Address by Mr Bantu Holomisa, MP in Parliament Debate: Budget Vote 1 - Presidency (12 June 2007)

Madam Speaker, Honourable President and Deputy President and Honourable Members -

The UDM supports the Budget Vote.

The Presidency has in the last couple of years been focussing on economic and foreign policy issues, in particular in the context of the African agenda. In those instances we have to commend it for doing exceptionally well.

However social-related issues seem to have been granted a lower status. And the implementation of social policies in general has been left to members of the Cabinet and the Directors-General.

The lack of delivery and fumbling by Departments such as Health and Education demonstrate a lack of leadership and coordination, which could only have been achieved by guidance from the top. For instance, the policies for social issues such as Education seems centred around the political head and not on long-term goals. Thus we have seen changes upon changes as Education Ministers come and go.

The Department of Health has been characterised by conflicts and differences between the top political and administrative management personnel. Hence the problems and controversies that undermine service delivery by the Department.

It has been a long time now since the honourable President announced that the Directors-General would be investigating the general structure and performance of the entire Government bureaucracy. The concerns that led to the honourable President's announcement don't seem to have gone away. So, if such a study has been completed, it would please this House to view its findings.

The remainder of the President's term in office is a vulnerable time due to the looming changing of the guard. There will be those Ministers and Directors-General who will be hesitant to propose restructuring or other difficult - but necessary - reforms because they do not want to rock the boat and perhaps upset a future employer. This is also a time fraught with the danger that some people might decide that this is the last opportunity to loot resources or secure lucrative government business.

There is a need for the Presidency in the remaining two years of this term to turn its focus inwards upon the bureaucracy itself to ferret out the numerous stumbling blocks to proper policy implementation. By doing so the honourable President would be proactively addressing the concerns of the many communities who have taken to the streets in protest about poor service delivery. Such an approach would help Government to undermine any strategies that may be afoot to portray South Africa as an unstable country.

There has been a tendency in Government to use spokespersons and media statements to comment on matters of serious concern; sometimes these statements even contradict each other. When you see that there are signs of low intensity warfare and destabilisation then it is important for the spin doctors to step aside and the national leadership to speak directly to the people. While each successive President may have a different style, there are times as a South African that I long for a voice of reassurance and authority from the Presidency. At times all of us South Africans, irrespective of political affiliation, want a national leadership that condemns unequivocally some of the lawlessness that we have seen in recent years and reaffirms our mutual ownership and sense of pride in our country.

I thank you.

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