Hansard: JS: Reply by the President to the Debate on the State of the Nation Address
House: Joint (NA + NCOP)
Date of Meeting: 19 Feb 2015
No summary available.
19 FEBRUARY 2015
THURSDAY, 19 FEBRUARY
PROCEEDINGS OF THE JOINT SITTING OF PARLIAMENT
Members of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces assembled in the Chamber of the National Assembly at 14:03.
The Speaker of the National Assembly took the Chair. The Speaker requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.
The SPEAKER: Hon members, I wish to acknowledge the presence in the gallery of the honourable Speaker of the National Assembly of Madagascar, His Excellency Jean-Max Rakotomamonjy and the Vice-President of the German parliament, the Bundestag, Her Excellency Mrs Ulla Schmidt and their respective delegations. [Applause.] Welcome to the Parliament of South Africa.
Mnr J J GROENEWALD: Agb Speaker, op ’n punt van orde: U sal onthou dat die Hoofsweep van die VF Plus ’n vorige punt van orde geneem het in terme van Reël 327 en 328 en dit gaan spesifiek oor die notules van verlede week se opening van die Parlement en die President se staatsrede wat hy gelewer het.
Ons het die gewysigde notules ontvang. Ons sal dit aanvaar, agb Speaker, alhoewel ek dit moet meld dat daar nie verwys word in die gewysigde notules dat u as Speaker onderneem het dat u ’n behoorlike ondersoek sal doen na die feit dat die selfone se seine nie gewerk het nie.
Ons wil dit hier op rekord plaas, want, soos u weet, in terme van artikel 20 van die Wet op Voorregte van Parlementslede gaan dit in die hof gebruik word, siende dat daar wel ’n hofsaak aan die gang is. En ons wil dit net baie duidelik hier stel dat daar duidelik weereens kennis geneem word dat u onderneem het om wel daardie ondersoek te laat doen. Ek dank u.
The SPEAKER: Hon Groenewald, I’m sorry, I was struggling with my earpiece, but I gather you are raising the issue relating to the minutes of Thursday’s sitting.
Mr J J GROENEWALD: Hon Speaker, that is correct. What I actually said, in short, was that we received the revised minutes of the House. Although we’re not completely satisfied, because the revised minutes do not refer to your undertaking that you will investigate the matter about the signals that were scrambled. So, we will accept them, but let it be noted that you have given an undertaking that a thorough investigation will be done by Parliament. I thank you.
The SPEAKER: Yes. I accept it, hon Groenewald. Your point is noted. But I do believe that the Chairperson of the NCOP did actually make a ruling on the matter yesterday and that there are details that don’t go into the minutes, but are in the Hansard. That is normally the way the record is kept. But I acknowledge what you said and I will look at it.
ORDER OF THE DAY: REPLY BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SA
REPLY BY THE PRESIDENT TO THE DEBATE ON THE STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Hon Speaker, hon Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, all presiding officers, hon Deputy President, hon Ministers, premiers and Deputy Ministers, members of the Royal Griqua House present here, religious leaders and traditional leaders, all our special guests including 45 interns from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, hon members, fellow South Africans, for more than a century millions of our people, led by the ANC, relentlessly pursued a heroic struggle against the dehumanising system of colonialism and apartheid. They devoted their lives to it and were always ready to pay the ultimate price for the cause of building a more humane South Africa, underpinned by a better life for all.
It is now almost 21 years since we started the radical transition from colonialism of a special type to a national democratic society, founded on the strategic vision of the Freedom Charter. Since then we have never looked back.
Our strategic focus remains that of rebuilding and developing our country for the benefit of all South Africans, regardless of who they voted for during the national general elections or local government elections. We are on course to build a united, nonracial, nonsexist, democratic and prosperous society, as expressed in the Freedom Charter and in the Constitution of the Republic.
We presented before Parliament the 2015 state of the nation address last Thursday, which is a report-back on work done during the previous year and an outline of the programme of action for the current financial year. We outlined the areas of work that we believe are necessary to tackle in order for us to ignite growth and create much-needed jobs. We thank all hon members for their contribution to the debate. We welcome and appreciate all inputs that have been made by all members.
Amilcar Cabral once said:
Always bear in mind that the people are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyone's head. They are fighting to win material benefits, to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward, to guarantee the future of their children.
