Welcome to the Mpumalanga Provincial Government

Address by Honourable Premier R.M. Mtshweni on the occasion of the inauguration of the Premier of Mpumalanga Province

26 June 2019

Honourable Speaker of our provincial legislature Mrs Busi Shiba;
Honourable Deputy Speaker Mr Vusi Mkhatshwa;
Honourable Members of the National and Provincial Legislatures;
Honourable Members of National Council of Provinces;
Judge President Justice Francis Legodi and members of the Judiciary;
Members of Chapter 9 Institutions;
His Excellency, Ingwenyama Mabhoko III;
His Excellency, Ingwenyama Makhosoke II;
Traditional Leaders led by the chairpersons of both the national and provincial Houses of Traditional leaders Ikosi SE Mahlangu neNkhosi S.G Ngomane;
Leaders of the ruling party the ANC led by the Acting Chairperson Cde Mandla Ndlovu;
Leaders of the opposition parties;
Leaders of the Tri-partite alliance Cosatu, Sacp and Sanco;
Members of the diplomatic Core present;
Senior Government officials and state owned institutions led by the Acting DG Mr Mohlasedi;
Distinguished Guests Ladies and Gentlemen;
Good Morning,

  1. Programme Director, we are gathered here today and in every community of our beautiful land, to witness a great time for the future of our nation. It is an occasion to be dedicated to the simple and sincere expression of an attitude towards a better future, the determination of which will profoundly affect our province.

  2. I have just taken an oath of office, as the Premier of this beautiful province and this is an action that imposes a great responsibility on my shoulders.

  3. It is a commitment that I make before you, the people of Mpumalanga and South Africa, a commitment that I will at all times cherish, by upholding, defending and protecting the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.

  4. I am honoured, humbled and grateful for the confidence and trust that the ruling party has bestowed upon me by nominating and electing me as the Premier of this Province.

  5. I salute the members of our glorious movement, especially the volunteers who worked tirelessly during the campaign period to guarantee that the African National Congress emerges victorious during the recent general elections.

  6. Programme director, today’s gathering is very special and historical in that it happens while our country is celebrating 25 years of democratic rule and just 2 days after our continent celebrated Africa Day on the 25th of May 2019.

  7. It is a day when we entrench African unity and commit ourselves to work with our sister countries like the Kingdom of eSwatini and Mozambique to improve the living conditions of our respective citizenry.

  8. Above all, I would like to thank the millions of people in our province and throughout the country, including all of you here today, who once again and for the 6th consecutive time through the ballot paper confirmed your confidence in the African National Congress and gave us a clear mandate to represent your hopes and aspirations in the next five years.

  9. We shall never take your trust and confidence in us for granted. We will work even harder to instil hope in the face of hopelessness, courage in the face of fear and unity in the face of disunity.

  10. I dedicate my appointment as the Premier of this Province to the gallant freedom fighters and in particular the women who have sacrificed their lives in order for us to enjoy the individual liberties as reflected in the Bill of Rights in our world renowned Constitution.

  11. This day has its origin in the sacrifice made by the departed heroes and heroines, our political martyrs among them Nokuthula Orela Simelane, the daughter of this province from Bethal who was murdered by the Apartheid agents and whose remains were never found. Portia Shabangu of Hazyview, who was brutally assassinated in the Kingdom of eSwatini, on her way to join Umkhonto Wesizwe, for the liberation of this country.

  12. Our founding fathers and mothers, Oliver Reginald Tambo, uTata Nelson Mandela, umama Winnie Nomzamo Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Albertina Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Joe Slovo and Charlotte Maxeke, whose wisdom we are invoking today to guide us in this five years journey and beyond.

  13. As I assume this task, I bow my head to our leaders who, by the grace of God, are still with us, whose immense contribution to our struggle, will remain an indelible mark in our history.

  14. Last but not least I give glory to God whose mercy and Kindness has allowed me in particular to be given the opportunity to lead this province.

  15. Programme Director I cannot, with candour, tell you that all is well in our country and in our province. Clouds of suspicion, tides of ill-will and intolerance gather darkly in many places. But we are comforted by the knowledge and the strong belief that good will always prevail over evil. Everything else is temporal.

