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Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza
 
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Date: 24/02/2012

Source: The Mpumalanga Provincial Government

Title: MP: Mabuza: State of the Province Address by the Premier, in the Mpumalanga Legislature

 

Honourable Speaker and Madam Deputy Speaker of the Mpumalanga Legislature;
Members of the Executive Council;
Honourable Members of the Mpumalanga Legislature;
Honourable Members of Parliament and National Council of Provinces;
Deputy Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Ms Memela;
Honourable Speaker of KZN Legislature, Ms Nkonyeni;
Honourable Speaker of Limpopo Legislature, Mr Phala;
Honourable Deputy Speaker of Limpopo Legislature, Ramadwa;
Honourable Deputy Chief of Gauteng Legislature, Ms Mofokeng;
Executive Mayors, Councillors and leaders of SALGA;
Consul General of the Republic of Mozambique’, A Verrssimo;
Provincial Commissioner, General Ntobela;
Gauteng Provincial Commissioner, General Mzwandile Petros;
Chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders, Kgosi PP Maubane;
Chairperson of the Provincial House of Traditional Leaders, Ikosi Mahlangu and our revered;
Traditional Leaders;
Former first Deputy Minister of Education, Father S Mkhatshwa;
Chairperson and CEOs of our parastatals;
The Director-General, Heads of Departments and Municipal Managers;
ANC Provincial Secretary, Cde. Lucky Ndinisa and the entire Leadership of the Alliance;
Our special guests, the Mahabane family of the late ANC third President Mahabane;
Representatives of labour, business, religious and other community-based organisations;
Distinguished Guests and all Dignitaries present here today;
Compatriots;
Comrades and Friends;
Ladies and gentlemen.

The context

Honourable Speaker and Members, we are a nation in the making. Our march to the future society is unstoppable.

Step by step, brick by brick, the African National Congress (ANC) led government, together with the people of this country, are busy at work, building a future democratic society as envisioned by our forebears in 1912 and guided by our blue print – the Freedom Charter.

Yes, we are engaged in a protracted process of reconstructing and developing a society that is based on the principles of freedom, democracy and respect for human rights. Indeed, we are in a process of building a society wherein unity, democracy, non-racialism, non-sexism and prosperity will forever reign.

The ruling Party, right from its founding in 1912 to date, has been, and still is, charged by the people of this country with the responsibility of leading the masses to their destination. For the ruling Party to harbour the aspirations of the majority of our people, including people in Africa and beyond, came as no accident.

It is a tested and tried organisation. We promised to liberate the people of this country from the shackles of apartheid and usher in a democratic rule and, indeed, our struggles culminated in the overthrow of the White minority domination and the suppression of the crime of apartheid.

Of critical importance is that the demise of apartheid and the advent of the democratic rule in 1994, provided this country with opportunities to accelerate the realisation of the ideal society as conceptualise by our leaders, dead and alive.

Honourable Speaker and Members, allow me to take this opportunity to extend our gratitude to the ruling Party for paying homage to the heroes and heroines of the struggle, those who have passed on and who are still alive, on the 8th of January this year in Mangaung.

The centenary event was a befitting moment to celebrate the contributions and sacrifices made by the sons and daughters of the soil, including our friends in Africa and beyond, in our struggles for liberation and democracy. We will forever be indebted to our liberation fighters for the sacrifices that they have made so that me and you could be free and enjoy the fruits of democracy.

Honourable Speaker and Members, although we have attained our hard-earned freedom and democracy, unfortunately, the remnants of apartheid are still haunting us. It is a regime that left a legacy of high levels of unemployment, abject poverty and inequalities that continue to devastate our people, particularly the poor.

These ills are definitely an impediment in our quest of creating a better life for all. Therefore, our second phase of the struggle is focusing predominantly on the reduction of unemployment and inequalities, and the eradication of abject poverty.

The Manifesto Priorities

Honourable Speaker, as Members will know, similarly to the previous ANC manifestos, the current manifesto also seeks to accelerate our efforts towards pushing back the frontiers of all these ills alluded to above, but building on the work that has been done over the past fifteen years.

Truly, it is a Manifesto that is guided by the Constitution as the supreme law of the country, of which, is a product of the ruling Party. It is a manifesto that is building on policies, strategies and programmes initiated by the democratic government.

It is a manifesto that is intending to deepen democracy by accelerating service delivery to our people, particularly the poor. We all agree that, while much has been achieved in terms of access to electricity, housing, water, social and economic infrastructure for our marginalised communities, more still has to be done to change the lives of our people for the better.

Today, we have appeared before this august house to account for the implementation of the social contract that the ANC-led government has entered into with the people of the Province in 2009.

According to this social contract, we, as the ANC-led government, agreed with the people of the province that in the next five-years:

The focus on growing an inclusive economy that must lead to the creation of decent work and sustainable livelihood;
We will be paying more attention on improving the poor quality of our education system;
More attention will be dedicated towards improving the poor health profile of our people;
Special focus will be on enhancing the lives of people living in rural areas; and last but not least,
Address the challenges of crime and corruption because they undermine and reverse all the gains that we have achieved thus far.

Honourable Speaker and Members, two and half years have come and gone. When we look back at the road traversed thus far, what do we see?

Mid-term performance and priorities going forward

Creation of decent work and sustainable livelihood

Without doubt, we see a government that has been, and still is, at work doing everything possible to realise the priorities of the manifesto. As the ANC-led government, we are quite aware that, part of restoring the dignity of our people, meaningful participation in the mainstream economy is of paramount importance.

We have to ensure that our economy creates massive jobs, absorbs small businesses and cooperatives in great numbers, steps that will begin to tilt scale towards the right direction. For the small scale businesses and cooperatives to be competitive and grow, government will be expected to provide comprehensive support, ranging from funding to training, mentoring and coaching.

Therefore, as government, we have to continue working extremely hard to find innovative ways and mechanisms to fast-track the economic transformation agenda.

Honourable Speaker, armed with this understanding, right at the beginning of the term:

The ANC-led government committed itself to grow an inclusive economy at a faster rate, thereby creating more opportunities for jobs and spur development.

We committed ourselves to utilise infrastructure development as a catalyst for economic growth and the creation of jobs en masse.
We committed ourselves to enhance the Expanded Public Works Programme, paying more attention on the youth and women.
Indeed, we committed ourselves to expand our skills-base, focusing mainly on critical skills that are so desperately demanded by our provincial economy.
Of course, we committed ourselves to streamline government institutions so that they assume a developmental posture.
More importantly, we committed R2,7 billion over the MTEF period for supporting job creation initiatives.
We committed ourselves to work with different stakeholders, particularly big business and labour, to pursue the economic developmental agenda of the ANC-led government.

Honourable Speaker, looking at the performance of the ANC-led government over the past two and half years, one can quickly point out that our performance on job creation is below our expected level.

As we indicated in the previous State of the Province Address (SoPA), the world economic recession of 2008 and the new changes that came along with President Zuma’s administration slowed our pace for job creation.

Honourable Speaker, one must reiterate that our country was not spared from the global economic turmoil that has affected most countries, especially the advanced economies, during the course of the last three years.

Analysts have warned that the global economy may be slowing down again. The respected International Labour Organization (ILO) in its latest Global Employment Report states that:

“ Financial sector instability and rising risk premiums on the back of an uncertain outlook on sovereign debt have limited private sector access to credit and have cast shadows over business and consumer sentiment. Even though only a few countries are facing serious and long-term economic and fiscal challenges, the global economy has weakened rapidly as uncertainty spread beyond advanced economies. As a result, the world economy has moved even further away from the pre-crisis trend path and, at the current juncture, even a double dip remains a distinct possibility.”

