Address of the President of South Africa,
Thabo Mbeki, on the Occasion of the Budget Vote of the
Presidency: National Assembly, Cape Town, June 23, 2004
Madame Speaker and Deputy Speaker,
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
This year we have already spoken twice from this podium
to present two States of the Nation Addresses. These
covered the short and medium term objectives of the
government as well as the programmes intended to achieve
It is not necessary that we use the occasion of the
consideration of the Budget Vote of the Presidency to
repeat what we said in our February and May Addresses
and will not do so. Rather, we will try to focus on
the critically important matter of the capacity of the
state machinery to implement the programmes we have
As on other occasions, the Deputy President, the Hon
Jacob Zuma, and the Minister in the Presidency, the
Hon Essop Pahad will also address the National Assembly
to reflect on the areas of work of the Presidency for
which they are responsible.
As we indicated in our Addresses earlier this year,
we are determined to focus on the challenge of the implementation
of the programmes we have already announced to ensure
that we accelerate the achievement of the objectives
we have set ourselves.
As part of this, we are in the process of improving
the operation of the mechanisms within government that
must ensure the proper monitoring and evaluation of
work being done to implement the government's programme.
This will also help us to improve the quality of the
outcomes of government activities, an objective we have
sought to pursue for a number of years.
Naturally, our first area of attention will be the
programme of action we announced during the May State
of the Nation Address.
In this regard, the Presidency has provided all our
national ministries and departments with a copy of the
tasks they have to carry out, with a clear indication
of the timeframes within which they are expected to
complete these tasks. These tasks include both those
we mentioned during the May State of the Nation Address
and others that pre-date this Address.
We will therefore ensure that the Presidency has the
necessary capacity to monitor and evaluate the implementation
of these comprehensive programmes. Among other things
we have to ensure that the government identifies any
impediments to the successful implementation of these
programmes early, so that we address these quickly before
they cause the failure of the agreed programmes.
At the same time, we recognise the keen interest of
our people as a whole in the progress and problems we
achieve and experience as we pursue these programmes.
We are also mindful of the comments made by the Honourable
Members last month, that they are also keen to monitor
the implementation of the government programme.
Accordingly, consistent with the objective of continuously
improving the two-way communication between the government
and the people, the Presidency has decided to place
before the people a report on progress made in the implementation
of the programme of action, which will constantly be
Our people, including the Honourable Members, will
therefore also have the possibility to assess the government's
progress in implementing the announced programme of
action, side by side with the government's own assessment
of this progress.
As the Honourable Members are aware, the Government
Communication and Information System (GCIS) has already
put on the Internet the Batho Pele Gateway Portal we
mentioned during the May State of the Nation Address.
The Minister for Public Service and Administration,
the Honourable Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi provided further
information relating to this Portal during her Budget
Vote on Monday.
GCIS has requested comments from the public on the Portal
to ensure that by the time it is formally launched within
the time period we indicated in May, it is properly
designed to address the needs of the people. I trust
that the Honourable Members will take the trouble to
answer the questionnaire that has been provided on the
Government Website to assist the public to make its
We will open a page on the Gateway Portal containing
information of the government's programme of action.
By checking on this page, the public will be able to
follow progress with regard to the implementation of
this programme of action. It will also be possible for
the public to communicate its views about the programme
directly to the government, through the Internet and
other, more traditional ways and means.
Further to improve the capacity of the Presidency to
discharge its functions of oversight, coordination and
evaluation, more work will be done to increase the effectiveness
especially of the Policy Coordination and Advisory Service
Unit, the PCAS, working together with the Cabinet Secretariat.
To facilitate the work of the PCAS, the Ministries
and Departments are working on business plans for each
of the tasks they have to carry out. These business
plans will include an indication of the resources allocated
for the fulfilment of each of the tasks, as well as
the necessary implementation timeframes.
The government has also agreed that we should use the
system of Cabinet Committees to monitor and coordinate
the implementation of the programme of action. This
will be done once every two months, bringing together
Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Directors General who
belong to the various clusters together to consider
progress with regard to the tasks relating to each cluster.
This will improve coordination to ensure that the programmes
of the various Ministries and Departments are consistent
with one another.
