Address by President Jacob Zuma in Response to the Debate on the State of the Nation Address National Assembly, Cape Town 18 February 2016
Honourable Chairperson of the NCOP,
All Presiding Officers,
Honourable Deputy President, Honourable Ministers, Premiers and Deputy Ministers,
Fellow South Africans,
Thank you for your participation in the State of the Nation Address debate.
This debate has taken place during a difficult period for the people of Barberton in Mpumalanga and indeed the whole nation.
Three mine workers remain painfully trapped underground at Lily farm gold mine, Yvonne Mnisi, Pretty Mabuza and Solomon Nyirenda.
The families are in deep pain and feel helpless in such an overwhelming situation. We once again request that we all keep the families of the three compatriots in our thoughts and prayers.
Government is providing as much support as possible to the families during this most difficult time.
This incident has brought into sharp focus the question of safety on the mines. We want to know what happened so that this can be prevented in future. Government will further prioritise this matter in discussions with the mining sector. It is a truly painful and frustrating situation for all.
Last Thursday we placed the economy of our country on the centre stage.
Our country, together with many other economies in the world faces a challenging economic reality. Eight years since the financial crisis, the global economy continues to show signs of strain. Low commodity and oil prices have placed the balance sheet of commodity exporting countries like ours, under strain.
This is a serious matter. If the economy does not grow, jobs will not be created, and existing jobs are at risk.
The 2016 State of the Nation Address is thus about uniting the country behind boosting economic growth, creating jobs and leading to a better life for all our people.
Inkulumo yesimo sezwe ibigxile kwezomnotho. Ikhuluma ngokuntengantenga kwezomnotho nokuthi kumele senzeni ukuze sibuyise amandla omnotho ukuze kwakheke imisebenzi.
Amazwe amaningi abhekene nalenkinga yokwehla kwamandla omnotho. Amanani okuthengiswa ngawo igolide nokunye okumbiwa phansi phesheya, ehlile kakhulu emazweni omhlaba.
Lokhu kuwushaya kakhulu umnotho wezwe lakithi.
Ingakho njengohulumeni sisebenzisana nosozimboni ukuze sibhekane nalenselele, sivuselele umnotho wezwe, ukuze abantu bangalahlekelwa imisebenzi. Isikhathi esinzima kakhulu lesi ezweni lakithi, kwezomnotho.
Lesisimo asihlasele thina sodwa, sihlasele wonke amazwe asathuthuka afana noRussia, China, Brazil namanye.
Honourable Maynier, thank you for your suggestions on what can be done to contribute to the economic turnaround. Whether one agrees with you or not, at least you discussed the matter at hand.
We have spent some considerable amount of time discussing this in Cabinet and I also briefed premiers on the new direction we are taking of cutting wastage, improving the performance of the state and boosting growth.
In this regard, stronger measures to restore a sustainable fiscal path have been endorsed at the highest levels of government.
Our position is that since we cannot change the global economic outlook, we will focus on correcting domestic circumstances that have affected confidence in the economy.
We are happy with the support of business as they are a key stakeholder in the path we have undertaken. We have met four times with business since mid-January and the partnership is yielding results.
Business established three work streams ahead of my meeting with Chief Executive Officers.
These streams made a presentation at the last meeting on three main issues.
These are the prospect of the sovereign downgrade; identifying areas for co-investment and SMME development. High up on our agenda is to prevent a sovereign downgrade.
A downgrade would have an adverse effect for all South Africans.
Business provided eight points to be taken forward.
Among these points is the need to unite behind the National Development Plan, fiscal consolidation, improved management and governance of state owned enterprises, promoting public-private partnerships especially in infrastructure development, review of certain regulations and laws that impede investment in the economy and which make doing business in South Africa expensive.
Other issues raised is the need to improve labour relations and create an environment for youth employment, collaboration on fighting corruption and also the need to strengthen institutions.
Minister Gordhan and the chairman of Telkom, Mr Jabu Mabuza were appointed to lead two implementation teams to take these matters forward.
I will meet again with the CEOs of top companies to take stock of progress, in May after the World Economic Forum Africa session that will take place in Kigali, Rwanda.
We will be meeting labour very soon to take the discussions forward, towards re-igniting growth and creating jobs.
I assure Honourable Members that we are implementing the National Development Plan.
The implementation of the National Development Plan (NDP) remains the cornerstone of our economy. It provides a basis for collective actions required to stabilise the economy, build confidence, raise the level of investment and return South Africa to a path of inclusive economic growth.
The NDP remains the foremost blueprint to take forward the fight against the triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment which still persist.
All programmes of government are now aligned to the NDP.
We translated the NDP into an implementable programme, the Medium Term Strategic Framework running for five years, focusing on 14 outcomes that mirror the 14 thematic areas of the NDP.
The first National Planning Commission, which developed the NDP, completed its term in May 2015. A new commission was appointed in September 2015 and started working immediately.
The commission was given the mandate amongst others to promote and advance the implementation of the National Development Plan across all sectors of society.
