Welcome to the Mpumalanga Provincial Government

Welcome remarks by Premier DD Mabuza at National Planning Commission Provincial Public Dialogue at Marapyane College, Dr JS Moroka Municipality, Nkangala District

20 July 2011

Honourable Minister Manuel and Commissioners of the National Planning Commission

Members of the Executive Council present

Mayors and Municipal Managers

Traditional Leaders

Director General and other senior officials from the provincial government

Distinguished Guests

It gives me great honour to welcome all of you to today’s occasion.

Minister Manuel we are happy at your presence and that of your esteemed fellow commissioners.

The NPC is undoubtedly one of the innovative and ground breaking features of the current government administration. Its central tasks, in the words of our President JG Zuma, are "to help define the South Africa we seek to achieve in 20 years’ time and to map out a path to achieve those objectives”.

We are encouraged by the progress you have made since appointment April last year. You have now placed before the nation a diagnostic report that is already stimulating debate- which hopefully should assist and improve the development plans that will be produced by the Commissioners before the end of the year.

We welcome and appreciate your decision to reach out to the people where they are and engage on your assessment of the challenges that face us as a country. This will undoubtedly enable us to achieve some agreement on the necessary strategies and plans in order to achieve a better future for our people.

We look forward to your presentation of your mandate and outputs thus far.

It is important that we improve communication on the purpose and expected outcomes of the NPC so that our people from all walks of life have a better understanding and can make submissions in order to enhance your work.

Long term planning is an established approach in many countries.

These are countries where we have seen massive strides made in terms of development.

This development was not only about increases in incomes, or what economists refer to as per capita income growth.

It was also manifested through progress in the reduction of poverty and inequality, individual capabilities, access to social services, and quality of life.

It is heartening to see that the Diagnostic Report acknowledges the many achievements made by the post-Apartheid democratic ANC-led government in advancing a better life for our people.

We also agree that challenges remain. Our people continue to face continuous hardships. Many are not enjoying the fruits of their hard won freedom.

The Diagnostic Report’s emphasis on lack of employment and poor quality of education as the core contributors to poverty and inequality echoes our own reality here in Mpumalanga.

We are a province of more than 3 million people in a region that is well endowed in natural beauty and has significant comparative advantage in mining, manufacturing, agriculture, tourism and energy.

Yet, we continuously fail to meet our potential. The provincial economy continues to perform below that of the national economy.

Many in the labour force are unemployed, particularly the youth. In the first quarter of 2011, the national unemployment rate was 25% but in the province it was much higher, slightly above 30%.

The rural character of our province exacerbates many of the other challenges you identify in the report, such as the poor educational and health outcomes.

To make things worse, we are a ‘Cinderella’ province, that was forgotten when universities and tertiary hospitals were being allocated.

Hopefully, the impact of such previous policy decisions will be reflected in your report so that the necessary measures of redress will be expedited.

The provincial leadership collective, many who are present here, is mindful of its constitutional mandate and role in addressing many of the challenges that are identified in the Diagnostic Report. We continue to focus on the 5 priority areas identified in the programme of government. We are aligned with the ‘Outcomes’ approach. Batho Pele and a consistent anti-corruption message are also a feature of our administration

I touch on these few issues relating to your report in an effort to inspire and stimulate all gathered here to be open-minded and engage with your report.

Allow me again to commend the NPC and its chairperson for the work done thus far. Today as the people of the province we have an opportunity to make submissions on whether we think the NPC has correctly reflected the challenges we face.

We also have an opportunity to indicate whether we agree on the vision of the country in 2030 that the NPC has placed before us.

May I wish you all every success in the deliberations during the course of the day.

Thank you.

Issued by Office of the Premier, Mpumalanga Provincial Government

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