President Reply to Budget Speech Debate
10 Jun 2022
Reply by President Cyril Ramaphosa on The Presidency Budget Vote Debate 2022, Good Hope Chamber, Parliament, Cape Town
10 June 2022 - 12:00am
Speaker of the National Assembly,
Deputy President David Mabuza,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Fourteen is the number of times I have appeared in this Parliament since 2018, to answer oral questions put by members of this House.
As Deputy President between 2014 and 2017, I appeared 22 times.
Eighty four is the number of oral questions I have replied to in this Parliament between 2018 and the 1st of June this year, out of 84 submitted to The Presidency. As Deputy President the number was 114, out of 114 questions submitted.
One hundred and fifty-nine is the number of questions for written reply answered by this President since 2018, out of a total of 160 questions submitted.
Three full days is the number of times I, as the sitting Head of State, have testified at two major commissions of inquiry since 2018.
The first being in August 2021 at the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture, and the second in April 2022 at the South African Human Rights Commission hearings in to the July 2021 unrest.
This, Honourable Members, is the track record of this Presidency in meeting its obligation to be accountable.
This is the evidence of this Presidency’s and my commitment to account to Parliament, and to the South African people.
Because we are a government elected by the people, for the people, and we are accountable to the South African people for all that we do.
As I said yesterday, the people of South Africa must come first in all that we do.
As public representatives we were elected on the promise to improve their lives, and we are obliged to keep that promise. It is the reason for this government and this Parliament’s existence.
So, before I get to this foremost priority, I want to reassure, and indeed remind this House that accountability is a responsibility I have never shirked or shied away from.
When I was elected four years ago, I promised I would come to this House regularly and answer your questions, and I have done so faithfully.
The robbery that took place on my farm Phala Phala in 2020 is the subject of a criminal complaint, and the law must take its course. In other words, due process must be followed.
I will therefore not be responding to speculation, conjecture, allegations, or so-called revelations. These must be ventilated in the proper and appropriate forums. I repeat, the law must take its course.
The Presidency occupies a unique place in government.
It is the front office of government, and represents South Africa on the world stage, on our continent and in international forums.
The Presidency coordinates the functions of state departments and administrations, as opposed to other government departments that are tasked with implementing national policy and legislation that derives from Parliament.
Above all, The Presidency and the President is the custodian of the Constitution, and is duty bound to uphold, defend, and protect the Constitution as the supreme law of the land.
For all these functions to be fulfilled and the respective responsibilities to be met, The Presidency must both build and lead a capable, ethical, and developmental state.
We therefore welcome the inputs that have been made during this debate on the support Parliament will render to The Presidency to enable it to better fulfil its mandate.
The recent meeting with The Presidency and political parties on the crime and security situation is an example of the way in which we can harness these synergies to address the most pressing problems our society faces.
The finest example, however, is the regular engagements between The Presidency and parties represented in Parliament at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
That very first meeting, in March 2020 set the tone for the cooperation that would follow. The united front presented by political parties, and their rallying behind the national response, gave reassurance and confidence to a fearful and uncertain population at the time it was needed most.
In the ensuring months more engagements and consultations would follow around the lockdown and other measures.
These consultations were meaningful and effective. As much as some political parties had different perspectives from those of the government, we were however united in our determination to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic to save lives and protect livelihoods.
We can say with certainty that this strong collaboration and partnership played no small part in the success of our national response to the pandemic.
This is what social compacting is all about.
It is about cooperation, building trust and forging consensus. It is about building and nurturing spaces in which all voices and viewpoints are heard and considered.
It doesn’t only refer to government, business, and labour, but all of society. And as political parties you are elected representatives of the people of this country. You are here to speak for them and represent their interests.
This debate has drawn attention to what I yesterday termed the real bread-and-butter issues our people are preoccupied with.
As the Honourable Heron rightly put it, our priority at this time is to achieve a just and prosperous South Africa based on spatial, social, economic, and environmental justice.
In my reply to last year’s Presidency Budget Vote, I said that we were determined to stay the course on our reform programme in order to restore our economy, attract new levels of investment, create jobs, boost wages, and increase opportunities for all South Africans.
Yesterday I outlined the progress we have made not only as The Presidency but as a country in meeting these goals. This framing was deliberate and conscious.
In line with its coordinating role, the Presidency is driving the reform process from the centre.
Some Honourable members have described the process of coordination through The Presidency as creating a super presidency and is an over centralisation of power. But we have found this to work effectively particularly during this era when strengthening the capacity of the state is a priority.
We are helping to streamline and align government functions; assisting to manage and mitigate bureaucratic hurdles; and fulfilling our critical oversight role.
