Interview with President Jacob Zuma, the President of South Africa, on 12 February 2012 on SABC1 at 18:30 to 19:30
12 Feb 2012Interviewer: Good evening and a very warm welcome to this special broadcast brought to you by SABC News. Tonight we are talking to President Jacob Zuma on his State of the Nation Address on Thursday. Mr President, thank you very much for agreeing to talk to us and welcome to the programme.
President Zuma: Thank you very much.
Interviewer: Why don't I start by saying, well, the State of the Nation Address was generally well-received, and it is the second year in a row that you are having that kind of a feedback. Is there something that you have been doing over the past couple of years differently from the way you have done it before?
President Zuma: Well, firstly, the State of the Nation Address is the statement by government on the plan and the programmes that the Government is going to follow. You will of course accept the fact that ever since this administration came into power, we have been discussing and working out the way government could do things differently, but also what kind of programmes we could really implement. In other words, to put the programmes within the parameters where we could be certain that we could implement. I think we have been saying, how do we move forward, how does government create an enabling environment for all to participate in, the private sector and everybody else, so that the country is able to move forward. So, it is as a result of the conclusions of the discussions within government. As you know, we always have the Lekgotla, particularly the January Lekgotla, which shapes the kind of programmes the Government is going to be making. So, it is in a sense a plan that comes out of that, the programme of government. I think we have been trying all the time to specifically deal with specific challenges, so that we are able to have a programme that can be doable.
Interviewer: Would you say that the notable change, certainly from where we sit in public, is coming from either perhaps the way you, the Government, collates information or the way that discussions are conducted, or have been conducted over the past couple of years? I am trying to find that which has made a difference in the way the State of the Nation Address has been articulated.
President Zuma: I think it is from both. You will recall that from what we have been saying we need the Government to be in a position to coordinate things more, to move away from an emphasis of the Government departments and levels of government operating differently . . .
Interviewer: In silos?
President Zuma: In silos. Even if they were doing the right things. But, they would not make the necessary impact or be noticeable, because they were done differently, without coordination. So, what we have been trying to do is to see how do we bring this together? That will involve a discussion. That will involve many of us, accepting the fact that we are in one government and not government in different particles wherein I do my own things in my own way. I think that because that has been the debate that has been going on. Part of what we did, having gone through a lot of lekgotlas where we discuss the work of government, coordination, etc, I specifically felt that no matter what you say, out of the discussion people go back into their cocoons and they do what they are able to do best. So the coordination, people will have a sense that, if it is something there, it is not me, you know. That kind of feeling that you . . .
Interviewer: That you are contributing to a . . .
President Zuma: You see, then, in a sense, inculcating a culture that making the coordination you are in fact at your best rather than you are as an individual. But because this has been not an easy one, it is like that in our government. We then established the PICC, the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission, particularly, as we deal with the infrastructure as one of the very critical challenges that the country is facing. That then brought the coordination in a manner that does not depend on individual departments, but it depended really on The Presidency participating in leading that process.
Interviewer: Now, of course there have been those who criticise your address, saying that it lacks detail.
President Zuma: Well, people can criticise and they have got a right to do so. This is a democratic country. I do not think you can have in the world a president will go into the details of programmes to implement. Otherwise, the President will be doing the work of the departments. I think that what happens at the State of the Nation Address is to provide a broader direction, a very clear direction, and then put the kinds of things that need to be done. Then you have departments which are led by ministers who will then come in with the details. As you would know, there will be a debate as an example for the State of the Nation Address. Even then, the departments are not going to come with all the details, but there is going to be a budget speech that is going to come that must also talk to the State of the Nation Address and talk, therefore, to the costing, and will talk, therefore, to what the departments will do. And each department will then have the opportunity to elaborate on the details which will then be the details filling in, in the broader kind of process of the State of the Nation Address. Of those who would say the speech lacks details should have sat there until 12, for the whole night, for me to get the details from all the 34 departments. It would have been impossible.
Interviewer: Now, the other criticism of course is that we have good plans and we are never short of plans but where we fail is in the implementation.
