Address by Acting Premier of the Northern Cape Province, Ms Sylvia Lucas, at the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature

Address by Acting Premier of the Northern Cape Province, Ms Sylvia Lucas, at the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature

30 April 2013, Kimberley

Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Provincial Legislature
Members of the Provincial Legislature
Judge President of the Northern Cape and Members of the Judiciary
Members of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces
Mayors, speakers and councillors
Traditional leaders
Leaders of political parties
Religious and faith based leaders
Representatives of organised business
Representatives of organised labour
Government officials
Distinguished guests
Ladies and gentlemen

Today, I humbly assume with solemn duty and service the highest office of government of the Northern Cape Province as Acting Premier. I feel extremely honoured and overwhelmed for the confidence and trust that my organisation, namely, the African National Congress and the people of the province have bestowed on me, mindful of the enormity of the task at hand.

Indeed, I accept the responsibility to serve all the people with a clear sense of my obligation to the people of the Northern Cape. I trust that with the continued support of this house, we will live up to the expectations of the masses in enhancing the capacity and quality of service that our provincial government will render.We are therefore obliged to represent and defend their interests by way of the powers and privileges of this august house. Our philosophy will be to govern with humility and honour.

Mr Speaker, I stand here, in this august house inspired by the hope that the masses have in us, to tackle the challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality. We bear witness to the enduring strength of our constitution. Indeed, we affirm our promise of the creation of a non racial, non sexist and democratic South Africa. A country that belongs to all of us - both black and white.

Collectively, we shoulder the responsibility to build a better Northern Cape Province. We have confronted the challenge that the legacy of apartheid has left us - a legacy of disempowerment, landlessness, inequality of opportunity and thousands of unemployed young people who cannot see a realistic prospect for a decent life. Confronting these realities is not about blaming the past or denying our own shortcomings.

It is about acknowledging that now is the time to do extraordinary things in dealing with our particular development circumstances. It requires new ideas and bold efforts from all of us (Government, Labour, Business, Communities and every Family). We need to change gear and do things differently. In particular, we need to look at what we can do to deal with the fundamental transformation of our society.

Our people have shown over centuries, through diverse history, our paths of a common resilience to overcome temporary moments of despair and hardships; our common African and South African humanity, talent and purposefulness have always shone through. The same kind of gigantic spirit is now required to defeat poverty, unemployment and inequality in thecontext of a world still struggling to recover from a global economic meltdown.

The test to our generation is to seize the opportunities that our new democracy offers to make a tangible difference in our circumstances. Our people are their own liberators; we must nurture their immense potential to stir the wheels of progress towards certain development as encapsulated in the National Development Plan.

This day occasioned by circumstances beyond our control confirms our unequivocal and unassailable commitment to constitutional rule and democracy. It confirms the firm foundations and healthy state of our primary institutions of a democratic state, the Executive(s), Judiciary and the Legislatures; foundations laid and upheld through onerous struggles at the epitome of which remains the ANC. The ruling Party has remained for a period of hundred years a champion of a South Africa fashioned in the best traditions, values and traits bequeathed by human civilization. I stand before this house to call upon all of us to give ourselves unreservedly in making the contribution of the Northern Cape inenhancing that positive legacy of a democratic state. It is a legacy we are sworn to defend.

Today, as we continue on our path to improve the conditions of our people, we believe that together we can do more, and importantly our priorities relate directly to improving the conditions of the poor, create a shared prosperity and strengthening our state institutions and departments in order to enhance service delivery.

In pursuit of such a vision, we will continue to focus on our five strategic developmental priorities, namely: the creation of more jobs, decent work and sustainable livelihoods, improving quality education and healthcare for all, promoting rural development and combating crime and corruption.

Our goal is to continue to develop the economy, improve people`s livelihoods, promote democracy and build a more prosperous and people centred society. We will continue to promote sustained and robust economic development; the government must assist investors and enterprises, large and small, to secure opportunities arising from our economic development programme.