The National Development Plan lays out our vision for South Africa. At its heart is eliminating poverty and reducing inequality.
The enablers of this vision are an inclusive and transformed economy, enhanced state capacity, and partnerships across society.
In recent times a number of reports and studies have indicated that we will not meet our 2030 targets under the NDP.
But this should not stop us from trying.
We must ensure that the NDP is implemented, as the Honourable Jafta has emphasised.
We further thank the Honourable Jafta for acknowledging the strides that have been made in reviving our economy through the Investment Conference, Youth Employment Service, and others.
In these intervening years we have to redouble our efforts and work harder, because as elected representatives we have an obligation to improve the material condition of every South African man, woman, and child.
We have positioned ourselves as a transformative Presidency, and transformation takes time. It does not happen overnight.
But when the right decisions are made, at the right time, guided by the right course of action, progress results.
Most importantly, the foundations upon which any economic recovery is built have to be solid, and coherent and catalytic policy is critical.
In The Presidency Budget Vote last year, I outlined key economic reform measures that were underway or were in process, driven by Operation Vulindlela in partnership with the National Treasury.
The majority of these have subsequently been passed, including those I highlighted yesterday in transportation, electricity, energy, telecoms and water infrastructure.
This year, through Operation Vulindlela, supported by the Project Management Office in The Presidency and the Red Tape Reduction team, we aim to deliver even more.
Security of energy supply has had a direct and material impact on domestic and international investor confidence, which in turn leads to a favourable business environment that creates more jobs.
That is why supporting the process of structural reform in the energy sector has been one of our foremost priorities as The Presidency.
The energy reform process is aimed in part at addressing our immediate challenges.
Yesterday I outlined progress in the renewable energy procurement programme, the conclusion of power purchase agreements for three risk mitigation projects, and measures that we will be taking to close the electricity gap.
But the ultimate objective is to fundamentally transform the energy landscape, create a new competitive electricity market, and most importantly, decarbonise our economy.
For this reason, the Just Transition partnership that the new Climate Finance Office in the Presidency will be mobilising resources for, will be a game-changer. This is the work being undertaken by a Presidency committed to transformative, inclusive, sustainable development.
Two years ago, The Presidency set its transformative sights on the labour market.
It was at a time when private sector job creation was constrained and hampered by the pandemic, and many livelihoods were in danger or had been lost.
Working with social partners and government departments we designed and have been driving the implementation of the largest mass public employment programme in our country’s history.
To date the Presidential Employment Stimulus has successfully provided work opportunities to close to a million beneficiaries who would have otherwise not been absorbed by the constrained job market.
We know, Honourable Mbhele, that it is our youth who are suffering most from unemployment and exclusion.
That is why the majority of the close to one million beneficiaries of this ground-breaking programme have been young people. To be exact, 84 per cent youth, and 62 per cent female.
The second phase is supporting the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention and the Social Employment Fund, where we also expect young people to be the primary beneficiaries.
The Presidency has been championing the drive to transform the capacity of the state.
Our vision is to realise a state that is fit for purpose to serve communities, and that brings targeted and inclusive development to where people live, study and work.
The District Development Model is an initiative of The Presidency and was launched at a pilot site in the OR Tambo District Municipality in 2020.
Although the onset of the pandemic set back our efforts to roll-out the DDM in more municipalities, the process has resumed in earnest.
As part of operationalising this model, the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs has been working with districts and municipalities to finalise their One Plans.
These One Plans outline the respective approaches of districts to resolving service delivery challenges, economic development, job creation and key deliverables.
The Presidential izimbizo have been a means through which The Presidency exercises oversight over the progress of the DDM, and as I said yesterday, we plan to visit the six remaining provinces this year.
The Honourable Hendricks has expressed a wish that the imbizo in the Western Cape should be held on the Cape Flats.
Honourable Hendricks, your request will be given serious consideration.
This will be an opportunity to listen to the life experiences and concerns of our people in the Western Cape, and no doubt such an imbizo will bring in people from number of surrounding areas where our people live.
District-based development is a transformation of government planning.
It is a break from the past where departments worked in silos, fruitless expenditure on irrelevant projects was common, and where development was not aligned to national objectives.
Once this model is fully institutionalised, it will result in better use of resources, targeted development, and responsive planning.
It will enable districts and municipalities to develop but also harness existing local economic initiatives such as Special Economic Zones, industrial parks, and agri-hubs.
We have set ourselves the target of rolling out the DDM in all 52 of the country’s districts, and The Presidency will be conducting oversight in this regard.
