Address by Jeff Radebe, Mp, Minister in The Presidency: Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation and Chairperson of the National Planning Commission; at the Community Imbizo, Chief Mogale Community Hall, Mogale City
Programme Director and Speaker of Mogale City Municipality, Cllr Patrick Lipudi,
Councillors, representatives from the municipality, and members of the community present here,
Senior officials from the various components of our government,
Members of the media,
Ladies and gentlemen.
We are gathered here today as part of the National Imbizo Focus Week, which is a dedicated period to facilitate direct interaction between government representatives and members of the public. This is another way in which government promotes active citizenry and reinforces participatory democracy.
This is a heightened period of engagement between members of the executive and the citizenry through candid, robust and constructive dialogue. We encourage South Africans from all walks of life to make use of these public participation platforms and raise their concerns.
This should not be construed to mean that the izimbizo is the only way in which government reaches out to the public. This forum only complements other instruments that we employ in promoting dynamic interaction between government and members of the public. The izimbizos are also a vital tool to help us facilitate dialogue and ensure that we collectively find solutions to pertinent challenges that confront our communities.
The National Development Plan (NDP)
As a Minister in the Presidency responsible for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, I am in a privileged position to monitor and oversee the progress or lack of it in our communities across the nine provinces of South Africa.
I am also entrusted with the daunting task of ensuring that we are in line with the targets of the National Development Plan (NDP), which serves as a blue print for us to create a more prosperous South Africa by 2030. The core priorities of the NDP are to reduce poverty, unemployment and inequality.
These are the triple challenges that bedevil our society today and every effort that we make to improve the living conditions of our people is a step towards the attainment of Vision 2030. The success of the NDP is dependent largely on active citizenry and direct involvement of people from all sectors of society.
Government has established an integrated strategy that is aimed at tackling the core challenges that confront our society. We have prioritised 14 Outcomes in the current Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF), spanning the period 2014 – 2019. These priority outcomes reflect some of the milestones that we have to achieve in order for us as a nation to be on par with the development targets of Vision 2030.
The NDP puts emphasis on the importance of active citizenry and building a capable developmental state. We have thus established monitoring instruments such as the Frontline Service Delivery Monitoring, in which we work in close collaboration with the Offices of Premiers to monitor public service facilities through both unannounced visits and improvements monitoring meetings. The imbizo that we are doing today is an integral part of promoting active citizenry.
As government, our doors are always open for engagement with the populace. Instruments such as the Presidential Hotline are established with the objective of assisting members of the public to raise their concerns regarding services rendered by government departments and associated agencies.
All of these initiatives are established for you, members of the public, to give you a direct line to your government. I want to assure you that this imbizo is not just a talk shop. There must be firm commitments and concrete resolutions of the critical matters that will be raised in this engagement. I will assign officials to work with the municipality and furnish me with regular updates about the progress that is being made in this regard.
We chose Mogale City today because we know that there are pertinent issues relating to service delivery, unemployment, poverty and inequality that are prevalent in this community. We do not want a situation whereby we come back here next year, and listen to the same complaints that we heard today.
While over the years the government has made significant progress in its efforts to develop the impoverished parts of the area, there are perennial obstacles that stand in the way of progress. I believe that you cannot resolve anything without the involvement of the people who are directly affected by the situation. The community needs to work with government in circumventing or eradicating some of these challenges.
Healthcare and Social Security
Earlier this morning, I paid unannounced visits to Leratong Hospital as well as at the local SASSA offices in Kagiso. While it is encouraging to see citizens benefiting from the public services such as social grants and free public healthcare, the quality of the service remains a matter of concern to me.
We have to understand that when people visit healthcare facilities such as public hospitals and clinics, they go there because they need medical attention. Ailing citizens should not be spending hours on end sitting in the benches waiting for attention. Our health facilities must be supplied with adequate medication, suitable equipment and facilities to respond to the needs of the people.
What compromises the quality of services in most government institutions is the scourge of corruption that threatens to reverse the gains of our hard-earned democracy. Government is committed to waging a fierce fight against corruption in all its manifestations.
We must at the same time concede that, as government, we can never win the war against corruption without the involvement of communities. Corruption never begins and ends with one person. There is always a network of corrupt individuals, who connive and make shady deals at the expense of tax payers.
Government has got systems in place to ensure that there is transparency and accountability in public expenditure. But systems alone are not enough to combat corruption. We must join hands and root out corruption whenever and wherever it rears its ugly head.
The vicious cycle of homelessness continues, not because there are no resources being invested towards human settlements, but because of corrupt tendencies that are rampant in our society.
The RDP houses are government’s intervention to ensure that those without a roof over their heads, those who cannot afford to build decent homes for their families, are provided with basic services to preserve their human dignity.