President Zuma: I think what I have just said talks to the point that I have just made. Because if we talk about government with cultures of working in silos, certainly the question of the implementation will vary in terms of which department is capable of doing XYZ. The very fact that we have created the PICC, we have actually emphasised on that question that the question of implementation is going to be crucial. And I am sure that people might not have noticed what we did as this administration when we came in. For example, we established a department which we call Performance Monitoring and Evaluation. I am sure people did not realise what we are trying to do. That, in fact, will talk to the issue of implementation, because it says that we are going to monitor ourselves in terms of what performance do we do on what is given to us, and we will continuously evaluate that. So, there is nobody who is going to be sitting in a corner without being seen what they are doing. And this time around, because we have this very clear infrastructure programme, which is being driven from The Presidency’s point of view. In other words, the question of implementation is an issue that we have taken into account to say, in this way, there is nothing that is going to be left to chance. Everything is going to be done. Therefore, the implementation itself is going to be up there, is going to be the thing that we are going to be saying, have we made progress. I am looking at that point, that if, for example, we are talking about the Lekgotla, the Lekgotla must report, give a score card of what has happened since our plan and where we are. And that is also going to be a feature in the State of Nation Address. We are going to be reporting on what we have said we will do. So, the question, therefore, of the implementation is going to be uppermost in our programmes.
Interviewer: Do we have the skills necessary that will ensure that we implement the infrastructure roll-out programme that you spoke about?
President Zuma: We discussed that matter a great deal as we were getting into this and we realised that yes, we do, but at times some of our skills are misplaced. So, it is going to be a question of really vigorously saying, how do we get the skills that we want. If there are skills that we don't have, we are going to look for them and bring them, because our very clear determination is to implement the plan.
Interviewer: And the specific areas where you think we may have to go outside for those . . . , for a certain . . . , for specific skills?
President Zuma: Part of which is engineers. For example, some of the engineers are doing the paper-pushing in offices instead of being there to deal with things that need engineering. But if they are not enough, because even engineers, they would be of specific disciplines. If there are disciplines that we believe we need more of, we will certainly hunt for them.
Interviewer: We are having a conversation with President Jacob Zuma following his State of the Nation Address on Thursday evening. Mr President, allow me to talk a little bit about jobs. You did talk last year about the Eurozone crisis that was then making it difficult for us to reach the sort of, to, to employ more people. Now, government has also been in discussion with social partners, labour, business and civil society about addressing this very same problem. Are you making any headway in those conversations?
President Zuma: I think we are making headway. We had a lot of discussions. Firstly, the fact that the previous State of the Nation Address, we put the question of the job creation in this country at the centre of everything that we are going to be doing. We even went further to put funds aside, which was creating the necessary enabling environment for investors to participate and there was participation. There have been discussions, for example, in Nedlac on these matters. I think that we have made some headway. That is why we reported that we have been able to create jobs even under a very depressing situation economically in terms of the globe, but we have been able to do so. The infrastructure programme is also in a sense talking to the question of jobs. In other words, we are no longer saying that we are going to create jobs, even going further and saying, here is the fund, see what you do with it. We are actually creating the opportunity for the investors to come. Once you have this kind of a programme, that opens up for investors to come in. We even addressed the question of how do we deal with the bottlenecks that the investors will complain about, and that it is difficult and that there are too many things that I have got to deal with. We are addressing that so that we make the questions of investors, when they come to invest, to be easy to do business in South Africa. Once that happens, it means that you create jobs and therefore you create opportunities of employment. And we are, therefore, addressing that question in addition to what we have been doing in the past year. We are adding more possibilities for jobs to be created.
Interviewer: What is the sort of things that you are asking for from the social partners? For example, is there something that you specifically asking labour to do or consider? Is there something that you are specifically asking business to do or consider?
President Zuma: No. What we have been asking is that there should be a discussion between the social partners. Firstly, to understand the environment around which we are operating at this point in time. But of course, the talking to different partners would not be the same, because they do not contribute to the common pool the same thing. The investors, in particular, become very important, the private sector, because for the workers to do something there has to be investment, there has to be the creation of jobs. Then they come in to deal with those kinds of issues. I do not think we could dictate what then should they do, because these are the people who do business together, because one employs and the other gets being an employee. We can't then get in and talk about the conditions. All we are doing is to create this environment where there are more jobs. Where there are more jobs, there is more employment. They then discuss how they handle the situation going forward. I think ours is to create the environment, but also to ensure that whatever goes on between the two is within the parameters that will help the country to go forward.
