Inaugural Address by the Northern Cape Premier

Address By The Premier Of The Northern Cape Province, Ms Sylvia Elizabeth Lucas, On The Occasion Of Her Official Inauguration In The Northern Cape Provincial Legislature On Thursday
30 May 2013

 

The Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Provincial Legislature;
The Members of the Provincial Legislature;
Colleagues in the Executive
Traditional Leaders present
Leaders of political parties;
The Director General of the Northern Cape;
Mayors and Councillors
Fellow Citizens of the Northern Cape;
Distinguished guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen;

With the divine Grace of God Almighty and under the astute custodianship of the Ruling Party, the African National Congress, I stand before this House filled with a profound sense of humility and deep honour to be inaugurated as the fourth Premier of the Northern Cape Province within the confines of our democratic dispensation.

In having accepted the magnitude of the honour that has been bestowed upon me, and being mindful of the legitimate expectations of the people of this vast and beautiful province, I unconditionally bring to it a conscious desire and determination to execute the duties of Premier to the best of my ability and to tangibly promote the interests of all the people of the Northern Cape.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Madam Speaker: I also accept the responsibility to serve the people and govern the Province, to the best of our collective ability, together with the members of this democratic Legislature.  We understand and appreciate the hopes and aspirations of our people and we hereby unreservedly pledge our commitment to serve them, and work with them in ushering in prosperity and sustainability on a province-wide basis.

I am reminded of the words of President Barack Obama who said: “Change will not come if we wait for some other time. We are some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek”.

Madam Speaker, the overwhelming majority of the people of this Province accorded the ANC-led provincial government an unequivocal mandate to lend positive impetus for the realization of their aspirations.  It is therefore patently clear, Ladies and Gentlemen, that as a governing collective, we will endeavour to accomplish all our obligations within stipulated time-frames in order to enhance the quality of life of all the people in the Northern Cape, especially the poor and marginalized sections of our society.

As former ANC President Nelson Mandela said: “Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man- made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings”. 
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is just over 19 years that this ANC-led government assumed power through a transparent process that culminated in free and fair elections being held on 27 April 1994.

Indeed, Madam Speaker, in those 19 years we have achieved much, both as a proud nation and as a caring and compassionate government.  The socio-economic stability we witness today; the democratic order that we collectively thrive in; the general patriotism that is openly evident; the sound management of our national fiscus; the acceptance of our country as a member of the international community, and the goodwill of the people as diverse as ours is a poignant example of our collective belief in the future of South Africa, and indeed by extension, the Northern Cape Province.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am fortunate that I have inherited a sound, fully functional and well-oiled administrative machinery bequeathed by our much-loved erstwhile Premier in the form, stature and inimitable persona of Hazel Jenkins.

To Comrade Jenkins, we convey our deep and lasting gratitude for all your endeavours as Premier of the Province, as a mother and above all as a great and fine human being. I also wish to thank MEC Grizelda Cjiekella for standing in as Acting Premier for a period of just over 13 months, and all my colleagues on the Executive Council for their collective show of strength and unity, often under trying conditions.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it will surely be amiss of me if I did not make mention of the Director General of the Province, Advocate Justice Bekebeke, for the sterling role he played under the most difficult circumstances in both ensuring and enforcing administrative functionality and stability.  Your contribution, Director General, more than surpassed our expectations.

Collectively, Madam Speaker, we worked diligently to ensure that this morning we can speak with optimism of the firm foundation that has been laid during the term of the current administration.

In endorsing and re-affirming the commitments we made earlier this year in our State of the Province Address, we assure the community of our beloved Province that, indeed, we will fulfil them within the context of the resources we have at our disposal.  Work will continue apace in order that we make a positive and lasting difference to our socio-economic landscape.

We are mindful of the trust and confidence the people of the Province have in us as a governing collective and in this regard we are obliged to advocate for and defend their interests within the confines of the constitutional powers conferred on us.

Madam Speaker, Ladies and Gentlemen: It is therefore incumbent upon us to foster and further deepen democratic processes to facilitate an increase in our accessibility to the electorate, thus encouraging and strengthening dialogue for the greater good.

