Reply to the Presidency budget vote debate by President Jacob Zuma, National Assembly, Cape Town
15 JUNE 2011
Honourable Deputy President,
Honourable Deputy Speaker,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Thank you for your contributions to the debate of the Budget Vote of the Presidency.
We are grateful to Honourable Members who engaged us on the issues, giving feedback and comments that would enable us to improve our work.
The expectation of such a debate is that Honourable Members would engage on the content.
Unfortunately, some members on the opposition benches reminded me of my favourite passage in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Their inputs were simply “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”.
On the 18th of July the world will join us in celebrating Nelson Mandela Day, the birthday of the consummate freedom fighter and former uMkhonto Wesizwe commander-in-chief, President Nelson Mandela.
He is honoured in recognition of his selfless contribution to the struggle against racial oppression.
Madiba and his comrades were declared terrorists and were incarcerated for almost 30 years because they had dared to say that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white and called for a non-racial, united, democratic and prosperous South Africa.
The mere mention of Madiba’s name in this country was an act of treason.
He was supposed to be forgotten for life.
His organisation and millions who shared his ideals around the world kept the memory of Madiba, and his comrades inside and outside the country alive until the dawn of freedom.
Tata Madiba, as President of the ANC, became the first President of the democratic South Africa after the 1994 elections.
He led the nation through a difficult period of reconciliation and nation building, implementing his organisation’s policies and encouraging South Africans to accept one another and bury the past, without forgetting it.
We welcome the fact that President Mandela, as leader of the ANC, is now embraced even by those who disagreed with him and his organisation in the not too distant past.
The embracing of Madiba by all demonstrates the success of the reconciliation policy of the ANC-led government, implemented since 1994.
It should be counted as amongst the key victories of the post-apartheid State and its policies.
However, it should be stated for the record that the Madiba of 1994 is the same Madiba who was a freedom fighter and commander-in-chief of uMkhonto Wesizwe, the Madiba of the Defiance Campaign, of the Rivonia Trial and other critical milestones in the country’s liberation struggle.
He cannot be separated from his history, his comrades and his organisation. He cannot be separated from the struggle for liberation.
Meaningful reconciliation must come from accepting people for who they truly are, and not what we want them to be. Let us love the real Madiba and not our own creations designed to suit certain ends.
Parties cannot claim to have embraced Madiba and still, as Honourable Peters pointed out in her call for consistency in political convictions and actions by opposition parties, “continue to perpetuate the policies of our painful apartheid past” as is happening in some parts of the country.
We must join hands to celebrate Madiba’s birthday on the 18th of July fully understanding and accepting what he stands for.
Each one of us is called upon to contribute community service for at least 67 minutes on Mandela Day, emulating this great man who inspires billions around the world.
As government we remain steadfast in following our leader, Madiba, in doing what the Freedom Charter and Constitution calls on us to do – to build a South Africa that belongs to all, black and white.
We assure Honourable Pieter Mulder that we remain committed to these ideals in word and in deeds.
This is however a two-way process. We trust that Honourable Mulder’s party will also support government in its efforts of building a non-racial society, by aligning its own programmes and policies with this non-racial ethos.
So should all other parties that now claim to follow Madiba and the ANC policies that he espouses.
We appreciate all comments on the National Planning Commission’s diagnostic report. Members have understood the purpose of the report.
We established the National Planning Commission for good reasons.
We felt that the country needed a team of people who were not part of the bureaucracy.
The 25 independent commissioners were assigned to take a dispassionate view about our country to tell us where we are, and how we can get to the prosperous society we seek, using their expertise in various disciplines.
Honourable Shenge makes an observation that the NPC holds the potential to arrest the bureaucratic practice of making excuses and passing the buck.
That is indeed the value of the NPC. If we were to do this ourselves inside government, we may be tempted to make excuses and pass the buck.
We want all South Africans to confront the reality mentioned in the report and make their inputs, so that we can together enhance our vision for a prosperous society by 2030.
Of course I did notice that this report is being read selectively.
I urge Honourable Members that they should make a constructive contribution in enhancing the report and contribute to enhancing the national plan of the country.
They must not use it for narrow political reasons.
