KwaZulu-Natal Human Settlements and Public Works, MEC Jomo Sibiya,

Zululand District Municipality Mayor, Cllr Thulasizwe Buthelezi;

The Local Mayors of AbaQulusi, eDumbe, Nongoma, Ulundi and uPhongolo Local Municipalities;

Speakers of all Local Municipalities;

All Councilors present;

Directors-General present;

The Chairperson of UniZulu Council; Ms Nomarashiya Caluza

UniZulu Vice Chancellor, Professor Xoliswa Mtose;

Head of Departments;

Leadership of all our state entities, including all our SETAs and Higher Health CEO, Prof Ramneek Ahluwalia;

Municipal Managers;

All Public Servants from national, provincial and local municipalities;

Members of the media;

Ladies and gentlemen

Sanibonani nonke!

I am happy to be back to the Zululand District, even though with a heavy heart  as the Zulu people and South Africa as a whole is still mourning the passing of Isilo Samabandla His Majesty King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu.

Once again, on behalf of both my departments and its entities and on my own behalf, I continue to express my deepest condolences to the Royal Family and to the Zulu nation on this profound loss.

This morning, I was planning to visit Inkosi, Ubaba uButhelezi to further pass our condolences but also to brief him on the progress we made in rolling out the Zululand District Development.

Those who were part of our launching meeting, will recall that uShenge joined us on that day. So, I deem it appropriate that we brief him on our progress.

His Majesty King Goodwill Zwelithini Kabhekuzulu was a man of who strongly advocated for  a people centred development. He also epitomised the love of one’s own culture and its value systems.

He was a great visionary and had deep insights on how best to develop our country and its people.

It is therefore befitting that we dedicate this meeting today to the memory of His Majesty King Goodwill Zwelithini, who was fond of his people and committed to their development.

Again, on a sad note, amongst us, asiphelelanga. Late in January this year, we lost our Provincial District Champion, the KwaZulu-Natal Transport MEC, Mr Bheki Ntuli.

In my written statement on the 21st of January 2021,  I passed my condolences to his family, the KwaZulu Natal provincial government, friends and relatives.

MEC Ntuli, was not only a colleague, but a comrade and a leader who would take up any task given to him, no matter how big or small. He was not a person who was content with self-enrichment at the expense of the poor and the working class and the marginalised majority.

He always demonstrated the level of political consciousness that was so sacrosanct. Indeed in him, we have lost a leader and a gallant fighter and defender of human rights.

Those of us who remain behind, we are therefore challenged to follow on his leadership teachings by becoming selfless, dedicated, loyal and outright leaders and servants of the people.

I therefore would like to thank the provincial government, led by Premier Sihle Zikalala, who appointed an equally competent replacement for Umphemba. I officially welcome the new provincial DDM Champion, MEC of Human Settlements and Public Works, Mr Jomo Sibiya. You are welcomed Ndaba, Sotobe, Sibiya ngenkomo.

I must upfront indicate MEC that you have not lost much of the work that has been done thus far because we are almost at the beginning of our processes as this is our second meeting.

In our first meeting we committed ourselves to work together as the three spheres of government and established a Steering Committee comprising of officials from the national, provincial, the district municipality, local municipalities, the University of Zululand and Higher HEALTH. The Steering Committee  process decisions of this political structure and report back to it.

Today, we will be receiving the identified projects from the Department of Higher Education and Training, the Department of Science and Innovation, the University of Zululand and Higher Health.

One of the most critical activity today will be the visit to the Hlongwane family at Ward 12, in Ulundi.

The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa specifically states that every child has the right to be protected from maltreatment, neglect, abuse or degradation.

Having said that, it is a known fact that the current status of Early Childhood Development (ECD) provisioning in South Africa reveals that government provides financial support to the ECD centres and ECD programmes, however, more needs to be done,working together with both  the Department of Social Development and Department of Basic Education.

We  therefore have to work together as all spheres of government to deal with all our society’s socio-economic ills which are characterised by the new fourfold crises facing capitalism globally today, which are:

  • COVID-19;
  • Deepening economic crisis; locally and globally;
  • The multiple crises of socio-economic sustainability for families, households and communities, and
  • Climate Change.

I am pleased that today we are meeting in the wake of the launch of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan by the President on the 15th  October 2020, in response to the unprecedented challenges posed by the global COVID-19 pandemic on our domestic economy.

The President has also given us further marching orders when he delivered his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on 11th February 2021, by identifying the following four overriding priorities for 2021, which are critical. These priorities are:

  • Defeating the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Accelerating our economic recovery;
  • Implementing economic and social reforms to create sustainable jobs and drive inclusive growth and finally; and
  • Fighting corruption and strengthening the state.

Our economy has been stagnant for decades with low levels of investment and growth, leading to accelerated reproduction of unemployment, poverty and inequality.

Whilst we are clear that the major causes of our distorted and unequal growth path are deeply structural and tied up with our particular economic and social history, it is also true that the Covid-19 global pandemic has put a significant strain on our collective efforts to tackle these social ills, as identified in the National Development Plan.

President Ramaphosa launched the District Development Model to ensure that we identify areas which needs immediate intervention, to be jointly tackled by all the spheres of government, in order to change the lives of the people.

