Premier Stan Mathabatha delivered the 2023 Limpopo State of the Province Address at Jake Botes Hall in Polokwane on Thursday. Amongst the issues the Premier touched on was the Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone, Roads and Infrastructure, crime prevention, Agriculture and many more.

Here are some of the points to take from the Limpopo State of the Province Address speech by Stan Mathabatha:

1. Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone

Last year during this sitting, we reported that we had to urgently start visible work at the Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone. I am happy to report that after the approval of the Environmental Impact Assessment, construction work in the North-Site has commenced with the laying of bulk infrastructure. The construction of the 14 kilometres internal roads has already created immediate opportunities for work-seekers and local entrepreneurs.

Additional bulk installations, such as water, sewer, electricity, and integrated security infrastructure, will continue in 2023.

It is also worth mentioning that the appeal process, in respect of the Musina-Makhado SEZ South-Site Environmental Impact Assessment was concluded in July 2022. This has paved a way for the completion of the township establishment and the roll-out of the requisite bulk infrastructure services.

Nevertheless, we are aware of the other parties that continue litigating against the development of the Musina-Makhado SEZ. We are confident that, as before, we shall overcome this hurdle.

In the recent past, there has been an outcry about the unavailability of water to support the Musina-Makhado SEZ. We are, however, pleased to announce that the Department of Water and Sanitation has given us an assurance that it will support the project with water on a short, medium- to long-term basis. Among the proposed water sources are ground water, imported water, and the development of new dams in the Vhembe District.

Just last night, I had a fruitful engagement with some of the main investors in the Musina-Makhado SEZ. They welcome the progress we have made so far, and once more assured us of their unwavering support and commitment to this project.

Honourable Members of the House,

Another catalytic project we reported about during the State of the Province Address last year, is the Fetakgomo-Tubatse SEZ. I am delighted to report that the Environmental Impact Assessment was granted. We have since allocated a budget for Fetakgomo-Tubatse SEZ infrastructure development. We are now ready to submit the application for the designation of the Fetakgomo-Tubatse SEZ to the Cabinet.

Some of the Dignitaries
Some of the Dignitaries at SOPA

Industrial Parks Revitalisation Programme

We project to create over 6,000 jobs through the implementation of the Industrial Parks Revitalisation Programme in all the five districts of our province. The Critical Infrastructure Programme has approved R49,9 million funding for the Seshego Industrial Park to refurbish the top structures of 11 factories. The plan is to start immediately with construction. We envisage that this construction will be completed in the next financial year.

3. Limpopo Investment Conference

In 2021 we hosted the first Limpopo Investment Conference. Through this initiative, we raised R209 billion worth of investment pledges. To date, more than seven major projects worth more than R50 billion are in the implementation phase.

Anglo-American has committed to advancing the hydrogen economy. Already, it has implemented R40 billion worth of their commitment in Mogalakwena. President Ramaphosa had the opportunity to launch the nuGen Hydrogen Truck in 2022. The development of the nuGen Truck Hydrogen Truck and its successful launch in the mining sector in Limpopo were an important contribution in the global response to climate change, specifically the decarbonisation of energy, transport, and broader industry.

Stan Mathabatha
Stan Mathabatha

4. Mining Restoration Investment

Mining in our province is a major contributor to our production output. The sector is poised to play an increasing role given our mineral endowments.

It is my pleasure to announce that Mining Restoration Investment has made a significant investment in the mining sector, with a pledge of R700 million towards a chrome and Platinum Group Metal mine in the Thabazimbi area. I am proud to say that the company has already spent R140 million of the productive investment.

Sefateng Chrome Mine is revolutionising chrome mining with its unique underground shaft. They have invested a substantial sum of R1 billion to make this project a reality. This investment has created 350 jobs during the construction phase and provided a long-term source of employment for 600 individuals once production begins.

Last year, we reported to this august house progress regarding the Corridor Mining Resources, which is a shareholder through Limpopo Economic Development Agency to the Mphahlele Platinum Group Element Mining. In 2023, there will be further drilling to upgrade the resources. The equity partner, Sedibelo, is mobilising R1 billion to operationalise the mine. 

Mozweli Engineering, which has pledged R115 billion investment, is paving the way in small-scale nuclear power.

Shekinah Lion and Game Lodge, which made an initial investment of R60 million, is now leading the way in eco-tourism.

Nalane Green Solar Energy Project, which has started implementing their R5 billion investment pledge, is providing a unique, socially responsible approach to energy generation.

