WARM greetings to you as we commemorate Women’s Month. Happy Women’s Month Every August, South Africa focuses on women-related programmes as a tribute to the women of 1956, who marched to the Union Buildings sending a strong unjust law message. This year marks 61 years when 20 000 women from all walks of life protested against the then pass laws, which restricted women’s freedom of movement and destabilised families and livelihoods. This year Women’s Month dawns on us in a time when our women are under the attack of increased violence. As the municipality, through men’s groups, we have made a decision to increase our work to empower men to embrace women. Throughout this month and beyond, our Special Programmes Unit will embark on programmes aimed at men and women empowerment. Public safety is our responsibility As part of reducing crime in Matatiele the municipality, through the community services department, installed 13 CCTV cameras. The purpose for this is to keep the town crime-free and maintain safety for the Matatiele community. It was discovered that elderly people are soft targets. They are robbed by those who pretend to assist them in withdrawing money from ATMs and elsewhere. Matatiele has grown as a town, therefore it is our responsibility, working with SAPS to ensure that our people are safe at all times and criminal activities are monitored. We ask our people to avoid walking at night, as criminal activities mostly happen at this time. One of the Constitutional objectives of local government is to provide democratic and accountable government for local communities. The public safety unit within the municipality is also in the process of strengthening by-laws in order to have a friendly, safe town. Electrification agenda continues We continue to address service delivery backlogs, with electricity being one of the main priorities. A number of projects, currently under way in Wards 3, 5, 9 and 18, bear witness to this. Through these electricity projects, more than 2000 households are being connected to the national electrification grid and jobs are being created. Matatiele Youth Empowerment Indaba On July 8 and 29, Matatiele Local Municipality gathered young people under one roof as part of information sharing. The Matatiele Youth Empowerment Indaba provided a platform for young people to network, learn and share ideas and concerns on how to develop and empower young people. The youth were encouraged to dream big and help take the municipality forward as the government continues to invest in their education and skills development. Over the two-day indaba, some of the topics covered included dealing with unemployment, skills empowerment, green economy, youth entrepreneurship and agriculture, healthy lifestyle and ICT for youth development.“Young lions, the time is now for you to apply your minds on how you are going to contribute towards building an inclusive economy that will create opportunities for the youth and which will reflect the demographics of the municipality,” acting mayor Cllr. Thembeka Dyantyi told delegates as she welcomed them to the indaba.The indaba provided a directive to the relevant stakeholders and government in particular, with regards to the development of young people of Matatiele. The government believes education and skills development are essential for the youth to help drive the economy as young people make up the majority of municipality’s population.From the indaba the municipality will have a youth empowerment strategy that will be a guiding tool for youth development in Matatiele. A key factor for the government is the focus on youth in public employment schemes as well as in the entrepreneurial sector.A pledge was made by panelists who discussed jobs and entrepreneurship to work together to promote youth development. The youth proposed that a youth office and structure must be formed to implement youth related programmes or agenda. “A fund from the municipality and government departments must be set aside to support businesses owned by young people”, the youth said. The municipality would like to extend a word of gratitude to all stakeholders that came through and showed interest in developing the youth of Matatiele. We are a destination of choice and excellence.