20 February 2003
"We have no doubt that our policies have been and are correct response to the practical reality we inherited. The changes taking place in our country attest to this.
The lives of our people are changing for better. Gradually we are moving away from the entrenched racial, gender and spatial rigidities of the past. Our economy is demonstrating a resilience and dynamism that is the envy of many across the world.
Truly, the tide has turned."
Thabo Mbeki - State of the Nation Address, 14 February 2003
We remember also that, it was during this month in 1993, that we lost that heroic giant of our struggle, comrade Chris Hani, whose memory continues to inspire all of us as we engage in united action to push back the frontiers of poverty.
In pursuance of the objective of the alleviation and finally, eradication of poverty, it is critical that we remain firmly focused on executing effectively our mandate of legislation, oversight and accountability. We must ensure that our programmes are geared and executed in a manner that guarantees that those who are entitled to state interventions of whatever nature, do indeed receive what is due to them.
Our constituency period must become our Imbizo period.
Coincidentally, it is during this month of April also, that the Congolese people, through their representatives in the Inter-Congolese Dialogue have, in signing the "Final Act," committed themselves to pursue the goal of peace, national unity and reconciliation. Accordingly, we join the Congolese people, and all the peoples of Africa in celebrating this historic event, convinced that it is under conditions of peace, democratic governance, that the goal of economic development and poverty eradication will be attainable.
It is this commitment to peace and democratic governance that informs us as we continue to reject unilateral interventions in global conflicts. In this regard, the war in Iraq continues to cause unnecessary loss of life and property, and may even help to sow the seeds for future instability and hatred.
Finally, during this April of 2003, we South Africans, are again in dialogue, debating the final Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, enhancing our understanding but not our vengeance, noting the need for reparation but not for retaliation, emphasizing the need for ubuntu as we continue the reconstruction of our society.
Let us, as the January 8th Statement instructs, "remain steadfast in our belief that what we set out to accomplish ninety years ago, the building of a democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa, and the genuine emancipation of our continent, will be achieved.
We are a nation that understands its past in ways that reflect the racial, class and gender divisions caused by the very past that we understand so differently.
The Hon. Tony Leon wrote in his weekly internet column: "However, one recent cause for optimism in South Africa is the fact that the national debate is shifting towards a discussion of the needs of the poor. The DA has played a critical role in that shift. This month we are bringing the debate to the floor of the National Assembly."What is it that causes us to understand ostensibly clear words such as "recent", "national debate", "shifting" and "needs of the poor" in ways that are so different. Perhaps the problem is that arrogance, born of the enjoyment of privilege over generations, has made some of us believe that debates are significant and meaningful only on condition that we not only participate in, but lead and dictate terms and direction of those debates.
One wonders what it is that the founders of the South African Native National Congress were doing in Mangaung in 1912 if not engaging in a national debate on what to do about the situation that the poor and oppressed majority of South Africans found themselves in. Equally the question arises what the drafters of the document Africans` Claims in South Africa were addressing themselves to in 1943 if not needs, aspirations and rights of the dispossessed and downtrodden majority of our county.
Surely the lengthy process of collecting and discussing the concerns and demands of the poorest of the poor across the length and the breadth of our country in preparation for the Congress of the People in Kliptown in 1955 constituted a national debate about the needs of the poor. Perhaps he believes that nothing of much consequence could have come from the poor and oppressed themselves debating their own needs in the absence of the privileged.
The Reconstruction and Developmental Programme was the product of the creativity and determination of millions of the poor and oppressed organised in the African National Congress, South African Communist Party, Congress of South African Trade Unions and South African National Civics Organisation to establish a framework for addressing not only the needs of the poor but for the reconstruction of our society as a whole.
Were the discussions that we conducted over a period of more than two years from 1994 to 1996 in the Constitutional Assembly not about the needs of the poor?
The Democratic Party distinguished itself in these debates by the strongest opposition to the clauses dealing with socio-economic and property rights.
