Service delivery tops Mabuza's address

Friday, February 19, 2010

Nelspruit - Service delivery and HIV/Aids were among the key issues on which Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza focused in his State of the Province address in Nelspruit on Friday.

Mabuza said the latest statistics indicated that, at 35.5%, Mpumalanga had the second-highest HIV/Aids prevalence rate in South Africa, after KwaZulu-Natal.

He said the government would intervene by putting at least 40% more people on ARV treatment and strengthening the implementation of education and awareness programmes to prevent new infections.

"Currently, 65 090 patients are on ARV treatment in the province. In the 2010/1 financial year, we hope to reach 102 000 patients who are eligible to receive treatment.

"We are planning to accelerate the implementation of the comprehensive HIV/Aids plan and significantly reduce the mortality rate as it relates to TB and other opportunistic diseases.

"In this regard, we will accredit more primary healthcare facilities to provide ARV treatment as part of expanding the access to treatment," Mabuza said.

The premier further revealed that most of the HIV/Aids-related deaths in Mpumalanga were as a result of tuberculosis.
"It has been shown by scientists that TB cases are mostly HIV/Aids related. These statistics paint a bleak future because the HIV prevalence rate among youths between the ages of 15 and 25 is high, standing at 26.7%. Equally, TB is ranked as the leading cause of death for this age group in Mpumalanga."

Addressing the service delivery protests that have engulfed the province since last year, Mabuza said they were the result of municipalities' lack of financial management, leadership and institutional capacity.

"We need to find a long-term solution to the service delivery protests, therefore we will convene a local government summit before the end of this month as a way of intervention. The aim of the summit is to craft practical programmes that will assist municipalities to be more people-centred and service delivery driven," said Mabuza.

Mabuza said communities' dissatisfaction with poor performance by municipalities was not an excuse to destroy government or private property.

"I must also mention that, as a democratic state, we respect the right of people to voice their concerns through protests. However, violence such as the destruction of property and intimidation will not be tolerated."

The premier said poor performance and communication, as well as the "social distance" between municipalities and the people they serve, should be a focus point at the upcoming summit.