Address by President Cyril Ramaphosa on The Presidency Budget Vote 2021, National Assembly
2 June 2021 - 12:00am
Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly,
Deputy President David Mabuza,
Fellow South Africans,
Twenty-five years ago the elected representatives of the South African people gathered in this assembly to adopt the first democratic Constitution in our country’s history.
In welcoming this historic moment, President Nelson Mandela said:
“The new constitution obliges us to strive to improve the quality of life of the people… [O]ur national consensus recognises that there is nothing else that can justify the existence of government but to redress the centuries of unspeakable privations, by striving to eliminate poverty, illiteracy, homelessness and disease.”
It is this obligation that guides, informs and inspires the work of the Presidency.
Our democratic Constitution vests the executive authority of the Republic in the President.
It requires that the President take responsibility, alongside Ministers, for implementing legislation, for developing policy, and for coordinating the functions of state departments and administrations in the interests of the people.
In short, the Constitution confers on the Presidency the responsibility of leading a capable developmental state.
It is exactly ten years since the National Planning Commission released a diagnostic report that led to the development of the National Development Plan.
The report flagged lack of coordination within government as one of the reasons for failure to implement our progressive policies.
A year later the National Development Plan introduced the concept of a capable state.
A capable is state is critical to development and service delivery, and to strengthening cooperative governance, a core principle of our Constitution.
Advancing an ethical, capable and developmental state is our priority.
This follows a prolonged period in which state capacity was severely weakened and several state institutions strayed from their mandates.
A capable state is well-run and well-managed, with clear lines of responsibility and accountability.
Actions are effectively aligned with intentions.
In a capable state, programmes at national, provincial and local government level are synchronised.
Resources are used to their best effect and not wasted.
In a capable state, policymaking is coherent and evidence-based.
This begins with translating the electoral mandate of the governing party into key outcomes.
To refine policymaking, a capable state draws on the respective strengths and capabilities in society to support the national development agenda.
This helps us to refine governance and develop innovative approaches to challenges.
In a capable state there is accountability and oversight across all three spheres of government, driven by the Presidency.
It is for this reason that I have signed individual performance agreements with Ministers that outline their responsibilities and their performance indicators in line with the Medium-Term Strategic Framework.
In support of our commitment to transparency and open government, these performance agreements are available to the public online.
In a capable state, public servants are ethical, experienced, skilled and selfless.
To attract and retain a corps of dedicated civil servants, we are committed to lifelong learning, regularly skilling staff and providing the necessary orientation to entrants to the public service.
That is why we are strengthening the work of the National School of Government and finalising a framework on the professionalisation of the public service.
In a capable state, resources are used for the benefit of the people and not for self-enrichment.
Since the start of this administration, we have worked to realign the Presidency so that it may more effectively drive the transformation of our society and economy.
We have sought to strengthen and better equip the Presidency to direct the programme of government and to coordinate its implementation.
It is our firm conviction and intention that the Presidency must become the heartbeat of a capable and developmental state.
This Budget Vote is about how the Presidency is working to achieve that goal.
The main focus of our work as the Presidency is to give meaning and substance to cooperative and integrated government and unleashing all the capabilities to be found both in the state and through building partnerships across society as we build a capable and developmental state.
By drawing on resources and capabilities in and beyond the state – whether in the civil service, civil society, academia, labour, business or development agencies – we have enriched the work of the Presidency.
Unleashing these capabilities inherent in the state and partnerships has helped us to refine governance, to advance evidence-driven policy making and to develop an innovative approach to challenges.
This approach is evident in several areas of our work, from our response to the coronavirus pandemic to the preparation of the infrastructure pipeline, from the development of our economic recovery plan to the implementation of our investment drive, from tackling gender-based violence and femicide to charting a just transition to a low-carbon economy.
In the State of the Nation Address in February, I said that one of our foremost priorities for 2021 is to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is essential for the restoration of the health and well-being of all South Africans, for the recovery of our economy, for the creation of employment and to address many of the ills that confront our communities.
