I meant to say deputy! [Laughter.] Hon Deputy President of the Republic, hon members, esteemed guests, fellow South Africans, thank you for the opportunity afforded the Presidency to share its programmes and plans.
The Deputy President, hon Kgalema Motlanthe, and the Ministers in the Presidency will join me in outlining the focus areas of the work of the Presidency.
We will need the support of the hon members of Parliament, as we strive to achieve our mission of building a Presidency and government that are responsive, interactive and effective.
This Budget Vote debate complements the discussion we had on the state of the nation address some two weeks ago. In that address we outlined 10 priorities for government over the next five years. We made a commitment that working together will speed up economic growth and transform the economy to create decent work and sustainable livelihoods.
We said we would introduce a massive programme to build economic and social infrastructure.
We undertook to develop and implement a comprehensive rural development strategy, linked to land and agrarian reform, and food security. We also said we would strengthen the skills and human resource base, and improve the health profile of all South Africans.
We said that, working together with all South Africans, we would intensify the fight against crime and corruption. We added that we would build cohesive, caring and sustainable communities.
We also pointed out that, working with Africa and the rest of the world, we would pursue African advancement and enhanced international co-operation. We would also ensure sustainable resource management and use.
This, we said, would require that we work with the people and our public servants in particular, to build a developmental state, improve public services and strengthen democratic institutions. We have to work harder and smarter to achieve all these objectives, and we believe that the leadership of government is equal to the task.
The Presidency, as the nerve centre of government, will strive to provide efficient oversight and support to enable national departments and all spheres of government to perform their work. As you are aware, we announced a reconfigured Cabinet structure last month. The restructuring took place after intense reflection on what had and hadn't worked over the past 15 years. The changes were also a product of a very extensive public engagement process.
We are fortunate in South Africa to have a highly active and very vocal population. We interacted with thousands of South Africans last year and early this year in various forums. They told us that they wanted to see an urgent improvement in service delivery. Their views added to what our internal reviews had indicated. They made it clear that we have very good policies, but that these will only improve people's lives more effectively if the Public Service becomes more responsive, interactive and effective.
The complaints raised included, amongst other things, the weaknesses in local government, the poor quality of some of the public services rendered by national and provincial spheres, and the failure to respond to inquiries and complaints and to provide information.
Other complaints pointed to poor strategic planning across the three spheres of government and weak monitoring and evaluation. It became clear to us that we had to improve the capacity of the State, and also change the culture and ethos of government in order to improve service delivery. We have, since the inauguration, invested time and resources on setting up systems and to establish new government structures, based on our priorities.
The technical restructuring is very important, but a key factor is also to deal with the human angle, as the services are provided by human beings for human beings.
We must therefore improve the performance of the Public Service, and bring to life our People First, or Batho Pele, principles. We have to introduce, without delay, a culture of hard work, courtesy and accountability amongst staff in the Public Service. This we will do to achieve our goal of building a government that is responsive, interactive and effective. We will come back to this issue later.
I would like to share with the House, hon Speaker, some of the reasons why we changed certain government departments or created new ones. I will cite just a few:
We had to improve the ability of the Presidency to give leadership to, and exercise oversight on government. We had to introduce a system of integrated strategic planning and the alignment of plans and programmes across all the spheres of government.
These plans will take into account the socioeconomic potential of each district and metro and assist them to exploit their comparative advantages to the full. The Ministry in the Presidency responsible for the National Planning Commission was introduced to lead this process.
We also deemed it necessary to improve the capacity for effective monitoring and evaluation, hence the creation of the Ministry responsible for that task in the Presidency.
As we said during the state of the nation address, housing is not just about building houses. It is also about transforming our residential areas and building communities with greater access to work and social amenities, including sports and recreation facilities. This has informed the creation of the Ministry for Human Settlements.
The mining sector provides a strategic link to the global economy. It is also a major labour-intensive sector and has various other advantages for our economy, which is why it was made a stand-alone Ministry.
Given our energy needs and the role of this sector in a developing economy, it is a crucial area of work for the country, which is why it also needed special attention as a fully fledged Ministry.
We made education a key priority over the next five years, which necessitated a renewed emphasis on this portfolio. The Basic Education Ministry will focus on adult basic education and training, as well as primary and secondary education.
