PRESIDENCY BUDGET VOTE ADDRESS BY DEPUTY PRESIDENT KGALEMA MOTLANTHE
Once again I am honoured for the opportunity to address this august House on the occasion of the Budget Vote of the Presidency.
Over the last few of weeks this House has been focusing on the all-important task of evaluating the work of the executive. Underlying this pivotal exercise is the Constitutional imperative to account to this House for the use of public resources.
I imagine that all of us who sit in this House have a great appreciation for the import of this budget-making process in providing us with the opportunity to reflect on our work.
Our task is to provide strategic oversight that is intended to identify, manage and minimise risks in governance, delivery systems, in institutional arrangements and in existing procedures.
Another important aspect of our work involves the co-ordination of multiple stakeholders. Here we focus on inter-governmental relations and relations with other relevant stakeholders in terms of their mandates and accountability so as to achieve alignment. We also seek to secure high-level agreements with all stakeholders as well as to clear institutional impediments.
We have had to pay special attention to facilitating accords by focusing on forming partnerships outside of government where these enhance prospects of programme success especially with labour, business and communities.
Our experience shows that when overall strategies start to open up new opportunities, those ‘closest’ to such opportunities – spatially and in terms of their profiles, skills and experience – will benefit first. Through the Inter-Ministerial Committees and Councils we focus on the marginalized by paying particular attention to strategies that enable the productive inclusion of the poor, who are otherwise likely to be excluded from such processes.
We have had to pay attention to supporting innovative approaches to improve the prospect of delivering better and faster services.
We now turn our attention to detail regarding some of the specific programmes:
As members of this House know, poverty reduction remains one of our key priorities. Responding to the needs of the most vulnerable communities by fast-tracking service delivery in an efficient manner is of utmost importance. The War on Poverty Campaign facilitates the unblocking of challenges to the implementation of programmes to deliver services.
These challenges are threefold. They relate firstly to system weaknesses across various departments. Secondly, they result from inadequate turnaround times to improve service delivery, including poor intra-departmental integration and co-ordination. Thirdly, a lack of access to information further constrains the rate of delivery in certain communities.
Government’s anti-poverty programme specifically focuses on overcoming these challenges through better co-ordination of relevant departments for maximum impact in identified areas.
The intervention plans resulting from this process are regularly monitored to ensure that communities benefit from government services. We have also identified change agents in poor households, whom we have connected to the relevant services.
A sustainable long term solution to challenges of poverty is through creation of jobs at scale. In the short term, the creation of these jobs resides in the public employment schemes, particularly in the Expanded Public Works Programme and the Community Works Programme.
South Africa is an energy-driven economy.
As such alongside our objectives to ensure energy security is the need to pursue an appropriate energy mix that includes clean and renewable resources to meet the demands of our economy.
More than at any point in our history, energy is assuming increasing importance as the lubricant of our country’s development. At the same time, we continue to face peculiar, fundamental development issues.
Government sees energy as central in meeting basic human needs and improving living standards.
To this end, South Africa’s electricity generation has to be increased significantly in the next few decades to facilitate economic growth.
Therefore the way to go for us in the long term is to become globally competitive in the use of innovative technology for the design, manufacture, and deployment of state of the art nuclear energy systems.
Nuclear power is ideal in this sense, because we can build large nuclear power plants at points around our southern coastline, and potentially elsewhere in the future. Nuclear power plant construction is a major undertaking, which will bring significant economic benefits to local industry.
We remain committed to strengthening and investing in research and development of clean energy technologies from a multitude of sources, while conscious to ensure minimal environmental impact and safety of generation methods.
Beyond this South Africa has well-established regulatory health and safety standards critical to the management of nuclear systems and facilities.
These measures include regulation on licensing, nuclear construction and fabrication, health and safety monitoring, and the training of the required skilled personnel.
Nuclear safety assurance and our good record in this respect should be maintained and enhanced as a primary foundation upon which consensus on more nuclear electricity generation can emerge.
Further, government has approved the establishment of the National Nuclear Energy Executive Co-ordination Committee to make high level recommendations concerned with the nuclear energy programme.
There are many role players to bring on board in our roll-out of nuclear energy in the power sector, which include civil society, business, academia and government. Government is determined to play an instrumental role in this due to the importance of this programme for our country’s future.
Human Resource Development (HRD) is one of the five core programmes necessary to drive the implementation of our reconstruction and development agenda.