The potential consequences of such developments for our country and the province are certainly worrying.

Our efforts to grow the economy, to create jobs, reduce inequalities and to eliminate rampant poverty are now made more difficult than ever before. We now have to draw all the necessary strength and work even closer as a people in order to achieve our objectives.

In his budget speech, the Minister of Finance had this to say about the country’s economic outlook:

“We are not doing well enough in growing our economy and creating jobs for our people.

The South African economy has averaged about 3 per cent growth a year since 2009. Against the background of the slowdown in the global economy, the real Growth Domestic Product (GDP growth is likely to fall about to 2.7 per cent in 2012.
We expect a recovery to 3.6 per cent and 4.2 per cent growth in 2013 and 2014, but these are modest rates of expansion relative to the social and developmental challenges we face and the opportunities that our mineral wealth and human capabilities offer.
There was a welcome recovery in job creation during 2011, but employment has not yet returned to its 2008 peak and the unemployment rate remains high at 23.9 per cent.

On a positive note, we draw encouragement from recent economic indicators that reveal our provincial economy to be growing at 3.1 per cent and that in 2010 we were the fifth largest regional contributor to the national GDP.

According to the latest report of the Labour Survey, there were 47 000 new jobs created between 4th Quarter of 2010 and 4th Quarter of 2011.

We will build on these achievements. We will not rest but work even harder because these numbers show that the battle against unemployment can be won.

We surely cannot rest when in December 2011 more than one in 4 of those available for work could not find a job in the province.

Statistics also show that close to 45.6 per cent our people (to half of) were poor in 2010. Inequality is also comparatively high and the Human Development Index (HDI) is the third worst among provinces.

I touch on these indicators briefly to reveal the enormous task ahead of us. It is a task that the provincial government cannot manage on its own but needs the support of all stakeholders in order to lift the burden of poverty and underdevelopment from the masses of our people.

Therefore, as the province, so far:

We have managed to conclude the crafting and adoption of the Mpumalanga Economic Growth and Development Path – a framework that will be guiding the province in terms of job creation, economic growth and development over a period of ten years. It is a framework that has been widely consulted, particularly with big business and labour.

We are currently involved in a process of finalising the Programme of Action with our relevant stakeholders. A proper announcement will be done in this regard sometime this year.

However, allow me Honourable Speaker, to point out that, in the context that Mpumalanga is largely agrarian and the agricultural sector being labour intensive, the province will, in short to long-term, place more emphasis on agricultural development, particularly in the poor areas. This does not imply that work will stop from the other sectors. Government will continue to promote those sectors identified in the Growth Path.

We will also work with companies such as BHP Billiton in rehabilitating mined land, restoring it for agricultural activities, including reclamation of underground water for both human consumption and agricultural use.

We are also working on the Mpumalanga Infrastructure Development Master Plan – an exercise that we anticipate to complete around September/October this year.

Let me quickly point out that the development of this Plan does mean infrastructure work is suspended. We are continuing to deliver social infrastructure such as building of schools, health facilities, housing and roads.

What is also worth reiterating is that infrastructure development is one of the important drivers of the Growth Path. As indicated earlier, most of our jobs will be, and is generated through infrastructure development.

From April 2009 to date, we have managed to create 135 793 job opportunities through the Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP).

We are quite aware that most of these jobs are unsustainable, however, if I have to emphasise the point that I drove home this time last year, I asserted that:

“It provides opportunities for skills acquisition and bread on the table for our poor people during the life span of projects. The skills acquired by individuals serve as the base upon which they could build on to enhance their capacities for future opportunities in the labour market”.

As far as skills development is concerned, the province has already put together the Mpumalanga Human Development Strategy that will guide both government and the private sector with respect to areas where investment in human capital must be directed.
For government to deliver its services to the people in an efficient and effective manner, as I pointed out already, we promised to streamline our institutions for maximal impact.

The process of merging the Mpumalanga Agricultural Development Corporation (MADC) and Mpumalanga Housing and Finance Company (MHFC) with the Mpumalanga Economic Development Agency is almost complete.

The institution is steadily stabilising – a situation which is really welcomed since this will assist in making MEGA to focus on the mammoth task at hand, that is, driving the developmental agenda of government.

The Mpumalanga Regional Training Trust (MRTT) is on top of their game and one will elaborate more when dealing with rural development later on in my address.

Honourable Speaker and Members, in the remaining years of the five-year term:

Job creation and sustainable livelihood will continue to preoccupy the activities of government. Infrastructure development will remain our main lever for creating jobs and stimulating the economy.

Therefore, the Mpumalanga Infrastructure Development Master Plan will be high on our socio-economic agenda.

More attention will also be given to the development of small businesses and cooperatives since they are central in terms of realising the objectives of an inclusive economy.
Our work will also focus on the expansion of our skills base. MRTT and Further Education Training colleges are going to be central in this area of work.
Another area of focus will be trade and investment promotion. We intend to jerk up MEGA so that it takes its rightful place in the provincial economic space.

Having said that, in the next financial year:

Government is going to give special attention to the strategic infrastructure projects, including those that have been pronounced by the President in his State of the Nation Address a couple of weeks ago.

We are going to put together a Provincial Infrastructure Task Team that will be driving these projects under the leadership of the Premier.

The development of small businesses and cooperatives will be high on the agenda of government.

We will revisit our current support approaches to these categories with a view of developing comprehensive support packages which can assist in creating viable and successful small businesses and cooperatives.

Our main targets remain the youth, women and people living with disabilities.

And this will be done within the framework of the Growth Path. Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency (MEGA), MRTT and the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) will be strengthened accordingly so that they are in a better position to drive this objective as expected.

We further expect these institutions to interact more with the poor people, not only to communicate the suite of services that are being offered but also to understand the nature of the challenges that are confronting the clientele that they service.

With regard to value adding, more attention will be given to agro-processing and beneficiation. It is our conviction that taking our raw material to the level of finished products, will assist in unlocking more opportunities for small businesses both on the upstream and downstream of the value chain.
We will also exploit our Memoranda of Understanding with other countries abroad to promote trade and investment opportunities agreed upon.

Among others, one refers to countries such as Oman – our gateway to the markets of the Middle East with regard to agricultural commodities; Portugal – our partner in the development of the Sports Academy and many others.

Rural development

Honourable Speaker and Members, this brings me to the issues of people living in rural and farm areas. As a Party that is entrenched in the masses, the voices of the people living in rural areas failed to escape our attention.

They were loud and clear that, despite progress being made over the past 15 years, their situation continue to be same. They continue to face the harshest conditions of poverty, lack of access to land and basic services.

As a ruling Party and a caring organisation:

We, therefore, committed ourselves to provide basic services to rural communities, paying more attention on social and economic infrastructure; training and skills development; and the development of small businesses.
We also committed ourselves to intensify the land reform programme so that more land can be in the hands of the poor for their own subsistence
We further committed ourselves to expand the agrarian reform programme for the promotion of agricultural cooperatives throughout the value chain, including agro-processing.

Honourable Speaker, over the mid-term period:

We managed to develop a Comprehensive Rural Development Programme (CRDP) – a programme that stands on the three legs identified as areas of challenges by our rural communities. This programme was piloted in Mkhondo local municipality.

