Mpuma youth inspired to grab development opportunities

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Secunda - Deputy Minister for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, Obed Bapela, has urged the youth of Secunda to take full advantage of government's massive infrastructure development drive earmarked for their area.

"As we are planning to embark on a massive infrastructure development through the expansion of rail transport and connecting coalfields to power stations in this area, we urge young people to take advantage of this opportunity," Bapela told BuaNews during his visit to Secunda, which falls under the Govan Mbeki local municipality.

"We don't want young people in this area, which is dominated by the petrochemical industry ... to be spectators of the development in their area."

Bapela was in Secunda as part of the Government Communication and Information System's countrywide public participation programme, which focuses on engaging the nation on developments emanating from President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address (SONA).

However, the Deputy Minister also urged the young people who attended the public participation seminar to respect their infrastructure.

"As government, we are also saying, you have to look after the infrastructure that is going to be built in your area. Even if you are angry, don't vandalise your infrastructure. The era of young people who speak as if this is not their South Africa is over," he said.

During SONA, Zuma announced that government would expand rail transport in Mpumalanga, connecting coalfields to power stations. This will help in the shift from road to rail in the transportation of coal, which has caused roads in Mpumalanga to deteriorate.

Government has already set aside in excess of R860 billion on infrastructure development for the country by March 2014.

Bapela said once the province gets its own university, infrastructure investment will play a more relevant role in the generation and retention of much needed skills.

Secunda is one of the five new water augmentation schemes announced by Zuma during SONA.

Bapela said the province would benefit from the Vaal River Eastern Sub-System in Secunda and Komati Water Augmentation Scheme in Nkangala.

Acting executive mayor of the Govan Mbeki local municipality, Sakile Mahlangu, said: "As the municipality, we value this information session between residents and the leadership of our government.

"As an industrialised municipality, we are delighted that this massive infrastructure development on rail will play a significant role in terms of reducing more trucks on our already deteriorated roads."

With regard to the establishment of a university in the province, Mahlangu said they would engage the relevant government structures to consider its building. .

Sibusiso Maseko, a community development worker from Ward 32, applauded government for bringing the information session to his area.

"As young people, we value this gathering as it will give us an opportunity to directly air our views to our senior government leadership."

His sentiments were echoed by Nthabiseng Ramashoai, who said: "We want more of this information sharing, so that we can unlock the economic development of young people."
GCIS is embarking on a series of over 30 post SONA information sessions to take the messages and programmes of government directly to the citizens.

Besides imparting important information to residents with regard to service delivery, ministers also use these gatherings to forge strategic partnerships with residents and their stakeholders.

The programme also seeks to reinforce accountability to citizens through continuous public participation events throughout the year, as well as to promote participatory democracy through sustained dialogues between government and the people.