242nd Independence Day of the United States of America celebrations
REMARKS BY THE LEADER OF GOVERNMENT BUSINES SIHLE ZIKALALA ON THE OCCASION OF THE CELEBRATION OF THE US INDEPENDENCE DAY
VENUE: CONSUL GENERAL RESIDENCE IN DURBAN NORTH
KWAZULU NATAL, SOUTH AFRICA
DATE: 28 JUNE 2018
(Protocol to be updated at the event)
Master of Ceremonies;
Consul General of the US, Excellency Sherry Sykes and your partner
Captains of Industry
Leaders of society
Representatives from various communities;
First and foremost, I would like to extend an apology on behalf of the Premier of the Province of KwaZulu-Natal Willies Mchunu.
He was looking forward to celebrating this day with you but unfortunately he could not make it due to other urgent commitments.
Programme Director, We would like to express our appreciation to Her Excellency Sherry Sykes – the Consul General. We thank you for extending an invitation to the provincial government.
The Premier has asked me to inform you that the entire provincial executive council, which he leads, is committed to working with you to strengthen ties between the people of this province and the people of the United States of America.
Your Excellency, I was pleased following your appointment when you indicated that you saw your new role here in KZN as one where you hope to work with government and the people of this province.
You singled out areas such as fighting HIV and Aids, the provision of quality education and driving socio-economic development.
We have benefited from the Global Fund to Fight HIV and Aids in which the US Government is the largest contributor.
This programme has yielded positive results that are beyond our expectation. We are grateful that the Global Fund pledged over R400 million for this programme over three years starting in April 2016. Our main target is young girls.
In addition, this province has benefited from the partnership involving the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Nike Foundation.
This partnership involves a new initiative aimed at reducing new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women in selected high HIV-burden municipalities in this province.
Your Excellency, on the education front, I have been informed about your work this week in Newcastle where the US Government is assisting with the training of teachers.
As the provincial government we welcome your intervention because we view teachers as agents of change who must facilitate the acquisition of knowledge required to drive socio-economic development.
Your Excellency - we want to work with your office to improve both the standard of education and the learning experience of our learners.
As the province we have reached a point where we all agree that education of our children is sacrosanct and thus nothing should be allowed to get between learners and quality education.
It is for these reasons that yesterday - I and other members of the executive council visited schools in UMkhanyakude District – in the Far North of this province.
This forms part of Cabinet Operation Sukuma Sakhe wherein we are mobilizing communities and all stakeholders to be involved in the provision of quality education.
Our message to the educators is very clear:-
Firstly, teachers must be in school, in a class - on time and teaching.
Secondly, learners must be in class, on time - learning and respecting the teachers.
These are non-negotiable principles that we believe will ensure that we improve our education. Quality education has reshaped life in most countries including the United States.
It has made it possible for the millions of people to live a fulfilling life. Education is the engine of the economy. No doubt, without quality education, there can be no socio-economic development in this province.
Honoured guests, few months ago – Her Excellency visited the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zones. This was indeed a clear demonstration of her commitment in accelerating investment into this province.
Over the past three years we have been aggressively marketing IDZ in national and international platforms through conferences, seminars and exhibitions.
With your visit to the Zone, we are hopeful that you will extend an invitation to the US based companies to consider visiting the area to explore investments.
We are keen to see investments in sectors such as manufacturing, energy, ICT and the oceans economy.
The oceans economy is critical considering the fact that IDZ is strategically located in the busiest industrial port on the Northern – Eastern South African coast.
With regards to ICT, as government we have invested more than R35 million to establish a Techno Hub in the IDZ. We want our Techno Hub to be the catalyst for the 4th Industrial Revolution in KZN.
Over the past decade the world has undergone a process of rapid innovation that has irrevocably altered the face of business. Our social behaviour and even the way the entire industrial sectors are organised has been altered by the digital communication.
The knowledge economy is rapidly becoming the economy of the future and ignoring this will leave KZN behind. It is for these reasons that we want our Techno Hub to be at the forefront of the introduction of latest technology.
We want to work with US based tertiary institutions and research organisations in order to understand the fourth industrial revolution better with all that it brings.
We understand that the revolution is likely to bring new opportunities for new skills and technology. In this regard, we want to ensure that our infrastructure development and our support structures are geared for this future.
Your Excellency and honoured guests, since the ANC led government took over in 2004, the provincial government has hosted numerous business delegations from the US.
We have also undertaken fact-finding missions to the US over the past few years.
We have sent through delegations from KZN to attend many conferences in the US such as the African Rainbow Push Conference in Chicago organized by Reverend Jessie Jackson.
We have also hosted the African Economic Expansion Summit under the umbrella of African Rainbow Push. This is in addition to the Annual African Renaissance Conference and Festival.
We pause here to remember the late Rev James Orange from the United States who always made it a point to attend the African Renaissance Conference and Festival.
He led the delegation representing African people from the US and those in the Diaspora. We miss him as he had represented the strongest bond between the African people on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
It needs to be remembered that the origins of our contemporary liberation struggle is closely associated with the inspiration from many other struggles.
Amongst these were the struggles of the descendants of the slaves that had been forcibly removed from our soil who continued the fight over generations in the North and South America and other parts of the Western world for the return to their country of origin -Africa.
There is a direct link between the African intellectuals who studied abroad and some of the leading luminaries and proponents of the Pan Africanist thinking in America, such as Marcus Garvey, DEB Du Bois and Booker T Washington.
Many of these leaders of the African American people had many discussions with some of the pioneers of the liberation struggle in the continent, such as first President of the AN Dr J.L. Dube, Dr Pixley ka Isaka Seme, Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Haile Sellasie and many others who rose to lead their countries out of colonialism.
Dr Dube had even founded a school in Ohlange a few kilometers from here and modeled it on the Tuskegee Institute founded by Booker T Washington to “train the mind, the heart and the hand.”
The work of Mahatma Gandhi especially the peaceful protests (known as satyagraha) formed the main inspiration for the civil rights movement led by Dr Martin Luther King Junior, amongst others. He was also in close communication with ANC President Inkosi Albert Luthuli who led our struggle during the most challenging time in our history.
The ANC presidents I have mentioned - Rev John Langalibalele Dube, Dr Pixley ka Isaka Seme and Inkosi Albert Luthuli were from KZN.
Honoured Guests, I am highlighting this history to underpin the importance of the relationship between KZN and the USA.
I am glad that in my meeting with Her Excellency weeks ago, we reached broad agreements on strengthening KwaZulu-Natal and US relationship for the benefit of our people.
Both of us have acknowledged that a sound and rapidly growing KZN economy serves the economic development of the SADC region and that of the continent at large.
As we celebrate US Independence Day we want to reiterate that the provincial government will continue to facilitate people-to-people contact between US and KZN.
We also want to build KZN into a modernized province. To achieve this, we are committed to expanding cooperation agreements and partnerships in key strategic sectors such as agriculture, agri-processing, biofuels, biochemicals, ITC and shipping.
The leadership of the ANC in KZN has a vision for province that offers equal development opportunities to all people irrespective of their race. Importantly, the ANC believes that a developing and stable Africa is the biggest contribution to world peace and prosperity.
Economic development brings peace and raises standards of living. People are afforded quality education and decent jobs. Most importantly, economic freedom gives ordinary members of society the power to determine their destiny. In this way democracy is strengthened.
As we celebrate this day it is my sincere wish that the relations between the two countries will move up to a new stage so that we may create a better life for the people of this province.
I thank you