This programme is currently being implemented in seven of the poorest of the poor municipalities – the former homeland areas to be precise. To refresh our memories, the beneficiaries of the CRDP are Mkhondo, Chief Albert Luthuli, Dr. Pixley ka Isaka Seme, Bushbuckridge, Nkomazi, Dr. JS Moroka and Thembisile Hani local municipalities.

Tapping from our practical experiences in the implementation of the programme, we have decided to put together a framework that will be guiding the rollout of this programme.

To this end, we are currently in the process of finalising the Comprehensive Rural Development Strategy for the Province. It is a strategy that will guide the Province far better in the roll-out process of the CRDP.

Honourable Speaker and Members let me impress that the implementation of the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme in 7 selected municipalities has affected poor rural communities in a positive way.

We have seen this programme, among other things:

enhancing economic participation by local communities through the establishment of cooperatives
supporting communities in livestock improvement and crop production initiatives
Providing skills training opportunities for the youth
Providing houses along with basic services and social amenities
creating institutional mechanisms to enable cooperatives to access funding, e.g. partnership with Standard Bank
Through this programme, we have managed to create 13 222 jobs opportunities – the beneficiaries being predominantly the Youth and Women.

630 young people were trained in construction related trades by the MRTT. This training is linked to the construction of the Peoples Housing Programme, of which, 1 888 of those houses are complete and 2 547 will be completed before the end of the financial year.

On Monday this week, we opened the Marapyane Agricultural College with 120 students enrolled and 20 lecturers appointed already.

What I must quickly point out is that the College is still under renovation and such renovation is done by 300 artisans who happen to be trained by MRTT using part of the classrooms in the College.

In addition, we have stepped up the Masibuyele Emasimini Programme, focusing mainly on crop and livestock production.

Of the 13 broiler houses that we have targeted in the CRDP sites for the five-year period, to date we have only managed to put 3 environmentally controlled poultry houses with a capacity of 40 000 chicken per house in Thembisile Hani municipality.

39 bulls and 25 heifers were also bought for small scale farmers venturing in livestock farming in Mkhondo and Dr. JS Moroka, municipalities.

We have tilled approximately 170 000 hectors of land for subsistence farming and supporting 61 477 learners with food nutrition in schools located in the CRDP sites. 52 tractors were purchase and 7 mills with silos constructed to support small scale farmers and cooperatives.

Honourable Speaker, for the remaining period of the five-year term:

The ANC-led government will focus on making the CRDP meet its intended objectives. We intend to see people in rural areas utilising land optimally for their own growth and development. We intend to see cooperatives functioning at optimal level and participating meaningfully in the mainstream economy.

We expect to see all land lying fallow in rural areas brought into full scale production – I mean private land, ‘restituted’ and redistributed land, including communal land. Talking of communal land, I wish to take this opportunity to appeal to our revered Traditional Leaders to work with local councils in matters of land development.

Both parties must agree about the land use plan of the municipality because, as things stand currently, the poor management of land development is affecting the delivery of the CRDP negatively in certain municipalities. Therefore, let us work together to build sustainable communities.

Coming back to the issue agricultural production, as we speak, Government is currently in a process of establishing a Fresh Produce Market in the province to supply agricultural commodities to Oman, our gateway to the Middle East markets, as I already indicated earlier on.

Our intention to support this initiative is to create export opportunities for cooperatives, particularly those located in CRDP sites.

As government, through MEGA and MRTT, we are going to provide comprehensive support to cooperatives that wish to take an advantage of this lifetime opportunity. The MEC for the Department of Agriculture will elaborate further about the support modalities.

In 2012/13 financial year:

We will conclude the feasibility study of the Fresh Produce Market and commence construction;
We will identify and mentor cooperatives in CRDP sites to produce for the Fresh Produce Market;
Masibuyele Emasimini Programme will be linked to the Fresh Produce Market activities;
In addition, we will be doing work on the logistics network to get produce to market.

Coupled with this, we will be investigating the establishment of the Cooling Zone for commodities destined for export markets

We will accelerate the provision of bulk water and sanitation infrastructure;
We will also deal with the issue of waste management, paying particular attention on the construction of landfill or disposal sites

Towards improving the quality of education

Honourable Speaker and Members, our development, prosperity and the realisation of our vision for a better society depends on our ability to provide access to quality education. Education remains one of the critical levers to reverse the cycle of intergenerational poverty and growing inequalities in our society.

Our leadership success must be measured in how our education system creates an environment for children from poor households on the farms, and those in rural areas and townships to imagine and realize endless possibilities for a better life, free from poverty and social deprivation.

As one of the key priorities of the ANC-led government, education is high on the agenda of the current Adm

Over the last two and half years, we prioritised important areas of intervention intended to engender improvements in the overall performance of our education system in the Province.

Our main focus was on:

Improving overall learner outcomes in all grades,
Improving performance in numeracy, literacy, mathematics and science
Increasing the number of students attaining university entrance requirements,
Improving school governance and leadership, as well as
Addressing infrastructure backlogs

Honourable Speaker and members, we are happy that, despite challenges, there are positive signs that the overall performance of our education system is stabilizing. There is no doubt that we have turned the corner:

For the first time in many years, the Department of Education has received an unqualified audit opinion from the Auditor-General, thereby attesting to sustained improvements in financial management and governance.
The integrity of systems and processes for managing grade 12 examinations has improved
The delivery of learner support material has improved, ensuring that all schools receive their learner support material in time
As part of enhancing comprehensive support to poor learners, the ‘No Fee School policy’ has been rolled out in 1604 schools to benefit learners from poor households.

Coupled with this, 832 254 learners both in primary and secondary schools are benefitting from the school nutrition programme.

We have made progress in providing access to quality education by learners living on the farms and poverty-stricken areas.

In this regard, we have established two boarding schools in Mkhondo and Nkomazi municipalities. Both these schools opened doors for learning in January this year.

We have seen the eradication of mud and unsafe structures and accelerated the upgrading of schools to ensure that centres of learning are brought to the minimum level of functionality in terms of infrastructure

We have invested in all these key measures to ensure we create an enabling environment for the continuous improvement of education outcomes.

As a key indicator for overall system performance, our grade 12 examination performance has shown sustained improvement over the last two years. Our grade 12 performance increased from 47.9% in 2009 to 56.8% in 2010.

Again, we witnessed an increase in the percentage of learners passing grade 12 examinations from 56.8% to 64.8% in 2011. This is an increase of 8 basis points from the previous year, making Mpumalanga the most improved Province out of the 9 provinces.

More significantly, the qualifying number of learners to study at Bachelors level has increased from 27.72% in 2010 to 28.84% in 2011.

Honourable Speaker, we are encouraged that our matric intervention programmes are beginning to yield positive results.

Among others, this sustained improvement is attributable to programmes such as winter schools, common tests and assessments in all districts, lessons on media platforms as well as school visits to monitor learning and teaching performance.

For all the achievements that we have made, I would like thank all the stakeholders in education for their contribution towards the improvement of learner performance, including improved grade 12 performance in 2011. Education is a collective responsibility. Working together, we can make a difference.

Honourable Speaker and Members, notwithstanding our achievements, we are concerned that the performance of our learners in numeracy, literacy and physical science fall way below nationally benchmarked performance.

The Annual National Assessments and Provincial Annual Assessments at key exit grades indicate that overall learner performance in numeracy and literacy is poor. This is an area of our work that is receiving urgent attention as it continues to impact negatively on our mathematics and science output in grade 12 results.

As a Province, we are aware that if we are to address the challenge of scarce and critical skills in the next ten years, learner performance in mathematics and science has to improve dramatically over the next three years.

