REMARKS BY EC PREMIER AT THE RUCC MINISTRIES VISION ORIENTATION

Programme Director:

The Leadership of the RUCC Ministries, Pastor Don, and Pastor Nomsa Phillips

MECs , Mayors , MPs, MPLs and CLLRs

Congregants of the RUCC Ministries gathered here today, particularly the Youth as we are celebrating Youth Month

Distinguish guests

Ladies and gentlemen

Good afternoon

Mphathi Nkqubo masibulele isimemo sokuzimasa lomsitho ubalulekileyo kwelibandla le RUCC Ministries. I am not here alone; I am accompanied by leaders of government at the Local Sphere of Government, the Mayor of OR Tambo, the Mayor of King Sabatha Dalindyebo Municipality, and councillors. Masithabathe ke elithuba national sinqwenelele bonke otata ngolusuku lwanamhlanje, kwano mama abenze amadoda angotata . Sinengxaki ye high pregnancy ebantwaneni abancinci.

We have come here to honour the invitation that was extended to us by the leadership of this church. I have been invited a number of times before to come and grace the programmes of the church but there we clashes with other programmes on my diary. So, I told my office to clear my diary for today so that I can come and spend today with congregants of the RUCC Ministries. As political leaders we are often accused of attending church services during election season. As 2024 elections are approaching, a lot of those false accusations will be heightened. But I want to dispel those accusations because before we are politicians, we are human beings, fathers and mothers who believe in the Christian Faith. Secondly, the organisation we represent, the African National Congress was born at the Waaihoek Wesleyan Church in Bloemfontein and always had many leaders who were staunch Christians such as Reverend Mqoboli and Reverend Richard Mahabane. It is in that context that we will always have strong relations with all churches in our province, hence we are here today.

Programme Director, as government we exist to serve the aspiration of citizens, but we can do that faster and effectively when we work with our people and with social partners that include churches. This is what is encapsulated in preamble of our Constitution where it reads: “we, the People of South Africa, declare for all our country and the world to know – that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people. And we pledge ourselves to strive together, sparing neither strength nor courage, until the democratic changes have been won. Let all who love their people and their country now say, as we say here: ‘THESE FREEDOMS WE WILL FIGHT FOR, SIDE BY SIDE, THROUGHOUT OUR LIVES, UNTIL WE HAVE WON OUR LIBERTY.”

The amount of work we must do with the church is enormous, but we must find strength in the words of Nehemiah where he says: “Ndathi kubo, niyabubona ububi esikubo, ukuba iYerusalem ilinxuwa, namasango ayo atshisiwe ngomlilo; yizani, sakhe udonga lweYerusalem, singabi saba lungcikivo.”

The presentation that has been made by Pastor Don Phillips is aligned to the vision that government has for this Province. It shows that this church understand that its role is not only about preaching the word of God but is also to contribute towards building better communities. We are of the view that the five imperatives of a Mission driven church which are justice and service, economic development and empowerment, evangelism and church growth, spirituality; and Education and Christian formation are in line with the will of God.

I am impressed by the developmental programmes of the church such as Primary Health Care and Poverty intervention programs. I know that your church is collaborating very well with our Department of Health in rolling out health awareness programmes. That kind of work must be scaled up to reach more citizens of the OR Tambo District, many of whom live in far flung rural villages. There has been an outbreak of measles to all provinces except in the Eastern Cape. From December last year to February this year we rollout a proactive measles campaign and as a result we protected our children against an infectious disease. We appreciate the positive response and cooperation of parents when we ask them to bring their children for immunisation. We have contracted 3800 Community Health Care Workers to heighten provision of primary health care at a ward level. A few weeks ago, Parliament approved the National Health Insurance Bill which paves the ways for the introduction of universal health insurance. Here in OR Tambo we have prepared for NHI very well as number of our newly clinics meet the ideal clinic standards. Our people must look forward to better health services.

I must commend the RUCC for your circumcision school which has not recoded any deaths since its establishment in 2005. As you know circumcision has become a talking point in our province because we are losing young people. We must be open to all advice that we can use to record zero deaths on circumcision. We call upon all partner with us on circumcision because this programme is about building fathers of tomorrow.

Fellow congregants, our province is facing huge challenges of natural disasters, in this District. Mthatha has been the epicentre of recent Disasters such as hailstorms. Communities in Port St Johns have also been hard hit by flood disasters in recent time. As a result, many people have been displaced with their homes destroyed. As government we try to be agile in our response to disasters, but our processes tend to taker longer. We are cutting red tape to fastrack our response to disasters. We want to partner with churches to provide first respondent relief when disasters hit our communities.