In the medium to long-term, the work of the Commission will focus on identifying and sharpening of programmes that enhance the quality of life our people.
Credible plans will be developed in sectors such as water, energy, food security, spatial planning and public transport to ensure that the challenges we are currently experiencing become thing of the past.
The NDP is supported by the Nine-Point plan for economic renewal, which I reported on in the SONA.
As Ministers indicated during the debate, while the situation remains difficult there are many positives in the economy for us to build on.
South Africa has proved to be a resilient economy due to the solid economic fundamentals that have been laid since the advent of democracy.
The country’s prudent fiscal management and sound monetary policies support macroeconomic stability and promote competitiveness.
It is for this reason that we say that South Africa’s positive attributes far outweigh the challenges. And these challenges are being addressed through dedicated programmes and plans.
I wish to assure Honourable Members that we are determined to implement the steps we have committed ourselves to, in order to alleviate the most binding constraints to growth.
They include the following;
Some of the steps we have committed to are the following;
- Continued investment in infrastructure.
- Improving the management and governance of the State Owned Companies that are facing difficulties through appointing the right people with the appropriate skills and also through the implementation of the Presidential Review Committee on State Owned Enterprises.
- Through expanding the energy mix and especially the independent power producer programme which has proven to be a successful partnership with business.
- Encouraging affordable, reliable and accessible broadband access.
- Promoting black ownership of productive industrial assets, for example our black industrialists programme.
- Finalising amendments to the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act to end uncertainty in the mining sector.
- Enhancing business incentive programmes in all economic sectors to ensure that resources support labour-intensive, job creating outcomes.
- Promoting new sectors such as the oceans economy.
Honourable Shenge we have noted your point about the need to assess the possible negative impact of policies before passing them.
We have already acted on this. We took a decision that from 1 September 2015 all future legislation and regulations will be subject to a socioeconomic impact assessment before being passed.
Indeed we are investing in education more than any other item in the Budget. It remains an apex priority.
I am happy this matter was raised by many Honourable Members.
This investment is the key to a brighter future for our country.
To date, government spends one point eight billion rand on early childhood development for children up to the age of four, reaching more than a million children.
Honourable Pandor provided statistics that indicate the progress we have made in expanding access to grade R, grade one and also to children with disabilities.
Let me also join her in congratulating girls. They are doing very well in matric. They are beating the boys hands down.
Also important is the expansion of free education in the basic education level.
More than nine million learners attend school without paying fees. The same children receive free daily meals to improve concentration and participation in class.
Government is now promoting technical and vocational education in our schools now.
One billion rand has been made available for all provinces through the Mathematics, Science and Technology Conditional Grant.
This investment will assist towards the NDP goal of producing thirty thousand artisans annually.
Gradually, there will be an alignment between technical vocational programmes in schools with the technical-occupational programmes offered at Technical and Vocation Education and Training (TVET) Colleges.
Basic Education and Higher Education departments are in discussion about this much needed alignment.
I must also add the Operation Phakisa in Basic Education, which focuses on information and communication technologies, which we launched last year as one of the key investments in education.
Government is scheduled to connect two thousand eight hundred and ninety two schools to the internet this year and also train teachers and learners in the use of technology to improve learning and teaching.
We are also expanding school infrastructure. We are building three new universities and 12 technical education and training colleges.
Through the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative, (ASIDI) we have delivered one hundred and thirty six state-of-the-art schools.
A further five hundred and seventy one schools were provided with water. Four hundred and ten schools were given decent sanitation and two hundred and ninety four schools were provided with electricity.
These interventions have been life changing to the learners and educators at these schools.
Indeed, government is serious about education.
We thank partners from the private sector who continue to invest in basic education in various ways.
Honourable members, we must also root out violence in our schools and make the schools peaceful and productive centres of learning and teaching.
In December 2015 a summit was hosted by the Department of basic Education involving teachers, learners and parents through their organizations, where they all committed to work together to root-out violence, drug and substance abuse and other anti-social behavior in our schools.
Schools should be peaceful and productive centres of learning and excellence.
Honourable Van Damme, youth development, including youth employment is an integral part of all government programmes.
Following an extensive consultation with young people, we now have a National Youth Policy 2020 which was adopted by Cabinet in May 2015.
Five priority areas are the focus of the National Youth Policy and these are;
- Economic participation and transformation
- Education, skills and second chances
- Healthcare and combating substance abuse
- Nation building and social cohesion and the
- Effective and responsive youth development institutions.
These have been added into the Annual Performance Plans of departments, as outlined by Deputy Minister Manamela.
In taking forward some of the key projects identified, this year we will be rolling out the National Youth Service programme. The purpose is to inculcate amongst young people a sense of solidarity, sacrifice, service to the nation and a sense of patriotism.
Already, more than one hundred thousand young people were involved in a variety of programmes including the War on Leaks, Working for Water, Youth Build Programme and the National Rural Youth Service Corps amongst other National Youth Service Programmes.
Let me take this opportunity to invite business executives to partner with the National Youth Development Agency in mentoring young businesspeople as part of the Maramentor programme. We launched this programme on June 16 last year.