Therefore, our people look to us to provide answers and solutions to the difficulties they face – there is no other House except this House to do this for our people. They look up to us to assure them that the country is on track and that the mission of building a united and prosperous society continues, and that life will get better each day. Indeed, the country is on track. [Applause.] Work continues daily to build the country and improve the quality of life of all, especially the poor and the working class.
South Africa is a success story. [Applause.] It will continue to be so, despite the challenges and the legacy of apartheid colonialism that we are confronted with. These are always challenges for us. Our task is to contribute in whatever way we can, in our areas of work, to take this success forward.
Our democracy remains solid. All our democratic institutions, including government agencies, are strong and functional. [Applause.] Dedicated men and women working in these institutions perform their tasks as they should each day, taking forward the consolidation of our democracy and providing much-needed services and hope to our people.
Improvements must be made in various areas of work within the Public Service and government is alive to this reality. Each year we strive to do better and to take the country forward. [Applause.] That is the purpose of the state of the nation address: to identify challenges, progress and further work.
We mentioned that we would prioritise nine areas this year. These include energy, the strengthening of mining towns, agriculture, small business development and co-operatives, infrastructure development including water, transport and information communication technologies, boosting the Industrial Policy Action Plan, attracting investments and Operation Phakisa.
Progress is being made in these areas as part of ensuring that the country’s wealth is shared by all, as proclaimed in the Freedom Charter.
The hon Godi correctly pointed out that we have not fundamentally touched the structure of the economy in order to effect true economic transformation. It is for this reason that 20 years into freedom, we are still grappling with poverty, inequality and unemployment.
Inequality is still staring us in the face. Census 2011 informed us that the income of households has hardly changed and that the income of white households is still six times more than that of black households.
In addition, the black majority still owns only 3% of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, pointing to the need to move faster to achieve meaningful economic emancipation. [Applause.]
We have called for radical economic transformation. By this we mean actions such as the industrialisation of the economy, boosting and expanding agriculture and manufacturing, and adding value to South Africa’s mineral wealth in order to open up opportunities for economic participation for more people and to create jobs. [Applause.]
As part of changing the structure and to deracialise the economy, the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Amendment Act was proclaimed into law in October last year. Regulations to give effect to the Act are being finalised. A Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Commission is to be appointed this year to oversee the overall implementation of broad-based black economic empowerment and to ensure effective reporting and monitoring.
In addition, as was said in the state of the nation address, a programme to create and support black industrialists over three years was launched in November 2014. As Minister Patel pointed out, work to expand ownership of the economy through dismantling cartels and monopolies is also ongoing. The Competition Commission has already taken action against many companies for collusion and corruption. I am not sure about the difference between these two words. Whether colluding is not corruption; I am not sure.
Economic transformation to unlock growth also means improving the support provided to small enterprises, especially township and rural enterprises which will promote economic activities at the local level.
The hon Manyoni, the chairperson of the SA Local Government Association, reminded us of the importance of local government, and in particular the development of small towns, rural towns and townships which are home to 50% of the population.
The township or informal economy has been stunted by the lack of basic economic infrastructure and formal support. As a result, the township corner and spaza shops, butcheries and other small businesses are disappearing and need to be revived and supported. [Applause.]
The recent tragic and unacceptable incidents of violence and the looting of shops of foreign nationals in Soweto have been reminders of the need to support local entrepreneurs and eliminate possibilities for criminal elements to exploit local frustrations. [Applause.] As said before, we condemn attacks on foreign nationals. [Applause.] There can be no justification for that type of conduct in any community in our country. [Applause.]
We have announced that we would institute 30% set-asides for small businesses, co-operatives and smallholders so that they can benefit from government procurement. [Applause.] Some progress was made last year in supporting co-operatives. As of 30 October 2014, 158 co-operatives had been approved for funding to the value of more than R43 million. [Applause.]
Five areas were identified for the pilot roll-out during the consultation phase, and they are: Mdantsane in the Eastern Cape, KwaMai-Mai in Gauteng, Tshakuma and Modimolle in Limpopo, Mbombela and Lebombo in Mpumalanga, and Drakenstein in the Western Cape.
