Presidency Budget speech & responses by ANC, DA and IFP
26 May 2015
President Jacob Zuma gave his budget vote speech on the 26 May 2015
Honourable Deputy President, Deputy Speaker,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Esteemed special guests,
Sanibonani, good day, molweni, dumelang!
I thank you Honourable Speaker for the opportunity to present the Presidency Budget Vote.
Yesterday, the 25th of May, marked the 52nd anniversary of the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).
Celebrations of Africa Day have taken place in various parts of our country with one message – We are Africans and we are one people.
As leaders in this House, we are also one people. We have a responsibility to unite our people as we move forward in building a better South Africa.
One of the founding fathers of the OAU, President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana reminded Africa in May 1963 that the real struggle only begins after the dawn of freedom or independence.
“On this continent, it has not taken us long to discover that the struggle against colonialism does not end with the attainment of national independence.
“Independence is only the prelude to a new and more involved struggle, for the right to conduct our own economic and social affairs; to construct our society according to our aspirations, unhampered by crushing and humiliating neo-colonialist controls and interference’’.
Indeed, 21 years after the dawn of freedom, South Africa continues the struggle of building a better society and an improved quality of life for all, especially the poor and the working class.
We continue to make steady progress in consolidating democracy and in expanding access to important social services such as water, sanitation, quality education, quality health care, housing, science and technology, food security, social security and various others.
Progress is also being made in the fight against crime and in promoting inclusive economic growth and job creation.
In the past weeks, Ministries have outlined the progress made by the country in the respective areas during their budget votes.
The Presidency has continued to play its supervisory role over the performance of government.
We have also been coordinating the work of the three spheres of government in order to promote synergy between national, provincial and local government.
This is done through the President’s Coordinating Council in which the President meets with Premiers and organized local government.
We are guided in our work by the National Development Plan, which has now been translated into an action plan, the five year Medium Term Strategic Framework.
We thank the outgoing members of the National Planning Commission, who produced the acclaimed National Development Plan (NDP).
The work of government and the country has been enriched by the existence of the NDP. We know where we want to be in 2030 and we also have a clear roadmap of how to get there.
I will appoint new members of the Commission soon who will take the good work forward.
We established the performance monitoring and evaluation function in government in 2009, to help improve the way government works.
We also introduced performance agreements for Ministers to enable a focused implementation of the programme of action.
Performance agreements have been signed with all Ministers to date and there is ongoing monitoring of performance.
We also continue to monitor government performance through direct interaction with the public in izimbizo, the Presidential Siyahlola Monitoring Programme and the Presidential Hotline.
The Presidency also oversees a number of special projects.
Last year we launched our service delivery programme, Operation Phakisa Big Fast Results Methodology in the Oceans Economy and Health sectors.
As part of Operation Phakisa health sector, Government will construct and refurbish a total of 216 Clinics and Community Health Centres between this year and 2020.
Operation Phakisa health will further enhance the good work we are doing in the area of health care. Some of this work has included remarkable progress in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
We thank stakeholders who work with government in the South African National Aids Council, which is chaired by the Deputy President.
This year, Operation Phakisa will also be conducted in the mining and education sectors.
In mining, the focus will be on increasing investment, transforming the sector and improving mineral beneficiation.
In education, the focus will be on the Information and Communication Technology approach to enhance basic education.
Another special project is the establishment of a special unit in the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation to monitor and promote the payment of suppliers by all government departments within 30 days of receipt of a legitimate invoice.
We also continue to coordinate infrastructure development through the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICI).
This year we are monitoring more than 200 project clusters where construction is taking place, which includes road repairs and upgrades and the energy build programme of Medupi, Kusile and Ingula.
Other projects include the building of new clinics, schools, broadband, the Square Kilometer Array project, water pipelines, dams and new bus routes in large cities.
The PICC also monitors government’s localization programme which calls for 75 percent local components in manufacturing.
At the continental level, we continue to champion the road and rail infrastructure programme through the Presidential Infrastructure Championing Initiative programme of the African Union.
Regional and cross-border infrastructure will be developed to facilitate intra-Africa trade and investment.
This initiative should ultimately unlock the economic potential of the continent and provide development opportunities for regions, countries and our peoples.
We are moving South Africa forward. We are building a better Africa and contributing to building a better world.
Also critical in our work is the need to bring together the collective wisdom of society to find solutions to challenges facing our country.
In this regard, the Presidency continues to work with various stakeholders to promote an environment conducive to inclusive growth, through amongst others, the Presidential Business Working Group and the National Consultative Forum on Mining continues.
The Deputy President is also continuing to engage the NEDLAC constituencies towards a national minimum wage and a more peaceful labour relations environment.
