Input by the Minister for Economic Development and Tourism, Mr Michael Mabuyakhulu, on the occasion of the Debate of the State of the Province Address held at the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature
19 Jun 2009
The Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Dr Zweli Mkhize
Fellow Members of the Executive Council
Honourable Members of the Provincial Legislature
Ladies and gentlemen
One of the late Honourable members of this Legislature used to assert that revolutionaries are by their nature optimistic. "A true revolutionary would never commit suicide because he or she always understands that, no matter how bad the situation is, there is always a way out."
It is by no mistake, therefore, that our ranks of freedom fighters have always been filled by men and women who have always seen a way out even when none seemed to exist. Even when the revolution suffered setbacks, they did not relent but forged ahead.
They understood that at times the conditions on the ground would require them to make detours while keeping their eyes firmly on the strategic objective of the revolution. Were it not for this mindset, it is highly doubtful whether we would be celebrating the fifteen years of democracy that we enjoy today. Perhaps because he possessed the gift of the garb, British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, once described the difference between optimists or revolutionaries and pessimists as follows:
"The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
We indeed commend the people of KwaZulu-Natal for having overwhelmingly chosen a party of revolutionaries and optimists to lead them for another five years on 22 April. Only from the party that has, and continues to produce world-renowned revolutionaries, could have emerged a Premier who would have delivered a State of the Province Address that is not only forward-looking but one that succinctly captures the aspirations of the people of our province. We commend you Premier Khabazela and your party for instilling hope for the future in all the people of our province, especially at the time when dark financial clouds are hovering over the world.
Madam Speaker, a lot has been said about the unsettling state of the world’s economy. Figures and statistics have been used to portray to all of us that indeed the present as well as the future may not necessarily be a bed of roses. Indeed the Premier, did mention that our province had shed about 117 000 jobs in the first quarter of 2009. However, because he is a revolutionary and revolutionaries are by their very nature optimists, he took the high road and assured all of us that this government is more than up to the task of riding the storm together with the people of our province. Indeed, we have moved beyond the point of shock and are engaged in the serious task of turning around our economy.
Like Winston Churchill, in the current difficult economic period that we find ourselves in, we do not see difficulty but see opportunity. We believe that, working together with all the stakeholders, we will be able to turn our misfortune into a huge fortune.
In order to achieve this, all of us need to reassess our approach to conducting business and growing the economy of KwaZulu-Natal. We need to craft comprehensive responses to a set of particular, pointed questions. Indeed, the fact that these are extra-ordinary times means we cannot afford to do things the normal way. Tough times like these require decisive action. We must ask where all the captains of industry are and what role they can play in mitigating the impact of the recession. In navigating these turbulent financial waters, we must tap into the collective wisdom of all men and women in our country and our province who have the necessary intellectual wherewithal to help us weather the storm.
We must ask ourselves whether we have harnessed all the expertise and resources that we have at our disposal to better the lives of our people. In the final analysis this financial crisis is not only about numbers. It is about school kids in our province who will not be able to go to school because their parents have been laid off. It is about families who will go to bed on an empty stomach, because bread-winners have been retrenched.
Therefore, the impact of our interventions will be measured by how we ensure that we stop any further job losses, while creating new ones. In this regard, we must question the models of some of our government's programmes and ascertain whether they respond adequately to the challenges of our time. The current economic situation provides us with a rare opportunity to remodel our objective reality and ensure that this is in sync with the pronouncements made by the Premier yesterday.
The fact, Madam Speaker, is that the script as we know it all over the world has changed. If there is one thing that the economic turmoil has done it has forced all nations in the world to re-examine their programmes. We believe therefore that we need to seize the opportunity and ensure that what we do contribute towards the attainment of the objectives that were outlined in the premier’s address. Precisely because we have shared the trenches with the Premier and understand that he comes from a long line of revolutionaries, we have no doubt he is more than up to the task of leading all of us to a place where every women and men can walk with their head held high.
