Infrastructure projects underway, land reform to be boosted – Zuma
Cape Town – President Jacob Zuma has in his State of the Nation Address on Thursday highlighted various infrastructure projects that have already kicked off and also announced several new measures to speed up land reform.
Delivering his address, during a joint sitting of Parliament, Zuma gave an update on various infrastructure projects, and also announced that a study on the country’s tax policies would be launched later this year and that rural youth hubs would be rolled out in the countryside this year.
The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform is planning nine Rural Youth Hubs per province, including in the 23 poorest districts in the country.
The government will also use the Expanded Public Works Programme and the Community Work programme to absorb young people, he said.
Business, labour and the government also will sign an accord on youth employment later this month.
The tax policies study will evaluate the current mining royalties regime, with regard to its ability to suitably serve South Africans.
Zuma said a Presidential Remuneration Commission will be set up to investigate the appropriateness of the remuneration and conditions of service provided by the state to all its employees.
Turning to infrastructure projects, he said by the end of next month and starting from 2009, the government will have spent about R860 billion on infrastructure.
Various projects having started across the country, he said.
These include the start of construction of the first phase of the Mokolo and Crocodile River Water Augmentation which will provide water required for the Matimba and the Medupi power stations.
• The construction of the bulk water distribution system for the De Hoop Dam also began in October last year, to supply water to the Greater Sekhukhune, Waterberg and Capricorn district municipalities.
• Work is now under way to develop the City Deep inland terminal in Gauteng.
• Initial work has commenced in the expansion of the Pier 2 in the Durban Port.
• Construction is also under way at the Port of Ngqura to develop a new transshipment hub.
• Preparatory work has started on the Umzimvubu Dam in the Eastern Cape
• Construction work is taking place in five cities – Cape Town, Nelson Mandela Bay, Rustenburg, eThekwini, Tshwane to integrate the different modes of transport – bus, taxi and train.
• 675km of electricity lines have been laid to economic centres and also to bring power to rural areas, while the government signed contracts to the value of R47 billion in the renewable energy programme.
• 98 new schools will have been built by the end of next month, of which more than 40 are in the Eastern Cape that are replacing mud schools.
He said construction is expected to begin in September at the sites of two new universities in the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga.
With 2013 set to mark the centenary of the 1913 Land Act, Zuma said the government would take a number of steps to speed up land reform.
These include shortening the time it takes to finalise a claim while proposed amendments had been made to the Restitution of Land Rights Act to provide for the re-opening of the lodgement of restitution claims, by people who missed the deadline of 31 December 1998, he said.
“Also to be explored, are exceptions to the June 1913 cut-off date to accommodate claims by the descendants of the Khoi and San as well as heritage sites and historical landmarks,” he said.
However, he said, government would continue to pursue the “just and equitable” principle for compensation, as set out in the constitution instead of the “willing buyer, willing seller” principle, which forces the state to pay more for land than the actual value.
He said government would also need to provide better incentives for commercial farmers that are willing and capable of mentoring smallholder farmers.
On small business support, he said a key project for the Presidency currently is to get government departments to pay small business within 30 days.
“Departments are required to submit monthly reports so that we can monitor progress in this regard,” he said, adding that accounting officers who fail to execute this directive, should face consequences.
The government will also prioritise the development of black owned enterprises and black industrialists, said Zuma, adding that the Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment Act and codes are being finalised.
Turning to mining, he said, the government, labour in the form of Cosatu, Nactu and Fedusa, Business Unity SA (Busa), the Black Business Council and the community sector met in October and reached an agreement which laid the basis for a return to work across the mining industry.
He said work is under way and the team will report in due course with specific plans for Rustenburg, Lephalale, Emalahleni, West Rand, Welkom, Klerksdorp, Burgersfort, Carletonville and Madibeng.
“We believe that at a policy level we have managed to bring about certainty in the mining sector. The nationalisation debate was laid to rest in December at the ruling party’s national conference,” he said.
Turning to education, he said the Department of Basic Education was to establish a national task team to strengthen the implementation of the Mathematics, Science and Technology Strategy.
He reassured teachers unions that the constitutional rights of teachers to strike will not be taken away.
Turning to health, the President said next year government would create the National Health Insurance (NHI) Fund, adding that the Department of Health will accelerate and intensify progress in the pilot districts.
He said from April the first group of about 600 private medical practitioners will be contracted to provide medical services at 533 clinics within villages and townships in 10 of the pilot districts.
The brutal gang rape and murder of Anene Booysen and other women and girls in recent times has brought into sharp focus the need for unity in action to eradicate violence against women.
The National Council on Gender Based Violence set up last year and comprised of members of the government, non-governmental organizations, community-based organisations, faith-based organisations, academia, research institutions, government, men’s groupings, and representation from women, children and persons with disabilities.
“We urge this coordinating structure to make the campaign of fighting violence against women an everyday campaign,” he said.
“I have directed law enforcement agencies to treat these cases with the utmost urgency and importance.
“The Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Units, which were re-established in 2010, have increased personnel,” Zuma said.
During the last financial year, the Units secured over 363 life sentences, with a conviction rate of 73% for crimes against women above 18 years old and 70% for crimes against children under 18 years of age.
To boost the fight against corruption, all vacant posts at the upper echelons of the criminal justice system will be filled, he said.
Tere were lessons from Marikana and other incidents that South Africa cannot allow to reoccur in South Africa, said Zuma, adding that he had instructed the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster to put measures in place, with immediate effect, to ensure that any incidents of violent protest are acted upon, investigated and prosecuted.
