Speech on the Occasion of the Consideration of the Budget of the Presidency, 21 June 2001

Madame Speaker,
Deputy President,
Honourable Members,
Fellow South Africans:

A few days ago, our people joined together in their thousands solemnly to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Soweto Uprising; to pay tribute to the thousands of young people who died and were maimed so that all of us should be free; to commit our country to the development, upliftment and happiness of the young; to reaffirm our resolve to defend our democratic gains.

As we marched down the streets of Soweto to commemorate the fateful march of June 16, 1976, we saw a young white girl in her early teens standing together and holding hands with young black girls in the streets of Soweto, a happy smile on her face, an enthusiastic wave to the marchers, safe and relaxed in the company of her friends.

Our observance of the 25th Anniversary of the Soweto Uprising was, therefore, also a celebration. We gathered in many parts of our country, including Soweto, to celebrate our historic achievement that the children of our country, across the colour line, can, today, walk together, hand in hand, as friends.

We celebrated the fact that our people can march down our streets without fear of being shot and killed, regardless of the cause they seek to advance.

We celebrated the achievement that we could gather together, as South Africans, and set ourselves common national tasks focussed on ensuring that the society we are building presents a much happier future for the young than the future our children faced 25 years ago.

We gathered to celebrate the fact that we could, together, salute the victories of both Andrew Kelehe, this year's Comrades Marathon male winner, and Retief Goosen, victor at the 2001 US Golf Open.

It would be correct to say that, as South Africans, we could not but observe the 25th Anniversary of the Soweto Uprising. After all, June 16th was proclaimed our National Youth Day precisely to pay permanent tribute to the youth who died for our liberation.

But, of great importance, we were also joined in the commemorations by the peoples of the world. For example, to mention only three countries, two events took place in Mozambique, one involving the government of that country and another that entailed a visit to a cemetery where many of our country's liberation fighters are buried.

Rallies and public meetings were held in various parts of the Republic of Congo, including the capital city, Brazzaville.

35 000 people participated in a mass rally in Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

In all these instances, the countries that held June 16 meetings last week had been active participants in the protracted global struggle against apartheid. Perhaps, it was therefore to be expected that they would, once again, express solidarity with us as we commemorated the Soweto Uprising.

But I believe that if we were to conclude that this was the only, or even the principal, reason that these other peoples remembered June 16, we would be wrong. There is another and larger reason for the renewed expressions of solidarity that we saw last week.

Our country contains within it, in a concentrated form, many of the major and inter-connected challenges that face the global community. Similarly, it has within it the potential for the successful resolution of these challenges.

As a country, we represent the great divide that separates and distinguishes the countries of the North from those of the South. Accordingly, we must succeed within our own borders to bridge the structural gaps that exist between developed South Africa and under-developed South Africa, ending the poverty and underdevelopment typical of the countries of the South.

As an African country, affected by both conscious and sub-conscious negative and pessimistic views about the role, the place and the future of Africa and the Africans, we are also faced with the challenge practically to disprove this negativity and pessimism. What we do must also succeed to bridge the structural gaps that exist between South Africa as a country of the South and the countries of the North.

We stand out as a country that must succeed to create a non-racial society and thus address the important issue of the defeat of racism globally. This must be expressed both in the defeat of racist consciousness and in the reconstruction of our country to end the racial disparities we have all inherited.

The relationship between race, gender and poverty dictates that we also succeed in the effort to achieve the emancipation of women. Neither the internal North-South division nor the racial imbalances can be solved, if the disempowerment of and discrimination against women are not brought to an end.

The poverty that affects millions of our people is yet another feature of our reality. Once more, we will not succeed to overcome the internal and external North-South divide, racism and sexism unless we eradicate poverty among all our people.

The world community of nations is aware of the fact that our young democracy is confronted by the task to achieve forward movement towards the simultaneous resolution of all these problems. Of course, these problems are not exclusive to us, but find a particular expression in our country that highlights the historic and global importance of our national project for reconstruction and development.

Since 1994, our parliament has considered various White Papers and other policy initiatives and approved hundreds of laws focussed on the creation of the policy guidelines and the legislative framework that would guide us as a government in carrying through our process of reconstruction and development.

Consistent with our constitution and law, our judiciary, and especially the Constitutional Court, has also helped to establish the legal framework to which we have referred.

Only yesterday, correct reference was made to the fact that our democratic parliament has sought to ensure that it opens itself up to access by all our people. The people have therefore been important actors in the determination of the policies and the legislation to which we have referred.

