In the 2012 State of the nation address the President outlined the social and economic growth story of South Africa, which was about linking communities to small towns, small towns to metropolitan areas, connecting provinces as well as the movement of goods to facilitate economic transaction.
This growth story recognised that we needed to change apartheid’s development patterns skewed as they were towards a few but big cities and provinces.
In this regard, the SONA 2012 recognised public sector spending as an important response to a shrinking global economy and sluggish domestic growth.
Quite clearly, the SONA 2012 was about outlining a new vision for inclusive growth and shared wealth, based on the progress of the previous 18 years of democracy and the new socio-economic challenges we were facing as a nation in light of both the global economic recession which had constrained our growth as well as the persistent and pestilent challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality which had continued stubbornly to dog our social transformation.
As you, Mr President, stated it, this year’s State of the Nation Address was about reporting on the progress made since the SONA 2012 and also to discuss our programme of action for 2013.
It would have been total folly to present a new vision again in 2013 on top of the vision the President presented in 2012, which has only just begun to be implemented.
But, of course, the opposition wants us to be stuck on endless visions so that they turn around and ask the question, “where is implementation!”
When you implement the vision, they turn around again and ask, “why is there no new vision!”
The infrastructure investment the President unveiled in 2012 is a moral imperative for South Africa given the multidimensional nature of our social and economic challenges.
It is pivotal to shifting gear towards intensifying the struggle for social and economic freedom as we begin to usher the second of the transition towards the National Democratic Society characterised by high levels of equality, all-round development and a better life for all.
The President’s Government has chosen a policy approach predicated on three core developmental values, that is to:
These core values are achieved through the provision of social and economic infrastructure investment to drive economic development and growth.
In the last 12 months under the leadership of the President through the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC) has launched the intergovernmental forums of the 18 strategic infrastructure projects.
We have seen that continued investment spending by public corporations and the broader public sector has contributed positively to the economic growth and development.
The key drivers are the ongoing public sector expenditure programme, particularly the new transport infrastructure roll-out by Transnet and new power generation capacity by ESKOM.
The concrete progress that has been achieved as a result of the heightened coordination, integration and focus, to which the President referred in his Address on Thursday, has been admirable; clearly demonstrating that the vision unveiled by the President is finding resonance in concrete practice.
Yet, the challenges ahead are mammoth, not least among which is the need to secure the future funding of the infrastructure both through the fiscus and the balance sheets of State-Owned Companies as well as through unlocking domestic and foreign investments.
Just to make concrete reference to the infrastructure roll-out so as to make our people aware of the progress made: in terms of,
2. the strategic integrated project two focusing on the Durban-Free State- Gauteng Logistics and Industrial Corridor:
3. the strategic integrated project three, the South-Eastern Node Corridor Development:
4. the strategic integrated project four focused on Unlocking the economic opportunities in North-West Province:
5. the strategic integrated project five, which is Northern Cape Development Corridor:
6. the strategic integrated project six, the Integrated Municipal Infrastructure Projects:
7. the strategic integrated project seven: Integrated Urban Space and Public Transport System:
8. the strategic integrated project eight: Green Energy in support of the South African economy:
9. the strategic integrated project nine: Electricity Generation to support socio-economic development:
10. the strategic integrated project fifteen: expanding access to communication technology:
11. the strategic integrated projects sixteen: SKA/ MeerKat:
The Honourable President already reported last Thursday on the progress on some of the projects and my Colleagues will further comment on progress on others.
What we have just done was to pick some examples of very detailed progress achieved in order in implementing this massive project that Inkosi Buthelezi suggested will not be implemented in his lifetime.
Actually, Shenge, it is being implemented in your lifetime, in front of your very eyes!
As part of enhancing this coordination, integration and focus, we have submitted the Infrastructure Bill to Parliament for public consultation and engagement by both Houses.
As well as the lessons that coordination, integration and focus are pivotal to infrastructure development and roll-out, two other lessons we have learned is that,
Of paramount importance is that we cannot allow this massive investment programme to be impacted by the global economic slowdown or derailed by lack of funding.
We need to find ways of strengthening the balance sheets of the State-Owned Companies.
Fundamentally, a strong balance sheet should create a high level of business confidence that the investment programmes will be rolled-out regardless of global economic development.
It is this confidence that is core to re-igniting the private sector investment and private equity required to drive our economy both now and into the future.
We have made significant strides in positioning our State-Owned Companies to drive a holistic economic growth and development process through the infrastructure investment programme.
We have built significant capability both to plan ambitiously and rigorously implement those plans.
In regard to the R1bn port rebate announced by the President in 2012 in order to support and bolster the manufacturing sector in South Africa, R796m was claimed and Transnet remains committed to disburse the full R1bn discount.
We invite the private sector still to take up these incentives.
Honourable Speaker, this programme in detail of which we have reported is not simply about erecting the cranes and lowering the cost of doing business, it is more importantly about inclusive growth and shared wealth.
Compared to 2010, when the infrastructure roll-out was taking place in inner-cities, this time around we can see infrastructure roll-out even in rural areas, redistributing the wealth, income, jobs and spreading the better life to all.
As we continue the roll-out, more youth are going to be absorbed into employment and skills-development programmes across the country in order to address their very urgent plight.
In conclusion, I would like to quote what the Honourable President stated during the 2012 State of the Nation Address:
“The massive infrastructure investment in infrastructure must leave more than just power stations, rail-lines, dams and roads. It must industrialise the country, generate skills and boost much needed job creation.”
In regard to skills, it is noteworthy that the skills development occupies pride of place in the infrastructure roll-out and that State-Owned Companies have been training more artisans in the past year than they have done in many decades.
This programme, Honourable President, is about getting South Africa working, growing and moving.
Joseph Stiglitz argues that:
“America’s inequality, and that of many other countries, did not arise spontaneously from abstract market forces but was shaped and enhanced by politics. Politics is the battleground for fights over how to divide nation’s economic pie. It is a battle that the 1 percent [of the wealthiest Americans] have been winning. That isn’t how it’s supposed to be in a democracy.” (The Price of Inequality; p.118)
Quite clearly, all over the world, people are realising both the intricate link between the political and the economic system as well as the important fact that the political as well as economic systems need to be fair and just.
I thank you.