From the outset, the National Coronavirus Command Council has coordinated our national response to the pandemic.
It has been guided by the advice of experts in various disciplines and has worked together with leaders in different spheres of government, labour, business, religious leaders, traditional leaders and others.
In conditions of great uncertainty, where knowledge about the nature and cause of the disease has been limited, we have worked together as a society to limit infections, to save lives and to protect livelihoods.
Through these efforts, we have largely managed to protect our health facilities from being overwhelmed and have implemented unprecedented economic and social support measures to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on the most vulnerable in society.
Through the collective efforts of all social partners, we have embarked on a mass vaccination programme that aims to reach over 40 million people.
This extraordinary effort is being coordinated by the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Vaccines chaired by the Deputy President.
It brings together all relevant departments to streamline decision-making and ensure effective coordination of a massive logistical undertaking.
Despite the several challenges that have delayed the vaccine roll-out, the public vaccination drive is now gathering pace.
Within the last 48 hours, we passed a significant milestone.
More than one million people in South Africa have now received a vaccine dose.
As we accelerate the roll-out of vaccines, we continue to engage various manufacturers to ensure a reliable and diverse supply of vaccines.
We therefore welcome the news that the World Health Organisation has validated the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use.
This is a crucial step that should allow our own health products regulatory authority, SAHPRA, to expeditiously consider the application from Sinovac.
No country in the world has been spared the effects of the coronavirus, demonstrating how inter-connected and inter-dependent we are.
It has also shown that no country can hope to overcome the pandemic alone.
As a country and as a government, we have therefore been involved in efforts across Africa and in the broader international community to forge a common response.
During our chairship of the African Union, we led the development and implementation of a continent-wide COVID-19 strategy.
We appointed special envoys to mobilise funding for the continental response, and actively lobbied the G20, the international financial institutions and other international bodies for comprehensive financial support and debt relief for African countries.
Through the Africa Medical Supplies Platform and the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, we led innovative efforts to secure essential medical supplies and vaccines for all African countries.
I wish to pay tribute to my fellow African leaders and to the scientists, health workers, business people, development agencies, financial institutions and civil society leaders who have worked together to protect African lives and livelihoods.
These efforts demonstrate what is possible when African countries work together, when we draw on our collective resources and capabilities, and when we speak with one voice on the global stage.
Following the completion of our term as AU Chair, we have been given the responsibility of African Union COVID-19 Champion to continue to coordinate the continent’s response and recovery.
We have appointed the Commission on African COVID-19 Response, made up of medical science experts from across the continent, to support our work as African Union COVID-19 Champion.
At a global level, South Africa is currently the co-chair, with the Prime Minister of Norway, of the facilitation council of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator.
Through this we are working to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines largely for developing economy countries, but more especially on the African continent.
We are also leading the campaign, alongside India and other countries, for a temporary waiver of the agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) at the World Trade Organisation.
Such a waiver would enable countries to manufacture their own vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics at a time when global supply is severely constrained.
If it is successfully adopted it will pave the way for the development and growth of local pharmaceutical industries in South Africa, on the continent and in other developing countries.
This is critical to the continent’s health security.
Despite the high burden of disease in Africa, we have to import most of our vaccines, therapeutics and other medications.
Manufacturing our own vaccines will enable us to overcome the current pandemic and respond to future health emergencies.
We are leading a campaign that focuses on the creation of vaccine manufacturing capabilities on the African continent.
Our discussions with French President Emmanuel Macron during his state visit to South Africa last week, laid the basis for a three-track approach to supporting effective and equitable global vaccination.
First, France affirmed its commitment to work with South Africa, India and other countries calling for a limited, time-bound waiver for intellectual property rights.
Second, France and South Africa would work together to ensure that there are no trade restrictions, such as export bans, for raw materials and other exports required in the manufacturing of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics.
