REPLY BY THE PREMIER OF THE NORTHERN CAPE, MS HAZEL JENKINS AT THE OCCASION OF THE DEBATE OF THE INAUGURAL SPEECH, 19 MAY 2009, PROVINCIAL LEGISLATURE
Members of the Executive Council,
Officials of Government
Members of the Public:
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Honourable Members for their contributions during this Debate. We have noted the constructive contributions made by some of the Members and will consider them.
I am lifted by the many things we have achieved over the last fifteen years to make South Africa, and the Northern Cape in particular, better and more prosperous, to protect the most vulnerable while enabling individual growth and preserving essential freedom.
Over the last fifteen years we have worked together to bring hope where there was fear and opportunity where there was loss. Although encouraged by our progress, we are acutely aware of the many and real challenges that face us and the steps that we need to take to meet them.
I am also deeply encouraged by the high level of participation displayed by the Members of this house which clearly reflects the seriousness and determination of how we intend to discharge our responsibilities.
During the 2009 elections, the ruling party was mandated by the electorate to address the challenges affecting the lives of the majority of our people. The ANC manifesto 2009 says that we should ensure that all our people have access to affordable services, including water and sanitation, health facilities and housing, nutritious and adequate food, decent education for our children and youth, and improved government services by ensuring that all public service workers work according to batho pele principles.
We must thus continue to extend our reach to the most vulnerable and destitute in our communities i.e. the poor and the unemployed. We also want to walk with those in this house who are prepared to muddy their hands and improve the quality of life of our people.
The Honorable Member Neville Mompati raised serious matters whose intention is perhaps to stir discussion and clarify the role of the opposition. We do not call for conformity and sycophancy, but equally we do not see members of this house endearing themselves as icons of service delivery through lack of vibrant and constructive contributions in the work of the Executive Council.
We on our part understand the Constitutional obligations and imperatives that are placed on us by virtue of the positions we hold. We took a public oath and do not need to explain ourselves in this regard.
We take strong exception to the alluding of the member to kowtowing, puppeteering and caution the Member about quoting the media as his source. We further challenge members to desist from allegations of corruption as this just shows the regrettable tendency of the opposition to sling mud without a shred of prove.
The ANC mandate was unequivocally renewed on the 22nd of April, whilst the broad spectrum of political actors was given a minimal role in governance in accordance with the Constitution of our country.
The people of South Africa and the Northern Cape did so confident that they have chosen the best amongst the political parties available to advance their socio economic interests.
We do not profess to be coming with a new agenda because from the many things that we have done a lot more needs to be done. Our policies and objectives remain the same only the emphasis is different, in accordance with the five priorities highlighted by the ruling Party in its Manifesto.
Government on its own can indeed not be a panacea to the economic challenges we face. The Northern Cape economy has shown signs of resilience despite the apparent global economic down turn, this is because of the role of other vital role players in the sector; hence our motto is together we can do more.
Indeed the Honorable Member Grizelda Cjiekella made a vital point to say as a province we cannot be immune to what is happening currently in the global economic and financial down turn. Our government is already acting decisively to defend our economy, and has already engaged the business sector to explore and stimulate the economy to avert the massive economic slow down.
We are well aware that a modern economy cannot survive on raw materials, our mineral resources are not infinite hence our Provincial Growth and Development Strategy speaks to the question of economic diversification, which government has already started implementing.
We shall also look at measures consistent with the Provincial Growth and Development Strategy of the province to sustain small and medium enterprises that are so vital for the income of the man and woman on the street.
We agree with the position tabled by the Honorable Member Dr. Chris Liebenberg that we need to put more emphasis on the issue of mathematics and physical science. It is for this reason that we established the Dinaledi Schools and the winter school intervention programme.
We did all of these because we realized long ago that we will have to take extra ordinary measures particularly to secure the future of children coming from historically disadvantaged communities.
In the Manifesto of the ruling party it is stated that education is a means of promoting good citizenship as well as preparing our people for the needs of a modern economy and a democratic society. Building on the achievements in education, the ANC government will aim to ensure progressive realization of universal schooling, improving quality education and eliminating disparities. This requires major renewal of our schooling and education system.
