Good reason to celebrate

DECEMBER 22, 2014

End of year statement by President Jacob Zuma

We are about to draw the curtain on the year 2014, a landmark year marking 20 years of freedom and democracy in our country.

We have good reason to celebrate. In only two decades, we have transformed an undemocratic, unrepresentative, oppressive state serving a minority, into a unitary, non-racial democratic state, answerable to and representative of all South Africans. We have also expanded access to basic social services especially to the black majority that had been excluded before because of their race.

The new ANC administration came into office in May 2014 with an overwhelming mandate of more than 62 percent. We made a commitment to work with all to move South Africa forward and a lot of progress has been made.

Last week, I signed performance agreements with all Ministers, which will guide departments and entities reporting to the departments on targets until 2019.

As we end the year, the country is on track to achieve most of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals by the 2015 deadline. We have made good progress with the eradication of extreme poverty, the achievement of universal primary education, attaining gender equality and the empowerment of women. We are reducing maternal and child mortality and continue to mobilise global partnerships for development.  

Our country has scored dramatic successes in the fight against HIV and AIDS. To date, 2.7 million South Africans are on antiretroviral treatment, which has improved life expectancy. A total of 3 590 public health facilities are now initiating patients on antiretroviral treatment compared to 490 in February 2010. One of our greatest success stories is the remarkable 67% reduction of mother-to-child transmission of HIV from 8% in 2008 to 2.6% in 2012.

Remarkably, 20 million people have to date been tested for HIV through the HIV Counselling and Testing Campaign, launched by the President in 2010. This indicates that the stigma around the disease is being eradicated which will assist prevention efforts.

We are also continuing to implement the National Health Insurance scheme at a number of pilot sites. The scheme is aimed at making access to health equal for all, regardless of class or financial means.

We have moved ahead with the implementation of the National Development Plan, (NDP), which has been mainstreamed into the government's programme of action for the next five years.

One of the highlights of the year has been the launch of the popular NDP delivery programme, Operation Phakisa. The first segment of Operation Phakisa focuses on boosting the country's ocean economy.  We have also launched Operation Phakisa 2, aimed at improving the functioning of clinics. We have established a unique collaboration, with government working with business, labour, academia and civil society to make Operation Phakisa succeed.

We have continued to build much-needed infrastructure. Within the first 100 days of this fifth administration, 45 schools were completed. Eighty-one schools were provided with sanitation, 58 with electrification and 88 with water.  In addition to three new universities that we are establishing in Gauteng, Northern Cape and Mpumalanga, sixteen sites have been identified for the construction of 12 new Technical and Vocational Education and Training College campuses.

We have taken measures to assist state owned enterprises that are facing difficulties such as Eskom, SAA and the SA Post Office.

Since 2008, South Africa has been experiencing regular disruptions in the supply of electricity, which is understandably a great source of inconvenience and frustration to consumers. This has come against the background of a highly successful electrification programme aimed at eradicating apartheid backlogs. To date we have connected more than 11 million households, double the number of households with access to electricity in 1994. From April to October this year, 131 089 electricity connections were concluded. Government has also facilitated electrical connections to boreholes in Ngobi village near Hammanskraal, ensuring safe water supply to 1261 households, benefitting about 5000 people. Current interruptions in some parts of the village caused by technical problems are being attended to.

Government is working hard to make Medupi and Kusile power stations come onto the grid faster to promote energy security. We are also licensing independent power producers while exploring various energy options including coal, gas, nuclear, solar and renewable energy options. Government has also entered into several negotiations with nuclear vendor countries and has recently signed Inter-Governmental Framework Agreements with the Russian Federation, the French Republic, the People's Republic of China, the United States of America and South Korea as part of the nuclear exploratory process.

To improve water connections, a stand-alone department of Water and Sanitation was established in May this year and some progress is being made. This year, the number of bucket toilets eradicated in the five most affected provinces are as follows; Free State 6021, Limpopo  777, Eastern Cape  1675, North West 379 and Northern Cape 2694. The work continues as in formal areas, the bucket sanitation backlog remains estimated at 88 127and at 185 000 in informal areas.

Water utilities have been directed to assist in water provision in distressed communities. Sedibeng Water was appointed in October 2014 to provide water services to Ngaka Modiri Molema District Municipality.  Amatole Water was directed to implement a refurbishment plan and to bring the systems into full operation to serve Makana District Municipality in Grahamstown and surroundings. Rand Water has taken over Bushbuckridge Water to improve the supply of water in the Mpumalanga area.

To relieve the water shortage caused by drought in the Free State, water had to be released from the Lesotho Highlands Water project into the Caledon River, thus benefitting towns in the Setsoto and Mohokare Local Municipalities.

In October, we celebrated the provision of water to 55 villages in Giyani in Limpopo, which has changed people's lives dramatically in the area. Life will soon change as well for 16 200 households in Umkhanyakude District in KwaZulu-Natal. For the first time in 30 years, they will get water from Jozini Dam, which was built in 1973 for agricultural use.

Government has set aside R2.4 billion to assist in the delivery of over 200 000 houses for mining employees over the next two years. In addition, a programme has been launched to facilitate the training of 2000 young people for careers in the property sector in 2015/2016. We have also launched a three year National Military Veterans Housing Programme to clear the backlog of close to 6 000 military veteran households who require accommodation.

For basic services to be provided efficiently, local government has to improve in every part of the country. We hosted a Presidential summit on local government in September this year and launched the now popular Back to Basics local government campaign. 

There is a lot more that has been done by other departments and clusters in the past six months and more work will be done in the coming year.

We thank all citizens and all sectors for their contribution to the success, and look forward to a successful and productive 2015. –