President Zuma Celebrates Disability Day With GSDM Executive Mayor Nhlabathi
Having to wait more than three-hours did not really deter the 5000 people who patiently wanted to see President Jacob Zuma address them during the celebration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 4.
The high profile event led by President Zuma, was attended by Ministers, MECs, Executive Mayors, Councillors and the community – who were all hosted by Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza. The event was held at Hoerskool Bergvlam in Mbombela Municipality, Nelspruit. Ias a road show of the Presidency, and it coincided with the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3. President Zuma celebrated the day with people of Mpumalanga through the Siyahlola Performance Monitoring Dialogue. People from all nine provinces across the country attended the event, which was well organised, and guests were served with breakfast and lunch.
Being hosted by Premier David Mabuza, President Zuma was accompanied by Cabinet Ministers: Angie Motshekga (Basic Education), Bathabile Dlamini (Social Development), Lulu Xingwana Women, Youth, Children and People with Disabilities and her deputy Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, Collins Chabane (Minister in the Presidency in the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation ) and his Deputy Minister Obed Bapela, Mildred Olifant (Labour) and Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development Andries Nel.
Earlier in the morning, President Zuma could not land at the airport in Mbombela due to bad weather, but Premier Mabuza continued with the job at hand of visiting the site projects that benefit people with disabilities around Mbombela with MECs and the Executive Mayors.
Gert Sibande District Municipality’s Executive Mayor Councillor Mishack Nhlabathi was also part of the entourage that visited the sites. Councillor Nhlabathi later joined the President when he addressed guests who had come to celebrate the day and also given time to raise critical questions that affect them.
When President Zuma and his entourage eventually arrived at the venue after driving from Pretoria to Mbombela, guests were given an opportunity to engage Government with any fear of reprisals – no matter what questions they wanted to raise.
President Zuma gave them a leeway and told them to ask the Government representatives any kind of questions that they felt they wanted answered.
He said: “We need to create a situation where government interacts with people. Today we are celebrating the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and it makes sense that we tackle issues that also affect them.
“I am happy that earlier on Minister Collins Chabane said they had collected some questions that were raised before we came here and we need to answer those questions too. We are creating an opportunity where you interact with the three spheres of Government – from National, Provincial and at Municipal level.
“We want to know what is happening at one go so that we are able to respond to issues. This is keeping with our Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation, and this is why we introduced this department so that it keeps Government in check. We need you as people to talk directly to us and not through the middlemen because they might end up interpreting things wrong.”
He added: “We want you to speak your mind and we need to know if we are doing things right or not. We might prefer to build you roads, and only to find out that people need water and electricity. Ask for clarity if you don’t understand what Government is doing.
“You can comment on issues being raised. Criticize if you want, and if you want to praise Government, then praise it. Let the Premier (DD Mabuza) and the MECs not intimidate you. I’m here to protect you today. We are here today as Government that works for you as a reality, and not a token.”
Different speakers who suffer from different kinds of disabilities from Down Syndrome, Albinism and those who claim they are not given business opportunities by agencies like NYDA, vented their frustrations and anger.
Minister Chabane also reported that as required by the law, the Office of the Premier (led by David Mabuza) Human Settlement led by MEC Siphosezwe Masango and MEC Dikeledi Mahlangu’s Public Works, Roads & Transport have all exceeded the two percent which is required by the law to hire persons with disabilities.
Meanwhile, Gert Sibande District Municipality Executive Mayor Councillor Mishack Nhlabathi the District will also follow the same routine of hiring two percent of persons with disabilities.
He says: “As a District, we must also hire four percent of person with disabilities in learnerships. In our Municipality, we will also make sure that going forward, we also follow the law in making sure that persons with disabilities get equal opportunities.
But they also said they were grateful to Government for giving them opportunities to shine in different spheres and make a difference in their communities. They also called for the sign language to be included as the 12th official language in South Africa.
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