We will continue with our programmes of people-centred governance.
We will visit communities to gain a firsthand account of governance as outlined by Hon Deputy Minister Pule.
Our helpful hands-on visits have enabled us to discover shocking conditions that people live under, for example in the Khanana settlement near Gugulethu right here in Cape Town.
It is quite telling that no DA Member of Parliament has ever raised the issue of the living conditions of those residents in this House and suggested solutions.
In continuing with our quest for improved service delivery and a better life, we will pursue the sustainable development model, as outlined by Hon Ruth Bhengu.
She reminded us of the context and background in which our social transformation takes place, and that during the apartheid era, services were provided to communities along racial, class and geographical location divides.
“In the past, first world services were preserved for the rich communities in leafy suburbs. Townships and peri-urban communities received sub-standard services and poor communities in rural areas received no services”.
We will now move away from simply building houses for the poor and work towards building more united, non-racial and integrated communities across our cities and towns.
This will take time and effort, but work has been on-going to ensure that new human settlements are more non-racial and involve the creation of mixed-income communities.
This project is a big test for the new “non-racialists”. We want to see how many will actively support us on this route.
To achieve our goals, we are building a performance-oriented State. We have identified public service top managers as key to changing the way government works.
It is for this reason that I met with Directors-General last year, and continue to engage with them to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the State, assisted by Deputy Minister Pule.
We are making progress. The DGs have committed themselves to improve services in frontline service departments that deal directly with the public, such as the police, home affairs, social development, health, education, justice and SARS to name just a few.
The DGs have also committed themselves to achieve concrete deliverables to address corruption.
They will ensure the finalisation of 80% of public service disciplinary cases within 90 days of the initiation of the disciplinary process.
They will improve feedback to the public on the National Anti-Corruption Hotline cases, from 10% in 2010 to 100% by 2012.
They will also promote compliance with all prescripts and ensure the training of staff in ethics.
Our work is ongoing and there are various other areas of work that we are still discussing, including the role of the Presidency and Premiers’ offices in assessing the performance of government departments and accounting officers.
The final outcome will be a visible improvement in service delivery and citizen care.
We share Honourable Bantu Holomisa’s concern about the culture of disrespect for the law that we see during protests.
We urge our law enforcement agencies to continue to maintain law and order at all times during demonstrations, acting within the confines of the law and the Constitution.
You are correct Honourable Smuts. Indeed you and I do have an annual conversation about the Chief Justice of the Republic!
I have noted your concerns about the extension of the term of office of the Chief Justice.
Section 8 (a) and (b) of the Judges’ Remuneration and Conditions of Employment Act, 2001 authorises the President to request the Chief Justice and the President of the Supreme Court of Appeal to continue to perform active service from the date on which they are eligible to be discharged from active service, for a period determined by the President.
This law was passed by this House 10 years ago after careful consideration. I therefore acted in terms of an existing law.
Now we are being told by some in this House and in the legal fraternity, that this law is unconstitutional. They have been sitting with this law all these years, and now they say it is a problem.
If there are views that the law we used needs enhancement or that it is not sufficiently clear, this can be dealt with in the Superior Courts Bill that is currently before Parliament.
Since he began his term as Chief Justice, Judge Sandile Ngcobo has been praised by a wide section of society and opposition parties, Honourable Smuts included.
We urge all parties to respect the independence of the judiciary and the integrity and dignity of the office of the Chief Justice. They must not use the office as a political football.
Honourable Members we have also noted the anxiety brought about by the Protection of Information Bill.
Let me emphasise that the Bill has no malicious intent. It is intended to help us establish the practice and the principles of handling State information.
All nation states have similar legislation, even the oldest democracies.
This Bill is now before this House and the concerns and issues raised by the Honourable Smuts need to be debated by this House.
The Honorable Mufamadi and Honourable Fubbs reminded us of the central role of economic transformation to help us fight poverty, inequality and unemployment.
We agree with Honourable Fubbs on the need to ensure that equity is implemented back to back with inclusive economic growth, using procurement effectively to broaden black economic empowerment instead of promoting narrow economic elitism.
Hon Mufamadi raised the critical point that economic transformation is not just about black economic empowerment transactions or appointing women to positions.
