Address to the National Council of Provinces,
Cape Town 28 October 1999
Chairperson of the NCOP,
Honourable Members of the House,
Ladies and Gentlemen;
I would like to thank you most sincerely for the opportunity
you have given us to come to this important House of
our National Legislature.
As has been said, this is the first time we have the
possibility to interact with the National Council of
Provinces since the new government was formed in June.
I would therefore like to take this opportunity, belated
as it may be, to extend our congratulations to all the
Honourable Members on their election into this House.
My congratulations also go to you, Hon Chairperson,
your Deputy and other officials charged with the responsibility
to lead and manage the important business of the Council.
I am also pleased to share this day with our Premiers,
to whom we extend our best wishes for success in the
discharge of the heavy responsibilities that fall on
Our democracy is five years old.
It is my firm view that, during this period, we have
worked well together, to establish and consolidate the
base which must enable us, as a country ad as a people,
to move forward faster towards the creation of the better
life for all, to which all right thinking people in
our country are committed.
We have established the necessary policy base. Where
necessary, we have given force to this policy by passing
the appropriate statutes and building the required institutions.
And most important, because of the experience we have
accumulated over these past five years, we must surely
be wiser now than we were five years ago, and therefore
better able to respond to the continuing and pressing
challenge of the reconstruction and development of our
The Honourable Members will be familiar with the remarks
we made on behalf of the national government when the
new parliament opened on the 25th of June.
I trust that you also had access to the report to the
National Assembly and the Country, which our Deputy
President, the Hon Jacob Zuma, presented at the National
Assembly on the 2nd of September.
In his presentation, the Deputy President gave a report
on the progress achieved and the problems experienced
in the implementation of the programme of action we
announced on June 25.
I am certain that from these presentations, at the
end of June and the beginning of September, you will
have seen that, as the national government, we are determined
that we should use the policy, statutory and institutional
base which this House helped to create in the last five
years, to push forward, with determination, the project
of a better life for all our people.
The burden of our argument in this House today remains
the same. That argument is that this House must ask
itself and answer the question -- what can the NCOP
do further to promote the project of the provision of
a better life for all our people!
I have no doubt that you have already posed this question
to yourselves and provided the necessary answers.
Nevertheless, we must continue to ask whether the question
has been tabled and the answers given. This is because
so great are the challenges of transformation we all
face, that we do not have the possibility to rest on
We must ask ourselves the question everyday -- what
have we done to move ourselves forward!
It was in this context that a fortnight ago, on October
15th, I was privileged to participate in a meeting of
all our Premiers, as well as our Minister of Provincial
and Local Government.
For the first time, we met in this forum, together
to look at the two important questions.
You will recall that recently, in the Budget Policy
Statement, the Minister of Finance indicated that there
is an encouraging movement towards sound and effective
management of provincial budgets.
Naturally, we are pleased that our provincial administrations
are getting on top of the challenges of proper financial
It is important that we continue to improve our control
measures and ensure that the emerging financial stability
endures, at the same time as we remind all levels of
government and especially the provinces, tha the efficient
handling of resources must go hand in hand with effective
delivery of services to the people.
The necessity cannot be over-emphasized to build capacity
for improved all-round service delivery as well as proper
control of and accountability for public finances, in
keeping with the Public Finance Management Act.
As we have said before, the misuse of public funds
is a serious crime that must always be dealt with severely.
Accordingly, we do not want people in the public service
who see the government as a get-rich-quick fat cow to
At the same time we must make the point that we need
public representatives who have a sense of responsibiility
towards their constituencies. We speak of representatives,
who should always be available to the people they serve,
who respond at all times to the concerns of our communities.
It is bad and unacceptable to engage our people only
when there is a crisis or only during the elections.
Our people deserve better and should not to be tossed
from pilar to post by the very people they have put
into positions of power.
We are certain that if our elected representatives,
in all the spheres of governance maintain close contact
with the people, they will themselves contribute significantly
to the achievement of the national objective of accelerating
the improvement of the quality of life of the people,
by properly discharging their oversight function over
the executive authorities in all spheres of government.
All of us are aware of the challenges facing Local
Government. As natioal government, we have noted the
interventions that had to be made, in terms of Section
139 of the Constitution, in such municipal areas as
Butterworth, Warrenton, Wedela, Ogies, Sunnieshof and
Based on the reports on the NCOP, it appears that the
affected towns are not economically viable. One of the
challenges we all face is to put the necessary mechanisms
in place so that the capacity, administrative and management
skills, of both the officials and public representatives
in these areas, is raised to the required level to enable
the municipalities to facilitate service delivery and
promote the development of the local people.
The Municipal Systems Bill that will be tabled in this
House soon, provides the tools for capacity building
for effective administration at the local government
All of us, in this House and at different levels of
goverment as well as in communities, should monitor
closely the course that this development takes and participate
actively to influece it so that, in the end, the necessary
instruments are provided for better service delivery
to our people.
Government needs to establish early warning systems.
