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Speech by the Deputy Minister of the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Honourable Prof. Hlengiwe Mkhize, MP
Heritage Month Celebration
At Saul Tsotetsi Sports Centre, Zone 14 Sebokeng
15 September 2015
Theme: “Our Indigenous Knowledge, Our Heritage: Towards the Identification, Promotion and Preservation of South African’s Living Heritage.”
Thank you Programme Director for the opportunity given.
In South Africa, our beloved country, we spend the month of September commemorating the country’s rich culture and heritage. This period gives each and every one of us an opportunity to celebrate culture and the diversity of our beliefs and traditions, all done in the wider context of a nation that belongs to all its people.
Our theme for the commemoration of Heritage Month is: “Our Indigenous Knowledge, Our Heritage: Towards the Identification, Promotion and Preservation of South African’s Living Heritage”. As we move our country towards this promotion and preservation of our living heritage, it is import to reflect on our culture which is an untold story. It should not just end with us meeting in gathering such as this one and in the beautiful attires which we have put on today in celebration of heritage day. Our diverse culture should help us in promoting social cohesion amongst ourselves and also help us to deal with the social ills experienced by our different communities.
At 21 years, our democracy is still youthful and this gives us a chance as the society to steadfastly abide by the values which our democracy subscribes to.
Our Constitution, one of the most progressive in the world, provides strong bases for building a democratic and inclusive state. Our democracy is anchored on the following pillars:
We subscribe to non-racism, non-sexism, social justice, fundamental human rights and the democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom as listed in the Bill of Rights, a cornerstone of democracy in South Africa. South Africa’s path to nation building allows individual culture, languages and identities to become building blocks of a greater whole.
Our policies and the constitution are people centred. They demand that we respect all our people, honour our integrity and be committed to service delivery.
• Co-operative government
Our constitution and policies calls for co-operation within different spheres of government.
• Professionalism and good institutional governance
Our constitution demands that as the government we should be accountable and transparent, provide value for money, be customer-focused and strive for the highest service quality for the benefit of the entire nation.
From the onset, social cohesion has always been a priority for the Democratic Government. In an address marking Heritage Day in 1996, former President Tata Nelson Mandela stated:
"When our first democratically-elected government decided to make Heritage Day one of our national days, we did so because we knew that our rich and varied cultural heritage has a profound power to help build our new nation."
The vision has not changed, we are still on an epoch of construction and reinforcing our nation.
Our Own Heritage as an Economic Asset to Our Country
The New Development Plan (NDP) which is the country's vision until 2030 encourages us to us our heritage and culture as an asset to generate employment. Our country is home to nine world heritage sites and an area of global niche tourism. According to the assessments made by the Planning Commission; culture, the arts and other parts of the creative economy have the potential to generate employment and export earnings. Foreigners from other countries visit South Africa to see, understand and learn about its peoples and cultures. The arts and related creative economy sector are thus an asset that needs investment to provide opportunities for more people, often outside of the formal economy. In support of employment and growth, the following will be pursued in the plan:
• The retail sector will be encouraged to procure goods and services aimed at stimulating local producers, and especially small and expanding firms.
• Further investigation will be conducted on opportunities to stimulate sustainable small-scale retail and cooperative buying, with the aim of reducing costs in townships and rural areas, and stimulating related employment.
• South African retail operations in the region will be encouraged to supply stores with South African products, and also be supported to develop suppliers within the region in support of regional industrialisation objectives.
• Information technology-enabled service exports will be promoted, with the aim of attracting United States, United Kingdom and Indian business-process outsourcing. South Africa should become a leading provider of information technology-enabled services globally, with services integrated into the region.
• Rising consumption of the lower-income groups in South Africa and the region should stimulate retail employment and demand for supplier industries. The tourism industry and the creative economy sector are labour intensive, and stimulate the growth of small businesses. They can develop other spin-offs, such as foreign direct investment and the crafts industry. Increased airline competition would help lower costs of travel.
