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SOPA Speech

28 FEBRUARY 2018

STATE OF THE PROVINCE ADDRESS
AS DELIVERED BY MR T W MCHUNU, MPL,
HONOURABLE PREMIER OF THE PROVINCE OF KWAZULU-NATAL ON 28 FEBRUARY 2018

1.    Recognition of dignitaries

•    His Majesty - Hlanga Lomhlabathi;
•    Our former President, Mr J G Zuma;
•    Queen Mothers;
•    Ondlunkulu Besilo;
•    Abantwana Basendlunkulu;
•    Members of the NCOP present;
•    Former Premiers present;
•    Madam Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the KZN Legislature;
•    Honourable Justice A Jappie,  Judge President - KZN Division;
•    Mr Justice M Madondo, Deputy Judge President - KZN Division;
•    Honourable Ministers present;
•    Honourable Deputy Minister present;
•    Honourable Members of the Legislature;
•    Honourable Members of the Provincial Executive;
•    Members of the Diplomatic Corps present;
•    Chairperson of the House of Traditional Leaders, Inkosi P H D Chiliza;
•    Members of the Executive Committee of the Provincial House of Traditional Leaders;
•    Mayors and Councillors of Local Government;
•    Advisors to the Premier;
•    Members of the Provincial Planning Commission present;
•    Director–General, Dr Nonhlanhla O. Mkhize;
•    Heads of Provincial Departments and other senior officials present;
•    Chairpersons and CEOs of Provincial Public Entities;
•    Acting Provincial Police Commissioner, Major-General Langa;
•    Provincial Commissioner Correctional Services, Mr M Nxele;
•    Provincial Head of the State Security Agency Mr P V Manana;  
•    Business representatives present;
•    Labour representatives present;
•    Academics present;
•    Religious leaders present;
•    Struggle Stalwarts and their Families present;
•    All other social partners and broader civil society present;
•    Distinguished Guests;
•    Ladies and Gentlemen;
•    Listeners and viewers at home.

Sanibonani! Good day! Goeie more! Namaste! A Salaam Wailikum!
 

2.    Introduction and scene setting statements

Madam Speaker, and all present here today, this is indeed a very special moment in the history of our Country and our Province and I am deeply touched by the honour bestowed on me to once again deliver this State of the Province Address here today.

Today is special because we believe that 2018 holds great promise for our Country, our Province and our people. We are eager to experience the new dawn our new President, His Excellency, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa referred to in his State of the Nation Address less than two weeks ago when he stated that “We are one people, committed to work together to find jobs for our youth; to build factories and roads, houses and clinics; to prepare our children for a world of change and progress; to build cities and towns where families may be safe, productive and content. We are determined to build a society defined by decency and integrity, that does not tolerate the plunder of public resources, nor the theft by corporate criminals of the hard-earned savings of ordinary people”.

We are eager because we realise that there is much to be done to ensure that we deliver this new dawn in tangible results to our people that have been living in hope for a better future for so long and who have remained loyal to the struggle for true and meaningful emancipation.

As we do so, we also want to express our heartfelt appreciation to our former President, Mr J G Zuma for having lead us to where we are today. We pay special tribute to your leadership. We acknowledge the role you have played in the development and adoption of the National Development Plan, the fight and gains we have made against HIV/AIDS, as well as elevating South Africa’s international profile as a fully-fledged member of the BRICS alliance.  

Madam Speaker, 2018 is special because this is the year we celebrate the centenary of our great father of the Nation and our first democratically elected President, Madiba, our beloved Tata Nelson, Rolihlahla Mandela. What better way could there be of honouring Madiba in the course of this year than by ensuring that we remind ourselves of what he stood for and what it was that he was prepared to dedicate most of his life to, namely the creation of a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic, prosperous and equitable society.

2018 has therefore been declared as ‘100 YEARS OF NELSON MANDELA: THE YEAR OF RENEWAL, UNITY AND JOBS.’

Madam Speaker, as we move into 2018, we will also be celebrating the life of Nontsikelelo Albertina Sisulu, a great mother of our Nation as we commemorate the centenary of her birth on 21 October 2018. We are also reminded that in the last year we celebrated the centenary of another legend of the liberation struggle, namely that of Oliver Reginald Tambo. What a privilege it is to celebrate the lives of three stalwarts of the calibre of Sisulu, Tambo and Mandela in two successive years. 2018 is indeed a special year as we look back on the lives of these centurion idols and what it is that they stood for.

Addressing the 72nd anniversary of the ANC in 1984, O R Tambo said prophetically that the “future belongs to the majority of the people of South Africa, black and white, who, in struggle, are today laying the foundations of a united, non-racial, democratic South Africa in what will then, but only then, become a peaceful and rapidly advancing region of Africa.”

In 1994, exactly 10 years after this statement, under Madiba’s inspired leadership, South Africa became a constitutional democracy. It is testimony to the greatness of Sisulu, Tambo and Madiba that today, even when they are gone, the virtues they espoused continue to provide direction and inspiration to us all.

2018 is a good year because this is also 100 years since the formation of the Bantu Women’s League, the first organisation to take up the struggle for South African Women. We reconfirm our commitment to ensure that gender equality becomes a reality in our lifetime. In this regard, although it is “old news” by now, I am still pleased to refer to the fact that we appointed our first female Director-General in this Province during the last year, as proof of our intent to bring about gender equity in our workplace.

Mama Somlomo, ngithi angithathe lelithuba ngisho ukuthi unyaka ka 2018 unyaka omuhle kakhulu njengoba nje Isilo Samabandla sigubha iminyaka engu 70 uSomandla asipha sona. Hlanga Lomhlabathi sifisa ukukuhalalisela ngalengqayizivele yeminyaka uSomandla akuphe yona.

HLANGA LOMHLABATHI!!! WENA OWENDLOVU, BAYEDE!!!

Sifisela Isilo unwele olude kanti nemithandazo yethu icelela Isilo impilo enhle nende, injabulo kanye nempumelelo njengoba Isilo sisebenzela abantu baso kanzima nangokuzikhandla iminyaka eminingi. Sengathi Unkulunkulu angaba neSilo futhi asibusise kuko konke esikwenzayo.

Hlanga Lomhlabathi!!!
Egameni likaHulumeni wakwaZulu-Natali, nasegameni lami siqu sami, ngizwakalisa ukukhalisana neSilo Samabandla kanye neNdlunkulu ngokuhamba kuleli lengabade koMtwana uBonginkosi kaMadalambana ka Solomon kaDinizulu. Kusishaqise kakhulu ukuzwa lezindaba ezibuhlungu ngoMtwana. Sithi akwehlanga lungehlanga Silo!!  

