Zuma: A new era of doing things

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday described his recent State of the Nation Address (SONA) as an indication of a new era of doing things in Government.

"This is an era of doing things differently, an era of ensuring that work is determined by clear outcomes, and of increasing the pace and form of service deliver," Zuma said in reply to a debate on the SONA in the National Assembly.

He said the defining feature of this government, as stated in the SONA, will be that it "knows where our people live, understands what their needs are and will respond faster".

"We will not allow a distance to arise between government and its people. We do not want to be surprised by anger, nor shall we take our people, especially the poor for granted. We want to understand issues as they arise and intervene timeously," the President said.

Government, he said, will meet with business, labour, youth, religious sector, women and various sectors between now and December, to ensure that it builds this movement for reconstruction and development together.

"We want to make this a year of action for everyone, not just government."

Around 2.5 million people tuned in to watch the event broadcast live on SABC 2 on Thursday night while 1.3 million viewers watched on e.tv.

He said the new outcomes approach his government was taking would become clear as ministers present their budget speeches in the upcoming weeks.

Zuma reiterated government's plans to turn education, health, the fight against crime, rural development, land reform and the creation of decent work around. "In addition we will take our work further on human settlement, infrastructure as well as local government."

Government, he said, will place youth advancement at the centre of development. "Everything we do must answer the needs of our children and those of the youth. This has a profound bearing on what we do today and where we expect to be tomorrow," Zuma said to applause from the packed gallery.

He said unless government appreciated the reality that the youth formed the majority of the country's population, government would not be able to make correct policy choices and pursue an appropriate development path.

Government, he said, plans to hold a discussion with all directors-general in the public service. "Together we will discuss how to ensure that departments respond effectively to our call for faster service delivery and to create a caring public service."

He said moves were afoot to create a delivery and performance-orientated State with all ministers signing delivery agreements and all public servants finalising performance agreements and workplans.

"Our public service performance management and development system has to work effectively, as outlined in the relevant public service legislation and regulations."

The President said government had gained valuable insight on issues from the quarterly meetings with leaders of political parties represented in Parliament.

This week, government directed departments to implement some decisions taken at the meeting with political parties on 9 February, relating to climate change, the fight against crime as well as the celebration of national days.

Hitting back at critics who described his address as lacking detail Zuma said: "If we were to explain every detail of what we will be doing the President would stand here for a week explaining the details... that would have been very funny"

He said government has not changed its priorities but the method of implementation.