Speech by the Deputy Minister of the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services,
Honourable Prof. Hlengiwe Mkhize
During The Commemoration of 16 Days of Activism Against Violence on Women and Children
Elukwatini, Chief Albert Luthuli Local Municipality
27 November 2015
Theme: “Count me in: together moving a non-violent South Africa forward.”
Executive Mayor of Gert Sibande District Municipality, Cllr MPP Nhlabathi
Executive Mayor of Chief Albert Luthuli Local Municipality – Cllr B.P Shiba
Mpumalanga MEC of Economic Development, Mr. Eric Kholwane
Councillor F.J Ntuli
Councillor M Nkosi
Chief Whip of Chief Albert Luthuli Local Municipality – Cllr
USAASA Representative Mr. Kholisile Mpophoma
Ladies and Gentlemen
Let me first start by thanking the Gert Sibande District Municipality for heeding to our call when we said to them, point us to your poor local municipalities. A good leadership is the one which puts the needs of people first.
THE CSIR STUDY
Prior to our national broadband rollout project, is was discovered that the ICT market structure was inefficient, costly, duplicates infrastructure in urban areas and could not roll-out ICT infrastructure and services to reach all South Africans in line with the long term vision of a connected society. In order to be able to rollout broadband equitably, the department partnered with the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to conduct a broadband audit throughout the country. This entailed the process of identifying which areas were connected to broadband and who were the owners of this broadband. Through the study, it was revealed that connectivity was dense in urban areas whereas in rural areas it was sparse. The major problem for rural areas was that there will either be no point of presence or if ever there, the problem will be last mile connectivity.
Our honourable President, His Excellency Jacob Zuma during his State of the Nation Address earlier this year 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.”
Phase 1 is intended to connect 4444 schools, 580 clinics, 182 police stations and 572 government facilities. For Gert Sibande District Municipality, a total of 807 facilities will be connected, these includes: 541 Schools, 37 Police Stations, 74 Health Facilities, 31 Post Office, 2 Rural Community Centres, 113 Government Departments/Buildings and 9 Thusong Centres. We are glad to be joined by representatives from USAASA which is one of our agencies and are currently nearing the conclusion of their broadband rollout project here in Chief Albert Luthuli Local Municipality. Up to so far 21 clinics within the Chief Albert Luthuli Local Municipality have been connected with each receiving two laptops, one tablet, one multipurpose printer and an access point for wi-fi connection. Conmmunities aroun these clinics are able to access this wi-fi connectivity. To this day, the network rollout has been completed. In total there are eight towers erected within this local municipality with three here in Elukwatini. What still needs to be installed is the access points for the last mile connectivity. They will still need to install Client Primise Equipment (CPE) for government buildings identified by the municipality.
16 DAYS OF ACTIVISM AGAINST VIOLENCE ON WOMEN AND CHILDREN
From the Wednesday 25 November 2015, the United Nations and all its member states, of which South Africa is one, embarked on the 16 Days of Activism Against Violence of Women and Children, Kicking it off with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The campaign will continue until 10 December 2015, which is an International Human Rights Day.
This year’s campaign is very special in that it happens during the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the most progressive road map to gender equality. In March 1995, world leaders met at the United Nations’ 59th Commission on the Status of Women and in September at the 70th General Assembly to take stock of the progress made and commit to take action to close the gaps that are holding women and girls back. This year a new Sustainable Development agenda, which for the first time includes specific targets and indicators on ending violence against women, also replaced the Millennium Development Goals.
The United Nations Secretary-General has this year once again invited all the member states to join the “UNiTE to End Violence against Women Campaign” and to “Orange the world: End violence against women and girls.”
MAKING USE OF ICTs TO COMBAT GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE
Initiatives have long been available in the ICT sector to bring to an end women and child abuse. Over the years, Telkom has sponsored the Childline Initiative which involved troubled children calling in and getting councelling over the phone. With the changing ICT landscape we now have initiates whereby children and women can log-in on a website chat to other people from various parts of the world and get assistance. During the previous year’s “16 Days of Activism Campaign” we have successfully launched a web-based solution, a website called www.ulwazi.ict.co.za for abused women in the North West Province.
WOMEN ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT
Some of the highlights of President Jacob Zuma’s speech during the launch 16 days of no violence against women and children at Mahikeng, North West were:
“Beyond the laws, we also need to look at socio-economic conditions which make women vulnerable. Unemployment forces some women to remain in relationships that are not conducive to their health and wellbeing.