Madam Speaker, we extend our sincere condolences to the families, friends and loved ones of those who sadly passed away since the last State of the Province Address. May their souls rest in peace.

THEME FOR SOPA

Esteemed members of this House, we are not oblivious to the recent developments in our National politics, nor are we turning a blind eye on unfolding political processes in the Province. We are pleased that the ship has been steadied at National level and we are looking forward to the same soon here in KwaZulu-Natal.

We are raising these party political matters in this State of the Province Address because we do understand the impact this may have on the stability of our Province. We, however, want to allay any fears or misconceptions about these political processes by giving you the assurance that they will be dealt with in a responsible manner and will be brought to conclusion in the shortest possible timeframe. We owe this to ourselves and all the people we serve in this Province.

Notwithstanding these issues, programmes of government remain intact and we are keen to see these enhanced through effective, efficient and economic, and may I say radical implementation, so that we can ensure that our communities will receive the services they deserve.

Madame Speaker, on the back of a firm commitment of making our future work better as we keep on learning from Madiba, as we seek for renewal, unity and jobs, the theme of the 2018 State of the Province Address is –

“Leading with integrity towards growing an inclusive economy, for integrated, targeted and effective service delivery to improve quality of life,”

This theme creates an opportunity for all of us here today, to rally around and commit to the attainment of the Vision of our Province.

We do this, understanding that we are now entering the period leading up to the 2019 National and Provincial elections. Our plea is for all of us to remain focussed on the targets we set for ourselves as we move to our Vision 2035.

We must ensure we do not get side tracked by electioneering campaigns and lose sight of what we have to do, to serve our people to the best of our ability. Our ability to lead with integrity will be measured by the levels of maturity we will display during this period, as well as the levels of stability we can secure for our Province and its people.
 

3.    KZN within a National and International context

Madam Speaker and honoured guests, as a Province aspiring to be an important gateway to Africa and the World, we have to be alive to international developments that could have an impact on us here in KwaZulu-Natal. We also understand that although matters of international relations are within the confines of National government policy, international events do have a significant impact on our Province.

We are therefore noting with great interest the latest developments related to international markets, in particular as they impact on investor confidence and the value of the Rand. We are encouraged by the latest upward adjustment of the World Bank projections for growth in our Country.

The recent downgrades of our Country and some of its key infrastructure delivery entities is not something we are proud of and we should do everything within our power to play our part to restore hope, dignity and renewal in our economy. We will contribute by ensuring that we implement good governance practices in this Province, linked with sound and prudent financial and fiscal management, leading with integrity, as we contribute to a climate conducive for investment confidence.

A worrying factor is that African countries are still predominantly producers of raw materials and commodities, supplying the industrialised first world countries. This highlights the importance of building manufacturing infrastructure for local beneficiation, which will be a catalyst for industrialisation in Africa. The Province of KwaZulu-Natal is well placed to play a meaningful role in this regard.

Madame Speaker, our leaders have played a significant role in the conceptualisation and implementation of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) the strategic framework for Africa’s renewal. We must be reminded that it was Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, one of KwaZulu-Natal’s illustrious daughters who in 2013 as Chairperson of the African Union Commission, led the adoption of the AU Agenda 2063.
 

4.    We reconfirm our resolve to pursue our Vision 2035 with vigour and determination

Madam Speaker, as stated, we remain firm in our resolve to deliver a Province that can contribute optimally to the realisation of our Country’s vision as advocated in the National Development Plan (NDP) and the 14 Outcomes of the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF).

The Province of KwaZulu-Natal, as a collective, is working hard to maintain our Provincial Growth and Development Plan (PGDP) to ensure that we remain aligned with the NDP, moving us to better and faster implementation.

We are proud to state that we are still the only Province where this process of plan refinement and continued implementation is guided by our Provincial Planning Commission. This enabled us to adopt the 2018 version of the PGDP in November last year, readily packaged for implementation in this year.

Our Provincial Executive Council Lekgotla which was held on 14 – 16 February 2018, was strongly guided by the imperatives of our PGDP. Our focus was firmly on whether or not we are still on track to deliver our Vision 2035 as we strive towards “A prosperous Province, with a healthy, secure and skilled population, living in dignity and harmony, and acting as a gateway to Africa and the World”.

We must be reminded that this is not just a government strategy and plan, but is a collective commitment and a social compact between government, business, labour and civil society to pursue the objectives of the NDP through our PGDS and PGDP in this Province.

The progress we have made with the implementation of the PGDP, as well as the areas where we have not performed as expected or projected, has formed the basis of this 2018 State of the Province Address.

4.1    Growing a more inclusive economy

We acknowledge that it has been difficult to grow an inclusive economy and to create jobs within the context of slow international and national economic growth. We are however still on track to achieve our 2020 economic targets as measured against a 1% growth trajectory and our aim is to work ourselves to a 3% growth trajectory as soon as possible.

We currently have 2.536 million people in employment and we have created more than 100 000 jobs over the last year. More will have to be done to address unemployment and in particular youth unemployment which now stands at 38.6%.

We understand that inclusive, expanded and sustained economic output is a fundamental driver for job creation and shared economic growth. In this regard we remain unwavering on Radical Economic Transformation.  There must therefore be a focus on the key drivers and sectors of the economy of KZN and increasing access to new entrants in a manner that will create employment.

Honourable members of this House, in the 2017 State of the Province Address we committed ourselves to improve the ease of doing business in our Province. We are pleased to report that the Invest SA KwaZulu-Natal One Stop Shop was officially opened by our former President, Mr J G Zuma on 18 November 2017.

This initiative, managed by Trade and Investment KZN, was established through our engagement with our business partners and the KwaZulu-Natal Growth Coalition. This facility offers prospective investors a wide range of support services such as company registration, tax clearance, visa applications and all business registration requirements

Within the context of our Province and given the existing trends in global and national markets, our focus must in the short term be on agriculture, manufacturing and tourism. These sectors have been identified based on their potential to rapidly grow our economy and creating much needed employment.

Our agricultural sector has gone through challenging times with unintended consequences of poor land reform implementation and the recent drought. Prospects in this sector are none the less looking much better. The Agriparks Programme, which is rolled out in our Province in collaboration with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform is aimed at facilitating the participation of black people in production and agro-processing value chains beyond the farm gate.

In the year ahead we will strengthen the agriculture sector by expanding its strong linkages with the manufacturing sector and refocussing our Agri-Village Programme. We will convene an Agricultural Summit in 2018 to involve all stakeholders in this sector to identify challenges and seek solutions on how best to support our emerging farmers to use their land productively, growing a shared economy, creating employment and securing food for the nation.

