The State of the Nation Debate Speech on Infrastructure Development to promote Economic Growth, create jobs and reduce poverty delivered by the Hon. Nozabelo Ruth Bhengu to the National Assembly

19 June 2014

Madam Speaker
His Excellency, the President of the Republic of South Africa Cde. Jacob Zuma
Honourable Members
Ladies and Gentleman
Fellow South Africans

Ngithatha lelithuba ukubonga abantu base South Africa abavotele i African National Congress ngobuningi obuyisimangaliso.

The ANC presented to South Africans an elections manifesto with realistic and attainable goals based on a thorough analysis of socio-economic conditions in our country.

We told no lies and made no empty promises. Our people voted for the ANC overwhelmingly, thank you.

The ANC together with the people of South Africa will move South Africa forward. The elections campaign is over now, and real work has begun. Those who are not directly affected by inequalities and poverty will sing a different tune to protect their wealth and prevent radical socio-economic transformation.

Others from affected communities will present unattainable goals to gain popularity and dominate the media space.

That is not what will change socio-economic challenges in this country. Only a good plan will do. That is the National Development Plan and radical socio-economic change reflected in the Elections Manifesto of the African National Congress.

Madam Speaker,

The ANC has tasked me to unpack in this debate what we seek to achieve through the Infrastructure Development Programme in our elections manifesto.

I am also going to reflect on uneven levels of development inherited by the ANC government in 1994 particularly water, energy, sanitation and communication services as catalyst resources for local economic growth, job creation and poverty reduction.

Before I do that let me quote from the wisdom of the first State President of a democratic South Africa, His Excellency Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela who said in 1964 during his trial, I quote “I have fought against white domination. I have fought against black domination. And I cherish the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities” close quote.

Hon. Members

In celebrating 20years of our democracy, we need to reflect on the long road that we have travelled since 1994 and appreciate the fact that South Africa is indeed a better country than it was when the ANC assumed power.

We also need to be realistic and acknowledge that the needs out there are more than the available resources.

The uneven levels of development in our society require careful planning and allocation of resources so that the gap between developed and underdeveloped communities can be reduced in order to realise the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together with equal opportunities, a society that Tata Mandela and his ANC fought to bring about.

Hon. Members

The apartheid government allocated resources and developed infrastructure along racial divides and geographical location of communities.

White minority communities in urban cities and leafy suburbs enjoyed first world infrastructure as they were also treated as first class citizens.

Their roads were tarred and street lights. They had access to telecommunication services, clean, safe adequate water and electricity for domestic, commercial and industrial use.

The provision of infrastructure enabled such municipalities to attract investments, create jobs, generate more revenue and become financially viable so as to continuously provide citizens with services.

Communities in townships, hostels, peri-urban areas and informal settlements which were mainly Indians, Coloureds and Africans had poor, inadequate and substandard infrastructure that could not attract investment.

The ANC government introduced a wall to wall ward demarcation system thunder the same municipalities that had first world standards of infrastructure.

That marked the beginning of addressing inequalities. Today we have Thembisa as part of Ekurhuleni Metro in Gauteng, Umlazi and eMkhumbane as part of eThekwini Metro in KZN, and eGcilima and eMvutshini as part of the Hibiscus Coast local municipality and Ugu District municipality in KZN, to name just a few.

Communities in rural villages and farm areas were left in destitute with no infrastructure such as water, energy, roads, sanitation and communications services.

The negative impact of this situation is high levels of unemployment and poverty at community level and lack of investment and revenue base at municipality level.

If this situation was remained unchanged, this country would have become a welfare state with poor communities depending on government social grants and free services and municipalities depending on national grants in order to provide services to communities.

The radical socio-economic transformation that President Jacob Zuma spoke about in his State of the Nation Address is aimed at speeding up the process of breaking the poverty cycle caused by lack of adequate investment on infrastructure development in underdeveloped areas.

The Infrastructure Development Programme is mainly for attracting investment to underdeveloped municipalities so as to create jobs, reduce poverty and inequalities.

Communities would then become self-sufficient, self-reliant and afford payment for services.

Municipalities on the other hand would broaden their revenue base, become financially viable and capable of providing all communities with adequate services.

Madam Speaker,

When we reflect on what was inherited by the ANC government we are not opening wounds to rub salt on them.

We are merely demonstrating and appreciating that a lot has been done and a lot still needs to be done to correct apartheid settlement patterns and uneven distribution of resources that created rich and poor communities in one country.

The radical shift in this instance is therefore investment by government on the Infrastructure Development Programme informed by infrastructure backlog and development potential of each area to create a balance between developed and underdeveloped areas and address inequalities.

Kunabantu abangafuni ithintwe indaba yokuthi i ANC yathatha izintambo zombuso kunjani kulelwizwe.

Bafuna sikhulume sengathi yonke lenyakanyaka yokungalingani esiyilungisayo yenziwe yi ANC kube kungenjalo.

Bayaziwa abantu abadla izambane likapondo wondlebe ‘zikhanyilanga. Abadla imbuya ngothi bahlala kwanjayiphume nasemalokishini.