Third, France, together with Germany and the European Union, would support the manufacturing of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics on the African continent through mobilising financing and technology transfer.
We will continue to work with our partners in the international community to secure the health and well-being of all in this country, on our continent and around the world.
We call on every South African, including the political parties represented in this House, to stand with us in this fight for justice, dignity and human lives.
While we have had to confront the impact of the coronavirus on human health, we have also had to respond to its impact on the country’s economy, on businesses, on jobs and on people’s livelihoods.
In the first quarter of 2020, we introduced a comprehensive package of economic and social support.
This included wage support, expanded protection, small business financing by government and a loan guarantee scheme to support banking sector lending.
The support package helped to shield our society from even greater economic damage and laid the basis for a more concerted plan to ensure a strong and sustained economic recovery.
Additional social grant payments alone reached more than 18 million South Africans, while wage support protected the jobs of almost 5 million workers.
Last October, we presented the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan to a Joint Sitting of Parliament.
Recognising the extraordinary challenge facing us, and the need for rigorous executive oversight of this plan – and drawing on the experience of the National Coronavirus Command Council – we created a National Economic Recovery Council.
This Council, which I chair, has given detailed attention to those aspects of the recovery plan that have the greatest potential impact.
It has enabled us to enhance coordination, identify challenges in implementation and move to address blockages.
Fundamental to our economic recovery – and indeed to the transformation of our society – is the creation of jobs, especially for young people.
The results of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey released yesterday for the first quarter of 2021 demonstrate the severe impact that the pandemic has had on employment across the economy.
The rising number of the unemployed, those who are actively searching for work but cannot find it, represent real people in every part of our country.
They include too many of the 18 million young men and women across the country, who make up nearly a third of our population.
In our villages, towns and cities, young people are a dynamic force propelling themselves and their communities forward, even in the midst of hardship and numerous obstacles.
To ensure that these young people are empowered and equipped with the tools to succeed, we have located the coordination of our efforts to address youth employment in the Presidency.
Eight months ago we launched the Presidential Employment Stimulus, the largest and fastest scale-up of public employment in our country’s history.
Since its inception, this programme has been making a difference in the lives of South Africans across the length and breadth of our country.
I speak of Samukelisiwe Linda from KwaZulu-Natal, who was retrenched when the pandemic struck last year, but is now employed by the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure in the Welisizwe Rural Bridges Programme.
I speak of Noluthando Mpondo from the Free State, who was unemployed for four years before she joined a WhatsApp group with other young people who were looking for work and found out about the Presidential Employment Stimulus.
She found employment through the stimulus as a primary school teaching assistant and is using her income to support her mother, younger sister and cousins.
We speak here also of several owners of early childhood development centres across the country who are receiving support grants to keep their doors open and pay their staff.
We speak of the small-scale and subsistence farmers who have been issued with production input vouchers to keep their businesses afloat or to expand them.
These are South Africans, many of them young, who are now receiving an income, developing new skills and contributing to their community and the country’s economy.
Their unflagging optimism, their enduring belief in our country, and their will to succeed despite the odds, should give us all hope.
To date, the Presidential Employment Stimulus has supported nearly 700,000 opportunities.
Of these, 422,000 are jobs that have been created or retained, 110,000 are awards issued for livelihoods support, and a further 162,000 are opportunities where awards are currently in process.
We have developed an online dashboard where South Africans can track progress in the implementation of the stimulus, pioneering a new approach to transparency and accountability.
The stimulus has played a crucial role in supporting vulnerable households to keep working and earning an income, while at the same time benefitting the communities in which they work.
It has incubated new approaches to coordination and collaboration across government to achieve a single objective, demonstrating the powerful results of a whole-of-government approach.
A further R11 billion has been allocated for the continuation of the Presidential Employment Stimulus in the current financial year.
Critical to the success of the employment stimulus has been the work of the newly-established Project Management Office in the Presidency.
