Parliamentary Questions and Answers
Media Room Provincial Caucuses Jobs Links Support Services Tenders ANC Homepage

Address to the Joint Sitting of Parliament On the occasion of the State of the Nation Address Debate 19th February 2018 Delivered by Jackson Mthembu Chief Whip of the Majority Party

Theme: Remembering President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela: Deepening our Constitutional Democracy, Growing the Economy and Creating Jobs.

We stand here this morning in great shock and deep sadness after having learned about the passing of our Member of Parliament in the National Assembly, comrade Beatrice Ngcobo yesterday, 18 February 2018. Comrade Ngcobo had recently undergone surgery and regrettably did not recover. Her untimely departure is a heavy blow to the ANC Caucus and to Parliament. We will miss her contribution in this new dawn.

Honourable Speaker and the chair of the National Council of Provinces as the ANC Caucus, in honour of comrade Beatrice Ngcobo and many other public representatives from this house who have passed on, we commit our full support and to work together with His Excellency the President of the Republic of South Africa Honorable Cyril Ramaphosa on continuing on the vision of Madiba to building a South Africa of our dreams. We publicly say to the people of South Africa as ANC Caucus and members of this parliament, South Africa we are ready. Thuma Thina.

On Monday, 9th May 1994, at 11 am, in this Chamber of the National Assembly, Nontsikelelo Albertina Sisulu, a stalwart of our struggle who is remembered for her strength, compassion and tireless commitment to the people of this country, a prominent leader of the ANC, ANC Women`s League, Federation of South African Women and the United Democratic Front, who represented the epitome of selfless service to the people, her outstanding contribution to the cause of freedom and democracy, rose to nominate Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela as our first democratically elected President. Our newly elected President, his Excellency President Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa rose to second that nomination. Only one candidate was nominated on that day, namely Nelson Rholihlala Mandela who was duly elected the first President of the Republic of South Africa.

On the 24th of May of that same year Nelson Mandela gave his first; and the first State of the Nation Address in this Chamber. I quote from his speech:

"The time will come when our nation will honour the memory of all the sons, the daughters, the mothers, the fathers, the youth and the children who, by their thoughts and deeds, gave us the right to assert with pride that we are South Africans, that we are Africans and that we are citizens of the world."

On this Monday, 19 February 2018, 24 years later, we celebrate the centenary of the late Mama Albertina Sisulu and the late Tata Nelson Mandela under the Presidency of Cyril Ramaphosa as the 5th democratically elected President of the Republic of South Africa.

Today we stand at the edge of a New Dawn, full of hope and possibilities, a New Dawn that recognizes that -

"We, the people of South Africa, recognize 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"; (Preamble of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996).

And, borrowing from the words of the Freedom Charter, that we -

"Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity" (Freedom Charter 1955).

As we stand here to debate the historic State of the Nation Address as delivered by President Cyril Ramaphosa last Friday, we join him in thanking former President Jacob Zuma for his years of service to the liberation of our country and his contribution in building our young democracy. Sithi siyabonga Nxamalala.

As we sat in this house on Friday evening, we could feel the spirit of Nelson Mandela among us. A SONA delivered which laid out his vision for the Republic of South Africa, a vision wherein South African is a place for all who live in it. I quote from his speech delivered in this Parliament in 1995;

"The Nation has set itself the task of reconstruction and development, nation building and reconciliation. It expects from its Public Representatives in these hallowed chambers, the seriousness of purpose and the application of duty, which success requires. On my part I call on all parties to join us in working for a better life for all South Africans."

Thus the task of a democratically elected government is to focus on the agenda of reconstruction and development to address the great social need. The agenda will thus reflect this, and as a developmental state, requires an approach, which acknowledges the need for fundamental transformation of society socially and economically.

When we assess the State of the Nation we are essentially providing a framework for analysing where we are as a Nation. Three important concepts in this analysis are social cohesion; social capital and social justice.

Social cohesion refers the extent to which a society is coherent, united and functional in providing an environment within which its citizens can grow, develop and reach their potential. In our pursuit of social cohesion, our mission remains the revival of an activist citizenry engaged in patriotism and nation building. We thus welcome the President`s announcement of a Social Sector Summit during the course of this year in recognising the critical role of NGOs and community based organisations in tackling poverty, inequality and related social problems.

Social capital refers to the assets accumulated based on trust, which enable people to work together to achieve common goals. The President`s announcement of the implementation of the National Minimum Wage bares testimony to what is possible when all social partners work together in the interest of our great nation.

In his SONA, the President committed to engaging all stakeholders on the Mining Charter to ensure that it is truly an effective instrument to sustainably transform the face of mining in South Africa. We therefor welcome the yesterday`s announcement that the Chamber of Mines will postpone its court application in respect of the Reviewed Mining Charter to allow parties the space to engage and find an amicable solution in resolving the impasse. It is through the spirit of ongoing engagement on critical matters that we shall be a nation at one.

Delegates to the 54th National Conference committed themselves to play a more proactive role in enhancing the values and integrity of the movement and society and to act decisively where there are breaches.

This year, as we celebrate the centenary of the birth of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, we shall intensify our efforts to realise his vision of a united South Africa in which all live in peace with equal rights and opportunities.

We shall renew our focus on comrade Mandela`s vision of a non-racial society in which the social and economic barriers that have separated black from white are broken down.

We shall redouble our efforts to build a society in which black poverty and white privilege are consigned to the past, replaced by respect, solidarity and non-racial equality.

