Address by Minister of Human Settlements, Lindiwe Sisulu, in the debate on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address, Monday, 19 February 2018
The MINISTER OF HUMAN SETTLEMENTS: Hon Speaker, I would like to make a request to you to look through the Rules of Parliament and determine whether it is admissible in this House that a member can stand here and cast aspersions on Ministers who serve in this government. [Interjections.] My request to you is to look at the Rules of Parliament and advise us on this matter. [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: Order! Order, hon members! [Interjections.] Order!
Mr N F SHIVAMBU: Speaker, on a point of order: When a Member of Parliament is of the view that a certain Rule of Parliament has been violated, he or she would rise on a point of order and immediately indicate that there has been a violation of a Rule ... [Applause.] ... and then give you an opportunity to rule on it - not take the podium in an opportunistic way and do what the Minister of Human Settlements is doing. It is totally out of order to want to abuse that platform on things that are provided for, otherwise, in the Rules.
The SPEAKER: Hon Shivambu, your point of debate is taken. Hon Minister, please proceed.
The MINISTER OF HUMAN SETTLEMENTS: My request stands, hon Speaker.
I find it totally dishonourable for the hon Maimane to take credit for the change of government that was a structural ... [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: Order, hon members! Please allow the Minister to make her speech. Hon Minister, please proceed with your contribution.
The MINISTER OF HUMAN SETTLEMENTS: What was a structural adjustment within the ANC was driven by the ANC and has nothing to do with the opposition. [Interjections.] Furthermore, he continues, for exaggerated effect, to talk of a broken state. [Interjections.]
Let me join everyone in congratulating you, hon Comrade President, on being elected the President of our Republic and reiterate the good wishes and confidence of our party that the Chief Whip has conveyed to you. I would also like to join the Chief Whip in thanking you for acknowledging the contribution of former President Zuma in the struggle and in government. [Interjections.] [Applause.] It was the right thing to do, and it helped cement the message that the change of government was not out of malice. He is a leader of our organisation and a former President.
The state of the nation address you delivered on Friday, 16 February 2018 removed any doubt that could have existed that your ascension to the Presidency was, indeed, timely. It has already helped the country to regain its focus and imbued our people with much-needed renewed energy.
In your speech, you took us back to the period which, I think, has already been referred to, when former President Mbeki stood here and gave his seminal, “I am an African” speech. He took, overwhelmingly, everyone in this room with him and in the euphoria that followed there was unanimity that we were one. We are, all of us, one. We are Africans.
Similarly, after your speech, there was a unanimous feeling of joy and approval, and the entire Chamber rose as one to applaud the renewed hope that you gave. Hope, Mr President, is the most fertile state of mind to drive a people forward. You changed the collective country’s thoughts from concentrating on negativity to a positive mood.
As has been mentioned, your closing paragraph was singularly touching. You invoked and borrowed an appropriate message from our own, recently departed, African jazz giant, Hugh Masekela, when you asked us to send you. In essence, you were asking all of us to follow suit and asked each of us to volunteer to be an activist of this renewed hope.
It was a call to each one of us to lend a hand to fight poverty; to fight Aids; to fight cancer; to defeat alcohol and drug abuse; to end the abuse of women and children; and, indeed, to lend a hand to fight all forms of discrimination. It was a call to active-participant citizenry, where each citizen feels valued, their contributions called for so that all of us can be part of this creation of a better life for all.
On behalf of the ANC, we accept the call that you have made to each one of us here to serve and to be ready to serve. In return, we say, Send us too, because ...
... siyavuma. Andibi kunjalo
And so, too, would every decent citizen agree.
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITION: It is a must!
The MINISTER OF HUMAN SETTLEMENTS: It is a must. [Laughter.] Let each citizen ask themselves what they can do for the country, not what the country can do for them. If, through your actions you inspire us to feel included and allowed to dream more, to learn more, to do more and become more, then you are, indeed, on the right path. Our potential as a people is endless. Lead us to get to it.
Immediately after your speech, Mr President, and the cheering that ensued in the Chamber, the opposition suddenly found a different voice outside of this Chamber. They complained that the speech was full of promise, blowing in the wind, with no plan.
Two things need to be made clear, in response. Firstly, we do have a plan, a plan that was accepted and adopted by all in this House. It is called the National Development Plan. That is our plan. That is a national plan. [Applause.] The President was the deputy head of the commission that developed that plan. He has been the Leader of Government Business. He is on top of all the issues that confront us here, today. He has a plan. He knew what he was talking about. It was not hot air blowing in the wind.
Secondly, the President mapped out the steps that he was going to take with each commitment that he made. Those summits are the first steps of those plans. He has a plan, we have a plan, and you are part of that plan. You will be invited to those summits.
Thirdly, and most importantly, you are part of that plan because the President has made a commitment. The first thing he wants to do, as a priority, is to meet with each one of the leaders of the opposition. [Applause.]
