Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma

National Council of Provinces Debate: Remarks by Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma


“Building a Developmental State to take the lead in Building a Better Life for All”


Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

17 MARCH 2022


Honourable Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces.

Deputy Chairperson for the NCOP.

MECs here gathered.

Chairperson and members of the Select Committee on COGTA.

Honourable members.

Distinguished guests.

Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this debate which seeks to explore the measures we should undertake in “Building a Developmental State to take the lead in Building a Better Life for All”. This is an important debate that will contribute to enhancing our understanding the role of the developmental state in securing a better quality of life for all.

The need for the developmental state is best characterised by the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), which says:

Our history has been a bitter one dominated by colonialism, racism, apartheid, sexism and repressive labour policies… the result is that poverty and degradation exist side by side with modern cities and a developed mining, industrial and commercial infrastructure… our income distribution is racially distorted and ranks as one of the most unequal in the world – lavish wealth and abject poverty characterise our society”.

According to the RDP, the South African developmental state must “integrate growth, development, reconstruction, and redistribution into a unified programme”. For the RDP the key to these linkages is “an infrastructural programme that will provide access to modern and effective services [as well as the] training [of] all people”. The South African developmental state, therefore, has the obligation to meet basic needs whilst opening “up previously suppressed economic and human potential in urban and rural areas”.

In this outlook, the pursuance of basic needs and human development spurs economic growth and not vice versa. Therefore, the ANC believes in more state and not less state. We are believers in the philosophy advanced by Professor Omano Edigheji which holds that “no development state, no development’.”

Our views are also aligned to the Constitution, which in part says: “we … through our freely elected representatives, adopt this Constitution as the supreme law of the republic so as to – improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person”.

Our Constitution further recognises that the three spheres are distinctive, interdependent, and interrelated spheres of government need to collaborate, integrate, and coordinate. Sections 152 and 153 assign developmental duties to the local sphere, which are to:

  1. Provide democratic and accountable government for local communities;
  2. Ensure the provision of services to communities in a sustainable manner;
  3. Promote social and economic development;
  4. Promote a safe and healthy environment; and
  5. encourage the involvement of communities and community organisations.

Honourable Chairperson, additionally, in Chapter 7, the Constitution calls on the national legislature to provide legislation “for a role for traditional leadership as an institution … on matters affecting local communities”. In advancing the objectives of the local sphere of governance section 154 calls on “the national government and provincial governments, by legislative and other measures, [to] support and strengthen the capacity of municipalities to manage their own affairs, to exercise their powers and perform their functions.

However, that we aspire to be a developmental state, does not mean we are one. We must fulfil four basic conditions and criteria to become one. First, the developmental state, must have a long-term vision and a plan by which it mobilises all of society. As South Korean economist, Dr Ha Joon Chang, says “the Korean economic miracle was the result of a clever and pragmatic mixture of market incentives and state direction”. Secondly, the developmental state must be in possession of sufficient legitimacy and mobilisation capacities to capture the imagination and inputs of the citizenry. Thirdly, it must be in possession of the necessary technical capacity and capability as well as systems to implement its short- and longer-term objectives. Finally, the state must be trusted, ethical, and professional.

Chairperson, the National Development Plan (NDP) establishes an overarching long-term developmental vison to eliminate poverty, reduce inequality and create jobs by the year 2030. The plan is supported by medium-term objectives, as contained in the Medium-Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) as approved by the National Houses of Parliament.

However, in reviewing the NDP, the National Planning Commission was of the view that the plan does not tackle its objectives with sufficient rigour and detail.  Taking that into consideration, as well as, the conclusions of the 25 Year Review of Democracy Report, which found a lack of horizontal and vertical integration and coordination, government developed the District Development Model to enhance our way of doing things. The DDM through the District and National One Plan and Budget complements the Invest Rural Masterplan, which we reported on in the strategy session of this House. As we had said then, this is an important and transformative initiative driven by the national and provincial Houses of Traditional and Khoisan leaders, which will radically change the face of rural South Africa, if implemented properly.

In implementing the DDM and Invest Rural Strategy we have interrogated the endowments of each district and have found commonalities such as talented people, land, sunshine and at times unique endowments. We have also found that old practices such as breeding goats, cattle, and sheep, still exist in rural South Africa. However, we must explore ways to modernise these practices and make them more profitable and economically viable for the people. We have also found that some old practices are also dying, these include the growing food and the tilling of land. Again we must modernise and encourage our communities to return to the field as this is key to feeding the nation and continent.