As I assume this noble and onerous mantle of the Premiership of the Province, and guided by the dictates and pronouncements of the Ruling Party, I am mindful that our overarching and basic priorities relate to improving the conditions of the poor, creating a shared prosperity and strengthening our government institutions and departments to enhance service delivery.

Madam Speaker, vigorous but tangible measures will be effected in promoting social justice, gender equality and the values of human dignity, equality and freedom, thereby both fulfilling the ideals of our forebears and deepening the precepts of our constitutional democracy.
Moreover, Ladies and Gentlemen, our war on crime, especially against the elderly, women and children will continue unabated.  Other crimes, in all their manifestations, will also receive priority attention.

In this regard, allow me to re-iterate the words of President Jacob Zuma when he said the following upon assuming office:
“The ANC-led government will have no reason to fail South Africa on its promise.  Millions of South Africans made us their public representatives, the custodians of their hopes and dreams.  We dare not fail them”.

In accordance with the foresight and vision of the Governing Party, we will witness renewed focus in the areas of housing, health care, education, job creation and public safety.

Madam Speaker, with the support of this House, we will strive for peace and prosperity as opposed to strife and hunger, reconciliation as opposed to vengeance and holding petty grudges; nation-building as opposed to the promotion of sectional interests; and the contentment of the people we serve as opposed to doubt and despair.

Madam Speaker, in line with the goals of the National Development Plan we will explore innovative and creative ways to stimulate the provincial economy, create lasting opportunities and attract ongoing investment to the Province.

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

To this end we must maximise our agricultural production, strengthen our tourist appeal, improve our hospitality sector, further explore our mineral-rich landscape and diversity and increase our manufacturing capacity.

Infrastructure

The drive to improve the lives of our people will be led by major infrastructural development.

We will, in line with our infrastructure development programme, build roads, railroads, telecommunications infrastructure, dams, bridges and networks that will create jobs and bring business to our province.  To this end, the department of Roads and Public Works will invest a total of R2.2 billion this year on road infrastructure development.  The Department of Water Affairs, through the Regional Bulk Infrastructure Grant, will invest over R270 million for bulk water supply and waste water treatment works.

Ladies and Gentlemen, two years ago, our President, Mr Jacob Zuma, made a commitment to advance socio-economic development in South Africa through fast-tracked critical infrastructure development as guided by the National Growth Path.  Shortly after this the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission announced the 17 Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs), which soon became 18.

This is a crucial initiative for the country as well as for the Northern Cape.  The province has been prioritized in the following SIPs:

  • SIP 3:  Hotazel to Coega railway upgrade and the related sinters and smelters.
  • SIP 5:  Sishen to Saldanha railway upgrade and the related mining and harbour investments.  There will also be a railway upgrade – Gamagara to Nqura.
  • SIP 8:  Renewable energy – The bulk of solar and substantial wind projects have been assigned to the Northern Cape and therefore extensive IPP, solar parks, electricity network and related manufacturing opportunities are being earmarked for the province.
  • SIP 10:  Electricity transmission and distribution will see substantial projects leading into the Gamagara Mining Corridor and the solar corridor of the province.
  • SIP 14:  Dealing with higher education and therefore the Northern Cape University.  This SIP is of utmost importance for the province.
  • SIP 16:  SKA Meerkat - with the Northern Cape hosting the bulk of the physical infrastructure related to the project, it is of high priority for the province.

Public Works

Ladies and Gentlemen, in order to further lend impetus to our developmental agenda, the various provincial government departments have made the following infrastructural commitments in their respective Budget Votes:

