Message of support by Honourable Premier R.M. Mtshweni-Tsipane on the occasion of the launch of the SASOL “bridge to work” programme

19 September 2022

Programme Director,
The Hopnourable Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Honourable Thoko Didiza;
The Honourable Members of the Executive Council;
Members of the Provincial and Local Houses led by the Chairperson of the Mpumalanga House of Traditional Leaders, Kgoshi Lameck Mokoena;
uBhukhosi Ba se Embhuleni, represented by uNdabezitha Prince Dlamini;
The Executive Mayor of Gert Sibande District Municipality, Cllr Walter Mngomezulu;
The Acting Executive Mayor of Govan Mbeki Local Municipality, Cllr Nhlakanipho Zuma;
All Councillors in our midst;
Senior Government officials led by Director General, Mr. Makhukhu Mampuru;

  1. Programme Director, it is an honour and a privilege to once again join the community of Secunda as we mark another significant milestone in our strategic partnership with SASOL for the benefit of the beautiful people of the Province of the rising sun.

  2. As most of you are aware, the Mpumalanga Provincial Government entered into a ground-breaking memorandum of understanding with SASOL in 2019 which has resulted in SASOL investing significantly in initiatives that will deliver sustainable development for the benefit of communities, not only here in Secunda, but across the length and breadth of this beautiful Province.

  3. Minister Didiza, I am proud to inform you that the last 3 years of our collaboration with SASOL have provided us with practical testament of 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 in line with the ideals of the District Development Model as championed by His Excellency, President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa.

  4. In essence, Honourable Minister, SASOL has become part and parcel of the communities within which it operates across the Province.

  5. Programme Director, embedded with ubuntu values, SASOL has partnered with the Provincial Government in the supply of COVID-19 protective material, and worked beyond the call of duty, to support our education initiatives, through the provision of mobile science facilities, to teach learners, at the height COVID-19.

  6. We cannot thank SASOL enough for such initiatives, that sought to protect the lives of our learners, while advancing their learning programmes.

  7. COVID-19 exacerbated the socio-economic challenges we have been grappling with, in the main, unemployment and poverty. We are currently hard at work to recalibrate the provincial economy, in response to these unfavourable economic conditions.

  8. As we accelerate the implementation of the Mpumalanga Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (MERRP), we pin our hopes on partners like SASOL to render their unwavering support to our efforts to recalibrate the Provincial economy.

  9. Programme Director, the development of the MERRP was informed by the urgent need for the Provincial fiscus to recover from the impact of Covid-19 as well as the commitment to decisively confront the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

  10. With the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic behind us, we are now able to focus on driving a sustainable and inclusive economic recovery that must create more jobs.

  11. Indeed, the provincial government has continued to support the capacitation of the unemployed young people through a number of initiatives such as incubation programmes, youth development centres, artisan development training, and youth empowerment programmes.

  12. We have invested into the Furniture Technology Incubator which was established to train people in furniture manufacturing as well as upholstery and assists SMMEs to participate in the furniture manufacturing sector.

  13. Young people, are trained in small scale furniture manufacturing and upholstery to increase their skills level in this sector to support the planned Forestry Industrial Technology Park.

  14. The Province shall provide hundreds of working opportunities for unemployed young people through programmes such as the National Youth Service, Contractor Development Programme, the paving of township and municipal roads, and the Social Enterprise Development Programme.

  15. Through the Employment Stimulus pillar of the MERRP, we will further intensify public employment programmes, such as the Expanded Public Works Programme in order to create a large number of jobs in the shorter term and support increased procurement spend for women and youth.

  16. We have also established the Siyatentela Roads Maintenance Programme which has created thousands of work opportunities for poor local households.

  17. Programme Director, the bridge to work programme that we are launching today, is timely. It’s objective of empowering the unemployed youth and women with skills, to increase their overall chances of employment or successfully staring their own businesses, fits perfectly within the MEER.

  18. We commend SASOL for such an initiative, and we commit ourselves to support and work hand in hand with SASOL to ensure that all the initiatives that constitute the “bridge to work” programme become models that will be replicated across the country.

  19. In the short to medium term, we will work closely with the IPHEPHE programme within the broader “bridge to work” initiative to create a well equipped cohort of young small scale farmers.

  20. This will eventually result in the Provincial Government and SASOL collaborating for the re-establishment of the SASOL Kraal farmers production programme, as the Mpumalanga Agri-Mall which shall provide emerging farmers with a market for their produce.

  21. Programme Director, lest I abuse your indulgence and the time you have afforded me, allow me to introduce our key note speaker.

  22. Minister Thoko Didiza is one of the foremost advocates for the advancement and development of emerging farmers in our country.

  23. During the labour tenant summit held in Pretoria earlier this year, Minister Didiza was at the forefront of the introduction of a participatory approach encompassing young people especially women, government at all levels as well as the institution of traditional Leadership in developing our agricultural value chain.

  24. Ladies and gentlemen, may we all rise to welcome Minister Thoko Didiza as she makes her way to the podium.

  25. I thank you.
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