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Sephadi

Sephadi - February 2006

Editorial

State Of The Nation Address

Debates


EDITORIAL COMMENT

On February 3, 2006 the President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki delivered the State of the Nation Address to the joint sitting of parliament. This special edition represents a compilation of contributions by Members of the ANC in the debate.

Essentially the State of the Nation is an opportunity to take stock and reflect on the state of health of the nation.

Necessarily the overview reflects key moments in the journey towards a better life for all. Of critical significance in the State of the Nation Address are the strategic perspectives of government to address the challenges of transformation.

Proceeding from the character of the transition in South Africa , and the achievements of the First Decade of Freedom , President Mbeki declared that “our country has entered its Age of Hope.” This mood of optimism has been confirmed by Gallup International and the recent domestic polls conducted by Markinor. Furthermore, in January 2006, the First National Bank and the Bureau for Economic research reported that the consumer confidence index is at its highest in 25 years.

Evidently the belief that South Africa has entered its Age of Hope is not an illusion, but reflects actual progress. Under the stewardship of the ANC government, the South African economy has registered sustained economic growth. It is precisely this sustained economic growth that has catapulted South Africa to the threshold of a 6% growth rate.

Experience shows that economic growth as such is hollow unless it contributes to employment creation and poverty eradication.

In pursuit of the reconstruction and development programme and consistent with a people’s contract to create work and fight poverty, the government has initiated the Accelerated Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (ASGISA). It is fitting on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Freedom Charter by the ANC to affirm that the wealth of the country shall be shared.

The new growth trajectory will be steered by the developmental state. The commitment of R372 billion towards infrastructure development over the medium term expenditure framework attests to the seriousness of government. For government to discharge its leadership role there has to be vigorous fast tracking of skills development. Of critical importance is the mobilization of labor and capital in the realization of the objectives of ASGISA. Furthermore the challenges of economic development require the alignment of education and production imperatives.

President Mbeki delivered his State of the Nation Address in the Year of Mobilization for People’s Power through democratic Local Government. On the 1st of March 2006 our people will elect people’s representatives at the local level.

The ANC once more has demonstrated its leadership by nominating its candidates on a 50:50 gender balance. This is a clarion call to the people of South Africa that the struggle for the emancipation of women is inseparable from the struggle for a better life for all.

In light of the abolition of cross border municipalities, local government is poised for further consolidation and improvement in the delivery of services. Local government is the coalface of people’s power; consequently the strengthening of local government is of vital importance. The ANC has a plan to enhance and deepen local democracy. The lessons learned in Project Consolidate and the implementation of cooperative governance t h rough intergovernmental relations should improve service delivery.

The central task facing all ANC cadres is to ensure an overwhelming ANC victory in the municipal elections. In this regard we salute Caucus Members and support staff for the sterling work in canvassing around the City of Cape Town. We urge comrades during constituency recess to redouble efforts for a decisive victory.

Of course the work of oversight continues beyond the election.

The acid test of political power is the ability to create a better life for all. Effective monitoring of the implementation of government policies is the fundamental function of oversight. Through the Izimbizos, ward committees and constituency work we should ensure that the Age of Hope becomes a reality of a better life for all. Indeed all agree that today is better than yesterday, and tomorrow will be better than today. As we celebrate our historic milestones such as the centenary of the Bambata rebellion; 30th anniversary of the Soweto student uprising; 50th anniversary of the women’s march on the Union buildings and others, we should assert the hegemony of the ANC.

The State of the Nation Address also highlights South Africa ’s internationalist obligations for a better Africa and a better world.

The President expressed the people’s displeasure at Bafana Bafana ’s disastrous performance in the African Cup of Nations. As a nation that hosts the 2010 Soccer World Cup we need to be mindful of our obligations to deliver a credible Soccer World Cup, the first ever for Africa. The Soccer World Cup will make an indelible contribution to our effort to accelerate our progress toward s the achievement of the goal of a better life for our people.

Forward to a decisive victory of the ANC in the local government elections!

Aluta continua!


TODAY IS BETTER THAN YESTERDAY, TOMORROW WILL BE BETTER THAN TODAY

STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT OF SOUTH AFRICA , THABO MBEKI TO THE JOINT SITTING OF PARLIAMENT

First of all I would like to acknowledge and welcome to this occasion some distinguished personalities who are sitting in the gallery of this hallowed chamber. I refer here to the esteemed Graca Machel whose first husband, the heroic Samora Machel, died in a mysterious plane crash at Mbuzini in Mpumalanga 20 years ago this year.

I refer also to the Reverend fathers, Revs Mgojo and Xundu, who served the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in various capacities, and some of those who petitioned the Commission, to promote the noble cause of peace, truth and reconciliation in our country.

I refer also to Ella Gandhi , grand-daughter of the irreplaceable Mahatma Gandhi , who 100 years ago here in South Africa , launched Satyagraha, the unique non-violent struggle that liberated India and inspired millions of freedom fighters everywhere else in the world.

We take this opportunity to remember the martyrs who were brutally assassinated in Matola, as well as the leader of our people Joe Gqabi .

Present among us also are Inkosi Zondi and Oscar Zondi , patriots from KwaZulu-Natal who are working to ensure that the nation honours the Bambata Rebellion of a century ago in a fitting manner.

We are also honoured to have in our midst Sophie De Bruyn and others present in the house who were part of the heroic women who marched on the Union Buildings in Pretoria 50 years ago on 9 August 1956, thus placing the women of our country in the frontline of our struggle for national liberation.

The representatives of the youth that rose up in revolt 30 years ago, in the Soweto Uprising sit everywhere in this House, including the benches of the ruling party, and have therefore had no need to have special representatives sitting in the gallery of t his House.

I am honoured to acknowledge the presence in the gallery of an outstanding human being and friend of our country and people, the leading Indian "Bollywood" actor, Anil Kapoor.

All of us are deeply moved that Anil Kapoor, a citizen of the beloved land of Mahatma Gandhi, has agreed to serve as one of South Africa ’s global brand ambassadors, committed to mobilise the peoples of the world to support our efforts to make a success of our liberation.

On behalf of our government and all our people, I extend our heartfelt welcome to all these distinguished guests and thank them for honouring our nation today by their presence on this important national occasion.

Speaking at the very first Annual Regular Opening of our Democratic Parliament, on 24 May 1994, almost a month after the historic April 27th elections in which, for the first time ever, the people of our country freely decided together who should govern our country, the Honourable Nelson Mandela issued an historic challenge that:

"we must, constrained by and yet regardless of the accumulated effect of our historical burdens, seize the time to define for ourselves what we want to make of our shared destiny."

Perhaps what the nation has done and not done during the years of the democratic epoch, that have accumulated since Nelson Mandela delivered the first State of the Nation Address on 24 May 1994, has created the possibility for us to reiterate the call hemade on that day to all of us as South Africans, nearly twelve years ago, together "to define for ourselves what we want to make of our shared destiny."

On that day in May 1994, the Hon Nelson Mandela evoked the haunting memory of an extraordinary South African, Ingrid Jonker , who committed suicide just over 40 years ago, in the same sea waters that isolated his former involuntary temporary home, Robben Is land, from our mainland, as she was isolated from and by her kith and kin. Of her he said:

"In the midst of despair, she celebrated hope. Confronted with death, she asserted the beauty of life. In the dark days when all seemed hopeless in our country, when many refused to hear her resonant voice, she took her own life.

"To her and others like her, we owe a debt to life itself. To her and others like her, we owe a commitment to the poor, the oppressed, the wretched and the despised."

Nelson Mandela said that in the aftermath of the massacre at the anti-pass demonstrations in Sharpeville, Langa and Nyanga, she wrote that:

Die kind is nie dood nie
die kind lig sy vuiste teen sy moeder
wat Afrika skreeu...
die kind wat net wou speel in die son by Nyanga als orals
die kind wat ``n man geword het trek deur die ganse Afrika
die kind wat ``n reus geword het reis deur die hele wêreld
Sonder ``n pas

The child is not dead
the child lifts his fists against his mother
who shouts Africa!...
this child who only wanted to play in the sun at Nyanga is everywhere
the child grown to a man treks on through all Africa
the child grown to a giant journeys through the whole world
without a pass!

Nelson Mandela continued:

"And in this glorious vision, ( Ingrid Jonker ) instructs that our endeavours must be about the liberation of the woman, the emancipation of the man and the liberty of the child. It is these things that we must achieve to give meaning to our presence in this chamber and give purpose to our occupancy of the seat of government.

"And so we must, constrained by and yet regardless of the accumulated effect of our historical burdens, seize the time to define for ourselves what we want to make of our shared destiny."

Confronted by this historic challenge, I dare say that no one in our country can, like Shakespeare’s Macbeth, grieve that in the period since that distinguished son of our people, the Honourable Nelson Mandela, delivered our first State of the Nation Address, all we can truthfully say, with Macbeth, about our country’s fate is:

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,

Creeps in this petty pace from day to day

To the last syllable of recorded time,

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

The way to dusty death...

Indeed I believe that for many of us, our country’s evolution away from its apartheid past seems to have moved at such a hectic pace that even some of the seminal moments marking the birth of our democracy, that are less than two decades old, present themselves in the subconscious mind as being mere chapters in an aging historical record of a distant past.

Nothing that has happened during the age of democracy could justify the conclusion, similar to the one that Macbeth arrived at, that any of our yesterdays has only served to guide fools to avoidable catastrophe.

On the contrary, the age of democracy has given itself moral legitimacy by ensuring that Ingrid Jonker lives on, a heroine to all our people. The child she knew had not died, despite the apartheid bullet through its head. And now grown to a giant, treks on through all Africa and the whole world, without a pass!

This year we will have occasion to remind ourselves of, and celebrate, two of the seminal moments to which I have referred. One of these is the 15th anniversary of the holding of the first meeting of Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) on 20 December 1991, and the adoption of the vitally important Declaration of Intent the following day. The other is the 10th anniversary of the adoption of our Constitution on 8 May 1996.

Among other things, the CODESA Declaration of Intent said: "We...declare our solemn commitment to bring about an undivided South Africa with one nation sharing a common citizenship, patriotism and loyalty, pursuing amidst our diversity, freedom, equality and security for all irrespective of race, colour, sex or creed; a country free from apartheid or any other form of discrimination or domination."

The importance of this particular moment in our history both for our country and the peoples of the world was underlined by the presence at CODESA of international observers from the United Nations, the Organisation of African Unity, the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries and the Commonwealth.

In a joint statement, these representatives of important international organisations said: "CODESA must herald the dawn of a new era of peace and justice. The broad objectives expressed in the Declaration of Intent are a most constructive and auspicious be ginning for CODESA and give promise of attainment of a true democracy for South Africa...We hope that all the representatives of the South African people will join in the rebuilding of their country".

Periods of a decade and a decade-and-a-half are but fleeting moments in the life of any nation. In our case we have lived through these years conscious of the enormous effort it would require of all of us to unshackle our country from the heavy chains that tie it to its past.

We have known that it would take considerable time before we could say we have eradicated the legacy of the past. We have expected that the circumstances handed down to us by our history would indeed condemn us to a ‘petty pace’ of progress towards the achievement of the goal of a better life for all.

And yet today, as I stand here to speak to the Honourable Members of our national, provincial and local legislatures, an important component part of our national political leadership, other echelons of that leadership, and our international guests, I feel emboldened to appropriate for our people the promise contained in the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, when God said:

For you shall go out with joy,

And be led out in peace;

The mountains and the hills

Shall break forth into singing before you,

And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree

And instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree...

Kuba niya kuphuma ninovuyo,

Nithundezwe ninoxolo.

Iintaba neenduli ziya kugqabhuka

Zimemelele phambi kwenu,

Imithi yasendle ibethe izandla.

Esikhundleni somqaqoba kuya kuphuma imisedare,

Esikhundleni serhawu kuya kunyuka imirtile...

What has been achieved since Nelson Mandela delivered his first State of the Nation Address, and what we can do, given the larger resources that have since been generated, has surely given hope to the masses of our people, that it is possible for all Africa to hear the mountains and the hills singing before them.

When he addressed the United Nations General Assembly 14 years ago on 18 February 1992, a mere two months after our nation established CODESA, the then Chairperson of the United Nations Special Committee against Apartheid said:

"During the next few months, the Special Committee will need to closely monitor developments, in order to identify all factors threatening to derail the process in South Africa and to issue early warnings accordingly. We will thus pay particular attention to the underlying causes of violence. The level and the nature of violence continues to be extremely disturbing. More than 2 600 persons lost their lives in 1991 as a result of politically related violence."

Reading this today, wondering what could have gone wrong that so many people had to lose their lives needlessly, it becomes difficult to avoid the conclusion that – yesterday was another country!

And yet during the very same year that we adopted our Constitution, Amnesty International could still report that:

"At least 500 people were killed in continuing political violence in KwaZulu-Natal; some appeared to have been extra-judicially executed. Reports of torture and ill-treatment in police custody continued. Four people were killed by right-wing opponents of t he government. Further evidence emerged, through court proceedings and Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings, of official involvement in human rights violations under the former government."

Fifteen years ago the international community was expressing deep concern about factors threatening to derail the process in our country towards ending white minority rule, including the violence then claiming too many lives, and found it necessary to appeal to all our people to act together to end apartheid and rebuild the country.

The peoples of the world could have reiterated their concern about political violence in our country even five years later, as we took the giant step forward by adopting our Constitution.

Happily, in time, we managed to break free of the uncertainty about a bright future for our country, dramatically represented by the large numbers of people killed throughout the years from 1990 to 1996, when we were engaged in negotiations to establish our democratic order.

This year opened with the inspiring news that our people were highly optimistic about their future and the future of our country, ranking eighth in the world on the optimism index. Gallup International, which issued this report, said we have three times mo re optimists than pessimists, and that the optimism figure had doubled even since 2002.

This compared sharply with the situation in 1993, when our country was still in the grip of the crisis that had been of so much concern to the international community. That year, our country had more pessimists than optimists, signifying the prevalence of a mood of despair generated in part by the cold-blooded assassination that year of one of our outstanding leaders, Chris Hani .

The results obtained by Gallup International have been confirmed by a recent domestic poll conducted by Markinor. According to this poll, 65% of our people believe that the country is going in the right direction. 84% think that our country holds out a happy future for all racial groups. 71% believe that government is performing well.

With regard to the economy, late last month the Grant Thornton International Business Owners Survey reported that 84% of South Africa ’s business owners are optimistic about the year ahead, making them the third most optimistic internationally. Again last month, the First National Bank and the Bureau for Economic Research reported that the consumer confidence index is at its highest in 25 years.

What all these figures signify is that our people are firmly convinced that our country has entered its Age of Hope. They are convinced that we have created the conditions to achieve more rapid progress towards the realisation of their dreams. They are certain that we are indeed a winning nation.

Through our National Effort they can see the relevance to our situation of God’s blessings communicated in the Book of the Prophet Isaiah:

For you shall go out with joy,

And be led out in peace;

The mountains and the hills

Shall break forth into singing before you,

And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree

And instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree...

The inspiring perspective about our future shared by the majority of our people derives from what our country has achieved first to overcome the obstacles to freedom we faced before 1994, the advances we have made since then to consolidate our democracy, while promoting non-racism and non-sexism, the progress we have made to alleviate the poverty afflicting millions of our people, and the strides we have made to expand and modernise our economy.

We owe these outstanding achievements to the sterling efforts made by all our people in all walks of life. To that extent I would like to take the opportunity of this State of the Nation Address to salute and thank all our people for responding to the call made by Nelson Mandela in 1994 from this podium, when he said "we must, constrained by and yet regardless of the accumulated effect of our historical burdens, seize the time to define for ourselves what we want to make of our shared destiny."

Millions did indeed seize the time and, in action, defined ours as a shared destiny of peace, democracy, non-racism, non-sexism, shared prosperity and a better life for all. It is because of what these millions did that our people know from their own experience that today is better than yesterday, and are confident that tomorrow will be better than today.

While we must indeed celebrate the high levels of optimism that inspire our people, who are convinced that our country has entered its Age of Hope, we must also focus on and pay particular attention to the implications of those high levels of optimism with regard to what we must do together to achieve the objective of a better life for all our people. We have to respond to the hopes of the people by doing everything possible to meet their expectations.

And here I include among those who have to respond to the high expectations of our people not just the government, but also the private sector, the labour unions and the rest of civil society, and patriotic individuals.

In the period ahead of us, we have to sustain the multi-faceted national effort that enabled us to realise the advances that have inspired so much confidence among our people for a better tomorrow. On behalf of our government I would therefore like to use this important landmark in our national life to repeat the appeal made by Nelson Mandela 12 years ago, that together "we must...seize the time to define for ourselves what we want to make of our shared destiny."

And I dare say that essentially all of us are very familiar with what the people expect, which would confirm that they were not wrong to conclude that our country has entered its Age of Hope.

The Markinor survey to which we have referred indicates some of the concerns of our people. Whereas, as we have indicated, 71% believe that government is generally performing well, only 56% think government is responding well to our economic challenges, with the figure dropping to 54% with regard to the cluster of Justice functions.

We must also note that the government’s approval rating with regard to the economy moves in tandem with the levels of income. Significantly, 72% approve of the government’s efforts in various areas of social delivery. In contrast, only 45% believe that the sphere of local government is performing well.

The Honourable Members will also be pleased to know that a survey conducted by the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) shows that 90% of our population is proud of our country, our flag and National Anthem, while 60% consider Freedom Day , April 27th, as the most important national day.

The outcomes of these surveys communicate the unequivocal message that our people expect that:

we should move faster to address the challenges of poverty, underdevelopment and marginalisation confronting those caught within the Second Economy, to ensure that the poor in our country share in our growing prosperity;

we should make the necessary interventions with regard to the First Economy to accelerate progress towards the achievement of higher levels of economic growth and development of at least 6% a year;

we must sustain and improve the effectiveness of our social development programmes targeted at providing a cushion of support to those most exposed to the threat of abject poverty;

we must act more aggressively with regard to our criminal justice system to improve the safety and security of our people, especially by improving the functioning of our courts and increasing our conviction rates to strengthen the message that crime does not pay;

we must ensure that the machinery of government, especially the local government sphere, discharges its responsibilities effectively and efficiently, honouring the precepts of Batho Pele ; and,

we must harness the Proudly South African spirit that is abroad among the people to build the strongest possible partnership between all sections of our population to accelerate our advance towards the realisation of the important goal of a better life f or all.

Our government is committed to respond with all necessary seriousness and determination to all these challenges, and play its role to give new content to our Age of Hope. I am honoured to have this opportunity to announce some of the elements of the programme of our government to honour this commitment.

The Honourable Members and the country at large are aware that, under the leadership of Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the three spheres of government have been working together for some months to elaborate the specific interventions that will en sure that ASGISA, the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative of South Africa, succeeds in its purposes, which include the reduction of the unemployment levels.

In this regard I would like to thank the members of the private sector, the trade union movement, women, youth and civil society who have participated in this process, making a valuable input into an important initiative that must be owned and implemented by our people as a whole.

I must also take advantage of this occasion to explain that ASGISA is not intended to cover all elements of a comprehensive development plan. Rather it consists of a limited set of interventions that are intended to serve as catalysts to accelerated and shared growth and development.

Otherwise we will continue to engage the nation and all social partners to address other elements of a comprehensive development plan to improve on our current programmes, and deal with other issues, such as the comprehensive industrial policy, keeping in mind the objective to halve poverty and unemployment by 2014.

Our government is convinced that favourable conditions exist for us to achieve the accelerated and shared growth to which we are committed. For instance, on 3 January 2005, the newspaper Business Day commented that:

"In South Africa, this promises to be the dawn of a golden age of growth...We have now had more than five years of sustained growth – an upswing longer than the boom of the 1960s and indeed longer than anything in the postwar period...We are reaping the benefits of years of sound financial and monetary policy as well as of structural reform in the economy.

"...we are set fairer than we have been in decades to raise the growth rate on a sustainable basis. The trouble is, not all of it is within our control, as much depends on the vagaries of world markets and the global economy...

"But, make no mistake...[T]his economy and this market starts to look very different to anything we are used to. And it is certainly a different good, not a different bad".

We fully agree with these observations, and would add that, that "different good" has included significant job creation, a trend that we seek to enhance through ASGISA and our other development programmes.

To implement ASGISA, the state-owned enterprises and the public sector as a whole, working in some instances through public-private partnerships, will make large investments in various sectors to:

meet the demand for electricity;

provide an efficient and competitive logistic infrastructure;

expand and modernise the telecommunications infrastructure; and,

satisfy the demand for water.

The public sector will also accelerate infrastructure investment in the underdeveloped urban and rural areas of our country through the Municipal Infrastructure Grant, Expanded Public Works Programme and other infrastructure funds to improve service delivery in the areas of the Second Economy, including the provision of:

roads and rail;

water;

energy;

housing, schools and clinics;

business premises and business support centres;

sports facilities; and,

multi-purpose government service centres, including police stations and courts.

R372 billion will be provided for both these sets of programmes over the next three years.

As the Honourable Members would expect we will continue to pay particular attention to the Expanded Public Works Programme as an important bridge between the two economies and a significant part of our poverty alleviation programme. Among other things, resources for the public works programmes will be pooled to ensure maximum impact both in terms of products delivered and employment and skills-training opportunities.

Better supervision of infrastructure projects undertaken by government will be introduced, to ensure that capital budgets are spent without roll-overs and that labour-intensive methods are prioritised, and the necessary training of workers is carried out t o provide them with skills.

ASGISA has also identified particular sectors of our economy for accelerated growth, building on the work already done within the context of our existing Micro-Economic Reform Programme. These include:

  • Business Process Outsourcing;
  • Tourism;
  • Chemicals;
  • Bio-fuels;
  • Metals and metallurgy;
  • Wood, pulp and paper;
  • Agriculture;
  • The creative industries; and
  • Clothing and textiles.

In this regard, work is proceeding apace to address such challenges as the cost of telecommunications, and import parity pricing with regard to steel and chemicals. We have already reached agreement with the People’s Republic of China to protect our clothing and textile sector. The second National Telecommunications Operator should become operational later this year.

For ASGISA to succeed, it is clear that the machinery of state, and especially local government, should function effectively and efficiently. During the past year, our government has undertaken a detailed assessment to determine what we need to do to improve the capacity of our system of local government.

As we announced last year, we have been engaged in assessing the capacity of government to discharge its responsibilities to help accelerate the process of social transformation. Proceeding from the particular to the general, the audit of a number of national departments has been completed.

These include housing, health, education and trade and industry. Across all these, issues of skills, vacancies, delegation of responsibilities to managers of delivery agencies and relationship between national and provincial departments have emerged as being among the most critical areas requiring attention. Assessments of the other departments will be carried out.

The government will make the necessary interventions to address the issues raised by these assessments, bearing in mind the critical role that government must play as one of our country’s most important developmental agencies. We cannot allow that government departments become an obstacle to the achievement of the goal of a better life for all because of insufficient attention to the critical issue of effective and speedy delivery of services.

In this context, we will continue the work towards the creation of one public service covering all spheres of government, fully conscious of the complexity of this matter and the need to secure the agreement of all relevant stakeholders. We will also continue to pay the necessary attention to the important issues of the inclusion of women and people with disabilities at decision-making levels of the public service.

Everything we have said so far, concerning ASGISA, points to the inescapable conclusion that, to meet our objectives, we will have to pay particular attention to the issue of scarce skills that will negatively affect the capacity of both the public and the private sectors to meet the goals set by ASGISA.

In this regard, I would therefore like to assure the Honourable Members and the country as a whole that, together with our social partners, we have agreed to a vigorous and wide-ranging skills development and acquisition programme to meet any shortfalls we may experience.

Among other things, we have already agreed to establish within a few weeks a multi-stakeholder working group, JIPSA, the Joint Initiative on Priority Skills Acquisition, through which government, business, labour and civil society will act jointly to respond to the skills challenge in as practical a manner as possible.

I would like to extend the sincere thanks of our Deputy President and government as a whole to the response of the Freedom Front + and other formations and individuals, who have responded to our appeal for South Africans with the necessary skills to make themselves available to provide the required expertise in project management and other areas.

The first group of the 90 already identified and assessed, will be deployed in their new posts in May.

We will, of course, also make other interventions in the area of education and training. These include eliminating fees for the poorest quintile of primary schools, targeting 529 schools to double the Maths and Science graduate output to 50 000 by 2008, an d re-equipping and financing the Further Education and Training Colleges.

Last year, we completed the task of registering unemployed graduates, with over 60 000 in the database. We wish to express our appreciation to the many companies that last December pledged to employ some of these graduates. An intensive campaign to link up these graduates with these and other companies will be undertaken this year.

During this year, when we celebrate the 90th anniversary of the establishment of the University of Fort Hare, we will continue to engage the leadership of our tertiary institutions focused on working with them to meet the nation’s expectations with regard to teaching and research. For its part, the government is determined to increase the resource allocation for Research and Development and Innovation, and increase the pool of young researchers.

ASGISA identified other constraints to growth and development, apart from the issue of skills, the cost of doing business and the unnecessarily high cost of intermediate inputs. Work is proceeding to address all these constraints, including the limited domestic market and monetary and financial issues.

ASGISA has once more confirmed the need for us to expand our small, medium and micro enterprise (SMME) sector, paying particular attention in this regard to Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment, and the development of women and the youth.

We will therefore take the necessary measures to ensure the effectiveness of such existing programmes as the Apex (Micro-credit) Fund, Mafisa (for agricultural development), SEDA (the Small Enterprise Development Agency), Khula, the Msobomvu Youth Fund, the IDC Small Business Initiative, and so on. We will also intensify our engagement of the Financial Services Charter signatories to help generate the necessary resources for the development of the SMME sector.

Our experience with regard to the development of this sector indicates that we must pay particular attention to issues of access to capital, entrepreneurial training, assistance with marketing, and the development of cooperatives. Further, to contribute to the growth of the SMME sector, the government will reform its procurement programme to access some of its goods and services from small and medium businesses, ensuring that it pays for what it purchases promptly.

We will also speed up the consultative process to determine the measures we must take to improve the regulatory climate to facilitate the expansion of this sector. This intervention will form part of the overall programme to introduce a regulatory impact assessment system to enable the government regularly to assess the impact of its policies on economic activity in our country.

The years of freedom have been very good for business. I believe that this should have convinced the investor community by now that, in its own interest and as part of the national effort, it has to invest in the expansion of that freedom, especially by actively and consciously contributing towards the achievement of the goal of halving poverty and unemployment by 2014.

ASGISA, which builds on the results of the Growth and Development Summit, offers this investor community an excellent opportunity to respond to this challenge in a deliberate and consistent manner, in its own interest.

Similarly, and also as part of the national effort, the trade union movement and civil society as a whole face the challenge to translate into action the commitment they made with the other social partners at the Growth and Development Summit "to a common vision for promoting rising levels of growth, investment, job creation, and people-centred development."

ASGISA provides a golden opportunity for the social partners to undertake the "collaborative action" they visualised at the GDS focused on "Promoting and mobilising investment and creating decent work for all."

The impressive growth rates achieved by our economy in the current period have been driven in good measure by high consumer demand, significantly financed through credit. This has increased our imports more than our exports. Despite high commodity prices, the resultant balance of payments deficit has been financed by inflows of foreign capital.

Through ASGISA we will increase the significance of the supply-side drivers of our growth. A corollary of this is, of course, that we must ensure the international competitiveness of the goods and services we produce.

This speaks directly to the common objective agreed by the social partners at the Growth and Development Summit, to "promote rising levels of growth, investment, job creation, and people-centred development."

I have already mentioned the fact that to meet our developmental objectives, which must respond to the high expectations of our people, we will pay special attention to the critical task of strengthening local government.

Our government considers this to be especially important at this stage of our evolution. After the March 1st local government elections, all three spheres of government will therefore continue working together to ensure that each and every District and Metro municipality is properly positioned to discharge its responsibility to the people.

In particular, this will mean that each of these municipalities has a realistic Integrated Development Plan, a credible Local Economic Development Programme, and the material and human resources, as well as the management and operational systems to implement these IDPs and LEDs.

Integration of planning and implementation across the government spheres is therefore one of the prime areas of focus in our programme for the next term of local government. In this regard we will be guided by the Inter-Governmental Relations Framework Act .

