Hon Speaker, hon Deputy President, Deputy Speaker, Ministers and Deputy Ministers, hon members, esteemed special guests ...
... molweni nonke. [... good day, everyone.]
Once again ...
... nginomkhuhlanyana uma ngikhwehlela ningasho ukuthi ngiyaziqhenya. Gatsheni, ngiyabona ukuthi kunomkhunkuli okhunkula njalo uma ngiza la. [Uhleko.] (Translation of isiZulu paragraph follows.)
[... I have a touch of the flu, so if I cough please do not say that I am being arrogant. Gatsheni (Clan name), I suspect that there is a witch who is always bewitching me whenever I come here. [Laughter.]]
Thank you for the opportunity to present the Budget Vote of the Presidency to this august House. Today, 12 June, marks the 49th anniversary of the sentencing of President Nelson Mandela to life imprisonment in 1964. On this crucial historical anniversary, our thoughts are with President Mandela and his family. [Applause.] I am happy to report that Madiba has been responding better to treatment since this morning. [Applause.] We are very happy with the progress that he is now making, following a difficult few days.
We appreciate the messages of support from all over the world. It is an honour for us as South Africans to share Madiba with the international community. [Applause.] We fully understand and appreciate the global interest in this world icon. We are so proud to call him our own. We urge South Africans and the international community to continue to keep President Mandela and his medical team in their thoughts and prayers.
During this month of June, we celebrate the contribution of young people who sacrificed immensely so that this country could be free, and so that those coming after them can live a better life. They emulated the youth leaders of the 1940s, Anthony Lembede, Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu, and others, who knew what was best for this country and its people. Because of their sacrifices and the foundation that was laid for a free and democratic South Africa, our country is a much better place to live in now than it was before 1994 ... [Applause.] ... even though we still have so much work to do.
There are generations of young people who acquitted themselves well in the struggle for our liberation. In this context, we remember in particular Ashley Kriel, the courageous uMkhonto weSizwe cadre who operated here in Cape Town. [Applause.] He was tragically murdered by a security policeman in July 1987. We extend a warm welcome to our special guests, his sisters Michelle Assure and Melanie Adams, who are with us today. [Applause.] May his fighting spirit live forever. [Applause.]
As we move towards 20 years of freedom, we also fondly remember a remarkable woman and fearless freedom fighter and human rights lawyer, Ms Phyllis Naidoo, who sadly passed away on 13 February this year. [Applause.] We are joined today by her daughter, Ms Sukthi Naidoo. [Applause.]
The year 2013 is the 20th anniversary of the tragic and brutal assassination of Chris Thembisile Hani. We shall never forget the role he played and the sacrifices he made for our freedom. [Applause.] His dear wife, Mrs Limpho Hani, is our special guest today. [Applause.]
During the difficult years in exile, the ANC ran a highly successful international campaign to isolate the apartheid regime. Among president Oliver Tambo's key lieutenants in executing this campaign was none other than the late Johnny Mfanafuthi Makatini. [Applause.] We extend our warm welcome to his dear wife, Mrs Valerie O'Connor-Makatini, who is in Parliament for the first time today. [Applause.]
We all fondly remember the former Minister for the Public Service and Administration, Mr Roy Padayachie, who passed on so suddenly last year. We thank his wife, Mrs Sally Padayachie, for accepting the invitation to join us today. [Applause.]
I had an opportunity yesterday to have a cup of tea with our special guests. It revealed something to me. As we were making introductions, the first to do so was Mrs Hani, and everybody in the room cried, because they said something had come about for the first time, that they were remembered by this Parliament; that the members of their families could participate. No one could hold back their tears, which said something about the history of where we come from, which, at times, we take for granted, and the families that sacrificed their members.
However, that was followed by very exciting discussions about the history of our struggle, and some of them, our comrades, participated in the struggle. They remembered a lot of incidents where they themselves were part of our struggle. [Applause.] We are very honoured, indeed, that they are here today, because that connects us with the struggle, where we come from, whilst enjoying our democracy today.