Interviewer: Well, business often complains, for example, that the high costs of labour are making it difficult for them to create jobs. What is the government's standpoint on the costs of labour in this country? One. But two, is it a conversation that you are prepared to engage in with labour?
President Zuma: Well, not with labour only. We have to engage with everybody. Because, the private sector is going to say, look, the cost of labour is too high, and you will find the workers saying, the wages are too low, and the distance between the salaries of the management is very high. The gap is too big. Why is it so big? So, it is a conversation that is ongoing. And I don't think, as government, it is a conversation that we are going to make judgement about. What democratic governments did ever since we came in was to deal with a very serious situation of other sectors of the workers who were not at all recognised as workers. And therefore, you can imagine what the state of the salaries was. And we have therefore said, let us move forward. We are not going to tolerate, for example, a situation where the workers get a kind of slave salary. And therefore, that is very important. However, we can't engage in the labour kind of dispute as government. That is the business between the business sector and the workers. The perception about that issue is the perception that remains with the private sector and the workers have got their own perceptions. And this is what is a continuous labour issue with the private sector. How do we create it and working conditions? And how do the private sector create situations wherein that kind of thing, that there is a flexibility on both sides. What has been coming very sharply on both sides is the private sector saying that the cost of labour is very high. The workers are saying yes, we hear you, but you pay yourself too high. Now, I do not think the Government must get there. Government must create an environment where we are able to make these two discuss this matter and see where it goes. It does concern us, indeed, that the gap is too wide. I think it is a matter that we are going to get into conversation certainly as we are going forward.
Interviewer: Well, labour, Cosatu unions in particular, are concerned about labour brokers, for example. Part of the reason that they want to embark on a strike. What is your view? What is government's view on labour brokers?
President Zuma: I think labour brokers, we have discussed this point and I think I did indicate, alluded to it in Parliament, that, in the course of this year we are going to engage in discussion to really say, what you are things that are abusive within the system, so that we could deal with them. And we are also going to engage with labour on the matters that they are raising, which makes them to reach a conclusion that, in fact, you need to abolish that. These matters must be discussed. It is one thing when people move from their original positions about whatever demand they put or views they put across, but we are really going to get into a discussion, including the labour brokers themselves, what is it that they do which makes the labour feel very much offended about what they are doing. I think it is a matter that I can't sit here and say, look, this is a final kind of word. It is a matter that we need to engage in and really look at the facts of the matter and finally persuade one another to come to a common position.
Interviewer: Let me end this part of the conversation by going to a youngster, Tulani Ngwenya [phonetic], who posted on our Facebook, saying that he is a young B.Com graduate. He got six distinctions. He did not get a job and after a while looking for a job he then put together a business plan, got an idea that someone bought into, but went to the banks, sought collateral and that is where he got stuck. And he has been stuck at that point for a very long time. What message of hope do we give to youngsters like those?
President Zuma: Well, I think that is part of the problem that this country faces, that you have people who have graduated but who are unemployed. There are a number of factors that come into this one. For example, companies these days, no matter what qualifications you have, they need experience. If you don't have experience, they go for somebody who might even have less qualifications than you, because he or she has part of the experience that they need. And that is why we are trying to open up a conversation at one point as to whether we don't need a bridging kind of a system wherein the new graduates are able to enter the market or the economic activities. It is a conversation that is ongoing, what do you do. But it also comes back to another question. If you are like the young man who has all the qualifications, he does not sit at home, works out a business plan, presents it to the bank, and the bank is looking for collateral. What do you do? And that is part of the challenge that faces now a very clear sector of the private sector, the banks. What do you do about a person who comes in that way? If the person does not have the possibilities to have a collateral that satisfies the bank, what do you do? These good ideas and this very bright person must just be pushed aside? I think, again, that is a conversation that we need to have, particularly with the banks. In fact, these are the issues that have been raised over a period. What do you do with a person who comes in with an idea? Some people, and I have met people who complain that at times their ideas are stolen and are being given to other people, because they would not have what they call security or the collateral. I think it is a matter that we as society need to talk about. How do we create the conditions that will help everybody else? I think from government's point of view what we can say is that we are going to take up the matter with the private sector to say, these are very clear challenging, practical difficulties that South Africans face today.
Interviewer: You are watching a special conversation we are having with President Jacob Zuma following his State of the Nation Address on Thursday. Mr President, I want to move on to education. In last year's State of the Nation Address you called on teachers to be in school, in class and on time, and this year you thanked teacher unions for heeding the call. Does that mean that you are satisfied with the way teachers have conducted themselves over the past year?
