Hansard: JS: President’s reply to the debate on the State-of-the-nation Address

House: Joint (NA + NCOP)

Date of Meeting: 15 Feb 2024


No summary available.


Watch video here: President’s reply to the debate on the State-of-the-nation Address


Members of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces assembled in the Cape Town City Hall at 14:01.

The Speaker of the National Assembly and Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces took the Chair.

The Speaker of the National Assembly requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayer or meditation.

The SPEAKER: Order, hon members. Hon members, order. Hon members, this is just a reminder that we will not have the kind of disorganisation and noise which we had yesterday. I want to say, particularly to those from my party to the right at the back, please, I plead with you. I now recognise the hon Steenhuisen.
The LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Madam Speaker, in terms of the rules, I would like your indulgence to make a personal statement, if I may?

The SPEAKER: Yes, hon member.


The LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Madam Speaker, during the course of the debate yesterday, I made a gesture that would probably fall foul of Rule 52 of the Joint Rules. I wish to apologise to the member concerned and withdraw unconditionally. Thank you. [Applause.]

The SPEAKER: Thank you, hon member. Thank you. I will now allow the secretary to read the Order of the Day.

The SPEAKER: I will now call on the hon the President to reply to the debate.


The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Speaker of the National Assembly, Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, the Chairperson of the
National Council of Provinces, bhuti Ambi Amos Masondo, Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa, Paul Mashatile, Ministers and Deputy Ministers, leaders of all political parties represented here, premiers of our various provinces, hon members, I welcome this opportunity to respond and to touch on a number of issues in terms of the state of the nation address and to respond to many issues that were raised during the debate.

I want to start off by applauding, not only Mr Steenhuisen or hon Steenhuisen, but a number of other members of this Joint Sitting, for having heeded your rulings, Speaker, and having had the courage and the willingness to apologise when an apology was called for, to withdraw whatever they might have said during the heat of the debate. [Applause.] It is through respecting one another as South Africans and as leaders of our people who represent those people here, that we are able to advance the democratic culture in our country.

In the state of the nation address, I said that as South Africans we have over the last three decades been on a journey together to achieve a new society and we’ve been working arduously together to achieve this. We have been building a
new society that is rooted in the equality promised by our Constitution — equality of rights, of fundamental freedoms and of opportunity. Since attaining our freedom 30 years ago, we have been on what Steve Biko called a quest for true humanity. For us, true humanity means a South Africa that protects and cares for its most vulnerable, a South Africa that guards its hard-won constitutional freedoms and a South Africa in which every person is able to realise their full potential. In the state of the nation speech or address, we reflected on the last 30 years because the past does enable us to understand the present and it inspires the actions we must take to build the future. [Applause.]

So, we cannot forget the past, even if we wanted to. The past that we’ve been through as a nation, having gone through colonialism and apartheid over 342 years, has left deep scars in many of our people and those scars are not going to be washed away or wished away. The past reminds us of the responsibility that freedom has placed on our shoulders to forge ahead, as we as this administration have done, to realise for all South Africans the promise of a better life.
The debate in this House over the last two days has shown that among political parties there are sharp differences about our past. There are also sharp differences about our present and indeed, about our future as well. These differences have no doubt been sharpened by the upcoming elections, whose date is still to be determined. [Interjections.] I threw that in to see whether you are still all awake. [Laughter.]

Yet, amidst all the contributions made in the debate, no speaker has been able to refute the fundamental reality that the lives of millions of South Africans have been transformed over the 30 years of freedom. [Applause.] This is the reality, and as I often say, whether we like it or whether we don’t like it, it is the reality that we confront.

Die lewens van miljoene Suid-Afrikaners is oor die 30 jaar van vryheid verander.

That is the truth. This transformation is evident in the most recent census data which shows extraordinary improvements on a range of social and economic indicators over the past three
decades. A number of colleagues have outlined a number of areas in which there has been change, and even as those who spoke in this debate might have differed, many of us have spoken about the changes, the change we wish and the change that we would like South Africans to have. This transformation is most evident in the lived experience of our people who have witnessed the changes in their own communities and who have also witnessed the changes in their own personal lives.

