Remarks by Honourable Premier RM Mtshweni-Tsipane on the occasion of the response to the State Of the Province Address

19 September 2022

Honourable Speaker;
Honourable Members of the Executive Council;
Honourable Members of the Legislature;
Ubukhosi obukhona ngaphakhathi buholwa Kgoshi Mokoena;
Senior government officials led by the Director General, Mr Makhukhu Mampuru;
Invited Guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
Manene namaNenekazi
Ngiyanibingelela, Lotshani, Dumelang

  1. Madam Speaker, as a point of departure, I’d like to extend my congratulations to Honourable Thulasizwe Thomo who was sworn in as a Member of the legislature yesterday.

  2. Honourable Thomo , has always advanced the plight of young people across the Province. I am certain that through you, we will be better suited to address the various challenges faced by young people across our Province.

  3. Madam Speaker, the State of the Province Address (SOPA) affords us, as the Executive branch of the Provincial Government an opportunity to appraise the people of Mpumalanga on how far we have gone in delivering on our electoral mandate to provide a better life for all. The SOPA also affords us an opportunity to unveil our plans for the next coming 12 months.

  4. In essence, the SOPA is a crucial policy framework that needs serious engagement by members of the Legislature since it becomes a broad policy guiding document for our government.

  5. The post SOPA debate, is a crucial element of our democracy, because it entrenches accountability and promotes transparency in accordance with the spirit and purport of our world renowned constitution.

  6. It is against this backdrop that I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to all members of this august house, who participated in the post SOPA debate for the robust and informative nature of the debates.

  7. Indeed, madam Speaker, I place immense value on the debate as it assists us, as government, to identify areas that may need serious and immediate attention whilst also enabling us to effectively gauge how effective our communication is insofar as it relates to the work of this 6th Administration.

  8. Madam Speaker, the Chief Whip of this august house Honourable Fidel Mlombo made a valuable point about our government’s tireless efforts towards the implementation of the social transformation agenda which seeks to address the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

  9. Since the adoption of the freedom charter in 1955 and the advent of democracy in 1994, the main goal of the ANC led government has always been the eradication of the indignity of poverty that births systematic inequality.

  10. To achieve this, we have placed emphasis on providing basic rights to shelter, food, health, electricity, education, healthcare, water and sanitation, and all aspects that promote the physical, social and emotional well-being of all in our beautiful Province.

  11. Additionally, we have consistently provided a social safety net for the most vulnerable members of our society. which include women, children, youth, and people with disabilities.

  12. Honourable Mlombo you are correct , the exponential increase in the number of people in our Province must not have an adverse impact in our ability to deliver services efficiently to our people. The fact that our population has grown from around 3 million in 1994 to over 4.7 million in 2022 must be what informs our planning as government at local, district and Provincial level.

  13. Madam Speaker, as our population grows, so does the need to ensure that more of our people are active participants in the economic value chain of our beautiful province. We will create a conducive environment to accelerate participation in the mainstream economy of this Province. We will continue to aggressively implement our Provincial Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan to all sectors of our economy so that we can leverage on low hanging fruits.

  14. We have identified , agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, mining and green energy as some of the key sectors that have the potential to produce a quick turn around and provide much needed sustainable economic growth that creates jobs and opens up opportunities for our SMMEs across the value chains.

  15. It is also true Honourable Mlombo, that whilst renewable energies offer us a solution to move away from dangerous fossil fuels, we must emphasise that fossil fuels such as coal will continue to be a significant part of our energy mix and will be used in conjunction with green energy.

  16. Madam Speaker, we must be deliberate in eradicating the impression that the ANC led government is planning to abandon coal mines and power stations in favour of renewable energies without a proper plan and consideration for the workers and the communities that house the coal fired power stations across our Province.

  17. We must also make a concerted effort to communicate with our people in order to outline the rationale for us electing an energy mix in the generation of power in our Province. Our people must understand the impact of fossil fuels on the our planet, and the adverse impact of climate change on our weather patterns but most importantly, on our health.

  18. Madam Speaker, I fully concur with Honourable Ntshalintshali on the need to strengthen our social cohesion so that we can be able to fight the societal social ills which include violence in general, gender based violence and femicide as well as substance and alcohol abuse.

  19. As I have indicated, the social transformation is part of the continuing journey of societal change that will ultimately birth a truly reconstructed, transformed, unified and developed society. The National Development Plan and the Mpumalanga 2030 plan enjoins the Departments of Social development and Culture, Sport and recreation as central to the attainment of a society that is peaceful and non-discriminatory.