Some of South Africa’s Heritage Sites
As a country we are home to eight of the 981 World Heritage Sites which are recognised by the United Nations Educational and Scientific Organisation as places of outstanding cultural and historical importance. Some of these sites are:
South Africa is also home to eight of the 981 World Heritage Sites which are recognised by the United Nations Educational and Scientific Organisation as places of outstanding cultural and historical importance. These sites are:
• Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape in Limpopo
• Robben Island in the Western Cape
• Cradle of Humankind in Gauteng
• the Cape Floral Region in both the Western and Eastern Cape
• Vredefort Dome in the Free State
• uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park
• Isimangaliso Wetland Park in KwaZulu- Natal
• Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape in the Northern Cape.
These sites should teach us of the values that we should embrace as enshrined in our constitution and our value system as a country.
Let us all join in and help preserve and spread awareness of our heritage resources. They are not just symbols of our past, but they are the foundation for our future as well.
Culture and ICTs as Drivers of Sustainable Development
According to the United Nations’ (UN) specialized agency, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); culture, in its diverse manifestations - from tangible and intangible cultural heritage to cultural and creative industries - is a driver and enabler of the economic, social and environmental aspects of sustainable development.
UNESCO believes that ICTs have a direct impact on the way cultural expressions are created, produced, disseminated and accessed and also play an increasingly pertinent role in the safeguarding and transmission of cultural heritage.
For this to be realised, ICTs must be progressively incorporated into the cultural and creative sectors, and this will in turn create employment and boost trade and economies, while also promoting social cohesion, mutual understanding and self-esteem.
Active participation from government, academia and civil society partners, as well as local communities is necessary to ensure that ICTs applied to the cultural and creative sectors reaches the potential of contributing to more effective and sustainable development policies that can yield enhanced, inclusive and equitable development outcomes.
Department of Telecommunications & Postal Services Mandate
One of our core functions at the Department of Telecommunications & Postal Services is to contribute to the development of an inclusive information society. This is aimed at establishing South Africa as an advanced information-based society in which information and ICT tools are key drivers of economic and societal development.
We are also tasked with the duty of e-Skilling the nation for equitable prosperity and global competitiveness. We are working towards a point wherein all content will be available digitally. This will most importantly help in recording our cultural heritage so as to preserve it for our future generations. Schools are now acting as technological hubs; educational content is now available digitally. A cellular phone is no longer just a means of talking to another person but a source of digital information whereby people can gain access to a wealth of information on the internet.
Women in Agriculture and Rural Development (WARD)
It is important for the two structures, i.e. Women in Agriculture and Rural Development (WARD) as well as Youth in Agriculture and Rural Development (YARD), launched here today to take cognisant of the advantages which ICT has for their chosen path. Early adoption also has added benefits as the usage will become a norm going forth.
The information and Telecommunications Sector has been declared by government in the Industrial Policy Action Plan as a game changer. Broadband roll-out, which is one of the main activities in the sector features as one of the President’s nine-point plan to boost the economy. It is because of the utilities such as broadband which makes the sector cross-cutting and useful to all the other sector including the agricultural sector. Other points in the President’s nine-point plan includes:
• Upping the agricultural value chain;
• Unlocking the potential of SMMEs, cooperatives, townships and rural enterprises;
The most effective way of achieving these is by making use of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs). The use of ICTs is already a reality hence the prioritization of projects such as broadband roll-out. Like any other government in the developed countries our government has realised the usefulness of ICTs as an enabler in other sectors. The comparative advantage of big companies in agriculture and agro-processing is their use of ICTs as part of their trade methods and this should be the case for small scale farmers and subsistence farmers in order for them to become commercial farmers.
South Africa Connect – National Broadband Policy
As a department we are tasked with the role of making sure that every citizen is connected and further to this we are to ensure that all businesses and various sector are linked. This is done through our telecommunication networks and most recently the focus is on Broadband.
