Budget speech 2017/18 Vote 8: KwaZulu-Natal Department of Human Settlements Address to the Provincial Legislature by the Honourable Mr Ravigasen Ranganathan Pillay MPL, Member of the Executive Council, KwaZulu-Natal on 21 April 2017
Honourable Speaker Honourable Members
Their Worships, Mayors present
Speakers, Chief Whips and Councillors Respected AmaKhosi present
The Head of Department and Officials Present Business, Academic, Religious and Community Leaders Members of the Media
Ladies and gentlemen
Comrades and friends
Radical Socio-Economic Transformation
The narrative on radical socio-economic transformation finds credible expression in the implementation of our Human Settlements mandate.
Our cues come from Outcome 8 of the National Development Plan, the resolutions of the 53rd Conference of the African National Congress and subsequent policy prescripts.
We do not embrace radical socio-economic transformation simply for compliance. We embrace it based on a deep commitment to the vision and principles of the Freedom Charter.
We do so informed by that sound adage that “Practice without Theory is blind, Theory without practice is sterile.” (Karl Marx).
We do so conscious of and with a keen reading of, the domestic and global terrain and the rapidly changing dynamics that must be astutely grappled with.
We are not shocked into paralysis by those who wish to characterise our current conjuncture as an insurmountable crisis.
Indeed, “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be bom; in this inte”egnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear” – Antonio Gramsci
The 21st century is radically different from the century before. Fresh challenges cannot be met with old solutions.
The old is dying and our historic responsibility must be to be midwives of the new- not as a rhetorical expression but as a serious, necessary step to take our country forward. Radical socio-economic transformation is therefore quite simply our duty.
We are not reckless or adventurist. We understand that the oil that will drive our transformation project is made up of many parts:
Strong political commitment
Maximumvalue for budgets spent
We are acutely aware of the risk that having regard to the downgrade in our investment status and broader economic conditions, budgets may become stagnant or evereduced in the shorter term.
We are encouraged by the Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba’s astute grasp of these matters and attempts to mitigate the risk. Our responsibility in everything that we do is to help him build confidence about ourselves and our country.
Balance of Forces
The world economy is taking a shape that shifts it in several discernible directions – a rightward shift in political choices in the United States, much of Europe and even a leading emerging economy like India.
Another pole is China which though avowedly socialist has a strong capitalist orientation backed by strong human resource capacity and foreign exchange reserves.
Much of our African continent is booming with some of world’s highest growth rates. By contrast, our key challenges remain that of a low skilled economy with economic growth projections of under 1%.
The Finance Minister has also correctly sounded the alarm that a reduction in our investment status by rating agencies does indeed have severe implications.
The net effect is that there will need to be increased borrowings at higher rates to service the already large debt burden.
The pool of funds available for social services and infrastructure development will be consequently reduced. We should be under no illusions about this reality.
The balance offorces is an essential context for the understanding of the historic mission of our fifth democratic parliament and the task of crafting an inclusive growth and shared prosperity budget.
Our infrastructure and human capacity investments in human settlements have strategic value in advancing radical socio-economic transformation as it demonstrates practical implementation in changing the quality of life of our people.
It also has a value chain that talks to critical aspects of our economic activity – it creates jobs and stimulates primary productive activity (production of bricks, blocks, steel, glass, tiles, etc.) and secondary demand for furniture, appliances etc.
The course we chart is contested terrain- there are contesting ideological forces within our country. There are contesting ideological forces within the ANC which throughout its history has been a broad church.
We must necessarily embrace that as the vibrancy of our young democracy. It is the reason the ANC puts out its discussion documents for public comment.
We must be able to tap the rich tapestry of thought in our country as a platform to take us forward and out of the shackles of poverty, inequality and unemployment. We accept that the fight against corruption must be singular and uncompromising.
We need role models like Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, who at one extreme, rode a bicycle to work to inspire his people to shun consumerism and embrace the discipline of hard work.
Source: Government of South Africa