As the departmental Budget Votes over the past few weeks have indicated, South Africa is a much better place today than it was before 1994. However, there is still a lot of work to be done to achieve a truly nonracial, nonsexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa. We are building a society in which every household will have access to decent housing, water, sanitation, electricity, quality health care and quality education. It must be a society where all feel safe and where no child goes to bed hungry. We shall not rest until that type of society is achieved, no matter how long it takes. [Applause.]
I would like to share with you and with this House our priorities in the economic and social transformation areas this financial year. The Presidency will this year follow a hands-on approach, working closely with relevant departments and social partners to boost confidence in the economy. We will do this against the background of achievements on the economic front since 1994, which must be borne in mind especially as we face the current economic turbulence. These achievements remind us of what our economy is capable of.
The South African economy has expanded by 83% over the past 19 years of our freedom. [Applause.] The national per capita income has increased from R27 500 in 1993 to R38 500 in 2012, which is an increase of 40%. Disposable per capita income of households has increased by 43%. Today employment has increased by more than 3,5 million since 1994, and we have extended social grants from 2,5 million people in 1994 to about 16 million to date to alleviate the poverty of the unemployed and the vulnerable.
One of the key strengths of our economy is our financial sector, which remains robust and healthy, and is well regarded because it is well regulated. That is why we were able to weather the 2009 financial crisis. Currently, the economy continues to grow, but at a much slower pace than previously expected. This presents challenges for job creation and poverty reduction.
Data released last month showed that real GDP growth slowed to 0,9% in the first quarter of 2013. The eurozone, which is still our largest trading partner, is still steeped in recession. Growth in some major emerging markets has weakened somewhat, affecting the demand and price of our major commodity exports. The rand has become increasingly vulnerable to the global financial situation, including a strong US dollar environment. There is very little we can do about the global economic crisis, but there are things we can do domestically that can assist to improve the resilience of our economy.
We welcome the fact that all stakeholders agree on the need to stabilise the labour relations environment, especially in the mining sector. It is not in the interest of the country to have a tense labour relations environment that is characterised by a weakening of the collective bargaining mechanisms, illegal wildcat strikes, violent protests and loss of life. What we require from social partners is the commitment to resolve labour disputes peacefully, within the framework of the law, and in the interests of workers, employers and the country as a whole.
I recently requested the Deputy President to lead a ministerial team to work with social partners to assist the mining sector with normalising the situation. Work is continuing in this regard and we remain optimistic that a solution will be found. Let me take this opportunity to emphasise that government does not take sides and does not favour any labour union over others in the mining industry. [Applause.] Our interest is in finding solutions.
Now that we have entered the bargaining season in other sectors as well, we urge business and labour to ensure a speedier resolution of wage negotiations. This must take place within the framework of the law and the Constitution. Government cannot act outside of the Constitution and the law. Equally, business and the labour movements cannot act outside the law and the Constitution.
We cannot introduce violence and the killing of people to labour relations. Most importantly, we must not move away from the collective bargaining system and the framework of labour relations that was introduced at the dawn of democracy. Failure to act within the Constitution and the law gives the wrong impression of this critical economic sector in our country, the mining sector. Our law enforcement agencies have been instructed not to tolerate those who commit crime in the name of labour relations. They will face the full might of the law.
We cannot be the ones who undermine our own economy, as various stakeholders. We cannot, on the one hand, call for economic growth, which we all do, and the creation of jobs, which we all do, but, on the other, undermine the conditions that will give birth to that kind of situation of economic growth and job creation.
As we solve these problems, we must bear in mind that we are dealing with an inherited problem. As hon members would be aware, the apartheid system was designed to provide the mines and farms with cheap labour, thereby laying the foundation for the current problems. [Applause.] In the 1960s, when the growth of the mines slowed down and employment on farms began to fall, the apartheid system was too rigid to adjust.