I am certain that the House will agree that we need to review this public participation continuously, to improve access by the public to the determination of the destiny of our country.

As a result of the serious work that the Government, parliament, the general public and the judiciary have done since 1994 to place our country on a path of fundamental social transformation, the Government is firmly of the view that, substantially, we have elaborated the policy, legislative and constitutional base that will enable us to achieve the transformation of our country.

This base encompasses a wide variety of challenges that our country faces, including the creation of a non-racial and non-sexist society; the eradication of poverty; economic growth and development; the protection and development of children, the young and the disabled; human resource development; the modernisation of our country consistent with advances in science and technology; popular participation in the process of governance, especially at the local level; and the assumption by our country of its rightful place within the international community.

Of course, there are a number of areas that continue to receive attention as we seek to finalise our policy and other positions. These include youth policy, the role and place of our traditional leaders, the establishment of the Commission on Linguistic, Cultural and Religious Rights and the policy framework relating to information and communication technology.

Work on these and other issues will proceed apace. However, this does not gainsay the fact that, as we have said, substantially, we have established the policy and legislative base that enables us to effect the social transformation that our country needs.

Accordingly, the central challenge we face as Government is the task of implementation. The order of the day is that we take all necessary measures to ensure that the policy and legislative measures for the reconstruction and development of our country that have already been adopted, are further translated into an actual process of the transformation of our society.

To summarise the message we seek to communicate to this House and to the country today, it is simply this - let us get down to the serious business of work - working together to create a new South Africa; working together to build a country free of racism and sexism; working together to end poverty, unemployment and the social marginalisation of any of our people; working together to give an example to the whole world, that, as a people, we have the capacity to succeed, however difficult the challenges we face. The order of the day is to get down to the serious business of working together for change.

As a people, we have the capacity and the obligation to transform our noble vision of what we want to be into reality.

We have the possibility and the responsibility to ensure that no black South African feels that our liberation means nothing to him or her and that our liberty is nothing more than a means for the legitimisation of the old order against which so many fought and sacrificed their lives.

We have the possibility and the responsibility to ensure that no white South African feels that the emancipation of our country means for him or her, marginalisation, disempowerment, exclusion and having to live forever under a threat of violence, dispossession and the destruction of everything he or she holds dear, including language, culture and religion.

We have the policies and the mechanisms actually to move forward towards the emancipation of the women of our country so that we give real effect to the equality clause in our Constitution. Thereby would we throw off our shoulders the accumulated burden of millennia, according to which true freedom has been denied to half of our population, on the basis of entrenched prejudices that constitute an insult and an injury to other human beings.

We have taken the necessary decisions to end the poverty and dehumanisation that continue to afflict millions of our people, who cannot lead lives of dignity because they have no jobs, no houses, no land, no capital and no means to prevent themselves from falling ill from avoidable diseases.

These are fellow South Africans who are forced to beg and to depend on the charity of another because, whatever they do, they cannot break out of the whirlpool of poverty.

The challenge we face is to get down to work practically to accelerate the impact of our policies on these and other matters.

For the Government, this brings into sharp focus the two matters to which we must constantly return. These are the effectiveness and efficiency of the personnel in our public service and the institutions of state which we need to translate our policies into state programmes of action for change.

Important among these is the Presidency itself.

As the Honourable Members are aware, the Presidential Review Commission on the Reform and Transformation of the Public Service in South Africa, made various comments on and suggestions relating to the Presidency.

Among other things, it noted that "concerns about weaknesses at the centre of government were a recurring theme during the public hearings..." conducted by the Commission.

It argued that a unified Presidency ought to be "the core and apex of the whole system of governance in South Africa", as it is elsewhere.

It further argued that the Presidency needs to have the capacity "to ensure that issues and policies requiring consideration by the President, Deputy President and Cabinet are identified, that the ground work for their presentation is thoroughly prepared with all the relevant departments involved, that there is comprehensive and comprehensible briefing, that policies and outcomes are properly and promptly secured and recorded, that implementation follows, and that progress is effectively monitored."

To realise these objectives, the Presidency has focused on a number of areas. We have worked and are working to build capacity in the Presidency to ensure that there is proper coordination and monitoring of government work.

To this end, work is continuing to strengthen the Policy Coordination and Advisory Services Unit to provide especially analytical and policy support to the Presidency. In this regard, we have been faced with the challenge of finding the appropriate additional high calibre people to staff this unit, bearing in mind the budget of the Presidency and the salary levels in the public service.

