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13 March 19 March 2015

In early commemoration of International Women's Day, more than 3 000 women gathered in the Multi-purpose Centre in Zamdela, Sasolburg. The day is actually commemorated on March 8 as declared by the United Nations (UN) but this year it took place on Friday, 6 March
2015. Each year the International Womens Day is celebrated to highlight issues affecting women and to strengthen the No Violence against
Women Campaign. The Free State Department of Social Development and other Provincial and National Government departments hosted
this significant day in partnership with various civil society organizations and government agencies. The focus of the celebration was to highlight the achievements of the government in the past 20 years with a special emphasis on the nine-point plan which was articulated by Honorable President Jacob Zuma during his 2015 State of the Nation Address.
The International Women's Day represents an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women while calling for greater equality. The
2015 International Womens Day theme was; Make It Happen. It encouraged effective action for the advancement and recognition women.
MEC for Social Development, Sisi Ntombela was directed the programme of the day. The MEC is mandated to champion issues affecting
women in the Free State and to ensure that the province makes significant strides towards addressing gender inequality, abuse of women
and children, issues affecting child and youth headed households and coming up with solutions to empower women as heads of the families.
SASSA gave out school uniforms and 800 food parcels to deserving people while Tebello Association for the Blind received a donation of 1100
000.00. As the champion of women issues in the province, I want to ensure that we make greater strides towards achieving gender equality.
The incidents of women and child abuse are still a great concern. MEC Ntombela emphasized that women must be empowered as these
days they are heads of their families.

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The President Hotel became a centre of reconciliation when the MEC for Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental
Affairs, Mosebenzi Zwane hosted more than 600 local and foreign traders from all corners of the Free State. The purpose of the dialogue was to discuss trading issues such as Trade Agreements and contracts, business permits and rules, understanding of tax and also to harmonize and create a
healthy trading business environment in Free State. The dialogue also served as a platform for traders to vent out their frustrations and also share
ideas. MEC Zwane noted that there is an unsettling situation in South Africa where the foreign nationals shops are mushrooming at a rapid pace in
local communities and this is perceived to create problems of coexistence and cohesion between foreign nationals and the locals. Small township
businesses are critical for local economic development and foreign traders have also become an integral part of this equation. Some of the concerns
raised were that the foreign traders have monopolised the market thus inhibiting the locals to operate. Another concern was that foreign traders
sell outdated goods and that some of their products are not South African produced, which raised a question of how they manage to get the products in the country.
The formation of street committees joint ventures was also raised. Attendees raised the concern of the barriers in accessing funding to advance
their businesses. However, the MEC said that it was not the first time that the department has shown commitment towards SMMEs and informal
traders in the province. We set our programmes two years ago with the launch of Jwale Ke Nako Ya Kotulo programme which is the social transformation through the Micro Enterprise Support programme which has supported more than 300 businesses, said MEC Mosebenzi Zwane. He also
said that there are a number of factors attributed to the success of foreign-owned businesses. Amongst others; they understand the market; they
are better stocked; they take trouble to know their customers; they open for longer hours and they buy goods in bulk. These are just some of the
positive influences that these businessmen and women can teach our locals. In rounding off the dialogue, MEC Zwane established a forum consisting
of all affected parties including the national Department of Small Business Development and all district municipalities.


For the first time since 2009, Free State MEC for Education, Tate Makgoe together with provincial education partners Jenn Training
and Consultancy, Mphati and Associates Quantity Surveyors and Etsho Engineering Project Management will acknowledge and
honour about 20 historically disadvantaged schools who obtained the minimum of 90% pass rate and 40% bachelor passes in the
2014 National Senior Certificate results. The 2015 - 90/40 Schools Award Ceremony was held at Lebogang Secondary School in
Thabong, Welkom. More than 500 guests including the principals of the all the historically disadvantaged schools and their SGB
chairpersons attended this much anticipated award ceremony.
Last year the Free State Department of Education set the target of 90% pass rate and 40% bachelors but it obtained 82.8% pass rate
and 30.2% bachelors. Out of 220 historically disadvantaged schools who wrote the 2014 NSC examination about 20 reached the
departments target of 90/40. Two schools from Thabo Mofutsanyane District surpassed the target and obtained 100% pass rate and
more than 60% bachelor passes. MEC Makgoe is still confident that in 2015 his department will work even harder to obtain 90/40
target. The purpose of this exercise is to really acknowledge excellence and quality passes. Schools that have attained this target
will be showered with prizes, said the MEC Makgoe

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