Honour the past with your future deeds

Gauteng MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza with Grade R pupils at Slovoville Primary School after its completion

Gauteng MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza with Grade R pupils at Slovoville Primary School after its completion

Celebrating Human Rights Day after 21 years of freedom and democracy ignites deep emotions. That’s obvious given our sad past. The other parallel, the one that I prefer, is the parallel that sparks jubilation and pride. It comes from the mere notion of a nation that celebrates such a noble ideal. 

South Africa on Saturday will pause and give each other a pat on the back. This we will do in recognition of a collective victory, for the creation of a society that values humanity and the dignity it accords each one of us. That makes us a great nation, a nation at home among leading communities in the world.

It is like all the 60 million of us saying: “Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world,” in the words one South Africa’s finest sons. 

In its small way, the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) recognises the responsibility that comes with this national insignia. Broadly, the GPG acknowledges that it must make freedom a reality to the ordinary residents of Gauteng. This is being crystalised in the manner in which the GPG delivers public infrastructure to the poor as an act of protecting human rights.

With a great sense of comfort, I believe that the government does so on global standards. We stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the first world countries. 

In March 2012, a British professional body of doctors, the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), commissioned a study on what future hospitals should look like and do. The report of the study, titled Future hospital: caring for medical patients, was released last year. Taking examples of existing innovative, patient-centred services in Britain to develop a comprehensive model of hospital care that meets the needs of patients, now and in the future, that study made the following recommendations, among others: “In the future, the design and the hospital services will be based on the needs of patients, and must deliver safe, effective and compassionate medical care for all who need it as hospital inpatients; high-quality care sustainable 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; continuity of care as the norm, with seamless care for all patients; stable medical teams that deliver both high-quality patient care and an effective environment in which to educate and train the next generation of doctors; effective relationships between medical and other health and social care teams;  an appropriate balance of specialist care and care coordinated expertly and holistically around patients’ needs and transfer of care arrangements that realistically allocate responsibility for further action when patients move from one care setting to another.”

In January 2009 when the first shovel hit the soil in the construction of the New Natalspruit (Thelle Mogoerane) Hospital, we knew all of that already. That hospital provides seamless health care services as was discovered last year by the RCP. It is a combination of level one and two hospital, renders level one and two services and provides a comprehensive primary care service up to general practitioner’s level and a first-line specialist service for patients, out-patients and emergency departments.

As envisaged by the RCP report, the inpatient needs that will be met here will include general surgery (adult and pediatric); specialised surgery; medical (adult and pediatric); gyneacology, obstetrics, kangaroo and secondary trimester; pediatrics; orthopedics; operating theatre unit; burns unit; spinal unit; rehabilitation unit; intensive care unit and high care; psychiatry; tuberculosis and step-down.

All this is provided together with auxiliary administration services, catering, stores, pharmacy, waste control, mortuary, security, portering, workshop, laundry/lines services, cleaning, transport, outpatients department and gateway clinic, as well as emergency medicine department. 

This high-tech facility is in a township. The area is well served by surfaced roads. The three higher order roads are Nguza, Ukufika and Umzukuza. Incidentally, these roads form a circle around the hospital, which is very close to the N3 highway and the Bierman Access Interchange that provide access to the greater Kathorus region, as well as the entire Ekurhuleni Metro. Pelser Road provides convenient access for traffic approaching from the eastern side of the freeway. 

That is access — access to a human right by poorer residents of Gauteng.

Of course our smart classroom model is now a buzzword after the successful launch by our government in Tembisa in January this year.

The government is rolling out construction of 18 new smart schools in the 2015/16 and 2016/17 financial years. The majority of these schools will be completed in the new financial year and the remainder in the outer years. The new schools are based on a smart schools concept which is regulated by the prototype design of the National Schools Infrastructure Norms and Standards. 

Over the past 21 years the democratic government has together with our people embarked on a national journey of restitution. The successive governments that the majority South Africans elected on equal franchise have worked very hard to restore dignity to them. Evidence is in abundance for all to see that there is redress of decades of racial degradation of a people, the black South Africans whose lives have been condemned to slums.

Racism in South Africa was institutionalised for hundreds of years. The democratic government has taken conscious actions to undermine any form of prejudice and discrimination. As we mark the 21st Human Rights Day under democratic rule, we do this with a great sense of pride. 

Of course much still remains as challenges, with most of our people still trapped in poverty and umeployment. But personally, I am filfilled in the knowledge that we are doing work especially around empowering the young of our society. 

The type of education we provide and the infrastructure we are constructing today are all means to give our people freedom. We free the youth, the school-going young minds, from any form of social actions, practices or beliefs that consider them different to children of other races or as inherently inferior or superior to their peers from other races or even neighboring suburbs or townships. 

But obviously government cannot do this alone. We need the entire society, the private sector, the faith-based communities, sports people, labour, our NGOs — all of us must realise that racism is deadly. Especially racism’s remnants are deadly, as they transcend easily to other forms such ethnicity, class and social standing. Let us all on this one day rededicate ourselves to rid our society of any form of prejudice, hate and disregard of one another. 

Written by Nandi Mayathula-Khoza, Gauteng MEC for infrastructure development