Good Afternoon ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the briefing.
Tomorrow, on 11 February, President Jacob Zuma will present his second State of the Nation Address.
The choice of the date and time of this address is deliberate. It will coincide with the 20th anniversary of the release of Nelson Mandela, a critical moment in the history of our nation. It will allow us to reflect on how far we have come as a people, and to focus on what still needs to be done.
It will also allow the people of this country to pay tribute to Madiba for the contribution that he has made to the building of a free and democratic nation.
In a break with tradition, this State of the Nation Address will be taking place in the evening, providing an opportunity for greater numbers of South Africans to view it live on television and to follow it on radio.
It is important as the Presidency that we give practical expression to the principle that this is a Parliament of the people.
While it draws on the momentous events of 20 years ago, this year's State of the Nation Address will be about the future. It will be forward looking, reflecting the outcomes by which this administration will measure its progress in fulfilling its electoral mandate.
As we indicated in our position paper we published last year titled "Improving government performance: our approach, we were going to develop a set of outcomes and measurable outputs". The outcomes have been finalised and approved by Cabinet for all five priority areas and other areas of government activity.
It is exactly nine months since this administration came into office. In a fortnight, the Ministers responsible for the various aspects of government's programmes will provide more detailed briefings on progress and plans from 22 February 2010. As the Minister responsible for performance monitoring and evaluation we will provide you with a comprehensive briefing on Friday, 12 February on the outcomes.
The President's address will celebrate the achievements of the country since former President Nelson Mandela's release. It will reflect on progress made since the 2009 address. It will also outline the work that is to be done to effectively change the way government works, in order to speed up service delivery.
Last year's address laid the foundation for the promotion of a responsive, interactive and effective developmental state.
In tomorrow's address, the President will reflect on the steps taken towards this goal.
We can expect that the chief priorities of this administration will feature prominently in the speech. These are the creation of decent work, education, health, rural development and land reform and the fight against crime.
A critical issue will be the state of the South African economy. This administration came into office in the midst of a recession that had its causes beyond our borders.
We will need to reflect on the impact that this has had on our economy and particularly on our efforts to promote the creation of decent work. Importantly, the address will look at how we most effectively support an accelerated recovery and beyond that, sustained growth over the medium to long term.
In last year's address, President Zuma placed much emphasis on changing the way the public service works. It is for this reason that he met with police station commissioners, mayors and municipal managers and school principals to share his vision for a more caring, responsive and people-centred public service. These meetings also provided an opportunity for the President to hear first-hand accounts of the challenges in these sectors.
As part of the celebrations of Madiba's release, the President has invited a number of special guests to the Joint Sitting of Parliament.
These include several political prisoners who served time on Robben Island and in other prisons. The occasion will therefore also mark a reunion of former freedom fighters from the African National Congress, Pan Africanist Congress and the black consciousness movement and other formations.
The former prisoners will be joined by some of the former members of the Rivonia Trial legal team.
On Friday this week, President Zuma will host a reunion lunch with the former prisoners at Groote Schuur residence, the venue of the historic signing of the Roote Schuur Minute in 1990. This will be an opportunity to thank them personally for their contribution to the achievement of the democratic transition.
As has been reported in the media, the President yesterday met with leaders of political parties represented in the National Assembly. This, the second such meeting, is part of his undertaking in the 2009 State of the Nation Address to meet with leaders at regular intervals to enable him to brief them on various issues of national importance and to provide a forum for direct interaction. The leaders agreed to meet again shortly to discuss further issues of interest and concern.
This afternoon the President is meeting with school children who are participating in a competition to promote the State of the Nation Address in schools, organised by the Government Communications (GCIS), Department of Basic Education and Sanlam. This is an important initiative to promote greater citizen engagement with government processes, particularly among the leaders of tomorrow.
As we reflect on the last nine months, we can say with confidence that we have done much to undertake the tasks outlined in last year's State of the Nation Address. Tomorrow, the President will focus on what it is we still need to do, and importantly, what measurable we will use to gauge our progress.
The President will emphasise that these are not merely government outcomes. They are societal outcomes. As a society we will need to work together to ensure that these are achieved.
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Issued by: The presidency
10 February 2010