Speech by Hon S Zikalala during the debate on the State of the Nation Address

16 February 2016 - Cape Town

Honourable Speaker
His Excellency, the President of the Republic
Honourable Members

On behalf of the majority of the people in KwaZulu Natal, we rise to convey their message of hope and confidence that, notwithstanding the turbulent economic challenges facing the country, the government under your leadership, Mr President, remains the only government with capacity, experience and determination to better their lives.

The State of the Nation Address delivered by His Excellence President Jacob Zuma was not only frank about the objective challenges that we face, but it also gave solutions to guarantee a brighter future.

The people of KwaZulu Natal have mandated us to communicate a clear message that they will refuse to allow our beautiful province to be a nest of racism - as advocated by the DA racists in a form of Ms Penny Sparrow and Ms Dianne Kohler Barnard who, by an unfortunate accident of history, both come from our province. The people of KwaZulu Natal are committed to stand side-by-side to defeat the demon of racism and all its proponents.

Honourable President, the people of KwaZulu - Natal have sent us to convey that they are not and will never be confused by the DA's tired strategy of renting Black faces to mask their racist character. They are clear in their minds that the DA is nothing but an epicentre and a fertile ground for racism. They say the DA, as true descendants of the apartheid-colonial system, has continuously proved itself as a shield for white monopoly capital determined to reverse the gains of democracy.

Our people have also noted with greatest shock continued disruptions that are becoming a permanent feature of this parliament. We are confident that those who voted the Red Ants anarchists into parliament are taking full responsibility of their action and are committing themselves to correct it in the next elections. These anarchists masquerade as revolutionaries yet they are nothing but lumpen proletarians who pretend to be representing the interests of the poor while, in essence, they represent their selfish and narrow agendas. The Red Ants that have degraded our hard won democracy should not defocus us from delivering on the mandate overwhelmingly bestowed to us by the people. As they personalize the debate and thriving on insults, all self-respecting and thinking people should rise above and cast they attention and energy to bettering the lives of our people.

The people's message to Malume Terror Lekota is simple - the less said about him the better for they believe it is immoral and inhumane to disturb the dead.

Madam Speaker

We fully agree with the President that many of our SOEs are performing well and all those with clear judgment can bear testimony. SANRAL in our province continues to build state of the art roads which are an anchor of our economy.

Consistently, modernising and well maintained transport infrastructure is critical to driving socio-economic development of our province. It reduces the cost of doing business while enabling seamless movement of goods and services.

We pride ourselves with SANRAL infrastructure projects such as N2 corridor upgrade involving Umgeni Road and KwaMashu interchange; the Mount Edgecombe Interchange which addresses the traffic backlog on the M41 and N2 during peak hours; N3 Hammarsdale Interchange; Road improvements along N2, N3 and N11 and more many that are planned for the province.

Eskom is amongst the SOEs that have a good story to tell. Coupled with the fact that South Africa has not seen load-shedding for a while, electricity is no longer a preserve for the few. Today we pride ourselves with areas like Dannhauser Municipality where the electricity coverage has reached 100%. Surely many people who have access to electricity today would have not enjoyed such benefit if Eskom was in private hands which is the agenda propagated by the DA.

We must reject the call for privatisation of SOEs as advanced by the leader of the opposition Honourable Maimane. This call is informed by nothing else other than to give space for monopoly capital to maximise profit at the expense of workers. We all know that the state provides more protection to workers than the private capital which always resort to retrenchment whenever profit margins are threatened.

Madam Speaker

Education remains an anchor of any prosperous society. This assertion was aptly articulated by Cde Walter Sisulu when he said "Proper education is a mirror in which man sees the world around him and learns to understand it. The right kind of education enables man to see what the world has been, what it is, and how it can change to suit him or his way of living. Education can be and has been used to befuddle the minds of the common people. But education can also be used as an important instrument in the struggle for freedom and human progress. It is this kind of education which we need".

We remain concerned about the decline in the matric pass rate in our province. However, we have no reason to despair. The narrative advanced by the opposition party only serve their narrow interests as opposed to the national interests. Our government has identified factors that has led to the decline and has committed itself to addressing those factors without delay. The first step towards this has been the Education Indaba which was convened to distil ways and means to address both objective and subjective challenges within our education system.

Notwithstanding the decline in the matric pass rate, in 2015 KZN had the largest number of learners sitting for Matric exams at One Hundred and Sixty Two Thousands (162 000). Of the Ninety Eight Thousand, Seven Hundred and Sixty One (98 761) who passed, Thirty Four Thousands, Seven Hundred and Sixty One (34 761) obtained bachelor pass - the highest compared to all provinces.

The number of students who are at schools has increased drastically while at the same time we have ensured that there are no drop outs. KwaZulu Natal has over 2.8 Million learners at school - the highest number recorded in country. To us, the call for opening the doors of learning and culture is not visionary dream in the horizon but is a goal we are attaining.

Madam Speaker

In 2015 State of the Nation Address, as part of the 9 point plan to respond to the sluggish economic growth, the President announced the revitalisation of agriculture and agro-processing value-chain. The province of KwaZulu Natal has moved with speed in putting this call to practice. Our province is, by and large, a rural province with great potential to prosper in the agriculture industry. 10 out 11 Districts have established tasks teams charged with the responsibility of rolling out the programme of agri-villages. These teams consists of Department of Agriculture, Economic Development, COGTA, Department of Land Reform and Municipalities.

The teams, working with farmers and other community stakeholders, are hard at work in identifying sites for Agro-Parks in each district and to develop District Agri-production strategies. These strategies will be anchored on 3 pillars which are:

  • Promotion of skills and support to small-holder farmers through the provision of capacity building, mentorship, farm infrastructure, extension services, production and mechanization inputs;
  • Enable producer ownership of the majority of Agri-Parks equity (70%), with the state and commercial interests holding minority shares (30%); and
  • Revitalising under-utilized land, especially in Communal Areas and land reform farms, into full production and expand irrigated agriculture.

Further to this, each district has identified its potential commodities to be prioritized in agro-production.

The value of growing the ocean economy was underscored during the Rio+20 UN Conference in June 2012 where it said "ocean economy needs to contribute to eradicating poverty as well as sustained economic growth enhancing social inclusion, improving human welfare and creating opportunities for employment and decent work for all, which maintain the healthy functioning of the Earth's ecosystems"

The renewed focus on this industry by your government honourable President should be welcomed and we need to spare no time in realizing its potential. The province of KwaZulu-Natal is well endowed with maritime and marine resources; it has two of the busiest ports in Africa and the Southern Hemisphere as well as hundreds of kilometres of coastline and inland waterways. The maritime industry in KZN spans across many sectors such as freight and logistics, auxiliary maritime support services, tourism and leisure, marine energy, fishing and aquaculture.

To this end and as part of exploiting this potential, the province has converted the Sharks Board into a Maritime Institute and the KZN Integrated Maritime Strategy is now in place to leverage the ocean economy for growth and development. Ugu and Uthungulu District, which are coastal districts has developed their strategies to take full potential of the seas adjacent to them. Our provincial government is exploring modalities of deliberately skilling young people to venture into this sector and this include partnering with other countries who offer maritime training.

Madam Chairperson

Our belief that, in spite of all the challenges, South Africa has a good story to tell is supported by hard facts. We got no doubt that the majority of people can bear testimony to this and will continue to work with the ANC government to move South Africa Forward.

I thank you.