GDARDE and GDSD Track its Highest Performance Rating Under the Leadership of MEC Mbali Hlophe

The Gauteng Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, and Environment and the Gauteng Department of Social Development lead the way in modernising and transforming the agri-food value chain.

Over the past five years, Gauteng has witnessed significant developments in agriculture, rural development, and social welfare, all spearheaded by the Gauteng Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, and Environment (GDARDE) and the Gauteng Department of Social Development (GDSD).

The mission within these departments is to modernise and transform the agri-food value chain, ensure Gauteng maintains a sustainable environment, and prioritise the development of urban and rural communities.

Since 2019, the Annual Performance of GDARDE and GDSD has grown exponentially. GDARDE’s rating improved from 67% in 2019 to an impressive 81%, with the Delivery Agreement highlighting an exceptional 91% achievement. Similarly, GDSD has witnessed a performance increase from 71% to 82%, with a Delivery Agreement percentage of 83%.

These improvements were driven by effective leadership and strategic initiatives implemented during the sixth administrative period under the leadership of MEC Mbali Hlophe. GDARDE and GDSD have enhanced operational efficiency and laid the groundwork for building a better Gauteng for its residents.

These performance metrics are, in essence, a tracking template for departmental service delivery. Targets are increased yearly, and the team secured a strong finish for the sixth administration, with this being the highest recorded rating to date.

To achieve these results, three crucial changes were driven:

Disbanding Corruption Within the Departments:

Since 2016, GDARDE and GDSD have been riddled with corruption and maladministration of funds. To date, there have been eight investigations conducted to address these allegations.

Pushing forward with the department clean-up and collaborating with the Gauteng Premier as well as the Department of Finance and Treasury, a total of 14 individuals, some of whom held senior titles, were suspended pending corruption charges.

When the rot of corruption is cleaned up and the focus is realigned to service delivery, a department can really be turned around.

Playing on the Strengths of Gauteng:

Gauteng is at the forefront of technology and infrastructure in the country; there are great transport networks and the capacity to put systems in place to promote growth. When it comes to farming, the conditions and land masses are not the same as areas like KZN or the Western Cape – which means attention was more focused on creating an urban hub.

But with the level of urbanisation, thriving from an export perspective is possible – it’s all about repositioning efforts.

Building on Urban Farming:

Efforts have also been focused on vertical farming, which involves the practice of growing crops in vertically stacked layers, and urban farming, the process of cultivating crops or other types of food in an urban environment.

A lot of work has been done to position the province for these initiatives. A system is being built where the rooftops of dilapidated buildings are utilised to become the new norm of farming in Gauteng. By creating a farming culture in urban environments, more greenery is provided to the concrete landscape.

The successes are attributed to a strategic blend of effective leadership, innovative strategies, and community engagement. It is crucial to fully understand the departments and sectors through research and learning from experienced individuals.

No politician is an expert in their field, and that is the same for any other profession. It is important to understand and read up on the departments run, and the sectors influenced to learn and glean as much as possible about what needs to be done.

It’s crucial to do as much research as possible. Learning from others who have been here longer and getting a more holistic feel of what is needed from the department to address issues is what drives success.

By doing this, a firm hold on what is needed from the departments, what is needed by the community, and how influence can make a difference is achieved – which is seen from the results.

Addressing corruption was one of the biggest challenges to tackle. But, dealing with it head on ultimately led to substantial improvements in departmental integrity and performance.

It hasn’t been an easy road. There have been many allegations of corruption and who has been responsible, but they were often not acted on – which set a precedent for wrongdoing behaviour to cement itself.

Having to deal with uprooting a system that became entrenched in corruption and maladministration was a big challenge, as this became a system that developed tentacles that could reach other sectors. But with the help of the Gauteng Premier’s office, the Auditor General, and other external forces, it was possible to deal with it head-on.

There will be a lot of pushback when things are shifted away from corruption, but GDARDE and GDSD are about addressing the needs of the communities that need help; it shouldn’t be about personal gain for being in a highly influential position.

The commitment to service delivery and societal improvement drives GDARDE and GDSD efforts to utilise South Africa’s rich resources and transform the province into a self-sustaining entity.

Society has no one else to fall back on besides the government, so it needs to function optimally. South Africa and the rest of Africa are rich in minerals and resources. There should be a commitment to effectively harnessing what is blessed and work towards bringing status up globally.

The greatest resource available is human capacity—how to transform that into human resources should be the challenge addressed. The country’s and its residents’ untapped opportunities motivate the team to take this department to the next level.

An ambitious but achievable vision for both GDARDE and GDSD has been outlined. Key goals include sustaining current performance levels, driving further growth, and introducing innovative strategies and programmes to leverage Gauteng’s technological landscape for enhanced service delivery.

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