If a woman depends on the abuser for housing and general living expenses, they are unlikely to act and report a violent partner to the police or to walk out on them to protect their lives and that of the children.
Women are also marginalised in terms of access to land, credit and finance, which makes them prone to violence and abuse.
The advancement of the economic empowerment of women is thus critical for us to fight the scourge of abuse and violence.”
Census results produced by the Business Women Association of South Africa’s 2015 Women in Leadership Census reports that “South African corporates need to rethink their approach to women leadership empowerment, if gender parity is to be achieved”. The report says that, out of the 293 JSE-listed companies surveyed, “just seven companies have female CEOs”. “Women account for 11,6% of directorships and chairperson positions, of which 9,2% hold chairperson positions and 2,4% are CEOs”. Furthermore, only 34 companies attained Top Performing Companies Status, which meant that they had more than 25% of women in executive managerial positions.
This is just a snap shot of the situation on management level for women, in reality we know economic emancipation for ordinary women on the ground is a continuous struggle as a result making women to be desperate and vulnerable to abuse. Since the dawn of our democracy government has been coming up with deliberate programmes to ensure the inclusion of women. Some of these programmes includes the following:
Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment – As government we have in the past introduced the Broad Economic Empowerment legislation to address inequality, but later realized that it only benefitted few individuals especially men. The BEE legislation has since been amended to be Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment in order for it to cater for the broader society. The legislation gives preference to women in business to ensure their inclusion in the mainstream economy and full participation thereof.
Support for Small Businesses – Government has made a deliberate move to support small businesses and cooperatives which is more reason why women should be encouraged to participate in these business ventures. A new ministry which focuses solely on the needs for small businesses has also been created. This new Ministry is aimed at fostering development of small businesses.
Access to Finance – We acknowledge that the main issue hindering women participation in the economy has always been access, access to financing and access to the markets.
Business Funding Opportunities for Women – There are funding opportunities provided by government exclusively for women. Examples of such funding is the Women Entrepreneurial Fund offered by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC). This fund applies to businesses with a minimum shareholding by women of at least 50%. The fund can apply to a start-up business or for expansions purposes. There is also the Isivande Women's Fund (IWF) which aims to accelerate women's economic empowerment by providing more affordable, usable and responsive finance than is currently available. The IWF assists with support services to enhance the success of businesses. It pursues deals involving start-up funding, business expansion, business rehabilitation, franchising and bridging finance. This just goes to show how committed our government is in ensuring the inclusion of women into the mainstream economy.
Continued Education for Women – The other important factor which will ensure continued inclusion and participation of women in the economy is education. Government has removed all the barriers which were hampering our people to have access to quality education. There are various efforts available to ensure that we are an educated nation. For those who were not able to finish the high school education there are TVET Colleges which assists in augmenting those lessons that were not acquired from high school and can act as a stepping stone towards Universities of technology. FETs are an education and training programme provided from Grades 10 to 12, including career-oriented education and training offered in technical colleges, community colleges and private colleges. FET colleges are playing a growing role in the provision of the intermediate to higher-level skills required to support economic growth and development. The other opportunities are available in Universities.
Bursary Opportunities – There are a lot of bursary opportunities available today than they were in the past. Some of these can be obtained from our State Owned Companies.
Industrialisation – One of the key economic priorities of government is industrialization. We encourage women to voluntarily participate in business ventures such as cooperatives and small businesses whereby they will give each other support. We should align ourselves with the priorities of government in order to benefit our societies and also benefit from incentives offered by government. I believe that as women we are capable and we can come up with industrial ideas which can later graduate from being backyard operations into huge firms which will employ the majority of our unemployed society.
As part of government’s radical economic transformation programme of this term of government, we aim to create hundred black industrialists in the next three years, who will participate in the productive sectors of the economy.
Preferential Procurement – Other measures include reforms to the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act (PPPFA), customising incentive schemes offered by government and its agencies, launching a new financial support scheme suitable for black industrialists and the establishment of an advisory panel on black industrialists.
Local Production and Procurement – Local procurement and increased domestic production will be at the centre of efforts to transform our economy and will be buoyed by a government undertaking to buy 75% of goods and services from South African producers.
YOUTH EMPOWERMENT THROUGH ICTs
We are grateful of the initiatives that are currently available in the ICT sector to empower the youth. Just yesterday we were with the community of Mamelodi whereby Telkom has gather about 3000 youth. These young people were assisted in terms of creating their own CVs, creating their online profile for job search, taught how to use the internet to market themselves for better job opportunities and given a sim card which will be loaded with airtime every month for twelve months. It is through such activities that our youth becomes aware and open to endless available opportunities.
