Pretoria - The call by the National Development Plan (NDP) for an active citizenry to realise Vision 2030 was recently given a boost through the sixth (6th) National Imbizo Focus Week, which commenced last Monday and closed on Sunday.
The Imbizo Focus Week was held under the theme, Together we move South Africa forward: Our future � make it work.
This biannual government-wide initiative promotes active engagements between citizens and government, and is premised on promoting two-way communication and participation by all sectors of society in government's key programmes.
The provision of unmediated and direct platforms constitute an integral element of accountability and the strengthening of mutually beneficial partnerships between government and communities that it serves.
The past week highlighted the importance of all South Africans working together to realise the NDP, the vision for a better future, which aims to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030.
According to a statement released by the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) over 30 izimbizo activities took place across the country.
Notable events included a visit by the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Senzeni Zokwana, who also visited agriculture colleges to support and drive the development agenda of food security and rural wealth creation.
This enabled labour, community and commercial farming stakeholders to support and drive the development agenda of food security and rural wealth creation.
The Grootfontein Agricultural Development Institute is a specialised centre of excellence in small stock production with a proven record of training in wool and mohair production.
It has developed partnership with the wool and mohair industry and is well-known for its research in the field.
DAFF has been awarding bursaries since 2004, after introducing an external bursary scheme in response to government's call to bridge the skills gap, promote rural development and to eliminate skewed participation in South Africa.
The scheme is used by DAFF as a skills pipeline to contribute towards the promotion of inclusive economic growth, job creation and food security by ensuring a constant supply of required skilled personnel in the highly competitive fields of agriculture, forestry and fisheries.
The public can contact (012) 319 6000 for more information.
Frontline Service Delivery Programme
In promoting partnerships and active citizenry with a view to transforming the country into a better country for all to live in, the Minister in the Presidency responsible for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Jeff Radebe, visited Mopani District Municipality on 21 April 2017 as part of Frontline Service Delivery Programme and Community Imbizo. As part of this visit, the Minister conducted an unannounced Front Line Service Delivery Monitoring (FSDM) and community Imbizo to solicit inputs on how to enhance service delivery at the coalface of the public service.
The Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation is charged with the responsibility of assessing the quality of service delivery and get a sense of essential interventions where needed, employing mechanisms such as the Frontline Service Delivery Monitoring (FSDM).
Some of the facilities that are assessed include police stations, schools, community health centres, the SASSA offices, and other institutions that offer essential services to the people and for this visit the SASSA offices in Sekororo, Sekororo Hospital as well as Sekgalabjana Secondary School were inspected.
Youth unemployment challenge
Government prioritises entrepreneurship to address the youth unemployment challenge, and this saw the Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu, visiting the Free State province at the TVET College in Welkom on 21 April 2017, to launch a Centre for Entrepreneurship.
This centre aims to harness entrepreneurial innovation and unlock potential among the youth. The Centre of Entrepreneurship will provide appropriate support to young people at the early stage of the entrepreneurial journey, including training on entrepreneurship, mentorship and networking.
The Centre for Entrepreneurship creates opportunities for meaningful participation by historically disadvantaged communities and informal enterprises in the mainstream economy.
Protection of women and children
Government prioritises the protection of the country's women and children, and as such the Minister in the Presidency responsible for Women, Susan Shabangu, hosted an Imbizo in Soshanguve, Tshwane on 21 April 2017 to address the challenges faced by parents and grandparents regarding children and the usage of social media.
The objective of the Imbizo week was to give impetus to the #365 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children while ensuring sustainability of the campaign through the work with partners like Sonke Gender Justice to bring on board the involvement of men as they contribute to the sexualization of girls through the blesser or mavuso by older men having sex with girls as young as 14 years old.
This also contributes to raising awareness on the new HIV infection amongst girls and young women between the ages of 14-24 years.
Addressing the technology divide
The South African government has made progress in addressing the technology divide in the country's most disadvantaged communities.
The positive outcome relates to access to information but it also comes with a responsibility and caution for parents to protect their children from accessing harmful and destructive content such as portrayal of children in pornographic images which is illegal according to SA law. Help for victims of gender based violence � call 0800 428 428.
As South Africa approaches Labour Day, 1 May, the country is reminded of the progress made in democratising the work place and ensuring worker rights � this saw the Minister of Labour, Mildred Oliphant, leading an Imbizo with sugar cane farmworkers in Ndwedwe, KwaZulu-Natal, on Sunday 23 April 2017.
Some of the issues that affect workers in this region are complaints from workers relating to unlawful deductions of wages; productivity based pay system (umjarho); non-payment of public holiday rates; inadequate protective clothing and other issues.
The Imbizo educated farmworkers about the rights accorded to them by various pieces of labour legislation such as the labour relations act, basic conditions of employment act, employment equity act, and occupational health and safety act. The Department of Home Affairs was also represented in this farmworkers' Imbizo owing to the many workers that are foreign nationals working in this area.
SA's environmental assets
As part of protecting and continuously enhancing the country's environmental assets and natural resources Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa also handed over a R12-million worth Kgorosi Recreational Park to the community of Ga-Kgorosi in the Matlala area in the Polokwane Local Municipality, in Limpopo.
This project transformed the previously open space into a recreational area for the community to relax and enjoy the natural environment as well as improve the well-being and aesthetics of the area.
