Speech by the Hon Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, MP, and Minister in The Presidency on the occasion of The Presidency Budget Vote 2023/2024 National Assembly
Your Excellency, President Cyril Ramaphosa,
Deputy President of the Republic, The Honourable Paul Mashatile, Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Honourable Chief Whip
Honourable Members of the House, Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished Guests,
On 25 May last week, our nation and our Continent observed Africa Day as an annual celebration of the best attributes of our continent, and as an inspiration for us to move Africa further forward towards the realisation of Agenda 2063.
25 May also signifies another important anniversary in our country, as this was the date in 2019 on which President Cyril Ramaphosa was inaugurated as the fifth President of a democratic South Africa.
In his Inauguration address at Loftus Versfeld Stadium, the President issued an energising call to action to our nation.
He said, and I quote: “Let us forge a compact for growth and economic opportunity, for productive lands and viable communities, for knowledge, for innovation, and for services that are affordable, accessible and sustainable.”
The President extended this compact to include an efficient, capable and ethical state that is free from corruption, for companies that generate social value and propel human development, and for elected officials and public servants who faithfully serve no other cause than that of the public.
Madame Speaker and Honourable Members,
On Africa Day 2019, none of us imagined the deadly, microscopic threat to life and livelihoods that would sweep across the world and our own country within months of our President’s inauguration.
The COVID-19 pandemic challenged us day by day and life by life to pull together as a nation and as a continent, and to forge partnerships that would allow us to secure our physical existence and support a battered economy.
Today, we find ourselves still in recovery mode as we try to undo the lingering impact of a pandemic, during which our President played an outstanding role in the African and global arena as a champion for vaccine
equity; for vaccine production on home soil, and for various forms of relief of social and economic distress.
This reflection is necessary today as I – and this House - consider the crucial role of The Presidency in the final year of the Sixth Administration. This is an opportunity for us to reflect on the achievements, challenges, and the significant impact The Presidency has had on shaping our nation. The Presidency serves as the heartbeat of our government, providing strategic leadership, guidance and coordination across all spheres of government and society as a whole.
It plays a pivotal role in driving the implementation of government policies, ensuring efficient service delivery and fostering collaboration among various departments and stakeholders. Where required, The Presidency intervenes to assist in resolving persisting challenges.
In the past four years, The Presidency has been at the forefront of the transformative agenda of the Sixth Administration. It has spearheaded initiatives aimed at fostering social cohesion, promoting economic growth, and addressing the historical imbalances that have plagued our society.
BUDGET ALLOCATION AND OPERATIONAL EFFICIENCIES
Today, The Presidency is tabling a budget of R 625,1 million for the 2023/2024 financial year. We are not oblivious to the reality that we are tabling this budget at a time when our country is facing many challenges, some of which are the result of shifts and dynamics in geo-politics.
Throughout the Sixth Administration, The Presidency has been instrumental in supporting the vision and attainment of targets set by the President to address the challenges, internal and external, facing our nation.
Through its work, The Presidency sets the direction and tone for government policies and programmes, and it must direct the pace of service delivery in line with the aspirations and needs of the people.
Therefore, The Presidency must invest in building the capacity of the state, so that government can serve the citizens better, and provide adequate social support to vulnerable individuals and communities.
This Presidency must also mobilise all sectors of society to create conducive conditions for the private sector to grow the economy and create jobs.
Internally, The Presidency has been refocused and repositioned to become more agile, fit-for-purpose, efficient and responsive in fulfilling its role and providing support to the President and the Deputy President.
As part of supporting the President, The Presidency will track progress in the implementation of State of the Nation Address commitments. In this regard, The Presidency will also implement a Programme of Action for digital transformation in the public sector as the adoption of technology will enhance government’s ability to deliver services and track performance.
ACCELERATED STRUCTURAL REFORMS
One of the characteristics of this Presidency is that we do what we say we will do. Just yesterday, our Project Management Office and National Treasury gave the latest public update on Operation Vulindlela.
We reported progress in the implementation of 35 priority structural reforms – reforms that are shaped by continuous input from stakeholders in different sectors.
We reported an increase in the number of completed reforms from three to 11, with a further 14 reforms on track for completion by the set target dates.
This progress includes:
- Advancing the establishment of the National Transmission Company of South Africa (NTCSA) as an independent subsidiary of Eskom,
- Tax incentives for businesses and households to invest in rooftop solar,
- Work to establish a separate Infrastructure Manager within Transnet Freight Rail (TFR), which will enable third party access to the core rail network, and
- Partnerships with private terminal operators at the Durban Pier 2 Container Terminal and Ngqura Container Terminal Freight logistics reforms.
BUILDING PRACTICAL PARTNERSHIPS AS PART OF A WHOLE-OF- SOCIETY APPROACH
When as government we say “Let’s Grow South Africa Together”, we say so because we understand that to overcome our nation’s challenges, we need all hands and brains on deck.
This belief is reflected in The Presidency’s ongoing engagement with different actors in our society, as well as with international partners.
For example, since January this year, the President has held separate engagements with the Logistics and Freight sector, the Steel Manufacturing sector and CEOs of businesses.
The steel industry alone is worth R900 billion, covering almost 10 000 businesses and 170 000 employees. In these engagements, business has sought partnerships with government to deal with challenges confronting this nation.
These engagements have been platforms for critique and for collaboration, based on the overwhelming belief and confidence business leaders in our country have in this President, in this Administration and in the future, we are building together as South Africans.
These engagements have not expressed or created a sense of a sector that has lost confidence in President Ramaphosa, but we do understand outliers will always be with us.