  20. Therefore, the work of the Departments of Social Department and the Department of Culture, Sports and Recreation is crucial as both departments play central in the transformation of society and build a new society that is equal, peaceful and just as envisioned in the National Development Plan.

  21. In the weeks ahead, Cabinet will receive a detailed report from the 2 departments outlining a process plan that will drive the a celebration of the social transformation agenda.

  22. Madam Speaker, the leader of the official opposition, Honourable Sedibe raised a number of issues that must be responded to in order to eliminate any possible misrepresentation of the work of the ANC led government.

  23. On the issue related to the 18 km stretch of road from Mdladla to Klipwal , I can confirm that we are in the process of rehabilitating in two phases of 9km each. We project that both phases will be completed by the end of August 2023.

  24. Honourable Sedibe alleges that people in some parts of the Province are compelled to drink dirty water , consumed by animals. Madam Speaker, I wish to emphasise the fact that this caring ANC led government will never rob our people of their dignity or deny them access to life sustaining water. In instances wherein , the flow of water is restricted, all Municipalities across the Province avail water through water tanks until water supply is restored.

  25. I urge Honourable Sedibe to substantiate his allegations with evidence so that we may investigate and intervene where a need arises.

  26. Madam Speaker, Honourable Sedibe also alleged that there are students who are being taught “under trees” due to there not being any school infrastructure at Lamulelani secondary school in Bushbuckridge Local Municipality. Madam Speaker, I am not aware of children who are being taught under any tree. However, I am aware that a significant portion of the school in question was torched and destroyed by the community when they were protesting for the construction of the tarred road in the area.

  27. We have availed temporary class rooms, and the school will also be prioritized for refurbishment which will include , the construction of additional classrooms, construction of water borne toilets as well as the construction of an Administration block.

  28. We have set aside has set aside R13 million towards this project.

  29. Madam Speaker, we urge our communities to execute their right to protest action in a manner that does not damage government infrastructure to the detriment of our children.

  30. We are also aware that due to the recent heavy rains , some of our schools have been badly damaged. We are in the process of finalising assessment of the damages before we quantify the financial implications.

  31. Once that is completed the work of reconstructing and repairing our educational infrastructure will commence in earnest. We have applied for disaster funding from national government.

  32. Honourable Sedibe also raised the issue of people occupying vacant land and then demanding government to connect bulk services on the said land.

  33. We have observed in the past is that people move and settle in areas where there is no infrastructure. Every municipality has an infrastructure master plan which provides for formal and approved human settlements. These plans are backed up by budgets. The law also precludes us as government , from connecting water and electricity on privately owned land.

  34. It is therefore very difficult for government to provide services in areas that keep mushrooming and in places that were not meant for human settlements.

  35. In most cases, people have built structures in places that are laying too low on flood lines and these areas are unsuitable for human inhabitation.

  36. Madam Speaker, Honourable Sedibe also raised the issue of people in Mpuluzi not having medical facilities in their immediate vicinity and walking long distances to get medical assistance.

  37. This, Madam Speaker , is an unfortunate misrepresentation. Mpuluzi has a population of 19 457 and is serviced by Mayflower Community Health Centre (CHC) which is within a 5km radius of Mpuluzi.

  38. Regarding the issue of staff shortages in the Department of Health, I urge Honourable Sedibe to acquaint himself with the content of the 2023 SOPA, especially the portion I announced the appointment of a number of professionals and specialists by the Department of Health.

  39. The Department of Health is one of only 2 departments that have never been affected by the moratorium on appointing staff. Since the 2021/22 financial year, we have appointed 391 Professional Nurses, 502 Medical Officers and 9 x Medical Specialists.

  40. For 2022/23 financial year, we have recruited 410 Nurses, 536 Medical Officers and 11 Medical Specialists.

  41. It is important to emphasise that some of the vacancies require specialists who are very rare to find.

  42. Unfortunately, unlike other professions, health requires highly skilled and experienced people in specific areas of their expertise. We cannot appoint a GP or an ordinary nurse to perform the duties of a specialist.