Over the past ten years the work of this Parliament has been focussed on little other than setting a policy and legislative framework for addressing the needs of the poor and overseeing the implementation of such.
The role played by the Democratic Party in this decade long national debate has been to be at the forefront of opposing most if not all measures that seek to redress the effects of Apartheid, create a better life for all and to roll back the frontiers of poverty. We come back to the problem that we clearly understand our past in ways that are very different and hence we have different understandings of what measures are necessary to deal with that past.
The overwhelming majority of South Africans understood and experienced Apartheid as a comprehensive system of institutionalised racial oppression that permeated every aspect of their lives.
The indigenous people were ruled as a conquered and colonised people.
It was based on the conquest and dispossession of the indigenous people of their land and its wealth. Access to 87% of the decisive sectors of productive land was racially determined by law to the advantage of the Whites. The dominant White minority held a monopoly over economic power - the land, mines, industry and commerce. As a result the propertied classes were virtually exclusively White. It was a system that compelled the indigenous people to be a source of cheap labour.
The above was maintained amongst others by a repressive state machinery that conducted a reign of terror against the majority of South Africans.All of this was rationalised on the basis of the racial superiority of the Whites.
National oppression pervaded all aspects of life for blacks in general and Africans in particular. Economic, social and developmental indicators - such as poverty and underdevelopment, exclusion from education, clean water, electricity, food and health; low incomes, low levels of skills, and a generally unsafe environment characterised the day-to-day life experience of the majority of South Africans.
Apartheid colonialism also meant the systematic suppression of the talents, creativity and capacity of women to play their role in the ordering of the nation`s affairs. Much more than any other sector, colonial oppression and a universal patriarchal culture, including socially constructed "gender roles", conspired to degrade women and treat them as sub-human. These gender roles permeate all spheres of life, beginning with the family, and are entrenched by stereotypes, dominant ideas, cultures, beliefs, traditions and laws. Yet in his speech during this year`s State of the Nation Debate Mr. Tony Leon boldly asserts: "But the South African reality is that for millions of our fellow citizens, life is no better now that it was in 1994. For many people, in spite of political freedom, life is actually worse."
Perhaps the problem is that some of us still do not regard others as human beings of equal humanity and worth. Because when the DA through Mr. Leon says that life is worse for many people than it was under Apartheid they are saying the following:
They are saying that it was less offensive to the dignity of some people to be treated as sub-human on the basis of their race or gender than for other people.
They are saying that it was less humiliating for some people to be treated as foreigners in the land of their birth than for other people.
They are saying that it was less fundamental for some people to be denied the right to vote than for other people.
They are saying that was less hurtful for some parents to see the potential of their children being wasted than for others.
They are saying that it was less traumatic for some people to live in fear of arbitrary arrest, detention, torture and assassination than for others.
They are saying that it was less heartrending for some people to die exiled from the land of their ancestors than for others.
They are saying that some people were less attached to the land and homes that they were forcibly removed from that others.
They are saying that it was less frustrating for some people to have their entire human potential restricted through Bantu education, job reservation, pass laws, the Group Areas Act, the Land Act, the Immorality and Mixed Marriages Acts than for others. In short the DA is saying that is was normal and not very much out of the ordinary for Africans to be regarded as savages and to be treated as such.
They downplay the enormity of the reign of terror that was perpetrated against all facets of the humanity of the majority of South Africa`s people.
They ask: "Have conditions improved in South Africa since 1994."
Since 1994 the government led by the ANC, with the involvement and support of the overwhelming majority of South Africans, black and white, has ensured that:
486 new clinics were built many in rural areas;
3, 8 million electricity grid connections have been established;
1,4 million hectares of land have been redistributed and 512000 hectares of land have been restituted; 26 000 emerging black farmers have been assisted;
4,5 million learners are receiving meals under the Primary School Nutrition
Year on year our national budget has been directing more and more resources to social spending.
We live in a country where we can truly say that: "South Africa Belongs to All Who Live in It, Black and White."
We live in a country in which the rule of law and the supremacy of our Constitution are respected.
