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Speech by the Deputy Chief Whip of the Majority Party, Honorable Doris Dlakude on the occasion of the Presidency Budget Vote (Vote 1) debate in the National Assembly, Parliament of South Africa

31 May 2017

Honourable Speaker
His Excellencies, the President
the Deputy President
Honourable Minsters
Honourable Members
Esteemed Guests

To begin with, let me acknowledge the twentieth anniversary of our Constitution, which we achieved this year. Our democracy would be devoid of character and substance, without the profound doctrines of human dignity and equality enshrined in our Constitution.

Twenty years on, since its official adoption, it stands as our most potent mechanism to enable restorative justice and transformation. It is the instrument for systematically erasing the atrocities committed against our people. It remains the only antidote to heal the divisions of the past.

Honourable Speaker

Moulded in the umbers of the people's struggle for freedom and self-determination, our Constitution is a resolve and will of freedom fighters, after the fall of the apartheid regime; that

South Africans should, for themselves, a new identity, anchored in equality, social cohesion and economic inclusion, forge.

Comrade President Oliver Reginald Tambo, whose centenary we celebrate this year, gave expression to this new worldview on the occasion of the 75th Anniversary of the ANC, when he said;

"For us it is important that that new reality should reinforce and entrench what we are accomplishing now, in struggle: the building of a nation of South Africans. It must reflect and enhance our oneness, breaking down the terrible and destructive idea and practice of defining our people by race, colour or ethnic group. The revolution will guarantee the individual and equal rights of all South Africans without regard to any of these categories, and include such freedoms as those of speech, assembly, association, language, religion, the press, the inviolability of family life..."

Inspired by such wisdom, the authors of the Constitution inscribed in the Preamble,

"We, the people of South Africa, recognise the injustices of our past; honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land; respect those who have worked to build and develop our country; and believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity"

The Preamble recognises that the united but diverse people of this land emerge from a dehumanising historical past that requires redress. Given the historical context of race, class and gender contradictions, the ANC understood that our Constitution should be an instrument to restore the dignity of the Black majority. In this regard, placing a premium on nation building and the need to engender social cohesion.

Nation building anchored on reconciliation among the people; the transformation of Government institutions and the introduction of new legislation to usher in a new and democratic dispensation.

Commemorative events will continue to play a critical role in the process of nation-building and social cohesion. A Government events calendar, aligned to these commemorative activities, helps to ensure public participation. The events are an instrument for reconciliation and nation building, within the context of our constitutional democracy. They must be strategically galvanized to embody the spirit of human rights, cultural diversity, equality and tolerance for all South Africans.

Honourable Speaker,

It has always been the desire and commitment of the African National Congress that economic freedom must go hand in hand with human freedoms. Increasing human capabilities in our society is fundamental to us achieving the dream of that society envisaged by the Freedom Charter. In the 1987 January 8th Statement of the NEC, President Oliver Tambo said;

"Of central importance also is, the critical requirement that the new South Africa must guarantee the masses of our people freedom from hunger, disease, ignorance, homelessness and poverty. The democratic state will be representative of all the people of our country, and especially the working people who own neither land nor factories and neither the mines nor the banks. It will therefore be called upon to ensure that the wealth of the country increases significantly and continuously and that it is shared equitably by all the people to ensure their material and spiritual upliftment and well-being."

"To achieve these objectives, the new democratic order will necessarily have to address the question of ownership, control and direction of the economy as a whole to ensure that neither the public nor the private sectors serve as means of enriching the few at the expense of the majority."

The scale of our transformation, its profound impact on the people and the environment that, until then, had catered for the tiniest minority in our homeland, is yet to be fully told.

Necessarily, nation-building demanded that Government urgently address socio-economic challenges of the majority. Arguably, we embarked on the most unprecedented egalitarian programme globally wherein; healthcare was made free to pregnant women and children of ages 0-6; social security and pensions were extended to the poor and aged and ensured access to housing, water, electricity, education, etc.

To implement these objectives and advance, against the backdrop of a declining apartheid economy, economic growth had to be the focus. Simultaneously, mindful that, for the people to fully participate in the life of their country, they needed to share directly in its economy.

Hence the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment policies, with the aim to deracialise the economy, ensure equity ownership by the black majority - and Africans in particular, in entities that were exclusively white.

Inferior racial education created a skills deficit in the country, especially among the majority, and thus Government focus on skills development and acquisition to impact on jobs and productivity. Government has and continues to subsidise business in order to protect existing jobs. Further, Government funds internship programmes for the youth, and unemployed graduates, to enable them gain the necessary work experience. The expanded public works programme (EPWP), without which the majority poor would be worse than destitute, has been a mainstay in assisting to alleviate the scourge of poverty and minimise unemployment.

