Key note address by Honourable Nontobeko Vilakazi, Member of the Executive Council responsible for Social Development at the Departmental Long Service Awards Kimberley: 9 March 2023

Programme Director
Honourable Mayor, Cllr Kagiso Senyoni
Religious Leaders in attendance
Acting Director Head of Department, Ms. Shouneez Kimmie- Wookey
Departmental Officials
Our honored guests, the recipients
Ladies and gentlemen

It is indeed an honor and privilege to host the hallmark event where the department pauses to give due recognition to the stalwarts, the lifeblood of this department who have served the Provincial Government, and the people of this beautiful province with loyalty and distinction.
Quite often we lack the very basic attributes that make us human, just to say thank you when a person has done something for you. I am therefore exited and also grateful to the Department under the leadership of Ms. Kimmie-Wookey and the team that brought to fruition the Long Service Awards.
We are appropriately celebrating all recipients during National Social Work Month, observed throughout March aimed to uplift social workers and social work professionals and not forgetting the crucial role support staff plays in their constant contributions to our society. These professionals use psychology and sociology to solve social issues and improve individual lives – and it’s no easy feat! Social work can be emotionally draining, require long hours, yet still, these superhumans strive every day to improve many people’s quality of life and advocate on their behalf. We therefore need to take some time out this month to recognize social work professionals and their support for the great things they do.
I thought it very important to specifically make reference to the social work professionals as they have to deal with the moral decay in society. Our communities are ravaged by so many social ills and dysfunctional families and individuals and it becomes the responsibility of the social work professionals to try best put these families and individuals back together to become as normally functioning as possible. And some time these selfless individuals who must be miracle makers pays a heavy price- emotionally, physically and their service to mankind impacts on their personal and domestic lives. We therefore during this month celebrate them and wish to assure them that they are valued and appreciated.
We are also commemorating Human Rights Month in March to remind South Africans about the sacrifices that accompanied the struggle for the attainment of democracy in South Africa. Human Rights Day on 21 March falls within this period.
Human rights are the foundation for human dignity, and the cornerstone of peaceful, inclusive, fair, equal and prosperous societies. They are a unifying force and a rallying cry. They reflect the most fundamental thing we share – our common humanity. The theme for 2023 is: #LeaveNoOneBehind - walk for your rights.
And this theme is so appropriate to our mandate as we are encouraged or motivated in our quest to restore the moral fibre of society to leave no one behind and not to give up on anyone.
Ladies and gentlemen tonight is all about you, the recipients of the various awards. With this event we want to show that indeed the self-worth of each and every employee of the Social Development Family is recognized and appreciated. When I say Family, I surely mean family in the very essence of its meaning. It is here where we spend most of our time and it is in this Department where we built one another, heal one another and strengthen one another.
And yes, like with family, we at times are at loggerheads with one another, but the foundations on which this Social Development Family is built upon remains steadfast and strong. The Department has a heartbeat precisely because you gave everything, body and soul, and at times under difficult conditions, to make the Department a leading Department in terms of delivery and accountability.
And for that we cannot thank you enough because loyalty and reliability have become precious attributes we cannot do without in the strive to obtain our department’s vision and mission and get the important tasks Social Development has to do, done
We are here today to celebrate the life of pioneers, pathfinders, people who have been there before us, to show the path and lead the way. It is your knowledge that plays an active part in this country’s past and future history so that your children and their children will be grateful that you have made a significant difference in the lives of those who are most vulnerable.
And at this point I wish for us to take note and truly appreciate when God says in Colossians 3 verse 23 “Honest hard work- this is something God seeks from all of us. God's words tell us that working hard, but with faith in mind, can lead to the great things he has planned for us.
The Social development family is very fortunate to have staff members whose many years of dedication, commitment and loyalty have earned the much respect the Department is enjoying today. It is now time to return that loyalty.
To the awardees, what each one of you has done is nothing less than a mark of passion, dedication and perseverance. This should set as a benchmark for other colleagues. The Department sincerely appreciates your commitment and endurance. It has been a long journey full of both challenges and opportunities. Though difficult to explain, I know how you stayed for long hours working hard to set offices and other structures, creating a work environment; all for the good of the people we serve.
It is a good thing to recognize and honour people for their good work and achievements when they are still alive to motivate them, hence this Award Ceremony today. You will also have noted that we broke with tradition this year and allowed recipients to bring along their spouses and partners. This is simply to also say thank you for the sacrifices you have made to in ensuring that your partners can optimally perform in their workplace. I know many times the spouse and partner must keep the home fires burning whilst the recipients of this evening burn the midnight oil in the social development family. This is also recognised tonight. Like you have promised for better or for worse- in for a penny –in for a pound- you have made good on your promises by supporting your partners. And for that this night is also dedicated to you- the partners of the long service award recipients.
It is also an “up-to-the-task” workforce, in all respects, that can deliver the vision of creating a Modern, Growing and Successful Northern Cape Province.

