Well, its been a very long time since I posted anything on my blog and so, to all those people who have visited my site and responded, I sincerely apologise for my absence. I have read your comments and, whilst I may not be able to respond to each individual, I want to assure you that I have noted all your responses to my blog, whether positive or negative.
It certainly has been a very busy time for us over the last few months and we have been getting on with the job of governing the Western Cape despite what our detractors might say. We have been ensuring that the provincial economy continues to grow at more than 5 per cent, that we continue in our quest to create jobs, ensure safer communities, improve the quality of our education, ensure that everyone has access to health and social services - and ensure that we continue to work hard toward our vision of making the Western Cape a 'Home for All'.
We have also been making great progress in our fight against drugs and gangs, as outlined in my State of the Province Address at the beginning of this year. That is why you will find alleged drug and gang lords like 'Mr Big' complaining bitterly in the newspapers about the fact that they've been arrested. In places like Mitchell's Plain, 189 people were arrested for drug-related crimes in September alone, bringing to more than 2 000 the total for the six months of this financial year(2007/08). These are just some indicators that we have taken the fight to the drug dealers who are destroying the lives of our children and tearing our communities apart. We are not saying that the battle has been won, but it certainly has started and we are making great strides.
Indeed, this is going to be a tough battle to rid our communities of drugs and gangs - and we are in it for the long haul! What we do need is for our communities to work with (and not against) the police because the battle against drug lords and gangsters cannot be won by either one on their own.
The Western Cape Government has also been hard at work to ensure that, whilst fighting gangsters and drug lords, we are also helping communities to unite in a bid to change the face of their neighbourhoods. We identified 21 Priority Areas which are most desperately in need of change and included them in what we have dubbed our 'Social Transformation Programme'.
We have been consulting extensively with communities in these 21 Areas and, after our first round of imbizos in April, we will be fulfilling our promise to return to those communities by the end of October to report on the progress we have made over the six months since then. Our officials have been meeting with community leaders, often late into the night, to help with setting up proper structures which will be the voice of those communities and make it easier for them to access government and all the services available to our people. Already, we have held a range of 'Service Jamborees' which attracted thousands of people to a central point where all government services were available. The police were there, home affairs officials were there, social services workers were there, and so on.
Now, in the week of 22-28 October, the Provincial Government and its leaders will again hold imbizos covering all 21 Areas, from Khayelitsha to Oudtshoorn, from Vredenburg to Delft, Clanwilliam to Retreat, Langa to Ladismith, and Beaufort West to Bishop Lavis, and many more.
We are looking forward to hearing from our people and their leaders about how we push ahead with this bold move to change our neighbourhoods and build communities in which we can all feel safe and be at home.
For now, let me wish all Muslims in our province Eid Mubarak and all Hindus in the Western Cape a happy Diwali!