We welcome the 2.1 percent year on year GDP growth that was announced this afternoon. However, the quarter on quarter rate needs to improve. We have indicated before that energy is a serious constraint to economic growth.
We continue to implement our energy intervention plan.
We also continue to support Eskom while also exploring the development of a reliable energy mix including nuclear, renewables, hydropower, coal and gas among others.
The Deputy President is managing the support to Eskom, SA Post Office and South African Airways, the three entities that are facing difficulties.
As we continue to transform and build our country, we have to go beyond bricks and mortar. We have to look at the human side of reconstruction and development as well and build the soul of our nation.
We need to work together to build stronger and united communities, which uphold the values of respect for one another, tolerance and respect for the rights of others especially the right to life and dignity.
The brutality of the apartheid system which introduced a culture of violence may have eroded some of these values amongst some of our people.
The horrific incidents of Marikana, the recent attacks on foreign and African nationals in our country, some violent protests as well as incidents of violent crime, indicate that something is wrong in some sections of our society.
Recently some of our people burned a train simply because it had arrived late.
Our response to these incidents as leaders from all sectors must be accompanied by soul searching and reflection.
We should ask ourselves why such violent incidents happen in our country, which had such an iconic transition from apartheid to democracy.
With regards to the Marikana report, I would like to thank Judge Ian Farlam and the Commissioners as well as all witnesses who participated and enabled the Commission to carry out its task.
Subsequent to the delivery of the report, I have also received a briefing from Judge Farlam.
I established the Commission because I felt our country needed to know what had happened in Marikana, where more than 40 people lost their lives.
I know and appreciate the anxiety of those who are affected. However, it would be inappropriate for me to just release the report without applying my mind sufficiently. The report will be released before the end of next month.
With regards to the attacks on foreign and African nationals, we have directed law enforcement agencies to bring the perpetrators to justice without delay.
We need to send a strong message that our country will not tolerate such behavior, against both foreign nationals and our citizens.
The South African people have demonstrated to the world that they support peace, friendship and solidarity with their brothers and sisters from the continent.
We have lived with fellow African nationals for decades without any problems, even during the period of apartheid colonialism.
We will continue to live together in peace and harmony. We are one people.
The Inter-Minister Committee on Migration is attending to some of the concerns raised by South Africans, including among others the alleged involvement of some foreigners in crime, unfair business practices, drugs, and the influx of illegal migrants.
I wish to emphasise that these matters are taken seriously by government and are being attended to. Nobody must take the law into their own hands.
Similarly, foreign and African nationals must respect the laws of the land and must adhere to the requirements of our immigration laws as is required in any other country.
I presented a report on this matter to the extra-ordinary summit of SADC Heads of State and Government last month and assured the region of our unwavering commitment to peaceful coexistence amongst all our peoples.
I have also sent a report to the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights of the African Union who were keen to obtain information on what we have done to avoid a recurrence.
Ultimately the goal is to build stronger, more united and cohesive communities where African nationals and citizens continue to live together in peace and harmony, as one people.
The Presidency promotes positive values of respect, tolerance and unity through the Moral Regeneration Movement which is led by the Deputy President.
We also work with the faith based community through the Presidential Religious Working Group which also has among its programmes, the promotion of unity, tolerance and harmony in our society.
We will continue to champion these values working with all sectors of society.
According to Census 2011 a third of South Africans are under the age of 35. This means a huge part of the population requires all of us to provide them with hope for a brighter future and direction.
Government prioritises youth development and empowerment and that is why the function is located in the Presidency.
The National Youth Development Agency provides young people with support in education, skills development as well as economic empowerment.
I have also established the Presidential Youth Working Group and will interact with young people from business, sports, arts and culture, professional associations, agriculture and many other sectors.
This will promote youth participation in governance.
Other working groups that will be operational this year as well, are the Presidential Working Group on Disability, the Presidential Small Business Working Group and the Presidential Communication Working Group.
Allow me to also discuss a serious concern to me and thousands of parents in the country, namely the abuse of drugs and alcohol by our youth.
Many families feel helpless in the face of this scourge and report all sorts of distressing actions by their children. Drug addicts steal from home to fund their habits. Others become violent and attack family members.
Dagga and alcohol are said to be the most abused substances.
Some young people have also become slaves to Nyaope, Whoonga, cocaine, tik, heroin and others.
Drug and alcohol abuse contribute to the escalation of chronic diseases such as HIV, Hepatitis and Tuberculosis.
Young people who are dependent on drugs are also exposed to violent crimes as perpetrators or victims.
Government will deal mercilessly with drug dealers. They are dangerous. They want to destroy the future of our country.
We urge communities to assist by reporting the druglords to the authorities.