President Zuma: Well, firstly, when I talked about education, I said there has been some improvement that has been seen in terms of the results, for example, of the matric results. That says something in terms of how people have been trying to put some effort into education. I thanked the unions, firstly, for supporting that call, because it is important that the unions support the fact that teachers must be in class on time, teaching. That is the starting point. Then we are going to the second one. Are they indeed, having accepted that, are they indeed in class on time teaching? That is what I think is the task that we are faced with now. Because we need to ensure that the teachers are indeed in class on time. But what I was thinking, which is very important to thank, is that this important call has been accepted and supported by the unions. To me that is important. It deserved a thank you to the unions.
Interviewer: So we do not know at this stage, or you don't have the mechanisms of monitoring their performance, or monitoring whether they are indeed in class teaching and on time?
President Zuma: We are in the process of doing so. As you are would know, I have visited schools and I have dealt with the issues, because there are conditions that are there that I have come across, for example, wherein the state of the school itself and which in effect the administration and everything, you find to be is very difficult for certain things to happen. So, we are in the process of doing so. I think that we will be in a position to give a categorical answer once we have done a national kind of [unclear] in terms of checking whether this is now happening in every school. What we are happy about is that the improvement that we have seen indicates that something is beginning to happen in that direction. And that is why we are therefore thanking them. We are still urging them further that that kind of thing that we have accepted must now be put into practice. We would want to see teachers indeed doing what they have supported.
Interviewer: Well, maybe they are thinking they are doing a good job. For example, Nolawi Khoswa [phonetic] posted on our Facebook page, saying they are doing a good job, heeded the call, but complain that they are still earning peanuts and a lot of them are not being promoted.
President Zuma: That is one of the issues that we need to get into. Is the paying, or the salary of teachers, adequate? I think that is an issue we have got to come in if we prioritise education as one of the major, if not in fact, an apex kind of priority. Is the remuneration of the teachers at the level? Of course, in the main, that is an issue that is between the teachers and their employers. Because you have bargaining chambers, and I would imagine almost on a yearly basis there are negotiations. These must address those kinds of issues. But I think that it is an issue that we need, all of us, to take very seriously, that the remuneration of teachers must be adequate to what we demand them to do. But, that is a matter to be discussed at the bargaining chamber, I would imagine.
Interviewer: Would you say, Mr President, that the issue of teacher remuneration is what has contributed, of course not on the whole factor, to what the ANC in the statement that read in Mangaung in crisis, or referred to as a crisis in education?
President Zuma: I don't think that is the only issue. I think the issue is the manner in which education has been run historically, really. In order to correct that, the very fact that even today you talk about teachers, who are they teaching, who are not necessarily qualified teachers. It tells you that there has been a problem in that area which needs to be addressed, which is being addressed. I think all of that put together, that is what we could have referred to in the ANC statement as a crisis. We have had the situation in some provinces wherein it is even difficult to shift those teachers to other areas. That's part of the problem. Because we need to have a system that is flexible enough, that if we identify a problem, we are able to resolve it. That there is no resistance in terms of how do we resolve the problem, so that we can then deal with normal problems. Because what I am just saying to you is abnormal, that in a country we have got people who are not qualified to be teachers, but they are teaching, and you wonder why the results are what they are. So we have got to address those kinds of problems. And we, all of us must agree that it important that they should be addressed. We should not resist them if they are being addressed. So, that is what we are referring to as in the statement you referred to.
Interviewer: Well, one of the provincial HODs, in a programme we had recently, was in fact putting the blame squarely at the door of teacher unions. That they are the ones who are making it difficult for the education authorities to do the right thing, which among other things, is redeploying teachers, taking them where their skills are needed the most.
President Zuma: Well, I wouldn't get into that and say who is right or who is wrong. But, if at all there is a resistance of redeployment of teachers, a kind of thing that would help quality to education, and people are resisting it, I am sure that somebody like the head of a department would complain. Because that impacts on what he or she is expected to do. And that's why we are saying, there must be an agreement that we have got to correct the things that are not right. There should be no resistance. For us to have a system that is operating smoothly, I think, I mean, without knowing the details of the case, but I think that kind of thing, looking at it at a value, I mean at a first value, we have got to say that if at all there is a teacher who is at the wrong place, I mean, the teacher unions should agree that it should be corrected. You can't say a wrong thing is right because I am a union and I have got to defend it. That can't be right. So, we have got to find a way where we agree to correct the wrong things.
