ANC Parliamentary Caucus Lekgotla Media Statement
5 November 2020
Members of the ANC Parliamentary Caucus met from the 17 - 19 October and on 05 November 2020, in our annual Lekgotla, which was held for the first time in the history of Caucus on the virtual meeting platform.
We convened under the theme: “Economic Reconstruction, Growth and Transformation - Enhancing Caucus and Parliamentary oversight”. The theme focused discussions on the enormity of the challenges facing our country, continent and the world, and the responsibilities of the ANC Caucus to provide decisive leadership.
Our deliberations were enhanced by the Opening Address by the President of the ANC and the Republic Comrade Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa and Deputy Secretary General, Comrade Jesse Duarte, presented political and organisational perspectives and decisions of the ANC NEC to Caucus. The Minister in the Presidency, comrade Jackson Mthembu, articulated the strategic priorities of government for this term and the Chief Whip of the Majority Party, Comrade Pemmy Majodina, presented the Caucus organisational report since the last Caucus Lekgotla held in September 2019.
Meeting in the midst of the global Coronavirus pandemic, the Caucus Lekgotla noted that the number of new cases per day were at their highest level globally since the start of the pandemic. The Caucus Lekgotla paid tribute to ANC MPs as well as over 19 000 South Africans who have passed on after succumbing to the virus.
The pandemic has worsened many of the social and economic challenges that have plagued our nation for some time, with a number of people living in rural and underdeveloped areas still lacking basic services, social and economic infrastructure. The Lekgotla felt the pain of the 2.2 million workers who have lost their jobs, families that have lost incomes and food security. The Lekgotla was heartened by the spirit of generosity shown by many South African citizens and corporates who donated to the Solidarity Fund and other forms of solidarity with the most vulnerable members of society. ANC MPs also contributed to the Solidarity Fund.
The ANC Parliamentary Caucus has full confidence in the capability of the President and the government leadership collective, working together with social partners, to lead the reconstruction and recovery of the country. Government’s response to the pandemic has amplified possibilities for enhanced state capability. This was demonstrated when government introduced social and income support interventions to provide safety nets for the poor, unemployed and companies in distress.
Our health system was rapidly equipped to manage the pandemic and our education system operated through the risk adjusted approach which has relatively minimised the loss of schooling time for learners. Temporary shelters and supply of water to schools and communities showed the latent capability of the ANC government to deliver basic services. The national effort to defeat Coronavirus and other health problems facing the country will be strengthened through the programmatic implementation of the National Health Insurance (NHI).
We are proud that our Caucus led the process which kept Parliament open and through Portfolio/Standing/Select Committees, maintained oversight on government during the various Alert Levels of the national lockdown.
However, we share the disappointment about the cases of fraud and corruption related to the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE), the payment of social grants and income support funds reported by the Auditor General in some government departments and public entities. In this regard, Caucus has called on ANC MPs to ensure that all the affected Portfolio Committees conduct robust oversight and expose corrupt individuals and companies without fear, favour or prejudice.
The Caucus Lekgotla analysed the economic situation facing our country and acknowledged that polarization that prevails is due to slow change in the socioeconomic conditions of the majority of South Africans resulting in the economy remaining in the hands of the few. The ANC Parliamentary Caucus believe that the South African Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan presented by the President to the Joint Sitting of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces speaks to the fundamental socio-economic transformation that can no longer be deferred. Our economy must be placed on a new sustainable and inclusive growth path, in line with the resolutions of the ANC National Conferences and the 2019-24 Election Manifesto.
As the ANC Parliamentary Caucus, we will ensure that all the Parliamentary Committees will be seized with oversight to ensure the successful implementation of the reconstruction and recovery plan. With the support of the O.R Tambo School of Leadership, all ANC Parliamentary Caucus members are enrolled on the Political Economy course. The objective of this course is to enhance the capacity of ANC MPs in their law making and oversight work and to foster a consistent articulation of ANC economic policy positions by all ANC MPs.
