Honourable Deputy President,
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Fellow South Africans:
Thank you very much for this opportunity to address parliament on the occasion of our Budget Vote. As we know, the Deputy President will also address the House on a number of important issues that he deals with more directly, including the central matters of moral regeneration, issues relating to the legislature, the government's partnership with other sectors of our society on the question of health, including AIDS, and various elements of our international work.
The Minister in the Presidency will address the House on our programmes relating to the situation and rights of people with disabilities, promotion of gender equity, the rights of children and issues of the youth.
This Budget Debate takes place during the middle of a year that we had proposed should be characterised by the common effort of all South Africans to find ways and means by which they can lend a hand in the national effort to push back the frontiers of poverty and expand access to a better life for all.
We are pleased to note that many of our people have responded to this call. Tens of thousands have volunteered their time to help the police, the disabled and the aged, to clean and paint schools and in other ways to give practical meaning to the call - Vuk'uzenzele!
I am certain that this popular response puts an additional responsibility on all of us, including our public representatives as well as public servants, to occupy the frontline and lead by example in our constituency and other work and official responsibilities, always guided by our motto of Batho Pele.
As in the past, the current financial year has seen some important positive developments in the functioning of government as a whole, focused on improving the system of governance and its capacity to serve the people of our country.
There is no doubt that we have been able to achieve these improvements because of the selfless dedication of many men and women in the public and private sectors. We would like, therefore, to extend a word of appreciation to these hard working South Africans whose efforts will surely bring about the radical transformation of the lives of millions of South Africans to which we are committed.
These improvements are also, to a good extent, the outcome of partnerships between government, the private sector, civil society, individuals and companies from the international community.
As Honourable Members know, the Presidency engages different sectors of our society to strategise, plan and share ideas on the best possible ways of lending a hand in the national effort to push back the frontiers of poverty and expand access to a better life.
These engagements include on-going meetings with the Big Business Working Group, the Black Business Working Group, the Agriculture Working Group, the Trade Union Working Group and a Forum with National Religious Leaders.
Our interaction with people representing these important sectors of our society, has led to greater understanding and appreciation of the challenges we all face and the need for all South Africans to act together in constructive partnerships that work to find answers to the challenges we face.
Both our youth and the leaders of our academic institutions have requested that similar Working Groups be set up with them. Steps will therefore be taken to respond positively to these requests.
As we have said in the past, in addition to the local partnerships, we are privileged to draw on the advice and wisdom of members of the International Investment Council and the Presidential International Advisory Council on Information Society and Development.
At the intra-governmental level, to give effect to the principle of cooperative governance, we, of course, have the Presidential Co-ordinating Council consisting of the Presidency, all the Premiers, the South African Local Government Association and the Ministers of Provincial and Local Government.
The improved co-ordination between the different spheres of government as well as among various departments has brought about better policy alignment and proper collaboration on the delivery of projects. This has also brought about many positive results that include more efficient management of budgets as well as faster implementation of programmes and improvement in the quality of outcomes of government work.
However, we are not blind to the fact that we still receive persistent reports about serious deficiencies in some of our provinces covering such areas as education and health. New interventions in this regard are necessary and will be made. At the same time, we will continue to focus on improving capacity at the local government level.
One of the urgent tasks facing all spheres of government is to build an efficient and effective public service that will deliver on the targets that are necessary for the transformation of our society. As the Honourable Members know, this challenge has faced us for a considerable period of time.
We have to deal with the inherent limitations in the structure of the public service, particularly the skewed deployment of resources, insufficient training in certain key delivery areas, lack of mobility of personnel and other related problems.
We have to embark on a transformation process that provides, among others, for the following:
Retraining and re-skilling of personnel;
Better utilisation of scarce resources;
Equitable distribution and deployment of personnel throughout the public service and in all parts of the country;
Effective cooperation between social partners on the implementation of key transformation initiatives; and,
An unrelenting focus on the issue of corruption within the public service.