“Courts will be allocated to deal with such cases on a prioritised roll. The law must be enforced and it must be seen to be enforced fairly, effectively and expeditiously,” he said. - SAnews.gov.za
Zuma highlights major progress in infrastructure
Cape Town – President Jacob Zuma began this year’s State of the Nation Address in Parliament by reporting on the progress made by his administration - highlighting major milestones on key infrastructure projects crucial to the country’s New Growth Path strategy.
The strategy promotes inclusive growth and job creation in six job drivers. These include infrastructure development, agriculture, mining and beneficiation, manufacturing, the green economy and tourism.
Zuma said expansion in the port of Ngqura, which he launched last year, was well underway to develop a major new transhipment hub. The port is the deepest container terminal in sub-Saharan Africa, and will accommodate the new generation of giant container ships traversing Africa's southern tip. Experts have said the port and its mega container terminal offer a solution to South Africa's long-time shortage of container capacity, resulting from the growth in container traffic globally.
The speech, which the President delivered in the joint sitting of parliament, was the first to be delivered under the context of the National Development Plan, which Cabinet adopted recently. The plan is critical of the country’s infrastructure and calls for major steps to be taken to build and infrastructure that can support economic growth in rural areas.
Zuma said preparatory work has commenced for the construction of the Umzimvubu Dam which is he said was critical for rural livelihoods.
He reported that the upgrading of Mthatha airport runway and terminal and the construction of the Nkosi Dalibhunga Mandela Legacy Road and Bridge are currently underway. The bridge is crucial to the Eastern Cape’s wider economic development and will reduce the distance between Mvezo and East London, Mthatha and Idutywa by more than 50 kilometres. Last year the Presidency said the R120 million project would also provide work to more than 300 people.
He outlined progress on the work to improve the transportation of iron-ore and open up the west coast of the country by announcing that a decision was taken to expand the country’s rail capacity through the delivery of 11 locomotives.
“The first phase of the expansion – to increase iron ore port capacity at Saldanha to 60 million tons per annum – was officially completed in September last year”.
Construction work was taking place in five cities – Cape Town, Nelson Mandela Bay, Rustenburg, eThekwini and Tshwane to integrate the different modes of transport.
In the energy sector, Zuma said Eskom has put in place 675 kilometres of electricity transmission lines to connect fast-growing economic centres and also to bring power to rural areas. More than 200 000 households have been connected to the national electricity grid in 2012.
In addition, government signed contracts to the value of R47 billion in the renewable energy programme.
The Energy Department announced introduced Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme in August 2011, with the first bid submission for Window 1 scheduled ending in November of that year. According to the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP2010) - which is a 20-year projection on electricity supply and demand - about 42% of electricity generated in South Africa is required to come from renewable resources.
On Thursday Zuma said the move to clean energy programme involved 28 projects in wind, solar and small hydro technologies, to be developed in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Northern Cape and in the Free State.
Government had also established an R800 million national green fund last year. To date, over R400 million investments in green economy projects has already been approved for municipalities, other organs of state, community organisations and the private sector across all provinces.
“We have also rolled out 315 000 solar water geysers as of January this year, most of which were given to poor households, many of whom had never had running hot water before,” said Zuma. - SAnews.gov.za
Infrastructure programme a lesson for SA
Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma says the multi-billion infrastructure development programme government has embarked on, has been a valuable source of learning for the country.
Zuma told Parliament on Thursday during the State of the Nation Address that in the year ahead, government will fast-track many of the projects that the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission has announced.
The plan lists 18 strategic integrated projects, covering more than 150 specific infrastructure interventions, ranging across rail, road, ports, dams, irrigation systems, sanitation and energy.
“The lessons are that we must coordinate, integrate and focus on implementation,” Zuma said.
He said the past two years have demonstrated that where the state intervenes strongly and consistently, it can turn around key industries that face external or internal threats, as has happened in the manufacturing sector.
“We have seen the revitalisation of train and bus production in South Africa, largely because of the drive for local procurement,” he said.
The Passenger Rail Agency of South African and Transnet have committed billions of rands to improving the commuter and freight train network.
The clothing, textiles and footwear industry has stabilised after 15 years of steadily falling employment. A clothing support scheme provides broad financial support, saving a number of factories and jobs. – SAnews.gov.za
11 million to be employed by 2030
Pretoria - Eleven million people will be employed by 2030, says President Jacob Zuma.
Delivering the State of the Nation Addressto a joint sitting of Parliament on Thursday, the President said the economy needed to grow threefold to create the desired jobs.
“The National Development Plan (NDP) outlines interventions that can put the economy on a better footing. The target for job creation is set at 11 million by 2030.
“In my last meeting with the business community, the sector indicated that for the economy to grow threefold, we must remove certain obstacles.
“We will engage business, labour and other social partners in pursuit of solutions. No single force acting individually can achieve the objectives we have set for ourselves,” he said.
Tourism has also been identified as one of the country’s job drivers.
In 2010, Zuma announced the Job fund. Three billion rand has been approved for projects that will create jobs he explained.
"Last May I asked constituencies at Nedlac to discuss youth employment incentives. I am pleased that discussions have been concluded and that agreement has been reached on key principles. The parties will sign the Accord later this month.”
Last year, the National Planning Commission handed over the National Development Plan, the vision of the country for the next 20 years, to the President.
The NDP contains proposals for tackling the problems of poverty, inequality and unemployment.
“The Programme of Action will be implemented differently as the activities of departments must be aligned with the National Development Plan,” he said.
Photos GCIS and SA Parliament