State of The Nation Address By President Mbeki
8 February 2002 - Cape Town
Madame Speaker and Deputy Speaker,
Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the NCOP,
Honourable Members of our National Parliament,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Chief Justice of South Africa as well as other members of
Heads of the Security Services,
Governor of the Reserve Bank,
Honourable Premiers and MECs,
Representatives of Local Government,
President Mandela and Mrs. Machel,
Your Excellencies Ambassadors and High Commissioners,
Fellow South Africans:
Decision makers across the globe have accepted the reality
that the global struggle to eradicate poverty and
underdevelopment is fundamental to the well-being of human
We know this as a matter of fact that the struggle to
eradicate poverty and underdevelopment in our own country is
fundamental to the achievement of our own national goal to
build a caring and people-centred society.
Of decisive importance to the millions of our people and the
future of our country, as we meet here today, the central
question we will have to answer at the end of the day is
whether what we are doing as the legislature, the executive
and the judiciary, as well as the fourth estate, is helping
to lift from the shoulders of our people, the intolerable
burden of poverty and underdevelopment.
This fourth opening session of our second democratic
parliament, including the debate that will take place next
week, must answer this question in a frank, honest and
What I know and can say without any equivocation is that
during the past year, our country has, in real terms, and
within its means, moved further forward towards a society
free of poverty and underdevelopment. This I will also say
that we are nowhere near liberating millions of our people
from these scourges.
But I will also say this, that gradually, step by step, we
are progressing towards the achievement of the historic goal
of the eradication of a centuries-old legacy of colonialism,
racism and apartheid. This I will also say that the
overwhelming majority of our people consider themselves as
actors in the unfolding and measured drama of the
eradication of this legacy.
Our Deputy President, the Hon Jacob Zuma is not with us
today because he had to attend a summit on NEPAD in France,
at the invitation of President Jacques Chirac. At the end of
the summit, he will proceed directly to Dakar, Senegal, for
another summit with Prime Minister Tony Blair. Accordingly,
I am honoured to convey an apology for his unavoidable
We wish to acknowledge the presence of Mrs Rebecca Kotane on
this occasion of her 90th birthday and also Mrs Nontsikelelo
Biko, in this year when we commemorate the 25th anniversary
of the assassination of Steve Biko. Madame Speaker:
Scientists say that anatomically modern humans, people who
look like us, evolved in Africa about 150,000 years ago and
then slowly spread out to occupy most of the globe. A key
question has been when and where did these people first
become modern in their behaviour. Until now, archaeological
evidence has pointed to Europe as the centre for this
development about 35,000 years ago. The markers for modern
behaviour include the production of art, bone tools and a
capacity for symbolism. Lack of evidence of these behaviours
suggested that people in Africa lagged behind those in
Remarkable new finds by South African archaeologists at
Blombos Cave in the Southern Cape indicate that the
prehistory of Africa and its people now needs rewriting.
Blombos Cave has produced evidence that African people were
producing exquisite bone tools and delicately made stone
spear points more than 70,000 years ago. But the most
spectacular find is a slab of ochre engraved with abstract
designs 77,000 years ago.
Described by the South African Museum as "the world's oldest
art object", this invaluable slab of ochre is on display in
this case next to the podium, an example of the
extraordinary heritage of the evolution of humanity that
resides within our country and which we must preserve. The
designs on the slab were made deliberately and with symbolic
intent. The scientists say that it is now to Africa that we
look for the origins of the human imagination and human
ingenuity and for the genesis of art.
We thank the South African Museum for lending us this
exhibit for a few hours as well as the presiding officers
for agreeing that it should be brought into the chamber.
I am especially pleased to welcome to our parliament Dr
Chris Henshilwood, who led a team of scientists that found
the Blombos engraving. All of us are committed to do
everything we can to support our scientists who are working
selflessly to unravel the mysteries of the evolution of
We also look forward to parliament's own Millennium Project
which aims to collect, collate and interpret our diverse
heritage so that we may build a common identity and
We meet here at the beginning of a year during which our
country will host two summit meetings of great significance
to Africa and the world. These are the founding Summit
Meeting of the African Union in July and the World Summit
for Sustainable Development in August-September.
In addition to launching the AU, the first of these Summits
will, among other things, take important decisions about the
critical issues of peace and stability, good political
governance and good economic governance. It will also have
the possibility to consider specific and implementable NEPAD
development programmes, whose central objective is the
elimination of poverty and underdevelopment on our
The Johannesburg World Summit for Sustainable Development,
the largest high-level international gathering this year,
will also focus on the critical matter of development and
the eradication of poverty. This is of fundamental interest
to our country, our continent and the rest of the developing
It will build on what was agreed at the historic UN
Millennium Summit of the year 2000 and the Monterey, Mexico
conference next month, which will discuss Financing for
The nations of the world elected to come to our country
because they understand and appreciate what we have done in
the last seven-and-half-years to address within our own
borders precisely the same questions that constitute the
global agenda. They chose to convene in South Africa because
they are convinced that we have something of value to
contribute to the building of a new and more equitable world
order that must surely emerge.
