Honourable Speaker,
His Excellency, President of the Republic of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa,
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Chairpersons of Portfolio Committees,
Honourable Members of the National Assembly,

1. Introduction

Exactly 25 years ago in this very house, the Constitution as the supreme law of our land was adopted, marking the beginning of constitutionalism that is rooted in the ideals of democratic governance.

The adoption of the Constitution in 1996, meant that those of us who are entrusted to hold public positions must at all times in the exercise of power, be transparent, accountable, and responsive to the needs of the people.

By so doing, we would ensure that public participation in governance structures and processes is promoted and entrenched. Thus we stand today in presenting this budget vote, cognisant of the responsibility to ensure that the ideals of freedom, democracy and accountability that are enshrined in the Constitution are safeguarded and protected.

2. Promoting Accountability

Therefore, our contribution as Leader of Government Business in the National Assembly, seeks to promote people’s participation in the affairs of the state by ensuring that their voice is heard, that their plight is addressed and the right to development is nurtured.

For those of us in leadership and public service, are accountable to the people who give us the mandate at every cycle of elections. As society we must fight the scourge of corruption that undermines our development and provision of government services to the people. Together let us draw a line in the sand against corruption and maladministration.

This deepening of democratic cultures and practices, goes beyond the parliamentary floor. Instead, it extends to building partnerships between government and all segments of civil society, in particular women, youth and the private sector in order to strengthen solidarity, moral regeneration and cohesion among the people.

3. Youth Empowerment and Skills Development

At the heart of our mandate, is service to the people. During this Youth Month, we recognise the past, present and future role of young people in shaping and influencing the political, economic and technological landscape of our country.

During all periods of social change and reform in our country, the masses have always cherished and trusted young people as custodians and carriers of hope in the development of our nation.

As a people, our expectations on the youth is a firm belief that the sustainability of our democratic order and state, would best be achieved when they are active in public affairs.

We are mindful that the youth of our country is burdened unfairly so, with challenges of structural unemployment, lack of adequate skills for demands of this century, and general exclusion from meaningful activities that can bring material meaning to their young lives.

According to the StatsSA Quarterly Labour Force Survey released yesterday, the youth aged 15-24 and 25-34 years recorded the highest unemployment rate of 63,3 and 41,3 percent respectively. This is a cause for genuine alarm.

As the National Youth Policy 2020-2030 reminds us: “These are not just statistics, these are people with hopes, dreams and capacities”.

Our priority as this Administration, is to reskill, retrain and support these approximately 3.5-million young people not in employment, education or training to address the emergent skills mismatch. It is within our power to translate South Africa’s demographic dividend into practical benefits, by aligning skills to industry needs.

This reality has further been made more urgent by the Covid-19 pandemic wherein certain industries have been completely redefined. That is why at the level of the Human Resources Development Council, we are recalibrating the focus of our Human Resource Development Strategy towards developing skills and training that is innovation-led, entrepreneurial-focused, and technologically advanced. Such focus would complement the implementation of a mixture of interventions under the Presidential Employment Stimulus package.

4. Rural and Township Economy

As government we acknowledge that our role is to develop significant numbers of entrepreneurs that are critical to job creation, especially in rural and township areas. In this regard, there is work to be done in providing support to this sector, including creating linkages to global value chains and deconcentrating ownership patterns by a select few big companies. For this to be successful, we are working on consolidating empowerment models like the Government Nutrition Programme to support agriculture and Social Enterprise Model in the manufacturing of construction materials.

Linked to this area of work, is ensuring that participants in the informal sector comply with the municipal by-laws. Among other issues is to address tensions that exist within township and rural economy between locals and foreign nationals.

Therefore we must ensure that:

- licences of operation are reviewed periodically,
- those with licences open bank accounts in South Africa where income is declared for tax purposes, and
- businesses are audited, income and expenditure declared to prevent money laundering.

5. Women Empowerment

This budget vote is presented in a year dedicated to honour the living memory of Mama Charlotte Mannya-Maxeke, widely known as “the Mother of Black Freedom in South Africa”.