The modernisation of the economy only began in 1994, and we then had to deal with the apartheid legacy of Bantu education, with inadequate skills to take the economy forward. [Applause.] Given the high rate of unemployment, we have a keen interest in saving jobs. We have had to act against the background of structural unemployment that dates back to the 1970s.
Hon members will recall that employment continued to deteriorate during the 90s and also during the last 10 years due to slow growth and declining employment in gold mining and agriculture. Though jobs grew rapidly during the boom of 2003 to 2008, unemployment did not fall below 20%. Employment received another setback due to the recession of 2009. To address this problem, the country needed higher growth and a focus on supporting job creation in a range of ways. We had to do things differently, and we needed to plan better.
We now have a plan to tackle our socioeconomic development challenges, the National Development Plan, NDP. The plan has been one of the foremost achievements of the country since 1994, and it has been adopted by both Cabinet and Parliament, and many sectors of civil society. While there may be differences of opinion on specific details, there is general acceptance of the broad thrust of the National Development Plan. It is normal to have differences of opinion in a democratic society like ours. That is what brings vibrancy to public discourse. That cannot in any way constitute a crisis, otherwise we would not be running a democratic country. We would be running something else.
What we are suggesting, though, is that people must offer constructive inputs on the plan and not just debate it for the sake of it. We have moved to the implementation phase of the plan, incorporating the economic strategies, the New Growth Path, the Industrial Policy Action Plan and the infrastructure development plan, which now fall under the NDP umbrella.
To this end, the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation and the National Planning Commission's Secretariat in the Presidency are converting the National Development Plan's proposals into a Medium-Term Strategic Framework. This framework will inform the work of government for the next five years, and will be aligned with the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework, which informs the budget process. Going forward, all delivery agreements, sector plans, departmental strategic plans, as well as provincial and municipal plans will be aligned to the National Development Plan.
Given that the National Development Plan is a crucial guiding document for all South Africans, it has to be well communicated to all. The Government Communication and Information System, GCIS, and Brand SA will work together to ensure effective communication and marketing of the plan.
As you are aware, the Presidency leads the Presidential Infrastructure Co- ordinating Commission, which is geared to remove bottlenecks in infrastructure delivery. Much of the infrastructure expenditure of R827 billion over the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework Period will be on projects that are already in progress, for which tenders have already been issued. The Ministers responsible for infrastructure shared information on the infrastructure programme during their Budget Votes. Weaknesses in planning and capacity, however, continue to delay the implementation of some projects, a matter that the commission is looking into. It was designed for that purpose.
As part of promoting national reconciliation and economic transformation, the implementation of black economic empowerment policies will continue. A foundation has been laid for black economic empowerment, and over R600 billion in black economic empowerment transactions have been recorded since 1995. [Applause.]
We are seriously concerned about the reach, the impact and the quantity of the empowerment deals and also the level of control and ownership of the economy. The direct black ownership at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange still stands at less than 5%. In addition, annual employment equity reports indicate that white males still own, control and manage the economy. Government is amending the black economic empowerment law to address some of these challenges. We appreciate the contribution of the Presidential Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Council to the law reform process.
Census 2011 revealed that we are essentially a young nation, and that just over a third of the population is under the age of 15. We are thus concerned about youth unemployment. Across the world, governments recognise that growing numbers of young people are left out of labour markets, and that decisive steps must be taken to reverse this trend. As we approach the 20th anniversary of our democracy, young people born in and after 1994 will have completed their education. We must act with speed and determination to ensure that they find good jobs and have other income-generating opportunities.
Last year I requested that discussions at the National Economic Development and Labour Council, Nedlac, on youth employment should be speeded up. I am pleased that the talks led to the comprehensive Youth Employment Accord that was finalised in February this year and signed at the Hector Pieterson Memorial in Soweto on 18 April this year. [Applause.] The accord sets out six commitments by the public and private sectors. These commitments address three cross-cutting issues, improving skills, facilitating exposure to the workplace, and increasing the number of jobs for young people.
