IN a Women’s Day speech delivered in Msinga by uMzinyathi District Mayor Petros Ngubane, he said that the fight against the Aids epidemic in uMzinyathi is being weakened by “blessers”. He expressed his concern at the high rate of abductions of young girls and teenage pregnancy complicating the battle against new HIV infections in uMzinyathi. A plan to encourage young girls to remain virgins and pursue education is in the pipeline according to the mayor.The plan will form part of campaigns with several incentives such as educational funding and assisting young girls to obtain a driver’s licenses as part of the campaign.In national media coverage of the speech it was claimed that the Mayor had said that R20 million had been set aside to deal with solving these problems. The Greytown Gazette requested details from uMzinyathi mayor and the following statement was received:“uMzinyathi District Municipality provides water and sanitation to its community but as a district municipality we cannot just focus on that alone, therefore the uMzinyathi District council in its budget for 2018/2019 financial year, have set aside an amount of R20 million to provide other services to the community as part of its initiative to teach, coach, train and support the community under Priority Programmes and Local Economic Development Programmes, which are as follows:• People with disabilities• People living with HIV/AIDS• Operation Sukuma Sakhe• Elderly and Widows• Children and Youth• Rural Horse Riding Programme• Women and Men (Gender programmes)• Public consultation • Sport Development • Indigenous Games• District Cultural Event• Mayoral Imbizo• Development Agency Development • Tourism Projects• LED Projects (Public Participation) The R20 million the mayor alluded to during the Women’s Day event in Msinga covers these programmes and doesn’t only cover youth programmes. As uMzinyathi we want to encourage everyone in the district to be self-reliant hence these above programmes. We have projects currently active under these programmes, like the wonder pot programme for women throughout the district, whereby we provide raw materials for women to make these wonder pots and they sell them to make a living. We also have a number of co-operatives we are supplying with agriculture inputs to start garden projects in the district.” STOP PRESS uMzinyathi mayor Ngubane and municipal manager are currently attending an opening of exhibitions at KKV-B Artists Collective Workshop in Gerlesborg, Hamburgsund, Sweden. This follows on a workshop supported by uMzinyathi District Municipality and Msinga Municipality held in May at Rorke’s Drift. The aim is to seek artist partners within the KKV-B’s 300 artist members and their vast network and all artists connected to Rorkes Drift Art Centre, Indonsa and the Bat Centre in Durban. “This is such an eye-opening experience that we hope will yield more positive exchanges between uMzinyathi, Msinga and Sweden, and not only in arts and craft but in other areas that will be beneficial to our rural communities throughout uMzinyathi. . “We want our people to be self-sufficient and self-reliant at all times, and I believe this programme is a great start,” said Ngubane.At this stage it is assumed that the cost of this trip by the mayor and MM is being covered by uMzinyathi and Msinga.