One of the aims of our anti-crime campaign, Operation Fiela, is to clean up our country and get rid of the drug dens and the human trafficking rings in our country.
Already we have seen many syndicates being smashed during the Operation Fiela raids.
Let us empower our youth to say NO to Drugs and to seek treatment. Families have raised concerns about the inadequate numbers of treatment centres.
The Department of Social Development has identified five provinces for the establishment of public treatment centres. These are Northern Cape, North West, Limpopo, Free State and the Eastern Cape.
Eventually all provinces will have at least one public treatment centre.
Government has developed a comprehensive response to the scourge, using lessons from Eldorado Park in Johannesburg gained following my visit there.
A task team was established to work with the community after the visit and an integrated plan of action was developed.
The plan focuses on prevention, early intervention, treatment and after care. Eight provinces were roped in to participate in the implementation of the plan to prepare for a roll out to all.
These are Limpopo, Gauteng, North West, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and the Free State.
I have been approached by other communities as well who are under siege and are crying for help.
We need to work together as we respond to this crisis nationwide as leaders of our people.
Addressing the challenge of the triple oppression suffered by women is an integral part of the mission of creating a non-sexist society.
The Ministry of Women is located in the Presidency to promote the advancement of women’s socio-economic empowerment and emancipation.
In August this year the Department of Women will launch a Report on the Status of Women as part of the build up towards the 60th Anniversary of the Women’s march to the Union Buildings which will take place next year.
The report will review progress, as well as barriers that continue to work against women empowerment.
The Department of Women will also promote women’s participation in education as well as science and technology fields as part of the promotion of the AU Decade of African Women programme.
The year 2015 is also important for the department and for the country, given the hosting of the 25th Ordinary African Union Summit next month.
The theme of the Summit is “The Year of Women Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063”.
Despite the challenges I have mentioned which we must all address, our country is doing very well. The fundamentals are in place.
Our institutions are strong and sound. All the arms of the state are functioning effectively - the executive, parliament and the judiciary.
This means that our hard won democracy is safe. We will always protect it because we sacrificed so much for it.
We will continue to contribute to the efforts of building a better Africa through supporting the AU’s Agenda 2063 and all programmes of the AU aimed at promoting sustainable socio-economic development.
The promotion of trade among African countries and regional integration remain high up on the agenda.
We will also continue to contribute to peacemaking and peacekeeping efforts within the ambit of the African Union, through our South African National Defence Force and the South African Police Service.
We will continue to enhance relations with various countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas and the Middle East.
We will continue enhancing relations with the BRICS grouping bilaterally and multilaterally.
We will take forward the call for the reform of global financial institutions through the G20.
We also continue to call for meaningful reforms to make the United Nations Security Council representative of the world as the UN turns 70 years old this year.
The exclusion of Africa from the Security Council is indefensible.
We will continue our support for the self-determination of Western Sahara and the fast-tracking of the end of the Cuban blockade.
We welcome the improving relations between Cuba and the United States.
We continue to call for peace and stability in the Middle East and for the resolution of the Palestinian question using the two state solution formula.
Our country will host two major events in the next two weeks, the World Economic Forum on Africa meeting here in Cape Town and the 25th Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union in Sandton.
We are honoured to host these two major events where we will discuss progress in building a better Africa and a better world.
I always say that our country has a good story to tell. Indeed that remains true.
Various reports indicate that South Africa is performing strongly in five areas.
- Financial market development
- Attractiveness as a foreign direct investment destination as well as social and people issues.
The year 2014 saw an improvement in the infrastructure measures of three different studies.
The Institute for Management Development Global Competitiveness Yearbook, reports that our country has moved from 58 to 55 in the Infrastructure indicator.
In the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness report, the country has moved from 66 to 60 in the Infrastructure indicator.
In the Ibrahim Index of African Governance, South Africa has moved from 7th to 3rd on the continent this year.
South Africa is also performing well in the competitiveness pillar of Financial Market Development, ranking 7th out of 144.
Our performance has been deemed outstanding in the following sub-indicators:
o Regulation of Securities Exchanges
o Affordability of Financial Services and
o The availability of Financial Services.
On institutions, South Africa is performing well in the following
- Property rights;
- Intellectual property protection;
- Judicial independence;
- The efficiency Of Legal Framework In the Settling of Disputes;
- The efficiency Of Legal Framework In Challenging Regulations;
- The transparency Of Government Policymaking;
- The ethical Behaviour Of Firms;
- The Strength Of Auditing and Reporting Standards;
- The efficacy Of Corporate boards;
- The Protection of Minority Shareholders' Interests; and
- The Strength Of Investor Protection.
Indeed this is a good story to tell.
And indeed, together we are moving South Africa forward.
