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Author : Jacob Zuma

Annual address by President Jacob Zuma to the NCOP "Taking Parliament to the People" session De Aar, Northern Cape

8 November 2012

Honourable Chairperson of the NCOP, Mr Mahlangu,
Hon Deputy Chairperson Ms Memela,
Ministers and Honourable Premier,
Deputy Ministers and MECs,
Honourable Members of the NCOP.,
National and provincial chairpersons of SALGA,
Chairperson of the provincial house of traditional leaders,
Provincial Speakers,
MPs and MPLs,
Mayors and councillors,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen

It is indeed a great pleasure for me to participate at this sitting of the NCOP at Pixley ka Seme district.This region is proudly named after a former President of the ANC who believed in and worked for African unity, freedom and advancement. We are inspired by the memory of this great leader in this important NCOP programme of "Taking Parliament to the People".

Pixley Ka Isaka Seme, in his essay "Native Union``, motivating for the establishment of the ANC in 1911, said;

"I repeat, co-operation is the key and the watchword which opens the door, the everlasting door which leads into progress and all national success. The greatest success shall come when man shall have learned to cooperate, not only with his own kith and kin but with all peoples and with all life``.

We view the annual sitting of the NCOP away from Cape Town as an embodiment of the type of cooperation that Pixley ka Seme referred to, cooperation between parliament and the executive as well as both arms of the state and the people.

The initiative is a practical example of the transformation that took place in 1994.

Democracy brought with it a new way of doing things, including ensuring dynamic contact with the people where they live. It is remarkable that all three arms of the State, the executive, judiciary and the legislature emphasise the need to promote accessible governance. It is one of the key achievements of our democracy.

As the executive, we want to continue being a government that goes to the people and which is always with them, in both good and difficult times. Those who forget this principle do not belong in the public service.

Honourable Chairperson,

We meet just a week after the release of the Census 2011 results, which indicated that great strides have been made in improving the lives for many South Africans.

Access to basic services such as piped water, electricity and refuse removal have more than doubled over the period 1996 to 2011. It is good news indeed as it demonstrates that working together we have done a lot to improve the quality of life of all.

Locally, the 2011 Census indicates that 78 percent of households in the Northern Cape have piped water inside their houses or dwellings, while 19,3 percent of households have water outside their households and 2,6 percent have no access to piped water. Eighty-five percent of households use electricity for lighting, a three percent increase since the last census. Eighty-four percent use electricity for cooking and 62 percent for heating.

These basic necessities, water and electricity, contribute a lot to changing people`s lives.

Honourable Members

It is also encouraging that the average household incomes have improved significantly for the black population.

However, the Census also revealed that despite achievements, the disparities between rich and poor, urban and rural, black and white still persists.

The income of the average white household remains six times that of the average African household. The average annual African household income stands at R60 613 and that of a white family is at R365 164.

In the African population, close to 1.9 million households have no income at all. Our emphasis therefore on intensifying the fight against the triple challenge of poverty, unemployment and inequality is correct. We must also deepen the delivery of our progressive economic and social transformation programmes.

These are the programmes that have yielded the positive results revealed by the Census, we have seen their effectiveness.

These programmes include our innovative social protection programme, which provides an income to 15 million people the majority of whom are vulnerable children. Many would not be able to put food on the table were it not for government social grants. We will continue to strive to build a caring government and a caring society, working with all our people.

Honourable Chairperson,

This week has been about providing the people with an opportunity to speak to their leaders and government. We have heard loudly and clearly, some of the issues raised by the community of De Aar and surroundings this week.

These issues resonate with those raised by other communities during the year, as we visited many areas to monitor service delivery as part of the Presidential Siyahlola monitoring programme.

An average picture arising from the meeting in De Aar and other public engagements reflects the following as common issues raised:

  • The efficiency levels in the delivery of basic services must improve, and officials must be more caring and empathetic.
  • We must improve in education at both basic and tertiary levels.
  • We must improve on safety and security including the fight against the abuse and attacks on women and children.

We have been asked to utilise the Expanded Extended Public Works Programme and the Community Works Programme to assist more families, in light of the unemployment situation in the country.

Government has been asked to improve the transportation of learners to school due to long distances. In other provinces parents informed us that school transport is also a security issue.

If children walk long distances they are vulnerable to sexual assaults. It is tragic that we have such heartless and shameless people in our communities who attack children in this manner.

The communities also urge us to improve communication between Councillors and communities and also generally between government departments and the people. We have also been asked to improve the delivery of water in communities as well as the supply of electricity.

We agree with you Honourable Chairperson that the public service has to be sensitive and responsible to these humble requests from our people.

Indeed government is already responding to some of the issues raised.

On basic education, the provincial education department has noted the request for a special school in the district and in this regard, the Department is currently upgrading Alpha Primary School. It will be converted into the first complete Full Service School in the Province.The school will be able to accommodate learners with barriers to learning that need Level 1 to 3 support.

The education department has also assessed Inclusive Education as a whole, including Special Schools, and this has been declared a priority.

Therefore, the skewed geographical spread of special schools will be addressed. The province has one School of Skill currently. Another five Schools of Skill will be established, one in each district.