In addition to the support it lends to the Presidency, this Unit also supports and works with the clusters of Directors General.

Effectively to monitor government performance and to ensure integrated delivery of services, we are developing an electronic information management system. This system will enable the Presidency to manage and monitor the performance of government on a more systematic and continuous basis.

The Cabinet Office has also been restructured in a manner that seeks to respond to the recommendations of the Presidential Review Commission. This Office will manage the information system we have spoken about.

We have in the past reported in this House that the Presidency has established four consultative groups in the economic sphere. These are the Trade Union, the Black Business, the Big Business and the Agricultural working groups.

These consultative groups, which meet regularly, ensure that the Presidency remains in touch with a representative spectrum of sentiment and wisdom in our country.

The Consultative Groups also create the necessary climate within which government and people active in the economy can honestly and frankly address issues that affect us as we advance the project of the reconstruction and development of our country.

The importance of this interaction was demonstrated recently with the agreement between the Chamber of Mines and the Department of Minerals and Energy in respect of the important Mineral Development Bill which parliament will consider later this year.

We are in the process of setting up another Working Group with representatives of the religious community. We are certain that this working group will contribute to the important issues of the eradication of poverty and underdevelopment, as well as the critical challenge of the moral renewal in the country.

We have also completed the process of setting up the Presidential International Advisory Council on Information and Communications Technology. We will draw on the experience and knowledge of the members of this Council in the same way that we do with the Presidential Investment Advisory Council.

The new integrated system of Cabinet Committees and Cabinet Clusters is now fully operational. The system has contributed to the fluency of decision-making, the efficient conduct of Cabinet business as well as coordinated and integrated planning and implementation at the level of national government.

The Committees have reduced the fragmentation of governance and are well placed to ensure that concerted action is taken towards speedy policy implementation. The integrated Cabinet system is managed by the Presidency.

At the initiative of the Presidency, Directors General have also been grouped into clusters. Two Ministers per Cabinet Committee are responsible for facilitating the work of the Cabinet Clusters, as well as for liaison with the Directors General clusters.

The government has developed an integrated Planning Framework and Planning Cycle system. This system will ensure that proper trade-offs are made in the use of State resources. In the absence of an explicit integrated planning framework and cycle, the planning cycle of a single department may skew policy implementation. Naturally, the Presidency facilitated the development of this Framework.

The President's Co-ordination Council, where the President meets with the Premiers from all provinces, continues to function effectively to address matters affecting national and provincial government. As our various policies enter the implementation stage, the Council will act both as a consultative forum and a critical point for the monitoring of the implementation of programmes that fall within the responsibility of both national and provincial government.

The Deputy President and Minister in the Presidency will refer to some of the work done in the Presidency in the past year.

Nevertheless, I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to the Minister and Deputy Minister of Finance and the Treasury for the work they have done to respond to the needs of the blind.

I refer to the publication in braille of 18 volumes of this year's Estimates of National Expenditure to ensure that our blind compatriots are able fully to participate in the debate about the socio-economic transformation of our country.

Madame Speaker:

For it to succeed in its work, the Presidency needs to have the necessary capacity, both in respect of the number of people and also the nature and level of skills necessary to discharge its responsibilities.

The need to ensure that we have appropriate capacity at the centre of government will be balanced with the rightsizing process of government.

It is not only the Presidency that needs to be strengthened. In order to meet the challenges of poverty and underdevelopment in our country, we need properly trained people to ensure the proper implementation of government policies.

One of the main challenges of government is to improve the skills of public servants and ensure that there is appropriate capacity for relevant government duties and responsibilities.

It is therefore important that we should ensure that the initial training of 10 000 public servants on information technology skills and 5 000 on financial management, is urgently and successfully completed.

Further, the training of 10 000 police officers through the Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) programme, and the 5 000 Home Affairs workers that will undergo further training in administration must be treated as an urgent task.

As the House is aware, the intensive training of government employees so that they can discharge their responsibilities efficiently will also take place at the local government level. The national government has set aside R550 million as a Transitional Fund to assist municipalities to establish core systems that are central to delivery of services to our people.

At the same time, I think we will all agree that for our country to produce the well-trained and sufficiently skilled workers that are fundamental to the efficient administration of government, as well as business in our country, appropriate and relevant measures have to be taken early in our education system to ensure that indeed we produce such workers.