In the Restrictiveness Index of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), South Africa ranks amongst the most open jurisdictions for Foreign Direct Investment in the world.
South Africa’s foreign direct investment stock now accounts for around 42 per cent of GDP.
Over the last five years South Africa accounted for the bulk of new investment projects in Africa with investment arriving from the United States, some member states of the European Union and increasingly from China, India and other Asian countries.
Further good news is that between 2011 and 2013, the country improved its Human Development Index value.
South Africans enjoy a longer, healthier lives and a more decent standard of living.
According to the Medical Research showed that in 2005 life expectancy was 51.6, it rose in 2009 to 57.1 and rose again in 2013 to 62.2.
Honourable Members, I am sure we can now all agree that indeed, South Africa has a good story to tell.
Brand South Africa is available to share further information to Honourable Members, who need more information about the progress made by their country.
Next month we mark 60 years of the Freedom Charter, a document that has guided our struggle for liberation and for the transformation of South Africa.
The Charter informed the content and spirit of the country’s progressive Constitution. We look forward to successful celebration of this historic event.
This year the Black Sash, which supported many activists and families in distress during the struggle for liberation, is also celebrating 60 years of existence.
Unity is the recipe for success.
Let us work together to promote unity, cohesion and tolerance in our country as we build a better South Africa and move our country forward.
Let me take this opportunity to thank the Deputy President, the two Ministers in the Presidency and the Deputy Minister for their support.
I also appreciate the contribution and hard work of the Director-General, Dr Cassius Lubisi, the Chief Operations Officer, Ms Lakela Kaunda, the Advisors, senior management and all staff in the Presidency.
It is my privilege, Honourable Speaker, to commend the Presidency Budget Vote 1 to the House.
I thank you.
Response by President Jacob Zuma to the debate on the Presidency Budget Vote, National Assembly, Cape Town
Deputy President of the Republic,
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the 2015 Presidency Budget Vote 1 debate. I wish to thank all Honourable Members for the contributions to the debate.
Deputy President Ramaphosa said yesterday that the country is not on a slippery slope, and that we are on an upward slope, making steady progress. Indeed we stand by our statement that the country is making progress.
Some of the Honourable Members on the Opposition benches need to accept the fact that reversing the legacy of apartheid will take decades. The damage was extensive. The structure of the apartheid economy will also take longer to transform. We will continue to work steadily towards this goal, so that we build an inclusive economy that will create jobs and help us build a better life for our people.
In February we announced an economic growth target of five per cent by 2019. We reaffirm this target, knowing fully well that, it is not going to be easy to achieve it. We recommit to it because all of us in the country have to make the effort and play our part, to achieve inclusive growth.
The quarterly Stats SA reports help us to keep track of progress and to enhance our efforts.
Honourable Godi warned that we should guard against a sense of normality about the poverty and suffering of the poor.
You also reminded us that the greatest challenge of our time remains the fight against unemployment, inequality and poverty which remains a disproportionate burden of the African people in general and the working class in particular. Indeed, we will never rest for as long as there are still people with no food to put on the table in our country.
You will recall Honourable Members, that we have interventions in place already which are igniting growth. The economic cluster is implementing the nine point growth plan that I announced in the State of the Nation Address in February. The plan is a response to four big challenges that slow down our growth. These include the current electricity shortage, the availability and cost of broadband, a regulatory environment that is cumbersome and labour market stability.
All of these are being addressed.
Deputy Minister Mzwandile Masina provided an update on what we are doing to promote economic growth including enhancing trade with the continent and globally.
The matter was also covered by Honourable Smith who called for strengthened partnerships with SADC and BRICS, given the economic challenges faced by our equally valued trade partners in Europe and the United States.
Honourable Members also raised the issue of load shedding. This is also being addressed. Government has completed a medium term outlook model for the supply and demand of electricity. The model indicates that demand will exceed supply for the next 24 to 36 months. To increase supply, Eskom is implementing a structured planned maintenance programme to ensure that the availability of all power stations is improved.
Eskom has also commissioned the supply of 100 Megawatts from the Sere Wind Farm here in the Western Cape, while 827 Megawatts of cogeneration contracts have been signed, adding much needed capacity. It must be noted that Eskom added 160 thousand households to the electricity grid in the past financial year, which added to the demand of electricity.
Looking ahead, the Minister of Public Enterprises, Ms Lynne Brown, has tasked Eskom to accelerate the completion of the build programme. The Minister has also directed the utility to improve its project management and contracting in order to increase the generation capacity of the existing fleet.
The Minister of Energy, Ms Tina Joemat-Pettersson and her department are currently focused on implementing the other four key components of the government Five-Point Plan to address the electricity challenge. The role of this department is to ensure that there is sufficient, reliable and consistent supply to meet the growing demand.
