Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma

Address by Minister Dlamini Zuma during the National Assembly Virtual Budget Vote Debate

Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, MP
Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs;

22 JULY 2020

Honourable Speaker;
Deputy Ministers Bapela and Tau;
Honourable Chairperson and Members of the Portfolio Committee;
Honourable Members;
Chairperson of the National House Traditional leaders;
Chairperson of the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities;
Chairperson of the Municipal Demarcation Board and it’s member
Leadership of the South African Local Government Association;
Directors General of DCOG and DTA, Ms Avril Williamson and Mr Mashwahle Diphofa;
CEO of MISA and Head of the National Disaster Management Centre;
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Today we laid to rest Mr Themba Linus Dlamini, one of the stalwarts of our movement, a servant of our people who inspired all of us. This and the passing of Bab’ Andrew Mlangeni, the last of the Rivonia trialists, marks an end of an era. They belonged to a selfless generation that spared no energy and dedication to secure the freedom for our people. Bhut’ Linus in his autobiography observes that “we have political independence, but we do not have economic independence…”

COVID-19 brought this gapping reality to the fore. We can no longer run from our deep-seated fault lines. We have had to confront the realities of the form and content of our independence. In as much as the virus has impacted on every person, sector, business, culture, religion and our entire way of life – resilience and survival have largely been determined by which side of the tracks one is born. Honourable members would know that in the South African context, one’s side of the tracks is closely related to race, class and gender.

Nothing brought this reality to the fore as did the inherited apartheid spatial planning and inherited realities of the majority. For instance, technology can be an answer to a safe and accessible education. But the digital divide has reinforced existing social and economic inequalities thus limiting access to information, health and education for the majority. In the words of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, during this year’s Mandela Lecture “it is exposing fallacies and falsehoods everywhere”.

One such falsehood is that we live in a gender-equal society. Ours is a male-dominated world, where women are discriminated upon and oppressed simply because of their gender. We have seen a spike in gender-based violence during this lockdown phase of our COVID-19 response. Gender inequality means that our country will never reach its full potential because we miss out on the talents and intelligence of half our population.

Consequently, our response to COVID-19 had to factor in these glaring realities, we cannot afford to run away from. This Budget Vote 3 is part of a society-wide response by which we hope to contribute to equality and the creation of jobs through a responsive, developmental and empowering state.

Such a state actively contributes towards resilient, vibrant, sustainable and climate-smart communities. As we have said in this house before, there is a growing social distance between us as leaders and the masses we serve. The UN Secretary-General during the Mandela Lecture reminded us that “people want social and economic systems that work for everyone… They want a say in decisions that affect their lives.”

This is a fundamental feature of the District Development Model, which we have had to roll out with urgency since it is a central feature in our response to COVID-19. We need not fear the pandemic, because it also offers us an opportunity to reset our outlook. Through our responses, we can claw back the possibility of a more equal, sustainable and just society, where leaders are active facilitators in development.

To these ends, the President has deployed ministers and deputy ministers as district champions. We have profiled all 52 District and Metro spaces so that we can facilitate for the participation of our people in a decentralised economic system as envisaged by the Reconstruction and Development Programme. The champions will contribute to vertical and horizontal integration of government planning and implementation.

Through the profiles we are getting an in-depth understanding of our districts. For instance, the John Taole Gaetswe District is almost the size of Rwanda at over 27 thousand square kilometres, with a relatively small population size of over 261 thousand people. Despite the fact that it is a mining area which provides our country with ore and manganese, 78% of its population is poor and most of the land is unutilised despite the abundance of cattle and sheep. COVID-19 has given us the reset button to coordinate our efforts towards developing this and other districts. We take this opportunity to also congratulate the district for consistently performing well in its audits.

The deployment of champions will be complemented by a shared services model at a district level which will avail Local Economic Development, planning, engineering, planners, ICT, financial and other capacities and capabilities to our municipalities. Through the transparent One Plans and One Budget, every citizen will know of the status of plans, budgets and implementation, thus lessening the potential of corruption and maladministration.

Honourable Members, as we implement the DDM, we cannot pretend that all municipalities are in good shape and simply require complementary plans, capabilities and capacities. The Auditor General’s report is a reminder of that reality. We take this opportunity to congratulate the 20 municipalities that consistently perform well in the audits. We will work with the Treasury who have the financial oversight role to support municipalities.

COVID-19 has not spared the municipalities it has also affected the revenue collection potential of all municipalities. For instance, there has been an under-collection of R3,1billion over the past 3 months in eThekwini, Ekurhuleni and the City of Cape Town. In order to ease the burden on municipalities, the president announced an allocation of R20 billion, of which R11 billion is under the equitable share and R9 billion is repurposed infrastructure conditional grants.

Through DDM we have conformed infrastructure and its maintenance as a been a challenge. MISA will assist to satisfy the infrastructure requirements in the municipalities. To this end, a further R554million has been allocated to the Department of Cooperative Governance as part of the government-wide R19,6 billion for the Presidential Economic Stimulus and Job Creation Programme. We will use these resources to create 25 000 jobs through building and maintaining infrastructure using labour-intensive methods.

For communities and ordinary citizens to be able to participate in the opportunities and indeed in their own development, we must urgently implement the skills revolution. We will need targeted skills development in agriculture, construction, infrastructure, artisans and many other skills. In order to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty whilst building the resilience of our resilient, sustainable, vibrant and climate-smart communities.

To complement this, we are also remodelling the Community Works Programme. We intend to use the programme to promote active citizenry through the employ of cooperatives and community-based organisations.

Honourable Members, as I address you South Africa ranks fifth in global COVID-19 infection rates. Without the efforts of frontline workers, our situation would have been far worse. We take this opportunity to salute the frontline workers especially the health workers, the security services, and other essential workers. They are our last line of defence. We also wish to acknowledge and appreciate the efforts and contributions of the Cuban brigade, Mucho Gracias Compañeros!!! We also take this opportunity to also reextend our condolences to those who have lost their loved ones to COVID-19.

The fight against COVID-19 requires all of us to play our part. To recall the words of President Nelson Mandela “one of the challenges of our time … is to reinstil in the consciousness of our people that sense of human solidarity, of being in the world for one another and because of and through others.”

By wearing a mask, washing our hands, sanitizing surfaces, and maintaining a safe social distance, at home, in public transport and at work — we protect ourselves, families, friends, communities and the nation. Companies and employers must ensure that these health and hygiene protocols are observed at work. Those who are over 60 and those who carry comorbidities are most at risk, and so are encouraged to work from home.

No one is safe until we are all safe.

Honourable Speaker, in conclusion, I wish to thank the chairperson and members of portfolio committee on CoGTA, the National House of Traditional Leaders, the commissioners at CRL, and the deputy ministers. I wish to also thank the DGs, CEO of MISA, heads of the entities we work with, and the entire COGTA family. We also request the support and approval of honourable members for the readjusted budget which totals R107,188 billion. Over and above this an additional R554million is allocated for the Presidential Stimulus programme.

I Thank You!