However, as we embrace the progress that we have made over the last three decades, we must also confront the critical issues that need to be addressed today. We need to celebrate the fact that young people, yes, like Tintswalo, have had opportunities that were never available before. However, we also need to recognise, as we did in the state of the nation address, that young people like Tintswalo still have many challenges.
Despite everything we have achieved, many South Africans, young and old, are concerned about the state of affairs in our nation, and rightly so.

Ten spyte van alles wat ons bereik het, is baie Suid- Afrikaners, oud en jonk, bekommerd oor die stand van ons nasie. [Applous.]


Baningi abantu bakithi, yebo bayahlupheka. Baningi abantu bakithi abathanda ukuthi kube nentuthuko la eNingizimu Afrika. Bayathanda ukuthi iNingizimu Afrika, leli lizwe labo, liphume phambili.

Many people cannot find jobs. Even people with jobs wonder if they will be able to provide for their families as the cost of living increases. Yes, load shedding has had a devastating impact on every aspect of our lives, and yes, corruption as it has unfolded over a number of years has also had a negative impact. Violent crime continues to plague communities across our country. I have been clear, direct and honest about outlining all the challenges that our people are facing. Many municipalities are struggling to provide the basic services that people need. As we reflect on the journey we have travelled, we must acknowledge the severe challenges that we still face.
Now, some who have come to speak here have just spoken about the positives but I have taken care to also speak about our weaknesses. I have taken care to also speak about our shortcomings, our failures, but I have also taken care to say that we must work together to correct what is broken now. That we must do. [Applause.] In doing so, we must confront our apartheid past, which remains visible as we travel from suburbs to informal settlements, from rich farmlands to poor villages. For the last five years, we have worked to get back onto the path towards a better life for all. As we have done so, we have taken a number of steps forward. At times, there have been steps backwards and at times we’ve been at a standstill.

Over the last five years, we have made significant progress in restoring our economy to growth and to create jobs. When COVID hit, our economy tanked. Just to demonstrate the resilience of our economy, it bounced back and now it is above the pre-COVID period. We have seen the results of these efforts in the recovery of our economy and the sustained increase in jobs since the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have seen the results of these efforts in the growth of our agricultural exports. South Africa now exports roughly half of its
agricultural products in value terms. In 2022, South Africa’s agricultural exports reached a record of $12,8 billion or R247 billion, and we are one of those countries on our
continent ... and we are indeed the top food secure country on our continent. Despite that, there are still people who go to bed hungry.

We have seen a massive increase in international tourists coming to our country and as one goes around, as sometimes I do in the mornings, I come across people whom I ask where they come from. They come from China, Europe, other countries on our continent and they say, they love Cape Town, they love Johannesburg, they love the Kruger National Park and they love a number of places that we have in our country. We are a country that is well adorned when it comes to tourist attraction places. [Applause.] Between January and December last year, our country recorded 8,7 million international tourist arrivals, which was a 29% increase on the previous year.

Over the last five years, we have worked to increase investment in our economy because it is through investment that we can create opportunities for employment and for the
growth of new businesses. We’ve held five international investment conferences, which have raised more than
R1,5 trillion in commitments from investors. This has been a phenomenal success, and yet, we don’t want to hear about it or even count it. Of those commitments, more than R560 billion has already gone into a diverse and growing range of industries, from cloud computing to mining, from auto parts to paper production, from vaccines and things like insulin to battery assembly, from solar plants to cruise ship terminals. These investment conferences, all of which have been oversubscribed, where would-be investors say they want to attend and they want to come and make commitments, and ...
Minister Patel’s department often says, we are oversubscribed and we cannot take you in any longer. These have shown that South Africa is still an attractive investment destination. [Applause.]