Madam Speaker, we are aware that impediments to competition and high entry barriers impose structural constraints on inclusive growth and these are extremely challenging for new entrants to the mainstream economy. Many of these obstructions to a shared economy will require a “radical” intervention from government to open up new opportunities without stifling the growth.

Esteemed members, we are confident that we will achieve positive outcomes through the Radical Economic Transformation Programme in 2018, focussing on our Operation Vula, which includes inter alia the Radical Agrarian Socio-Economic Transformation (RASET) and the Black Industrialist Programmes.

The manufacturing sector remains the bedrock of our economy and its ability to sustain and create new employment opportunities are well known. With the upswing in global markets, this sector can achieve our ambition to become an African hub for local beneficiation and the export of value added products.

We are encouraged by the progress our Special Economic Zones (SEZs) have made at Dube Tradeport and in Richards Bay, and we will expand this model to other industrial hubs throughout the Province. This requires a collective effort to ensure that we have appropriately zoned and serviced land readily available to attract new investors in the manufacturing sector.

On the tourism front we have experienced phenomenal growth with King Shaka International Airport’s (KSIA) annual passenger throughput having increased by more than 1 million since the opening of the Airport in 2010. Over this period international passenger numbers have increased by 90%. KSIA registered an overall passenger growth of 6.4% in 2017, the highest among all South African Airports.

Our Province hosted the World Economic Forum on Africa in May 2017. This event attracted 800 of the largest companies in Africa as well as global Fortune 500 businesses and provided an unrivalled opportunity to showcase investment and collaboration opportunities in the Province.

KZN is indeed a gateway Province in motion.

We are excited about prospects of growing a shared economy in our tourism sector through strong public, private collaboration in building the required tourism infrastructure, to create an environment where local and foreign visitors would love to work, live and play.

We need to attract investment to gradually develop low-end tourism destinations in rural areas and the periphery where the majority of our population live. We must move beyond the point from where our communities are mere observers in the tourism sector, to where they can become active participants and true tourism ambassadors for our Country and Province.

We will further support developments in our Blue- and Green Economies to ensure that we build on the gains we have made. We were honoured by our former President, Mr J G Zuma hosting the Presidential Stakeholder Engagement in our Province on 6 October 2017, for him to be briefed on the progress made with the nationwide implementation of Operation Phakisa. The fact that the boatbuilding industry is now partly revived in the Port of Durban and that our Tugs are now built here, is proof that we are making progress. The Provincial Maritime Incubator Programme is now established and provides much needed business training, mentorship, guidance and business support, targeting previously disadvantaged individuals, women and youth.

Our SMME and cooperative development and support programmes provide the mainstay of our quest for entrepreneurship development to broaden participation in a growing economy. Partnership agreements have been concluded with tertiary institutions in the Province to provide much needed business development training and incubator support.

In times of poor economic performance and sluggish employment creation, with rising unemployment, government cannot be a passive observer. Government has an important role to play in the manner that it procures and renders services. The Expanded Public Works Programme and other government-led job creation programmes provide an important bridging opportunity for new entrants to the labour market.

These programmes provide experiential work opportunities for in-service training to enable members of marginalised communities, in particular women and the youth, to prepare themselves for real, meaningful and sustainable employment.

Over the last year we created more than 41 000 full time equivalent jobs and 166 000 work opportunities through these Programmes and we aim to increase this by at least a further 10% by 2020.

Madam Speaker, it is undeniable that the world as we know it, or shall I rather say as we knew it, is history. The rate of technological advancement and the demands of the digital era is such that even the most conservative amongst us has to acknowledge that there is a new dawn dawning fast. What seemed to us not too long ago as a fixation of an over active imagination, such as an autonomous vehicle, or a car without a driver, is fast becoming reality.

The knowledge economy is rapidly becoming the economy of the future and ignoring this will leave us behind. We have to understand the fourth industrial revolution better, with all that it brings. We need to understand that this is likely to bring new opportunities for new skills and technology. We must ensure that our education system, our infrastructure development and our support structures are geared for this future.

The four Technology Hubs referred to in the 2017 SOPA, located in the Municipalities of Newcastle, Richards Bay, Msunduzi and Ray Nkonyeni, are all well advanced and three of them will be functional in 2018. We are now exploring opportunities to establish partnerships between the relevant public, private and tertiary institutions on the commercialisation of research and development projects, including indigenous knowledge.

Our firm commitment to radically reduce unemployment and in particular youth unemployment has spurred us on to look at new initiatives and interventions to achieve this objective.

We are pleased to announce that we will launch a programme called Sukuma 10 000 in the coming financial year. This programme, which will be coordinated in the Office of the Premier, will cut-across all departments, spheres of government, private sector, tertiary institutions, parastatals and other quasi-government organisations, aiming at creating 10 000 new job opportunities.  This programme targets the youth, women and people with disabilities across the Province and participants have committed to contribute to a portion of this target from their various employment creation programmes and by the end of the next financial year we should have 10 000 currently unemployed youth in employment.

The Province is also partnering with the Sustainable National Youth Service (SNYS) project as a component of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP). The SNYS project focuses on the maintenance of government facilities, such as hospitals, schools, clinics and other community buildings. In this manner we can ensure that we create opportunities for our young people to be skilled whilst they are employed to perform much needed infrastructure maintenance.

The Office of the Premier we will be supporting this SNYS in partnership with the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), by donating 12 mobile offices to support the rollout of the SNYS throughout the Province. We believe that this partnership can contribute towards preparing our youth, not only for employment, but also to become responsible, proud and active citizens. It is after all our youth that will have to lead future generations, so let’s lay a solid foundation.

Madam Speaker, we are proud to announce that we will be launching a KwaZulu-Natal Youth Development Fund early in 2018. We will reprioritise our current allocation to ensure that we have at least R50 million to capitalise this Fund. This Fund will provide seed funding for qualifying youth business development and will be able to accept private sector corporate social investment contributions. We have so far received overwhelming support for this concept in our consultations with our social partners.

4.2    Human resource development

Madam Speaker, we are excited about the prospects for economic growth in our Province, but we are equally concerned about the persistent gap between skills demand and supply. From whatever angle this matter is approached, the conclusion is always the same, inclusive economic development and human resource development are mutually inclusive to the point of almost being synonymous.

Honourable members of this House, our focus must therefore be on ensuring that there is a well-connected continuum in our education pipeline, from early childhood development, through to pre-primary, primary, secondary, tertiary education and through to workplace skills development and adult learning.

