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2013 State of the Nation Address by Jacob G Zuma, President of South Africa

Honourable Speaker of the National Assembly,
Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces;
Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and Deputy Chairperson of the NCOP;
Deputy President of the Republic, Honourable Kgalema Motlanthe;
Former President Thabo Mbeki and Mrs Mbeki,
Former President De Klerk and Mrs De Klerk,
Former Deputy Presidents Ms Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Baleka Mbete,
Honourable Chief Justice of the Republic, and all esteemed members of the Judiciary;
Honourable Peeroo, Chairperson of the SADC Parliamentary Forum,
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Distinguished Premiers and Speakers of our Provinces;
Chairperson of SALGA, and all local government leadership;
Chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders;
The Heads of Chapter 9 Institutions;
The Governor of the Reserve Bank; Ms Gill Marcus,
The Deputy Chairperson of the National Planning Commission and Deputy President of the ANC, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa and all ANC Officials,
Leaders from business, sports, traditional, religious and all sectors,
Members of the diplomatic corps, Special and distinguished guests,
Honourable members,
Fellow South Africans,
 
Good evening to you all, sanibonani nonke, molweni, dumelang.
 
Let me thank the Presiding Officers for affording me this opportunity to share our 2013 programme of action with the joint sitting of Parliament.
 
We greet all who are watching this broadcast from their homes and at GCIS viewing centres around the country, including those in Khayelitsha, Nyanga and Gugulethu here in Cape Town.
 
Let me also extend my gratitude to all who contributed to the preparation of this address.  I received several messages via email, twitter and Facebook.
 
I also spent some time with Grade 12 learners who shared their own views on what should be contained in the speech. I found the inputs very informative and enriching.
 
Honourable Members,
Compatriots and friends,
 
On the 15th of August last year, the National Planning Commission handed over the National Development Plan, the vision of the country for the next 20 years, to the President in this august house.
 
The NDP contains proposals for tackling the problems of poverty, inequality and unemployment.
 
It is a roadmap to a South Africa where all will have water, electricity, sanitation, jobs, housing, public transport, adequate nutrition, education, social protection, quality healthcare, recreation and a clean environment.
 
The achievement of these goals has proven to be difficult in the recent past, due the global economic recession.
 
The crisis in the Eurozone affects our economy as the Eurozone is our major trading partner, accounting for around 21 per cent of our exports.
 
Our GDP growth is expected to average at 2.5% cent, down from 3.1% in the previous year.  We need growth rates in excess of five per cent to create more jobs.
 
The National Development Plan outlines interventions that can put the economy on a better footing. The target for job creation is set at 11 million by 2030 and the economy needs to grow threefold to create the desired jobs.
 
In my last meeting with the business community, the sector indicated that for the economy to grow three-fold, we must remove certain obstacles.
 
We will engage business, labour and other social partners in pursuit of solutions. No single force acting individually can achieve the objectives we have set for ourselves.
 
Honourable Members,
 
I would now like to report on progress made since the last State of the Nation Address and also to discuss our programme of action for 2013.
 
I will look at the five priorities – education, health, the fight against crime, creating decent work as well as rural development and land reform.
 
Last year, I addressed the nation on government’s infrastructure plans. 
 
By the end of March this year, starting from 2009, government will have spent about 860 billion rand on infrastructure. Various projects are being implemented around the country. I will discuss just a few.
 
The construction of the first phase of the Mokolo and Crocodile River Water Augmentation has commenced and it will provide part of the water required for the Matimba and the Medupi power stations.
 
The construction of the bulk water distribution system for the De Hoop Dam began in October 2012, to supply water to the Greater Sekhukhune, Waterberg and Capricorn district municipalities.
 
We have to shift the transportation of coal from road to rail in Mpumalanga, in order to protect the provincial roads. Thus the construction of the Majuba Rail coal line will begin soon.
 
We have also committed to improve the movement of goods and economic integration through a Durban-Free State-Gauteng logistics and industrial corridor.
 
In this regard, substantial work is now underway to develop the City Deep inland terminal in Gauteng.
 
Initial work has commenced in the expansion of the Pier 2 in the Durban Port.
 
And thirdly, land has been purchased for the development of a new dug-out port at the Old Durban airport.
 
In the Eastern Cape, I officially opened the port of Ngqura and construction is now underway to develop a major new transhipment hub.
 
