Honourable Deputy Speaker
Honourable Premier of the Eastern Cape Province
Honourable Members of the Executive Council
Honourable Members of the Provincial Legislature
Members of the House of Traditional Leaders
Director-General and Heads of Departments
Officials of the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature
Hon Deputy Speaker, the year 2017 marks the 20 years anniversary since the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa came into effect in February 1997. The South African Constitution is the culmination and full realiSation of the ideals of the people as they gathered in Kliptown in 1955.
Our Constitution entails full expression of the Freedom Charter where our people declared that, “the People shall Govern.”
You will agree with me that this was a prophetic call considering the context of that time. That was the time when the apartheid forces were at the peak of oppression, with a ruthless government machinery killing our people, detaining activists and even jailing our leaders.
Migrant labour system, Bantu education system, the Group Areas, Immorality Act, to name just a few, were some of the apparatus used by the apartheid government in its attempt to advance white supremacy whilst destroying the masses of our people.
Today we stand tall and we take pride in the fact that we will be celebrating 20 years of the Constitution which has liberated our people from the bondage of apartheid.
Nelson Mandela stated in his last address to Parliament in 1999 that :
“Because the people of South Africa… chose a profoundly legal path to their revolution, those who frame and enact the Constitution and laws are in the vanguard of the right to change.
It is in the Legislatures that the instrument has been fashioned to create a better life for all. It is here that oversight of government has to be exercised. It is here that our society, in all its formations, has had an opportunity to influence policy and its implementation”.
It is also worth noting that in this same year we also commemorate the 20 years since the establishment of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). There are series of joint activities of the commemoration of both the Constitution and the NCOP that will be rolled out at both national and provincial levels.
Hon Deputy Speaker, over the years the ANC government has made enormous strides in the progressive realisation of the better life for all. Millions of people now have access to water, electricity, free health care services, free basic education, roads, and other amenities from government. Much has been done and a lot more still needs to be done.
The improvement of the provincial audit outcomes bears testimony to the fact that our oversight machinery is yielding positive results. It is now a matter of common knowledge that 13 out of 14 departments received unqualified audit outcomes. The 13 departments include the Legislature.
The country has adopted a National Development Plan 2030 which is a blue print document aimed to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030.
We will be able to realise the goals of the NDP if we harness the energies of the people, grow an inclusive economy, build capability and capacity of the state; and promote ethical leadership and partnership throughout the society.
The Eastern Cape government has adopted the Eastern Cape Vision 2030 Provincial Development Plan which is rooted on the National Development Plan. It anchors the five government priorities for the term which are improving education; improving health care; creating decent work; fighting crime and corruption; and promoting rural development and land reform.
The Eastern Cape’s diagnostic report identified nine key challenges that are facing the Province which are the following:-
- too few people work,
- the standard of education for most black learners is poor,
- infrastructure is poorly located, under-maintained and insufficient to foster higher growth and spatial transformation,
- spatial plans exclude the poor from development,
- the economy is overly and unsustainably resource intensive,
- a widespread disease burden is compounded by a failing public health system;
- public services are uneven and often of poor quality,
- corruption is widespread, and
- South Africa remains a divided society.
Our oversight function therefore must be geared towards addressing the prevalent challenges.
We are entering the financial year 2017/18 with the fiscus continuing to shrink, whilst the expectations of our people continue to grow. We must endeavour to do more with less.
We must intensify our communication with the people on service delivery related matters. It is our duty as public representatives to educate the people through our public education programs. Read more [PDF]