In this regard, the Provincial Integrated Early Childhood Development (ECD) Action Plan and partnership with the Assupol Community Trust has contributed immensely to improve access to ECD services. We now have 130 194 children attending 1 689 ECD Centres funded through this partnership.

We understand the need to reduce the persistent high dropout rate of learners from grades 1 to 12 and even more so between grades 10 to 12. A situation where approximately 60% of learners entering grade 1 in any particular year, do not get to exit grade 12 twelve years later, should not be accepted.

This statement is not intended to apportion any blame to any individual stakeholder in our education system. It reflects a much broader societal challenge. A society where values and morals have been eroded and where the family has lost its ability to be the bonding agent of society. A society where our children and learners lose hope because if even graduates are unemployed, what incentive is there for them to finish school. A society where parental responsibilities are passed on to overburdened teachers.

This is not a situation we can endure, especially not with the opportunities of the fourth industrial revolution on our doorstep. For the sake of our children, we must ensure that we create a stable environment for them to learn and prepare themselves for the bright future.

However, we are pleased with the improvement of the matric results and the 72% pass rate of the Class of 2017. We applaud all the hard work and effort of educators, learners and parents who stood by and guided the class of 2017 throughout their school careers. We take the opportunity to congratulate MEC Mthandeni Dlungwana and his team for a job well done!

We now encourage the Class of 2018 to outperform the Class of 2017 to make 2018 even a more special year.

We are pleased with the phasing in of Fee Free Higher Education for poor households and the potential impact this could have on our efforts to create youth employment and to eradicate poverty. We are therefore calling on sectors of society to contribute to whatever extent they can to make this a reality. We understand that there may be capacity constraints in the short term, but we are confident that all these can be overcome through our collective efforts.

Although Provincial Government has no direct mandate in respect of Higher Education, we have resolved to continuously engage with the Minister of Higher Education and Training to facilitate better integration and collaboration on matters concerning Post School Education and Training.

It is important to note that the Provincial Government, through its bursary programme is contributing in a significant manner towards skills development. Provincial Departments have allocated R375 million for the next year to fund approximately 3 500 bursaries. This includes an allocation of R20 million from the Premier’s Discretionary Fund for 437 bursaries designated for orphaned and vulnerable youth.

We must at this point recognise the sterling work done by our Human Resource Development Council in the Province. This Council is proving to be an important platform for engagement of stakeholders in the education and training sector to drive the implementation of our HRD Strategy and to forge partnerships.

Some of the most significant interventions we are committed to pursue in the drive to improve our skills base in this Province, are to:
•    Strengthen the Provincial HRD Council to develop partnerships between the state HRD sector and the private sector;
•    Encourage the development of women professional and technical graduates and people with disabilities;
•    Undertake a skills audit to determine the skills shortages in key areas;
•    Ensure an appropriate “programme and qualification mix” at universities, Universities of Technology and TVETs to promote the production of professionals and academics;
•    Establish a data-base of graduates for employers to access; and to
•    Increase the number of youth work-integrated learning opportunities, such as those already mentioned under Programme Sukuma 10 000.

4.3    Human and community development

One of the primary goals of our Government is the eradication of poverty and inequality to ensure that welfare services are delivered timely, effectively and efficiently. We noted that although absolute poverty is decreasing, but we have to work harder to reduce the number of grant dependent persons and households.

As we aim to attend to all the challenges outlined above, we are reconfirming our commitment to our ward based approach to attend to matters related to our communities, via Operation Sukuma Sakhe. As we do so we also remain committed to fast track and improve the efficiency of implementation of, inter alia, the Poverty Eradication Master Plan, the Social Cohesion and Moral Regeneration Strategy, the KZN Crime Prevention Strategy, as well as progress with strategies and plans to accelerate access to land and housing.

We have linked the complimentary programmes of Poverty Eradication, and the Radical Agrarian Socio-Economic Transformation Programme (RASET) with Operation Sukuma Sakhe (OSS) to ensure that we have an integrated, targeted and effective service delivery approach to prioritise the most impoverished wards and households in a structured manner.

The implementation of our Poverty Eradication Programme has now established a footprint in the 119 poorest wards of the Province. Interventions in these wards focussed on immediate and urgent social relief interventions, issuing of birth certificates, facilitating grant application processes and health services and has by now reached over 16 000 vulnerable people in our Province.  In the next year we will expand this Programme to reach 143 wards in our Province.

Our Director-General as the coordinator of our administration, will ensure that the Office of the Premier is capacitated and equipped to facilitate the coordination and integration of provincial poverty eradication programmes.

Madam Speaker, with regards to the health situation in our Province, we noted a marginal decline in life expectancy over the last year, largely due to unnatural deaths and non-communicable lifestyle diseases. We are also aware that the number of medical professionals as a ratio to our population is inadequate and that we need to improve the maintenance of our health care facilities.

In this regard we are concerned about recent events related to oncology services in our Province. Swift action and the involvement of an interdepartmental team has stabilised the situation and we are now working on measures to fully restore services and to prevent a similar occurrence.

KwaZulu-Natal remains the epicentre of HIV and TB in South Africa.  As a result the Provincial Government mobilised R419 million over a three year period, from the Global Fund to implement prevention programmes to reduce new HIV infections and fight TB among adolescent girls, young women and vulnerable populations and to improve the quality of their lives. The expenditure of this Fund is monitored by the Provincial Council on AIDS and compliments other existing government health programmes, including the National She Conquers Programme.

Through this Programme we provided 16 574 young women and boys with life skills-based HIV education, counselling and testing, peer support, teen parenting and child protection programmes.

In the year to come we will:
•    reach 20 000 young women in ages 19-24 with comprehensive risk reduction package of services including empowerment incentives;
•    deliver a combination prevention package to 141 191 vulnerable people living in informal settlement, on farms and targeting young women and their families in the identified high burdened areas of our Province; and we will
•    provide much needed additional infrastructure in the form of 10 Mobile Units, 1 Mobile X-ray unit, 8 Motor cycles and IT equipment.

The programme will also create more than 600 job opportunities for both professionals and non- professional staff.  More than 10 non-governmental and community based organizations will be subcontracted to implement interventions for the programme.

This drive for the reduction in new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women is further supported by the “Dreams” initiative, in partnership with PEPFAR, the Gates Foundation and the Nike foundation, which is now ready for implementation in the uMgungundlovu and Umkhanyakude districts, as well as in eThekwini.