As we move forward, we have a responsibility to continue building an education system whose performance does not depend on external interventions to achieve desired education outcomes. The improved performance of the system should be a function of enhanced quality of teaching and learning as well as better leadership and governance of schools.

Over the remaining period of the current Administration, we have prioritized the following key areas of focus:

Specific attention will be paid to improving school governance and management to ensure that schools create enabling environments for better performance by learners and educators. This will include, among others, the election of new School Governing Bodies, their training as well the training of principals on issues of school leadership and governance.

We will continue to make a call that our teachers should be class on time, all the time, teaching 7 hours a day. Learners must accept that the main reason for being at school is learn and develop academically, socially and culturally, adhere to school rules, do homework, and respect the legitimacy of educators and parents.

These are basic principles that must sustain performance of an education system that does not depend on costly external interventions to achieve the desired results.

We will focus improving overall learner performance across all grades, with specific emphasis numeracy and literacy as well as early childhood development.

In 2012/13 financial year, we will focus improving numeracy and numeracy in grades 3, 6, and 9 to ensure that learner performance increases to 49%, and progressively reaches 60% by 2014. We will implement a comprehensive programme to improve the performance of township and rural schools, especially those achieving below 50% at grade 12.

As a Province, we have set a target to increase the grade 12 pass rate to 74.8% and ensure that the mathematics and science passes are increased.

To improve performance, we will focus on introducing rigorous tools to track and monitor the performance of schools. We will conduct curriculum coverage assessments by ensuring that circuit managers visit schools regularly and conduct assessments on the quarterly performance of schools.

We will provide on site support for educators to ensure that actual teaching and learning happens in the classroom

We will continue to enhance the provision of Early Childhood Development (ECD) to build a solid foundation for improved learner performance when learners proceed to higher grades. We will increase access to ECD, ensure the professionalization of ECD and ECD practitioners, and monitor the performance of Pre-Grade R centres.

More importantly, the review and implementation of an Integrated Early Childhood Development Strategy will be prioritised to ensure that key players in ECD collaborate in the implementation of interventions aimed at expanding access to ECD.

We will continue to expand access to quality education to children living with disabilities.

As government, we have not done well in terms of bringing children with disabilities into the mainstream education system. We would encourage parents to work with government to create opportunities for these children to enjoy their full rights to quality education.

We will continue to accelerate schools infrastructure delivery to achieve at least basic minimum functionality in all schools. These will include the upgrading of technical schools, construction of laboratories in Dinaledi Schools, construction of Specialised ECD classrooms as well as the planning for two boarding schools in Emakhazeni and Mkhondo municipalities.

The Provincial Government will collaborate with the South African Police Service (SAPS) to implement an integrated school safety programme as part of creating an environment conducive to quality learning and teaching. This programme will also focus on addressing the challenge of drugs and substance abuse in schools.

Among other key initiatives, emphasis will be on capacitating School Safety Committees on random search, seizure and drug testing, procuring drug testing devices as well as installing alarm systems in schools.

As we implement all these interventions to improve the overall performance of our education system, we would like to enjoin all key stakeholders in education to join hands with government and play an important role in the education of our children. The future of our children and the Province is in our hands.

Honourable Speaker and Members,

The unavailability of scarce and critical remains a major constraint to economic growth and development. Our priority should focus on improving the quality of basic education and create a pipeline into tertiary institutions which, in turn, increases the output to provide a sustainable pool of skills needed for economic growth and development.

The Province has finalized the Human Resource Development (HRD) Strategy that is intended to respond to skills demand and supply challenges. In the process, we consulted and solicited inputs and participation key players in the human resource development field.

The priorities of the HRD Strategy focus:

Strengthening the education system
Linking programmes offered by higher learning institutions with provincial skills requirements to achieve responsiveness to labour market demand
Aligning the allocation of financial aid with the province’s skills requirements by ensuring that bursaries are targeted to address the shortage of scarce and critical skills
Forming strategic partnerships to collaborate on skills development initiatives, and
Building a capable public service workforce to strengthen the state capacity to deliver on key development outcomes

In 2012/13, we will focus on the implementation of the Human Resource Development Strategy.

We will focus on out-of-school youth to provide skills development linked to employment opportunities in order to address the challenges of youth unemployment.

Through the Mpumalanga Regional Training Trust (MRTT), we are targeting the intake of 1240 out-of-school youth into the skills programmes, particularly the Hospitality & Tourism, Technical and Entrepreneurial fields.

We will continue to enhance our artisan skills training programme befitting at least 90 learners per CRDP municipality.
In partnership with the Department of Higher Education and Training, we intend to create and strengthen system-wide partnerships Further Education and Training (FET) colleges, MRTT, Sector Education and Training Authority’s (SETA) and Industry to assist graduates to get workplace training.
The Province will allocate 200 bursaries towards boosting output in scarce and critical skills. We are pleased to report that Eskom has partnered with government and awarded bursaries to 116 students as part of their contribution towards increasing output in scarce and critical skills.

Honourable Speaker, I am pleased to report that the decision towards the establishment of the university, incorporating a Tertiary Hospital in the Province has been confirmed by the Honourable President in his State of the Nation Address. We are confident that the establishment of the university will, in the long term, address some of the skills challenges facing the Province.

As a Province, we have identified suitable land earmarked for the location of the main university campus. In partnership with the Department of Higher Education, we will ensure that all regulatory approvals are speedily concluded.

Improving the health profile

Honourable Speaker and Members,

Our economic growth and development path as a Province hinges on the delivery of quality health care to enhance the health profile of citizens.

Special attention should be given to ensuring the overall health care system effectiveness, including attraction and retention of health care professionals and preparations for the roll-out of the National Health Insurance (NHI) to improve access to quality health care to all, especially the poor.

Despite remarkable progress in improving access to health care, the burden of disease continues to weigh heavily on the provincial health care system. The decreasing life expectancy and the negative impact of HIV and Aids pose a serious threat to future development and the quality of life that citizens enjoy.

Despite progress made, maternal mortality rate remains high at 135 per 1000 live births. Infant mortality rate is also remains high at 9.4 per 1000 live births. The shortage of medical professionals continues to constrain the capacity of the Province to deliver quality health care.

Honourable Speakers, notwithstanding challenges that confront the provincial health system, we are pleased with progress that we have made in key areas of health care delivery over the last two and half years.

Among others, we have ensured that:

We expand access to quality through the construction of health care centres in rural communities, including the CRDP sites
Anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment facilities have increased from 198 to 269 Primary Health Care Facilities and 32 hospitals.
A total of 138 598 qualifying patients out of a target of 137 855 had been placed on ARV treatment.
By the end of December 2011, 12 631 male client medical circumcisions had been performed to reduce new HIV infections. Male medical circumcisions is currently being interventions targeted at reducing HIV in young people by strengthening support groups and awareness campaigns on HIV and AIDS in schools, are continuing.

Despite remarkable progress made, the HIV and AIDS epidemic continues to be one of the main contributors towards declining life expectancy, increased infant mortality and maternal deaths.

According to the latest HIV and Aids prevalence figures, Mpumalanga is one of the Provinces with the high HIV prevalence rate. Mpumalanga’s HIV prevalence rate is at 35.1%, an increase from 34.6% in 2009. Ehlanzeni and Gert Sibande recorded the 6th and 7th highest prevalence among the 52 health districts in the country whilst Nkangala has declined from 32.6% in 2009 to 27.2% in 2010.

