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Annual Address by President Jacob Zuma to the National Council of Provinces Parliament, Cape Town

6 November 2014

Honourable Chairperson of the NCOP, Ms Thandi Modise,
Hon Deputy Chairperson Mr Raseriti Tau,
Ministers and Honourable Premiers,
Deputy Ministers, MECs and Executive Mayors,
Honourable Members of the NCOP,
MPs and MPLs,
The leadership of SALGA,
Special Guests,

Thank you for the privilege to address the National Council of Provinces today.

It is always a pleasure to come to the NCOP. This House brings together the three spheres of government, to discuss matters which affect the lives of our people.

You have chosen the theme for this year`s annual address and debate, as "Celebrating 20 years of a Democratic Parliament - Together Moving the NCOP forward as a vanguard of the interests of Provinces".

The theme reminds us of the progress that the country has made over the past 20 years. We are meeting here today in a free democratic parliament, because we fought relentlessly and dismantled apartheid colonialism.

That is a major achievement that we should never lose sight of.

Honourable Chairperson

Chapter 4 of the Constitution outlines the role of the National Council of Provinces, as being to represent the provinces and to ensure that provincial interests are taken into account in the national sphere of government.

This makes this a very important House of Parliament as it deals with matters that affect our people directly.

The NCOP has played its role efficiently over the past few years. This House has provided a platform for the provinces to shape legislation and the national agenda. The NCOP has also diligently processed many transformative laws falling within its oversight, particularly the Section 76 Bills which affect provinces.

Another remarkable achievement of the NCOP has been the programme of taking parliament to the people.

Lendlu yephalamende i-NCOP inezinhlelo ezinhle lapho iphalamende lihambela imiphakathi. Abantu bathola ithuba lokuba yingxenye yephalamende, babambe iqhaza babike izinkinga zabo babeke nemibono kalula. Siyanihalalisela ngaloluhlelo oluhle.

Honourable Chairperson,

The NCOP has also played a very meaningful role in the continent, sharing experiences, helping various countries in shaping their own houses of Parliament.

It is through our effectively functioning institutions such as the NCOP that we are able to celebrate twenty years of democracy with pride and a strong sense of satisfaction and achievement.

Indeed, South Africa is a much better place to live in now than it was before 1994. For that, we should congratulate ourselves as South Africans.

We can count many achievements that we have scored working together. South Africa today is a stable democracy with a firmly entrenched human rights culture.

Our constitution is recognized as being one of the most progressive in the world. Our democratic institutions are vibrant and independent. We have held five successful democratic elections.

We also pride ourselves of the fact that freedom of association and freedom of expression are part and parcel of daily life in South Africa, guaranteed by our constitution.

Our independent judicial system is respected for its high standards and integrity.

Indeed, South Africa has a good story to tell, and it is a story of success and achievement.

We appreciate these achievements more when we think of where we come from. The reality of the vast majority of our people before 1994 was poverty and deprivation, with no hope for a better future. Every aspect of society was designed to favour the minority, at great expense to the majority of our people.

The entire structure of our society had to be dismantled and reassembled to give effect to the imperative of equality.

This we have done. We have not completed the transformation process yet, but we have certainly made a good start in the past 20 years.

Among our key achievements has been the development and implementation of policies that favour the poor.

The result is that our country is on track to achieve most of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

We have made good progress in meeting these goals which include the eradication of extreme poverty, the achievement of universal primary education, attaining gender equality and the empowerment of women, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, reducing the burden of disease through primarily combating HIV and AIDS, malaria tuberculosis, protecting the environment and mobilizing global partnerships for development by 2015.

What is more impressive with the achievement of the education targets is that the proportion of girls attending primary, secondary and tertiary education has improved significantly.

We have also recorded progress through our infrastructure plan, in building and renovating clinics and hospitals.

We are also continuing to implement the National Health Insurance scheme at a number of pilot sites. The scheme is aimed at making access to health equal for all, regardless of class or financial means.

Our remarkable achievements with regards to providing treatment care and support for persons living with HIV is positively acknowledged by the United Nations Aids programme.

The life expectancy of our people has improved dramatically, because government has succeeded to prioritise the fight against diseases, including HIV and AIDS.

We also need to produce more doctors and other key health professionals. We trust that the Honourable Premiers will continue to work with national government as they have been doing, to recruit young people for medical training locally and abroad.

Our comprehensive social assistance programme has enabled us to do well in meeting the Millennium Development Goal aimed at eradicating extreme poverty.