We are happy that the majority of the public sector unions has now signed the transformation and restructuring agreement negotiated with the Ministry and Department of Public Service and Administration. We hope that everybody will work to ensure that the implementation of this agreement proceeds smoothly and that the benefits accrue to all the citizens of our country.
As part of our commitment to improve the efficiency of our work, the Heads of Departments and senior managers in the public service have been reorganising their work to ensure an integrated approach to governance to improve service delivery, both quantitatively and qualitatively.
Work is proceeding under the leadership of Statistics South Africa, to develop integrated performance indicators to improve the effectiveness of our monitoring systems.
We are therefore considering including integrated planning and budgeting and implementation in this area in the performance contracts of Heads of departments to make certain that this important aspect of our governance is not reduced to an optional extra.
As before, the Presidency has to discharge its functions of leadership, oversight and management, coordination, mediation of conflicting policy thrusts as well as monitoring of delivery.
Like the Presidential Review Commission, the government is of the view that the Presidency requires more capacity to carry out these tasks effectively. In this regard, we have assigned the Chief Executive Officer of the GCIS, Mr Joel Netshitenzhe, extra responsibilities of heading the Policy Unit so as to enhance its strategic planning capacity.
At the end of his contract at Home Affairs, we will also be redeploying Director General Billy Masethla to the Presidency to reinforce our work in the areas covering security and the criminal justice system.
We will continue to find ways of ensuring that we bring on board qualitative improvements so that we can serve our citizens better.
A feature of government has been the regular interactions with ordinary people so that communities have an opportunity to express their views on matters affecting their lives. Clearly, this has been an enriching and learning experience for both government and the people and has reinforced the level of commitment to a strong popular partnership for change.
The Imbizo campaign, which has so far taken us to three provinces, has deepened the relationship between government and the people in the conceptualisation and implementation of development projects and in improvements in service delivery. Through these regular interactions, we come closer to the realisation of the idea that the People Shall Govern.
The Imbizo process has brought to the fore the immense goodwill that exists amongst our people and emphasised the critical need constantly to engage them about how best to meet their needs. It is necessary for all spheres of government continuously to assess whether they are delivering an effective service to the people and how further to ensure the firm participation of ordinary people in the improvement of their lives.
We also have a pressing responsibility to enhance the performance of our economy. It is important that we continue with our interventions that are aimed both at maintaining healthy macro-economic balances and improving the impact of our microeconomic reforms.
Although we are still confronted by many challenges to ensure that we increase the growth and development of our economy, there is positive news that should be used to propel our economy to even greater heights.
South Africa's GDP growth figure for the first quarter of 2002 was 2,2 %, just above the market expectations. We have one of the most liquid emerging bond markets in the world. Real unit labour cost has declined by an average of 1,8% per annum, while this has increased by 1,5% in the OECD countries.
The share of manufacturing in our exports has continued to increase, with high-technology products taking an ever-increasing share in these exports. The excellent performance of our manufacturing sector for instance resulted in the Rosslyn plant of BMW winning the European Gold Plant Quality Award, beating all automobile plants in Europe and the rest of the world.
Improvements in the economy and in revenue collection also made it possible for us to cut personal income tax by R8,3 billion this year.
I would like to take this opportunity to salute both our business people and workers for what they have done to help us produce these results. We are committed to work together with them in a constructive partnership that must create the wealth we need to defeat the poverty and underdevelopment that continue to afflict millions of our people.
The next big challenge we all face is to ensure that the projected Growth and Development Summit succeeds in its goals. It is necessary that we speed up our preparatory work in this regard. This must also encompass the important areas of Black Economic Empowerment, small and medium business, micro-lending and skills development.
Greater confidence, stability, certainty and accelerated growth will surely be achieved as a result of a shared economic vision among all stakeholders reinforced by specific agreements on the concrete contributions that each stakeholder brings towards the realisation of this vision.
Although Minister Pahad will deal in detail with matters relating to the youth, I would like to make a few remarks on this important sector of our population.