Today we can attest to strides in science and technology with the SKA project among others; the establishment of new universities of medicine and technology, respectively; the reopening of training colleges for teachers and nurses; advances in rural development and land reform; the ever-expanding social wage and social security network;

infrastructure roll out and investment in manufacturing, small and medium enterprises and other catalytic sectors. In addition, progress is registered through the Nine-Point Plan and the Oceans Economy, as means to ensure greater economic growth and development.

However, despite all the interventions, economic growth has been sluggish since the global financial crisis. As a result, progress in fundamentally changing the lives of the most-poor and working people has been slow. This necessitated the ANC's 53rd National Conference in Mangaung to resolve on the Second Phase of Radical Socio-Economic Transformation, urging the State to take a fundamental approach in its interventions in the economy, as means to advance the national democratic revolution. As the Conference Declaration states,

"Responding to these challenges, we are boldly entering the second phase of the transition from apartheid colonialism to a national democratic consolidation, critical both to improve the quality of life of all South Africans and to promote nation-building and social cohesion."

In this sense, Mangaung reiterated the conclusions of the Morogoro Strategy and Tactics when it said,

"In the last resort, it is only the success of the national democratic revolution which - by destroying the existing social and economic relationships - will bring with it a correction of the historical injustices perpetrated against the indigenous majority and thus lay the basis for a new - and deeper internationalist - approach."

Honourable Speaker

We continue to grapple with the task of building a new social order.

Colonialism, coupled with racial domination and exploitation and patriarchy, bore violent scars into our human make-up. Our nation's psyche, jaded and marred from torture, maiming and murder; repeats these acts of terror on the unsuspecting, powerless and vulnerable in society.

In recent weeks, we have seen an upsurge in the rape, deaths and disappearances of children and women across our towns and cities. Femicide has gripped many a family and home. LGBTI persons have been attacked, brutalised and murdered.

Social media abounds with stories of strange men in unknown cars, who inject and hijack young women on their normal daily walkabout. Women, young and old, and children must live in a free, peaceful and safe environment. LGBTI persons have the freedom to associate, express themselves and live in accordance to their wishes; without fear. These wanton acts of murder and mayhem continue unabated, despite Government campaigns such as those of Sixteen Days Against Women and Children Abuse.

These violent acts are an indication that we are far from becoming that cohesive society we want to be. Social cohesion as sociologists Norton and Haan explained,

".. stand(s) for the elements of social progress which include human security... and solidarity. At the heart of social cohesion as a guiding principle of policy should be the development of norms, values and institutions which enable change. The orientation that social cohesion needs to capture as a policy goal, therefore, is the capacity of societies and social groups to peacefully and inclusively navigate social change, while enhancing individual and group rights and freedoms."

In this regard, it is critical to support and enhance the work underway in Government. We need to forge strong and lasting cooperation between State organs and the people. This requires the re-establishment of networks and relations, through meaningful partnerships, with communities.

This is a painstaking, gradual process whose outcomes can only be visible over a period of time. In partnership with the communities, Government can provide material resource support to the programmes and campaigns undertaken by the communities. Overtures must be made to interfaith organisations to play a greater role of raising consciousness and changing individual and societal attitudes.

We commend the recent weekend meeting of the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress, for having deliberated on this matter and for reaffirming the human freedoms of women and children. The statement of the NEC recognises that,

"As a country, we must consistently affirm the freedom of girl children and women. We will have been successful in our quest to build a truly non-sexist society and dealt with the brutal effects of patriarchy when in South Africa a young woman in the middle of the night, can walk alone without the fear of assault, attack or rape, going back home from wherever she comes from.

While there is no single magic bullet that will do away with violence against women and children overnight, condemnation of such behaviour by society alone will not solve this problem.

The ANC therefore calls to action all its structures and society at large to become actively engaged in campaigns that involve communities in the prevention of femicide, rape and child molestation. ANC branches must actively lead a campaign to encourage the defense of the most vulnerable people in our society. We must also teach ourselves to drop the language of 'weakness', 'vulnerability', 'protection' and 'women and children' as these erode women's citizenship.

We must affirm their inalienable right to justice, safety, freedom and equality.

This campaign must assist us all to understand the value of life and that physical, mental and sexual abuse robs people of their dignity. Accordingly, the following are tasks for the branches:

  • Establish street committees and lead and drive a Know Your Neighbourhood Campaign
  • Establish a single contact point in each street for reporting of incidences of brutality and violence
  • Set up early warning systems where child abuse, the rape and abuse of girls and boys occur
  • Meet every station commander to advise them of the contact points and issues arising from our early warning systems

Government for its part must strengthen the justice system to better deal with cases of gender based violence. Programmes of the ANC led government must target both victims and perpetrators. Amongst others we must ensure the establishment of a special unit in each police station specially trained for this type of work. This will ensure that we reduce barriers to reporting sexual offences and domestic violence."

We encourage other parties, in their official structures and in the different formations where they hold sway, to amplify this message and join in efforts to turn this situation around.

