Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers present,
Premier of the Eastern Cape, Mr Phumulo Masualle,
MEC for Health, Dr Pumza Dyantyi and other MECs
US Charge’ d’Affaires, Ms Jessye Lepenn,
Executive Mayor of Buffalo City, Cllr Xola Pakati,
Chairperson of the National Lotteries Commission, Prof. Nevhutanda,
Chairperson of Empilisweni Board, Ms Zakhele Kaleni,
Development partners and sponsors,
Religious and traditional leaders,
Our special guests, the Vuyo Mbuli family,
Our distinguished caregivers,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Molweni! Dumelang! Good Afternoon!
This afternoon is simply Sharp! Sharp!
In his deep quiet, never to utter a word again, we can still hear in our hearts the warm echoes of “Sharp Sharp” from our late beloved and distinguished son of this community, VuyoMbuli.
Today is “sharp sharp” because it is simply well with our souls.
It is “sharp sharp” because the community monument of Empilisweni efforts tells us that indeed we stand tall on the shoulders of giants.
Sithi Enkosibantu base Ndevana ngokumelana nokufa. Enkosi ngokusipha ithemba.
Empilisweni is us. It embodies the death-defying spirit and enduring resilience of our people. It is the life-giving gift we shall bequeath to the beautiful ones yet to be born.
It is the unbroken continuation of the gift of Biko and Black Community Projects at Zanempilo Community Health Centre near ‘King’. From Empilisweni, life everlasting shall spring and join the tributaries of the ancient Buffalo River. It will rise and stand steady like the Amathole Mountain; and from its top, it will carry our hopes and dreams to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro. Zanempilo is here to heal the sick and console the heart-broken.
Our mothers and our fathers, our sons and our daughters will till its soil to produce the food we need. They will create thriving industries for our people to work and trade.
It will be a shining monument to Madiba and our Constitution for we shall work to keep it a sanctuary of our children. We salute our mothers and women of the cloth to whom it dawned earlier that it takes a village to raise a child. We bow in reverence to you descendants of Hintsa, Faku,Sandile, Nongqawuse ,Mqhayi, and Sontonga for gifting us with Empilisweni as a fort for our humanity and dignity.
Enkosi!You have shown us that we are not children of a lesser god.
In your humility, dignity, and justness, you have confirmed that the seed of development can only take root, grow, and blossom if it is driven by people themselves. You have said to the naysayers that our people are not idling around waiting for manna from heaven.
You are the testimony that power is with the people. You are the revelation that people are the real agents of change. You are a living testament revealing that death, disease, and hunger cannot stand in the way of a courageous and determined people whose hearts and aspirations are with children and the downtrodden.
Your deeds and love have made us believe again in the Promised Land and the New Jerusalem.
You have said that as long as you are here, the name intandane or orphan, must be banished from the vocabulary and experiences of the people of Ndevana.
Ndevana, our rock of ages, you are light showing that our future will be better than our past.
You have said Ndevana is a home of all care givers and nation builders. You have said the doors of Ndevana are wide open for friends from the four corners of our land and across the seas.
Because you are invested in the future of our vulnerable children, because you have plans to create enterprise, because you are keen to teach and develop the capabilities of our children, we shall always return to you to take the lessons on how a community can defeat death and create abounding prosperity.
We will bring the world to you to learn what it means to be made in the image of God. We will be with you to build a new civilisation where there is no discrimination for the sick, no exclusion for the disabled, and no marginalisation for the hungry.
We shall tell our friends, here at home and abroad, that Ndevana simply inspires. We will tell Vuyo Mbulis’s friend, Leanne, to keep telling the story of hope and not to stop the tune of joy because Ndevana where Empilisweni stands, is simply Sharp Sharp.
We will tell Leanne to announce to the nation that at the “Vuyo Mbuli House,” the welcoming laughter of the children of Ndevana awaits to meet all friends of their local hero.
She must tell the nation that a community is undergoing a renaissance in this part of the Eastern Cape.
Please allow me to extend my profound sense of gratitude to both the Board of Directors and the Management of Empilisweni. We are both humbled and proud of the work you are doing to transform the lives of the people of Ndevana and surrounding communities.