We address this House during an important month on our calendar. The first of June was International Children's Day. This year, there were many activities in various parts of our country, with many people from different areas of life celebrating this important day and affording children the possibility to articulate their views and concerns about many matters that they face on a daily basis.
We would like to thank all the individuals and organisations that organised the various events that involved the children.
The Presidency, led by the Office on the Status of Children, hosted about 50 children at the Union Buildings, coming from different schools in the Gauteng Province, representing diverse backgrounds, including some with disabilities.
While this interaction with these future leaders of our country was to mark the International Children's Day, it was also in part a response to a request from one of these children for the President to visit his school where, as this young boy said, they engage in political discussions and would like to meet the President to discuss many issues that they think are important to them.
The children that came to the Union Buildings demonstrated a good understanding of the challenges they face, with some of these children asking for interventions to ensure that schools that do not have toilets, running water and feeding schemes are assisted to have these basic essential services.
Two days ago we marked the National Youth Day in the Free State Province and again interacted with our young people through the national broadcaster, the SABC, as we commemorated the June 16th uprisings.
These engagements have conveyed a recurrent message, which says that there are many among the young people of our country who stand ready to make a real contribution towards the building of a democratic, peaceful and prosperous South African nation, free from the poverty, racism and sexism that have characterised our society for too long.
Through our programmes and actions, members of our legislatures who are elected representatives of our people, may want strongly to support these young people as they seek to position themselves as active participants in the transformation process, not as whites or blacks but as proud South Africans.
As we know, the youth of our country were central to the defeat of apartheid. Today, the challenges facing young people are different from those faced by their predecessors. The youth of today face a new enemy. This enemy, which faces all of us, is poverty including underdevelopment, illiteracy and lack of skills.
Arising from this come the challenges of drugs and gangsterism. In this regard, we have to pay even closer attention to the calls of the youth on the Cape Flats to assist their communities to rid themselves of the twin problems of drug abuse and gangsters.
We should also strengthen the hand of the National Youth Commission to improve its capacity to lead the youth in engaging the new challenges.
We are pleased that the Umsobomvu Fund is already carrying out various activities aimed at empowering young people, which include providing information and counselling support to young people regarding careers, employment and entrepreneurship. In addition, there are programmes for matric and tertiary level graduates relating to youth entrepreneurship, which among others, deal with funding for micro enterprises and small and medium business.
We would like to commend the National Youth Commission, which in response to the Year of the Volunteer, has mobilised young people to make themselves available to government departments offering their services to take care of our mature citizens, people with disabilities and those suffering from Aids and other debilitating diseases.
The fact that this programme, Letsema, the Youth Volunteer Corps for Sustainable Development, has already attracted over 80,000 volunteers demonstrates that our youth are ready and able to lend a hand to push back the frontiers of poverty and expand access to a better life.
Some of these volunteers will participate in the campaign to register children who are entitled to receive the child support grant, which was launched during the Child Protection Week and aims to reach 3 million children by the year 2005. They will also participate in reaching the pensioners who should benefit from the R2 billion made available to meet the back-pay shortfalls we spoke of when we opened parliament.
We were also happy to have participated, during the course of this month, in welcoming back Mark Shuttleworth, one of our young enterprising entrepreneurs whose actions and projects, I am confident, inspire our youth and will further encourage them to pursue and excel in the mathematics and science subjects.
Clearly, we will all agree that we have a duty and responsibility to assist our young people to grow up in a South Africa that is free of racism, free of prejudices, a country that cherishes, nourishes and celebrates the good common qualities of all her people, rather than allow itself to be infected with the negative that we find in our society.
Indeed we have the pressing duty to confront all the negative attitudes and actions of some among our people, which subtract rather than add to our collective effort to build a truly non-racial, non-sexist democracy, in line with the principles enshrined in our Constitution.
This is important because, notwithstanding the divisions and tragedies of our unfortunate past, as South Africans, we hold many things in common, not least the reality of our shared destiny.
