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Minister in the Presidency: Planning, Monitoring & Evaluation

12 FEBRUARY 2019

Madame Speaker;

Honourable President;

Honourable Members;

Fellow South Africans.

I would like to congratulate the President on delivering a comprehensive Address, which has given dynamism and unity of purpose to the nation towards the South Africa we want.

He reminded us of the triumph of freedom over subjugation. Which triumph saw President Nelson Mandela spending his first night out of prison 29 years ago following 27 years of incarceration on Robben Island, with many of our martyrs and heroes. The SONA pointed out that in the South Africa we want women and men, young and old, people with disability, urban and rural, are all equal before the law, without regard to race, culture, religion or sexual orientation.

This very parliament is a monument of our triumph over discrimination and exclusion. It is truly a people's parliament which has integrated direct interaction with the people as part of its core business. Thus bringing to fruition the Freedom Charter's declaration that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people"[1]. It is indeed the representation of the beautiful tapestry of our diverse nation.

It is this parliament that adopted the Constitution of our beloved land, which has a Bill of Rights that has guided our democracy. It has found expression in key policies, programmes, and our laws including the National Development Plan. They all emphasise that no political democracy can survive if the mass of our people remain in poverty, without land, without tangible prospects for a better life"[2]. At the heart of all our efforts therefore is social transformation, for whatever investments we have made and will make are directed at changing the quality of lives for our people.

As part of the global family of nations, we are integrating Agenda 2063 and Agenda 2030 into our plans towards the South Africa and Africa we want. Which is united “prosperous and peaceful, driven by its own citizens, and representing a dynamic force in the global arena".

This is the promise of our nation and continent.

Madame Speaker, the President calls upon us to reflect on whether over the past 25 years we have built a society wherein the “injustices of the past no longer define the lives of the present."

That reflection, must contextualize our challenges and achievements in 25 years against 342 years of subjugation. We ought to celebrate the achievements we have made despite this adverse past.

The ANC has built a caring culture, based on the principles of Batho Pele over the past 25 years.

As Tata Madiba once said “there can been no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children".

That is why one of the first international agreements we signed was the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), in June 1994. In so doing we established the principle of our children having the first call on our resources.  Consequently; the ANC led government:

  1. Introduced free health care for pregnant mothers and children under the age of six within the first hundred days of it coming into government;

  2. Provided micronutrients to all women, so that we can ensure that all new born children are healthy and strong; and

  3. Introduced universal access to ARVs to 4.5 million South Africans thus virtually eliminating mother to child transmission of HIV.

These positively contributed to the decrease in maternal mortality to 138 per 100 thousand moving from 150 per 100 thousand in 1998[3].  Our efforts also contributed to the decrease in infant mortality from an estimated 53.2 deaths per 1000 live births in 2002 to 36.4 deaths per1000 live births in 2018. Life expectancy has also significantly increased from 54 years in 2005 to 64.2 years in 2018.

Indeed, we are “Putting children first" through the comprehensive first thousand day programme which provides psychosocial, nutritional, and parenting support, all of which are crucial in the cognitive development of a child.

We have also increased access to clean water to 88.6%, it was less than 60% in 1994 and access to electricity is now 84.6%, it was 36% in 1994.[4]

In line with the Freedom Charter we have ensured that there are “houses, security and comfort for all" by building 3.2 million houses since 1994.[5]

We remain unwavering in our commitment to restore the dignity and livelihoods of the most vulnerable, which is why we have increased social grant recipients from 3 million in 1994 to over 17 million.  This is to cushion the poor and vulnerable against the ravishing consequences of the persisting triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

The education and skills revolution we have embarked on is the fastest equalizer in accelerating our responses to the triple challenges.  Besides, it being the fastest equalizer, it is a major contributor in growing our economy.  With entrepreneurship development, the right training and skills as well as the harnessing of creative talents in critical areas such as the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) areas, we can move faster and steadier into the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Honourable members, this can only happen if we have a steady and quality pipeline from early childhood development and basic education. We therefore welcome the President's announcement for compulsory ECD learning.

