South Africa has begun a new phase of its democratic transition. The electoral mandate of the fifth democratic government is to deepen transformation and implement the National Development Plan (NDP). It is to accelerate growth, create decent work and promote investment in a competitive economy. In giving effect to this mandate, we continue to be guided by our Constitutional commitment to “improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person”.
Over the last 20 years, the first phase of our democratic transition, the foundations have been laid for a non-racial, non-sexist, united and prosperous South Africa, and for a society based on fundamental human rights, equality and unity in diversity. Our people’s dignity has been restored. Non-racial majority rule based on one-person, one-vote has brought about government based on the will of the people.
At the end of the last administration (2009-2014), the Presidency published a Twenty Year Review, outlining progress made since 1994 and identifying the challenges that still need to be overcome. Today, South Africa is a better place in which to live than it was in 1994. Political and social rights are protected, and the lives of millions of South Africans have improved, through new laws, better public services, expansion of economic opportunities and improved living conditions.
However, the challenges still facing our country are immense. As the Twenty Year Review and the National Planning Commission’s 2011 Diagnostic Report highlight – poverty, inequality and unemployment continue to negatively affect the lives of many people. Too few people have work, investment is too slow and education lags behind our requirements. The weak state of the economy impedes our efforts to reach our development goals.
The second phase of our democratic transition calls for bold and decisive steps to place the economy on a qualitatively different path that eliminates poverty, creates jobs and sustainable livelihoods, and substantially reduces inequality. This requires radical economic transformation and a sustained focus on addressing the uneven quality of service delivery.