Deputy Speaker, hon Deputy President, hon Ministers, comrades and friends, it is said that the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. Perhaps I should start off by observing that next year we are celebrating 20 years of freedom and democracy. Our tree is blossoming and continuing to grow. The 2013 MTBPS adds another sprig to this growth period, as we forge ahead towards the realisation of Vision 2030.
Let me also take the opportunity to thank our Minister of Finance, the hon Pravin Gordhan, and his Deputy Minister Nene for their unwavering stewardship, focus, and resilience. Together with the director-general and his team, they are a formidable team. South Africa should thank them for the brilliant work they are doing. [Applause.]
The tabling of the 2013 MTBPS took place in October, a month in which we celebrated the 32nd annual World Food Day. South Africa, together with the global community, embraces "Sustainable food systems for food security and nutrition." World food month is even more important for South Africa, in the light of the Census 2011 revelation that South Africans spend 12,8% of their income on food. This figure will be even higher for those in low- income households.
It is against this backdrop that the ANC welcomes the adjustments made to the budget of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. More specifically, the ANC welcomes the additional adjustment of R4,3 million allocated for the disaster relief component of the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme, CASP, grant.
The 2013 MTBPS revealed that agricultural output grew by 3,6% in the first half of 2013, compared to the same period in 2012. It is also pleasing to know that over the medium term agriculture will grow faster, owing to the growth in African markets. Improved management of water resources, and better integration of small-scale farmers through market access, financial support, and resolution of outstanding land claims will contribute to this faster growth. Census 2011 also noted the following fundamental points - that agriculture, as a sector, contributes about 2,2% of the country's GDP and 5,2% to employment, and that a total of 2,9 million households are involved in agriculture. When it comes to Rural Development and Land Reform, ...
... waarvoor ek baie lief is, en ek hou baie daarvan om oor daardie twee departemente te praat ... [... which I love, and I am fond of speaking about those two departments ...]
... we are pleased that the budget for the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform remains unchanged at R9,5 billion, as per our appropriation at the start of the financial year. It can be argued that the effective implementation of policy to improve the lives of the rural poor will, by definition, have a direct benefit for the rural poor and society in general. To this end, the department is committed. It is our responsibility to ensure this is expedited and achieved.
As I have mentioned in previous speeches in this House, the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform is a key priority of government. The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform carries the hopes and aspirations of our people who reside in rural areas. It is in this spirit that we are pleased that the department is on course to achieve its performance targets, as shown by the following midyear achievements: a total of 2 296 households are already producing their own food through the rural development programme; 87 318 ha of land have been acquired through the land reform programme; and 552 youth have participated in the National Rural Youth Services Corps. The department must ensure that small-scale farm households have access to state-sponsored agricultural development programmes.
We welcome the budget available for the Office of the Land Valuer-General. We believe that that office will play a very important role in transparent land reform.
Our support for this budget reaffirms our commitment to the provision of skills development and training support for emerging farmers and, most importantly, for job creation in land reform projects, with the aim of creating a world-class agricultural and agroprocessing industry.
The ongoing land reform process should be seen as a golden opportunity where we as South Africans can lay our differences to rest and focus on building a social compact for the benefit of future generations.
Perhaps I should take this opportunity to say that I concur with the sentiments that hon Minister Pravin Gordhan shared recently at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Houghton when he said that "there is too much despair ... We need to recognise the good work we've done". Minister, there is too much, unnecessary, despair. This deliberate imposition of the doom-and- gloom mentality reminds me of the notion of the glass being half full or half empty. This notion is used to emphasise the difference between positive and negative thinking or optimism and pessimism. It is high time that we erase this irresponsible pessimism and focus on practical realism.
The reality is that South Africa is a land of many opportunities. [Interjections.] Ours is a garden of possibilities. Ours is the Garden of Eden. Let us all work together to build an agricultural sector that can support and underpin industrial growth, peace and prosperity. [Interjections.]
Daar is 'n ander aspek waaraan ons ook indringend moet aandag gee en waarvoor ons baie dankbaar is. Dit is die openbare sektor - die staatsdiensamptenare wat 'n akademie gaan kry en waarby hulle volledig en behoorlik opgelei sal word om 'n stabiele en 'n respekvolle staatsdienskorps daar te stel.
In ag genome wat vandag hier ges is, is dit mos so dat politieke partye voor verkiesings - veral die opposisie - negatief word. Wie het markte oopgemaak vir Suid-Afrika in hierdie land? [Tussenwerpsels.] Dit was die ANC-regering! [Applous.] Wie het markte vir lande oopgemaak in Afrika, in Asi en in Indi? Dit was hierdie ANC-regering! [Applous.] Wie het besighede in Afrika oopgemaak? Dit was hierdie ANC-regering! [Applous.]
Dit is wat gaan gebeur, want hier is lede aan hierdie kant wat redelik naby aan my sit, wat 'n klompie jare gelede ges het: As dit met Suid-Afrika swak gaan, gaan dit met die opposisie goed. Hier is nog 'n spreker van die DA wat later gaan praat, en ek kan nou vir u s wat hy gaan s. Hy gaan ook negatief wees, en hy gaan ook in elk geval pessimisties wees. [Tussenwerpsels.]
Hierdie land se finansile sake is in goeie hande, danksy Pravin Gordhan, danksy Adjunkminister Nene, en danksy die uitvoerende gesag. [Applous.] Ons salueer hulle. Suid-Afrika is op die regte pad. Ek dank u. [Applous.] (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)
[There is another aspect we need to pay keen attention to and for which we are very grateful. It is the public sector - the government officials who will get an academy where they will be fully and properly trained to establish a stable and respected government corps.
Taking into consideration what was said here today, it is indeed the case that political parties become very negative before elections - especially the opposition. Who opened markets for South Africa in this country? [Interjections.] It was the ANC government! [Applause.] Who opened markets in Africa, in Asia and in India? It was this ANC government! [Applause.] Who opened businesses in Africa? It was this ANC government! [Applause.]
This is what is going to happen, because there are members on this side, who are sitting fairly close to me, who said a couple of years ago: When South Africa is doing badly, the opposition is doing well. There is another speaker from the DA who is going to speak later, and I can already tell you what he is going to say. He is going to be negative too, and he is also, in any case, going to be pessimistic. [Interjections.]
This country's financial affairs are in good hands, thanks to Pravin Gordhan, thanks to Deputy Minister Nene, and thanks to the executive authority. [Applause.] We salute them. South Africa is on the right path. I thank you. [Applause.]]