The Umzimvubu Dam is critical for rural livelihoods. Preparatory work has commenced for the construction to begin next year.
 
The upgrading of Mthatha airport runway and terminal and the construction of the Nkosi Dalibhunga Mandela Legacy Road and Bridge are currently underway.
 
I have asked for work in the North West to be fast-tracked further in light of the huge backlogs in that province, especially electricity, schools, clinics, roads and water in the next two years.
 
To improve the transportation of iron-ore and open up the west coast of the country, we have expanded the rail capacity through the delivery of 11 locomotives.
 
The first phase of the expansion – to increase iron ore port capacity at Saldanha to 60 million tons per annum – was officially completed in September last year.
 
Construction work is taking place in five cities – Cape Town, Nelson Mandela Bay, Rustenburg, eThekwini, Tshwane to integrate the different modes of transport – bus, taxi and train.
 
In the energy sector, we have now laid 675 kilometres of electricity transmission lines to connect fast-growing economic centres and also to bring power to rural areas.
 
In addition, government signed contracts to the value of R47 billion in the renewable energy programme. 
 
This involves 28 projects in wind, solar and small hydro technologies, to be developed in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Northern Cape and in the Free State.
 
We established an 800 million rand national green fund last year.  To date, over 400 million rand investments in green economy projects has already been approved for municipalities, other organs of state, community organisations and the private sector across all provinces.
 
We have also rolled out 315 000 solar water geysers as of January this year, most of which were given to poor households, many of whom had never had running hot water before.
 
We have scored successes in extending basic services through the infrastructure programme. Close to 200 000 households have been connected to the national electricity grid in 2012.
 
You will also recall that Census 2011 outlined the successes in extending basic services. The report said the number of households with access to electricity is now at 12.1 million, which translates to 85%. Nine out of 10 households have access to water.
 
To prepare for the advanced economy we need to develop, we will expand the broadband network.
 
Last year, the private and public sector laid about 7000 new fibre optic cables. The plan is to achieve 100% broadband internet penetration by 2020.
 
With regard to social infrastructure, a total of 98 new schools will have been built by the end of March, of which more than 40 are in the Eastern Cape that are replacing mud schools.
 
Construction is expected to begin in September at the sites of two new universities in the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga.
 
Last week, we published an Infrastructure Development Bill for public comment.
 
We are cracking down on corruption, tender fraud and price fixing in the infrastructure programme.
 
The state has collected a substantial dossier of information on improper conduct by large construction companies.
 
This is now the subject of formal processes of the competition commission and other law enforcement authorities.
 
The infrastructure development programme has been a valuable source of learning for government. In the year ahead, we will fast-track many of the projects that the PICC has announced.
 
The lessons are that we must coordinate, integrate and focus on implementation.
 
Honourable Members,
 
The past two years have demonstrated that where the state intervenes strongly and consistently, it can turn around key industries that face external or internal threats as has happened in our manufacturing sector.
 
We have seen the revitalization of train and bus production in South Africa, largely because of the drive for local procurement. 
 
PRASA and Transnet have committed hundreds of billions of rands to improving our commuter and freight train network.
 
The clothing, textiles and footwear industry has stabilised after 15 years of steadily falling employment. A clothing support scheme provides broad financial support, saving a number of factories and jobs.
 
On broader economic transformation, revised Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment Act and codes are being finalised.  The development of black owned enterprises and black industrialists will be prioritised.
 
Government has several programmes of supporting small business.  A key project for the Presidency currently is to get government departments to pay SMMEs within 30 days.
 
Departments are required to submit monthly reports so that we can monitor progress in this regard.
 
We have taken a decision that accounting officers who fail to execute this directive, should face consequences.
 
In the 2010 State of the Nation Address, I announced the Job fund, and three billion rand has been approved for projects that will create jobs.
 
Honourable Members,
 
Just over a third of the population is under the age of 15. Our country, like many others, has a crisis of youth unemployment.
 
Last May I asked constituencies at NEDLAC to discuss youth employment incentives. I am pleased that discussions have been concluded and that agreement has been reached on key principles. The parties will sign the Accord later this month.
 
The incentives will add to what Government is already doing to empower the youth.
 
State owned companies provide apprenticeships and learnerships and we urge that these be increased.  We appeal to the private sector to absorb 11 000 FET graduates who are awaiting placements.
 
The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform runs the National Rural Youth Services Corps, which has enrolled 11 740 young people in various training programmes.
 