The recognition by the peoples of the world of the fact that
we have established ourselves as a winning nation, as a
people determined to succeed, places an obligation on us in
fact to succeed.
Today, millions of our people ask themselves the question -
how can I lend a hand in the national effort to build a
better life for all!
During our recent visit to New York to participate in the
proceedings of the World Economic Forum, we had the
privilege to meet South Africans who live in or have become
citizens of the United States. These are Marco Piovesan, who
lives in Atlanta, Georgia and Cathy Gorille, who lives in
They and their friends, all born in South Africa, have also
been asking themselves the question - how can we, who reside
in the United States, lend a hand in the national effort to
build a better life for all South Africans!
From across the Atlantic, they have decided to make their
own contribution to the common national effort by
concentrating their resources and expertise in a programme
for the reconstruction and development of our country.
Correctly and interestingly, they have entitled their
programme - Vuk' uzenzele! - which idiomatically might be
expressed as Arise and Act!
The call they have made applies to each one of us as we
review a year in which we called for unity in action among
South Africans for change. It is an abiding challenge as we
set out the programme of government for the coming period.
On the occasion of our address to the joint sitting of our
two Houses of Parliament last year, we set out a programme
of action focused on taking us further forward on the road
towards a better life for all our people.
The programme, as further elaborated by Ministers in their
addresses to Parliament and their public briefings, was
concrete. Where possible, we indicated the time frames
within which particular actions would be undertaken.
And so the time has come to account.
A few weeks ago, we received an unsolicited report from a
team of academics at the University of Stellenbosch, led by
Professor Willie Esterhuyse which comments on our
government's performance during the course of the year 2001.
Having studied the programme government set itself at the
beginning of the year, the team undertook a systematic
analysis of what had been done to implement this programme.
This is what the Team has to say:
"The President made 43 'promises' in his speech. By 8
January 2002 - eleven months after the speech was made - 65%
of these have either been achieved or are credibly in
progress. 16% have not been achieved. That gives a ratio of
4 items of progress versus 1 item not yet completed.
"On a further 19% we do not have sufficient information to
make a call...
"65% vs. 16% is in our opinion a very good performance.
Governance is not about pushing buttons and things happening
instantaneously. Various obstacles like inertia, vested
interests, competing agendas, lack of capacity and the like
must be overcome.
"From various speeches and press releases it is clear that
Ministers are working towards the goals set by the
President. Looked at closely, there is coherence and a sense
of purpose and integration.
"Some of the 16% of items not yet achieved are those with a
very large impact on the economy and society like the Telkom
IPO, clarity on telecommunication issues and an effective
campaign against AIDS. We have taken a hard line and
suggested that these have not been achieved, although
government can certainly argue that they are in progress."
The Team then explains why in its opinion things do not
"look and feel better", despite the progress that has been
In its view, firstly this is because "communication by
government is not always optimum. Secondly, it is because
despite "a lot of good progress" on "macro issues that are
vitally important", these are "very far removed from the
[person] in the street". "We should also submit that,
looking back at 2001, the very solid progress recorded has
been overshadowed by developments in Zimbabwe and around
As Government, and even as Members of Parliament, we may not
agree with some or other part of these comments. But there
is no gainsaying the fact that the analysis provides a fair
assessment of government's work in the past year.
And as the Team says, the national successes are cause for
celebration. Overall, we should all be proud that steadily,
our country is moving away from the past of racism, poverty,
conflict and economic stagnation.
The weaknesses pointed out by the Stellenbosch researchers
reflect a variety of limitations in the structures and
systems of government that should be put right. We can
proffer a host of cogent reasons for these and other
shortcomings. But, to the extent that we have the capacity
to do something about the problems, we should and do take
responsibility as government.
I would like to take this opportunity to express our
gratitude to and salute Professor Esterhyuse's Team for an
informative, honest, frank and dispassionate assessment of
the work of government. Besides putting the resources of the
University at the disposal of the nation's current
endeavours, there is an important moral to this initiative.
Without being asked by anybody in government, in a very
practical manner, the Stellenbosch Team answered the
question - how can I lend a hand in the national effort to
build a better life for all!
The past year has brought to the fore many patriotic South
Africans who have found a practical answer to this question.