Among us are members of staff who have worked and dedicated themselves in the service of the public for a long period of time. In This ceremony we pay tribute to one hundred and thirty six dedicated employees who have completed 10 years continuous service, sixty five employees to have completed 20 years’ service and forty three employees to have completed 30 years’ service.  

We pay tribute to all of you who are receiving long service awards for a job well-done.

We also have the pleasure to have amongst us forty officials who have run their race, and they have run it well that reached the age of retirement. We thank you for the sacrifices and dedication. Now is your time to rest and we pray that God grant you good health and a long happy prosperous life.

We also pay tribute to twelve employees who have lost their lives and gone to greener pastures whilst in employ of the Department of Social development. We thank their families for selflessly supporting them as they served our people.

As public servants, your work for the people is notable as we transform our country towards becoming a truly “democratic, united, non-racial, non-sexist, equal and prosperous” nation.

I specifically want to single out the Care Givers who work at our Institutions who have become parents, role models and heroes to young people in need of care and protection. It is not an easy task to take care of children not borne or fathered by you, but you do it because the calling is so much greater than your personal needs. Now more than ever, these caregivers need our support, encouragement and appreciation for their dedication to making a difference for others.

Ladies and gentlemen, the current government has always highlighted skills and human resources as one of its strategic priorities. This underpins our commitment to empowering public servants through continuous training and education, so you can better contribute towards eradicating poverty, unemployment and inequality – the triple challenge our country faces.
It is our obligation to continue to invest in these skills development and training programmes to ensure that we create a sufficient pool for skills to meet our current and future needs – across all levels.

To achieve all our goals, we must hold ourselves to the highest standards of service, probity and integrity. Together we must build a society that prizes excellence and rewards effort, which shuns laziness and incompetence. Therefore, to all those present here tonight, and for you to share with colleagues who could not attend- the enhanced service delivery to citizens depends upon a clean, accountable, efficient and effective administration and governance.

We all present here tonight signed up for government service because we wanted to help people and make a difference. I know all of you feel the same way. This event and recognition should also serve as a strong reminder that working for the Department of Social Development is not just about getting a salary, but about the mission, true and honest conviction and that of making a lasting difference. We must always be mindful of our vision of Building a caring society together.  

It can at times be a very daunting task to serve our people. Just hold on to the belief that you are serving selflessly for the befit of those who need you the most. Take comfort and be guided by the word of Philippians 4:13- “I can do all this through him who gives me strength”.
My sincere appreciation to the Acting Head of Department and all Executive and Senior Managers of the Department who continues to play a valuable part in ensuring an effective and smooth running Department. I have been in the public service long enough to know that your collective effectiveness, managers and lower level staff, can determine whether our Government succeeds and whether it meets its obligations to our people.
While the political appointees help determine which direction we go in, it is up to each and every official in the Department to actually get us there.
I would like to end my address by calling on all award recipients to place their invaluable practical and technical expertise to the service of the Department and the Provincial administration in general by mentoring the young and up-and-coming staff for them to mimic your great feats. Even though you may not be able to pinpoint what material wealth you have gained for working for the Provincial Administration of the Northern Cape for all these years, let us all take pride in the fact that, it was as a result of our individual and collective effort that has lifted the Department to its current status among the most progressive Government Departments in the Administration.

I would also want to thank the Planning Committee for successfully organising this year’s event. Some of us are aware of the initial challenges we faced with respect to financing this event and we are grateful to the committee members for putting up a successful event.
In closing, I would like to once again thank you for your commitment to the Public Service as a whole and to the Department of Social Development.

Thank you for working so hard for us and for those who need our services. Your dedication is so meaningful and know that you are valued and appreciated. You are part of a family that will always appreciate your efforts and where you will always have a home.

Thank you.


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