As we remember her fearless spirit and fight against unjust pass laws early in the 20th century, we also acknowledge the campaigns and courageous mobilisation of women working as farmworkers and domestic workers, to fight for better working and living conditions.

The journey of her life continues to symbolise the fight against patriarchy, racism, and the exclusion of women, people with disabilities and key populations from accessing equal development opportunities across all facets of life.

This week as we observe the Child Protection Week, it is befitting that we remember her astute leadership, as she gave a voice to those who were voiceless and vulnerable, it remains our collective responsibility as the different arms of state to do the same.

We call upon all of us to never remain silent when women and girl-children do not feel safe at home, on the streets, in schools, in workplaces, and on social media for fear of being victimised. This is the reason as government, we remain steadfast in working to remove barriers to justice for survivors and victims of gender-based violence and femicide.

Doing so, will be a befitting memory to the selfless contribution of Charlotte Maxeke, to the freedom and democracy we enjoy today.

There is no doubt that any freedom and democracy without the total emancipation of women, remains an incomplete revolutionary journey. Such emancipation must advance meaningful economic participation and inclusion of women in all key productive sectors of the economy. Women must take up leadership positions in agriculture, mining, financial services, construction, manufacturing and many other sectors of the economy.

As government, we will ensure our land reform programme prioritises women and youth as beneficiaries of land. Access to land, is key to ensuring that women are able to utilise this asset for productive economic activities that contribute to sustainable livelihoods and job creation.

6. Land Reform

As this Administration, we have on several occasions indicated that land reform is taking place within a constitutionally-defined path, hence the unfolding parliamentary process of addressing the historical injustice of land inequality, displacement and dispossession.

Notable progress is being made in the implementation of recommendations made by the Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture, towards addressing land justice.

The land reform programme further seeks to achieve national reconciliation and economic inclusion. Such inclusion shall be attained by the redistribution of land for human settlement and industrial development to achieve spatial justice, as well as to unlock the potential of the people to realise their right to development.

As government, we will not act outside the boundaries and prescripts of the law but rather we would seek legitimately so, respond to the imperatives of restorative justice, economic inclusion and social cohesion in a responsible manner that guarantees policy certainty, is not chaotic and does not compromise food security.

To this end, we have processed a series of legislative and policy interventions, which includes but not limited to:

- The finalisation of the Expropriation Bill of 2020 which is currently going through due parliamentary processes.
- The Land Court Bill that has been introduced in Parliament and will provide for the establishment of the court that will focus solely on land matters.
- The adoption of Beneficiary Selection and Land Allocation Policy that guides the allocation of land to different categories of beneficiaries.

Moreover, to ensure that land is productively utilised by beneficiaries, government across all spheres, is paying attention to the provision of effective post-settlement support and packages such as provision of requisite infrastructure and access to finance as demonstrated recently at the handover of title deeds and property rights at Covie here in the Western Cape, and at Tafelkop in Limpopo.

As the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Land Reform and Agriculture continues with its work on accelerating restitution and redistribution, many more such initiatives will be unveiled in the coming months. It is through non-partisan partnerships that inclusive land reform can be achieved, thereby bringing dignity to the people.

We are now at the point of no return. Land access is an indispensable bedrock of our social compact, unity and cohesion. It is a collective task of healing this nation to forge a common path of peace, social progress and inclusive prosperity.

7. Rapid Response Interventions on Service Delivery

Our efforts on land reform to drive development and economic inclusion, cannot be fully achieved, and its fruits be enjoyed in the context of collapsed capacity of the state to provide basic services at municipal level.

As this Administration, we have identified a capable and developmental state as the apex of our priorities. This also entails building and nurturing a functional local government as the coalface in the provision of reliable and quality services to the people.

The objective of doing this, is to respond to interrelated structural challenges of:

- collapse in core municipal infrastructure services in some communities,
- governance failures, financial mismanagement and administration shortcomings, and
- slow reactions to environmental challenges like drought and floods.

From studies conducted by organisations like Municipal IQ, service delivery protests and social distance between public institutions and communities emerge largely from lack of early warning systems to detect and prevent governance and service delivery failures, land invasions and evictions of people from areas deemed unsuitable for human habitation.