Mr Speaker, the National Development Plan (NDP) provides for rural provinces like the Northern Cape better opportunities to fully participatein the economic, social and political life of the country. Our history is characterized among others, by deliberate neglect of rural areas. The birth of democracy saw a shift in approach. Government has now placed the issue of rural development high on the agenda.

The people should be able to access high quality basic services that enable them to promotea healthy lifestyle and increasingly become skilled wherever they are in South Africa.

Furthermore, the plan outlines the type of society we are striving for by 2030, where no one is hungry, where everyone is able to go to school and further their studies if they wish, where work is available, where everyone is making a contribution because each person have been provided with what they need to live their full potential.

Ladies and Gentlemen, families are our pillars and key element for social stability. We need to foster family harmony and support the underprivileged. It is our responsibility to ensure that the elderly are honoured for their special place in the family, loved in the way they have loved us and respected for their lifelong contribution to society, special attention is paid to those who require social assistance to meet their basic needs. Older persons embody societal experience and can play an important role in reinforcing the traditions, history and national values.

Honourable Members, young people represent the future, but they are our present too. And so to ensure their full participation, we must invest in their health, education and leadership. We will urgently implement skills development programmes that are purposefully aimed to equip our youth with skills to overcome related scourges of poverty and unemployment. We want to see our young people get involved in every aspect of community life; we want to inspire them to achieve their dreams, and we want to encourage them to take the lead.

With an enthusiastic focus on youth, we hope to start a process of meaningful engagement and broad integration of young people, giving special attention to our youngsters at risk. And so, young men and women, this is your call to action. I know you have it in you for I have seen your depth of talent and you`re potential.

Now, it is up to you to channel your energy and creativity into securing opportunities and sustainability for your own generation and for the future. To ensure that the sharp focus on youth development is re-engineered, the Department of Social Development will partner with the NYDA to facilitate tangible youth development initiatives in the Province and heightened consistent dialogue on matters affecting the Youth.

This year we will also promote the active participation of women in development and economic empowerment programmes.Women are further encouraged to participate in co-operatives because government through the Dti has established a grant funding for business initiation or capitalization namely the Co-operative Incentive Scheme (CIS), valued at R350 .000. 00. For this financial year co-operatives in the province will be mobilized to access this fund.

The mobilization will also include joint efforts with the Northern Cape office of SARS to undertake an outreach initiative to co-ops in all the districts which are far from the SARS offices in Kimberley and Upington.

We, as Government and the private sector, must introduce subsidy schemes or gradual payment mechanisms to enable women to join cooperatives despite financial constraints; train women in technical, entrepreneurship and managerial skills; introduce agricultural methods, technologies and related support services that work for women. It is our resolve that the Mme Re KaThusa Trust will focus on concrete entrepreneurship development for the rural women of our Province.

Mr Speaker, our commitment to the fight against HIV and AIDS has never been greater. We must double our efforts as a country to ensure that all our interventions yield the required results.

It is not enough to simply shout from the rooftops and broadcast the message to abstain, but we must all roll up our sleeves and volunteer in our communities to educate others and provide home-based care to those who have succumbed.

We also welcome the implementation of FDC (Fixed-Dose Combination) for use in the 1st line treatment of HIV positive people.The Northern Cape Provincial Government will implement from the 1st April 2013 the FDC drug whereby eligible HIV positive patients receiving ARV`s in the public sector will be treated with ONE tablet of FDC (Fixed-Dose Combination) drug. The fixed dose combination is one pill to be taken once daily in the place of 3 daily tablets.

The Northern Cape Province is targeting 7100 new patients. The province has received FDC supplies, the majority of which is rolled out in all districts and will be implemented for new treatment of patients who will commence with the Antiretroviral Treatment (ART).

Similarly, education remains at the core of our efforts to build a generation of youth that will lead the country with diligence and take it to new heights. Education is a key priority of our government and a means to promote productive citizenship as well as preparing our people for the needs of a modern economy and democratic society.

Education must be at the centre of our efforts to improve the potential of every citizen and enable each one of us to play a productive role in building our nation.We are also extremely happy with the prospect of the opening of the first university in the Northern Cape.