  43. Madam Speaker, I will not call Honourable Sedibe a liar although I feel that he might have dishonoured his honourable position by misinforming this August House that the department has only two orthopaedic practitioners. Mpumalanga has 9 Orthopaedic Surgeons:
    • 4 in Witbank hospital
    • 2 in Rob Ferreira hospital
    • 1 Mapulaneng
    • 1 Themba Hospital
    • 1 Ermelo Hospital

  44. It will assist honourable Sedibe to make drastic adjustment on the sources of his information because the current sources are unreliable and misinforming him and as a result, he misinform this august house.

  45. Madam Speaker, Honourable Sithole expressed her legitimate concerns about the high the high youth employment rate in the Province and the fact that LED directorates in our municipalities are doing little to address this problem.

  46. The matter of youth unemployment is receiving our undivided attention at all levels of government.

  47. Through initiatives such as the expanded public works programme, (EPWP) the Presidential Youth Employment Initiative, the impact of Premier’s Youth Development Programme, our Fortune 40 initiative, we are actively focusing on creating sustainable employment opportunities for young people.

  48. Madam Speaker, I agree with Honourable Shiba that the Mpumalanga Development Programme is gaining momentum and will ultimately allow us to turn the corner on youth empowerment.

  49. We shall also be at the forefront of unlocking the limitless opportunities that will emanate from the green economy and associated value chains.

  50. We will continue to collaborate with the private sector in order to bolster initiatives that will eliminate the bureaucratic red-tape whilst developing the skills of our young people in order to prepare for the economic dynamics of the future.

  51. Madam Speaker, Honourable Sithole expressed her frustration regarding the slow pace of construction of the school for the deaf. Yes , we encountered a number of unforeseeable delays but I can assure you, Honourable Sithole that a lot of work is being done behind the scenes to expedite the construction of the school. I am certain that construction will commence during the 2023/2024 financial year.

  52. Madam Speaker, it is important to emphasise that the sudden emergence of Covid 19 pandemic left us in the unenviable position where most of our planned programmes, were delayed. These were multi-year projects that have had pushed back in order to allow the government to direct resources towards the fight against an unprecedented crisis.

  53. Madam Speaker , Honourable Webber was correct when he emphasised that our Province can succeed if we put aside our differences and entrench the culture of unity in purpose.

  54. Madam Speaker, as Honourable Manzini stated, we have been investing heavily on health and education. We must consistently invest in education because education is the catalyst that will eliminate poverty and accelerate the development of our communities whilst undoing the significant damage caused by the crime against humanity that was apartheid.

  55. The academic outcomes , especially the increase in the number of young people that complete matric and are eligible for enrolment for an undergraduate degree at our institutions of higher learning.

  56. Honourable Grobler, it is true that corruption and maladministration are endemic across the country. The scourge of corruption destroys the fibre of our communities and undermines our efforts to develop our Province.

  57. Honourable Grobler, corruption is the antithesis of the ethos of the ANC led government When you say 2022 was a good year for Hawks as many government officials were arrested, you must emphasise the fact that it is the ANC led government that is driving the arrest and prosecution of the those implicated in corruption.

  58. Madam Speaker, Honourable Mashilo is correct. The unacceptably high levels of gender based violence and femicide in South Africa and in our Province are a blight to our national conscience, and a betrayal of the values entrenched in our constitution.

  59. It is simply unacceptable that our country holds the shameful distinction of being one of the most unsafe places in the world to be a woman. In order to address this pertinent problem, we will implement the Emergency Response Action Plan to address gender-based violence and femicide. This plan is anchored by five key interventions that are to;
    • Urgently respond to victims and survivors of GBV;
    • Broadening access to justice for survivors;
    • Changing social norms and behaviour through high-level awareness raising and prevention campaigns;
    • Strengthening existing architecture and promoting accountability; and
    • The creation of more economic opportunities for women who are vulnerable to abuse because of poverty

  60. We are committed to galvanising support for this plan and a multi sectoral structure is being constituted to coordinate the implementation of a National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide in our province.

  61. Men must play an active role in this regard. I am happy that traditional leaders across our Province are also playing a significant role in our efforts to address this problem.

  62. As I conclude Madam Speaker, I wish to repeat the words of the Sandra Day O’Connor once remarked “We don’t accomplish anything in this world alone and whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one’s life and all the weavings of individual threads form one to another that creates something”.

  63. We must all play our role in creating a Province whose values are premised on the spirit of ubuntu. We must create communities that entrenches the safety of our women and children. Despite our diverse backgrounds , we must be united by our joint commitment to create a safe and prosperous Province.

  64. I thank you.

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