We must in practice respect the system of cooperative governance, and within this context ensure that we empower local government to discharge its development and service delivery obligations, drawing on the lessons provided by Project Consolidate.

As many of us are aware by now, Project Consolidate has identified serious capacity constraints in many of our municipalities arising from a shortage of properly qualified managers, professional and technical personnel. We have taken the necessary decision s to attend to this urgent matter.

To improve the ability, particularly of local government to meet the needs of the people, by March this year we shall have deployed 3 000 Community Development Workers.

Even as we implement the programmes focused on accelerated and shared growth, with its important element of job creation, we cannot forget that the social wage plays a vital role in our continuing efforts to address the challenge of poverty.

For instance 7 million children now receive the child support grant. A total of 10 million of our citizens receive social grants. Real social expenditure per person increased by 60% between 1983 and 2003. Detailed evidence from a study conducted by Haroon Bhorat , Prakash Naidoo and Carlene van der Westhuizen indicates that there has been a consistent shift in expenditure in favour of poorer households.

To improve delivery in this area, we will continue to implement our comprehensive anti-fraud strategy. Already many of those who have been stealing social grants have been brought to book. This work will improve with the launch of the National Social Security Agency.

In the area of health, over 1 300 clinics have benefited from the upgrading programme and more have received additional equipment; and the programme to revitalise hospitals is proceeding apace. The extension of Community Service to a range of health professionals has ensured that at any one time over 2 000 such professionals are available in public health institutions. Our future plans in this area include the further expansion of the health infrastructure, the refurbishment of existing clinics and hospitals, and the re-opening of Nursing Colleges to increase the numbers of these important professionals.

To improve service delivery in our hospitals, by September this year we will ensure that hospital managers are delegated authority and held accountable for the functioning of hospitals, with policy issues regarding training, job grading and accountability managed by provincial Health Departments which themselves will need restructuring properly to play their role.

The Operational Plan for Comprehensive Prevention, Treatment and Care of HIV and AIDS has resulted in the upgrading of hundreds of facilities. To date, over 100 000 patients are receiving Antiretroviral Treatment and, combined with patients in the private sector, South Africa has one of the largest such treatment programme in the world.

During the course of this year, in addition to accelerating the expansion of our housing stock to address the needs of the homeless, we will take concrete steps to ensure that housing development contributes to eliminating the duality of living spaces inherited from apartheid.

Already, the Ministry of Housing and the South African Local Government Association have reached an agreement on the sale of land for housing development. Through this agreement, municipalities will allocate land close to economic centres for housing development for middle and lower income people.

In addition, as part of our effort to help the poor to access housing finance, the National Housing Finance Corporation (NHFC) will be transformed into a Housing Corporation that will provide finance to the poor and middle-income groups.

In this context, we expect our Minister of Housing and the leadership of the Financial Institutions to reach final agreement without further delay on the modalities for utilising the R42 billion set aside by the financial institutions for housing development for poor and middle-income groups thus contributing to the National Effort.

This is central to the attainment of a society free of shack settlements in which all our people enjoy decent housing. In this context, I should also mention that government has decided that we must completely eradicate, in the established settlements, the "bucket toilets" by the end of 2007.

Land reform and land restitution are critical to the transformation of our society. Accordingly, the state will play a more central role in the land reform programme ensuring that the restitution programme is accelerated, further contributing to the empowerment of the poor, especially in the rural areas.

The Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs will, during 2006:

  • review the willing-buyer willing-seller policy;
  • review land acquisition models and possible manipulation of land prices; and
  • regulate conditions under which foreigners buy land. This will be done in line with international norms and practices.

The Minister and the Department will also ensure that the land redistribution programme is aligned to the Provincial Growth and Development Strategies (PGDS) as well as the Integrated Development Plans (IDP) of municipalities, as well as attend to the proper use of the funds that have been made available for the productive utilisation of the land.

When we talk about the land question, we must not forget that this year we will commemorate the Centenary of the Bambata Uprising in the present day KwaZulu-Natal, which was occasioned by the imposition of a poll tax to drive the people off the land, forcing them to join the ranks of the proletariat. In praise of Bambata it was said:

Ingqungqulu eshaya amaphiko

Kwadilika izixhobo eHlenyane.

Izulu eliphose umbane phansi eHlenyane,

Kwacandeka imisululu.

Kwadilika izindonga.

Usibamba nkunzana

Ekade beyesaba

Ngoba ebambe abamhlophe

Umhlane ubelethe amagwala!

In this year of the 30th anniversary of the Soweto Uprising, we shall ensure that the focus on youth development is intensified in all spheres of government. Among other things during the next financial year we will set up 100 new Youth Advisory Centres, enrol at least 10 000 young people in the National Youth Service Programme and enrol 5 000 volunteers to act as mentors to vulnerable children.

We will also expand the reach of our business support system to young people and intensify the Youth Co-operatives Programme. We will closely monitor the impact of our programmes on youth skills training and business empowerment as an integral part of our National Effort.

The ASGISA process has also helped us greatly by exposing us to the concerns of women with regard to their economic prospects. Among others, the women have pointed to the need for us to focus on issues of access to finance, development of co-operatives, fast-tracking women artisans and providing "set-asides" for women in government and public enterprises procurement programmes.

I believe that the very fact that this year we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Women’s March underlines the need for us to ensure that these issues receive the necessary attention in the implementation of our development programmes.

The government will continue to focus on the critical challenge of further improving our criminal justice system. Among other things, we will focus on integrated law enforcement operations in priority areas, reducing the number of illegal firearms and ensuring better processing of applications for firearm licences, reducing drug trafficking and substance abuse, and implementing social crime prevention measures.

We will further improve case-load management in our courts, building four additional correctional facilities, reduce the number of children in custody, and implement the recommendations of the Jali Commission.

Other important matters include the post-TRC management of cases pertaining to conflicts of the past, processing of legislation on matters pertaining to the rationalisation of our courts, consideration of the recommendations of the Khampepe Commission on t he Directorate of Special Operations, and strengthening our intelligence structures to support law enforcement agencies and ensure the security of the state and its citizens.

Perhaps, needless to say, the government will remain focused on the challenge to fight corruption in the public sector and in society at large. We will continue to intensify our offensive on this front, fully aware of the fact that much that happens in our society encourages the entrenchment of a value system based on personal acquisition of wealth by all means and at all cost.

Five months from now, the FIFA Soccer World Cup tournament, hosted by Germany , will come to its triumphant end with the passage of the host’s baton to our country. From then on, until 2010, the whole world will watch us carefully to judge whether we will b e a worthy host of this prestigious tournament.

I am afraid that our performance in the current African Cup of Nations in Egypt did nothing to advertise our strengths as a winning nation. However, starting today, the nation must bend every effort to ensure that we meet all the expectations of FIFA and t he world of soccer, so that we host the best Soccer World Cup ever.

Simultaneously as we work together to restore the sport of soccer in our country to full health, and prepare a winning national team, we must ensure that we work full steam ahead to get everything else ready for a successful Soccer World Cup.

This will encompass the stadia, broadcast facilities, including high-definition television, the necessary transport and hospitality infrastructure, safety and security, popular support for soccer and the World Cup, and selfless dedication by the local organisers of the tournament.

The 2010 Soccer World Cup will make an important contribution to our effort to accelerate our progress towards the achievement of the goal of a better life for our people. Similarly, as an African Soccer World Cup, it will give additional impetus to our struggle to achieve Africa’s renaissance.

In return for these irreplaceable benefits, we owe it to FIFA and the rest of the soccer world to prepare properly for 2010. I trust that the domestic world of soccer will respond to this challenge with all necessary seriousness, commitment and patriotism.

During 2006 we will continue to engage the African challenges, focusing on peace and democracy in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire and Sudan , the strengthening of the African Union and the acceleration of the process of the implementation of the New Partnership for Africa`s Development (NEPAD) programmes. In this context we have to ensure that we conduct a successful self-assessment process as we prepare our national report for the African Peer Review Mechanism.

As the current Chair of the G77 + China we will do everything possible to advance the interests of the South, including in the context of the continuing WTO negotiations, and the urgent challenge to reform the United Nations, including the Security Council .

We remain actively engaged to help find solutions to the various matters relating to the Israel/Palestine and the Iranian issues. We are committed to the pursuit of negotiated agreements in this regard, consistent with our long held views in favour of the formation of a State of Palestine, security for Israel , non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and the use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

Two anniversaries that we will commemorate this year will serve to emphasise the bonds that tie us to the rest of the world. These are the Centenary of Satyagraha, the non-violent struggle started by Mahatma Gandhi in our country in 1906 and continued in India , and the 20th anniversary of the violent death of President Samora Machel in our country in 1986, in a plane crash that still requires a satisfactory explanation.

Next week we will host a meeting of the Progressive Governance group, which will bring to our country important leaders from all corners of the globe. Their presence in our country will communicate the message that we cannot and will not walk away from our internationalist responsibility to add our voice to global effort to create a better world of peace, democracy, a just world order and prosperity for all nations.

Clearly the masses of our people are convinced that our country has entered into its Age of Hope. They believe that the country they love, their only homeland, will not disappoint their expectation of an accelerated advance towards the day when they will b e liberated from the suffocating tentacles of the legacy of colonialism and apartheid.

They are confident that what our country has done to move us away from our apartheid past has created the conditions for them to appropriate God’s blessing to the Prophet Isaiah:

For you shall go out with joy,

And be led out in peace;

The mountains and the hills

Shall break forth into singing before you,

And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

It is up to all of us, through our National Effort, to build a winning nation, to do all the things that will ensure that the mountains and the hills of our country break forth into singing before all our people, and all the trees of the field clap their h ands to applaud the people’s season of joy.

Thank you.


IT IS OUR MOVEMENT’S PRINCIPLES THAT MADE SA A HOME FOR ALL

BY MOSIUOA LEKOTA DEFENCE MINISTER

The recent tour of our national cricket squad is an outstanding demonstration of the progress and success we have made in our effort to define for ourselves what we want to make of our s h a red destiny. The tour may be notorious for the racial slurs and the abuse our players endured in the Australian stadia.

But what is special about the tour, Mr President, is that the young South Africans of all colours stood up to the old and backward South Africa , camouflaged as Australians, and refused to be divided. Those players understood the call made by the first President of a democratic South Africa , Comrade Mandela and sent a message to all: that they had a common destiny as South Africans and were ready even in foreign lands to keep the national flag flying.

Against the backdrop of the strength of the spirit displayed by our cricket squad, speeches in this House should shine with the optimism that guides and inspires more such examples.

For in this House are closeted leaders of our communities and political parties. Let us speak more of how to unlock the powerful forces for the upliftment and development instead of bombarding the nation with probabilities of looming failures.

For our movement, the ANC, the approach will always be informed by the loyalty to principle that guided it since its formation.

It is the same loyalty to principle that guided it at the height of apartheid legislation and the brutalisation of our people by the old regime. It was that loyalty to principle which made our movement declare that the future South Africa would be for all - black and white - even though the outlines of that new South Africa were nowhere to be espoused.

Although a significant section of the movement refused to come along, it persisted and finally won the day. Our movement will always have the creativity to wage the struggle on more than one front at the same time. Earlier we mobilised against apartheid abroad in society while internally we resisted the temptation to take vengeance - against those who previously denied us political rights - our goal.

Today we wage the struggle to make real the promises of democracy made to the people in the dark days of the struggle.

At the same time, internally we battle against tendencies such as careerism and temptations to make self-interest the priority of our public representatives and cadres. We cannot compromise with any tendency that threaten to divert our movement from its paramount objective of making life better for South Africans, especially the poorest sections of the population.

An important challenge for the movement is to work to change the social morality in our society. Leadership of our senior cadres and our public representatives both at national, provincial and local government must spearhead this campaign. Our membership is driven by a value system centred on the promotion of the interests of the masses of our people. We continue to stand firm on this matter.

We resist the pessimism that characterise some of the speeches in the House yesterday. For as the late Robert Kennedy told white South Africa at Stellenbosch in 1966: ``There is nothing more dangerous, more perilous or uncertain in its success than to introduce a new order of things’’.

He was persuading white South Africa at the time to venture into a new and shared future. They did not respond then. We cannot remain trapped in the same way as they did.

Sure, there are difficulties ahead, but as the latest generation of senior South Africans, we must be young at heart. We cannot and may not lack the courage to put to practical test ideals, which, in our view, carry the greatest probability of advancing our people, especially the most disadvantaged sections of society. For we must constantly wonder as to what will happen to them if we do not act in their interest or if we do not act in their favour.

Then too, we must and will continue to take very seriously our task as the ruling party. We recognize the potential contribution that patriotic opposition can bring to governance.

Consequently, we must listen carefully to the voices of opposition; we must not muffle them. Where constructive suggestions are made, it is our privilege to appropriate them and incorporate them into the bigger scheme of things in order to better serve the people. Where worthless criticism emerges, it must be relegated to its deserved place.

The ANC carries an immense responsibility. In these debates everybody has their say. When it is all done, everybody else will retire to their residences to rest. It will then be left to us, the ANC, through the nights and days that follow to decide what is best for the country and how to go about implementing it.

This is not a place we have chosen for ourselves. We are distinguished in this regard by the mandate the masses of voters gave us in the last elections. That mandate is limited to a five-year term. We are therefore keenly aware that if we do not carry out what was promised to them, the voters can and may vote for another party. But lest I raise false hopes, this is unlikely to happen in our time.

As Goethe has said: ``He only earns his freedom and existence who daily conquers them anew’’.

In this regard I may add that we understand perfectly well that our movement can only remain in power to the extent that term after term it fulfills in large measure the mandate of the people.

It is against this backdrop that ASGISA was conceived. The interventions that will be made under this initiative will unblock bottlenecks that many critical voices are complaining about.

We need no new policies or programmes of development.

They are in place. We need only to facilitate their implementation at a faster rate. Through ASGISA we are poised to do just that.

Extravagant accusations have been made of how much the ANC is a threat to the independence of the judiciary. I assume that these assertions are based on the alarm of those in some communities who might be dissatisfied with rulings handed down by our courts.

Whatever the sources of this disquiet may be, they cannot be founded on any official decisions or actions of our movement.

We are the majority party that voted the present Constitution into law without compulsion. We have repeatedly announced to the country our commitment to the upholding of the principle of the independent judiciary. We have respected each and every one of the decisions of our country’s courts going so far as locking behind bars senior and very respected cadres and leaders of our organisation where the courts found them guilty.

Today, we sit in this House without the Deputy President of our organisation to a large measure out of our deference to the ruling of the judiciary.

For far too long we suffered under white minority rule which had no respect for the independence of the judiciary, indeed a regime that manipulated the judiciary in order to disenfranchise sections of the population.

Because we have the full understanding of how democracy operates, we shall not create precedents that may come back to haunt us or our children. As Ahmed Kathrada once told authorities in a moment of seriousness of inmates on Robben Island: ``Be careful of the prisons you build today lest your children occupy them some day’’.

But we shall not shirk our abiding responsibility to educate all communities to receive the findings of our courts with the necessary respect they deserve, however unpleasant they may be.

In this regard, our movement will lead the society.

At the same time though, I must appeal to members of this House to avoid the tendency to apply the principle of respect for the judiciary selectively. Innocence before proven guilty in court must not be set aside, on occasions when we are impatient to discredit members of/or opposing parties themselves.

That is indeed undermining our courts and it is a threat to the independence of our justice system.

We know that democracy demands self-discipline. And everybody has the right to air views they hold dearly, but when the majority adopts an opposing view, the minority must have such self-control as to defer to that majority. Similarly, when tomorrow the view of yesterday ’s minority is supported by the majority, the same must be the norm for the new minority. So, we will in the coming period engage with communities and sections of our movement to drive home that message.

We shall increasingly make sure that members of society understand that anarchy and democracy are antagonistic opposites – not two sides of the same coin.


STRIVING FOR A BETTER AFRICA AND A BETTER WORLD

DR NKOSAZANA DLAMINI-ZUMA FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER

Mr President, we thank you for your accurate diagnosis of the state of health of our nation. It was reassuring and optimistic, yet it also captured the challenges that lie ahead. You correctly proclaimed that today is better than yesterday and that tomorrow will be better than today. The Soweto uprisings and the reaction of the desperate regime epitomise yesterday.

INingizimu Afrika yonke yayigubuzelwe ubumnyama kukhona ukukhala nokugedla kwamazinyo kodwa kubo bonke lobo bunzima esasibhekene nabo, sasilokhu sinalo ithemba Mongameli. Ithemba lethu kwakuwumbutho wesizwe ukhongolose.

At the time, the apartheid regime embarked on desperate self-destructive action of killing and imprisoning children. The ANC was the only hope of all South Africans – black and white. The ANC was able to galvanise, inspire and strengthen the spirit of resistance, which has characterised our people everywhere -the length and breadth of our country - since 1652. The ANC was able to turn the tears of sorrow, anger, humiliation and pain into tears of joy and freedom in 1994 when Comrade Nelson Mandela became the first President of a democratic South Africa after spending 27 years in jail.

Ngaleyo mini Mongameli zehla zathi tho, tho, tho izinyembezi zokujabula sibona ubaba efungiswa ukuba uMongameli wokuqala okhethwe ngokwentando yeningi eNingizimu Afrika ekhululekile.

The ANC had turned hope into the reality of freedom. All South Africans proudly witnessed Nelson Mandela taking the first salute as the commander in chief. That was the first step toward sustainable peace in our country and on our continent.

This freedom means that all South Africans across all political parties can stand up proudly. This freedom means that indeed all South Africans journey through Africa and the whole world without fear and shame.

All South Africans can now, together with the government, struggle against poverty and work for a better life for all.

Indeed, life is better today than yesterday. Yesterday we were struggling for survival; today we are struggling to improve the lives of all South Africans. Today we complain about the pace of change. We criticise ourselves for not eradicating illiteracy, poverty, the bucket system and landlessness fast enough, but nobody can deny that we are improving the lives of all South Africans.

Nobody can deny that South Africa is a totally different country than it was 10 years ago. Nobody can deny that the ANC and the government have been true to the words of that young inspiring South African intellectual Pixley ka Seme and later one of the founding members of the ANC, when he wrote 100 years ago about the regeneration of Africa. He called for Africa’s renewal so that “a new and unique civilisation” would be added to the world.

Recalling Africa’s precolonial past, he argued that: “The African is not a proletarian in the world of science and art. He has precious creations of his own, of ivory, of copper, of gold, fine, plaited willow-ware, and weapons of superior workmanship.” He described civilisation as resembling “an organic being in its development - it is born, it perishes and can propagate itself.

More particularly it resembles a plant, it takes root in the teeming earth, and when the seeds fall in other soils, new varieties sprout up.” For him and for many of his generation Africa was in need of regeneration “thoroughly spiritual and humanistic – indeed a regeneration moral and eternal”.

True to its tradition, the ANC has made a commitment to staying the course and not betraying the founding leaders of our movement. The leadership of the ANC has sought to bring about a better South Africa on a better continent and in a better world. Thus, our national efforts for a peaceful, prosperous country and a winning nation, of entrenching a human rights culture and of strengthening democracy are also what we have sought for the rest of Africa and for the world.

The President said in the State of the Nation Address that the age of hope and the people’s season of joy are upon us. This is also true for the rest of the continent. Africa’s regeneration is becoming a living reality for many African people.

The majority of African people now live in democratic countries, which was not the case yesterday. The Organisation of African Unity of yesterday is now the African Union of today, and tomorrow – who knows - we might have a United States of Africa or a different version of integration.

As Antonio Guerrero said in his book My Altitude: “You will see the wonder of the world when you give it more love and the most profound of its splendour when you live in peace.” We are not completely there yet, but we are slowly making progress .

The African Union continues to make progress. The Republic of Congo has been given the chair for 2006, and we look forward to working under their leadership in this regard. There are ongoing discussions and action on the political and economic integration of the continent. In our region this finds expression in the timetable we have adopted for the integration of SADC.

In the areas of peacekeeping and conflict resolution, progress has been made thanks also to your own efforts, Mr President, in Burundi , Liberia , the Sudan - north and south. Progress is also being made elsewhere, all of which are now engaged in the process of post conflict reconstruction. Burundi now has a democratic government. The Liberian people have entrusted their hard-earned peace to a woman who is the first female elected president of our continent.

In Guinea-Bissau a progressive government is now in place, and constitutional order has been restored. Elections are to take place in April in the Comores, which will constitute a transfer of power in terms of the Fomboni Agreement.

Elections are planned for both the DRC and the Côte d’Ivoire , notwithstanding the recent problems. South Africa continues to support the peace processes in the Ivory Coast and elsewhere.

In the DRC, South Africa continues to give its utmost support.

Of course, Patrice Lumumba ’s profound trust in the destiny of his country was not misplaced. Indeed, “History” he said, “will have its say”.

But much as we celebrate these advances, those of us especially on this side of the House and across it on the benches of the ANC, and those in the opposition who take pride in following what is happening in South Africa and on the continent, know that to create a better life for all in our country and on our continent will not come easily. This is why we will not shy away from acknowledging and confronting the challenges that still face us in our country and on our continent.

There are problems that remain on our continent. I will mention a few: the Eritrea-Ethiopia border dispute; the situation in Darfur, Sudan ; the situation in Somalia , and so on. These will continue to preoccupy the African continent, and South Africa will continue to play its role within the African Union.

Indeed, today is better than yesterday. An average African economic growth rate of 5,1% was registered in 2004, and there were similar levels in 2005. This was not the case yesterday.

While South Africa is going to implement the Accelerated Shared Growth Initiative, ASGISA, to achieve 6% growth, Africa as a whole, including South Africa , is implementing the New Partnership for Africa’s Development.

Africa is on a steady but sure path towards its regeneration, and its women are on the move. There are no positions that are taboo for them anymore: presidents, deputy presidents -as we see ours sitting there smiling prettily - prime ministers, premiers, speakers, judges, academics, engineers, doctors; you name it. The women are there and they are going to be the driving force.

South Africa has also continued to contribute to a world of hope and peace, a world free of racism, sexism and poverty, a world free of weapons of mass destruction. We also believe in a nuclear-free world. South Africa , as a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors, has been preoccupied with the question of the implementation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran for about three years. We have engaged with the concerned parties to find a peaceful and long-term sustainable solution.

The IAEA has been working to correct the past failures of Iran and to clarify various outstanding issues. The Director-General of the agency, Dr ElBaradei , is due to present an updated assessment of progress to date to the scheduled meeting of the board in March.

We recently experienced a regrettable turn of events. Iran’s decision to withdraw two of its voluntary, nonlegally-binding confidence measures resulted in the EU initiating decisions by a vote of board members in September 2005 and again last week to report the matter to the UN Security Council.

South Africa has always worked for consensus decisions by the board since 1995 when we rejoined the board. These are the only two decisions that have been adopted through a vote.

During last week’s meeting, members of the Non-Alignment Movement and others agreed that the report could be sent to the Security Council in March after consideration by the board of governors. Consensus was within our grasp, but the sponsors of the resolution insisted on sending all IAEA reports and resolutions to the Security Council now.

This decision has, in turn, led Iran to withdraw all its voluntary confidence-building measures, including the additional protocol that it was implementing as if it had been ratified. This decision also means that Iran may resume its enrichment programme, though it remains committed to the Safeguards Agreement and retains its membership of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

South Africa believes that the matter can be resolved through negotiations and dialogue within the IAEA, which has the necessary competence and expertise to address this issue. We therefore appeal to all parties not to act in a hasty manner that can increase tension and confrontation, but to await the DG’s report next month. The board shall be allowed to consider the DG’s report and thereafter convey the report to the Security Council and General Assembly together with its own conclusions.

As we celebrate this age of hope and the people’s season of joy, let us not forget the peoples of Palestine and Western Sahara who are struggling for self-determination. Let us hope that the Quartet, the people of Israel and Palestine, will get to the two-stage solution spelt out in the Road Map.

We shall spare no effort in making sure that the UN of tomorrow is a better UN than today. Through the G77 and China and the Non-Alignment Movement we shall use our collective strength to achieve a reformed United Nations.

In the words of Ben Okri in The Famished Road: “The road will never swallow you. The river of your destiny will always overcome evil. May you understand your fate. Suffering will never destroy you, but will make you stronger. Success will never confuse you or scatter your spirit, but will make you fly higher into the good sunlight. Your life will always surprise you.” If we remember that the ANC has always been the hope of this country and the agent of progressive change, indeed the road will never swallow us and we will see the most profound of South Africa ’s splendour as we live in peace.

In conclusion, I would like to say that indeed we are reassured, because we know that all South Africans know what is good for South Africa and what is good for them, and the majority will always do the right thing. We indeed apologise to South Africans for being insulted by some members who are saying that those who vote ANC are insane. Indeed, this is uncalled for.


GOVERNMENT CONTINUES TO DELIVER SERVICES TO THE PEOPLE

SYDNEY MUFAMADI, PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT MINISTER

Mr President, in the State of the Nation Address you delivered to the Joint Sitting of Parliament last week, you made mention of several anniversaries which our nation will be commemorating this year. The importance of those anniversaries cannot be overemphasised. All of them in their variety serve to remind us that our commitment to bring about a better life for all is shaped by the commitments of those who went before us. We are revolutionary descendents of those who were revolted by the deprivations visited on the overwhelming majority of our country’s people.

The address was characterised by a considerable degree of candidness about the challenges we face. The challenges and the outstanding tasks were acknowledged without obscuring the reality of our country’s painful history, its actuality and its prospects .

For instance, it was stated in the address that we intend to make large investments in various sectors in order to meet the demand for electricity, satisfy the demand for water and to improve service delivery including the provision of roads, housing, schools and clinics, business premises and business support centres, sport facilities and multipurpose government centres. The commitments made in the State of the Nation Address resonate with the vision, which is encapsulated in the Freedom Charter.

It is the Freedom Charter, which envisions a society in which there shall be houses, security and comfort. It commits us to the ideal of a society in which slums shall be demolished and new suburbs built where all have transport, roads, lighting, playing fields, crèches, and social centres. Indeed, for those of us to whom the search for a better life is an article of faith, the Freedom Charter is a baseline point of reference .

Our government has committed itself to help create conditions, which will allow our people to overcome politically contrived disabilities.

We are acutely aware that some of our communities continue to bear the legacy of marginalisation and exclusion. They continue to be afflicted by service delivery backlogs, backlogs of infrastructure, both social and economic and the problems of lack of technical skills.

In the year 2000, we started with the correct insight that in order to solve the problems facing our people, we must have a wall-to-wall system of local government. The next step in the proposition consisted of that there shall be universal access to such basic services as water, electricity, refuse removal and sanitation, and that local government bears responsibility for the provision of these services.

To us 1994 was the start of what we have always known would be a long haul. In that process, the advent of a new system of local government was a crucial watershed, a development that took our search for a society of opportunity to a new height. For the first time in the history of our country, all communities, urban and rural, have the distinct possibility to realise the goal of a better life.

As I indicated earlier, the roll-out of basic services and infrastructure is characterised by a number of challenges, some of which include continued use of the bucket-sanitation system, poor water-storage and treatment systems, infrastructure backlogs in rural and informal settlements and lack of municipal technical capacity to plan for and manage infrastructure investment and service delivery.

Sceptics have used the existence of these challenges to make gloomy prognoses about the future. However, those who look at the balance sheet in a light unclouded by attempts to enhance their own electability in the forthcoming elections have been able to notice that the pattern of municipal performance is a mixed one. Besides the low-capacity municipalities, which are a matter of concern to us, there also exist medium and high performing municipalities. Some of our municipalities have been able to take advantage of the fiscal outlay amounting to R10,3 billion, which was made since the year 2000 to broaden the base of access to basic services and to redress levels of infrastructure backlogs.

With respect to the contribution of local economic development initiatives, current data shows that of the 53 district and metropolitan areas in the country, the economies of at least 13 grew consistently above the national average of 2,5% per annum over a three-year period. Nevertheless, we approach the next term of local councils with a more developed sensitivity to the matter of local govern m e n t ’s need for enhanced institutional capacity.