The university will provide critical skills to the key sectors locally and will also serve as a much needed local knowledge partner to advance research and innovation. We encourage all the prospective candidates to enrol, assoon as the opportunity is provided, so that they can realise their dreams and help contribute towards a growing economy. Recently at a PIGF in of the 19th March 2013, the then Acting Premier, Grizelda Cjiekella, Executive Mayor of Sol Plaatjie and Frances Baard District Mayor concluded and signed with the National Minister of Higher Education Dr. Blade Nzimande a Memorandum of Intent for the role out of the establishment of the University. The purpose of that Memorandum of Intent is to facilitate readiness for the first intake in 2014.

The total number of Grade 12 for 2013 is 10481.As is customary; there will be Winter and Spring schools for high enrolment and underperforming schools for consolidation of work done at school level so as to ensure that learners are well prepared for their final examinations.

Mr Speaker, human resource development has become a national priority for South Africa. The introduction of adequate and appropriate training and education programs for the students and prospective students is crucial for the successful creation of a nation which is capable of playing an integral role in the socio-economic upliftment of the majority of South African citizens.

There has always been a need to academically capacitate the Northern Cape population thereby defeating the endemic illiteracy levels that threatens to be an inheritance from one generation to the next.

In order to contribute to the academic upliftment of citizens the Northern Cape government departments and the Office of the Premier awards full time bursaries to students. We also employ unemployed graduates to gain experiential learning in their field of study for a period of one year.

Mr Speaker, we remain firmly committed to fighting crime and corruption. This includes the improvement of the quality of life of all the people of our country in a manner that will ensure enhanced levels of safety and security.The government will not by itself, address, the crime problem. Members of our communities and indeed all South Africans are expected to form part of efforts to address crime and corruption, by participating in community policing forums and more directly by reporting crime and corruption, where they encounter these. We must also work with our police service in the arrest of criminals and not hide them.

We will also mobilise our communities and take the lead to turn the tide of violence and crime against the most vulnerable sectors of our society i.e. women and children. A greater proportion of murders, rapes and other crimes take place among acquaintances, particularly in poor communities where living conditions do not allow for decent family and social life.Women and children deserve the right to live in peace and harmony.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a common aspiration of our people to own their own houses because housing is a basic need. We are committed to improving the quality of life of our people and to build stronger, better planned and sustainable communities.

We believe that housing issues should be tackled through the provision of housing within sustainable, integrated settlements which is a critical pillar of the country`s growth and development strategy.

Through a progressive human settlements programme, we will be able toreverse the skewed apartheid planning and development strategy.The objective of establishing sustainable human settlements and an improved quality of household life is one of the twelve outcomes identified by government.

The concept of human settlements is not just about building houses. We have to change apartheid spatial patterns and ensure that low
income households in rural or urban areas have easy access to economic centres. They must also have access to social amenities and key services such as water, electricity, recreational facilities, schools, clinics and a host of others.

I believe, Mr Speaker, one of the shortcomings of our leadership, especially on local government level, is that we do not speak out often enough of our successes, allowing those who oppose us to spread half-truths amongst the masses. The provision of housing is one such an area.

Northern Cape is one of the best performing provinces with respect to Informal Settlements upgrading. It has achieved 70% of its target. However, the programme of rental housing still remains a major challenge.

The limited budget to the province and the number of contractually committed projects in the various areas has made this impossible. The cost of rental units is approximately R150 000 - R200 000 per unit.

We are paying urgent attention to the Lerato Park housing development in Kimberly. The internal services to all 797 sites in Lerato Park are completed. In Phase 1 of the project 110 units are completed and 381 units are at various stages of construction.

Regarding land restitution, President Zuma in his State of the Nation Address, announced the re-opening of the lodgement of land claims for those who could not claim during the first window of opportunity. This announcement had two aspects to it. Firstly, the reopening of the lodgement of land claims across the board, and secondly, the creation of exceptions to the 1913 Natives Land Acts for heritage sites, historic landmarks and opportunities for the descendants of the Khoi and San to claim.

It is within this context that the provincial government spearheaded by the department of agriculture met with the Khoi San community in a two day Indaba in Kimberly to map the way forward.