Honourable Ntshayisa, Honourable Holomisa and others who raised the matter of action against corruption, we are strengthening the legislative framework and are also continuing with other measures in order to further clamp down on crime and corruption.
The Asset Forfeiture Unit has done a lot of good work in the past financial year. The Unit completed four hundred and sixty three asset forfeiture cases worth about two billion rand. The Unit executed three hundred and forty two freezing orders to the value of two point eight billion rand.
A total of one point six billion rand was paid back to the victims of crime recovered from corrupt activity.
Eleven million rand was recovered in cases where government officials were involved in corruption and other related offences.
With regards to legislation, the Protected Disclosures Amendment Bill, was tabled in the National Assembly late last year. Its primary objective is to provide protection to whistle blowers so that we can fight corruption better and more effectively.
The Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Amendment Bill will also be introduced into Parliament.
The Bill improves the application of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act in order address practical challenges and close gaps.
Another new law being introduced is the Cyber Crimes and Related Matters Bill, which is scheduled to be introduced into Parliament in the first half of 2016.
Still on the security issues, I would also like to announce two new developments in the South African Police Service.
As part of the Back to Basics strategy, the Ministry of Police will establish special units to deal with drugs and related transnational crimes as well as violence and proliferation of firearms in our society.
The two units are the South African Narcotics Enforcement Bureau and the National Bureau for Illegal Firearms Control and Priority Violent Crime. The units will fall under the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) commonly known as Hawks.
Honourable Members, you are correct. Drought is a big problem and it needs all of us to work together to mitigate the impact.
The impact on the agricultural sector is severe and will affect us for a long time to come. It will be felt through food price increases and increase in feed grain.
It will also cause rising debt levels for farmers and job losses for farm workers. Farmers are facing a serious challenge of dying livestock due to the drought.
About two point seven million households are affected by the drought disaster.
The Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries is providing support to farmers while Cooperative Governance is coordinating the government response to the drought nationally.
The Department of Water and Sanitation has invested more than four hundred and fifty million rand for drought relief.
The funds have been spent on water tankers, borehole drilling and rehabilitation as well as the improvement of dysfunctional infrastructure.
In addition, a total of four hundred and ninety eight million rand has been approved nationally in addition to one hundred and twenty four million allocated by provinces, to assist affected farmers with livestock feeds and water, as stated by Deputy Minister Cele.
The Minister of Water and Sanitation provided a report on the infrastructure that is being built such as dams.
Honourable Members raised concern about the proposed law on the ownership of land by foreign nationals.
The Regulation of Agricultural Land Holdings Bill will prohibit the acquisition of agricultural land by foreign nationals. They can only lease the land. The Bill will be presented to cabinet this year.
Honourable Gaehler, the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer is operational. The Central supplier database will be compulsory from 1 April 2016.
This means all suppliers doing business with government will only register once. This reduces the cost for suppliers as they do not have to go to multiple institutions if they wish to do business with government.
The use of the tender portal will be compulsory from 1 April this year by all departments. This means that all tenders will be advertised in one place and will be accessed free of charge.
Government tenders will thus no longer be advertised in newspapers and this will be another cost saver for government.
Statistics show that these procurement reforms are already bearing fruits and are saving the state hundreds of millions of rands.
For example, school building designs have been standardised nationally and costed.
We will no longer be building schools at costs above thirty million rand.
Honourable Motara, we join you in congratulating the City of Johannesburg on winning the Green Bond Award at the C40 Awards and for the ratings upgrade.
Honourable Nawa, I am glad that the South African Local Government Association will take up the cost saving drive. Together we will move the country forward.
Honourable Masango you are correct our country has an excellent social assistance programme assisting more than 16 million vulnerable beneficiaries.
You also raised the issue of unemployed social work graduates who have been trained by government.
The Department of Social Development is seized with the matter and is busy looking for internships and other opportunities for the graduates.
I have been informed that the situation is difficult due to budget cuts in provinces which has limited employment opportunities.
Many of the interns have been absorbed by the South African Social Security Agency and the provinces of Mpumalanga, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.
Nation building is as important to our country as economic renewal. We must heal the scars of apartheid and build a united nation.
Racism is an enemy of humanity. If there is anything that this country must agree on, it is the fight against racism, because we know what it did to our nation.
We must unite in eradicating this evil from our country. Together we must build a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.
We must use month of March and also Human Rights Day to participate in programmes promoting non-racialism in our country.
Let me also remind our young people to participate in events organized in honour of the youth of June 16, 1976.
Fellow South Africans,
Honourable Godi is correct when he states that freedom must have material meaning to our people’s lives and that we must never get used to the hardship of our people. Indeed we must find solutions that will push back poverty, inequality and unemployment.
South Africa, like many emerging markets, faces challenges. But we have time and again succeeded where others thought we would fail.
Now is the time for us to unite and harness this power and provide leadership and direction to our people during this difficult time.
We have a good plan. Working together, we can make a visible difference.
Together we move South Africa Forward!
I thank you.