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Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Speaking Notes at the engagement with Parliamentary Press Gallery Association

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Chairperson of the PGA, Ms Joylene van Wyk,
Acting Director-General of the Department of Communications, Ms Phumla Williams,
Members of the PGA,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
Thank you for joining us this morning.
 
Thank you for having been in Parliament for another year and helping South Africans understand how governance is unfolding within our developing democracy.  It is hard to believe that it has been 40 months since we last engaged.
 
We should engage more frequently.  Three years ago, our discussion focused on social cohesion, strike ballots and other issues that were uppermost in your minds at the time.
 
I hope that this time, we will similarly be able to discuss issues that are of great importance to our country and our people.  When we last met, in 2014, it was largely thanks to the efforts of my spokesperson, Ronnie Mamoepa.
 
As we meet here, I would like to pay tribute to Ronnie, with whom many of you had a very close professional relationship over many years.
 
Ronnie very clearly understood the role that media plays in entrenching and deepening democracy – and the critical need for meaningful engagement between the media, public representatives and the institutions of state.
 
More than most, Ronnie played a vital role in promoting that engagement.
 
It is appropriate, as the Parliamentary year draws to a close, that we should reflect on the past 12 months in this institution.  Government has continued to pursue a robust legislative programme that advances the electoral mandate of this administration.
 
During 2017, 29 executive bills were placed before portfolio committees in the National Assembly, including the Critical Infrastructure Protection Bill, the Labour Relations Amendment Bill, the Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill and the National Minimum Wage Bill.
 
There are currently 25 bills before parliamentary committees in the National Assembly.
 
It is a matter of some concern that 6 bills have been before committees for one year or longer, while 10 bills have been before committees for six months or longer.
 
Various members of the Executive – including the Ministers of Public Enterprises, Social Development and Finance – gave account to ad hoc committees established by Parliament on matters of national interest.
 
The attendance of Ministers in the House for oral question sessions Members’ statements and attendance at Portfolio Committees continue to be raised.
 
As the interface between Parliament and the Executive, the office of the Leader of Government Business will continue to work with Parliament to ensure that there is effective coordination and accountability.
 
While the number of questions put to Ministers is increasingly steadily, the overall rate of reply has remained high.
 
As of this week, 4 236 written questions have been put by Parliament to members of the Executive.
 
I wish to extend congratulations to the Hon Cheryllyn Dudley of the ACDP who has made history as the author of the first Private Member’s Bill to be passed by this Parliament.
 
Thanks to the Hon Ms Dudley, the Labour Laws Amendment Bill enables fathers to take paternity leave.
 
We hope that this can be the start of a more collaborative approach to developing the laws of this country.
 
One of the things that will stand out in 2017 is the growing confidence of Parliament in holding the executive to account.
 
This Parliament is increasingly becoming the activist Parliament that we have long spoken about.
 
The Executive’s relationship with the Legislature is strengthened by constructive exchanges between the two in the course of the fulfilment of their respective Constitutional responsibilities.
 
Parliament has successfully debated issues of importance such as, violence against women, an 8th motion of no confidence, the dissolution of the National Assembly and nationalisation of banks.
 
Significantly, Parliament has been more emphatic in exercising its responsibility to probe the abuse of public resources and the capture by outside interests of public institutions.
 
Through the inquiry into the SABC, Parliament played a critical role in stopping the rot at that institution and repositioning the public broadcaster as a national asset that serves the people.
 
The inquiry currently underway into Eskom, while not complete, is uncovering a network of patronage and graft that has become so deeply entrenched in one of the country’s most vital public companies.
 
The portfolio committee is doing outstanding work and its members are demonstrating great fortitude in the face of intimidation and hostility.
 
As a country, as an institution and as a government, we cannot accept that representatives of our people should be threatened and abused simply for doing the job for which they were elected.
 
Such inquiries may make some people uncomfortable and they may portray some sections of government in a poor light, but they are vital to restoring the confidence of the people in the State as a whole. 
 
A similar point can be made about the judiciary.
 
The last year has demonstrated what it means to have a developmental judiciary as part of a developmental state.
 
When one arm of the state falters, we look to the other arms of the state to assist in correcting the fault.
 
These are exciting markers for our democracy.
 
Discomfort does not mean dysfunction.
 
It means our institutions are working.
 
The media is a vital part of the machinery of democratic accountability.
 
Over the course of the last year, we have become acutely aware of the necessity of a free and diverse media.
 
It is thanks to the courageous and diligent reporting of several media outlets that we now are beginning to comprehend the scale and the depth of state capture and corruption.
 
It has allowed us to better understand the methods and mechanics of a vast criminal network that has infiltrated the state, the ruling party and other institutions of society.
 
This knowledge, although deeply disturbing and unsettling, nevertheless gives us the means to act.
 
Your vigilance – and that of Parliament – helps South Africans understand that we guard public resources jealously and that we don’t tolerate mismanagement or enrichment at the expense of the public interest.
 
We look forward to your continued coverage of Parliament, not just to promote accountability, but also to highlight how success and integrity within government departments and entities are shaping lives and our economy for the better.
 
We hope that the oversight we have seen will lead us to a South Africa where our confidence will be restored and where we will be able to see more clearly the significant progress we are making.
 
I thank you.