Thank you, Madame Speaker:
I must declare upfront that the mayhem that transpired in this house last Thursday is highly regrettable. Parliament is an institution established with the core values of accountability, teamwork, professionalism and integrity among others, and we must always uphold these noble values.
A young boy who had the glorious opportunity of ushering in our Head of State with a poetic rendition, was drowned out by heckling and jeering adults who are supposed to be leaders of society. The President of the Republic, His Excellency J.G. Zuma, had to wait for more than an hour to articulate his plans for our country because there were constant interruptions followed by jeering, heckling and even profanities spewed inside this esteemed house with reckless abandon.
We must find our moral compass and remember that we are all here because we are mandated by the voting public. We are accountable to the people of South Africa who have entrusted us with the responsibility of leading them in our democratic journey towards a better society. The members of this house must pride themselves in their excellent service to the people of this country.
Madame Speaker, the time has come for all of us to restore the dignity and the decorum of this prestigious house. Our parliament must return to its former glory as a dignified space for honourable members to have candid debates in the interests of creating a better life for all South Africans.
As a nation, we are deeply saddened by the senseless deaths of 94 patients at Esidimeni Mental Hospital. President Zuma expressed our collective grief and indicated that the recommendations of the Health ombudsman will be speedily implemented without any reservations.
We empathise with all those who lost their loved ones in the midst of this tragedy. However, it is disingenuous and even inhumane for political parties to use the death of human beings as a rallying cry for political expediency.
The minister of health will pronounce on the position of government regarding this matter. It is only fair that we allow the official processes to unfold and give space to the families to begin the process of healing after losing their loved ones.
For the benefit of those who left before the proceedings were concluded on Thursday, President Zuma's State of the Nation Address is underpinned by the National Development Plan (NDP) as a bedrock for building a better and more prosperous South Africa by 2030.
The NDP is an overarching plan that is aimed at ensuring that all South Africans attain a decent standard of living through the creation of decent employment, elimination of poverty and reduction of gross inequalities.
Parliamentarians must put the needs of the people first and not advance their personal aspirations at the expense of the public.
Parliamentarians must put the needs of the people first and not advance their personal aspirations at the expense of the public. They must be compatriots who want to efficiently deliver the much-needed services to the nation.
The NDP is very emphatic on accountable leadership. South Africa needs leadership that is devoted and dedicated, capable and committed, and not self-serving. Let us put South Africa first. Let us put our people first.
It is clear that freedom is not always synonymous with equality and this disjuncture is quite prevalent in our society. The gross inequalities in our socio-economic condition stifle growth in various sectors of our society. According to Statistics South Africa, white households earn at least five times more than black households. This is an unacceptable disparity especially twenty-three years after the dawn of freedom and democracy.
In the world of business, most black people are still economically deprived and dissatisfied with the economic gains of our freedom and democracy. Despite more than R600bn of BEE transactions from 1995 to 2015 amongst the top 40 JSE shares, this has not benefitted ordinary black people.
Only 10% of the top 100 companies on the JSE are owned by black South Africans directly - achieved principally through the introduction of the generic code and various sectoral BBBEE dispensations. Of the above, about 60% is in the hands of strategic BBBEE partners, 20-25% is in the hands of community schemes and 15-20% is in the hands of employee schemes.
It was in view of the slow pace of transformation and lack of inclusivity in the economy that the President introduced the Radical Socio-Economic Transformation. The emphasis here is on fundamental change in the structure, systems, institutions and patterns of ownership, management and control of the economy in favour of all South Africans, especially the disenfranchised black people.
I must assure you, honourable members, that Radical Socio-Economic Transformation is not just a political rhetoric. It is a more rigorous step in our continuous journey towards building a better and more prosperous South Africa.
The Radical Socio-Economic Transformation builds on the previous interventions that were aimed at transforming the South African economy. All these interventions are in line with the assertion of the Freedom Charter, adopted by the collective mass of our people under the auspices of the Congress of the People, in Kliptown in 1955.
The Freedom Charter states: "The mineral wealth beneath the soil, the banks and monopoly industry shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole." We are now building on the prescripts of the Freedom Charter by implementing the Radical Socio-Economic Transformation as an intervention strategy to expedite transformation in our society.
More than 75% of our economy is in the hands of the private sector. This places the private sector as a strategic partner in our efforts to find solutions to the economic challenges that confront us as a nation.