The widespread incidents of service delivery protests, accompanied by intolerable damage to public property, is a call for action to us as public representatives to listen regularly to citizens and attend to their daily needs on a continuous basis.

Therefore, making timely interventions to ailing municipalities is one such support led by The Presidency. Valuable lessons have been learnt from our interactions in both Maluti-a-Phofung and Emfuleni local municipalities in responding timeously to issues raised by communities, especially the provision of water, electricity and sanitation.

Government has adopted the District Delivery Model to create a collaborative institutional platform that allows for better, and effective coordination of government programmes at local level. Joined-up government efforts at national, provincial and local spheres become central to implementing high impact interventions that respond to community developmental and service delivery needs.

Through rapid service delivery response interventions, we are putting in place regularised monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to identity, fix and prevent bottlenecks including installing appropriately qualified and skilled personnel in all such municipalities. It emphasises consequence management, prioritising accountability and emphasising meritocratic governance so that we deliver a citizen-centric government across all three spheres.

This all-of-government and all-of-society approach is one lesson learnt, from our intervention where inter-governmental collaborative approach is necessary in resolving water and sanitation challenges as well as preventing environmental degradation. This is the case in the Vaal River system that cuts across and services four of our provinces.

8. Energy Security and Sustainability of Eskom

As we intervene in these municipalities to improve their capacity to provide services to the people, we are conscious of the symbiotic relationship between energy security, sustainable livelihoods and economic growth. That is why, stabilising load shedding by providing consistent and reliable electricity supply, is a priority for the Eskom Political Task Team. We consider this as a national prerogative in order to ensure the recovery and reconstruction of the economy for the benefit of all.

This is a matter that the Eskom Political Task Team is seized with on a daily basis to ensure that the utility delivers on its mandate. The Political Task Team has adopted interventions to improve revenue collection and management in municipalities. This encompasses expediting the reduction and payment of outstanding debts owed to Eskom, and ensuring that all national and provincial organs of state, settle all outstanding debts to municipalities and water entities and boards.

We are encouraged that our efforts and interventions to resolve debt owed to the utility, are starting to bear fruit. For instance, the Maluti-a-Phofung Local Municipality and Eskom are working on a joint Service Level Agreement that would improve revenue collection, maintenance of infrastructure, and ultimately curb the rise of municipal debt to Eskom. This would ensure that sustainable provision of electricity is achieved thus preventing incidences like interruptions in water supply to communities.

Lessons learnt from this intervention will be applied to other financially-distressed municipalities across the country, starting with the Free State province. This will ensure that communities will not be disadvantaged in the provision of electricity due to their municipality’s inability to pay Eskom.

We call upon citizens to pay for municipal services and not vandalise infrastructure. This informs the ‘Responsible Citizenry Campaign’ rolled out in all municipalities across the country to combat illegal connections, ghost vending, and meter tampering related to electricity and water. Democracy is dependent on citizens and communities being responsible in how they consume public services like water and electricity.

Moreover, we remain committed to ensure that energy security is sourced from a wide range of energy sources and technologies available in our country. This is in line with the Integrated Resource Plan of 2019. Therefore, the recently published Risk Mitigation Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme will therefore ensure that the projects around additional capacity remain sustainable.

9. HIV/AIDS Response and Covid-19 Vaccines Roll-out

As government, we continue to ensure that the Covid-19 vaccination roll-out plan reaches all population groups, providing equal access to those in urban and rural areas of the country. Equally, at the level of the South African National AIDS Council, we continue to ensure that our response to the Covid-19 pandemic does not reverse the achievements we have made thus far in responding to the HIV/AIDS and TB epidemics.

In our response to the dual epidemics of HIV and TB, South Africa is making significant progress in mitigating the impact of these epidemics on the health and social well-being of South Africans. As a nation, we have responded through various interventions and programmatic platforms to address the systemic drivers of these epidemics within society.

Earlier this year, the SANAC Plenary convened to assess the impact of our collaborative partnerships with a broad spectrum of civil society role-players in terms of directing the country’s response towards ensuring that our services are integrated for the benefit of communities. This is both at the level of targeting our healthcare delivery as well as addressing issues of access, particularly in light of the unprecedented impact of the global pandemic.