The 90-90-90 HIV management strategy is being implemented through the Universal Test and Treat (UTT) programme which is aimed at reducing the number of new infections. UTT started in September 2017 and aims to increase access to HIV testing and initiation of treatment for those who test HIV positive. In the last year we have recorded:
•    11 284 597 patients receiving Anti-Retroviral Treatment;
•    2 047 449 HIV Tests done; and
•    150 918 Male Medical Circumcisions performed this year and we are now approaching the one million mark.

We have also followed through on our commitment to intensify our fight against TB and our treatment success rate over the last year reached the 88% mark.

2018 also has the potential to be a special year in the health sector with the long awaited National Health Insurance (NHI) now moving into phase II where the purchasing of personal health services from contracted public and private providers will commence in April 2018 and the number of persons registered on the Health Patient Registration System should now exceed the 2 million mark. This is indeed good news for our Province, given that more than 90% of our population do not enjoy any form of medical insurance.

We are pleased about the progress we have made with the rollout of the Phila Mntwana Centres in our Province which continue to provide post-natal care and education, as well as the identification of children with incomplete immunisation schedules. We have currently established 1 045 of these centres at ECD Centres and OSS War Rooms throughout the Province and more than 300 000 children were scanned at these centres over the last year.

The present outbreak of listeriosis, has suddenly grown into an epidemic which is worrying. We call upon everyone to heed the advice of the World Health Organization and the Department of Health on how to avoid the further spread of this disease.

We are thankful to the positive role His Majesty has played in campaigns to improve the health of our communities, as well as for having granted approval for the Lower Umfolozi War Memorial Hospital (LUWM) to be renamed as Queen Nandi Memorial Hospital.

We have also noted President Ramphosa’s announcement in the State of the Nation Address with regards to non-communicable lifestyle diseases and the intended launch of a sustained national campaign against cancer and to intensify our efforts to reduce smoking, alcohol and sugar consumption. We will certainly be eager partners in this campaign and we have also noted that the President is leading this by example with his brisk early morning walks.

As a Province striving for a situation where human settlements provide for dignified living conditions with secure residential tenure and access to basic utility services, it is not pleasing to note that we are still the Province with the second largest housing backlog of just more than 740 000 units.

Rapid increasing urbanisation trends pose a serious challenge in the form of mushrooming new informal settlements and it is clear that our approach to the delivery of human settlements in this Province requires adjustment.

A key focus in respect of human settlement is now on the 8 catalytic projects, where the building of more than 40 000 houses are to be prioritised on the:
•    R3.8 billion Amaoti Greater Housing Project in eThekwini;
•    R1.4 billion Empangeni Integrated Residential Development Project in Umhlatuze;
•    R457 million Hyde Park Project in iLembe;
•    R1.8 billion eThekwini Inner City Regeneration Project;
•    R1.6 billion Johnston Blaaubosch Cavan Project in Newcastle;
•    R6.3 billion KwaMashu Bridge City Urban Hub;
•    R2.9 billion Umlazi Regeneration Project; and the
•    R4.2 billion Cornubia Phase 2, Project in eThekwini.

Although we are pleased with the progress that is being made with issuing of title deeds on new housing projects, we are still concerned about the fact that only 22% of the households in this Province have title deeds to their properties.

Madam Speaker, in this regard it is important to make reference to the findings of the Report of the High Level Panel Appointed by the Speakers Forum to undertake an assessment of key legislation and the acceleration of fundamental change.  This report makes various findings about the fact that too many South Africans, in rural and urban areas, have insecure tenure to the property that they occupy.

As a Province deeply affected by these findings, we will have to engage the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform on matters related specifically to the Province of KwaZulu-Natal and to assist in finding solutions for these issues.  We are also committed to host a Land Summit in 2018 to engage relevant stakeholders and role-players on matters of land management and land utilisation as it applies to our Province.

We wish to make it clear that that we will never support any recommendation aimed at undermining the role of our traditional leaders on land issues, including the Ingonyama Trust.

Madam Speaker, on the matter of safety and security and whether or not the people of KwaZulu-Natal are and feel safe, we are pleased to note from the latest crime statistics that community reported serious crimes decreased by 2.9% in the last year. We are however troubled by the fact that murder and drug related crimes statistics increased by over 2% over the same period.

It is for this reason that we decided to extend the term of the Commission of Inquiry into Political Related Killings led by Adv. Moerane. This Commission has concluded most of its public hearings and its report should be submitted by latest in April 2018. As stated in the last State of the Province Address, this Commission of Enquiry has significantly augmented the peace-building work of the Multi-Party Political Intervention Committee.

Honourable members of the House, we announced in the 2017 State of the Province Address that our approach to ensuring that we return stability to our Province, will involve Project Lethukuthula to be implemented through Operation Thulamsindo, as a grassroots community based mobilisation strategy. There is now a broad consensus on the terms of reference and the appropriate structuring for the establishment of a Community Complaints and Instability Rapid Response Unit in the Office of The Premier.

This approach does not infringe on the roles, responsibilities, powers or functions of any institution or State entity, but it does provide for improved coordination and collaboration. This Unit will be tasked with the responsibility of receiving complaints related to political related murders, taxi violence, murders in hostels, farm murders, faction fights in traditional communities and public protests, which have exposed citizens of this Province to enormous sorrow, grief, loss, displacements and several other crimes.

Madam Speaker, we will ensure that we have the unwavering support of all stakeholders and role-players in our fight against crime. We will therefore hold Crime Prevention Summits in the eThekwini Metro and all Districts of the Province in 2018.  

We are further pleased to announce that since the 2017 State of the Province Address, we have managed to increase the number of volunteers under Volunteer Social Crime Prevention Programme (VSCPP) by recruiting a further 360 volunteers, bringing the total now to 1 498 volunteers. This programme enhances community participation in crime prevention processes and also provides a small stipend as a source of income for these volunteers.

Madam Speaker, on the issue of the advancement of social cohesion and moral regeneration in our Province, we are pleased to report that steady progress has been made. As promised in the last State of the Province Address, we indeed hosted a very successful summit on Social Cohesion and Moral Regeneration towards a Prosperous KwaZulu-Natal and Nation Building.

This Summit was hosted in KwaMashu on 1 and 2 June 2017 and was well attended by a broad range of government and civil society representatives. A Summit Declaration was adopted wherein all present unanimously supported a key set of principles and also adopted a set of resolutions to take this process forward.

Most pertinent amongst these resolutions was to recommend the establishment of a Social Cohesion and Moral Regeneration Council, which will be tasked to finalise the Social Cohesion and Moral Regeneration Strategy for the Province.

