SONA used to report on SA's progress

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Parliament - Friday's State of the Nation Address (SONA) was a report card on the progress of government in fulfilling its mandate as the 3rd term of the current Parliament draws to a close.

Reacting to the Parliamentary debate on the State of the Nation Address on Tuesday, the President said: "The February 2009 State of the Nation Address ... reported and accounted for progress in fulfilling the electoral mandate of this government."

He thanked the various Members of Parliament for their comments. However, he there had been confusion over what government was doing to mitigate the negative effects of the current global economic meltdown.

In his address on Friday, the President outlined four initiatives government would be pursuing to mitigate the impact on South Africa's developing economy.

"Government will continue with its public investment projects, the value of which has increased to R690 billion for the next three years; we will intensify public- sector employment programmes; we will work with the private sector to counteract an investment slowdown and unnecessary closures of production lines; and government will sustain and expand social expenditure," said President Motlanthe.

Further to this, a Task Team made up of various social partners, is expected to report to the Presidential Joint Economic Working Group on final proposals soon.

He further said that at talks at the India Brazil and South Africa Summit in New Delhi, the G20 Summit in Washington and the African Union Summit in Ethiopia, Ministers of Finance and Governors of Reserve Banks were of the view that developing nations must not pull back from investing in bulk infrastructure.

President Motlanthe said South Africa's developmental goals required practical means of supporting poor households who could not afford to keep up with rising prices of commodities such as maize, milk, vegetables, cooking oil, and samp.

"We are committed to accelerating agricultural land production, social safety nets, and financial support for small and medium sized farmers.

"Significantly, we aim to give support to women, who are the frontline combatants in the fight against poverty and hunger, and implementing short- to long-term initiatives."

He said these initiatives include the expansion of the Household Food Production Programme, the expansion of the school feeding programme to include nursery schools and alignment to the War on Poverty and other poverty reduction strategies.

He said government would further expand the agricultural starter packs from 70 000 to 140 000 households per annum.

"Therefore, the developmental objectives we have put forward include improving access to basic services such as healthcare and clean water, promoting income security and support for the vulnerable groups.

"We have to realise that a major challenge confronting us is price affordability and not necessarily, or solely, food availability," said President Motlanthe.

In relation to the provision of basic services, government has acknowledged there are areas that require improved rigour and speed, including the matter of sanitation.

"In 2008, we reaffirmed the commitment to "implement intensive campaign to meet targets for water, sanitation and electricity: speed up implementation of programme to attain universal access by 2014", as part of our Apex Priorities," said the President.

He highlighted that all the 24 Apex Priorities were receiving attention in actual practical implementation.

"With all the challenges strewn on our way, it is incumbent upon us to join hands as we strive to bring about a better life for all our people," said President Motlanthe.