The enhanced focus on the challenge of implementation
will also give us the possibility practically to assess
the capacity of government to carry out its developmental
functions. Among other things, this relates to matters
raised by the Minister of Public Service and Administration
during her Budget Vote with regard to competence within
the public service.
As the Honourable Minister said, we have to ensure
that our public management is firmly rooted on the principles
of efficiency and effectiveness, transparency and accountability.
She went on to say that "Administration is about
the day-to-day systems and procedures that make governance
work so that institutions and resources are effectively
"The next phase of public service and administration
in South Africa will require that skills sets and approaches
be valued and applied in all components of the public
service. One of the mechanisms that will spearhead this
is the compulsory induction programme that we agreed
to during the most recent Cabinet Lekgotla. Every serving
public servant will be exposed to this as a matter of
urgency and every new recruit that joins the public
service will go to an appropriate level of induction
soon after being employed."
We urgently have to do what the Minister pronounced
when she said that:
"Over the coming year we will be specifically
investigating the extent to which public service standards
are really being set, measured and met. Service users
must be advised of these standards by the relevant government
office that they are dealing with and at the same time
should be informed about recourse mechanisms available
to them if standards are not met. We will rely on the
assistance of our citizens to give us honest feedback
on their exposure to government departments."
To this I must add that this obviously entails an undertaking
on our part as government that we will do everything
possible to respond to this honest feedback from the
people. Our Ministers and Deputy Ministers will have
to ensure that the government honours this commitment.
Needless to say, the further improvement in the efficacy
of government must include a sustained and heightened
offensive against corruption. In this regard, again
we would like to refer to the comments made by the Minister
for Public Service and Administration, which reflect
the approach of government to this important matter.
Again in her Budget Vote Address, she said:
"South Africa may be a relatively new democracy
with a young public service but in terms of what we
have achieved to raise our level of integrity, we rank
with the best in the world: the Public Integrity Index
released by the Centre for Public Integrity confirms
that this Government is serious about fighting corruption.
In ten short years we have managed to be ranked in the
index amongst far more established democracies...
"The Public Service Anti-corruption Strategy remains
the blueprint for anti-corruption work in the public
sector and its implementation is part of the core mandate
of DPSA's Public Service Anti-corruption Unit.
"The Second National Anti-corruption Summit will
take place in November. The event will seek to strengthen
inter-sectoral cooperation and assess our progress in
addressing corruption measured against global standards
and our national requirements.
"The Summit will also define the national anti-corruption
programme for the next decade."
Accordingly, as we work to improve the efficiency and
effectiveness of government, we will also continue vigorously
to implement the Public Service Anti-Corruption Strategy
in all its elements. We also hope that Parliament will
proceed to ratify the United Nations Convention against
Corruption, whose provisions we will have to respect
Necessarily our success with regard to the implementation
of government programmes will require that we further
strengthen our intergovernmental system, consistent
with the principle of cooperative governance contained
in our Constitution.
As we had indicated earlier this year, we have been
reviewing our intergovernmental system to improve its
functioning. To this end, the three spheres of government
will meet in Pretoria in two days' time, Friday 25th,
to consider the National Framework and Bill on Inter-Governmental
Relations. The meeting will bring together the national
government, Premiers and some of their MECs, SALGA,
as well as the national and provincial Directors General.
The Minister of Provincial and Local Government will
report on the outcome of this review process when it
In the meantime, we will continue to pay close attention
to the effectiveness of the system of cooperation between
national and provincial government effected through
the regular and institutionalised meetings between Ministers
and MECs, the Min-Mecs.
At the same time, we will work to improve the functioning
of the Presidential Coordination Council, which brings
together the Presidency and the Premiers. As part of
this process, a greater effort will be made to integrate
the planning, implementation and monitoring processes
relating to the government's programme of action to
which we have already referred.
In the past the Minister for Public Service and Administration
reported on the intervention made by the national government
to assist the government of the Eastern Cape to overcome
a number of problems it faced. This work is continuing.
Nevertheless we have learnt many lessons through this
intervention. We are convinced that many of these lessons
would add value to the effort to improve governance
in other provinces as well.