Many still see South Africa as the entry point into the rest of our continent. At the same time as we have mobilised investments from established South Africans as well as international firms, we have worked to build the next generation of companies that will forge a new path of production and employment. Yes, we also need to be proud of
the companies that are like Tintswalos; companies that were started around 1994 which are gigantic companies today and that operate in many, many other countries. Our South African pride must go beyond just looking at things that we can feel and touch. We should also be proud of our companies, some which have gone global. To enable these companies to get off the ground, we have supported around 1 000 black industrialists over the last five years. [Applause.] Now, why did we support them? We supported them because one of our priorities has not only been to grow the economy but to enable those who were previously disadvantaged — not only disadvantaged but prevented and stopped by convention, law, protocol and racism — from playing a key role in the economy of our country. [Applause.] We have taken steps to enable them, yes, to reach for their dreams and to be industrialists, to make things, to manufacture things. A number of them are already exporting the things that they make. They run substantial operations that today employ more than 90 000 workers.

Over the last five years, we have worked to reverse the decline over several years of investment by both the public and private sectors in capital projects on infrastructure. We
recognise that there has been a structural problem here with regard to planning, budgeting, funding and managing projects. We established the Infrastructure Fund to bring together financing from the state, from the private sector, from development banks and other funding institutions. We established Infrastructure SA, from which I stole Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, to bring him to Electricity because he had helped us to establish this structure that was helping us to focus on planning, to focus on project preparedness, to not only help our national departments but also our provinces so that we can co-ordinate massive public infrastructure build. [Applause.]

Through these efforts, projects worth over R230 billion are currently in construction, including in energy, water infrastructure and rural roads, as we heard some of the premiers talking about here. Through capacity support to provinces and municipalities, we are improving their ability to spend the grants that are allocated to infrastructure. We are committed to putting an end to the practice of infrastructure funds being returned unspent to the fiscus.
I’ve often said there is no greater sin that we as public representatives and servants can do than to return money to
the fiscus when money has been allocated for work that should be done. [Applause.] That has often happened because project preparation and project planning has been a huge challenge to many of those who are supposed to embark on these infrastructure projects. Now, this is a problem across the country, including even here in the Western Cape. In many provinces, money is returned to the fiscus and I’m saying that must stop. Money must work for what it needs to do. [Applause.]

I’ve always said that infrastructure is the flywheel of our economy. It is through infrastructure that we are able to ensure that there is economic growth and employment. After the decline in gross fixed capital formation over a number of years, we are now poised to improve our infrastructure build so that we can reach the levels that were foreseen by the National Development Plan by 2030. The challenge that people in our rural communities have been facing in crossing rivers during the rainy season, as was seen in videos of young children crossing flooded rivers to get to school, has strengthened our resolve to speed up the process of building rural bridges. The rural bridges that Minister Zikalala spoke about here are being built as part of the Welisizwe Programme
that allows children to get to school safely. They enable villagers to reach shops, to visit relatives, to reach services and to transport them more easily. We are on course to complete the 96 bridges that we targeted and this is where we need to be very proud of how our SA National Defence Force, SANDF, also does real community-oriented projects by building bridges. [Applause.]

Access to clean running water is one of the biggest challenges that many of our people face. Wherever one goes though the length and the breadth of the country, you find people raising the issue of water. The water infrastructure projects we have focused on in the past few years are bringing piped water to villages that had always relied on streams, rivers and boreholes.

Since the COVID pandemic, we have restored operations on 26 out of 40 commuter rail lines. We have invested in new rail infrastructure and new trains that are produced right here in South Africa. [Applause.] Now, these trains are being built in Ekurhuleni and I went to the factory to see how they build these trains. They are also being built by women. [Applause.] They are being rolled out throughout the country and we will
soon be exporting some of these trains to many other countries on our continent. [Applause.] This investment is making a huge difference in the lives of ordinary people who rely on public transport, while developing the manufacturing capacity that will enable the growth of our train exports.

Over the last five years, we have been building an economy that is rapidly evolving to meet the demands of the digital society, where the world’s leading technology companies are building new undersea cables and data centres. We are a country that is seeking to move in tandem with technology that is just exploding all over the world, and we know that our economy is going to be driven by digitisation, artificial intelligence, and yes, by the internet of things. We see a country in which more people are getting connected and going online, where data costs are dropping and broadband speeds are increasing. This has happened because we also released the spectrum. There had been a challenge over almost 12 years to have the spectrum released. This administration forged ahead with this project and we have now released the spectrum which is going to enable many of our people to get connected. [Applause.]
This enables people to conduct their businesses online, not only in their shops or spaza shops or wherever, to sell their goods and services through online platforms. We have seen how this phenomenon has fuelled the growth of the economies of a number of countries. For instance, in China they started off with Alibaba and now there are many others that are competing with that. It should be a source of pride that one of our big companies has invested in a company called Tencent, which has added huge value, not only to the company which is a South African taxpayer, but also to our stock exchange.