These include the school principal at Sandi Secondary School
near Umtata, Bongi Peyana, who put in an extra effort to
raise a derelict institution towards the highest summits of
success in teaching and learning.
They include Ivan Booth, a young South African who, after
numerous debates with his peers about the opportunities that
democratic South Africa offers to all its people, decided to
draft a manuscript for a publication entitled, "South
Africa: Reasons to Stay". Ivan says the book is dedicated:
"...to the nation that won its place in history
...the nation with the brightest future
...the nation that fights and wins
...the nation that doesn't know how great it is".
In a postscript to his foreword, this young and proud South
"Several people have mentioned that anyone publishing such a
book is effectively pushing themselves into a corner, should
they ever wish to leave South Africa. Hell, yes. But what a
[We implore Madame Speaker to excuse the language she may
deem unparliamentary: in this case it's all for a good
These heroes who are lending a hand to make South Africa
succeed include the children of the Inkonjane Senior Phase
School in Soweto who, in partnership with the Sunday Times,
volunteered their time and meagre resources to help fellow
children in rural Ingwavuma, KwaZulu-Natal affected by AIDS
They include the people of Rockville, Soweto, who during the
course of last year strengthened their co-operation with the
Police Service, and have, as a result reduced crime in their
area by half in 2001.
These and many other South Africans are the true leaders and
heroes of the nation - the volunteers whose selfless
dedication will ensure that we make progress to make ours
truly a nation of hope.
We have it within us as a nation to join them and many
others to forge a massive movement of volunteers - dedicated
workers in all fields of life -and bring to life those
enduring attributes of all our people, of perseverance and
persistence in the struggle for our own good and the good of
Madame Speaker, Honourable Members, Guests and fellow South
The assessment of the Stellenbosch Team that we referred to
earlier is that we are making progress as a nation in
addressing the social backlogs that we inherited from the
apartheid past. Let us examine, from data available in
government, what the trends are in this regard.
In the five calendar years leading to the end of 1998,
3-million South Africans had been provided with access to
clean running water through the community water supply
project. In only three years since 1999, 4-million more have
been connected, bringing the total to 7-million.
In the five calendar years to the end of 1998, 2,3-million
electricity grid-connections had been made. In the three
years since 1999, 1,2-million new connections had been made,
bringing the total to 3,48-million.
444-thousand hectares had been redistributed in the land
reform programme in the five years to the end of 1998; in
the three years since then, the number has increased to
600-thousand hectares, bringing the total to over 1-million
hectares. The pace has dramatically increased in the case of
land restitution, with 48 claims settled at the end of 1998;
while by the end of 2001 the total number of settlements has
increased to 29-thousand.
While the number of houses built or under construction was
514-thousand at the end of 1998, the number currently stands
These figures speak to the progress we are making in
providing basic services to the majority of South Africans.
They add to the qualitative improvements in learning and
teaching in our schools and the dramatic improvements in
Matric results, which show that the transformation process
is starting to bear fruit.
The masses of our people, both black and white, both
resident at home and abroad, are, like the peoples of the
world, driven by hope and confidence in our future as a
They are determined to see our country progress, refusing to
demobilise themselves by succumbing to carefully cultivated
pessimism and despair. As a government elected by the
overwhelming majority of our people, we have an obligation
to respond to and sustain this hope and confidence in a
rational, realistic and practical manner.
As it must do, the government has conducted its own thorough
assessment of its performance as well as the state of the
nation. We have also studied carefully the findings and
comments made by the academics at the University of
We have recalled our obligations.
We have also taken into account what the Stellenbosch
academics said, that 'governance is not about pushing
buttons and things happening instantaneously'.
The programme we will pursue this year builds on the
foundations that have already been laid. It is informed by
the broad objectives our country agreed upon in the context
of the goal of reconstruction and development, at the centre
of which is the eradication of the legacy of poverty and
This year, the government will work further to reduce the
level of poverty in our society. This will be expressed in
concrete, time-specific programmes.
This year, the government will work further to develop our
greatest resource, our people, including the working people,
the women, the youth and the disabled. Particular attention
will be paid to such matters as health, including AIDS,
education and training and the National Youth Service.
This year, the government will initiate additional
programmes to improve the quality of life of all our people,
encompassing such issues as safety and security and moral
This year, the government will further intensify its
attention on questions of social equity. This will include
matters of black economic empowerment, women's emancipation,
and justice for the disabled.
This year, the government will further increase its focus on
the issue of achieving higher rates of economic growth and
development. This will include promotion of domestic and
foreign investment, trade promotion, a social accord and the
convening of a growth summit.