The PMO supports the delivery of key strategic priorities from the centre of government.
It works across government to ensure effective coordination where multiple departments and agencies are involved and provides implementation support where required.
In addition to the Presidential Employment Stimulus, the PMO has been integral to the development of the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention.
This programme, which was developed before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, will enter full implementation this year.
The backbone of this intervention is a national Pathway Management Network, which brings together a wide range of partners from within and beyond government to provide young people with opportunities for learning and earning.
Young people can join the network through a dedicated mobi-site or by visiting a labour centre or offices of the National Youth Development Agency in all nine provinces.
Once they have joined the network, they will be able to view and access opportunities and receive active support to participate in the economy.
The mobi-site has been zero-rated by all mobile networks, and will be officially launched in two weeks’ time, on Youth Day.
Among other things, the intervention will support new models of skills training linked to employment in fast-growing sectors, to ensure that our skills development system is closely matched to demand in the economy.
Beyond the economic recovery, the Presidency has responsibility for driving economic growth and transformation.
To provide support for this work, I appointed a Presidential Economic Advisory Council, comprised of leading local and international economists, which has been hard at work since 2019.
The role of the Council is to identify, analyse and make recommendations to the President on key economic issues facing South Africa.
Through formal meetings, bilateral engagements with Ministers and their departments, and open workshops, the Advisory Council has brought insight and expertise to pressing economic policy challenges such as energy reform and fiscal consolidation.
The interactions have been informed by extensive research and have provided constructive criticism and encouragement for government’s economic policy positions.
The Presidential Economic Advisory Council has six workstreams to align with government’s economic priorities.
These are macro-economic dynamics and public investment; poverty, inequality and jobs; agriculture, trade and industrial policy; state capacity and political economy; energy transition and growth; and South Africa’ growth narrative.
A central pillar of our economic recovery is a massive infrastructure investment programme.
The Investment and Infrastructure Office in the Presidency is driving a coordinated government approach to both investment and infrastructure development.
The work of this office supported the operationalisation of the Infrastructure Fund in August last year.
It has also supported the establishment and work of Infrastructure SA, which will enable an integrated approach to the identification, preparation, financing and implementation of major infrastructure projects.
Following last year’s inaugural Sustainable Infrastructure Development Symposium, a pipeline of 88 projects to the value of more than R2.3 trillion were identified.
The interest raised by investors in specific projects led to the gazetting of 50 strategic integrated projects in human settlements, student accommodation, transport, water and sanitation, energy, agriculture and agro-processing, and digital.
They include the Redstone renewable energy project that, once operational, will supply stable electricity to more than 200,000 homes.
The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy has announced eleven preferred bidders for the emergency power procurement programme, totalling nearly 2,000 megawatts of contracted capacity.
We expect these projects to bring in around R45 billion of private sector investment and create approximately 3,800 jobs during the 18 month construction period.
The Investment and Infrastructure Office is also working with the private sector to develop the requisite skills in relation to financial and technical engineering.
This will enable us to prepare and package projects that can attract funding and financing.
Professionals and experts in project finance, financial structuring of complex infrastructure projects, programme management and infrastructure planning have been seconded to work with the Investment and Infrastructure Office.
This massive infrastructure development effort complements the ambitious investment drive that I launched in 2018, with a view to attract at least R1.2 trillion in new investment over five years.
In support of this drive, we have hosted three South Africa Investment Conferences, which together have raised over R750 billion in investment commitments.
This is a significant achievement, especially since the third Investment Conference was held in the midst of the pandemic and the global economic slowdown.
As the country emerges from the economic contraction of 2020, the Presidency is able to draw on the local and international expertise of the members of the Presidential Investment Advisory Council to shape our investment promotion and facilitation drive.
At its inaugural meeting in April this year, the Council provided frank feedback to government on how we could improve the investment climate in South Africa, and highlighted opportunities in areas such as in the bio-medical, green hydrogen and agro-processing sectors.