This will complement the no fee paying school programme which has 10 million leaners and the school nutrition programme which benefits over 9 million leaners. We are a caring government which transports more than 6million poor children to school per day.  We are beginning to see the fruits of our investments with the improvements in key indicators such as:

  1. The improved matric pass rates, which has seen over 172 000 matric learners receiving a bachelors pass last year, whereas in 1994 there were only 90 000 such learners.

  2. Near universal coverage at 99% in access to education for children between the ages of 7 and 14 whereas it was 54% in 1994; and

  3. Literacy and numeracy rates of 94%, whereas it was 51% in 1994.

No economy or country can develop on just basic education, which is why the caring ANC government remains committed to the ideals of opening the doors of learning and culture, as established by the Freedom Charter.  To that end, we have steadily increased the number of graduates from under 58 thousand in 1994 to over 205 thousand.  This was largely facilitated for by our commitment to free education to the poor and the working class which has seen the NASFAS Fund grow from R70million in 1994 to nearly R15billion in 2018.

Honourable members, these are phenomenal achievements, by any measure, not many countries could not have achieved so much in so short a time. As Tata Madiba taught us, after climbing a hill you soon discover that there a many more hills to climb. We recognise that the forthcoming hills are many but not insurmountable, amongst them are the hills of persisting poverty, unemployment and inequality, as well as gender based violence.

Clearly, one of the hills to climb relates to accelerating efforts to improve the quality of our education and access to poor and working class learners and students, as well as the missing middle.

Our healthcare system requires a more focussed attention, and we are steadily advancing to universal access to health, through the National Health Insurance, whose Bill will come before these houses quite soon.

An important hill to overcome is the legacy of Apartheid Spatial Planning, which continues to confine the masses of our people in places far from their places of work and production, with the consequence of them spending over a third of their income on transport. These masses are denied the opportunity to spend quality time with their children and families.

Consequently, the ANC Manifesto advances integrated human settlements which bring economic and recreational activities into our townships, small towns and rural areas. 

Sports and recreation are also important components in taking our children off the streets and combatting crime as well as substance abuse. This requires that our schools and human settlements integrate sports and recreation.

As Tata Madiba said we have taken this moment to reflect on our achievements and challenges, indeed there have been missteps and many more hills to climb. Tata also teaches us that you can only have missteps if you walk or run.

These missteps have included the issues related to crime and corruption in the private and public sector. These have also included the distance from our people and inadequate responses from our public services.  All these including the work we are conducting with regards to the SOEs are directed at ensuring that we transform the quality lives of our people.

Mr President all these hills and missteps we need to correct, whether in the public and private sectors, require all of us to place our shoulders to the wheel.

We are also as excited as you are, that on the eve of the SONA you received the news of Total's game changing gas discovery. As we echo your well wishes we would suggest that consideration be placed on channelling some of the profits and finances of this catalytically find to a catalytic Sovereign Fund, so that this and future generations can benefit from our finite resources. We must ensure that the wealth of our nation holds benefits for all and not a few.

This is an important yardstick by which we are developing the next five year implementation plan of National Development Plan as well as the priorities set by the President in the State of the Nation Address. Our department has the responsibility of monitoring this plan. In monitoring and implementing this plan we dare not treat our people as passive recipients, but we must ensure that they become active participants in their own development.

Madame Speaker Gains there have been, missteps recognised and plans in abundance. It is as Nikolia Ostrovsky said in How the Steel was Tempered, I quote:

Man's dearest possession is life.  It is given to him once, and he must live it so as to feel no torturing regrets for wasted years, never know the burning shame of a mean and petty past, so live that, dying, he might say: all my life, all my strength were given to the finest cause in all the world --- the fight for the Liberation of Humankind.

I Thank you

[1] Freedom Charter

[2] The Reconstruction and Development Programme

[3] SA Demographic and Health Survey 1998, NCCMT 2010 and 2014/16

[4] Stats SA General Household Survey 2017, and the Reconstruction and Development Programme 1994

[5] ANC Manifesto 2019​

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