MPs continue State of the Nation debate

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Members of Parliament are today continuing the State of the Nation debate opened by President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday.

Yesterday opposition Democratic Alliance shadow minister of public service and administration said Zuma`s commitment to fight corruption was welcome.

   

Dreyer says the Public Service Commission reported a 46% increase in corruption allegations between 2006 and 2007.

“Therefore, I was glad to hear President Zuma highlighting his commitment to curb corruption in the public service.”

She added a major cause of financial mismanagement in state departments was the absence of performance-based contracts with senior management staff.

“A public service that cannot measure the performance of its officials, cannot hold them accountable for failures, but also cannot acknowledge the hard work done by the many dedicated public servants,” she said.

“A responsive government will ensure that senior managers enter into performance agreements and are held accountable for service delivery.”

Land reform

Meanwhile, her rural development and land reform colleague Mpowele Swathe said government faces a major challenge in that department.

“The Democratic Alliance supports a sustainable and equitable land reform and rural development. We view this both as a moral necessity to correct the imbalances of the past and as a fundamental condition to growing our economy to benefit all South Africans,” Swathe said.

“The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform faces numerous challenges. It inherits one of the poorly functioning departments under the previous Department of Agriculture and Land Affairs headed by Lulu Xingwana. The reality is that many landless people feel neglected in the democratic dispensation.”

Swathe said the government`s target of reaching the 30% land redistribution by 2014 seemed unachievable.

“The previous administration sought to introduce manifestly unconstitutional laws like the Expropriation Bill to accelerate land redistribution… We need to develop legally justifiable laws that would speed up land reform processes,” Swathe added.

“Second, we need to ensure that new land owners are provided with adequate post settlement financial and material support. It is indeed an indictment that over 50% of land reform projects are failing because the state does not provide adequate support to the land reform beneficiaries. South Africa cannot afford this when millions of our people face danger of food shortages and go to bed without food.”

Business Day newspaper this morning reported Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti yesterday also gave Parliament a frank account of how land reforms have fallen short in achieving agrarian transformation goals

Nkwinti says policy makers will take a fresh look at the proactive land acquisition strategy under which the state buys land and leases it to beneficiaries; at land redistribution for agricultural development, which allows black farmers to access government grants to buy farms; and at post-settlement support models and the controversial “use it or lose it” principle.

Economic policy

On economic policy, DA spokesman Ryan Coetzee added that Zuma`s speech made it clear “that the government and the DA have significantly different views on how best to approach economic policy in the years ahead”.

Coetzee says the state is at the centre of the government`s approach. “…the President promised more social spending, a state-directed approach to industrial policy – focused on industries chosen by government – and an extension of the preferential use of government procurement policies, the effect of which are to drive up costs to the taxpayer.

“It is tempting in the depths of a recession to spend money on those most vulnerable to the downturn… but we must also have the courage and discipline to ensure that the steps we take now do not undermine our ability to take full advantage of the upturn…

“The actual extent of our budget deficit is not known right now, but is likely to far exceed expectations. We must remember that borrowed money has to be paid back, and every Rand spent on servicing or repaying debt is a Rand that could have been put to more productive use in our economy,” Coetzee said.

Parliament`s number two opposition party, the Congress of the People, called on Zuma to spell out in more detail his plans to tackle the recession.

Party leader Mvume Dandala said Zuma`s address raised questions that “yearn for answers”.



“We would like to hear more about the government’s practical intervention plans as a response to this recession. A clear statement in this regard needs to be made. The investor community cannot be left guessing,” Dandala said.