Hon Speaker, Hon Deputy President, Mr Kgalema Motlanthe, hon Deputy Speaker, hon Ministers and Deputy Ministers, hon members, hon premiers, commissions, councils and committees that support the Presidency, directors-general and senior officials, esteemed special guests, boys and girls ... [Laughter.] ... we meet during an important week in our country, when we mark Child Protection Week.
Inspired by the words of President Nelson Mandela, who said: ... there can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children...
We launched Child Protection Week in Galeshewe in Kimberley on Sunday.
The national campaign of government and civil society will include the celebration of International Children's Day on 1 June. By wearing green ribbons this week, we are demonstrating our support for the campaign to protect children from neglect, abuse and exploitation.
To mark Child Protection Week, we are happy to be joined today by three Grade 12 learners who won a Government Communication and Information System, GCIS, state of the nation address debate contest. [Applause.] The exercise promotes the participation of the youth in important matters of state. They are Nonhlanhla Vova from Madiba Comprehensive School in Kagiso ... [Applause.] Please stand, Nonhlanhla, so that we can see who you are. Oh, they are seated on this side. Tru-Hand Kotze from Drie Riviere Horskool in Vereeniging ... [Applause.] ... and Katleho Mahase from Alafang Secondary School in Katlehong. [Applause.]
We meet just a few days after the Global Summit on the Diaspora, which enabled us to consolidate areas of co-operation as Africans and people of African descent from around the world. The summit, which took place on Africa Day, 25 May, was crowned by the announcement that we had won the rights to host the Square Kilometre Array, SKA, telescope, sharing the privilege with Australia. [Applause.] We congratulate the Department of Science and Technology for making it possible for this honour to come to the African continent.
Hon Speaker, we thank you for the opportunity to present the Budget Vote of the Presidency. The Deputy President, Minister Chabane, Minister Manuel and Deputy Minister Obed Bapela and I will share with this august House aspects of our work undertaken to contribute towards advancing the goal of building a better life.
Our role as the Presidency is primarily to supervise government, guided by national priorities and the manifesto of the ruling party, the ANC. We have to ensure that government functions optimally and that the lives of citizens do indeed improve.
The ANC government announced in 2009 that it would improve performance in five key priorities: education; health; rural development and land reform; creating decent work; and the fight against crime.
When the fourth democratic administration came into office, it inherited remarkable progress in the consolidation of democracy and stability, and also the expansion of basic services. However, we realised that we could do better in the implementation of our wonderful policies and programmes, and generally change the way the Public Service worked in order to improve service delivery. There was also a gap in long-term planning and we needed to seriously work hard and look into what South Africa would look like 20 or 30 years from now.
We then reconfigured government. We established two functions in the Presidency, the Ministry for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation as well as the Ministry of the National Planning Commission. We also reconfigured departments and established new ones.
More importantly, we instituted the innovation of signing performance agreements with Ministers. The Ministers, in turn, also signed their own delivery agreements with MECs in the provinces. Reports are given to the President and Cabinet quarterly.
The institution of the performance monitoring and evaluation function in the Presidency is helping us to change the way government works in the manner we had intended. There is now a clear understanding of mandates and responsibilities, and reporting mechanisms. Therefore, we can proudly confirm that we have made significant inroads towards increasing the strategic focus of government and have introduced rigour into the planning, monitoring and evaluation of progress.
The Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation has undertaken a midterm review as we wanted to see how far we had gone towards achieving our goals since 2009. The review indicates progress in the key priorities, but also areas where we still need to improve.
Some of the indicators are good. For example, in education, the enrolment of children in the compulsory schooling age band, 7 to 15 years, had reached over 98% in 2010, which is helping to lay a stronger foundation for better quality basic education. To date, about 8 million learners no longer pay school fees, while 8 million benefit from the school nutrition programme, as part of government's poverty alleviation programme.
In addition, we provide social grants to about 10 million children to alleviate poverty. This is considered very progressive and impressive for a developing country. We have also increased access to higher education programmes by making funding available to children from poor households. In addition, matric results now improve each year, although we must still turn more passes into quality passes.
While everything is going well in some areas, we also know that there are still challenges in some provinces. There are schools where books do not arrive on time, where scholar transport remains a challenge or where children are not taught in decent classrooms and where teachers are not in school, in class, on time, teaching for seven hours a day. But these challenges are being attended to through various interventions.