The Department of Energy has a programme to procure additional supply using Independent Power Producers. The additional supply will come from coal, renewables, cogeneration and also gas to power. The gas to power initiative offers a new investment in the economy as significant infrastructure will have to be installed.
To reduce the time required before regulatory authorisations are provided, Government has synchronised environmental impact assessments for water and mining rights applications and has set a maximum of three hundred days for all these authorisations to be issued.
We announced earlier this year the establishment of a fast-tracked inter-Departmental Clearing House for investors for problem-solving, comprised of the Departments of Trade and Industry, Home Affairs, SA Revenue Service and Economic Development.
To stabilise labour relations, Government will implement the agreements reached with Business and Labour including the consideration of a national minimum wage.
The revitalisation of mining towns, which is another project we committed to, is continuing as reported by Minister Jeff Radebe who chairs the Inter-Ministerial Committee responsible for this intervention.
Agriculture has a huge potential for job creation and is one of our key targets for igniting growth. Interventions include providing market access for smallholder farmers and providing technical support as well as bringing one million hectares of land into full production over the next three years.
Government and the private sector have also developed the Agricultural Policy Action Plan. Support for the manufacturing sector is also continuing as part of promoting growth.
We have committed more than 2.8 billion rand to companies in the manufacturing sector, through the Manufacturing Competitiveness Enhancement Programme, as I Indicated earlier this year.
Let me reiterate what I said yesterday that we value the positive contribution of the National Infrastructure Plan to the country’s competitiveness.
We are on the right track and we will continue with this programme.
There are also big investment opportunities for the private sector in the massive public infrastructure build programme. Already we have achieved notable successes in locomotive and bus production. We will also actively support domestic manufacturing enterprises including in shipbuilding and marine engineering as part of Operation Phakisa in the ocean economy.
Economic growth will not be achieved by government alone. It takes all sectors – business, labour and politicians. We need to reach a stage where Honourable Members make constructive suggestions on how to improve economic growth.
South Africa belongs to all of us.
Minister Radebe raised this issue of people who forever see horror stories and make a habit of talking South Africa down. It does not help our country at all. Our country is doing well under difficult global economic conditions. This is a period of unity in action and not point scoring.
Honourable Khubisa you said accountability by government is a constitutional obligation and the Presidency should enforce it. We agree totally and we are enforcing it, which is why government reports regularly to Parliament and to the public through izimbizo and other mass communication mediums.
We have also taken note of your request that we should report regularly on the establishment of the New Development Bank or BRICS Bank. The work towards operationalizing the Bank is according to schedule. All countries expect to complete the ratification of the agreement establishing the Bank next month, June 2015.
The Inaugural meeting of the Governors of the Bank is set to take place in July 2015 at the Seventh BRICS Summit in Russia. It is expected that the President and four Vice Presidents of the Bank would have been appointed by the time of the Summit.
The New Development Bank is expected to commence business in the second half of 2015. A Technical Secretariat, to be based in Shanghai, will carry out the day to day work of operationalizing the Bank.
The African Regional Centre, upon commencement of business, will immediately be open to consider projects on the continent.
Honourable Cardo, I would caution against problematizing all professionals who are appointed to senior positions. Your stereotyping of all appointees as being cronies and pliable is really unfortunate and uncalled for.
These are South Africans who take up very difficult appointments in a developing country with serious challenges of reversing the apartheid legacy. Most of the senior appointments in government and public institutions are doing a hard and thankless task in which people are attacked every day for doing their jobs.
We need to show some appreciation to many of them who do their jobs diligently and professionally, serving the nation. We should also be cautious about stereotyping and stigmatisation of black professionals, as it works against the non-racial society we are working so hard to build. We should support all those who work selflessly to help us achieve the country’s developmental goals.
Deputy Minister Manamela responded to questions about the National Youth Development Agency. The Agency has been repositioned and is functioning effectively to support youth development and empowerment.
Honourable Holomisa, we have noted your comment that we are not mobilising the country behind the economic transformation programme, including the National Infrastructure Plan.
The Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission management committee led by Minister Nkwinti and the secretariat led by Minister Patel will look into this matter and undertake remedial action especially with regards to communicating the programme to the public and stakeholders.
We also share your concern about the culture of lawlessness. Indeed it cannot be tolerated.
Campaigns such as Operation Fiela are designed to deal with this challenge. We urge Members of Parliament to assist us as well in addressing this culture in their constituencies as it needs to be a collective effort by all leaders in society, to promote respect for authority and the laws of the country.
