Address on the Occasion Of Budget Vote
1, 18 June 2003
The President of the Republic,
Special Guests in the Gallery,
Let me begin by expressing my very best wishes to the
President on your Birthday.
Since we are of the same age, I know exactly what a
wonderful feeling it is to enjoy maturity.
Madam Speaker, when we adopted our Constitution in
1996, we laid a firm foundation for a democratic and
open South Africa, which belongs to all who live in
it, black and white, and a government, based on the
will of the people.
I am reminded of this Madam Speaker as next Thursday
marks the 48th Anniversary of the Freedom Charter, which
set out the vision of our democratic society.
As we celebrate 10 years of democracy in April next
year, we will do so with great enthusiasm given how
far we have travelled in pursuit of our goals. The restoration
of human dignity and freedom to all our people is an
achievement we should all treasure.
We now have stable democracy, a growing economy and
peace and stability. Most importantly, access to a better
life and the provision of basic needs is being expanded
day by day to citizens.
As a nation, we have also perfected the art of working
together and forming partnerships to deal with any challenge,
be it social, economic or political. These partnerships
are a recipe for continued success.
With regard to Parliament, we have achieved a lot in
nine years, Madam Speaker. If we look, in particular
at the accountability of the executive to Parliament,
we will see that things are remarkably different, compared
to what they were before the advent of democracy.
I see a Parliament that performs effective oversight
- whether through interacting with Ministers or officials
in committees, or outside Parliament looking at how
laws and policies are being implemented.
Parliament subjects legislation introduced by the executive
to extensive scrutiny and in most cases, amends the
Bills before it. It also holds the Executive to account
in the form of, amongst other things, Parliamentary
Questions and budget votes.
This very budget vote on the Presidency comes at the
end of an extensive and thorough process of an examination
of the work and budgets of all the government departments.
I am told that in the National Assembly alone, 78 hours
and 34 minutes were spent in plenary debating the different
This excludes the time spent in the National Council
of Provinces or the extensive work done in the Portfolio
or Select Committees in considering the budget. Truly,
we have a system of government in which the People really
This does not mean that there is no room for improvement.
I am therefore encouraged by the work that Parliament
has done, in examining how it should implement the concepts
of oversight and accountability. I look forward to a
finalisation of that process.
Madam speaker, I believe that in affirming the type
of government we are developing, we need to move away
from the notion that accountability and oversight can
best be performed by an opposition that has to be unnecessarily
antagonistic to the executive.
What is required is an opposition that is constructive
in its engagement with the executive and which will
help us build this country. We need to see executive
accountability and Parliamentary oversight as a partnership
that is aimed at leading to improved government for
The new system of members' statements at the end of
which Ministers have the chance to respond has added
a new dynamic dimension to the interaction between the
Executive and Parliament.
I am aware that the system of Questions still needs
to be refined, but it is fair to say that the system
we have gives an opportunity to all parties to ask the
executive whatever questions they want to, regardless
of their size.
It must be acknowledged, however, that the number of
unanswered questions has substantially decreased from
the levels seen earlier in the life of this Parliament.
The executive remains aware of the need to ensure that
all questions are answered at the end of each year.
I believe we have to constantly re-evaluate the effectiveness
of Parliamentary Questions, and see how in the spirit
of parliamentary oversight and executive accountability,
the system can be improved.
I have no doubt that in the second decade of our freedom,
this dynamic and vibrant House will continue to grow
from strength to strength. Madam Speaker, as said earlier,
the thread of partnership runs right through our activities
as a nation, even more so with regards to rebuilding
the moral fibre of our society.
The Moral Regeneration Movement, a partnership between
government and civil society, has been leading the national
moral renewal effort, since its launch in April last
year. We are delighted with the progress made so far.
In line with the holistic and inter-sectoral approach
of the MRM, moral regeneration has become integral to
the work of government departments.
Some of the programmes implemented by government include
Social Development: the promotion of a caring society,
building stronger family structures, and encouraging
respect and assistance for the vulnerable members of
Correctional Services: the rehabilitation programmes
Arts and Culture: The Ingoma Choral Project as well
as a wide range of initiatives of promoting values through
music, theatre and other disciplines.
Health: promoting a healthy nation and care and support
for people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer, tuberculosis
and other illnesses through the Khomanani - Caring together
Communications Department: encouraging debate about
the role that the broadcast media and advertising industry
can play in building a new value system - free of violence,
stereotypes and other negative influences.
Safety and Security: promoting and strengthening partnerships
with communities in building safer neighbourhoods.
Justice: mobilizing the community against violence directed
at women and children and strengthening the courts to
deal with such cases.
Education: The Values in Education Project, promoting
good values from an early age.
Public Service and Administration: promoting Batho Pele
principles within the Public Service.
Foreign Affairs: promoting the regeneration of Africa.
The Moral Regeneration Movement is also working with
other national initiatives, for example, with the Freedom
Park Trust in cleansing and healing ceremonies that
seek to symbolically repair the soul of the nation.
These will assist the nation to come to terms with
the legacy of the colonial and apartheid systems, Genocide,
Slavery, Wars of Resistance and the struggles for liberation.
The government is leading this process to deepen reconciliation
and national unity.
Three such ceremonies have been held already, in the
Eastern Cape, Free State and Mpumalanga provinces. This
countrywide process will culminate with national events
on the Day of Reconciliation, December 16th.