Mr President, we have taken note of your instruction that perhaps we should do something about our governance. We do remain convinced about the need to do something about our governance. Perhaps the review of the size and structure of government departments is one of the things we will be looking at. In view of the resources available to us, it will be a necessary cost-cutter.
Governance, by its very nature, calls on all of us to constantly revisit the plans that we have and the paths we have chosen, to assess their efficacy and respond to the environment we operate in. We will streamline the work of government across the departments at national level and also in the various spheres.
Mr President, you stated the need to perhaps revisit each department and make sure that perhaps you find what we should be doing there. It would be good if you did it under conditions of anonymity or if you did not indicate that you would be visiting the departments involved. [Interjections.] We look forward to hearing from you what you find in those departments.
As you emphasised the configuration and effectiveness of government, you also emphasised the effectiveness and governance of state-owned enterprises - that they should play a meaningful role in a developmental state. We welcome this.
As the Constitution enjoins us that we should, amongst other things, improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person, itself a necessary condition for radical socioeconomic transformation, we have therefore established in the public sector, institutions, organisations and structures whose main objectives are the fulfilment of this, and other constitutional imperatives that are upon us. There is no doubt that we have faced and continue to face serious challenges in the public sector. In this regard, we will work timeously and speedily to make sure that there are changeable effects to this in the triple challenges of inequality, poverty and unemployment.
The issues the President raised are important not only to the governing party, they are of national and provincial importance and at local government level, as well. The need to focus on building a capable state is an issue that all political parties should be concerned about and, in fact, rally around. We can start by having a capable state around the city of
In 2011, it became very clear that for the effective, efficient and capable state that we all dream of for purposes of complying with the constitutional requirements of public administration, and for the purposes of dealing with a myriad of problems pointed out by the Auditor-General, Public Service Commission and other Chapter 9 institutions, we had to do something about the state of governance. In pursuance of this, we established a commission. Then, we put the Public Administration Management Bill in place. This acts as an instrument to guide all of us to have proper administration of government. In this, we streamlined national, provincial and local governments.
The Public Administration Management Act is a corrective and proactive regulatory instrument. It is corrective in the sense that it is a response to the many structural and human weaknesses that continue to bedevil the Public Service. These weaknesses have been captured in the National Development Commission’s Diagnostic Report and have been reported continuously to us. The need for further elaboration on the Public Administration Management Act is with us and if we focus on that, we will get the basis of a capable state ongoing. We can do better.
In essence the Public Administration Management Act is based on the following pillars of the Constitution. A high standard of professional ethics must be promoted and maintained; the efficient and economic use of resources must be promoted; public administration must be development-oriented; services must be provided impartially, fairly, equitably, and without bias; people’s needs must be responded to; and the public must be encouraged. This is in the preamble to the Public Administration Management Act.
Mr President, I take the occasion now to say that the issue of corruption that you mentioned is something very central to the Public Administration Management Act and to our concerns. We have dealt with it and we will continue to look into this matter.
We now have a Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, created in 2014, when the two Ministries in the Presidency were merged. We now have a Mandate Paper that guides government. We need to strengthen these by conducting more onsite monitoring, alongside you, Mr President.
The National Development Plan is instructive in the steps we must take to improve the delivery performance of the state. It is notable that the example used is that of water – not water now, but generally, at the point at which the National Development Plan was put in place. This is what it states:
The public needs a clearer sense of who is accountable for what. There need to be systems to hold all leaders in society accountable for their conduct.
Weak, poorly performing systems make it hard to attribute responsibility, with the frequent result that no one is accountable, in the end. The plan cites the example of what happens when the water in a town is found to be undrinkable – or in a situation like we find ourselves in in
The media blame the Minister of Water Affairs. The community blames the mayor. The mayor blames the head of the water utility. This comes from the NDP, in case you haven’t read it!
The mayor blames the head of the water utility. The head of the water utility blames the technical engineer. The engineer says that the maintenance budget has been cut for the past three years and now the water is undrinkable. The head of finance in the municipality says that the budget was cut because personnel costs have crowded out maintenance expenditure – and so it goes on and on. So,
Mr President, we have a value-add document that guides our approach to the Public Service. This value-add is measured in a motto that all of us adopted, and to which public servants are bound. This motto is Batho Pele. Together with their representatives, a service charter was signed in 2013 which binds all public servants.
For your information, the preamble to this Public Service Charter states the following. All employees of the state commit to upholding the values and principles of public administration enshrined in section 195 of the Constitution and other laws, policies and frameworks. It upholds the constitutional responsibility of the state, clearly articulated in the Bill of Rights to deliver services to its citizens. It notes the continued efforts of the state and public servants in building a developmental state.
It acknowledges the service delivery challenges in the Public Service, and is equally concerned about the increasing manifestation of corruption in the Public Service. Furthermore, all public servants are required to commit themselves to this charter and sign a contract with the state that they will abide by it. [Interjections.]