We see young people making full use of the opportunities provided by the Presidential Employment Stimulus and other public employment programmes to improve their skills and gain valuable experience. When we saw how the private sector had slowed down in terms of employing more and more people, it was the public sector that moved into the breach through our public employment programmes, as well as the Presidential Employment Stimulus. These programmes are now making a huge difference and the young people themselves, wherever they go, are making a big difference, whether it is in the
23 000 schools where they work as school assistants, in the

1 000 community-based organisations where they support
community work in our various communities or whether in food security areas, early childhood development and many, many others.

Today, we see a country that is making clear and measurable progress in resolving our electricity crisis that goes back more than 15 years. Maintenance at Eskom plants has improved after a long period where maintenance was ignored. Damaged units have returned to service ahead of schedule. Now, I’ve focused on work that needs to be done to take us forward.
Looking back and just stalling on the basis of saying who did it, who has done it and all that, is not the answer. The answer is getting the work done now and moving forward. [Applause.] Businesses and households are installing rooftop solar at an unprecedented scale. This administration has unleashed this energy and it is gaining momentum with the support of incentives and financing mechanisms that were introduced by the government. We are solving problems. More than 120 new private energy projects of various sizes are now in development, following the reforms that we implemented.
There are those amongst us who often say — and this comes from all sides, yes, even from our own party and even from elsewhere — that through this you are weakening Eskom, and I
say, no, we are going to make Eskom more competitive. We are going to make Eskom stand up on its toes.

What we are also doing is bringing in new investment because with the debt burden that Eskom is carrying it would not be able to infuse as much investment as has ensued. For instance, in the Northern Cape, we’ve had R70 billion invested, as Premier Saul said yesterday. Eskom would never have had the amount of R70 billion immediately. It is being invested and it is creating thousands of jobs to a point where the Northern Cape now has a 26% unemployment rate.

South Africa has been leading in the installation of renewable energy from solar and wind. We have succeeded in attracting international investors through this developing sector. This has been enabled through various actions that have been taken by the national government as part of our reform process. The transformation of Eskom with a view to making it more effective and more competitive is one of the most important reforms introduced by this administration. When completed, it will result in the complete overhaul of our electricity architecture and in many ways we will be very much in line with companies that we trade with; companies that have already
moved forward to have an architecture of electricity generation as well as transmission that is attuned to modern times. While there is still much to be done to stabilise our electricity supply, there has been a steady and marked improvement as we move forward.

Over the last five years, we have made great advances in tackling corruption, including bringing those responsible to justice. We have been rebuilding law enforcement agencies and other anticorruption bodies because it is only through strong, effective and independent institutions that we can safeguard against the return to the past.

We have established the Investigating Directorate in the National Prosecuting Authority, NPA, to undertake prosecution- led investigations of corruption and we will soon make it a permanent structure. We established the Special Investigating Unit, SIU, Special Tribunal, to recover stolen funds and we have strengthened co-ordination between bodies like the Hawks, the SIU, the Financial Intelligence Centre, the SA Revenue Service, Sars, and the NPA. The SIU has been increasingly effective in uncovering acts of corruption and wrongdoing in the state and we have put in place mechanisms to ensure that
the SIU’s referrals are implemented. All of this work has helped to turn the tide around.

Now, what we have focussed on is to improve the system to make sure that the system is such that it can function on the basis of no interference, on the basis of independence and on the basis of serving the people of South Africa. Many of you would like the President to be the judge, to be the jury and to be the police. It cannot happen. It must be done by the institutions that are supposed to follow all these matters up. As recommended by the state capture commission, we are putting in place laws, institutions and practices that reduce the potential for corruption of any sort and any scale.