Hon Lekota, we are taking action to improve the performance of the supply-chain management system in government, to prevent fruitless and futile expenditure, corruption and other problems that you raised. Government buys goods, services and infrastructure worth roughly R500 billion a year. Often, we pay the highest prices and one part of government does not know how much the other part of government pays for goods or services. The bulk of negative audit opinions arise from potentially avoidable procurement violations. This is also an area in which corruption or allegations of corruption occur.
To respond to these challenges, we established the Chief Procurement Office in 2013, which will become operational on 1 April this year. All tenders will be posted on an electronic tender portal, which will give free access to public sector tenders across the length and breadth of South Africa. [Applause.] This will give small businesses an advantage compared to the current system in which they have to pay money for administrative costs in order to obtain hard copies of tender documents.
A centralised supplier database will also be phased in, starting from 1 April 2015. Once fully functional, this will replace the 600 or so supplier databases that currently exist. [Applause.] The system will offer a quick and more effective mechanism for verifying supplier information such as their black economic empowerment, BEE, status, tax certificates and the like. These are factors that currently give rise to negative audit outcomes for departments.
The economic cluster departments will work with the National Treasury to explore practical and effective mechanisms of using state procurement to give practical expression to the National Development Plan and our socioeconomic objectives, including supporting small, medium and micro enterprises, SMMEs, and co-operatives. Where deemed necessary, we will consider amending existing legal and regulatory frameworks to accomplish this goal.
Improving the quality of education and training remains an apex priority of our government. Progress is being made to steadily improve outcomes in the basic education sector. We believe we have the right formula at last and that results in all grades will continue to steadily improve.
The hon Lekota spoke about the postschool sector and referred to the need to reopen education colleges and to provide bursaries to students. I am very happy that yesterday the hon member raised issues. He was not very angry and very noisy, as I always hear. [Laughter.] This is because, at times, I fail to hear him when he is fighting and banging. Yesterday he was really constructive. That’s why I heard the things he said. [Applause.] I must congratulate you, hon member, because when you sat down and listened to the state of the nation address, you were able to make constructive points that we are accepting. I am even sending instructions to Ministers. That is what is needed. That is what our people are waiting for. [Applause.]
The White Paper for Postschool Education and Training provides for the establishment of community education and training colleges that will primarily target youth and adults who did not complete schooling or who have never attended school. The process of identifying nine community education and training colleges for piloting in 2015 has been completed. [Applause.]
This initiative will be implemented in collaboration with local authorities, sector education and training authorities, community organisations and business. This is in addition to the reopening of teacher and nursing colleges. [Applause.]
With regards to funding, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, or the NSFAS, remains the most significant instrument available to government for opening the doors of learning to poor and working-class communities. Many high-profile successful South Africans are NSFAS beneficiaries. [Applause.] The scheme is a major contributor to the development of the growing black middle class in South Africa. In 1999, NSFAS paid R441 million in financial aid to students, and in 2014 this rose to over R9,2 billion to assist 450 000 students at 25 public universities and 50 technical and vocational education and training colleges. [Applause.]
The National Youth Development Agency also runs the R10 million student fund and the R20 million Solomon Mahlangu scholarship for tertiary education which has assisted close to 300 students. [Applause.] We thank other institutions beyond government that provide bursaries and scholarships.
We also welcome and congratulate students who assist others who are less fortunate, such as those students on the Witwatersrand, Wits, University Students Representative Council, working with the Wits Foundation that is running a campaign to raise funds to assist needy students to register. [Applause.]
We have also noted the frustrations of many students about residential accommodation at our institutions. The Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordinating Commission is looking for solutions to this matter. In addition, the Department of Higher Education and Training allocated R1,6 billion between 2012 and 2014 specifically to build and refurbish student residences. The bulk of the money - R1,4 billion - has been allocated to historically black institutions. This allocation, together with the R700 000 contribution from universities, will fund approximately 9 000 new beds for the system.
As hon Minister Nzimande and the hon Mahambehlala outlined ... [Laughter.] ... we are indeed investing in our young people. We are opening the doors of learning for our youth.
Siyaqhuba kwezemfundo, siyasebenza. [Ihlombe.] Asilali sishintsha izimpilo zabantu zibe ngcono. Kusho ukuthi ...
We are implementing the Freedom Charter that the “doors of learning ... shall be opened”. [Applause.]
Hon Holomisa, I assure you that what you called instability in the top echelons of the crime-busting institutions is being attended to. This matter is of great concern to us. There is no government that would not be worried even if only two or three institutions were affected. Even if it was a single institution, it would be one too many, given that we have prioritised the fight against crime and corruption.
