Members of the Provincial Executive Council with us today;
Executive Mayor of Gert Sibande District Municipality, Counsellor Nhlabathi;
Executive Mayor of Msukaligwa Local Municipality, Counsellor Bongwe;
All Counsellors and Mayors in our midst today;
Members of the APRM National Governing Council present;
Members of the APRM Provincial Governing Council present;
Our civil society partners in the Open Government Partnership;
Traditional leaders with us today;
Government officials and representatives of the various organs of the State;
Our daughter and soloist from Ithafa Secondary School
Ladies and Gentleman.
I have been in constant contact with the Deputy Minister who wanted to be part of this meeting but could not because of other priorities that made it impossible for her to be with us.
I therefore stand to tender her profound apology and to read her speech.
Shortly following our country's participation at the 70th Regular Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, which started on 15 September 2015 and concludes today.
Once again, our country has proven that it remains part of the global family of nations and continues to play a key role in fulfilling and realising all the ideals of the United Nations.
Participation at the UN General Assembly
Our participation at the UN General Assembly these past few weeks has taken place at a very significant and historic moment. On 25 September 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals as part of Agenda 2030.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development establishes a set of global priorities to help eradicate extreme poverty and shift all countries toward inclusive, sustainable development.
Our participation at the adoption of the SDGs and on various previous engagements on the Post-2015 development agenda is testimony to our government's commitment to engage with the global community to find common solutions to our common problems.
We may undeniably all agree that most of the SDGs do affect the majority of us here today. This is why our government has ensured that it is consistent in participating in programmes and platforms that create space for engagement, reflection and indulgence aimed at finding collective solutions to our continued challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment.
Furthermore, it is important to note that the SDGs are a mirror image of our own government's priorities and targets as expressed in our collective vision of the future contained in the National Development Plan. These include addressing the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.
Some of the programmes we have signed on are the African Union's African Peer Review Mechanism, the APRM and the Open Government Partnership, the OGP, which is the reason why we are meeting here today.
We are gathered here today, with the sole mission of engaging the people of the Msukaligwa Local Municipality and indeed the greater Gert Sibande District Municipality, on how best to work together to ensure that we improve the quality of life for our people.
We do so in carrying forward a tradition that has endured for more than a century in the African National Congress (ANC), where our mission remains that of putting our people at the centre of our service and development.
We do so in honour of your local Son, Richard Gert Sibande, who was the President of the then Transvaal African National Congress and a co-accused in the treason trial of 1956-61 alongside Nelson Mandela and 154 others. Sibande popularly known as the "Lion of the East" played a critical role in the potato boycott of 1959 and in organising workers in farms around Bethal to challenge conditions under which they were employed. It is no exaggeration to say that the freedom we are enjoying today we owe to dedicated cadres such as Sibande.
In line with this life-long mission and tradition of the ANC exhibited by such comrades as Richard Sibande, our government has signed to the African Peer Review Mechanism, as well as the Open Government Partnership, as programmes that are aimed at ensuring that we lead a government that is transparent, people-centered and responsive to the needs of the millions of our people who still suffer from the legacy of apartheid's selective development.
As part of our commitment of living in "A Better Africa, in a Better World", South Africa joined the APRM in March 2003. The African Peer Review Mechanism is an instrument that is voluntarily acceded to by African Union (AU) Member States.
The primary purpose of the APRM is to foster the adoption of policies, standards and practices that lead to political stability, high economic growth, sustainable development and accelerated sub-regional and continental economic integration through sharing of experiences and reinforcement of successful and best practices.
The Mechanism is unique both in its scope and breadth, with the review process extending to all levels of Government, Parliament and the Judiciary as well as the Private Sector and Civil Society Organisations.
Ngamanye amazwi uhlelo lwe APRM, luwuhlelo lapho amazwe aseAfrika ezikhethela ngokwawo ukuhlanganyela ndawonye ukuze abukazane ewodwa ukuthi ngabe bawuphethe kanjani umbuso.
Lokhu kuphathwa kombuso kuhlaziya isimo sezepolitiki ezweni njengokuthi kukhona yini ukukhetha okumele baphathe ngaphandle kwengcindezi kanye nokuthi abantu bakhululekile ukujoyina noma iliphi iqembu lezepolitiki ngaphandle kokusabiswa.
I APRM ibuye ibhekele ukuphathwa kwezomnotho, izimali zomphakathi kanye nokucwaninga ukuthi ngabe uhulumeni ubusa ngokusobala yini. Lokhu kufaka nokuthi kubhekwe ukuthi uhulumeni uyazisa yini izinsiza sisekelo nengqala sizinda emphakathini kanye nokuthi uyalwa yini nenkohlakalo.
Loluhlelo lwe APRM luphinde luqhakambise ukuthi wonke amazwe azikhethele wona ukulujoyina kufuneka afunde kozakwabo ukuthi bona emazweni abo ngabe bawuphethe kanjani umbuso ukuze kuthuthukiswe umphakathi we Afrika jikelele.
South Africa was amongst the first countries to be peer reviewed and subsequently underwent a self-assessment process by the APR Panel led team in July 2005. This process resulted in the release of a Country Review Report that produced the APRM National Programme of Action (NPoA) in 2007. South Africa has submitted three Progress Reports to the APR Forum and is due to undertake a second generation review process.
The Second Review is the first periodic review and will focus on appraising to what extent the National Programme of Action is being implemented, and its continued relevance, which will form basis on which a new/revised plan of action would be proposed and adopted.