The project was funded and implemented through the Department of Environmental Affairs' Environmental Protection and Infrastructure Programme (EPIP), with an aim of job-creation, skills development and empowerment of small businesses while addressing the mandate of the Department.
The project was implemented using labour intensive methods as per the requirements of Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), created work opportunities for at least 171 local people, of which 99 were women, 95 youth and four people with disabilities.
Speaking at the handover event, Minister Molewa told the local community that given our country's rich biological diversity that offers huge economic potential, Government has adopted the National Biodiversity Economy Strategy, which is at the heart of promoting guardianship of wildlife within communities. The strategy seeks to increase the biodiversity contribution to the Gross Domestic Product while conserving the country's ecosystems. It also aims to contribute to the transformation of the biodiversity economy through inclusive economic opportunities, thereby ensuring equitable benefit of natural resources."
The Kgorosi Recreational Park is in line with the Polokwane Municipality's Smart City Concept, which aims to utilise available spaces in the urban and rural areas in an environmentally friendly manner.
The construction of the park began in 2014. It has included the construction of a perimeter wall, an education centre and storage building, the construction of two ablution facilities � for men and women � as well as the installation of paving and braai areas.
Also part of the project was the construction of the control house at the access gate, the installation of a water and reticulation system that utilises septic tanks with French drains, and the planting of trees and general landscaping to make this area as special as it is today. Members of the community were encourage to optimally make use of the facilities in the park, and take responsibility to ensure that the park is well taken care of.
Through harnessing key capabilities of people the Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, Barbara Thomson, led an Imbizo event at Mooi River in KwaZulu-Natal province with stakeholders in the recycling industry, in combination with South African Waste Pickers Association as part of promoting environmental sustainability and enhancing the country's natural resources.
Many families generate an income from waste recycling, minimising the environmental pollution and promoting a cleaner and greener environment through their efforts. This undervalued work improves the livelihood of these individuals and contributes to a cleaner and safer South Africa.
As part of realising vibrant, equitable and sustainable rural communities and food security for all the Deputy Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Candith Mashego-Dlamini, led another Imbizo event to the Cape Agulhas Municipality by to provide update and feedback to the fishing community on the progress being made by the Department on Infrastructure Projects in the town as a whole.
Sustainable land and agrarian transformation aims to increase agricultural production through the optimal and sustainable use of natural resources and appropriate technologies to ensure food security, dignity and improved rural livelihoods.
This will subsequently lead to vibrant local economic development. Rural development focus is on improving both economic infrastructure (such as roads, community gardens, food production, fencing for agriculture, etc.) and social infrastructure (e.g., communal sanitation, and non-farming activities). To successfully achieve this, ownership of processes, projects and programmes is vital.
In line with encouraging strong leadership throughout society, particularly among the youth to work together to solve problems, the Communications Deputy Minister led a Youth Imbizo in the City of Cape Town Metro in Nyanga. The imbizo provided a platform for the youth to engage with government on youth development matters including education, skills and entrepreneurial programmes. This also presented an opportunity for the youth to reflect on the values and principles of OR Tambo in relation to promoting freedom.
As part of the drive to foster decent employment through inclusive economic growth the Premier of North West, Supra Mahumapelo, visited Moretele Local Municipality and Madibeng Municipality as part of boosting private investment and growing local economies in labor-intensive areas.
In engendering the spirit of entrepreneurship amongst citizens of North West, Premier Mahumapelo mobilised government departments, state owned entities and the private sector to attend the engagement sessions and share procurement opportunities with communities. The visit forms part of the Premier's Villages, Townships and Small Dorpies (VTSD) enterprise development economic forum engagements.
Premier Mahumapelo also encouraged community members to start and grow their own businesses as part of reducing unemployment and poverty. He restated the provincial government's commitment to ongoing public participation every month for ten days in all province's districts. Residents appreciated the visibility of the Provincial Government in their communities and the much needed information shared to empower them to participate in local development programmes.
Responsive and accountable government
In giving expression to a responsive and accountable government the Gauteng Premier David Makhura visited the Merafong Municipality as part of his Nthirisano service delivery initiative. The programme is anchored on responding to the community issues, resolving service delivery challenges and growing Gauteng communities.
In building a capable and developmental state that facilitates an empowered, fair and inclusive citizenship the Premier of Limpopo accompanied by the Provincial Exco met with the community of the Waterberg Municipality as part of the provincial 'Exco meet the People' programme.
The programme is underpinned by the promotion of active citizenry through soliciting the buy-in of the people into the plans, creating an opportunity for them to make inputs into its implementation and ultimately hold the government accountable.
National Imbizo Focus Week
The National Imbizo Focus Week forms part of a wide range of Government programmes displaying a Government at work to eliminate poverty, unemployment and reduce inequality by 2030 as envisaged in the National Development Plan.
In giving credence to one of OR Tambo's values South Africans should work together towards moving South Africa forward and also hold government, business and all leaders in society accountable for their actions.
As the country readies itself for the celebration of Freedom Day on the Thursday 27 April 2017, Government calls on all South Africans to reflect on how the country's democracy and freedom has been achieved and how we can join hands to achieve economic emancipation which was an important component of the fight for freedom.
Source: South African Government New Agency