David Makhura. Picture: THE TIMES
Gauteng premier David Makhura. Picture: THE TIMES

THE calm of Gauteng Premier David Makhura’s state of the province address was broken for a moment by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

"E-tolls, e-tolls," they chanted, as Mr Makhura delivered his speech at the Saul Tsotetsi Sports Complex in Sebokeng, on Monday.

The Premier’s address marked the opening of the third session of the fifth provincial legislature.

Before his speech, the legislature’s speaker, Ntombi Mekgwe, told the EFF members who wanted their questions answered that the occasion was only for Mr Makhura’s address and nothing else.

"This is the only platform we have. We must talk about the realities facing our people," shouted some of the EFF members.

They stood up and banged on tables as they chanted. The speaker tried to silence them but they continued for a few minutes.

The party’s departure then came as abruptly as their interruption did — they quietly left the legislature as some members of the audience clapped and others booed.

Before the interruption Mr Makhura spoke about racism and xenophobia. He said he would appoint a group of people who would work with civic society to talk about how to stop racism and xenophobia in SA.

"Those who call black people baboons are as wrong as those who threaten to drive white students out of university campuses," he said.

He also said despite a tough global and domestic environment the province’s economy had potential to create more jobs.

"Gauteng continues to be the leading destination for foreign direct investment contributing 35% to the South African economy in 2015," he said.

However rapid urbanisation was posing challenges to Gauteng, Mr Makhura said. "Between 2011 and 2016, 1-million people moved into Gauteng," he said. He said with 200,000 people a year moving into the province, provincial resources were being strained.

Mr Makhura said in order to cope and grow the economy, the government would worker harder and do things differently.

Part of the plan to do so included creating black industrialists, focusing on processing mineral resources and other raw materials locally, and developing innovation-driven industries, the Premier said.