We live in a country where we can be proud to be proud South Africans, united in our diversity, working together to create a better life for all our people. This is not to suggest for one moment that the road ahead is not still very long or that all South Africans have benefited equally, or that mistakes have not, are not and will not be made in the process of pushing back the frontiers of poverty.
Yes conditions have improved in South Africa. Unfortunately the arrogance of some of those who have consistently tried to block these improvements has not.
During questions to the President, Ms. Raenette Taljaard asserted that race is being displaced by class as the fundamental dividing line in our society.
This statement is based on a wrong conception of the relationship between racial oppression and class exploitation in South Africa that can only set back the cause of social transformation.
Have our own homegrown Tories become champions of the working class? Hardly. Mr. Leon says in his speech during the State of the Nation Debate:
"We must focus on the welfare of the individual human being.
Not a particular race of human beings, or a class of human beings, or "the masses." No - we must focus on the woman, the man, the child, each created uniquely in the image of God."
But the stubborn fact, consistently denied by the DA, is that those of us who were oppressed by Apartheid were not oppressed as individuals neither were those of us who were advantaged by Apartheid advantaged as individuals.
We were advantaged and disadvantaged as members of certain races, genders and classes.
What does the DA mean when it says that "race does not matter"?
It means that the grotesquely distorted patterns of ownership of, control over and access to socio-economic power along racial lines must be accepted as normal or incidental at best.
What we must be suspicious of are those black entrepreneurs who in the face of tremendous obstacles are slowly de-racialising our economy - with or without assistance from the State. They are characterised by the DA as an elitist group of corrupt, nepotistic cronies.
Put simply the DA is saying that to be black and to be anything other than poor is inherently morally suspect.
To paraphrase the President:
In our specific situation, what this means is that those who are fittest to survive will survive. Those who are best able will qualify on the basis of merit. Those whose race defined them as sub-human must now have no access to state support, which state must, after all, retreat to allow those who have the means to survive and dominate, to dominate.
The DP hopes that by propagating these distortions they will succeed in their strategic objective to undermine the popular support of our movement especially among the African people and to persuade the national minorities to turn against us.
They hope that by consistently attempting to discredit our policies and arguing that they are ineffective in terms of solving the problems facing our country and people, they will succeed to persuade the majority to abandon our movement and switch its allegiance to political forces that oppose the creation of a better life for all.
These distortions betray the contempt and disdain the DA has for the poorest of the poor. They think that they can continue to ride on the backs of those they exploited in the past by telling them untruths.
The African National Congress has always respected the dictum: "Tell no lies, claim no easy victories."
The struggle to achieve a better life for all will be a long and difficult one.
However our policies are correct, a solid foundation has been laid, significant progress has been made in a relatively short time. The pace of delivery is speeding up. The tide has turned. With the support and involvement of the masses of our people we will succeed just as we succeeded in defeating Apartheid.
Born in an extremely rural area and grew up under hard conditions, Ntuli refuses to forget his roots.He hails from the North Coast region of KwaZulu-Natal and strongly believes that MPs must listen to people and work with them on a continuous basis.
Ntuli is of the view that the ANC, through its deployees, must close the leadership vacuum created by taking state power. "Our streets are now occupied by other forces and are confusing our people. We pass laws and do not allocate enough time to interpret, explain and monitor their implementation. If we do not do this (close the vacuum), our opponents will do it negatively."
He graduated at the Madadeni College as a teacher in 1979, after being actively involved in student politics. He started a career in KwaMbonambi as a history teacher and was expelled when authorities suspected he was teaching pupils politics. During this time he was already a fully-fledged underground activist, recruiting for Umkhonto We Sizwe.
In 1982 Ntuli joined the trade union movement. He became a shop steward and a negotiator.
In 1989 he was elected chairperson of COSATU in the Northern Natal region. He held this position until his election as ANC chairperson in the same region in 1993. He is one of longest serving regional chairpersons of the ANC - this being the tenth year.