This year, building on the agreement we have reached with
the public sector trade unions, the government will work
further to improve the efficiency of government. We will pay
particular attention to such questions as improving
professional competence at all levels of government
radically to change the quality of service delivery.
This year, the government will take additional steps further
to strengthen and entrench our system of democratic
governance. This will include the appropriate celebration of
the 5th anniversary of our Constitution and the resolution
of the various questions relating to cultural, language, and
religious rights, as well as the issue of the place and role
of our traditional system of government.
This year, the government will work to discharge its current
international responsibilities. This will include the
hosting of the Summit Conferences we have mentioned and
other tasks that relate to specific instances, including the
situation in the Middle East, as well as the fight against
Finally, this year, the government will work further to
strengthen its links with the masses of our people.
Accordingly, we will participate in, encourage and promote
the involvement of as many of our people as possible in the
people's campaign - vuk' uzenzele! In this context, we will
strive to give real meaning to the strategic challenge
facing the public service -batho pele!
In pushing back the frontiers of poverty, we shall do this
in partnership with many in our society who are ready to
lend a hand in the national effort to build a better life.
Let us cite some of the tasks in this regard.
We need massive mobilisation around registration for social
Government paid out 3,3-million grants in November 2000, and
the number increased to 3,8 by November 2001, the greatest
increase being in child grants. In its programme for the
medium-term, government had targeted the registration of 3
million children eligible for a grant by 2005. As a result
of better awareness and improved efforts by the public
service, we are on course to meet this target by 2003.
Government will in the next few weeks approach religious
bodies, trade unions, traditional leaders, youth structures,
civic associations, women's organisations and others, for
all of us to lend a hand so that in the next three years, we
register all who are eligible for the child grant and other
With each one of us lending a hand, we can attain this, and
further ensure that we not only improve the integrity of the
system against corruption, but also that new registrations
are conducted in reasonable time.
Let us also add that, as the Minister of Finance will
elaborate in the Budget Speech, we shall this year increase
allocations to both old age pensions and child grants by far
more than the rate of inflation.
This call for a national partnership in support of
beneficiaries of social grants, and the increases that we
have referred to, underline the commitment of this
government to improving the conditions of the most
vulnerable sectors of our population. The plight of the poor
is at the top of our agenda.
Again, as part of our work to push back the frontiers of
poverty and expand access to a better life, possibilities
have been created for further tax cuts particularly for the
lower end of the salary scale, a critical contribution by
government to higher real wages for workers.
Preserving and developing our human resources is a matter
that all of us should pay particular attention to, both
individually and collectively.
Government has implemented the Human Resource Development
Programme conscious of the fact that it is the surest
guarantee to sustainable employment and economic growth.
Tens of thousands of trainees have benefited from this,
ranging from science and mathematics teachers, agricultural
inspectors, information and communications technology
learnerships to retrenched mine-workers and so on. This work
will be intensified during the course of this year.
Studies that we have conducted and interaction with the
Presidential ICT Councils, whose establishment we announced
last year, have shown that a critical and pervasive element
in economic development in the current age is the optimum
utilisation of information and communications technology. In
addition to the many programmes we have introduced in this
area, including tele-centres, we shall as a matter of
urgency complete the work towards the establishment of an
The implementation of the National Plan for Higher Education
will gain momentum in the coming months; and government is
under no illusion that the process will be easy. We are
confident though that, working in partnership with higher
education institutions, we shall fashion a system that will
ensure that we meet the challenges of the modern world.
Again, in the spirit of Vuk' uzenzele, we must arise and act
in partnership across the nation and ensure proper teaching
and learning in our schools.
Government will in the current medium-term expenditure
period allocate the necessary resources to ensure that no
child studies under a tree. Consultations will be held with
provincial administrations to ensure that this programme is
put in place as a matter of urgency. Further, through
Community-based Public Works Programmes, it should be
possible to allocate resources for massive renovation
projects in our schools, clinics, hospitals and other
amenities across the country. The Gauteng Province informs
us that R500m over three years has been allocated for this
As we push back the frontiers of poverty, Integrated Rural
Development and Urban Renewal Programmes assume critical
importance. Work has started in all the 13 rural nodes
identified last year, with integrated programmes ranging
from community production centres, Multi-purpose Community
Centres, social infrastructure projects and others being
laid out. In the urban nodes, business plans have been
finalised and a number of projects are already being
Particularly in the rural areas, emphasis will be laid on
ensuring food security and community-based job-creation
projects, so as directly to address the state of poverty in
which communities live.
Consolidating this integrated work in the nodes already
identified will be the focus of government's work this year.
This will then lay the basis for the extension of the nodes
to other parts of the country in the near future.