We will deepen the gains we have made and we will hold breakfast meetings and symposia with both Traditional and Religious Leaders separately to define their respective roles and programmes of action in implementing the Social Cohesion and Moral Regeneration Programme.

The societal challenges we face in this Province also rears its ugly head from time to time in the form of violence against and the exploitation of vulnerable groups of society. We therefore remain committed to ensure that we protect the rights of the youth, people living with disability and the elderly.

Taking a cue from the resolutions of the ANC’s 54th National Conference, President Ramaphosa declared in his State of the Nation Address that no liberation can be complete and no nation can be free until its women are free.

2018 also holds much promise for our Nation Building and for protecting and enhancing the rights of all our citizens, so let’s not let this opportunity go by.  

4.4    Development of strategic infrastructure

Strategic infrastructure development is essential for sustaining both the social and economic growth and development needs of KZN. Our focus will therefore be on expanding and maintaining infrastructure required for both social and economic development.

We will improve our ability to facilitate the coordination of infrastructure delivery and monitor progress made with the Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPS) of the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC) through the Provincial Infrastructure Master Plan and a process of registering and monitoring the implementation of Catalytic Projects.

To achieve this we need to ensure that we allocate an appropriate portion of our budget to the development, operation and adequate maintenance to extend the lifespan of these strategic assets.

It is this regard that we have called on both provincial and municipal capital budget allocations where we have set a benchmark of at least 20% of the total budget for this purpose. We are currently around the 18% mark and we will have to ensure that we do not further reduce this investment for our future.

We must ensure that our infrastructure planning is robust enough and avoid a situation where we discourage potential investors as a result of poor infrastructure planning.

It is for this reason that we will continue investing in our Provincial Infrastructure Master Plan and be proactive in our engagement with all infrastructure delivery agents, regardless of the sphere of government they are located in.

We are not comfortable with the current road to rail ratio in our Province, especially so on the N3 Corridor. This Corridor, as our primary link with the largest provincial economy located in Gauteng, is critical for the growth and stimulation of our own economy. The overburdening of our road infrastructure and relative underutilisation of our rail infrastructure will soon become untenable as the economy recovers and freight volumes start to increase.

This situation calls for a careful review of the development of multi-modal hubs throughout the Province, but in particular on the N3 Corridor. We must create infrastructure to direct the use of modes of transport through strategic nodal development along this Corridor, driven by sound market incentives and sound freight and logistics principles.  

Madam Speaker, we are confident that the current port expansions in our Province are well on track and that we would hope to hear soon about what the latest timing considerations are for the Durban Dugout Port. We are also keen to see development on the Durban Passenger Cruise Terminal, now that the tender has been awarded.

The deployment of the decommissioned container handling cranes from the Port of Durban will now address the short term container handling demand in the Port of Richards Bay This will further enhance the attractiveness of the Richards Bay SEZ and will also test potential future demand for this service.

We are pleased that the Port of Durban was chosen to host the very first Terminal Operations Conference on the African Continent in December 2017. This has profiled our Province, its infrastructure and capabilities to maritime stakeholders, shipping liner entities, cargo owners and ports terminal operators from all over the world. Once more, recognition of the international significance of our “gateway” Province in the field of international trade, transport and logistics.

We are also confident that our current airport capacity is adequate to sustain increased economic growth projections in the medium term. We are particularly pleased about the adoption of the Durban Aerotropolis Master Plan by the Provincial Executive Council in November 2017. We are now in implementation and we have already seen the adoption of the Business Plan for the Aerotropolis Institute Africa.

We are excited about the Dube Tradeport Cargo Terminal experiencing a record year in 2017 with an annual volume growth of 12 % and December 2017 having been the busiest single month ever. The throughput of this Terminal has increased by 138% since it opened in 2010.

The Provincial Route Development Committee, led by Dube Tradeport and Tourism KZN will drive connectivity on high potential routes in 2018. They have their sights set on the London route which is estimated at 100 000 passengers per annum.

The Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, under the leadership of MEC Zikalala has been driving this process and they have also awarded 6 bursaries to KZN’s previously disadvantaged students to start their studies in Aeronautical Engineering at Wits University and the University of Pretoria in the 2018 academic year.

The upgrade of the Mkhuze Airport is in progress with the perimeter fencing completed and runway rehabilitation to be concluded in this financial year. This airport has been identified as a critical link for high value agricultural produce and tourism connectivity in our regional Airfield Strategy for this northern location of our Province.

Our Provincial Planning Commission is facilitating a process between all relevant stakeholders to investigate options for a dedicated public transport link to King Shaka International Airport. As a gateway Province, we have to ensure that passengers having to travel to and from the airport have access to appropriate public transport services

Honourable Members of this House, we are currently concerned about the stability of our water infrastructure. Not only is most of our water infrastructure old, there is also a serious disconnect between the various delivery agents in the water sector. Bulk infrastructure for water is funded by the national Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) and its Water Boards, whilst reticulation infrastructure is the responsibility of the Water Services Authority at local government level, each with their own funding streams.

We must ensure that we provide at least 75 litres of water per person per day and that we can sustain our economic growth. We have also had to attend to recent instances in the town of St Lucia in the iSimangaliso World Heritage Site, as well as in the Ugu District, where international and local tourists had to be turned away because most tourist establishments had no water.

A further area of focus for 2018 will be the ICT sector, where connectivity and speed must be improved and the cost of data be reduced. We cannot enter the digital era or the Fourth Industrial Revolution, without access to reliable, fast and affordable connectivity to big data warehousing.

We are going to have to consider alternative funding models to enable us to have our Broadband Programme implemented much faster than what is currently the case. This must be one of our highest priorities for 2018, especially since we will be hosting a large International ICT Conference as well as a BRICS engagement on ICT in our Province later this year.

As far as energy is concerned, we are satisfied that the reticulation of service to households and businesses is rolling out at a steady pace and that we currently have adequate power on the grid to satisfy demand.

We are however concerned about the slow process of licencing renewable energy generation. Not only is it placing our energy security at risk, but it has also had a negative impact on the manufacturing of such technologies in our Province and has therefore been counterproductive to our industrialisation programmes.

4.5    Ensuring environmental sustainability

Madam Speaker, development must be sustainable and the Province’s environmental assets and natural resources must therefore be well protected and continually enhanced through synergistic development practices.

An important part of our environment in this Province relates to our heritage assets. In this regard we are pleased to announce that we have concluded the KwaZulu-Natal AMAFA and Research Institute Bill, which has been submitted for processing by this House. This Bill concludes a long and ongoing discussion and debate on the merger and rationalisation of heritage functions in the Province. Once enacted, this legislation will regulate the protection of our heritage assets, whilst it will also provide for the coordination of heritage research.

