Visit of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP)

Address by the Acting Premier of the Northern Cape, Honourable Ms Grizelda Cjiekella on the occasion of the visit of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) “Taking Parliament to the People Programme”, 05 November 2012 at Nonzwakazi Sportsfield in De Aar

Programme Directors, Mr T C Memela, Deputy Chairperson of the NCOP and Ms J Beukes, Deputy Speaker of the Provincial Legislature
Honourable Chairperson of the NCOP, Mr. M J Mahlangu
Honourable Speaker of the Northern Cape Provincial Government, Mr J F Van WyK
Honourable Members of the National Council of Provinces
Executive Mayor of Pixley Ka Seme District Municipality, Cllr John Lolwana
Mayor of the Emthanjeni Local Municipality, Cllr S T Sthonga
Councillors
Chairperson of SALGA Northern Cape, Cllr W Johnson
Chairperson of the Provincial House of Traditional Leaders, Kgosi CS Bareki
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

We wish to especially extend our sincere gratitude to the Honourable Chairperson of the NCOP, Mr. Mahlangu, and your esteemed delegation on this important occasion of the NCOP’s visit to our Province and hope that you have a wonderful and fruitful interaction with the communities of the Northern Cape.

Your presence here among us, on taking parliament to the people, is indeed timely and most welcome as we seek to better the lives of our communities.

Indeed, this visit clearly demonstrates the responsive, caring, and compassionate people centred nature of our government led by the African National Congress.

As the Northern Cape Provincial Government, we sincerely welcome this visit as it will provide parliamentarians with a closer view of the living conditions of the communities and experience at first hand the challenges that the communities have to contend with at a local level on a daily basis as they continue to eke out a living, and yes often times under the most challenging of conditions.

Compatriots, this empowerment must surely mean enabling our people to among others, using all and only legitimate means to voice their grievances as opposed to illegal and violent actions such as we have witnessed in some parts our province over the past few months.

Furthermore, regardless of how serious or legitimate our grievances may be we must never allow our children to be used in the way as we have seen scores of learners being prevented from going to school to get an education; the very education that will enable them to improve the quality of life of our communities.

Honourable Mahlangu, we are confident that this visit will contribute to the speeding up of basic services to our people, such as the building of decent houses, potable water, sanitation, electricity, provision of health services and the creation of job opportunities for our people.

At the same time, we must ensure that we use our parliamentary processes to deepen democracy through mobilising the masses of our people to participate effectively in governance processes.

We must be inspired by the understanding that people are their own liberators and our role as public representatives is to empower them to realise their potential.

It is our duty as Parliamentarians and Members of the Provincial Government, in recognition of the fact that the people shall liberate themselves from the bondages of poverty and underdevelopment, that we do all that is possible to enable them to assume their rightful place in economic, social and political arenas – and not only in word, but in-deed!

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are gathered here in the Pixley Ka Seme region which is also one of the poorest regions in the province with a high unemployment rate as well as an alarming rate of foetal alcohol syndrome.

Due to a comprehensive FASD Prevention Programme undertaken by the Foundation for Alcohol Related Research since 2002, this rate has dropped by 30%.This is the first ever reported drop in a FASD community prevalence rate in the world.

We also support the plans and the ongoing investigations to rejuvenate the railway lines in the De Aar area which will serve as a main source of job creation and creating vibrant towns.

The Department of Transport, Safety and Liaison is currently undertaking a feasibility study for the modelling and development of a Freight Transport Hub in De Aar.

The objective is to make use of the rail infrastructure which has been lying unused, but is readily available, before it falls into a total state of disrepair. In this hub we foresee, amongst other things warehousing facilities as well as distribution plants for the commodities of emerging farmers and miners. It is envisaged that this development will create over 300 jobs.

The Department has also developed and approved Integrated Public Transport Networks (IPTNs) which set out the different routes where different types of transport are required.

These documents are currently up for review, and should enable us to advise and urge the transport industry (whether minibus or bus operators) to apply for operating licences in the areas where there is no service.

We are currently still operating under the auspices of the Operating Licence Board, which deals with applications as and when received from applicants.

We are in the process of establishing a Provincial Regulatory Entity, which has the power to invite applications when a need for transport has been established in terms of the Integrated Transport Plans of Municipalities or the IPTNs. These challenges require concerted action at all level if they are to be overcome.

We are continuously paying attention to the myriad problems that beset our communities to improve the quality of life of the poor, the elderly, and people with disabilities, women, youth and children.

However, much still needs to be done to ensure that we provide equal opportunities and benefits to all the citizens of our country to ensure that they benefit from the fruits of freedom and democracy which is appropriately in line with the theme of this visit namely, “Working together to create opportunities for development”.

The impatient of the masses of our people could well be stemming from our continued sloganeering – Working together to create opportunities for development- and yet to the majority of our people, those conditions never seem to materialise, and if they do materialise, they come at such a slow and small scale that they do not seem to make any dent on the triple scourge of poverty, unemployment and inequality!