Over time a number of significant initiatives have been undertaken in the area of HRD which have had varied impact on the country’s human resource base. All these are underpinned by a set of principles, among which equity, access and redress are central.
In this connection government has established a coherent and comprehensive HRD policy framework consistent with its broader development and investment strategy. This policy framework is intended to be responsive to new economic realities.
Since 2010 the necessary structures for the implementation of the Human Resources Development Strategy have been established.
The various work streams of the HRD Council are busy identifying blockages to implementation with the aim of recommending mechanisms to take our work forward. We are aiming to finalise this work by December 2013.
The response to the dual epidemics of HIV and TB in its broadest terms encompasses prevention of new infections, provision of a comprehensive package of services to those who need them, mitigation of impact and addressing the social determinants. In this regard, it is fair to say that South Africa has made huge strides and that we continue to invest in numerous strategies to move us closer to our vision of an AIDS-free society in our life-time.
Our response is guided by a series of Strategic Plans developed and implemented since 2002. Since the implementation of the first National Strategic Plan our response has yielded notable results.
Through the South African National AIDS Council we have built a multi-stakeholder forum which has brought together the country’s collective wisdom to bear on these epidemics.
What began as a huge threat to our nation has now become one of the largest treatment programmes in the world with the latest surveys indicating that the number of new HIV infections has decreased from 650 000 a year in 2000 to 290 000 in 2012.
Using the mandate of SANAC as a basis for evaluating our work, we can demonstrate the progress we have made, identify gaps which still require our attention and most importantly, determine critical next steps in our response.
As the highest body established to oversee the national response, SANAC has been tasked with the following mandate:
• To advise government on all HIV and TB –related policies and programmes;
• To oversee the development and implementation of National Strategic Plans; and
• To expand partnerships for an effective response and ensure that sufficient resources are made available to implement and sustain all the programmes.
In order to deliver on this mandate, we have sought ways to ensure that SANAC is a structure fit-for-purpose. In this regard, following a thorough review of the monitoring and co-ordination mechanisms, a new Governance and Accountability Framework has been adopted and is now being implemented through the SANAC secretariat.
On the policy front, significant progress has been made through the introduction of numerous impactful evidence-informed policies across the prevention, treatment, care and support continuum. It is important to highlight that these policies cut across various government departments, thus ensuring that our approach is coherent and mainstreamed.
Whilst government continues to provide bold, decisive and inspirational leadership, other sectors and key stakeholders have taken the cue and are now implementing robust programmes in a significant and consistent way.
A few examples of note in this regard are:
• The work currently underway to revise the National Policy for HIV and TB for the education sector;
• The introduction of HIV and TB treatment in Correctional Services facilities;
• Many other sectors are working jointly with government to develop and implement initiatives that target those at risk;
• Collaboration with the mining industry to tackle TB and HIV in the mining sector not only in South Africa but across the region through established regional structures such as SADC and WHO;
• Civil society sectors are expanding, refining and integrating their programmes at the community level, raising awareness and leading dialogue on some of the social drivers of the epidemic such as violence against women and children, substance abuse and many others.
We have responded to the resource challenge in a number of ways. Firstly we have increased domestic allocations for addressing the epidemics. Secondly, we have commissioned research to identify how domestic and external resources are utilized to maximise efficiencies.
We have indeed made huge progress but we must not be complacent. The number of new HIV and TB infections is still high requiring extra-ordinary effort from all sectors of society with support from the development partners.
The most important tasks that lie ahead are to consolidate our successes, scale up what we know works and integrate our work across all sectors.
We need to focus on addressing the social determinants of ill- health in a more co-ordinated manner with a long-term focus. We need to invest more resources in building adequate research capacity to enable us to develop home-grown solutions that address the needs of our people.
I would like to salute all those who have contributed to our progress in the fight against these dual epidemics and urge everyone to remain focused on the vision of an AIDS-free society.
The Deputy President as the Leader of Government Business is responsible for the affairs of the National Executive in Parliament, and thus he performs a strategically important liaison function between the Executive and Parliament.
Notwithstanding an inherent tension that naturally exists between ministers and honourable members of the House, our engagement with Parliament has always been a dynamic and energetic one. Relations between the Executive and Parliament continue to be strengthened through regular interactions with the Presiding Officers in both Houses, the political leadership and Members of Parliament.
