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 following the Covid-19 disruptions. David Mabuza, the Deputy President of South Africa, was in attendance on Friday 18 February 2022 at the Sappi Ngodwana Mill to accept the donation of this paper, masks and sanitiser on behalf of 300 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 society, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Some 10,000 cloth face masks, 10,000 surgical masks and 10,000 litres of hand sanitiser that were handed over were 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, ‘We are pleased to be part of this important initiative by Sappi Southern Africa to collaborate with the Department of Basic Education to curb the spread of Covid-19 in schools. This is indeed an act of generosity in support of government in its efforts to defeat the coronavirus as led by the Department of Health. We salute Sappi for what it has done in stepping forward to respond to this partnership call. We hope that other corporates will emulate what Sappi has done.’
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 Angie Motshekga, Dr. Sibongiseni Dhlomo, the Deputy Minister of Health, along with several other senior dignitaries on a national, provincial and local level.