Over the last five years, we’ve been working together to tackle poverty and hunger. We have seen the evidence of the impact of social grants on reducing poverty over 30 years. The apartheid system and colonialism bequeathed us poverty and inequality. That is what those past systems bequeathed the people of South Africa; the dispossession of property and assets. The majority of our people do not have assets. They have handed down poverty, suffering and inequality over generations and generations. Through the grant system, we have
been able to help reduce the poverty that we inherited from the apartheid system. We have sustained these grants over the last five years and we have introduced the special Social Relief of Distress, SRD, grant to support around nine million unemployed people. The special grant was a lifeline to millions of people whose livelihoods were disrupted and destroyed by COVID-19 and who still continue to feel the effects of the pandemic. Not only did the grant help to reduce the incidence of poverty but some of the people who received this grant started their own businesses and some of them used the money to find work. The SRD grant is an investment in our people and it forms the foundations of a more permanent income support for the unemployed. That’s what it does.

We continue to provide free basic services and decent housing, and we continue to connect homes with electricity, water and sanitation. It was a joy to be here in the Western Cape some months ago, walking around with the premier as we were going to hand over a house near Paarl to a woman who had not received a house over a long time. The MEC for Human Settlements or Co-operative Governance said to me, Mr President, we built this house for R160 000 and we are now giving it to this lady, the beneficiary. He said that they did
an evaluation of the house before they handed it over. The MEC said to me that it is now worth R400 000. Now, this is giving assets to our people. This is what this administration has continued to do over the years. For over 30 years, whether we like it or not, we have supplied and distributed 4,7 million houses to our people. [Applause.] Now, like me, if you like your calculator, you can do a quick calculation and find out the value of the assets that we have provided poor South Africans with. Yes, it’s real value, having built it for
R160 000 here in the Western Cape and then handing over an asset worth more than R400 000.

We continue to redistribute land and provide support to emerging farmers. We have been speeding up the handover of housing title deeds, providing poor South Africans with vital assets. As you’ve heard, we are also building new hospitals and clinics, and we are expanding the school feeding scheme, with many schools now offering two meals a day, and enabling more students to access tertiary institutions. It’s always a joy to hear even premiers being proud of the schools that are being built in their provinces. It was a joy to listen to the Premier of the Western Cape and the Premier of the Eastern Cape ... about the schools that are being built. Tell me now
that, that is not progress. That is progress. We are moving forward. [Applause.]

These are not the achievements of decades gone by. This is also the work of the last five years. Those who say, what have you done in the past five years, what is your legacy, what is this and that ... Talking about legacy, it’s not a Ramaphosa legacy. No, it is an ANC-led government legacy. [Applause.] Just so you know, I never want it to be said that this is a Cyril Ramaphosa legacy. No, it is our people’s legacy. Our people have struggled to get to where we are today and they will continue to struggle. [Applause.]

Over the last five years, we have also strengthened the fight against crime in addition to the 20 000 new police recruits. Now, this is the problem we had to address. Over the years, Minister Bheki Cele said to me, President, our population has gone up and our people to police ratio has also changed considerably. We’ve got fewer policemen and policewomen looking after a population that is growing and growing. He also said that we need more police. From a budgetary point of view, I must say, and this I also say with humility, that we have been doing something really wrong in scaling back on the
budgets for our security sector, the Defence Force, the police, the prisons, the prosecutorial authorities and all that. However, we’ve now changed that around. We’ve employed
20 000 police. [Applause.] All this is aimed at enabling our police to be able to do their work. Yes, our provinces — and I must applaud our provinces for taking their own steps with their crime wardens, panya-panyas and whatever — have been making their own efforts. [Applause.]

We have to say that this is a common problem that we all have to address. We are addressing this problem and we are coming through with a number of interventions. We are also establishing specialised SA Polce Service, SAPS, units or task teams; the Economic Infrastructure Task Teams to work with business, private security and state-owned enterprises to tackle illegal mining, construction site extortion, cable theft and vandalism of economic infrastructure. It is only when we work together, when the construction companies work together with communities and the police, that we will be able to root out site extortions. If we don’t work together, and if for instance when the construction companies have won a contract, they just parachute themselves into communities and as outsiders believe that they will construct whatever
facility ... they’ve got it all wrong. They must work with the local community. They must involve the local community in whatever project they embark upon so as to prevent those who want to extort from them ... and so as to prevent these construction mafia from even getting a foothold.