It goes without saying that rebuilding state institutional capacity is transformative by its very nature.
It was this Presidency that instituted high-level commissions of enquiry into the workings of the South African Revenue Service and the NPA.
Credibility has been restored to these institutions as they implemented the recommendations of the respective commissions.
By way of example, last financial year SARS collected record revenues of R1.564 trillion.
Four years since I appointed a commission of inquiry into administration and governance at SARS, its turnaround has been spectacular.
This revenue enables the state to fund social support, social infrastructure, and many other projects.
These are the fruits of reform undertaken by this administration.
The Honourable Shaik Emam has called on us to deal decisively with corruption at local government level.
I am pleased to report to him that the work of the SAPS Clean Audit Task Team is ongoing and has seen a number of arrests for fraud and corruption at local government level.
As The Presidency, another focus for us this year is supporting the respective departments to implement the recommendations of a number of high-level commissions appointed by the President.
As I indicated yesterday, a number of the recommendations made by the expert panel into the 2021 July unrest, have already been implemented.
Notably, restoring stability to the leadership of the State Security Agency, the South African Police Service, and SAPS Crime Intelligence.
Yesterday the Deputy President also outlined the considerable progress that has been made in implementing the recommendations of the Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture.
Accountability is the cornerstone of any transformative vision if it is to be realised. No more critical is this than in the fight against corruption.
A number of speakers have drawn attention to the fact that departments are often slow in following up on or implementing the recommendations contained in SIU reports.
As I said yesterday, The Presidency will be ensuring that the recommendations are acted upon.
We will furthermore continue to lend the support and weight of the highest office in the land to the work of the multidisciplinary Fusion Centre, the Hawks, the SAPS, the NPA Investigating Directorate, and all entities involved in the war against corruption.
The Honourable Groenewald has called on government to focus on strengthening the criminal justice system to deal decisively with all forms of criminality that impacts people’s daily lives.
This begins, fundamentally, with improving policing. The re-establishment of CPFs, the entry of new police recruits, and strengthening public order policing will further support our hardworking SAPS members whose job is difficult and an often thankless task.
Our task is formidable, but I have no doubt we are gaining ground.
Our economic recovery is gathering pace. The health recovery from the pandemic is proceeding. We are steadily rebuilding the capacity of the state.
As the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services told this House yesterday, our law enforcement agencies are clawing back on malfeasance and corruption and are doing so without fear, favour, or prejudice.
Despite our many challenges, we are some way off from the South Africa we were a year, two or even three years ago.
When COVID-19 struck in early 2020, there were many who believed we would collapse under the heavy weight of this burden.
And yet we pulled through, having been able to mitigate the health impact and provide social support to the most vulnerable.
The recovery that was promised is slowly coming to pass. Factories are back in full production and new ones are being opened. Small businesses and local economies are being revitalised, and jobs are being created. Domestic and international investment is picking up. Public-private partnerships are being forged to close developmental lags and to grow the economy.
So today we again must prove the naysayers wrong as we confront the economic and social challenges of the day.
We can only do so if we work together and not against each other.
It has been a spirited and lively debate in which many robust views were exchanged. We are grateful for this barometer of health of our democracy.
At the same time, let us remain focused.
Let us put our heads together on how to best support the work of The Presidency and indeed of this entire administration.
A well-capacitated, strategically oriented Presidency, driven by a long-term transformative vision, is in all our best interests.
For every few civil servants who are guided by self-interest, the vast majority are dedicated, ethical and committed to their work.
They are the men and women who work each day tirelessly to serve our people in government offices, in hospitals, in police stations, and in our schools. They are the lifeblood of our country.
I would also like to express my gratitude to you all as MPs, on my behalf and on behalf of the state that I lead, for the tireless work that you do in representing our people.
I would like to like to thank the Deputy President for his support and for the excellent manner in which we have both been executing the tasks we were given by our people.
The DP has taken on a lot more tasks, enabling our office to be more effective and efficient in tackling important matters that should lead to the improvement of our people’s lives.
I would like to thank Ministers Nkoana-Mashabane and Gungubele, and Deputy Ministers Kodwa, Kekana and Siweya who are deployed in The Presidency for their continued dedication to serving our people in their various tasks.
I’d also like to thank Director-General Phindile Baleni for the brave manner in which she has performed her duties as well as Deputy Director-General.
The team in The Presidency are the unsung heroes of the work that is being done to move our country forward.
I wish to thank all the staff of The Presidency, the staff in my private office and those in the DP’s private office for continuing to support us and making it easier for us to do our work. This includes our respective advisers.
Let us get back to work. Let us leave no-one behind.
I thank you.
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