Environmental sustainability of the Province is challenged, in particular as a result of erratic and severe weather conditions and poor land use practices. Increasing tensions between competing land uses, as well as increasing demand on land for development, requires an intensified focus on land use planning, management and governance.

Honourable Members, we experienced some of the worst storms in history in this Province during 2017. Sights of cars floating in streets and highways, ships damaged in the Port of Durban, roofs of schools, hospitals and factories blown away and houses totally demolished, starkly reminded us about the immense forces of nature. One storm in our Province caused damage in excess of R 1.2 billion.

Increased attention is required to protect and conserve not only the terrestrial and atmospheric environment, but the marine environment is important within the context of the marine economy. We are poisoning our ocean and water bodies, yet we plan our future on using these assets.

We must highlight in this regard the onslaught on our wildlife resources, such as rhino poaching and the unsustainable harvesting of our marine resources. These criminal activities are not only posing a risk to our environment and bio resources, but also to our economy and the livelihoods of our communities who rely on the tourism activities attracted by these natural resources.

Unsustainable land use practices, in particular in communal land tenure areas of the Province are exacerbating land degradation and by implication inequality in that it further devalues the most valuable asset of rural communities, namely their land.

Land degradation does not only result in the loss of valuable soils as a key environmental asset, but also leads to a reduction in livelihood, as well as an increase in sedimentation and therefore reduction in efficiency of the storage capacity of dams.

Madam Speaker, I wish to confirm that we remain as committed as ever to honour the climate change resolutions emanating from various COP agreements. We regard these binding on the Province and we are steadfast in our resolve to pursue a green growth path and embrace the green economy.

We will therefore revive our own Provincial Climate Change Council to ensure that we involve all interested and affected parties and environmental stakeholders. This Council must assist us in ensuring that we maintain a balance between development and conservation, as well as to focus us on opportunities in the green economy.

4.6    Providing good governance with clear and relevant policies

Madam Speaker, whereas we cannot claim to have control over the global economy, we have no excuse on matters of governance. When we fail in providing governance that is responsive to the needs of our people, or if our policies are not aligned or impractical, if we squander state resources, it fails in our hands.

The people of KwaZulu-Natal must have confidence in governance structures and must be satisfied with the levels of governance and service delivery in our Province. We are committed to being a caring and competent government, always placing people at the centre.

We are proud of how we have been able to align our Provincial Growth and Development Strategy and Plan with the National Development Plan. It is on this basis that we have been facilitating the development of District / Metro Growth and Development Plans in this Province to provide a context for alignment of Municipal Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) and eventually even Ward Based Plans.

We are not content with the status of our intergovernmental relations. A Provincial Framework for improved intergovernmental relations has been developed and will soon be presented to the Provincial Executive Council for adoption. We believe that this will assist us greatly to ensure that “Team Government” can function better and in unity, regardless of the sphere of government it represents.

Madam Speaker, for “Team Government” to perform better we have to step up our ability to manage our departments and entities in a manner that will meet the good governance standards measured by the Auditor General. We therefore accept that we have to improve on a situation where only two Departments in the Province, namely Provincial Treasury and the Department of Sport and Recreation received Clean Audits in the last financial year.  

We are absolutely committed to effectively combat fraud and corruption and reduce unauthorised, irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure. We will apply a zero tolerance approach in dealing with those who are found guilty of these transgressions.

We will be starting lifestyle audits of officials in high risk positions and we are starting with our Supply Chain Management Units. This will be done in collaboration with SARS.

We are equally not impressed that we do not meet standards as far as our commitment to have all payments made within 30 days. Special measures are being implemented to improve our reporting on payments and to ensure that appropriate consequence management steps are taken where required.

We will instil a culture in our government where integrity is at the core of everything we do, through our proactive integrity management programmes in the public and private sectors. We also want to commit to a public-private coalition dedicated to combatting fraud and corruption and promoting good governance.

Madam Speaker, we do not want to portray a view that all government officials are corrupt or inefficient. As a matter of fact we have and award sterling officials who have been more than willing to go the extra mile to serve our people in the true spirit of Batho Pele.

We therefore understand that it is also our responsibility to develop the capacity of our developmental state, not necessarily by appointing more people, but by ensuring we improve efficiencies. We are therefore pleased to report that the process of the rationalisation of provincial public entities is nearing conclusion. Firm recommendations have been adopted in principle and final negotiations are now underway with Organised Labour. This rationalisation process will be finalised in 2018.

A different form of rationalisation has unfolded since the 2016 municipal elections where the number of municipalities in this Province has been reduced from 61 to 54. This has resulted in 6 merged or newly constituted municipalities. Under the leadership of our Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, we have been providing special and dedicated support to these municipalities to enable them to becoming fully functional. We also have been providing support across all municipalities via the Back to Basics Programme.

Based on our latest Back to Basics Reports we understand the need to urgently attend to the following local governance matters:
•    Improving the level of functionality of public participation structures;
•    Managing relations between Municipal and Traditional Leadership structures;
•    Eliminating unfunded budgets in municipalities;
•    Improving revenue collection and debt management;
•    Increasing the number of municipalities and entities with clean audits;
•    Improving financial provision for Operation and Maintenance of Critical Infrastructure;
•    Eliminating municipalities defaulting on payment arrangements with ESKOM;
•    Preventing water losses; and
•    Improving technical capacity to manage growth and development.

Honourable Members, it is abundantly clear that this will require a collective effort from “Team Government”, to assist our municipalities, who by the way are part of “Team Government”, to serve our people better.

4.7    Striving for spatial equity

The reduction of spatial inequalities and increased spatial access to goods and services for all sections and sectors of our community remain a key priority. We will focus on promoting spatial equity and integrated land use management towards balanced urban and rural development.

We are emphasising the need for sustainable rural development and using the concept of the Inkululeko approach to precinct planning and focussing on an all-inclusive, integrated and well-coordinated development model within a particular geographical area.

We are pleased to report that Inkululeko 1, our project at Ndumo is now complete and the school of excellence opened its door for learning at the beginning of this academic year. The other support projects, with the exception of the long term water connection, are all in place. The Ndumo Village will never be the same again, for all the right reasons.

Our focus now shifts to Inkululeko 2 in the Umzinyathi District, as well as to Inkululeko 3 in the Estcourt / Weenen precinct of the Uthukela District. We already have teams packaging these projects with the support of local structures and we will report progress on them in due course.