It is in this context that the three-year programme for professional upgrading of 30 000 teachers that will begin in July this year has great significance.

This is important because our teachers are crucial to our all-round efforts to ensure that young people are suitably trained appropriately to position our country to face the myriad of challenges within the environment of rapid advances in science and technology.

It is also urgent for Technical colleges and Technicons to refocus their curricula in a manner that is in tune with the government's Human Resources Development Strategy.

The responsibility to create an informed and skilled work force in the country does not rest only with the government.

Seven years since our freedom, we have many individuals and companies that are taking extra-ordinary measures to end the marginalisation and disempowerment of the majority of our people.

For example, the Tongaat-Hullet Group Limited, one of the largest investors in manufacturing in South Africa, is, like many other companies that understand the challenges our country faces, making a valuable contribution to the black economic empowerment and employment equity.

The company contributes to black economic empowerment through outsourcing some of its activities and stimulating investment in small and medium scale businesses which either supply the company with goods and services, or add value to the Group's products for onwards sale.

In the year 2000, the Group spent R400 million on initiatives in this area, including contracts worth more than R80 million awarded to Black owned companies supplying services to the aluminium rolled products plant.

In the Sugar division, approximately 4 000 hectares of sugar cane land was sold to 54 black farmers in units of 70 to 100 hectares and plans are underway for a second phase.

This is over and above the important training that the Group has made amongst blacks, with more than 60% of skilled workers being black.

IBM SA, has also, through a programme, Writing-to-Read, used IBM's computer-supported instruction system to introduce 20 000 black primary school pupils to English, reading and writing.

In addition, the IBM's KidSmart programme goes beyond the donation of computers to classrooms. This programme helps children with their schoolwork, removes technological barriers, by, for example, giving them access to the Internet.

Other capacity building programmes of the company include, Reinventing Education in South Africa, Marang Project which offers the unemployed technical training and the Andisa programme that provides an environment for the incubation of start-up companies until they are self-sufficient.

Furthermore, there are many individuals that are selflessly contributing to the development of many of their fellow South Africans, and through their innovation and creative approaches give us the much-desired leadership.

One such leader is Taddy Blecher, an actuary and management consultant who together with other professionals started the C.I.D.A. City Campus in Johannesburg. This Campus has 1 200 students from disadvantaged backgrounds from all the provinces of our country.

Students are on tuition scholarship for a 4 year Bachelor of Business Administration degree. The entire institution and campus is run by students who are empowered to do all the administration work, computer maintenance and software, admissions, registration, marketing and market research, computer training and even cooking for themselves. This substantially reduces their registration costs.

The education offered is designed to make students relevant, truly empowered, integrated citizens and leaders that are skilled and equipped to build the South African economy and society.

Tuition is done through the use of multimedia technology - televisions, CCTV, video-projectors, etc.

We are also grateful to the many commercial farmers that are working together with us as we grapple with the many challenges of the transformation of our society.

In the Free State province, Afrikaner farmers such as Messrs Pieter Van Vuuren, Gert Du Plessis, Alwyn Pletzen, Koot Pienaar, Koot Van Heerden and Willem Troon have done us proud with their work of training and developing black commercial farmers.

In the Province of the Eastern Cape around the Elliot district, farmers such as Messrs Kleinboetie Van Zyl, Mark Dobrowsky and Selby and Johan Voster have become partners in the development of new black farmers who are beneficiaries of the government's land reform process. The same has happened in other provinces of our country.

In this context, the government unreservedly condemns the continued attacks on and murder of farmers and, acting together with the farmers and their organisations, will continue to ensure that these attacks and murders come to an end.

Madame Speaker:

We have given these examples to make the point that all of us, as South Africans, have a responsibility to get down to the detailed work of changing our country for the better, consistent with the policies and the laws that this House has adopted. Let us, indeed, unite in action for change.

As we opened parliament earlier this year, we said that whereas we had succeeded in our task of ensuring the necessary balances with regard to our macro-economy, what we now have to do is to attend to the detailed micro-economic questions to achieve the necessary economic advances.

In this regard, I have already said that we will interact with our major companies, in the first instance, to assist in ensuring that they succeed in the work of further contributing to employment, economic growth and development.

Naturally, this will include the state corporations. In this regard, I would like to express my deep concern at the unseemly squabble that has broken out on issues concerning South African Airways. This matter has to be brought to a close as soon as possible.

