Welcome to the Mpumalanga Provincial Government

Policy and Budget Speech for the Office of the Premier 2009/10 delivered by Premier David Dabede Mabuza, Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature, Nelspruit

18 August 2009 

Honourable Speaker and Deputy Speaker
Honourable Members of the Provincial Legislature
Distinguished Members of the Executive Council
Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen 

Honourable Speaker and members, remaining focused on our mission to reduce poverty, unemployment and inequalities in a context of a growing economy, is extremely imperative. It is not an impossible dream to realise as long as we work together and do more in our day to day activities.

In my inaugural and the State of the Province addresses, one outlined unambiguously the five priorities that the ANC-led government will be pursuing in the next five years.

Among others, one spoke of our focus, as an ANC-led government, on activities aimed at speeding up growth and transforming the economy to create decent work and sustainable livelihoods. To this end, we highlighted that more attention will be paid to the acceleration of activities relating to enterprise development in the tourism, manufacturing, mining, agriculture and logistics sectors. Trade and investment promotion, including massive social and economic infrastructure investment, particularly in rural areas, is also expected to take the centre stage in this area of work. 

One also spoke of the commitment of government with regards to rural development. Government will be putting together a comprehensive rural development strategy that is linked to land and agrarian reform, including food security, as a matter of urgency.

It is a strategy that rests on pillars of partnerships, integrated planning, skills development, sustainable utilisation of resources and comprehensive support to vulnerable individuals, young and old. It must be a strategy that fosters the theme ‘Nothing for us without us’. The pilot project which is conducted at Mkhondo municipality in the villages of Donkerhoek, Emahashini and KwaNgema must be alive to these aspects.

All in all, it must be a strategy that assists poor and vulnerable individuals to graduate out of absolute poverty and have their human dignity restored.  The ‘Anti-Poverty War Room Campaign’ will be gaining momentum during the term of this political administration. 

Honourable Speaker, one also made mention of education and health as other areas of focus in the next five years.  Government, together with our social partners, intends to work very hard in improving the health and education profile of our people in the province.  

Last but not least, I also alluded to crime as another challenge that will be receiving our undivided attention during our term in government.  Together with the people, government intends working very relentlessly in its fight against crime and corruption. We all aspire to see the old, young, women and children being able to walk the streets of our townships and suburbs freely and without any fear for their lives. Equally so, we expect to see farmers and farm dwellers also living in harmony and having their lives, livestock and produce protected from ruthless criminals. 

Honourable Speaker, in the State of the Province Address, one did provide, very broadly, some indication as to how government, together with the people, intend confronting these challenges. 

In terms of the Constitution of the country, as head of government, one is mandated to ensure that policy decisions, both national and provincial, are implemented as expected. In this case, one is expected to ensure that leadership and strategic direction is provided to the government of the day in respect of the priorities spelt out in the ANC Elections Manifesto. In essence, one is expected to ensure that the new administration delivers on the expectations of the people as agreed to in our collective social contract.

For this to be possible, the Office of the Premier plays a central and leading role.  It will be expected to provide the necessary leadership, that is, leadership that will continuously bring, inter alia, perspective to the development path that this government and the people of this province have agreed to pursue.  

As part of adding meat to the skeleton of issues articulated in the State of the Province Address, my Office will be driving a process of putting together a strategic provincial implementation plan whose primary purpose would be to ensure that, as government, we remain focused on the five priorities captured in the Manifesto. As most of us are aware, these priorities have already been translated into ten programme areas and are well reflected in the Medium Term Strategic Framework of government.  

Accordingly, the current Provincial Growth and Development Strategy of the province and the Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) of the eighteen local municipalities and the three district councils will also have to be realigned, making such frameworks alive to the new policy imperatives brought along by the new administration.

In line with national developments, the Office of the Premier will pay particular attention to strengthening the Administration’s capacity for planning as well as monitoring and evaluation. It will also be important that macro-policy planning and co-ordination provide an over-arching strategic framework to give effect to the implementation of manifesto priorities. Equally, performance monitoring and evaluation should enable the evaluation of progress and the impact of government programmes in changing the lives of communities for the better.

Again, the Office of the Premier is plays a pivotal role in ensuring that the outputs and targets of the five-year provincial plan are met as expected. The Office will have to ensure that, through the inter-governmental relations framework, activities of all spheres of government are properly co-ordinated with one purpose in mind – to accelerate service delivery to our people, particularly the poor and vulnerable individuals. 

Honourable Speaker, the recessionary economic environment that we find ourselves in imposes constraints to our ability to achieve development targets aimed at reducing poverty and unemployment. As I pointed out in the State of the Province Address, it is critical that government works collaboratively with organised labour and business to support measures that will prevent job losses and mitigate the negative impact of the economic downturn, particularly on the poor and vulnerable people within our society.  

