The life of Charlotte Maxeke confirms the resilient spirit of South Africans, especially our health and frontline workers that you Mr President spoke of last Thursday. Not only was she the first black South African woman to hold a BSc degree she went to establish 2 education institutions and a church.
Maxeke was the only woman, at the time, to participate in the Abathembu Royal Courts and the only woman in attendance when our glorious movement was founded. She was a servant of the people.
No doubt, millions have been inspired by Mama Maxeke, including Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who now occupies the prime seat at the helm of the World Trade Organisation.
We take this opportunity to congratulate her as the first African DG of the WTO, and wish her health, resilience and success in the position. She joins the DG of the WHO as yet another African at the helm of the institutions of global governance. Indeed, Africa’s time is now.
Honourable Members, this year’s SONA occurs in the most extra-ordinary of circumstances, as we grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.
We extend our condolences to those who have lost loved ones to both the COVID-19 and GBVF pandemics. These pandemics have placed in our face the stark realities which confront the vast majority of our citizens. These realities include hunger, poverty, unemployment, low income, inequality, sexism, unequal access to basic service and underdevelopment.
The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the performance of our already struggling economy and has added to unemployment, vulnerability and poverty. The pandemic also displayed the inequalities confronting us. Whilst the majority are struggling to survive, a few have poured millions in court cases to challenge our response to the pandemic. It has also taught us that:
- our government can and has worked in a more coordinated and integrated way thus showing that the three spheres are interdependent and interrelated and can be agile and responsive
- We need to ramp up government communications campaigns and ensure that every household has access to ICT, especially those with school going children;
- there is value in evidence based decision making this generally requires disaggregated and qualitative data; and
- we need to deepen our initiatives that are aimed at building resilience, cohesion and prosperity in our communities so that they can survive future pandemics, disasters and calamities.
- Lastly the pandemic also confirms that we need the National Health Insurance, because when the hospitals beds were full those on medical aid and those in the public health system were equally affected.
The municipalities have also been confronted by high vacancy rates, inappropriate placements, and the lack of consequence management in the municipalities. All these have led to sub-standard service delivery, with limited impact.
COVID-19 has also reduced the amounts and potential revenue sources of the municipalities. This is partly due to increased unemployment and declining income levels at household level.
Honourable members, the upcoming local government elections offer all political parties the opportunity to remedy this. Amongst other things, we must ensure that we all cease to interfere in the administration and supply chain processes.
We must ensure that we send our most capable and capacitated to the local sphere, because it is the sphere closest and most important to our people. The elections offer all of us the opportunity to renew the energies at the local level as we reconstruct the destroyed local economies. Only viable, capable and capacitated local governments can be at the forefront of such a renewal and recovery.
Our national economic recovery, growth or development requires district and local economic development. The DDM will ‘crowd in’ the requisite investment as well as technical and strategic skills at the district space. These engineers, planners, economists, oceanographers, environmentalists and all the professionals are a lifeline.
Through the One Plan and One Budget we will build productive industrial structures by considering the endowment and competitive advantage areas of each district space.
Our efforts are directed at ensuring that the national and provincial spheres spare no effort to support local government. To this end, we intend to review the organisational structures in Local Government. This will ensure that our administrations are fit for purpose.
This will be complemented by our inputs to the National Skills Development Plan which will ensure that it becomes specifically responsive to the needs of the local sphere of governance.
The DDM requires the participation and inputs of our communities, private sector and international partners. In this regard, we wish to recognise the efforts of the Public Private Growth Initiative (PPGI), which include mentorships and uptakes for the emerging farmers including those in the South African Women in Farming.
The PPGI in collaboration with government has also established various steering communities to secure the participation of communities, particularly women and youth in key industries such as mining, game farming, ICT, hunting and tourism, in Waterberg. This model brings hope and we intend to replicate this throughout the country.
Indeed, the National Planning Commission in reviewing the NDP notes that “the NDP did not spell out an implementation plan with sufficient rigour and detail, beyond the broad approach”. The DDM answers this challenge by developing detailed and localised plans.
There is also a dialectical relationship between Local Economic Development and challenges of revenue collections and underfunded mandates. Therefore, in pursuing the DDM, we intend to simultaneously address these challenges whilst inculcating long term and coordinated planning and implementation in all spheres of governance, including our traditional leaders.
It is therefore also encouraging that through the Invest Rural Programme the National House of Traditional Leaders has availed about 1,5million hectares of productive land towards the Radical Agrarian Reform Programme as well other community development initiatives.
Indeed, the cooperative governance and traditional affairs family is at the forefront of promoting the cooperation to build resilient, sustainable, cohesive, climate smart and connected communities. However, the realities are that our local government sphere will require far more support and capacity.
The reality is that the current governance architecture will continue to disadvantage the more rural and poorer municipalities. Unless something drastic and radical is done service delivery will continue to favour the more privileged. To this end we are working with the National Treasury to consider how we can revise the current funding model, which makes many of our municipalities unviable and vulnerable.
Honourable Members, our responses to COVID-19 and Cyclone Eloise also confirmed the importance of localised responses which are coordinated and integrated across all spheres and departments. In response to these states of disaster we were able to share and coordinate our limited resources and personnel, as contemplated by the DDM. Through aligning long outstanding and new projects the DDM is recording real and tangible progress in the pilot sites.
With regards to the allocations for MIG in OR Tambo we have allocated R2,9billion in the MTEF period. Already in OR Tambo there are: 19 water projects (which have directly benefitted 291 thousand people); 12 sanitation projects (which have benefitted 21 thousand people); and 47 road projects (to the value of R572million). These will be complemented by 12 community implemented projects, to the value of R173 million, which include the secondary bulk water in Mqanduli and various other Water Treatment Works, Bio Pipelines and the ferrying of water closer to vulnerable households.
Waterberg has been allocated R968million over the MTEF period, and in progress are: 12 water projects (to benefit about 80 000 people) and 12 roads projects (to the value of R254 million). There are also 5 community projects (to the value of R64million); and 2 solid waste projects (valued at R80million). We are hard at work!!
We are also hard at work to turn eThekwini into a liveable and smart port city. Amongst the actions we have undertaken with the city and province is the implementation of Operation Good Hope which seeks to ensure the city is more responsive and professional. We are improving the efficiencies at the Durban Port and are addressing the service delivery challenges by upgrading services in 581 informal settlements.
Our long term view is that every space must become a comfortable, productive and safe space for women to live, work and play. If our spaces can be like that then it means they can be liveable, productive and safe for everyone. The SONA lays a practical foundation to marshal all of society towards that end.
I thank you