Address at the National Council of Provinces,
13 November 2001
Honourable Members and Councillors,
I would like to thank you for the opportunity you have
given us once more to discuss important matters with
the National Council of Provinces.
Last year when we addressed this House we spoke about
the challenges facing all of us with regard to local
government structures and their role and place in the
transformation of our society.
Since then, we held successful local government elections,
thus completing the important work of bringing about
genuine democratic structures at all spheres of government.
The challenge we now face is to ensure that these structures,
working together with all our people from all stations
of life, function as real agents of change that will
help us both to entrench democracy in our country and
help us to end the great South African divide between
rich and poor, between the developed and the underdeveloped.
The challenge facing the new democratic structures
of government is the transformation of the lives of
the many in our society whose existence is defined by
the prospect of a bleak future. Through concrete programmes,
we must inculcate the hope and conviction among our
people that together with their government they can
and must defeat poverty, disease and marginalisation.
Hence we have, in the last seven years constructed
a government, that is not only democratic, non-racial
and non-sexist, but one that is developmental.
We have brought into being a government that, while
it confronts the challenges of reconstruction and development,
it simultaneously involves the people in action, consistent
with our vision of people-driven processes of change.
In this context, the strengthening of local government
structures following last year's first fully non-racial
elections is a critical element in building our democratic
system of governance and ensuring that our people have
the possibility to engage practically in the processes
of governance and development.
By these comments, we seek to emphasise the view I
am certain we all share that local government is an
important component part for the successful implementation
of our development programmes in both rural and urban
Already, all the new local authorities have submitted
their Interim Integrated Development Plans which articulate
the development needs and priorities of the different
All of us, and particularly members of this House,
must ensure that the Integrated Development Plans, to
be finalised in March next year, are practical, workable
programmes that will be the tools for integrated development
and will help us effectively to change the living conditions
of all our people, wherever they may be.
In this regard, a special inter-ministerial committee
has been formed, at the national level, to assist the
In addition, before the end of this year, on the 7th
of December, all three spheres of government will take
part in a special meeting of the President's Co-ordinating
Council in order to assess progress in the establishment
of a new system of local government and to determine
areas requiring the further strengthening of the system
of co-operative governance.
As you are aware, to improve the efficiency and effectiveness
of government, we have restructured the operation of
our different departments to ensure integrated planning
This means that we are moving away from a fragmented
system of governance so that we move faster towards
the realisation of the goal of a better life for all.
This approach, of integrated formulation and implementation
of development programmes across departments and among
spheres of government, informs our work as we implement
the Integrated Sustainable Rural Development Programme
and the Urban Renewal Strategy.
When we met in the Cabinet Lekgotla in July this year,
government had concluded the detailed plans for rural
development in the 13 identified nodal points. The further
17 nodal points will be announced soon so that we move
with the necessary speed to implement development programmes
to our people in the rural areas.
As we have said in the past, we cannot just build a
clinic when we have not trained the health personnel,
when we have not budgeted for drugs, or the area does
not have water, sanitation or access roads.
If we have a programme of assisting black farmers,
we should ensure that not only do they have access to
machinery and finance, but that the infrastructure in
their areas is in good condition, the telephones and
roads are in working condition, so that they have the
possibility to market their products.
It is also in this context that we have put in motion
the implementation of 'one-stop-centres', which are
multi-purpose community centres that bring together
multiple government services in a single place, ensuring
easy access for people and communities that are otherwise
cut off from the services they rightly deserve as citizens.
Implementation of the Urban Renewal programme began
in earnest in May with the Alexandra project. Further
elaboration of the Urban Renewal Strategy into a programme
on a par with the rural development programme is at
present in progress. Following an assessment in September
of all the eight urban nodes, nodal business plans and
reprioritising of funds were completed in October in
preparation for a national workshop in March that will
see a finalised strategy and programme going to Cabinet
in May next year.
The urgent matter of capacity has been addressed through
the appointment of nodal delivery teams whose members
have core capacities in project management, financial
management and community facilitation. In this way,
the quality of work will be enhanced, ensuring financial
accountability and expediting the pace of delivery.