After all, the true measure of a developmental state is the societal and transformative impact it has. In this regard and to address youth unemployment, we have partnered with the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), in Mpumalanga as a pilot to remodel the CWP. Thus far we have enrolled 27 626 vulnerable and youth participants in 3 districts and in 19 sites. These participants engage in ventures such as agriculture, construction, maintenance, teacher support, as well as homebased and auxiliary services in the context of the Community Works Programme. Because the developmental state cannot succeed outside a skills revolution. We must therefore address the growing and concerning 9.1 million young people who are Not in Education, Employment, and Training (NEET). By addressing these we can also close the national skills gap and requirements of municipalities. For instance, South Africa has 1 artisan per 2 000 citizens as opposed to the global norm of 1 artisan per 30 citizens.

Therefore, we have deployed 94 professionally registered civil engineers, electrical engineers, and town planners to the 44 District Municipalities. To complement this and promote youth empowerment whilst supporting these deployed professionals in all the districts we have also enrolled 144 newly qualified and unemployed young graduates, whom we inducted just two weeks ago. These young professionals are in the fields of town planning, project construction management, environmental management, as well as civil and electrical engineering.

In addition to this, we have recruited 39 young people into the MISA Experiential Learning Programme. These young people come from the provinces of the Eastern Cape, Free State, Mpumalanga, Northwest, and Western Cape and will utilise this opportunity to earn technical qualifications in areas such as plumbing, whilst also supporting municipalities with operations and maintenance.

Through the MISA Apprenticeship Programme, we have recruited an additional 89 young people from all the provinces, to give them on-the-job training so that they too may qualify as artisans.

These graduates, experiential learnership participants, and apprentices are working with municipal officials to plan and complete projects, so that they too may receive their full qualifications and professional registrations. Some of the municipal officials they are working with may have left the education system long ago and due to work pressures, they would have not had the time to learn or adapt to new technologies.

In this regard, we have already trained 519 municipal technical support staff, in all our municipalities, through short-term and technical refresher courses. Given our history as a country that deliberately undereducated and recruited people as cheap labour, we have provided qualifications to 52 general workers under the Recognition of Prior Knowledge Framework, in the provinces of Kwa Zulu Natal, Free State, Limpopo and Northwest.

We are also conscious that we must close the long-term skills gap in the municipalities as well as in the infrastructure, built and environmental sectors, so that our nation may meet its aspirations. In this regard, MISA is currently supporting 15 municipalities with the assessment of their technical capacity gaps. This will result in finalisation of individual and institutional capacity development plans. As part of our contributions to the infrastructure sector, we have this year, issued an additional 90 bursaries under the MISA Bursary Scheme. The Bursaries have been provided in the areas of infrastructure management, engineering, town planning, project management, and environmental management. These students join the 160 students, we have recruited since the start of the programme 2 years ago.

Chairperson, we are also acutely aware that the capacity limitations of municipalities are not strictly confined to the technical areas. Thus, the Department is currently undertaking a nation-wide online skills audit for all municipalities which incorporates the necessary competency frameworks for the different occupational streams for all municipal staff below the management echelon.

As we have said before the developmental state must drive a particular agenda. At a local level we believe that agenda must capacitate municipalities to play a greater economic developmental role. This will enable municipalities to attract the necessary capacities whilst raising sufficient revenues. We must also deemphasize passive service provision. It must promote active citizenry and locate the role of municipalities in the active promotion of efficient local markets and inclusive growth. For us this is the core subject of the social compact exercise alluded to by the President in the SONA.

Gradually we are working towards shifting the attitudes and culture of those who serve the public, including public office bearers. To create the will to serve and promote good ethics in the three spheres, we are collaborating with National School of Government, in the delivery of ethics training modules. Already they have inducted the new councils. These councils will also be subject to the revised and mandatory Code of Conduct, which insulates the local administration from political influence.

To complement this, in September we promulgated the Local Government Municipal Staff Regulations. These set uniform standards and procedures for municipal staff establishment, recruitment, selection and appointments, performance management, and transfers of municipal employees. These regulations also introduce a Competency Framework which is the first step in ensuring that we have the right people in the right jobs. Thus laying the foundations for a more professional public service in all spheres in the cooperative governance sector.

Chairperson, our history requires that South Africa develops its own unique brand of a developmental state. There can be no doubt of its utility and the societal leadership role it must assume. It must have the capability and capacity to lead and mobilise all of society behind a common agenda.

Our experiences at a local sphere tell us that such a compact must have a local soul. Consequently, the role of the local sphere is critical in delivering the promise of a better quality life. The local economic development dimensions of that promise, are also critical.

It is therefore our firm view that our collaboration with this House will enable us to consolidate our base as we move faster, with determination, towards securing a better-quality life for all. To do this we will this year undertake an important and inclusive 21 Year Review of Local Government. It is our sincere wish that this House will participate and guide us as we undertake this exercise, for it is only a developmental local government that can turn our aspirations of a developmental state into a reality.


I thank you for your attention.