THE DEPARTMENT’S MANDATE
The Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS) is charged with the responsibility of developing policies and programmes that will raise consciousness and appreciation of role that Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) can play in socio-economic development.
There are some of the things that at times we regard them as minor and as a result we overlook them. Take for instance the Vision, Mission and Mandate of a department such as ours. These are powerful direction giving phrases which commits us to serving your needs as the community.
• Vision – South Africa as a global leader in harnessing Information Communications Technologies for socio-economic development
• Mission - To enhance the wellbeing of the people of South Africa, African Continent and the world through the creation of sustainable and enabling Information and Communication Technology environment.
• Mandate- To create a vibrant ICT Sector that ensures that all South Africans have access to affordable and accessible ICT services in order to advance socio-economic development goals and support of the African Agenda and contribute to building a better world
Just listening to these three statements, we already have a duty to make use of the ICTs to curb the scourge of gender-based violence. We are saying this because nowadays abuse has even elevated to the online platform.
Interventions from the department includes the following:
• Children and ICT Strategy – is a guiding document for the conceptualisation, development and implementation of all Children’s Empowerment Programs by the branches within the department, State Owned Companies (SOCs), the private ICT Sector and Children’s Rights organisations and ICT children’s organisations.
• Gender and ICT Strategy – aims to eradicate gender inequality in the ICT sector and to promote gender mainstreaming in all the policies, processes and programs of the DTPS so as to enable men and women to have equal access to ICTs for socio economic development. One of the key focus area of this strategy is on the role of ICTs in combatting violence against women.
• Gender and ICT Literacy Program – this program aims to equip men and women with the basic computer literacy skills to use computers for daily living and to enhance their employability. One of the key target audiences of this program is women and men that have been abused or subjected to some form or the other of gender-based violence.
• Disability Mainstreaming Strategy – aims to ensure direct intervention and coordination of disability mainstreaming in the ICT sector.
• National Youth and ICT Strategy – seeks to guide the work of the Department and the ICT sector on how to develop young people through ICTs as well as to create space for young people to be active contributors to the sector. The strategy prioritises amongst other things: youth ICT SMME development, e-Skills Training and coordination of youth participation at international forums and programmes.
PROTECTION OF CHILDREN ONLINE
Also in his speech on the 25 November 2015, President Jacob Zuma said: “While men and boys are also, the majority of trafficked persons are women and girls. We urge communities to be vigilant. If people come to you and offer to find a job for you or education far away for your child they may be wanting to traffic your child”.
Our children are like seedlings that need nurturing and protection from harsh adverse environmental conditions especially online. That is why our approach in South Africa on issues relating to children has mainly been focussed on their protection from the harmful and unintended consequences of ICTs. We need to protect our children from exposure to inappropriate material like violence, prejudice, being recruited to etremists groups and pornography. We seek to ensure that amongst others broadband for education will enable our children to be connected to the world and able to participate in e-learning in a safe and protected environment.
In response to the growing need of being on line and the rising threat of information theft and all sorts of abuse on line, the department has recently launched a Cybersecurity Hub, also referred to as a Computer Security and Incident Response Team (CSIRT) as mandated by the National Cybersecurity Policy Framework (NCPF).
From this point henceforth, various campaigns will be done by officials from the department to create awareness about cyber-security.
TIGHTENING OUR JUSTICE SYSTEM
During his launched of the 16 Days of Activism Against Women and Children, President Jacob Zuma said:
“To promote a justice system that is user friendly to victims, government through the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has deployed one hundred and sixty one (161) intermediaries spread over all Dedicated Sexual Offences Courts.
It has also installed three hundred and twenty four (324) Closed Circuit TV Systems, forty nine One-Way Mirrors and established two hundred and twenty two (222) Child Testifying Rooms.
It is our wish to see all criminal courts equipped with these gadgets. The re-establishment of the Sexual Offences Courts also is one of the measures to increase conviction of perpetrators.”
As government and women structure we will always lobby for harsher sentences for perpetrators so that we do not have serials offensor roaming our streets instilling terror in our women and children.
Together in partnership between government, communities and business we need to work together jointly in the spirit of the National Development Plan which calls for all of us to form smart partnerships. Our relationship should not end at transaction level but we need to also upscale that to community building level whereby we will all be responsible for the protection of our women and a good upbringing of our children.
I thank you.