I mention this because the process of improving the
efficiency and effectiveness of our system of government
with regard to the task of implementation must extend
beyond the national sphere, to include provincial government
as well. We will therefore work with the provincial
governments to achieve this objective. In this regard,
we will also draw on outstanding examples of good practice
evolved by a number of our provincial governments.
With regard to the experience we have accumulated as
a result of the Eastern Cape, we would also like to
draw the attention of the Honourable Members to the
observation made by the Honourable Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi
during her Department's Budget Vote on Monday that:
"Our experience in the Eastern Cape has helped
to define an operating model for integrated institutional
support that is being refined for use elsewhere. As
part of this the Department of Public Service and Administration
is preparing to implement an early warning system and
a structured system for providing institutional support."
To achieve the objective of effective implementation
of our policies and programmes, we will have to pay
even greater attention to the strengthening of our system
of local government. In this regard, I would like to
express our sincere appreciation to SALGA for convening
the 5th Session of the Local Government Consultative
Assembly, so soon after we spoke of the challenges of
local government in the May State of the Nation Address.
In his Address during his Budget Vote earlier this
week, Minister Sydney Mufamadi said:
"Critical to sustaining the delivery of services
to the masses of the population is the new system of
local government that was established in December 2000.
With the ensemble of 284 municipalities, over 3,700
ward committees and about 9,000 councillors, the local
government sphere should indeed become the provider-of-choice
with regard to the delivery of basic services. However,
the limited capacity and resources of some municipalities
are clearly an obstacle to action, whether in the areas
of planning, budgeting, and implementation. Some of
our municipalities rest on a deficient human capital
base. Thus they fail to implement new strategies of
delivery and cost recovery.
"The Department of Provincial and Local Government
has undertaken a thorough going capacity-survey in order
to determine the constraints faced by local government
in policy design and implementation...
"We have identified a number of municipalities
that are experiencing a short-term need for intense,
hands-on support. We are assembling a high-calibre team,
which will be deployed to work with municipalities to
tackle the identified tasks. Since this support is meant
to fade out over time, provinces will immediately replicate
this process in order to position themselves in such
a way that they can continue to support municipalities
in their own areas of jurisdiction.
"We seek to make local government more dependable
as an enabler for provincial and national departments
to realise their development and delivery targets."
Undoubtedly, the June 25 Workshop on Inter-Governmental
Relations to which we have referred, will once more,
draw attention to the enhanced importance of the sphere
of local government. Hopefully, it will go further to
spell out how we should respond to this reality, indicating
the improvements that must necessarily be made to the
functioning of our system of cooperative governance.
In this context, on Monday, Minister Mufamadi said
"Given the steady maturation of local government,
the geography of development and underdevelopment, and
the variable municipal capacity to address development
challenges, we are undertaking a revision of the intra-sphere
equitable share formula.
This revision will be finalised in the current financial
year so as to ensure that we start the 2005/06 financial
year with an allocative pattern, which speaks to conditions
as they actually obtain on the ground."
While this work is going on, we will have to concentrate
on the task mentioned by Minister Mufamadi of providing
"intense, hands-on support" for those of our
municipalities that require such support. Fortunately
both the Department of Provincial and Local Government
and SALGA already have enough information to point us
to the municipalities that require this assistance.
The strengthening of the capacity of our system of
local government will require the closest possible cooperation
between especially the Departments of Provincial and
Local Government and Public Service and Administration,
as well as the Provincial MECs for Local Government
In the context of what we are discussing, the effective
implementation of government programmes to accelerate
the process of creating jobs and fighting poverty, we
must also reiterate our commitment to speed up the deployment
of Community Development Workers as well as the empowerment
of the structures of traditional government to contribute
to the common development effort.
From the very first day of our democracy, we have insisted
on both a people-centred and a people-driven process
of change. Our focus on improving the effectiveness
of the system of governance must accordingly and necessarily
go together with an intensification of our campaign
to draw the masses of our people into the accelerated
process of change that will be represented by the effective
implementation of our government's programme of action.
This makes it imperative that we strengthen all processes
intended to intensify the interaction between the government
and the people, to activate the people to play a meaningful
role in the struggle for a better life for all, and
to increase the transparency and accountability of government.