We have in the main consulted with the Khoisan Community regarding the lodgement of claims.We have also taken the timeto explain the business process of Restitution as well as how the citizen`s manual will be used during the lodgement of Land Claims.

We are happy to report that the Indaba resolved to establish a national reference group which will work hand in hand with government to put measures in place to achieve the above objectives.

Mr Speaker, we will also pay urgent attention to the threat of climate change.Our province has been identified as one of the provinces best suited and strategically poised for a number of solar and wind renewable energy projects.This provides us with the rare opportunity to position ourprovince as a significant hub of renewable energy. These projects will be responsible for creating a number of green jobs in the province and also contributing to the clean energy that will be put on to the electricity grid.

To be frank the bulk of the solar generating capacity is to be found in the Northern Cape. If estimates are to be provided we will see 80% of such Solar Energy Developments taking place in the Northern Cape. We have positioned ourselves to ensure that the sun of the Northern Cape does not become a lost opportunity for the growth and development of our people. This includes Independent Power Producers and coordinated solar parks by National Government in conjunction with the Provincial Government. In this regard we have concluded a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Minister of Energy for the roll-out of Solar Corridor stretching from Upington to Prieska. Currently geotechnical studies and EIA studies are taking place on the Prieska site. Upon conclusion of negotiations with the service providers similar studies will be undertaken on the Upington site.

Mr Speaker, our communities continue to face many challenges despite the significant strides that our government is making to address these obstacles. We need to stand united, face difficulties with fortitude and determination and respond to different views with an inclusive attitude. We promise that we will listen and be inclusive and patient in seeking solutions to our myriad of problems.

I wish to reiterate the statement of Premier Hazel Jenkins at her official inauguration on 11 May 2009 when she made a call to action, and I quote "In encouraging and maintaining the basic dignity of all inhabitants of this vast province, we must:

  • mobilise our people in active support of government`s programmes
  • re-ignite our people`s passion in and for themselves, by for example, delegating developmental responsibilities to them
  • uproot from our society the scourge of corruption which robs the poor of that which is legitimately theirs
  • Begin work in earnest to address the many challenges faced by our communities while we remain inspired by the significant progress we have made thus far as a united nation.

Mr Speaker, the Northern Cape is our home. To build this home, we need to reinforce solidarity and amass collective vision. We believe in the unconquerable power of the people. I believe that people have the power to change for the better their situation and communities they live in. This calls for unity of purpose.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I trust that we as a formidable team will work together harmoniously and dedicate ourselves to be of service to our people and our communities at all times.

With a common vision, shared values and one heart we should be able to build the Northern Cape into an ideal home for all. A home where children grow up healthy, women walk the streets freely without fear of being attacked, young people make their dreams come true and the elderly enjoy a decent life.

Honourable Speaker

Honourable Members, this address takes place at a time where departments are presenting their different budgets to different Portfolio Committees and MEC`s preparing for their different budget speeches. This process is at various stages with some still having to present to Portfolio Committees and others having concluded such presentations. As a result of that process and respect for the legislative committees I throughout of this speech resisted the temptation to make major announcements of the Government Programme of Action as most of those initiatives will be reflected in the various Budget Speeches of the MEC`s. We are a government that constantly seeks to connect with the people. We have improved the practice of listening to the people, understanding their concerns, and practically taking up the issues they have raised. We aim to work together with our people, and to ensure that our actions are not only people-centred, but also people driven.

Let me conclude by quoting former United States President, Bill Clinton, who wrote in his book "My Life":

`No one is perfect, but most people are good. People can`t be judged only by their worst or weakest moments. Harsh judgements can make hypocrites of us all. A lot of life is just showing up and hanging on.

Laughter is often the best, and sometimes the only, response to pain. Everyone has a story of dreams, and nightmares, hope and heartache, love and loss, courage and fear, sacrifice and selfishness. All my life I`ve been interested in other peoples stories. When I grew up and got into politics, I always felt the main point of my work was to give people a chance to have better stories."

Programme Director:

BaieDankie
Kealeboga
Siyabulela
I thank you

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