His Excellency Mr David Mabuza, the Deputy President of South Africa, was in attendance today at the Sappi Ngodwana Mill, to accept a donation of paper, masks and sanitiser on behalf of three hundred schools in Mpumalanga.
The handover event marks the beginning of a public private partnership, and is a continuation of Sappi Southern Africa’s donations of scarce items to reduce pressure on government's resources and to support the most vulnerable members of our society, particularly during the time of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The handover consisted of 10,000 boxes of Sappi Typek office paper intended to assist schools to resume their full role in the education of learners, after the disruptions that were experienced in the educational system, in the wake of the extraordinary circumstances brought about by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country. The 10,000 cloth face masks, 10,000 surgical masks and 10,000 litres of hand sanitiser that were handed over, are intended to assist the schools with curbing the spread of the pandemic, by adopting good preventative hygienic measures at their premises.
Commenting on the handover, the Deputy President welcomed the launch of this private public partnership, saying : “The handover of these essential items, signals the beginning of a partnership which reflects the social compact where private business comes on board to assist government with societal challenges that our communities face.”
Sappi Southern Africa Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Alex Thiel responded by saying that this donation supported Sappi’s prioritised Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular its support for Quality Education (SDG4) and its SDG17 (Partnerships for the Goals). “Because we believe in our shared responsibility to move toward a sustainable future and recognise that it is work we cannot do alone, and because we want to be a trusted partner to all our stakeholders, we cultivate relationships with those who are able to enact meaningful change. We saw an opportunity where we could help provide quality education delivered in safe surroundings, for our community members, in partnership with government.” he said.
Schools from the area were represented by their principals and selected learners who attended the event and expressed their thanks and appreciation in a selection of musical numbers, performed to the delight of the audience.
The Deputy President was accompanied and supported by the Minister of Basic Education Ms Angie Motshekga, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, the Deputy Minister of Health, the MECs for Education and for Health in Mpumalanga, along with the Mayor of the City of Mbombela Municipality, the Speaker of Mbombela and the District Mayor of the Ehlanzeni District; along with several other senior dignitaries on a national, provincial and local level.
They expressed their appreciation for the handover of the goods, concurring with the notion that these items would help get the education system back on track, in terms of learning and also safeguarding learners and educators alike.
The opportunity was also used for Sappi to showcase some of its other initiatives that support the government’s objectives. In his capacity as Chairperson of the Inter-Ministerial Committee that oversees the national roll-out of vaccines, the Deputy President expressed his satisfaction for Sappi’s ongoing support for the government’s efforts to promote vaccination to curb the spread of Covid-19. Sappi has a vaccination policy amongst its employees and has achieved a 91% vaccination rate at its South African businesses, with 95% having received their first vaccinations. Sappi’s 13 countrywide clinics have administered more than 10,000 vaccinations to employees, their family members and contractors.
The Deputy President used his visit to the Ngodwana Mill to also visit the Sappi Ngodwana Skills Centre and Learning Hub, which provides opportunities for local community members to benefit from being active participants in the local economy of the area. Registered with NAMB (National Artisan Moderating Body), the Centre is a registered skills training and trade testing centre. It provides training for apprentices and engineers in training, as well as community training courses, related to basic life and hand skills, and specific skills such as painting, basic electrical work, plumbing, bricklaying and cement work.
To date, 98 community members have enrolled and benefited from the Community Learning Programme. There are currently eleven community members receiving training at the centre in sewing, welding, upholstery and carpentry. The future aim is to increase the number of trainees to between 20 and 30 per group and to take 90 learners through the programme per annum.
His Excellency the Deputy President’s visit was closed off when he made an impromptu call on the nearby Mbombela taxi rank where a pop-up vaccination stand was encouraging community members to vaccinate .
A global leader in dissolving pulp and paper-based solutions, Sappi Limited (listed on the JSE - SAP), is headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa; has over 12,000 employees; manufacturing facilities on three continents, in ten countries (ten operations in Europe, four operations in North America and five operations in South Africa) and customers in over 150 countries worldwide.
Sappi works closely with customers to provide relevant and sustainable dissolving pulp, paper (speciality, packaging and graphic), paper pulp, and biomaterial products and related services and innovations. Our market-leading range of paper products includes flexible packaging, label, release liner, containerboard and fluting, coated fine papers, casting release papers and in our Southern African region newsprint, uncoated graphic and business papers. These products serve the fashion, FMCG and industrial sectors. Our dissolving pulp products are used worldwide by converters to produce viscose fibre, pharmaceutical products, and a wide range of household and consumer products.
We continue to grow into a profitable and cash-generative diversified business with an exciting future in woodfibre, a renewable resource.www.sappi.com