The feedback we received in the 2004 national and provincial election campaign, gave a compelling strategic impetus for consolidation and deepening of progress through hands-on support for local government. Through Project Consolidate, we deployed service delivery facilitators whose brief is to assist municipalities not only to build capacity for interventions which are calculated at making an impact in the medium to long term, but also to remove blockages that stand in the way of progress which needs to be realised in the immediate term.

Successes in this re g a rd include break throughs in the North West province where, amongst other things, we targeted the local municipalities of Klerksdorp, Ratlou, Greater Taung and Kagisano for the removal of the bucket system.

Working together with the North West provincial government and the municipalities concerned, we intervened in April 2005 and within seven and a half weeks a total of 4 075 households had been taken out of the bucket system. In addition, several public facilities including clinics, a crèche, a tribal hall, tribal offices and schools had been equipped with a decent sanitation system.

In another instance, the Cederberg Municipality in the Western Cape was placed under Project Consolidate as it was facing a severe cash crisis with the attendant debilitating impact on service delivery. This was a sad case in which, by March 2005, the municipality had wiped out reserves and funds of about R15 million to R20 million and had outstanding service debtors of R3 million, an overdraft of R2 million and bank loans of R14,5 million.

We intervened with a view to remedy the situation. As we speak, a turn a round has been achieved by introducing basic budget control measures and revising the tariff structures for services. The council is now firmly set on the road to self-sufficiency, its capacity for revenue collection is enhanced and its ability to provide basic services to the residents has improved .

The commitments we made at the onset of democracy had the effect of democratising national expectations. Some of the progress made in various parts of the country includes the fact that since the introduction of the Urban Renewal Programme in 2001, 245 961 households in the urban nodes now receive free basic water.

In the urban nodes of Motherwell , Mdantsane, Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha alone, 128 905 households now have access to free basic electricity. Also, a total of 374 733 electricity connections w e re made in rural nodes from 2002 up to September 2005.

We are presently developing a national municipal infrastructure investment framework, which will serve as a road map toward s the goal of universal access to these services. As we make these and other related forms of progress, this will, at once, confirm the plausibility of the aspirations, which were shaped by our democracy. This will also accentuate the mood of impatience amongst those who feel that they are not getting the dividend of democracy quickly enough.

People who are resident in low-capacity municipal areas are expectant of accelerated progress. They have seen it happen elsewhere and they also want to see it happen where they live.

They expect responsiveness from the party, which has earned an unrivalled reputation as the vanguard of the struggle for progressive change in South Africa . They know that it has now become possible to insist on accelerated progress with the distinct hope of being understood. They are there f o re not about to direct their demands to someone who does not have the possibility to do anything about them.

The ANC in government can now fall back on the accumulated evidence of experience to contemplate ... you claim to be a leader; you must behave with the necessary decorum.

The ANC in government can now fall back on the accumulated evidence of experience to contemplate and devise measure s , which will enhance local government performance. It can effectively expose as dishonest those who, with a touch of hyperbole, have described our country’s local government system as dysfunctional.

They lean over backwards to find faults and to pre t e n d that positives do not exist. They deliberately play down the compelling reality of progress in many of our municipalities including those that are receiving hands-on support in terms of Project Consolidate.

For instance, the Johannesburg Metropolitan Council Report, titled Reflecting on a solid foundation, speaks about the seminal importance of work done in places such as Soweto. It speaks of the tarring of the streets of Soweto in a matter of just three years.

These streets were neglected for more than a 100 years. Houses have now been built in areas where the Housing Provision Programme was frozen as long ago as the late 1960s. If Meadowlands ever existed in your consciousness, you would know that what Johannesburg’s achievements so far re p resent for the people of Meadowlands is the diff e rent good, which the P resident spoke of last week.

A different good, which is steadily becoming the lived experience of the communities of Cederberg, Clanwilliam, Citrusdal, Wuppertal, Graafwater, Motherwell and Ratlou, must now become the norm rather than the exception. We have to continue to transform these erstwhile twilight zones into repositories of opportunity.

We must continue to supply municipalities with the means to achieve these. Accordingly, we have decided that national and provincial government will prioritise to support municipalities by streamlining their operations to focus on and provide resources and capacity.

The strategic and business plans of key service delivery departments will indicate concrete support measures for local government.

The Department for Provincial and Local Government working with National Treasury and the Department of Public Service and Administration are finalising a Local Government Competence Framework. This will provide a basis for improving the regulatory environment regarding the appointment, performance and evaluation of municipal managers and other senior functionaries within municipalities.

We will also support municipalities in accelerating the filling of vacant mission-critical technical posts at municipal and senior management levels. In addition, we are collaborating with the Development Bank of Southern Africa to mobilise experts who will provide professional support for programme and project implementation.

They will provide hands-on technical support during all phases of the project management cycle, ie. conceptualisation, planning, execution, closeout and post-implementation monitoring.

We will also focus on low-capacity municipalities, especially nodal municipalities and former cross-boundary municipalities, with a view to assist them in developing effective service-delivery plans.

By the end of 2006, DBSA will have deployed 90 experts. This is part of a three-year programme at the end of which at least 144 project managers, engineers, financial experts and 30 graduates shall have been mobilised. Patriots’ information such as the Afrikaanse Handelsinstituut , the Freedom Front Plus, Business Trust, SA Institute of Civil Engineering and others have also decided to come to the party.

As the first term of local government draws to a close, we salute the outgoing councillors who are a pioneer generation of democratic local government leaders in our country. Their work, notwithstanding their shortcomings, forms indispensable bedrock for our future endeavours. The solid foundation they have laid gives us the self-confidence to say, no community will be using the bucket system by 2007. All communities will have access to clean water and decent sanitation by 2010. All communities will have access to electricity by 2012.

Our plan constitutes the country’s road map to the achievement of these ideals. Lying ahead is a formidable task, which we are honour bound to execute. We shall not flinch at this task. We know what needs to be done, that is why we did not first launch our election campaign and only after two weeks unveil a manifesto.


WE ARE BUILDING BETTER SOCIETY

GERALDINE FRASER-MOLEKETI, PUBLIC SERVICE & ADMINISTRATION MINISTER

Mr President has presented firm evidence that our country has entered what he referred to as an ‘’age of hope’’. It is appropriate that we dwell on this today.

The hope that we can deduce from the confidence and optimism expressed by the South African people in various recent opinion surveys is not a misguided sense of self-deception and hallucination that all problems of our divided and socially unjust society has been solved in little more than a decade. The hope expressed is however a realistic assessment that we are working towards realising a dream that we in the ANC have had and lived for in this country for many decades. A dream that we have about, bringing a democratic and just South Africa in place of what we had: colonialism, apartheid, exclusion and discrimination.

We have systematically worked towards getting rid of an old evil system. In a formal sense, we have achieved this in April 1994. However, we also knew that those first elections were little more than the beginning of a new stage of our struggle. A hard struggle that we are still continuing in the second decade of our democracy is the struggle about building a new society that embraces and displays the values that we hold dear and which will tangibly wipe out the injustices of the past.

Vaclav Havel , the author, activist and the first Czech President after the transition, wrote on the issue of hope:

“ Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Hope , in this deep and powerful sense is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good.”

This is something that is clearly not understood by the Leader of the Opposition. But what do we expect of someone of his nature?

This is the kind of hope that we as South Africans have: a hope that - even in the realisation that much room remains for improvement on our effort and that the road realising our dream is a long one – is unwavering because we are convinced that the society we are creating is one that is essentially good. It is a society that in the way it has expressed its ideals in its Constitution, which will be ten years old this year, is one that is recognised as the most progressive in the world. That is where our ideals are expressed. It embraces an internationally recognised human rights agenda and as such it is in the forefront of engaging with issues pertaining to social justice in the global arena and issues pertaining to democracy and good governance on the African continent. It is one that acknowledges the importance of a developmental agenda that is not only one of an economic nature, but that is truly founded on the empowerment of our people.

The ANC tripartite alliance and South Africans in general are steeped in a history of where people have displayed this kind of hope even in the face of severe adversity and most trying circumstances because they knew that they were working towards realising something good. This was the hope that the women who marched to the Union Buildings in 1956 had when they refused to be subjugated to the whims of the apartheid government. This was the hope the youth felt during and after the 1976 Soweto uprising. This was the hope that allowed our freedom fighters to continue the struggle with determination and resilience after raids such as the one at Matola and assassinations such as that of Joe Gqabi at the hands of apartheid assassins in 1981.

In 1994, the ANC made a commitment to the people of our country that our agenda is one of creating a better life for all.

And our ANC-led government has already achieved much in terms of that commitment. Let’s just remind everyone that: Between 1994 and 2004, over 1 200 new clinics were built and a further 252 clinics underwent major upgrading. 2298 clinics also received new equipment and/or underwent minor upgradings. At a primary health care level, we stepped up services in terms of immunisation, communicable and endemic disease prevention, maternity care, integrated management of childhood illnesses and child health care, youth health services, assisting with taking care of the chronically ill, family planning and so forth.

Since 1994 up to March 2004, more than 1,8 million houses were actually completed or were under construction. The average annual rate of construction of housing under the ANC leadership between 1994 and March 2005 is 166 533, well over the 50 000 which the previous government mustered. We set ourselves ambitious targets. However, it still falls short of the 300 000 units which the RDP had foreseen, therefore a massive increase in our efforts since 2004 because we don’t shy away from saying we want to achieve the impossible. We are going to make that happen. We have gone a long way. The social housing policy that we pursue creates an enabling environment for both private and public investments in social housing policy. This policy also supports urban regeneration, integration and densification initiatives that promote greater urban efficiency.

In 1994 we inherited a backlog of 14 million people that did not enjoy access to clean, safe water. By the end of November 2004, and noticing the increase in population figures, we have managed to whittle down the number of people still lacking access to clean water to 5 million. Although this is unacceptably high since our target is not a single person without such access, we are on target to eradicating the backlog in water as well as sanitation facilities by 2008 and 2010 respectively.

We have also already exceeded the Millennium Development Goals in this respect, because we don’t just engage about the rhetoric where we have not reached those. We are saying we will get there, look at our record.

With the announcement of the Accelerated Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa , we are intent on responding to the problem that, notwithstanding our efforts hitherto, we have not managed to close the gap between the rich and the poor. With driving specific key initiatives, we are intent on embarking on a road where we can realize the ideal of sharing the growth and wealth of our country between all people. In this initiative, we creatively combine the requirements of economic and social development. We believe that the one without the other will not optimise the situation for all our citizens. We will continue to place the well-being of our people central and therefore there is a great emphasis in ASGISA on skills development, removing impediments to people to help themselves and putting the necessary social and economic infrastructure in place that will allow all people to achieve improvement in their situation and that systematically we remove the huge chasm between the rich and the poor.

The state, however, does not abandon its responsibility of providing a social net to those who are in desperate need. The extent of the social grant support, which the government currently provides, stands testimony to this commitment. We believe however that fundamentally ours should be a situation in which the population is empowered and that can thrive in its own creations, given the right circumstances rather than a large-scale dependency relationship on social security grants.

We are working towards ensuring that both happen.

In the Freedom Charter we have stated that ``The People Shall Govern’’. Two concepts are central in this phrase - people, and not merely jobs, enterprises, legal persona etc - and govern, that is, the willingness to take decisions and authoritatively allocate the state resources in achieving some state policy goals, and not about withering away the state and the market and taking the hindmost that some would do.

The act of voting and the opportunity of elections in a formal childhood illnesses and child health care, youth health services, assisting with taking care of the chronically ill, family planning and so forth.

Since 1994 up to March 2004, more than 1,8 million houses were actually completed or were under construction. The average annual rate of construction of housing under the ANC leadership between 1994 and March 2005 is 166 533, well over the 50 000 which the previous government mustered. We set ourselves ambitious targets. However, it still falls short of the 300 000 units which the RDP had foreseen, therefore a massive increase in our efforts since 2004 because we don’t shy away from saying we want to achieve the impossible. We are going to make that happen. We have gone a long way. The social housing policy that we pursue creates an enabling environment for both private and public investments in social housing policy. This policy also supports urban regeneration, integration and densification initiatives that promote greater urban efficiency.

In 1994 we inherited a backlog of 14 million people that did not enjoy access to clean, safe water. By the end of November 2004, and noticing the increase in population figures, we have managed to whittle down the number of people still lacking access to clean water to 5 million. Although this is unacceptably high since our target is not a single person without such access, we are on target to eradicating the backlog in water as well as sanitation facilities by 2008 and 2010 respectively.

We have also already exceeded the Millennium Development Goals in this respect, because we don’t just engage about the rhetoric where we have not reached those. We are saying we will get there, look at our record.

With the announcement of the Accelerated Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa , we are intent on responding to the problem that, notwithstanding our efforts hitherto, we have not managed to close the gap between the rich and the poor. With driving specific key initiatives, we are intent on embarking on a road where we can realize the ideal of sharing the growth and wealth of our country between all people. In this initiative, we creatively combine the requirements of economic and social development. We believe that the one without the other will not optimise the situation for all our citizens. We will continue to place the well-being of our people central and therefore there is a great emphasis in ASGISA on skills development, removing impediments to people to help themselves and putting the necessary social and economic infrastructure in place that will allow all people to achieve improvement in their situation and that systematically we remove the huge chasm between the rich and the poor.

The state, however, does not abandon its responsibility of providing a social net to those who are in desperate need. The extent of the social grant support, which the government currently provides, stands testimony to this commitment. We believe however that fundamentally ours should be a situation in which the population is empowered and that can thrive in its own creations, given the right circumstances rather than a large-scale dependency relationship on social security grants.

We are working towards ensuring that both happen.

In the Freedom Charter we have stated that ``The People Shall Govern’’. Two concepts are central in this phrase - people, and not merely jobs, enterprises, legal persona etc - and govern, that is, the willingness to take decisions and authoritatively allocate the state resources in achieving some state policy goals, and not about withering away the state and the market and taking the hindmost that some would do.

The act of voting and the opportunity of elections in a formal sense allow people to identify the political party that will govern on their behalf. During the past rounds of elections, both at national, provincial and local government levels, the people of our country have chosen to trust the ANC. They have placed their hope in our hands because they know that, notwithstanding our imperfections, we represent an agenda - together with them - that is good. The 1 March 2006 elections offer one more opportunity to our people to categorically place their confidence in the ANC to represent them for a further term in every local council across the country.

The ANC’s commitment to democracy, however, goes much deeper than only choosing representatives. We consciously seek to involve our people directly in the governance wherever the opportunity allows for it: in community policing forums, in school governing bodies, in health committees.

We do so in decision-making processes where we agree on priorities. Note for example the inclusive processes that we have legislated and created in terms of the Integrated Development Planning at the local level or public hearings here in Parliament or when Parliament goes out to meet the people or the process of Parliament going to communities. And then some choose to stay out when we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Charter, something that was much greater than the ANC, something owned by the people of our country. But those who don’t believe in people’s participation chose to withdraw. Can you trust such people to represent you? We do so in asking the community to be full and constructive players in the provision of our many public services. For example, through school feeding schemes, our community health workers and community-based care and support workers, other participants in our Extended Public Works Initiatives or Letsema/Vukuzenzele initiatives to mention but a few.

But even more important, we involve our people in assisting with oversight monitoring and evaluation activities. We want them to help us in keeping our public servants accountable.

We want them to tell us when corruption takes place. We want them to tell us when our officials are slacking off, or when they infringe on the democratic rights of our people. We have created mechanisms for all these. There are izimbizo. We have created a host of constitutionally independent institutions that the public can access to help with the above: the Human Rights Commission, the Public Protector, the Gender Commission, the Public Service Commission – to mention but a few. We also want the community to assist the executive and the duly elected political representatives in bringing pressure to bear on and communicating the urgency for delivery to the bureaucracy in instances when left to their own devises are inclined to let this slide.

We can proudly say that the system we have created is truly a people’s democracy. We have entered into a social contract with the people of this country - all the people - black and white, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, agnostic and all other orientations; rich, middle class and poor, urban and rural. This contract bestows rights and obligations on government and the people.

In the State of the Nation Address on Friday, our President gave further effect to the ANC’s commitment to assuming the role of the developmental state, where the state will use its resources to achieve social justice. We have demonstrated our commitment to responsibly distribute and redistribute the wealth of this nation. And much of this distribution and redistribution takes place through the extension of social infrastructure and services to sectors of the population previously underserviced.

We have chosen to actively advance the causes of the poor, particularly women and youth. We are targeting resources deliberately in that direction.

We have lived up to our ideal as expressed in the RDP for health care for women and children to provide free health care by introducing our free health care policy for pregnant women and children under the age of 6. All of these initiatives strive to increase access to health service for the large majority of people who were historically under-serviced, but at the same time very appropriately targeted to benefit women and children.

We have made significant progress in terms of implementing our policy on access to free basic services. During the most recent non-financial census of South Africa’s municipalities, dated 2004 by Stats South Africa, one could report that almost 8,5 million households are now receiving free basic water, close to 7 million receive free sewerage and sanitation, 6,5 million benefit from free solid waste management and we are well on away where 5 million households will benefit from free electricity.

The impact that the access to these free basics have on the immediate quality of life of a significant proportion of our population should not be under-estimated. But there is still that house that we need to reach – the single House Leader of the Opposition goes to and he forgets about the many that have been reached.

On Friday the President also indicated that we will review our policy on the willing buyer-willing seller – a policy that is holding the ability of the state to redistribute land in substantially large measures to ransom. Across all historical divisions, we have come to terms with some of the sacrifices that will have to be made in the interest of building a stronger and unified nation over the longer term. We have to give effect to the interdependency that exists and the absence of true security and well-being if some are excluded from the available resources and riches of our country. In this respect, in terms of the new urban housing development we are intending on re-determining the spatial settlement patterns that came about as a consequence of apartheid. These are unsuitable and detrimental to the development that will allow the poor to flourish and have greater access to job opportunities and the market. We have, and will continue to use the regulatory power available to the state to achieve these objectives.


ASGISA REFLECT ANC POLICY ON SOCIAL & ECONOMIC TRANSFORMATION

JEFF RADEBE , TRANSPORT MINISTER

One hundred years ago, in April 1906, the great mentor of national unity and co-founder of the ANC, Pixley ka Isaka Seme declared that:

“The brighter day is rising upon Africa. Already I seem to see her chains dissolved, her desert plains red with harvest, her Abyssinia and her Zululand the seats of science and religion, reflecting the glory of the rising sun from the spires of their churches and universities. Her Congo and her Gambia whitened with commerce, her crowded cities sending forth the hum of business and all her sons employed in advancing the victories of peace, greater and more abiding than the spoils of war. ” Seme wrote in the long shadow of Ethiopian Emperor Menelik ’s military victory over Italy at Adowa 10 years earlier.

Bambata’s fighters were confronting injustice in KwaZulu. To the north of us, the Ovambo and Herero, and the Maji-Maji rebels rose against German butchery. But Seme wrote before the vicious decapitation of Bambata scarcely a month later, in May, and just before the other rebellions were crushed. A few months later Gandhi would launch his passive resistance campaign, and the pendulum of resistance would swing once more.

Across the century of change and unthinkable horrors, the ANC continued to work in the interests of the poor and the marginalized. We remain as firm as ever, challenging the obstacles head-on, despite resistance.

The State of the Nation Address defines the strategic moment of a nation in the making. It re-establishes the common, binding vision of a shared future for all South Africans; it defines the specific tasks people need to undertake in partnership with that democratic government. It also re-affirms the core values and strategic objectives that underpin the very process of social transformation.

The state’s enabling and catalytic role at every level in this process is very clear. On the back of explicit and visible progress recorded over the past twelve years, South Africans still tend to be overcritical of ourselves as much as we sometimes take many of our achievements for granted.

But whatever else can be said, the people’s continued march to freedom is firmly on course.

As we carry out our tasks, we need to give proper meaning to the overwhelming sense of optimism amongst our people. Mr President, the English expression that “ Hope springs eternal from the breasts of men!” is meant to describe an almost irrational optimism in the face of many of life’s challenges.

But our definition of hope is based on the concrete realities of the present, as reflected in the state of our economy and society.

But for our people, democratic government is an instrument to improve their conditions of life; it is a vehicle through which the concrete expression of the people’s demands for social change, freedom and human dignity are advanced and realised. And thus our people express their hopes through their own movement, the ANC, and their government, not the opportunistic wish lists of our most vocal critics. The ANC and its allies remain the only true agents of change in our country.

The ANC has never made empty promises about houses, jobs, and health, because the needs to produce our programmes cannot, in fact, be met with promises. This can only be done through hard work and the commitment of all stakeholders and citizens. It is a responsibility of government, at every level and in every sphere, to deliver on the programmes the people have endorsed. But again, we should not take for granted the confidence and trust placed on them by the people.

ASGISA is a catalytic instrument aimed at specific interventions across all sectors. It reflects the consistency of the ANC’s policy positions in respect of social and economic transformation from Ready to Govern and the RDP. Economics is about the quality of life of all the people of South Africa , of the need to sustain and extend the link between growth and development.

It has everything to do with their access to clean water, houses, jobs, transport, health and education. Today, the ongoing restructuring of our economy has created the necessary conditions for increased public sector led investment in infrastructure. An important contributing factor to this was the reduction of public sector debt from 64% of GDP in 1994 to about 50% in 2004, assisted by the receipt of over R34 billion through the restructuring of state-owned enterprises in that period. We can now accelerate the increases in investment in both economic and social infrastructure we began in 2001.

That infrastructure will lay the solid foundation for sustainable growth towards, and beyond 6%, and boost our economic development. Our developmental state seeks fundamentally to transform unequal power relations in society and create the conditions where the majority of our people have the skills, access and means to take control of their own lives. The potential of all South Africans will be fully realized, through redistributing resources; investing in infrastructure, and in our people as a key resource of reconstruction and development of our society.

The ASGISA projects include large and small ones; multisector and departmental or provincially based projects. ASGISA’s success in unblocking the network of constraints on our economy will contribute hugely to the success of other ongoing initiatives conducted at a departmental and at local levels.

We recognize that many of our people still live in abject poverty, leading desperate lives and are unable to meet their basic demands. But, the past twelve years bears testimony to our efforts to address the conditions of those in desperate conditions.

From Nelson Mandela ’s first State of the Nation Address calling for free health to pregnant mothers and children under the age of six to the school feeding scheme, we can today see expanded investment in the wellbeing of South Africans that addresses the conditions that give rise to desperation among the poor.

Just before the formal establishment of the ANC in 1912, John Langalibalele Dube suggested to chiefs and elders in Zululand that unity in action was the major purpose of the new organization that would carry forward the struggle for freedom. A member of the audience then called out: “I thank Bambata. I thank Bambata very much. I do not mean the Bambata of the bush who perished at Nkandla, but I mean this new spirit, which we have just heard, explained.”

What we believe that echo from the past means to us today, Mr President, is that the people expect the ANC to strive through action to honour the vision and yearning of the ancestors and those who have gone before. Our role in government is to provide the muscle and the means to fulfil our people’s dream in this Age of Hope.

South Africa has embarked on a journey that gives flesh to the immortal words of Patrice Lumumba that: “History will one day have its say; it will not be the history taught in the UN, Washington , Paris or Brussels, however, but the history taught in the countries that have rid themselves of colonialism and its puppets. Africa will write its own history, and both north and south of the Sahara it will be a history full of glory and dignity”.

In the 1960s, economic growth was premised on repression and aimed to entrench an undemocratic society, rife with inequality and injustice. It failed gloriously as a growth path to prosperity. The current growth surge is built on and fed by a democratic state striving to reduce poverty and inequality. We are confident that the age of hope will mature into an era of prosperity, on the solid foundations of the collective work of countless millions of our people. As we prove ourselves a winning nation, Mr President, rest assured that we intend to be a nation that not only wins, but a nation that excels, a nation proud of our success, but humble in our contribution to development as a whole.


SPEEDING UP LOCAL GOVERNMENT DELIVERY

LECHESA TSENOLI, CHAIRPERSON: PROVINCIAL & LOCAL GOVERNMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

Ke isa tlhompho ho lona kaofela jwaloka ha e le tshwanetse.

Letsatsing lena re tlilo buisana ka puo e batsi e hlalositseng maemo a ditaba ka hara naha. Re motlotlo, Ntate, ka puo ya hao e akgetseng lesedi le moo maru a neng a thibetse teng.

Re motlotlo ho utlwa hape ka wena hore bafuputsi ba maemo a ditaba ka hara naha, ba nonyang setjhaba maikutlo ka kakare tso, le a ba kgwebo ka nepo, ba tlaleha e le a phahameng, mme batho ba thabetse bokamoso ba naha bo bonahalang bo kganya. Taba tsena di kenyeleditse le hore ditsebi tsa moruo di re moruo ona o bophelong bo botle ho tloha haesale.

Tsena tsohle ke ditholwana tsa mosebetsi o motle wa tsamaiso e matla e eteletsweng pele ke wena, Ntate. Re o rolela kgaebane. Katleho ena ebile ditholwana tsa ba ileng ba tela maphelo a bona leratong la naha. Ha re bona naha e kgabile, palesa e le tse ntle ka mebalabala, dishweshwe di kgabile ka bosehlana, ha re hopoleng hore mobu ona o noseditswe ke madi a bahale boBambatha, ya ileng a fenethwa a ba a kgaolwa hlooho dilemong tse lekgolo tse fetileng, a tseka botho.

Esitana le boJoe Qabi, ba bolailweng Zimbabwe , jwaloka ha o re hopoditse.

The good news at large in our country and the memories we cherish, are, however, grounded in the appreciation that this was never meant to be a sprint. It remains a marathon. The pace that we now would like to increase derives from the confidence in the plans your government is implementing and to which you referred to in your address. It resonates with what people themselves have told us needs to be done.

The interaction between communities, by the Presidency, the Ministers, the provincial executives, and the majority of municipalities, including Parliament itself, has given us the light, and the direction of where our efforts should go in order to improve delivery.

It is for that reason that we in the local government community have welcomed your focused attention on this sphere of governance through the President’s Co-ordinating Council - the emphasis you once more point out to in your address. The result, we have observed, has been a growing appreciation and levels of awareness of the crucial role that the municipalities play in the system of cooperative governance.

The huge progress that has inspired the enthusiasm and optimism, today at large in our country, is partly attributable to the courageous work of councils in our country. More clean water, sanitation, refuse removal, and better roads are as a result of the work of municipalities, supported by national and provincial government and by public entities as well.

From the benches in the House, many of us are convinced that government is learning fast to improve co-ordination and levels of collaboration to meet challenges of service delivery. I am sure, sir, more needs to be done in this area.

Recognition of the IDPs as an integrating mechanism of all of government is a lesson that is being learned quickly by officials across the three spheres of government, and also in public entities. This is crucial because these priorities, the IDPs, are influenced by people themselves in the majority of municipalities through ward committees, where these committees are alive and well.

A lot of work is being done in this area to deepen democracy and local accountability. The many initiatives that today have been conducted to evaluate progress with ward committees and how effectively they function, how and what methods they use to effectively involve people, represents a significant indication that we meant it when we said, “The People Shall Govern”, and that the programmes that we have unleashed to date indicate our determination to ensure that that becomes how things happen in our country.

Things are always in a state of flux; it is ever changing.

Whereas before, the IDP’s formulation was heavily dominated by consultants, today, the pendulum is swinging towards less dependence. This will be strengthened if we retain more of those who are now experienced, recruit appropriate capacity and improve the system of mentorship that is evolving today.

Many of the people, who have been in local government so far for the last five years, have gained tremendous experience in understanding the system that has been put in place to ensure the people’s involvement in decision-making. This was a complete departure from previous practice and previous way in which governance happened in this country.

It is therefore appropriate that we recognise the speed with which people have, despite the difficulties, made progress in this area. Familiarisation with the new system of local government, which is now five years old, was an uphill battle. But now, both councils and communities, through a robust process, have come to understand the system. Things can only improve as programmes of capacity-building, including the short-term Project Consolidate, bring about service delivery, which people themselves will proudly observe.

Comrade President, one of the reasons our 10-year old Constitution is admired is because, among other things, of its progressive provisions on local government; especially the relationship it has with the other two spheres described in the Constitution as interrelated, interdependent, yet distinct.

This ability of municipalities using their own resources, supported nationally and provincially, to do what people themselves want to do, using their own assessment, is one of the most important issues in local government that many, for whom local government elsewhere is a creature of legislation, are admiring our country and how we are doing things here.

