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Jacob Zuma responds to SONA debate

President Jacob Zuma. President Jacob Zuma.

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY, CAPE TOWN (20 June 2014)


Honourable Presiding Officers; Honourable Deputy President, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa; Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers; Honourable Members; Fellow South Africans; Ladies and gentlemen:

I wish to thank all Honourable Members for the contributions into the State of the Nation Address. We believe that we all have the same goal, to move South Africa forward. Your inputs were thus received in that light and are most appreciated.

We have placed before the nation this week, a programme of action that we believe will go a long way towards injecting new life into the economy, to drive back poverty, inequality and unemployment. It is designed to boost economic intervention in our key job and growth drivers such as infrastructure development, energy, tourism, manufacturing, agriculture, the green economy and mining.

The programme is also designed to improve the delivery of services by government and in particular to revitalise distressed areas such as mining towns and service delivery hotspots. It is also designed to strengthen partnerships between government and the people, as well as government and all sectors including business and labour.

We have placed a growth target of 5% by 2019 and will do everything to move towards that goal. We need employment creating growth and we can achieve it with focus and determination.

Honourable Carrim and Honourable Davies explained eloquently what we mean by radical socio-economic transformation and economic transformation in particular, to assist those Honourable Members from the Opposition who needed clarity.

Honourable Sisulu reminded the house of the services delivered by government to our people in the past few years and the remarkable progress made in a short space of time. From houses, to electricity, social assistance and electricity, every year life gets better for more people. We will build on that progress to take the country forward. Work will now begin in earnest to ensure the implementation of the work outlined.

Honourable Godi warned us about the gap between policy and implementation and on the need to ensure quality and timely service.  Indeed we are changing our approach. We will use planning to solve problems that delay implementation.

We will next month launch an adaptation of the Big Fast Results methodology that we have been discussing with the government of Malaysia, as indicated by Minister Radebe. The methodology involves setting clear targets and following up with on-going monitoring of progress and making the results public. Using this implementation methodology, the Government of Malaysia was able to register impressive results within a short period.

In South Africa, we have renamed the Malaysian approach Operation Phakisa, to emphasise its critical role in fast-tracking delivery on the priorities included in the National Development Plan 2030. The first implementation of Operation Phakisa will be led by the Department of Environmental Affairs. It will focus on unlocking the economic potential of South Africa’s oceans, which are estimated to have the potential to contribute up to R177bn to GDP by 2033 compared to R54bn in 2010.

We will also pilot this methodology to improve service delivery in our clinics nationwide, promoting Minister Motsoaledi’s Ideal Clinic Initiative.We want to find methods that work that will deliver results and we believe Operation Phakisa may provide the key.

Honourable Members,

While the economy will take centre stage in the next five years we will also invest our energies and resources in improving the performance of the state and in particular the public service. We want government to deliver services faster, and more efficiently. More importantly, we want members of the public seeking services to be treated with respect, patience, understanding and courtesy.

The Batho Pele programme will thus be revitalised this term, accompanied by the promotion of the new Public Service Charter, under the leadership of the Public Service and Administration department. We also intend to ensure that all levels of this administration treat complaints management as a priority issue, so that we can achieve the goal of being a government that is accessible and responsive to citizens.

When I introduced the Presidential Hotline in September 2009 my intention was to contribute to a more accessible and responsive government. To date, more than 190,000 citizens have logged complaints and queries through this system. The overwhelming response from citizens to this initiative has been positive, and the Presidential Hotline has also contributed to government understanding how important it is to have well-functioning and responsive complaint systems.

To further improve performance and inculcate a culture of excellence, the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency will continue to conduct unannounced visits to service delivery sites in order to monitor indicators such as queue management and waiting times, dignified treatment, cleanliness and comfort. The focus is on facilities where the public is directly served such as Home Affairs Offices, South African Social Security Agency offices, police stations, health facilities, drivers’ license centres, municipal customer care centres, schools and courts.

I must point out as well that many departments are already improving services on their own. The Department of Health has established an Office on Health Standards Compliance to help us improve patient care and has trained and recruited inspectors as outlined by Minister Motsoaledi. The Department of Social Development runs its own integrated service delivery monitoring initiative,Project Mikondzo as outlined by Minister Dlamini. Communities provide feedback on the services raised.

