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1st SPEECH at Parliament

Madam speaker, it is a great honour for me to participate in the debate on the President’s address. We agree with the President that the challenge of creating a caring society is one which faces our entire nation. We accept the principled position that we are, as a nation, mobilised into a united people’s action, and have a moral responsibility to find models to improve the lot of the ordinary men and women representing the majority of South Africa.

In accepting transformation as the basic policy framework to address these social ills in our society, we, as a party, also commit ourselves to a constructive role rather than a destructive one. The latter role is already effectively played by others who are more qualified in this respect.

In that spirit, I wish to appeal to the President and his Cabinet that in the next Budget the deteriorating conditions of school buildings, roads and public buildings, hospitals and clinics should be given priority. According to a recent Human Science Research Council report, the amount needed for public maintenance in these areas is R73 billion. Immediate attention will stop the escalation of these costs.

At local government level, transformation will not be accelerated if the traditional authority structures remain marginalised and the approach of Government is based on empowering these only if, at strategic moments, this is deemed politically necessary.

No one in this House is his or her right mind can doubt Government’s good intention to transform our society. The will to give credence and material substance to this idea, however lacking or elusive. Our role in this Parliament is a constructive one even though we oppose the Government , because we accept the inevitability of problems in the implementation phases of transformation policies. But we must insist on the necessity to engage Government as a contribution to promoting democratisation. We believe the removal of the antidefection clause, for example, will promote this process.

The process of downsizing and rationalising the Public Service should be guided by acceptable criteria that precludes unfairness, corruption and nepotism. There is absolutely no need for the lower level public servants to be the first to be retrenched – that can start here. It is on the basis of this that we call for a downsized Parliament and the combination of Ministries with a view that the cost for that…[Time expired.]

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