Good progress has been made on the Dukuduku Project under the leadership of the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs. We have managed the risk of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park losing its World Heritage status and we are particularly excited about the registration of the first 600 title deeds on this project. Members of the Provincial Executive will visit the project area soon to celebrate this achievement with this community.

Madam Speaker, we are excited also about the current review of our Provincial Spatial Development Framework. This process is overseen by our Provincial Planning Commission with technical input from the Departments of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs and the Office of the Premier. Broad consultation processes are underway and we trust that this review will be concluded by the end of 2018.
 

5.    Current fiscal and financial forecast

Honourable Members, a State of the Province Address will not be complete without reference to the current fiscal and financial outlook. Being cautious of the fact that the statements and commitments made in this Address will somehow have direct, or at best, indirect financial implications, we have to be mindful of our current financial challenges.

As South Africans we are all concerned about the state of fiscal and financial affairs outlined by in the Budget Speech last week. We understand that the global economy and current market trends, over which we have no control, are inhibiting our growth potential. We also understand that there are domestic structural challenges, which we do have control over, that needs our attention.

Successive reductions of the Equitable Share allocation has had a significant impact on our planning and Departmental budget allocations for the 2018/19 financial year. Exact details about the nature and extent of adjustments will be covered in the Provincial Budget Speech scheduled for 16 March 2018.

We understand the need to reduce state expenditure. We have implemented stringent measures to ensure that departmental requests to fill vacancies are assessed against the backdrop of our Provincial priorities.

Municipal budgets have also been affected by the abovementioned factors and municipal equitable shares had to be revised. This has obviously aggravated the pressure on prudent financial management to achieve an equitable balance between community expectations and the ability to deliver.

Madam Speaker, we are proud of the reputation the Provincial Government of KwaZulu-Natal has established on matters related to sound financial management and we wish to once again assure the citizens of this Province that public finances are in good and safe hands.

We must remain positive amid the current challenging situation, understanding that we are sacrificing for a brighter future.
 

6.    Commitment to accountability

Madam Speaker, as in previous State of the Province Addresses, we once again commit ourselves as members of the Executive Council of this Province to be held accountable for delivering on all the programmes and targets in the 2018 State of the Province Address.

We acknowledge and respect the oversight role of this House as set out in the Constitution and in the Oversight Model adopted by the House which aims to strengthen the oversight function. We commit to work with you in strengthening and deepening this this oversight function, because it is the right thing to do.

We all accept that we are ultimately accountable to the people of this Province. We are therefore pleased to announce that we have concluded an agreement with Stats SA and that the 2018 KwaZulu-Natal Citizen Satisfaction Survey will start next week. This will be a perception survey of 20 000 households in our Province where people will be rating our services as Provincial and Local Government. The outcome of this survey should be released later this year and we undertake to publicise these results widely.

We also take very seriously our duty to report to our communities on progress with implementation of these programmes and plans that are aimed at improving the quality of their lives.  

Madam Speaker, we are also pleased about the level of collaboration between the Office of the Premier and the Legislature to strengthen and support the structures of the Legislature in deepening its oversight function.

We fully recognise the authority of this House to call us to account. We do however want to work with you in respect of the content we will be held accountable for.

Madam Speaker, we are also pleased to report that the Provincial Executive Council, as a collective has signed Service Delivery Agreements. All MECs, by signing these agreements with the Premier, expressed their commitment to lead by example and to be held accountable to the achievement of the outcomes expected from their respective portfolios.

These Service Delivery Agreements are also to be used as a point of departure for the Performance Agreements of Heads of Departments for the next financial year.
 

7.    Commitment to partnership

Madam Speaker, looking at what is lying ahead for us in 2018, we would be the first to acknowledge that Government cannot do this alone. We do understand that we have a responsibility to create an enabling environment for all stakeholders in this Province to make their own contribution.

It is for this reason that we are currently reviewing the Provincial Stakeholder Engagement Framework to clarify our respective roles and responsibilities, as well as the institutional arrangements to facilitate engagements and partnerships. This Framework, which will be released for comment in the first quarter of 2018/19, will cut across international, national, provincial and local government, as well as non-government organisations.

This year we will again celebrate Africa Day through the 20th anniversary of the annual African Renaissance Festival and its many programmes.  The impact of this initiative has been extended not only throughout KZN and our country, but indeed to the Sub-Continent and beyond. In recent years the focus of the African Renaissance movement has been the promotion and development of our youth through innovation and entrepreneurship.

I would like to thank all those who have played a part in establishing the KZN Youth International Scholarships programme where as a result, many of our students are studying across the globe and, in this regard, I wish to extend my heartfelt appreciation to the Diplomatic Corps who have made a huge contribution in assisting us to drive this programme.

At the risk of offending any partner or stakeholder, I wish to acknowledge the partnerships we have established through the KZN Growth Coalition and Business Chambers, the Global Fund, the Banking sector, various Foundations such as the Gift of the Giver and Al-Imdaad, the HIV/AIDS Council, the HRD Council, the KZN Economic Council, the Climate Change Council, the BBBEE Council, the Council against Crime and the Anti-substance Abuse Forum, to name but a few.
 

8.    Conclusion

As we conclude, we wish to reiterate the call for peace, calm and reason as we prepare for the 2019 National and Provincial Elections. Let us nurture optimism and supress negativity as we enter 2018 and realise that no challenge is beyond our reach.

Madam Speaker, as we move into 2018, let us all commit to eradicate poverty, inequality and unemployment in our Province, by:
•    fostering peace, stability and unity in our Province;
•    growing a shared economy to improve the lives of all our people;
•    developing our skills to become active participants in this economy;
•    rendering effective and efficient services to our communities;
•    developing our infrastructure and expand our gateway status;
•    protecting our environment;
•    developing all corners of this Province according to it’s potential; and
•    rendering good, clean and accountable governance, as we lead with integrity.
 

9.    Words of appreciation

Madam Speaker and Honourable Members, I want to express my appreciation to the members of the Executive Council for their valuable inputs. Collectively, we had to make difficult but informed decisions on how to best serve our people.  
    
I wish to thank all structures of the Provincial Legislature for your robust oversight over our work.

I want to thank the Director-General Dr Nonhlanhla Mkhize, HODs and all categories of staff across all government departments for your dedication and hard work.  

The contribution of the people of this Province from different walks of life and cultural backgrounds has been very encouraging. The inputs received through our emails and social platforms is an indication of a determination from the people of this province to work with government to create a prosperous future.

A special word of gratitude to the leadership and ordinary members of the African National Congress. You have been a pillar of strength and I will forever be grateful for your guidance.

Lastly, but not least, I want to express my appreciation to my family for their unwavering support.

I thank you.