In the area of health care, the midterm review records progress in many areas. By the end of 2011, the transmission of HIV from mothers to children had declined significantly, ensuring that the lives of more than 30 000 children are protected per annum. [Applause.] Over 15 million people have been tested for HIV since the launch of the HIV Voluntary Counselling and Testing campaign and approximately 1,7 million people are receiving treatment, making it the largest programme of its kind in the world.
We congratulate the SA National Aids Council, Sanac, which is chaired by the Deputy President, on the achievements scored with regard to the HIV and Aids programme.
Good progress has been made in improving health system effectiveness in preparation for the National Health Insurance programme. While government is doing well in transforming health care, some challenges still remain. We still receive reports of long waiting periods and an uncaring attitude by some health care workers in certain public hospitals. This is also being attended to nationwide through a focused customer care programme in the public health system.
In the area of fighting crime and corruption, the midterm review tells us that we are doing well. Overall, serious crime has declined, but the fight continues and there are still a number of areas we must improve on.
You will recall that, in 2009, we had committed ourselves to continue reviewing the criminal justice system to make it more efficient and effective. Progress has been made in increasing the numbers of skilled personnel in areas such as crime scene investigation, forensic analysis, fingerprinting and investigation, prosecutions, legal aid and the judiciary.
In the context of fighting crime, we are also advancing in the fight against corruption, which diverts scarce resources intended for key service delivery programmes. We are dealing in particular with corruption by officials within the criminal justice system. Examples of actions include the theft of police equipment, interference with evidence secured for trials and outright assistance to criminals. Such elements undermine the good work of dedicated officials in the police, courts and correctional services.
Since 2009, investigations have uncovered 1 529 persons within the criminal justice system that were possibly involved in corruption-related crime. By the end of 2011, 192 officials were criminally charged for corruption, resulting in 86 officials being convicted while a further 296 officials were departmentally charged. Our midterm review has also reminded us of the fact that there are several anticorruption structures in government. This results in overlapping mandates and duplication. There is therefore a need to ensure that all structures that have been created are co-ordinated by the Anti-corruption Task Team. Minister Collins Chabane, who chairs the Anti-Corruption Interministerial Committee, will assist us in this exercise.
Our midterm review also points to the need to further improve the performance of frontline service departments generally. These are the departments that people go to directly to obtain services, be it to get social grants, municipal services, Home Affairs, courts, the police and others. Changing the way government works means further changing the way these departments work, to make them more responsive and effective.
Following my meeting with directors-general in 2009, they have been directed to address several performance issues. They are looking into the eradication of the practice of late delivery of school textbooks and the improvement of the school environment, for example security and cleanliness.
To improve policing, there must be an improvement in turnaround times with regard to calls to police stations for assistance and provision of feedback on cases to members of the public. We want to see an improved responsiveness to the hotline in the Presidency and to all government departments' hotlines.
All departments must ensure adherence to the directive to pay suppliers within 30 days for work done. The National Treasury issued an Instruction Note on 30 November 2011, directing departments to report their noncompliance and reasons therefor to Treasury by the 7th day of each month for national departments and by the 15th for provincial departments.
The directors-general must ensure a reduction in the number of qualified, adverse and disclaimer audit reports. We want timeous responses to Chapter 9 institutions and the Office of the Public Service Commission from all departments. Some heads of Chapter 9 institutions have complained to me about the lax attitude towards them by some departmental officials when they ask for reports. This must change. National and provincial departments must pay the debts they owe to municipalities. [Laughter.]
There are several other directives, including the need to finalise disciplinary processes quicker than what has become the norm, as well as filling vacancies within four months instead of the usual nine months. The Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation and the Offices of Premiers are jointly monitoring progress. Last year, the team undertook 134 unannounced monitoring visits to 19 SA Social Security Agency, Sassa, offices, 24 schools, 7 courts, 22 police stations, 42 health facilities, 11 driving licence centres and 9 Home Affairs offices.
They have reported good progress in some areas, which is very encouraging. For example, the Department of Home Affairs, Sassa, the SA Police Service, the SA Microfinance Apex Fund and the Industrial Development Corporation have all improved their turnaround times. These successes can be attributed to the top management of these organisations taking an interest in operational issues.
We are also grateful to members of the public who play a valuable role in assisting the Presidency to monitor service delivery. This Saturday, I will visit Ngobi village in Hammanskraal in the North West to assess progress made since we received an email through the Presidential hotline that the community has had no water for two years. [Interjections.]