By November last year, the task teams had made over 4 000 arrests for damage to critical infrastructure, 70 arrests for extortion at construction sites and over 3 000 arrests for illegal mining, and confiscated significant quantities of copper cable, rail tracks and other metals. I heard a story in Limpopo about a serious local businessperson who is in the construction industry and how this businessperson had contracted young boys to go and uproot a whole rail line and take it to his factory to melt it down; a serious businessperson. These are the intricacies that gets involved in the vandalisation of our infrastructure and this is precisely what the task team has had to deal with.

In terms of all the challenges that our country faces, government, business, labour and civil society have found a way to join hands and forge partnerships for growth, job creation and reform. We have forged social compacts in
practice; not theoretical social compacts but compacts that work and that are rooted in what needs to be done. That is what we have been experiencing. We forged partnerships that enabled us to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. We saw that with the vaccine roll-out, we saw that with the relief fund that we set up and how all partners, including Members of Parliament, contributed to the fund that we set up, which shows how all of us can join in to rebuild our economy.

We have worked together on youth unemployment and to tackle gender-based violence and femicide. In recent months, government has worked in partnership with business to address challenges in energy, transport and logistics, crime and corruption, as well as employment and skills. Through this partnership, we have brought together critical resources, critical skills and capabilities to resolve our common challenges. I’ve found that we work best as South Africans when we join hands and when we approach common problems by working together.

We continue to engage with community organisations, unions, businesspeople, experts and nongovernmental organisations, NGOs, to undertake a transition to a low-carbon economy that
is inclusive and also just. This is particularly important in provinces like Mpumalanga, where the bulk of our coal power stations that are coming to the end of their lives are located. A vital part of this work is in the Presidential Climate Commission, which has been at the forefront, as led by my deputy chairperson, Valli Moosa, and a number of other commissioners who have been at the forefront of broad social engagement on the path that we must take.

With the participation of a range of stakeholders, we’ve developed a Just Energy Transition Investment Plan that details the investments we need to make over the next five years to support this transition. We are a country with a plan. We are not a country without a plan. We do have a plan to address the issue of the transition. [Applause.] Close to R230 billion in international financing pledges have been secured through the Just Energy Transition Partnership; that is, leaving aside what local partners will be able to contribute. Last year, we received a number of heads of state from a number of countries who kept coming to our country to pledge their support for our Just Energy Transition. Once again, South Africa was the first amongst many other nations in the world to come up with an innovative approach to address
the challenges of climate change, particularly when it comes to addressing just transition. As we’ve often said, we are undertaking this transition at a pace, scale and indeed, at a cost that our country can afford and in a manner that ensures energy security for all our people, while at the same time supporting the creation of new industries, new economic opportunities and sustainable jobs. We see this clearly emerging in provinces like the Northern Cape.

As we work to build a society in which all may experience a better life, a life of peace and a life of dignity, we will continue to work for peace on our continent and around the world. We remain deeply concerned about the intolerable situation of the people of Gaza. Earlier this week, we made another urgent request to the International Court of Justice, ICJ, to consider using its power to prevent a further imminent breach of the rights of Palestinians. [Applause.] We did that. As it is now, we are gravely concerned that the unprecedented military offensive against Rafah in Gaza, which is the last refuge for much of Gaza’s population, has already led to and will result in further large-scale killing, harm and destruction. Our call has been taken up by other countries around the world, particularly those that said our case in the
ICJ was meritless and that it really didn’t have any value. Even those countries are now saying and calling on Israel to cease its armed actions against Rafah in particular and against the people of Gaza more generally. They are saying that they would like Israel to listen to its friends. Even those who are its friends are saying, please heed our call to stop the onslaught or the assault on Rafah. We remain committed to doing everything we can, as is our moral and legal responsibility, to stop acts of genocide in Gaza. Why do we do all this? We do this because as a people we were also subjected to an oppressive system, a killing machine that killed so many of our people, that exiled many of our people, that mercilessly moved and removed many of our people across the country. That experience remains fresh in our memory and that is why we are acting in support of the people of Palestine. [Applause.]

