Welcome to the Mpumalanga Provincial Government


Address by Hon. Premier TSP Makwetla at the Human Rights Day Commemoration, Solomon Mahlangu Stadium, Thembisile Hani Municipality

21 March 2009

Programme Director
Members of the Executive Council, MPs and MPLs
The Executive Mayors of Nkangala District Municipality and Thembisile Hani Local Municipality, Hon Clr S Mashilo and Hon Clr VV Nkosi respectively
Honourable mayors and councillors
Traditional leaders
Leaders from political parties and labour organisations
Spiritual leaders and all community leaders in our midst
Our cultural workers
The residents of Thembisile, the Nkangala District, and Mpumalanga as a whole
Distinguished guests
Comrades and friends

On this historic day on our national calendar, the whole South African nation gathers in various centres to commemorate Human Rights Day. Today, we commemorate the 1960 Sharpeville massacre in which more than 60 people were brutally murdered by the apartheid police during a peaceful protest against the imposition of pass laws. Pass laws demanded that all ‘natives’ carry documents which authorised their presence in any given area. These laws were meant to control the influx of black people into the cities and restrict their freedom of movement.

Alongside many heroes and heroines in the history of our liberation struggle, the martyrs of the 1960 massacre sacrificed their lives in the fight against gross violations of basic human rights by the repressive apartheid government. In all its manifestations, the liberation struggle was a quest towards creating a rights-based society whose core values espouse the enjoyment of democratic freedoms, justice for all, human dignity and the progressive realization of socio-economic rights.
With the commitment, tenacity and selfless sacrifice of liberation forces and countless martyrs, the Apartheid State was vanquished.

Programme Director, last night’s Premiere of the Lion of the East musical play re-enacted the violation of human rights and atrocities to which workers on the farms were subjected by potato farmers. The story of the 1958 potato boycott led by our legendary struggle icon, Gert Sibande, is a stark reminder of the quest to create a society underpinned by the values of human rights, human dignity and justice.

Today, we pay tribute to many martyrs, heroes and heroines whose selfless commitment to freedom and democracy laid the foundation for the creation of a human rights-based society. We thank them today South Africa is a better place to live in.

Programme Director, the year 1994 was a watershed year which ushered in a democratic Constitution that embodies the aspirations of a human rights based society. The Bill of Rights enshrined in the Constitution constitutes the bedrock of our democratic state and enjoins all South Africans to promote, nurture and protect hard won freedoms and human rights.

Fifteen years on, we continue to be guaranteed the right to equality and human dignity, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, demonstration or picketing, freedom of association and freedom of movement and residence. The institutions of our democratic state continue to promote civil liberties and protect citizens from the abuse and violation of human rights.
On 22 April next month, South Africans are accorded yet another opportunity to exercise their democratic right to vote and elect the government and leaders of their choice. It is an opportunity to deepen democracy and inculcate a strong culture of human rights.

As we celebrate Human Rights Day, we must be reminded of our obligation not to take the human rights we are enjoying for granted, but should ensure that we entrench these rights to benefit future generations and sustain a human rights-based society. All registered voters are encouraged to come out and vote on 22 April. In part, we must exercise this right to pay homage to countless martyrs who paid the price for the freedom we enjoy today.

Programme Director, over the last five years, the Province has made a significant contribution towards the progressive realization of socio-economic rights to which Mpumalanga citizens are entitled. We have paid particular attention to ensure that everyone has access to health care, quality education, water and sanitation, adequate housing and economic development opportunities to address poverty and unemployment challenges. We have also taken adequate measures to promote the protection of the environment to make sure that everyone lives in an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being.

Over the last five years, the Province dedicated substantial resources to accelerate the delivery of housing alongside basic services such as water, sanitation and electricity. This commitment is driven by our understanding that access to decent housing is a fundamental human right that is a critical measure of the quality of life that citizens enjoy. It is also an important contribution to the alleviation of asset poverty among poor households. It is encouraging that between January 2004 and January 2009, the Province built 57 553 housing units, thereby providing shelter to many poor and vulnerable families.

Equally, we have always been cognisant of our obligation to improve access to quality education to everyone, especially poor households with no capacity to finance the educational needs of their children. Education is a fundamental human right that empowers individuals to access development opportunities and break the inherited cycle of poverty. Undoubtedly, quality education is also critical in providing skills necessary for economic and social development needs of the Province.

Through the implementation of ‘no fee’ schools policy, the Province has invested resources to enhance access to education by the poor. To date, 952 schools have been declared ‘no fee’ schools, benefiting 420 238 learners. To assist learners from poor households, the implementation of the school nutrition programme is benefiting 573 725 learners, representing 40% of the total learner enrolments in the schooling system. The nutrition programme will be extended to all Quintile 1 secondary schools in April this year.

