OFFICIAL OPENING OF A COMMUNITY
EMPANGISWENI : DECEMBER 15, 2001
The Master of Ceremonies; Inkosi of the Zondo Clan; other amaKhosi present; the Mayor of the Municipal District of Zululand; other Mayors present; councillors and Indunas present; other distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. As this year draws to a close, I am pleased to have the opportunity to come to Empangisweni and share with this community a celebration of development to come. The community hall we open today is a triumph for the people of Empangisweni. In this place, community members will meet to discuss a variety of issues and develop projects to meet the needs highlighted in this forum. From here, initiatives will be set in motion which may see a new quality of life generated in Empangisweni. I encourage each of you to adopt this place as a centre of community solidarity. This building is just bricks and cement. Only as people begin to congregate here, express themselves here, listen to one another and act on the goodwill which I believe lies at the heart of this community, will this building become a centre of community life.
Let this be a place where vision takes form and begins to benefit those most in need of improvement and change in their circumstances. The delivery of this community hall has been achieved through the assistance of the district municipality and is an example of those in leadership working together. Through mutual effort and co-operation, the district municipality and traditional authority of this area have created a venue in which the people of Empangisweni may discuss the future in these very difficult times. I wish to congratulate Inkosi Zondo on the completion of this project and thank him for giving us the opportunity to officially dedicate this hall to the people of Empangisweni. This project meets an immediate need to get people talking and make their voices heard.
The reason why I accepted the invitation from Inkosi of the Zondo Clan to be here today is that today is a day of hope for the people of Empangisweni. Through the wonderful leadership of our Mayor of the Zululand District Municipality, Miss Zanele Magwaza, there are other projects which have been made possible through her exemplary leadership.
We have, for example, the Ingqayizivele Community Gardens. To me nothing is more important for our people at this time than food for families. I am very concerned to see the extent to which our people have become so lazy about cultivating even simple family gardens in order to have food for themselves and their children. I have been informed that there was some training that took place here between the 19th and 30th of November on how to develop community gardens. There was also some training for the Tholulwazi community gardens between the 19th and 30th of November, 2001 and that seedlings, for instance, were bought for the people costing R1,170.00.
When I was Chief Minister of KwaZulu, we had a programme to develop springs and to make boreholes for our communities. I am very proud of the fact that the Mayor and Council of the Zululand District Municipality have continued with the programme which I started under the erstwhile KwaZulu Government, and that it has a programme for boreholes under the Zondo Traditional Authority. There is a programme to grade roads and also to develop small-scale agricultural farming. I am informed that the project is 75 per cent towards completion and that the planning alone cost R149,340.00, with the total budget being R1,432,526.67.
I am also very proud of the fact that Inkosi himself is very engaged in setting an example for his people by proving that one can live well on farming. This gives me great hope for the future of our people everywhere.
The District Municipality also provided two sewing machines to begin sewing clubs in the area to assist our women to earn a living from sewing. It has also spent R400,000 for the refurbishment of classrooms in the area. I am informed that the Zululand District Municipality intends spending R240,000 on classrooms in the New Year 2002.
Our Mayor is not satisfied with money that comes only from government sources such as the equitable share. She is a go-getter in every sense of that word. For example, she sought and received money that the Municipality is spending on boreholes from the German Government. So you can see that I was not exaggerating when I said we have come to celebrate these modest achievements which are like a light at the end of a dark tunnel of suffering that our people have endured for so long.
Inkosi Zondo is one of our younger amaKhosi and, as I have already said, is one of those rare and exceptional leaders who lead by their own example. He is progressive in his thinking and has been supportive of development in this community. Amongst the many challenges faced here, as in countless communities across South Africa, is the great challenge of survival. We may be proud of Inkosi Zondo’s efforts particularly in this respect, for he has promoted farming in recognition of the fact that food security is our foremost priority for development. Any other stage of development depends upon people eating, and eating well. I myself am an old Inkosi and I have seen many changes throughout my life, but the immediacy of the need for food security has never altered. That is why I cannot bear not cultivating my family allotments each and every year.
The importance of ensuring proper and balanced nutrition is far greater than simply filling one’s stomach. One must take in the proper complement of proteins and carbohydrates to remain healthy and strong. Particularly in these times of the fire of HIV/AIDS which is spreading rapidly throughout our society, healthy living is vitally important. HIV weakens the immune system and an improper diet makes people weaker when they are infected, robbing them of years of life which they could have had. This community hall may become a place of information, where the truth about HIV/AIDS, and the facts about proper nutrition, preventative medicine and healthy lifestyles are discussed. This must be a place of talking in order to get things done and make things better in Empangisweni.