The Council supplements the activities of our six investment envoys.
The investment envoys act as a bridge between government and the investment community.
They not only provide guidance for investment mobilisation efforts; they also act as global champions for South Africa’s investment proposition.
To accelerate the policy reform trajectory that we embarked upon before the pandemic, the Presidency inaugurated Operation Vulindlela late last year to unlock key economic reforms.
A dedicated team has been set up in my office and in National Treasury to drive this initiative.
The Vulindlela team is working daily with implementing departments to drive the delivery of priority reforms and build momentum in the reform agenda.
Our focus is on a limited number of high-impact reforms in key economic sectors such as energy, water, telecommunications, ports and rail and immigration.
Operation Vulindlela represents a new determination to forge ahead with economic reforms to improve our global competitiveness, lower costs and barriers to entry, attract investment and create jobs.
It recognises that the only way to place South Africa on a fundamentally different growth trajectory is to implement structural reforms, many of which have been delayed for too long.
We are making progress on a number of fronts.
These include the decision to raise the licensing threshold for embedded generation projects, an accelerated timeframe for the completion of digital migration, the publication of a revised Critical Skills List, and the establishment of a National Water Resource Infrastructure Agency.
Intensive work is currently underway in a number of areas, including enabling third-party access to the freight rail network, improving the efficiency of our ports, reviewing the policy framework for skilled immigration, and re-engineering the process for water use license applications.
The work being done in the presidency is about action, not talk.
It is about rolling up our sleeves and getting things done, in order to accelerate the transformation of our economy.
The achievement of inclusive growth and social transformation requires state owned enterprises that effectively fulfil their social and economic mandates in a sustainable manner.
While there has been important progress in stabilising key SOEs, these efforts will not be sufficient, on their own, to enable these entities to make the vital contribution they can make to our economic and social progress.
That is why government envisages a fundamental overhaul of the SOE model to address not only the deficiencies of the immediate past, but also the requirements of national development into the future.
The Presidential Review Committee on SOEs laid the foundations for rethinking the role, governance and composition of this crucial portfolio of entities.
Through the Presidential SOE Council, we have created a dedicated structure, tapping on expertise from all of society, to guide this reform.
The SOE Council makes recommendations on overarching frameworks and guiding principles, while complementing the work of the boards of specific entities and responsible departments.
We envisage an ownership model that clearly separates the responsibilities of ownership, policy development and regulation.
Effective ownership will become more centralised to counter dispersal of SOEs across the state and to ensure more coherence.
Such a model will enable greater transparency, accountability and oversight, and subject all strategic SOEs to more rigorous requirements for financial and operational performance.
A clear distinction is to be made between commercial and non-commercial SOEs (and between commercial and non-commercial functions within entities), and the development of funding models that are appropriate to the function.
We have developed a new framework for private sector participation that mobilises additional funding for economically viable infrastructure, balances risk sharing and does not result in increases in the prices of goods and services.
Implementation of the approved standard guidelines on the appointment and remuneration of SOE boards and executives that prioritises the recruitment and retention of appropriate skills, experience and competencies.
This would include key delineation of authority and responsibility between elected public officials, non-executive directors and executive leadership.
The Presidency has prioritised accelerated land reform as part of economic and social transformation.
It is imperative that land reform should be aimed at redressing the injustices of the past.
It must also ensure that the country’s land is more productive and is more sustainably managed for the benefit of all South Africans.
The Inter-Ministerial Committee on Land Reform, which is chaired by the Deputy President, is driving the implementation of the recommendations of the Expert Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture.
We commend the hard work that has been underway in the National Assembly and through public hearings across the country on amendments to Section 25 of the Constitution to enable the expropriation of land without compensation.
As this work nears completion, it is critical that we all remain focused on the great desire for land, particularly among the poor and dispossessed, in our country – and that we do everything within our means to meet that need.
The achievement of a capable and developmental state requires that we decisively defeat corruption in all its forms.