Our friends throughout the continent tell us that they envy this system, and would like to see it in their own countries. The significant role municipalities will play in ASGISA is bound to have major impact. The full economic potential of these structures are yet to blossom. ASGISA looks to us like the right organic fertiliser that will allow municipalities to really flourish to the benefit of local residents.

In the manner in which local government operates and prepares IDPs incorporating local economic development, the linkages with the rest of the economy is what is going to make a big difference in the life of our communities, being entrepreneurial, creative, as long as it is being demonstrated that it is not the monopoly of the private sector or NGOs.

Both qualities are there for the public sector to increasingly show how it is managing the challenges it is facing. We already have best practices in this area. The decisive interventions by the public sector and local government that are envisaged through ASGISA, among other initiatives, will have to be what characterises our interventions during our second decade of freedom.

Our people know what we want. We have heard them. They just need effective support. In the ANC we have our ducks in a row on this score. Even when the municipalities have shown problems, we have had enough indicators of success through the Vuna Awards. Even the media, which often is very critical, have been very conscious of two good examples - they have left out others- in the Free State, that have demonstrated the effectiveness of municipalities that work. Even members of the opposition themselves are in trouble, because they have very little, if anything, to raise in those municipalities.

This is evidence that often because of sensationalism, we miss the hard work that is under way in these communities, that is being done by these municipalities in these areas, and that we a re convinced that given the steps that are in place now, to support effectively and increasingly learning from the past, we a re bound to see major progress in more services and changes that we have indicated are showing in all of the areas.


SA ON PATH TO ECONOMIC GROWTH AND POVERTY ERADICATION

DR GERHARD KOORNHOF , ANC MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT

In his book “Legacy of Freedom”, Professor Kader Assail quotes Pixley ka Isaka Seme, one of the authors of the African Claims and a principal founder of the African National Congress, as follows: “There is today among all races and men a general desire for progress and for cooperation because cooperation will facilitate and secure that progress.

The greatest success shall come when man shall have learned to cooperate, not only with his own kith and kin but also with people and with all life”.

The vision of human dignity, non-racialism and nation building has been embedded in all the ANC’s founding documents - the Freedom Charter and the Constitution of South Africa.

It was this vision that liberated our nation 12 years ago that opened the door to freedom for all of us, black and white. This vision assisted to change South Africa from a locked-in society to an open society now proudly part of the global village.

A core element in achieving the vision of nation building is recognition of a unique pool human talent that we have in South Africa . This human talent is present in a shack builder who can construct a house from waste materials. It is present in a woman who can balance a raising of a family with a full time job. It is present in the small entrepreneur who starts a new business and creates new jobs, contributing to our economic growth. It is present in our youth and students who develop their talent through acquiring skills and knowledge.

It is present in the businessperson who creates innovative products and services. It is present in the civil servant who wants to assist in service delivery. This talent is present in the unemployed person who manages to survive and care for a family.

The preamble of the Constitution states clearly that we must free the potential of each person. This is exactly what this ANC led government is doing. It is vital that we continue to unlock this talent potential of all South Africans. In the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (ASGISA), it is stated that this need to develop and recognise talent is especially true in our young people because 70% of our population is younger than 35 years of age. It is especially this section of our population that we have to mobilise and invest in. Again, this mobilisation and investment is directed by ANC policies. Our youths are the shapers of the future South Africa .

The aims of ASGISA, such as high and sustainable economic growth, are also important in addressing the challenges of the second economy, namely to halve poverty and unemployment by 2014 and to improve the living conditions of millions of South Africans who are still disadvantaged. Gauteng, being the ANC-led province that has economic and financial powers in the country and of the continent, can make a major contribution to this growth data. Under the ANC government, Gauteng currently generates 10% of Africa’s and 25% of SADC’s gross national product. Its contribution to the South African Gross Domestic Product exceeds one-third, with even further gross potential as it broadens its talent pool and skills capacity. This high level of economic growth must however also be directed to alleviate the high levels of urban poverty and deprivation, especially amongst children. The poorest children have a right to a quality education and health care to enable them to reach their full potential.

The energy and talent of our people can help unlock and inspire new opportunities for growth and development, as stated in all the ANC policies.

In this regard, the Gauteng Province under the leadership of the ANC recently delivered, for example, the following identifiable deliveries: The Gauteng Enterprise Propeller to support more medium and micro enterprises to extend their participation in the mainstream economy. This support for SMMEs forms part of interventions to support the second economy. More than 1300 SMMEs have already registered.

Bana Pele provides well integrated and coordinated services to vulnerable children, improving access to a package of free education, health care and other services - the so called window concept in my province. At present, nearly 40% of children in Gauteng live in poverty.

Vir die komende verkiesing is die ANC voorbereid en gereed, en benader ons dit in ‘n gees van nasiebou en dienslewering op voetsoolvlak. Almal van ons wil beter dienste hê in ons skole, klinieke en regeringskantore. Ons wil almal beter geleenthede hê om die lewens van ons families te verbeter.

Elke gemeenskap verdien redelike sanitasie, goeie paaie, skoon gebiede, werkende straatligte en veilige gemeenskappe.

Dít is waarvoor die ANC staan; dít is die ANC-verbintenis om saam beter gemeenskappe te bou, en daarom maak ek ‘n beroep op die kiesers om die plan van die ANC te steun om plaaslike regering beter te laat werk.

Stem op 1 Maart vir die ANC in u gebied. Dit is die regte ding om te doen, want u kan net op die ANC staatmaak om dié land se grootste uitdagings te oorbrug.

As the President noted in his address on Friday, the recent polls and surveys indicated that our country has entered its age of hope that our people can now realise their dreams, and that we are indeed building a winning nation. But just as life is a journey, so nation building is also a journey, and not a destination.

This glue needed for nation building in South Africa includes celebrating our achievements, unlocking the talent of our people, recognising excellent achievements, improving service delivery, entering value framework of tolerance, loyalty, respect and trust. If we succeed in strengthening this glue for nation building, we can achieve our goals of growth, poverty alleviation and service delivery.

This will realise the vision of Pixley ka Isaka Seme, when he said more than 90 years ago: “There is today among all races and men a general desire for progress, and for cooperation, because cooperation will facilitate and secure that progress”.

Let us therefore unlock the talent and potential of all our people to build a winning nation together in this our age of hope.

This will be achieved only under a strong ANC government led by a strong principled leader, President Thabo Mbeki .

It is said that hope is like the sun. If you walk towards it, your burdens become but shadows behind you.


FREEDOM HAS BEEN GOOD FOR WOMEN

NOSIVIWE MAPISA -NQAKULA, HOME AFFAIRS MINISTER

Allow me comrade President to place my name alongside those who have described your State of the Nation Address as being both incisive and instructive. One of the matters you raised, which will form the thrust of my own input today was the question of women based on the 50th anniversary of the historic w o m e n ’s march on Pretoria.

The anniversary of that march itself will be celebrated on 9 August. And as we do so we will make an assessment of advances made by the women since that historic day in 1956. I will present this assessment based on the factual interrogation of where we have come from as a country with regards to women ’s emancipation.

Firstly, from the onset we decided that we need more involvement and participation in decision making at all spheres of society. The ANC brought a large contingent of women to this House to serve our people as their public representatives. That number increased in the wake of the 1999 general election given that the ANC insisted on at least a third of our members of parliament being women. We have raised that bar to 50% for women in the forthcoming local Government elections, which is an indication of how this House will look like after the 2009 election when the ANC will bring a 50-50 spread of female and male comrades to parliament.

T h e re are 22 women Ministers and Deputy Ministers, including a woman Deputy President, a step for which we shall always commend you. Those women in cabinet constitute 44% of the 50-member structure. That is only 6% short of what may be the target for the post 2009 election cabinet. I am raising these matters to argue that the ANC is the only organisation in South Africa politically or otherwise that truly practises what it preaches regarding the struggle for equality and a better life for all our people under the conditions of freedom, democracy, peace, security and justice.

About 51 years ago together with all our people we had d e c l a red that in an envisaged democratic South Africa there would be houses, security and comfort. For us it is important that any assessment of this progress we have made, as a nation should also be based on our ability to realise these aspirations expressed by our people in 1955. The women of our country have always believed that South Africa had a real potential to be a better country. They believe that we would honour the pledges for freedom that we together made in 1955.

As part of our call for housing, security and comfort we also said that practically this meant that all people should have the right to live where they choose, be decently housed, and to bring up their families in comfort and security. As you were outlining the intention of government to continue the expansion and increase of our housing stock many of these women would have felt vindicated by this amount of hope they have in the willingness of your government to deliver to them, because for women it has always been important that we are able to provide a decent home where our children can live in conditions of dignity. It is a great source of stress for us to watch our children growing in an environment that does not provide the stability of a home. I can personally relate to this.

I was born in Langa on the outskirts of Cape Town not very far from where we sit now. My earliest memories of my home have been a house re f e r red to as a carriage. That carriage house, which was attached to the houses of other families in a train-like formation allowed us no privacy, gave us no sense of pride, and worst of all we did not own it. Having had this experience and for the many of our neighbours who shared it with us in Langa and all over the country, it is reassuring to witness the amount of progress government has made in providing a home to millions of South Africans. I watch with pride as the N2 gateway pro j e c t flourishes in Langa when I pass on my way to the airport.

Ndinelunda. Siyazingca ngento esiyibonayo apha endleleni.

Kwaye ndiqinisekile uMama Anne Silinga ongomnye wamatshantliziyo alapha kwaLanga ehleli apho akhoyo, uxolile.

T h rough these initiatives, ownership of houses has been trans-f e r red to women-headed households. Women now have ownership of these houses, and have received their deed of grants.

We have come from a history where some of our people were given houses, which they leased for a lifetime without a possibility of ever transferring these houses into their ownership. It is for this reason Mr President, that even if our people say to these women that these small houses are ‘Oovezunyawo’, they know that at least this is a house they own. It is theirs for keeps, and it has saved our people from the indignity of living in shacks and being homeless. It has in deed re s t o red their dignity.

The initiative to launch a bank to provide finances for low income earners will also be of great benefit for women as they re p resent the majority of these potential beneficiaries. Comrade P resident, for the first time government under the ANC has been worried about the plight of migrant workers living in hostels. In the past women and children were simply not allowed to set their foot in the hostels.

Andazi nokuba uyayazi na Mongameli, ukuba ukuba ngaba unkosikazi nabantwana bebetyelela ootata ezihostele. That was regarded as trespass.[Loo nto ibithathwa njengo lwaphulo Mthetho.] Ubuthathwa, uvalelwe wena nkosikazi.

And certainly this was a system, which was designed to separate families and keep our people out of the cities.

Sibagcine ezilalini.

It is not surprising that we continue to deal with this legacy to date in the form of street children, overcrowded prisons and the rise in criminal activity.

Andazi kutheni zisimangalisa ezi zinto, . . .

Because that is what the government is dealing with, the legacy of the past. One of the most key interventions we have made has been the conversion of these hostels into family units. We shall be continuing to phase out the remaining hostels and barracks including those that are in the hands of the private sector, because as we said in 1955, fenced locations and ghettoes shall be abolished, and laws that break up families repealed. We have made some progress towards achieving some of these ideals and more work is being done. Again if we can afford to be honest then we can say that our people were correct to trust us when we said there shall be housing, security and comfort. This comfort that we have talked about has meant a lot for women who find themselves in distress either as a result of violence, trauma and other socio-economic burdens that are suffered by women everyday.

The new policy and legislative regime of government is biased towards the protection and empowerment of women. As Hon.

Members were aware that in 1998 we passed the Maintenance Act to give legislative muscle to some of the issues regarding the protection our children. Although children had been uppermost in our intentions, the spin offs for women through this legislation have been greatly meaningful.

We are also encouraged by the fact that these efforts have not only ended up with the promulgation of a piece of legislation, but that the Minister of Justice is spearheading a programme to clamp down on defaulters, including setting up check points on roadblocks in this re g a rd.

Iphelile ke tata into yokuba nife nithwele iminqwazi. Utata notata wondla umntwana wakhe.

The more children you make you take responsibility. Beyond just ensuring that single unemployed women are not saddled with the burden of fending for their children alone, government has also intervened directly by giving all deserving mothers and their children access to the child support grant.

Asazi ke Qabane uMongameli nokuba uyayazi na ukuba kuthiwa aba bantwana ngabakaThabo Mbeki.

In other words our government particularly you in person, is actually fathering children who are fatherless. This ANC government has continued to live up to its image of being a friend of women and children, a protector of the most vulnerable. To d a y women and children are more conscious of their rights. Not only has the Domestic Violence Act given added impetus and urgency to in the protection of women, but it has also resulted in many initiatives including the opening of trauma centres and c a re facilities for abused women and children .

We have also ensured that this issue has been placed by government amongst national priorities since the inception of d e m o c r a c y, and it has been declared a serious crime in our crime prevention strategy. We believe that the results of this intervention have been the growing levels of awareness and consciousness amongst women on their rights. And this has led to an increase in the number of cases reported and dealt with t h rough the law. Women are finally breaking the silence and we a re succeeding in bringing this vile crime against women into the open, so that we can deal with it as a society.

We should also, Mr President send our most gratitude to the work that NGO’s and other community-based initiatives have contributed to the fight against the abuse of women and children. Their work has at times made a difference between life and death for some of these women. We seek more ways in which we can offer added support to these complementary initiatives by ordinary South Africans.

Singurhulumente weANC siyaphumelela ke ekubuyiseleni isidima sabantu baseMzantsi Afrika, ingakumbi esoomama.

We have in deed entered our age of hope and I am sure no one can honestly differ with you Mr President that for the millions of women in this country despite the many challenges, today is better than yesterday. And that if today is anything to go by, t o m o r row will even be much better.


YEARS OF FREEDOM HAVE BEEN GOOD FOR BUSINESS

JEREMY CRONIN , CHAIRPERSON: TRANSPORT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

The sustained growth and the current high levels of business and consumer confidence present us with an ideal platform from which to confidently define for ourselves what it is we want to make of our shared destiny. There are real opportunities, but also challenges. The present growth is not necessarily sustainable. No one can be sure just for how long the international commodity prices will remain buoyant. The domestic demand land growth is based on burgeoning credit and it also draws in imports. Shadowing all of this, there is deep-seated poverty and high levels of unemployment.

As Parliament, as government and as South Africans, as we take stock of the positive opportunities and challenges of our situation, we should remind ourselves, I think, that there have been other periods of growth in our country.

In the last quarter of the nineteenth century and into the first decades of the twentieth century, South Africa , or at least what was to become South Africa , experienced massive and accelerated growth. There was a mining revolution, booming growth, infrastructural investment in cutting edge technology for deep-level mining, and massive logistic infrastructure investments in rail lines and in port expansion.

Constraints were swept aside. Among them was the lingering existence of still some unconquered independent African societies and two Boer republics that had been solemnly recognised by Britain in the 1850s. Colonial conquest and the Anglo-Boer War quickly removed these constraints within a matter of decades.

Then there was the matter of the labour market, and its so-called constraints. The labour market was deemed to be ``insufficiently flexible ’’. Defeated Africans societies still had access to some land and to some livestock, and were reluctant to abandon themselves to the tender mercies of a cash-based labour market. The poll tax, for instance, that was imposed in Natal, and which resulted in the Bambatha Rebellion, whose centenary we marked this year, was informed of course by an inhumane and racist colonial ideology.

But it also had a perfectly logical, level-headed market-based rationality about it. Accelerated growth, driven by the mining sector, could not be sustained unless the constraint of a large pool of potential labourers remained outside of a money economy, and that had to be forcibly ended from the perspective of that particular kind of growth.

There have also been other periods of economic growth. There is a tendency to remember apartheid as if it was simply a market distortion. True, in its last decade, apartheid was indeed experienced by big capital as a hindrance to profitability and as a source of instability. But, in the granite years of apartheid, between 1963 and 1972, there was nearly a decade of sustained growth, and it reached six and eight per cent on average between those years.

After the Sharpeville massacre, business confidence had plummeted.

The decolonising winds of change seemed to be blowing through our continent, and the days of white minority rule seemed numbered. There was a significant outflow of capital between 1960 and 1962, but as the apartheid regime responded with increased brutality and the liberation movement suffered a major strategic defeat with its leadership killed, imprisoned or exiled, lo and behold, business confidence revived.

A key turning point came when the Anglo-American Corporation persuaded the US company, Engelhard, in the face of calls for sanctions, to make a major investment into Anglo itself. Anglo also practically gave away the General Mining and Finance Corporation, later known as Gencor, to emerging Afrikaner capital, the better to integrate the agenda of big mining capital with the political elite of that day.

For nearly a decade, in the midst of these granite years of apartheid, an exceptionally investor-friendly climate was created.

British capital averaged annual returns of 11-12%, considerably better than anywhere else in the world.

I make these points to underline the fact that where there is growth, you can be sure that somebody is benefiting. But growth in itself is not necessarily a benefit to all. How we assess growth, and what we identify as constraints to that growth, are not class or race or ideologically neutral realities.

As we take forward our own contribution here in Parliament to the ASGISA initiative, we will need to be very clear about this.

There will be a tendency, from some quarters to interpret the initiative as being almost entirely about accelerated growth, with the word ``shared’’ disappearing or being relegated to a second moment, a trickle-down consequence of somebody else’s growth somewhere else.

The ASGISA initiative that is being driven by our Deputy President, and that was outlined by you, President, in your address to us on Friday, is, I believe, a qualitatively different kind of growth. It is a growth process that will have to be inherently systemically shared. If we fail to do this, we risk repeating history.

Earlier growth periods, like the golden years of apartheid, saw wealth accumulated, saw power realities consolidated, and saw the syndrome of growth and simultaneous deepening underdevelopment of a first and a second economy further entrenched.

Those realities are still with us today, and it would be naïve to believe that simply removing racism from the Statute Book and leaving the rest to the market would overcome these systemic realities. In this context, we in the ANC welcome government’s commitment to review, for instance, the willing-seller, willing buyer approach to land reform. Such a review does not herald an imminent and anarchic land seizure. A sustainable agrarian reform that is capable of sharing growth and of helping to halve poverty and unemployment by 2014 is not going to be delivered by anarchic land seizures or by the untrammelled market forces.

Comrade President, in your address to us on Friday, you said, ``The years of freedom have been very good for business.’’ You went on to say, ``I believe that this should have convinced the investor community by now that, in its own interest and as part of the national effort, it has to invest in the expansion of that freedom.’’ I have read that verbatim, but admit, with a different intonation and emphasis to the way in which the original was delivered.

I don’t have to be presidential.

Clearly and quite correctly, ASGISA requires that government should work constructively with all of its social partners, including business. Clearly, we must address the bottlenecks in our export/import freight logistics system, for instance. We must help to lower the cost of doing business, for, yes, big business.

But we must never forget that for the poor, logistics infrastructure is a rural road, or a pedestrian-friendly pavement or reliable and affordable public transport.

If we are to prevent the ``S’’ for ``shared’’ in ASGISA from being marginalized, we will need to address both dimensions equally.

This will require a determined, active and developmental state.

It will also require very active support from Parliament, hopefully from all parties, but certainly from those of us in the majority party.

In particular, as parliamentarians and as public – not corporate – representatives, we will need to be supportive of and vigilant about those elements that have the capacity to begin to shift our growth path out of where the late 19th century mining revolution has left us - out of a growth trajectory that tends to be excessively primary commodity export-oriented and import-dependent, that constrains our national market by marginalizing millions of our people into poverty, that fails to develop skills and that, in more recent decades, has become excessively capital-intensive and labour-shedding, and that reproduces acute social, economic and spatial polarisation locally, nationally and even throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

The key elements of ASGISA that work against the grain of a century and a quarter of habit, of short-term profit-taking for the few, include: a major focus on skills development, not least the commitment to use our state-owned enterprises to train tens of thousands of new artisans; a key focus on local economic development; ensuring the use of labour-intensive methods in infrastructure construction wherever is possible; support for co-operatives and micro businesses, ensuring that they can access capital and markets for sustainable livelihoods and communities; ensuring that the financial sector commits to social investment, and that there is no more foot-dragging, as there seemingly is, with the R42 billion pledged for housing at the financial sector summit.

As we approach, as parliamentarians, our work in committees and constituencies, as MPs, I believe, we need to pay particular attention to these and other transformational elements embedded in the ASGISA initiative. In line with the Freedom Charter vision that the wealth shall be shared, in line with the RDP vision that growth and development have to be inextricably linked, let’s keep the fist ``S’’ in ASGISA firmly on the agenda.

There is no other sustainable route to accelerated growth in our South African reality.


ENHANCING NATIONAL SAFETY AND SECURITY FOR ALL

MAGGIE SOTYU, CHAIRPERSON: SAFETY & SECURITY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

The ANC in its Ready to Govern document stated: "Underdevelopment, poverty and abuse of human rights are regarded as grave threats to the security of people since they give rise to conflict between individuals, communities and countries. They threaten security of the state as well".

Because of the above statement, our response to the challenges of poverty and underdevelopment that the President spoke about should be understood within the context of promoting security, peace and stability in our country and beyond.

Even before the 1994 democratic breakthrough, we stated in the Ready to Govern document that the ANC believes that national and regional security should not be restricted to military, police and intelligence matters but should reflect political, economic and environmental dimensions.

In giving effect to the people`s contract, the ANC will continue to mobilise all our communities in the fight against crime. It will also work to strengthen our community policing forums and give support to our law-enforcement agencies. The President indicated that we need to strengthen our intelligence structures.

This is necessary to provide security for our state and its people.

The ANC`s Stellenbosch conference unequivocally expressed a decisive view that the elimination of poverty and unemployment, and improvement in living standards will ultimately minimise crime, especially amongst the youth.

While the current overcrowding in South African prisons cannot be viewed as a creation of our democratic state but as a product of the apartheid past, our government continues to seek solutions to the problems of overcrowding, which compromises the human dignity of the inmates. Therefore the building of four additional correctional facilities and the reduction of the numbers of children in custody that the President announced purport to address overcrowding in our prisons.

Former President Mandela, when he opened Emthonjeni Youth Centre in 1998, had this to say: "Offenders are human beings too. They are our brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters who have disappointed us".

Hence our treatment of the prison population must be based on our Constitution. The ANC seeks to give effect to the resolutions of the Stellenbosch conference, wherein our democratic movement resolved to intensify campaigns at all levels to reduce crime, especially the proliferation of illegal firearms, drugs, corruption and fraudulent activities, the abuse of women and children and the elderly; as well as to focus on implementing social crime-prevention measures.

The commitment made by the President about the need to speed up the processing of firearm licences and reduce drug trafficking is a bold step forward in our ongoing fight against serious crimes. Because of the endemic criminal activity and corruption, which continue to undermine our constitutional democracy, President Mbeki also made reference to the critical challenge of further improving our criminal justice system and the processing of legislation concerning the rationalisation of our courts. This is in line with the Mafikeng conference resolution wherein our movement resolved to rationalise the High Court system in our country so as to promote access to justice for all and to provide a High Court in each province.

With regard to continental and international issues, our democratic movement believes that South Africa`s peace and stability within its own borders can be threatened by instability on the continent. Our commitment to Africa is to ensure that peace and democracy in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte-dÍvoire and Sudan - including our intervention in international conflicts relating to Israel and Palestine, and Iran issues.

As we heard, the opposition does not care about Palestine and Israel; their concern is Zimbabwe only.

The Freedom Charter requires South Africa to strive to maintain world peace and to settle all international disputes by negotiations.

Therefore our quest for a better Africa and a better world derives from the internationalist tradition of our democratic movement, hence our commitment to the pursuit of negotiated agreements.

We welcome the emphasis on increasing our conviction rates to strengthen the message that crime does not pay, as stated by the President.

Urhulumente okhokelwa yi-ANC ngurhulumente wabantu ngabantu.

Ndiza kuthanda ukubhengeza kuluntu luphela ukuba masibhinqele phezulu, silwe olu lwaphulo-mthetho. Amazwe onke ajonge kuthi ngokubhekisele kukhuseleko lwabemi bawo njengoko silungiselela ukusingatha ukhuphiswano lweNdebe yeHlabathi kwiBhola ekhatywayo ngonyaka ka-2010.

Siyakubulela, Dlamini, ngendima oyidlalayo ukumisela uxolo kumazwe angaphandle, ngakumbi lawo simelene nawo.

Masiyeke ukuthi singabemi boMzantsi Afrika sihambe sizibiza ngokuba siliqela eliphikisayo, sihamba sichaza ukuba ilizwe lethu linobundlobongela kuba sifuna ukugxotha abantu abazisa utyalo-mali eMzantsi Afrika.


SA HAS A LOT TO CELEBRATE IN THE SECOND DECADE OF DEMOCRACY

SINDISWE CHIKUNGA, ANC MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT

An African proverb says "Tomorrow belongs to the people who build it today." This simply means we have to continue to come up with the right strategies so that tomorrow is better than today.

Comrade President, you are right to say that South Africans have a lot to celebrate in this second decade of freedom. And, yes, you are also right to say that as South Africans we must take collective responsibility to define for ourselves what kind of society we want to establish.

The ship is indeed on course, as many of us would agree. Our scorecard makes for interesting reading. Owing to time constraints, I will just give a brief outline about what the growing economy means for ordinary South Africans.

As we are all aware, tourism makes up a significant part of South Africa`s economy, especially in the new democratic dispensation.

According to ASGISA, it is among the priority and readily implementable development sectors. Statistics from SA Tourism reveal that, for instance, Mpumalanga province alone, received about R6,1 billion revenue from both domestic and international tourism activities in June 2003.

Direct spending by international tourists amounted to R4,5 billion, with the main source of visitors being Europe, particularly the UK, Germany, France and the Netherlands, as well as other countries. This simply means that as a country we are continually creating a very conducive physical, political and social environment for our tourists in terms of tourist attractions, thus becoming a tourist destination.

This sector continues to create job opportunities in most parts of the country. For instance, in Mpumalanga alone, it provided direct and indirect employment to about 331 000 people and it has managed to produce 85 black tourism product owners to date, compared to two in 2000 and nothing in 1993.

It thus follows that today tourism is a major contributor to our economy. It is therefore correct for ASGISA to suggest that tourism remains very relevant for poverty alleviation and job creation in areas where shared growth is desperately needed.

In the State of the Nation Address, the President mentioned that five months from now the Fifa World Cup tournament would come to an end and that, from then onwards, all of the world`s countries would focus on us.

One can assume that the soccer fans will surely not wait for 2010 to come to South Africa, but may want to visit us earlier and, it is hoped, even post 2010. This shows the potential tourism has of growing even bigger and actually contributing towards putting our country in the international arena and further creating jobs and wealth.

There are challenges which include further transformation of the sector in terms of broadening the participation by those from previously marginalised communities. For instance in Mpumalanga, of about 1 000 tourist guides, only 285 are black, and this situation may apply to other provinces. We have now to identify inefficiencies and bottlenecks, which may include the cost of doing business in this sector, access to finance and nonfinancial assistance for small entrepreneurs, business skills and their impact on job creation, and we must continue to address them. We further need to sharpen our local business industry strategy.

We have a contract with the people of South Africa to provide work and fight poverty. Mining is one other sector that plays a key role. Our country is rich in minerals such as platinum, diamonds, coal, gold and others. Rich as this country is in minerals, historically minerals have not benefited the majority of our people. Only this government has continued to take concrete steps towards ensuring that the wealth of this country is shared amongst its people.

Some mines in KwaZulu-Natal were mothballed in the past.

We think that recommissioning them should be considered.

For instance, the three coal mines being recommissioned in Mpumalanga, which are Camden, Grootvlei and Komati, will create about 2 400 permanent jobs and 600 contract jobs. We think that such job opportunities can be created in other parts of the country, but it should be mentioned that between 1995 and 2002 jobs in the formal economy increased by 1,6 million to total 11,2 million, thanks to our democratic government.

One of the challenges we are faced with as a nation in the mining and energy sector is first and foremost a shortage of skills. Eskom alone states that if it were to meet its expansion demands, it would have to employ at least two skilled staff every day, with one being a woman engineer, as its recruitment plan calls for 1 000 extra staff each year until 2010.

We also have to fast-track support for small-scale miners.