The Higher Education Ministry focuses on tertiary, technical and vocational training as well as skills development, which includes the Setas.
The International Relations and Co-operation designation refines the mandate of the former Department of Foreign Affairs to include a focus on development co-operation, in which we want to continue investing for the good of the continent and our own region.
We divided Agriculture and Land Affairs into two Ministries and created a Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. The special focus on agriculture is important to better expand agricultural production including the regulation of and support for the commercial sector - big and small. The fisheries sector is a critical part of the limited natural resources base of the country and is critical for food security, and will require our utmost attention.
By establishing a Ministry of Rural Development and Land Affairs, we seek to ensure optimal focus on putting into action our goal of changing the face of rural areas through meaningful socioeconomic development initiatives. We are convinced that this new Ministry will contribute immensely to our drive to ensure food security and, broadly, the improvement of the quality of life of rural communities.
Combining Water and Environmental Affairs provides a consolidated approach to the environment and matters of sustainability. Besides the implementation of our strategies on the management of water resources, its functions will also include a regulatory task encompassing all environmental management matters.
We also want to focus more on improving intergovernmental relations, hence the recognition and reconfiguration of the former Department of Provincial and Local Government to Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs. Given the central role of traditional leadership matters, especially in rural areas, we felt it important to give this function an intensive focus.
The Deputy President will assist the President by leading efforts in engaging with traditional, religious and linguistic communities.
The functions of the Department of Public Service and Administration are being refined to include the management of personnel and related matters in the local government sphere, in line with proposed legislation for a single Public Service.
Meanwhile, most indicators show that there is growth in the tourism sector, and we rely on it to create many more jobs, hence the decision to create a Ministry solely for this function.
Some people are wondering why we have both the Department of Trade and Industry and that of Economic Development. Trade matters will require a strong focus to have a direct impact on industrial organisation and output.
The Economic Development portfolio will have a strong domestic focus and will address, amongst other things, matters of macro- and microeconomic development planning. We say this, very much aware that, in terms of legislation, the National Treasury co-ordinates macroeconomic policy.
The affected Ministries are working together to align work and detailed responsibilities.
Hon Speaker, already the new cluster system, made up of seven as distinct from the previous five clusters, is functional. Ministers and directors- general are currently finalising cluster programmes of action to ensure that government meets its objectives. These programmes set out concrete activities to meet each of our strategic priorities. Attached to each activity is a timeframe for the achievement of specific concrete objectives.
Hon members, the last fifteen years have exposed serious gaps in intergovernmental co-ordination. Too often we have observed different spheres of government acting in a manner that is sometimes contradictory. The reshaping of government cannot therefore exclude the provincial and local spheres. The three spheres have to co-operate with one another in mutual trust, as the supreme law of our land enjoins them to do.
We are in the process of reviewing the President's Co-ordinating Council in which the President meets with the Premiers to make intersphere co- ordination more effective. A number of ideas are being put forward, including that of possibly including executive mayors of the metropolitan municipalities in the PCC in order to improve planning and monitoring and evaluation.
There is a dedicated team of people who are overseeing the re-organisation of government. The experience of the last few weeks demonstrates that all these changes are being handled with care and dedication.
Where legislation is required, Parliament will be requested to assist us. We are on track and are pleased with the progress made.
Hon Speaker, the establishment of the Ministry and corresponding department that will focus solely on issues affecting women, children and persons with disabilities means that this will be the last time that this function reports to the NA as part of the Budget Vote of The Presidency. We are confident that this change will result in better - and not less - focus on these vulnerable groups.
As the Presidency, we will continue to lend this Ministry all our support. We will do so because we know that a society in which women, children and persons with disabilities remain marginalised, cannot claim to be truly free. Minister Noluthando Mayende-Sibiya will outline the plans of the new Ministry.
Hon members will recall our statement that the eradication of poverty would be the cornerstone of this government's programme of action. The Deputy President of the Republic will, amongst other responsibilities, lead us in championing the fight against poverty. This will include the integration of government plans and the mobilisation of social partners. Government cannot wage this war alone.
Hon Speaker, as part of building a responsive, interactive and effective government, we must strengthen our partnerships with society. We are in the process of reviewing our public and stakeholder forums such as the current Presidential Working Groups, advisory councils and izimbizo. We also want to improve and strengthen the functioning and capacity of institutions such as Nedlac. Our objective is to build an enduring partnership informed by the shared interests of all social partners and society at large.
