Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma

SONA Response by CoGTA Minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma

National Assembly, Cape Town, South Africa

19 February 2020

Madame Speaker;

Honourable President;

Honourable Deputy President;

Fellow Cabinet Members;

Members of Parliament;

Comrades and Fellow South Africans.

The State of the Nation Address was a day after we marked the 30th anniversary of the release of Tata Madiba. Twenty-six years after the end of Apartheid, a crime against humanity, its legacy is most felt at the local sphere of governance. It has adverse impact on the livelihoods of a vast majority of South Africans, particularly those who live in rural former homelands, Bantustans and townships. With a greater impact on women, children and young people. No democracy can survive and flourish if the majority of our people remain poor, unemployed, landless and marginalised by the economic system, seeing obscene opulence whilst they are surrounded by conditions of squalor.

Mr President, we welcome your call that “we fix the fundamentals”. This means that we must accelerate our efforts of creating a democratic government which is people centred and focused on a better-quality life for all.

To advance this, “the government of the republic is constituted as national, provincial and local spheres, which are distinctive, interdependent and interrelated[1]. In the spirit of cooperation and intergovernmental relations the constitution calls on all spheres to cooperate with one another in mutual trust and good faith by, amongst others; “(i) fostering friendly relations, (ii) assisting and supporting one another, (iii) coordinating their actions and legislation with one another and (iv) avoiding legal proceedings against one another”.

The Constitution further calls on all of “the spheres of government and all organs of the state within each sphere” to “not assume any power or function except those conferred on them in terms of the constitution[2]. Since local government is the closest sphere to our people and where everything happens, section 154 of the Constitution calls on the National and Provincial spheres to “support and strengthen the capacity of municipalities to manage their own affairs. It is in exceptional circumstances when the municipality and the province are unable or unwilling to perform their designated functions that national government can intervene.

Our system of integrated cooperative governance can be a catalyst for fundamental socio-economic transformation, service delivery and development. This can be achieved through the District Development Model which addresses the prevailing lack of coherence and coordination, in governance and implementation. By using the District as the landing strip for development, we are able to scale up interventions whilst sharing scarce resources and expertise amongst local municipalities.

Using collaborative planning amongst the three spheres of government, we will have One District, One Plan and One Budget for each of the 44 districts and 8 metros. This will contribute to accelerating our economic growth through local economic development. It will also maximise impact on service delivery. By implementing the One Plan, One Budget, greater accountability and transparency will prevail and corruption will be dealt with. 

Madame speaker, piloting the District Development Model has taught us some lessons that will help us refine our strategies. It is quite clear that if we do not deal with rural poverty and unemployment the rural masses, will swell the ranks of the urban poor.  The pilots reveal the stark realities of intergenerational poverty, inequality and high youth unemployment which are influenced by low levels of skills and income.

For instance:

  • OR Tambo has 57% women headed households, while the national average is 37.9 %. According to the multidimensional poverty index, 19.2% of the households live in poverty, compared to the 7% national average. 54% of the youth are unemployed, compared to the national average of 55,2 %. There are also high levels of violence against women and children, with Lusikisiki recording the second highest reported rape cases in the country. Last year alone 295 sexual offences were reported in that Police Station. Despite an abundance of land, and being surrounded by the ocean, there is an untapped potential in agriculture, tourism and the oceans economy.
  • Waterberg has 41% woman headed households, multi-dimensional poverty is at 9%, and youth unemployment 35%, with an underdeveloped potential in agriculture. It demonstrates the African paradox of a rich Africa and poor Africans.
  • Despite eThekwini being a metropolitan area, it is 68% rural. Female headed households constitute 42% of households, 3.8 % of the population are poor and 39% of the youth are unemployed. Although the metro has a more developed economy, it is not reaching its full potential on account of shrinkages in key sectors such as tourism and manufacturing. This is compounded by crime and grime as well as inefficiencies and congestion in the Durban port, which has been traditionally a key driver in that economy.

Despite investing R67.1Billion in the three districts in the past financial year, we observed that these investments do not speak to the challenges and opportunities in the districts. The One Plan, One Budget will have to be directed towards addressing the challenges and maximising on the opportunities.

Honourable Members,  all three districts reveal an underdevelopment of agriculture, despite the availability of land. Two of the pilot sites are surrounded by the sea and have a potential for the blue ocean’s economy. With their vast and diverse flora, fauna, and cultural heritage, all have a potential for tourism. Unless we have a skills revolution, these communities, especially the youth and women, we will be unable to take advantage of the opportunities.

Consequently, in the spirit of Khawuleza we have responded with speed. Working together with the Department of Rural Development, we have redesigned the National Rural Youth Service Corps Programme to include the first 1000 students from the three pilot sites. In the main, these young people will be trained in all areas of agriculture and life skills so that they may participate in the mainstream economy. We will extend this training to other areas of priority such as construction, the oceans economy and tourism. 

Honourable members, in certain instances, political interference has been a feature in local government, with administrative decisions being subjected to undue political pressure, across all political parties. The stranglehold exercised on the local sphere has often led to underperformance, corruption and inefficiencies.

The lack of professional skills also contributes to their poor performance. That is why we are deploying a range of skills through shared district services hubs. The services will be shared by the municipalities in areas such as Financial Services, Water and Electrical engineering, Local Economic Development Infrastructure and transport planning, as well as broader development planning. These will assist municipalities to perform better. These skills will be distributed to the districts in the next financial year. However, political parties must also play their responsible part.

Madame Speaker, recognising that 70% of households headed by women are poor, and women own only 13% of the land, in the spirit of Beijing Platform of Action, we have recorded varied progress. Significant progress has been made in the public service; however, progress is slower in the private sector, where there is disparity in wages, land ownership, and in the means of production.

As envisaged in the White Paper on Local Government, by 2024 we should have 25-year plans for the 3 pilots of Waterberg, eThekwini and OR Tambo. We must also be able to plan for, and implement:

  • a completely different and Smart OR Tambo that is not entirely rural.
  • a different eThekwini with high employment and zero hunger.
  • a Waterberg, where its resources and opportunities are shared by all.

It is not going to be a sprint, but a marathon. It will require endurance, hard work and resilience. As President Thabo Mbeki once said:

Those who complete the course will do so only because they do not, as fatigue sets in, convince themselves that the road ahead is still too long, the inclines too steep, the loneliness impossible to bear and the prize itself of doubtful value.


[1] The Constitution, Sec 40(1)

[2] Ibid, Sec 41 (1) (g)