Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni: Debate on the State of the Nation Address

14 February 2024

Remarks by Minister in the Presidency in the debate on the 2024 State Of The Nation Address National Assembly, City Hall, Cape Town

Madame Speaker;
Honourable President of the Republic of South Africa, His Excellency;
Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa;
Honourable Deputy President of the Republic, Paul Mashatile;
Honourable Members;
And Tintswalo;
Madame Speaker

For the romantics who celebrate Valentine’s Day – a day dedicated to love, red roses, and chocolates, and other little gestures – Happy Valentines Day. It was also on this day in 1981 that late President Samora Machel pledged solidarity with the people of South Africa.And, so today, I am very much in love.

I’m love with my country in which President Nelson Mandela delivered his first State of the Nation Address to this Parliament on 24 May, 1994, when this country and the world were a very different place. When Centurion was just a dorpie called Verwoedsburg where we bought taxis and secondhand cars, Midrand of the New Road, Blue Valley, Waterfall and Mall of Africa was still the small town - Halfway House, when Thohoyandou was still a one street town and the V&A Waterfront was just the Docklands around the Victoria and Alfred Basins.

When Madiba addressed Parliament, he was empowered by an Interim Constitution that had enabled our democratic transition.

Soon after President Mandela became President, it was this President who leads us today, Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa, who was elected as Chairperson of the Constitutional Assembly.

That Constitutional Assembly which crafted the Constitution which governs all South Africans today. Our new Constitution, which is hailed as the best in the world and a birth certificate of our democracy, didn’t fall from the sky and it wasn’t an outcome of a magical conversion on the road to Damascus on the part of the apartheid regime.

It was an outcome of protracted battles between the advocates of freedom and democracy, on the one hand, and those refusing to let go of white privilege, inequality and a divided society. Unfortunately, prejudice is a chain, it holds you and 30 years after the dawn of democracy, some even in this house are still held by the chains of prejudice. It’s a shame.

As we mark 30 Years of Freedom, we must not exercise our reflections and recollections without remembering exactly where we’ve come from or without acknowledging what has confronted us as a society in our journey to here.

Madame Speaker

Despite the global economic meltdown of 2007 and 2008, and the Covid-19 pandemic, oTintswalo or the black diamonds as they are generally 
referred to or the national breadwinners as they called themselves during the Covid-19 vaccination period, continue to:

  • lead the installation of digital connectivity in deep-rural KwaZuluNatal and other provinces, 
  • work as young black and women engineers at our power stations
  • work side by side to create sovereign launch capability that have allowed our country to take satellite technologies into space, they are the bedrock of the more than 10, 000 SMMEs that are suppliers to the National School Nutrition Programme.
  • They are the engineers and contractors behind the more than 750, 000 km road network from 525, 000 km in 1995. 

Road and rail infrastructure

Yes, some of the provincial and municipal roads have potholes but we are intervening. Currently SANRAL has taken over 2600 km of roads transferred from provinces so we can use its road construction and maintenance capacity to deliver better roads and with more under consideration. In the past 5-years, SANRAL has executed projects to the value of R120 billion, which translated to just under 45, 000 job opportunities and the participation of almost 6500 black owned SMMEs in the rias construction industry. Just this January, SANRAL announced another R28 billion injection into the industry with the implementation of over 70 projects. SANRAL’s work to improve the country’s road network is complemented by Operation Valazonke aimed at closing potholes on 
municipal roads across all municipalities. We are aware that some municipalities are progressing faster than others. 

Honourable members

We are rebuilding the network industries to ensure it services our country more effectively. Despite the teething challenges, PRASA has restored operations on 26 out of 40 commuter rail corridors following disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the criminality that vandalised our rail infrastructure. Of these restored service lines,19 of them are operated with the new trains. PRASA has received 184 new trains that have been built in Nigel, Ekurhuleni. In addition, 276 Metrorail coaches have been upgraded or refurbished and 97 train stations have been refurbished and 29 cooperatives are responsible for cleaning and basic maintenance of these stations. Through the capital spend, PRASA created more than 46, 000 job opportunities.

Even Transnet is starting to register a turn-around at its operations with the arrival of critical equipment, irrespective of the weather – those containers can be loaded and offloaded at the harbour. 

We appreciate the support from business under the CEO-Initiative that has partnered with government in driving the critical reforms necessary to rebuild our economy.

Vhathu vha hashu, ndi zwone Tintswalo na dzithama dzawe vha na mutsiko wa thengo ya matshilele a duvha linwe na linwe (cost of living), fhedzi mushumo une at vha khawo wa u fhatulula ekonomi na u nea zwikhala vho ramabindu matuku kha u fhata thema bveledziso (economic infrastructure), zwi do u engedza masheleni zwikwamani zwavho. Ro fara ro khwatha kha u fhata ekonomi ine ya kona u di imisa kha zwa fulufulu, na uri migodi yashu isi tsha shuma u vhambadzela nnda Ndalama ya mavuni, we are prioritising, in cooperation with other countries within our region beneficiation of our minerals as we strengthen re-industrialisation through localisation. 

Promoting public employment and youth empowerment

Eight consecutive Quarterly Labour Force survey have indicated an improvement into the unemployment situation in the country – with 16.7 million people were in employment by the end of the 3rd quarter of 2023 – the first to surpass the pre-Covid-19 employment levels. Although 6 million youth are now in employment, the challenge of youth unemployment like the world over remains. It is for that reason that President Ramaphosa led the establishment of initiatives like the Youth Employment Service (YES) in partnership with private-sector partners.

YES has created over 130 000 work experiences for young people to date. Over 1.7 million work and livelihood opportunities for unemployed South Africans have been created through the Presidential Employment Stimulus, which prioritised predominantly youth and women. Key programmes in the stimulus include:

  • Employing 1.1 million education and general assistants in 23 000 schools.
  • Providing production input vouchers to 180 000 small-scale farmers.
  • Providing 29 000 opportunities in environmental management and rehabilitation.
  • Employing 107 000 people across 6 500 worksites through the Social Employment Fund

The SA Youth Mobi platform was launched, which provides pathways for young people to employment, learning and youth enterprise. To date, over 4.8 million young people have registered on the platform and more than one million have been placed in earning opportunities.

The National Youth Service has been revitalised, offering young people opportunities to undertake work that builds the community and provides them with skills, self-confidence and work experience. Over 47 000 participants were placed in the first phase of the National Youth Service.

Madame Speaker

All these achievements have been made possible by South Africans who consider it their duty to be part of transforming our country and undoing the damaging legacy of apartheid – not the revisionist. Maybe I must remind some amongst us that the President in his Address last week, that: “Just as we cannot deny the progress South Africans have made over the last 30 years, nor should we diminish the severe challenges that we continue to face.”

Maybe I must borrow from Bob Marley and say to the DA, “before you start pointing fingers… make sure your hands are clean”.


Gwarube, the story Thabang you were attempting to narrate is the story of a young woman or man from Gugulethu, Nyanga, Delft, ImizamoYethu in Houtbay, Mitchell’s Plain and we are starting to find them in the City of Tshwane under the DA administration.
The work done during the 6th administration and 30 years under the democratic dispensation is to ensure we leave no-one behind, despite the hand this President’s tenure was dealt.


So Madame Speaker

The President has yet to close this Debate on the State of the Nation Address of February 2024 but I am already looking forward to the second State of the Nation Address of 2024.

I’m sure the Honourable members from the other side are looking forward to this as well, as they will be able to continue their scrutiny and criticism from where he is sitting today in the opposition benches.

In any case, “some people feel the rain, others just get wet”.

I thank you

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