the trend in obtaining degrees among black people decreased.
“Blacks have deteriorated in terms of academic performance.
“It is not that blacks are stupid but when they go to university they do not have resources.
“They do not have food and they have no money.
“Access to resources remains a problem. NSFAS [National Student Financial Aid Scheme] will give students 60% funding and they [students] have to search for the other 40%.
“It makes it difficult for students to study under those circumstances and that’s how students end up not performing.’’
While the country recorded 460236 deaths last year, the Eastern Cape had the highest rate of deaths due to assaults, with Alfred Nzo municipality being the highest in the country.
Asked what could be done to break the cycle of poverty in the province, he said: “What is lacking is a plan and that depends on how we look at the future and how we make that future real by imagining it, modelling it and trying to bring intelligence in the process of informed planning.’’
The event focused on whether the government was on track or otherwise to meet its 2030 development goals and how far the government was in its effort to cut unemployment to 14% by 2020 in terms of the National Development Plan.
In June this year, unemployment in SA hit its highest level since September 2003. — firstname.lastname@example.org