In the state of the nation address, I reported on an e-mail from a Grahamstown resident who could not get finance for a house. We are happy to report that the Department of Human Settlements is resolving this matter of people in the gap market - those who earn too little to qualify for bank loans but too much to qualify for RDP houses. [Applause.]
Agreements have been signed between the National Housing Finance Corporation and five provinces to implement the programme in this financial year.
As part of our hands-on monitoring, the Deputy President also undertakes a number of visits related to the War on Poverty campaign. This keeps the Presidency in touch with the living conditions of our people.
Hon members, the Presidential Hotline has also become an invaluable tool for tracking government performance. More than 1 million callers have used the system since it started in 2009. The general trend is that about 70% of calls are complaints, 28% are enquiries and 2% are suggestions and compliments.
We will continue to work on improving the way the Public Service works. We thank Parliament for its assistance, as its oversight work is also a helpful monitoring tool for government.
Hon members, in the state of the nation address I mentioned that, although we had done well over the past 17 years, we were concerned about the persistent triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment. We said that Africans, women and the youth were particularly affected. This year, we continue to promote economic growth and development through the New Growth Path, primarily focusing on infrastructure development. The Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordinating Commission, PICC, has become an important co-ordination tool. As you know, I chair the PICC, assisted by the Deputy President as deputy chair. Minister Gugile Nkwinti chairs the PICC management committee and Minister Patel heads the secretariat, which is made up of deputy ministers, in the main. The membership of premiers and metro mayors enables easier co-ordination of infrastructure development across the spheres of government.
Since the announcement of our bold infrastructure plan in February, we have launched four strategic infrastructure projects, now known as SIPS. The first strategic infrastructure project, unlocking the Northern Mineral Belt, was launched on 13 April, and is led by Minister Thulas Nxesi. A work plan has been formulated involving three provinces, integrating rail, road, water and energy projects.
Strategic infrastructure project 7, focusing on the Integrated Urban Space and Public Transport Programme, was launched on 11 May and is led by Minister Richard Baloyi. It brings together the 12 largest urban areas and will promote better urban planning and public transport systems.
Strategic infrastructure project 5, the Saldanha and Northern Cape Development Corridor, was launched on 15 May and is led by Minister Patel. It co-ordinates work across two provinces and will incorporate mining, industrial and energy projects. Strategic infrastructure project 6, on Integrated Municipal Infrastructure Projects, was launched on 28 May and is led by Minister Dipuo Peters. It covers the poorest 23 municipal districts in South Africa and will provide basic services to millions of our people.
In March, we launched phase 2 of the Dube Trade Port, which is part of the Durban-Free State-Gauteng industrial and logistics corridor, and the Ngqura Port and trans-shipment hub, part of the SIP for the South-Eastern node.
Yesterday, the PICC met again to further discuss the implementation of projects. We are poised to reach our goals of turning South Africa into a huge construction site, developing dams, power stations, ports and railways, which will improve access to services and boost job creation.
We would like to report on other successes of the infrastructure development programme. The R300 billion Transnet Market Demand Strategy, which was announced in the state of the nation address, has been launched and is being implemented. The R1 billion rebate on port charges that the Port Regulator and Transnet had agreed upon has also been implemented since April.
Next week, I will visit Eskom's Medupi Power Station project, near Lephalale in Limpopo province, for the boiler pressure test of the first unit of Medupi. The project has doubled the size of the economy of Lephalale and has brought jobs, skills and development to the local community, and to our economy as a whole.
Let me use this opportunity to remind all to save electricity every time, everywhere, especially during this cold winter period. Other good news arising from the state of the nation address is the reduction of electricity increases by the National Energy Regulator, Nersa, from the 25,9% that Nersa originally granted to 16%. [Applause.]
I had asked Eskom to explore possibilities in this regard and they responded within a month. This will put more than R8 billion back into the economy during the current year. This approach will also inform Eskom's next price application, which Eskom is now preparing. However, such an approach needs to be balanced with maintaining a predictable and stable pricing framework over a longer period of time.
We are also delighted that Eskom has reached the milestone of 4,2 million homes that have been electrified since the inception of the electrification programme in 1991. [Applause.] I will be visiting the Eastern Cape next month symbolically to switch on electricity in the 4 millionth home.
Life is certainly getting better for many each day. [Applause.] It may not happen as fast as we all want, but progress is there for all to see.