We regularly participate in and give guidance on Executive actions to regional and international fora, which seeks to strengthen the effectiveness of Parliament in executing its Constitutional mandate. This dynamic interplay between the Executive and Parliament is maturing and has resulted in a far more coherent approach in giving effect to our collective efforts to create a better life for all.
The Executive has always taken very seriously its accountability to Parliament and has made valiant efforts to respond timeously to Parliamentary Questions. Oral and Written Parliamentary Questions remain one of the key instruments of oversight by Parliament over the Executive.
The report of the Leader of Government Business is a standing item on the agenda of Cabinet and constitutes evidence that the Executive takes its accountability to Parliament seriously.
During the period of the Fourth Parliament to date, a total of 16 464 Oral and Written Questions were asked, and the Executive responded to 15 878 Questions, which represents a response rate of over 96%. I would like to commend my Cabinet colleagues for their commitment towards enhancing and strengthening the capacity and systems within their respective departments to process and submit Parliamentary Replies timeously.
Cabinet’s Legislative Programme has also been executed smoothly, and during the Fourth Parliament to date, 135 Bills were introduced, of which only 4 Bills were prioritized. This bears testimony to more stringent planning and co-ordination by the Executive.
Over the last year we have had the opportunity to engage in a few but vital Bi-National Commissions. The BNCs are a framework within which our political and economic relations will be guided and shaped long into the future.
The historic signing of the Bi-National Commission agreement between South Africa and Turkey in June 2012 signifies a major achievement in our relations. This is a culmination of many years of hard work, tough negotiations and trade-offs. It covers a wide range of sectors such as trade and investment, energy and minerals, small enterprises, training and development as well the textile and clothing industry.
Our relations are on the up and up as evidenced by a steady increase of trade and investment between our countries. The principle of mutual benefit guides all deliberations and agreements. Another important milestone in the course of last year was the signing of an Implementation Agreement between our country and Nigeria, with which our relations have reached a high level.
Relations between our country and China, with which we have a BNC, continue to grow. Furthermore the BNC with Germany also held its annual meetings and assessment conference in Berlin as well as a business seminar in Munich.
The President has already highlighted the background to the developments in the mining sector.
Indeed in view of the worrisome current global and national economic conditions, it is important that challenges affecting national interests are dealt with through broad consultation with the aim of building consensus as the basis for socio-economic stability.
In consequence the Deputy President has been tasked by the President to engage with all stakeholders to heighten awareness about the volatile state of our economy in the light of the urgency of the issues emanating from the mining sector.
Accordingly, during the past two weeks government has had a series of consultations with trade unions, federations and the Chamber of Mines to discuss measures to stabilise the mining industry and to forestall potential crisis. Further, on Friday this week we will be holding a meeting with all stakeholders to find a broad consensus to consolidate future co-operation and stability.
Similarly, since the beginning of this year we have engaged in an ongoing consultation with the Western Cape farmers, provincial government and farmworkers’ unions, to address the challenges facing the farming sector in the province.
One thing we have observed from all these engagements, including the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project, is that we must work hard towards building trust through open dialogue, which is key to the resolution of matters that may easily appear intractable at first.
Our nation has come a long way since the democratic breakthrough of April 1994 that saw our people standing in long winding queues to cast their votes for the birth of a democratic South Africa.
Since that epochal moment the democratic state has focused its energies on cementing national unity, democracy, non-racialism and non-sexism, within the key vision of reconstruction and development.
As much as accumulated historical disabilities remain embedded in our social landscape, the democratic state has made notable strides in many key areas. Meaningful changes have been made to the lives of the masses of our people.
We will continue to work for the eradication of poverty, ignorance, homelessness, powerlessness and many other ills that scar the face of our nation. In this respect the five priorities of government represent our determination to reach the goal of a better life for all our people in a much more focused way.
We are confident that the progress our country has made so far provides the necessary stimulus for further progress as we march into the future with determination.
Let me conclude by thanking Honourable Members for their participation in this debate that reflects our determination to uphold the values of our constitution. It is an honour for me to thank the President for the support and guidance he has given to me during the execution of my duties since the beginning of this term.
Let me take this opportunity to thank my colleagues in the Cabinet for their support as well as ministers and deputy minister in The Presidency who makes our work possible. I also wish to thank the Director-General in The Presidency along with senior management, my advisers, as well as the staff in my office, for their unstinting support.
I thank you
ISSUED BY GCIS ON BEHALF OF THE PRESIDENCY