We intend, within the next three years, to complete the land
restitution process, which is a critical part of our land
In each Province of the country, intense water and
sanitation programmes are being implemented to improve
hygiene, with emphasis on schools and cholera-affected
localities in KwaZulu/Natal and the Eastern Cape. Though we
have contained the worst impact of this disease in these
areas, we operate from the premise that the long-term
solution is quality services to all.
Government, working in partnership with all sectors,
particularly the SA National Aids Council (SANAC), will
intensify its comprehensive programme against AIDS,
sexually-transmitted diseases, tuberculosis and other
In implementing the agreement we reached with the
pharmaceutical companies, we have initiated discussions with
some of them to examine new ways of making drugs more
affordable and to strengthen our health infrastructure.
The work that is being done by various institutions within
or related to government on the health profile of the nation
- the burden of disease, regional and local trends,
mortality statistics and so on - is critical in fashioning a
comprehensive response both in the public and private
sectors. In addition to the many campaigns to change our
lifestyles for healthier living, the focus of our programmes
in the coming period will be the improvement in quality of
services in public health.
With regard to AIDS in particular, our focus remains: a
massive prevention campaign directed at ensuring that the
high rates of awareness translate into a change in
lifestyles; care for the affected and infected; treatment of
all diseases including those associated with AIDS; and
research into a vaccine - a programme described by the head
of UNAIDS, Dr Peter Piot, as the largest and most
comprehensive in Africa and one of the largest in the world;
a programme, he says, with very high levels of government
investment, which is starting to show results.
Proceeding from the accepted premise that there is no cure
to AIDS, we are convinced that, besides the individual and
collective responsibility for us to take care of our own
lives, protection and enhancement of the immune system is a
critical intervention in both the prevention and management
of AIDS. By implication, therefore, poverty reduction and
appropriate nutrition constitute an important front in this
At the same time, continuing work will be done to monitor
the efficacy of anti-retroviral interventions against
mother-to-child transmission in the sites already
operational and any new ones that may be decided upon.
Our partnership across society should advance these multiple
interventions required for us to deal with this epidemic.
Any focus on one issue, at the expense of the others, may
have the effect of undermining what we all seek to achieve.
Last December, the South African Police Service released
comprehensive statistics on the incidence of crime in our
society and the trends that attach to the rates of various
forms of crime.
It is our fervent hope that Honourable Members and the whole
of our society, including the media will continue to apply
their minds to the issues raised in that briefing, the
better to appreciate the role that society as a whole needs
to play in dealing with this scourge. Indeed, when
impassioned calls were made for the release of statistics,
we believe the aim was not to "check" whether government is
"delivering", but to ensure that all of us lend a hand in
the effort to combat and prevent crime.
The simple fact that most of the crimes of assault and
murder happen between Friday and Sunday, among people who
know one another, and with many of them under the influence
of alcohol or drugs speaks to the critical importance of
community organisation and systems of censure.
Clearly, many of these crimes, as well as those related to
rape, domestic violence and child abuse cannot be policed
with any measure of success by the security agencies acting
Credit is due to the thousands of South Africans who have
joined Community Police Forums and our Police Service as
reservists. Together, if each one of us lends a hand we can
do much better. During the month of February, communities
and their organisations have mobilised to enlist more
volunteers. Sustained throughout the year, and with each one
making a contribution, we can surpass the 30-thousand target
set by the Police Service.
The Police and the Department of Justice will continue their
interaction with communities and their organisations to
ensure that particular attention is paid to assisting in
such areas as clerical work in Police Stations, as well as
in the courts, so we are able massively to reduce the
backlog of cases pending trial. Legal and other
professionals, students and other sections in our
communities can play an important role in this programme.
Having set itself the target of stabilising 145 police
station areas where over 50% of crimes are committed within
3 years, our security agencies have managed to attain this
in one year.
More attention in the coming period will also be paid to
improving the intelligence capacity of our security
agencies, particularly to build on the successes that have
been made in dealing with organised crime.
As we said earlier, these trends in crime incidents as well
as other problems within society, including white-collar
crime, call for partnership across society to improve our
moral fibre to strengthen community bonds, to pull together
in the direction of hope and success.
Consultations have started with various organised formations
to convene a Moral Regeneration Summit as a matter of
urgency. Such a Summit should address the issue of the
responsibility that each and all of us should take for our
lives, moving from the understanding that, as we were our
own liberators in resistance against apartheid, so too
should we today act as our own liberators in dealing with
Moral Regeneration also means inculcating in us and our
youth that service to the people, selfless commitment to the
common good, is more valuable than selfish pursuit of
material rewards. Productive investment is more valuable
than aimless gambling in markets for derivatives. Payment
for honest work is more fulfilling and sustainable than
theft. Children and women are there to be respected, not to
become targets of abuse.