The corrupt officials who sell RDP houses to desperate people will be dealt with harshly. This includes those citizens who receive RDP houses from government and decide to sell or rent them out and continue to stay in the informal housing units. These individuals are effectively depriving disenfranchised citizens who genuinely need these services.
We are aware of the pertinent challenges that confront residents in the areas of Tudor Shaft and Soul City. Life in the informal settlements must be even more difficult in the midst of the thunderstorms that have been wreaking havoc recently. One of the challenges that we have detected here is maladministration, which has led to the huge backlog in the housing allocation. I appeal to those who have been waiting to get their houses to be patient, as we are attending to the issue.
As a temporary measure for those who reside in the Tudor Shaft and Soul City informal settlements, we will expedite the process of the roll out and maintenance of chemical toilets. I must emphasise that this is only a stopgap measure that will be effective for as long as there are citizens who do not have houses with basic services.
Destruction of Property
Distinguished Guests, you must always bear in mind that community facilities such as schools, post offices, multipurpose centres, and libraries that are built in your community are there for you. You must collectively embrace them, take ownership of them and guard them jealously.
It should never happen that one day, when you are angry because there’s no water flowing from the taps, you go and torch a library, a clinic or municipality offices. There is no heroism in lawlessness and harming the very community that you claim to fight for. The arsonists who destroy property inflict major setbacks in our efforts to improve the lives of South Africans.
I am deeply disturbed by the breaking of family units especially because of substance abuse. The scourge of drugs, and nyoape in particular, is breaking families, destroying communities and killing our people.
Communities must unite to fight against drug abuse and those who sell these drugs to young people. The drug peddlers have the audacity to bring drugs even to our schools. We must work together to revitalise schools as centres of learning and not places of gangs and drug lords.
It is highly reprehensible to see police officers and other security forces occupying our schools in a democratic dispensation. Let us do away with violence, the carrying of weapons and drugs in our schools so that we can restore order in our communities.
Youth unemployment and skills development
It is regrettable to learn that unemployment rate among the youth in Kagiso alone is estimated at a staggering 42%. With such high figures of unemployment, one gets a sense that there is a symbiotic relationship between the high unemployment rate, on the one hand, and crime and substance abuse, on the other.
The advantage is that by addressing the core of the problem, which is unemployment in this case, chances are that it will have a positive impact in the reduction of others. This poses a challenge to government, civil society and businesses in this area to invest in skills development programmes for the youth.
We cannot allow young talents to be sacrificed in the altar of drugs, crime and unemployment. We need to accelerate job creation and train the youth in a variety of skills, and also encourage them to start new business enterprises.
The strategic role of Municipalities
A strong partnership between the three spheres of government is vital for us to effectively monitor progress and ensure that the services reach the desired targets.
We must strengthen local partnerships and mobilise resources to address the vast socio-economic needs of our people. As national government, we rely primarily on the strategic role of municipalities as the government arm that works directly with the communities.
As the most participatory sphere of government, municipalities have the responsibility to ensure that there is provision of basic services such as water, sanitation, electricity, roads, refuse removal as well as traffic lights. Communities must hold public representatives accountable for lack of service delivery.
We are also aware of the corrupt practises that are being used to milk government funds. When there is a pothole on the road, we don’t expect the municipality to appoint someone to put up a warning sign that there is a pothole. The pothole must be closed forthwith and roads maintained before damages become severe!
The situation is however, not all doom and gloom. It is encouraging to witness some pockets of success in a number of areas in which interventions have been made to foster economic growth. The multipronged approach to economic development is helping to empower small businesses while at the same time creating jobs for the unemployed.
One of the most significant initiatives is the Construction Incubator Programme, which is already yielding demonstrable results. Since 2014, the programme has enrolled a total of 50 emerging contractors and so far, a total of 27 contractors have secured contracts to the value of R5 569 077 (Five Million Four Hundred and Sixty Nine Thousand and Seventy Seven Rand) and 265 (Two hundred and sixty five) jobs were created.
I am confident that the massive investment into the Leratong Intersection Development, which comprises a shopping centre, school, regional taxi facility and approximately 2000 high density residential units, will make a huge difference in the living conditions of the people of Mogale City.
We must encourage procurement of services from the local industries, especially small enterprises, and ensure that we rotate service providers to provide opportunities to different enterprises. We should not allow a situation whereby every time there are government projects, a particular service provider is guaranteed to get a tender.
I have stated on previous occasions that we are aware of the devastating effects that delays in payments have on service providers. There is a mandatory thirty days period within which suppliers doing business with government must be paid. I encourage businesses not to suffer in silence and report whenever government departments take longer to pay them.
On that note, I would like to remind you that my visit today is about me listening to you so that we can collectively find ways of resolving our challenges in this municipality. This is an opportunity for us, government representatives, to listen and understand your concerns.
Source: Government of South Africa.