The head of the Special Investigating Unit, Adv Vas Soni, will be leaving his post at the end of February due to personal challenges at home, in particular the health of his wife. He has done exceptionally well in a short space of time. His departure is a great loss. We wish him and his family well.
A number of hon members from the opposition benches referred to the Land Holdings Bill. Hon members should remember that the Green Paper on Land Reform was first released in 2011 for public comment. The Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the hon Cele, provided the details of this proposed Bill. There will be opportunity for comment once it reaches Parliament.
I have also received e-mails from concerned members of the public seeking clarity on this matter. Ms Tanya Elston, Ms Carin Smith and Mr Jan Cronje have asked whether a foreign national, wishing to buy a home in Johannesburg, would be able to do that, and if the limit on foreign ownership was confined to agricultural land.
The answer is that the Land Holdings Bill applies to agricultural land. It does not affect those foreign nationals who are planning to buy homes or residences. Mr Roy Cokayne has asked similar questions, and also asked whether the new policy would apply to multinational corporations operating in South Africa.
Multinationals will be affected only if their future property purchases consist of agricultural land. My good friend, Mr Charl Senekal, a sugar cane farmer in Phongolo in KwaZulu-Natal, says that if the law is passed, the country will have a food crisis. Mr Senekal says that 100 farmers in the country produce 70% of our food and that if they are forced to reduce the size of their farms their production could be halved. This sentiment was also expressed by the hon Mulder.
There are two answers to this issue. We are taking these actions precisely because the fate of too many is in the hands of too few. [Applause.] We are keenly aware of the contribution of the country’s hardworking farmers to the economy and food security. However, the effective participation of the previously excluded black majority in agriculture and food production will only occur meaningfully when they have access to land and the means to work it. [Applause.]
An inclusive and scientific process will be used to assess the situation in different commodities and in different localities, so as to make sure that nothing is done that will prejudice food security in the country.
Allow me to acknowledge the progressive farmers who have begun to implement the principle of 50:50 in terms of which farmworkers and farmers share ownership of the farm, as alluded to by Deputy Minister Cele. [Applause.]
In the state of the nation address I mentioned that some new labour laws or amendments were coming into effect this year. hon Malema raised concerns about workers who are employed as temporary workers for more than 10 or 20 years, and being supplied by labour brokers. In terms of the amended Labour Relations Act, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Employment Equity Act, the issues raised by the hon member have been resolved. [Applause.]
In terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Labour Relations Act as amended, all workers will be employed permanently. [Applause.] Temporary work contracts will not exceed three months ... [Applause.] ... as the hon Makue also pointed out. In addition, the Deputy President will continue to lead the National Economic Development and Labour Council, Nedlac, dialogue relating to a national minimum wage.
I must also commend hon Malema for really dealing with the state of the nation address, because he did. That’s what is wanted. Our debate and our views in this democracy should be expressed here, properly and with respect. [Applause.]
Hon Shenge, thank you for acknowledging the nation’s dramatic successes in the fight against HIV and Aids. We now have 2,7 million South Africans on antiretroviral treatment. [Applause.] We now have 3 590 public health facilities initiating patients on antiretroviral treatment, compared to 490 in February 2010. It is a dramatic increase. [Applause.] One of our greatest success stories remains the remarkable 67% reduction of mother-to-child transmission of HIV from 8% ... [Applause.] ... in 2008 to 2,6% in 2012.
I must also commend hon Shenge, that no matter what his views are, on always raising matters with dignity and respect. [Applause.] At times, he does resemble a father figure ... [Applause.] ... because as Members of Parliament get excited and at times make it difficult for the Presiding Officers and others to hear what is being said, he always stands up to say, phansi, phansi! [Applause.] It is always good to have senior citizens around. [Laughter.]
Remarkably, 20 million people have to date been tested for HIV through the HIV Counselling and Testing Campaign. This indicates that the stigma around the disease is being eradicated, which will assist prevention efforts.
Life expectancy is improving in South Africa and we want to further build on this by launching the massive tuberculosis campaign next month. We are also continuing to implement the National Health Insurance scheme at a number of pilot sites. The scheme is aimed at making access to health equal for all, regardless of class or financial means.