This principle applies equally, if not more so, to our fight against HIV and Aids. The South African National Aids Council, Sanac, has been exemplary in this regard. The Deputy President leads our efforts in this partnership, and he will outline the progress made and the challenges we face.
As Leader of Government Business in Parliament, our Deputy President will be responsible for building stronger relations between the executive and the legislature, as well as with political parties represented in Parliament.
The President will also prioritise the need to maintain positive and co- operative relations with the Opposition, in the spirit outlined during both the inauguration and state of the nation addresses. [Applause.] Our aim is to build a more cohesive society, where all of us, irrespective of race, class or political persuasion, contribute to making South Africa succeed.
Hon Speaker, we said in the state of the nation address that the global recession is one of the challenges that we will need to work together on as political parties and other sectors. We are now being hit by the full force of the recession.
Many jobs have been lost. The Quarterly Employment Survey of formal sector businesses reported that the first quarter of 2009 saw the loss of 179 000 jobs. The most affected sectors are retail and wholesale, financial, manufacturing, mining and construction.
While we know that our efforts cannot fully compensate for the impact of the crisis, we have intervened in various ways, as agreed in our framework agreement on the response to the crisis.
The IDC, the DTI, the Department of Labour and the Department of Public Works and others are working hard in response to the challenge of job losses.
Government will be making a further intervention, a final draft proposal for a training lay-off scheme, to our social partners early next week. The point of this scheme is to keep at least some workers in their jobs and train them during this slow period. They will receive relevant training, benefits and an allowance in place of their wage, for a period of time.
Compatriots, we are meeting during national Youth Month, and accordingly, last week, on June 16, we celebrated the 33rd anniversary of the Soweto uprisings and National Youth Day.
On this day we launched the National Youth Development Agency, which demonstrates our determination and commitment to deal with issues of youth development in an integrated and effective manner.
On June 16 we also underlined the critical importance of youth themselves playing an active role in addressing the challenges that they face. We said so, believing that the youth are the primary agents of their own development. The Minister in the Presidency now responsible for youth development, Collins Chabane, will further elaborate on the various youth development interventions.
Hon members, we have committed ourselves to promote effective two-way communication between citizens and the Presidency. I must stress that the primary purpose of the pending President's hotline and the public liaison directorate is to improve service delivery.
Angigcizelele Somlomo ukuthi sifuna ukwakha uhulumeni olalela maqede aphendule, oxhumanayo nabantu nowenza into ebonakalayo. Sizokhuthaza yonke iminyango kahulumeni, izifundazwe nomasipala ukuba bavule iminyango baxhumane kangcono nabantu baxazulule izinkinga kusenesikhathi.
Abantu bathi ukuxhumana akukho kahle. Uma beshayela uhulumeni badluliselwa kubantu abaningi baze badikibale bengalutholanga usizo. Lokhu kufanele kuphele.
Sisebenzela bona abantu baseNingizimu Afrika kufanele sibaphathise okwezikhali zamaNtungwa. (Translation of isiZulu paragraphs follows.)
[Hon Speaker, let me accentuate this, we need to build a government that listens and answers, which liaises with people and does tangible things.
We will encourage all government departments, provinces and the municipalities to open communication departments and to liaise better with people in solving problems timeously.
People say that there is a lack of communication. When they call government departments they are placed on hold until they lose their patience, without being helped. This must stop.
We are serving the people of South Africa; we must take good care of them.] The efficiency of the Presidency's public liaison mechanism rests on the co- operation of the national departments and the nine Premiers' offices, as most enquiries and complaints relate to their work.
In this regard, the Presidency is working with the Government Communications and Information System, GCIS, to establish a national liaison forum. This forum, to comprise officials representing all government departments and Premier's offices, will enable Presidency public liaison personnel to obtain quick responses to enquiries and complaints from counterparts in all government offices across these spheres.
A skeleton staff complement has already begun working on the correspondence and enquiries being received. We are already experiencing an increase in correspondence volumes, from an average of about 300 letters around April, to about 700 as we speak, for the month of June alone.