This will be done over the next five years. Learners who experience moderate to mild cognitive barriers will be accommodated in these schools. They will acquire not only academic knowledge but also practical skills. The people have also requested an improvement in health care delivery.

They raised the shortage of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health care professionals as a critical challenge. The Department of Health in the province has informed me that they are attending to the matter of the scarcity of health professionals especially doctors, pharmacists and professional nurses.

They provide bursaries to medical students and bind them with a contract to work back the period that they have studied. The Department is also recruiting foreign doctors and to get more community service doctors for 2013.

Currently, most of the private doctors in the district already do sessions at hospitals, community health clinics and hospitals, which alleviates the shortages.

Another critical challenge facing most municipalities in this District is a lack of human resource capacity as a result of unfilled vacancies and lack requisite skills in municipalities.

The Department of Cooperative Governance is attending to this matter and is working with the municipalities to fill the vacancies in order to improve service delivery.

I am informed that as a result of staff shortages impacting on service delivery, a number of municipalities such as Umsobomvu and Renosterberg have faced service delivery protests relating to the provision of water and housing.

It is therefore imperative to fill the vacant posts with staff who will provide the much needed services to the people.

Honourable Chairperson,

We are pleased that some infrastructure development projects are being implemented which will improve the lives of the people. This will include the construction and paving of roads. The Phillipstown project has already started while the Petrusville project will start this month.

In Thembelihle Municipality the projects that are being implemented according to local authorities, include an upgrade of the Main Sub-station Electrification, Bulk Water Supply and the Upgrading Water Purification.

Other projects include the Expanded Public Works Programme project of cleaning cemeteries and roads.

The Project to install Electricity has been rolled out and currently stands at 60 percent of implementation. In some municipalities there are also Housing Projects that are ongoing.

Currently, a total of 4563 houses are being built in Emthanjeni, Siyathemba, Umsobomvu, Renosterberg, Ubuntu, Kareeberg, Siyancuma and Thembelihle.

Other projects include the installation of electricity in 130 households by Eskom at Griekwastad.

Honourable chairperson, for many of our people, government is the only institution that they can run to for help. Thus, we cannot be found wanting or non-responsive. That is why we established the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency, to keep track of delivery.

I have directed the Department to monitor progress in all these projects and keep me informed.

Honourable chairperson,

The democratic government developed a service delivery culture that is meant to put people first, called Batho Pele. That is our fundamental basis for building a caring government and a caring society.

Our Batho Pele programme is founded on eight principles as follows:

1. Consultation: Citizens should be consulted about the level and quality of public services that they will receive, and where possible, should be given a choice about services that are offered;
2. Service Standards: Citizens should be told what level and quality of public service they will receive so that they are aware of what to expect;
3. Access: All citizens have equal access to the services to which they are entitled;
4. Courtesy: Citizens should be treated with courtesy and consideration;
5. Information: Citizens should be given full, accurate information about public services that they are entitled to;
6. Openness and Transparency: Citizens should be told how national and provincial departments are run, how much they cost, and who is in charge;
7. Redress: If the promised standard of service is not delivered, citizens should be offered an apology, a full explanation and speedy and effective remedy; and when complaints are made, citizens should receive a sympathetic, positive response;
8. Value for money: Public Services should be provided economically and efficiently in order to give citizens the best value for money.

We expect all political leaders in government in all spheres and also all public servants to know the Batho Pele principles by heart and abide by them. The implementation of these principles by the whole of government nationwide would result in a dramatic improvement in the way government delivers services.

We would achieve the goal of a caring, responsive government faster.

We urge that all government departments in all three spheres of government should popularise the Batho Pele principles and ensure compliance with them.

We will benefit as well from Parliament`s oversight in this regard, as it monitors the implementation of Batho Pele.

We have a joint responsibility as the arms of the state to build the type of society envisaged in the Constitution, working together in harmony as independent and equal partners.

We have noted that many communities become frustrated and resort to unacceptable means of communication such as violent protests when they do not receive the sympathetic response they feel they are entitled to from government.

We will strive to keep open channels of communication between government and the people to eliminate the reasons for street protests. We urge the three spheres of government, local, provincial and national to assist us in this regard.

Honourable Chairperson

Allow me to also point out our serious concern about what happened in this province recently, where some communities prevented children from going to school for months because of service delivery complaints such as the need for a road.

There is no need to destroy the future in order to correct the present. I trust that we will ensure that two way communication prevents such occurrences in future.

As part of promoting a response and caring society, we urge people to use the existing platforms of communication and engagement with government.

These include the following:

  • Ward Committees.
  • Community Policing Forums.
  • Community Development Forums.
  • Community Development Workers establishments.
  • Parliamentary Constituency Offices.
  • Parliamentary Democracy Offices.

This is an addition to contacting government departments provincially and nationally directly.

Honourable Chairperson,

We assure this august House that we will continue to change the living conditions of our communities for the better. We will not shy away from our responsibility of reversing the painful experiences of the past, and to build communities that people can be proud to call home.

Honourable Members

This has been a fruitful interaction and a successful celebration of our democracy and cooperation between parliament, government and the people.
We thank the NCOP for organising this annual session.

Working together, let us build a caring and prosperous society!

I thank you.