I mention these in part to illustrate what can and
should be done by all of us to ensure the provision
of goods and services to all our people on a sustainable
basis. In this context, we must also emphasise the point
that all of us should, at the same time, refuse to accept
the provision of shoddy goods to our people as this,
apart from anything else, constitutes a waste of scarce
As we have said earlier, we also seek to involve the
people in the work of the reconstruction and development
of our country. We therefore seek to make ours a truly
To this end, Government has embarked on the Imbizo
programme of engaging our people, to have dialogue with
them, to hear their views, to listen to their concerns,
their grievances and advice about the pace, direction
and content of our work.
As we speak here today, we have just participated in
the first Imbizo Focus Week as part of this campaign.
Using the theme of "Intergovernmental Co-operation
for Local Delivery" it saw sustained activity in
all of our provinces around implementation at the local
The events involved members of the executive from all
three spheres of government. Many ministers and deputy
ministers of our national ministries were involved,
as was the Presidency, with the Deputy President during
the week itself, and I myself paid a visit to the Eastern
Cape shortly before the week itself.
This interaction is important because the people who
voted us to government have done so because they want
us to change their lives. It is important that we do
not seek their views only during election periods, but
consistently and at all times.
Through the Imbizos and the interactive, participatory
engagements with the people, democracy is enhanced and
the content of this democracy is fully expressed on
an ongoing basis. As we carry out this work, it is important
that the different spheres of government as well as
the various departments communicate a coherent message
to the people and not respond in a fragmented and contradictory
We have to do this because we must interact with the
people in an honest manner, confronting practically
the challenges that face the people. Through this interactive
programme the people should know exactly what we are
doing and how we are doing it, why there are delays
in specific instances and what government is doing about
obstacles to the implementation of our development programmes.
Through the Imbizos we should make it possible for
all of us to celebrate the successes we have registered
and together plan for the initiation or acceleration
of outstanding programmes.
The interactive programme should also assist us in
clearly defining the roles and responsibilities of government,
the state owned enterprises, private business, NGO's,
the trade unions and the masses of our people in the
transformation process in each and every locality.
This interactive programme should also help to improve
the effectiveness of our public representatives by making
them alive to the practical difficulties facing the
public servants who are at the coal-face of the implementation
of our programmes as well as service delivery.
In my own interaction with people working at the delivery
level, I have often been confronted by problems that
should be solved in the course of a day's work. Yet,
these problems drag on for months or even years without
anyone attending to them.
Surely, it cannot be that problems will only be solved
because the president has visited an area. It is the
responsibility of all of us, the Councillor, the Mayor,
the traditional leader, the MP and MPL, the MEC, Premier,
Deputy and Minister to attend to each and every problem
that face our people.
In this way, we will bring government closer to the
people and contribute practically to the acceleration
of the process towards improving the lives of especially
the poor in our country.
The Imbizos highlighted problems in implementation,
but also presented practical solutions that could be
achieved by working together. What we saw during two
of these, what we heard and learnt, was both inspiring
and challenging. While the majority of South Africans
all over the country have experienced poverty, our programme
took us to areas where it is worse than most.
We learnt that some of the problems experienced by
people in these communities were as a result of the
inability of the managers appointed by government to
carry out their work and that the blockages experienced
were a result of this.
There was, for example, the case that due to bad management
at a hospital, it was only through our visit, that an
intergovernmental procedure was unblocked which up until
then had prevented a hot water geyser in a hospital
being repaired, resulting in the hospital having no
We learnt that where communities had some years ago
advised the government on how to deal with projects,
government had refused to listen. This had resulted
in the collapse of these projects after all the necessary
investment had been made.
We were told of councillors who had not been in touch
with their people and were only seen towards election
time. Fortunately, the situation has improved significantly
since our last local government elections.
Above all, it is clear that our people are eager for
change and want to work as partners with government
in expediting change, ensuring that it benefits them.
The people are conscious of their roles in developing
themselves and the entire country and believe that we,
as elected representatives, should act as true partners
with them in everything we do. They are also driven
by a sense of confidence that together we will win.