Honorable Speaker the Honorable Member Dr. Liebenberg also used strong words to condemn corruption and mismanagement in the public sector. It is the function of this house to perform its oversight role diligently such that we do not continue to cast aspersions and indignity to many other civil servants who do their work with passion and commitment.
I find it surprising that the Honourable Member is asking what the Premier intends to do with regards to conflict of interest. Does the Honourable member not know that the Legislature is the custodian of the Members Ethics Act. So, the Premier and all members are intending to honor this Act, as we have thirty days to declare our interest. It is interesting to note that even in the national media the focus was mostly on interests of the ruling party members, let us indicate here that even among the opposition there are Members with significant business interest WE as the ruling party members will declare and act accordingly where such conflict seem to exist , MAKE SURE THAT YOU DO !
We on our part as the Executive Council, including the ruling party I may state will furthermore step up the fight against crime and corruption as it constitute one of the five priorities of this government which I affirmed in my inaugural address.
The Honorable Member Obaray indicated his parties support for the Constitution and the Freedom Charter. As a government an organization that has historically championed the course of the Constitution and the Freedom Charter which many dismissed as a communist document we welcome his support.
We indeed believe that as a government we do not have to claim ownership of the democratic values that we have imbued on the South African body politic, it is the heritage we are building for our nation. It is in this context that I extended an olive branch to all the members of this house and beyond to join hands with us in building a better life for all.
We also note the concerns that he is raising about the challenges faced by our health system, we may even add that these are exacerbated by the growing burden of disease as reflected by the recent outbreak of swine flu which our country adequately responded to.
The ANC Manifesto notes that for the last fifteen years â€œthere have been many achievements in improving access to health care, however much more needs to be done in terms of quality of care, making services available to all South Africans and ensuring better outcomes.
This government will continue to budget for the training of scarce skills personnel in the health sector and thus give an opportunity to children of the Northern Cape in particular to develop careers in areas that will ensure they play a critical role in promoting a healthy society and create sustainable livelihoods
We also said we will step up the fight against HIV and AIDS and other diseases to stem the tide against the burden of diseases both communicable and none communicable.
We are passionate about the question of maternal health as it relates to the millennium development goals, that our PGDS by the way speak to because a healthy economy requires healthy people. The issues that are being raised in this regard are being responded to by government because the issue of maternal health is part of the apex priorities of government.
To intensify the fight against poverty we have developed an inter sectoral approach. In the Northern Cape we have the five hundred families initiative where government seeks to have a targeted response to the five hundred neediest families in the province which are monitored until they exit the programme on a better footing.
The ANC also considers rural development as a central pillar in our struggle against unemployment, poverty and inequality. People living in rural areas face the harshest conditions of poverty, food insecurity and lack of access to services on almost a daily basis.
Our interventions are not intended to create a sense of dependency it is to change this reality. However we cannot act as if we are oblivious to the hundreds of school children who sleep and wake up on empty stomachs, we cannot also act as if the reprieve that food parcels provide to these families is not required.
To act as if such interventions intended to deal with the interests of the most needy under the current economic down turn is actually to indignity the poor as if they do not have values and may easily be subjected to political patronage.
Lastly I want to welcome the overwhelmingly positive inputs that some of the Members of the ruling and opposition parties made in this house this morning. It is an indication of a positive response to my request for us to work together to advance the interests of our province and those of the people who mandated us to sit in this house.
We want to place it on record that we have an achievable programme for the next five years to serve the interests of all our people. We have noted the act of political plagiarism that continues to play itself out as we continue to be questioned and counter posed about the terminology and principles of batho pele, service delivery, quality health care, peoples centred society and so on many forget that the ANC is the originators of these concepts.
Once more we do not want to claim them as our heritage to the exclusion of all but it is important that we accept the infancy of some as it relates to this matters that are historical ANC policy. We are thus best place to implement these as affirmed on the 22nd of April.
Once more I commit the Executive Council to act in the best interests of all the people of the Northern Cape as we strive to build our nation and improve the quality of life of all our people, including advancing the course of nation building and uniting our people behind the national flag and the Constitution.