The Nkuna City Investment is creating a vibrant, dynamic community that seamlessly integrates business, retail, commercial, industrial, hospitality, institutional, and residential land use. In just the first two phases of the project, it has created over 2,000 temporary jobs and 550 permanent jobs, with an estimated worth of R370 million.

5. Tourism Sector

Tourism is one of the key strategic economic growth-points in our province. Nevertheless, this sector, like other sectors of our economy, has been negatively affected by COVID-19 pandemic. This has led to the Department of Tourism developing a plan to facilitate recovery in the sector. The Limpopo Tourism Agency has made strides in implementing this recovery plan through its marketing efforts.

As a province, we have started regaining momentum in international tourist arrivals. From 0,6 million in 2021, we recorded over 1,5 million visitors in Quarter 3 of 2022. This figure has by far surpassed the 2021 international annual performance. This puts Limpopo back to the top three performing provinces in international tourist arrivals.

In domestic performance, Limpopo had the greatest number of trips originating from the province with 1,53 million trips in 2022, compared to just over 57,000 in 2021.This is a tremendous growth, compared to the previous years.

Limpopo has recorded 1,62 million trips by Province of destination in Quarter 3 of 2022. Again, this puts Limpopo back to the top three performing provinces in domestic trips.

In the same vein, we are delighted at the performance of Hoedspruit Airport. It is reported to be amongst the busiest airports and a major competitor among its peers in the country.

Of the 78,000 passengers that land at that airport, 61,000 of them are European tourists. The airport’s ability to fly internationally allows many international travellers to have easy access to the regional routes such as Vilanculo in Mozambique, Maun in Okavango delta Botswana and the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

It is in this context, that I have assigned the MEC for Transport and Community Safety, to work with ACSA, and coordinate a team to ensure development of a workable strategy for repurposing of this airport.

6. Agricultural sector

In 2022, we reported about several agricultural projects that needed our focused attention so that we ensure food security for our people. The Lebowakgomo Abattoir has received a boost, with an approval of R32 million by the National Empowerment Fund.

We also reported about the interventions we planned to make in supporting the turnaround of the Zebediela Citrus Estate. Our intervention is bearing the fruits. Preparatory work on the development of a comprehensive Master Plan for Zebediela in partnership with Impact Catalyst has started following the conclusion and the signing of a Co-operation Agreement in October 2022.

Thus far, and despite the challenges experienced, mainly financial constraints from lower-than-expected income, the production of oranges is well on course. Preparations for harvesting are underway, scheduled to start later this month. The contribution made through the Social Employment Fund, which is implemented by Impact Catalyst, has managed to create more than 600 jobs.

Notable progress has been made through the Farmer Production Support Units Programme. The building for the Masala Farmer Production Support Unit in Mopani District has been completed. This will benefit no less than 110 farmers producing food on the 2,203 hectares of land.

Since Project Koba-Tlala Production Brigade was initiated in 2022/2023, the South African National Defence Force procured over R1 million worth of fresh produce from the farmers involved. Similarly, 32 collection points have been established to ensure active participation of small-scale farmers close to military establishments. 

7. Infrastructure development in the province

Infrastructure development has and continues to be one of the key economic focus areas of this government. During the State of the Province Address in 2022, we made a commitment that the government, through the Department of Public Works, Roads and Infrastructure, will continue with its infrastructure support for other departments. 

We gave focused attention to some key infrastructure projects across the province. These include the construction of the Provincial Theatre. To date, the design of the theatre is at an advanced stage, after the Polokwane Local Municipality made a portion of land available for the theatre.

Madam Speaker,

We are also pleased to report about progress we are making in the construction of libraries in the province. To date, Runnymede, Mavalani and Seleteng libraries have achieved practical completion. We shall continue with the planning and design of four new libraries in Tshaulu, Sekhukhune, Botshabelo and Vleifontein.

Honourable Members,

The province has been hard at work, to deliver quality school infrastructure in the 2022/2023 financial year. We are pleased to report that the Alldays Primary School in Blouberg and Leduma Mahume Primary School in Phokwane have been completed.

We shall continue in the 2022/2023 with the construction of 25 new school projects, 10 of which will be completed in the 2023/2024 financial year.

Madam Speaker,

Our partnership with the mining sector in the provision and construction of more road infrastructure for our people is beginning to take shape. The total value of our current twelve partnerships we have with the mining houses is no less R1.1 billion.

Two days ago, the MEC for Public Works, Roads and Infrastructure was at Ga-Malekane, handing over the contractor for the construction of the long-awaited steel-bridge. Whilst creating a lot of jobs for our people and opportunities for local business during the construction phase, there is no doubt that upon completion, this project would have radically redefined the economic landscape in that part of the province.

