Address by Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane on the occasion of the tabling of the budget vote of the Office of the Premier, Gauteng Provincial Legislature
4 Jun 2010
Ladies and gentlemen
It is now one year after the national election victory of 2009 in which the electorate gave the current government an unambiguous mandate to implement. Since then we have been hard at work to execute and convert that mandate into tangible outcomes. We have developed a clear Program of Action that aims to give meaning to all our plans. The Gauteng strategic priorities are a direct result of the mandate we received from our people.
During the State of the Province Address we spoke about seven key outcomes which define in more concrete terms how the lives of the people will have improved at the end of our term of office.
We correctly identified education as the top priority. We firmly believe that by providing high quality education to our people, especially children we will be laying a solid foundation to secure a better future for all.
We have already taken steps to implement new initiatives to ensure that our education system produces learners who are well equipped with knowledge, skills and qualifications that will give them the best chance of success in adult life. The introduction of workbooks to all learners is already showing good results with learners and educators being able to plan their work and monitor performance on a daily basis. Parents can now also see the entire plan for their children’s studies and help them with their homework.
Following the commitment we made in February to assist children who live in farms and rural areas who have to travel long distances to school, we have met with the community and other stakeholders in the West Rand and agreed on the process of building a boarding school in the area. In the mean time we continue to provide scholar transport for all children who have to travel long distances to school.
Our schools are being transformed into centres of learning and teaching where learners know that they have to be at school on time learning and teachers know that they also have to be at school on time and teaching.
We have taken concrete steps towards achieving the outcome of a long and healthy life for all. The highlights of our interventions include the extension of service hours in clinics and community health centres, the shortening of waiting time and long queues and the building of new clinics as well as the turnaround strategy for the revitalisation of all public hospitals to make them state of the art institutions.
We have taken steps to address challenges of personnel in all public hospitals. An example of this is the phasing out of labour brokers in the twenty hospitals that used nursing agencies. Sixteen contracts have been terminated and two thousand six hundred and twenty one staff nurses and assistant nurses have been appointed to replace the agency staff.
Last month we launched the HIV counselling and testing campaign. This is part of our new HIV and AIDS strategy which aims to drastically reduce new HIV infections in Gauteng to achieve a target of 50 percent reduction in new infections by 2011 as well as prevent death from AIDS by extending treatment, care and support to 80 percent of people with HIV. Knowing one’s HIV status is very important in the management and treatment of HIV and AIDS. We will be stepping up this campaign in the coming weeks starting with a mass testing programme involving public servants followed by focussed programmes targeting high risk groups throughout Gauteng.
While there are still challenges to be overcome, I can say with confidence that we are on course to improving the efficiency of the healthcare system and ensure that we provide primary healthcare services in poor communities, reduce mortality rates and step up the fight against HIV and AIDS and TB.
As we continue to grapple with daunting challenges in the health sector, Honourable members, allow me to express our heartfelt condolences to the families of the children who met their untimely death in our hospitals recently. Their pain is ours. We shall not rest until we establish and understand the real cause of this incident. I want to assure the public that we are doing everything in our power to ensure that such unfortunate incidents do not occur again in our hospitals.
Last month the Executive Council adopted the Gauteng Employment Growth and Development Strategy (GEGDS) with the key objectives of creating decent work and building a growing, inclusive, green and innovative economy. The strategic thrust of the GEGDS is designed to ensure convergence between the economic and social strategies of government, underpinned by the environmental strategies regarding sustainable resource usage which collectively promote a developmental state. We will launch the GEGDS in July.
The 2010 FIFA World Cup provided us with an opportunity to accelerate mass infrastructure development. As part of forward planning in anticipation of a possible post World Cup infrastructural development slump, the GEGDS includes a strategy to mitigate the impact of such a slump.
