Speeches

Address by President Jacob Zuma on the occasion of the release of the 20 Year Review: South Africa 1994 to 2014, Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guest House, Pretoria

11 March 2014

Photo of: President Jacob Zuma
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Representatives of all sectors,
Fellow South Africans,

Good morning to you all.

Thank you for joining us on this important occasion.

The year 2014 represents a historic milestone of twenty years of freedom and democracy in our country.

It is an occasion to reflect on what has been achieved in our country over the past twenty years, by South Africans working together.

We have the honour today to release the Presidency’s 20 Year Review, which is our contribution to the celebration and discussions about the progress made, and work that still needs to be done to move South Africa forward.

We have had ten year and fifteen years reviews before, which cumulatively contributed to the review document we are launching today.

The Twenty Year Review is packed with facts and figures to support its analysis and it is honest and frank in its approach. 

Where the facts indicate that we have made progress, we say so, and where the facts indicate that we have challenges and have made mistakes, we also say so. 

We are releasing the Review just two months after the passing of the first President of a democratic South Africa, His Excellency Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. 

His administration laid the foundation for the transformation of our country from being the skunk of the world to a non-racial, non-sexist, thriving and vibrant constitutional democracy. 

You will note that the sky on the cover picture of the Review document displays a beautiful rainbow. The picture was taken at the Union Buildings on the second day of Tata Madiba’s lying in state at the Nelson Mandela Amphitheatre. 

We experienced a brisk storm that afternoon, followed quickly by that rainbow which brightened the sky, as if to remind us of the united rainbow nation that Madiba wanted us to be, always.

We humbly dedicate this Review to Madiba.

Given the manner in which we were able to pull our country back from the brink of disaster, South Africa is an inspiration to peoples elsewhere in the world who are seeking the resolution of serious conflicts. We are proud of this remarkable achievement.

At a political level, we have consolidated our democracy and built strong institutions as the Review indicates. 

We have representative legislatures, an independent judiciary, independent public audit, an independent Reserve Bank, and independent constitutional bodies to provide checks and balances and protect the rights of citizens. 

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.

All South Africans have the right to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket and to present petitions, provided this is done peacefully and unarmed. 

The Review provides evidence of progress also in socio-economic transformation. 

But, the legacy of apartheid that we inherited runs deep and still persists. 

I will mention just a few examples of what we inherited, before giving some highlights of progress made.

The systematic dispossession of land under both colonialism and apartheid has left us with highly skewed racial distribution in land ownership and agricultural production as well as a struggling smallholder farming sector. 

The system of reserves which was introduced under colonialism and later reinforced as homelands under apartheid left a legacy of poverty and underdevelopment in former homeland rural areas. 

The homeland system was also linked to the migrant labour system. This is one of the root causes of the unrest which we are currently experiencing in our mining sector. 

Racial segregation was also enforced in urban areas. In this regard, one of the biggest challenges which the democratic government has faced has been how to address the entrenched apartheid spatial patterns. 

For example, many poor people live in townships which are far from their places of work, costing them more to get to work than those with the means.  

We are also still dealing with the impact of the Bantu education system which was designed to keep the black majority confined to unskilled labour.

The provision of public health services and basic services such as water, sanitation, electricity and waste removal was also prioritised in white residential areas. 

This has caused a legacy of enormous backlogs in the infrastructure required to deliver these services. 

Despite this legacy, we have recorded progress in socio-economic transformation as well, as we indicated in the State of the Nation Address last month.

On average, the economy has grown at 3.2 percent a year from 1994 to 2012.  

This is a marked improvement over pre-1994 growth rates.  

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

However, this growth, while most welcome, is modest compared with other emerging economies. 

It has also not been adequate to meet the objective of reducing unemployment substantially.

The Review indicates that the increase in the number of those employed has been offset by a larger increase in the number of people looking for work. 

The reasons for this include population growth. Another factor is increasing urbanisation, which in turn was partly a result of the dismantling of the homeland system and the removal of the pass laws.

There are also increasing numbers of women looking for work, due to advances in gender equality, which is another achievement of democracy and freedom. 

The Review describes the major advances in gender equality that has been achieved since 1994. 

To move the country forward, government, business and labour need to work together towards sustaining higher economic growth rates in future in order to substantially reduce unemployment. This is emphasised in the National Development Plan.

Positions of power in the economy have become more representative since 1994, encouraged by government’s black economic empowerment and affirmative action policies. 

These policies will continue until the structural characteristics of apartheid in terms of inequality in ownership, management and control of the economy as well as  pay have been addressed.  

Ladies and gentlemen

Since the mid-2000s, government has placed increasing emphasis on economic infrastructure such as ports, rail, dams and power stations. 

Our growing economy and rising standards of living have resulted in increased demand for road, rail, port, water, electricity and telecommunications infrastructure. 

Over the past five years, investment in this infrastructure has dramatically increased further.

Central coordination of infrastructure delivery, through the Presidential Infrastructure Coordination Commission has improved delivery and assists to remove bottlenecks faster.

Investments in infrastructure will increase further, including on much needed social infrastructure such as water, electricity, sanitation, schools, colleges and housing amongst others.

With regards to basic services, it is impressive that a number of municipalities which had little or no pre-existing institutional foundations, have been able to deliver basic services to thousands of people who did not have them before in the past two decades. 

