During apartheid when we talked about power we were talking about freedom of expression, about resistance and challenging the government of the day. Now we are talking about power to build, about reconstruction and development.
The structure that I come from is called Government Communication and Information System. It operates from the President’s Office, and we bring you the words of congratulations from the government.
The play that we've just seen shows the power of information. Information is power, and it can even be a matter of life and death. Information about how to prevent AIDS is a matter of life and death; and this is what this Centre is about.
The Centre is to ensure that the government brings information about its policies, about its actions and about the rights of women, men and youth. The Centre will bring information about job opportunities; about training people how to get protection from diseases, how to get bursaries, how to get pensions, birth certificates, etc.
Without information even if we vote in the elections we’ll remain outside the process of government - we would be like orphans.
But this Centre is not only about you receiving information from government; it’s also about you telling government what it is that you want. President Thabo Mbeki wishes to know what your views are: whether we are doing the right thing as government; and what the priorities should be in this province.
You must also remember that the people who will be working in this Centre are your servants - not your bosses. They are being paid from your money, from taxes, in order to serve you.
One of the principles of the government is about people’s participation. The process that led to the building of this centre reflects that. Together we joined hands to select the location of the centre and to identify the services that were required.
And together as a community you put pressure that telephones should be delivered, that electricity should come soon, and that many other services that you need should be provided. This is what this Tombo Government Centre is also about: to help speed up the process of delivering social services.
Now we can press the button and send faxes to every part of the world; we can press buttons for all kinds of things we need, including ID’s and passports. This is what the Tombo Centre is about: for us to use the latest technology so that this technology does not only belong to people who are in the big cities or in countries in Europe and the Americas.
But this Centre will succeed only if we protect it, if we guard it, if we secure the equipment to ensure that thieves do not steal it.
We have got in our delegation some communication officers from other provinces like KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga because they have come to learn from you how centres like this can be built. Last week, the Cabinet agreed that we must build 55 such centres in each district of the country.
These Government Centres are an expression of people’s power; they are an expression of people’s government. And all of us will learn from your example - so at the end of the day, we can say with confidence:>
Viva the Tombo Centre Viva.
Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)