Speech by Lusizo Makhubela-Mashele during the debate on the President`s State of the Nation Address

15 February 2010

Honourable Speaker,
His Excellency the President & Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa,
Hon Members,
Distinguished Guests,
I am honoured and humbled to be afforded this opportunity to debate in such an important debate on the State of the Nation Address.

The President closed his address quoting words from one of the Great Leaders, who paved the way to the freedom we are enjoying today, Tata Rholihlahla Nelson Mandela, who is not only our Icon in the Country and the African Continent, but an International Icon.

I quote:
"We understand it still, that there is no easy road to freedom.
We know it well, that none of us acting alone can achieve success.
We must therefore act together as a united people, for national reconciliation, for nation building, for the birth of a new world.
Let there be justice for all.
Let there be peace for all.
Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all.
Let each know that for each the body, the mind and the soul have been freed to fulfill themselves".
Close Quote:

The Governing Party reaffirms its continued commitment in mobilising communities so as to deepen participatory democracy and people centered government.
The backbone in this commitment is progressive popular participation in socioeconomic and political matters. Communities need to be mobilised to participate in decision making matters that directly affects them. State organs should reflect people centeredness and these organs should be brought closer to the people. Our Tusong centres, across the length and breath of the country are a testimony of our commitment as the ANC lead government to bring state organs to where people are.

What we need to do as this Government is to strengthen these organs of people`s power, So that through them, we can assist our people to contribute to their own development and governance. Through organs of people`s power our people have the power to hold public representatives and public servants accountable in a constructive manner. Need I remind members of this august house, that Our Call to leadership is fundamentally foremost a call to servant hood. A clear depiction of Servant hood is reflected in the Bible, The Book of John 13, In preparation for the Last Supper, JESUS ends this passage by saying:

I quote:
I tell you the Truth,
NO servant is greater than his Master,
Nor is a Messenger greater that the One who sent Him"
Close Quote,

As Public Representatives we have been sent by the Electorate to act on their behalf, therefore let us serve deligently for we are no greater than our masters who voted us to power. As Servants of the People, we need to ensure at all times, that the collective and progressive will of the people shapes our agenda.

In this regard We, Members of Parliament should not just conduct oversight in the public interest but on a continuous basis which seeks to understand what the people`s needs and aspirations are through a dynamic connection with the people.

In these modern days of Technology, it is in our interest to use All platforms of engagement to the best of our advantage, as to be informed of the views of all sectors of our societies. Platforms such as Face Book, Twitter have become the fashionable tools of engagement lately. Our people, who are able to use these tools, are engaging with their government through these means.

The time has come for Public Representatives, who were born before technology to follow the President, whom I believe was also born before technology, to start face booking and twitting.

Our 4th Parliament is expected to be an activist Parliament, which must be more effective with regards to oversight.

As Members of Parliament we need to have a shared understanding of what constitutes this oversight because some formations of civil society have a different understanding of oversight premised on somewhat racial stereotypes.

Parliament should ensure that it does not only listen to the voice of the vocal rich minority who are able to pay for round trips to Parliament, but we must have a listening Ear to the majority of our poor communities who for inability to finance round trips to Parliament have no opportunity to appear before Parliament.

This Parliament of The People, By the People and For the People, dating back to 1994 conducts Public Hearings in communities on bills which tends to allow poor communities and individuals to express their views on particular legislations.
We need more of these types of approaches to deepen participatory democracy.

This is the year for consolidating people`s power for the national democratic society as we move towards the 100 years of selfless people`s struggle.

The ANC as the leader of society and the Alliance as a whole have to harness all the contemporary major mass struggles towards transformation.

Community mobilisation around the HIV/AIDS pandemic,
Land reform, delivery of social services, anti-crime forums or community safety campaigns, promoting the role of progressive academics.
All these campaigns requires active community mobilisation led by the ANC.

We need to build strong organs of people`s power as well as strong accountability of government structures including local counselors.

The ANC is fully aware that, Building people`s power must form the basis for the forthcoming local government election. We are once again leading from the Front by taking our members who are to be counselors to communities to get their buy in.

We must harness popular power to drive transformation instead of labeling sectoral struggles, subjectively creating a distance between activist and communities.

There is a historical relationship between the State, we are building and its people who continue to struggle for the better life for all.

Participatory democracy can be enhanced : -
By ensuring that government documents are simplified and produced in languages understood by the communities at large.
In this regard strengthening people`s power will empower communities to engage with the state meaningfully.

The engagement with state machinery and oversight over government should not be left with the powerful elite whose aim, seeks to represents narrow interests.
We must actively mobilize communities to participate in the public hearings on municipal integrated plans and budgets.

A stronger section of women, rural masses and farming community should be capacitated to engage with policy and legislative matters.

Our Constitution entrenches both representative democracy and elements of participatory democracy. It has set of provisions to guarantee good, accountable and transparent governance. We must continue to deepen democracy to ensure a people centered government.

This is part of integrated and non-racial governance and is the profound achievement of the ANC when, compared to the apartheid state machinery, which we fearlessly fought against.

The centrality of our communities is at the core of the State of the Nation Address (SONA). Our President, his Excellency Zuma`s speech points to all the key priorities of our government. We must as public representatives play our crucial role to achieve all the Priorities as Delivered by the President and, We dare not fail Our people in this regard.

As I Conclude, Speaker -
We must build people`s power for the benefit of our democracy.

Popular participation of our people to governance, Must lead to transformation and it must lead towards attaining a United Democratic and a Prosperous South Africa.

I thank you.