Some of the municipalities were geared towards serving a minority before 1994.

The focus is now on reaching communities that are still waiting, particularly in informal settlements in urban areas and in remote rural areas. 

More importantly, the focus is on improving the technical and management expertise of municipalities so that they can function better and also be able to maintain key infrastructure that supplies water and electricity to communities amongst other services.

The Review describes the various interventions which are currently being implemented to address these challenges. 

Ladies and gentlemen,

To fight poverty and inequality, as illustrated in detail in the review, a range of pro-poor government policies have been implemented since 1994, which is among South Africa’s key achievements. 

The result is that our country has achieved, or is on track to achieve, most of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals by 2015. 

Most of the achievements in reducing extreme levels of income poverty can be ascribed to government’s comprehensive social protection programme.

This includes extensive income support programmes for close to 16 million orphans and vulnerable children, older persons and people with disability, among others. 

It also includes access to free education, primary health care and free basic services to indigent members of our society.  

I will mention a few examples in which South Africa has made progress.

Over 8 million school children are now benefitting from no-fee policies.  

This has contributed to an increase in secondary school enrolment from 51 percent in 1994 to around 80 percent currently.

About 9 million children are benefitting from the school feeding scheme and this has ensured that learners no longer have to study on an empty stomach. 

While backlogs in school infrastructure remain, thousands of schools have been built and connected to water and electricity supply since 1994. About 370 modern schools were built over the past five years alone.

In 2009, we split the education departments into two, focusing on basic and higher education and training respectively, to ensure an intensive corrective focus in each sector. 

In the last five years, the Annual National Assessments (ANA) system was introduced to enable an objective assessment of the education system below Grade 12 for the first time. 

The relatively poor ANA results have demonstrated the extent of the apartheid damage. At the same time, the results also indicate that the system is starting to improve. 

University enrolment has almost doubled since 1994. There have also been huge increases in enrolments at further education and training (FET) colleges, following an intensive focus on these colleges in the past five years.

The racial and gender composition of the student body has been markedly transformed since 1994. 

Government has been working on challenges in the FET sector to improve pass rates and change industry perceptions about the colleges.

Investment in education is significant because education is central to development. 

It is the primary vehicle by which children of the poor can lift themselves out of poverty and obtain the means to participate meaningfully in the economy and in society. 

Compatriots,

As most of you are aware, there have been great improvements in access to healthcare services as well since 1994.

In addition to free basic health care, 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, such as increased life expectancy, reduced infant and child mortality rates, and tuberculosis (TB) treatment outcomes. 

South Africa’s HIV and AIDS response has now received international acclaim.

There has also been a significant reduction in malaria cases and deaths due to malaria. 

Severe malnutrition has also significantly declined. 

Despite this progress, we must still improve the quality of care in the public health sector and also attend to the increasing private healthcare costs. 

Compatriots

With regards to housing, over the past 20 years, about 2.8 million government-subsidised houses and over 875 000 serviced sites were delivered. 

This enabled more than 12 million people access to accommodation and an asset.  Fifty six percent of all housing subsidies allocated have been to woman-headed households. 

The proportion of people living in formal housing increased from 64 percent in 1996 to 77 percent in 2011. 

Ladies and gentlemen,

The question of land remains a fundamental issue for those who were dispossessed in 1913.

In 1994, 83 percent of agricultural land was owned by whites with only 17 percent being available to the black majority in the former homelands. 

Government introduced the Land Redistribution Programme in 1994. 

Since then, government has redistributed 9.4 million hectares of land, benefiting almost a quarter of a million people. 

The target had been 30 percent of the agricultural land owned by white South Africans.

As the Review indicates, only 24 percent of black households are involved in agriculture, and very few commercial farms are owned by black people. 

A land audit has been completed which will assist to identify further land for reform purposes. 

Some laws are being finalised which will assist to improve the pace in the implementation of the land reform programme.

These include improving land valuation mechanisms and also re-opening land claim opportunities for claimants who missed the opportunity in 1998.

Ladies and gentlemen

With regards to safety and security, the levels of serious crime and property crime have declined since 1994. 

However, crime levels remain high, particularly crime against vulnerable groups such as women and children which require continued intensive focus. 

A range of institutions, laws and measures have been put in place since 1994 to counter corruption. 

These are now being strengthened by implementing measures such as preventing public servants from doing business with the state and better management of the risks related to government procurement processes. 

Corruption is not only a public-sector problem and the country response has to include the private sector as well.

Compatriots,

We have 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 remaining challenges and take our country forward. 

South Africa is a success story. 

South Africa is a good story.

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.

We humbly thank South Africans from all walks of life for their contribution to the successes that our country has scored. 

We also thank all those who participated in producing this 20 Year Review throughout the country.

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.

Compatriots,

In 1993, at former ANC President Oliver Tambo’s funeral, former President Nelson Mandela, stated; “Oliver Tambo has not died because the ideals of freedom, human dignity and a colour-blind respect for every individual cannot perish.”

We say the same about Madiba.

Tata has not died because the ideals he stood for will live forever. 

These ideals which are enshrined in the country’s Constitution and in the Freedom Charter, we will carry forward, as we continue our mission of building a united, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa.
 
I thank you.

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