Honourable Madiba, Nkosi Zwelivelile you touched on an important matter, the need to celebrate our arts and culture and our artists. The Presidency takes this matter seriously. We have over the past five years run a consistent programme of supporting artists.
The Deputy Minister in the Presidency leads a team of Deputy Ministers who support performing artists and musicians on matters including piracy, copyright protection and infringement, airplay in the broadcast media, social welfare and social security as well as income tax awareness. A key achievement of the past term was to get the artists to be united and to have one umbrella body to liaise with government.
The Creative Industries Federation of South Africa was thus launched in March this year. The Presidency will continue to support artists working with the Department of Arts and Culture so that we do not have a recurrence of the situation where our artists die destitute, while they have brought joy to millions of our people during their careers.
Minister Shabangu, thank you for reminding the House about gender parity. The mission of our government is to create a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society. You correctly pointed out that the cornerstone for Africa’s development is the advancement of women and youth as agents of change.
I will be failing in my duty if I do not comment on how our democratic parliament is conducting its business during this term. As elected leaders of our people in parliament, we have a joint responsibility to build our country. Parliamentarians should appreciate this responsibility.
Let me reiterate that parliament is an important pillar of our democracy. Members of Parliament must demonstrate that they take Parliament seriously, so that our people can continue to look up to this institution. The conduct of some of the Members of Parliament raises doubt about their commitment to the work of Parliament.
I trust that the matters of decorum will be taken seriously so that we do not disappoint our people.
As leaders of this House we are South Africans, and we have a duty to build our country together. Let us work together to build a truly non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.
I thank you
Address by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on the occasion of the Presidency Budget Vote Debate
26 May 2015
President Jacob Zuma,
We would like to share with Honourable Members the efforts we are making as the Presidency - working together with all sectors of society - to move South Africa forward.
In his State of the Nation Address in February, President Jacob Zuma called on all South Africans to make 2015 the Year of the Freedom Charter.
Sixty years ago, on 26 June 1955, the largest gathering of the representatives of our people gathered in Kliptown to adopt the Freedom Charter.
These delegates - united in their diversity - presented a vision of a new South Africa that we continue to build today.
It is a vision that guides and inspires the work of the Presidency.
As the apex of government, the Presidency spearheads our national effort to overcome poverty, unemployment and inequality through radical economic transformation.
The Office of the Deputy President executes its delegated responsibilities in support of the programme of action led by President Jacob Zuma.
Our programme is informed and guided by the objectives of the National Development Plan, which are translated into the 14 outcomes of the Medium-Term Strategic Framework.
The National Development Plan not only provides a compelling vision of the South Africa of the future.
It also provides an overarching framework, with a clear set of actions, to advance and achieve that vision.
We are energised by the fact that we undertake our work not in isolation, but in partnership with our colleagues in the Executive and a broad spectrum of organised formations, communities and individuals.
Through the Working Groups led by the President, and through multi-sectoral forums like the South African National Aids Council, we are steadily forging a social compact for transformation.
Within the state, we utilise inter-ministerial committees effectively to improve intra-governmental coordination, which enables us to deploy resources efficiently.
The drafters of the Freedom Charter, in analysing the situation in our country at the time, said:
“Our people have been robbed of their birthright to land, liberty and peace by a form of government founded on injustice and inequality; and our country will never be prosperous or free until all our people enjoy equal rights and opportunities.”
It is this historical injustice that we are compelled to remedy.
Remedying this historical injustice has been at the centre of our work in government these past 21 years.
If we were to judge by the headlines, Mr President, we may wrongfully conclude that we are failing in this effort.
But if we look beyond the headlines, which range from the exaggerated to the absurd, a different picture emerges.
In his book ‘The Long View’, the economist JP Landman suggests that in examining progress in society one needs to focus instead on the trendlines.
If we are to appreciate how far we have come, and if we are to understand where we are going, we need to examine the evidence over a number of years.
We have to identify the trends and understand their meaning.
To the discerning and careful observer, these trendlines tell us that South Africa is on an upward developmental trajectory.
These trendlines tell us that millions of children from poor communities now attend no-fee schools. More people are able to access health care.
Many of our people have been lifted out of poverty.
These trendlines tell the story of a nation determined to overcome a past of division, lack of opportunity and conflict - a nation working to build a future of equality, prosperity and goodwill.
We are not on a slippery slope, as some right-leaning people on my left would have us believe.
We are on an upward slope, and we are making steady progress.
And yet, we know that - despite the progress - many of our people still live in poverty, without work, without water, without sanitation, without shelter.
This reality reminds us of the urgent nature of our transformation effort.
We are hard at work to remedy the historical injustice and to improve people’s lives.
