Bua Briefs 118

22 February 2008

Government's Programme of Action

Business Unusual: All hands on deck to speed up change

I am confident that 2008 will be one of the most remarkable years of our democracy, as we all work together to realise the core aspiration of our people to attain a better life for all. I say this because, in our own estimation, it is not often that a nation is called upon to strain every sinew of its collective body to attain a dream. And such is the injunction that history has imposed on us today.

President Thabo Mbeki, State of the Nation Address
8 February 2008

Government decided that its Programme of Action for the coming year must focus in a special way in this period to make sure it meets its commitments. It identified a set of top priorities and is using these “Apex Priorities” [PDF] 84 kb as catalysts to further speed up the progress towards achieving the people’s mandate.

The focus on these priorities means that all three spheres of government – national, provincial and local – at both executive and administrative levels, are committed to using this period to energise our progress towards a better life for all our people.

In other words, the whole of government is committing itself to live up to the call for Business Unusual. This does not mean change in policy but speedy, efficient and effective implementation.

Government’s Apex Priorities focus on:

  • further accelerating economic growth and development
  • speeding up infrastructure to reach our economic and social goals
  • making Second-Economy and poverty-eradication interventions more effective
  • strengthening the impact of education and training programmes
  • accelerating our advance towards health for all
  • revamping the criminal justice system to intensify our fight against crime
  • further strengthening the machinery of government to meet development needs
  • sharpening focus in international relations, especially on Africa and South-South relations.

Let us work together in addressing the energy emergency facing our country

The national emergency represented by the current power outages poses the challenge and presents the opportunity to the entirety of our nation to give concrete expression to the call we have just made for all of us to unite in action and act in unity to keep our country on course. This must say to all of us that we are indeed in a period of challenges, but surmountable challenges. And precisely because it is a period of challenges, it is also an era of opportunity!

President Thabo Mbeki, State of the Nation Address
8 February 2008

Ensuring a successful 2010

One of the important challenges for our nation is ensuring a successful 2010 FIFA World Cup™. We will honour our undertaking to FIFA and the world community of soccer players and lovers. We will create all the necessary conditions for the holding of the best ever FIFA Soccer World Cup tournament. We must ensure that we sustain good progress in terms of our all-round preparations.

Let us ensure that all hands are on deck as we continue to prepare to host the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2009 and the 2010 Soccer World.

Apex Priorities for accelerated implementation

Economic growth and development

Industrial Policy Action Plan: To speed up our economic growth and development further, we will implement the Industrial Policy Action Plan. Government will continue its industrialisation programme to create opportunities for growth and job creation:

  • R2,3 billion has been budgeted for industrial policy initiatives and a further R5 billion in tax incentives over three years will support industrial policy
  • working together with business and labour, we shall develop as urgently as possible, key action plans in sectors where such plans do not exist, such as mining and minerals beneficiation, consumer durables, retail with a focus on improving support to small enterprises, construction, the creative industries, agriculture and agro-processing
  • we are determined to support the automotive sector and will ensure that the support given to this sector through the Motor Industry Development Programme is maintained.

At the macro-economic level, we will continue to maintain a fiscal posture that supports continued economic growth and development and reduce our external vulnerability

Building infrastructure

Integrated infrastructure plan: To speed up the process of building infrastructure, we will finalise the development of an integrated infrastructure plan, with specific emphasis on energy efficiency.

This involves co-ordinating the programmes of state-owned enterprises and overlaying all the infrastructure plans, including freight and other logistics, energy pipelines, information and communications technology (ICT), road infrastructure, water and electricity, both in terms of their timing and geographic location.

Information and communications technology (ICT): A critical priority is ICT, both as a facilitator and a sector in its own right.

In 2008, we will complete the licensing and operationalisation of Infraco, which will ensure that South Africa develops its broadband infrastructure. Already, money has been allocated for the broadband network business Sentech to become a wireless Internet wholesaler and to finance its digitisation.

Working with other governments on the continent and the private sector, we will complete the process to launch the undersea cables that will greatly improve our ICT infrastructure, create wider access to the Internet and reduce the cost.

We aim to provide digital broadcasting to 50% of the population by the end of 2008. This will include a manufacturing strategy for the development in South Africa of set top boxes, to be finalised by the middle of the year.

Investment call centre: To encourage investment in South Africa, government has, in the spirit of Business Unusual, decided to urgently complete the setting up of a call centre where prospective investors can process and track their applications. This service aims also to impact positively on investor decisions in relation to issues such as land acquisition, infrastructure and environmental impact assessments.

Skills development

Review the National Human Resource Development Strategy: Part of government’s Apex Priorities will deliberately focus on skills-development matters. Work to review the National Human Resource Development Strategy will be completed this year.

Joint Initiative on Priority Skills Acquisition (Jipsa) intensified: We are encouraged by the good response from the private sector as demonstrated through the commitment by the CEOs of 70 of the Johannesburg Securities Exchange-listed companies to work with government in addressing the challenge of scarce skills under Jipsa.