These would enable all of us to monitor the performance
of municipalities and remain alive to any problems and
potential disruptions to development and service delivery,
so as to forestall the collapses that have occurred
as in the municipalities to which we referred.
It is in this context that the Ministry of Provincial
and Local Government has been charged with the responsibility
of accelerated development, the strengthening of the
institutions of governance and enhancing the quality
of service delivery.
It is the responsibility of the entire government to
ensure that we also ensure that the provincial government
sphere also has the necessary capacity to fulfill its
assigned functions, which must include the building
of a developmental local government system and integrating
the institutions of traditional leadership into the
overall system of governance so that our people, in
every corner of our country, are not spectators of transformation
but are themselves masters of the process.
Our starting point should be that we create a decentralised
and integrated delivery system in such a way that we
prevent the problems that necessitate Section 139 interventions
from time to time.
Of course, an integrated development planning system
at both provincial and municipal level will be critical
to improve integrated governance and service delivery.
This will require that policy formulation is also sufficiently
The demarcation process that is underway will pave
the way for local government elections and sustainable
local governance. For one, district councils will become
important nodal points for coordinating planning and
delivery. One of the consequences of the demarcation
process will be the emergence of cross-boundary municipalities.
For these types of municipalities to work, it wil be
incumbent on provinces to approach them with sensitivity
and deep political astuteness.
As the Honourable Members are aware, the Demarcation
Board is also working with all departments of government
to align their administrative boundaries with those
I am certain we would all agree that the Board is not
wrong when it says that it hopes that by early 2000,
a rational geographic system of governance will be in
place, the alignment having taken place of magisterial,
health, police and all other districts.
As we have said already, the Honourable Members will
be familiar with the report the Deputy President gave
at the beginning of last month on work being done to
carry out the programme of action the national government
announced at the opening of parliament.
As you will recall, that programme included such important
issues as integrated rural development, urban renewal,
combating crime and corruption, improving the quality
of our system of education and training, accelerating
economic growth and development and job creation, and
Suffice it for me to say that this work continues,
demanding, among other things, greater coordination
and joint action between national, provincial and local
government that we have achieved in the past.
It is my sincere wish that we see, as soon as possible,
all these spheres of government in action, working together
with the people, giving real impetus to our common drive
towards a better life for all.
To close, let me make a few remarks about two issues
that are at the very heart of our quest for the humane
and caring society of which we have spoken before.
I refer here to the issues of rape and HIV-AIDS. Very
correctly, just over a month ago, this House debated
the question of violence against and the rape of women
We noted the resolution that emerged from that discussion,
supported by al the provinces, political parties and
all members of the Council, condemning these completely
unacceptable acts of violence and calling for consistent
and severe sentences against all perpetrators of such
The approach adopted by the NCOP on this and other
matters is constructive and in keeping with the sense
of outrage that violent crimes invoke in our communities.
As a people whose struggle and sacrifice defeated one
of the most pernicious systems of our time, we can and
must wipe out of our communities this scourge of violence
and abuse of our people.
One rape that occurs is a rape too many. Through our
concerted action, we must make this clear to all who
carry out this terrible crime.
Accordingly, it is unnecessary and counter-productive
for anybody to propagate untruth about the incidence
of this crime in our country.
For example, in 1997 the South African Police Service
published statistics alleging than only 1 rape out of
36 was reported. Whereas the number of rapes actually
reported that year was just over 52 000, an extrapolation
was then made that on the basis of the estimate of the
extent of under-reporting, over 1,8 million rapes had
in fact occurred.
You will be as surprised as I was to learn that in
the fact the SAPS itself does not know what the estimate
of 1 out of 36 was based upon. They can offer no explanation
as to how they decided to publish figures which they
cannot substantiate in any way whatseoever.
The tragedy is that many of us have taken these purely
speculative figures as fact. Clearly, this will not
help us properly to fight against the terrible crime
of rape as we cannot base our actions on untruths.
Similarly, we are confronted with the scourge of HIV-AIDS
against which we must leave no stone unturned to save
ourselves from the catastrophe which this disease poses.
Concerned to respond appropriately to this threat,
many in our country have called on the Government to
make the drug AZT availabe in ou public health system.
Two matters in this regard have been brought to our
attention. One of these is that there are legal cases
pending in this country, the United Kingdom and the
United States against AZT on the basis that this drug
is harmful to health.
There also exists a large volume of scientific literature
alleging that, among other things, the toxicity of this
drug is such that it is in fact a danger to health.
These are matters of great concern to the Government
as it would be irresponsible for us not to head the
dire warnings which medical researchers have been making.
I have therefore asked the Minister of Health, as a
matter of urgency, to go into all these matters so that,
to the extent that is possible, we ourselves, including
our country's medical authorities, are certain of where
the truth lies.
To understand this matter better, I would urge the
Honourable Members of the National Council to access
the huge volume of literature on this matter available
on the Internet, so that all of us can approach this
issue from the same base of information.
The confidence and hope among our people that we will
succeed to move further forward towards a better life
for all are very high. We, as the elected representatives
of these masses must ensure that we do not disappoint