IsiZulu, sithi, Impandla ikhwela ngamanhlonhlo. [There is a Zulu saying that goes: Rome was not built in a day.]
Hon members, you will recall that we had also raised the land question in the state of the nation address. It remains a very emotive issue in our country, which must be handled responsibly and with calm. The consultations on the Green Paper on Land Reform have continued over the past six months. The matter must be finalised, more so as we move towards the centenary of the 1913 Land Act next year.
On the international front, we continue to promote closer ties with neighbours in Southern Africa with whom we share goals of creating a better life, as part of promoting the African development agenda. We have held high level meetings with all the countries in Southern Africa. We have also agreed amongst ourselves in the Southern African region to assist each other to consolidate democracy. We have assisted the DRC with its second democratic elections, and we led the Southern African Development Community, SADC, Election Observer Mission to the DRC, Zambia and Seychelles. In addition, we continue to assist the people of Zimbabwe as part of our SADC mandate and to support SADC mediation efforts to return constitutional normalcy to Madagascar. We will soon establish formal diplomatic relations with Somalia and have contributed to the alleviation of famine in that country.
The independence of both Sudan and South Sudan is of the utmost importance to the African continent and to South Africa in particular. We have urged the leadership of Sudan and South Sudan to take the necessary actions to deflate the high levels of tension.
The crisis in Libya preoccupied most of the continent for most of last year. South Africa has agreed to assist the people of Libya with reconstruction and development, and also to establish institutions of democracy as they have indicated the need to be so assisted.
With regard to infrastructure development on the continent, I accepted the responsibility of chairing the African Union's New Partnership for Africa's Development, Nepad, Presidential Infrastructure Championing Initiative. Infrastructure development on the continent will promote intra-African trade, create investment opportunities, and contribute to South Africa's own economic development. [Applause.] We continue to support the candidature of Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma ... [Applause.] ... who was re-endorsed as Southern Africa's candidate for the position of Chairperson of the African Union Commission. If elected, she will be at the service of all African countries. [Applause.] As a humble and loyal servant of Africa, she will accord all AU member states the respect they deserve as sovereign states.
Our relations with Latin America and the Caribbean continue to advance the development agenda of the South and the strengthening of co-operation among developing countries. High-level interactions were achieved with Argentina, Brazil and Mexico in areas of climate change, with the Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa league of emerging economies, Brics, with the India, Brazil, South Africa, Ibsa, Dialogue Forum as well as with the Group of 20, G20, countries.
We continue to strengthen relations with Europe, which remains one of South Africa's major trading partners in terms of trade, investment, technical and development co-operation. There has been a continuous flow of high- level visits to and from Europe since 2009.
We have also worked towards the consolidation of relations with the Arab Gulf States. Constructive discussions were held during state visits to Oman and the United Arab Emirates in November 2011, as well as a subsequent working visit to the State of Qatar in January 2012. While many of these countries are already investing in South Africa, we also hope to focus increasingly on their investment in South African infrastructure projects.
We continue to strengthen relations with Central and East Asia. Japan, in particular, is our second-largest trade partner in Asia and the third in the world, after China and the United States of America. There are currently 103 Japanese companies which have business operations in South Africa.
Our relationship with China continues to grow stronger. China became South Africa's largest trading partner in 2009 and we co-operate at both bilateral and multilateral levels. On the multilateral front, South Africa's membership of Brics acknowledges Africa's rightful role, position and emergence as a dynamic growth pole in the world. The proposed new Brics Development Bank is an exciting development. We look forward to taking the proposal further with the partners when we host Brics next year.
South Africa hosted the fifth Ibsa Dialogue Forum Summit in October last year. This constitutes an important South-South grouping of like-minded countries and we continue to work well together in pursuit of sustainable development objectives. Hon members, among the achievements of our country we dare not forget the successful hosting of the 17th Conference of the Parties serving as the seventh meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, COP 17/CMP 7, United Nations climate change conference. We succeeded in guiding the climate change negotiations forward as COP president. We look forward to the Rio +20 Summit in Brazil next month to take forward the programme of sustainable development in the world.
We have done a lot of work locally and abroad. We also need to look ahead to where exactly we want to be two decades from now. What sort of country do we want to build for future generations? That is where the National Planning Commission, NPC, in the Presidency comes in. The National Planning Commission has, in its short existence, already contributed significantly to both the public discourse on our future and to the policy-making process inside government. The NPC produced a diagnostic report in June 2011 and a draft National Development Plan for the country for 2030.