Interviewer: Would that be your experience for example in the Eastern Cape, where section one [unclear] to be revoked and you went there yourself what was going on. Was that . . . , is the issue of redeployment part of the problem, and if so, are you prepared, how prepared are you to engage with the people who are in fact the stumbling blocks?
President Zuma: I think that was part of the elements in the Eastern Cape issue of education and that was an issue, and we all came in to participate. I think there is now total agreement that those matters are going to be followed up and the wrong things are going to be corrected. There is an agreement to that. So, there is now way we could go back and discuss it as if it is still a problem. There is now an agreement that the things that are not right are going to be corrected.
Interviewer: And education in the Eastern Cape is very much on the way of being resolved? Outstanding question that is . . .
President Zuma: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Interviewer: You are watching a special broadcast brought to you by SABC News. We are sitting down with President Jacob Zuma looking at the State of the Nation Address that he gave on Thursday. I want us to talk about very briefly about the state of provinces, starting with Limpopo. What is the progress there? Where are things right now?
President Zuma: Well, I think we are making good progress in Limpopo. As you know, it is one of the state of provinces where we have applied Section 100 precisely because of the difficulties that the province was experiencing. And, of course, at the beginning, Section 100 is not a comfortable section to anyone. And therefore, the province reacted in the manner in which it did. But there has been very close discussions with the province, the premier in particular, and the Minister of Finance, and in some discussions I have participated. There is an agreement that we are moving forward. I think there is progress that is being made in terms of implementing it, because Section 100 really, some people understand it wrongly that it is taking over the province. Not at all. Section 100 comes in where there are difficulties that the province faces, where the national comes in to help the province get out of the difficulties. And this is what I think has been done in Limpopo. Of course in Limpopo, you have five departments. It is the first time that five departments in a province are actually focused on. There are other provinces, for example, Gauteng. There is also intervention that has been made, as well as the Free State, as well as the intervention that has been made. Some people equate this as one and the same thing. They are not exactly the same thing. The conditions that led to an intervention being made in a particular way were not exactly the same. But certainly, in Mpumalanga we are making good progress.
Interviewer: Well, let's take a province like the Eastern Cape. It is not in the same situation as Limpopo, but is in trouble in various ways. Employment is one of them. Now, I notice in your speech, you had, you alluded to various focus areas, where you are even linking certain provinces up and rolling out infrastructure there. I didn't here anything about what happened to the refinery project that was going to, I think, to the Eastern Cape.
President Zuma: Yes, well, we did not necessarily specify one issue, but the infrastructure that we talked about will in a sense include those kinds of projects insofar as the Eastern Cape is concerned. There are discussions, very serious discussions about a refinery in South Africa and the issue of this very strategic commodity of energy. So, it is part of those kinds of discussions that we are looking at. And I don't think we would have come and put it in the State of the Nation Address when there are ongoing discussions at a time that we are dealing with that matter. The matter is not left unattended to. The matter is being attended to. It is, in fact, in a sense, that that discussion is being influenced very greatly by the question of the energy, the fuel in the world, in the global kind of setting that really makes us even to look at the question of the refineries in a different way.
Interviewer: But, two or three years ago, the rationale was there as to why we need a refinery. But then, beyond that, some of us thought a decision was taken that because of the poverty of the Eastern Cape, but also it proximity to the sea and so on, it would make sense to actually take this project there and then, thereafter, after the past couple of years the sort of issue kind of disappeared. Does that mean that it is back to the drawing board or the issue is being reviewed? In other words, it is no longer necessarily going to the Eastern Cape.
President Zuma: No, no, no. The issue . . . We didn't cancel the decision. I think it is a question of when that happens, taking into consideration a number of factors that had to come in into that debate. All that I am saying is those matters are coming in more urgently now, given the challenges. And they are not out of the kind of infrastructure that we are talking about. What I was saying is that we might not have mentioned the specific issues, but certainly they are part of the equation in the discussions that we had. Not that we are now saying, let us review the decision. It is a question of when it happens, what kind of priorities to we put where. The viability of it that comes in, for those are some of the issues that have affected the timing of those kinds of things. Certainly, we need that. We need more refineries in South Africa. So, that issues are not going to go away.