It is about how the structure of the economy should look like to meet the objectives of national unity.
We should engage in this debate and not avoid it, for true economic freedom must indeed be achieved in our lifetime.
Honourable Mphahlele, we thank you for your support of the Presidential Hotline and the value you see in it, with regards to providing access to the Presidency for ordinary people.
We noted your concerns and are working on mechanisms to improve the operations of the Hotline. We in particular want to use it as a monitoring and evaluation tool and not just as a communication and problem solving tool.
We will use lessons from cases received to improve service delivery.
Honourable Godi, the African Renaissance Fund is a project of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation and still exists.
That Department will be able to provide the necessary information.
We have no idea where Honourable Lekota obtained the sums of money spent on consultants in the Presidency.
The amount spent on consultants for the 2009-2010 financial year is only R58 305.
Honourable James seems to have forgotten that the salaries of office bearers, including the President, are recommended by the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers, and that this House determines the President’s salary.
In addition, the budget of a smaller Presidential office in 1994, during which the Offices of the President and Deputy President were separate departments, cannot be compared to the Presidency of 2011, where the two are now one office, which has bigger responsibilities.
A number issues raised by the speakers in this House were raised in my recent meeting with leaders of parties represented in the National Assembly.
I informed them then that the issues needed to be raised with the ANC. The same situation applies here as I presented the Budget vote as President of the Republic.
Honourable Bhoola reminded us of a key challenge we face on the battle of ideas.
There is a need for a media that provides space for parties including government to state their views and communicate their programmes, even if the media owners and editorial managers disagree with the views expressed.
Evidence of Honourable Bhoola’s concerns is clear when one looks at Independent Newspapers today.
For example, the readers of the Cape Times newspaper were not given an opportunity to know fully what was said in the Presidency Budget Vote speeches and make up their own minds.
The lead story, “MPs launch attack on Zuma” focuses on what the Opposition said without first giving readers an opportunity to know what had been said in the first place!
We trust that the media will find time to seriously conduct introspection and debate such issues internally, as they become defensive and claim press freedom violations when such matters are pointed out to them.
Let me remind you of the request by Deputy President Mothlanthe for all sectors to participate effectively in the drafting of the new National Strategic Plan on HIV, AIDS, TB and STI’s, for 2012 to 2016. We should work hard to meet the World Aids Day deadline.
I join the Deputy President in expressing our gratitude for the support and recognition of our efforts at fighting HIV and AIDS have received from the UN Secretary General Mr Ban ki Moon and the UN AIDS Executive Director, Mr Michel Sidibe.
We congratulate all South Africans for progress being made in the fight against AIDS.
Minister Trevor Manuel mentioned that South Africa champions the North-South infrastructure corridor, focusing on road and rail, and that the President of the Republic is the champion of the project, assisted by Minister Manuel.
Six other heads of States champion other projects under the auspices of NEPAD.
As we work towards an African common market we will need to open these networks to transport goods and services within Africa.
The North-South Corridor is the busiest and is one of the key trading routes in sub-Saharan Africa.
We will discuss the project further at the AU Heads of State Summit at Equatorial Guinea at the end of June.
We would like to extend our heartiest congratulations to the Baby Springboks, the country’s under-20 rugby team, who yesterday won their second game at the Junior World Championship in Treviso, Italy.
They scored a convincing 42-26 win over Ireland. We wish them all the best at the tournament.
We congratulate Noni Tenge of Mdantsane, the new IBF Welterweight boxing champion, who became the first woman from the African continent to win a major world boxing title.
We will continue focusing on improving service delivery and ensuring that people obtain the better life we speak about.
We will continue working hard to achieve a truly equal and non-racial society.
We will continue the pursuit of economic freedom and to transform our economy at ownership, management and productive levels to ensure that it responds to the development challenges facing the country.
We will continue the pursuit of economic growth that will create jobs for our people and help us reverse unemployment, inequality and poverty.
We have done well in 17 years of freedom and democracy. We still have a long way to go to reverse the legacy of centuries of colonial oppression and apartheid.
However, working together with our people, we will achieve our goals.
I thank you.