Ladies and Gentleman
As I indicated earlier, South Africa is also a signatory to the Open Government Partnership. The Partnership is a global initiative that is complimentary to the APRM, in that it is an international, voluntary effort to improve government performance, encourage civic participation and enhance government accessibility and responsiveness to citizens.
It is a response to the 21st century call for more transparent, effective and accountable governments - with institutions that empower citizens and are responsive to their aspirations. In achieving this goal, government openness becomes a key anchor.
The OGP aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. To achieve these objectives, it brings together governments and civil society organizations as true partners in the process.
South Africa joined seven other countries namely: Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, the Philippines, the United Kingdom and the United States of America in launching the initiative in September 2011. South Africa has served on the OGP Steering committee since its inception in 2011.Today our country is a Co-Chair of the OGP and will assume the Lead Chairperson at the OGP Summit scheduled for Mexico this month.
South Africa developed and submitted its 1st Country Action Plan in September 2011. This Plan was developed and implemented through consultations with the National Planning Commission (NPC), non-governmental organizations (NGOs), business, and community-based organizations in provinces to contribute to drafting the action plan through consultation. We also worked with 3100 Community Development Workers (CDWs) employed across the country to popularise the OGP among citizens, and to obtain their inputs on the implementation of the OGP commitments.
The South African government also submitted an OGP Self-Assessment Report in April 2013 which reported on the OGP Action Plan implementation progress domestically. In July 2013 South Africa's progress on the implementation of the Action Plan was reviewed by the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM) with recommendations accommodated in the 2ND Country Action Plan.
Today we report to you and the people of the Msukaligwa Local Municipality that we have submitted the OGP Mid-Term Assessment Report which is available on the DPSA OGP website as well the government website.
Soon we will be beginning a process of consultations to develop the Third OGP National Action Plan and will count on your usual support in this endeavor. We have already started sending and administering household questionnaires in selected Provinces as part of this process.
We would also like to highlight that, like before, the development of this Action Plan involves stakeholders beyond government and in this instance we would like to express our sincere gratitude to our civil society partners such as SANCO, SANGOCO and CONTRALESA, amongst others, who have been reliable partners in ensuring that we live up to our obligations on the OGP and remain accountable to our citizens.
Today I am humbled to report that during the sidelines of the United General Assembly meetings that conclude today, we participated in OGP related meetings and were part of the events that led to the adoption of the OGP Declaration in support of the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This shows that already the OGP is beginning to think about ways in which we can ensure the implementation of SDGs and thereby guarantee a better life to all our people.
We have noticed and applaud all the efforts and progress made by our government in addressing the developmental challenges of the people of the Msukaligwa Municipality. Some of the basic services where we have made progress include education and health.
It is gratifying to note that the number of young people above 20 years and older with matric and higher qualifications is steady improving at more than thirty eight percent and is higher than the entire Gert Sibande District Municipality. We further note that functional literacy rates are improving and are higher than the entire district and Mpumalanga in general.
We also note, with a great sense of pride, that in 2014, Msukaligwa registered a record pass rate of 80.6% and is ranked eighth in the Province. This represents significant progress given that in 2011 the pass rate was 74.1%.
We are also pleased that our government in Msukaligwa continues to record a steady but consistent decline in HIV prevalence amongst pregnant women since 2011. In 2012 these rates fell to 34.4%. Msukaligwa also has the forth lowest rates of TB in the Province. Health infrastructure in the form of clinics, a hospital and community health centers has been provided.
In response to infrastructure and access to basic services we note that 75% of people in the municipality live in formal housing with 14% occupying informal dwellings, with ward 6 being the lowest. We recognise that this mixed picture of progress and challenges, means we have to do more, especially for the people of ward 6.
Although there is progress made in delivering on most basic infrastructure and services such as sanitation, electricity, and piped water, our government does acknowledge that a centuries old legacy of marginalisation and economic exclusion for the majority of our people cannot be undone in a little over two decades.
We have, therefore, noted some of the issues affecting our people in this district. These include a low level of access to piped water and sanitation in areas such as ward 18.
We are aware of the relatively high percentage of youth in this area and the urgent need to ensure that we increase opportunities for employment for young people. Although the economic picture of the area shows growth of employment in trade and services, there is a decline in the role of agriculture in employment creation.
We therefore need to accelerate our interventions, by ensuring, among others, that we attract new businesses through investment strategies, create sustainable SMMEs, as well as identify sectors that stimulate economic growth through the Mpumalanga Economic Growth Path such as Tourism, manufacturing, trade, and agriculture.
Our presence here today is part of a government deep commitment to dialogue and engagement with our people in order to ensure that we listen to your problems and take the necessary corrective action to address our common challenges. Like our people say "INJOBO ENHLE ITHUNGELWA EBANDLA". Let us put our heads together and find common solutions to our problems as a community and as a country.
We are here today because the quality of your life matters.
We are here because we have a commitment to ensure that all the heroes and heroines of this district such as Gert Sibande who sacrificed their lives for our freedom did not do so in vain!
We are here today to tell the people of Msukaligwa Municipality that, we will not rest until all the children of this district have a decent education, three meals a day, and a roof over their heads!
We are here today to reaffirm our government's commitment to putting our people at the center of service delivery and ensure that all our public servants entrusted with the noble duty of providing services at our schools, clinics, police stations, home affairs departments, and all our service points, treat you with dignity and provide you with the service that you deserve!
However, let us make it clear that the government of the ANC is a government of the people and treats our citizens as an equal partner in the development of our country.
We therefore seek to continue to establish a common understanding and reaching consensus on how to tackle our challenges together and move our country forward. This will ensure that when we say we are committed to ensuring a better life for all, we don't leave anyone behind.
I THANK YOU