After all, as Members of Parliament, we have sworn an oath to the Constitution, which enjoins to protect and defend human freedoms too.

Honourable Speaker,

Underlying the concept of social cohesion is the motivation to ensure a society that is inclusive, where individuals and groups belong together and share common values. Central to this endeavour is the attempt to develop an understanding of what holds societies or groups together; and how that happens or is done. Explaining social cohesion, sociologist Emile Durkheim, argued that,

"There can be no society which does not feel the need of upholding and reaffirming at regular intervals the collective sentiments and the collective ideas which makes its unity and its personality. Now this moral remaking cannot be achieved except by the means of reunions, assemblies and meetings where the individuals, being closely united to one another, reaffirm in common their common sentiments."

Among the values and principles inherent in our Constitution is this upholding and reaffirmation of the people's collective sentiments and views, so that the electorate can, from time-to-time, accord those who lead it with a fresh mandate to govern.

In between the elections, are the imbizo in order to interact with the people and assess the effectiveness of Government.

In this moral remaking of our society, it is demanded that we make use of all the instruments provided for in the Constitution - including the Chapter Nine Institutions, to ensure that the Executive, specifically the Presidency, fulfils its responsibilities and is, accordingly, held to account. This imposes upon us the obligation of avoiding covert or overt schemes to subvert the will of the people who freely elected a government of their choice. It will come as no surprise to us, that in the context of the debate on the Presidency's budget vote, some in the opposition would seek to turn this into a matter of the person holding the office, and not the work of the office as the institution.

The mandate of the Legislature, is to oversee the work of the Executive. We often lose sight of this responsibility when, as parties, we dwell on settling scores and political vendettas with old political enemies. In the process, we fail to scrutinise the efficacy of policies and programmatic systems Government has put in place. For us as Members of Parliament, oversight of our country's policy priorities is very critical.

We have to go back to basics by building a cohesive parliament that thrives on robust debate, not abuse.

Honourable Speaker,

Our vision of building a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa remains steadfast. Our policies remain consistent with the objective of ensuring an equal, just and democratic society.

The National Development Plan is the vision and long-term plan through which we intend to realise change, build the capabilities of our State and the capabilities in society.

The NDP urges us to work collaboratively as a nation to advance South Africa's transformation agenda. This means that civil society, religious bodies including communities across the board must stand in unity with Government, in order to build a cohesive society. A culture that protects and promotes human rights must find expression on every social platform in South Africa.

Human rights ethos must also be infused in the education system, in places of worship and where we commune for economic purposes. Furthermore, the family unit is also a critical incubating platform to teach our children, that the future of this country depends on their ability to respect one another.

Let us implement the NDP, and use it to rally to all social partners to participate in bringing about a South Africa where all who live in it, can fully enjoy all the freedoms we fought for and seek to realise.

Madame Speaker
Honourable Members

The month of May, which ends today, is Africa month.

Each year on May 25th, we take stock of the developments in our continent, both positive and negative.

The ANC, and therefore its Government, has committed itself to realising a better Africa and a better world. We are aware of the numerous efforts undertaken by our Government, in particular where the Presidency has acted as envoy to ensure peace and stability.

Our country continues to deploy its soldiers in the countries where war and strife reigns. Our efforts, as demonstrated through the recent State visit by President Jacob Zuma to the Republic of Tanzania, extend to strengthening partnerships in the areas of trade and commerce. Indeed, we need to enhance greater cooperation and integration between and among us, for our individual countries and the continent as a whole to prosper.

Arguably, our continent is in a better place today than ever before. There are indications of potential growth in sub-Saharan Africa for 2017 and 2018. Democracy in most parts of the continent is a certainty. There is also greater cooperation and solidarity between and among the different countries. We should build on these advances, as we work towards achieving the AU's Vision 2063.

There are, however, some Members of this House who need to be reminded of the sovereignty of other nations, a value inherent in our Constitution; drawn from the Freedom Charter's clause "There Shall be Peace and Friendship". In that clause, the Charter declares that the "people of the protectorates shall determine their own future".

Honourable Maimane, having meddled in affairs of another country, cries foul that the ANC did not make a statement about his deportation from Zambia. These are ramblings of someone who is ignorant of the ethos of our Constitution.

It would help Honourable Maimane to know what the principal architect of the Constitution, comrade President Oliver Tambo, said about our relations with other peoples and nations. At the first Congress of the MPLA in 1977, comrade OR said,

"We seek to live in peace with our neighbours and the peoples of the world, in conditions of equality, mutual respect and equal advantage."

Honourable Members,

Let us work together with all our people, without regard to race, class or gender, to realise the freedoms we wish all to enjoy.

The Presidency should continue to provide strategic leadership, even in the face of the challenges confronting our nation. Brick by brick, the walls of humanity, equality and socio-economic inclusion will be rebuilt.

The ANC moves for the support of Vote 1: The Presidency

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