If our economy is to thrive, if our people are to be empowered, if poverty is to be defeated, we need to tackle corruption, fraud and mismanagement in every area of public life.
Since the start of this administration, we have taken decisive measures to end state capture and fight corruption.
We are steadily and progressively turning the tide, strengthening our law enforcement agencies, identifying wrongdoing and ensuring that action is taken against those responsible.
We are cleaning up state-owned enterprises, many of which have taken steps to recover misappropriated funds and pursue individuals and companies involved in wrongdoing.
We acted swiftly to address allegations of corruption in COVID-related procurement.
This included a wide-ranging series of investigations by the Special Investigating Unit, which uncovered several instances of corruption and which has resulted in disciplinary and criminal action and steps to recover stolen funds.
In responding to these outrageous acts of criminality in the midst of a national crisis, government has made significant strides towards a more robust approach to the prevention, detection and prosecution of corruption.
The establishment of a Fusion Centre that brings together different law enforcement entities to share information and collaborate in the investigation of cases provides a valuable model for future anti-corruption efforts.
The online publication of all COVID-related contracts across all public entities has established a precedent for greater transparency in government procurement.
One of the consequences of the work we have done and continue to do is that South Africans are seeing action taken against people accused of wrongdoing and are seeing funds being recovered.
While it is disheartening to read on a daily basis about corruption allegations, it is significant that much of what is now in the public domain is the result of work being done by institutions like the SIU, the Hawks, the National Prosecuting Authority, the Auditor-General and others.
The institutions charged with uncovering and prosecuting corruption are doing what is expected of them.
It is important, as we rebuild these entities, that we demonstrate our confidence in their ability to investigate all allegations and to act without fear and favour.
We must affirm the rule of law and the importance of due process.
It is this principle that informs our approach to recent allegations around the Minister of Health and certain contracts awarded by his department.
These are serious and disturbing allegations and it is therefore essential that they be thoroughly investigated by the SIU and any other appropriate authority, that these investigations be finalised without delay and that the due legal process is followed.
An essential part of our national determination to end state capture is the work being done by the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into state capture.
We are confident that the Commission will not only establish the extent and nature of state capture and enable us to hold those responsible to account.
It will also provide valuable recommendations that will assist us in ensuring that corruption of this sort is never allowed to happen again.
The Presidency is centrally involved in areas of work that are critical for a sustainable future for the country.
The newly-established Presidential Climate Change Commission is responsible for guiding South Africa’s approach to climate change and setting out the path for a just transition to a low-carbon economy.
The Commission brings together a wide range of expertise from government, academia, industry and civil society. It includes climate change NGOs, campaigners and activists.
It provides a platform to collectively shape policies and programmes that support our international climate change obligations, including those contained in the Paris Agreement.
The Commission has held several meetings and workshops this year to define its areas of work and to contribute to key policy outcomes such as the country’s Nationally Determined Contributions to the reduction of emissions.
Through its transparent and evidence-based work, we foresee that the Commission will provide a balanced and coherent approach to tackling climate change.
Our country has, over the years, engaged robustly in climate change negotiations.
As we head towards COP26, we will continue to support a just transition for those countries – such as those on the African continent – that contributed the least towards climate change but bear disproportionate costs from adverse climate events.
We will continue to draw attention to the need to support climate adaptation efforts in addition to climate mitigation.
The envisaged financial support for developing economies to transition to low-carbon economies has not materialised.
We will continue to advocate for this support, and will also mobilise appropriate climate finance for our national needs.
As we work to counter the damaging effects of previous industrial revolutions on the environment, we are also preparing to seize the opportunities of the new, fourth industrial revolution for rapid, sustainable development.
In 2019 we established the Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution to develop a country strategy that will make effective use of all the opportunities presented by rapid technological change.
A project management office has been established in the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies to work with all critical stakeholders to oversee the implementation of the Commission’s recommendations.