  • The Upington Regional Hospital has now been completed and will open in August this year;
  • The Wildeklawer Bridge through Dikgatlong and Barkly West: Wildeklawer is one of the biggest fruit and vegetable producers and packers in the country and is currently employing 1 000 + people and is sending over 6 000 tons of vegetables to the markets and shops per week.  The current status that they have reached their ceiling but by building a bridge to the amount of R32 million their processing and distribution component can be doubled which will also create an additional 500 jobs over the medium term.  The support for the project is funding to the amount of R40 million secured from the Departments of Public Works and Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry;
  • Our road infrastructure has been improved by:
    • Hotazel-Tsineng Road project.
    • Phase1 of the road has been completed and created 50 job opportunities.
    • Phase 2 will commence shortly and will create 70 job opportunities.
    • The BHP Billiton mine contributed half of the cost to this project.
    • This is a major project that will unfold in phases.  Phase 2 is starting and will be followed by phase 3 and is part of addressing the underdevelopment of roads in the John Taole District.
    • This project further enhances the joint partnership between the department and mining houses in the area.
  • The following multi-year new schools projects for which construction will start during the 2013/14 Financial Year at an estimated cost of R40m each are: 
    • Wrenchville Primary School
    • Emmanuel High School
    • Jan Kempsdorp High School and
    • Phillipstown Primary School

In support of Outcome 1 on education and literature development, the Libraries sub-directorate of the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture will continue to provide library infrastructure projects in the province. These infrastructure projects contribute largely to rural development and crime prevention. Various library holiday and promotional projects are planned by libraries in the province which will contribute to reading development, thereby providing much-needed activities to children. We envisage establishing free internet access at libraries in the province;

Economic Development

Economic development is also set to play a key role in our developmental agenda.

Madam Speaker, the Northern Cape, with its abundance of sunshine and vast tracts of available land, has been attracting considerable interest from solar energy investors of late.

The government is driving a project to build a multi-billion rand solar park – a concentrated zone of solar generating plants and solar component manufacturing facilities – in the province, in partnership with private investors. This provides us with the rare opportunity to position our province as a significant hub of renewable energy. These projects will be responsible for creating a number of jobs in the province while also contributing to the clean energy that will be placed on to the electricity grid.

  • With respect to the establishment of a malt plant in the province, I can report that the Heineken brewery plant set-up in Gauteng will secure the malt required for the brewing process.  The business plan has been concluded and has identified the production of malt and the actual processing plan as the two key outcomes.  The estimated investment will be between R650 – R850 million.  The project will create an estimated 200 temporary jobs during construction and 20 permanent jobs. 2000 emerging farmers will benefit.
  • In terms of the global iron ore and manganese sector, the Northern Cape is currently the largest and most rapidly expanding clustered producer in the world.   Our mining corridors will remain a priority for the Northern Cape Government to ensure that the development is well coordinated, responsible and that local opportunities will be created for the duration of and beyond the time pan of the mining corridor.  Our initiative to monitor mining procurement and to enhance beneficiation is yielding results.  In this context we need to strengthen our monitoring capacity in the Premier’s Office to ensure that this initiative benefits our Local Communities.
  • Madam Speaker, we also conducted a feasibility study into the establishment of a freight transport logistics hub in De Aar. As part of the study, the school nutrition programme was identified as a programme that could be used by the provincial government as an anchor project to kick start the hub and make it more attractive to the private sector to invest in;
  • This initiative in the hub would take the form of a Food Processing Plant which would supply all schools in the province with nutrition. An elaborate distribution system would have to be created which would ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of the schools feeding scheme, whilst drawing in more farmers and transport suppliers from the current informal sector. The Food Processing Plant, together with a proposed manganese storage and railing facility, would act as catalysts for the establishment of the hub;
  • Increased efforts will be made to establish viable agricultural cooperatives as a means to bring our people into the mainstream of economic activity and address unemployment;
  • Roll-out of the Primary Animal Health Care project by deploying newly graduated veterinarians to render compulsory community services;

Housing Development

Ladies and Gentlemen, we will vigorously continue to address the housing backlog through the integrated housing development plan. This plan will ensure that our people are decently housed in the most caring and liveable environment where all citizens live in harmony. The housing programme has been developed and is targeted at creating sustainable human settlements. We are committed to the creation of a non-racial society by 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 to reverse 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 and clinics.

We will continue to complete all contractually committed projects in the project pipeline.  We envisage rectifying 150 houses, planning and surveying of 5187sites, servicing 2980 Sites and constructing of 3542 houses.  The breakdown is as follows:

DISTRICTS
HOUSES
Frances Baard 1062
Siyanda 639
John Taolo Gaetsewe 555
Namakwa 491
Pixley ka Seme 670
Lerato Park 125
TOTAL 3542

Thirty five (35) FLISP (Finance Linked Subsidy Programme) subsidies have been planned for the financial year, which will yield over 50 GAP housing opportunities throughout the province. This subsidy is for people earning between R3500 to R17000 per month and cannot access bonds nor access RDP houses.