One comrade in his region attributes this fact to the way in which he was able to unite a divided region, which he inherited after winning the chairpersonship. He did this by not isolating anyone irrespective of how they had voted. Ntuli`s region in the early 90s was a very tense one, and his tactical sensitivity was required to ensure that former ANC underground units disarmed peacefully. Ntuli joined the National Assembly in 1999. Had he chosen to pursue another career after completing his masters in management at UCT in 1997, he would be earning far more than what he is earning as an MP. He believes in a continuous interaction between the ANC and the trade union movement at all levels to avoid contradictions.
The oversight role played by MPs is an important area that must be strengthened in order to ensure efficient service delivery. People appreciate talking to MPs and, as he puts it, "getting explanations direct from the horse`s mouth". He believes that the ANC needs to strengthen its machinery in rural areas, and that we need to particularly explain social grants, public works programs and land destribution, using our MPs and councilors.
Empangeni Richards Bay, Melmoth and Nkandla form part of his constituency, and the whole region is predominantly rural. Ntuli believes that continuous contact with people is critical. He does not appreciate some cadres who tend to visit their constituencies very rarely and forget about their responsibilities until elections time. This dents the ANC`s name in the public domain.
Ntuli is impatient with "neutral behaviour" by some comrades, who are shy to talk boldly to communities in the name of the ANC once elected as councilors and MPs. He also does not appreciate those cadres who tend to visit their constituencies very rarely and only remember them when it is election time.
Ntuli`s area is still dominated by the IFP. The IFP controls all six local municipalities, including the district council. Ntuli identifies this control as a serious hinderance to development, and sees an ANC electoral victory as a critical priority.
Roads have been built where there were much needed - KwaBiyela,Mpembeni , KwaDlangezwa and Ntuze. Through Mhlathuze Service Authority four regional tribal authorities have access to clean water. Lot of new model of double storey schools have been built in his constituency.
Enseleni area will be blessed with a new clinic of its kind during this April and Catherine Booth at Matigulu is being renovated. Electrification is at 95% in most areas. A master plan is being finalised for remote areas. Two big companies one from China and India are set to boost job creation in the area. A new high security prison, Qalakabusha was built.
Asked about what he would like to see the ANC doing as a back up for its MPs, Ntuli recommends a "strategic intervention on problems raised by MPs from their constituencies and to speed up the resolution of such issues". His constituency wishes that more jobs could be created, skills transferred to youth, infrastructure development and the registration of people in need of grants
Sterkspruit has 79 villages found next to the Orange River.
It is a predominantly African area populated by the Xhosa, Sotho and Hlubi people in the main. Like all African communities built under apartheid, the place consists of mud huts, scattered fields and very remote.
For Majodina, though, living conditions have improved for these communities since 1994. "People know today who is government because ministers and MPs have visited this isolated area time and again. This way, people of Sterkspruit have been able to communicate their wishes to government in person".
The advent of democracy has also meant a number of meaningful changes for about 64 villages around the area. Projects that were installed soon after 1994 include water reticulation, sanitation and toilets.
A further 20 new schools have been built.
In 2001 President Thabo Mbeki opened a multi purpose centre, which houses all government departments. A milestone of this centre is that people no longer need to travel 430km to apply for Ids, birth and death certificates, because these documents are now issued locally and instantly.
Justice Minister Pennuel Maduna opened the first court in the area.
Majodina has no illusions about the difficulty of the task facing the ANC -reversing the legacy of apartheid and pushing back the frontiers of poverty. But for her there is no other organisation, other than the ANC, that is better positioned today to pull this country together. Born on Christmas Eve in 1968, Majodina joined the NCOP in 1999 while she was still serving as ANC Youth League treasurer-general. Having been baptised in politics with the likes of Peter Mokaba and Rapu Molekana, she was detained under the notorious Internal Security Act by the apartheid government.
Her participation and activism in student politics in Soweto became an eye opener - a revelation around the challenges facing youth and women of South Africa by that time.