In this regard, the Office of the Premier plays a central role in the preparation of a provincial economic summit that will bring together all key economic players to deliberate and agree on key initiatives that will prevent job losses and drive the provincial economy towards a sustainable growth path.

The summit will also provide an opportunity to review current institutional vehicles that we use to co-operate with government’s social partners, including the Provincial Development Council. This will be done with a view of ensuring consensus on the role of the most appropriate institutional vehicle to enhance partnerships with labour, business and civil society.

Honourable Speaker, the 2010 World Cup provides opportunities for economic development through government’s infrastructure delivery programmes, as well as increasing tourism in the province.  The substantial public investment in infrastructure enhances our potential to create jobs and mitigate the impact of the economic downturn.  

The Province is working hard to ensure that it meets its obligations in terms of the 24 FIFA guarantees.  The construction of the stadium is on course. We are happy that the Matsafeni Land dispute has been resolved and all parties have now signed the deed of sale agreement.  

We will continue to support the work of the Integrated 2010 World Cup Office in the co-ordination of all programmes related to the hosting of the 2010 World Cup event in the Province. We believe that we are on track to deliver on this project.

As we tackle growth and development challenges of the Province we are alive to the challenge of skills shortages to drive provincial development and service delivery. There is a need to focus on targeted development of skills that are responsive to the needs of the provincial economy.

Honourable Members, our education system in the Province requires drastic improvement so that we impact positively on the creation of a sustainable skills pool. We need to increase outputs of students in science and mathematics, and enhance the quality of vocational training in Further Education and Training Colleges.

Working with the business sector, we will be making bursaries available to students to pursue careers that will contribute to the production of skills required in the Province. The Provincial Bursary Fund that was announced in my State of the Province Address will be targeted to address scarce and critical skills that the provincial economy needs. 

We also need to enhance access to skills development opportunities to enable the youth, the unemployed, women and persons with disabilities to acquire skills that facilitate increased absorption into the labour market. We will continue to support programmes that develop entrepreneurial skills to empower target groups to start their own businesses and contribute to job creation.  

During this Women’s Month, government has committed itself to facilitate activities aimed at empowering women, enabling them to participate meaningfully in the mainstream economy. We have committed ourselves to convene a discussion forum involving women entrepreneurs and all financial institutions of government, including business development support institutions. The objective of this dialogue is to link women with institutions that will assist them to access finance and business development support.

As government, we will continue to strengthen our capacity to drive the implementation of programmes aimed at supporting women, persons with disabilities, youth, children and the elderly to participate as equal citizens in all facets of social existence.  

With regards to youth development, the process of establishing a National Youth Development Agency is at an advanced stage. In the Province, we have commenced the legislative process to align with the national developments. 

Honourable Members, the provincial government is committed to ensuring that it continuously builds capacity to fast track service delivery to communities. The flagship programmes were conceived to achieve just that. However, our review of the implementation of the flagship projects points to the need to enhance and streamline accountability processes properly.  We have taken a decision that it is not desirable for the Office of the Premier to do aspects of work that are delegated to departments. Therefore, all flagship programmes will be moved to relevant line departments. 

‘Water for All’ will move to the Department of Human Settlements. Accelerated Capacity Building will move to the Department of Education and the Maputo and Moloto Development Corridors will be housed in the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and the Environment.   The heritage component of the Heritage, Greening Mpumalanga and Tourism flagship will be co-ordinated by The Department of Culture, Sport and Recreation, and the greening and tourism components will be taken over by the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and the Environment. 

Obviously, to achieve lofty targets and commitments that we are setting for ourselves, we require not only a fit public administration, but an administration that is going to display fitness as we raise the performance bar from now going forward. We will expect to see public servants with a different attitude - public servants who are ready to change their current work ethic and begin to behave and act within the spirit and letter of the ‘Batho Pele’ principles.  

As articulated in my Inaugural Address, we expect to see government officials who are going to ensure that wastage, roll-overs, fruitless and over expenditure become issues of the past.  

Our commitment towards dealing decisively and harshly with instances of fraud and corruption remains unwavering. We will strengthen the capacity of the Integrity Management Unit in the Office of the Premier to detect cases of corruption in the Administration.  

Already, we have begun serious work to deal with challenges of fraud and corruption. We have recently appointed two commissions to deal with alleged procurement irregularities pertaining to scholar transport and the construction of the Provincial Archives Building as well as the Provincial Disaster Management Centre. We will act on the recommendations of the commissions.

Part of what we need to do to enhance the integrity of government is to improve the overall security management of the provincial government, including the management of government information in line with legislative requirements. Of concern has been the continuous leaking of confidential government information to achieve negative intentions.  

