17 January 2012
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen of the media, for joining us at the Presidency’s first media briefing of the new year.
I hope you have all had a chance in the past few weeks to take a break from the hustle and bustle of politics and the Public Service, to enjoy time with your families and friends and to enjoy the country you write about for a living.
Thank you for coming all the way to Bela Bela to join us as we start our first Lekgotla – the most important strategic planning session of the National Executive.
The deliberations we will have here between today and Friday, 20 January 2012, will provide the basis for President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address to Parliament on February 9.
In terms of our national and political heritage, this Lekgotla attracts additional significance and meaning in the year in which the Movement that led the struggle against apartheid celebrates its Centenary.
We are called upon in this year to recommit ourselves to the values and vision of the founders of our Movement and to ensure that we create the non-racist, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa anticipated in the Freedom Charter and in our democratic Constitution.
We want this year to be cause for celebration, not just of the origins of our Movement, but also of the gains we have made since the majority of our people came to be led and represented in a democratic system since 1994.
Our deliberations here as Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Premiers, with representatives of local government and Directors-General as observers, will set the direction and pace for the work of government in the 2012/13 financial year.
At the heart of our deliberations is a mid-term assessment of this administration’s performance since coming into office in 2009.
That date sounds so distant now, because so much has happened in our country and the world since we all went to the polls nearly three years ago.
We are confident that on balance, most of what has happened has been good for South Africans from all walks of life. We therefore have a record on which we want to build as government.
From the point of view of ordinary citizens, there is great expectation that we should build on the best aspects of our performance and that we should respond clearly and swiftly in instances where we could do better or where we are letting people down.
As the National Executive, we have an established tradition and practice of being ruthless in our introspection and self-criticism of taking decisions that are in the best interests of all our people.
This Lekgotla will, no doubt, build on this tradition as we assess the past and prepare for the future.
We will look at the commitments arising from the President’s 2011 State of the Nation Address, which mobilised the nation around The Year of Jobs. Furthermore the Lekgotla will deliberate on progress made on the Infrastructure Development Plan and fighting crime and corruption.
As we do so, we will also conduct a mid-term review of the government priorities: safety, health, education, employment and rural development and land reform because these priorities if achieved will lay a firm basis to address challenges that the country is facing.
We will also assess the state of our economy in view of the continued global recession and will evaluate our response to and involvement in various international questions.
We will be meeting just a few weeks before the Square Kilometre Array project is awarded either to South Africa or Australia, and this is but one initiative among many that will make 2012 yet another eventful year in our maturing democracy.
For the benefit of all South Africans and international observers, we will issue a brief statement after the Lekgotla but you will understand that most of the details will be reserved for the State of the Nation Address.
Following the State of the Nation, the outcomes of our deliberations here at Bela Bela will be unpacked in detail at the usual series of media briefings that follow SONA, as well as other events where government will outline its programme to stakeholders.
Thank you all again. We will see you later in the week.
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Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)