Also worth mentioning is that for this project, eight mining houses in the Eastern-Limb Cluster in Fetakgomo-Tubatse municipality contributed R127 million. This is the total cost for the construction of this bridge, which means the mines are effectively constructing this bridge.  Thanks to Anglo American Platinum, Glencore Alloys, Booysendal (Northam Platinum), Two Rivers Platinum, SAMANCOR Chrome, Dwars River Chrome, Rhakhoma Mining and Tjate Platinum.

In the same breath, we call upon the rest of the private sector to emulate the good example set by these mining houses, to come on board and help develop and grow the economy of our province. We are also negotiating with mining houses in the Sekhukhune area for the construction of the state-of-the-art stadium in that area. When that happens, PSL teams like Sekhukhune United will have a stadium to play in.

8. Provincial Roads

In the 2022 State of the Province Address, I made commitments about rehabilitation and upgrading of roads in the province. I can now confirm that those projects have since been completed. They include;
The rehabilitation of 11 kilometres on Road D1589 from Ga-Kgobokanang to Ga-Makgato and De-Vrede in the Capricorn District.
Rehabilitation of 7,3 kilometres on Road D2537 road in Penge in the Sekhukhune District.
The rehabilitation of 9 kilometres on Road D11 from Ga-Mamaila Kolobetona connecting the R81 in the Mopani District is complete. To ensure the entire D11 is in a good condition, we have also appointed another contractor for Phase 3 in November 2022. When Phase 3 is completed, the entire D11 will be in a good condition to ensure that the districts of Mopani and Vhembe are connected.
• The rehabilitation of 27 kilometres on Road D3840 from Giyani to Phalaborwa in the Mopani District is at 67 per cent. I can confirm that Phase 1 of the project has been completed. We have recently appointed a contractor for Phase 2.
I would also like to announce that we have made significant progress on the other projects I pronounced on in 2022.

We have completed the construction of bridge 6116 in Makuleke;
We completed rehabilitation of 5 kilometres on Road D3200 Lebaka to Mohlabaneng;
Phase 2 of the rehabilitation of 30 kilometres of Road D4, Elim to Malamulele; has reached practical completion. We have seen that the condition of the road from N1 to Elim is in a dire state. We appointed a contractor to do major rehabilitation on the road.
 The rehabilitation of flood damaged Road D4240, Maseven in Sekhukhune is at 70 per cent;
 Phase 1 of the rehabilitation of 40 kilometres on Road D1483, Musina to Pondrift in Vhembe is complete. We have appointed another contractor for phase 2 who is currently at 75 per cent progress. Upon completion of Phase 2, we will appoint another contractor for phase 3 to ensure the road leading to Mapungubwe Nature Park is in a good condition.
 We have completed the upgrading of 13 kilometres on Road D2922, D2919 from Keerom to Tshikanosi.

Madam Speaker,

In the same speech I pronounced on the appointment of contractors by the end of 2022. I would like to give a progress report as well, in this regard:
 Following the completion of designs for Road D4180, Atok Mine to Ga-Selepe to Modimolle in Sekhukhune, the construction work will commence in the next financial year, 2023/2024.
Designs have also been completed for Road D4260, Malope to Phokwane in Sekhukhune and the construction work will commence in the next financial year.
The construction work for D4090, D4093, D4094, D4096 Malimate Roads in Capricorn District will commence in next financial year.
Finally, the construction work for D4199 Apel to Ga-Nkoana to D4190 in Sekhukhune District will commence in the next financial year.
In the same vein, we have prioritised other roads in the province, and, to this end, contractors have been appointed:
Blouberg Hospital to Buffelshoek in Capricorn.
Segole 1 and Segole 2 (Masebe Nature Reserve to N11 Waterval) in Waterberg.
Mavhunga access road in Vhembe.
Tshatshama road in Mopani.
Ga-Ramoshwane, Ga-Rammetlwane, Ga-Ramotlwana in Capricorn.
Thapane access to Nwamitwa in Mopani.
Glencowie to Malaka in Sekhukhune.
Musekwa to Maranikwe in Vhembe, and
The upgrading of the 10 kilometres Road D4109 from Mmamatonya to Road D885 in the Capricorn District.

I would like to further mention that 83 maintenance and rehabilitation projects will be attended to in the province to fix the ailing road network in the 2023/2024 financial year. The current weather is however not doing well as most of the roads infrastructure are damaged and would require further planning. We have to think seriously about improving freight transport.

I am also glad to announce that we have appointed 41 Engineering Consultants to design roads in all five districts of the province. The designs are expected to be completed over a period of twelve months. This forward planning approach will help us ensure that whenever funds are available for construction. We implement them without waiting for designs to be completed.  