During this term all departments will mainstream public outreach programmes to enable the public to raise their concerns and suggestions directly with government. Indeed Government is improving the way it delivers services. A new culture of accountability and seeking to do better is coming into being. While a lot of good work is being done by public servants, some improvements are needed. Management practices have to improve further. There is a need to enhance skills development in areas such as financial management. Shortcomings become glaring each time the Auditor-General releases his annual report. 

We agree with Honourable Members that part of improving the performance of the state is to get government to pay small businesses and other suppliers promptly within 30 days. During the previous administration, National Treasury and the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation put in place a system to monitor the payment of suppliers within 30 days by national and provincial departments. There will now be more emphasis on assisting departments with large numbers of invoices that are paid late. This will draw on case studies of the best performing departments.

Honourable Members,

The emphasis on radical socio-economic transformation necessitates that we develop the necessary skills. The infrastructure and industrialisation programmes of the country require more artisans, engineers and other skilled professionals. Honourable Manana outlined in detail the skills development programme of government, including the Decade of the Artisan campaign aimed at meeting the target of producing 30,000 artisans by 2030. We urge the private sector to partner government and be ready to offer apprenticeships in this initiative in line with the Youth Employment Accord.

Honourable Mokgalapa questioned the statement that we open one school a week in the Eastern Cape. This has actually been a very successful and exciting campaign. The state of the art schools are built as part of the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Development Initiative (ASIDI,) a national programme that addresses infrastructure backlogs in the country, especially the inappropriate, unsafe and mud schools. The programme includes the provision of basic services to schools where there are none such as the provision of water, sanitation and electricity. The first phase of the programme targeted the building of 49 schools. As at 15 November 2013, 40 schools had been completed.

The first school completed, Mphathiswa Primary in Libode District, was officially handed over by the President to the community on the 2rd of October 2012. The programme to hand over one ASIDI school per week to communities in the Eastern Cape was thereafter launched by the Minister of Basic Education in July 2013.  Since then various Ministers, Premier, Deputy Ministers and MECs have been deployed to hand over the beautiful new schools to communities. The programme will continue until the end of this year. 

Two schools have also been completed in the Western Cape, while twelve remaining ones are at various stages of construction in the province. The programme is going very well indeed.

We appreciate the concern raised by Honourable Members about poor performance in mathematics and science in some schools. The Department of Basic Education has identified just under 100 schools that do not offer Mathematics in Grade 12, and we are working with provinces to ensure that all schools offer Mathematics as a subject. All posts for mathematics, science and accounting teachers and subject advisers will be filled as a matter of urgency in all provinces.

Government is also investing in science and technology training and research development. From 2015 the Department of Science and Technology will invest an additional R400m per annum to support postgraduate students in fields related to science, technology and innovation to guide and build a human capital development pipeline towards a doctoral qualification.

The Department has also established centres of excellence in the universities of Witwatersrand, Pretoria, Johannesburg, Stellenbosch and KwaZulu-Natal. The centres of excellence have been established in areas that will assist government to address several priority areas including mining, child development, food security, energy and evidence-based decision making. We now invest R140m per annum in this programme. The new centres will also increase the number of world-class researchers, and attract and retain research excellence.

Honourable van Damme, your concern about education is noted especially the call for more teachers to be trained per year.

Government’s Fuza Lushaka bursary scheme enrolls students each year. We need more teachers especially for the foundation phase. This means we should market the profession to young people. The same applies to social work as a career. We provide a bursary and need to attract more students each year to this field given the social challenges in our communities.

Honourable Kubayi, siyabonga ngokukhumbuza kwakho intsha ukuthi kufanele ibuye isukume izenzele izinto ingathembeli kuhulumeni kuphela. Maningi amathuba okwenza impilo ibe ngcono manje eNingizimu Africa. Adinga ukuthi sisukume sizizamele.

Honourable Members

We agree with Honourable Councillor Nawa, the deputy chairperson of the South African Local Government Association, that democratic local government has made a significant contribution in the expansion of social infrastructure and services to poor households and to development generally in the country. Indeed, looking back over the past 14 years it is clear that we have made tremendous strides in addressing access to basic services such as water, energy, waste, sanitation, transport, and human settlements at a local government level. We have a good story to tell. We will work with municipalities to harness the potential and ensure that every municipal becomes a thriving service delivery centre for our people.