We will prioritise further interventions in the further education and training colleges, the sector education and training authorities, resourcing schools in the poorest communities, freeing them from the responsibility to charge fees, and speeding up on-the-job training for professional graduates.

Kha Ri Gude mass literacy campaign: We have corrected weaknesses in our Adult Basic Education and Training programme, and we shall launch the Kha Ri Gude mass literacy campaign, including the training of master trainers who will provide basic literacy classes to 300 000 adults and youth in 2008.

Intensifying the fight against poverty

War on poverty: At the centre of our economic programmes is, and should always be, the consideration whether their success is helping to improve the quality of life of all South Africans, acting as an important weapon in our war on poverty and helping us to progress towards reducing unemployment and advancing the goal of health for all.

Sustainable human settlements: In the programme to provide sustainable human settlements, we are now able to provide 260 000 housing units per year, and an agreement has been reached with the South African Local Government Association (Salga) to place a moratorium on the sale of land that can be availed for the housing programme.

Land reform and rural development: Through various interventions focused on poverty reduction, we continue to address a number of many weaknesses, including the:

  • processing of the Land Use Management Bill
  • finalisation of land restitution cases
  • support programme for those who acquire land, and the development and implementation of a determined rural development programme.

Comprehensive anti-poverty strategy: Another critical Apex Priority is the extension of an integrated and comprehensive anti-poverty strategy that addresses especially those people most affected by this scourge, including children, women, the youth, people living in rural areas and urban informal settlements, people with disabilities or chronic illnesses and the elderly.

Among the key proposed interventions are:

  • expanding the Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP)
  • employment subsidies for direct job creation for targeted groups
  • enhancing employment search capability
  • improving education and training
  • improving services and assets among poor communities
  • specific interventions in poor households
  • starting a special project to determine how to deal with vulnerable children over the age of 14 years
  • ensuring effectiveness of institutions supporting women and other sectors
  • improving all aspects related to women empowerment.

National War Room for a War Against Poverty: In the spirit of Business Unusual, government intends this year to strengthen the campaign to identify specific households and individuals in dire need and to put in place interventions that will help, in the intervening period, to alleviate their plight in their individual households.

The National War Room for a War Against Poverty will bring together departments such as social development, provincial and local government, trade and industry, agriculture and land Affairs, public works and health as well as provincial and local administrations, to work with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and business to identify the interventions required in specific households and implement them as a matter of urgency.

Anti-poverty measures in pursuit of socio-economic inclusion: We will attend to other specific priorities, which are critical to the country’s war against poverty. These are:

  • Speeding up land and agrarian reform with detailed plans for land acquisition, better implementation of agricultural support services and household food support.
  • Improving the capital base and reach of the Micro-Agriculture Finance Institutions of South Africa to provide micro-credit in this sector; focus will be placed on areas of large concentrations of farm dwellers and those with high eviction rates. We aim to increase black entrepreneurship in agricultural production by 5% per year. The audit on land ownership will also be speeded up.
  • Providing budget for an increase in the social grant system by bringing the age of eligibility for pension for men to 60 years, thus benefiting about half a million men.
  • Intensifying efforts already started to increase assistance to co-operatives and small enterprises, especially those involving women, with emphasis on providing training and markets, including linking them with established outlets.
  • Scaling up the National Youth Service Programme, including a graduated increase of the intake in the Military Skills Development Programme of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) from the current 4 000 to 10 000. R700 million has already been given to the SANDF to start expanding this programme.
  • Intensifying the EPWP, which has shown potential to benefit more people. This will include: - Increasing the intake of young people in the programme to maintain public infrastructure. - Doubling the number of children enrolled in Early Childhood Development to over 600 000 through 1 000 new sites with more than 3 500 practitioners trained and employed, and increasing the number of care-givers. About R1 billion over baseline will be allocated to programmes that fall within the EPWP.
  • Introducing the system of products for preferential procurement by government from small, medium and micro-enterprises; and through the Small Enterprise Development Agency setting up a system to ensure that the 30-day payment period is observed.

Universal access to services

Universal access to water, sanitation and electricity: We will integrate the programme to speed up the development of sustainable human settlements, with intensified efforts, as a matter of urgency, to accelerate universal access to water, sanitation and electricity. By 2014, we should have decent human settlements and access by all households to these services.

Health for all: Accelerating our work towards the achievement of health for all includes:

  • intensified implementation of the HIV and AIDS and STI Strategic Plan for South Africa 2007 – 2011
  • reducing tuberculosis (TB) defaulter rates from 10% to 7% in 2008, training over 3 000 health personnel in the management of this disease and ensuring that all multi-drug-resistant and extreme drug-resistant TB patients receive treatment
  • completing the work on the comprehensive social security system, benefiting from the consultations that have started with social partners.

Business Unusual!

All hands on deck to speed up change