Mrs Sylvia Lucas is infamous for her outspoken, no-nonsense attitude, however meeting with her at the Kimberly Anne showed a humorous and compassionate side to her.
Mr Thabo Makweya asked her to describe herself. Mrs Lucas said that she is a staunch Catholic woman that is very active within her church and that affects the manner in which she lives. One of her beliefs is that one needs to be of a giving nature, “If you give you shall receive,” she says. Her children would describe her as strict, yet always there for them and her grandchildren when needed.
Mrs Lucas described to us that she came from an era where people where comfortable with leading ‘just okay’ lives and she chose to be part of the regime because she wanted a life that was not mediocre. “Change starts from the people, ” she says, as a public servant she decided from the beginning, that she will always be true to herself, regardless of what others think as ‘people will always want you to behave a certain way’.
Mrs Lucas went on to further explain how during her reign as premier, her officials and her worked extremely hard. As of 2013, hard work was the order of the day to ensure that the people of the province were okay. The Northern Cape might have had a low percentage pass rate for matriculants, however they had a good quality pass rate nonetheless. The means that those who did pass, would be able to further their studies, be it at colleges or universities because they scored results that would grant them tertiary acceptance. She says that it is of utmost importance that progress learners (learners repeating matric) are given attention and that even the incoming officials should follow suite and ensure that progress learners are given assistance.
The premiers office went beyond just the bursaries from the premiers office, but also engaged with the private sector to assist in taking matriculants further in their studies. Mines got involved in their initiative and the province is seeing an improvement with the number of learners attending school. A good example of that, according to Lucas is Sol Plaatje University, which started with approximately 150 students and now have over 2000 students.
Education has always been a key factor to Lucas. “The Agricultural sector has the potential to absorb plenty workers,” she said, boasting that the unemployment rate in Kimberley is lower than the National Unemployment rate and partnerships with mines, agriculture and tourism development will help alleviate the problem of unemployment.
Mrs Lucas engaged more on the Gamsberg project and how the project could end up injecting R1Bn to start a plant. She explained how all the steel needed for the pipe line from the Orange River to Pela was provided by a South African Factory, in time and within the budget. Lucas feels that their term finalised almost all of their small projects such as rehabilitation centres and hospitals and that the 6th administration will need to ‘cultivate the seed that has been planted”. She went on to say that South Africa has good relations with China and Namibia and the relations with the Swiss for educational purposes can be reactivated by the incoming administration.
The land issue has been a topic nationwide and Mrs Lucas’ take on things is that a solid programme needs to be implemented before people are just given land. She also reiterated that people need to change their attitudes. She says that too many fights were had over the land issue and gave an example of how there was a collaboration where 49% was given to commercial farmers and 51% to the community and that it worked out to the benefit of all involved. “If our people work together, they will acquire wealth,” she said.
Mrs Lucas concluded the interview with a beautiful phrase, saying that the Northern Cape is the best kept secret that South Africa has, “It is a province that has everything from renewable energy to almost all minerals, it has enough for everyone it just needs to be cultivated”. She looks forward to being a part of the National Assembly and she shall forever be rooting for the Northern Cape.