Sibonga bonke abantu bakithi ngokusebenzisana nohulumeni ukulwa nesifo sengculazi. Sesivule izikhungo ezidlule ezinkulungwaneni ezintathu lapho abantu bethola khona imishanguzo yaleligciwane. Nomama nezingane abanegciwane bayalashwa. Impilo isingcono, abantu bayaphila manje, sebephindele nasemsebenzini manje abanye.
Asisangcwabi njengakuqala ngenxa yemishanguzo elethwa uhulumeni. Siyabonga kubantu ngokuthatha amaphilisi nokuhlola ukuze bathole ukwelashwa.
Somlomo. UMphathiswa umama uMajodina ubeke kwacaca okwenziwa uhulumeni ukwenza izimpilo zabantu zibengcono.
Ubale ezempilo, izibonelelo ezitholwa abadala nabancane ezingakhethi bala lamuntu ezisiza nabakhubazekile, wabala iyunifomu yesikole, ukudla ezikoleni, nokuningi okuxosha indlala.
Impela uhulumeni uyabasiza abantu, wenza izimpilo zibe ngcono kakhulu imihla ngemihla. Siyaqhuba!
Hon Mulder, nobody is chasing Afrikaner compatriots away from this country ... [Applause.] ... not a single one. I began the address last week with an affirmation of the Freedom Charter’s pronouncement that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, and we believe in it. The preamble of the Constitution makes a similar profound affirmation. Let us work together to build our country, and leave finger pointing aside. [Applause.]
I know that this point was taken when we were celebrating the birthday of the ANC – when the ANC celebrated 103 years since its inception. I had to give the history of this country, and history is history. History has chapters ... painful chapters and wonderful chapters, but it is history. When I said that when Jan van Riebeeck landed in the Western Cape our problems began, it is a historic fact. [Applause.]
I always avoid giving the details of history, because it’s not necessary. When he landed here there were residents in this very city who were established here – the Khoi and San. They were living here and they welcomed him warmly. He established himself and they were together. But, somewhere and somehow, tension began and there were wars that were fought. They were forcibly removed from their areas here. They were removed and some of them went deep into the country – north, south and east. The wars began because after the population arriving in South Africa grew. It is written down; it’s not me concocting it. [Applause.] There were eight major wars fought in the Eastern Cape. I didn’t write that. We are not counting other smaller wars, but there were eight major wars.
There was the Great Trek from here when there was a quarrel between the Afrikaners and the British. That is the history of this country. There was an establishment of four republics – two belonging to the British and two belonging to the Afrikaners. When all of this was done, the blacks were not consulted, not even with regard to the establishment of the republics. [Applause.] The clashes between the Afrikaners and the British continued. There is no part of the country where there were not any clashes with the British and the Afrikaners. Some are big and known while others are not known.
The Zulus fought the British, with the major one being at Isandlwana. The Afrikaners fought the Zulus at Blood River ... and the Afrikaners discovered ... as they say ... they discovered ... they actually came across ... [Laughter.] ... mineral resources. The British heard about this and vowed to defeat the Afrikaners, and there was the Anglo Boer War. That is the history of this country. It was a very bitter war. We all participated on either side. Only now when we are correcting history are we calling it a South African war because people from all sides died in that war. At the end of that war the English-speaking people and the Afrikaners met to negotiate and agreed that the four republics should be combined. They took very important decisions, of where Parliament would be, as part of the compromises reached. Parliament would be in Cape Town. Where would the administrative city be? It would be Pretoria. Where would the judiciary be? It would be in the Orange Free State city of Bloemfontein. One of the decisions taken when these two met was that there would have a Union of South Africa. The government would be elected at all times; however, the black people would not participate in that process. [Applause.]
It was that decision which led to black people meeting in Mangaung in Bloemfontein to discuss what we called the national calamity – that indigenous people were not part of governing this country. It was a very bad decision with regard to an important decision of uniting the four republics. It was at that time that we said we are going to fight to liberate ourselves in order to be part of government and to participate. You must know because this country was still fully under British colonial rule. There were delegations that went to England to raise these matters. We did not want to fight but we wanted to be part of the process of governing this country. [Applause.]