Majodina is proud of the strides which the ANC-led government made in addressing development and reconstruction in isolated and poverty-stricken communities in the country. For instance, 40 pre-schools and 12 community halls have been built in her constituency. Moreover, 20 sheer shelters have been erected for farmers to use.
A major trump card for the area was the upgrading of the Empilisweni hospital.
As though all these projects were not enough, the department of agriculture and land affairs went into a joint venture with the Land Bank in a project aimed at providing access to land for this small farming community. Government has also successfully electrified 70% of households - a major victory for delivery.
Talking about immediate challenges, Majodina mentions the need for major registration drive for grants as 80% of the community relies on them because of unemployment. Secondly, roads need to be tarred and the backlog in infrastructure has to be attended to. Although certain areas were given taps, there is still no water in the area. Government needs to complete the electrification of the remaining 30% of households. The fight against stock theft needs to be intensified and police stations have to be improved.
Another project in the pipeline is the tarring of the road between Lesotho and Sterkspruit, to be started any time from now.
Majodina`s average day entails conducting a planning session with her constituency. This involves random visits to government departments and households to greet and take concerns and offer help and advice.
Every three months she meets with departments in her constituency and plan for quarterly Imbizos. Delegates to imbizos are councillors and government officials from various departments. 20 delegates per ward are invited to come and express concerns on behalf of their wards citizens. There are 20 wards in the Senqu municipality council. Here Councillors, officials of government, Majodina and an MPL work as a single unit.
Her constituency office serves as an advice centre for a range of issues including labour, legal matters, household and personal issues. Majodina`s secret for success lies in keeping your ear on the ground and working with communities.
We have also developed our budgetary processes in order to confront these challenges. Two issues have been prevalent in the process; the need for transparency, participation and also that decisions that are taken should produce results. As a democratic government under the leadership of the African National Congress our sense of judgement on these issues has and will always play a central role.
After the 1994 democratic elections, we inherited an archaic, corrupt, uncompetitive public finance system, with a huge debt and unsustainable deficit. Tough and decisive decisions were taken to stabilise the public finances, and that also led to declines in public expenditures, including critical areas of social expenditure and social security. So far the stabilization process has created more room and space, since resources and other related expenditures could now be directed to development and other related empowerment initiatives, than entirely servicing the debt. The philosophy of the 2003 budget is a very key one. It is a philosophy of freedom through empowerment, capacity building and development. From the beginning our struggle to be free has not only entailed political freedom but also the right to human dignity through decent education, the right to shelter, the right to clean water, the right to be safe and secure also as children and as women from any body harm and the right to better health care, amongst other things.
Chapter Two of the Constitution, Act 108 of 1996, on the Bill of Rights also embodies these principles and norms on socio economic rights that we should always strive to realise and achieve them within available resources.
In the 2003 Medium Term Budget Expenditure proposals, the minister complements these norms so that the Constitution becomes a living and experienced document. In this case the budget is also centred on the need to address poverty and vulnerability, with Social Assistance Grants as a critical income support to vulnerable groups, meaning the elderly, young children and people with disabilities. In this case as one of the largest redistributive programmes, with effective from April 2003
Complementing the Child Support Grant for example, Children receive further priority in the expansion of the integrated nutrition programme, with an increase from R592 million this year to R809 million in 2003/4 and further to R1 042 million in 2005/6. These adjustments to social grants accommodate increases in the recent hikes in prices of basic food.
The budget proposal also pays attention to our health services. In terms of the budget proposals;
Our role as elected representatives also becomes critical and necessary. This is also through existing accountability frameworks, shared norms and values such as Ubuntu so that we all work to together in the attainment and consolidation of our democracy and freedom.
" The call for African century for Peace reflects the ideals and prayers of millions of Africans who experienced different forms of conflict and deprivation." - Thandi Modise, Chairperson Defence Portfolio Committee.
" The ANC led government has indeed already taken great strides in fight against corruption. There can be no comparison between the institutions in place and the steps being taken now to confront corruption as opposed to the position prior to the ANC taking power nine years ago." - John Jeffrey, Deputy President Parliamentary Counsel.
