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De Aar, Northern Cape - President Jacob Zuma told a travelling sitting of the National Council of Provinces in De Aar on Thursday that the government was responding to a common call from poor communities for better basic services and more job opportunities.
He said public meetings in the Karoo town and elsewhere had heard pleas for better education, improved water and electricity provision and more policing to protect women and children.
“We agree with you... that the public service has to be sensitive and responsible to these humble requests from our people,” he said.
“We must improve in education at both basic and tertiary levels. We must improve on safety and security, including the fight against the abuse (of) and attacks on women and children.”
“If children walk long distances they are vulnerable to sexual assaults. It is tragic that we have such heartless and shameless people in our communities who attack children in this manner.”
Zuma acknowledged calls to give jobs to more people through the Expanded Extended Public Works Programme and the Community Works Programme.
He said the government was already responding to some of the issues raised.
It was notably upgrading special schools and would build five more in the next five years.
The government also planned to tackle the shortage of health care professionals and to improve municipal services by filling vacancies and recruiting more skilled people.
The president outlined new infrastructure improvements, including plans to build and pave roads in Phillipstown in the Karoo and Petrusville in the Northern Cape, and projects to improve water and electricity supply in Thembelihle municipality.
“Thus, we cannot be found wanting or non-responsive,” he said.
The National Council of Provinces' sitting in De Aar, Northern Cape is part of its “Taking Parliament to the People” programme. - Sapa