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The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) officially and successfully kicked-off the weeklong Provincial Week programme in the North West Province at the Ramotshere Moiloa Local Municipality in Zeerust yesterday.

The permanent delegates to the NCOP are in the North West Province where they are using this Provincial Week opportunity to conduct oversight visits to short and long term job creation projects and interventions such as factories, industries and expanded public works projects to, among others, assess, measures in place to leverage the potential of township economies to create job opportunities for all. Furthermore, how public and private partnerships are harnessed to open up job opportunities.

Today’s programme will start with the visit to the Springbok Pan Agro processing plant where the delegation will be briefed on the challenges faced by the plant and the progress it makes notwithstanding those challenges. Also to be visited today will be a Mafikeng based High School that trains security guards that secure government buildings in the North West.

This year’s Provincial Week takes place as Parliament and the legislative sector as a whole celebrate 20 years of the Constitution and 20 years since the establishment of the NCOP. This year’s Provincial Week Programme is carried out under the theme: “Advancing our collective efforts to creating work opportunities for our people”.

During his opening, the North West Provincial Whip Mr Boingotlo Nthebe said that the aim of the programme is to conduct oversight and to look at job creation initiatives. Almost half of South Africa’s population is poor according to Mr Nthebe and that is why the NCOP looked at this theme. “We want something that can stimulate our economy and make sure that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grows,” he said.

The Premier of North West Province Mr Supra Mahumapelo welcomed the delegates and stated his joy that Members of the Executive of the North West Provincial Government were sitting with the NCOP delegation. “The North West executive is happy to inform the NCOP delegates that we want to reposition and rededicate ourselves when we tackle issues of unemployment,” he said.

Mr Mahumapelo told the NCOP delegates that the North West Provincial Government  has various employment creation programmes that are aimed at creating employment in the North West. These initiatives according to him range from tourism, mining, beneficiation, agriculture, road maintenance, pilot programmes and waste recycling.

After listening to presentations from the Mayor of Ramotshere Moiloa Local Municipality and the MEC for Tourism and Agriculture, the NCOP delegates highlighted certain concerns that included the positions such as the Municipal Manager and Chief Financial Officer in the municipality being vacant for a long time. The NCOP delegates urged the municipality leadership to fill those vacancies with speed.

The sites that were visited by the NCOP delegates yesterday included Doornkraal Farm in Groot Marico, a farm which is currently used for sheep and cattle farming. Given its potential for vegetable production it is also earmarked to be used to produce vegetables for export in the near future.

The NCOP delegates heard that poor road infrastructure was among the challenges that diminish the opportunities of growth for this farm. Given that challenge the farm is currently inaccessible to potential clients for its products.

By Tebatso Vusi Mabilisa