Address at the National Council Of Provinces, 12 November 2002

Deputy Chairperson,
Honourable Premiers,
Honourable Members of the National Council of Provinces:

Thank you very much for affording me the opportunity once more to continue our dialogue with the National Council of Provinces.

In the past two years we have discussed such matters as the role and place of local government structures, the role and place of the institution of traditional government and the challenge of aligning this important institution to elected democratic structures. We have also looked closely into the question of intergovernmental cooperation and the interaction between government and the people, as well as the involvement of these masses of our people and their communities in the transformation of our society.

I am certain that your constant reflections on these and other matters has helped us to improve our transformation programmes as well as bring about efficiency and effectiveness in the implementation processes. We are still seized of the matter of arriving at a common determination of the role and place of the institution of traditional leadership and ensuring that it works in harmony and side by side with the elected democratic structures of government. Hopefully, the discussions around the Draft White Paper that has now been issued will help us finally to resolve this matter to the satisfaction of all our people, including the traditional leaders.

I am confident that as we engage this process, as all of us should, we will do so in a manner that seeks to take our country forward, always driven by a common desire to improve the lives of our people and make development a permanent feature of the lives of these very people on whose behalf we all make pronouncements. I therefore trust that all of us, who in various ways are part of processes and institutions of governance in this country, will work constructively and in a manner befitting our status as public representatives, to ensure that we resolve this outstanding matter in our body politic so that all our people, wherever they may be, are able to participate fully in the exciting transformation processes that are changing our country for the better.

In this context it is important that we avoid any confrontational posture, understanding that whatever needs to be resolved will be concluded through an inclusive dialogue and not through one party threatening all others with violence. Apart from the fact that the law enforcement authorities will act vigorously to protect lives and property against anybody who decides to use force to advance his or her goals, it is time that all of us outgrow the period in our history when resort to violence to attain political objectives resulted in the loss of thousands o!nnocent lives.

As we have stated in the past, the challenge facing our country and the entire government, from national, provincial to local spheres, is the ethical transformation of our society into a truly non-racial, non-sexist democracy that is underpinned by socio-economic equity, justice and prosperity. In this regard, we have put in place numerous processes, structures and programmes that have, and continue to take our society towards the realization of this goal.

The programmes of all government departments, and the three spheres of government as well as the state corporations are geared towards one specific achievement - to bring about a better life for all.

It is in this context that we come to this Council at least once a year, so as to assess the progress, or lack thereof, of the work that we are doing together, as government, legislatures, municipalities and public representatives.

Of necessity, this exercise assists us to perfect our work, ensuring that we continuously rectify mistakes that may be committed and improve both the programmes and instruments at our disposal as we strive to reconstruct and develop our country.

Honourable Members may have seen the SAARF Development Index Findings, 1994 - 2001, containing development data covering this period. SAARF is the South African Advertising Research Foundation.

In its conclusion it says: "This analysis of SAARF's All Media and Products Survey (AMPS) data shows extensive development in South African living standards for the period 1994 - 2001.

"It also shows that in most respects, the RDP is achieving its objectives.

The only exception is job creation." The data covers such areas as home ownership, provision of clean water and electricity, access to household durables such as electrical stoves, refrigerators, television sets and music equipment, and access to telephony.

It shows a steady decline in the proportion of people who earn less than R2 500 a month and a steady increase in the proportion of those who earn between R2 500 and above R6 000. Other reports, such as those done at the University of South Africa Bureau that the number of black people who have become more affluent has increased. According to these reports, there is a shift in expenditure patterns among some of these sectors of our society, because there is more money available for luxury products and services.

This change in the lives of these people did not come about of its own. It is the result of the on-going efforts of government since 1994, to create conditions for all our people to lead better lives, as well as the response of the economy to these efforts. It indicates that despite the challenges facing all of us as we transform our economy and society, we are moving in the right direction in the development of a new South Africa.

In this regard, it is clear that the government's programmes for the provision of essential services such as housing, water, electricity as well as the critical interventions with regard to the school feeding system, pensions and child support grants, have helped greatly to loosen the grip of poverty.