In this venue, people may meet with their elected representatives and strengthen a dialogue opened by democracy. As the leader of my Party, I have challenged every IFP local councillor to express the heart of the IFP by serving, face to face with community members, on the ground, in the community, among ordinary people. Our commitment to building South Africa’s development and prosperity from the ground up has always put the people first. As leaders in government and politics, we recognise the fact that we are here because you have given us a mandate. We are here on the strength of your support. And we are here to serve and make a difference in the community of Empangisweni, in this Province and in South Africa.
Development is all about empowering those who have the will and the vision, with the way and the know-how. The lack of resources burdening our country’s growth and development demands that communities become resourceful and creative, and take the initiative. For the full span of my political career I have come into South Africa’s poorest communities, witnessing the latent strength in their unity and the potential prosperity in their goodwill. When I speak of prosperity, I am not only thinking of financial wealth, but also of the riches of security, stability, peace and solidarity. The genuine liberation which I have pursued for all South Africans for almost half a century is greater than the right to vote. It encompasses the freedom to fulfil our destinies without a fear for physical safety, without the tragedy of inaccessible services and resources, without the despondency that comes from a lack of opportunity, without the limitations of disease, malnutrition and poor health-care, and without the silence, inactivity and despair that is the inheritance of a poor education.
Over the years, both during the apartheid era and now within our fledgling democracy, I have worked side by side with our country’s poorest communities, stimulating a hunger not for greater assistance, but for self-help and self-reliance. I have seen time and again from first-hand experience how self-help and self-reliance have brought greater community development than government hand-outs ever could. During apartheid, sufficient government assistance was withheld from our poorest communities. Today, South Africa just does not have sufficient resources available even to make redistribution a viable means of ensuring that every need is met. The vast ocean of need that continues to characterise many segments of our society, cannot be met by government alone. The goodwill, co-operation and active contribution of every South African, working hand in hand with a government of integrity and long-term vision, mandated and held accountable by the people, is the only formulae by which we will begin meeting needs, changing circumstances and developing South Africa towards its potential.
The call to a revolution of goodwill is familiar to this community, as it is to communities throughout South Africa. I believe the expression of goodwill encompasses adherence to the rule of law, acceptance of personal responsibility and an active involvement in raising the quality of life of those around us. In fact, in broad terms, goodwill is really at the centre of ubuntu botho. It is familiar to us. Goodwill must guide our decisions on how we will react to those in need, including those who are ill or physically suffering. The raging spread of HIV demands our attention and our reaction. There is already a substantial percentage of our population infected with HIV or suffering with AIDS. There are infected young people who cannot work and support themselves. There are babies and children who have become AIDS orphans. These are the immediate victims of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
As Africans, home-based care for the elderly and sick is a way of life. The enormous burden already placed on government to support AIDS patients cannot be allowed to escalate, just as the spread of the disease itself cannot be allowed to grow. It is time to discard the old suspicions and shed the light of information on to ignorance and fear. People with HIV/AIDS are still people. They still fall in love, make decisions, appreciate company and have important things to say. Let us not ignore or avoid them. Let us not be silent and pretend that dying is shameful. As equal citizens of South Africa we all have a contribution to make in our own individual ways. Those in need are also needed.
Nevertheless, HIV/AIDS is a tragedy that must be halted. The fight against the spread of this disease demands responsible, rational and moral action. It demands that each of us respect one another enough not to write a death sentence, and personally have a passion for life that supersedes short-term passions. This community hall may become the venue at which issues such as these are discussed and solutions are sought. In this place, opportunities for employment may be generated as people speak to one another and review what needs to be done for the development of this community. On a basic level, this community centre is where one person may express the need to repair his wall and another may know a bricklayer. Connecting the right people is a fundamental way of getting things done. This is true from local communities to national government.
As a place of meeting, this community hall will serve to bring greater development to Empangisweni. However, as I have mentioned, this is only a building and it requires the efforts of people to make it happen. The personal responsibility each one of us has to make our contribution and live in a way which does not compromise the contribution we may make, is coupled with the responsibility of choosing the right leaders. One of the essential components in the formulae for meeting needs and bringing development into our communities and our country, is that of a government that has the integrity, the experience and the political will to govern well. As such, elections are not a time to pay homage to current leadership, but a time to kick out those who lack leadership ability and call for those who are trusted, experienced and committed to serving. Democracy can only function properly when there is accountability to the people at every level.
I say these things today because I see in this community tremendous potential to effect change here and, by your example, beyond this region. I believe one should never despise the day of small beginnings. Today, as we gather to officially open the Empangisweni community hall, a new opportunity is being opened to strengthen unity and begin to change Empangisweni. It is from communities such as this that development may be generated. May this community hall become a centre of community life. With this fond wish, I declare the Empangisweni Hall officially open.