9. Water provision

Water provisioning is high on the agenda of this government. During the State of the Province Address last year, we presented a detailed report about progress and challenges regarding water supply in Limpopo. Major projects for water resource development will be implemented by the Department of Water and Sanitation. These include the raising of the Tzaneen Dam wall, Olifants River Water Resources Development, Musina-Makhadzo SEZ bulk water supply and Nandoni Water Treatment Works. There is already a plan with timeframes for all these projects. Municipalities who are responsible for reticulation require the bulk resource to complete supply of water to communities.

I am pleased that during our engagement with the Minister of Water and Sanitation, Mr Senzo Mchunu. It was agreed that we must expedite these bulk water infrastructure projects, especially the Nandoni-Nsami Bulk pipeline, Giyani Water Treatment Phase 1, Giyani Water Services, and the Loskop Regional Bulk Water Supply. This we must do without hesitation because the people of Giyani have been waiting for water for a long-time. They must drink water before the end of the financial year. I am happy that Mopani District Municipality did not wait for the pipeline to be completed. They have just appointed contractors to commence with the work of laying infrastructure for reticulation.

Madam Speaker,

Municipal infrastructure development is a key enabler for growth and development. We expect our municipalities to invest more in the development and maintenance of water, sanitation, electricity, and road infrastructure.

In the past years, our municipalities were performing above expectations in Municipal Infrastructure Grant spending. The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the Municipal Infrastructure Grant spending negatively. 

Nevertheless, there are still municipalities which have performed well regarding their Municipal Infrastructure Grant. They include,
Maruleng Municipality at 91,2 per cent.
Ephraim Mogale Municipality at 80,9 per cent and
Elias Motsoaledi Municipality at 72,1 percent.

This is not mere spending, it is, most importantly, infrastructure development and maintenance, which involves the provision of work as well.
It is also worth noting that the Municipal Infrastructure Grant was allocated to other important infrastructure development project besides water:
A total of 25 kilometres of local access streets has been added into the provincial road network.
8 community services projects were completed.
The community facilities constructed include community halls, sports facilities, cemeteries, and high mast lights.
One bulk water project was completed in the Capricorn District to benefit 2,745 households.

By the end of the financial year, municipalities had spent R2,8 billion. That amounts to 92,3 percent of the total Municipal Infrastructure Grant allocation. These, of course, are encouraging signs and I therefore call on the municipalities to sustain the momentum.

Madam Speaker,
Underspending and completion of water and sanitation projects remain another challenge in municipalities. We have noted that access to water has declined by 9.4 per cent between 2015 and 2021 (from 78.8 percent to 69.4 per cent). This has mainly been caused by ageing infrastructure, affecting sustainable and reliable water supply, as well as by changes in climatic conditions. However, there was a 4.5 per cent increase in sanitation between 2015 and 2021.
We have since encouraged municipalities that are water service authorities to utilise a portion of their Municipal Infrastructure Grant to refurbish or replace ageing infrastructure.
We shall continue to align all these projects through the Premier’s Inter-Governmental Relations Forum so that the District Development Model can shape the way we provide services to our people. 

10 Human Settlement

Government has since developed a turn-around strategy to address the Human Settlement portfolio which has been of great concern to us because of its performance. The implementation of the strategy is already yielding results and the current level of performance in the delivery of housing units is now at 3,881, excluding the 35 units delivered through the Finance Linked Individual Subsidy Programme.
We envisage that the Human Settlements Development Grant Budget allocation, mainly earmarked to deliver 4,973 housing units in 6,055 sites, will create housing opportunities for 3,150 qualifying job seekers.

11. Education

Today we have another good reason to celebrate. There is no doubt that our journey towards our target of 80 percent Grade 12 pass rate is on track. The Class of 2022 has shown us that it is doable. 

Through resilience and dedication, the Grade 12 Class of 2022 has attained 72,1 percent pass rate. This represents a 5,4 per cent improvement from 2021. As the Minister of Education has said, Limpopo is the second most improved province in the country. What a milestone!

Limpopo set a new matric record in 2022.  It improved the number of candidates who obtained bachelor passes from over 28,000 (26.7 per cent). In 2021 to approximately 33,000 (29.8 per cent) in 2022.

To team Education under the Honourable MEC Mavhungu Lerule-Ramakhanya and all the stakeholders, Limpopo says thank you once again.

There is no doubt that the intervention plan we adopted at the Education Indaba last year has made a huge impact. We must therefore intensify the implementation of this plan. 