As outlined in the budget votes of our various departments, schools are being built, bus rapid transit systems are being deployed, fibre optic cable is being laid, child mortality is declining, small businesses are being established, wind farms are being commissioned, and across the country, the lives of millions of people are changing for the better.
The trendlines tell us, Mr President, that through your leadership and stewardship Siyaquba: We are moving South Africa forward.
The Freedom Charter asserts that: “The national wealth of our country, the heritage of South Africans, shall be restored to the people.”
This declaration by the delegates to the Congress of the People captures the essential responsibility that we all have at this moment in our history.
It underpins our commitment to a fundamentally different economy - one in which all South Africans share and from which all South Africans benefit.
The Freedom Charter envisages a developmental state that plays a leading role in promoting growth and ensuring economic access to those previously denied economic opportunity.
This is the state that we are working to build.
It is a state that is capable, efficient and responsive.
It is a state that through its various public entities has the means to make a meaningful impact on the economy.
The Office of the Deputy President has accordingly been assigned responsibility to lead efforts to strengthen state-owned enterprises in line with the recommendations of the Presidential Review Commission on SOEs.
Our priority is to improve governance, stabilise finances, increase productivity and ensure state-owned entities effectively perform the functions for which they were established.
These enterprises command significant resources and hold great potential for employment creation, infrastructure growth, technology development and small enterprise promotion.
Together, they constitute a vital pillar of a vibrant mixed economy.
They must stimulate, support and enhance private investment and expansion.
In a provocative and challenging article in the Business Day newspaper yesterday, columnist Mark Barnes argues that the provision of social goods could be delivered more effectively and efficiently if the public and private sectors pooled their resources and capabilities.
He says that South Africa has an abundance of the technical competence, management skills and financial resources needed to build a better life for all. It’s just not all in one place.
It therefore makes sense for the efforts of state-owned enterprises and private businesses to intersect in a partnership for economic and social development.
There is precedence for this sort of intersection between public and private in, for example, the cogeneration of electricity by private companies and the renewable energy independent power producer programme.
Barnes goes on to say:
“Imagine the sort of skills and education programmes that could emerge were SOEs to regain their positions of strength in economic society.”
Imagine, I would add, the contribution they could make to reindustrialisation and radical economic transformation.
One of those that will regain its strength in our economy is Eskom.
As the supplier of around 95% of the country’s electricity, Eskom is critical to our economic growth and sustainability.
As we are all acutely aware, the company has been experiencing severe generation constraints, exacerbated by significant operational and financial challenges.
With the support of the war room located in the Presidency, progress has been made in the implementation of government’s five-point implementation plan.
The progress to date has been detailed in the budget votes of the departments of energy and public enterprises.
Governance and leadership challenges at Eskom are being addressed. We welcome in particular the appointment of Mr Brian Molefe as acting CEO.
The hard work to turn around the performance of our national carrier, South African Airways, has begun to bear fruit.
The going concern status of the airline has been restored, costs have been reduced and operational efficiency is improving.
We have confidence that the newly developed long term turnaround strategy will ensure that SAA continues to play a crucial role in facilitating commerce and tourism within our country and abroad.
We are also encouraged by progress at the South African Post Office, where the strategic turnaround plan has been finalised for submission to Cabinet.
The administrator appointed by Minister Siyabonga Cwele last year has undertaken a thorough diagnostic review of the challenges at the Post Office and a business model that is better suited to the changing postal services environment has been developed.
This year, six decades after the Congress of the People, we are poised to realise the Freedom Charter’s call for a national minimum wage.
As directed by President Jacob Zuma in the State of the Nation Address of 17 June last year, we are leading a social dialogue under the auspices of NEDLAC to address wage inequality and labour instability.
The work is currently being undertaken by technical task teams overseen by a Committee of Principals, which includes government ministers and leaders from the business, labour and community constituencies.
Drawing on both international and local experience, this work promises to significantly improve the livelihoods of millions of South African workers.
It has the potential to reduce poverty and inequality and contribute to faster economic growth.
Let me commend the National Assembly’s Labour Portfolio Committee, led by the Honourable Lumka Yengeni, for organising a public consultation process on a national minimum wage.
This has raised the prominence of the national minimum wage in public discourse and elicited valuable insights and perspectives.
As we work to improve the lives of workers, we are also pursuing measures to address the circumstances of the unemployed.
In addition to the programmes government is implementing to stimulate job creation, the Presidency, through an inter-ministerial committee, is overseeing the coordination of public employment programmes.
Public employment programmes not only provide job opportunities.
They also provide the means to lift households out of poverty.
The budget vote of the Department of Public Works has provided detail on this work.
Beyond the opportunities identified in infrastructure and in the social, environmental and cultural sectors, we are also focused on areas such as the Jobs Fund, micro enterprises, and co-operatives to improve the impact of these programmes.