On skills, the accord supports second-chance matriculation programmes, as well as other interventions at further education and training level to improve the capacity and capabilities of young people. Already a number of public entities have adopted FET colleges. In government, exposure to workplaces is being facilitated through internship programmes for young people. New job opportunities will be identified for youth in areas such as the green economy and infrastructure projects, as well as in business process services. Our Expanded Public Works Programme, as well as related public sector job initiatives, must now target the youth in increasing numbers.
We also reiterate our call to the private sector to take young people on as employees and interns. We have provided for appropriately structured employment incentives in the accord. This Youth Employment Accord has been endorsed by the main business organisations, namely, Business Unity South Africa and the Black Business Council, as well as the three major trade union federations, the Federation of Unions of South Africa, Fedusa, Cosatu and the National Council of Trade Unions, Nactu. [Applause.] It has the support of youth organisations across the political spectrum, and is the framework for a united effort to tackle youth unemployment.
The President's Award for Youth Empowerment - of which I am patron-in- chief, having taken over from President Mandela in 2009 - marks its 30th anniversary this year. The award was introduced in South Africa in 1983 and over 130 000 young South Africans have taken part in this programme. It is an important partnership with the United Kingdom. To ensure ongoing dialogue with the youth on development issues, the Presidency is to establish a Presidential Youth Working Group. Deputy Minister Obed Bapela will speak further on the Presidency's youth development focus, including the repositioning of the National Youth Development Agency.
We see a crucial role for state-owned enterprises in economic development. In the 2010 Presidency Budget Vote, I announced the establishment of the Presidential Review Committee on State-Owned Enterprises. Cabinet accepted the final report of the committee in April and the implementation detail is being worked out.
Making South Africa an even better place than it is currently will require continued investment in social transformation and nation-building. We must promote unity and social cohesion. We must also enhance positive values and build stronger families and communities to strengthen the social fabric of our society. It is for this reason that we have accelerated the fight against social ills such as drug and substance abuse. We must save our children and the youth from the trap of crime and criminality, drugs, gangs, substance abuse, teenage pregnancy and conflict with the law.
The 2012 annual report of the Central Drug Authority shows that the abuse of hard drugs, such as heroin, cocaine and the drugs known as tik, whoonga or nyaope has reached alarming levels. Increasingly worrying is the reality that these drugs are becoming easily available to children as young as eight years old. During my visit to Eldorado Park in Johannesburg last month, I witnessed at first hand the devastating impact of substance abuse on the lives of young people and their families.
I have directed various government departments to ensure that we address the challenges identified in Eldorado Park, Westbury, Mitchells Plain, and many other communities around the country. In Eldorado Park, with the assistance of law enforcement agencies, a total of 20 drug dens, also known as "lolly lounges", have been closed down. [Applause.] Four addicted children, including an eight-year-old, have been taken to a place of safety. This indicates that we can succeed in this battle. There are 215 local drug action committees around the country, so we dare not fail. They must do their work diligently, assisted by the relevant departments.
As part of nation-building, we also need to ensure that communities are safe and women and children are also safe. We have heard of shocking incidents in recent times, including young people who attacked women old enough to be their grandmothers. Some grandmothers in the town of Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape shared, in the media, their horrific tales of sexual molestation, which is a disgrace to society as a whole. The Departments of Social Development and of Police, as well as that of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, are to prioritise Lusikisiki and other areas, given the ongoing reports of serious abuse. Domestic violence or any form of gender violence is unacceptable and has no place in our country. Law enforcement agencies have been instructed to treat gender violence cases with the utmost urgency and importance. [Applause.]
We have reintroduced the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Units and are re-establishing Sexual Offences Courts. The community must assist us by coming forward with information. Those who are victims of this crime should not suffer in silence either. We welcome the work done by nongovernmental organisations that support women and children. Government working alone will not be able to defeat this scourge.
South Africa is indeed a much better place to live in than it was before 1994. [Applause.] Each year, we move a step further towards achieving our ideal society. The extension of basic services will continue, and so will the monitoring thereof.