These were the activities many years after the landing of Jan van Riebeeck, who opened the way for them to be here. They started fighting here, in the Eastern Cape, Free State and everywhere else. There were wars. Again, after many years we said, what type of country do we want? We had to be clear that if we wanted a nonracial South Africa, what were we talking about? That’s why the meeting in 1955 happened, wherein everyone in South Africa, including the government, was invited to say what type of country we wanted. That is why the Freedom Charter is important because that is when we moulded this country that we have today – a democratic and prosperous country. [Applause.]
Important in that gathering was the preamble of the Freedom Charter, which is the basic policy of the ruling party, where we said:
We, the people of South Africa, declare for all our country and the world to know that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white.
It’s a fundamental statement. We also said that: “no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people.” [Applause.]
This is what we have achieved now. How can you say that we say to the Afrikaners that they must go? No! I just said that the problem began when Jan van Riebeeck came here. [Applause.] That is not saying we don’t want Afrikaners. We have long recognised the fact that all of us live in this country. It is in the Freedom Charter. No ANC person can say which people should go. There was a political organisation that at some point said that the white man must go into the sea, but we never bought that. We know that people move in this world. You moved away from certain problems and landed here, and we accepted you with both hands. [Applause.] We are all South African citizens; we are a rainbow nation. Nobody will chase you away. We will fight against those who say so, because you belong here. So there must be no fear at all. I just wanted to make this point clear.
However, we will never stop talking about our history ... [Applause.] ... because our children must know where we come from so that future generations do not repeat the mistakes of the past. [Applause.] I thought it was important to make this point more clear because, perhaps when I make it in passing, people think this man is racist. I will never be a racist ... never! I fight against those who suppress minorities. I believe in what was said many times by our leader Mandela. When he was arrested by the white oppressors, he told them in court that:
I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony with equal opportunities.
That’s what we believe in ... that’s what we believe in. what we do today as government is informed by those principles and policies.
You can say many things ... many people can say things about us, but we do not worry at times when you call us names. We don’t worry because we know what we are doing. [Applause.]
During the struggle we were referred to as terrorists – really making into less than human beings. This man whom everybody praises today was called terrorist number one. He was sent to Robben Island, where he served 27 years. Perhaps some of us just served 10 or a few years, but he spent 27 of the best and prime years of his life on Robben Island, and came out not angry or bitter, but he said let us build our country. You know, we always keep quiet when those who imprisoned him praise him today ... [Applause.] ... and not only praise him but claim him as their own. [Applause.]
The insults that are being thrown at us today were thrown all the time, but I will deal more strongly with this matter when I answer questions next week. [Applause.]
In going forward with the national reconciliation project, allow me to remind government departments and national entities that the implementation of the Use of Official Languages Act must be rolled out by 2 May 2015. Government departments must communicate with the people in languages they understand. Schools should also prepare to teach African languages in order to build a new citizenry of youth that will be able to understand and respect one another. [Applause.]
Hon Waters and hon Greyling, we have admitted that loadshedding is indeed a serious challenge and an impediment to economic growth. There is no argument about that. Hon Minister Brown further outlined what we are doing to deal with this matter. The extensive short, medium and long-term plan to deal with the energy challenge requires that we work together to ensure success.
The country will celebrate 60 years of the Freedom Charter on 26 June 2015, and I don’t want people to be jealous because at that time there were not many organisations, so not all people would have participated. I’m sure if it was today we would all be participating ... [Laughter.] ... so, no jealousy.
On 27 April, our Freedom Day, we will celebrate 25 years since the release of President Mandela and the unbanning of organisations, which came about as a result of the relentless and selfless struggles of our people. We began the journey then to transform our country from apartheid and colonialism to a national democratic society.
We will also reflect on the road travelled and the successes scored. We are definitely not sitting with a nightmare, as the hon Waters said, but we are sitting in a country that is doing well, with a people who are determined to make things work. [Applause.] We will not allow prophets of doom to downplay the hard work and successes of millions of our people.
South Africa was privileged to have an icon like President Mandela as its first democratically elected President. However, this does not make South Africa ... to the economic, social or political challenges at certain periods. Despite the challenges, South Africa is getting many things right. The economy possesses the necessary dynamism to position the country as a competitive player in a difficult global economic environment.