In some parts, it seemed that the people were not attending
meetings as they should, to speak to their councillors
about their problems and perspectives. It is clear that
through the imbizos we had created a space for more
meetings to take place, more possibilities where government
and people could converse and reach conclusions on the
Above all, we have learnt that government ought to
listen more to what the people are saying, that the
people have an important input to make about what must
The lessons learnt from the imbizos pose challenges
to us at all levels of government.
Our management capacity needs to be strengthened in
order for projects and programmes to happen effectively
and within the time frames agreed.
Relations between different levels of government must
be strengthened through a fully integrated approach
to expedite delivery.
Government needs to learn to listen, to take note and
to act quickly on concerns raised by the people.
More opportunities should be created for imbizo-type
meetings to occur so that government by the people and
for the people is clearly seen to be an ongoing relationship
of accountability, a conscious partnership true to the
electoral mandate that has n given.
I am urging all of us that in the course of our work,
we should travel beyond the end of a tarred road. We
should be prepared to forgo the luxury and smoothness
of a tarred road and deal with the bumpy potholes and
rough surface of a gravel road. That is where we will
see the real South Africa that is posing the challenges
that we must overcome.
Although burdened by poverty and underdevelopment,
these South Africans who live beyond the tarred road,
have refused to be defeated by their conditions. They
have refused to be victims of circumstance.
We will be inspired to experience, at first hand, the
determination of these people to work with government
to change their lives.
Because of this partnership, we have seen communities
enjoying the fruits of democracy and of the implementation
of government policies - farm labourers becoming owners
of the farms they had worked in for many years; villagers
blessing the gift of life, as clean piped water came
to them for the first time.
We have seen how this partnership has made it possible
for a nurse in a rural area to use tele-medicine to
access specialised medical services both to diagnose
and treat maladies affecting their patients.
We have come across young people in the rural areas
using the Internet to learn mathematics and the sciences
because Eskom brought electricity to their village and
the CSIR and the Department of Arts, Culture, Science
and Technology brought in computers.
We have seen the practical partnership between Afrikaner
farmers assisting black farmers to overcome historical
barriers and become successful commercial farmers, thus
improving their standards of living.
We have been inspired by these masses of our people,
who have confidence that this democratic government
will address their needs that have for so long been
neglected, who understand that even if the road ahead
is still long, change, of necessity, reaches some before
We have seen inspiring examples of what we can do to
define ourselves as patriotic South Africans who are
prepared to work hard, even if is at a small scale,
to make a difference in the transformation process.
This confidence in the future on the part of the very
poor in our country places a great responsibility on
all of us who have been elected to represent these masses.
The leadership represented in this House must occupy
the frontline as we go beyond the tarred roads to work
together with all our people to ensure that there are
no impassable roads, that there is no community in our
country that is isolated from the rest by poverty, underdevelopment
and inhuman suffering.
We are approaching the halfway of our national and
provincial parliaments and governments. Much commendable
work has been done to build on the foundations laid
during our first five years of democracy. The results
of this effort are visible to every honest person both
inside and outside our country.
We have a clear view of what we should do further to
advance the objective of securing a better life for
all our people. We have put the necessary institutions
in place to enable us to achieve this objective. What
remains is for us to act with vigour and consistency
to accelerate the process of progressive change.
We will do this better if we act together with the
masses of our people, relying on them as conscious partners
in the struggle for the reconstruction and development
of our country. For this to happen, we must go out to
the people to report to them, to assess the impact of
our policies and programmes, to listen to their views
especially those that are critical of our performance,
to interact with them honestly and truthfully.
I trust that as this National Council of Provinces
enters the second half of its life, it will take up
this challenge without hesitation and help us further
to improve our system of democratic governance and further
to improve the lives of our people.
We have a duty to justify the confidence of the masses
of our people in their elected legislatures and government,
to demonstrate practically that their hopes for a better
life are not misplaced.
In the words of Frantz Fanon:
"To educate the masses politically does not mean,
cannot mean making a political speech. What it does
mean is to try relentlessly and passionately, to teach
the masses that everything depends on them; that if
we stagnate it is their responsibility and that if we
go forward it is due to them too." (The Wretched
of the Earth, p. 159)
I am certain that the National Council will respond
to this challenge.
I thank you.