The Board of Transnet will meet the Minister of Public Enterprises this Saturday. As the House knows, in terms of our system of corporate governance, the Minister represents the shareholder in our relations with Transnet. The government will await the outcome of this meeting before making any further statements on this matter.

Once again, I urge all our people to cooperate with Statistics South Africa as it conducts the Population Census later this year. The availability of accurate information about our country is of critical importance as we accelerate the process of change.

The Government will therefore continue to pay close attention to this matter so that we base our actions on concrete reality rather than faulty information and distorted perceptions of reality.

Madame Speaker;

We stand at an historic moment in the history of the African continent. We have entered the new century ready and prepared to set the continent on an unprecedented developmental road.

Many amongst our brothers and sisters on the continent have, on numerous occasions articulated the fact that, the time has come for the Africans, themselves, to end the senseless wars, conflicts, corruption, poverty, disease and underdevelopment that had for so long characterised the African existence.

From every country and amongst the mass of all our people, throughout the length and breadth of this vast African landmass, there is a pervasive determination to participate in deciding the pace and direction of the renewal of the continent.

Through the Millennium Partnership for the African Recovery Programme (MAP), we have enunciated our guiding plan to respond to the various African challenges.

Some of the key elements of this programme are:

Peace, security and good governance. This is very important for all of us as Africans, because the restoration of peace and stability is primarily in the interests of the people of this continent. Similarly, it is to the benefit of Africans to ensure t we establish and consolidate systems of democratic governance;
We have to attract the much-needed flows of investments into the continent. As we all know very well, for us to make a visible impact on underdevelopment and poverty, we have to get sufficient levels of investments into the African economies;
At the same time, as Africans, we should, ourselves, do things in a manner that assist in lowering the risk, real or perceived, that is associated with investing in Africa;
For Africa to revive domestic economic activities and begin to compete internationally, there is an urgent need to diversify our production and to improve access into the markets of the developed countries;
In a world where every activity, be it social, economic, political or cultural, is predicated on communication and information technology, it is urgent that we should ensure that there is adequate investment in the communication and information technoy and other basic infrastructure;
Further, we are faced with a challenge of developing and improving the financial systems of all our countries;
We must also attend to the urgent matter of infectious diseases, including AIDS;
Similarly, the debt question has to be addressed with a greater sense of urgency, as a necessary condition for us to end poverty and underdevelopment on our Continent.
Thus, the Millennium Partnership for the African Recovery Programme begins with a pledge by Africans to end conflicts that have ravaged many countries on the continent.

The Programme also contains a political commitment to democracy, respect for human rights, the creation of the conditions for peace and stability as well as the strengthening of conflict prevention measures.

It seeks to entrench systems of governance that will ensure the creation of sufficient capacity for the African states to govern effectively.

The programme is based on a firm commitment to end the poverty and underdevelopment and place Africa on the road to sustainable development and renewal, to ensure the active participation of the countries of the continent in the world economy.

A specific feature of MAP will be practical and implementable programmes to achieve the defined objectives, to ensure that we move beyond the general to the specific.

Necessarily, the Presidency has paid a lot of attention to the elaboration of MAP and will continue to be involved in this work, to make our own contribution as a country to the historic task of the renewal of the African Continent.

Madame Speaker:

It is planned that early in July, we will launch the implementation stage of the Integrated and Sustainable Rural Development Strategy. To get to this stage, a huge amount of detailed work had to be done to ensure that we translate policy into a practical work programme for the radical improvement of the lives of poor people who live in our rural areas.

To begin the implementation of our Urban Renewal Programme, we have already launched the renewal process for Alexandra township in Johannesburg. Work has already started in this township, once again based on very detailed work that has been done to elaborate a concrete programme of action.

During the course of the year, we will bring other urban areas on-stream, again as part of our effort to make a decisive impact on such questions as unemployment, poverty and crime in our urban areas.

Madame Speaker,
Honourable Members:

When we say - let us all get down to work to change our country for the better - we are urging that we should all unite in action to end poverty and underdevelopment, to end racism and sexism, to reduce and contain violence and crime in our society, to reduce ignorance and disease, to create the humane society for which the children of our country laid down their lives on June 16, 1976.

The Presidency and the Government as a whole are committed to spare no effort in the endeavour to ensure that in a real sense, we accelerate the process towards the realisation of the goal of a better life for all.

We invite all our people to join hands to achieve this noble and urgent objective.

Thank you

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