Honourable Meshoe you raised concern that we may be throwing money at municipalities and not providing more solutions.

Tangible technical support will be provided, which will include assisting municipalities to prepare cash-backed budgets. The municipalities will also be assisted with revenue collection strategies and to improve governance through the establishment of functional accountability and oversight structures and system, such as the Municipal Public Accounts Committees and Audit Committees. The fundamental purpose of the support will be to ensure that all are able to provide simple services such as providing lights and water, cutting grass, ensure functioning street and traffic lights, consistent refuse removal and credible billing for services.

Honourable Holomisa we agree with you on the importance of appointing people with the correct technical skills to municipalities, which is something that SALGA is also committed to.

Honourable Dreyer referred to a tender board in the Presidency. The Office of the Chief Procurement Officer is in the National Treasury, and we look forward to the results of the piloted procurement of furniture for schools in the Eastern Cape in August. We will draw lessons from that exercise to be used in improving centralised procurement.

We appreciate comments such as that from Deputy Minister Magwaza-Msibi that central procurement may lead to bottlenecks and unintended consequences of delays in decision making and implementation. We will be alive to all these possible consequences as we pilot the plan.

Honourable Jordan reminded us of the need to find African solutions to our problems and the need to combat forces that can compromise African independence in the continent.

As the African Union meets next week we will certainly fight for Africa to create stronger institutions to solve its security problems in particular, for example an African Stand by Force. There is a need to strengthen the continental Peace and Security Architecture and to redefine the instruments that deal with unconstitutional changes of government and discourage illegitimate rebellions. Thus we need to treat with urgency, the need to establish the African Standby Force for rapid deployment in crisis areas without delays.

The African Stand-By Force as a vital mechanism of conflict prevention was initially planned to be operationalized in 2008 and was deferred to 2013 and further to 2015. The need for an intervention brigade has become more crucial in light of the situations of instability in some parts of the continent.

Honourable Members

On the emotive land question, the situation, as we have stated before, calls for cooperation among those who must obtain land and those who must release land, as we have been reminded by the Chief Whip of the Majority Party, Honourable Sizani.  We need this cooperation as we speed up land reform.

Honourable Members

Our programme of action is a call for all of us to put South Africa first and do what is best of our country and for the future. We have to jump-start the economy and that requires cooperation amongst all of us in both the executive and the legislative arms of the state. Failure is not an option. Our people have elected us so that we can lead them to a prosperous  future.

The National Development Plan outlines the future we want, a society free of poverty, inequality and unemployment. That society is achievable if we work together.

Honourable Members,

One of the success areas of every nation must be its ability to compete with other nations on the sports field.  We have to improve our sports performance. It cannot be acceptable that we should be missing from the soccer world cup or any other tournament in the world. We cannot continue complaining forever about the performance of our sports codes. We must invest in school sport as the breeding ground for future excellence. This also requires the provision and maintenance of adequate sports facilities in our residential areas. We have to ensure that the majority of our people are able to play sport and participate in healthy physical activities. I trust that Honourable Members will encourage their constituencies to organise sporting events, leagues and championships and build more united and cohesive communities.

As part of the empowerment of women and the girl child in sport, Government has also launched the national Netball Premier League. We urge all to support the development of netball and all sports played by women.

Honourable Members, on a sad note, may I take this opportunity to extend our deepest condolences to the family of Metro FM Radio presenter, Mr Eddie Makhosonke Zondi who passed away this week. He has contributed immensely to the entertainment sector in our country especially radio broadcasting and had earned a special place in the hearts of thousands of radio listeners. May his soul rest in peace.

Let me once again thank all for participating in the State of the Nation Address debate. 

I thank you as well for indulging us when we requested a change in the date of the SONA.

We are also grateful to the presiding officers for making this the first State of the Nation Address debate in which both houses of parliament participate. Having members of the National Council of Provinces has certainly enriched the debate and has given meaning to the fact that the State of the Nation Address takes place during a Joint Sitting of Parliament.

We look forward to working with both houses as we implement this programme of action.

Together let us move South Africa forward.

I thank you.

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