As part of the people's campaign - vuk' uzenzele, we must
intensify our work on the questions of social equity. We do
this as a continuation of our struggle and in order to
fulfil the commitments we made with the rest of humanity at
the World Conference against Racism that we had an honour to
host last year.
In this regard, we must ensure that we accelerate and
entrench the forward march of women's emancipation in all
spheres of our lives. As in the past, government must take a
lead in promoting and protecting the rights of women.
We also need to reflect, as a nation, whether we are making
the necessary progress in advancing the constitutional
rights of the disabled people.
Further, part of our programme to bring about social equity
is the successful implementation of the programme for Black
Clearly, we need rigorous and visible progress in this area,
so as to ensure not only the distribution of wealth and
economic power in line with the demographics of our country;
but also to ensure that our economy and society as a whole
can benefit from the wisdom and potential of all South
Africans, and that the benefits of such empowerment are
shared across society, and not just by a few.
Government has accepted the most critical recommendations of
the BEE Commission. On the two specific areas of legislation
and institutional frameworks, it has been decided as
It should be emphasised that the task of Black Economic
Empowerment faces all sectors of society, including the
established business community. As is intensely happening in
the tourism industry, progress will depend on active
government leadership and co-operation from various sectors
of the business community itself.
- All sectoral legislation will be examined to ensure that the
obligation of Black Economic Empowerment is incorporated, on
the basis of common principles agreed upon.
- Once a comprehensive policy statement on this issue has been
finalised, within the next 4 months, BEE Council will be
established, bringing together government and other experts
and practitioners in this critical area.
- Government will, as an actor in the economic arena,
particularly in the massive procurement of goods and
services, examine its structures and systems to ensure that
they fully meet the objective of Black Economic Empowerment.
A further challenge in ensuring inclusive economy, pertains
to access to micro-finance. Many enterprising South Africans
set out to establish small businesses but are unable to do
so through the formal banking system, nor to acquire the
training that they need. Khula and Ntsika were established
to spearhead this, and they have been improving their work
in the past few years.
In order to ensure that the wisdom of the nation is tapped
effectively, and that ideas are processed into practical
programmes as urgently as possible, government will continue
with intense consultations on micro-lending for the poor for
purposes of income generation, working with experts who, by
definition should include communities who have over the
years run many successful self-help financial schemes.
Combined with this initiative will be a comprehensive review
of all institutions mandated to assist Small, Medium and
Micro Enterprises (SMME's).
Last year, government announced a series of interventions by
the state to help speed up the rate of investment and
job-creation. This we did having come to the conclusion that
the country had achieved macroeconomic stability.
We should at the very outset make bold to say that that
conclusion stands. Growth of our economy in 2001 is expected
to register more than 2% of Gross Domestic Product, a
significant achievement given the global slowdown. Interest
rates, though still high, are lower than they have been for
many years; and the same can be said about inflation.
The budget deficit is much lower; and combined with revenue
collection which is above the set targets, this will afford
us the possibility to expand expenditure in real terms,
especially on such important areas as social services and
In other words, barring the exchange rate, all critical
economic indicators have improved.
The changing structure of our economy for the better is
reflected, among other indicators, in the increase in
manufactured exports, and the fact that high rates of growth
can be attained without undue pressure on the balance of
We are as a country within our right to be concerned about
the volatility in the exchange rate, and the kind of
inexplicable movements that we experienced towards the end
of last year. A variety of reasons have been given in this
respect; and we all await the outcome of the inquiry headed
by Justice Myburgh, whom we wish to thank, along with other
Commissioners and their staff for accepting the request to
assist the nation in getting to the root of this problem.
As government, we are in no doubt that the sudden
depreciation of the currency a few months ago is not a
reflection of systemic or structural weaknesses in the
economy as a whole.
We will need to continue working with international
financial institutions and developing countries to fashion a
global financial architecture that cushions so-called
"emerging markets" from occasional market irrationality.
On the whole, we should emphasise that the path of an open
economy that we have charted for ourselves is not up for
review. As we find our way into the future, we shall not
seek solace in the past.
The programme that we announced last year, to pay particular
attention to a number of sectors of the economy will, during
the course of this year, continue to unfold in the areas
identified such as mining, agriculture, telecommunications,
tourism and manufacturing. Many concrete steps have been
taken to speed up work in these sectors, and the relevant
Ministers will detail these in their briefings to the media
and the public. We shall here select a few areas for
To start off with, a number of recent projects that have
been brought to our attention, convince us that the future
holds much promise in terms of direct investment.