In 2012/13, we will continue to implement programmes aimed at reducing HIV and AIDS prevalence. Among other interventions, the Province will focus on:

Expanding access to Anti-retroviral Treatment (ART) for people living with HIV and AIDS
Ensuring that 278 Primary Health Care facilities and 33 hospitals provide ART Services.
Increasing the total number of qualifying patients on ART from the current 138 598 to 172 855.
Conducting 50 000 male medical circumcision to reduce HIV infections
Expanding the HIV Counselling and Testing programme, as well as
Improving the Tuberculosis (TB) cure rate

We will also focus on the implementation of interventions to decrease high maternal and child mortality rates. We will further intensify the implementation of an Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses strategy and the Reach Every District (RED) strategy. Most importantly, the Province is aiming to achieve immunization coverage of 80% for children less than one year of age in order to protect them against vaccine preventable diseases.

Honourable Speaker, the delivery of health infrastructure is pivotal to ensuring access to quality health care, including the expansion of health infrastructure as part of our Comprehensive Rural Development Strategy.

As a Province, we are concerned that the pace of health infrastructure delivery has been very slow, mainly as a result of planning and implementation capacity constraints. This is an area of our work that continues to present challenges. We will continue to enhance capacity for planning and the roll-out of infrastructure projects.

In addressing infrastructure delivery challenges, we are currently being assisted by the National Department of Health and National Treasury to improve in critical areas such as planning, contract management, as well as implementation monitoring and evaluation.

In 2012/13, the upgrading of Bethal, Carolina, Matibidi and Sabi Hospitals will be prioritised. We will also upgrade Mmamentlake hospital in Dr J.S Moroka local municipality.

In order to increase access to health care facilities, the following Community Health Centres and clinics will be constructed:

Tweefontein G,
Phosa Village
Sinqobile clinic,
Mbhejeka clinic,
Pankop,
Wakkerstroom,
Siyathemba

Honourable Speaker and Members, the Province has a responsibility for strengthening the overall health system effectiveness to create an environment conducive to the successful implementation of the National Health Insurance.

Our health care facilities are expected to comply with agreed core quality standards and six priority areas of performance if they are to be accredited to deliver health services within the NHI.

These national core standards are:

patients rights,
patient safety,
Clinical support services,
public health,
leadership and governance,
operational management,
facilities and infrastructure

In addition to these, six core priority areas against which the performance of health establishments will be measured in terms of NHI are:

cleanliness,
safety and security,
waiting times,
staff attitudes,
infection control and
drug supply

Honourable Speaker, when the National Department of Health conducted an assessment of 33 hospitals and 278 Primary Health Care Facilities in Mpumalanga, all the facilities were found to be non-compliant with the national core standards and the six priority areas.

This is an area of work that will receive special attention to ensure that we speed up institutional readiness for the NHI implementation in the Province. We need to invest in upgrading the infrastructure of our health facilities, improving the quality of service as well as leadership and governance of our health facilities.

In response to these challenges, I am pleased to report that all districts and institutions have developed Quality Improvement plans to address the shortcomings that exist and the monthly progress reports are being monitored by the Quality Assurance team. All health facilities in the Province are implementing Quality Improvement Plans in line with the 6 priorities of the core standards.

In 2012/13 financial year, the Province will prioritise interventions to improve the overall health system effectiveness. Part of this process will entail the revitalization of the health care system through Primary Health Care re-engineering. 40 Primary Health Care Outreach teams will be established to improve access to health care.

Other key interventions include:

The recruitment and retention of medical professionals to address the high vacancy rate and bring the staff complement to 60%.
The appointment of suitably qualified people to manage our health facilities
Accelerated training of nurses, pharmacists, allied health professionals needed
The introduction of an efficient and effective system for drug supply, management and distribution, as well as
The implementation of Quality Improvement Plans to enhance compliance with national core standards and 6 priority areas for the NHI.

Heritage, sport and social cohesion

Honourable Speaker, our heritage defines our common history and national identity as diverse people. Notwithstanding the diversity of cultures and language, what brings us together is a sense of nationhood that continues to shape our common destiny founded on inclusive heritage and shared democratic values.

Our heritage, our diverse culture and our collective future are key elements around which nation building and social cohesion should be premised to deepen national pride, national identity and shared democratic values.

Our history and heritage constitute a rallying point of departure to define a set of common values that characterise the future society that we want to become. It is a society founded on core principles of selfless contribution to the betterment of society as a whole, a society that values hard work and self-empowerment.

Let us promote values of self-reliance and collaboration to build an inclusive economy, united, and thriving communities that work together to break the barriers of deprivation and disadvantage. Our liberation history and heritage provide better lessons of how values of self-less sacrifice, human dignity and democratic liberties triumphed over adversities of human oppression.

As government, we are committed to building a caring society that is based on values of common patriotism and loyalty in which cultural, linguistic and religious diversity of the people are recognised. We will continue to implement programmes that aim to deepen values of unity, compassion and community solidarity. Ours is a common future.

Over the last two and half years, the Province has placed the promotion of culture and heritage to build a platform for social cohesion.

Among others, we focused on:

Promotion of indigenous languages
Celebration of historic days of heritage significance
Promotion of cultural industries
Celebration of the liberation struggle heritage, as well as
The promotion of performing arts genres such as theatre, dance music etc

Our history is characterised by moments of diverse but collective experience of racial divisions and the struggle for freedom, subjugation and the celebration of the triumph of the human spirit over adversity to shape a human rights-based democratic future. This is our shared heritage. We need to create an environment that allows us to nurture our inclusive history and heritage.

Last year, we committed to the establishment of a cultural hub that will contribute to the development of various performing arts and contribute to the development of talent in various arts genres. It will provide a platform for performers, artists, musicians, designers and film makers to develop, exhibit, and market their artistic talents and skills.

This cultural hub will provide an opportunity to showcase crafts and artefacts that promote our history and heritage. More importantly, the cultural hub will catalyse opportunities to export local crafts, create local employment and contribute to the growth of cultural industries in the Province.

Honourable Speaker, I am happy to report that the business plan has been finalized. Land has been acquired. We are ready to begin with the construction of the Cultural Hub in 2012/13 financial year.

As part of celebrating the liberation history and heritage, the Province has identified liberation routes to honour the leaders who were in the forefront of the liberation struggle.

Among other key projects, this year, we will conclude work on the construction and unveiling of the statute of Dr. Pixley ka Isaka Seme.

As an important milestone in our liberation history and heritage, the Delmas Treason Trial is engraved in our collective memory as a moment that defines our quest for freedom and justice. This year, we will unveil a monument at the Delmas magistrate court in recognition of this area as an important site in our liberation route.

More research will be conducted to ensure that the Provincial Liberation Route is established to identify historical moments and places that celebrate our struggle history and heritage. We recognise that there are great opportunities to utilise our unique heritage for the promotion and branding the Province as a tourist destination of choice.

Honourable Speaker and Members like culture and heritage, sport is an important vehicle that brings us together to define ourselves as a united nation, irrespective of our colour or creed. Participation in sport across the racial spectrum is a catalyst for unity and social integration.

Honourable Speaker, sport has grown to become a lucrative industry that attracts massive investment and opportunities for income generation and employment. Sport presents opportunities for our youth to develop into world-class athletes able to earn decent income from sport.

Last year, we committed ourselves to the establishment of the Sport Academy in Emakhazeni local municipality to nurture and develop world-class sporting talent in various sporting codes. I am happy to report that all plans and designs for the Sports Academy have been finalised. In the next financial year, we will commence with the construction phase of the project.