The Freedom Charter made a call that: “The doors of learning and culture shall be opened.”
If we are to successfully transform our economy, we need educated and skilled South Africans.
Speaking at the UN General Assembly on 26 October 1976, ANC President Oliver Tambo said:
“We will create a South Africa in which the doors of learning and culture shall be opened to all. We will have a South Africa in which the young of our country shall have the best that mankind has produced, in which they shall be taught to love the people of all races, to defend the equality of the people, to honour creative labour, to uphold the oneness of mankind and to hate untruths, immorality and avarice.”
Through our work in the Human Resource Development Council, we are making a contribution to building such a South Africa.
Together, we are building a nation that generates ideas and develops technologies and opens up new markets at home and abroad.
We are significantly expanding opportunities for training and development for young people leaving school.
Our major priority is to strengthen the Technical Vocational Education and Training Colleges - known as TVET colleges.
A number of companies have joined this effort by adopting TVET colleges to assist with the improvement of teaching and learning facilities, skills transfer, apprenticeships and general governance.
We are today making a call to all companies to adopt TVET colleges to both meet their own skills requirements and contribute to a national skills revolution.
Mr President, the Human Resource Development Council has taken up your challenge to make maths education a priority.
The HRD Council is developing an ambitious Maths National Master Plan that will fundamentally transform the mathematical proficiency of our youth.
The Early Childhood Development Plan is now being revised, ensuring that we establish a foundation for successful learning and achievement from an early age.
We call on parents, care givers and communities to ensure all young children are enrolled in ECD facilities.
We will not realise the full potential of our people unless we also address the burden of disease in our society, and in particular the persistent challenge of co-infection between HIV and tuberculosis.
We have made significant progress in responding to the HIV epidemic as a result of the work of the South African National AIDS Council - SANAC.
Yet, we are far from achieving our objective of an HIV-free generation.
Led by the Department of Health, and working with development partners, we are undertaking a massive TB screening and treatment programme that focuses on those populations and geographical areas most at risk.
We are also intensifying efforts to reduce the rate of new HIV infections.
To combat complacency and a lack of awareness, particularly among the youth, we are reviving a national communications campaign.
We are stepping up the HIV testing and counselling, condom distribution and the medical male circumcision programme.
We urge all Members of Parliament to lead by example and be tested for HIV and screened for TB.
The Freedom Charter says: “There shall be peace and friendship.”
It says: “South Africa shall strive to maintain world peace and the settlement of all international disputes by negotiation - not war.”
We continue to be inspired by this vision and the founding principles of the Organisation of African Unity, whose formation we celebrated yesterday on Africa Day.
Consistent with these principles and acting on the mandate given by SADC to President Jacob Zuma, we helped to facilitate the restoration of peace and stability in the Kingdom of Lesotho.
We are pleased that the outcome of the elections on 28 February 2015 was deemed to be a true expression of the will of the people, and declared free, fair and credible.
The Southern African community remains ready to assist the people of Lesotho as they reform their constitutional and security architecture to ensure lasting stability.
South Africa continues to work with other countries and political formations to restore peace and stability in South Sudan.
We are guided by the Reunification Agreement signed between factions of the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) in Arusha in January.
This work is premised on our conviction that peace and stability in South Sudan and the Great Lakes region is a necessary condition for growth and development in East and Central Africa.
South Africa continues to support post-conflict reconstruction and development in Sri Lanka.
We will soon host a Sri Lankan delegation to exchange views with eminent South Africans who participated in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and constitution-making process.
We are hopeful that our experiences in forging a united country out of conflict and discord will be useful to the parties and people of Sri Lanka.
The Freedom Charter proclaims that: “No government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people.”
Our Parliament remains the most important guarantor that the will of the people informs the work of government.
In a vibrant democracy like ours, there is a dynamic relationship between the Executive and Parliament, as both seek to discharge their respective constitutional obligations.
We may not agree on all issues but we must never lose sight of our common responsibility to improve the lives of the people who elected us.
As government, we remain committed to the mandate that we have been given to fundamentally transform our economy.
We will continue to work with all in Parliament to advance this mandate.
As the Leader of Government Business, I will continue to champion the principle of executive accountability and enhance the work and standing of this institution.
In conclusion, I wish to thank you, Mr President, for entrusting me with the responsibility as Deputy President of supporting you in the advancement of your vision for a better South Africa.
I appreciate your leadership and guidance.
I am grateful to my colleagues in the Executive for their support in Cabinet and the productive cooperation we experience in the various inter-ministerial committees that are led by the Office of the Deputy President.
Many thanks also go to the Director-General, advisers and staff in the Presidency for their support and commitment.
I thank you.
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