- 1994-09-16 (Creation)
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Members of the Provincial Legislature, Comrades, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is with humility that I stand here to address you, the great-great-grandchildren of Moshoeshoe I, Bram Fischer, Thomas Maphikela, General de Wet, Rev Z. R. Mahabane and many more of our departed eminent elders.
Perhaps an apology is also in order, that I had to interrupt your session, busy as you are, debating practical measures needed to build a better life for all the people of this province.
It is my first visit here since the elections. Therefore I must congratulate all the parties that took part. In this Province, in particular, it was an election fought robustly and yet peacefully, allowing people to choose their true representatives.
I must also congratulate the parties that reached the threshold to be part of this legislature. You are charged with the task of laying the foundations of a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society. Future generations will constantly refer to your pronouncements and actions as milestones along the road towards a society that is united, free and at peace with itself.
Such is the responsibility that all of us carry on our shoulders. It is a responsibility that obliges us to be courageous but also to act with the necessary caution and sensitivity at all times.
You have already achieved tremendous levels of reconciliation in this province. It is crucial that you maintain this stability if you are to attract investors. With investment there will be creation of jobs. The prosperity ensuing from this will be an asset in improving the conditions of the poor and deprived sections of our communities.
The Orange Free State is a highly agricultural province. You are to a great extent the granary of the country. The men and women who carry the burden of production in this province - the farmers and farm-workers - are therefore critical to the country's economy. So are all the other people of this Province.
Our responsibility as their political representatives is to ensure that they become part of the process of transforming our country. We have, as a government, set out clear objectives to deliver basic needs to the people: free quality education, health services, jobs, clean water and so on. This is what the Reconstruction and Development Programme entails.
But it is more than just a programme of national or provincial Government. It is a programme of the nation as a whole, accepted by virtually all sectors of society. Our task is to ensure that the RDP is realised in the shortest possible space of time. To do this requires that we mobilise communities to take part in planning, allocating and implementing projects in various localities. In this way, ordinary people will be able to say: this is our government, this is our programme.
In my address to the Senate two days ago, I indicated that the massive allocations for the President's Projects have now been approved by cabinet. This includes funds for the free medical services we referred to in May; the primary school feeding scheme, electrification and so on.
The Orange Free State features prominently among areas targeted for these projects, including urban and rural renewal. It also ranks among those Provinces which will receive favourable attention in the allocation of the discretionary RDP Fund to the Provinces. This is because here, as in many of the other Provinces, special focus has to be given to development of rural areas and informal settlements.
Central Government, in consultation, with Provincial representatives, is finalising arrangements to allocate the powers due to the Provinces. Only last night, another meeting of Premiers and relevant central Government Ministries was held to take this process forward. We are pursuing this matter with determination. But it is an issue that needs to be handled with sensitivity, as we set our new democracy on a fully operational footing.
Related to this is the urgent need to set up legitimate transitional local government structures in all parts of the country. Without these structures, the implementation of the RDP will be virtually impossible.
I should also report that the cabinet agreed two days ago on the Bill to facilitate the setting up of the National Council as well as the Provincial Houses of Traditional Leaders. All legislatures, at national and Provincial levels, will be required to act on this matter with deliberate speed, in consultation with the traditional leaders themselves. In this way, we shall ensure that all sectors of our people feel and indeed become part of the process of changing South Africa for the better.
I should not interrupt your proceedings for long. But I want to say, in conclusion, that I am proud at the manner in which you have striven to reach consensus on matters affecting your Province. I urge that this should be your approach to all questions, no matter how difficult and how sensitive. Such is what reconciliation and nation-building, reconstruction and development, require of us.
The serious intent that one feels in these chambers, and the pleasant and intelligent faces that adorn this House - all give one the hope and confidence that there is no hurdle that can stand in the way of the people of this Province.
Like all other Provinces, you will always be in our hearts as we strive, at national level, to discharge the responsibilities thrust upon us by the nation.
I wish you all the best in your deliberations.