We have been touched and moved by the vision you have crafted of achieving a community that is not haunted by poverty and shackled by injustice. You have done much to demonstrate that it is possible that when we work together, we can expand the frontiers of freedom and human fulfilment.
That only by working together can we achieve peace and social cohesion where all citizens enjoy their right to a life with dignity.
Thank you for caring for the welfare and wellbeing of the vulnerable children of our land. Thank you for loving them and for allowing them to dream even when they face hunger, discrimination, and alienation for circumstances they did not choose.
I also wish to pay tribute to the unsung heroes and heroines of this story. These are the good women and men of this community who make sure that children with HIV feel they belong and have a place under the warm African sun.
They are the care-givers who visit children in homes where there are no mothers and fathers. They are there to close the eyes of the deceased and comfort the living. They refuse to let the soul of our nation to be corrupted by the cardinal sin of neglecting hungry and homeless children.
They feed, bathe, and clothe the sick and the weak. It is them who show our vulnerable children the door of the classroom. It is them who sing lullabies for children who had the misfortune of being parentless.
We salute them for caring about the dignity and dreams of the most innocent among us. Heaven is theirs to claim. They do all this work in an environment where there is lack of funding for non-profit organisations. They do it simply because they care a great deal about our country.
We remain inspired by the visionary leadership of Empilisweni which has already crafted grand plans to stimulate economic activity and create jobs. They have internalised our National Development Plan and they have identified the areas that can yield positive results.
They have done their part. They deserve our unreserved commitment. They are worthy of our full support. What they have achieved so far was made possible by the collaboration of social partners.
These are social partners who say – this government is our government.
They are social partners who embrace the basis of African philosophy, that you are because I am – umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu. They are the true champions of our people. They are the true friends of the founding father of our nation, Nelson Mandela. Despite irritations and the noise, they can never betray the ideal of social justice and the promise of a better life for our people.
Among them are our American partners who continue to support our efforts in ending human suffering and deaths related to HIV and TB. Thanks to the US Charge’ d’Affaires, Ms Jessye Lepenn, for your government’s contribution to training, prevention, and health awareness initiatives.
We applaud the National Lotteries Commission for being an excellent corporate citizen. Through their generous contribution, today we have the awe-inspiring Empilisweni building.
Empilisweni is also a proud achievement of our national and provincials Departments of Health, Social Development, and Public Works. The mobilisation of resources and support from our various partners will impact positively to this community.
As announced earlier today by the Deputy Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Ms Stella Tembisa Ndabeni-Abrahams, the commitment to support the Empilisweni Care Centre with ICT services is a significant step in bringing this much needed service to the community. The computer centre at the clinic will be developed in partnership with the State Information Technology Agency (SITA), MTN and the Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa (USAASA).
This is indeed an initiative which must be replicated in other areas of our country to close the information technology gap and prepare our children for the knowledge economy and the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We also want to acknowledge and call upon past, present and future potential partners to continue strengthening the work of this remarkable care centre.
In this regard, Aspen Pharmacare has committed to provide the centre with solar water heaters for installation soon after today’s unveiling event.
This is the type of tangible outcomes that will assist the Empilisweni Centre and community to be better equipped to manage its operations. Institutions like Empilisweni Care Centre and the army of care workers play a critical role in strengthening primary health care.
The National Health Insurance (NHI) identify them as the bedrock of an efficient, inclusive, and equitable national health system. We thus applaud Empilisweni for being an artery that supports the ideal of universal health care for all South Africans.
We applaud you for being an effective Constitutional instrument to make our children and their families realise their fundamental rights to life, health, and above all, dignity.
Before I say Sharp Sharp, allow me to leave you with these words uttered by Nelson Mandela in December 1993:
“The children must, at last, play in the open veld, no longer tortured by the pangs of hunger or ravaged by the diseases or threatened with the scourge of ignorance, molestation, and abuse, and no longer required to engage in deeds whose gravity exceeds the demands of their tender years.”
It is in our hands to attain this ideal for the vulnerable children of our land.
I thank you.