At this point, Mr President, I wish to bring to your attention a request that has come to me to pass to you. The request is this. In the heyday of our changeover of government, the media followed us everywhere and suffered overwhelming fatigue. We have learnt, with regret, that Peter Ndoro has lost his job.
An HON MEMBER: What?
The MINISTER OF HUMAN SETTLEMENTS: Mr President, we ask you to stand up and assure the country that he has not killed you. You are alive and you have forgiven Peter Ndoro ... [Laughter.] [Applause.] ... because he is an outstanding representative of this country. [Interjections.]
In conclusion ... [Interjections.] ... I hope you will give me my time, Speaker.
The SPEAKER: Order, hon members! [Interjections.] Order! Order! People hadn’t heard the news about Peter Ndoro, so there is a bit of confusion.
The MINISTER OF HUMAN SETTLEMENTS: I am so sorry. I was conveying to the President our concern about the fact that we, in the ruling party, have kept the media on their toes, and have perhaps done them harm and the President needs to indicate he is still alive. He has not been killed. [Interjections.] He has not been killed. [Interjections.] Shall I continue? [Interjections.]
HON MEMBERS: No! No!
The SPEAKER: Please proceed, hon Minister. [Interjections.] Order, hon members! Allow the hon Minister to finish! [Interjections.]
An HON MEMBER: What a joke you are!
The SPEAKER: Please, hon Minister, just finish your speech.
The MINISTER OF HUMAN SETTLEMENTS: I want my time. Right.
An HON MEMBER: What an embarrassment!
The MINISTER OF HUMAN SETTLEMENTS: You are the biggest one. [Interjections.]
This is a message to the President. What destination should those steering the Republic keep their eyes fixed upon?
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITION: It is a must that you get the sack!
The MINISTER OF HUMAN SETTLEMENTS: By what course should they guide us there? The answer to what most reasonable, decent, and blessed people always desire, namely a better life for all, an honour. Those who wish this are our best citizens, none of whom are here. [Interjections.] Those who make it happen are our best leaders, over there, and are considered to be our saviours. [Interjections.]
These people, who govern us ... [Interjections.] Speaker, I do request your protection, as I conclude. [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: Hon Minister, you are protected. Please finish.
The MINISTER OF HUMAN SETTLEMENTS: Thank you. [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: Order, hon members! Hon members, order! [Interjections.] Hon members, you are going to delay the hon Malema. [Laughter.] [Interjections.]
Dr M Q NDLOZI: Thank you, Speaker. Can the Minister sit down? Clearly, she has done.
The SPEAKER: No. She must just finish her speech.
Dr M Q NDLOZI: But she doesn’t know what she wants to say, now! [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: Please take your seat, hon Ndlozi.
Dr M Q NDLOZI: Our people are waiting for the president to speak, now.
The SPEAKER: Hon Ndlozi, sit down. Let the Minister finish her speech. [Interjections.]
The MINISTER OF HUMAN SETTLEMENTS: Those people who govern us should never get carried away by their own political power so that they turn away from their promise to our people. Neither should they embrace a peace or a state that is dishonourable. The founding principles of our Republic, the essence of a better life with honour, the values that our leaders should defend and guard with their very lives, if necessary, are those respecting the religion of our people, the Constitution, discovering the will of the people, and making sure ... Please, hon Speaker, protect me from these people. [Interjections.]
We allowed ... we allowed you ...
The SPEAKER: Order, hon members!
The MINISTER OF HUMAN SETTLEMENTS: We allowed you to grandstand ...
The SPEAKER: Hon members, when you talk incessantly, she can’t even hear herself think. [Interjections.] Please give the Minister a chance.
Ms H O MKHALIPHI: Speaker, on a point of order ...
The SPEAKER: What is your point of order, hon Hlengiwe?
Ms H O MKHALIPHI: Can you allow our president to speak? Our people are waiting to hear from the president. [Interjections.] She’s not ready. She’s just not ready. She’s telling us about Peter Ndoro, Peter Ndoro, Peter Ndoro. We want to hear ...
The SPEAKER: Take your seat, please, hon deputy secretary general of the EFF. Please allow the Minister to finish. [Interjections.]
The MINISTER OF HUMAN SETTLEMENTS: This, which I am quoting, which is a fundamental of democracy, will apply to your president in 20 years’ time, or 24 years’ time – or however long it takes.
What I wanted to say to you, Mr President, in particular, is that the authority of state is vested in this Parliament. Obeying the law, valuing the traditions of democracy, upholding the courts and their verdicts, and practising integrity, defending all of us and defending the country, standing up for our country is what we expect of you, always. This is what we got from you. This is the commitment that you gave to this House and we applaud you. We are very grateful for the fact that you stood here to give us renewed hope. Thank you very much. [Interjections.] [Applause.]
Source: Unrevised transcript, Hansard