" The people that claim to love us, that proclaim to love our people, are luring all of us into the grave. They de-emphasise prevention and profile highly, treatment. So what happens a psychological state of normality is created, it`s like we can live normally, and there is no problem, and a false hope is created to the effect that, should the problem arise, there will be treatment." Nkosinathi Nhleko, Chief Whip.
" For those who actually live through and with the consequences of war, peace and stability are not mere abstractions. As the "Chicken hawks" , bar one , who lead the Bush administration can testify, the sons of millionaires, the super-wealthy and other members of elites can usually buy their way out of fighting wars. The poor pay for wars with the sweat, tears,blood and the corpses of their young. In addition they also pay taxes! When funds are diverted from social spending to defence and security,it is the poor who suffer. " State of the nation address debate - Pallo Jordan, Chairperson of Foreign Affairs.
" We remember the conversations we had just a few years earlier, in our
cells, in exile , or late at night in safe houses - our yearning to return
home; our yearning for freedom ; nostalgic reminiscence of our beautiful country.
We often spoke about wanting to be teachers or lecturers one day or nurses or
doctors, or lawyers, or journalists. Some wanted to serve in the new Defence
Force, or the Police Force, and some , like myself, even wanted to go back to
farming one day. But I do not recall a single person saying that what they really
wanted was to be a Member of Parliament one day. Yet here we are, ten years
later, and it presents us with a unique opportunity to take the struggle for
a better life for all a few steps further every day of our lives." Derek
"There has never been an indication that there is policy failure, there might be a question of not so successful policy implementation. We need to therefore ensure that the policy implementers have a share vision with the policy makers and owners." Johnny Mohlala, MP.
" I would like to inform you that whenever I go, people ask me what work am I doing? I tell them I `m a Member of Parliament. Then they ask who or what party put me there. I say the ANC and I also inform them that only the ANC would put someone who is Deaf in parliament. I have yet to see other political parties follow the ANC`s lead." WS Newhoudt- Druchen, MP.
About 6,7 million children stand to be protected from the most crippling effects of poverty for the first 14 years of their young lives. This government extension must be supported.
The extended child support grant declares that every child deserves a chance in life. It remains the main objective of the ANC that all ills caused by centuries of apartheid be reversed and that all those who live in SA deserve the status of full citizenship.
This child grant is a measure of how far we have moved since 1994, when the welfare applied only to a minority of children and effectively excluded those who needed it most.
At the time when the ANC took over government, the old age pension was by far the most widespread social grant among the African majority. Today, child support grant beneficiaries increased substantially
Our country spends about R19 billion on social security every year. Assistance on this scale is a rare achievement for a developing country. The challenge now is to sustain it.
Of course social security is not the ANC`s only poverty alleviation strategy. More than R4,5 billion has been allocated to other relief initiatives in the last five years.
In the short history of the child support grant we have learnt that managing social security is not a cold administrative process. Social mobilisation is a strategy that must be used The ANC has made civil society organisations valued partners in grant administration and has shown little patience with unnecessary red tape.
In fact, there are still numerous problems in the administration of social grants and one of the most significant challenges in the period ahead is the creation of a National Social Security Agency to centralise and improve delivery. Among the agency`s priority social security tasks would be to:
Once the National Social Security Agency is established, the various government departments for social development will be reduced in size and simplified in terms of their specific functions. The challenges of social development - to relieve poverty and to create systems to protect and assist groups with special needs - will become the focal point of these departments.
This law will take account of all of our vulnerable children. This is a historic bill, which will for the first time comprehensively address issues of children. None of the previous laws on children admitted the scope and size of the problem of vulnerable children. We now have an historic opportunity to create a legal framework to ensure that no child is without the protection of adults and no child goes without shelter, food, health care and education.
Other grants which government provides include the old age grant, disability grant, war veterans grant, care dependency grant, foster child grant, child support grant, grant in aid, and the social relief of distress grant. These grants are aimed at alleviating poverty and improve the standard of living of all South Africans