I am told that in line with the government's theme of this year, of lending a hand to push back the frontiers of poverty, members of the NCOP have embarked on qua!specific focus on three broad areas:

The 21 Rural and Urban development nodes in all the provinces;
The monitoring of the Integrated Development Plans and their alignment with all spheres of government; and
Local economic development with the emphasis of SMME development, infrastructure development and the accessibility of government institutions that support this development.
Let me take this opportunity to congratulate and thank the National Council, Honourable Chairperson, for the initiative to bring the national legislature closer to the people and to intervene to ensure that the policies approved by the legislature are in fact being implemented.

This complements the important work that we are doing through Imbizo, whereby the mass of our people continue to advise us about the best possible ways of accelerating the pace of transformation. As you are aware, during the course of this year we visited the Provinces of the Free State and Gauteng where once more the citizens of this country engaged government about the manner in which we can, together, further improve the quality of services. I am quite certain that Members who visited the various areas of our country may have noticed both the fact that we are making progress in improving the lives of the people as indicated by the surveys we have just mentioned, as well as the point that we still have huge challenges to overcome underdevelopment and poverty, especially in the historically black rural and urban areas.

Our duty is to use these observations and reports to find ways of increasing the pace of implementation of our policies, while ensuring that the services we deliver are of a high standard. The reports that we give to this Council must assist us to make a correct assessment about the progress we are making in eradicating poverty and improving the lives of all our people. We all remember that in 2001, government identified 21 rural and urban development nodes that would receive dedicated attention in our efforts to eradicate poverty and underdevelopment.

As we know, the Integrated Sustainable Rural Development Programme (ISRDP) and the Urban Renewal Programme (URP), are part of our comprehensive programmes in our struggle against poverty.

We will have time in the near future to give a more detailed report on these two programmes. In the meantime, it is important to re-state the fact that the primary intention of both these programmes is to implement a nation-wide, intergovernmental, concrete and time-bound set of initiatives that will build essential infrastructure, create jobs, bring about sustainable local industries and ensure development in the poorest parts of our country.

As you know, implementation of development projects is proceeding in all the 13 rural and 8 urban nodes, though this is happening unevenly. The projects range from infrastructure, to economic and social development as well as capacity building programmes.

Of the 122 priority anchor projects selected for the current year, at least half of them are at the implementation phase.

Further, we have established all the necessary institutional and governance arrangements for these two programmes. National, provincial and local management structures are now in place. With the support of the Independent Development Trust and the establishment of Planning Implementation and Management Support Centres, all the rural nodes have the requisite capacity to begin with the programme.

We should ensure, at all times, that there is strong political leadership and management for both these programmes.

These two programmes seek to demonstrate how sustainable development can be attained through integrated governance between national, provincial and local spheres. Obviously, it will be important to share the lessons arising from these two programmes and the 21 nodal points with all municipalities as we intensify our attack on poverty and underdevelopment throughout the country. Last year we said that, one of the main challenges facing us in the transformation of our society, is the urgent need to ensure that the democratic structures that we have put in place serve as catalysts for change and must therefore help our people to pull themselves out of the morass of poverty and underdevelopment. Accordingly, we agreed that with regard to local government structures, we should prioritise the finalisation of the Integrated Development Plans (IDP), so that we are able to move forward faster with the development of poor and marginalized areas of our country.

This is because the Integrated Development Plans are central to our work and will ensure that we have comprehensive, practical, integrated and implementable programmes of delivery.

Through the Integrated Development Plans, each one of us is enjoined to ensure that from formulation, planning to implementation of programmes, our work is informed by an integrated approach. I am therefore happy that about 251 municipalities, which amount to 88 percent of our local government structures, have completed their integrated development plans. Naturally, while we are concerned that there are 33 municipalities that have not completed these plans, we are encouraged by the overall progress we are making in the process of beginning to implement these Integrated Development Plans.

