Gauteng Social Development MEC, Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi has on Saturday, 21 November 2020, acknowledged the homeless, ex-offenders and substance abuse survivors who have defied odds and acquired skills to become self-reliant.
She said the skills that they have attained will go a long way in enabling them to develop small micro enterprises as vital driver of employment, thus maximising much needed jobs opportunities.
The MEC was speaking during a graduation ceremony at Xilembeni Project Centre of Excellence in Bapsfontein, Ekurhuleni where over hundred (100) beneficiaries including the homeless who have been accommodated in temporary shelters since the National State of Disaster was declared by President Cyril Ramaphosa, graduated after successfully completing a skills development training in building, welding, carpentry and electricity.
“We are here today to celebrate success, to reward excellence and intensive hard-work, and we are also here to extend the utmost level of appreciation to the graduates, who took it upon themselves to embark on a development programme, taking a conscious decision to make self-improvement an integral part of their lives,” said MEC Mokgethi.
The MEC said these beneficiaries are not coming from comfort areas of life but have overcome multiple social adversities to attain what they have accomplished today.
“They have defied public perceptions, re-educated most of us that being an ex-offender, homeless or substance abuse survivor, should and must not determine your destiny,” she said.
On Saturday, many were taught hard lessons that a solution to success lies more on availability of positive productive environment, irrespective of the historically marginalised background. These young men and woman have seized an opportunity provided upon them, and used it fruitfully to acquire technical skills, enabling them to be competent and suitable for job market, as well as entrepreneurial capabilities.
“South Africa had lingering challenges of unemployment, and this was long before Covid-19 reality struck our country. The recent Quarterly Labour Force Survey depicted a gloomy picture in the second quarter report, sighting employment losses across all industries. Part of the historical reasons we confronted with persistent unemployment, is attributed to lack of appropriate skills and sustainable entrepreneurial initiatives to create jobs.”
“Therefore, all these graduates we are honouring here, carries prospects of driving economic development solutions in our province, during and post this covid-19 pandemic.”
“I would like to state it categorically to every beneficiary or graduate, that they are our national assets, they are now part of human capital competent enough so solve our structural economic challenges, they may not be a panacea to our problem, but they are certainly amongst key people to assist and place our province and a country at better developmental platform amid the virus.”
“I plea with beneficiaries to register their companies in government’s central database as this will also create job opportunities for their companies and ultimately, they can employ fellow youth,” said the MEC.
The MEC is also committing to engage her counterpart in the Department of COGTA and Human Settlements in ensuring that our graduates, especially those in the construction industry will end up involved in the different projects of building low cost houses.
One of the graduates was 29-year-old Lehlohonolo Sekgobela, a father of two (2) and a substance disorder recovery.
He said this is a day that he will treasure in his lifetime because it is a day where he graduated for the first time.
“I am currently an in-house patient at Isidimeni Life Recovery Centre, which is a rehabilitation centre focusing on assisting recovering drug addicts to overcome addiction,” he said.
Sekgobela says he has made plenty of bad decisions over the years of his active addiction that left him hopeless and broken.
“I thank my mom for supporting me through this journey of hardship. I am looking forward to start my own construction company so that I can also empower others through the lessons I received here at Xilembeni Project Centre of Excellence,” he added.
The Gauteng Department of Social Development will now focus on re-integration process to their families and community at large, this must be a seamless transition process, aimed at reinforcing all the gains achieved while they were away, and strategically utilise them towards the overall transformation in their communities.