Quality of life for all citizens a priority for government

Cape Town � President Jacob Zuma says improving the quality of life of all South Africans remains a key priority in the work of government.

The President said this when he led a debate on The Presidency’s Budget Vote in the National Assembly on Wednesday.

Announcing a range of measures across government’s priority areas from economic growth and job creation to education, health and safety, the President said government remains committed to improving the wellbeing and welfare of all citizens.

The primary goal as government is to make South Africa a better place to live in for all and in particular, to improve the quality of life of the poor and the working class. Work continues in our quest to build South Africa without poverty, inequality, unemployment or crime.

We want a South Africa without despair, where each person has hope of a better future.

The President said a better life for all citizens means participation in economic activities that will give them dignity and freedom from want.

He said people need jobs or entrepreneurial opportunities.

The partnership between government and business remains key in the drive to reignite growth in this difficult climate. I would thus like to reiterate our commitment to the work done together with business on improving investor confidence in the country.

Our economy must remain competitive, not to merely prevent ratings downgrades but for the good of the country. We also wish to reiterate that we remain committed to the expenditure ceiling in the 2017 budget and to stabilize debt levels.

We also continue efforts of making our country attractive for investments, he said.

He said government launched InvestSA � a one stop shop initiative – earlier this year, bringing critical services needed to establish a business under one roof, such as visas, water or electricity licences and tax requirements, among others.

Ensuring that South Africans are safe

In a week where violence against women and children is back in the spotlight, the President said safety and security remains a priority for government.

He said children fall victim to abuse and violence from people they know, while women are attacked by their intimate partners.

On Tuesday, the President paid a visit to Elsies River in the Western Cape to hold a crime imbizo. This is the area where three-year-old Courtney Pieters lost her life to a heinous attack, with her body being found in a shallow grave next to abandoned railroad tracks in Epping.

The President said during the imbizo, residents said over and above several safety interventions, government should provide support to the community by also sending social workers to provide counselling services.

Indeed, strengthening households and families, reviving the social fabric of society and improving living conditions, are key to the prevention of crime.

We need to unite as communities and all sectors, from business, traditional leaders, faith-based communities and others, to promote safer communities.

He also used the budget vote to condemn human trafficking, saying the despicable act, where women are abducted and subjected to be sex slaves, was tantamount to modern day slavery.

He said South Africans have a right to feel safe and live without fear.

While urging women to report abuse to the police, the President said parents should also support their children when they report abuse.

Addressing issues related to policy uncertainty

The President said there were some outstanding policy issues that government was attending to. This includes, among others, the finalization of the broadband rollout, digital migration and spectrum allocation as a means to reignite economic growth.

On energy security, the Ministers of Public Enterprises and Energy are working together to find an amicable solution to the Independent Power Producers impasse.

With regard to nuclear energy, we reiterate that the programme will be implemented at a pace and scale that the country can afford, he said.

The President said government is awaiting Parliament to conclude the processing of the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill for it to be sent back to him.

I sent it back to Parliament due to some issues that I believed would not pass the Constitutional muster, he said.

The President said the Mining Charter will be gazetted in a few weeks’ time.

He said through the Charter, government seeks to radically transform the ownership of South African mining assets by ensuring that black people meaningfully and effectively participate in the mining and minerals industries, while ensuring that the mining industry remains globally competitive.

The Mining Charter includes requirements on beneficiation and procurement.

There is also a community development element to ensure that mine communities and major labour-sending communities optimally benefit from mining activities taking place in their areas.

The Mining Charter proposals will also further empower mineworkers with requisite skills and enhanced job opportunities, he said.

The President said, meanwhile, that government continues to provide support to state owned companies by addressing governance and financial challenges.

He said support is being provided to the SA Airways, the SABC and Eskom and other affected entities.

New service provider to be phase in to handle grants

The President said, meanwhile, that government plans to phase in the services of a new service provider to manage the payments of grants.

He said the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) will be submitting the quarterly reports to the Constitutional Court as per its judgment.

SASSA has also begun engagements with other organs of state, including the South African Post Office towards phasing out the services of the current service provider.

The plan is to phase in the services of the new service provider by November this year. This will give the Agency enough time to ensure a seamless transition when the current contract comes to end in March 2018, he said.

Source: South African Government News Agency