We shall work to rekindle Madiba`s vision of a democratic society in which all citizens have equal opportunity to determine their own destiny.

While it is undeniable that the ANC has made significant strides in meeting the basic needs of the people, it is equally true that the legacy of colonialism and apartheid still remains deeply entrenched in our society. We therefore require a programme of fundamental and radical socio-economic transformation that will ensure that, in the words of President Mandela, political freedom goes side by side with `freedom from hunger, want and suffering.`

Fundamentally, we are determined to build an economy that reverse apartheid injustices and corrects continuing patterns of deprivation and inequality. It is for this reason that the resolutions adopted at our 54th National Conference of the ANC focused on the measures we need to take now to significantly advance growth, development and transformation.

What does this then mean for our work here in Parliament? For the remainder of this 5th Parliament, in the context of our New Dawn, renewed hope and optimism things need to continue to change in the direction we have been driving for the past two years. Kufanele zijike izinto ngempela.

The leadership we are calling for must be one of a principled nature across political parties, where ethics and integrity are the dominant factor, and not narrow party politics.

As parliament, we must not, and cannot, ever be found on the side of having done or allowed wrong doing under our watch. We as public representatives, we carry the hopes and aspirations of the people who elected us into office. We dare not fail them.

Public Representatives here in the People`s Tribune, should undertake their responsibilities with efficiency, diligence and integrity. By example we need to lead, instil a new discipline, to do things correctly, to do them completely and to do them timeously. So that the activist Parliament the ANC speaks of achieves even greater outputs that have a qualitative and positive impact on the lives of our people. Accountability and performance monitoring will become the order of the day.

The tasks set out in the State of the Nation Address will require even greater oversight and capacity if the objectives of the commitments outlined by the President are to be met. These commitments are not some abstract, reduced to fielding questions to the President on a quarterly basis. These commitments directly involve this Parliament to be able to execute its constitutional responsibilities to the maximum, through oversight, research, analysis of reports and connecting with our people at a far higher level.

This will have to be driven by empirical evidence, taking decisions on the balance of this empirical evidence, enhancing and cutting edge support to members in a manner that Parliament is a reflection of strategic value add as an arm of State.

For this to happen, Parliament cannot continue to be treated as a government department while it is in fact an arm of state. We are thus calling for the review of the funding methodology for all three arms of the state, wherein the funding of Parliament is not dependent on the very same Executive arm of state it ought to be conducting oversight over.

It is through the repositioning of Parliament as a strategic value add arm of State that we too can join into the hymn of the legendary Hugh Masekela of "Thuma Mina" especially because as Parliament, sithunyiwe ngumMzansi Afrika ukuthi sibahole to the promised land that Madiba envisioned.

The independence of Parliament as an arm of the state remains sacrosanct. We must therefore review the role of the State Security Agency in the business of parliament. Though something as minute as the assistance of the State Security Agency (SSA) during SONA might not be an issue in itself, it does however speak to the total and complete independence of Parliament as a separate arm of state.

The integrity of State bodies that report to Parliament must receive heightened and vigorous oversight so that they perform their function both in the interests of the State but also the masses of our people.

Within the era of hope and optimism, Parliament must bring an end to fruitless, wasteful and non-expenditure by government departments and entities. A total of R127, 979 billion in irregular expenditure was uncovered by the Auditor General from the 2013-2014 till the 2016-2017 financial years. These monies wasted by careless and corrupt people in government could have gone towards funding free higher education for the poor.

It is for this reason that Parliament will in the next coming weeks finalise legislation which seeks to give the Auditor General more teeth to decisively deal with those who waste our hard earned tax payers` monies, with an intention of having such monies recouped and those responsible being held personally liable.

The integrity of SARS, State Owned Enterprises and Government Departments must result in a more accountable, functioning and capable State. Thus, we welcome the interventions set out by the President to address some of the challenges experienced in our revenue collection entity, our SOEs and particularly welcome the announcement of the review of the size and configuration of government departments.

We have an outstanding task of finalising the configuration of Chapter Nine Institutions as set out in the 2007 report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Review of Chapter Nine Institutions which was led by the late comrade Kader Asmal. Given that these bodies report here in Parliament and that we have a specific office based in Parliament to support the Chapter Bodies, we need to be far more vigorous in scrutinizing what the Constitution expects from them.

The High Level Panel Report, headed by former President Kgalema Motlanthe, looking into legislation passed since 1994, has concluded its report and handed the report over to Parliament. We now have to deliberate on this and take decisions. There are profound recommendations and these require our collective thought.

In conclusion, the State of the Nation Address specifically tasks Parliament to speed up the conclusion on a number of pieces of legislation; for example, the MPRDA, the Expropriation Bill, revised legislation on the Auditor General and the Political Parties Funding Bill put forward as examples. We call upon these Committees to apply their minds as a matter of urgency.

We are encouraged by the President`s call in the State of the Nation Address that he will work with Parliament and all political parties in the interests of serving our people better and more qualitatively.

It is only through working together that we can realise a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society.

Let us unite behind a common vision of a South Africa of Nelson Mandela. A South Africa of Albertina Sisulu. Let their memories live on through our hard work and commitment to serving this great nation of ours.

In this we cannot fail.

Long Live the Undying spirit of Nelson Mandela, Long Live!!

Long Life the undying spirit of Albertina Sisulu, Long Live!!

« back