The infrastructure investment that we are making in developing the people of Mpumalanga will remain a lasting legacy to inspire future generations to excel and realise the full potential in sport.

Fighting against crime

Honourable Speaker, we also committed ourselves to ensure that all South Africans are and feel safe.

We committed ourselves to reduce crime and corruption to the extent where all South Africans can walk the streets any time of day free and fearless; sleep in their homes without all sorts of security measures; drive their cars anytime and anywhere without fear of being hi-jacked and grow their children without any fear of drug lords and rapists.

To this end, the ANC-led government has put together a package of intervention mechanisms which seem to be paying dividends.

This includes interventions such as capacity building of human capital; change management; revamping of different strategies in areas such Border Management; stock theft; immigration and public participation. Further interventions on integrated social crime prevention on Rural Safety; Vulnerable groups; Victim friendly facilities; School safety and contact crime have been implemented with a degree of success.

Our partnership with communities cannot be emphasized. Isisho sithi “nawe uyiphoyisa”. Wonke umuntu kufanele abe-yinxenye yokwenza umehluko ukuqeda ubugebengu esifundazweni sakhithi.

Working with the South African Police Service we are happy to report that out of 102 community policing structures 87 are functional in all the police stations in the province. Plans are afoot to finalise the remaining 15 cluster community policing fora.

Mpumalanga province remains one of the preferred destinations by tourists not only because of our beautiful landscape, historic sites and heritage but due to our hospitality including ensuring that all tourists are and feel safe. We are happened to report that in part our achievements are the 511 Tourism Safety Monitors recruited and deployed.

Recent crime statistics show that we are making inroads in certain crime categories, particularly contact crime. For the past two years, we have seen overall crime reduction of 6, 9 percent in the Province. However, more challenges are still lying ahead.

During the festive season we witnessed an incident free festive. This demonstrates that we are indeed turning the tide against crime. Our congratulations go to all law enforcement agencies in the province, the hardworking personnel led by MEC for Safety, Security and Community Liaison and the Provincial Commissioner.

Honourable Speaker, on a sad note during the same period we experienced an increase on road carnage despite high visibility of traffic law enforcement officers. The inclement weather conditions that impacted on the conditions of the roads, visibility, the conditions of vehicles, reckless driving, fatigue and the attitude of drivers contributed immensely on the fatalities recorded.

We shall continue with our efforts in making our roads safer for all users including rolling out programmes to educate our people as part of changing behaviour and working closely with the Department of Education by providing licenses at certain grades.

Honourable Speaker, for this year, we have decided on the following sets of priorities:

Reduction of contact crime by 4-7% with a major focus on hot spots
Expand the integrated social crime prevention initiatives on Rural Safety; Vulnerable groups; Victim friendly facilities; School safety and Contact crime
Establishment of Community and institutional structures and mobilization
Intensify road safety initiatives which include civic education and traffic law enforcement.
Introduction of computerized learner license system to streamline our efforts and curb corruption
Construction of a new traffic training college in Bohlabela

State machinery performance

Honourable Speaker and Members,

When the current ANC-led government in the Province assumed office in 2009, we set ourselves a task to continue building a capable and development- oriented state machinery that is accountable and responsive to the needs of the people.

Over the last two and half years, we have made progress in deepening a culture of accountability for performance. The introduction of the Outcomes Approach, the signing of Delivery and the subsequent conclusion of Performance Agreements between the Premier and Members of the Executive Council has enhanced accountability for delivery on agreed outputs. The administrative leadership of government has also signed performance agreements to ensure that senior managers at different levels are held accountable for results.

In partnership with the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency, we have, in the next financial year, prioritised the implementation of the Management Performance Assessment Tool across all provincial departments with an aim of improving institutional management practices and systems covering strategic management, employee systems and processes, financial management as well as governance and accountability.

Performance monitoring and evaluation of frontline service delivery institution will also be undertaken to identify areas of improvement in the interaction of government and citizens. As we move forward, we will continue improve our planning, research as well as monitoring and evaluation of government programmes.

In the next financial year, we will prioritise the development of Mpumalanga Vision 2030, a provincial long-term development plan that falls in line advancing priorities identified in the National Development Plan.

More attention will also be paid to the integration, alignment and coordination of government plans to realise agreed national outcomes. This requires our concerted effort enhance intergovernmental relations to that as government we share a common developmental agenda. As government, we have done well in this area of work.

To address integrated planning weaknesses, the Province has resolved to develop a planning cycle to ensure that planning and budgeting processes across the different spheres of government are aligned.

Honourable Members, over the last two half years, we had to ensure that the management of provincial finances is stabilised so that we eliminate wastage and duplication in order to free up resources for development and service delivery. The Province went through the pain of introducing rigorous austerity measures to ensure that it was always on a sound financial footing.

Through these measures, we were able to free up resources to upgrade schools and hospitals and invest in the development of rural communities through our Comprehensive Rural Development Programme.

As we continue to take the Province on a long-term sustainability path, we will focus on shifting the composition of government spending from consumption to investment. The aim is to strengthen infrastructure investment and maintenance because this is a key contribution to the underlying growth potential of our economy.

This means that there must be a moderation in the growth of the wage bill and spending on goods and services over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period ahead.

Over the past seven years, the public service wage bill has been increasing in some instances above the national average. The Executive will continue to assist departments to budget for compensation of employees with a level of moderation focussing on critical posts.

The Administration will continue to seek ways of controlling this item of expenditure in order to free resources for service delivery. More must be achieved with less as the culture of belt tightening continues to be instilled and financial management is strengthened.

We have seen improvement in terms of the audit outcomes for provincial departments where the qualified audit opinions were reduced from two in the 2009/10 financial year to one in the 2010/11 financial year.

We are also glad to announce that the votes that received clean audit reports increased from one to three votes, including the Provincial Legislature, for the 2010/11 financial year. One of the initiatives that have been implemented in the Province is the Operation Clean Audit strategy, focusing on turning around matters that are causing qualifications and emphasis of matters in the audit reports.

Notwithstanding financial management challenges in local government, we are encouraged that there are pockets of excellence and good practice on which to build and improve as implement the Operation Clean Audit programme. Of the 14 municipalities that received clean audits throughout the country, 4 are from Mpumalanga.

Honourable Speaker, we have been working hard to improve efficiencies in our supply management processing, including ensuring that service providers are paid within 30 days. In this regard, we have seen dramatic improvement in ensuring that our departments and public entities pay our service providers within the 30 days after receipt of invoices.

We will continue impressing it upon all our Accounting Officers in Departments, Chief Executive Officers and Municipal Managers to comply in this regard as it promotes good governance. As we improve the overall capacity of the state to deliver, we want to ensure that fraud and corruption does not undermine the integrity of the state.

In the next financial year, we will prioritise the implementation of the Provincial Anti-corruption strategy whose primary objective is to guide us as we tackle corruption whenever and wherever it shows its ugly head.

This year, we will launch the Mpumalanga Anti-corruption Council comprising government, labour, business and civil society in order to facilitate and create a platform for constructive engagements and partnerships towards addressing the challenges of corruption.

Honourable Speaker, to enhance the integrity of the state, we are introducing measures to curb of corruption and fraud in our supply chain management processes.

Among others, these include:

Rotation of staff in supply chain management with the object of dismantling collusion by officials.
Vetting of all staff working in supply chain management,
The electronic procurement system which will enhance efficiencies, introduce stricter control measures and provide for credible audit trail while providing business solution in improving our supply chain processes leading to improved service delivery,
We have also introduced procurement planning by all departments, public entities and municipalities with the objective of ensuring improved delivery of infrastructure and services for our people.
We have also introduced measures to deal decisively with officials who have been found to be doing business with government without acting within the confines stipulated prescripts. In this regard, we have taken steps to eliminate this practice and recover government money where individuals have unduly benefited.