Education

By its very nature, education is one of the key priorities of government to build a generation of youth that will lead the country with diligence and take it to greater heights.  Education is at the centre of government efforts to promote productive citizenship as well as preparing our people for the needs of a modern economy and democratic society.

I wish to reiterate the fact that education is essential to improve the potential of every citizen and enable each one of us to play a productive role in building our nation.  We are more than happy with the prospect of the opening of the first university in the Northern Cape.

There is no doubt in our minds that the establishment of 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, as soon as the opportunity is provided, so that they can realise their dreams and help contribute towards a growing economy.  I am also pleased that on 19 March 2013, the former Acting Premier and the Mayors of Sol Plaatje and Frances Baard Municipalities concluded and signed with the National Minister of Higher Education, Dr Blade Nzimande a Memorandum Of Intent for the roll out of the establishment of the University.  The purpose of that Memorandum of Intent is to facilitate readiness for the first intake in 2014.

Youth, Women and Persons with Disability

The ANC Mangaung Conference resolved that we must accelerate change in improving the quality of life of all people, with special attention to the needs of the youth, women and people with disability.

Conference further resolved that the state must continue to build capacity to drive the socio economic agenda in the country, including absorbing young people and women into economic activity, employing professionals, investing in skills required by the economy, and investing in research and development to respond to the demands of the knowledge economy.

We should remember that young people hold the key to society's future. Our government will continue to embark on initiatives that seek to advance the economic development of young people which includes internships, learnerships, entrepreneur development and through the expanded public works programme.

We will urgently implement skills development programmes that are purposefully aimed to equip our youth with skills to overcome the 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.

  • The Northern Cape Executive Council will launch the youth research report next month as part of our June Youth Month Programme.  The outcomes of the Status of Youth Research in the Northern Cape will strengthen our provision of developmental programmes and services to young people.  It will further serve as a guide to Government, the Private Sector and Civil Society as to what the needs of young people are and how best we can we respond as a collective to address these needs;
  • Our young people yearn for freedom from poverty, unemployment, disease and crime, including violence, and a fair share of the country's resources.

Sadly, the youth around the globe continue to experience challenges that threaten development efforts. Such challenges include, but are not limited to high unemployment, crime, substance abuse, obesity, suicide, HIV and AIDS, etc.

  • I appeal to our young people today to join our government’s campaign in its resolute fight against alcohol and substance abuse, and the abuse of women and children.
  • Madam Speaker, we will also continue to advance the empowerment of women and promote their active participation in development and economic empowerment programmes.  Women are further encouraged to participate in co-operatives because government, through the Department of Trade and Industry, has established 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.
  • It is absolutely clear that in Africa, as elsewhere in the world, cooperatives can and do work for working women in terms of economic, social and political empowerment. At the same time, it is widely recognized that cooperatives, and society at large, cannot do without the contributions of women if equitable and sustainable social and economic development is to be attained and maintained.
  • This financial year will also witness more co-ordinated efforts by all government departments and organizations that are involved in the support of co-operatives to work in a synchronized manner, so as to avoid duplication and encourage synergies in all the efforts to support co-operatives.
  • We, as Government and the private sector, will work in partnership 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 Ka Thusa Trust should truly empower our women and focus on concrete entrepreneurship development for the rural women of our Province.

School Safety

Madam Speaker, we are also concerned about the recent high levels of violence in our schools.

As part of the Hlayiseka Early Warning System, 300 schools will be trained to comply with the prescripts of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. These schools will also be trained to conduct the Safety Diagnostics to identify safety threats and develop mitigating measures.

  • Collaboration between the Northern Cape Department of Education and the Department of Safety and Liaison has resulted in unannounced or surprised raids in schools for the search of drugs and weapons.
  • The ‘Adopt –a Cop’ campaign by schools has resulted in massive reduction in reported cases of drugs and weapons in schools. Schools are able to directly liaise with their respective ‘Guardian   Cops’ in cases of suspected drugs and/or weapon carried by learners.

