Opening remarks by the Honourable Premier R.M. Mtshweni on the occasion of the Executive Council Lekgotla at Nutting House, Mpumalanga
01 July 2019Honourable Members of the Executive Council;
Senior Government Officials from all spheres of Government, led by the Acting Director General, Mr Mathew Mohlasedi;
Chairpersons and CEOs of State Owned Entities;
Invited guests from SALGA and Other related Organisations;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
- Ladies and Gentlemen, it is indeed a great honour to welcome you all to this Executive Council Lekgotla. As you are aware, this is the first formal gathering of the Executive Council since the advent of the 6th democratically elected Provincial Administration.
- We have just emerged from a bruising election campaign period. We have travelled the length and the breadth of the Province and listened to the plight, hopes and dreams of our people. By casting their votes in favour of the African National Congress, our people have once more reaffirmed their trust in us as the only vehicle that can deliver services and better their lives. Therefore we cannot afford to make light of this trust.
- We heard our people when they said to us, they want amongst others;
- Our people further stated that the current machinery of government in its form and shape does not serve them well.
- On the same breath, just recently, we had the ANC Provincial Lekgotla that has tasked us to translate the Government programme of action based on its manifesto.
- Ladies and Gentlemen, this Cabinet Lekgotla has also been preceded by the National Cabinet Lekgotla wherein his Excellency, the President of the Republic of South Africa outlined the focus areas that will inform Government strategic approach in improving the quality of life for our people.
- These focus areas include;
- Our comprehensive 25 year review has depicted areas where we did exceptionally well and areas where we did not do well, I would request that as we prepare our departmental 5 year plans, let us use the 25 year review as a basis to consolidate and deepen our democracy and as a baseline to improve upon our identified weaknesses.
- Of course the NDP goals should also find expression in our 5 year implementation plans.
- To achieve all this;
- Having said this ladies and gentlemen, let us be cognizant at all times of the issues that were raised during the campaign period and utilize this forum as a platform through which we, candidly, reflect on the root causes of our failures and challenges over the MTSF period under review.
- Let this Lekgotla be an action based and practical forum, being mindful of the fact that there is a ticking societal time-bomb in the form of the army of unemployed youths who, if not incorporated into mainstream economic activity through training and gainful employment, can easily turn into a revolution that will work against us.
- As we engage all presentations we must get a sober and practical sense as to what is to be done, by whom, how, when and with which budget.
- Ladies and Gentlemen, one of the most pressing current challenges is unemployment. The quarterly labour force survey report states that 237 000 jobs were shed in the first quarter of 2019.
- This is largely attributable to the 3% contraction of the economy. What is of concern is the fact that there was a sharp decrease in the mining, agricultural and manufacturing sectors which form the backbone of the Provincial economy.
- It is a cause for concern that on average, our Province has created 15 931 job opportunities annually in the last 10 years, far below the 70 000 per annum targeted in the Mpumalanga Economic Development Growth Path (MEDGP).
- Sadly these statistics are testament to the fact that Government cannot create jobs alone. It will take a multi-sectoral approach which will require us to work with organised labour and the private sector for us to grow our economy and create jobs.
- For us to realise the economic growth we need to rebuild the capacity and skills that have been eroded across the Public Sector and State Owned Entities.
- In their presentation on employment creation strategies, DEDT must ensure that they outline a pragmatic and sustainable job creation plan that will align the MEGDP to the socio-economic challenges of the Province so that we can expedite the creation of job opportunities in the short term.
- The Department must also outline the progress on the operationalisation of the Nkomazi SEZ and how this will assist in our efforts to stimulate economic growth and create jobs.
- Ladies and Gentlemen, ours is a largely rural and agrarian Province. Despite the cyclical decline in output in the agricultural sector, it remains a key source of the Province’s economy and is essential to maintaining national food security.
- To this effect, the Department must provide us with an update on the progress of construction of the Dr JS Moroka and Mkhondo Agri hubs following the completion of the Mkhuhlu Agri-Hub. Furthermore, we must receive an update on how these Agri-hubs will aid the operation of small scale farmers within the Province.
- Furthermore, DARDLEA must commence the process of developing the Provincial Land Use Master Plan. This Master plan will be essential in our efforts to ensure that the urban economy within the Province develops in a manner that is sustainable and does not result in oversaturation in strategic pockets of the Province.