Kubalulekile ukuthi sikuchaze lokhu ngoba kunentsha yakithi esakhasa kwezepolitiki egixabezwa ngezikhundla nemali ivaleke amehlo nengqondo iphenduke imikhovu okuthakathwa ngayo ekhaya.

Amaqembu ahluliwe okhethweni angachithi isikhathi abange umsindo omkhulu ongasho lutho.

Akukho shintsho azolwenza abavoti bengawanikanga amandla okuphatha izwe. Ake basidedele siyi ANC senze esikuthunywe abantu base South Africa. Sithuthukise izingqala sizinda kohulumeni basekhaya, sihehe abatshali zimali bavule izimboni zemisebenzi, kukhule umnotho wezwe kuphele ukuhlupheka.

Abantu bakhulumile bathi akubuse i ANC. Abahluliwe okhethweni sebeyophinda bazame ngo 2016 nango 2019, nalapho i ANC iyobe ikhona. Abangazi ukuthi sikhuluma ngani babuze kwilunga elihloniphekile uMnumzane Lekota.

Nabo bafika beshayela phezulu bekhulumela futhi namhlanje badla izigqoko. Kunzima emzabalazweni ayingangamlomo.

Hon. Members

The ANC government identified 23 Presidential Poverty Nodal Points. These are the most underdeveloped municipalities that cannot attract investment due to lack of catalyst infrastructure such as water, sanitation, energy, roads, and communication services.

These therefore become priority areas for Infrastructure Development Programme to prevent continuous migration of people from rural to urban areas as that creates more demand for housing and relatein urban areas resulting with mushrooming of informal settlements as well as disintegration of families.

In 2010 the Portfolio Committee on Transport, I was the Chairperson of then, undertook a Study Tour to China. What we learn from that study tour was that The Chinese government focused on integrated transport system that linked railway transport to road, aviation and maritime. The introduction of high speed trains in China gave birth to the establishment of new factories in deep rural areas and development of new cities which resulted with many job opportunities. That did not happen by default it was a conscious decision taken and implemented by the Chinese government.

The same approach applies in South Africa. The ANC government took a conscious decision to invest in infrastructure and integrated transport for growth and development purposes.

The Deputy Minister for Science and Technology in her maiden speech correctly raised the issue of integrated transport system as a need. We appreciate that kind of thinking as it demonstrates an understanding of challenges.

The ANC government has already implemented the integrated transport system in South Africa, Hon. Deputy Minister Magwaza-Msibi. That process is ongoing, it started in with the adoption of the white paper on transport and the establishment of transport entities such as PRASA and TRANSNET for railway transportation, SAMSA for maritime transportation, ACSA for aviation and SANRAL for roads.

Our integrated transport system includes:

  • The Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) rolled out in Metros which for the first time in our country opens an opportunity for the Taxi Industry to participate in the main stream of the economy as shareholders in BRT. Integration of taxis and buses also addresses the issue of taxi violence which resulted with many casualties.
  • Upgrading railway lines, refurbishing old trains, purchasing new trains and turning railway stations into economic hubs.
  • Upgrading our ports and building of new ports such as Nqugra.
  • Upgrading of our existing airports to world class standards as well as building of King Shaka International airport in KwaZulu-Natal.
  • Upgrading freeways, rural gravel roads.
  • The roads maintenance programme commonly known as S’HAMBASONKE.
  • Building of bridges to connect communities and address the problem of school children who swim across rivers to access a
  • school.
  • Provision of Scholar transport including supply of bicycles to school children in rural areas.

The ANC government is hard at work moving South Africa forward. There would come a time in South Africa when no municipality would be referred to as a Presidential Poverty Nodal Point or an indigent municipality

There would also come a time in South Africa when a permanent exit of poor families from the social grant will be realised. That time is 2030 in terms of the National Development Plan.

The Infrastructure Development Programme in our elections manifesto includes:

  1. Upgrading railway infrastructure including new signalling system and converting railway station into commercial zones.
  2. Building new railway lines to connect cities, ports and airports.
  3. Refurbishing old trains and acquiring new trains to transport both public and goods
  4. Upgrading rural roads and access roads from gravel to tarred roads to support Agricultural and Rural Development programmes.
  5. The building of new water dams and upgrading water reticulation services to cover new villages and new settlement areas.
  6. Accelerating broadband infrastructure rollout.
  7. Reducing costs of energy by establishing electricity plants and to ensure that sufficient energy is produced to support our industrialisation plan.
  8. Ensuring a consistent and adequate funding stream to address sanitation challenges.

Hon. Members

The ANC government has committed itself in building a developmental state.

The National Development Plan provides a framework for all sectors of our society to work together in the process of building a developmental state.

The ANC has a good Infrastructure Developmeresources to create 6 million job opportunities. Uma i ANC ikhuluma ngamathuba emisebenzi, ayiphuphi.

Lemisebenzi izovela ngokwanda kwezimboni ezinkulu ngenxa yokuthuthukiswa kwezingqala sisinda, ukuthuthukiswa nokuvulwa kwamathuba okuhweba kosomabhizinisi abancane nama Cooperatives.

Asixoxi inganekwane emini, sine plani yangempela.

Together we move South Africa forward.

I thank you.

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