Together, we must take a stand against all forms of violence and address alcohol and drug problems in our homes and families, and carry these concerns into our community life.

Health

Madam Speaker, we will resolutely intensify the fight against the scourge of HIV/AIDS.  Our government has implemented the New National Strategic Plan (NSP), which represents the country's multisectoral response to the challenges of HIV.

The NSP has identified four strategic objectives that will help South Africa reach these goals:

  • Address the social and structural factors across all sectors that drive these epidemics, influence their impact, and affect the way we care for affected people.
  • Prevent new HIV, STIs and TB infections through a combination of biomedical, behavioural, social and structural interventions.
  • Sustain health and wellness, primarily by access to quality treatment, care and support services, and to develop programmes that focus on wellness.
  • Protect the human rights of people living with HIV, primarily through ending stigma, discrimination, human rights violations and gender inequality.

We will redouble our efforts as a country to ensure that all our interventions yield the required results.  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 are also extremely pleased with the implementation of FDC (Fixed-Dose Combination) for use in the 1st line treatment of HIV positive people.  The Northern Cape Provincial Government has implemented as from 1 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.

I would like to reiterate that the Department of Health has in 2012/13 re-established the Northern Cape College of Emergency Service Care and obtained basic accreditation with the Health Professions Council of South Africa;

War on Poverty

Madam Speaker, we are acutely aware that while we tackle these various projects our communities are in need of assistance by the state.
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 will be paid to those who require social assistance to meet their basic needs.

The Department of Social Development will establish 28 new soup kitchens in the War on Poverty areas to the amount of almost R 3 million, ensuring that all 63 War on Poverty areas in the Province have a soup kitchen.  This will bring the total soup kitchens made possible by government to 106 and will ensure that the most deprived communities have access to a meal and therefore need not to perish from hunger;

The Department of Environment will also be focusing on alleviating poverty in pre-selected rural towns by implementing cleaning and greening initiatives;

This year, R550 000 will be spent on greening projects and it includes towns such as Loeriesfontein, Vosburg, Norvalspont, Grobblershoop, Klein and Groot Mier, Batlharos, Merriman and Nababeep;

A total of 160 persons will be employed in this project which is being implemented according to EPWP principles. At the heart of all these projects is the need to uplift dusty, grey and drab areas to spread the green environmental message and to bring back a measure of community and civic pride;

CONCLUSION

Madam Speaker, I am confident that members of this House are fully aware that as elected public representatives, and notwithstanding party-political differences, we have the collective responsibility to advance the legitimate interests and aspirations of our people.  In so doing, I am hopeful that I will receive the full support of this House.

The quality of service we render, Ladies and Gentlemen, must be benchmarked within the context of how we, as a collective, respect and uphold the dignity of our people.

It therefore behoves us to promote and maintain the basic dignity of all our citizens by:

  • Re-igniting our peoples’ passion in, and for themselves, by for example delegating development responsibilities to them;
  • Uprooting from our society the scourge of corruption which robs the poor of that which is legitimately theirs;
  • Mobilising communities in active support of government’s projects and programmes; and
  • Working in earnest to overcome the many hardships experienced by our communities while remaining inspired by the significant progress we have made thus far as a united nation.

The vast majority of our people, Mr Speaker, expect us to hasten our all-embracing goal of achieving a “Better Life for all”.  This goal cannot be achieved by glib talk and mindless sloganeering but simply through sheer hard work.

Many of the difficulties we encounter will require maximum unity between and among us as deployees or representatives of the different political parties.  Unity of purpose and intent must remain uppermost in our minds both as leaders and servants of the people.

Ladies and Gentlemen, when I reflect on our history I am imbued with unbridled confidence and positivity because working together we crushed the evil and malevolent apartheid junta.  Working together we have weathered many storms.  Working together we overcame countless challenges.  And certainly by working together we will realise a Northern Cape Province free of crime, poverty and the hardships that confront us on a daily basis.

Madam Speaker, let me emphasize the commitment of this ANC Government to uplift to create a better life for all as our great leader Nelson Mandela said: “It’s always seems impossible until it’s done”.

I Thank You

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