Jovial premier joins celebration

2016-05-04 06:00
THE general atmosphere at the Freedom Day celebration in Hopetown was that of excitement, with even the Northern Cape premier, Sylvia Lucas, joining in.   Photo: Boipelo Mere

THE general atmosphere at the Freedom Day celebration in Hopetown was that of excitement, with even the Northern Cape premier, Sylvia Lucas, joining in. Photo: Boipelo Mere

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THE Northern Cape Freedom Day celebration went ahead successfully, despite expectations that the event at the Steynville Stadium in Hopetown would not happen.

On Tuesday, 26 April, Volksblad parent paper of Express Northen Cape, reported a disagreement between the mayor and the Northern Cape government concerning the release of the keys to the stadium.

The mayor, Danny Jonas, reportedly refused to make the stadium available, suggesting that the Freedom Day celebration be held in the community hall.

However, buses and taxis bussed in thousands of excited Freedom Day revellers from all over the Pixley ka Seme and Francis Baard District Municipalities to the stadium.

Although a few people were spotted wearing ANC T-shirts, the event was not used as a political event.

The general atmosphere was that of excitement. Even the Northern Cape premier, Sylvia Lucas, was unusually exuberant, taking selfies and shaking hands with members of the community.

The actual event was addressed by, amongst others, Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies and Premier Lucas.

In an interview after her speech, the premier expressed her dissappointment in the Thembelihle Municipality regarding lack of service delivery in Hopetown.

She admitted that there was a high rate of unemployment and substance abuse, especially amongst the youth in the small town.

Referring to a small block of houses known as the “Ouhuiskammertjies”, Lucas admited that various complaints had been recorded from the residents in those houses.

“Service delivery is a big issue here and we are actually disappointed in the Thembelihle Municipality,” said Lucas.

“The community complains about overcrowding. Too many people live in one house. There is usage of communal toilets and complaints that the municipality is not keeping them clean and collecting refuse regularly, highlighting that service delivery is still a problem, even 22 years later into democracy

“But at least we have been offering our help to some municipalities as the provincial government to make sure that they get there, but unfortunately you get cases where the people just do not want to take the extended hand to ensure that a difference is made.”

In terms of the provincial challenge, she highlighted that the province had been making strides, although there was still more that needed to be done.

She highlighted that the Northern Cape government was trying to address new needs, like shelter, water and basic services, that came up on a daily basis. These needs, according to Lucas, continue to come up on a daily basis through the development plan that was broadened by the use of renewable energy.

“We are still sitting with the challenge of youth unemployment where we are creating sustainable jobs through several programmes like the Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP) that we came up with. This will be more beneficial, especially in the smaller towns

“We want to acknowledge that there is still a lot to be done, even though we have made a lot of strides.”

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