Speech by Deputy Minister of Communications Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams during the Debate on the State of the Nation Address

19 June 2014

Honourable Speaker and Chairperson of the NCOP
Honourable President Jacob Zuma
Honourable Deputy President
Ministers and Deputy Ministers
Honourable Members
Fellow South Africans

INTRODUCTION

It is an honour for me to take part in this year’s debate on the State of the Nation Address. This debate takes place within the context of our country celebrating Youth Month.

This is a month in which we remember and pay tribute to the heroism and the transformative power of young people. We are reminded that through their extra-ordinary act of bravery, young people have made an enormous contribution in advancing our struggle for national liberation. Their actions changed the course of history!

Today, as we engage in the struggle to defeat unemployment, poverty and inequality, we count young people among the main contributors and those who stand to gain the most from this struggle. Indeed, young people continue to be a central part of a national effort to move South Africa Forward!

Madam Speaker!

Allow me to quote Our icon in his address to hospital workers on 16 April 1998, Tata Nelson Mandela said, “Whether you change the linen or stitch up wounds, cook the food or dispense the medicines, it is in your hands to help build a public service worthy of all those who gave their lives for the dream of democracy.”

These words by the founding father of our nation are in line with our Constitution which directs us to create a public service that is broadly representative, accountable, and responsive to the needs of all South Africans. The one that upholds high standards of professional ethics and a public service that is development oriented. Today, maybe more than ever, we — as a nation and as a state — are faced with difficult and complex challenges. These challenges require principled public servants who are motivated by the common good and effective service delivery rather than personal enrichment.

PROUD OF OUR PAST, CONFIDENT OF THE FUTURE

Honourable Speaker, during the previous elections, last month, where every party was given an opportunity to test its strength, the people of South Africa spoke and they spoke loudly and clearly. They gave the ANC an overwhelming mandate to govern this country for the next five years and to continue changing their lives for the better. They have said to us continue to build on the good work you have done in the past 20 years of freedom. To us this is an indication that the ANC is still the people’s choice and a true custodian of the aspirations of most South Africans as opposed to what those in denial believe. Those that behave like Thomas in the bible who refused to believe Jesus Christ had risen in so much that he had to put his finger in the wound were again rejected by our masses. Somlomo, uKhongolose ufunwa  ngabantu baseMzantsi Afrika BONKE.

Our victory in these elections is living proof that; no amount of lies and misinformation can bury the truth. Our people know very well that itis only in Hon Maimane's world that cows eat chickens because in the real world NO HERBIVORE can turn over night and become a CARNIVORE. As a person who had aspirations to become a PREMIER I expected the highest degree of articulation but all he did was to be a cry baby lamenting over spilt milk.  The ANC moered you fair and square in Gauteng and in SA. The truth is that; twenty years into our freedom and democracy, South Africa is now a better place to live in and we indeed have a good story to tell!

Honourable Speaker as the ANC we are proud of our past. This includes our history and heritage of struggle for liberation as well as our record of delivery since 1994. Equally, we approach the future with confidence that our plans and policies will match the demands placed on us by and deliver an even better life for our people. It is for this reason that we will continue to say the ANC Lives and the ANC Leads! CREATING AN EFFICIENT AND CAPABLE PUBLIC SERVICE.

Honourable Speaker, as the ANC we are proud that in the last twenty years we have made significant progress in transforming an undemocratic, unrepresentative, fragmented public service, serving largely a minority into a unitary, non-racial, non-sexist public service answerable and representative of all South Africans.

Compatriots, we are called on to imagine a different future in 2030 - away from our past that was both ugly and repulsive, and the present that threatens to mortgage the future of our children and country. The future envisaged by the National Development Plan and our Constitution is full of promise, hope and unbridled possibilities. All citizens of this country must play an important role in ensuring that together we succeed in moving South Africa forward. This clarion call to move this country forward cannot be achieved without the participation of our people.

We must know that Public Administration is the infrastructure of the state and that public servants are the people who deliver the services that the state provides. According to the Constitution, public administration must be governed by democratic values and principles that include the promotion and maintenance of high standard of professional ethics, the promotion of an efficient, economic and effective use of resources must be promoted and a public administration that is development-oriented and accountable amongst other principles.

Now, 20 years into our democracy, we are still trying to consolidate this infrastructure, because if we don’t get it right, none of our plans for this country will be deliverable. Honourable Members, as Honourable Minister Sisulu once said "(open quote) the kind of society and the kind of government that we dreamt of is poignantly and exceptionally well documented in the Freedom Charter. These are the dreams that have kept Nelson Mandela so resilient and so phenomenally strong. The dreams of a democratic, efficient, capable and a caring state, driven by committed cadres of government. Cadres who burn with even a fraction of the passion of what our founding fathers have left us, in order to carry on this dream of a world where we have redressed all our past injustices and can strive to create a better life for our people. A dream that one day we will be able to realise for all our people and the society we fought for."