We are continuing with efforts to build cohesive and sustainable communities and eradicate informal settlements in the long term. This year we will bring draft legislation on the inclusionary housing policy to the legislature. Finalising this policy will enable us to reverse the phenomenon which has seen construction of more low cost housing outside of the urban edge, leading to sprawling settlements which leads to greater urban inefficiencies.
We continue to provide various settlement and tenure forms of accommodation to allow appropriate dwelling arrangements for our people. These will include mixed use settlements, low cost housing and providing serviced sites for informal settlement upgrading as well as rental housing. We are engaging with private sector companies to partner with them in dealing with the challenges of building sustainable human settlements.
The safety of our people especially in their homes and communities remain a major concern of government. We are all too conscious of the fact that violent crime fuels people’s fears and increases their level of insecurity, thus leading to instability.
As we have stated before, for Gauteng to succeed in the war against crime we need to work together in a smart way. With all the resources at our disposal what is required is joint planning and coordination by all security forces and agencies working in the province. We have now established a coordination mechanism which brings together all our forces under the command of the South African Police Service.
During the State of the Province Address we said that government would partner with the private sector to expand Gauteng’s forensics capacity, including the establishment of a forensics laboratory. We have started discussions with business and we hope to take concrete steps within the next three months in this regard.
The development of our rural and peri-urban areas is another important priority. We want to overcome the urban-rural divide and ensure that all our people, whether in urban, peri-urban or rural areas have access to decent services, infrastructure and economic opportunities.
Our programmes in this regard will include the development of our agricultural sector which will lay the basis for the achievement of our objective to eliminate hunger and guarantee food security.
Our programmes in this regard the provision of infrastructure to improve access to markets and the transportation of goods and services, improve services provided by extension officers as well as facilitating improved access to finance.
At the beginning of our tenure we indicated that we want to position this government in a manner that all of its structures and organs are streamlined such that they assist in facilitating the attainment of all our strategic goals.
To this end, we have finalised the reconfiguration of the Gauteng Provincial Government structure. The reconfiguration started with the merging and splitting of political portfolios and departments in May 2009, followed by redefinition of the mandates of all departments and formulation of detailed strategic plans. This has laid a solid structural foundation and created an environment that is conducive for the government to deliver on its developmental mandate.
The reconfiguration also included a review of the Gauteng Shared Services Centre. The Executive Council at its last meeting came to the conclusion that while the rationale for continuation of the shared services model, there is a need to move some of the functions currently performed by the GSSC to departments. The Executive Council has therefore decided that procurement, financial services and human resources services functions be moved from the GSSC to departments.
The migration of functions to departments will be done in a phased manner starting with Health and Social Development and Education and the other departments will follow once they have established capacity to perform the three functions.
The Department of Finance has been mandated to undertake further work regarding the review of the technology support service. The department has also been asked to conduct further work and make recommendations on an alternative shared services model.
Madam Speaker, the office of the Premier is the political nerve centre of the provincial government. It is therefore responsible for providing both strategic and political leadership in all the activities of the government. One of the critical areas of focus in the current 2010/11 financial year where we have made progress is the area of integrated central planning across provincial and local government.
In realising this goal we have established the Gauteng Planning Commission (GPC). In order to assist the GPC to work in an inclusive fashion a range of civil society sectors will be consulted to develop a holistic Gauteng Plan.
Furthermore, the Gauteng wide monitoring and evaluation policy framework was revised in line with the outcomes-based approach, paving the way for a more streamlined and coordinated approach to monitoring, evaluation and reporting on government performance.
We have adopted a revised international relations framework to promote mutually beneficially relations and partnerships with other countries in the pursuance of the national outcomes and related provincial projects. We will pursue bilateral and multi-lateral partnerships in the areas of education, health care, job creation and economic development, safety, rural development and food security, sustainable communities and governance.
