Closing “sweeper” speech by Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, in the debate on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address, Monday, 19 February 2018
THE MINISTER OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Madam Deputy Chairperson, I think it is the hon Steenhuisen, who most understands being the joker in the pack. Chairperson, we are very pleased to have the opportunity ...
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M G Boroto): Order, hon members! Order!
THE MINISTER OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: ... to participate in this debate. We are looking forward with great interest to the President advancing the international co-operation objectives that he outlined in his state of the nation address. We are looking keenly to the practical steps that will be taken to implement the Tripartite Free Trade Area Agreement which will combine markets of 26 countries and a population of consumers numbering more than 600 million people. We believe action in this area will increase demand for products, revive manufacturing, and create jobs on a scale not seen before on the continent.
We are also looking with great interest at the conclusion of a Continental Free Trade Agreement on the African continent because it’s our view that African countries have not developed as yet the art of securing value for the continent as a block. We believe immense potential lies in the possibilities of a Continental Free Trade Area, for example, we could share experience and practice with respect to minerals processing and innovation as well as looking at how we share with respect to ensuring food security, agro-processing and many other areas that could become continental areas of free trade activity.
We also are thrilled that this year we chair the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, Brics, group of countries, and that we will give priority to the promotion of value-added trade and intra-Brics investment into productive sectors. At the same time, we also this year chair Southern African Development Community, SADC, and we will intensify regional efforts to implement our industrialisation strategy, to develop an infrastructure roadmap and implemented and promoting increased cooperation among SADC countries.
These objectives, Mr President, resonate with
Our focus correctly includes achieving our national interest goals, but as leaders such as President Mandela and Mama Sisulu taught us national interest in the absence of a strong foundation of global solidarity makes international co-operation soulless and uninspiring.
The broad international co-operation agenda that was set out by you, Mr President, during your address solidly reflects these conjoined imperatives.
We have obligations to the friends who supported us in the course of struggle who stood beside us in trying times. We must never forget them. We must never desert them.
Our agenda of international co-operation in 2018 offers outstanding opportunities. Most exciting probably this year is our celebration of 20 years of co-operation and solid partnership with the people of the People’s Republic of
Madam Deputy Chairperson, any foray into international cooperation in this year in which we celebrate President Nelson Mandela and Mama Albertina Sisulu reminds us that we are beneficiaries of their courageous commitment to international friendship.
We, in our own vain must show similar courage and commitment. President Mandela began building links of solidarity on the African continent in the early 60s and we must never waver from this critical focus.
Our programme of international policy and practice has been significantly strengthened by the 54th Conference of the ANC. The majority party has agreed that government must cut diplomatic ties with
We must also not neglect the last occupied territory in Africa,
Of course, Mr President, as you indicated,
Our relationships have to be those of mutual capacity sharing and not those of neo-colonial dominance by South African mega corporate in the African continent.
There are two perceptions as we pursue this agenda that
The second challenge is the notion that we do not share the benefits of Brics memberships sufficiently with our compatriots on the continent nor it is believe do we share those that we derive from G20 membership opportunities. We need to work hard through you, Mr President, to dispel these options and have practical responses to them.
One of the ways in which we can do this is to build on the science and innovation partnerships we have achieved through the most significant global scientific project of the 21st century.
South Africa in partnership with several other African countries made history in 2012 when we secured the right to co-host the Square Kilometre Array global radio telescope. The project has allowed for significant benefits in human resource development and science infrastructure capacity development in our partner countries on the African continent. It is a model that we believe we must use to build on in the future.
Your announcement, Mr President, of a major investment conference planned for later this year offers further opportunity to advance our
We need to change the nature of the South African conversation and the nature of the African collaboration so that it truly advances the development of the continent.
Our investment promotion efforts must include incentivising multinational companies to locate and relocate some of their research and development, R and D, facilities to
We must be firm on our insistence that
Africa's greatest resource is her people, particularly young people. We should use international co-operation to expand the skills base of our continent. We need to address our skills gaps and develop an international skills development initiative through our higher education institutions.
We are facing a fierce worldwide competition for skills we need to develop rules to ensure that we become an attractive participant in this global skills competition while also developing our own skills base. Our immigration policy on skills must support us in addressing this aspect of our international agenda.
Mr President, for years, our foreign policy has been assisted by the success of our own negotiated political settlement. Other countries saw us, and in particular President Mandela, who we celebrate this year, as an example of how to solve political problems practically and without violence.
Now in our new dawn, it’s time to ensure that we utilise international co-operation to increase employment, to eradicate poverty and to eliminate inequality. So, we must put our partnerships to absolutely good effect.
Africa remains our focus, our number one priority but we will, Mr President, ensure that our foreign policy sustains warm relations with all our chosen trade and investment partners.
As we work to strengthen our Brics partnership, we will certainly not neglect other valued and established partnerships. As we talk about the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we may very well, Mr President, learn a great deal from China’s recently announce plan to ensure that digital revolution takes off in their country. As we plan to invite our African partners as you will, to the Brics summit meeting, let us ensure that we draw the strength of
Now, Mr President, having said all that, I was intrigued today to note how antiseptic the response to your call for deep debate has been and I envy you not in trying to develop a substantial response to some of what has been said, fortunately somewhat the hon Shivambu has save the day a little. [Applause.] However, Mr President, I noted with interest that the hon Maimane offered his hand and then quickly took it away [Laughter.] too nervous to be resolute about joining a national programme of radical transformation.
I also wish, Mr President, to assure hon Malema, we are resolute on land expropriation without compensation [Applause.] on the basis agreed upon and set out by our party at its National Conference.
We also, Mr President, assure Mr Malema that he should not have sleepless nights because Mr Ramaphosa will be President Ramaphosa of South Africa following the general election of 2019. [Applause.]