Government provides extensive income support programmes such as social grants for the poor, access to free education and primary health care and the provision of free basic services such as water and electricity to poor households.

Honourable Chairperson,

We are taking these achievements forward through implementing the National Development Plan. The Plan is one of the major achievements of the fourth administration.

The NDP requires us to undertake certain measures to grow the economy and create jobs.

We are implementing various programmes such as the Industrial Policy Action Plan and the National Infrastructure Plan to promote inclusive growth and development.

We are also implementing the NDP through an innovative delivery programme, Operation Phakisa.

We have launched Operation Phakisa One which focuses on unlocking the potential of the country`s oceans. Studies show that the ocean economy presents an estimated potential of 177 billion rand contribution to the GDP, and to create between 800 thousand and one million jobs by 2033.

We are working with business, labour, academia and civil society to ensure success.

Later this month we will launch Operation Phakisa 2, aimed at improving the functioning of clinics.

On infrastructure, we are working closely with the Premiers and executive mayors who are members of the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission, in order to unblock and fast-track infrastructure projects.

During the past five years, we invested about one trillion rand in new infrastructure to provide water, energy, transport, sanitation, schools, clinics and internet connections to our people.

Over the next three years, we will spend 847 billion rand on infrastructure.

A lot has been done already in the past few months with regards to infrastructure development. In the past 100 days of this new administration, 12 schools were completed to replace dilapidated structures. Thirty three schools were provided with sanitation and 22 with electrification.

In addition to three new universities that we are establishing, sixteen sites have been identified for the construction of 12 new Technical and Vocational Education and Training College campuses.

Honourable Chairperson,

We also continue to support business financing, promoting economic transformation in the process.

We have through the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) disbursed about 2.61 billion rand in the first 100 days of the fifth administration.

In addition, for the period from May to August 2014, the Public Investment Corporation approved over 4.7 billion rand for job-creating investments.

These new projects have created and maintained sixteen thousand eight hundred and eighty four (16, 884) jobs across a range of industries such as renewable energy, agriculture and agro-processing, as well as small and medium enterprises.

Honourable Chairperson,

South Africa has a good story to tell. Even though we have not reached every South African yet, the lives of millions have changed for the better already.

We have continued to make progress in providing basic services to the people in the 100 days of the new administration.

We have connected forty eight thousand seven hundred and fifty one (48 751) households to the electricity grid and three thousand seven hundred and eighty six (3 786) households were provided with access to electricity using non-grid technologies.

The electricity shortage in our country continues to be of concern hence the announcement that we are developing an energy security master plan. The plan will include an energy mix comprising nuclear, coal, solar, shale gas, renewable energy and other forms.

Honourable Chairperson

Water continues to be a challenge for many communities.

To make water a key priority we established a stand-alone department in May this year and separated it from environmental affairs.

We have already done some visible work in the past 100 days.

The Municipal Infrastructure Support Agency is providing technical support to 27 poor priority District Municipalities to assist them to deal with water and sanitation backlogs.

In the past 100 days, practical training has been provided to 17 waste water process controllers and 22 artisans in the Vhembe District Municipality in Limpopo.

A similar programme for 127 identified apprentices is being extended to Ugu, uThungulu and Harry Gwala District Municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal.

The eradication of bucket toilets continues to be high up on our agenda.

Five hundred and thirteen (513) households had their bucket toilet systems replaced with ablution facilities in the Northern Cape, through the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agency Bucket Eradication Programme.

The Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission has also facilitated a project to eradicate the bucket system, at Hobhouse in the Mantsopa Local Municipality in the Free State.

The bucket system was still a major form of sanitation for 3900 residents in this community.

Government has also facilitated electrical connections to boreholes in Ngobi village in the North West Province, ensuring safe water supply to 5000 people.

The lack of capacity of the Ngaka Modiri Molema District Municipality to render water services functions has been dealt with. Rand Water was directed to provide these services until the functions were transferred to either Magalies or Sedibeng Water Boards.

Last week we visited the community of Giyani in Limpopo, to celebrate the provision of water to 55 villages, alleviating water shortages in Mopani District Municipality.

The Makana District Municipality is unable to provide effective bulk water supply to the City of Grahamstown resulting in frequent disruptions in water supply. Amatole Water has been directed to implement a refurbishment plan and to bring the systems into full operation.

Water Restrictions had been imposed in Mangaung due to drought conditions in the Free State.

The Department of Water and Sanitation intervened to transfer water from the Lesotho Highlands Water project into the Caledon River to relieve the water situation.