As a Province, we have also made significant strides in expanding access to early childhood development. The number of learners accessing ECD grew from 18 301 in 2004 to 50 196 in 2008.

Programme Director, access to quality health care services remains one of the fundamental human rights that we should continue to advance to improve the health profile of our communities. Through the hospital revitalization programme, we have enhanced the capacity of our hospitals to deliver quality health care. Progressively, we have increased the number of primary health care facilities to improve access to health care services. Over the last five years, we have ensured that the number of primary health care (PHC) facilities has increased from 167 in 2004 to 270 in 2008. As part of our efforts to reverse the spread of HIV and Aids, the number of patients accessing anti-retroviral treatment has increased to 39 878.
Programme Director, access to safe adequate water and sanitation is a fundamental human right that constitutes an important determinant of the quality of life that citizens enjoy. As highlighted in the State of the Province Address this year, 72.7% have access to water at RDP level and above. We have reduced the number of households with inadequate access to water to 257 912, constituting 27.3% of the households in the Province. Of this amount, 3.5% households have no access to infrastructure at all.

Through the implementation of Water for All interventions, the Province wants to ensure that communities have access to water services infrastructure and clean water by 2010. Access to clean and safe water is essential for human development the prevention of water-borne diseases which cost human lives.

The recent cholera crisis in the Province brought into focus concerns about the contamination of our water resources and the need to institute stringent water quality management and monitoring measures. If we are to mitigate the spread of deadly diseases such as cholera, it is important that our water purification infrastructure is effective to enhance water quality. Various initiatives are currently being implemented by municipalities to upgrade sewerage plants and related infrastructure in order to prevent possible contamination of water resources.

Through the implementation of our Heritage, Greening Mpumalanga, and Tourism Flagship, we should continue to implement measures to prevent environmental degradation and pollution. As a basic human right, access to a clean environment requires communities to adopt practices and behaviour that discourage pollution and damage to the environment through littering, contamination of water resources and irresponsible disposal of waste and hazardous substances. As communities, let us take collective responsibility for the protection of our environs as part of affirming our right to a safe and clean environment.
As celebrate Human Rights Day, we must reaffirm our collective commitment to addressing poverty, unemployment and under-development challenges. Despite remarkable strides we have made in fighting poverty and social deprivation, many families continue to be subjected to the indignity of hunger and poverty. As government, we will continue to facilitate improved access to skills development and opportunities for self-employment.

The launch of our Anti-Poverty War Room Campaign this is part of our ongoing contribution to tackling poverty in Mpumalanga. This campaign focuses on profiling the poor and most deprived households to identify their specific needs and help them to access government services and development opportunities. In this way, we provide safety nets that would assist in alleviating poverty among the identified households. In the initial pilot phase, six poverty-stricken municipalities will be targeted for the implementation of the Anti-Poverty War Room campaign. These are Mkhondo, Albert Luthuli, Thembisile, Dr JS Moroka, Bushbuckridge and Nkomazi municipalities.

Over the last five years, our Expanded Public Works Programme created more than 100 000 job opportunities and thereby enabling the youth, women and persons with disabilities to access skills development and employment opportunities. Our National Youth Service programme continues to provide opportunities for the development of our youth in the Province.
More than 1 135 young people in Mpumalanga have benefited from loans disbursed by the provincial office of Umsobomvu Youth Fund. The value of loans disbursed since 2006 amounts to more than R10 million and a total of 1 703 jobs were created.

In addition, more than 2 000 vouchers totalling in excess of R24 million was spent benefiting 1 106 women, 27 people with disabilities and creating 804 job opportunities. Business vouchers were designed to help young people gain access to quality business development support, including accounting, bookkeeping, business plan development, tendering support etc.

Programme Director, we believe that the envisaged National Youth Development Agency will give further impetus to youth empowerment initiatives in Mpumalanga.

Government will also continue to facilitate access to funding and business development support to entrepreneurs and small businesses to ensure that we contribute to economic growth and the creation of employment opportunities.

The implementation of the Maputo and Moloto Development Corridors will contribute to promoting investment and the creation of employment opportunities.

Programme Director, as communities, we should continue our collective resolve to defeat crime and its devastating impact on human development and prosperity. We should mobilise all community stakeholders to reclaim our right to a safe and secure environment. Our streets, homes and villages should be safe and free from the abuse of women, children, the elderly and persons with disabilities.

Programme Director, let me conclude by enjoining all the citizens of the Province to commit to the vision and aspirations of a human rights based society guided by the core values bequeathed to us by the struggle martyrs. In every facet of our social development endeavours, we must protect the legacy and honour of those who paid the price for us to attain freedom, democracy and human rights that we enjoy today as a free nation.
Glory to the martyrs of Sharpeville.

Long Live Human Rights Day.

I thank you.

Issued by: Office of the Premier

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