This will see South Africa taking bold steps in areas like skills development, artificial intelligence, advanced manufacturing, e-government and the development and deployment of 4IR infrastructure.
The Presidency is tasked with mobilising government and all sectors of society to address critical social issues.
Violence against women and children continues to be a dark stain on our country.
Despite significant efforts at raising public awareness, and substantial state resources being dedicated to fighting it, it continues unabated.
It is approaching two years since we met in a special Joint Sitting of Parliament to debate an Emergency Response Action Plan to respond to gender-based violence and femicide.
The rollout of the emergency plan, as well as the implementation of the National Strategic Plan to Combat Gender-Based Violence has been overseen by the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities and the IMC on Gender-based Violence and Femicide.
The draft Bill to establish a National Council on Gender-based Violence and Femicide is currently with the State Law Adviser.
Thereafter, it will go through Cabinet and be released for public consultation.
The Minister in the Presidency responsible for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities will provide detail on the progress that has been made, the challenges that have been faced, and the priorities for the year ahead.
It is a matter of great significance that National Assembly will tomorrow engage in a Second Reading debate on three very important Bills related to gender-based violence – the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Bill, the Domestic Violence Amendment Bill, and the Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Bill.
I wish to commend Parliament for prioritising these Bills.
The passage of these amendments will be a major victory that will strengthen the fight against gender-based violence.
The Presidency will continue its advocacy for the empowerment of women and the eradication of gender-based violence through our membership of the UN’s Generation Equality initiative.
The Presidency is an important part of our national aspiration to build a better Africa and world.
Our participation in global affairs is valued and respected both on the African continent and on the broader international stage.
Our engagement in international forums is guided both by our national interests and the interests of our continent.
Our sister countries in Southern Africa have asked us as South Africa to chair the SADC Organ Troika, which actively participates in efforts to address regional conflicts and promote stability in the SADC region.
At the global level, South Africa continues to support a rules-based multilateral order and advocates for reform to ensure fair representation for the global South.
At the G7 where South Africa has once again been invited as a guest country, and at the G20 where the country is a member, we continue to advocate for global solidarity in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
This includes support for low- and middle-income countries to access vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, using all available instruments and channels, and to finance a robust economic recovery.
The AU special envoys have played a crucial role in making the case for debt service suspension and the mobilisation of new financing to support recovery efforts on the African continent.
The issuance of Special Drawing Rights by the IMF is an important intervention in this regard.
We will argue that the African continent, in addition to its quota-based allocation, should benefit from a reallocation of SDRs destined for rich economies.
This acknowledges that these countries, having enjoyed extensive stimulus programmes incurred at very low interest rates or with unconventional monetary policy, are unlikely to draw on these special drawing rights.
The Presidency, through the G20 and G7 Sherpa, and in partnership with DIRCO, rallies various government departments to make contributions at various working groups and to support the President’s engagement in these fora.
This is the time of year when we pay tribute to the many young men and women whose courageous activism won us our freedom.
We salute the young people of today, who are confronting the legacy of our past, who are rising to the challenges of the present, and who are forging a new society.
The true test of a capable state is the extent to which it expands the frontiers of hope for every citizen, but most especially its young citizens.
Our country is an infinitely better place than it was in 1976, for young and old.
At the same time we know that the difficulties young people face today can be a source of despondency, disillusionment and even anger.
We owe it to this generation and to future generations to fulfil the mission of our Constitution – to build a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights.
As the Presidency, as the beating heart of government, we will not relent until this promise is fulfilled.
We will keep trying and we will work harder.
We will acknowledge our weaknesses and act to correct them.
We will continue to build on successes and intensify our efforts.
I call on every member of this House, and every South African listening today, to be part of this effort.
Our unity has forever been, and will forever remain, our greatest strength.
I hereby commend this Budget Vote of the Presidency to the National Assembly and look forward to what I trust will be a constructive debate.
I thank you.
Issued by The Presidency, 2 June 2021