Of importance is to obtain feedback directly from citizens. From its inception in October 2009 to 31 March 2013, the Presidential Hotline has received a total of 160 914 cases, of which 90% have been resolved. [Applause.] We also encourage hands-on monitoring by visiting communities as that is the best way of assessing delivery.
As part of the Siyahlola Presidential Monitoring Programme, we have visited a number of communities in the past financial year. For example, in Gauteng, we visited the community of Sweetwaters to address concerns about poor living conditions in 2010. We returned to the community in August last year to check on progress made since the last visit. Following our intervention, a total of 760 housing units have been allocated to the residents from Sweetwaters and Thulamntwana. [Applause.] A total of 177 housing units have been fenced and the remainder will be fenced as and when the budget in the city becomes available. Water and sewer construction and electrification projects are also under way.
In December 2012, in commemoration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we visited Mpumalanga to monitor government's progress in mainstreaming issues of disability, also under the Siyahlola Presidential Monitoring Programme. We are committed to ensuring that the human rights of people with disabilities are respected and that government meets the 2% target of employing people with disabilities. [Applause.]
We are aware of the concerns about poor service delivery in some areas leading to protests by communities. We see in the National Development Plan the relevant blueprint with regard to improving the capacity of the state and turning around the performance of the Public Service to improve the way government works. Part of this intervention includes our ongoing fight against corruption. The Justice, Crime Prevention and Security, JCPS, cluster has outlined the work that is being done to rid our country of corruption. Cluster chairperson, Minister Jeff Radebe, released the names of 42 persons against whom action has been taken by the JCPS Anti- Corruption Task Team and indicated that more will be named in the near future. This surely demonstrates that government is not paying lip service to the fight against corruption. [Applause.]
South Africa continues to play a role on the continent, especially with regard to promoting good governance and economic development as well as and peace and stability. We will continue to promote the effectiveness of the African Union, especially its financial independence.
South Africa also continues to play a role in peacekeeping on the continent. The deployment of SANDF members on the continent under the auspices of the United Nations and the African Union directly contributes to the restoration of peace. It also provides an opportunity for SANDF members to improve their skills in this important responsibility.
During the course of the past financial year, the following external operations continued: the SANDF contingent in support of the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; the SANDF contingent in support of the United Nations-African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur, Sudan; assistance to the Mozambican defence force with antipiracy operations in the Mozambique Channel; provision of disaster aid and relief during floods in Mozambique; and the provision of military advice in the area of military strategy and plans to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Our soldiers have acquitted themselves well on these missions and have represented their country with pride and dedication. [Applause.] We salute them and wish them well. We commend the government and the people of Zimbabwe for finalising the constitution-making process. [Applause.] In this regard, South Africa urges the political leadership in that country to work on the necessary reforms required to create an environment conducive to credible, peaceful, acceptable, free and fair elections. South Africa and the entire SADC region remain ready to continue to assist the government and the people of Zimbabwe in their efforts to implement the Global Political Agreement.
On global matters, South Africa will continue playing its part in reconfiguring global economic arrangements through participation in the International Monetary Fund, IMF, the World Bank, the Group of Twenty Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, G20, the Financial Stability Forum, the World Trade Organisation, and more recently, in partnership with Brazil, Russia, India and China, the Brics countries. We were honoured to host the Brics Summit in March this year and the World Economic Forum in Cape Town last month. [Applause.]
In this difficult economic climate, I would like to once again implore all of us to put our country first in everything we do. [Applause.] We have achieved a lot in a short space of time. South Africa is a much better place to live in today than it was before 1994. [Applause.] Government is determined to continue working hard with all sectors to build a prosperous South Africa.
Let me take this opportunity to thank the Deputy President, the Ministers in the Presidency and the Deputy Minister for their support. [Applause.] I also appreciate the contribution and hard work of the director-general, advisers, senior management and all staff in the Presidency. [Applause.] It is my privilege to commend Budget Vote No 1 to the House. I thank you. [Applause.]