South Africa’s Broadband Policy was published on 06 December 2013. South Africa Connect gives expression to South Africa’s vision in the National Development Plan. South Africa Connect outlines a number of activities to improve broadband in South Africa. The vision for broadband is that by 2020, 100% of South Africans will have access to broadband services at 2.5% or less of the population’s average monthly income. A four-pronged strategy, with both supply- and demand- side interventions will close the identified gaps between the current status of broadband in the country and the vision in the NDP. The four interventions are:
• Digital readiness – laying the foundations for South Africa’s broadband future
• Digital development – addressing needs and measuring sustainable roll-out
• Digital future – roadmap for public and private investment in the next generation broadband networks
• Digital opportunity – ensuring that South Africa harness the benefit of broadband based on skills, R&D, and innovation, entrepreneurship, and relevant content and applications
The Department has revised its Strategic Goals and Objectives to focus on specific Broadband Programme priorities. With regards to Digital development, the purpose is to catalyse broadband connectivity, aiming to provide access to broadband to 50 per cent of the population by 2016 and 90 per cent by 2020.
There are endless uses which broadband can be put to once rolled-out. Digital libraries can educate people around the world about our way of life, our culture and heritage. The preservation of our own culture and heritage can help us create economic centres.
Our President, His Excellency Jacob Zuma said during the State of the Nation Address, he said:
“The year 2015 will mark the beginning of the first phase of broadband roll-out. Government will connect offices in eight district municipalities. These are Dr. Kenneth Kaunda in North West, Gert Sibande in Mpumalanga, O.R. Tambo in the Eastern Cape, Pixley ka Seme in the Northern Cape, Thabo Mofutsanyane in the Free State, Umgungundlovu and Umzinyathi in KwaZulu-Natal, and Vhembe in Limpopo.”
These districts municipalities excludes municipalities in the golden triangle, which is Gauteng, Durban and Cape Town. This for me effectively means that a chance has been given to rural areas to improve. ICT sector is an enabler, with it a lot can be achieved.
Our Broadband Policy and its related strategies, places the Department in a position to coordinate and support the targets to achieve 100% broadband penetration by 2020 as well as transforming 70% of all front-line service to e-Service by 2019.
Through the four strategic pillars of this policy, the department will develop a citizen, business and government oriented e-strategy. Electronic applications which can be created through this strategy includes, but not limited to the following:
e - Agriculture: this is used for processes such as soil testing to ensure quality, determine weather trends, track stock theft and also be able to determine stock prices in the fresh produce market;
e - Procurement: By implementation of Broadband Policy, people will be connected irrespective of their geographic location and gain access to electronic information and services such as online tendering. All procurement services and processes will be automated to get rid of the delays which might arise and exclusion of rural entrepreneurs. Technology should bring the spheres of government much closer to each other making processes such as centralized procurement system a reality. The government can save a lot on costs if all the critical procurement are processed centrally.
e - Maritime: this is the automation of maritime biological life;
e - Weather: these are the services which enable citizens to get electronic weather updates wherever they are.
e - Villages: our villages can be improved by making use of the electronic services.
e - Rural Development: our endeavours towards rural development will get a real boost if we could bring in an electronic element towards their development.
e - Emergency services: some provinces experience a number of emergencies at a time and this service will ensure the swift handling of these emergencies
e - Environment: this can be used to track recent trends in climate change and help us to get on track with the global trends.
e - Health: the citizens stand to benefit more with the health services available to them readily on a digital platform.
Values Enshrined in the Constitution
South Africa has been called the rainbow nation because it is made up of so many diverse cultures. Our own culture must be used to pursue reconciliation and social justice. Through our culture and religion we can amend the past social ills. We all know that in the past the colonial laws highly prejudiced our cultures and as a result they are now still underdeveloped.
Let us all commemorate heritage month with the promotion of human dignity in our minds whilst upholding the good value systems embodied in our various cultures.
Looking deeply into our culture, there is an important role which music can play to bring people together and reconciling them with their culture. This can be done through the message packaged in our traditional music aimed specifically in nation building.
We must also remember that every chance that we get to celebrate our various cultures, it also becomes an opportunity to teach and enlighten others about who we really are and where we come from.
I thank you.