The draft plan has provided a comprehensive set of policy proposals that have been discussed nationwide, allowing scores of members of the public to participate in shaping the future of their country. The plan will be resubmitted to Cabinet for further consideration and final adoption. Minister Manuel will provide an update on work done since November. The brand and reputation of South Africa remain very high in the global setting. Brand SA, which is now located in the Presidency, reports that the overall reputation of the country improved significantly over the period under review. Recently, the valuation of South Africa's nation brand by Brand Finance placed South Africa as the number one most valuable nation brand on the continent. [Applause.] This is good news indeed for a country in transition. To further strengthen the brand and improve competitiveness, we must all become good ambassadors of South Africa. We must promote our country.
Hon members, our country has done remarkably well, considering where we come from. [Applause.] In 1994, South Africa emerged from a long history in which race, ethnicity and culture were used to subjugate the majority. While there is significant progress in institutionalising the principle of an inclusive citizenship, there are still challenges of poverty, unemployment, landlessness, race, class and gender. These continue to be defining features of how society relates. And they can be a cause of deep pain, disappointment and frustration.
To contribute to healing efforts and produce a national strategy on social cohesion, government will host a national social cohesion and nation- building summit in Kliptown, Soweto, in July, led by the Department of Arts and Culture. The summit will provide a platform to discuss how we can build a new nation from the ashes of racism and hatred.
Let me share the wise words of mama Bertha Mkhize, an activist and trade unionist who said in a newspaper interview in 1981:
Talk. Just talk. Talk again until things come out right. There will be a time when everything will come together, and whether you are black or white or yellow or brown doesn't matter.
Indeed, we should talk, work together and create the type of society we envisage this week, when we talk about building a positive environment for the protection of our children.
Let me take this opportunity to congratulate all our sporting teams and individuals who have qualified for this year's 2012 London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. [Applause.] We wish them well as they prepare to represent our country in these important games.
In the same breath we also wish our soccer team, Bafana Bafana, well as it prepares to host the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, Afcon, which will be held in five cities on home soil. We certainly believe Bafana Bafana will do well in the tournament, as it is our hope that the Cup remains here. [Laughter.] [Applause.]
Somlomo, sinesivakashi esiqavile namhlanje umama u-Ellen Phumeza Mhlanga waseSigingqini Village, eMxhelo e-Alice eMpuma Koloni.
Ngabhalelwa indodadakazi yakhe uZimkhitha ethi ungumama oqotho kakhulu obakhulise kanzima nokuthi uzogubha iminyaka engama-80 maduze nje. Sibe sesimbiza-ke umama ukuthi ake avakashe azobona iPhalamende njengesipho sakhe sosuku lokuzalwa. [Ihlombe.]
Ingasukuma intomb'endala siyibone. [Ihlombe.] Simfisela okuhle kodwa umama ngosuku lwakhe lokuzalwa mhla ziyi-5 kuNhlangulana. (Translation of isiZulu paragraphs follows.)
[Chairperson, we have an important guest in our midst today, Mrs Ellen Phumeza Mhlanga from Esigingqini Village at Emxhelo, Alice, in the Eastern Cape.
I received a letter from her daughter, Zimkhitha, who said she is a good mother who has worked hard to bring up her children and she will be celebrating her 80th birthday soon. We then invited her to Parliament as her birthday present. [Applause.]
Can she please stand up so that we can all see her? [Applause.] We wish her all the best for her birthday on 5 May.]
Hon members, let me thank the Deputy President, the Members of Cabinet and Deputy Ministers for their support in our work. I also wish to extend my gratitude to Parliament and the judiciary for the collaboration that takes forward the work of improving people's lives and making this a great country.
Let me also take this opportunity to thank the premiers with whom we work very closely in the President's Co-ordinating Council and now the Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordinating Commission.
We would also like to thank all the commissions, councils and committees that support the work of the Presidency. Our work is also enriched by the support of many sectors - labour, business, religious leaders and traditional leaders.
We also thank the directors-general in the Presidency and the Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Department, the chief executive officer of Brand SA, advisers, senior managers and all staff in the Presidency for their commitment and hard work.
This week being Child Protection Week, let us all commit to building a better future for all our children. Let us also commit to building stronger families, which will provide a protective environment for children.
It is my honour and privilege to commend the budget of the Presidency to this august House. I thank you.