Two days ago, on Youth Day, we dedicated the site in the Tshwane municipal area which will be the home of our principal national monument, the Freedom Park. Through the Freedom Park we will honour and celebrate human achievements and development in all the different areas of life. We speak here of freedom in a holistic sense - freedom from the adverse impact of nature, freedom brought about through socio-economic progress and technological advancement, spiritual freedom as expressed, for example, in the creative arts and literature, as well as political freedom.
Through the Freedom Park we will relate the South African story in its totality. We will showcase our country as part of a Continent that is a dynamic and an exceptionally fecund entity that is home to some abundant and rich fossil evidence of the evolution of the Earth, life and humanity.
The Freedom Park will therefore be a narrative of the importance of South Africa in the long history of the evolution and development of our planet, to which our country and the rest of the Continent have been exposed through the millennia.
It will also relate a story of human evolution, migration and homecoming of some of these human-beings and the conflicts and wars occasioned by some of these earlier contacts, as well as events leading to the freedom of all South Africans, black and white, and the new challenges of building a united but diverse nation.
Freedom Park will also make an important contribution to the goal of responding to the call made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the provision of what it described as symbolic reparations.
We have an on-going challenge not only of building a new nation, but of uniting behind common symbols as well as determining the unique characteristics that fully describe us as South Africans. Obviously, we are all united behind our national anthem, our flag and coat of arms.
Further as part of this process of creating a unique unifying South African personality, we unveiled during the Freedom Day celebrations, new national orders. These are:
The Order of Mapungubwe, which celebrates the ancient kingdom of Mapungubwe and will be awarded to South Africans citizens for excellence and exceptional achievements;
The Order of the Baobab, which will be awarded to citizens for distinguished service to the people well above and beyond the call of duty.
The Order of the Companions of O.R Tambo which will be awarded to heads of state and other international personalities for peace, co-operation and friendship towards South Africa.
Further consideration will be given to additional national orders.
It is our collective duty, including members of our legislatures, to ensure that we popularise our national symbols and through these activities, simultaneously begin to define a new South African identity.
Government is still awaiting the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which will further help with the process of healing the wounds inflicted on all of us by colonialism and apartheid. The Report should also strengthen our efforts of building a single South African nation.
The launch of the Freedom Park, the unveiling of the new National Orders, together with the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, should be seen as important building blocks of our united but diverse nation.
In February this year we held the third meeting of the President's International Investment Council. Apart from welcoming South Africa's achievements in the macro-economy, Council members expressed satisfaction with regard to the progress made in starting to address the micro-economic constrains to growth, which had been discussed in earlier meetings.
One of the critical issues raised by Council members was the question we have mentioned in this House. This is the matter of negativity amongst some of us, and the negative image about our country being communicated to the rest of the world by a few of our compatriots. These Council members, who are not South Africans, were deeply concerned and puzzled as to why some South Africans seem so keen to do great harm to our country.
One of the challenges therefore, is for all of us to work together, irrespective of our political parties, to project the many good attributes of our country and people as well as the positive developments that are taking place every day in our country.
We would therefore like to thank the International Marketing Council as well as those who lead the Proudly South African Campaign for consistently working on positive messages and engaging different sectors of both South African society and the international community about the good things in our country.
We have already briefed parliament about the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).
The Presidency, together with other departments, has provided some of the ideas, support systems, personnel as well as financial resources for the development of NEPAD. My Economic Adviser, Professor Wiseman Nkuhlu, has been deployed full-time to lead the continental Steering Committee for NEPAD and its Secretariat, which is now housed at the premises of the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA).
Three senior posts and three support staff for this programme are on the establishment of the Presidency as part of the contribution of the South African Government to NEPAD.
I would like to thank Professor Nkuhlu and all those who have supported him for their dedication, commitment and hard work to make NEPAD a reality. Professor Nkuhlu has made us proud internationally in the manner in which he has driven this vision and programme.
We are committing all these resources because we want NEPAD to succeed. Furthermore, while the relations with countries of the North are important, this New Partnership will succeed if there is strong South-South cooperation as well as African countries and Africans themselves assuming the centre stage with regard to strengthening the partnership among themselves and continue to own both the vision and the programmes of NEPAD.