We know that our people are not angry at the ruling party in government, but they could well be disillusioned at the pace of development, and to this end, we pledge to improve on the pace that services are delivered to our people, henceforth!

Correctly so, the theme of this occasion highlights the determination with which we must respond to the three-pronged challenge of unemployment, inequality, and poverty to create a thriving economy that will create the necessary opportunities for our people, sooner rather than later!

Our people have struggled for a century; they cannot wait for another hundred years before they see tangible results borne out of the fruits of our liberation and democracy.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the year 2012 will go down in the annals of our country as the most memorable period as we celebrate the 100 years of selfless struggle and sacrifice of the existence of the oldest liberation Movement on the African soil, namely, the African National Congress which, inevitably, is the Governing Party since 27 April 1994.

The celebration of 100 years of its existence has undoubtedly reaffirmed our commitment to fundamentally transform our society to create a new social order to serve our people diligently and strive towards our vision of the creation of a non racial and non sexist South Africa.

I must say this historic year, 2012, has indeed signalled and ushered in the beginning of greater things to come in our province as well as in our country on a number of critical fronts, and not least of those, the announcement by our Honourable President of the establishment of our own university in the Northern Cape; greater news, if you throw the massive SKA project into the mix!

It is indeed true, that the location of the SKA site augurs well for government’s plan to build the first university in the Northern Cape Province. It is also a major boost for the Karoo region which has been described as prime location for radio astronomy.

The establishment of the new University will undoubtedly elevate our education system to new heights and optimally develop the intellectual capabilities of our youth and help our people to live happier and more fulfilling lives.

This university will be designed to produce the required qualifications and expertise that is required in a modern, growing economy.

Furthermore the establishment of a university in the province also presents a welcome opportunity for the creation of jobs in the construction sector as well as a vehicle for addressing the current skills shortage that we are faced with.

This is no longer a distant dream but a reality as the first intake of students will occur in 2014.

In addition, the SKA has necessitated that the bulk of these exciting developments, happen here in this own Pixley region of ours!

Among others, the Northern Cape was also identified as launching pad for the conversion of TV signals from analogue to digital which has certain advantages for rural development.

On the basic education front, we remain committed to the Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign, and in particular to commit to the non-negotiables, including that teachers must be on time teaching and learners in class on time , doing their tasks, thoroughly prepared and to behave properly at all times.

The matric exams have started in earnest and we are satisfied that everything have gone according to plan so far.

Programme Director, the Northern Cape is a mining and farming Province and we need to see that these sectors of the economy respond in a meaningful manner to the socio economic conditions of the province.

The potential of agriculture to contribute to job creation is well known.

A significant opportunity to provide employment and enhance food security lies in the agriculture sector. We need to empower more previously disadvantage households to become involved in agriculture and make sure that they gain access to arable land to sustain their livelihoods.

The mining houses on the other hand must ensure that the extraction of the mineral resources benefits the people of this province and we want the communities around the mines to benefit from improved facilities and infrastructure and to have a secure future long after the mines themselves have ended production.

In the State of the Nation Address, President Jacob Zuma laid out the broad outline of government’s programme of action, which places the creation of decent work and Infrastructure development as the central priority for government.

Our province indeed stands to benefit immensely from one of the 10 initial projects which aim to develop the Saldanha -Northern Cape linked region in an integrated manner through rail and exports.

The Northern Cape has been identified as one of the provinces best suited and strategically poised for a number of solar and wind renewable energy projects.

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. These projects will also contribute in reducing South Africa’s green house gas emissions at a national level.

A number of other key job creation initiatives have been identified as a way of transforming and improving the livelihood of the people of the Northern Cape. However, all these require from government to work together with Business, Labour and NGO’s.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we will continue the struggle to eradicate poverty and underdevelopment and improve the social conditions of all our people, confident that a better world is possible.

We have through the war against poverty programme identified and profiled the poorest sections of our communities throughout the province for direct intervention to alleviate their plight.

Eradicating poverty is the highest priority on government’s effort to build a better life for all.

We therefore call for the development of innovative and sustainable community-development and poverty-eradication policies, strategies and programmes that not only create opportunities for sustainable jobs and income generation, but that will also harness and strengthen resources within households and civil society to achieve sustainable livelihoods.

Increasing the quality of life and life expectancy for all South Africans is highly dependent on the efficiency and quality of the public health system as more than 80% of SA”S population currently make use of these facilities.

Government is ensuring that health services are brought within easy reach of all people, including communities in the rural areas. We are making a lot of efforts to increase the number of hospitals, clinics and health centres, especially in the rural areas.

In conclusion, your presence in the Northern Cape confirms the dedication of the Government to ensure that we act in ways that actually change the lives of the ordinary people for the better.

This participatory democracy programme reaffirms our commitment to the core principles of law making, oversight and public participation to promote mutual respect, inclusiveness, transparency, accountability, legitimacy and responsiveness – responding to the needs and aspirations of our people, in their lifetime!

I thank you

 

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