There is an urgent need for a review of broad-based black economic empowerment to be truly broad based, particularly in the mining sector, because the challenge for the small-scale miner are the old big captains of this industry.

We have to broaden the participation of blacks in general and Africans in particular. The participation of women, particularly rural women, is still a challenge. What is encouraging, though, is the fact that we have policies that are beginning to bear fruit and we are continually improving them.

The present economic upswing is not a flash in the pan. All sectors, all of us, have to power it. Hence, I say we have a lot to celebrate in this second decade of our freedom.

Coming from Mpumalanga, I just want to say something about the typhoid in Delmas. It is regrettable that people died in Mpumalanga and Delmas typhoid, and that undermine. But I want to say further that yesterday typhoid was defined as a water-borne disease affecting the low socioeconomic group.

Today, as the ANC, we are saying that we define it as a preventable condition. And, it is for this reason that if it happens we all become worried, because we know it is preventable and that people should not die from it. That was not the case yesterday.


LAND SHALL BE SHARED AMONG THOSE WHO WORK IT

ADV PATEKILE HOLOMISA, ANC MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT

Mhlalingaphambili uya kundixolela andikwazi ukuxoxa nenkcenkce ekhenkcezayo njengeli lungu lisuka apha, kuba imbongi yesizwe uMqhayi wase Ntabozuko wayetshilo ukuthi abakhalazayo abazange baphela. Abakrokrayo basazalwa nanamhla oku, bathe nqo ngezisu, bathe ga ngemisimelelo.

Abayazi into abayenzayo. Thina ke zaziyo apha kwiANC ithambo lenyoka elihlaba abayizondayo, asothuki xa sidibana nabanjalo.

Liyinyaniso nje ngamanye amaninzi ilizwi elithethwe nguMongameli, iZizi elimnyama neenkomo zalo elithi namhlanje kungcono kunayizolo. Kanti ke siqinisekile ukuba ngomso kuya kuba ngcono kuna namhlanje. Le nyaniso ingqinwa ngabo bonke abaqiqayo, abasixhasayo nabangasixhasiyo, abo sele bexhamle kwiziqhabo zenkululeko kanti nabo bangeka xhamli kuzo. Bayazi ukuba isixeko sase Roma asizange sakhiwe ngosuku.

Ndiwenza la mazwi ndiphuma ndaye ndibhekise kwiphondo leMpuma Koloni elidume ngendlala nentswela, ngenxa yokuphathwa kwalo kakubi ngexesha lengcinezelo. Nam nditsho, ndithi namhlanje kungcono kunayizolo kanti ke ngomso kuza kuba ngcono kuna namhlanje. Kanye ngoku ndaziyo ukuba basebaninzi abantu abaswele imisebenzi. Mininzi imizi engekabinawo umbane, engakabinawo amanzi aphuma empompeni. Zaye zininzi neelali ezineendlela ezihambeka nzima. Nditsho ndisazi ukuba zise zininzi izikolo ezakhiwe ngezitena zoodaka, zafulelwa ngengca. Nditsho kuba ngale nkululeko siyixhamlayo yonke imizi iyaqhumisa eziko ngeemali zezibonelelo zikarhulumente. Mininzi imizi esele inayo imibane, kanti zininzi iilali ezinamamzi aphuma empompini. Zikwaninzi iilali ezineendlela ezityeneneziweyo. Zingamakhulukhulu izikolo ezakhiwe kule minyaka yenkululeko ezikumgangatho wala maxesha. Kwabo bengekabi nazo ezi mpawu zokuxhanyulwa kwenkululeko ithemba likhulu lokuba ngomso kuza kuba ngcono.

Nditsho kamnandi kuba isizwe sakowethu samaHegebe sinexhala lokuba kazi baza kuwafumanaphi na abantu amatanki okugcina umbona wesivuno salo nyaka. Kaloku iSebe le Zolimo lihlangene norhulumente wela phondo lilizalisekisile iphupha labo ngokuthi xa kuqala ukulinywa kulo nyaka uphelileyo lisiphe okwentonga yomnquma iteletele ezine, inye ihamba namakhuba, isikofolo, izicolimagada, isilimi, kunye nesikhotshi sayo. Ezi zixhobo zolimo phofu zongeza kwiteletele ezimbini nezixhobo zazo esasikwaziphiwe Yibhanki Yophuhliso yoMzantsi Afrika (Develoment Bank of south Africa.).

Sinombulelo. Izicwangciso zorhulumente wela phondo kungoku nje kukusebenzela ukluba kunagabikho xesha apha enyakeni apho amasimi azakulala kube kungekho nto ilinyiweyo okanye evunwayo kuwo.

Eli phulo liza kwenziwa ngokuthi onke amasimi abiyelwe ngocingo. Lawo ami phezu kwemilambo aza kufakelwa izixhobo zonkcenkcesho, khona ukuze nange xesha lembalela kusebenzeke. Kanti ke kolunye uhlangothi oomasipala bezithili ingakumbi abaseMathole nase OR Thambo bamaxhaphetsu nabo bahambela phezulu, bancedisa abantu ngoolimo. Izikimu zoonkcenkcesho ebezikhe zahleleleka ngenxa yomoya wenguqu ziya vuselelwa, amasimi epayinapile ayalinywa kwakhona.

Umasipala wesithili sasemathole kunyaka ophelileyo unikezele ngeteletele ezingamashumi amahlanu ananye nezixhobo zazo kwiilali ngeelali evuselela ulimo.

Kwisithuba esinga ngeenyanga ezintathu, uluntu olo lubonelelwe ngedizili nangezixhobo zokulungisa iiteletele ezo, kanti ngaphezulu banikwe iimbewu nezichumiso ukuze bakwazi ukuqalisa ukulima. Kulo uphezulu unyaka eOR Thambo nase Mathole iSebe leZolimo lase Mpuma Koloni liza kunikezela ngama 27 eteletele nezixhobo zazo kumakomkhulu ukuze zisebenzele uluntu.

Kwicala lemfuyo iigusha, iibhokhwe neenkomo zohlobo nazo ziya phuhliswa kanti neembomgolo ziyasetyenziswa ukuncedisa ekulimeni kwiindawo ezingamageduka. Xa bencediswa ngouhlobo ke abantu bakuthi bangangangqini njani ukuba namhlanje kungcono kungcono baye beqinisekile ukuba ngomso kuza kuba ngcono kuna namhlanje.

Freedom has been good for business. Utshilo uMongameli.

You could say almost too good if you consider the fact that the greatest bulk of the economy is still in the hands of a small minority. The means of production as well as the wealth so created must be shared by the people of our land. It is for this reason that the poor and the landless are overjoyed to learn that their voice has been heard on the need for the review of the principle of `willing buyer willing seller` as a determinant of land redistribution. There are more willing buyers than there are willing sellers.

The prices asked by most of the current landowners turned out to be too high even for government and other prospective buyers to afford. It has to be remembered that according to African culture it is immoral for any family not to have land on which to build itself a home and in which to produce food for itself. Intertribal wars were fought for the acquisition of land.

For hundreds of years wars of resistance were fought by Africans against the marauding hoards of foreign invaders in defence of the land. The formation of the ANC was precipitated by the prospect of the passage of the 1913 Land Act whose sole aim was to legalise the land robbery, which had occurred in the course of the previous wars of dispossession.

In spite of the injustices of the past on the land question our own form of land redistribution is informed by the rules of fairness and justice with the payment of equitable compensation to those whose land has been found to be required for redistribution being the guiding principle. We have no evidence to show that anywhere in the world the so-called free market has ever brought about justice to those who lost their land as a result of colonialism. We set out to address the imbalances of the past confident in the belief that our magnanimity as the historically dispossessed would be reciprocated with enthusiasm by the beneficiaries of colonialism and apartheid alas that was not to be.

Also to be welcomed wholeheartedly is the announcement of a review of the sale of South African land to foreigners. This is a matter, which calls for urgent action if we are to avoid waking up one day to find ourselves living on foreign owned land. We need foreign investment, but it must not come at the cost of our land and our sovereignty.

Zizi siyabulela ngenthetho yakho eyakhayo nephilisayo.

Usizobele umfanekiso onguwo nonika ithemba ngemeko nekamva lesizwe sethu. Namhlanje kungcono kunayizolo. Saye siqinisekile ukuba ngomso kuza kubangcono kuna namhlanje.

Siqhwaba izandla njenge mithi yasendle.


ANC IS WORKING FOR THE PEOPLE

VYTJIE MENTOR, ANC MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT

Allow me to engage with what Hon. Lee said before I go into the details of my speech. Hon Lee, you have just confirmed what we normally say to South Africans that your party, the DA, represents the interests of the few that you choose to represent. You spoke about the so-called bruinmense. Your whole speech, your whole worries and your whole concern are about the so-called bruin people [coloureds]. I thought you are a public representative, a member of Parliament for all South Africans and not only for a particular racial group.

Die sogenaamde bruinmense, ek dink nie hulle waardeer dit dat jy alleen oor hulle bekommerd is nie. Ek dink hulle sou wou hê dat jy ook moet dink aan die ander mense van Suid-Afrika, want Suid-Afrika bestaan uit vele rasse en nie net uit bruinmense, soos jy hulle noem, nie.

I dedicate this speech to the memory of Coretta Scott King, whom I got acquainted with during the build-up to our 1994 elections as she was a leading member of a team that monitored or observed our elections. I was struck by her humility and her simplicity although she was a giant in her own right. I admired her humility, approachableness and simplicity. I dedicate this speech to her so that in the archives of this Parliament of the Republic of South Africa, we will always remember that it is possible to be powerful, to be a giant and to remain humble, simple and approachable. I think that those are the ethos that the ANC government are abiding by.

Let`s talk about hope - may the soul of Coretta Scott King rest in peace! When we talk about hope, I must tell you about two encounters out of the many that have reconvinced me about the humility of our people in South Africa: how grateful they always are for very little things that are done for them and how easy to please they are.

In a Checkers store, in Kimberley, I got acquainted with a lady who worked in the crockery division, simply because I am an admirer of fine china. Even if I do not have money I always go through the shelves of crockery just to admire and to promise myself that one day I will buy myself this or that. So I got used to this lady. She knew that I would never leave Checkers without going through her shelves.

One day, as I was shopping she approached me and said, "Ouseke, I have a problem. My child passed matric wonderfully.

I do not have money to take her to university. All efforts to acquire a bursary have failed, including a request for the Premier`s bursary fund to assist." I asked if her she knew that banks do offer student loans. I told her that I thought she should go to Absa to ask for a student loan for her daughter. I immediately pulled out a page out of my desk pad and wrote on it very carelessly because it was not official. I addressed that "to whom it may concern" at Absa and asked them to help that lady. I pulled rank in that letter and reminded them that I was a middle manager in education. I also reminded them that the government of the Northern Cape did business with Absa and that therefore they were obliged to show social responsibility.

For a few months and years I never saw that lady again at Checkers. On enquiring, I was told that she had broken both her legs on duty and had since been boarded off. Four-and-ahalf to five years down the line, I met her at a taxi rank in Galeshewe. She was in tears when she saw me and then I wanted to know her plight. She was no longer walking properly, she was struggling to walk. She said she thought I had changed my number. She had been looking for me because her daughter was graduating and they wanted me to attend the graduation ceremony. I said, "No, those are special moments for family. I appreciate your offer but I cannot take it." She cried so bitterly that I ended up going to the graduation ceremony.

Last week Friday, two of my guests to the presidential State of the Nation Address were two educators. Mr Bentley of St Joseph`s Marist College in Rondebosch as well as Ms Peckham of Reddam in Tokai. The whole day, literally, they were excited like small kids for having been invited to Parliament. Ms Peckham, in particular, got what I always call goose pimples and my daughter says they are "goose bumps" the whole day. Both of them expressed surprise in terms of their ability to be guests of honour in Parliament.

Both of them were surprised and could not believe it that they were in the midst of Ministers and the President, both in the Chamber and in the convention centre. They took endless photographs of Ministers and the President himself with their cellphones. Mr Bentley said I must convey to the President that he admires his Armani suits. I see Comrade Sydney is doing very well also. His suit is very lovely today.

So I am saying that despite the fact that these two educators are white and were born and bred in Cape Town, they said they never imagined in their lifetime that they would set foot in Parliament. They could have set foot in Parliament before because they are white but it was never possible because the government of the latter day did not reach out to our people, both black and white.

To them, those were memories for a lifetime. They are still sending SMSs. They are very grateful for the invitation to Parliament. Many of our people are also hopeful that one day they will set foot in their own Parliament. They are awaiting their turn that, one day, somebody will be kind enough amongst you to invite them to come to Parliament as a sign of participatory democracy. Yes, they must get tickets. They know that they must wait for their turn and that they cannot all come here at the same time.

I am always surprised and I always enjoy it when I watch the expression of collective joy and pride that comes from our people at all times, even when very little things are done for them. I have taken note of collectiveness in our communities. I have witnessed that when one sad incident happens to one person they all mourn, but when one family achieves something they all celebrate.

I was taught by the late Comrade Steve Tshwete not to undermine the wisdom of the masses of our people. He taught me the importance of watching their mood every time, not only during elections, Hon. Tony Leon and Mr Gibson. It is very important, at all times, every single day of the five-year term, to be in touch with the mood of the people.


HOPE IS A PILLAR OF A WORKING MOVEMENT

ANNÉLIZE VAN WYK, ANC MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT

n opening his address to the nation on the 3rd of February, President Mbeki took us back to 24th May 1994 and reiterated the challenge put to the nation by the then President Mandela. President Mbeki then expanded on his speech and reminded us about the sense of hope that the ANC government brought to the majority of our people: to define ourselves what we want to make of our shared history.

The enormity of this challenge and the immense responsibility that comes with it can and should never be underestimated.

Our 12 years of shared history since our first democratic elections have brought us to the age of hope, yet 12 years are in fact like the blink of an eye in the history of a nation. The past 12 years have brought us to the dawn of the age of hope and of that we need to be proud collectively as South Africans.

The bigger challenge now remains, namely what it is that we are going to do with this age of hope. How are we going to apply it so as to continue to define ourselves what we want to make of our shared history? Whether you are king or servant, rich or poor, man or woman, young or old, in government or opposition, we are all co-authors writing this shared history, artists drawing the outlines of the picture that will be coloured by generations to follow, for yes, we have entered the age of hope, and hope is the pillar that holds up the world, the dream of a waking man.

The age of hope is another instrument given to us to define ourselves what we want to make of our shared history. The fields have been worked, the seed has been sown, the rain fell, the crops are growing. All that remains is for us to ensure that every South African reaps from it so as to reach their full potential.

Elkeen van ons staan stewig in die era van hoop, maar wat elkeen van ons met hierdie geleentheid gaan maak, bly ons individuele keuses. Die oorgrote meerderheid Suid-Afrikaners, ongeag ras, het reeds deur woord en daad aangedui dat hulle met entoesiasme en ywer saamwerk om ons gedeelde geskiedenis te bepaal.

Daar is egter steeds klein groepies wat hulself rangeer tot randeiers en vir beperkte emosionele redes nie entoesiasties deel in die nuwe geleenthede wat oopgaan en wat die demokrasie en die ontwikkeling van ons land ons bied nie. Hierdie groepies vind ons oor die hele land, maar veral ook in die Wes-Kaap.

Baie van die mense wat hulle as deel van hierdie groepies bevind, doen so uit eie keuse. Baie ander doen dit as gevolg van die stappe van ander en leuens wat versprei word. Nóg ander is daar weens ongegronde vrese. Wat ook al die rede, die mense vorm steeds nie deel van `n geïntegreerde Suid-Afrika nie. Ek wil my vandag tot hierdie groep wend.

Op 1 Maart het hierdie mense die geleentheid om hulle vir eens en altyd te bevry van die kettings van die verlede en deel te word van en te deel in die suksesse van `n demokratiese Suid-Afrika. Moenie toelaat dat julle langer aan die neus rondgelei word nie. Kyk klinies na die feite en vorm `n oordeel gebaseer, nie op emosie nie, maar op werklikhede. Vra die nodige vrae wanneer iets aan jou voorgehou word en oordeel dan volgens die feite waar dit is wat jy jou stem gaan uitbring.

Die tyd het aangebreek om jou te definieer, nie volgens die verlede nie, maar volgens die hede en die toekoms; die rol wat jy kies om te speel in `n vrye, demokratiese Suid-Afrika.

The ANC is a non-racial organisation. For any organisation to brand the ANC as racist is for that organisation to expose itself as an organisation that lacks policy and direction. A party that focuses on the upliftment of the poor and the improvement of the lives of all, even those that are privileged, cannot be seen as racist. To have policies in place such as broad-based black economic empowerment cannot be seen as being racist.

What the ANC does is to deal with the reality of our country, its history and our people. Broad-based black economic empowerment is necessary to level the playing fields economically as well as socially. What we have in South Africa is a situation that can be compared with a marathon. A certain group of people were only allowed to join the race when it was already halfway under way. We now need measures that can allow them to make up for lost time and lost ground. That is in essence what broadbased black economic empowerment sets out to achieve. Not only is it the policy of the ANC, but it is a requirement of the very Constitution that Mr Delport came to defend here in the Bill of Rights, where it ensures equality for all.

In this House we all share a responsibility to assist the people who elected us to serve them, to ensure that they know about and are able to access the many programmes that have been put in place by the ANC government to improve their lives. The housing policy does not differentiate between races, but has only the economic status of the beneficiary as a national departing criterion. So too have social grant programmes and free basic services.

Too often in our work with the electorate we come across people who have been told by people serving in this House that government programmes are only there to benefit a specific racial group.

Maybe the time has arrived for the presiding officers to look into the possibility of members of Parliament not only reporting back to their political parties regarding the work that they have done during constituency periods, but maybe Parliament should develop a mechanism of reporting to Parliament itself what it is that we as representatives have done to ensure that government programmes are brought to the attention of the people and that they are assisted to access those programmes. It is, after all, through money provided by Parliament that we are enabled to open constituency offices throughout the country.

While using the racial card may earn a policy-deprived political party cheap political points in the short term, it is dangerous and irresponsible in the long term. No responsible public representative can be seen to encourage a group of one race to act against a group of another race, moving into an area like we have seen happening in Bokmakierie in Cape Town.

This morning we also saw newspaper reports of a clearly racially inciting radio advertisement aimed at a certain sector of the working class, telling them that they are not African enough to benefit from the ANC government. The listeners to the station called in and complained that the advertisement was inciting racial tension.

Despite this the DA defends it and continues with it. The working class and poor are not as gullible as the DA wants to believe. They know what was done for them and by whom.

They know because they see it in the improvement of the services that are delivered to them. They know that the ANC has ended the deliberate underfunding of disadvantaged areas and now has a pro-poor policy in place.

They know that you cannot be serious about representing the poor when you have the same candidates standing in four or five wards. They will choose to become an integral part of the age of hope and turn their back on those who want to exploit them in the crudest and most deploring way. In the words of Abraham Heschel: "Racism is man`s gravest threat to man - the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason." The elections on 1st of March will long be over, the councillors in their positions, Hon. Zille back in this House, but if race has been the rallying point to gain support, the dangers and feelings that it provokes will still remain on the ground, leaving a volatile situation. The City of Cape Town starkly contrasts the divides that still exist in our country. While a lot has been achieved in the short time that the ANC governs the province and the city, a lot still remains to be done.


AN AGE OF DELIVERY HAS ARRIVED

HLENGIWE MGABADELI, ANC MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT

``We must, constrained by and yet regardless of the accumulated effect of our historical burdens, seize the time to define for ourselves what we want to make of our shared destiny.`` In his State of the Nation Address on 3 February 2006, the President decided to revisit these words, as they were pronounced by the former President of the Republic of South Africa, Comrade Nelson Mandela, in May 1994, it became the reality that we ourselves and nobody else will define what we want to make of our shared destiny.

This is indeed a heavy responsibility that demands unity, love, tolerance, co-ordinated minds and, above all, a high level of patriotism based largely on respect for our Constitution, our policies, as well as our institutions as instruments of ensuring that delivery is of high quality.

We will seize the time and celebrate the lives and ideals of our forebearers who never rested but who became the path-finders of the process of critical thinking, on behalf of the whole nation when the colonisers, together with those colonisers of the special type, were introducing what was, in years to come, going to lead to landlessness, cheap labour, uprooting and resettling, family disunity, etc.

Through their barbaric actions of raping the economic independence, an African agriculturist and pastoralist, Inkosi uMbhambatha ka ma Cinsa, saw it coming that, in years to come, we would be sitting like this, saying ``Let us review what has happened to our land. Why are foreigners the ones who are now in possession of 97% of our land, etc?`` Colonisers, in partnership with colonisers of the special type, driven by capitalistic greediness, were quick in finding painful ways of impoverishing the once-rich Zulus, by forcing them to succumb to the Poll Tax Act, which was two pounds per head for an adult man.

This meant going to the mines, as a man, to get these two pounds, leaving your riches behind, unguarded, your family unprotected, in search of two pounds. The Zulu nation, led by Inkosi uBhambatha in particular, left the indelible history, which will forever be celebrated by generations to come.

Hence, 16 June 2006 will be the celebration of the centenary of that occasion, as the President shared with the country on 3 February. We still say ``constrained by and yet regardless of the accumulated effects of our historical burdens.`` We will celebrate this centenary and think critically in order for us to define for ourselves what we want to make out of that celebration.

Through such thinking together, guided largely by this history and others, we will find the solution to questionable uneven ownership of land, family disunity, the socio-economic state of rural areas as well as the socio-economic state of pseudourban areas where they`re ``urban`` as they term it, but still use bucket system type of toilets.

The likes of Tony Leon have got constituencies in those areas.

They are using the bucket system, yet it is called an urban area. How urban is that? Indeed, we are continuously seizing the time and we are continuously trying hard to bring about an undivided South Africa, with one nation sharing a common citizenship, patriotism and loyalty, pursuing, amidst our diversity, freedom, equality and security for all irrespective of race, colour, sex or creed, a country free from apartheid or any other form of discrimination or domination. That is what the Codesa declaration of intent, as was revisited by the President, tells us.

Unfortunately some people who are permanent tourists in our country are not even celebrating our humbleness for even forgetting and forgiving them for what they have said.

The fruits of such a commitment are innumerable but one will highlight the following areas among other things, using KZN that was ravished by violence, prior to and after the Codesa declaration.

These fruits are the following: exposure programmes, particularly on issues of environment and agriculture. Through these programmes, working relationships with countries like India, Germany and others, have led to the identified areas that need special attention towards making the environment and agriculture an answer to empty stomachs e.g. there has to be water provision, and low-cost irrigation techniques suitable for mass production.

The third fruit is the Maphophoma Maize project where 1 450 hectares are producing between six and seven tonnes of maize per hectare. The fourth is the rehabilitation of the irrigation scheme, and R1,8 million has been invested for the purchase of seeds, fertilizers and other inputs, and the planting of high-income crops such as tomatoes, potatoes, beans etc.

There was the investment of R400 000 for processing equipment to add value to the crop. Already, 300 people are employed full-time in this project. There is also the cotton growers` scheme in Makhathini, and the continuous purchasing of Nguni cattle to bring back the lost dignity and pride of the Zulus, which I have already spoken about in particular.

There are the mushroom and the dry land rice projects at the launch of the Empangeni project. This is something that the nation needs to applaud. After only one year of the democratically elected people in that province, not in the country now, all these and others have been celebrated. Indeed, siyavuna, we are harvesting. The nation is winning.

Local government elections are coming at the time when sober-minded South Africans from the KwaZulu-Natal province in particular are able to separate rebuilding and reconstruction for a better life for all from fighting for individual gains.

It is however sad that, though we try hard as a nation to concretise the whole concept of three tiers of government so that service delivery can be a source of hope to the masses of our people, so that it is possible for all Africa to hear mountains and the hills singing before them, at local level, poverty is seen and not heard.

We still have leaders like those in the Vryheid, uMvoti and Harding municipalities to cite but a few. Here delivery is robbery.

Delivery is the suppression of human rights and a suppression of peaceful solutions.

Let me tell you about Vryheid. In 2005, just when the people of Baqulusi were trying to make their shared destiny by critically looking at the need to investigate the unauthorised dues of municipal property, corruption mismanagement, etc, the matter of instituting an investigation was put to a vote. Those members who voted for the investigation were fired, and this action led to a division within the IFP ranks.

Why would people be fired when they are exercising their rights, when they are practically being the eyes and ears of the masses of Vryheid? When they are closely monitoring developments in order to identify all factors threatening to derail the process in Vryhied, and to issue early warnings accordingly, why are they being fired? The IFP lost the case in court, which in turn resulted in a reinstatement of the dismissed IFP councillors. This, economically, meant paying salaries for two IFP members, two deputy mayors and two speakers. That is double the salary bill. Tensions were forever and ever gaining momentum.

A R1 million budget for the building of stadium in Mondlo Township, which was never built and the money not accounted for, as well as other issues, led to the intervention of the provincial government.

If only these things were not covered up, for the provincial government surely was not going to intervene.


CELEBRATING THE 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE YOUTH UPRISING

DAN MONTSITSI ANC MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT

Tracing our history since the advent of democracy serves to contextualise the current optimism, said the President. It is therefore natural and logical for the young people of our country to vote for the ANC in the coming local elections.

In tracing this history, we travel along a path in reflecting upon the stark contrast between South Africa today and South Africa yesterday.

The South Africa of yesterday, 30 years ago, presented a very gloomy picture, in particular in the education arena - my pet subject. The explosion that shook the country reverberated with the echoes of demands for a better education across the length and breadth of our township schools - the demand to scrap Afrikaans as the medium of instruction; the demand to abolish Bantu Education; the demand for a free and compulsory education system; the demand for the recognition of student representative councils, SRCs; the demand for parents to participate in the education of their children; the demand for equal rights; and indeed the demand to abolish apartheid as a political system. These demands were conceived by young people after a series of meetings.

The ID Mkhize Secondary School in Gugulethu was used as a meeting spot for student representatives. It was under the leadership of a student leader called Dapepe from the Langa High School, Zakes from the same school, and a girl student called Ntombintombi Ngezela. The Langa High School was used as the common venue for convening mass meetings of students from the various schools and townships of Cape Town.

Therefore, the June 16 explosion took place on 11 August 1976 in Cape Town. The first casualty was Xolile Musi. These were the same demands, which the students made in Soweto, which the students made in the Free State, which the students made in the north in Galeshewe, which the students made in Pietersburg, and which the students made, again, in Natal.

The advent of our democracy in 1994 ushered in hope and optimism. All gloom and doom was relegated to the dustbin of history, as the South African Schools Act was passed in November 1996. The demands made by the Cosas students` generation of the 1980s, led by Ephraim Mogale, Shepard Mati and Lulu Johnson, were also met by the South African Schools Act.

As far as the issue of the language policy is concerned, sections 6(2) and 6(3) state that the governing body of a public school may determine the language policy of the school, and no form of racial discrimination may be practised.

Bantu Education was abolished; it was replaced by a universal and equitable system of outcomes-based education. With regard to compulsory education, section 3(1) states that every parent must cause every learner for whom he or she is responsible to attend school. Any parent without just cause who fails to comply with this provision is guilty of an offence. Therefore, the onus rests on the parent. The move, therefore, towards free education indicates that no learner may be refused admission to a public school on the grounds of his or her parents being unable to pay the fees.

The present policy by the Minister of Education, Naledi Pandor, is to identify poverty quantile areas with the objective of declaring schools in those areas no-fee schools. Section 11(1) states that a representative council of learners at the school must be established. Such a council is the only recognised and legitimate representative council of learners.

These are the demands that were placed in the length and breadth of our country, and these are demands that were accepted by the present government as part of our national programme to entrench democracy. It is therefore the duty of the young people of today, as they owe it to themselves and their forebears and students martyrs like Siphiwe Mthimkhulu, to vote for the ANC.

This year is the 30th anniversary of June 16. The DA, as usual, is going to jump onto the bandwagon. This is the party that rejected the South African Schools Act, the very Act for whom so many students lost their lives. In November 1996, when the South African Schools Bill was passed, the DA opposed it.

The portfolio committee passed this Bill with a majority, while the DA staged a walkout from a meeting that adjourned at 11 in the evening.

