National News/13 July 2023,07:30am/ Mandla Nkosi
Free State Premier Mxolisi Dukwana: image supplied
By Mandla Nkosi: Premier Mxolisi Dukwana led a meaningful dialogue during the Social Compact Imbizo held at the Sand du Plessis theatre yesterday, 12 July 2023. This forum, a reflection of the executive council’s first one hundred days in office, was a platform for members of the Executive Council to present their plans for their respective departments.
Premier Dukwana emphasized a call for unity among all departments to expedite efforts in addressing challenges faced by different communities. The Imbizo yielded several significant updates from various departments:
**Health Department: Digitization and Rapid Response**
The Health Department, led by Godfrey Mahlatsi, plans to digitize patient files. This initiative will not only improve information accessibility but also create job opportunities for ICT graduates. Additional plans include implementing an application to monitor and track ambulances, improving response times. Mahlatsi further stressed the department’s commitment to ensuring each ward in the province has an ambulance for medical emergencies.
**Public Works and Infrastructure: Money-Saving Innovations**
MEC Dibolelo Mance announced that the department’s team of 30 engineers and 50 artisans would lead to cost savings by reducing reliance on consultants. They plan to install solar panels on five buildings to further cut down electricity bills.
**Cooperative Governance, Traditional Affairs and Human Settlement: Filling Critical Roles**
MEC Ketso Makume assured the public that key posts such as Municipal Managers and Chief Financial Officers would be filled by the end of July.
**Agriculture and Rural Development: Investing in Human Capital**
MEC Saki Mokoena stated that the department has employed agricultural graduates and sent more for additional training.
**Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation: Unlocking Talent**
MEC Limakatso Mahasa reiterated the department’s commitment to nurturing local talent. They are collaborating with football clubs like Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs to scout for new talent in the province.
**DESTEA: Mining Future**
MEC Thabo Meeko highlighted that while gold reserves are depleting, newly discovered platinum deposits in the province could stimulate employment and boost the economy.
**Community Safety, Roads and Transport: Addressing Corruption and Infrastructure**
MEC MaQueen Letsoha – Mathae announced the department’s success in tackling corruption, leading to the resignation of implicated officials. Furthermore, a partnership with the Central University of Technology will help train 650 young people to fix potholes, improving the province’s infrastructure.
**Social Development: Support for the Vulnerable**
Head of Department, Advocate Tumelo Phahlo, highlighted the provision of safe houses for abused women and children. The department is also collaborating with other departments to create employment and reduce the R1 billion expenditure on social grants.
**Education: Focus on Early Years**
MEC Makalo Mohale emphasized the department’s focus on early childhood education, stating that this would reflect positively in Grade 12 results. Mohale pledged to uphold the constitutional right to education for all children in the province.
Meanwhile Premier Mxolisi Dukwana also announced the release of a comprehensive government report detailing the ongoing developmental work across various communities. The report indicates a strong commitment to education, agriculture, and infrastructure within the Free State province.
In an unprecedented move, the government, in collaboration with the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority (MerSETA), has cleared over R70 million in outstanding student fees. This initiative has enabled students to receive their certificates, facilitating their transition into the mainstream economy.
Significant strides have also been made in supporting small and emerging farmers. Financial aid and resources such as livestock, agricultural equipment, seeds, and land have been provided, reflecting the government’s strategic plan to stimulate the agricultural sector and local economies.
The government has further committed to training over 650 young people in road infrastructure maintenance, ensuring that the province’s roads are in prime condition to support economic activity and development.
The Maluti A Phofung Local Municipality, which hosts one of the Special Economic Zones in the Thabo Mofutsanyana District, has been granted R119 million for road infrastructure and safety enhancements.
In line with the vision to establish the Free State as the country’s breadbasket, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has extended considerable support to young farmers. This includes financial and non-financial assistance, enabling them to penetrate the commercial market and further stimulate the agricultural sector.
Promisingly, the government plans to award farms to aspiring and developing farmers who have shown potential to contribute significantly to the agricultural sector.
In the health sector, two state-of-the-art community clinics have been inaugurated in Rouxville and Bothaville, marking a tremendous improvement in local healthcare services.
The Xhariep district stands to benefit from an investment of R15 billion, with the project expected to create over six thousand jobs, further stimulating economic growth and reducing unemployment rates. Premier Dukwana expressed optimism about the planned developments and their potential to transform local communities.
In closing, Premier Dukwana reminded all government officials of their primary duty to serve society with compassion. This Imbizo underscored the administration’s commitment to addressing the province’s challenges through innovative solutions, partnerships, and a unified approach.