These releases also benefited the towns in the Setsoto and Mohokare Local Municipalities which also draw water from the Caledon.

Government has also launched the first phase of a project to supply water from Jozini Dam to the people of uMkhanyakude District Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal.

This will be the first time in 40 years that these communities benefit from this dam, which was built in 1973 as a single purpose dam for agricultural use.

The project will provide 16 200 households with water. Abantu baseMkhanyakude sebezothola amanzi ngenxa yaloluhlelo olusha lukahulumeni lokudonsa amanzi edamini eJozini elalakhelwe ezolimo.

To ensure that all these programmes succeed, local government needs to function effectively.

We hosted a Presidential summit on local government in September this year, and called upon our municipalities to go back to the basics and deliver services to our people more efficiently.

This is not because the other spheres of government do not have challenges. We are prioritising local government because it is closest to the people.

It should be the best performing sphere as it is the first port of call for services. This fifth administration will thus work tirelessly to assist struggling municipalities and to prioritise local government in general.

It is for this reason that we are also increasing the Municipal Infrastructure Grant quite considerably, so as to enhance capacity in our municipalities.

Efforts to strengthen and broaden public participation in local service delivery through ward committees are in progress.

In the past 100 days, a total of 450 Ward Level Service Improvement Plans have been developed focusing on, amongst others, the filling of potholes, non-functioning traffic lights, curbing against service interruptions, attending to billing queries and cleaning of open spaces. More than 3200 ward service improvement plans have been developed to date.

Honourable Chairperson,

The National Development Plan promotes active citizenry and partnerships in building our country.

In this regard, I have convened the Presidential Business Working Group and have also met with the mining sector to discuss how to revitalise and strengthen that industry following a series of difficulties.

The Deputy President met the NEDLAC partners on the 4th of November to take forward the labour dialogue. We will also be engaging other stakeholders as well such as the media, higher education, youth, women and the disability sector.

Honourable Chairperson,

The fight against crime continues to be a high priority for government.

We are concerned about the high rate of armed robberies at malls and shopping centres in all provinces, but especially in Gauteng and the Western Cape.

It is however important to note that in responding to this threat, police have, in the past few days, made a considerable number of key arrests to stem this noted increase in mall robberies and also violent crime in general.

The SAPS has launched the "Operation Duty Calls" campaign, which is the festive season safety campaign to make South Africans to be safer and to feel safer.

It is proven that high crime incidents occur between October and January.

The festive season campaign is focused on all aggravated robberies, the proliferation of firearms, second hand goods, tracing and arresting of wanted suspects as well as road safety and border security.

Honourable Chairperson

Let me emphasise that we are seriously concerned about the proliferation of guns in our society and the level of violence that we have seen on display.

To this end, police will take advantage of the proposed changes in Firearms Control Act to introduce more stringent measures for gun control and ownership.

The police anti-crime campaign encompasses various activities during the forthcoming 16 Days of Activism on Violence against Women and Children which begins on 25 November.

We urge the public to participate actively so that we eliminate all forms of abuse of women and children.

Honourable Members,
Honourable Chairperson,

Up to 1994 our country had been a pariah state. We are now a proud member of the international community. We remain steadfast in our foreign policy commitments to promote a better Africa and a better world.

We joined the BRICS forum in the past administration which was a major achievement for our country. On 15 July 2014, the BRICS Finance Ministers signed an Article Agreement Establishing the New Development Bank.

The Bank is expected to provide much needed funding assistance to our vast infrastructure projects, not only in this country but in the continent at large.

Next week, we will travel to Australia to participate in the G20 summit, where we will promote inclusive and equitable growth for the developing world.

We continue to play a role in SADC working with sister countries locally. During the Ordinary Meeting of the Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Southern African Development Community in August this year, South Africa was elected as the Chairperson of the SADC Organ Troika on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.

We continue to work for peace and stability. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa continues support the people of Lesotho to resolve their challenges, as SADC facilitator.

The Deputy President is also playing a mediatory role in South Sudan to promote peace between Sudanese parties.

We have also appointed envoys for the Israel-Palestine conflict, to encourage the estranged parties to return to the negotiating table.

Distinguished guests,

We have come a long way since 1994. We have made remarkable progress in the past 20 years.

The NCOP has played a key role in the progress made and we must work together to continue to bring about a better life for all.

This House, as the voice of provinces, will play an important role in ensuring that the legislation coming out of our parliament is transformative and will lead to a better life.

Compatriots,

Let us continue to work together as we move South Africa forward.

I thank you!