This Act is a beacon of hope for many young South Africans that celebrate it. You, the DA, what will you be celebrating? You opposed the very Act that was the spirit of the demands of the students. When you call small groups of young people to come to honour your meetings, what will you be telling those students? Why do you have to celebrate June 16 when you do not abide by the spirit of June 16? Why? I cannot see Helen Zille here. As an MEC in the Western Cape legislature, she passed a provincial Act, attempting to undermine the South African Schools Act. She didn`t get very far, because she was dismissed by the Constitutional Court.

We, who are coming of age like Comrade Cwele, Comrade Zo Kota, Comrade Hlengiwe Mgabadeli, Comrade Suzanne Shabangu and others, always wipe our sorrow and tears with a copy of the South African Schools Act on our way to the June 16 celebrations.


ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE

VINCENT SMITH, ANC MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT

"All people shall be entitled to take part in the administration of the country." This was the demand of the people as far back as 1955 when the Freedom Charter was adopted in Kliptown.

Almost 12 years ago to this day our country and her people experienced the right to a democratic one person, one vote.

The question that must be answered at this point is, to what extent has this victory advanced our fight to push back the frontiers of poverty so that South Africa can truly belong to all who live in it, black and white? As a movement, Mr President, we have made genuine and sustainable efforts to reach out to our people and engage them directly in the system of government. Last year Parliament went to Kliptown and, true to form, the DA and others regarded this interaction with ordinary South Africans as not worthy of their participation.

The National Council of Provinces has made several visits to provinces so that ordinary South Africans can interact directly with lawmakers, and the Presidency and Ministers have had a programme of izimbizo over the years. Ward committees and the introduction of committee development workers are examples of other initiatives to ensure participation in governance.

Last year, in Mpumalanga, through direct contact with the people, you, Mr President, were able to intervene in the case of Mrs Lettie Nhlapo, 78 years old, who applied for a house long ago without any success. Two months later she was issued a house that was handed over by Premier Makwetla. This is a clear example that the system of izimbizo has advantages and that it works.

As a result of taking Parliament to Kliptown, communities unhappy with the services received were able to put their grievances directly to Cabinet and MPs in the hope that solutions could be found. These kinds of good-news stories were unheard of prior to 1994.

Having highlighted the above, Mr President, it would be misleading to create the impression that there are no problems and challenges still being experienced by our people. However, in the context of a South Africa in transition from conflict to reconciliation, a process that by its very nature lends itself to imperfections and mistakes, South Africa remains a model for the rest of the world in many respects.

The recent disturbances in the Free State and Khutsong, and other areas around our country, bear testimony to the fact that much more still needs to be done. Initiatives such as Project Consolidate and the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa are aimed at reducing bottlenecks in service delivery at all levels of government. Mr President, it can no longer be business as usual for government departments.

These initiatives are introducing a new way of doing the business of service delivery and of creating a better life for all. As we speak, sir, our country is engaged in a self-assessment exercise through the African Peer Review Mechanism.

Mr President, institutions such as the Gender Commission, the Human Rights Commission, the Public Protector and the Auditor-General, supported by our Constitution and the Bill of Rights and by laws -such as the Public Finance Management Act, the Local Government: Municipal Finance Management Act, the Access to Information Act, the Public Audit Act, the Protected Disclosures Act, Act 26 of 2000, just to mention a few - are institutions established and laws promulgated with the specific objective of affording more direct participation in the administration of government and in inculcating a culture of openness and transparency as far as governance in our country is concerned.

Mr President, in my view a glaring shortcoming is that chapter 9 institutions are underutilised, because people simply don`t understand the role of these institutions. Acting against nonperformance by government officials caused by negligence or a "don`t care" attitude must happen more swiftly than has been the case to date. It is critical that Parliament, the media, faith and community-based organisations exercise oversight more vigorously.

Mr President, with respect to the private sector, areas that require attention include greater accountability by company directors to their shareholders, CEO remuneration levels, and unethical behaviour with regard to tendering especially as it relates to local government. Again, it would be a fallacy, Mr President, to think that these institutions and laws are the panacea to our problems.

I return to the question: To what extent has our political emancipation advanced our fight to push back the frontiers of poverty? In attempting an answer I am arguing that the relevant policies are in place.

It is our contention that the political will to achieve our objective of a better South Africa and a better Africa is beyond doubt. And we can state with confidence that the goodwill and passion to become a successful nation is there for all who are not blind to see. For the majority of South Africans, Mr President, the future looks bright.

The unfortunate fact is that a small minority amongst us will always portray a negative and gloomy future, and claim that it is the role of any opposition in a vibrant multiparty democracy to do so. Our major challenge continues to be to mobilise the nation to participate in the reconstruction of our country.

Failure to create a better life is an option that is not available to the ANC. We must help translate the Constitution and our laws from theory into practice so that every man, every woman and every child takes advantage of the opportunities South Africa has to offer and takes pride in being an African.

Comrade President, the clarion call to all South Africans, I suggest, must be "Know your rights and be not afraid to exercise them." Knowing one`s rights and insisting on them is but one way of guaranteeing the dream of "The people shall govern." Yesteryear, Mr President, Ingrid Jonker wrote:

Die kind is nie dood nie die kind lig sy vuiste teen sy moeder wat Afrika skreeu . . .

die kind wat net wou speel in die son by Nyanga is orals die kind wat `n man geword het trek deur die ganse Afrika die kind wat `n reus geword het reis deur die hele wêreld Sonder `n pas

Comrade President, Iyenzeka [it is happening]. Our revolutionary message to all those seeking to build a winning nation, especially in this 10th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution in South Africa, should be: Knowledge is power.

Let`s share the knowledge. All power to the people.


AN ERA OF CONFLUENCE OF ENCOURAGING POSSIBILITIES

THAMSANGA DODOVU, ANC MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT

Madam Deputy Speaker, President and Deputy President, today I feel elevated for the honour bestowed in me to be one of the participants in the State of the Nation debate. I am indeed proud to present the perspectives of our movement, the ANC, as we mark the year of mobilisation of the people`s power through democratic local government. I`ll preface my contribution in this debate by noting with disbelief and consternation the manner in which the official opposition party in particular is prevaricating and waffling instead of constructive engagemenent on strategic perspective that the president has outlined last Friday. Unfortunately the official opposition party chooses to pour venom directly….. and pandor into cheap populism. They want to pull us down to their levels so that they can bit us with experience. Experience full of negativity, arrogance, pessimism and political right doing politics. If we allow the DA to pull us down to its levels, it will definitely beat us with experience. We dare not to allow them space to pull us down to their levels.

Madam Deputy Speaker, having noted the above matters I believe that the principal challenge that is facing all of us is to be mind full of the profound responsibilities we bear to continue the struggle to transform our society and to achieve the strategic objectives of the National Democratic revolution.

What propels us should be a burning desire to satisfy the spiritual and material well being of our people. We must be steadfast in our commitment to better the lives of our people. In fact, what underpins our conviction should be an unflinching commitment to create a new set of opportunities and challenges to the cause of social transformation in South Africa.

We say without any fear of contradiction today that the confluence of encouraging possibilities we see is as a result of strategic and tactical choices that the ANC government made since 1994. As we walk along the same path and along a solid foundation laid by President Mandela since 1994, we should owe a special debt of gratitude to him because he has enriched our lives with the magic of his words, the enchantment of his images, the acuity of his insights and the magnitude of his vision. Today we are deeply inspired to witness his equally illustrious successor, President Mbeki continuing along the same path with undiminished vitality and determination.

His activities, interest and pronouncements remain for millions of our people a constant source of hope and encouragement.

In the North West Province, for example, we are convinced and confident that the ANC government is on course in terms of giving practical meaning and substance to the basic political commitment that the "people shall govern".

As we speak today, more people than ever before in the cities of Matlosane and Potchefstroom have access to clean water and have electricity in their homes. The government has promoted the interest of children, persons with disability, youth, women and older people in Madibeng and Moses Kotane better than before. More people in Mafikeng and Ditsobotla have opportunities to improve their lives to become better educated and acquire skill and to help build better communities where they live.

Secondly, the economy of Rustenburg is one of the fasted growing in the country. With the discovery of more Platinum, it is creating jobs and enabling poverty reduction in the area.

More people in the areas of Ventersdorp, Taung, Vryburg and Makwasi, have gained access to housing, land and education and the services in the clinics are improving. Project-consolidate, a hand-on local support initiative focusing on the service delivery challenges and capacity constraints, is beginning to yield positive results in the 14 targeted municipalities of the North West Province. In all municipalities across the province, more than 90 percent of the ward committees, which promote community participation, have been set-up and are functioning very well.

A plan of action of the North West government to achieve higher rates of economic growth and development to improve the quality of life of our people and consolidate our social cohesion is bearing positive results.

The extended public works programme focusing on providing training, work experience and temporary income especially to women and youth have been intensified.

However, as the ANC, we observe that despite the monumental achievements mentioned above, there are still daunting challenges facing the province needing our immediate attention.

These include the complete eradication of the bucket system and the curbing of the proliferation of informal settlements.

During December last year, this parliament passed the Cross-Boundaries Municipalities Law Repeals Act, which amongst others effectively incorporated the Merafong Municipality into the North West Province. This decision was met with some dissatisfaction from some sections of the community who felt that their interests would have been better served if the whole municipality was to be incorporated into Gauteng.

We in the ANC reaffirm our strategic objective of creating a united and democratic state because we know no boundaries.

We believe that we are one country, one people who share a common destiny as envisaged by President Mandela.

In the ANC we are traditionally and fundamentally attached to the ideals of peace and freedom. We share the perspectives of creating a non-racial and non- sexist society and this is what we fought for over 94 years. It is in that context that we deplore and record our deep sorrow at the tragic incidents of violence and arson which occur in Merafong, more especially in the Khutsong area. We send our deep sympathy who are affected and we are committed to ensuring that the law should deal with those who chose violence to further their own political ends.

At this juncture, we shall implore on the North West government together with the Merafong Municipality to enhance and deepen local democracy to qualitatively improve the participation of residents in the decision making processes and to provide effective service delivery to the communities of Merafong.

In conclusion, there are those amongst us more especially the DA members , self professed genuine mouth pieces of our people who pursue a blind cheap popularity that has nothing to do with our interest of the overwhelming majority of people.

At the time when the government is content with serious challenges of governance, these opportunists such as honourable Leon attempt to gain popularity on the basis of radical-sounding but impractical propositions such as exploiting the situation in Merafong.


WE CONTINUE TO RESPOND TO THE TRUST PEOPLE HAVE IN THE ANC

CONNIE SEPTEMBER, CHAIRPERSON: WATER AFFAIRS & FORESTRY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

The ANC in 1992 stated in its policy document "Ready to Govern" that the ANC`s vision for the future of South Africa must be based on the following in order to transform our society.

"South Africa belongs to all who live it; that we promote a common loyalty to and pride in the country; and that we create a universal sense of freedom and security within our borders, and indeed we do it outside our borders too. All South Africans should determine their economic and political destination; and we carried on to say that the vision also be based on a sustainable economy and state infrastructure that will progressively improve the quality of life of all South Africans.

These, we said, would release the untapped and suppressed talents and energies that would both boost and diversify our economy.

The achievement of a genuine sense of a national unity depends on all of us working together to overcome the inequalities created by apartheid. It is there f o re correct, Comrade President, that you reiterated the call made by Comrade Nelson Mandela that all of us - all South Africans - needed to define for ourselves what we wanted to make of our shared destiny.

The ANC has indeed responded to this call, and ours is one in which we ensured in the Constitution of South Africa, in the Bill of rights, that in terms of the provisions for homes, employment, electricity and water we repair the damage done by apartheid and the migrant labour system and give real meaning to the right to home and family life.

We say so as the ANC that we are confident that we will continue our programme of playing a key role in the equitable redistribution and reallocation of local authority services. We say to the people of South Africa, "Together we can and we will continue addressing the disparities we have in Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain, in Motherwell and Mdantsane, in Phoenix and Umlazi, in Houghton and Alexandra . "

In terms of this we do not make promises only. This is progressing well and in all our urban and rural nodes. Comrade President, the sports field in Tafelsig in Mitchells Plain is being prepared to be ready for 2010. We trust it will come there .

The ANC, in keeping with its broad principles of creating equity in South Africa, stated - and maybe we need to continue giving attention to this area - the fact that as the ANC we value the importance of family life as it is understood within the social and cultural norms in South Africa, in the context of a normally functioning society. We can address this. We can address this by ensuring that people have access to and are part of decision-making structures, which attempt to resolve these problems.

Community participation has been forged already by the ANC-led government. When, for example, our people were told that invading alien plants are the single biggest threat to plant and animal biodiversity, people responded to this partnership. What they did in this partnership was to say that in particular they needed to put together things that they could address, to create employment and to give to those that had nothing at all in those are as .

They took up this challenge in addressing, through the Working for Water programme, the aspect of alien vegetation. In the Eastern Cape, for example, the projects went much further than just clearing alien vegetation, by what they said we must address - the issues of social development in our communities. Also, in doing so, the Planned Parenthood Association in that area, a partner of the Working for Water programme, engaged in skills development, they engaged in the issue of hygiene, they engaged in the issue of sexually transmitted diseases, and dealt also with the issue of pregnancy.

Indeed, through their partnership and their efforts, the result in that a rea was a decline in teenage pregnancy, and a decline in rape and alcohol abuse by their taking on two issues at the same time.

Furthermore, the Working for Water programme tackled and identified training in HIV and Aids as crucial. We are told many a time that we are doing nothing in this area. Indeed, with access to over 20 000 people, often in higher risk groups, Working for Water set aside a whopping R1 million-budget to launch a national awareness programme .

It did not stop there: A pilot project came about that aims to facilitate savings schemes by and for the workers in the Working for Water programme. We salute the people in these areas: Limpopo, w h e re they have done things. We salute the people in the North West, where they have done community projects around HIV and Aids .

Our people want to participate and want to be involved. One of these things is the Public Works programmes that afford them these opportunities. A number of challenges are met in rolling out the intended purposes of why we have Public Works programmes .

They are for skills development, for local employment and for there to be economic opportunities for the poorest of the poor.

In 2004 the Western Cape legislature `s standing committee on public works visited the public road building project in George, a municipality not controlled by the ANC, but of course controlled by the DA, the very same one who had water pricing challenges in that same municipality.

The Hon. Members were confronted by a very angry mob who alleged that the Thembalethu township was touted as a job-creation project. This was not to be as mainstream companies were taken on, and no effort was made to at all spread the business a round. I wonder now who is white enough and who is black e n o u g h .

Let us reiterate: the EPW principle is a national priority programme aimed at job creation, infrastructure and service delivery, training and skills development to draw in especially unemployed women and the youth.

Democracy can be extended through a number of other measure s , and maybe this is where we need to continue to give more attention - to building more and more a stakeholder society with our people so that we build a culture of community and solidarity. We must continue to respond to the hope, faith and trust that our people have in the ANC, so that the society based on community and solidarity becomes the society whose citizens will and have taken the responsibilities to their own communities, as they have done in many of the Letsema campaigns that we have.

Indeed, today is better than yesterday. Today resources have been given to community policing forums. Today clothing has been given and other equipment to neighbourhood watches to participate with the police to fight crime.

Let us look at our track record of what we have said and adhere d to in terms of the manifesto of the ANC in the municipality. Indeed, we said free basic water; we`ve attended to that. Indeed, we said we must have strong women participation; we`ve done that.

Indeed, we said we must have ward committees, and as much as we had resistance in the Western Cape, we now, under an ANC controlled municipality, have ward committees.

On the integration of planning, whilst challenges remain in this re g a rd, we cannot say that this has not started. Regarding the metropolice, although challenges remain our people are participating en masse in the Bambanani campaigns to have crime-free activities, particularly over the holidays. Accountable local councillors will indeed make a public pledge and will now prevail with clear action plans.

Madam Deputy Speaker, we are confident that you will gi ve us more resources in our constituencies so that we, as members of Parliament, can lead the process of transformation in our areas.

Comrade President, the members of Parliament of the ANC are ready to respond to your clarion call in our constituencies. We will continue to provide leadership in transforming South Africa so that there is a better life for all and in ensuring that we uphold the contract with the people.


AN AGE OF HOPE FOR SPORT

BUTANA KOMPHELA, CHAIRERSON: SPORTS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

The torch of hope and the light that the ANC carries throughout South Africa and the world cannot be switched off as a result of minor things distracting the progress we have made so far, which is immense; nobody can ever change that.

In the midst of despair, of the lack of transformation in sport in this country, our people shouted for transformation so that we could be equal partners in the field of play. For many of our people in this country protracted struggle has yielded results.

We are indeed celebrating the age of hope, President, and millions of our people in this country and elsewhere, led by the ANC, are also celebrating and saying: "Yes, we have arrived.

Therefore, we are also going to be beneficiaries in this age of hope that the President referred to." President, I want to share with you the depth and the inspiration that the ANC inculcates in the majority of young people specifically, and the people of this country generally. I want to speak about a very young, Afrikaner South African swimmer, Roland Schoeman. He had to make a very bold choice, which I doubt many of us on my left hand side would have made, when he was asked to renounce his citizenship of this country and represent Qatar in swimming instead. The choice he made was a very profound one. Through the inspiration of the President of this country and the ANC, he chose his country, irrespective of what he could get from Qatar.

That was important. And that is a demonstration, President, of the age of hope and the extent to which we have inspired the young people for all of them to have hope. This young Afrikaner says, in the end: "I agree with what is contained in the Freedom C h a r t e r, that South Africa belongs to all who live in it. I`ve never been embraced in this manner before, and I agree that I have a place here, and I have a contribution to make." As the ANC, we send a message of hope for other people not to miss this opportunity. However, others pretend that there is no hope.

Likhon` ithemba. Ikhon` indlela. We`ll be there one day.

During the State of the Nation Address, a few days ago, you reminded the local organising committee of our promise to Fifa and the world that Africa`s Fifa World Cup, after 100 years, will be a world-class event; that we have heard very clearly, President.

This event, Hon. President, will further strengthen and advance the African Renaissance. The ANC government took decisive action to ensure that the responsibility that you gave to the country is carried out properly. You instructed the five important and senior members of the ANC and senior Cabinet members, Comrade Moleketi, Comrade Nqakula, Dr Essop Pahad, Comrade Jeff Hadebe and Minister Stofile, to carry this responsibility. From time to time they must inform the nation regarding progress in preparations for this event.

Former President Nelson Mandela felt passionate when he carried the Soccer World Cup because, for the first time in 100 years, it came to the so-called "dark continent". Today the ANC is bringing a light of hope to the continent so that it must never be a dark continent, and it will never be.

The Minister of Sport and Recreation has already engaged our counterparts in the Southern African region with regard to African legacy. This programme must be carried out as part of government agenda; it must not run parallel to what our government has set as an agenda for us.

Within the broad framework of government, the question of the Fifa 2010 World Cup becomes part of that programme.

However, we`ll continue pushing the programme of government and the 2010 World Cup as part of that programme.

That is what we are saying.

I now come to the inspiration that we have given to other countries. When the delegation of Fifa visited Mozambique and Swaziland we heard that three other countries, Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe, were working very hard, tirelessly, in a bid to host the 2008 African Cup of Nations. In a very humane and humble manner, South Africa is making a contribution on how they can put up the bid book and how they can overcome the teething problems they might face in this regard.

For the first time, African countries are scrambling for the opportunity to host the African Cup of Nations prior to the 2010 World Cup. I think that our help to our friends on the continent is a very important and befitting gesture to those countries. They too must be counted among the nations of the world.

On 9 July 2006, during the closing ceremony of the World Cup, the world will cast its eyes towards South Africa. On 10 July 2006 that light of hope will turn towards South Africa and the nations of the world will be focusing on South Africa in the hope that as promised, South Africa will host one of the grandest Fifa World Cups ever, and we will.


EQUAL RIGHTS FOR ALL

BEATRICE NGCOBO, ANC MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT

This is the decade of the Constitution. We are celebrating the Constitution with joy. This is the Constitution in which the human rights are enshrined. It`s only the ANC that has been able to make those rights realisable and enjoyable, progressively, particularly for the women of the country. For the first time, women have been given a latitude and its the ANC that has made that possible.

We also salute the women who have been able to contribute to our developmental state.

Ngonyaka ka-2004 abasebenzela uhulumeni wasekhaya benza ucwaningo lapho bathola khona ukuthi abantu besifazane abangamakhansela babengamaphesenti angama-29,6; abasezikhundleni zobumenenja beyi-18 kwabangama-284 eNingizimu Afrika iyonke. Oyedwa owesifazane obekhona kohulumeni basekhaya usehambile waya komela iNingizimu Afrika njengenxusa. Okubi-ke kodwa ukuthi isikhala sakhe sivalwe umuntu wesilisa.

Umgomo wokunika amathuba ngokulandela indlela ka 50-50 yenze babaningi abantu besifazane abangenele ukuba amakhansela kohulumeni basekhaya. Siyethemba-ke ukuthi njengoba abantu besifazane bemelwe, nokubamba kwabo iqhaza nakho kuzoba ngendlela efanele. Sineqiniso-ke ukuthi i-ASGISA ne-joint investment priority in South Africa zizokwenza ukuthi lezo zinto eziyinselelo zibhekeleke, njengokuthi bakhuliseke, bafundiseke futhi bazithole bexhasekile ukuze bakwazi ukwenza umsebenzi wabo, nokuthi indawo yomsebenzi kwamasipala ibaphathe kahle abesifazane.

I-ANC iyona nhlangano ekwazile nokuthi ilethe izinsiza kubantu.

Ayikho futhi enye inhlangano eke yaziletha ngokwanele izinsiza kubantu. Siphinda futhi sincome ukuthi njengoba uKhongolose ephethe, abantu besifazane sebengene kulezo zindawo ebezaziwa ngokuthi yizindawo zamadoda kuphela.

Sinabantu besifazane abayizimantshi, abangabehluleli, abasezimayini, kukhona nabamba amangcwaba kanti ukumba kwakwenziwa abesilisa futhi kukhona nasebeshayela izindiza, ngenxa yokuthi abasifazane bavulelekile, bathole ithemba.

Mongameli, ngiyethemba ukuthi ithemba lisazokhula futhi.

Okwamanje sidinga ulwazi ngabesifazane abesemazingeni okuphatha aphakathi nendawo nasezingeni eliphezulu.

Singajabula uma iminyango ingasinika izibalo ukuze sazi ukuthi bangakanani khona uhlelo lwe-ASGISA luzokwazi ukubasiza ezindaweni zabo. Ukuze ithemba lizwakale futhi libonakale, kudingeka siyisuse imigoqo evimbayo, siyiphahlaze i-glass ceiling.

Uhulumeni kaKhongolose uyishintshile yonke le mithetho ebigqilaze abantu besifazane kwaze kwakhona nemigomo yokubhekela abahlwempu, okuyiyona ebhekela ikakhulukazi abesifazane nawo wonke umphakathi ukuze bakwazi ukuthola izinsiza njengabo ogesi. Uhulumeni kaKhongolose uphinde futhi walungisa imithetho ukuze abantu besifazane bahole imali elingana neyabanye abasebenzi ngokwenza umsebenzi ofanayo, bakwazi ukuba namalungelo okuthola izindlu, bakwazi ukuba namalungelo okuthola umhlaba, bakwazi ukuba namalungelo okuzikhulumela emishadweni yesintu baze baphinde futhi bakwazi nokuthola ifa. Siyakuncoma lokho.

Kukhona-ke omunye uMthetho abangawuthandi abaningi kule Ndlu kodwa owusizo ezimpilweni zabesifazane ohambelana nezokuthola abantwana obizwa, phecelezi, nge-Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act. Lokhu i-ANC iyona eqhamuke nakho ngoba abesifazane kade bememezela bethi, "Hhayi bo saze sahlupheka. Sesikhathele ukuya ezindaweni zangasese siyokhipha izisu esingathandi ukuzikhipha." Phela imithetho yakuqala yabe ithi ngeke usikhiphe isisu ngoba akukho emthethweni. Kodwa i-ANC ishaye umthetho obhekene nalokho.

Ngo-1999 babengama-65% abantu ababefa ngenxa yokuzikhiphela izisu okubizwa nge-backstreet abortions; ngo-2002 kade bengama-9,5%. Siyakuncoma-ke lokho, kodwa siye sifice inkinga yokuthi bakhona abasashona ngenxa yokuguliswa ukukhishwa kwesisu okubizwa nge-sceptic abor-tion. Kuyinkinga ekhona leyo kodwa siyethemba ukuthi le inkinga ezobhekeleka.

Sifuna ukuphinda futhi sincome uhlelo olukhona olubhekela abantu abaneSandulela Ngculazi neNgculazi. Ushilo-ke Mongameli wathi abantu abangaphezu kwezi-100 000 bangenile kulolu hlelo. I-Unicef esiye saba nomhlangano nayo ngoMsombuluko ithe bangaphezu kwezi-100 000 ezibhedlela zikahulumeni kanti bangaphezu kwezi-80 000 kumabhizinisi nezimboni ezizimele.

Kuthe futhi uma sihamba lapha ezifundazweni sabona ukuthi nabantwana sekuqaliwe ukuthi bafakwe kulolu hlelo. Lokho-ke kuyasiza kubantu besifazane ngesimanga sokuthi abantu besifazane yibona abathola izingane ezinegciwane futhi yibona ababheka abantu abanegciwane. Uma igciwane selingene kubona uqobo kuba yinkinga.

Uma izingane sezingene ohlelweni, sesizoba nabantu besifazane abazophila isikhathi eside kunangendlela abakade bephila ngayo, nezingane sezizophila isikhathi eside. Lokhu-ke kuzokwenza izwe livune ngoba sizoba nabantu abaningi abazophila isikhathi eside. Kodwa-ke nansi inselelo: Asinabo abantu abenele ukuthi lolu hlelo luqhubeke kahle. Kodwa, njengoba uMongameli eshilo ukuthi amakolishi okufundisa abahlengikazi azovulwa, siyethemba ukuthi sizoba nabantu abaningi.

Enye inselelo eyokuthi abantu bayangena ohlelweni babuye baphume. Labo bantu bathi bakhishwa ukuthola imibiko eminingi ebadidayo. Umhlonishwa uMdladlana ushilo izolo wathi kufuneka abantu sibatshele iqiniso. Sonke njengoba sihlezi kule Ndlu yesishayamthetho sinomsebenzi omkhulu kabi ngoba sibekwe abantu ukuthi sibamele futhi kudingeka sibatshele iqiniso. Kuyaqala ngqa eNingizimu Afrika ukuthi abantu besifazane babekeke phezulu kangaka nesimo sabo sempilo sinakekeleke kangaka.

INingizimu Afrika ibanakekele-ke Mongameli abantwana nabantu abadala njengoba washo ngoLwesihlanu mhla usinikeza inqubomgomo yezwe. Siyakuncoma futhi ukuthi sekuzovuleka indlela entsha yokuthi abantu bathole izimpesheni zabo, nokuthi kuzoba khona inhlangano ezobhekelela ukuthi abantu bayazithola izimpesheni zabo ngendlela efanele.

Siyakuncoma ukuthi le nhlangano izoqasha abantu abaningi kakhulu, abangaphezu kwezi-12 000.

Masibonge futhi ukuthi labo abaswele bazozifica bethola kangcono kunangendlela abakade bethola ngayo. Kulokhu kubalwe abadala, abesifazane, yizingane, abakhubazekile kanye nabo bonke nje abanye abahlwempu. Akekho uhulumeni owake wenza le nto ngaphandle kukahulumeni kaKhongolose.

Sishaya izandla nge-Children`s Bill esizoba umthetho ngoba ibabhekelele futhi abantwana abakhubazekile. Kusho ukuthi leli zwe libakhathalele abantu abakhubazekile ngoba kuyo yonke imithetho eshaywayo abasali ngaphandle. Masiphinde sincome ukuthi e-Afrika iyonkana, iNingizimu Afrika iyona enamalungu ePhalamende amaningi akhubazekile. Ngiyethemba ukuthi i-Afrika izothola isifundo kuleli zwe nayo bese yenze njalo.

We all know that disability is a human right and a development concern. It needs to be integrated into all the development programmes in an integrated and multisectoral manner, in all Ministries and departments. Should this happen, disability will be a non-issue because the disabled would then have been integrated into society.