South Africa is a country with a mixed economic system comprising the state, private sector and social capital. More than 75% of our economy is in the hands of the private sector. This places the private sector as a strategic partner in our efforts to find solutions to the economic challenges that confront us as a nation. We continue to work in close collaboration with the private sector through the CEO Initiative and other relevant structures as alluded to by the President.
We also have a historical backlog of a skewed economic system characterised by exploitation and imbalanced distribution of wealth along racial lines. We are now well into the third decade of the democratic dispensation in South Africa, and we cannot continue to lament the legacy of our divided past. The Radical Socio-Economic Transformation is a vehicle through which we accelerate the process of transferring economic power to the black majority.
The ANC is unapologetic about its stance of prioritising the black majority in its transformative programmes. We must accelerate radical socio-economic transformation to ensure beneficiation of the majority of black people who suffered centuries of colonial domination, decades of oppressive apartheid rule and a lifetime of economic deprivation.
This radical shift in our transformation agenda requires that we follow the guidance of the NDP Vision 2030 in exploiting optimally the strategic levers that are available at our disposal. We are a responsive government that puts the needs of the people at the apex of its agenda.
Access to housing and basic services has improved through the construction of four million new houses since 1994, increasing connections to electricity to 95% of households and piped water to 85% of households. In the education sector, we are unequivocal in our commitment to providing financial assistance to the financially needy and the missing-middle students. Government has provided funds to ensure that no student whose combined family income is up to six hundred thousand rand per annum will face fee increases at universities and TVET colleges for 2017.
Madame Speaker, the President spoke at length about igniting economic growth to the extent of elucidating on the Nine Point Plan, which details tangible measures that government will embark upon to ensure that we create jobs. He listed industrialisation, mining and beneficiation, agriculture and agro processing, energy, SMMEs, managing work place conflict, attracting investments, growing the oceans economy and tourism as some of government's focal areas.
At the core of the radical socio-economic transformation programme is the creation of jobs and accelerating shared and inclusive economic growth. The state will play a major role in the economy to drive the transformation agenda.
The government will utilise the strategic levers that are available at its disposal. This includes legislation, regulations, licensing, budget and procurement as well as Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment Charters to drive transformation.
Honourable Members, we have put systems in place to ensure that the policies and strategies that we introduce are adhered to and implemented as a matter of urgency. We have strengthened our monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to ensure that our interventions yield positive results and are evidence-based.
As the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, we monitor and evaluate progress on the implementation of government policies, plans and programmes towards the NDP Vision 2030 goals of addressing poverty, unemployment and inequality, and outline remedial interventions where needed.
Our responsibilities include monitoring and evaluating the impact of returns on investment in government programmes such education, health; infrastructure, and including the impact of role of State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) and Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) in eradicating poverty, reducing inequality and promoting unemployment opportunities.
We will accelerate the roll-out of our monitoring programmes such as the Presidential Hotline and Frontline Delivery Monitoring visits. Practical examples of simple yet profound monitoring interventions would be the progress we have made in areas such as the payment of suppliers within 30-days of receipt of valid invoices, as well as social reforms in mining towns and labour sending areas.
We will continue to improve the monitoring and evaluation of mining, land distribution, the development of SMMEs, and other forms of licensing to support transformation, enhance broad-based ownership, local procurement and empowering black businesses.
We are increasing our capacity to monitor the implementation of socio-economic initiatives to effect change in the living conditions of our people. We are very robust in implementing monitoring and evaluation of government programmes.
We will accelerate our efforts particularly in the economic sector to enhance faster and inclusive growth. We periodically monitor progress to ensure that our interventions yield demonstrable results in changing the living conditions of the majority of the people of South Africa.
We have established Operation Phakisa as a big fast result-oriented programme that takes a collective approach to economic development. Through this programme, we have developed very specific interventions in the Oceans Economy, Health, Education, Mining and Agriculture sectors. These interventions have been designed as a collaborative effort with business, labour, community and other civil society groups to fast track the implementation of programmes that will improve delivery, create jobs and increase investment.
All these interventions are guided by the NDP Vision 2030 in pursuit of the demands of the Freedom Charter, which also states "The People Shall Share in the Country's Wealth!" The transformation interventions articulated here as part of the Radical Socio-Economic Transformation are what would propel us forward as a nation.
In a nutshell, Madame Speaker, the President's State of the Nation Address, with its strong socio-economic transformation thrust was timely, appropriate and poignant. The plans that he articulated will add meaningful value and bring about positive change in the lives of ordinary South Africans. It is precisely for these reasons that the African National Congress lends its overwhelming support to the State of the Nation Address.