Interviewer: Well, I mean, you didn't mention, you didn't talk about the south-eastern nodes building dams, revitalisation projects in certain parts of the various province, and so on. But, has there been any thinking around a province like the Northern Cape, for example, as to what it is that can be big, massive, and really be done to deal with the plight of the people there?
President Zuma: Yes. It was also, the element was in the State of the Nation Address. I think we talked about establishing the railroad that links the Western Cape, very clear, and also coming to the Eastern Cape because of the manganese that is there. We also talked about the university that we are going to be building in the Northern Cape. So we did touch on the Northern Cape. There is no province that we did not touch. This has been a very broad national infrastructure plan that touches every other province.
Interviewer: Well, during the course of what happened in Limpopo, and when people look at what is happening in places like the Eastern Cape, and so on, the question has come back again, as to whether we shouldn't re-look the whole provinces situation. Do we need the provinces or do we need them in the form that they currently are in? What is your take on that whole idea?
President Zuma: I am sure that the matter will have to be discussed. There was a very comprehensive discussion with regard to the provinces when the debates leading up to the constitutional making came in. As you know, we had four provinces in the past that were governed by the administrators. There was a very logical discussion as to why we needed to have these kinds of provinces. Firstly, it had something to do with devolving the powers in the Constitution, so that they don't sit at the national only. Meaningful kinds of powers given to people at certain levels of the country, for them to be able to take decisions about their lives. So, it had lot to do with how we understood democratic processes and the system, as well as the powers that people must participate. That is why we ended up with three spheres of government, so that we don't have a centre that sits very far from where people are. So, if at all the issue of the provinces must come back again, it will mean that debate must come back. What has gone wrong? I am not sure whether people are looking at the manner in which provinces are run, which is a different matter. Or the need for provinces to be there. People will have to come up with very convincing debates to change the status quo. And perhaps that debate must come, if it is a debate. Because, as I have said, there was very deliberate deliberations and discussions which led to us emerging with nine provinces. It is just [unclear] yes, ever since. There are teething problems here and there. You can't say every other province is in crisis. Not at all. We don't have a crisis. There are specific issues in the manner in which government is being run in some provinces, but what was looked at was what kind of powers people would have at different levels. Do all the powers have to reside in Pretoria? Or, should others reside in the middle and others at the local government. So it was informed by the approach of what type of democratic system we were going to exercise, that would allow people to take their own decisions. For example, people vote for the national government, but they also vote for provincial government, to say, here, these are the people we believe can help us. They also vote for their local government. That is how these democratic powers were seen, as going down to the people, so that the people could participate. We will have to revive that debate, to say, are you now saying we should centralise, instead of devolving.
Interviewer: You are watching a conversation we are having with President Jacob Zuma following his State of the Nation Address on Thursday. Mr President, just a couple of quick ones, if I may. The land question. I have a guy who had posted on our Facebook page Andile Muganda [phonetic], saying, if, by your own acknowledgement, we have not made as much progress as we should have made, and the willing buyer-willing seller principle is really not working in our favour, what is you personal view about what needs to be done?
President Zuma: Well, firstly, I think the issue of land is quite a very serious issue in any country. For example, I mentioned the fact that 2013 it will be the centenary of the Land Act, and everyone will know what the Land Act did. It made people who had land, suddenly to have no land at all. And there had been a lot of systems and laws thereafter. So, by the time we arrived at 1994, that issue remained a serious issue. That's why we had to emerge with a system that would address the question of land. And this question, therefore, of the restitution of land, the land claims, etc, and therefore the willing seller-willing buyer issue, so that you did not have a situation that suddenly put other people into difficulties. And we thought it would work. And I think it did move and I think I have said we have only been able to deal with that issue now only. What I said is the system of willing seller-willing buyer has not as yet worked sufficiently. And therefore we need to look at it. That's why there is a Green Paper that has emerged from the Department of Rural Development to have a re-look into the issue. And we are calling upon all citizens to participate, because it is an issue very central to the poverty in this country and that affects the majority. How do we deal with it without going out of our way, or without, in a sense, infringing on the constitutional provisions? We need to come together and discuss. But I don't think I can sit here and say, this is a solution. This solution needs all of us in the country to say what the best system is that we could come up with that would address the plight of the poor, but not disadvantage those who had been using land over a period. Certainly, in the Green Paper, we are looking for an example as to whether we have to use the market value system, and we are looking at a situation where people could go out and evaluate the real value of the land, rather than to put a generalised statement on what the market value is. Because markets go up and down. They fluctuate. If you are dealing with a national issue, you need to deal with it as fairly as possible. And this is what we are trying to do now through this Bill that we are introducing, or the Green Paper at the moment, that will end up with us having to go to Parliament, so that we legislate about this issue.