Alongside these initiatives, we are strengthening our capacity to investigate cases of corruption within the administration and have taken appropriate action to bring those involved to book. As a Province, we join the efforts of the Inter- Ministerial Committee on anti-corruption led by Minister of Finance to streamline and tighten our systems in the supply chain management processes.

We will continue to enhance the capacity of the Provincial Integrity Management unit to respond speedily on the volume of cases received so that these are dealt with expeditiously.

Lastly, Honourable Speaker, we welcome the launch of the Anti-corruption Watch by the Congress of South African Trade Unions.

I would like to continue urging our people to report unbecoming behaviour to the relevant authorities including the police, the public protector, the Public Service Commission and other bodies established to fight the scourge of fraud and corruption.

Integrated Human Settlements

Honourable Speaker, as the province we committed ourselves to make a decisive shift from an apartheid based spatial planning wherein our people were placed far from the areas of economic activities and houses built without regard of social amenities like early childhood development centres, health and educational facilities, sports and recreational facilities.

Integrated human settlements embody our national vision of promoting non-racialism and prosperous communities. As this administration we have not fared well in this area of our work. However we have now found common ground and shared understanding amongst all the role players on how to take the next step.

We committed to promoted and facilitated affordable rental and social housing market. In addition, we further committed to continue with our plans for the development of integrated human settlements in Klarinet, Balfour, Thaba Chweu and Emakhazeni.

During this period we were piloting the concept of integrated human settlement using the concept of breaking new grounds in various sites. To date in Klarinet 435 units have been completed and 176 units under construction. The finance institution, ABSA has 70 approved bonds for the GAP market.

In Thaba Chweu were are lagging behind and only 475 sites have been serviced and in Dipaliseng work has not commenced. In Emakhazeni were engaging with the office of the Surveyor General for the approval of township establishment.

One of the challenges we have encountered is the availability of well suited land for human settlements and to this end the department has purchased land in various municipalities and we are expecting that this land will be fully serviced.

We further committed to construct 10 834 housing units planned for the current financial year. We are pleased to report that by the end of December 2011 we had completed 4 559 units and 4 345 units are still under construction.

In addition 120 Community Residential Units were completed in Mashishing and handed over to Thaba-Chweu municipality also to address the demand for affordable state rental stock and 102 units in Mbuzini in Nkomazi were provided with electricity

As part of our efforts to making an impact towards alleviating poverty and creating opportunities for work through the delivery of housing units, we committed ourselves to construct 5 000 Peoples’ Housing Process units as part of our integrated support to the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme.

The progress achieved stands at 1 769 units that have been completed. 2 486 units under construction and 1 597 job opportunities were created. As part of our work we have upgraded 1199 out of 2317 units in the informal settlements, completed 134 out of 545 rental units in Govan Mbeki local municipality and lastly 475 out of 800 sites were serviced.

In 2012/13 financial year, we will be mobilizing all stakeholders to the new vision of integrated human settlements, a provincial integrated human settlement indaba was held in November 2011.

A number of decisions were taken to improve the way we roll-out the programme. The following priorities will be rolled out as part of our initiatives in building integrated and sustainable communities:

Move with speed on the establishment of integrated Human Settlements in Klarinet, Emakhazeni, Dipaliseng and Thaba Chweu

Mobilisation of well-located public land for low income and affordable housing with increased densities on this land and in general work closely with the local municipalities and the institution of traditional leadership;

Focus on spatial planning and integrated development planning;

Upgrading 26 480 units of accommodation within informal settlements over five years and at least 5 296 units for rental stock within the Province of Mpumalanga;

The provision of accommodation units within the gap market of earnings between R3 500 and R12 800;

Roll out 2 300 units as part of People’s Housing Process and;

Roll out 1 000 units as part of Rural Housing and Communal Land Rights

Expanding access to basic services

Honourable Members, for us to create sustainable, integrated human settlement, it is critical to speed up the delivery of basic services and other social amenities.

Over seventeen years later, we can boldly say that we have done very well. Since the attainment of our freedom, the ANC led government has recorded strides in improving the quality of lives for the better.

The first few years after the end of apartheid was about putting in place the correct legal framework and mechanisms. The second phase was about executing our plans and programmes.

On the service delivery level, we can be proud of the fact that millions of our people now have basic services. Many have access to water; sanitation; refuse removal electricity; housing; education; health care and other services only after 1994.

Of the many service delivery challenges experienced by our municipalities, access to water top the lists. As the province we made special allocations of R85m to support 10 municipalities as part of water intervention in the most distressed areas. We are pleased to report that the Minister joined hands to strengthen our efforts.

In addition, the province has handed over the 15 mega litres water treatment plan worth R70.206m to Victor Khanye Local Municipality to improve access to water for its communities. We have conducted a full assessment of the bulk water infrastructure in the province.

Our reports indicate that many of our municipalities infrastructure has aged, neglect of operations and maintenance, the demand far exceeds the available water, lack of investment on bulk infrastructure, low spending on Municipal Infrastructure grant, poor workmanship, lack of technical capacity and water wastages including illegal connections.

What exacerbates our situation in the province is that almost all our municipalities are grant dependent and if we do not intervene as the provincial administration we shall miss our 2014 target of full access.

Accordingly in the last Executive Council Lekgotla as the entire leadership collective of the province and municipalities we took profound decisions in intervening on the bulk water and sanitation infrastructure.

Our efforts will be geared towards increasing the storage capacity of the reservoirs, expand the bulk water treatment works, expanding the water source and increase the capacity of waste water treatment works.

Accordingly I am pleased to announce that the Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency will be assigned the responsibility to provide support to our municipalities with respect to bulk water and sanitation services.

In addition our municipalities will continue to focus its limited resources on the roll-out of the reticulation infrastructure for water and sanitation services.

To move expeditiously on the funding and implementation of bulk water and sanitation infrastructure, MEGA has agreed in principle with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) to support this bold decision. The team has been given until the end of March 2012 to work out all the legal modalities and an announcement will be made in due course.

Working together with the Department of Water Affairs, we will move with speed to finalize construction of the Acornhoek pipeline, the Bloemendal to Delmas pipeline, implement water use and demand management strategies and lastly engage with the mining sector on how to ameliorate water pollution due to their mining activities.

Local Government Elections 2011

Not very long ago, this sphere of government had to refresh its mandate. On the 18th of May 2011, the people of our country came out in big numbers against the norm that is associated with voter turnout during local government elections and elected the representatives of their choice.

The people of our province overwhelming voted the ANC in all the municipalities because of our track record, sound policies and confidence in our leadership. To our people, the ANC remains the only organisation they trust and the only home they know. To all those elected councillors we dare not fail our people.

Despite the fact elections were difficult but there were no incidents reported during and after this process. Let me take the opportunity to thank all the voters for exercising their right to vote and our sincere gratitude goes the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), South African Police Service (SAPS) and other institutions for the good work that they have done in ensuring that we have free and fair elections.

Immediately after the IEC announced the results of the 2011 Local Government Elections we got down to work. Within 14 days all the Municipal Councils were constituted, Integrated Development Plans and Budget were adopted by all our municipalities.

Let me take this opportunity to thank the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and all our municipalities for managing the transition well.

Municipal interventions and support

When the new leadership of the municipalities came into office we gave all the necessary support to allow them to settle into their new roles.