Mvelaphanda Energy, working with a consortium of two
American (USA) companies has invested more than half a
billion Rand in the exploration of gas on the west coast of
our country. The consortium is exploring an area covering
approximately 8 million acres within the Orange River Basin
and has encountered excellent gas reserves, that will supply
energy to our country.
Furthermore, a joint venture between a black empowerment
company, Evertrade and a Nasdaq-listed company will
establish waste bin manufacturing facilities around the
country for export, with earnings estimated at about
R1,4-billion in the next seven years.
Harmony Gold has raised over R1billion of foreign
investments for the purchase of gold mines in the Free
To these we can add motor manufacturing companies, which
this year invested in excess of R2 billion, an Irish
clothing and textile enterprise and many others.
Interaction with our business community has reinforced our
confidence regarding their commitment to the growth of our
economy and the prosperity of our society. In this regard,
we wish again to pay tribute to a South African patriot and
leader, the late Marinus Daling who departed from our midst
a week ago.
From the interactions we have had with government and
business leaders in the European Union, Japan, China, the US
and other regions, including at the recent World Economic
Forum in New York, it is quite clear that these trends will
Critical in ensuring greater investment is the
intensification of the work to build economic infrastructure
and lower the cost of inputs. In this regard, progress has
been made in finalising ports policy and starting the
process that will see to improvements in efficiency.
The Nqurha (Coega) Industrial Development Zone has been
designated and work on the port has started. Despite the
difficulties experienced during the course of the year,
progress has been made in the restructuring of the
telecommunications sector, transport, energy and other areas
of economic and social infrastructure, with the primary aim
of ensuring efficient and cost-effective service. In this
context, the restructuring of state assets remains one of
the primary areas of focus in government's programme.
One of the urgent tasks we have set ourselves is to finalise
the setting up of a safety agency for our railways. In this
context, we wish to express our sympathies with the families
of the bereaved and the injured in the recent train accident
in Kwa-Dukuza, Kwa Zulu/Natal.
We are highly appreciative of the agreement that has been
reached in the transport sector, and Spoornet in particular,
to determine the kind of restructuring that enjoys the
confidence of all the major stakeholders, including the
Steadily, as these programmes reach their critical mass,
their impact on the lives of all South Africans, including
in the area of sustainable job-creation, will start to be
The partnerships that we referred to earlier contain within
them possibilities for massive expansion of Community-based
Public Works Programmes.
We also face the challenge of ensuring that the funds
allocated to the National Skills Fund, Umsobomvu,
infrastructure and the employment subsidy are spent with the
efficiency demanded by actual needs in society.
Experience over the past few months has raised the question
of the impact of the rapid depreciation of our currency on
the lives of ordinary South Africans. It is tribute to the
changing structure of the economy that imported inflation
has in recent years been kept to a minimum.
We should also congratulate the agricultural sector for the
work that they have done to finalise the Strategy Plan for
South African Agriculture, which addresses all the complex
issues of research, equitable land distribution, assistance
to small-scale farmers and so on. Government and the
agricultural sector are working together urgently to move
towards implementation of the Plan.
In a meeting of the Joint Working Groups of government with
"big business, black business, agriculture and labour" last
December, it was agreed to convene as early as possible a
Growth and Development Summit to address the urgent
challenges facing us in the economy and build an enduring
partnership in which all of us can lend a hand in building a
prosperous South Africa.
A critical element of this engagement - at least a basic
outline of which will have to be elaborated before such a
Summit - is a Social Accord or Compact among all
role-players. We need to ensure that each sector lends a
hand for higher growth, whose benefits can be shared
equitably among all South Africans. This will mean, among
other things, achieving congruence in expectations and
certainty in such matters as inflation, wage and salary
demands, rates of investments, positioning of the country in
the global arena, our role in NEPAD, job-creation and
The approach to this critical initiative will be based among
other things on the experiences already garnered in the
Millennium Labour Council and NEDLAC. Achieving this Compact
is desirable if our economy has to rise to its full
potential. Nay more, it is necessary if our society has to
advance at the rate required by the social challenges we
This spirit of service to society, Batho Pele, is what
guides us as we pursue the restructuring of the public
service. Though slow and intermittent, progress is being
made in negotiations with public sector unions as we try to
forge a common understanding of the challenges of change,
which should benefit employer and employee, the public
servant and the public we are meant serve.
Steadily, through practical experience - in urban renewal
and rural development, in improving capacity in the
Presidency, in the clusters of Ministers and
Directors-General, and in the President's Co-ordinating
Council and other institutions - integrated governance is
becoming a reality.
