Your official September events guide

South Africans are in for a treat this month, with a jam-packed line-up of planned events by government to help make the country a better place for all.

Government has called on all citizens, civil society organisations and community groups to partner in building social cohesion and nation building this month.

Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) on Tuesday said various initiatives will unfold this month aimed at celebrating the democratic gains that South Africa has made since 1994, which will also drive the nation towards the work that needs to be done to address the challenges that still face the country.

NDP turns five

The month of September marks the five-year anniversary of the National Development Plan (NDP), the blueprint for the work that needs to be done to achieve a prosperous society.

GCIS said the month will be marked by several activities, including a commemorative event to be held on 12 September, reflecting on the development and adoption of this plan by all political parties and the rest of society.

Other activities include the NDP lecture at the University of South Africa (Unisa) on 15 September, an NDP Joburg City Race which is set to take place on 24 September, and the launch of the NDP School competition at Tshedimosetso House, the seat of government communication, on 26 September 2017.

Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo said government encourages all citizens to become actively involved in these events and in the implementation of the NDP.

The successful implementation of this blueprint will facilitate the realisation of Vision 2030 which is to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality and unemployment.

The NDP is a South African blueprint and every citizen needs to take ownership and play their part to move South Africa forward. This September, I encourage both young and old to familiarize themselves with the NDP and work towards our country's goals.

South Africa's 'special offering' to the world is that it is framed as a multicultural nation characterized by a rich and diverse heritage.

Heritage month

This year, Heritage Month will be commemorated under the theme The Year of OR Tambo: Celebrating Our Liberation Heritage and Democracy. The focus will be on programmes of nation building and social cohesion.

Throughout the commemorations, South Africans are encouraged to visit a cultural institution and play an active role in affirming, promoting and preserving it.

Tourism month

While, South Africans reconnect with their past by visiting heritage institutions, they will also be actively participating in Tourism Month, under the banner I do Tourism Sustainably, which is aligned to the United Nations tourism theme: Sustainable Tourism for Development.

Sustainable tourism establishes an equilibrium between the environmental, economic and socio-cultural aspects of tourism.

Its intention is to minimize impact on the environment and local culture so that it will be available for future generations, yet at the same time, contributing to income generation, employment, and reducing poverty.

Sustainable tourism furthermore ensures that development creates a positive experience for local communities, tourism businesses, and tourists.

A special focus will be placed on domestic tourism in Mpumalanga, North West, Limpopo, Eastern Cape, Free State and Northern Cape with the aim of addressing the ongoing challenge of the lack of geographic spread of this industry by encouraging domestic tourists to consider these as ideal tourist destinations.

Tourism is a positive determinant of economic growth and job creation. The National Development Plan has identified tourism as one of the main drivers in the economy.

Economic flows generated by international tourism have become factors in economic growth, however domestic tourism is equally important. Let's work together to make domestic tourism sustainable and attain the goal of reaching one million more domestic holiday tourists and four million more international tourists in the next five years, said Minister Dlodlo.

Public service

September is also Public Service Month, held under the theme: Together Moving the Public Service Forward: We belong, We care, We serve.

Government said it remains committed to building skilled public servants who are committed to the public good and who are capable of delivering consistently high-quality services.

This month South Africa also looks forward to the 4th Annual Thusong Service Centre, which forms part of the Public Service Month, and is guide by the theme: The Year of OR Tambo � Advancing Small Medium and Micro Enterprises at Thusong Service Centres.

The Thusong Week seeks to promote government's Thusong Programme by demonstrating how the integration and alignment of government's various mobile services linked to the Thusong Centres, allows services to reach more South Africans, especially in far flung and underserviced areas.

This plays a major role in meeting the service needs of citizens and thus fighting poverty in these communities. The week will also promote the work being done by SMMES in the various Thusong Service Centres.

Thusong Service Centres are one stop information and service centres offering the public a wide range of government and community services to build better lives. More information about the activities in your community during the Thusong Week can be found on the programme's website

Remembering Steve Biko

Government will also, in September, commemorate the 40th anniversary of the death of Steve Biko in detention under the theme: Celebrating our liberation heritage and the legacy of black consciousness.

This icon of South Africa's Black Consciousness movement selflessly dedicated his life to the fight for freedom and his sacrifice contributed to bringing about a free and democratic South Africa.

Arbor week

Citizens are further reminded to actively participate in Arbor Week from 1 to 7 September 2017 guided by the theme: Forests and Water.

Government felt it important to retain last year's theme as we continue to suffer as a country under the burden of a crippling drought, which has done much to aggravate poverty in our country. We all must play a part to protect our environment by planting trees and using water conversation methods. South Africa is water scarce country and every drop counts, said Minister Dlodlo.

South Africans are also encouraged to join government in these planned events and be part of the work that is unfolding to make South Africa a better place for all. GCIS said it is through collaborative efforts that the country can be moved forward.

Source: South African Government News Agency