Of particular importance in this regard will be the
need for us to ensure that the local government Ward
Committees meet regularly and function as they were
intended. We have to ensure that they are involved in
the implementation at local level of the various initiatives
that constitute the government's programme of action.
The national and provincial government imbizo programmes
will also have to be reviewed to improve their ability
to ensure meaningful interaction between these spheres
of government and the people. The Presidency has started
this review process. I am convinced that it will result
in future izimbizo enhancing our contact with the people
and therefore enhancing the quality of government's
service to the people.
And because of the importance of these outcomes, the
imbizo programmes will also be assessed under our system
of monitoring and evaluation to improve the impact of
the views expressed by the people on the overall functioning
of government. This will provide an effective addition
to the process of translating the concept that the people
shall govern into practice.
In the February State of the Nation Address, we said:
"The advances we must record demand that we ensure
that the public sector discharges its responsibilities
to our people as a critical player in the process of
the growth, reconstruction and development of our country.
In particular this will require that we further strengthen
our system of local government and ensure that the system
of traditional government plays the role ascribed to
it in our Constitution and legislation.
"We must achieve greater progress with regard
to the integration of our system of governance, achieving
seamless cooperation both within and among all spheres
of government. At the same time, we must further consolidate
the practice of creating public-private partnerships
and building government-civil society cooperation, to
ensure that we utilise our collective capacities to
give further impetus to the overall development and
transformation of our country."
In the May State of the Nation Address, we indicated
some of the tasks government would carry out to achieve
these objectives. Today's Address has sought to build
on this, focusing on the necessary additional interventions
we have to make to build a system of governance capable
of serving the people, within the context of the letter
and spirit of our Constitution.
In his 2002 book "The World We're In", the
columnist and former editor-in-chief of the British
newspaper "The Observer", Will Hutton, has
drawn attention to the global struggle to defend the
public sector against an ideological onslaught that
seeks, as he puts it, "to celebrate individualism
and denigrate the state".
Given that we are a young democracy, I believe that
we should debate the issues raised by Will Hutton to
help us define what kind of South Africa we seek to
build. I will therefore take the liberty to quote somewhat
extensively some of the critical points that Hutton
I also do this because there are some in our country
who propagate the views that Will Hutton contests, seeking
to persuade our people to adopt a particular stance
towards the issue of the state, which, if accepted and
implemented, would shatter the dreams of the millions
of our people for a better life.
Writing of his own country, the UK, he says:
"There are no great political movements or inspirational
causes. Voter apathy is widespread. Our political leaders
are well-intentioned, but they are at a loss as to how
to revive a belief in politics and public purpose...The
public realm is in eclipse. It is almost as though citizenship
has gone into abeyance.
"And yet there remain great issues. The terms
of society's social contract remain as vexed and contentious
as ever. The rich grow richer while disadvantage remains
acute. Equality of opportunity, let alone income and
wealth, remain elusive. Public services are inadequate."
Arguing his case further, he writes:
"The idea of the public realm is in eclipse, and
with it a conception of civilisation. Increasingly,
we British are rarely citizens who make common cause
and share common destinies. The scope for public initiative
and endeavour through which our common values are expressed
is contracting with giddy speed. Inequality of income
and opportunity is increasing, despite well-intentioned
efforts to reverse it.
"Wealth and stratospheric incomes are portrayed
as the just reward of individual enterprise, badges
of individual worth. The poor and disadvantaged, unless
they declare their readiness to work, are increasingly
felt to deserve their status. Government and its associated
tools of regulation, legislation and taxation are a
currency whose very legitimacy has to be fought for...
"As the new conservatism has honed its rhetoric
and political programmes in the US to celebrate individualism
and denigrate the state, so that same philosophy has
become seamlessly part of the new international 'common
sense'...We are all becoming American conservatives
"So it is that the syllogism that the rights of
the propertied and the freedom of business come before
any assertion of the public interest or social concerns
has become the consensus orthodoxy. These are deemed
to be the only circumstances in which wealth generation
and employment can be assured, and thus the citizen
would stand to lose more by putting these at risk than
he or she might gain from public action asserting common
interests. The law of private property rules supreme.