  16. The dawn of democracy in 1994 brought with it the fullness of individual and collective liberties. Yet the challenges that are a legacy of our dark past and which manifest themselves in high levels of unemployment, poverty and inequality are beginning to erode and threaten the very same liberties that our forefathers fought for.

  17. This occasion presents us with an opportunity to reaffirm the pledge of our forefathers in restoring a wider freedom to our people and to give in 2019 what our founding fathers and mothers gave to us in 1994.

  18. Programme Director, a lot has been achieved since 1994. In almost all facets of life we have made progress in building an inclusive society, rolling back the dark shadow of our history and broadening opportunities for all.

  19. The new schools with boarding facilities in the farming areas, early childhood development centres, hospitals, and clinics, houses for the poor, road networks, libraries and bridges attest to this. We have made education free as a way of reducing the levels of poverty and hunger.

  20. We have provided our people with clean water, electricity in their homes and restored their dignity through social networks and other services. Yet more still need to be done to reverse the legacy of the past.

  21. Despite all our achievements which are well documented, acknowledged and applauded by organisations like the United Nations, we remain a highly unequal society to the extent that we are regarded by the World Bank as the most unequal country in the world. Despite significant progress, our province remains divided, with opportunities still shaped by the legacy of Apartheid.

  22. A new dawn is upon us and the winds of change have begun and they should gain momentum during the next five years of this administration. The decision by the ruling party to expropriate land without compensation heralded the beginning of more things to come. Without land our people will remain steeped in abject poverty.

  23. We must get the land back. It is now 106 years since 1913 when our land was taken from us through the 1913 Land Act. The willing seller willing buyer system which we hoped would bring fair land redistribution has failed precisely because we were expected to pay an exorbitant amount for properties unfairly taken from our ancestors. This approach to the land redistribution issue has proven to be unsustainable.

  24. We must continue to move at a fast pace to open up opportunities for thousands of small businessmen and women who want nothing more than an environment that is supportive of them to make a worthy use of an inclusive economic system and reward those who take the initiative.

  25. Most of these hardworking people are small and emerging farmers. For them to be productive, feed their families and become commercial farmers, they need land.

  26. We must provide certainty, clear and decisive leadership so that honest and hardworking people who are fully aware of their obligation to their generation and other generations to come know just how and where they fit in our economic system.

  27. We must craft new terms of engagement between business, government and labour. Terms that will allow business to flourish in order to create much needed jobs and grow the economy but also protect our people against exploitation.

  28. It is crucial for us to create an environment that is conducive to attracting investors to our Province in order to boost the creation of decent jobs and ensure that no employee earns less than the prescribed national minimum wage.

  29. We must ensure that the South African economy responds to the needs of the country as a whole and not those of the privileged few. Women and youth in particular, will be assisted to enter the economy, not only as workers but as owners and managers who shall create jobs.

  30. Programme Director, political equality and political freedom will become meaningless in the face of constant economic inequality. After 25 years of our democracy it cannot be correct that the economy and the means of production in this country and in this province specifically, are concentrated in the hands of the few.

  31. Now that we are in government once more, it is our responsibility to ensure that we change the status quo for the benefit of the historically marginalised poor and working class so that the freedom we attained 25 years ago becomes meaningful to them as well.

  32. Our people are looking upon us as a government to intervene on their behalf. It is against this context that we are going to strive for a capable and developmental state.

  33. It is only through a Developmental State underpinned by meritocracy and technical competence that we shall see decisive intervention that will tackle the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality in a meaningful and coordinated manner.

  34. Today we stand committed to the proposition that freedom is not a half-hearted affair. If our people are guaranteed equal opportunity in the voting stations, they must have equal opportunity in the market stations.

  35. The unambiguous and clear mandate our people have given us at the polls provide a platform with inescapable obligations, among which are the protection of the poor and the working class, the creation of equal opportunities for all, the provision of quality basic services.

  36. We will dedicate all our energy towards eradicating unemployment, in particular youth unemployment.

  37. Working in partnership with the private sector, labour and civil society, we will commit resources into skills development and learnership programmes to enable our youth to gain skills and be productively employed to develop themselves and this Province. For those who wish to start their own businesses we will provide technical and other necessary support.

  38. Programme Director, in recognition of the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality, our manifesto has articulated a clear programme to advance socio-economic transformation. This will continue to find expression in all facets of our work at all levels of society.