Hon Hill-Lewis, you are correct that South Africa’s gross domestic product, GDP, growth rate has been lower than other member countries of the Southern African Development Community, SADC, but your reasons are wrong. You are very ... [Inaudible.] ... in thinking about it. It is wrong because you are not looking at facts as they are, but you are in a sense propelled by your ideas. While the slow growth on our part reflects some domestic constraints that we are facing, such as the current electricity constraint, it also reflects the relative level of development of the South African economy compared to the regional economies.
Less developed countries tend to grow faster than more developed countries as there is more spare capacity, underutilised land and generally, resources and opportunities that have not been used. If a country is relatively more developed than other countries, it is more likely that it will grow at a slower rate.
Advanced economies, for example, grow at a much slower rate than emerging markets. It’s a scientific fact. South Africa is not an advanced economy and we face many challenges. However, in some cases, our level of development is very high, especially compared to countries in the region. For example, our financial sector has levels of development similar to many advanced economies.
The growth patterns observed in the SADC region are no different to other parts of the world. For example, growth in Eastern Europe is much stronger than growth in Western Europe. As the level of development converges between Eastern and Western Europe, growth in Eastern Europe will slow down.
While it is unrealistic to expect South Africa to grow at levels seen in some of the countries in the region with lower levels of GDP per capita or low levels of development, we definitely have the potential to grow at much higher levels than the current level. Government is addressing the bottlenecks in the economy and implementing the National Development Plan. This will allow us to grow at a significantly higher growth rate.
Millions of South Africans want their country to succeed. We will continue to work with them to move South Africa forward. As we conclude the 2015 state of the nation debate we are reminded of the unfortunate incidents of last Thursday. We all have a responsibility to make Parliament work. Parliament is a very important institution of democracy where the hopes, dreams and aspirations of all our people must find expression. [Applause.]
Whatever our views are about one another or the political parties that we represent, we need to preserve the dignity of Parliament. [Applause.] We must ensure that our people do not lose confidence in Parliament’s ability to discharge its important constitutional responsibility to produce legislation aimed at improving the quality of their lives.
We also have a responsibility to promote the Constitution which is the blood and soul of our democracy. I therefore would like to reaffirm government’s commitment to clause 16 of the Constitution which includes freedoms of association, expression and the media.
The security cluster has addressed and clarified matters relating to the signal disruption ... the interference in the House last Thursday. It was an unfortunate incident and it should never happen again. [Applause.]
It is absolutely important that all of us from all parties ... and I would imagine that when people vote for us they understand that we represent them, and they must feel that as they look at us that we are dealing with their matters responsibly, with dignity and clarity. Among ourselves, even if we differ, I never see a reason why we should get angry. What for? This is not war. [Applause.] We are not fighting.
Democracy says, be free to express your views and allow others to express their views as well. [Applause.] That is democracy. You might have views about somebody or even about me for that matter. For example, if you are angry you can say things that you wouldn’t have said if you were not angry, but because you are angry the capacity to think gets affected. [Applause.] [Laughter.] I believe that one must always remain cool and calm. [Applause.] I always make the example that many people fight when somebody says, you’re a dog. They fight; yet, I’ve never fought. Many people have called me that, but I’m not a dog so why should I fight? [Laughter.] I don’t have a mouth or a tail like one. [Laughter.] If someone calls me a dog then there’s something wrong with them because I’m not. [Laughter.] So, let us keep our cool and debate the matter. Soccer players say, play the ball and not the man. [Applause.]
While I’m talking about the ball, compatriots, the national netball team, Amantombazana, will participate in the Netball World Cup in Australia in August this year. [Applause.] We wish them well and urge the nation to support them wholeheartedly. [Applause.] Let me also join the Minister of Arts and Culture in congratulating musician Wouter Kellerman who won the Grammy Award for the best New Age album last week at the Grammy Awards in the United States. [Applause.] Our artists and sportspeople ...
We remain firmly focused on building a united, nonracial, nonsexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa. Let me close with the words of President Oliver Tambo, uttered in 1991 at the first ANC conference after it’s unbanning. He said:
We did not tear ourselves apart because of lack of progress at times. We were always ready to accept our mistakes and to correct them ... Even in bleak moments, we were never in doubt regarding the winning of freedom. We have never been in doubt that the people’s cause shall triumph.
Yinde lendlela esiyihambayo. Siyabonga, Re a le boga ...
... baie dankie. [Applous.]
The Speaker of the National Assembly adjourned the Joint Sitting at 15:29.
No related documents