As in data science, outliers do not represent the real population characteristics.
As part of growing South Africa Together, this Presidency engages as readily in boardrooms as we do on the streets of our communities.
With this in mind, Honourable Members, you will continue to see the President and the Deputy President interact with communities all over the country as they mobilise society, promote nation building and social cohesion.
Our future depends on our ability as South Africans of all backgrounds to heal the divisions of our past and to repair the damage inflicted on families, communities and our economy by the divisions of our past.
In the coming year, this Administration will work with all sectors of society to ensure that every South African has equal opportunities to succeed.
A united nation, where diversity is celebrated and everyone is treated with dignity and respect, is a strong nation.
As a government that listens to citizens and learns from social partners and communities, we see great value in our face-to-face, no-holds-barred dialogue with citizens under the District Development Model Presidential Izimbizo.
These gatherings, the sixth of which took place in this province of the Western Cape two weeks ago, enable engagement between civil society organisations, community leaders and individual citizens, and the President and leadership from all spheres of government.
This citizen-centred governance has fostered trust, promoted accountability and empowered the people to actively participate in shaping our nation's future.
FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION
One of the areas in which the private sector is seeking partnership with government is the fight against corruption and we are in discussion on the modalities of such a partnership.
Such a partnership will add to our implementation of the State Capture Commission Action Plan, the National Anti-Corruption Advisory Council Work Plan, and the processing of SIU reports.
The Presidency will continue to support the initiatives to mobilise both domestic and international investments into South Africa.
We must applaud previous investment mobilisation efforts that achieved the R1.2 trillion target as set by the President.
This investment drive is positively changing the lives and livelihoods of tens of thousands of people who enter employment or advance in their jobs when new fixed investments are realised in our country.
Their income puts food on the table and their consumption of goods and services stimulates and sustains economic activity in many sectors – which in turn add to the revenue collected by the South African Revenue Service.
As we conclude the term of the 6th Administration, The Presidency will support the 2nd Round of investment mobilisation initiatives towards the R2 trillion target by 2028. From the 1st Round of investment mobilisation, the country has seen 161 out of 231 projects completed or under construction
Government is also embarking on a massive infrastructure investment programme in water and sanitation, roads, human settlements and others. My colleague, the Minister of Transport, recently laid out to this House her department’s planned funding of R42,6 billion for the construction, upgrading and maintenance of national and provincial road networks.
In the current financial year, the Department of Water and Sanitation has a budget allocation of R40 billion that will include fast-tracking projects that will, as the Minister said, ultimately ensure the realisation of constitutional rights to water and a safe environment.
TACKLING ECONOMIC SABOTAGE, VANDALISM OF INFRASTRUCTURE, EXTORTION AT CONSTRUCTION SITES
One of the biggest challenges we share as South Africans is that of fighting crime in all its forms, from interpersonal violence and asset crimes to economic sabotage, vandalism and extortion at construction sites, among others.
The crime statistics released by the Minister of Police yesterday tell us crime remains a stubborn stain on our society even as we make efforts from policing to socio-economic interventions, to make our country safer.
As the Presidency coordinates the work of government through Cabinet and other inter-ministerial platforms, we are heartened to see some downward shifts in certain crime categories.
We welcome the Minister of Police’s assessment that upscaled visible policing and disruptive operations from Thursdays to Mondays in all provinces are bearing fruit.
Operation Shanela is paying off and should give communities the confidence to work more closely with police, to create and strengthen community structures, and to continue to build families and communities that shun crime and bring criminals to account through lawful means.
NATIONAL SECURITY STRATEGY
Through the National Security Council, The Presidency oversees the implementation of the National Security Strategy.
PROMOTING GOOD GOVERNANCE AND ACCOUNTABILITY
The Presidency is determined to uphold the principles of transparency, accountability and the rule of law. We have implemented measures to combat corruption, strengthen the capacity of law enforcement agencies, and promote ethical behaviour within the public sector.
In promoting ethical behaviour in the public service, the Department of Public Service and Administration has introduced lifestyle audits for officials including Senior Management Service members and people who report to them, as corruption does not respect rank.
Madame Speaker, Honourable Members
This Budget Vote for the final year of the Sixth Administration gives South Africans the comfort that this a government in a sprint finish to the end of this electoral term.
We have the experience, the vision and the energy to see through our mandate to the end, and that is to mobilise all of society around our vision of a united, prosperous, and equitable nation.
We also have the vision and energy – and we will have the electricity - to see ourselves in this House again next year to present the first Budget Vote of the Presidency of the Seventh Administration.
As we embark on this final year of the Sixth Administration, let us remember the progress we have made, the challenges we have overcome, and the dreams we have yet to fulfil.
This is the final year in which we should remind ourselves of what this democracy means in terms of human sacrifices, compromises and trade- offs that were made to get us to the Constitution that remains the envy of the world.
As we take a moment to reflect on the journey travelled thus far, let us put our ideological differences aside and remain steadfast in our commitment to building a South Africa that leaves no one behind, a South Africa that upholds the values of democracy, and remains a beacon of hope for all.
There is no better definition of the national task at hand than that set out by President Cyril Ramaphosa at his Inauguration on 25 May 2019 when he said, and I quote:
“It is our shared will – and our shared responsibility – to build a society that knows neither privilege nor disadvantage.
“It is a society where those who have much are willing to share with those who have little.
“It is a society where every person, regardless of race or sex or circumstance, may experience the fundamental necessities of a decent, dignified life.
“Today, let us declare … that such a South Africa is possible.” God Bless Africa!
I thank you.