Hon Speaker, for most South Africans, government is the administrative clerk they see when they go to apply for a government document or any other service. We wish to reiterate, therefore, that government must improve its performance in frontline services and substantially reduce waiting periods in order to enhance service delivery.
Government departments that provide services directly to the public should also clearly specify the standard of service citizens should expect, including the appropriate behaviour of officials. They must outline the waiting periods and the quality of service, and the mechanisms of redress should those standards not be met.
We must also implement and monitor the decision that staff dealing directly with the public should wear name tags to ensure a more personal connection with the public. [Applause.] This will enable members of the public to provide the names of officials in the event of compliments or complaints.
These are just some of the improvements we can implement in order to make the lives of South Africans less stressful and costly.
We must emphasise that we are also aware of the difficulties under which some public servants work, especially health care workers, the police and others who work long hours under difficult conditions. We are committed to improving their working environment.
Hon members, we outlined most of our international plans in the state of the nation address, and others were outlined by the Minister of International Relations and Co-operation in that department's Budget Vote debate. We will touch on just a few of these.
South Africa will continue to participate in international forums and to deepen our relations with regions and nations of the world.
Our intention is to advance the implementation of the Nepad, improve the regional climate for growth and development, as well as place the developmental requirements of the continent on the global agenda.
We will continue to promote developmental partnerships with other countries of the continent. We will also prioritise regional integration.
We will play our role in strengthening the AU and its structures and promote the implementation of the African Peer Review Mechanism.
We will continue to assist in peacekeeping operations and in the reconstruction and development of the African continent. We will promote the entrenchment of democratic forms of government and respect for human rights on the African continent and in other parts of the world.
Within southern Africa, we plan to play an active role in efforts aimed at strengthening SADC. As the current chair of SADC, we will continue to support the inclusive government in Zimbabwe and render whatever assistance our capacity allows.
We urge countries of the developed North to join the continent in assisting the people of Zimbabwe to lift themselves out of the socioeconomic difficulties they face.
We will also play our role in supporting the SADC-appointed facilitator in Madagascar, former President Joaquim Chissano, and his team. A sustainable solution needs to be found to resolve the impasse in that country.
Further afield, it is in South Africa's interest to ensure that the current momentum within the G20 is maintained and that it does not only focus on efforts to mitigate the current global crisis.
All of us know that the undemocratic and inequitable nature of the institutions and systems of global economic governance forms part of the real underlying causes of this crisis.
We will continue to work with countries and organisations of the developing south to deal with these and other global matters. For us, the strategic partnership with India, Brazil and China constitutes a critical pillar of our international relations. As such, we see it as very important that the Ibsa agreements and action plans are implemented.
Hon members, the past few days have demonstrated our passion for football as well as our track record as good hosts. We gave our word, as a people, that the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup would be a huge success. [Applause.] Working together as a nation and as a continent, we have delivered. The tournament is going exceptionally well. As in all dress rehearsals, we have learnt valuable lessons, and we are certain that the 2010 Soccer World Cup will be even more successful.
The Deputy President, as Chairperson of the 2010 Interministerial Committee, will lead our efforts towards making this initiative one that the world will not forget for many years to come.
May I take this opportunity to wish Bafana Bafana well in the game with Brazil tomorrow night. [Applause.] The nation will be behind them. We can be surprised by the Brazilians, did you know that? [Laughter.]
As good hosts, let us also support all other games and all other teams until the end of the tournament.
Hon Speaker, let me emphasise that we want to work with all political parties and all sectors of society to successfully fight poverty and to build a prosperous South Africa whose people, black and white, live in harmony. We also want to work with all political parties, all sectors and all our public servants to build a government that is responsive, interactive and effective.
Masibambisane sakhe uhulumeni olalela maqede aphendule, oxhumanayo nabantu, nowenza into ebonakalayo. [Let us work together and build the government that listens and answers, which liaises with people and does tangible things.]
Working together, we shall do more to meet our mandate.
Let me use this opportunity to thank the Deputy President and the Ministers in the Presidency, the Director-General, advisors, senior management, as well as all the staff members for their support. We have made a good start and we are looking forward to excellent teamwork in the Presidency as we perform our tasks at the apex of our system of government.
It is my honour to commend the Budget of the Presidency for 2009-10 to this august House. I thank you. [Applause.]