The current economic turbulence is but a passing phase in our journey that will require a strong captain to help us pull though the stormy clouds. In our current premier, Dr Zweli Mkhize, we believe that we have more than capable captains, who like all revolutionaries, had his skills forged during the difficult times of our struggle for liberation.
This we base on the inimitable record of delivery notched by the ANC-led government since 2004. From the King Shaka Airport, unprecedented service delivery to the adoption of the Citizens Charter, the governing party has proven that it walks the talk. Ours is an innovative movement. It is not in our culture to throw our hands in despondence in the face of a challenge. Even as we battle the biggest economic challenge of our age, we have developed a plan to ensure that we sail through to the calm waters.
Chief among these in the basket of measures is to ensure that we continue to create linkages between the first and the second economies. We also want to ensure that we use our strategic location of being located in a province with two busiest ports in Africa to our advantage by getting more companies to use KwaZulu-Natal as their base. As all of us know, the manufacturing sector is one of the cornerstones on which our provincial economy is based. This is evidenced by the fact that our manufacturing sector is the second biggest after Gauteng.
However, as we all know, it is one of the sectors that have bore the brunt of the job losses as a result of the recession. It is against this backdrop that we support the Premier in his announcement of a conference to look at the economic situation in our province. This conference will go a long way towards helping us to develop a comprehensive approach to this economic challenge. As a pioneering province, we want this conference to be a festival of ideas that will bring all social partners including business, government, labour and civil society together around one table. From this confluence of ideas, should emerge a road map that will provide us with a campus of how do we minimise the impact of the economic challenge.
Madam Speaker, we also welcome the Premier's announcement that specific Members of the Executive Council will be allocated certain economic development corridors to oversee on behalf of the provincial government. This is a clear sign that we mean business when we say that the time to build is upon us and all of us need to put in an extra effort to ensure that, in the face of economic turmoil, we build a resilient economy that will ultimately bring equality among all our people. We urge other stakeholders including captains of industry and societal formations to utilise their skills and influence to ensure that indeed these corridors become launch-pads for sustainable economic growth and development for our people.
Madam Speaker, this government firmly believes that for us to deliver on our undertakings we need a vigilant and active citizenry. We need citizens who actively participate in government's programmes. It is only when we have a vigilant citizenry that we can hold our government to account. After all the concept of participatory democracy is the bedrock on which this government is founded.
We therefore believe that the announcement by the Premier that an office of an Ombudsman in the premier office will be created is something that should be cheered by all the people of province. We believe that this office will go a long way towards strengthening the already existing measures to foster the culture of accountability. This will also ensure that government is able to submit itself to the court of public scrutiny, understanding that what ever lapses that have been identified by communities can only help this government to be better.
Honourable Speaker, the Premier also touched on a very important subject of introducing measures to streamline communication in the provincial government. From the onset we want to make it clear that we believe that our government should be able to communicate with the citizenry in an unmediated way. We say this because we believe that communication is the life-blood of all successful organisations, including governments.
However, because of the trying economic times we are living in, we believe that we need to be prudent in what ever we do including communicating. The reality is that government is the custodian of tax payers' funds. Therefore, in whatever we do we should be mindful of this. Government cannot call on all social partners to tighten their belts when it is not leading by example.
Lastly, Madam Speaker, the Premier emphasised the point that all of us serve at the behest of our people. We, therefore, need to appreciate this privilege bestowed upon us by the electorate of the province by working smartly, professionally and with respect for the citizens.
It is said that trust is earned. All of us, therefore, in this House, irrespective of whether we occupy the opposition benches or actually lead this administration, need to conduct ourselves in a manner that shows our appreciation for the trust that has been bestowed on us.
To do things differently would be tantamount to treason and history will judge us harshly if we fail to utilise this trust and goodwill to deliver on what the citizens of our province expect.
I thank you.
Issued by: Department of Economic Development and Tourism, KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government
19 June 2009
Source: Department of Economic Development and Tourism, KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government (http://www.kznded.gov.za)
Issued by: KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government
19 Jun 2009
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