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Address by the Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa, Honourable Paul Shipokosa Mashatile to the National Council of Provinces – Three Sphere Planning Session

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Programme Director;
Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Mr. Amos Masondo;
Deputy Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Ms Sylvia Lucas;
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers in attendance;
Honourable Premiers here present;
Honourable Members of Executive Councils;
Honourable House Chairpersons;
Honourable Members of the National Council of Provinces;
Distinguished Guests, 

It is my pleasure to take part in this Three Sphere Planning Session of the National Council of Provinces, which is convened under the theme: “Delineating key priorities for consolidation and implementation during the final year of the sixth dispensation.”

Chairperson, I would like to start by apologising for not making it on the first day of the strategy session yesterday due to a Cabinet meeting. 

This planning session takes place a little less than 18 months away from the 2024 National General Elections which will mark the transition from the Sixth to the Seventh Parliament. As critical institutions of our democracy, the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces must guide this process. In doing so, both institutions must ask themselves and answer two interrelated questions. The first question is whether they have, during the last four years, provided sufficient oversight and enforced accountability by the executive?

In the spirit of a critical and democratic exchange of ideas which is the hallmark of democracy, we are all interested the legislature’s answer to this question. I can assure this House of the Executive’s continued commitment to accountability to you, the representatives of the people.  

Having been a Member of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature and a Premier of that province, I have always appreciated the role of the NCOP, as it brings together the three spheres of government throughout the nine provinces. Our diversity and unity of purpose should continue to fuel our will to cure the nation’s problems and challenges.  By so doing, we will honour the wisdom, hopes and aspirations of our founding mothers and fathers when they conceived the NCOP. 

The NCOP’s continued relationship and partnership with the South African Local Government Association puts us in better proximity to a sustainable developmental local government which commands the capacity to deliver basic services to the people. 

In this context, I appreciate concerns raised about the need to improve coordination among the three spheres and tiers of government. This is a serious constitutional imperative. Amongst others, the supreme law of the land enjoins all spheres of government and the organs of state answerable to them to cooperate with one another in mutual trust and good faith. 

The Constitution further directs us to establish structures and institutions to promote and facilitate intergovernmental relations as well as to provide appropriate mechanisms and procedures to facilitate disputes. We are committed to honour the constitution and have established the cluster system of governance for this purpose. It seeks to integrate the government’s programme across departmental responsibilities. Life continuously and continually throws citizens with multiple personal and social challenges. Where it is morally and lawfully required, so must the government’s response be continuous and continual.  But it can only do so if it is holistic in its approach, which is what the cluster system seeks to achieve.

This requires coordination throughout the State. It has to be part of the mechanisms to achieve our goals. And we will achieve our goals if we also make a critical assessment of our track record in the context of the democratic critical exchange of ideas I mentioned earlier. So, the second question is whether the government has improved the quality of life of the people? The two questions I have just highlighted are about probing the effectiveness of government policy across the three spheres of government. 

Without exonerating it from its constitutional responsibility, we all know that this is a task far greater than the government and I will seek to demonstrate this in my brief comment on the land question shortly. 

But let me share with you the thinking of the Executive on the consolidation and implementation of the programme in the final year of the sixth administration.

In addition to the transformative legislation we have enacted over the years, we are now introducing and prioritising crucial legislative proposals for the efficient delivery of services that bear on the lives of our people.

We will continue to engage the National House of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders for their valuable input on matters of property rights, land ownership, agricultural support and broader economic development in rural communities.  

Land ownership is critical to the realisation of the goals of economic inclusion, food security, social cohesion, inclusive spatial patterns, and rural development. For this reason, we must speed up the resolution of unequal and inequitable land ownership patterns in our country. It is a matter of social justice and its resolution will also help us to address other problems such as illegal land occupations. 

The correct call for the enforcement of by-laws to address land invasions must also be accompanied with measures for spatial transformation to reverse economic apartheid. 

In this process, we will also have to address a difficult matter – that of unutilised land absentee landlords, some of whom are no longer resident in our country. Our social context of the scarcity of residential land, especially in the urban areas brings this matter into sharp focus. When land is invaded, the government and neighbouring property owners bear the brunt of legal, political and other costs of evicting illegal occupants. The country will have to find a balance between the legal obligation for respect for property on the one hand and the imperative of social justice on the other. The as I have described simply cannot be sustained. 

This is partly why I said earlier on, that improving the lives of the people is not just government’s role alone. To secure a common future for all government and private actors should meet at the construction site of a new and inclusive society. 

Part of our responsibility as the Leader of Government Business in Parliament is to introduce measures to improve the quality of legislation submitted by the Executive and to monitor the implementation of the Legislative Programme by Parliament.

We are pleased that Parliament has prioritised key legislative revisions as mandated by the Constitutional Court, particularly, the NCOP's role in enacting crucial amendments to the Electoral Act. 

Working with both Houses of Parliament, we will ensure that Parliament does not experience a decline in the processing of key legislation. For example, as of 3 February 2023, Parliament could only process and pass 83 bills. 

The Constitution stipulates that Members of the Executive are individually and collectively accountable to Parliament for the exercise their powers, and the performance of their functions. Furthermore, the rules of Parliament provide clear guidelines on the responsibilities of Members of Parliament. 

In this regard, we will continue to utilise mechanisms to monitor executive accountability to Parliament. These include monitoring and tracking responses to parliamentary questions for written reply and ensuring that Ministers and Deputy Ministers appear before Portfolio and Select Committees when required, and further avail themselves to respond to Motions and deliver Member Statements. 

Honourable Chairperson, the National Council of Provinces remains an important platform to address the needs and aspirations of our communities, especially at local government level.  In this regard we have introduced the District Development Model to improve coordination among the three spheres of government.

This model will help us rapidly to respond to service delivery challenges. Further, this approach ensures that government drives development and brings resources to resolve the problems of communities in a more coordinated manner. 

We have already seen the interventions in Gauteng where, together with the Provincial Government, the Emfuleni Local Municipality as well as entities of government have intervened in resolving the water challenges at  Emfuleni. We have also anchored our response to the floods disaster in KwaZulu-Natal through the implementation of the District Development Model. 

Our responsibility will be to ensure effective coordination of all spheres of government to work together to improve the delivery of services at District and local levels. 

We will utilise your oversight reports on NCOP Provincial visits, and Taking Parliament to the People to respond to issues raised during oversight visits.

In contributing towards the improved coordination, we have committed to the National Assembly that together with the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, we will convene meetings with all District Development Model Champions in all nine Provinces, and further reach out to all distressed municipalities especially those identified as service delivery hotspots.  

It is through structured interactions and engagements that we will be able to strengthen our cooperation with all spheres of government. 

We are committed to engage regularly with Provinces through the National Council of Provinces to address governance and service delivery challenges.
I wish you well as you continue to plan and strategise on important interventions that will improve the performance of this esteemed institution.

Thank you!