14 November 2000

Cape Town - 14 November 2000

Madam Chairperson
Honourable Premier
Honourable Members of this House

I would like to begin my address to this house by formally congratulating, once again, the Paralympic team for doing us proud at the Paralympic Games in Sydney.

I am happy to have the opportunity to address this House on the occasion of your last full sitting. The uniqueness of the National Council of Provinces in bringing together the national, provincial and local spheres of government under one roof is evidence of co-operative governance at work.

It is in this house that Provinces are able to share their experiences, so that we are all informed as to what is taking place at all levels of government.

Indeed, you conduct your business with the dignity expected from public representatives in this house.

I am aware, Madam Chairperson, that you have personally visited no less than five of our provincial legislatures in the course of this year. In the National Council of Provinces, Provincial Governments, in particular, can learn from each other's successes and challenges and, in so doing can improve the quality of governance and the pace of delivery to our people. I note as well that the National Council of Provinces has amended a significant number of the Bills that have been tabled before it this year.

This is, once again, clear evidence of provincial governments and organised local government impacting on the national legislative process. You have not failed to carry out your duties.

As we end this year, it is worth noting some of the achievements that we, as a country, have made. Among other things, South Africa, ably led by President Mbeki, has firmly established its presence within the international community. This has been done in record time, if you take into account the fact that we have only been formally admitted into the community of nations in the last six years.

We have been invited to address all major international conferences and have succeeded to put across the views of the developing countries and more particularly, the views and the plight of the African countries. We have succeeded in getting the developed countries to acknowledge that steps need to be taken to reduce the debt burden of the developing countries. We have set our country on the correct economic path. The President recently hosted a meeting of 25 of the World's top economists, including World Bank President James Wolfensohn. The Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Eduardo Aninat, who was also at the meeting remarked afterwards, "We are comfortable with the degree of progress in relation to the macro economic side.

The country is now in a new phase where it should continue to foster investment, increased growth and more jobs". Whilst looking at our successes, we need to recognise that we still have a lot of challenges. One of these is the moral degeneration of our society. I addressed the National Assembly on 31 October 2000 and, given the importance of the matter, I would to like re-emphasise it again here.

To quote to the house from my address of that day, I said "To be able to address this challenge as a country, we cannot ignore the impact that our past has had on our present, for the apartheid legacy not only dehumanised some communities and individuals, but also caused untold damage in many other ways".

I said that the previous government "introduced extreme violence, and because it had to be maintained through extreme violence, it encouraged violence at every level of society".

Madam Chairperson, we were recently forced to confront the dehumanisation, that I spoke about in the National Assembly, when on our television screens we saw horrific footage of members of our police services setting their dogs upon three defenseless and helpless men.

This experience has shown us how certain people in our society have lost respect for human dignity and human life. It also showed us how members of our police services have been so mentally brutalised by upholding apartheid that they have lost all sense of what is right and what is wrong.

Our hearts go out to Gabriel and Alexander Ntimane and their friend Sylvester Mathonsi for the pain and trauma they suffered. Our hearts go out also to the families and friends of their tormentors. Many of us will not stop to think about this, but they find themselves having to confront an ugly truth - that their loved ones, who protect, love and nurture them, are capable of inflicting such pain on fellow humans. Their acts traumatised, not only their three victims shown in the video, but the entire people of our country.

Thus, Madam Chairperson, I believe that this has been a wake up call like no other, to all South Africans. I believe that the common rage expressed by South Africans from all walks of life, about a single act that epitomises very distinctly this scourge that we failed to collectively agree on, as a country, in August -ought now to be channeled towards bringing ourselves closer to each other as South Africans.

The work towards reconciliation that began in the early nineties and was given impetus by our first democratic election in 1994 cannot now be abandoned - indeed we must build on it and, together, strive towards a better society in South Africa.

I repeat the call I made to the National Assembly - for South Africans to embark on a major national campaign for moral renewal.

We certainly need an "RDP of the soul", as former President Mandela stated. I urge all Provincial Legislatures and local governments to debate this matter of moral degeneration and look at positive ways in which they can contribute to this campaign of moral regeneration.

Madam Chairperson, I believe that the majority of South Africans share our desire for a South Africa that is free from the many challenges that face them. Unfortunately, as a nation, we are faced with another, more deadly challenge, that of HIV/AIDS.

I am encouraged by the work done by the provinces in fighting the pandemic. Most have launched provincial AIDS Councils that will enable them to pool together their efforts.

We are encouraged also by reports, which indicate that our campaign against HIV/AIDS is yielding results.

South Africans are beginning to take responsibility for their own lives and are changing their behaviour.

As we move towards World AIDS Day, on December 1, we appeal to members of this House, and structures in all the provinces, to assist us in taking the anti-AIDS struggle forward. Together we can beat the disease.

There are many challenges that we face. The hopes of our people are pinned upon us, as leaders in the different spheres of government and as public representatives. We need to work together to address these challenges.

The cry from our people is clear. They are not interested in party-political point scoring. They want development, they want just to be a nation, and they want the scourge of HIV/AIDS to be defeated.

In our political activity in this house, and in our local government electioneering, we need to ensure that whatever we are doing is advancing the interests of South Africa as a whole.

Madam Chairperson, as public representatives we should identify key national priority issues around which we must work to unite the country. The kind of issues that we should agree not to play politics with, around which we must demonstrate patriotism in the process of nation building.

Similarly, the issue of Traditional Leadership is one that has taken centre stage in recent times. Madam Chairperson, I am happy to report that we met with the Coalition of Traditional Leaders yesterday. This meeting took place at the request of Amakhosi, to discuss the proposed Municipal Structures Second Amendment Bill.

It was agreed at the meeting that there would be continuous interaction between government and Amakhosi with a view to finding common ground, before the passage of the Bill by Parliament.

In line with the President's undertaking in this very house, " to ensure that we give real content to the objective contained in our Constitution, to respect the institution of traditional leadership", a special Cabinet Committee has been formed with the aim of continuing to seek appropriate and long lasting solutions to the matter of traditional authority in our country.

Lastly, I would like to wish all political parties, contesting the forthcoming local government elections, well. May I also take this opportunity to encourage all South Africans to exercise their hard won right to vote and help us build our local government structures.

I wish you well during the coming holidays. The Minister of Transport has asked me to say to all of you, this afternoon: Don't Drink and Drive! I want to take this opportunity, as Chairperson of the South African National AIDS Council to remind all South Africans of the ABC's: Abstain Be Faithful and, if all else fails, Condomise.

I thank you!

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