The ANC Parliamentary Caucus believes that a key element of the success of the economic reconstruction and recovery plan will be greater access to finance for SMMEs and cooperatives. Therefore, the diversification and transformation of the financial sector will be a major priority in the medium term. Caucus welcomes and supports the announcement in the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) on the creation of job opportunities through public employment, infrastructure building and maintenance programmes. ANC public representatives commit to maintain vigorous oversight on these projects, in order to prevent capture by criminal gangs and other corrupt individuals in the state, private sector and communities.
ANC Parliamentary Caucus welcome the good work of the Adhoc Committee on the Amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution to complete public hearings which had to stop after the advent of Coronavirus which necessitated the declaration of the state of national disaster and lockdown by the ANC government. We also welcome the recent reintroduction of the Expropriation Bill to Parliament.
The ANC Parliamentary Caucus will focus on the work of building the capability, ethical orientation, and developmental ethos of the state. This will include implementing the resolution on creating a single public service, professionalising the public service and public sector, strengthening public institutions and resolving the political and administration interface, particularly at local government level. Caucus will strengthen the District Development Model which makes it possible for all three spheres of government to coordinate and integrate development plans and budgets and mobilise the capacity and resources of civil society, in pursuit of inclusive growth and job creation.
Caucus commits to fight and defeat corruption in the public sector, State and corporate capture. This will be achieved partly through putting in place procurement systems that are open to public scrutiny; where all the recipients of government tenders will be known by citizens.
The Lekgotla noted the gains being made by the law enforcement agencies in the fight against crime and corruption, in both the public and private sectors. We will mobilise society to join this patriotic fight, encourage a culture of whistleblowing and support for whistleblowers and reinforce efforts to eradicate the vandalisation and destruction of public property and infrastructure.
Caucus support the programme to stabilise and turnaround the country’s State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) and, where necessary getting strategic equity partners that will bring in expertise and capital. Caucus also support the restoration of corporate governance and the strengthening of financial controls to restore all SOEs to operational and commercial efficiency.
Caucus calls for the strengthening of measures to demonopolize the South African economy. We call on government to fast track the commencement of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, in order to promote intra-Africa trade and economic development. We also call on African regional and continental bodies to stem the tide of illicit financial flows and the illicit economy that deprive millions of African people of much needed resources for development and poverty reduction.
Caucus looks to the industries of the future in order to advance the development of South Africans, particularly the poor who are mostly black, youth and women. The diffusion of Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies as well as renewable energy systems must include ownership by the state, working class communities, black people, youth and women owned enterprises.
In this regard, the just transition from the fossil fuel-based economy will require the reskilling and upskilling of the workforce led by a capable, developmental and ethical state, in partnership with the private sector and communities. Post-school education institutions will play a fundamental role in developing skills of future generations as they navigate new technological developments.
The ANC Parliamentary Caucus will focus on challenges of completing the 2020 school year and the start of the new school calendar in 2021. Lekgotla also resolved to have a focused oversight on learner drop out, quality education for people with disabilities and access to sanitary towels for girls.
Caucus call on government to prioritise student accommodation and ensure that universities are located in areas with enough beds for students as part of the spatial development, particularly in underdeveloped areas.
We noted the progress that has been made with regard to combating the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF). This includes the introduction of three bills – Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Bill, Domestic Violence Amendment Bill and Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Bill. ANC Parliamentary Caucus resolved to monitor the roll out of the National Response plan on GBVF, including the Emergency Response Plan. The ANC Parliamentary Caucus will work to shift the national narrative from the destructive and negative psychosis favoured by some political parties and commentators, to one focused on the unity in diversity, inclusivity, and reconstruction of our country.
In order to achieve these objectives, the ANC Parliamentary Caucus will roll out theme-based programmes that will direct energies and focus of all Ministries, Departments, ANC Study Groups, Parliamentary Portfolio/Standing/Select Committees and Parliamentary Constituency Offices. These programmes will mobilise South Africans of all classes and strata behind the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan.
Caucus commended the support given to matriculants by ANC MPs as they write their final examinations and wished them well.
Issued by the Office of the Chief Whip, Hon. Pemmy Majodina
Acting Caucus Spokesperson
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