On intergovernmental relations, we place more emphasis on coordinated approach for province-wide plan of action to enhance service delivery. The intergovernmental framework will ensure that, there is regular interaction within the three spheres of government through forums such as the Presidential Coordination Council, MINMEC, Premier’s Coordinating Forum and MEC-MMC meetings. These forums are aimed at strengthening the relationship within three spheres of government. We have resolved to have standardised and compulsory sessions.
Madam Speaker, our calling is to serve people and not to pander to elitist whims which do not contribute in any way in the improvement of the conditions of the poor. Our job is to listen to the critical mass of our people and integrate their aspirations into government’s implementable plans and programs.
It is not in our interests to arrogantly shoot down that which is raised by the masses because we view ourselves as of better intellect than those that we serve. When they protest and march we must show empathy and move with speed to address their concerns. When they strike we must honestly engage with them and not shun them. Our response to whatever issues the people raise can only be enhanced by having accessible and efficient systems and mechanisms that kick in at the slightest social frustration.
Communicating with the people remains one of the cornerstones of democracy. We will therefore continue with our efforts to promote effective communication between government and the people. We will use various platforms including the mass media and public participation.
We will forge closer working relations with the media informed by the democratic imperative for government to communicate effectively with the people and for the media to continue to fulfil the role and occupy their rightful space in democracy.
In strengthening the exchange of information between government and people as well as ensuring swift and coordinated response to people’s needs, we have resolved to establish a single Gauteng Province Hotline. The provincial hotline will be fully operational towards the end of July 2010.
We arrived at this decision after we analysed the nature and sources of complaints that were received by the presidential hotline. Our analysis revealed that the people of Gauteng are using the presidential hotline to raise service delivery issues, most of them falling within the competency of local government.
In an attempt to address the concerns of our people such as the waste removal and management, potholes, grass cutting and street lights we have agreed with our municipalities on the norms and standards of the provision of the basic services. In terms of the agreement the municipalities committed to collect refuse at least once a week, maintain and upgrade roads, and maintain water and electricity distribution infrastructure to ensure uninterrupted supply of services.
Furthermore, as the political centre of government, the premier office will to continue to engage with various formations of our society such as labour movement, community based organisations, non-profit organisation and the private sector to build and sustain working partnerships.
We are also working on identifying alternative sources of funding which will assist the government to accelerate the work on infrastructural development. It is only through the mobilisation of such funding that government can attain it strategic goals.
Honourable members, for Gauteng to remain on the cutting edge of development and be in a position to respond accordingly to challenges, it is important that we invest in our knowledge base and any related initiatives that are aimed at giving us an intellectual urge which will keep us ahead of the pack. We have therefore undertaken a number of key initiatives to benchmark Gauteng against its own future progress, other provinces and city regions globally. These include the setting of targets for the 2014 outcomes as well as the completion of a major Quality of Life Survey (QOL) through the Gauteng City Region Observatory. The survey enables the benchmarking of key socio-economic indicators at a localised and province-wide level and will enable a more effective evaluation of the impact of key programmes.
The Quality of Life Survey conducted by the Gauteng City Region Observatory has once again confirmed the appropriateness of our five year programme of action. It has shown that issues such as employment creation, quality health care, safety and security, quality education and the provision of basic services remain the main concerns of the people of Gauteng.
But the survey has also made an interesting finding about the population growth and in particular the migration pattern in Gauteng. According to the findings in-migration remained a huge factor affecting the quality of life for the people living in Gauteng. Some 20 percent of the people who responded to the survey were not living in Gauteng more than five years ago. In fact, more than 70 percent of those who were not residents of Gauteng five years ago only came to the province in the period between 2007 and 2009.
The period 2007 to date has thrown us with serious economic challenges including the global economic recession which exacerbated the poverty levels among South Africans. Coupled with this; the province has seen its fastest population growth since the 1990s, making planning for human settlements very tricky. What the study also found is that not all who come to Gauteng intend to live here permanently. Some just want to stay and work temporarily.