Let me now turn my attention to issues of economic development. In this province we have a high unemployment rate, and it affects both men and women including young people. Our focus has been on attracting investments in all corners of our province to change our economic fortunes and to create jobs for our people. Since 2019 we have attracted R171 billion worth of investments into our province and they are in a number of sectors including the retail sector, auto sector, health sector, tourism, agriculture, film, and ICT. As a result of these investments, we have reduced unemployment rate in our province from 47.9 % in 2020 to 40.0 % by the first quarter of 2023. That means our economy is creating jobs than shedding jobs.

Here in OR Tambo District we are investing billions of rands to develop infrastructure because it is lever for economic growth. This District is currently a construction site as are building road infrastructure that will completely change the economic picture on this side of our province. We are making tremendous progress on the construction of N2 high that includes Mtentu Bridge and Msikaba Bridge to connect EC to KZN easily and once completed they will be huge tourism attractions sites for this District which will lead to job creation. The long awaited Mzimvubu Water Project is underway at 8 billion for first phase and will provide much needed water relief for communities of this District for both consumption and agricultural purposes. Work on the Wild Coast Industrial Park which we want to fully develop to a Special Economic Zone like Coega is progressing very well adjacent to Mtata airport . Already, there are investors lineup to take up space at the Industrial Park when it is completed. That Industrial Park will focus mainly of agro processing because the OR Tambo District is prime agricultural land. The Magwa Tea Estate is prime examples of communities that use land productively to create better livelihoods. There over 1500 people employed in that Estate as we speak, hence it is a beacon of hope. I encourage congregants who are tea lovers to buy the Magwa Tea when they visit retail shops because doing so will ensure that more jobs are created in Lusikisiki.

I am also ecstatic about the work that the RUCC is doing on agriculture to produce food and fight poverty in our communities. Indeed, agriculture is a niche sector in our province, but we have not fully realised its potential. The sector’s contribution to the GDP is very low, and so is its contribution to job creation. We are the wool capital of the country, we have the largest population of livestock such as cows, sheep, pigs, goats, and chicken. Our plan is to master the art of processing our livestock inside the province because that is what will create jobs for our people. We are investing R102 million this year to scale up planting high value commodities such as grain, citrus, vegetables, and meat. Land is critical for agricultural production and when we have partners such as RUCC that are doing a lot of work to produce food, we must avail farms to them to massify production. This is part of heightening the land redistribution programme to beneficiaries. We have Siqalo grant for those entrepreneurs less than 35 years, LRED and Imvaba grants available for those who pursue business interest

The entire wild coast corridor is tranquil tourism land. We have renovated most of our nature reserves such as Silaka, Hluleka Nature Reserve and Mkhambathi nature reserve. Access is very important for tourism in terms of both roads and air transport. The work we are doing to improve the N2 road is part of unlocking the tourism potential of this District. The road to Coffee Bay which has been a talking point will undergo a major facelift by SANRAL. We have developed plans for wild coast meander road to tame the wild coast to unlock the potential of blue and green economy

The Mthatha Airport is very key to grow tourism in this District and it is our conviction that it must function properly with regular flights landing from Gauteng, Western Cape and KZN bring with them international tourists. If we want to have a thrive tourism industry, we must address crime. Mthatha must stop being know as one of the crime hot sports of this province. All of us have a duty to fight crime, in particular GBV/F in this District.

As a parting shot let me commit that our doors in government are always open to engage and work with churches to improve the lives of our people. Ours is a partnership that must work because it is a purposeful partnership for good.

As leaders we have a huge responsibility on our shoulders to serve the people of the Eastern Cape. We are not perfect people, but we strive to do the best we can. We will be nothing without the prayers of Christians who shower us with prayers every day to lead righteously. We encourage you not to get tired of praying for us and the prosperity of our country. Yesterday we commemorated Youth Day, a defining moment in our painful past that contributed to the attainment of freedom and democracy. It is our responsibility to protect the gains of democracy and today I want to congregants to use their right to Vote next in the national and provincial elections. Staying away from voting does not help our democracy to grow and is a threat to a better tomorrow. I trust that as congregants of RUCC, you will be part of Eastern Cape citizens who will do the right thing by voting in the 2024 elections.

I thank you very much.

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