During the course of this year, our country will celebrate
the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the basic law of
This is an occasion in which we pay tribute to those who led
the negotiations process and the mass of our people who,
ultimately, are the true midwives of our democracy. The
interactions that we have had with various communities
especially during imbizo activities demonstrate that the
people's wisdom in both policy development and
implementation can only serve to enrich the quality of the
services we render and make people-centred and people-driven
development a living reality.
One of the injunctions of the Constitution is that we must
set up a commission on Cultural, Religious and Linguistic
Rights and we have already tabled legislation in parliament
in this regard.
In accordance with the government's comprehensive Public
Service anti-Corruption Strategy, we have introduced
measures to ensure that the code of conduct is upheld and
that all public service managers are subject to conflict of
interest disclosures. To complement this, legislation to
fight corruption will be brought before parliament during
Among the matters that we will bring to successful
conclusion this year is the definition of the role of
traditional leaders in our system of government. The
consultations that have taken place across the board have
laid the basis for framework legislation.
We will this year finalise the restructuring of our National
Orders to reflect the art, symbolism and idiom of South
Africa as a whole. Work to build the Freedom Park Monument
will start this year so that South Africans and the rest of
humanity can celebrate this important shrine symbolising the
rich heritage of our country in the evolution of the Earth,
life and humanity and the struggle of part of that humanity
It is therefore appropriate that this monument is launched
as we approach the end of the First Decade of Freedom in two
years time. I would like to thank the Freedom Park Board for
having appointed the Honourable Wally Serote to work as a
full-time chairperson on the Freedom Park Monument so as to
speed-up the process.
What inspires us as we work with other leaders and peoples
across the continent and further afield is to shape a new
world, defined by the needs of all humanity.
We enter 2002 with Africa, through its representative
structures having formally embraced the commitment that this
should, in actual practice, be the African Century.
Various projects envisaged in NEPAD will start to unfold in
parts of the continent, as we turn the ideals in this
document into practical action.
During the course of last year, our commitment to Africa's
progress also found expression in the deployment of our sons
and daughters in uniform in Ethiopia, the Democratic
Republic of the Congo and Burundi. We did so because we
remain confident that our sister-people in these countries
will find solutions to their problems.
We are humbled to play host to the Inter-Congolese Dialogue,
which commences this month in our country.
In order to ensure that we stay true to our commitment to
peace on the continent and other defence functions, we shall
continue with the programme to equip our National Defence
Force in line with policies of the country adopted by its
In pursuit of stability in our region, we will work
tirelessly to support the people of Zimbabwe in their quest
to hold free and fair elections in their country.
It is in the interest of the people of Zimbabwe and, indeed,
the whole region that the government that emerges from the
March elections is legitimate and enjoys the support of the
In order to play our part in ensuring that this happens, and
in response to the wishes of Zimbabweans themselves, we
will, within a week, send a multi-sectoral South African
Observer Mission (SAOM) to Zimbabwe, headed by Dr Sam
Motsuenyane. I am informed that Parliament is also ready to
send a Parliamentary Observer Team on the same mission.
Clearly, the mission and the conditions that our teams seek
to create are one and one only: let the people of Zimbabwe
speak through the ballot box!
Further, we wish to express our solidarity with our brothers
and sisters in Lesotho who are due to hold their national
elections in May this year after a long process of
This year, we will continue with efforts to attain peace and
development in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola
and the Comoros.
We shall also persist with whatever we can contribute to
ensure that the wanton destruction of the Palestinian
Authority is brought to an end, and that peace and security
for the Palestinian and Israeli child becomes a reality.
Again, we shall during the course of this year, continue to
strengthen economic and other forms of co-operation with
countries of the European Union, Japan and the rest of Asia,
the USA and the Americas, in pursuit of Africa's
development, our own national interests and the interests of
humanity as a whole. In this regard, we shall continue to
challenge a pessimism that expects Africa to fail in any of
its endeavours, and the undeclared doctrine of collective
punishment against all Africans that seems to come into
effect when one or some among our leaders stumble.
We wish once more to reiterate our solidarity with the
people of the United States of America for the terrible
events of September 2001. If anything, our fervent hope is
that this tragedy will continue to re-awaken in all of us,
our bonds as a global human family. Along with other
countries, under the aegis of the UN, South Africa will make
whatever modest contribution it can in the reconstruction of
The ingredients for faster progress on all fronts of our
work are there. The primary one among these is our
collective appreciation that no one, and no one, can do for
us what we should do for ourselves.
In this programme, we lay out the main challenges that face
us in the coming year and beyond. What guides our approach
is that each one of us should lend a hand in doing the
simple things that will make a difference to the lives of
especially the poor.
Together as a people, we have made great strides. The
successes we have achieved make the clear statement that
acting together, we can and shall continue to push back the
frontiers of poverty and expand access to a better life.