Opening remarks by Premier DD Mabuza at the Mining Lekgotla, Steve Tshwete Local Municipality

01 November 2012

Thank you Programme Director, MEC Mokoena, for the opportunity.

On behalf of Mpumalanga Government and the people of this Province, I would like to take this opportunity to extend our gratitude to Minister Suzan Shabangu for opting to convene this Mining Lekgotla in Mpumalanga. We really feel privileged and honoured indeed. Let me also acknowledge the presence of Minister Edna Molewa who has also graced this important Mining Lekgotla. You are welcomed Minister.

I will also join the Executive Mayor of Steve Tshwete in welcoming

Member of the Executive Council;
Executive Mayors and Councillors;
Our Traditional Leaders;
The CEO of the Chamber of Mines and his counterparts from other mining companies;
Representatives from labour and community-based organisation;
The National and Provincial DGs; and
All our Distinguished Guests to this Mining Lekgotla

The context

Hon Minister and delegates, the importance of this Mining Lekgotla cannot be overemphasised.

For as long as the majority of our people continue to bear the brunt of poverty, unemployment and inequalities, platforms such as this Lekgotla are always welcomed since they provide us, as government, business, labour and community-based organisations, a window of opportunity to bring our heads together with a view of finding innovative ways to tackle these ills that are thorns in the flesh of our people.

The report of the NEDLAC parties held on the 17th of October 2012, under the leadership of President Zuma, has this to say:

“Leaders in government, business, labour and community organisations….recognise the challenges SA faces based on slowing global growth, the current industrial relations environment in SA as well as the tragic events in Marikana and elsewhere in the country and the impact of all these on the local economy.

The NEDLAC parties agree that there is an urgent need to speed up the fight against poverty, to address the high levels of inequality as well as reduce the levels of unemployment, all of which contribute to social instability”.

This meeting never ended up by only reflecting on these challenges but also agreed on a package of issues to respond to the economic issues.

Yes, the package is viewed as a step towards, inter alia, intensifying social dialogue to build a common vision on jobs, growth, social stability and development. Of course, it is a package that looks at issues of, among other things, building confidence in labour market institutions, addressing income inequalities and building social cohesion, including taking action to combat violence and lawlessness and addressing the economic and socio-economic challenges.

Indeed, it is the package to instil confidence in the economy and also to indicate to the nation that social partners will, on their own and together, act decisively to promote inclusive growth, job creation and social stability.Let me repeat this: to indicate to the nation that social partners will, on their own and together, act decisively to promote inclusive growth, job creation and social stability.

Honourable Minister and Delegates, I believe this is the spirit that all of us, as partners in this Lekgotla, must exhibit as we respond to the theme of this Lekgotla by placing more emphasis on job creation.


The World Development Report, 2013 argues that:

“Jobs are the cornerstone of economic and social development. Indeed, development happens through jobs. People work their way out of poverty and hardship through better livelihoods. Economies grow as people get better at what they do, as they move from farms to firms, and as more productive jobs are created and less productive ones disappear…

Jobs are thus transformational—they can transform what we earn, what we do, and even who we are”.

In essence, jobs can contribute to social cohesion.

According to Statistics South Africa’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS), the population of Mpumalanga has increased about 10,9% from 1996 to 2011. We are now standing above 4 million, of which, the majority are young people.This is a plus on the one hand but a ticking time-bomb on the other.

The 2011 Stats are also indicating that Mpumalanga recorded the second highest unemployment rate among the nine provinces. We recorded an unemployment rate of 27.7% at the end of the fourth quarter of 2011, and was lower than the 28.7% recorded at the end of the fourth quarter of 2010. However, the Province was one of five provinces where the unemployment rate declined from the end of the third quarter of 2011 to the end of the fourth quarter of 2011.

What is also worth noting is that the majority of the unemployed people at the end of the fourth quarter of 2011 were females at 54.5% of the total number of the unemployed in the Province.  Looking at the period from 1996 to 2010, the poverty rate in Mpumalanga remained constant.Among the three districts, both Ehlanzeni and Gert Sibande registered poverty rates of 49.1% and 49.2% respectively, percentage points that were above the provincial level in 2010, whilst Nkangala recorded the lowest rate of 37.6%.

Basically, the Stats are showing that the poverty rate in Gert Sibande increased from 43.6% in 1996 to 49.2% in 2010, – the only district where the poverty rate did not decrease over the past 14-year period.In addition, of the three districts in the province, Nkangala recorded the highest HDI level of 0.56 in 2010, Ehlanzeni the lowest at 0.49 and Gert Sibande equal to the provincial level at 0.52.

When President Zuma released the report of the Census conducted in 2011, in his speech said that:

“Gauteng and the Western Cape have been the fastest growing provinces, with Mpumalanga and North West growing at a pace that is also higher compared to what they accounted for in 2001…

The provision of ablution and sanitation facilities remains a priority for this government.  The results reveal that the use of the bucket toilet system has been halved (from 3.9% in 2001 to 1.9% in 2011).  Eight in ten households in Gauteng and Western Cape have access to flushing toilets.

On the contrary, much effort still needs to go into providing toilet facilities to some communities in the Eastern Cape, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal. The President continued to say that the proportion of people who completed higher education has increased from 7.1% in 1996 to 12.3% in 2011. He concluded by asserting that these figures tell us that at the bottom of the rung is the Black majority who continue to be confronted by deep poverty, unemployment and inequality,  despite the progress that we have made since 1994.

Honourable Minister and delegates, one is flagging these figures solely to paint a broad picture about the status and magnitude of the challenges that are on the radar screen of government and the people of this Province.

The mining sectorOur Economic Growth and Development Path is mapping out our approach to some of these challenges. The mining sector is critical not only our provincial economy but also to the national economy.It is one of the sectors that we have prioritised for growth and development in the Province. Our analysis has shown that this sector has a potential to grow and also not only absorbing more jobs but also change the lives of the communities where mining operations are taking place.

However, certain interventions will be needed if we are to experience the envisaged growth. We hope the Lekgotla will advise on those mechanisms that we will have to pursue going forward.Let me close with the wise words George Elliot when he says:

“The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice”.

Therefore, this Lekgotla must the right choices that must contribute to economic growth, job creation and development. It must signal our renewed collective commitment to respond to the development challenges facing our nation.

I thank you.


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