Address at the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park Tourism Infrastructure Project Launch, St. Lucia – 1999/12/01

St. Lucia, 4 December 1999

Master of Ceremonies, MEC Mabuyakhulu
Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi
Minister Valli Moosa
Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Mr. Lionel Mtshali
Traditional Leaders People of St. Lucia Ladies and Gentlemen:

We meet here today extremely proud as South Africans that the greater St. Lucia Wetlands has been listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site.

This means that together with Robben Island and the Sterkfontein Caves, St. Lucia takes its rightful place among the important natural and cultural icons of the world.

It also means that St. Lucia has been recognised as a place of global importance and that South Africa with its vast natural beauty is recognised as contributing to the cultural wealth of the world.

This places a heavy responsibility on all our shoulders as custodians of these special places to protect the heritage of sites such as St Lucia, not only for ourselves but for all of humanity; not only for the present generations but also for the generations to come.

At the same time, we are alive to the fact that here is a co-existence of beauty and poverty, of the pristine St Lucia lying side by side with the decay and underdevelopment of the vast area of Maputaland, and this therefore, poses a direct challenge to all of us to ensure that the positive impact of the recognition of St Lucia is used to change the face of the surrounding areas and bring reconstruction to the people in this part of our country.

St. Lucia’s listing as a World Heritage site should therefore be seen not as an end but as a new beginning to many ends. The challenge for us is not simply to preserve our special places, but also to develop them in such a manner that they are not simply for the benefit of the few, but that their conservation is used wisely for all who live in this region. The development of this site must continue to bring prosperity and create sustainable jobs for the ordinary people of Maputaland.

The progress we are making in St Lucia should be seen as part of government’s broader commitment to promote job creation through putting in place an enabling environment for sustainable development.

Since last year’s Presidential Jobs Summit, Government has worked with business and labour to create employment opportunities for millions of people. In many parts of the country there are already initiatives designed to make good on the commitments of the Summit.

One of the most important concerns of the Jobs Summit is initiatives around tourism, which, as we will all agree, is a sector of our economy that has the highest potential for rapid and sustainable job creation. Accordingly, the Greater St. Lucia area was selected as a lead project.

The Lubombo SDI encompasses north-eastern Kwazulu-Natal, southern Mozambique and eastern Swaziland, promotes cross-border co-operation and economic integration, simultaneously ensuring a coordinated approach to the region and stimulate economic growth and social development.

Within six months of starting the Lubombo SDI a major infrastructure delivery programme was put in place, with particular emphasis on transport. A key component of this process is the development of the Lubombo Spine Road, which links Hluhluwe and the N2 corridor with the Mozambican border at Ponta do Ouro.

This road opens large sections of Maputaland to tourism-based development and most importantly, improves local access to healthcare, schools, policing, markets and related opportunities. I am pleased to announce that the building of this road by the National Road Agency is ahead of schedule.

The construction of this road network places 160 000 people within 10km of all- weather surface roads and places 70 000 people living in high risk malaria areas within 5km of all-weather access.

It should also be noted that the historic Lubombo Malaria Protocol, a 5 year trans-national programme, undertaken by government in partnership with the private sector, is expected to bring about a significant reduction in the incidence of malaria infections in the high risk areas in Southern Africa.

Through the Jobs Summit process, R23-million has been committed by Public Works for implementation of this network and further finance will be sourced next year.

We are also here today to launch the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park Project. For at the heart of the SDI delivery programme is the development of the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park Authority and, with it, the tendering of lead investments.

Government has already allocated R32 million in this financial year for redevelopment through the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park Tourism Infrastructure Programme for which I will turn the sod today.

In this way, and also through the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Authority and investment process, we are addressing the needs of communities while at the same time demonstrating that development, growth and job creation can be combined with the conservation of bio-diversity.

At the same time, the learnerships programme currently under development by the Department of Labour will be used to address the short to medium-term skills requirements in the tourism industry in the Lubombo area. This will be of optimum benefit to the people of the region for they will become the managers and owners of the new tourism businesses.

I think you will agree with me that a lot has already been achieved through the programmes of the Jobs Summit and the Lubombo SDI. The Lubombo SDI is a successful example of the different levels of Government working together with our social partners to deliver on our commitment to economic growth.

Twelve months after the Jobs Summit, we can say that we have reached a mutual understanding among the various sectors about the need to increase sustainable employment.

While it is still early to make a categorical statement about the success of the Jobs Summit, there are some modest achievements that need to be acknowledged.

The Integrated Provincial Projects are a key innovation emanating from the Summit; and these projects, driven by the Department of Trade and Industry with the assistance of the Department of Labour in helping to manage the process of registering and advising work-seekers and helping them to enhance their skills, are bringing together government departments responsible for infrastructure development with private sector investors and the community.

This alignment of labour market policies with industry policies is what the Jobs Summit set out to achieve. More specifically, there has been active involvement of the business sector in the Tourism Sector.

Coming out of the Jobs Summit, business and government together with SATOUR launched on 16 September 1999 the International Marketing Action Plan funded to the tune of R165 million. The Business Trust has agreed to fund the learnerships we have already talked about by providing a grant of R80 million with the Department of Labour providing a further R35 million.

Another initiative stemming from the Jobs Summit is the Job Creation Trust sponsored by the trade union movement. A technical committee has been set up to investigate specific criteria for project funding, with projects funded by the Trust expected to be launched early next year.

Further, the Jobs Summit Agreement identified that “training and the constant upgrading of South Africa’s skills base is a fundamental requirement for a modern economy”. The Skills Development Levies Bill was passed to support expanded effort in this area. Government has committed R50 million to the National Skills Fund and this money is being used to support the training.

The Department of Education and the Business Trust have begun to operationalise the Jobs Summit commitment to the building of human capacity development and interventions in schooling to improve the efficiency of the schooling system through reducing repetition rates, improving schooling quality management and improving the effectiveness of schooling.

A range of programmes and projects have targeted measures to support the employment of women, and this includes the Department of Welfare’s Flagship Programme for unemployed women with children under five years. Commitment to the promotion and training of women in different sectors of the economy are being pursued in line with the implementation of the Skills Development Act and the Employment Equity Act. Domestic workers have been specifically targeted for skills and business training.

Government has pledged R20 million for creating equal opportunities in employment, education and training and entrepreneurship for people with disabilities.

Government has earmarked funds from the Poverty Relief Fund amounting to R1 billion for the year 1999/2000 to implement our commitments arising from the Jobs Summit Declaration. Poverty relief business funds have been appraised and forwarded to the Minister of Finance for approval.< blockquote>

It is clear that much has been done by government and our social partners in putting in place the proposals, plans and capacity arising out of the Jobs Summit. It is also clear that much remains to be done, but the basis has been laid.

With the will, commitment and hard work, we must ensure that we move forward faster as we implement our projects and programmes.

It is now up to us to seize the challenge and to build together through partnerships to ensure that St Lucia – this place of outstanding national and global value – continues to contribute to the renaissance of our people and our continent.

I thank you.

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