- Furthermore, an effective Land Use Master Plan will be essential in ensuring the sustainable use of our agrarian land and mineral resources in a manner that promotes wider economic participation by the majority of our people.
- This Land Use Master Plan must be supplemented by the Food Security Master plan which will serve as the blueprint to ensure food security in the Province whilst solidifying our approach to improving output in the agricultural sector.
- This food security Master plan must be based upon the following pillars;
- Global warming and the fluctuation weather patterns that ensue from it pose a great risk to the viability of our Provincial agricultural sector. It is imperative for DARDLEA to appraise this forum on measures it will undertake to centrally coordinate the Province’s approach to managing the adherence to prescripts such as the National Environmental Management Air Quality Act especially in coal mining hubs around the Province.
- Ladies and Gentlemen, the issue of unemployment requires a multi-pronged strategic approach. It is imperative that we improve the quality of our basic education and ensure that it is structured in a manner that produces an employable workforce.
- To this effect, the Department of Education must present an overview on measures that will be undertaken to vest our teachers with adequate content knowledge in order to ensure that we increase numeracy and literacy skills amongst children in grades 3, 6 and 9.
- The issue of adequate educational infrastructure remains a priority for the Provincial Government. The Department must outline the progress that has been made vis-à-vis the eradication of pit latrines across the Province.
- With the advent of the 4th industrial revolution, it is imperative that we embrace e-learning. The Department of Education must also outline its plans for ICT investments in our schools as well as measures that will be undertaken to capacitate our teachers to be able to incorporate ICT as a medium of teaching.
- Our commitment to ensuring that we develop an employable and capacitated workforce must extend to continuing to ensuring that graduates from tertiary institutions are afforded an opportunity to gain experiential training in the form of learnerships, internships and apprenticeships.
- As I have indicate earlier, the priorities of this Government are premised upon fighting the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment. We are fully cognisant of the challenging economic landscape that makes it difficult for a significant percentage of our people to lead a dignified life.
- As a result, the Department of Social Development has been identified as a vehicle that will, amongst others, ensure that our people do not lead a quality of life beneath the national minimum standard.
- To this effect, the Department of Social Development must provide an update on the measures it shall undertake to ensure that the number of qualifying people who receive social grants increases from the current baseline of 33%. Furthermore, we must be apprised on the strategies that will be implemented to assist child headed households.
- There were a number of instances in the MTSF 2014-2019 period wherein there was a misalignment between the Department’s operational activities and National priorities. In its presentation at this Lekgotla, the Department must outline its alignment with the National Development Plan.
- It is commendable that over the MTSF 2014-2019 period, the average lifespan of an adult male in Mpumalanga has increased from 53 years to around 61 years. The average lifespan for female adults has improved from 56 years to 64 years.
- The reduction in the mortality rate in Mpumalanga is attributable to access to better healthcare as well as overall increase in the quality of services delivered by the Mpumalanga Provincial Government.
- We also acknowledge the significant progress in the number of HIV positive people accessing anti-retroviral drugs in our continuing battle against HIV and AIDS.
- It is imperative that we develop new strategies that will aid our efforts to decrease the rate of new infections.
- The Department of Health must ensure that its priorities for the MTSF 2019-2024 period are aligned to the NDP. The Department must also outline the progress on the NHI pilot projects in the Province as well as an overview on the progress that has been made in relation to health infrastructure projects across the Province.
- Furthermore, the current management of litigation against the Department must be adequately managed. We anticipate positive progress in this regard.
- Ladies and Gentlemen, a concerning development that I have observed throughout the campaigning period is the mushrooming of informal settlements across the Province. These informal settlements have been inextricably linked to the increase of crime in the surrounding areas.
- In its presentation, the Department of Community Safety, Security and Liaison must outline the initiatives that shall be employed to improve intelligence gathering in an effort to negate the increase in crime across the Province with a specific emphasis on mushrooming informal settlements, as well as areas that have seen a recent spike in criminal activity such as Emalahleni, Kwa-Mhlanga and Dr JS Moroka.
- The Department must also provide us with a strategy on how to best improve security in our healthcare institutions across the Province.
