President Ramaphosa concludes service delivery oversight visit to Carolina


President Cyril Ramaphosa, has concluded a service delivery oversight visit to Carolina, Mpumalanga, during which he outlined government’s commitment to overcoming widespread poverty in the province and unlocking its economic potential.

The visit was the third Presidential Imbizo, following successful engagements earlier this year in the North West and Free State. The biggest problem in the Gert Sibande District, where Carolina is situated, is a poverty rate of 66 per cent.

President Ramaphosa was accompanied by a panel of Ministers, the provincial executive and local leadership in today’s engagement with the business community, residents and stakeholder groups including the faith-based sector.

In the build-up to this imbizo, teams comprising Ministers, Deputy Ministers, MECs, Mayors and other senior government officials traversed the province for oversight visits, to engage with civil society, to hand over school infrastructure, and to meet with religious and traditional leaders.

The first segment of the imbizo entailed a business forum where entrepreneurs and farmers addressed concerns to the President and the government delegation.

Responding to the business community, the President said municipalities were the engine rooms of government.

“When they are run well, when there is effective provision of basic services, and when municipal competencies like granting permits and authorisations happen efficiently, businesses are able to grow and expand.”

By focusing on service delivery and other challenges at local government, government wanted to create a more conducive environment for business, for investment and for job creation.

The President underlined the importance of Mpumalanga to the national economy, given its status as the centre of the country’s energy industry and its role in agriculture, mining and tourism.

A number of industry giants have offices and operations in Mpumalanga, including Sasol, Columbus Steel, Exxaro, Mondi and Sappi.

Mpumalanga is also part of the Maputo Development Corridor that links Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga with Mozambique’s port city of Maputo.

President Ramaphosa said this placed Mpumalanga perfectly to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the coming into operation of the African Continental Free Trade Area last year.

The President invited the business community in the province to guide government on how it can better align economic planning and programmes to stimulate growth and employment under the District Development Model.

The President said national government was committed to working with the provincial government to ensure that public employment programmes like the Expanded Public Works Programme and the Presidential Employment Stimulus resulted in more work opportunities, especially for young people.

He also indicated that the policy reform process led by Operation Vulindlela in the Presidency and National Treasury was gathering steam.

Recent reforms in electricity, rail, water and telecommunications would have a lasting impact on the business operating environment and incentivise greater investment and business expansion.

The President said: “Through the Mpumalanga Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan the focus is on infrastructure development and industrialisation, localisation and export promotion.

“This means that we must produce in this province more of the goods that we use, and we must look for markets for these goods beyond our borders.”

During a mass interaction between residents and government at the Silobela Stadium, community members raised concerns around unemployment, skills development, gender-based violence and femicide, support for small farmers, housing, road conditions, crime and safety, recreational facilities, health facilities, the provision of water and electricity, migration and support for persons with disabilities.

President Ramaphosa invited Ministers to respond to residents on these concerns, as part of upholding accountability.

The President assured residents that government will take up the many issues they had raised, and that those who are responsible will attend to them.

As has been the case with previous Presidential Izimbizo, the respective Ministers, Deputy Ministers, MECs, Mayors and officials will be back in the province to report back on progress they have made.