Cape Town: It is my privilege to introduce the third budget of President Zuma’s administration. Mister President, you have given us a clear and historic challenge to “write a new story about South Africa – the story of how, working together, we drove back unemployment and reduced economic inequality and poverty.”
This budget has been crafted at a challenging but hopeful time. We have to say to our people that economic uncertainty will be with us for some time, yet we have a programme of economic change that can steadily roll back unemployment, poverty and inequality.
We have demonstrated excellent resilience during the post-2008 crisis. We now need to introduce a new dynamism among all South Africans. It requires an extraordinary national effort from all role-players, committed not just to identifying the barriers to progress, not just to proposing solutions, but also working together, over the long haul.
Our new story, our period of transition, is about building modern infrastructure, a vibrant economy, a decent quality of life for all, reduced poverty, decent employment 2012 opportunities. It is a story that must be written by all of us. Not just by government. Not just by business. Not just by unions. By all of us, South Africans from all corners of this country.
The legacy of our past is not only that of difficulty and despair. We can draw pride from the celebration of the ANC’s centenary, and build on this past to get things done today. The idea of unity in action, working together to realise practical goals, must be revived. The idea of an active citizenry, drawn into motion by dedicated activists and inspired by a compelling vision of the future, has to be renewed.
Every one of the last hundred years has seen our nation overcome obstacles that seemed insurmountable. Some may have been beyond our control, the result of changes to the environment to which we were compelled to adjust. Some were the result of our failure to act, even when the solutions were known to us. Others were the unintended consequences of our own successes.
A towering leader of our movement, Walter Sisulu, wrote from his prison cell on Robben Island, “In a certain sense, the story of our struggle is a story of problems arising and problems being overcome. It is understandable that many of the problems should generate much controversy and emotion. However cool and detached we may strive to be in our analysis, the fact remains that we are deeply involved and interested parties and the solutions we adopt are solutions we ourselves have to implement.”
We will not turn away from our challenges. We must confront them boldly, and with hope. In harnessing all the resources at our disposal, we have to do more, with less; we have to work smarter and harder. South Africans must focus on our strengths and opportunities, to identify and activate the levers of economic and social change at our disposal.
Mister President you have given effect to the wisdom of Walter Sisulu; through the work of the Planning Commission this country now has a 20 year vision, through your initiative we now have a massive infrastructure programme also extending over 20 years, which will increase the growth and job creating potential of our economy.
- Readers can access the full text of the budget speech and supporting budget documentation, here.