In this regard, we are indeed very pleased that some of our parastatals and private companies are already torchbearers in initiating projects that will ensure the regeneration of our continent.
About two weeks ago, we launched an under-sea fibre-optic cable project that is spearheaded by Telkom as part of our efforts to promote connectivity between Africa and the rest of the world.
This project will link Asia, Africa and Europe via South Africa, with landing points in 14 countries in west and southern Africa and will have the capacity to handle 5.8 million simultaneous telephone calls between Africa and Europe and 6.2 million calls between Africa and Asia. This will bring to an end an abnormal situation whereby, for Africans to phone one another, even connecting to neighbouring countries, the call has to be routed via one of the former European colonial countries.
This project will provide West, Southern and Central African countries with direct access to one another. It is hoped that East Africa will also be connected at a later stage. Currently R3 billion annually, flows out of the continent in revenues to Europe for calls made within the African continent.
The new cable will reduce costs, improve connectivity and reliability and increase capacity - all of which are necessary to achieve NEPAD telecommunication objectives in Africa.
In addition, the energy parastatal, Eskom, is also engaged in important work of building an electricity grid between the West African states of Senegal, Mauritania, Mali and Niger as well as power generation and distribution in the East of the continent in Uganda and Tanzania which will drastically improve the quality of life of many Africans.
Sasol is also engaged in the important Mozambique/South Africa gas project, which will increase Mozambique's GDP by 20%.
We have also seen leading South African, financial, mining, telecommunication and other companies establishing businesses in a number of African countries. All these projects demonstrate that Africa can radically renew the lives of its people through partnerships between African countries as well as between the private and public sectors.
We are saying therefore that in this New Partnership, the collaboration between and amongst African countries and businesses is central to our success.
This of course does not mean that we do not value our partnership with developed countries. The fact of the matter is that these countries have large volumes of capital that we need for the renaissance of our continent. It is in this context that next week we will continue our engagements with the G8 countries. We are certain that this engagement will produce positive results.
We are also greatly encouraged that the major international non-governmental organisations support NEPAD. Arrangements are being made to meet these NGO's during our visit to Canada.
At the beginning of July we will transform the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) into the African Union (AU). South Africa will have the honour of hosting the first meeting of the African Union as well as chairing this important African organisation for a year.
This places a particular responsibility on all of us, because we have to ensure that the African Union starts on a sound and correct footing.
Parliament is already seized with this matter with its special committee dealing with various elements provided for in the Constitutive Act of the African Union. We will need closer collaboration so that as South African public representatives, we move in the same direction that will assist all of us to reach the required goal of enhanced continental co-operation and unity.
Again in August and September this year, we will be hosting the World Summit on Sustainable Development.
Members would be aware that the Ministerial preparatory conference held recently in Bali, Indonesia, made significant progress towards reaching consensus on what should underpin sustainable development.
However, many issues remain outstanding. We have to find ways and means of linking the decisions taken at the Monterry Financing for Development Conference to the outcomes of the Johannesburg Summit.
The matter of the circumstances under which countries should have common but differentiated responsibilities also remains outstanding.
The failure to find consensus in Bali on some of these issues places increased responsibility on the President, as Chairperson of the WSSD, to ensure that a basis for agreement is developed between now and September. We will be starting a process of consultation with the major groupings in the UN system to explore the possibilities of finding consensus.
We will shortly be visiting Brazil to attend the ceremony to mark the official handover of the WSSD torch to South Africa.
We have recently returned from the World Food Summit in Rome, where we sought to address the growing challenge of lack of food security in the world. This is part of our struggle against global poverty and underdevelopment.
One of our objectives as a country is to make whatever contribution we can to ensure peace and stability on the continent.
As the honourable members are aware, we recently hosted the Inter-Congolese Dialogue in Sun City in the North West to assist the DRC to achieve lasting peace. The Minister of Foreign Affairs has already reported on this matter.
