Address by the Honourable Premier RM Mtshweni-Tsipane on the occasion of the SASOL handover of education and health instruments

09 September 2021

Programme Director,
The Honourable Members of the Executive Council;
Members of the Provincial and Local Houses led by the Chairperson, Inkhosi Ngomane;
uBhukhosi Ba se Embhuleni, represented by uNdabezitha Prince Dlamini;
The Executive Mayor of Gert Sibande District Municipality, Cllr Muzi Chirwa;
The Acting Executive Mayor of Chief Albert Luthuli Local Municipality, Cllr Makhubelo;
All Councillors in our midst;
Senior Government officials led by Acting Director General, Mr. Peter Nyoni;

  1. Programme Director, it is an honour and a privilege to join the community of Nhlazatshe as we mark another significant milestone in our symbiotic and strategic partnership with SASOL for the benefit of people across the length and breadth of our beautiful Province.

  2. Through the memorandum of understanding entered into by the Provincial Government and SASOL in 2019 but most importantly through the consistent actions by SASOL, we are able to bear practical testament to the fact that the sustainable development of our communities is only possible through the collaboration of Government at all spheres, the private sector and the institution of Traditional leadership.

  3. As a Province, we are proud that our collaboration with SASOL serves as further evidence of the viability of the District Development Model as championed by His Excellency, President Cyril Ramaphosa.

  4. Programme Director, that we have been able to weather the storm of the COVID-19 pandemic is attributable to the support we have received from social partners such as SASOL.

  5. In early July and as part of our efforts to increase the rate of COVID-19 vaccination uptake in the Gert Sibande District, we reached out to SASOL and requested that they avail facilities to augment our vaccination sites across the District.

  6. True to their commitment to contribute to the sustainable development of our Province, SASOL duly availed a facility with the capacity to vaccinate a total of 19 000 direct and indirect SASOL employees.

  7. Following the launch of this initiative, the rate of vaccinations in the District increased significantly and we have, to date, fully vaccinated a total of 160 608 people within the Gert Sibande District.

  8. Programme Director, the more vaccines we administer across the Province, the quicker we shall be able to lessen restrictions attributable to the Declaration of a State of Disaster in order to contain the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities across the Nation.

  9. This is why we are grateful that SASOL has again augmented the vaccination roll out process overseen by the government by contributing;
    • mobile clinics;
    • A total of 9 vaccine cold storage freezers
    • 4 vaccine cold storage fridges;
    • 30 vaccine carriers, and
    • 30 temperature loggers

  10. These contributions will significantly bolster the number of vaccines, we are able to administer across the District, whilst also preserving the longevity of the vaccines. This investment by SASOL will significantly aid our concerted efforts to achieve herd immunity in the Province by the end of this calendar year.

  11. Programme Director, one of the most significant challenges that we continue to deal with is mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on the quality of education our children receive.

  12. COVID-19 has resulted in a prolonged period of absence from the classroom, for a significant number of our children at the height of the first wave of the pandemic. This has exacerbated the challenges we are encountering in promoting science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in our schools.

  13. Recent research conducted by the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS) organization found that “41% percent of South African Grade 9 learners do not have the required basic knowledge in mathematics and 36% of them do not have the required basic knowledge in science”.

  14. SASOL’s decision to introduce the Mobile Science Laboratory programme in the Mpumalanga Province to promote science education targeting under resourced, rural and remotely located schools is an answer to the research findings, as we rise up to address the mathematics and science challenge.

  15. We also welcome the donation of the Mobile Science Laboratory. I am told that this laboratory is capable of servicing around 1200 learners in Grades 10 to 12 whilst also supporting the existing learner support program, targeting 9 schools across the geographic spread of the Chief Albert Luthuli Municipality.

  16. Thank you may not be enough, however, we depend on you to demonstrate your gratitude to SASOL, through the proper use of these facilities. As the Provincial Government, we will ensure that this state of the art Mobile Science Laboratory is supplemented by qualified teachers to conduct science experimentations as prescribed by the curriculum.

  17. We will also ensure that this mobile laboratory is subject to wide-scale monitoring to ensure that precautions and safety measures against the COVID-19 pandemic are maintained at optimal levels.

  18. As I conclude Programme Director, Iet me re-iterate that as Government, we are heartened by SASOL’s commitment to join hands with us to fight COVID-19 and to address the socio-economic challenges we are grappling with in our province. The ties that bind us remain intact and have been strengthened during the recent uncertain times.

  19. We are slowly beginning to see dawn after the dusk of COVID-19. However as the World Health Organisation has stressed, we have to do everything in our power, both locally, provincially and as part of the broader national community, to prevent the resurgence of this deadly pandemic.

  20. We must learn to co-exist with the virus and our best form of defense against the virus is to ensure that everybody above the age of 18 registers on the electronic vaccination database system (EVDS) and is vaccinated.

  21. It is also our responsibility to ensure that we continue to utilise non-pharmaceutical measures such as the wearing of face marks, washing and sanitising hands extensively and practicing social distancing as we gear towards attaining herd immunity, preserving lives and livelihoods and a generation of learners within our schooling system.

  22. I thank you.

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