Interviewer: Mr President, Tholani Mbanswa [phonetic] posted on our Facebook page, saying, what had happened to the Ministerial Handbook, because for a very long time over the past couple of years we had incidents of ministers being accused of this, that and the other thing. Not all of them did break the law the, but they pointed to a necessity perhaps that we should re-look the whole Ministerial Handbook. What happened to that process and do we know why it is being delayed?
President Zuma: Well, of course the issue couldn't be dealt with by everybody else. I think there is a very specific department that has the authority to deal with this, the Public Administration Department, and it has been dealing with it, and I think it has also correctly looked at the other institutions which could help make a contribution, like where the remunerations, for example, are determined. I think it is in the process. My information is that within the first quarter of this year, there would be a final kind of response and it will be presented to Cabinet. And I think it will be very helpful, because as you correctly say, some people who are operating within the Ministerial Handbook were looked at by people who don't know the rules, as if they were doing something wrong. So, we are looking forward to it being presented, so that we can have a Ministerial Handbook that is in keeping with the demands, as well as with the responsibilities.
Interviewer: The other thing, someone said they missed from your speech was in fact what was going to happen to those people who fall off the radar, the people who don't look for employment, the people who have basically given up. What message of hope is the Government giving those categories of people who have just stopped caring? That is one of the messages that we got.
President Zuma: Well, one would not know exactly who those people are, because there could be a number of categories. Are these people, like the man you talked about earlier, who have qualifications and can't find employment, whatever, because we are saying we need to find a way to create a bridging way for those people to come into the active economic activities. But there are other people who are unemployable, as we say, because of the history of this country, and who don't have skills. What do you do with those people? I think we have been saying that we need to find a way that these people are found and we all participate, led by the Government, to help empower those people, so that they are in a better position to find skills. That is why we have been talking about learnerships, where some people are working. But if they lose that employment they will not find another. To say, the learnerships are going to be important, but if you are at work, you are given that. I think we need to find a system where we are able to register such people, so that we know the quantity, we know the numbers. And then we can say, what can we do, what are the things to be done by those people, in order to skill them, no matter at what level. I think we have a huge challenge, all of us, to deal with that. Because, once a person gives in and say, look, I am not going to look for a job, what are they going to do next? So, it must be the concern of the country. I think we will have to find a way to really begin to work in that area, crystallise the numbers to know exactly and see those who are ready or those who have got perhaps very low kinds of skills or semi-skills and we could develop them. I think it is a challenge that faces the country.
Interviewer: Mr President, very briefly and lastly. Your speech was very inward looking. Very little was said about our place on the continent, our place in the world and the roles that we should play there. Was that deliberate?
President Zuma: At the moment I think we did not want to be dealing with the world only. We wanted to focus very much so on the country. In a sense, it is not like exclusive, because we deal with the world. We kept on talking about the global economic situation, etc. We are dealing with those matters very seriously. With regard to Africa, for example, we have been looking at how does the AU, as a continental organisation, operate in manner that promotes the interests of the Africans on the African continent. And therefore, its effectiveness, its functionality. That is why we presented a candidate, so that we can have a candidate that we have got confidence in that will indeed change the AU to work towards fulfilling the objectives of the African continent. We are part of dealing with the problems of the continent. We, for example, have been referring to how much the continent is trying to create the inter-trade within the continent. The three regions have come together to become free-zoned among themselves. And the last summit has actually said, the entire continent, we must open it up for inter-trade, etc. We are also participating as a country in G20, in the UN. We have been chairing the United Nations' Security Council. So, it is not as if we are not doing anything. We have been emphasising these for a long time. It was time for us to deal with ourselves as a country.
Interviewer: Mr President, thank you very much for talking to us.
Issued by: The Presidency
12 Feb 2012
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