We continue to contribute to peacebuilding missions and efforts on our continent. We have just deployed personnel from the SANDF to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, DRC, as part of the Southern African Development Community, SADC, mission. Now, because we are part of SADC, we have deployed soldiers to Mozambique, and of course in a situation of
conflict, yes, there are those who will fall. In any war situation, there are people who fall. Now, as part of SADC ... We are part of SADC and that is why when SADC decided that the region as a whole needed to go and support the people of the DRC, South Africa, as always, also had to come up and deploy its soldiers there as well. [Applause.] We have been part of peacekeeping missions all over the world. Now, we support our Defence Force personnel who brave great dangers to make Africa a more peaceful and stable continent. That is what we applaud them for and we dip our heads to those who are injured and those who may well have fallen.

A profound change is taking place in our country, and away from the noise and the spectacle our country is being steadily and fundamentally transformed for the better. [Applause.] Now, as we gather here, and as we debate and differ and shout at each other, and even hurl insults, especially at myself and also at each other, yes, we know that we are on the campaign trail, and as they say in the classics ...


... die hoogste boom vang die meeste wind.

Yes, I know that I will also catch the fiercest wind but I catch it on behalf of the people of South Africa. That I know. [Applause.] Now, as we debate and differ, and as we prepare for the campaign trail, a quiet revolution is taking place. It is a revolution that will change the way that our economy works and improve the lives of all our people. We can cite a number of examples in water, in our electricity. All that is continuing to change. As we look at the many young people in our country, the many Tintswalos, today I’m really honoured to have a number of Tintswalos. Please stand up so that everybody can see you. The Tintswalos have come to join us. [Applause.] Now, of these Tintswalos, a number of them — you may sit down. They’ve seen that you are not fake but you are real — are airline pilots ... [Applause.] ... engineers, police officers, naval captains and doctors. They are qualified in a number of ways. Some of them are factory workers. [Applause.] Here they are.

Now, continuing with the story of Tintswalo, while a number of people have hurled insults at a Tintswalo, we continue with the story of Tintswalo. Everyone who would have been born after our democracy is a true Tintswalo. Whether they like it
or not, they are Tintswalos. [Applause.] I have missed a number of parts about the Tintswalo I described. Of course, you would like to know who she fell in love with and how she got married. I know all of that but I will not get into it. However, all of these Tintswalos became the children of Nelson Mandela. They are Nelson Mandela’s children. They also have many of you who are seated here as an uncle, a father. She also has a mother.

All of these Tintswalos would have received one or other form of child grant. They immediately became children of the state. As I said, many of them went to no-fee schools. Some of them didn’t but many of them did. As Tintswalo grew up, yes, she would have gone to a Technical and Vocational Education and Training, TVET, college, and yes, she would have been able to get a job. As I have honestly and truly said, some of the Tintswalos did not get a job but they have been touched by the hand of this democratic government. [Applause.] Through the work of this democratic government, they are now the grown up Tintswalos. They are now the group that sits here. We know that another group sits outside. Yes, those are the Tintswalos whose lives this government is committed to improving. This government wants to improve their lives because it works on
the basis that we should leave no one behind. No child of this democracy must be left behind. [Applause.] That is precisely what this ... [Inaudible.] ... is doing. So, in the state of the nation address, as I introduced Tintswalo, I’m glad that Tintswalo has not only become the talk of the town but the talk of the whole nation, with some of them denying that they are but many of them saying, I am Tintswalo, I am Tintswalo, and we are grateful for that. Even Mr Steenhuisen, hon Steenhuisen rather, also conceded that there is a Tintswalo.
So, you will find a Tintswalo somewhere.


