Deputy President Paul Mashatile has taken time in Parliament to honour former President Nelson Mandela and called on leaders to recommit themselves to the former statesman's vision of providing a better life for all South Africans.
“Today we stand on the shoulders of a great giant, former President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, who left us exactly on this day 10 years ago in 2013.
“On an occasion such this, we recall his wisdom and tenacity in fighting the apartheid system and dedication to building a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society,” Mashatile said on Tuesday.
The country’s second-in-command was delivering the annual address to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) in Parliament, Cape Town, which was sitting for its last session of 2023.
“We do not only recall but rededicate ourselves to the vision of our founding President - that of building a better life for all.
“It is, therefore, a great honour to deliver the last annual address to the National Council of Provinces, for the sixth administration, despite it being my first annual address.”
Mashatile told Parliamentarians that the end of the sixth administration provides an opportunity to reflect and contemplate the future of governance in South Africa.
The Deputy President's speech focused on accelerating the provision of social services, safety, and the advancement of economic reforms for economic recovery in the people's interest.
“As the theme suggests, the current situation requires immediate prioritisation and acceleration of providing essential social services, ensuring individual safety, and implementing comprehensive economic reforms for a swift recovery.”
Mashatile believes the measures are crucial for a sustainable and prosperous future through social policy transformation.
“We cannot talk about the progress we have made in shaping the future of our people if we do not reflect on where we come from as a nation.
“We can unequivocally state that South Africa is in a much better place now than it was 29 years ago.”
Citing the 2022 Census Report, the Deputy President said government has made significant inroads in undoing the legacy of decades of apartheid spatial planning and its consequences on the lives and livelihoods of South Africans.
“We have accelerated the provision of social services over the past few years by investing in education, healthcare, housing, water and sanitation, among other things.
“Although this is expected as standard practice, the progress achieved in recent years indicates that efforts to ensure adequate access to social services have been accelerated,” he added.
He also emphasised the role of Parliament, especially the role of delegates in the NCOP, which is constitutionally mandated to ensure that the interests of communities.
“Using these mechanisms, the Executive can intervene and quickly respond to identified service delivery hotspots through targeted Service Delivery Improvement Plans.
“The National Council of Provinces further uniquely promotes the principles of Cooperative Government and Intergovernmental Relations.”
Mashatile is of the view that Parliament has done very well in processing priority legislative proposals, considering interruptions caused by the July 2021 unrests, the burning of the National Assembly, and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On 29 March 2023, the Deputy President said the Cabinet approved 42 Bills in the 2023 Legislative Programme, while 22 Bills have already been introduced to Parliament as of 25 November 2023.
As of 30 November 2023, there were 17 Bills before NCOP Committees.
“We remain optimistic that all of these critical Bills will have been passed by the end of this administration.”
He also called on all stakeholders, including business, civil society, inside and outside NEDLAC, and more importantly, political parties, to take advantage of Parliamentary processes.
These include public hearings, petitions, written proposals, and other consultative forums to deposit their views, complaints, and progressive proposals that will contribute to the seamless processing of legislative proposals.
“Delays in passing of critical Bills affect the provision of basic services.”
The Deputy President said the sixth administration is also committed to transforming the economy along a developmental growth path to create decent jobs. – SAnews.gov.za