We continue to engage the different players in the Congolese conflict and are confident that sooner rather than later, the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo will achieve all the goals they set themselves during the Inter-Congolese Dialogue. We will make a short visit to the DRC later this month to pursue these goals.
Last month we visited the Comoros to attend the inauguration of a democratically elected president. South Africa was asked by the OAU to head a regional initiative to assist that country to return to democracy after a military coup d'etat and the challenge of secession.
As this African collective we had to resolve the situation in that country because, in reality, the problems that faced the Comoros are the same as those afflicting some of the countries on the African continent. These are:
Struggle for scarce resources; and
By addressing these problems and assisting in the preparation and the holding of elections, we have demonstrated that it is possible to overcome what seem to be intractable obstacles to democracy and stability in Africa. Obviously, this experience will assist our continent as it deals with similar situations elsewhere.
The Deputy President has, together with former President Mandela, been involved in efforts to stabilize the situation in Burundi and assisting our fellow Africans in that country to achieve stability. The government will continue to support these efforts.
We are honoured to have contributed whatever we could to the efforts our neighbours in Lesotho as they return to democracy. As you know, this unfortunately entailed the death of members of our National Defence Force. We hope and trust that the instability that has characterised Lesotho previously, is a thing of the past.
We are also encouraged by the prospect of a lasting peace in Angola. We hope that the people of that country who have never known peace in more than four decades, will at last be spared the indecencies of war that have defined their lives for such a long time. We stand ready to assist in whatever ways possible so that together we can embark on an important course of economic recovery and development.
At the request of the Government of Angola, steps are also being taken urgently to meet the humanitarian needs of the people who are gathered at assembly points from areas previously controlled by UNITA.
President Obasanjo and myself have assigned special envoys to help the people of Zimbabwe to achieve unity and reconciliation. We dealt with this and other matters relating to Zimbabwe when we answered questions in this House last month.
Suffice it to say that we remain convinced that the solutions to the problems of Zimbabwe rest with the leadership of Zimbabwe, with reference to both the ruling party and the opposition. We hope that this leadership will live up to its responsibilities to its own people and the peoples of our region and the rest of Africa.
All these activities that we are engaged in are important if we are to achieve the goal of the renaissance of our continent. We have no choice but to pursue them consistently and persistently until we create a continent free of conflicts, wars and instabilities.
We urge that all South Africans should join the historic partnership for the renewal of our continent. In this regard, I would like to pay tribute to this Parliament for the role it has played and is playing to contribute to the common effort.
Both at home and in other parts of our continent, we are engaged in all these processes as part of the effort to lend a hand to push back the frontiers of poverty and expand access to a better life.
Given the enormous challenges facing us when we attained our freedom in 1994, many of us would not have imagined a South Africa that would have resolved the internecine conflicts and violence amongst her people by now, a country whose democracy matures with each passing day, a nation that slowly but surely overcomes a terrible past, and a people united and strengthened by their diversity.
Some would have thought that we were mere dreamers a few years ago, when we articulated not only the need for the renaissance of a sleeping giant of a continent, and called on all of us to make this the African Century. Few would have ever imagined the reality of Africans, both on the African continent and in the Diaspora forming a determined force that refuses to be conditioned any more by circumstance, no longer prisoners of history.
Yesterday, we were privileged to spend some time with an eminent group of African experts and academics in Pretoria, coming from all parts of our continent, who are full of ideas, energy and enthusiasm to see the New Revolution represented by the African Union and New Partnership for Africa's Development transforming our continent and ensuring that Africans occupy their proper place among the peoples of the world.
I am certain that these African patriots will add enormous value to our forward march in the complex struggle for the renaissance of our continent.
Next week, we will address the G8 countries not seeking a subservient and junior role, but creating a genuine partnership based on equality and respect, for mutual benefit. We are pleased that we will participate in this meeting coming from a country whose people have demonstrated the will to succeed, whatever the difficulties.
All our people deserve sincere thanks for all their efforts. Through our hard work and through our commitment, I am certain we will continue to amaze both ourselves and the rest of the world.
I thank you.
Issued by the Presidency.