Of course, as the Honourable Premiers will point out, there is still the challenge of aligning these plans with provincial programmes which, as we know, are also intended to accelerate the transformation of the living conditions of all our people. I am happy that this is also one of the tasks that the NCOP has set for itself in the work that is being carried out in the Provinces. At the national level, government has adopted a Planning Framework so as to better inform and align the planning, budgeting and programming cycles between all three spheres of government. Arising out of this framework and the lessons of municipal integrated development planning to date, the following matters are becoming increasingly obvious in our on-going efforts of strengthening the system of integrated and cooperative governance:

We should find a practical mechanism of ensuring closer collaboration and where possible, joint work, between the three spheres of government in ensuring successful implementation of both the Provincial Growth and Development Strategies and the Munici Integrated Development Plans;
Formal structures and processes must be established or refined to facilitate and allow for this intergovernmental dialogue and collaboration in developmental planning and implementation. This must include the timely provision of the financial resourcey all spheres of government to ensure that integrated development does in fact take place.
The President's Coordinating Council is an important intergovernmental structure where, together with Premiers, we can ensure the alignment of programmes. It seems obvious that SALGA should also join this Coordinating Council.
The Provincial Growth and Development Strategies and the Integrated Development Plans within a particular province need far greater alignment;
The challenge of accelerating the process of transformation and eradication of poverty must inform the priorities of Provincial Growth and Development Strategies and the Integrated Development Plans; and
There should be strong monitoring mechanisms for all these programmes.
Clearly, it is critical that while we are making good progress in ensuring that there is integrated planning within the local government sphere, we should take this process a step further through intergovernmental interaction and policy coherence between the three spheres of government. As you have already started, it is important that the National Council continues to assist with the process of speedily aligning these local integrated development plans with similar programmes at the national and provincial levels.

Clearly, our approach of integrated governance is premised on the existence of a strong, vibrant and active local government sphere that is at forefront of creating a better life for all. A strong and active local government, working in an integrated way, will make it easier for us to achieve the developmental outcomes in all municipalities. These outcomes are, amongst others:

The efficient provision of essential infrastructure and services, such as housing, clean water and sanitation, electricity, health services, roads, schools and recreation facilities, and waste removal;
The creation of better, habitable, integrated cities, towns and rural areas;
Local economic development and;
Community reconstruction, development and empowerment. Furthermore, it is encouraging to learn, from the Department of Provincial and Local Government, that there has been an improvement in terms of involvement and ownership of the Integrated Developm Plans by most of the leadership at the municipal level.
One of the on-going challenges in this important work is to ensure full participation of all our people in the processes of development, so that they also have a sense of ownership and can contribute in whatever manner possible, towards the success of our programmes.

Madam Chairperson, Our efforts to improve the quality of our development planning processes within and between spheres of government, is not an end in itself. We have said previously that given the impressive levels of macro-economic stability that we have achieved as a country since 1994, our focus must now turn to micro and local economic development.

In this regard, one of the challenges facing us is indeed around the local economic development. To meet this challenge we have increased the dedicated Fund for local economic development from R42 million in 1999 to R98 million in the current financial year. This has resulted in a steady increase of the projects supported through this Fund, with over 3 000 permanent jobs created.

The importance of this Fund is that it creates the possibility for municipalities directly to pursue the objectives of local economic development especially job creation, poverty alleviation to income generation, and support for SMME development.

The projects financed by this Fund span many sectors from the agricultural sector focus on agro-processing to tourism related activities, such as arts and craft centres and the hospitality infrastructure and services.

It will be important for all of us to look closely into the various projects that are being undertaken at the local level, because I am convinced that we all have a duty and responsibility to support municipalities and to ensure that their efforts around local economic development do succeed.

Clearly, the lessons that we learn on local economic development will require that we focus at the following challenges:

Support for job-creating enterprises must be increased;
We should identify areas and sectors of comparative and unique advantage and offer the necessary support;
We should work on strong partnerships with the established private sector and community-based structures;
We must create specific income generation and job-creation programmes directed at poor and marginalized groups in our society;
We must continue to improve the skills levels of our people so that they are better able to start their own businesses as well as increase their chances of employment;
The alignment of economic development strategies between the three spheres of government is an important factor to the success of local economic development.
In this context, we should find ways of tapping on the skills and resources of the affluent sections of our municipalities to help the poorer areas. We should do this because we want every part of South Africa to begin to experience development and prosperity. As we go back to our provinces and municipalities, we should remember that we have a heavy responsibility of putting an extra effort to serve our people and our country, we should keep in mind that for our country to make the necessary development it is incumbent on all of us to continue to lend a hand to push back the frontiers of poverty and continuously extend the frontier of prosperity.

We have the required policies and programmes. Government will continue to allocate resources to the extent that this is possible. It is upon each one of us to do what we can so that we achieve a goal of a better life for all.

I thank you.

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