Official Opening of the Kwa Mpanza Community Hall in Ward 5, Ezimfabeni




His Worship the Mayor of Ulundi, Councillor WM Ntshangase; the Deputy Mayor, the Honourable Speaker and Members of EXCO of Ulundi Local Municipality; the Deputies who are running affairs of the Clan; Councillors and Ward Committees; and all the members of this community.

Good governance means listening. It means looking to the needs of a community and doing what it takes to meet those needs. I am proud of the leadership in Ulundi for driving good governance in this community. I thank our Mayor and his Municipal Council for their foresight in providing this very important facility to the people of Ezimfabeni.

Today, we officially hand over this community hall, knowing that it has the potential to become a centre of community life. It is not just a building. Within these walls, unity can be created, solutions can be found and conversations can be held that will change many lives. Meetings can be held regardless of the weather, unlike the past when important meetings had to be cancelled on account of weather conditions.

The partnership in Ulundi between the people and your elected representatives has brought real benefits. We are fortunate here, because political stability has ensured good governance. When the IFP received your electoral mandate to govern in both the local and the district municipalities, the doors were opened for effective and efficient governance. No one here can be in any doubt that on the day of the local government elections, we all had to cast our votes. This is the result of our casting our votes.

Now there is good communication and a strong working relationship between Ulundi Local Municipality and Zululand District Municipality. And there is a strong partnership between your local leaders and you; the people we exist to serve. I therefore want to thank you for choosing a leadership you can trust in Ulundi. The provision of this facility proves that you chose the right people to serve you.

This community hall was built to serve the needs of you and your family. There are community halls across this district, but we believe you shouldn’t have to travel long distances to get to a community hall. There should be one here, right where you live. Because this is where community happens.

This is where you will meet when your leaders want to talk to you. When your representatives report back on the work we are doing, and when decisions need to be made on the basis of your needs, meetings will be held here. Here, you will be heard and listened to, so that you can become an active participant in local governance. That is the way governance should work; with your input. This building belongs to you. Our municipality has provided it for us. We should take good care of it.

Good governance requires constant and open communication. That is what we want in Ulundi. So it’s important that we have a place where people can meet. We look forward to many discussions in this Hall on what is needed, what is being done, and how we can build the strongest community possible. We know that the Inkosi’s Deputy and the Induna will decide who will keep the keys and who will keep it neat and clean.

I invite you to meet here to discuss community projects and cooperatives. I invite youth groups and women’s organisations to use this Hall, and I encourage NGOs to use this space for a variety of community services, from training in first aid, to hosting support groups for those who have experienced trauma, such as rape. The potential uses for this building are endless. In other words this structure is not just a decoration. It must be fully used for the purposes for which it was built.

But there are two activities I long to see at this community hall. The first is support for families who are having to get by without both parents in the home.

I believe that strong families are the foundation of strong communities. I also know that many families are being raised and supported by single mothers, grandmothers or even children. This is a simple fact of the current economic climate, which forces job seekers to leave home in search of an income.

These families need support. You need financial assistance from government, through social grants. But you also need moral support, in the form of counselling, guidance, skills training and information. Many of you weren’t expecting to be raising children at this stage. It’s a tough job, and a very important one. You need support.

I am grateful for the crèches that operate in this community, with the assistance of the Local Municipality. But it worries me that we don’t have greater resources to focus on Early Childhood Development. Unfortunately, local governance still receives the smallest share of our country’s budget, despite the fact that this where a real impact can be made in people’s lives.

Our municipality needs to get the support of government to start a discussion on Early Childhood Development. This is an important foundation for our children. If we can give them that, they will be better equipped to succeed in school, and are more likely to stay in school and gain a good education. That will give our children a much better start.

We value our children and our youth. It is part of our culture and is expressed through our traditions, which are driven by His Majesty the King and our Amakhosi. With this emphasis on the wellbeing of our youth, the second activity I long to see at this Community Hall is the development of skills training for young people.

We need groups of people; young and old, to form groups to do things with their hands. Whether it is with beadwork or woodwork.

I encourage the municipality to use this place as a place for skills training, because an increase in skills will bring a decrease in unemployment. We need to equip and empower our youth, so that they can become self-reliant. Social grants are good and necessary in a society like ours, where so many people are struggling. But if we can get the next generation working, we can break the cycle of poverty and create something new in Ulundi. But when we already have more than 17 million people depending on social grants, it is clear that as a community, or as a Nation, we cannot depend just on them.

I am excited to see our youth connected to their representatives in governance, so that they can become empowered and informed citizens, able to participate in decision making and drive development. I urge young people to get involved in governance and politics. Make your mark as a community leader. Become a champion of development.

It’s important that this Hall becomes a place of conversations. Not just conversations about celebrities and soccer matches, but about life issues, like education, health, and managing personal finances. The fight for health, for instance, can’t be restricted to the local clinic. It must take place here too, at this Community Hall. This must become a centre of information; a place where outreach projects can be birthed and coordinated, to ensure that everyone receives the assistance they need.

That is the meaning of community. It’s the outward expression of Ubuntu Botho. Let us ensure that this Community Hall becomes a place where people are brought together, so that we can create unity of purpose. When we have a sense of shared vision, it will be easier to work together to bring upliftment in Ulundi. Social cohesion ensures that we’re all looking out for one another.

When we work together as a community, we also reduce crime, and we reduce the incidence of domestic violence and abuse. This is a fight the police cannot win on their own. We need to do all we can to foster security and stability in our communities. That means protecting our women and children. They may be the most vulnerable members of our society, but they carry a large part of the responsibility for running households and keeping families fed. They deserve our respect and protection.

I lastly thank the Mayor and EXCO for this occasion which has made it possible for me to be in the midst of the people I serve.

As I said, strong families make strong communities. We need to see our community values strengthened. That can happen through the activities in this Hall. I therefore welcome this opening, with enthusiasm for the good that it can bring if you choose to use it. May this be a place of unity, solutions and hope.

I thank you.