Kunesibalo okuhloswe ukuthi kufikwe kusona sabantu abangama-2% abakhubazekile okulindeleke ukuthi basebenze ngo-2010. Ngalezi zinhlelo esezikhona okuzosetshenzelwa phezu kwazo zika-ASGISA, siyethemba ukuthi abantu abakhubazekile bazothola ithuba lokuthi bangenelele engakafiki ngisho u-2010, mhlawumbe kube u-2009, futhi bathole amathuba okuthi kwasabona bakwazi ukuqasha, babe ngosomabhizinisi ukuze phela bengalokhu bethola iminikelo, nabo bakwazi ukuzimela.

Siyakuncoma futhi ukuthi ukukhuthazwa kokulingana phakathi kwabesifazane nabesilisa sekuyinto ekhona ngempela eNingizimu Afrika. Sengike ngasho ukuthi abantu besifazane sebekhululeke ngale ndlela yokuthi bayakwazi ukwenza abakwenzayo.

Kodwa noma ngabe kunjalo, sibona kubalulekile ukuthi uma kwenziwa imithetho yenziwe ngendlela eqinisekisa ukubandakanya kokubhekelwa kwezobulili, ukuze ekugcineni kube khona imiphumela ehambelana nezobulili kulezo zinhlelo esizobe sinazo.

Siyethemba-ke ukuthi njengoba i-ASGISA ingena, kuzothi kuqalwa laba bantu kube neqhaza abalibambayo. Siyethemba futhi ukuthi kusazoba khona neqhaza abasazolibamba.

Njengoba izobe iqalwa nje i-ASGISA, siyethemba ukuthi . . .

Sustainable development initiatives involving the public and the private sector will be consistent with market trends. We also hope that programmes will be developed to ensure that women are able to be trained so that they will get jobs, and that they will be supported in those jobs that they will get.


FORWARD EVER, BACKWARD NEVER

OBED BAPELA, CHAIRPERSON: NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

June 16 happened 30 years ago in 1976 and about 20 years later in 1986, about 23 youth were massacred in Alexandra in what was later known or referred to as The Alex Six Days War in February 14th to the 19th. Later on the same year in April, 15 more people were massacred again as if that was not enough, 9 more were massacred in June. So, a total of over 45 people were killed in the township of Alexandra. And we like to dedicate part of this speech to their blood that nourished the tree of liberation.

The youth of that time were known as the young lions including those who perished in 1976 in the course of fighting for our freedom shouted one particular slogan that said, "forward ever backwards never". As I stand on this podium today, I can still hear their cry as they shouted the slogan, "forward ever backwards never". And one can more than agree with the President when he said, "today is better than yesterday and tomorrow will be even better than today". And I repeat again: "forward ever backwards never".

Yes indeed, South Africa`s freedom and its achievements have given hope to the masses of our people in our country and also to the people of the continent. And I am also saying as it is possible for all Africa to hear the mountains and the hill sing before them. The youth chanted and sang a freedom song in solidarity with the people of the world calling names of the countries that support our revolution, singing praises about their leader, the then President of the African National Congress, Oliver Reginald Tambo. There was one particular song which symbolised and linked our struggle to the people of the world which went like.

"Zambian people loving nation, Here we are faraway from home. We shall need you, we shall love you for the things you have done for us". So, the song went on calling names of all other countries who supported our struggles such as Angola, Mozambique, Cuba, the then Soviet Union Hungary, etc. The free South Africa has not forgotten what was said in the song that, "we shall need you and we shall love you for the things you have done to us". And today we are in a forefront of helping countries in conflict to attain peace and prosper like us as the DRC, Palestine, Burundi, Cote de Vore, Sudan and other that the Minister of Foreign Affairs mentioned in her speech.

The ANC resolved and declared its commitment to create a better Africa and a better just world. And the youth of the time in 1986 in Alexandra and other townships said, "forward ever backwards never", to a better South Africa, a better Africa, a better world. And there is no organisation that can deliver on this expectation except the ANC.

We are aware that it is not going to be easy to achieve on this noble goal. But our resolve and commitment coupled with solidarity by nations and people in all the developing and developed countries who are continuously seeking alternative to unworkable agendas of the new liberal and conservative forces gives us hope. We welcome the meeting of the progressive governments as a step in the right direction in seeking alternatives and solutions to the reactionary agendas presently dominating our societies. I recently attended the Council of the Socialist International in Athens, Greece, representing the ANC in which we elected the new President of the Socialist International Comrade George Papendraw. He said this in his excited speech, "First and foremost, liberals, new liberals, conservatives and rightwing try to impose their values on the world. We progressive forces, socialists and social democrats attempt to unite people around our values". We are not imposing them. "They speak of hear, we speak of security. They speak of halls, we speak of bridges. They speak of clashes, we speak of dialogue. They speak of free markets, we speak of free people. They speak of good and bad nation, good or bad religions, we speak of good or bad policies. They speak about the war on terror, we speak about terror of violence." "They speak to capture emotions through fear, we speak to liberate emotions through sincerity. They speak of adapting people to globalisation, we speak of adapting globalisation to people. They speak of the God above, we speak of the God within every human being. They speak about a smaller state but mean a bigger state that benefits the few, we speak about different state and mean one that empowers many. Theirs is politics of contentment, ours is politics of knowledge. They believe in long working hours, we believe in creative work.

When we speak of protection from terror they often mean taking our freedoms. When we speak of protection from terror, we mean strengthening our democracies and freedoms", I am not referring to Comrade Terror Lekota here.

Comrade President, you said that we need to ensure and conduct a successful assessment process as we prepare our national report of the Africa Peer Review.

Parliament has played a role in the IPRM process: has solicited submissions based on the questionnaire from various stakeholders in the society; helped public hearing of sectors and stakeholders in most provinces; visited communities in both urban and rural areas in all provinces in which about 9 000 people participated; and we are ready to adopt the final report in a Joint Sitting next week and we will be submitting it to the focal point as agreed.

President must be aware that throughout the world Parliaments are also beginning to be more involved in international relations and politics. To quote from a submission towards global Parliament written by Richard Falp, Professor of Internation Law and Practice at the Woodrow Wilson, he said, "one crucial aspect of the rising affection with the globalisation is the lack of citizen participation in the global institutions that shapes people`s lives. The public frustration is deeper and broader than the recent stree-stromastation in saddle and pragle but to date this parties have clearly not articulated a general vision of how best to integrate a public role into the international systems." And the concern Comrade President raised is the role of the Parliaments in the international relations. And I hope this issue will then be taken further in that some amongst the heads of states and in particular I will give a reference to the SADC region for whatever reasons see no comfort with the SADC parliamentary forum becoming a Parliament. I hope therefore that the delegation of the SADC parliamentary forum that met with you also express that the exchange was quite useful and then they were quite happy with the responses that they got from you.

And therefore I hope that the heads of states will then begin to look at this matter as the case in Africa and as would be the case in the United Nations where the debate will then be occurring in terms of creating a parliamentary assembly in the future.

Finally, we will be considering forming parliamentary friendship groups with targeted strategic Parliaments informed by the programme on south to south co-operation, north south interaction and also the programme on Africa and also to intensify our observations of the elections. And then also, the President who will be as a Parliament designing, a new oversight model in which we will then begin to increase in the manner in which Parliament has been doing oversight in the past decade. Since in the new decade that we have already started, we will then be in a position to then begin to ensure therefore that oversight indeed does achieve the desired results of ensuring that indeed there is delivery on all the programmes that we have said that people will then be on.

And we are hopeful and confident that the better world is possible and as young lions said at the time, "forward ever backwards never", for tomorrow will indeed be better than today and only the ANC can deliver on that better tomorrow. And one cannot agree more with an African proverb that says, "if you want to travel fast, travel alone, if you want to travel far, travel together".


WE ARE IMPROVING OUR PEOPLE`S LIVES

ESSOP PAHAD MINISTER IN THE PRESIDENCY

Fifty years ago the oppressed and historically disadvantaged women of South Africa marched to the Union Buildings in one of the most significant events in our struggle for national liberation. Their rallying cry was, "You strike a woman, you strike a rock.`` Today we have a black woman as the Deputy President of a free and democratic South Africa. Today we pay homage to the courage, the determination and the spirit of those women. They were true emancipators and genuine national liberation fighters.

Yesterday the Hon. Leon, quoting Isaiah, struck a rock and he dislodged a boulder. Allow me, Madam Speaker, to respond to each line, unaccustomed as I am to quoting the Bible. This is what he said: "Cease to do evil, learn to do well; seek judgment; relieve the oppressed; judge the fatherless; plead for the widow; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday; cease to do evil``.

I would like to say that apartheid was evil and was declared a crime against humanity and it was the African National Congress, its allies and the oppressed people of South Africa along with the Solidarity Movement around the world that defeated that evil.

Over the centuries and decades our people fought that evil.

This year is the centenary of the Bambata Rebellion, the last armed uprising of traditional peasant African society which marked the end of the military struggles waged by the indigenous traditional communities as they resisted the process of colonisation. A hundred years ago Mahatma Gandhi, resisting oppression here in South Africa, launched Satyagraha, the unique nonviolent struggle that liberated India and inspired millions of freedom fighters.

Satyagraha was the precursor to the Passive Resistance Campaign. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Passive Resistance Campaign, and I am proud to say that my mother and Aziz`s mother was one of the first volunteers to participate from the old Transvaal.

This year also marks the 60th anniversary of the African Mineworkers` Strike of 1946, which inspired the adoption of the ANC`s Programme of Action in 1949 and gave such a great impetus to the working class movement in our country.

We looked even that in the eye and we defeated it.

``Learn to do well``: We have done well by our people. We have done more for our people in the past 11 years than has been done in centuries. We have provided houses for the homeless, jobs for the jobless, water, electricity and sanitation to hundreds of thousands who did not have these amenities before.

We are educating our young people and we are providing them with endless possibilities to take their rightful place in a free and democratic South Africa.

``Seeking judgment``: We have done much to implement the judgment of the people and we need to do more. When we talk of the people`s contract, we mean that we are bound to our people by interlocking a set of rights and responsibilities.

On our part we continually engage with our people. We actively seek their inputs and welcome their criticisms. We listen. As the Minister of Public Service and Administration said yesterday, we want the people to tell us where things have gone wrong.

Is it not the Hon. Leon who ought to seek judgment for the excessive voluminous praise he heaped on the apartheid SADF between 1975 and 1977 in his official magazine, Paratus, even as it was killing our people and invading neighbouring states, while their police allies were throwing detainees to their deaths from high buildings and the chilling ``defenestration`` process that befell Ahmed Timol and others? Truly, is it not the Hon. Leon who ought to be seeking judgment or at least displaying some contriteness? Is it not the Hon. Leon who told a Parliamentary briefing on 8 September 1997: "There is nothing wrong or unpatriotic about having a political party that does not represent blacks."

The people remember and they will render their judgment once again on 1 March 2006.

As we reflect on the first 11 years of our democracy we look at the unfinished business and quicken our pace. We need to ask whether we have made progress with respect to the rights and empowerment of women in South Africa. As a government and as the political party in power, we can unequivocally say that progress has been made.

Let us pause and reflect on our track record. Our government`s commitment to gender equality in governance and administration has made us one of the global leaders in women`s representation. Of the 400 members of the National Assembly 130 are women and of these 104 come directly from the ranks of the ruling party. Of the 293 members of the ANC 35,4% are women.

Further, the ANC took a decision that 50% of its candidates standing for local government elections would be women.

Compare that with the DA. They have 47 members in this Assembly of whom 11 or 23,4% are women. They seem to endure this discrimination with remarkable fortitude. Who should be as humble as to seek the judgment of the women of our country? Equal representation of women in the decisionmaking structures of our country is not simply numerical representation.

It is fundamentally about transformation.

In the disability movement they say, ``Nothing about us without us.`` This applies with equal force to overcoming the challenges faced by women in our society. There can be no lasting solutions to the challenges faced by women in our country without their active participation in the decisions, policies and programmes that affect them. Any political party that is not committed in policy and in action to gender parity is not committed to the emancipation of women in our society.

``Relieve the oppressed``: In all honesty, who has done more to relieve the suffering of the oppressed in our country than the ANC-led government? We are one of the few countries that can say the poor are not getting poorer, that we are winning the war on poverty, gender poverty and racialised poverty. We are working hard to improve the quality of life of our people and they acknowledge and appreciate it. They will show their appreciation once again on 1 March. Be sure of that.

While we work actively to improve the quality of life of our people, the Hon. Leon asks the people to vote for a political party committed to meritocracy based on the privileges of the past, as the Hon. Ben Turok demonstrated so pithily in yesterday`s debate.

``Judge the fatherless``: Yes, we must express our concern for the fatherless. But was it not the Hon Leon who once said that punishment at the notorious military detention centre at Voortrekkerhoogte outside Pretoria was ``strictly regulated and humane``? Would those who were punished there agree? And what of the children of fathers who were killed by the apartheid regime in detention centres like these? What of those who were rendered fatherless when the apartheid SADF invaded Angola and the Hon. Leon called the military operation associated with the invasion ``one of many splendid tasks`` of the SADF aircraft.

As a government we have an obligation and a duty to care for the fatherless and the motherless in our society. That is being done. Consider the extension of the child-support grant to children under the age of 14 or the fact that the total number of children accessing the grants since 1997 is over 7 million. This is our commitment and this is how we deliver.

``Plead for the widow``: Under the watch of this government, women in our country have been empowered as never before.

They are less poor than before, they are beneficiaries of the Extended Public Works Programme and, in those areas where we in government have direct control, we have moved with decisive speed to improve their quality of life.

However, as a society and as government we cannot rest until we have eradicated discrimination against women, the stereotyping of women, gendered poverty, gendered unemployment, violence against women, the exclusion of women from the labour market just because they are women, and the exclusion of women from the political and economic decision-making centres in our society. We know that the majority of people living in poverty globally and in South Africa are women and children, particularly those who find themselves in rural areas.

``Then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday``: Darkness is already turning to noon. Does the Hon. Leon not realise that he lives in a free and democratic South Africa? A South Africa in which democracy has taken firm root; a South Africa in which apartheid as a crime against humanity has been defeated, a South Africa which is determined to deal decisively with corruption? Let us go on record as noting that 60,2% of all cases of corruption reported in the media were uncovered through official processes. Clearly, the state is the primary agency responsible for bringing corruption in its ranks into the public domain. The fight against corruption is a fight that must involve all of us: government, political parties, labour, the business community and organisations in civil society. Darkness is already turning into noon because our people are liberated and poverty is being alleviated and eradicated.

We have a strong Constitution and an independent judiciary.

To those who say that both of these are under threat and attack, we ask: from whom? Certainly, it is not from the ruling party, not from this government and not from our President.

From this very podium he said: "The Constitution enjoins the P resident in particular to ``uphold, defend and respect the Constitution as the supreme law of the Republic; and pro m o t e the unity of the nation and that which will advance the Republic.`` Our President went on to say: "The executive must discharge its responsibilities within the context of the rule of law, which includes respect for the integrity and independence of the judiciary and presumption of innocence of any person pending findings of the courts. Similarly, we also have to respect decisions of our Parliament. "

If only the DA was not politically and ideologically bankrupt, it would recognise that we in government uphold the Constitution and respect the independence of the judiciary.

But was it not the DA who sought an assault on the Constitution when it asked for the reintroduction of the death penalty? Pity our nation, our Constitution and the rule of law should the DA ever come to power. But we are not yet at noon.

The measure of effective policies is the degree to which they impact positively on the lives of the most vulnerable and the most marginalized; and in our second decade of democracy we have identified implementation of programmes directed at the eradication of poverty, drastically reducing unemployment and dealing with the second economy as our key challenges.

Ours is a commitment to equality of opportunity, a commitment to the vision of the Freedom Charter that proclaims that South Africa belongs to all who live in it. A commitment to the creation of a non-sexist and non-racial South Africa also has to be a commitment to transformation and representation.

Fifty years ago the Freedom Charter explicitly linked democracy to freedom from discrimination on the basis of race and gender and it explicitly stated that only a democratic state based on the will of all the people can secure to all their birthright without distinction of colour, race, sex or belief. That birthright includes freedom from want, freedom from starvation, freedom to secure gainful employment and freedom from poverty.

In conclusion, allow me to say to our President: Indeed under your leadership and guidance, the mountains and the hills of South Africa have broken forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field are clapping their hands. Under your leadership, we truly have entered the age of hope.


AN AGE OF NEW CHALLENGES, NEW POSSIBILITIES

NALEDI PANDOR EDUCATION MINISTER

It is the President`s prerogative to reply to this debate, but Mr President, I hope you will allow me a few remarks.

F i r s t l y, Mr Gibson, you should be in the cubicle. Give Mr Seremane the office, please. We saw this afternoon that there is nothing more sobering than the witness of a former insider. A sobering truth has been told. The Hon. Coetzee had to be o rd e red to stand up and speak, and he dropped his speech.

You could see. He could hardly speak. What he did not do was that he did not assist us by addressing the following questions, which arose from the remarks that he was referring to.

The first question is: Did Hon. Leon express admiration when writing for the SANDF? Two, did Hon. Leon ever say there were forms of political prisoner treatment that were all right? Three, did Hon. Leon ever say it is okay for him to lead an exclusive and excluding party? If the answer is yes to any of these apparently recorded factual matters, then, Hon. Coetzee, your discussion in your caucus tomorrow should be about whether you should respect your leader.

Mr President, there is a groundswell of support from millions of South Africans who have accepted that they can and will act to give practical meaning to the challenge of giving expression to our shared destiny. Sadly, all we have heard from the opposition leadership is a whinge here and a whine there.

Listening to the debate reminded me very strongly about some of the bitter irony of the magnanimous settlement the liberation movement agreed to after years of struggle. It is indeed most peculiar to have opposition party members stand here and pontificate in false morality about the challenges and impediments that face our government and the people of South Africa.

Strange, because many of the reborn purists had the power to effect change at many points in their privileged lives in apartheid South Africa. When push came to shove, they did not fight for freedom. They stood back and left the battle to the ANC.

As student leaders on campuses, as army recruits, as former MECs of education, as heads of apartheid-created bodies, they had a moment when they could have signalled their intent to work for freedom, but sadly, they missed the moment and failed to heed the call to be freedom fighters.

Today and yesterday, they have sought to impose on this government the badge of failure, the stain of false accusations, because they know they failed the people, and the ANC led the people to freedom.

These reborn failures of history, the cause of much of the awful legacy we deal with today, should admit their culpability gracefully, and have the moral courage to say to the ANC: Thank you for doing what I could not do. Thank you, ANC. Thank you, President Mbeki. They cannot be so brave, and we all know why - lack of vision, lack of purpose, and a lack of engagement with the real challenges facing South Africa.

We have a vision. We have purpose. We are engaged. Further, we firmly believe that along with the goodwill of the millions who do believe that we have a shared destiny, we will be able to create a society that grows its economy, and that shares its wealth, and that allows each person the opportunity to realise their fullest potential.

We hold the view that each day, inexorably, South Africans are building a firm foundation for entrenching those elements of social action that confirm South Africa`s desire to strive toward and arrive at a shared destiny.

You, Mr President, lead that march.

I would like to read an extract from the January edition of Africa Today: "We have continued therefore to use Africa Today to help promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law agenda in Africa. We continue to use the magazine to put pressure on Africa governments to do away with corruption, invest more in their people and improve the living standard and general development of their countries. We continue to pay tribute to those leaders who are doing the right things for their people and countries. That is why we decided to introduce as from this year the Africa Man of the Year Award."

This first one has gone to the President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki. Our editors have chosen him because of the astute manner with which he has continued to govern his country, his efforts in bridging the gap between the rich, mostly white, and poor, mostly black South Africans. Most importantly, our editors have been impressed by the way he handled the issue of his erstwhile deputy and hitherto heir apparent Jacob Zuma, who has been charged with corruption and rape I wouldn`t be brave enough to read the whole quote. They knew of it, but didn`t want to read it in this House, because they won`t acknowledge our President`s leadership in our country and on the continent.

Mr President, you have issued a challenge to South Africa.

What will she and her people make of this moment in history? Will they wail like the banshee, destroying all in its wake, or will they grasp life from the glorious opportunity offered by our shared destiny?

Unity in purpose, such as that suggested by the President, requires agreement on the direction our country pursues.

Various opinion polls have shown there is agreement on our economic progress. We will intensify our efforts at ensuring shared enjoyment of the fruits of economic growth. We are committed, as the President stated, to supporting small business to grow, to encouraging micro-industries to flourish, and to promoting business activities that enhance expanded access rather than narrow acquisition.

This approach does not imply, as the opposition assumes, that black businesspeople should be the only ones who share opportunity. All private sector actors should begin exploring and indicating how they intend to distribute access to wealth through new share ownership, through creating jobs, and through supporting skills training in the workplace.

The women of South Africa are encouraged by the opportunities suggested by the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa. We believe, to make a real difference in growth, women must be at the centre of economic activity.

The inclusion of women, their empowerment and businessskilling will create a force for building a new South Africa that will be immeasurable in its positive impact.

We are always told that business is the best at wealth creation.

Business in South Africa now has a chance to accelerate the creation of real wealth for all.

We will, of course, have to ensure that we provide South Africans with quality education and training if we are to succeed in all our endeavours. The changes we have made in the past 12 years have been directed at promoting quality, and many of the policies we have set out have had a positive impact, but we are the first to acknowledge that there are enormous challenges, but, of course, if we had all the answers, we would have done better as former MECs, former homeland leaders, and former administrators of apartheid.

We are building classrooms and schools as quickly as we can.

We are training teachers better. We are working with experienced teachers to develop cutting edge curricula and assessment tools. Further, we intend to revolutionise artisanal and technical and service skills training through our colleges of further education and training.

The recapitalisation process will modernise the colleges and our partners with sector education and training authorities and the Umsobomvu Youth Fund will expand the skills pool in South Africa.

Belief in a shared destiny requires all to feel they`re worth something in our society. This means skill opportunities should not stop at formal institutions. We must offer men and women in our villages literacy on their doorstep. We must recapture thousands of marginalized youths in the centre of society. We must utilise all available vacant space for engendering a skills opportunity revolution in South Africa. That, Mr President, will convince millions that we are making something of our shared destiny.

Sharing, however, occurs between people. The Deputy President has initiated wide-ranging and inclusive consultations in the work she has done to put meat into ASGISA. That process has created significant stakeholder buy-in to the emerging proposals. Partnerships will be absolutely vital in the leadership role we must assume in creating this affirmation of our shared vision.

Again, our government has based much of its actions, since the advent of democracy, on the securing and nurturing of partnerships with civil society organisations. The Departments of Health and Social Development have been especially exemplary in this regard. Both departments support and are supported through firm relationships with nongovernmental organisations and community-based organisations. They are able to work with thousands of community-based workers, because this government and the post-1994 government have the mass-based legitimacy that allows for such partnerships, a legitimacy the DA doesn`t have and never will have.

Nongovernmental organisations working with government are a vital resource in our promotion of social upliftment and progressive ideas. Making good on our shared destiny requires strong links with social partners.

Moporesidente, o re thusitse ka tiro ya gago ya go aga Aforika Borwa. O simolotse tsamaiso e e re kopanyang le batho ba Aforika Borwa ka tsela e e ba nayang lentswe le seriti. Mmuso wa gago ke wa ntlha go dira selo se sentle jana. Fa re bua ka tshwaragano, batho baa re reetsa. Baa itse gore re bua ka eng. Fa re na le bona, re bua gore tswelelopele e tlhoka mabogo otlhe, baa re tlhaloganya ka lebaka la gago. Re a go leboga Tautona ka tiro eo.

The people of South Africa believe that we can make a success of what we have.

Mr President posed a challenge to us all last week, a challenge the opposition have failed to respond to because they do not believe that we have a shared destiny. I am sure, Mr President, you are also challenging us, in the same vein, to confront the impediments that could lead to regression.

The first impediment remains the signs of a society still shaped and sometimes polarised by race - those court cases, when you referred to the judiciary, where some lives seem worthy of hefty sentences, while other lives merit short prison terms.

As you have seen illustrated by the empty politics of Mr Lee, sectarianism is alive and well in the DA and in South Africa. We believe, importantly, that when we speak of transformation of the judiciary, we should not limit that transformation to a mere reflection on the judges, which is what is often done. It`s a full service analysis and transformation that must occur: The prosecutorial services and how they address the role they must play in courts in ensuring cases are properly heard, properly addressed and properly concluded; the Police Services, in supporting with evidence that can be held up in court; the judges, certainly, executing their mandate. It`s not about judges; it`s not about interference. It`s about a change that must occur, a change for justice.

A second impediment is the persistence of sexual abuse and violence against women as the most vulnerable in our society.

Standing here, pointing fingers at government, as some do, will not protect women. Urging our congregations and communities to reject violence actively would be a good beginning to helping the new vision the President referred to. It is impossible for women to feel included if they are afraid or unsafe. It is in our communities where the violence occurs. It is in our communities where we must speak out, and not pontificate at this podium only.

A third impediment lies in exclusionary institutional cultures.

Every institution has a role to play in shaping our society. The institutions promoting democracy, our judiciary, our universities, religious institutions, our schools, winning sports teams - not losing ones - all have a role to play in delivering the vision the President has placed before us: A South Africa acting as one to make a success of the opportunities created by our hardfought-for freedom.

The children of 1976, who stood before bullets, unseeing because of teargas; the women of 1956, marching to challenge racism; the leaders of South Africa, the treason trialists, standing before unjust courts, all these and many more we shall honour this year, stood and did these things of courage because they believed, correctly, that a shared destiny was the only path that would assure South Africa peace, prosperity and success.


RACIST DA HAS NO FUTURE IN THE COUNTRY`S POLITICS

PROF. BEN TUROK ANC MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT

It is a pleasure to follow the leader of the largest opposition party in Parliament. He is not the leader of the FF+, I understand, but the leader of the largest opposition in Parliament. It`s a pleasure to follow him because he is so controversial. Let me engage with him, especially on DA economic policy.

I have always believed that it`s important to keep up to date with what the opposition has to say. So yesterday I spent some useful time reading several documents, the election manifestos of the DA of 2004 and 2006. I have them here. Hon Leon, they are not short of promises and unfortunately the chances of you realising these promises are very remote. To quote you, "The DA is a drop in the o c e a n " Let me say that I found the text quite interesting, but what was really curious was that on nearly every page there was a photograph of one man, the Hon. Tony Leon.

In the manifesto of 2004 there were 14 photographs and in 2006 t h e re is an improvement, an escalation, 20 photographs. He appears on nearly every page. Let me inform the House that he is on page 1, page 2, page 3, page 4, 7, 9, 11, 12 and on and on, a total of 36 photographs. And I ask myself: Where is the deputy leader? Where on earth was Joe Sere m a n e ?

By contrast, this afternoon we received this document. It`s about the State of the Nation Address by the Hon. President, and where was the President? He is on page 12. I think that the DA must learn a bit of modesty. What are we to say about one who seeks such a high profile? Has he a future as a leader of this country? I believe he does not. So, let us ask him to give us copies of all of those pictures and let us put them in the parliamentary basement with all the other legacies of history in South Africa.

Maybe I`m being unfair to the Hon. Tony Leon. After all he takes his role very seriously. I`ve seen him on TV, on the stage with all the lights on him, waving his arms and behaving like a man with a mission. This is why Mr Michael Stent said in the Cape Times last week: "Tony Leon shouldn`t jerk his left arm up and down when he is speaking. It creates a bad impression. He looks like the dictator of a small country in Africa." But the Hon. Tony Leon is the leader of a political party, the largest minority party in South Africa, but he is a leader, and we must take him seriously. So, we ask: What does his party really stand for? As part of the answer to the question of the policy of the DA and the future of its leader, the Hon. Zille produced an article in the Cape Times last week in what we might call `the wisdom of Helen Zille`. This is what she wrote, and this is really what is important: " We need to focus less on the colour of skin and more on the colour of money. Let us get race out of the economy. It is not the colour of the people at the top that matters."

It is not the colour of the people at the top that matters? But you see, the ANC believes that given our history, race does matter and the colour or race of the people at the top matters a lot. Where t h e re is exclusive white control, such as the DA advocates, it matters very much indeed. In fact this principle of who is at the top strikes at the very root of our democratic aspirations as a country.

