Premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane at the SOPA ON February 25th compared the year under review to Charles Dicken’s seminal book a Tale of Two Cities in which he wrote and I quote, “it was the Best of Times, it was the Worst of Times.”
“For our province, it was the best of times because for the first time in our history the matric class of 2019 managed to break through the ceiling of the 80 per cent pass mark making us very proud of our students, teachers and parents. Mpumalanga is one of the top six provinces that have broken this record. We are now aiming higher than 80 per cent for the class of 2020.”
The worst of times is contributed to “the scourge of Gender-Based Violence. Gender-Based Violence is a scourge that is destroying our moral fibre as a nation.” Full support was promised to President Ramaphosa’s call for the promulgation of the Domestic Violence Amendment Act that will better protect victims and survivors of gender-based violence.
Mpumalanga’s unemployment rate was the third-highest amongst the 9 provinces at the end of Quarter 4 of 2019 at 33,6%. More job losses in the mining sector are anticipated as the mines reach the end of their operational lifespan.
“The Mpumalanga Regional Training Trust (MRTT) in partnership with the private sector will increase the number of youth who are put on short term skills development courses like plumbing, painting, electrical, bricklaying, plastering, hospitality and others initially targeting those who may have left school between grades 8 and 12.
These young people will be deployed to hospitals, clinics, schools and all government buildings to do maintenance and all necessary repairs. We are targeting at least 50 000 young people to be skilled by government and the private sector during the next three years,” the Premier said.
Industrialization of the Province is also high on the agenda with the implementation of the Mpumalanga Industrial Development Plan.
Catalytic projects such as the Nkomazi SEZ and the Mpumalanga International Fresh Produce Market are strategically positioned, “not only to stimulate economic activity but also to create sustainable work opportunities for our people. We will further tap into the Green Economy, which will bring a myriad of new opportunities, where waste streams are turned into input stream for a new economic intervention, leading ultimately to a zero-waste industrial ecosystem.
Concerning the agricultural sector: “We will continue to reconfigure and restructure our support for emerging farmers to ensure that they are flexible enough to meet the constantly evolving needs of the international fresh produce market. We will continue to ensure that our small and emerging farmers are given opportunities to actively participate in the agricultural space.
We will provide herds of cattle, goats, pigs and poultry along with critical tools of the trade such as tractors and other implements to ensure the success of their farming enterprises,” the Premier said.