As a multi-sectoral structure, SANAC has developed and is implementing strategies and programmes to turn the tide against HIV, TB and Sexually Transmitted Infections. Since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak, SANAC has prioritised the fast-tracking of the development and implementation of the TB/HIV catch-up plans in each of the provinces.

At the centre of our collective efforts is the emphasis on the promotion of human rights and the elimination of all forms of stigma given government’s custodian role of protecting society against any form of discrimination.

South Africa’s role of championing the protection of vulnerable sectors of our society and the adoption of a human rights-based approach to addressing societal issues, will also be underscored when we join the global community at next week’s United Nations High-Level Meeting on AIDS.

We will table our country position on the alignment with the new Global AIDS strategy to 2026. Our country position which was endorsed by the Special Extended SANAC Plenary meeting, held on 29 May 2021 will emphasise the prioritisation of the following key commitments:

- The adoption of a human rights-based approach and involvement of People Living with HIV; - Prevention of new HIV infections and focus on key and vulnerable populations;
- Fully-funded HIV/TB response and health systems; and
- Local production of commodities.

We therefore continue our work in enhancing HIV and TB services against the background of the Covid-19 pandemic and its demands of the healthcare system. We have also established the SANAC Private Sector Forum to ensure that the private sector plays a more prominent role, including the mobilisation of resources, in the fight against HIV, TB and other non-communicable diseases.

Honourable Speaker,

Our progress as a nation, is equally dependent on how we maintain and achieve population health. To this end, progress is being made to ensure the effective co-ordination and implementation of the Covid-19 vaccines roll-out. We are on track to vaccinate 40 million people to achieve population immunity.

The Inter-Ministerial Committee on Covid-19 Vaccines, continues to pursue ways in which South Africa can manufacture vaccines, be self-reliant and provide support to our neighbouring countries.

As we take lessons from phase 1 and the current phase 2 of the implementation of South Africa’s Covid-19 Response Plan, we are ensuring that we have in place all critical components of ensuring that there are no hindrances in South Africa delivering a successful vaccination plan. This includes proactively identifying risk areas and implementing mitigating steps.

We are encouraged by recent announcements of an anticipated waiver on intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines. The proposal establishes a global solution to enhance manufacturing and boost supply capacity, and enables co-ordination and access to information currently under patent protection.

For countries that do not currently have manufacturing capability on certain medical technologies, the waiver could open up more supply options and avoid countries being reliant on only one or two suppliers. Where supply capacity currently exists, it can be repurposed to Covid-19 vaccine production, and in this way improve the supply available to all nations.

South Africa and Africa as a whole stand to benefit from this. Our country is well-positioned to take advantage of certain opportunities, provided that support such as risk appropriate financing, funding and regulatory enablers is made available by government.

10. A better Africa and a better World

In pursuit of the African agenda of building a stable, secure and peaceful Africa, South Africa will continue to support South Sudan on post-conflict reconstruction and development efforts, especially in establishing strong and resilient institutions to anchor democratic governance, peace, security and stability.

We are aware that the leaders in South Sudan have much work to do in the coming months of the transitional period as they draft the permanent constitution and prepare for democratic elections.

At the centre of the mandate of this unity government, is to ensure that the process of national reconciliation and healing is realised through restoration of permanent and sustainable peace, security and stability in South Sudan.

11. Conclusion

Honourable Speaker,

We must never forget that the people are the authors of their own history and they determine their destiny. The struggle was for the people and by the people. We should never forget the role played by military veterans in the attainment and preservation of our democracy. As a country, we should afford them the dignity that is equal to their service.

Even though time has its own limits, there is no limit to serving our people. Let us take our responsibility with precision and with great resolve that the road ahead might be winding and long but we will reach the desired destination of building a South Africa of our dreams.

Acting alone as individuals, our powers are limited but as long as we are united as one, there is no mountain our nation cannot climb or river difficult to cross or overcome. The allocated budget will assist the Presidency in fulfilling the mandate of coordinating the government effort towards accelerating socio-economic transformation in our society.

I take this opportunity to thank the President, my colleagues in Cabinet and all representatives of the people in this 6th Parliament.