Now, as I was coming in, these young people seated over there spoke not only of how democracy has improved their lives but of their gratitude to those who fought and strived to achieve that democracy. Many have paid tribute to their parents, grandparents and to all the generations that came before, for the struggles and sacrifices that brought down the evil apartheid system and ushered in a new era of freedom. So today, here they sit proudly, these young people who are my Tintswalos. Amongst them — I want to include some of the disciplines — are aeronautical engineers, civil engineers and all the careers in transport, through the support of government, entities and departments.
Now, we offer our congratulations to another group of Tintswalos, the SA Under-19 cricket team that reached the semifinals of the International Cricket Council, ICC, World Cup; an exceptional performance on the global stage. [Applause.] I also offer my congratulations to all our teams that are excelling on the global stage and who fill us with a great deal of pride. Yes, Bafana Bafana, the pride of our nation, arrived back in the country this week after an impressive Africa Cup of Nations campaign. [Applause.] These are all democracy’s children. We are proud of them. They are proud of themselves and they are proud to be South Africans. There are millions more just like them around the country.

However, there are also those who greeted Tintswalo’s story with derision, like right now. These are people who sought to diminish and even sought to deny the achievements of our democracy. To them, it doesn’t matter that nine out of 10 households now live in formal dwellings or that a similar number has access to clean drinking water and electricity. To them, it doesn’t matter that more South African adults have completed matric or earned a degree or that more learners from poor communities are achieving bachelor passes. Now, to them it doesn’t matter that South Africans now have a higher life
expectancy or that maternal and child health has improved dramatically, as Premier Saul said. It doesn’t matter to them that millions of people have been lifted out of poverty through the provision of houses, land, social grants, basic services, expanded access to health care, education and through the introduction of the National Minimum Wage, NMW.

I remember very well that some parts of this House were even opposed to the introduction of the NMW, which today benefits more than six million workers who support their households. [Applause.] All of these great achievements of human development do not matter to them because in the end those Tintswalos do not matter to them. They are prepared to dismiss all this progress because it does not serve their narrative of a failed state, it does not serve their political aspirations and it does not serve their narrow interests. They do not want a national democratic society. They want to preserve racial privilege and to reverse the fundamental social and economic transformation that is taking place. [Applause.]

I was truly hurt when I heard reference from the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Steenhuisen, having said that those he saw in Gauteng who buy clothes from Jet ... [Interjections.] ... I
was truly hurt because I am one of those, yes, who believes that a remark like that is inherently racist ... [Applause.]
... because to refer to people like that and say that those people who go and buy either their shoes or whatever from such and such a shop, is degrading, humiliating, demeaning and it is racist. That is all you can say. However, what they do not realise is that Tintswalo’s story is not over and we are not done with Tintswalo yet. We are still going to improve Tintswalo’s life.

Just as our journey as a nation has become better as we move ahead because we have travelled far and we have achieved much, we still have much further to go. We are clear about the progress that we’ve made, the challenges that we face and the actions that we must now take. That is why we will continue, as we must and as we have always done, to build a better life for all of democracy’s children.

In conclusion, I wish to extend my gratitude to all of you, including the leaders of various political parties. Whether what you may well have said was insulting or not, I do forgive you as well. [Applause.] I want to extend my gratitude to the Ministers and Deputy Ministers, and indeed, to all members of
this House, to the Deputy President, to the Director-General in the Presidency for the work and the support in the very hard work, and to all directors-general. I do want to say a special word of thanks to you, hon Speaker, and to you, hon Chair of the National Council of Provinces, for the work that you continue to do. [Applause.] Yes, to you, Chief Whip of the Majority Party and all the Whips who are here. I want to say thank you to all other leaders who found time to come to this debate.

As a nation, we continue to write the story of Tintswalo. Through our collective actions and through our shared determination, we will ensure that all the Tintswalos of this country, together with their parents and grandparents, overcome the many challenges of the present. We do this by working together ... that we will continue to write the story of our free nation and of a future of peace, comfort and prosperity for all. Thank you very much for all that you’ve said in this debate and for your attendance. I look forward to the various debates that will take place in the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces. Thank you very much indeed. [Applause.]
The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: Thank you very much. I take this opportunity to thank the hon the President. Hon members, that concludes the debate on the state of the nation address and the business of the day.

The Joint Sitting adjourned at 15:12.