Madam Speaker, school infrastructure remains high on the agenda of this government. As it is prerequisite for a conducive learning environment. To this effect the province will build an additional 150 classrooms in the next financial year. This will go a long way towards reducing the classroom backlog at our schools.

On the other hand, we have made great strides in addressing the challenge of schools with inappropriate sanitation facilities. The next phase is to attend those schools that have inadequate sanitation. About 150 of such schools will be provided with additional sanitation facilities over the next Medium-Term Expenditure Framework period.

Honourable Members,

In keeping with the dictates of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and demands of the knowledge economy. The project of providing our learners and educators with appropriate ICT resources is also well on track.

In the previous financial years, we provided Grades 1 and 8 learners in quintile 1 to 3 select schools with tablets and their educators with laptops. There is still a lot of work we need to do to complete the shift. Inclusive of building learning and teaching interactivity on the e-Learning platform and securing digital connectivity across the province.

Similarly, we recognise the critical role that the Early Childhood Development programme plays. Cabinet took a decision to transfer this function to the Department of Education with effect from 1st of April 2022. We have since put in place systems to ensure that 105 000 children aged 0 to 4 years access registered ECD programmes in community-based centres throughout the province.

12. Crime prevention
Last year we also recommitted ourselves to make life very difficult for criminals. Especially those who wish to use Limpopo as a haven for their nefarious activities. This was largely because peace and stability have always been defining features of our province.

However, as of December 2022, the province experienced an increase in various categories of crime. The total number of crime statistics reported at that time was 242, which was an increase from the previous statistics. 

There is, however, a notable decrease in reported cases of both sexual offence and attempted sexual offence. This indicates that the province, through SAPS and other partners in the safety and security cluster, are confronting gender-based violence head-on. Whilst noting this provincial decrease. We are concerned that incidents of gender-based violence continue to rise in Thohoyandou, Mankweng, Seshego and Giyani. For us to win the battle against gender-based violence, we need everyone to play their part.

Honourable Members,

Last year, there were numerous inter-sectoral campaigns through face-to-face, print and electronic media in an effort to intensify our fight against crime. All districts held dialogues wherein NGOs, Traditional Leaders, Interdenominational and sector departments participated. This platform has brought about a renewed commitment to fight crime on the part of our people. 

13. Sport, Arts and Culture

Sport, arts and culture are key drivers towards building unity and social cohesion. In the year under review Banyana Banyana won the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations 2022. Once again, we congratulate the entire team for having made South Africa proud. That winning team included six players from Limpopo. We could not miss the opportunity of hosting them, welcoming them back to the heartland of Southern Africa, the home of the baobab tree in South Africa, Limpopo.

In the same wavelength, we will not tire from celebrating the achievements of the legendary Vakhegula Vakhegula, a football team from Limpopo comprising grandmothers up to the age 84. They have gained international recognition. Could this be an indicator of where the players in Banyana Banyana from Limpopo come from, socially speaking?

Similarly, Limpopo has seen an increase in football clubs participating in the Premier Soccer League and National First Division. There are seven teams in the two apex leagues from Limpopo Province. This progress has made imperative the development of FIFA-compliant stadia and hospitality sector facilities in our districts.

Honourable Speaker,

Let me also take this opportunity to congratulate the sons and daughters of this province who continue to place Limpopo on the map, especially in the field of arts and culture.

We congratulate our daughter, Ndavi Nokeri, the reigning Miss South Africa who went on to contest for Miss Universe last year. Nokeri hails from Tzaneen and she follows after other illustrious daughters of the soil, former Miss South Africa, Bokang Montjane, former Miss South Africa Shudufhadzo Musida, all from our beautiful province.

We are also excited about our super musicians who continue to wow the world with their storytelling music. When King Monada won the best song of the year with his song ‘A ye kuwa’ on ThobelaFM, and in the same vein, we saw our national rakgadi, Makhadzi collaborating with King Penny Penny with a powerful song, ‘Milandu Bhe’, on PhalaphalaFM and Munghana lo Nene FM.

When Idols 18 closed the curtain last year, the whole of South Africa came to a standstill. Thapelo Molomo became the Idols 18 winner. Thapelo Molomo comes from Diratseneng village, in Bakenberg .

On the other hand, we continue to be entertained through wedding songs such as ‘Moleta Israel ga a robale’ by our very own Pleasure, Ramadimetja Peta.

How can I forget our shining stars Sho Majozi and Master KG. Who also continue to shine and put Limpopo on the map. I am pleased that some of them are my guests of honour in this special sitting today. It is my singular honour and privilege to request Papa Penny and Pleasure Tsa Manyalo to please take a bow.

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