"In this climate taxation is depicted as the confiscation
of what is properly our own - an intolerable burden
that should be reduced. The social, the collective and
the public realm are portrayed as the enemies of prosperity
and individual autonomy, and, worse, are opposed to
the moral basis of society, grounded as it should be
in the absolute responsibility of individuals to shoulder
their burdens and exercise their rights alone."
He goes on to say:
"Civility is under siege as a market society makes
strangers of us all. While our public horizons shrink,
we search for satisfaction and contentment in our inner,
private lives - but we turn in on ourselves thus not
out of choice; rather, we recognise that engagement
with the world on any other terms than those that enthrone
the primacy of market values and diminish those of public
citizenship is increasingly without purpose...
"The conservative creed we have been asked to
accept barely needs rehearsing. The Americans live with
increasingly unequal distribution of income and wealth
- indeed, many argue it is the necessary stick and carrot
upon which a successful capitalism depends - so others
should follow. The message is merciless...Welfare is
portrayed as disabling the poor from taking proper responsibility
for themselves...The poor and disadvantaged should expect
no more than minimal, time-limited and means-tested
"The conservative American presumption is that
the federal government...should exercise its authority
as minimally as possible...Individual states in the
union should be given the responsibility for doing as
little as they can, and the federal government should
confine itself to the provision of national security.
Governance in the rest of the world should follow suit...
"If there are malevolent social consequences,
then react with a tough welfare system and repress crime.
Do not wring your hands over the causes of crime; stamp
it out with a repressive criminal justice system, extending
even to endorsing the death penalty."
Will Hutton argues that:
"Western democracies have been characterised by
one broad family of ideas that might be called left
- a belief in the social, reduction in inequality, the
provision of public services, the principle that workers
should be treated as assets rather than commodities,
regulation of enterprise, rehabilitation of criminals,
tolerance and respect for minorities - and another broad
family of ideas that might be called right: an honouring
of our inherited institutional fabric, a respect for
order, a belief that private property rights and profit
are essential to the operation of the market economy,
a suspicion of worker rights, faith in the remedial
value of punitive justice and distrust of the new."
There can be no doubt about where we stand with regard
to this great divide. It is to pursue the goals contained
in what Hutton calls the "broad family of ideas
that might be called left" that we seek to build
the system of governance we indicated today and in previous
The obligations of the democratic state to the masses
of our people do not allow that we should join those
who "celebrate individualism and denigrate the
We would never succeed to eradicate the legacy of colonialism
and apartheid if we joined the campaign to portray "the
social, the collective and the public realm...as the
enemies of prosperity and individual autonomy...opposed
to the moral basis of society, grounded as it should
be, (in terms of right wing ideology,) in the absolute
responsibility of individuals to shoulder their burdens
and exercise their rights alone."
This is precisely what we meant when we said in the
May State of the Nation Address that: "The advances
we must record demand that we ensure that the public
sector discharges its responsibilities to our people
as a critical player in the process of the growth, reconstruction
and development of our country."
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the
Deputy President, the Minister in the Presidency, Directors
General Frank Chikane and Joel Netshitenzhe, my Advisers,
and other workers in the Presidency who are working
hard to ensure that the Presidency contributes what
it must to the building of a public sector that truly
discharges its responsibilities to the people within
the context of available resources.
I would also like to acknowledge with appreciation
the cooperation extended to the Presidency by all the
spheres of government as well the private sector, the
trade unions, civil society, and the masses of our people
as a whole, which has helped us to avoid the gloomy
outcome described by Will Hutton, whereby the British
"are rarely citizens who make common cause and
share common destinies."
Sadly, Director General Frank Chikane could not be
with us today as he and the rest of the Chikane family
prepare for the burial on Saturday of his mother, Sophania
Erenia Chikane. Once more, we extend our sincere condolences
to him and the rest of the Chikane family.
I am honoured to commend the Budget of the Presidency
to the Honourable Members.
Enquiries: Bheki Khumalo on 083 256 9133 or 012
ISSUED BY THE PRESIDENCY ON 23 JUNE 2004