South Africa is a success story

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Pretoria – President Jacob Zuma says South Africa has, compared with many emerging economies, a good story to tell, based on its achievements over the past 20 years of democracy.

Speaking at the launch of the 20 Year Review: South Africa 1994 to 2014 document at Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guest House in Pretoria on Tuesday, President Zuma said government had done well to improve the lives of citizens through pro-poor economic interventions after it inherited the apartheid legacy in 1994.

The President also dedicated the release of government’s 20 Year Review to the legacy of the late former statesman, Nelson Mandela.

President Zuma said government had made good progress in building social cohesion and “promoting a new single national identity, and work is continuing in this regard”.

“The biggest barrier to further increasing social cohesion is the remaining inequality in society which needs to be attended to further.

“Going forward, we should commit to working together further to implement the National Development Plan to deal with the remaining challenges and take our country forward. 

“South Africa is a success story. South Africa is a good story,” he said.

The Presidency has, for the past 18 months, interacted with different leaders across all spheres of government to compile the Review.  

Today’s release comes after government released the 15 Year Review in 2008, which focused mainly on inter-governmental relations linked to service delivery.

The release of the 20 Year Review, the President said, was a milestone and it focused on the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) that was introduced by the democratic government after 1994.

He said through RDP - which has placed millions of South Africans in social security programmes – many have benefitted from subsidised housing, services such as electricity and water, quality education and healthcare. South Africans now enjoyed basic human rights that restored their dignity after the adoption of the Constitution in 1996.

“Thanks to our progressive Constitution, we enjoy freedom of movement and of association, the right to own property, the right not to be detained without trial, freedom of expression and freedom of the press, religious freedom and freedom of sexual orientation. 

“Women have equal rights before the law, which did not exist before 1994. 

“Workers have 20 years of enjoying rights, including trade union workplace organising, collective bargaining, equal pay for equal work, health and safety, affirmative action, skills development, minimum wages for workers in vulnerable sectors, the right to strike, and the right to peaceful protest,” he said.

Economic progress

On growth, President Zuma said despite the country inheriting a bankrupt economy, growth has averaged 3.2% from 1994 to 2012.

“This is a marked improvement over pre-1994 growth rates,” he said.  

The number of people in employment grew by approximately 5.6 million between 1994 and 2013, or by 60%.

The President said South Africa still faced challenges left by the apartheid legacy, including the uneven distribution of land, the aftereffects of Bantu education, unemployment and poor economic growth. However, the partnership between government, labour and business – combined with the integration of the National Development Plan – would go a long way to carry the country forward.

Since the mid-2000s, government had placed an emphasis on investing in economic infrastructure such as ports, rail, dams and power stations. 

The President said investment in infrastructure, which has also been identified as a key jobs driver, had increased “dramatically” over the past five years.

Social stability

The country has made progress in terms of the provisioning of social well-being services such as health, education and housing.

Over eight million school children are now beneficiaries of no-fee schools, while nine million are being fed through the schools feeding scheme, ensuring that no school child goes to class on an empty stomach.

On health, President Zuma said that in addition to free basic healthcare, more than 1 500 healthcare facilities have been built and existing ones have been revitalised over the past 20 years.

“One of the major challenges that confronted the democratic government was the rapid rise in the HIV epidemic. The country’s improved response to HIV and Aids and TB has resulted in dramatic improvements in health outcomes,” he said. 

RDP has resulted in about 2.8 million government-subsidised houses being distributed and over 875 000 serviced sites being delivered. 

This, President Zuma said, enabled more than 12 million people access to accommodation.  

He said 56% of all housing subsidies allocated have been to woman-headed households. The proportion of people living in formal housing increased from 64% in 1996 to 77% in 2011.

In conclusion, President Zuma invited the country to peruse the 20 Year Review document, engage with it and reflect on how far South Africa has come since 1994.

“We have succeeded because of the hard work of all our people who contributed in various ways to rebuilding their country.

“We are honoured to place before the country this 20 Year Review, which provides evidence in this regard. I invite South Africans to engage with this review. 

“We trust that it will be useful in assessing the path we have travelled thus far, and in moving the country forward.” -

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