The Office of the Premier will be responsible for the entire security management of the provincial government. All government employees will undergo primary vetting as part and parcel of security measures to enhance the integrity of the entire government administration.

We need to foster a culture of integrity, honesty and commitment to the service of the public. Accountability to the people requires humility and a strong culture of commitment to the empowerment of citizens. 

Without doubt, one does not assume that such change will emerge voluntarily. For the past fifteen years we kept on hoping that tomorrow will be better than yesterday but to our amazement unacceptable work ethics continue to strengthen. What government is preaching is not what it is practising. Therefore, as the Office of the Premier, it is going to be incumbent upon us to ensure that a people-centred culture is inculcated to all public servants.

The programme of leadership development that has already been set in motion within government will have to be enhanced with the view of building effective leaders who will be passionate about issues of service delivery. We need to strengthen our financial management and control systems in the administration to ensure that government resources are efficiently utilised to advance development and service delivery. We need to enhance accountability for performance and results. 

Honourable Speaker, the spate of protests recently witnessed in a couple of municipalities within the province, is a cause of grave concern.  We are saddened by the violent nature of these protests, particularly the murder of innocent people and the destruction of property. 

Notwithstanding these concerns, government acknowledges that issues related to the lack of poor service delivery need to be addressed. However, when digging deeper into many of the protest situations, we discovered that one of the real root causes of such protests is rather the lack of meaningful public participation and communication in matters that affect communities, instead of service delivery per se.  

What we have realised is that, as government, we continue to take decisions on behalf of the people. We are basically doing things for them and not with them.  

And this attitude cannot be allowed to perpetuate. Government is expected to be people-centred. We have to ensure that the people shape their own destiny. Communities must take the lead in issues that affect them and become their own liberators.  

Again, the Office of the Premier must assist departments and parastatals to be sensitive to issues of public participation. This will require commitment to strengthening institutions focusing on inter-governmental relations, municipal activities and other consultation fora. The Premier’s Co-ordinating Forum will also assist in strengthening institutional capacities for public participation.   

We have to communicate more about the activities of all stakeholders. Government is doing so much in different communities but such efforts are not communicated to either the public or even within departments themselves.

To strengthen the government communication machinery, the Office of the Premier will lead the development of a comprehensive communication strategy for the Province. Among other things, this strategy will seek to enhance institutional co-ordination and bring about coherence in the communication of government work to the public.  It will also outline communication priorities and clearly define roles and responsibilities of the communication function across the Administration.  

In addition to these efforts, it is important to make government accessible to its citizens. It should be easy for communities to communicate issues of service delivery, register complaints and make inputs on the implementation of government programmes. Equally, government must be able to promptly respond to issues that communities are raising.

To improve accessibility and responsiveness to community concerns, the Office of the Premier will, during this financial year, establish a call centre to strengthen the Administration’s ability to capture, process and respond speedily to issues that communities raise from time to time.

As the collective political leadership of Province, including local government, we will continue to utilise the Executive Council Outreach Programme to engage with communities on service delivery and development issues affecting them in localities where they live. We also encourage councillors to be always available to deal with community development and service delivery concerns.

Honourable Speaker, another area that requires the attention of the Office of the Premier involves international relations. Our assessment is that our ability to derive maximum value from our international engagements has been constrained by our fragmented approach to issues of international partnerships.

Co-ordination among the three spheres of government has been weak and causes confusion among our different international partners. Therefore, as government, we will have to place our ducks in a row and co-ordinate our international activities in a targeted fashion to impact positively on the Province’s development and service delivery priorities.   

Honourable Speaker, as we gear up the Office of the Premier to lead, it is going to be critical to review and re-orientate the Office’s organisational design and capacity so that it responds to national developments and performance requirements. Among others, special attention will be given to the capacity of the Office to lead provincial macro-planning and policy co-ordination, monitoring and evaluation, as well as communication and public participation.

Honourable Members, to enable the Office of the Premier to discharge its assigned responsibilities, I request this august House to approve the budget of the Premier’s office for 2009/10 at the tune of R 196,689 million.

As I conclude, let me emphasise again that the road lying ahead is difficult and challenging but also presenting new opportunities for all of us. It is a road that will require men and women of integrity who are showing commitment towards the creation of a caring society

We are in the early days of our new term of government. As government, business, labour and other mass democratic organisations, our coming together marks a new beginning. If we continue to work together, there is no way we cannot be successful. Together we can do more.

Let me thank each and everyone present here today and the rest of the people in the province who have afforded me the opportunity to captain this ship over the next five-years.

I thank you 

Issued by: Office of the Premier

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