This finding once again raises sharply the need for the review of the formula used in determining the equitable allocation of the budget. Clearly in Gauteng there are unique factors which require a different approach on the allocation of the equitable share of the budget. Gauteng, being the most urbanised and industrialised province in South Africa will always attract more people from the rest of the country and even from outside South Africa.
The cost of living in Gauteng is also much higher compared to other provinces. We therefore cannot continue to use a one size fits all approach which does not take into account the unique challenges that a province like Gauteng is faced with. We will be raising this matter with the national government with a view of changing the allocation formula to take full consideration of the unique challenges that face Gauteng.
Madam Speaker, we are just six days away from one of the most magical moments in the history of football. South Africa as the host country has proved beyond any measure of doubt that we are capable and ready to welcome the horde of visitors and fans that are already descending on our shores.
The moment of truth is here. The whole country is behind Bafana Bafana; we know they can do it. Go out there and show the world that it is possible for a young team like South Africa to bring down the giants. Be courageous, be strong, fear no one; do it for your country; do it for future generations; do it for Africa.
The drive to improve the plight of the vulnerable or special groups is a priority. We are reinforcing our support for women, people with disabilities, youth and military veterans. To ensure that there is the necessary dedicated political authority to drive the development and implementation of programmes in support of these targeted groups I have appointed specific MECs who will champion these causes.
Since this is the Youth Month, which will be commemorated in Gauteng during the World Cup, it is important that we place strong emphasis on programs aimed at improving the conditions of youth in this country.
We will intensify the programme of the National Youth Service by encouraging the involvement of our youth volunteers in the reconstruction and development programmes. Most importantly we will ensure that young people become skilled in the process.
In appreciation of the selfless contribution of the military veterans to our democracy and the need to improve their socio-economic conditions, the Gauteng Executive Council has placed the needs of the military veterans high on its programme of action and a decision was taken to commemorate the military veterans each year on the Day of Reconciliation, 16 December.
Madam Speaker, one of the greatest threats to our hard-earned democracy is the scourge of corruption. If we do not act now against corruption we are running the risk of institutionalising the scourge of corruption and posterity will judge us harshly as the generation that betrayed the revolution of the people.
As part of our commitment we are planning to hold a Gauteng Anti-Corruption Summit involving all sectors of our society to agree on a common plan of action against corruption.
We will pay special attention to promoting ethical procurement and introducing greater transparency in our procurement processes, so that more people in our communities are able to benefit from government contracts.
The 2010/11 budget allocation for the office of the premier is just over R211 million. This budget makes provision for a host of critical activities that are aligned to the Programme of Action.
Today, Madam Speaker, we are joined by the impressive players of Bantwana the SAFA National under 17 girls football team who will represent our country in the coming Women’s World Football Cup in Trinidad and Tobago in September 2010. They deserve our unflinching support as they hoist the country’s flag high. We wish them a successful campaign.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, a year in the office has been both exciting and challenging as I have indicated in this presentation. While there are still a number of challenges facing us such as unemployment, housing backlog, poverty and underdevelopment, it is our firm belief that these challenges can only be effectively overcome if we forge close working relationship with the general public body. We also experience internal systemic challenges which include the late payment of service providers and poor services rendered at our delivery points. But as I have stated, we remain confident that these will soon be the things of the past.
In conclusion, let me take this opportunity to thank the Executive Council Members for support, the sterling work and commitment they have shown in our efforts to change the conditions of our people. I would also like to thank the members of the legislature for the continued guidance and constructive criticism they offer. Without your input we will be nothing but leaders who suffer from chronic arrogance and a false sense of importance. Thank you for keeping us grounded. We will always listen to your voice. Let me also hasten to thank my supportive staff under the leadership of the Acting Director-General. Dankie. Ngiyabonga.
Cell: 082 602 3532
Tel: 082 410 8087
Source: Officer of the Premier, Gauteng Provincial Government
Issued by: Gauteng Office of the Premier
4 Jun 2010
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