Today the Cape Times carried an article by a black businesswoman and this is what she says: "The continuous dismissal of race as an issue in the Western Cape. Black businesswomen witness everyday how contracts and work are given to white companies who have no inclination to share and transform." So, for her race matters a lot and whether the race at the top is an exclusive entity it matters a great deal.

Let me warn the Hon. Leon and Mrs Zille, if you want to fight an election on the principle that race must get out of the economy and that the present cluster of people at the top can re m a i n unchanged, you will never win an election and Mrs Zille will never be mayor of Cape Town. And even calling upon the corrupt Gerald Morkel to come back as one of your candidates will not help you either.

Last week Business Day carried an article which said: "Local issues are an election trojan horse for Helen.

The problem of who is at the top was exposed in the Sunday Times special issue. It was rather a unique piece of writing in the Sunday Times on Christmas day. Some diligent researchers revealed that of the top 70 earners in South Africa, only four are black; and of the wealthiest South Africans, 157, only nine are black. It does matter.

So, to get race out of the economy is not possible in South Africa.

That is the reason we have BEE, preferential procurement and the rest .

Fifty years ago I was the national secretary of the Congress of Democrats, a white organisation, which was part of the Congress Alliance led by the ANC, and our rival was the Liberal Party.

In the Congress of Democrats we wanted votes for all and we wanted the Freedom Charter. The Liberal Party wanted votes for the rich and the educated elite. We supported the liberation struggle, the liberation of all black people in South Africa, and the liberals wanted merit. Even on Sunday night the hon Zille said: "Let`s get beyond skin colour. " The implication is that the only criterion for South Africa is merit.

Let me say, in the nutshell, that the truth is that what the DA wants is a phoney meritocracy based on past privilege. That`s what they want.

The ANC can`t go along with that, and indeed our Deputy P resident led the way when she talked yesterday of growth shared by all. But what does the DA manifesto say? In 2004 the D A`s manifesto, this document, with all the photographs, said: " We want accelerated privatisation." They wanted to abolish capital gains tax, estate duties and secondary tax on companies. In fact, what they want is to leave the economic power in South Africa where it has always been; no change. And all this in the name of merit, not race; meritocracy and plutocracy, not race.

I have a constructive proposal to make to you. Let the DA help us to get all South Africans on an equal level in education and skills.

Let everybody have the same education and skills, and then we will stop differentiating on the ground of race. We can do it then, not now, because we have to adjust the legacy of our history. Do you agree with the proposition Hon. Leon? Confess. Equality for all and then we don`t differentiate. Then you can decide whether you can still be a political leader in South Africa.

Let me turn to other aspects of policy - my time is running out. I really re q u i red half an hour to deal with you, but Parliament says I d o n `t have such time. But there is one quote I do want to refer to.

In the 2006 manifesto, that`s this year, it says: "The ANC favours only the few, at the expense of the many." Let`s have a good laugh. Really! The ANC favours the few, you favour merits, you don`t like race and you want to keep the people at the top so that there is no change in South Africa. I tell you this - to conclude - the ANC will never go along with a meritocracy, which is based on the privileges of the past. We are in a new century, in the new South Africa, and that is what we should do.


EXPOSING DA RACISM

DAN MALULEKE ANC MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT

I would like to set the record straight in relation to the floor crossing: Our leaving that God-forsaken outfit, the DA, had nothing to do with chequebook politics, but a lot to do with the visionary leadership of President Thabo Mbeki that arises from the progressive policies of the ANC.

I repeat: Our leaving that God-forsaken outfit, the DA, had nothing to do with chequebook politics but a lot with the visionary leadership of President Thabo Mbeki that arises from the progressive policies of the ANC.

The President, in his STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS, has, following Mr Nelson Mandela, called on us to seize the time to define for ourselves what we want to make out of our shared destiny, mindful of yet notwithstanding the accumulated effects of our historic burden.

Madam Speaker, I ask all members of this august Assembly to ponder the significance of those words. For my part, I am persuaded that a major feature of our shared destiny must be a society in which black people suffer no more discrimination.

In such a society, you would agree, Madam Speaker, no organisation that receives public funding and seeks popular political power should discriminate against its black members.

Vanguards of our people, I am sad, I am sad that more than a decade into the new dispensation, there are some who are intent on preserving white privilege. It should irk us that these people are organised into a political formation that actively seeks black votes. I ask: Who are those people? Are they sitting here today? Yes.

Yes, you have answered correctly.

That political formation, the DA, has in its election campaign posters been accusing the ANC of racism. As vile and mean as that cheap allegation is, I do not intend to here defend the ANC against it. The ANC`s track record in fighting racism is well known, and is arguably unequalled. Nonetheless, I note that the DA`s insinuation begs the question, a common error in logic employed in sophistry.

In response to the DA`s propaganda, I have a few questions.

First, is it not strange that although blacks make up more than 60% of the DA`s membership, its policy-making organs, the federal council and congress, are overwhelmingly white?

Second, is the DA not embarrassed that more than a decade into the new dispensation, no black person has any meaningful degree of authority within its party?

Third, is it a mark of non-racialism that all permanent employees of the DA are white? I could elaborate on that: You look at the research department - all white; the news department - all white. The only black person that you may find within that organisation is a receptionist. What a shame!

Fourth, is it not morally reprehensible that all nine provincial leaders and nine provincial chairpersons of the DA are white, despite the majority of its membership being black?

Fifth, why did the DA shun an application by one of its former black MPs for a management position within its party administration, despite the application having considerable merit and the applicant offering to serve without pay?

The answer is very simple - for the simple reason that the management is completely white: They could not bear to stand that a black person could be in a position to take that.

Sixth, why has the DA kept in the cooler a proposal made more than a year ago by some of its black members for the party to actively support grassroots black economic empowerment?

The answer is obvious. They think that black people do not deserve economic empowerment. What a shame! Seventh, is it not manifestly illiberal, even unconscionable and racist, for the DA to foist on its constitution a provision that ensures that its white members have a far greater chance of acceding to the organisation`s leadership positions than its much more numerous black members? I have never, to save my life, heard of any organisation that determines delegates to its federal congress, using votes cast outside its own structure.

What is that, if it is not gatekeeping to make sure that black people never get hold of controlling that organisation. What a shame!

I am surprised at my brother, sitting over there, when he almost always cried on my shoulder and pointed out to me the racism in your region, and today finds it so funny when I am actually just conscientising him and making him aware that the next opportunity that he finds, he should come back home.

Hon. Seremane, you should be the last to speak. I could urge Madam Speaker to have a ten-minute break. Let us have an inspection in loco. Let us go to Marks Building and check the cubicle in which you would find the chairman of the organisation, and then go to the Chief Whip`s office and look at the difference.

That tells the whole story.

I challenge the DA to a televised debate on these issues. I thank you.


OUR BRIEF HISTORY OF FREEDOM SHOWS SA IS A BETTER PLACE TODAY

MEMBATHISI MDLADLANA, LABOUR MINISTER

Kugqityiwe! Siza kuba ngathi siyateya ke, Dlamini.

Ungahlupheki wena, yimivuyo nemincili yodlwabevu lwentetho yakho ngoLwesihlanu. Thina ke `nto zingamaKrestu angaphezulu koMfundisi uMeshoe siyazi ukuba sonwaba bhetele xa siphakathi kombutho wethu iNkongolo, sivakalisa ubuKrestu bethu, ngoba kulapho sikhonza khona iNkosi yethu uYesu Krestu, sisazi ukuba sinethemba. Ebesitsho uMongameli ngoLwesihlanu.

Ndimele ke ngoko ukuba ndiqale ngokubulela ndileleze, ndivumelane noDiliz` iintaba, ukuba ngokwenene unamhlanje wahlukile kunayizolo, sinethemba lokuba ingomso liza kwahluka kule mini yanamhlanje. Lo mhlekazi usuka apha ke yena akayazi loo nto.

Okwesibini, Mongameli, ndidanile kuba bendinethemba lokuba amalungu ahloniphekileyo, ngakumbi la e-DA, aza kuyibamba noko ngobunono le ngxoxo, angabi ngala mahamte nala macangci enza nje ingxolo apha kweli qonga. Bathetha ngathi baqengqa amatye, bazaneke izandla, njengokuba bebezanekile apha ooTony Leon abahloniphekileyo. Inqaba kukusibonisa ukusebenza ngaphandle kokuhamba bexhoma iipenti apha esithubeni. Nantso into endiyaziyo, nendiyibonileyo abayenzayo.

Wena ke, Zizi, uma phambi kwethu uthi masilandele.

Sukuyikhanyela, mhlekazi, uTony Leon ebehamba exhoma iipenti nawe. Kutheni ukhanyela nje ngoku? Sukukhanyela.

Andikwazi ukuba ubuzithatha phi na iipenti, sukubuza kum.

Ukubangaba, mfo kaBawo uDiko, uthetha ngolu hlobo ubuthetha ngalo, ngathi noko wenze kakuhle ukuba uphume kwi-UDM. Ntonje kuza kufuneka sikulungise kancinci nje, kuba apha ekugqibeleni ukhe waphantse ukukhasela eziko. Hata mntan` am, uza kurhawuka! Tat` umfundisi, wena uthetha ngathi unesixhiba ngokuphela kwephandle lakho iBophuthatswana. Sincede torho, le nto kuthiwa ziinzingo nokudumba kwentliziyo yakho nengqondo okudalwe kukuphela kwephandle lakho iBophuthatswana musa ukuza kuyikhuphela kuthi. Asinqweneli ukubona ukudikwa kwakho sithi. Siyacela ke.

Regarding Patricia de Lille, I do want us to look at how we articulate the matter of the HIV and Aids. As a person who comes from Keiskammahoek kuQoboqobo eZingcuka, ndibhaqe ukuba esi siNgesi senu siyabalahlekisa abantu. Esi sifo asinayeza, asinyangeki. Kodwa simile ngesilungu, sithetha ngee-life-saving mechanisms and treatment.

Yet there is no cure for this disease.

NgesiXhosa ke, i-treatment, lunyango. Xa usithi: "It has no cure", uthetha ukuba ayinyangeki. Kutheni le nto niphixanisa iingqondo zabantu, endaweni yokuba nithethe inyani? Yekani ukwabelana ngesondo ngaphandle kokufaka ikatriva entongeni.

Masithethe loo nto ebantwini. Masixelele abantu ukuba mabaphile ubomi obungcono. Abantu mabatshintshe indlela abaphila ngayo. Nantso into emasiyishumayele, hayi le yokuba kukho iyeza, libe lingekho.

Ndiyayicela le nto, torho; masizame kangangoko sinakho ukuba singakhumshi gqitha xa sithetha nabantu. Andazi ke ukuba ekaMfundisi uMeshoe ndiza kuyithini, Mongameli.

Kunyaka ophelileyo ndithe kuye masihambe siye kushumayela ebantwini. Abantu mabayeke izono, Mfundisi uMeshoe. Musa ukuza kushumayela apha. Eli qonga asililo lenkonzo yaseRhabe. Uyandibona nam ndilibambe ngobunono. Ukuba bekuseRhabe bendiya kude nditsibe nangaphaya kwalo. Apha ke kukho imithetho.

Masihambe sobabini ke, siye kushumayela ebantwini ukuze abantu bayeke izono. Yeka ukuza kuqwenga thina apha.

Asifuni kuqwengwa nguwe thina. Mna ndiyavuya ngokuba uMongameli ethi wacaphula kwiBhayibhile ngoba ubonise ilizwe ukuba umongameli we-ANC uqamele ngelizwi likaThixo.

As the ANC we have always envisioned a prosperous, equitable, stable, democratic, nonsexist and nonracial society. And this vision is increasingly becoming a reality in South Africa, as the President indicated.

The economy has grown at levels never seen in the past decades and is positioned to grow at a faster pace in the next period, linked to our initiatives of Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative of South Africa, ASGISA. And our vision, as enshrined in the Freedom Charter, of decent work, decent living standards for all, equity ownership, a skilled nation and equal access to opportunities for all is increasingly becoming a reality.

In the Freedom Charter we committed ourselves to ensuring that there shall be work and security, and this is one core message of the decent work agenda. We do not shy away from it.

We agree, therefore, with the President when he said, in the State of the Nation Address, that yesterday is another country, and that our country has entered its age of hope.

It is important that I say the following in relation to this matter of flexibility and inflexibility. The first thing that I want to say is that it must be clear that the ANC is not going to deregulate the labour market or to erode the rights of workers.

Deregulation would be a disaster for this country, because it will cause anarchy, chaos and instability.

I`m saying this because I know that the vision of the ANC has always been that of a stable and democratic society. Without regulation, the ANC will not be able to fulfil its vision. The ANC also does not advocate over-regulation of the labour market, because that, again, would spell disaster for our objective of making our labour market sufficiently flexible. Therefore, the ANC is correct in its view that we deal with this matter in the way that the National General Council of the ANC has asked us to do.

That is precisely the reason, Comrade President, you have commissioned us to handle this matter. You know, Comrade President, that those labour experts in the Republic of South Africa have indicated to us that there are certain matters around efficiency and the functioning of the labour market that we need to deal with: issues of the CCMA, issues of collective bargaining, as well as matters that affect Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises.

Comrade President, we are going to have a roundtable discussion on 7 March. The businesspeople of this country, Business SA, in particular, do warn that if you are going to change or overhaul the labour market in South Africa, you may cause instability in a country that is particularly very, very stable.

You see, Hon. Members, I`m going to make an appeal to some members, particularly from the DA, because they understand English better than I do. The appeal is that they must read what many, many educated people say about these matters.

For instance, Roderick - and I like quoting him because I met him in person the other day. Before that I had only been reading about him - says that the matter of freedom of association and the matter about collective bargaining have brought about the stability that we have in this country.

There are many people who think that this economic stability comes from heaven, like manna. No, it is precisely because of the policies of the ANC that we have it. You know that before 1994 you would never get such stability in the economy. We have it, because of the ANC. We have it, because of the President of the ANC.

It is very important that we understand that strong democracy, freedom of association and the collective bargaining rights of unions are the only reason we have stability in this country. I don`t want to imagine what will happen, Ndabezitha, in KZN if we were to remove all the laws, because deregulation and inflexibility mean exactly that; that there must be no laws.

Can you imagine what would happen if there were no laws or constitution in the IFP? Can you imagine what would happen if there were no laws even in your own house, Ndabezitha? Ndabezitha, all I`m saying is that inflexibility and deregulation mean exactly that. If you look at all the books that have been written about this matter: Argentina tried it, and they failed.

Today the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank do admit that they have failed Argentina. Do you want them to come back and say that South Africa has failed?


REPLY TO THE DEBATES

BY PRESIDENT THABO MBEKI

I`d like to join the Speaker in welcoming and acknowledging the African Ministers of mining who have joined us after their deliberations at the African Mining Partnership meeting this week. Indeed, this is an important partnership and an important forum for collaboration by African countries to develop common positions on issues facing the mining sector on our continent. I do hope that you had fruitful discussions. I see that the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps has joined you and made himself a mining Minister also. Welcome.

I`d also like to mention some of our stalwarts of the struggle who are up there. Some of our women leaders who served in prison during the struggle against apartheid are here and are welcome.

On 30 September 2005 a Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, published 12 cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohamed in various guises. Some of these directly associated the Prophet, and therefore Islam, with terrorism.

According to press reports, one of these cartoons depicts the Prophet with a bomb in his turban, with a lit fuse and the Islamic creed written on the bomb. Another depicts the Prophet standing on a cloud, greeting dead suicide bombers with the words, "Stop, stop, we have run out of virgins." This is an allusion to the promised reward to martyrs.

The publication of these cartoons has led to angry Muslim demonstrations in many countries, including our own today, with some of them including violence that has resulted in the burning of Danish and other diplomatic chanceries.

The global Muslim community has denounced both the fact of the representation of the image of Prophet Mohamed, which Islam prohibits, deeming it blasphemous, and his representation as a terrorist. Those who have published and support the publication of the cartoons argue that such publication was and is a legitimate exercise of the important democratic right to freedom of speech.

In this regard the culture editor of the newspaper wrote: "The modern, secular society is rejected by some Muslims.

They demand a special position, insisting on special consideration of their own religious feelings. It is incompatible with contemporary democracy and freedom of speech, where you must be ready to put up with insults, mockery and ridicule. It is certainly not always attractive and nice to look at, and it does not mean that religious feelings should be made fun of at any price, but that is of minor importance in the present context ...

We are on our way to a slippery slope where no-one can tell how the self-censorship will end. That is why the Jyllands-Posten has invited members of the Danish editorial cartoonists union to draw Mohamed as they see him." Our Constitution entrenches the right to freedom of speech and I am certain that all of us in this House, and our people as a whole, respect this right and would do everything possible to protect and defend it. At the same time, our Constitution also entrenches the freedom of religion, belief and opinion, which I am equally certain all of us in this House, and our people as a whole, respect this right and would do everything possible to protect and defend.

With re g a rd to freedom of expression in this context, our Constitution says that the right to freedom of expression does not extend to advocacy of hatred, that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion and that constitutes incitement to cause harm.

With regard to the issue of the publication of the Danish cartoons in our country, our courts have already taken the decision that this should not be done, presumably basing themselves on the constitutional and legal prescripts that are binding on all of us. However, it is clear that this judgement would not end the debate in our country, which in its narrowest terms, relates to the balance between the right to freedom of speech and the right to freedom of religion. Naturally, we must defend everybody`s right to participate in this debate peacefully.

In this regard, I would like to join the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr Kofi Annan, and other leaders across the world who have appealed to everybody concerned, not to engage in acts of violence such as those that resulted in the destruction of the Danish diplomatic missions in Damascus and Beirut. In this context, Kofi Annan drew attention to the fact that the Danish newspaper had apologised for the publication of the cartoons.

In an editorial entitled, Honourable Fellow Citizens of the Muslim World, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper said: "In our opinion, the 12 drawings were sober. They were not intended to be offensive, nor were they at variance with Danish law, but they have indisputably offended many Muslims for which we apologise. Maybe because of culturally based misunderstandings, the initiative to publish the 12 drawings has been interpreted as a campaign against Muslims in Denmark and the rest of the world." I must categorically dismiss such an interpretation because of the very fact that we are strong proponents of the freedom of religion, and because we respect the right of any human being to practise his or her religion, offending anybody on the grounds of the their religious beliefs, is unthinkable to us. That this happened was, consequently, unintentional.

It is the wish of Jyllands-Posten that various ethnic groups should live in peace and harmony with each other and that the debates and disagreements which will always exist in a dynamic society should do so in an atmosphere of mutual respect.

Earlier the British newspaper, The Independent, had said in its own editorial: While we defend Jyllands-Posten`s right to publish, we also question its editorial judgement. It is not a decision we intend to emulate. This newspaper could have published the photos at the centre of this row to make a point about free speech - as newspapers in Germany, France, Italy and Spain have done - but we believe this would have been a rather cheap gesture.

There is no merit in causing gratuitous offence, as these cartoons undoubtedly do. We believe it is possible to demonstrate our commitment to the principle of free speech in more sensible ways.

Some of the European media have gone beyond the narrow but important debate concerning the rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion, to discuss what they viewed as a matter of serious concern, relating to the rise of racism in Denmark. In this regard, in its ENAR Shadow Report 2004 Denmark, partly funded by the EU, the European Network Against Racism said:

"Populist political statements and distorted media coverage have not helped to better the situation of rising racial tensions in Denmark. Politicians hide behind freedom of speech to get away with the most hateful propaganda against certain groups, while the media holds the microphone."

Mainstream media not only indulge in the generalisation of minorities but are also steadfast in denying any responsibility in creating an atmosphere in which racism thrives.

The ongoing propaganda against Islam is aided by many writers, commentators and academics that use their freedom of speech to write what they like and often in derogatory and insulting language. One such so-called historian is Lars Hedegaard. He is the former editor-in-chief of the most progressive newspaper in Denmark, Information, and a permanent contributor to two national newspapers. He has specialised in commenting on anything and everything, which has to do with Islam. One of his statements to a right-wing newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, says a lot about his mental picture.

It quotes him as saying: "Islam is even more totalitarian than Nazism. Nazis did not demand that people should grow a Hitler-type moustache. Islam interferes in every aspect of life, right from dress to eating habits."

The ENAR Report also quotes Karen Wren, whom it describes as a British academic with a lifelong relationship with Denmark and many years of experience, researching immigration, asylum and racism. She wrote after a visit to Denmark:

I was also concerned by the very high levels of ethnic minority unemployment and the view among skilled refugees I interviewed that they had no hope of using their skills in Denmark`s discriminatory labour market. I was also very surprised by the lack of comprehensive and effective antiracism legislation. This situation seemed to allow the press and politicians a free hand to propagate racist views without restraint, while there were no effective mechanisms through which ethnic minorities could respond and put their views across to the public.

I have spoken at length on the matter of the Danish cartoons because I believe that this affair and all its ramifications has some very important lessons for us as well.

When we established our democracy, which included the adoption of our Constitution, we knew that we were inheriting a very diverse society that had been divided into many fractions by our history of colonialism and apartheid. We knew that for us to survive and thrive as a nation, we had to bridge the many fissures in our society created by our past.

The motto on our coat of arms constitutes a call to us to live up to the vision contained in the Preamble of our Constitution, which says:

"We believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity."

Our national anthem was constructed with the aim to achieve national reconciliation. Concepts such as "the rainbow nation" sought to express a vision of a diverse but united nation. I believe that one of our greatest achievements since the dawn of democracy has been precisely the advance we have made towards building the united but diverse society, which is so fundamental to our future.

In this context and with reference to the Danish cartoons, I am certain that we would agree with what the British newspaper, The Independent, said, that there was no merit in causing gratuitous offence.

Similarly we would agree with Jyllands-Posten that: "Various ethnic groups should live in peace and harmony with each other and that the debates and disagreements, which will always exist in a dynamic society, should do so in an atmosphere of mutual respect." For us, these are not academic matters. They go to the very core of the task we face to build the new South Africa.

The hon Patricia de Lille was therefore correct when she drew our attention to the need for us continuously to focus on the critical question of social cohesion, saying:

The destructive divides of our society should be bridged. We will only succeed as a nation if we recognise the problems that are faced by all our communities, and are prepared to make the necessary compromises needed to address them. The problems of the poor are the problems of the rich and the challenge of building social cohesion rests on the shoulders of all of us. The task at hand cannot be restricted to the government alone and the ID would like to see a hand being extended to our citizens, making them partners in our development.

We have taken to heart the comments made by the hon Dr Gavin Woods, when he said:

"We would have wished to hear the President`s thoughts on the democratic health of the nation and, as importantly, we would have been interested in his views on the evolving postapartheid society and how government is trying to facilitate a more unified nation. We see the progress that is being made towards social integration over the past twelve years as quite exceptional against the world experience, and would have been encouraged to hear that the President also sees it in the same way."

I hope that Parliament will have time to engage with the issues around social cohesion. When we discuss this matter, I am confident that we all agree, among other things, that our Constitution is an important foundation in ensuring that social cohesion. Generally, from the family unit to communities, political organisations and various institutions in our society, we share the principles and values contained in our Constitution.

Indeed, if we did not share the values enshrined in the Constitution, the country would have long degenerated into civil strife, anarchy and possibly civil war. Indeed, some of the important elements for social cohesion are represented by public representatives as constituted in our national Parliament, the provincial legislatures, as well as local government councils.

I am therefore very happy that Parliament has taken a decision to engage in an equality review campaign, as Madam Speaker said, to help answer the question relating to progress or lack of it.

The challenge facing all of us is to strive for social and economic equity in our country, so that we move away from the divisions that define a section of the South African society as poor, labourers, unemployed, underemployed and the wretched of the earth; while the other is characterised by the rich, the bosses, the fully employed and the affluent who enjoy the good things in life.

Accordingly, it is important that we should identify common positions that are important to all South Africans, irrespective of ideology and party affiliation and develop a common platform that helps to enhance that social cohesion.

The hon Dr Mangosuthu Buthelezi was correct when he said that our liberation movement must not lose its long-term vision. We must heed the call he made that "this is the time to hold the country together and ensure the unity of our people ...

that this is a time in which history demands of us to rise above... petty division in politics".

As is their right, a number of the hon members focused their statements on what they saw as the failures of our government.

In many instances they spoke about the very same matters that cause grave concern to the government itself.

To say that 12 years after we liberated ourselves from 350 years of colonialism and apartheid we still face a huge housing backlog is not to say anything new or unexpected.

To say that 12 years after we liberated ourselves from 350 years of colonialism and apartheid there are still many people without access to clean water and modern sanitation is not to say anything new or unexpected.

To say that 12 years after we liberated ourselves we are still confronted by a very serious challenge of poverty and unemployment is not to say anything new or unexpected.

Like Dr Woods we see the progress that is being made towards social integration over the past 12 years as quite exceptional against the world experience. Nevertheless we recognise the fact that much more still needs to be done to create a truly socially integrated nation. That is why in the State of the Nation Address we spoke about ASGISA, housing, health, education, water, sanitation, land and other programmes, precisely to answer the question: What should be done to accelerate the advance towards eradicating the many backlogs that undermine social integration, that most obviously could never have been dealt within a short period of 12 years? In keeping with what the hon Patricia de Lille, the hon Gavin Woods and the hon Mangosuthu Buthelezi said, I believe that one of the critical challenges we face is not to communicate a false message to the people that our Rome can be built in a day. One or two of the hon members correctly pointed out that we are running a marathon and not a sprint over a short distance.

No amount of words will change this reality, and I dare say, the ordinary people of our country understand this reality very well.

As we did last year, once more we will study the comments made by the hon members, drawing on them to improve the performance of the government as we strive, hopefully together, to accelerate our advance towards the new South Africa for which our people yearn.

Before I conclude I would like to return to the important comment made by the hon Dr Buthelezi when he said that this is a time in which history demands of us to rise above petty division in politics; and refer to the matter of the Hon. Deputy President`s holiday in Abu Dhabi.

The security arrangements in place since 1994 and before provide that both the President and the Deputy President are provided with security on a 24-hour basis. Among other things, this means that when they travel by road they do so in transport provided, managed and run by the SA Police Service.

When they travel by air, unless circumstances make this impossible, they travel in planes provided, managed and flown by the SA Air Force.

These transport arrangements, which are an integral part of the security system, decided exclusively by the state security services and not the President or the Deputy President, apply regardless of their destinations and the purpose of their travel.

The SA Air Force therefore carried the Deputy President to and from Abu Dhabi, as the security regulations required. This was the only cost of the holiday of the Deputy President that accrued to the state. All other expenses incurred by the Deputy President by going on holiday were met entirely by the Deputy President with absolutely no charge to the state.

I`m certain that now and again the Deputy President will have to take a break from work and rest wherever she may choose.

Unless the security arrangements are changed, leaving her unprotected because she is on holiday, it will remain the responsibility of the SA Police Service and the SA Air Force to transport her to her holiday destination. I trust that, after this explanation, nobody will find it impermissible that she should continue to be provided with security on a 24-hour basis, which includes the periods when she is on holiday.

I`d like to thank all the Hon. Members for their participation in the debate of the State of the Nation Address, and the various suggestions that have been made as to what we should do further to accelerate the process of transforming our society.

And, as I`ve said, we will follow up on these suggestions.

I would also like to take this opportunity to wish all the parties that have registered for the local government elections success in their campaigns, and urge that all of us should respect the code of conduct we have signed so that we further entrench a tradition of holding peaceful, free and fair democratic elections. This is central to the achievement in our country of the critically important objective stated, perhaps belatedly, by the Danish newspaper, the Jyllands-Posten, "that various ethnic groups should live in peace and harmony with each other and that the debates and disagreements which will always exist in a dynamic society should do so in an atmosphere of mutual respect."

In closing this debate I would like to convey to the Martin Luther King family our heartfelt condolences on the departure of their mother and leader - leader not only of the African-Americans but of many people across the world - Coretta Scott-King. And thanks to Zanele Mbeki and Adelaide Tambo for representing us at that funeral.

On our shores we also pass our condolences to the family of Vish Sewpersad who dedicated his life to the struggle for freedom, but who has now passed on and was laid to rest this past week.

Once more, Madam Speaker, I would like to thank all those who participated in this important debate.

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