- The Department must further outline the progress that has been made thus far with the transferal of the licencing function from Municipalities to the Provincial Government.
- Furthermore, the Department must outline the remedies that shall be implemented to address the challenges within the traffic college model. These challenges relate to the bottlenecks surrounding the intake of student officers as well as the subsequent placement of the graduates.
- As I have indicated, there has been an increase in the number of informal settlements across the Province. This is attributable to general lawlessness advocated by certain political parties but it would be remiss for us not to acknowledge that we must expedite the delivery of decent human settlements in the MTSF 2019-2024 period.
- It is quite concerning that in the recently concluded 2014-2019 MTSF period, the Department of Human Settlements delivered 66 752 housing opportunities as opposed to the targeted 93 275.
- The Department must furnish with reasons for the deficit of 26 523 housing opportunities. Furthermore, the Department has targeted 88 945 housing opportunities for the current MTSF period. We anticipate a detailed plan of implementation.
- The Department of Public Works must utilise this platform to unpack the strategic infrastructural investments informed by the Mpumalanga Infrastructure master plan. Furthermore, the Department must outline how it shall continue to invest in our road network so that we may unlock economic activity and stimulate economic growth.
- One of the acute lessons we have learnt during the electoral campaign season is the fact that the electorate does not differentiate between spheres and levels of government when demanding services. Provincial and Local government are viewed through the same lens.
- To this effect, whilst we as the Provincial tier of government recognise the autonomy of local government, it is imperative that, as part of our oversight, we strengthen Municipalities to ensure that they are able to deliver services.
- COGTA must utilise this platform to outline the measures that shall be undertaken to expedite the capacitation of Councillors in order for them to perform their function optimally.
- Furthermore, we are all aware of the socio-economic consequences that emanate from a racially prejudicial spatial development policy of the past. This segregated model of spatial planning resulted in a significant majority of our people being forced to reside on the outskirts of economic hubs.
- In order to address this phenomenon, COGTA must also ensure that Councillors are trained on strategic spatial planning and the implementation of SPLUMA in order to address the issue of spatial planning in a developmental state.
- We also anticipate a progress report on the establishment of Project Management Units to oversee the overall planning and implementation of MIG projects across Municipalities.
- Colleagues, the above is but a brief outline that should inform the direction of the deliberations that ensue in this Lekgotla. We are all cognisant of the challenges that lie ahead of us and the limited resources available. However, these are not insurmountable challenges. I believe that they require government to work in a coordinated manner to optimise the resources we have available.
- I shall now hand over to the Office of the Statistician General who shall deliver a presentation on the statistical analysis of the Provincial performance.
- I thank you
Decent health care;
Functional schools with better educational outcomes;
A more capable, effective and efficient Government that will address their needs;
Programmes that will stimulate and reignite the economy;
Public representatives who lead from the front with honesty and unquestionable integrity.
The transformation of the economy to serve all our people and create jobs;
Investing in the capabilities of all the people, through investment in quality education and the skills revolution;
Investment in quality healthcare for all our people;
Building sustainable and safe human settlements and effective local government;
Advancing social cohesion;
Implementing effective law enforcement strategies and ensure safer communities;
Advancing social transformation by ensuring access to social services; and
Building a better Africa through strategic partnerships.
We need to establish a capable responsive, effective and efficient government that is fit for purpose;
We need professional, skilled public servants who subscribe to the highest standards of integrity;
We need to ensure that Government operates in an integrated and cohesive manner, we can no longer afford to work in silos;
We need to meet the expectations of our people and advance our Manifesto and NDP;
Several measures to control costs ought to be introduced and I would request Provincial Treasury to embark on that exercise and present it in our next Budget committee;
As leaders of Government we need to lead by example, irregular expenditures will have to be accounted for;
We must ensure that the excessive display of lavishness is the remnant of the past. Our lifestyles should embody moderation and austerity because the public perception about us is not good at all.      Unity in purpose is essential. We must avoid taking our differences to public space, resulting in public contradictions.
We must restore our Province to its founding values, it begins with being a humble public servant, whose work is centred on the needs and interests of our communities.
Efficient utilisation of agricultural land;
Expansion of irrigable land;
Improving market access for small scale and sustenance farmers; and
Investing in agro-processing.
Department of Public Works, Roads and Transport