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SA: Mlambo Ngcuka: Annual address NCOP (17/03/2008)

17th March 2008

By: Reuters

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Date: 17/03/2008
Source: The Presidency
Title: SA: Mlambo Ngcuka: Annual address NCOP

Address by Deputy President Ms Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, at the annual address to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP)

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Salutations
Acting Chair of the NCOP, Honourable Ms. Hollander
Honourable Premiers
Honourable Members
Distinguished guests, friends,
Ladies and gentlemen.

Ba gaetsho dumelang! We meet today under the theme "Parliament Empowering Communities for Poverty Eradication". This gathering of government, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), faith-based organisations, farmers and farm workers, youth organisations, people with physical disability gives us all an opportunity to reflect on what we are doing correctly and also to confront the challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality. Despite everything, this is a province of many possibilities.

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Congratulatory message
Once more, I must congratulate the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) for organising this five day programme again and ensuring the interests of people in this province and in South Africa in general are heard.

This is a forum for promoting public participation in decision-making processes and indeed is a space, "to build an effective people's Parliament that is responsive to the needs of the people and of realising a better quality of life for all people of South Africa." Your input sets an important part of the agenda of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) and government.

Poverty in context
This province is mainly rural and has high levels of poverty and unemployment, which is an unacceptable situation that should be addressed without delay. Poverty comes with gross inequality and as your government; we believe none of us can be free where poverty and inequality persists. We all have a duty to address this situation. As Nelson Mandela said, "overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life." For us elected representatives, it is our reason to be. Mo gonang le tlhophego, ga gona kgololesego. "While poverty persists, there is no freedom."

Provincial barometer
It is encouraging to see some positive signs in the province with regards to poverty alleviation and job creation, even if we still have a long way to go. I learn the number of jobs has increased from eight hundred and thirty-five thousand (835 000) in 2004 to nine hundred and thirteen thousand (913 000) in 2007. This is a welcomed development and it must increase. It is also pleasing to see that the proportion of poor households is decreasing from fifty six percent (56%) in 2004 to fifty percent (50%) in 2006. albeit modestly.
The results of the Review of Social Transformation and Delivery for 2007, North West Community Survey indicate:
* 90% of households have access to piped water
* 82,3% use electricity as a source of domestic power and
* 90,1% has access to sanitation above Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) standards.

This means that this province has met its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and even Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative of South Africa (AsgiSA) goals and can reach universal access. Puso e ikemiseditse go matlafatsa setshaba go fedisa botlhoki.

Holistic response to poverty
To adequately address the scourge of poverty we need a holistic anti-poverty strategy (APS). This is because poverty is multidimensional. Poverty entails the lack of a steady income, food insecurity, and is directly linked to hunger, exploitation, and lack of water, health-care and as such it brings about a sense of powerlessness. Mo gonang le tlhophego, ga gona kgololesego "While poverty persists, there is no freedom." So even as we make this impressive progress on the delivery of basic services we have not won the war on poverty. That is the war in which we are all called upon to be soldiers.

Poverty and gender
Poverty is concentrated in female-headed households where you find there are less economic opportunities; you find there is lack of skills and information and work is largely centred in the informal sector, which does not offer a steady source of income. I imagine this role of female breadwinners must be a source of frustration and humiliation to the male members of the family who cannot discharge their role as significant members of their families and communities.

In South Africa we also have an abnormality where even though we have a large rural population, very few people as compared to similar countries, are involved in agriculture. This we have to have as an important aspect of our fight against poverty.

Government's response to poverty
Our priority as a developmental state is to reduce poverty and unemployment. We firmly believe our mandate is to give the poor control of their lives and assist them with resources to improve their lives for the better. I would like to urge all of us to be part of building the War Room Against Poverty that the President spoke about.

In every province and municipality, the war room must:
* address skills in every poor households and quality of education in all schools so that our children finish grade 12 and go beyond high school
* food security and economic self reliance in poor households and such that and until the cycle of poverty is broken and families cannot and must not be passive in this process
* partnerships in the fight against poverty are necessary, as government, we cannot do it alone.

Social safety nets
Reduce poverty through increasing economic opportunities to indigent women, disempowered men and the youth. Government has extended the child support grant and is geared towards equalising the pensionable age for men and women. Beyond government's social grants, we also need the private sector to be part of giving first time job seekers an opportunity for the youth who would otherwise even reach the age of forty without even holding down a job.

* We need partnerships in social cohesion, values and morality. Sexism, racism, xenophobia are a problem in our country and disregard for the rule of law.
* Healthy lifestyle and responsible lifestyles.

Anti-poverty strategy
Working with all relevant stakeholders government initiated the anti-poverty strategy to improve our approach to fighting poverty and creation employment opportunities. The anti-poverty framework, as part of the 24 Apex of Priorities has a number of objectives that include:
* Resourcing poor schools
* Second economy jobs, extended public works, Jobs for Growth, micro-finance, Isivande
* The Youth Fund, National Youth Service
* Early Childhood Development
* fight communicable diseases
* social cohesion
* anti-crime, revamp of the Criminal Justice System
* land reform and productive use of land, and
* access to civic services.

Task of the NCOP
The National Council of Provinces represents a voice of the people so that their needs are responded to effectively. Your role is to highlight interventions of government in preventing poverty within families; it is to communicate our interventions to stop poverty of the young and old; it is to monitor how far we have gone in stopping inter-generation poverty must not be hereditary; your role is to be vigilant and guard against families relying on social grants. Your role is to emphasise to the youth the importance of education, education and more education.

We already provide 100% access to primary education. We need to get the high school graduate numbers up, but the quality and conditions in our schools need us to be hands on, it needs parents to take responsibility, the police and the teacher organisations.

Concluding remarks
We are on course to making sure our second decade of freedom will reduce inequality and eliminate poverty because we know that we can do it if we work together as a nation. We cannot do it alone as government. By coming here and bring the Parliament to the people, we want a dialogue, a two-way conversation, so we can go back and consider your views and act on them. Thank you for being here. Let us unite and bring poverty to its knees.
Ke a leboga.

Issued by: The Presidency
17 March 2008

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