The National Development Plan represent the vision and aspirations of our people, it is important that all public servants gear themselves to lead in the implementation of this Plan. This plan has been broken down into the Medium Term Strategic Framework 2014-2019. The success of this vision can only be determined by the capacity and ability of the state to fast track implementation at all levels from National, Provincial and Local level supported by all other institutions of Government. For this to be effective we need a transformed, efficient and corrupt free public service led by public servants whose only preoccupation is meeting the expectations of the public and exceed them. This, Honourable Members, will not happen when South Africans tolerate bad service and play no active role in evaluating and monitoring the implementation of Government programmes. This calls for active citizenship as envisioned by the NDP.

Fellow South Africans we are aware of the challenges consistently carried by the Auditor General and the Public Service Commission in their reports. All these are indicative of serious governance challenges that need to be addressed urgently. Measures to address these challenges are clearly articulated in the NDP. In this regard the NDP calls for a clear division of roles between the political and administrative leadership; the development of specialist professional skills with appropriate career-pathing; improved relations between the local, provincial and national spheres, and efficient, stable public enterprises that can drive social and economic transformation.

These are issues that should occupy each public servant as he or she gets out of bed each morning, with the dominant thought being not “what will they ask me to do today”, but “what am I going to do today to move South Africa forward and closer to Vision 2030?”. We are convinced that when we get this right, the shortage of skills at the lowest level will be managed. Public servants are custodians of our democratic dispensation and the rules that govern it, and should never be found in breach of the laws, regulations and societal norms that govern all our lives.

Public servants have every right to be indignant on an issue such as corruption and to protest that it “takes two to tango”. The fact is, there should be no “tango” in the first place. And if anyone were to “tango”, let them do so alone, and not on our side of the counter, or the car window, or the border post. The ANC government is built on the lives of heroes and heroines who gave so much, because they believed in the principles and values driven by morality. There is no place in any part of our government for any tolerance of corruption, whatever its nature.

THE WAY FORWARD

Honourable Members, we have now begun with the second phase of our ongoing transition from colonialism and apartheid to a national democratic society; a society that is truly united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous. During this phase as the ANC we have committed ourselves to implement bold and decisive measures to place our country and the economy on a qualitatively different path; a path to eliminate poverty and unemployment, create sustainable livelihoods and substantially reduce inequality. This path is clearly articulated in the National Development Plan.

Honourable Speaker we have to create a situation in which a new social value-system emerges, based not on government injunctions, but on a definition imposed on our country by the people of South Africa themselves. It is the defence and promotion of this new value-system that will turn the masses of our people, at all levels of our society, into active combatants for the realisation of the objective of the RDP of the soul.

As the ANC we are happy that South Africans are effectively making use of our chapter 9 and 10 institutions that we have established to guard democracy. The office of the Public Protector has been inundated with requests from the public which is a true realization of the Freedom charter that the people shall govern.

Honourable Speaker, in order to succeed in meeting the goals we have set for ourselves in the NDP over the next five years, we must continue to pay attention to the goal of enhancing the capacity of the state in reshaping our society and the economy. We are delighted that early this year, Parliament passed the Public Administration Management Bill. Among others this Bill will facilitate the secondment of officials from one sphere of government to another in order to address capacity challenges where they exist. The Bill will also allow for greater use of Information and Communication Technologies within the public sector to enhance service delivery. It will strengthen a culture of discipline, integrity and ethical conduct within the public service and will prevent public servants from conducting business with the state.

In addition, our work to professionalise and capacitate public servants through the National School of Government will continue. Work will also continue to strengthen the implementation which constitutes the basis of our public service reform. Collectively these interventions will assist us forge a disciplined, people centred, efficient and professional public service. They will also strengthen our efforts to infuse within our public service the Batho Pele principles.

They will further help us intensify our ongoing efforts to uproot corruption and maladministration. Honourable Speaker as the ANC, we remain committed to the appointment of people with the relevant skills and competencies, especially in senior management positions. Linked to this is the work we are doing to promote ongoing education and training within the public service; including the work of the National School of Government. The training we provide must not only be geared at enhancing the technical capabilities of our public service, but also must enable innovation and deepen the creativity of public servants.

Fellow South Africans, our objective is to build on the good story of the past twenty years of freedom and democracy. Ultimately, the public service we want, is the one that is totally committed to the goal of building a better life for all; that continuously pushes the envelope; that is not merely satisfied with meeting targets but ensures the continuous provision of quality services.

This is the challenge we face and as the ANC we believe that working together with all South Africans, and God on our side we will be able to rise above this challenge.

Together with our people, we will move South Africa forward!

I thank you!

Issued by: Government Communication and Information System

Speeches: 
Year: 
2014
Speech date:: 
Thursday, June 19, 2014