Cde Jomo Nyambi a member of Parliament at the National Assembly presented the following response to President Kgalema Motlanthe’s State of the Nation Address on service delivery and the land and agrarian question . We present an abridged version of his input.
I stand here with honour and humility to be afforded and opportunity to debate the state of the nation as we are about to usher in our fourth democratic Parliament.
Madam Speaker after the State of the Nation address, and over the weekend’s inter-action with people made me to realise that at the core of the discussion and the debate, is the issue of SERVICE DELIVERY
So what is service delivery given the achievements and challenges?
Service delivery, in itself, is a term that incorporates two elements, that is a “service” and “delivery”. Service is a social requirement meant to fulfill a particular need, which is more than a felt need but a real need through which normal life comes to a standstill should that need remain unfulfilled, whereas a felt need is more emotional and sometimes populist in nature. Government exists to fulfill real needs, which people and communities cannot assuage on their own. That is where the delivery element comes in.
Government departments have a duty to fulfill needs that are beyond people’s reach and which they cannot live without. Failure to render this important social aspect means we fail our own people, our electoral constituent. Therefore we dare not fail.
It stands to reason, Madam Speaker, that the President in his State of the Nation Address highlighted a number of issues.
Allow me to quote one, I quote:
“In reality a country that does not ensure the involvement of all its population at all levels of economic activity is certainly going to perform well below its actual potential”.
The issue of the land and its wealth has been a question that has formed a cornerstone of the struggle for emancipation of the people of South Africa. The wars of resistance against colonialism and the struggles for South African freedom have been anchored around control for land. It is for this reason that the Freedom Charter acknowledged the importance of a resolution of the land question.
It is no surprise that it has become part of the hotly contested areas during the Congress for Democratic South Africa processes. No wonder that it had to appear in the constitution the way it is.
The ANC has identified five priority areas for the next five years; one of the five is the Rural Development, Food security and Land reform.
The January 8th statement of 2009 has clearly indicated that rural development and agrarian reform is integral to the struggle to create a better life for all.
The rural situation in South Africa is still characterised by division, there are well-developed areas and other deep rural areas where people, especially rural women, continue to live in conditions of degradation and poverty.
Unemployment in rural areas is disproportionately high, and many rural areas lack basic infrastructure such as roads, water and electricity supply.
“Our work is far from complete. We are only in the beginning of a long journey to a truly united, democratic and prosperous society, based on the principles contained in the freedom charter yet we are confident that the strategy and policies we have adopted will take us further towards the goal of a better life for all.”
Close quote: that is the declaration of the 52nd National conference of the African National Congress.
The African National Congress at its 52nd National Conference in Polokwane on 16-20 December 2007 deliberated on a range of issues, it was resolved that the ANC should strive to do the following, among other things:
The implementation of large scale programmes to establish new smallholders and improve the productivity of existing small-scale and subsistence farmers and to integrate smallholders into formal value chains and link them with markets.
Also, it was further resolved that there is a need to build dedicated state and private institutions that are accountable to the users for the effective and directed support to land reform beneficiaries in general and small holder agriculture and family farms in particular, including through financial support, research and extension, the provision of tools and equipment and the facilitation of market access and cooperation.
The African National Congress through the 2009 Election Manifesto has emphasised that land, agrarian reform, food security and rural development occupy a significant space in the economic transformation of South Africa. This is the same conviction that emerged though the 52nd National Conference Resolution. Indeed President the engagement with people confirm your correctness in acknowledging that the land redistribution programme as well as post-settlement support could have been handled faster and better.
Despite significant progress made over the last 15years, people living in rural areas continue to face the harshest conditions of poverty, lack of access to land and basic services. The ANC is committed to a comprehensive and clear rural development strategy linked to land and agrarian reform, improvement of the conditions of farm workers and farm-dwellers and build the potential for sustainable livelihoods.
Madam Speaker, the ANC will, during the Fourth Democratic parliament focus introduce critical programmes aimed at improving the lives of our people. To mention a few:
• Intensify the land reform programme to ensure that more land is in the hands of rural poor and will provide them with technical skills and financial resources to productively use the land to create sustainable livelihoods and decent work in rural areas.
• Review the appropriateness of the existing land redistribution programme, introduce measures aimed at speeding up the pace of land reform and redistribution and promote land ownership by South Africans.
• Expand agrarian reform programme, which will focus on the systematic promotion of agricultural co-operatives throughout the value chain, including agro-processing in the agricultural areas, government will develop support measures to ensure more access to markets and finance by small farmers including fencing and irrigation systems.
• Ensure a much stronger link between land and agrarian reform programmes and water resource allocation and ensure that the best quality of water resources reach all our people, especially the poor
• Introduce the provision of proper sanitation system in the rural areas.
• Strengthen partnership between government and the institution of traditional leadership to focus on rural development and fighting poverty.
• Work together with the farming community to improve the living conditions of farm dwellers, including the provision of subsidized houses and other basic services.
• Provide support for organised labour to organise and unionise farm workers and increase the capacity of the Department of Labour legislation.
The state of the Nation as presented by the President is very encouraging and inspiring. It is inspiring because the account of the conclusion of the popular mandate is being done in an honest way that lay the foundation for the future. So the fourth democratic parliament will hit the ground with the well oiled machine in making sure that the better life for all is achieved.
All that cannot and will never be a one man’s job, it is something that can be achieved by people hence to echo the theme of the ANC:
WORKING TOGETHER WE CAN DO MORE