Premier in grand finale

Riot Hlatshwayo

Riot Hlatshwayo

A police band, dancers, politicians, the business community and fancy flat TV screens marked the opening of the legislature in Mpumalanga on Friday.

Outgoing premier Thabang Makwetla delivered his last state of the province address.

Makwetla said the government needed to reduce the differences between towns and rural areas in order to tackle poverty and ensure equitable access to opportunities.

He then paid a "special tribute" to former president Thabo Mbeki "for his inspiration and force of example of total dedication, self-sacrifice, clarity of purpose and integrity in the execution of public duties".

Makwetla said the province had worked hard to contribute to the national effort in reducing infant and maternal mortality as well as reversing the spread of HIV-Aids, tuberculosis and malaria.

He said 39878 patients had been accessing antiretroviral treatment by December last year. But critics said that depended on how many people needed the treatment.

He pointed out that the cholera epidemic that continued to spread was not from across the border.

He said that out of 945394 households, 72,7 percent had access to water at RDP level and above.

Makwetla conceded that the government's failure to release matric results on time must not happen again.