The District Development Model affords government to have an integrated planning mechanism using institutionalised, integrated, district-based, development approach aimed at fast-tracking service delivery and ensuring that municipalities work together with provincial and national government, and are adequately supported and resourced to carry out their mandate.

DEPARTMENT OF HIGHER EDUCATION INTERVENTIONS

Higher Health and the fight against COVID-19

Ladies and gentlemen,

We are in the second year and the second wave of the dreadful COVID-19 pandemic which is ravaging our society.

As we gather today, we now understand the challenges we face much -better than we did during the inception and the first wave of this pandemic.

This has in good part been as a result of our entire government leadership through the Cabinet and NCCC as led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, and the dedicated leadership from all our stakeholders, including our health, wellness and development agencies, like HIGHER HEALTH in our PSET sector.

When embarking on the COVID 19 response, HIGHER HEALTH was able to put to good use the knowledge, experience, student and staff networks that took nearly two decades to set up in the PSET sector to address HIV, TB, STIs and other health and wellness challenges within our campuses.

In collaboration with other experts, scientists and stakeholders, especially the World Health Organisation (WHO), the National Institute of Communicable Deceases (NICD), our sister Department of Health, and other agencies, HIGHER HEALTH formulated comprehensive programmes, systems, controls and infrastructure to respond to COVID 19 through guidelines, protocols and capacity building that are grounded in latest epidemiological data and trends.

You will also recall that last year in our first DDM engagement, that through HIGHER HEALTH, I launched 10 fully furnished mobile clinic units to enhance health services at Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and Community Education and Training (CET) colleges, and universities around the country. The fleet provides primary healthcare mainly to underserved campuses. The Zululand District is amongst the districts that are benefiting out of this service at our universities and colleges.

Today, HIGHER HEALTH, will share more details on their strategy and plans for our PSET institutions in the Zululand District.

National Skills Fund (NSF) contribution

In my first visit to the district, I indicated that as part of my contribution  to  skills development in this district, the National Skills Fund (NSF), working together with the Zululand Ditrict Municipality and all the local municipalities will  identify strategic skills development programmes in which the NSF should provide funds to support such projects  as part of the District Development Model.

As a result, the NSF solicited proposals for artisan development, targeting private training providers in the following areas:

  • Water and sanitation;
  • Electrical training;
  • Mechanical fitting;
  • Millwright;
  • Bricklaying;
  • Welding; and
  • Plumbing.

All the above are in the category of scarce skills and those skills that are in high demand. A presentation will be made in this regard by the Department of Higher Education and Training in this regard.

One of our foremost commitments is to expand the University of Zululand to Ulundi. This will be done in order to ensure that the University contributes to the socio-economic, education and general development of Ulundi and the surrounding areas.

The University of Zululand will make a presentation on the planning work that has already been done. Together with the Department of Higher Education, they will also provide us with targets and plans for the establishment of this campus.

THE DEPARTMENT OF SCIENCE AND INNOVATION (DSI) CONTRIBUTION

The DSI established two committees, DDM Inter-Programme Committee and DDM Entities Committee.

The officials nominated to serve in the Committees were tasked to analyse the municipal profiles of each of the Municipalities to understand the challenges and the catalytic projects undertaken by the Municipalities.

On the basis of the Municipal profiles, the Committee Members defined a criteria for selection of projects and identified projects that are more responsive to the challenges facing the Municipality.

The DSI identified the following programmes and projects for possible implementation in the Zululand District Municipality:

  • The Basic Service Delivery Technology Demonstrations;
  • The Grassroots Innovation Programme;
  • The Youth in Science and Technology Journalism Programme;
  • The Schools ICT readiness Maturity Assessment Tool;
  • The Technology Acquisition and Deployment Fund;
  • The Municipal Innovation Maturity Index;
  • The Corrective Action Request and Report System;
  • The Community Wireless Networks;
  • The Climate Risk and Vulnerability Atlas;
  • The Innovation for Local Economic Development; and
  • The Living Labs Programme;
  • The Imvelisi Youth Enviro-preneurship Programme; and
  • The District Development Model Fora, Innovation Fund, innovation Plan, Innovation Charter and Innovation Champions.

Further to this, the DSI in partnership with the European Union will implement the Viability and Validation of Innovations for Service Delivery Programme (VVISDP) to demonstrate, pilot and evaluate the suitability and viability of technologies and innovations that can improve the delivery of basic services, improve performance and functioning of Municipalities.

The Department of Science and Innovation will expand on this during their presentation on these identified projects.

In conclusion, let me take this opportunity to thank members of the Steering Committee for their hard work and dedication to this process.

I also like to thank MEC Sibiya, all the Mayors, Councillors of all our municipalities, our national departments and government agencies and international organisations which are working together with us to ensure that we realise our plans.

I thank you so much colleagues for your undivided support and attention you pay to this programme. Indeed together, we can do more.

Lastly, South Africa, as in most countries around the world, we are not yet ready to return to normal life. For the second year in a row, we again have to strictly follow the health protocols necessary to contain and defeat Covid 19. This is so because we are still in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Let us not drop our guts. Let us continue to keep all our health and safety protocols, by wearing our masks, keeping the physical distance and use sanitisers.

I thank you all for your time and commitment.

Thank you