Speech by the Minister of Environmental, Dr Edna Molewa at the official handover of the Kgorosi Recreational Park to Polokwane Municipality and the Ga-Kgorosi Community as part of National Imbizo Focus Week
The Premier of Limpopo Province, Mr Chupu Mathabatha
The MEC Economic Development, Environment and Tourism, Mr Seaparo Sekoati
The Mayor of Capricorn Municipality, Councillor John Mpe
Chiefs and members of the Royal House
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen
I am truly honoured to be with you this morning, here in the Ga-Kgorosi Community, as we unveil this recreational park during this week Government has set aside as Imbizo Focus Week.
Ke a leboga
I would like to thank you all for coming in numbers to not only witness this launch, but also interact with us as representatives of government. We are here to engage with you as we promote active citizenry and ensure that your voices are indeed heard so we can together move South Africa forward.
This 6th National Imbizo Focus Week forms part of our efforts as government to work with our communities to actively participate in the implementation of the National Development Plan as a roadmap towards radical socioeconomic transformation and social cohesion.
The Plan is our overarching road-map aimed at ensuring that all South Africans attain a decent standard of living through the creation of decent employment and the elimination of poverty.
We are also gathering here as we celebrate the year of Oliver Reginald Tambo, better known as O.R. Tambo. This year marks the centenary of the late President and National Chairperson of the ANC, Mr Oliver Tambo a hero of the South African liberation struggle.
Today we all enjoy numerous Rights enshrined in the South African Constitution, such as the right to an environment that is clean and not harmful to your well-being. Thanks to sacrifices from stalwarts like OR Tambo.
It is with appreciation to sacrifices from stalwarts such as Oliver Tambo that we today have a government led by President Jacob Zuma, which ensures that the environment is protected for the benefit of present and future generations through reasonable legislative and other measures.
We have over the past 22 years, working side by side with all spheres of government and the society at large, developed good policies and programmes to ensure that these rights are realised. We have done this, as government, simply because we have the interests of all our people at heart.
Above all we are committed to the Supreme Law of our country - the Constitution.
Certainly, you will agree with me when I say that policies alone -- without practical actions and the necessary resources -- cannot achieve the environmental goals we have set. We really need practical actions and resources to realise these rights.
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.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we realise that we must translate policies into action. To help us achieve that, we have designed our Environmental Protection and Infrastructure Programme to fund and implement projects that seek to ensure that this programme is focused on interventions like Greening and open Space Management, Working on Waste, Working for Land, Working for the Coast, People and Parks, Wildlife Economy and Youth Environmental Services projects.
Today is your turn as the Ga-Kgoroshi community to take delivery of this recreational park and environmental education centre worth R12 million.
This facility is one of our many Extended Public Works Programme or EPWP initiatives that continue to benefit our various communities not only in this province, but across the country.
EPWP is a nation-wide government-led initiative aimed at drawing a significant number of unemployed South Africans into productive work in a manner that will enable them to gain skills and increase their capacity to earn income.
The construction of this park created at least 171 decent job opportunities for the people of the Ga-Kgorosi community. Among these were 99 were women, 95 youth and four people with disabilities.
These job opportunities were labour intensive and consistent with the requirements of the government's Expanded Public Works Programme.
By using labour intensive methods, we are not only addressing the mandate of government that is also about creating jobs, and contributing to small business and skills development.
The project commenced in December 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.
Through this project, a poorly managed open space has been transformed into a recreational area for all members of your community to come and relax in. Besides improving the aesthetics of the area, here you will be able to enjoy the natural environment.
By planting indigenous trees and beautifying this area, we have contributed to improving the integrity of the natural environment thus adding significantly to biodiversity conservation.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to point out that both accredited and non-accredited training opportunities were created for local community members.
Those employed in the project have been equipped with the necessary skills that will enable them to find other employment opportunities on exit from the projects, or even start their own small businesses.
Other initiatives that we committed to implement in Limpopo over a three-year Medium Term Expenditure Framework include Wildlife Economy and People and Parks projects. We are delivering on our commitment to working with communities in empowering them through job opportunities and skills development.
We are here to serve you!
Our People and Parks Programme invests in infrastructure development and biodiversity conservation for economic benefits by ensuring the local communities are involved in the management of protected and surrounding areas.
This programme serves as a means of redress to the injustices of the past. Through the People and Parks Programme, we invest in infrastructure development and biodiversity conservation for economic benefits. In this mechanism we promote biodiversity values in the proclaimed protected and surrounding areas.
Through this programme, government acknowledges the past experiences of the communities and promotes full community involvement.
The biodiversity economy of our country encompasses the business and economic activities that either directlt depend on biodiversity for their core business or contribute to conservation of biodiversity through their activities.
The Wildlife Economy Programme fosters community participation to a sustainable beneficiation of wildlife.
The fight against invasive alien plants is spearheaded by the Working for Water programme. The Programme runs over 300 projects in all nine provinces of our country. In addition to this Programme, we have others like Working on Fire, Working for the Coast, Working for Land and Working for Wetlands, among others.
These Programmes are evidence that our government is committed to our Constitutional mandate which is to ensure everyone's right to an environment that is not harmful to their well-being and to an environment that is enjoyable to current and future generations.
With these Programmes, we continue to play a crucial role in securing ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources, while promoting economic and social development for our people.
South Africa is a much better place to live in today than it was before the dawn of democracy. This is simply because of the policies of our democratic government, and more specifically environment-related policies that are driven by this ANC government.
It is our responsibility to all play a part in the conservation of our biological diverse resources.
I therefore urge each one of you here this morning, to take charge and endeavour to be part of our biodiversity economy and take advantage of opportunities it presents us with. This will ensure that we all work together towards conservation for the people, with the people and by the people!
I thank you.
Source: Government of South Africa