We feel a sense, Mr President, of sorrow for his party, in that it will continue to rely on the good graces of the DA to be in political office and that will exist until 2021 because they will fail to convince their former voters that indeed their vote will only lie in their hands. We, therefore, look forward to hearing the explanation that will tell those votes why a neoliberal collaboration was more preferable to collaboration with a progressive movement such as the ANC. [Applause.]
Deputy Chairperson, we were rather astounded to hear the remarks of the hon Groenewald concerning his belief that white youth do not get opportunities due to black economic empowerment, BEE. All verified data shows that this is not true. All verified data indicated clearly that this assertion can be strongly disputed. Twenty- three years after our democracy, black youth continue to suffer the burden of exclusion and marginalisation including women as so well-described by hon Ngwenya. Ms Ngwenya, we wish to confirm the commitment of the ANC to a nonsexist society.
This is fundamentally a task we are committed to executing and we would welcome attention to the fact that great strides have been made. And that perhaps our failure as public representatives is to fail to imbue a concern for women in our general population in that much of the violence takes place in our homes, between persons who know each other and that we need to have greater care being exercised by our entire male population within our families and within our society. So it is not that it is political parties that are practicing the violence, it is our families, those who are close to us ... [Applause.] and we need to engage them to change their conduct.
I believe that hon Mbhele would be pleased with the progress he is seeing being made by the police as they do what is needed to be done. I would certainly agree with him that one of the things we need to address is this issue of empowering railway police because indeed they are underfunded and lack support. It is an area that we would have to pay greater attention to.
As to the hon Lekota, well he spoke and then left – as usual – and I sadly have to say that I found his contribution rather embarrassing. [Interjections.] I could not understand how a leader, in the struggle, who had suffered imprisonment and other strictures and who understands the mispossession that was practised and dispossession among the people in our country, a person who would have that as his rooted political education, should understand that we have nothing but an obligation to ensure that we repair that history. [Applause.] So I found his comments most amazing.
I think we would all welcome the promise of support that has been indicated to you by Reverend Meshoe but I do say to him and other colleagues that they should leave you to choose your Cabinet if you wish to and to really leave it to yourself to decide. [Interjections.] Now, much has been said about uselessness of summits, well, as a person who works very closely with nongovernmental organisations, NGOs that feel that government does not reach out to them sufficiently; I found it rather amazing that the intention to engage the people could be regarded as an exercise in futility.
It is exactly the correct approach and may we thank you for finally giving Mr Holomisa something different to say ... [Applause.] because the economic summit will now happen. So we thank you very much for that. We absolutely wonder sometimes at Mr Plouamma. He appears, from time to time, he says it is not a New Dawn. He is a person who just, I think, who meanders in darkness. [Laughter.]
There is just something that keeps him in that space of no light; no hope and I really do not find any useful comment from there. I would advise the hon Cachalia to perhaps look at some of the steps that have been taken by the Department of Transport in order to address the very matters that he referred to. You would see that there is some improvement. There is of course much more to be done but work is underway and this is absolutely great and should be acknowledged and appreciated by the Member of Parliament concerned with respect to those areas.
So, we are very excited that the Department of Transport has begun to address the matter of vessels that have our flag as well as ensuring that our ports are able to receive more vessels and that this becomes a sunrise area of economic activity. I do not think that the President is anybody’s prisoner and I do not know what the loony left refers to but since you are sitting to the left perhaps you know as I am not sure.
We are certainly resolute about the need - and we would assure the hon Cachalia – to address red tape because this keeps coming up as an issue that must be attended to and I think we should look at it. On the matter of low labour productivity, we have to identify the sectors that we are talking about because I think we castigate workers in our country far too much and millions of them work extremely hard and receive really inadequate wages. So I think we should stop this label that is negative of workers and talk about particular sectors ... [Applause.] and the means in which we could improve productivity in them. But, let us say, thanks, to the people of
But when we talk about land, it is those who have been dispossessed, who do not have it, that we want to have access to ownership of that land. We certainly would ask that the hon Mbabama provides an indication of the farmer whose land she says has been taken away illegally so that our colleagues working in the sector can address the issue. Now, the hon Mbinda has clearly not been reading all the literature on the fee-free higher education policy announced by former President Zuma. I would suggest that he gets all the briefings and I am going to ask hon Minister Mkhize to give him a copy of the full statement and he will see what the policy actually states.
Furthermore, it is absolutely untrue that vice chancellors are befuddled. They have been fully engaged on this matter. There have been several meetings, some of which I have been part of as a member of the Inter-Ministerial Committee.
So, Mr Mbinda, I assure you, the policy is there and it will be implemented. [Applause.] I think I am in agreement with the hon Jooste that we cannot take grants as the main solution to poverty in our country, I strongly agree with hon Jooste in that regard and I think as well that she made some very interesting points around the need to attend to the matters of nutrition and food security. Now we are saying, as we hand land ownership to the people we will have an increase in food security because they will work the land that they own and benefit from it. [Applause.]
So, I absolutely agree with her on the need to address these areas and of course we are committed, through the President, to improving the number of jobs and opportunities for the people of our country. Hon Godi, we must never tire of pursuing the vision of building a united
Of course, the most vulnerable and marginalised in our country must be attended to and be provided with the appropriate support but all South Africans should feel that they belong in our country and we must create the conditions for that to happen. That is our mandate. That is the aspiration of our Constitution and we must execute in that regard. Finally, hon Cassim, we have done a great deal in education. Not everything as yet but much has been achieved and the new form of debate, the debate of content and work, requires acknowledgement. Where there has been progress and identification of challenges where they exist. Thank you. [Applause.]
Source: Unrevised Transcript, Hansard.