Forging ahead in education, health and land allocation
This state of the province address shall serve as an account of how the Free State government has performed in its implementation of the legacy of former ANC president Oliver Reginald Tambo, who would have turned 100 years old this year.
The performance of the matric class of 2016 once again placed the province in the number one spot. We were the only province that broke the 90% threshold. The districts of Xhariep, Fezile Dabi and Thabo Mofutsanyane achieved 90% and above, and are among the top six districts in the country.
Our performance in mathematics, science and accounting as key subjects was above 70% and we are pleased that over the past seven years, the province has made strides in these gateway subjects. Tambo, a mathematics and science teacher, would have been proud of this achievement.
Through our Smart Schools Pilot Project, we will explore the best ways and practices of deploying information and communication technology to enhance teaching and learning outcomes in our schools. We will host an annual Education Indaba later this year, with all stakeholders focusing on e-learning and supporting our e-Education strategy.
We have increased the number of bursaries from 139 in 2009 to 8 232 currently. Of these, 861 students are pursuing various postmatriculation qualifications in Cuba, China, Russia, Madeira, Turkey and Germany. These include 196 students studying medicine in Cuba and another 199 students studying medicine and other subjects in Russia.
Working with the Treatment Action Campaign and all our stakeholders in the Provincial Council on Aids, we are beginning to realise results in the fight against the spread of HIV/Aids, tuberculosis (TB) and mortality. Within a year, the TB mortality rate has declined from 9% to 7.1%.
This year, we will extend the operating hours of our clinics, starting with Harry Gwala Clinic in Metsimaholo Local Municipality. The Batho Clinic in Mangaung will henceforth operate for 24 hours out of 24 to accommodate the growing demand, which often manifests in long queues. To enhance and expedite health services, highly specialised and technological mobile buses will be used to provide services in rural and remote areas as well as mining towns. Re Hlasela Mahloko le Malwetse..!
The menace of substance abuse poses a terrible threat to our society and undermines our developmental and transformation agenda. Through various interventions and working with different stakeholders, we targeted and assisted the youth at substance abuse treatment centres. We will continue to wage a rigorous campaign against substance abuse in our communities. In April, we will open the Beyers Naude Drug Rehabilitation Centre in Clarens.
More than 15 000 people were reached through poverty reduction initiatives, while 816 youth were linked to economic opportunities. We have responded to the inability of some young women to buy sanitary towels by initiating a project which will produce and distribute sanitary towels.
We have allocated 7 017 hectares of land to smallholder farmers, while 987 hectares have been given to labour tenants, farm workers and farm dwellers. In light of the drought experienced last year, we assisted farmers with animal feeds and with the drilling of 132 new boreholes to ease the burden.
The lease portfolio of government property is sitting at 74% white ownership and 26% black ownership. We will ensure that this skewed pattern of ownership changes to at least a 50% share for black landlords by 2020.
In the past year, we spent R1.2 billion on small, medium and micro enterprises through state procurement, benefiting about 2 700 small enterprises. A R60 million industrial park was launched in Botshabelo in June 2016 and is aimed at revitalising industrial parks. We will establish a hotel school at Phillip Saunders Resort. A jobs summit will be convened to deal with job losses in the province.
The annual crime statistics further maintain that the Free State is on top in the fight against crime in the country. Our Arrive Alive campaigns will be implemented throughout the year.
The 494 hectare Sasolburg land parcel has the potential of yielding in excess of 7 000 housing opportunities. Our mega projects, including Hillside View and Vista Park 2 and 3, will make a significant impact in the lives of our people when completed.
Baken Park Extensions 5, 6 & 7 Project in Dihlabeng is a key Informal Settlements Upgrading project and has the potential to yield more than 5 000 housing opportunities. Virginia, Theunissen, Kroonstad and Welkom have been identified for development as part of a mining town development programme.
In Vrede, we will apply alternative building technology through timber boarding and polystyrene infill concrete. A mixed-race development in Matjhabeng will be completed as part of our contribution to social cohesion.
Together with Gauteng Premier David Makhura, we will embark on the development of “River Cities” along the Sasolburg-Vaal River area to stimulate the economies of both provinces.
There is gradual improvement in the audit outcomes of our municipalities. Fezile Dabi attained a clean audit opinion in 2015/16, while Moqhaka and Phumelela progressed from qualified and disclaimer opinions, respectively, to unqualified opinions.
We have employed artists in our schools to train learners in the performing and visual arts and in crafts. We are also building studios in Parys, Ficksburg, Welkom and Bethlehem to help artists record their music, poems and comedy.
President OR Tambo’s journey in pursuit of cooperation, peace, solidarity, justice and equality did not perish in 1993 when he passed on. To honour his legacy, we will continue the journey towards a fully democratic, nonracial, nonsexist, united and prosperous South Africa.