The MRM is also collaborating with the South African
Chapter of the African Renaissance and the Indigenous
Knowledge Systems of South Africa in linking moral regeneration
with the indigenous knowledge project.
Madam Speaker, I have been heartened by renewal programmes
that individuals and various groups have initiated.
I am sure many in the country have been moved by the
campaign against the abuse of women and children, by
the group called "Isililo: a Mother's Cry"
led by among others our renowned opera and Afro-jazz
performer Sibongile Khumalo.
Isililo was formed as a result of the brutal rape and
murder of six-year-old Lerato from Alexandra last year.
Its objective is to remind women - mothers in particular
- that they must play a major role in providing the
moral fibre that holds families and communities together.
Another noteworthy initiative is the establishment
of the Makeba Centre for Girls by our Goodwill Ambassador,
Madam Speaker, the broadcast media often gets criticised
for espousing what is seen as negative influences in
We must therefore acknowledge the positive influence
of programmes such as "All You Need is Love"
on SABC 1, which promotes the strengthening of families,
as the rock upon which our communities are founded.
I hope there are more such programmes being planned.
Madam Speaker, we will run out of time if I were to
enumerate all the various initiatives and programmes
undertaken by South Africans to achieve moral renewal.
We encourage all initiatives of this nature. They give
Honourable Members, we are most effective when working
together in partnerships when facing challenges, especially
those of the magnitude of HIV/AIDS. As we all know,
there is still no cure for AIDS, and it is our belief
that our response to the HIV-AIDS epidemic must be holistic.
Our Five Year Strategic Plan takes this into account,
and focuses on prevention, treatment, care, support
and research. Although challenges remain, we are beginning
to see good results, as outlined recently by the Minister
of Health in both this House and the National Council
Having engaged various stakeholders as Chairperson
of the South African National Aids Council, (SANAC),
I strongly believe that we have national consensus on
the national Strategic Plan for HIV/Aids.
We may have some difference in emphasis with regards
to implementation, by one or two sectors, but we are
all agreed on the need for a holistic response, as enunciated
in the national plan. It therefore becomes crucial that
we engage each other regularly and work together as
various sectors to harmonise our response.
SANAC is fulfilling this role. It has completed its
restructuring and has become more representative of
The new membership of SANAC includes representatives
of Labour, the faith based sector, South African Business
Coalition Against HIV and Aids, Hospitality sector,
Traditional Leadership, Traditional Healers, People
Living with Aids, Sport, Disability, Men's Forum, NGOs,
Human and Legal Rights Sector, local government, higher
education, financial institutions, Women and the Youth
sector. The inaugural meeting of the new Council is
scheduled to take place next month. The task ahead of
us remains huge, and it is important that we focus all
our energies on an effective response to the epidemic.
Madam Speaker, we believe in the need to address the
root causes of conflicts and the promotion of lasting
peace and sustainable development in Africa, as part
of the regeneration of the continent.
We are, as members are aware, involved in a number
of peace initiatives in the continent including Burundi,
the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Ethiopia/Eritrea
and others, as the President has outlined.
As I have previously reported to this House, Burundi
is finally experiencing a real possibility of peace
after decades of turmoil.
The peace process is on track and the changeover of
power at presidential level in April indicated once
again the resolve of the Barundi to move forward.
The African Mission in Burundi is also making good
progress in its mission of monitoring and assisting
in the implementation of the ceasefire agreements.
The preparation for the Disarmament Demobilisation
and Re-Integration of former combatants of the various
armed groups is in progress. Restricting combatants
to assembly points is critical in preventing ceasefire
The commitment displayed by the Barundi make us confident
that the second phase of the transition will go smoothly,
leading to democratic elections in just over a year.
Madame Speaker, this year has also seen us making progress
in promoting multilingualism. As Honourable Members
are aware, the National Language policy framework was
launched late last year. As a follow up, a well-attended
Consultative Conference was held on the 12th of June,
focusing on implementation. We await the final report
so that we can move this process forward with urgency.
We remain steadfast in our commitment to the further
development and enhancement of our indigenous languages.
Madam Speaker, I said in the beginning of my address
that in the nine years of democracy, we have much to
be proud of. We have moved a long way to forge a common
nationhood, and all South Africans have good reason
to be confident about the bright future of this country.
We are pleased to see the optimism of the youth. The
South African Reconciliation Barometer has found, in
results from an October 2002 national survey, that eight
out of ten youths are confident of a happy future for
all racial groups in South Africa.
Madame Speaker, there are many other reasons why we
can boldly proclaim that we are proud to be South Africans.
For example, over the last two years we have been privileged
to host two United Nations Conferences - on Racism in
Durban in 2001, and on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg
in 2002. We also hosted the 2003 Cricket World Cup.
The success of these events further proved the technical
prowess of our country. As members are aware, we are
competing with four other African countries for the
right to host the 2010 Soccer World Cup. We are confident
of success and are aware of the enthusiastic support
of all South Africans for the Bid.
Certainly, the situation has changed for the better
since 1994, and continues to change!
We have come this far, and triumphed over adversity
because we were able to put our country first, and because
we continue to work together to build a better South
Africa. As we move towards the second decade of freedom,
let us continue to consolidate the gains we have made.
We will succeed as we have a clear vision of the kind
of society we are building together. Yes, the situation
has changed for the better, and will continue to change.
I thank you.