  39. We acknowledge that shared and inclusive economic growth, achieved through expanding ownership in the economy by currently disadvantaged sections of society, is essential for advancing and deepening social cohesion and moral regeneration.

  40. We further acknowledge that this can only be achieved through the collective action of government, business, labour and civil society.
  41. Socio-economic transformation should be the objective of all partners not just a slogan by government. Business must understand that this is in their interest as well.

  42. We also commit ourselves to the eradication of racism and all forms of discrimination. We reaffirm our commitment to the realization of genuine equality of opportunity and treatment for all individuals.

  43. These are fundamental principles that were called for by thousands of South Africans across the racial groups when they met in Kliptown in 1955 to adopt the Freedom Charter. These fundamentals are also engrained and guaranteed in our Constitution.

  44. As we continue to do our work of delivering services to our people, mistakes will inevitably occur. We can live with those mistakes knowing that our people will forgive us rather than be paralyzed by the fear of not taking action. Action that will bring hope because we know what we have achieved and what we can still achieve as a people.

  45. Our faith in our vibrant democracy will carry us to achieve the impossible and deliver social and economic justice to all our people.

  46. Driven by the same vigour to fight economic injustices, we must also fight corruption in all its forms and its manifestations. Corruption is a threat to our economic and social development prospects. It diverts resources from intended causes.

  47. Needless to say, corruption also impedes human rights and the fundamental freedoms of our people. Working with the criminal justice system and supported by you, the people of this province, we are determined to eradicate corruption, maladministration and mismanagement in our government.

  48. Programme Director, the evolving nature of the labour market and the mismatches between the skills needed for employment as provided by the educational system, feed into the high youth unemployment rate.

  49. Research indicates that the main obstacle faced by young job seekers, in particular, is the fact that South Africa’s labour market favours highly skilled employees.

  50. It is therefore critical for us to ensure that we improve the quality of education in South Africa and ensure that tertiary education does not only prepare our youth for the job market, but that it also empowers them to be entrepreneurs who also create jobs.

  51. Today I am calling upon all young people sitting here and listening at home, who have dropped out of school but are eager to be assisted to go to their nearest municipality youth desk and register.

  52. Every municipality must have a youth desk. Those municipalities who do not have a youth desk must establish one as a matter of urgency. We will develop a database with details of young people, their level of education and skills with a need for further education and job placement where possible.

  53. Those in possession of skills like welding, brick and block making, pipe and timber fabrication, government has embarked on a huge initiative of a Social Enterprise Development Programme. This initiative supports up and coming industrialists with a desire to venture into manufacturing of construction and related products.

  54. Every financial year government builds thousands of RDP houses, schools, clinics, roads, hospitals and other community centres.

  55. Rather than buying materials from the traditional wholesalers and retailers we want our people to be at the top of this supply chain by becoming manufacturers of these products.

  56. We have invited SABS to certify the quality of the products our people produce so that they fully participate in government supply chain processes.

  57. Programme Director,

  58. The matter of basic service delivery rests with our municipalities. However the recent elections have taught us that our people do not separate service delivery from provincial and local governments.

  59. To them service delivery is the responsibility of an ANC led government whether at local level, provincial level or at national level. They make no distinction between these three spheres of government, hence a noticeable drop of those who went to the polls and voted for us.

  60. The cries of our people have not fallen on deaf ears. Now is the time to take action to ensure the effective delivery of services at local government, and at other service delivery points as we stem the tide against poor performance that tarnishes the image of this glorious movement.

  61. In order to enhance the dignity of our people, we must improve service delivery in our hospitals, clinics, police stations and Home Affairs offices. We must address the issue of long queues and the long turnaround times our people are subjected to when accessing government services.

  62. Conclusion

  63. Let me take this opportunity to thank all the Members of the Executive Council who worked tirelessly in servicing our people in Mpumalanga during the last administration. Your commitment and selfless dedication did not go unnoticed. We wish you well in your future endeavours as you continue to serve our people in different capacities.

  64. In due course I will be announcing the new Members of the Executive Council with the responsibility to take Mpumalanga to greater heights. We will be building on the solid foundation that the previous executive laid and consolidate the gains we have achieved, to give meaning to Mpumalanga, the Place of the Rising Sun.

  65. I thank you.

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