The Presidential Imbizo at Carolina in Mpumalanga has kicked off in the province’s Gert Sibande District.
This is the third imbizo to be held in the country with communities in the North West and Free State provinces already have had their opportunity to engage with President Cyril Ramaphosa, cabinet ministers, deputy ministers, and leaders from both provincial and local government.
Earlier in the day, President Ramaphosa told an engagement with business people in Carolina that the Presidential Izimbizo is a deepening of the country’s young democracy.
“This Imbizo gives us an opportunity to interface and interact with our people and we have been able to reach out to thousands of people as we’ve been holding these Izimbizo.
“We are here as national government, as provincial as well as the local government to listen to our people, to hear what our people have to say. This is what enriches our democracy. This is what allows our democracy to show that it is alive,” he said.
Turning to the issue of a plan by the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture to erect a giant flag of South Africa, the President said the backlash from South Africans at the flag’s R22 million cost is also an example of how democracy is at work in South Africa.
“The…department came to cabinet with the initiative and we approved not having looked at the costs. Now people have responded to the issue of the costs that it isn’t the wisest thing at the moment to go and put up a flag that is going to cost so much money.
“We are a listening government. We listen to our people and having listened to our people we have decided that we are not going to proceed with the flag [initiative]. That is the strength of our democracy, we are still a young democracy. Democracy must mean that when the people speak, those that are elected to lead the people and to implement the wishes of our people must listen. [This] imbizo will give us the opportunity to do just that,” President Ramaphosa said.
The President emphasised that the challenges raised in these Izimbizo will not be left on the shelf but will be acted upon with resolutions expected to be found by the government.
“It is important to the people of this province that all the issues raised in the various Izimbizo are recorded, and that there is follow-up accompanied by clear timeframes and action plans.
“The relevant officials will be expected to return in due course with feedback on the progress they have made,” he said.
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