I am pleased to report that the two remaining municipalities wherein the province had placed them under curatorship in terms of section 139 (1) (b) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, (Act no. 108 of 1996), as amended was lifted.

Even though the intervention was lifted in Lekwa and Thembisile Hani Local Municipalities, the province continued to provide an after care support for a period of six months to avoid any relapse in all the affected municipalities.

The aftercare support included former administrators and the provincial rapid response unit providing technical and financial related expertise to our municipalities.

As part of stabilising the municipalities, we have been hard at work in implementing the imperatives of the provincial local government turnaround strategy. The province has supported all the municipalities to fill all the critical management positions as part of strengthening the administration.

We have made some progress out of the 124 section 56 managers positions only 79 (63.7%) have been filled. Fourteen(14) of our municipalities have Municipal Managers in place whilst Bushbuckridge, Lekwa, Emalahleni, Emakhazeni, Dr JS Moroka, Dipaliseng, Mbombela and Victor Khanye will concluded the appointments by end of March 2012.

Public participation is critical to sustain and deepen a strong culture of a developmental democratic state. In deepening democracy, we have urged that all municipalities prioritise public participation to avoid the social distance between the citizens and their representatives.

Accordingly we have concluded the process of the establishment of the 402 ward committees and filled all the positions of the Community Development Workers in the newly established wards.

Our efforts remained focused in instilling confidence in the local government system as part of implementing the local government turnaround strategy. Accordingly all our municipalities have wasted no time by establishing the Municipal Public Accounts Committees (MPACs), strengthening of its audit committees and developed the anti-corruption strategies as improving accountability and oversight.

As a result of our support and the municipalities own efforts we have seen a steady improvement of the audit outcomes over the past two years. I am pleased to report that out of the 11 municipalities in the country that received a clean audit opinion, 4 of them are from this province.

On behalf of the people of this province I wish to convey our since gratitude and congratulations to Victor Khanye, Dr JS Moroka, Gert Sibande District and Ehlanzeni for the sterling work and keep it up!

This achievement indicates that there are many aspects of local government that works well in the province. However we are still concerned about those municipalities that continue to perform badly and receive qualified and disclaimer audit opinions.

At the pace we are moving, it is evident that more work still needs to be done if we are to achieve the imperatives of Operation Clean Audit by 2014 and thereby instilling public confidence in our institutions.

Accordingly the Departments of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Provincial Treasury and the Office of Auditor General have developed an action plan to support the struggling municipalities in order for us to meet our 2014 target.

As we have indicated in the last address, our municipalities are struggling to collect revenue and the situation was exacerbated by the government debts. I am pleased to report that of the R72 million arrears accounts of 60 days and older owed by government departments, R70 m has been settled by the end of January 2012.

As a province we undertook a municipal billing system analysis and discovered a number of deficiencies. We are working closely with all our municipalities to improve their billing systems, consumer database and install meters to all government buildings and business as part of revenue enhancement.

A number of our municipalities continue to struggle to pay their creditors especial the Eskom account.

We continue to work closely with Eskom by engaging the affected municipalities and monitor the honouring of the settlement agreements. Many municipalities continue to be challenged by the culture of non-payment of services even by those who can afford to pay.

Another challenge experienced by our municipalities is the increase of cable theft and other electrical equipment such as transformers and illegal connections. These criminal activities are viewed in a dim light and decisive action needs to be taken to curb it.

This year we shall roll-out a massive civic education campaign led by Premier, Executive Mayors and community leaders to instil the culture of payment and efficient use of electricity and water.

Priorities for our municipalities in 2012

Preparing for the tough journey ahead, we agreed that all municipalities have to prioritise the implementation of the Programme of Action for Delivery Agreement and Local Government Turnaround strategy, including:

Support the municipalities in the provision of Bulk water and sanitation infrastructure and reticulation;
Provide support in the expansion of access to basic services and eliminating backlogs;
Deployment of technical expertise in scarce skills areas;
Financial viability and revenue enhancement including the roll-out of civic education campaigns to address the culture of non-payment;
Support programme on clean towns and expand refuse removal;
Coordinate implementation of operation clean audit 2014 plan in all municipalities;

Support to the Institution of Traditional Leadership and;
Prioritise public participation to close the social distance between public representatives and communities

Support to the Institution of Traditional Leadership

The province continues to work closely with the Institution of Traditional Leaders and we continue to cherish their role in the struggle against colonialism and freedom. Our Traditional Leaders have continued to participate in all municipal councils except in the Nkangala District due to role clarity that the MEC of CoGTA and District Executive Mayor are attending to.

We have seen a marked improvement on areas of cooperation notably in the CRDP sites and during the IDP engagement processes.

I am pleased to report that I have appointed the Provincial Committee on Traditional Leadership Disputes and Claims with effect from the 01st September 2011.

We are serious on the matters of settling disputes as we are the first province in the country to have established this committee and we are proud that our Provincial Chairperson is also the National Chairperson of the Commission on Traditional Leadership Disputes and Claims. On behalf of the people of this province I wish to congratulate Mr. BJ Tolo on his appointment and wish him and the team well.

This committee will deal with 124 cases on Traditional Leadership Disputes and Claims over the next four years. The team has been hard at work and I am waiting for the final report on the 21 cases already dealt with.

We wish to once more appeal to all our communities to cooperate with the process and respect its outcome whether it favours you or not.

Our efforts to strengthen the institution of traditional leaders will continue and I shall elaborate during the opening of the Mpumalanga Provincial House of Traditional Leadership.

Disaster incidents in the province

It is nearly five weeks since the province experienced heavy rains as from 16 January to 19 January 2012. The heavy rain fell in the Lowveld areas affected all Ehlanzeni Municipalities (Mbombela, Nkomazi, UMjindi, Thaba Chweu and Bushbuckridge local municipalities).

These rains caused flooding of certain communities, infrastructure damages to schools, clinics, roads, bridges and in certain instances communities were disconnected.

During this period, the province recorded seven (7) (4 Bushbuckridge, 2 Thaba Chweu and 1 Nkomazi Local Municipalities) fatalities related to the floods.

On behalf of the people of our province we wish to convey our heartfelt condolences to all the families and friends who lost the loved ones.

The results of the Provincial Joint Operations Committee (JOC) assessment report indicate that 1452 households (HH) were affected but 330 households.

The estimated cost of the damages after verification process is R520m and the province together with municipalities have made R111m available to deal with immediate relief efforts like ensuring that all communities are reconnected, provision of temporary shelter, roads and bridges are cleared and access to social amenities is returned to normality.

On behalf of the people of Mpumalanga and the directly affected communities I wish to convey our sincere gratitude and thanks to all the volunteers, the Provincial Joint Operations Committee and the National Disaster Management Centre, Business, the Churches and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) for their swift response.

In preventing this in future, we need develop appropriate plans and strategies to mitigate the risks of disasters as part of adaption measures on climate change.

Conclusion

As I conclude, I wish to leave you with these profound words of President Jacob Zuma in his January 8th Statement : “...not only we celebrate a glorious history of selfless struggle by millions of ordinary South Africans who defeated the apartheid regime, but most importantly, we summon the new courage and energy too face the future with confidence. This is the right moment to pause and ponder the future of South Africa… over the next 100 years.

During this year 2012, our nation must renew our determination to build a South Africa founded on the principles of the freedom charter and our democratic constitution. We must bring new energy and new ideas into the kind of society we want to build over the next few decade.”

I thank you!

Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter
 
 
 
 
 
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