The Department is also planning nine Rural Youth Hubs per province, including in the 23 poorest districts in the country.
 
We will also use the Expanded Public Works Programme and the Community Work programme to absorb young people.
 
Working together we will find a solution to youth unemployment.
 
Honourable members,
 
We identified tourism as one of our job drivers.
 
Tourist arrivals grew at an impressive 10.7 percent between January and September 2012, which is higher than the global average of 4% for last year.
 
Ironically, the very success of South Africa’s national conservation effort resulting in over 73% of the worlds’ rhino population being conserved here, has resulted in our country being targeted by international poaching syndicates.
 
We are working with recipient and transit countries such as Vietnam, Thailand and China and are intensifying our efforts to combat this increasing scourge.
 
Honourable Speaker
Honourable Chairperson,
 
Mining, which is historically the backbone of the economy, has faced difficulties in recent months.
 
Last year the sector was hit by wild cat strikes and the tragedy in Marikana where more than 44 people were killed.
 
We established an Inter-Ministerial Committee made up of senior cabinet Ministers to assist families during that difficult period. The Judicial Commission of Inquiry led by Judge Ian Farlam continues its work.
 
Through working together we were able to restore social stability in the area.
 
Government, labour in the form of COSATU, NACTU and FEDUSA, Business Unity SA, Black Business Council and the community sector met in October and reached an agreement which laid the basis for a return to work across the mining industry.
 
In particular, we agreed to work together to strengthen collective bargaining; to address the housing problems in the mining towns; to support the National infrastructure Programme; to address youth unemployment; and to identify measures to reduce inequalities.
 
Work is underway and the team will report in due course with specific plans for Rustenburg, Lephalale, Emalahleni, West Rand, Welkom, Klerksdorp, Burgersfort/Steelport, Carletonville and Madibeng.
 
Two weeks ago, I had a meeting in Pretoria with Sir John Parker, the chairman of Anglo-American Plc to discuss the reported plans to restructure and retrench 14 000 workers at Anglo American Platinum.
 
Compatriots,
 
Honourable Members,
 
We believe that at a policy level we have managed to bring about certainty in the mining sector. The nationalisation debate was laid to rest in December at the ruling party’s national conference.
 
Ensuring that the public services we provide our people today can continue to be provided to our people tomorrow, requires that we have suitable tax policies to generate sufficient revenue to pay for these services.
 
From time to time, we have commissioned studies into our tax policies, to evaluate the extent to which they meet the requirements of the fiscus.
 
Later this year, the Minister of Finance will be commissioning a study of our current tax policies, to make sure that we have an appropriate revenue base to support public spending.
 
Part of this study, will evaluate the current mining royalties regime, with regard to its ability to suitably serve our people.
 
Honourable Members,
Distinguished guests,
 
In last year’s address we raised the issue of the gap market, the people who earn too much to qualify for an RDP house and too little for a bank mortgage bond.
 
From April 2012 to December 2012, Provincial Departments committed a budget of 126 million rand of the Human Settlements Development Grant for this programme, known as the Finance Linked Individual Subsidy programme.
 
The money is being used through the National Housing Finance Corporation, which has been appointed to deliver houses to people within the Gap market in twelve registered projects.
 
A total of 70 million rand of this amount has been used to date.
 
Projects include Walmer Link in the Eastern Cape, Lady Selbourne, Nelmapius, Bohlabela Borwa, Cosmo City and Fleurhof in Gauteng, Intabazwe Corridor Housing in the Free State and Seraleng in North West.
 
The implementation of these eight GAP housing projects is currently underway.
 
Compatriots and friends,
 
Honourable Members,
 
On education, we are pleased that the Grade 12 pass rate is finally on an upward trend. We congratulate the Class of 2012, their teachers, parents and communities for the continued improvement.
 
We congratulate the top province for 2012, Gauteng and top grade 12 learner, Miss Madikgetho Komane, from Sekhukhune district, Limpopo, who is our special guest.
 
Honourable members,
 
The Annual National Assessments in our schools, have become a powerful tool of assessing the health of our education system.
 
We welcome the improvement each year in the ANA results, but more must be done to improve maths, science and technology.
 
The Department of Basic Education will establish a national task team to strengthen the implementation of the Mathematics, Science and Technology Strategy.
 
We urge the private sector to partner government through establishing, adopting or sponsoring maths and science academies or Saturday schools.
 
Compatriots,
 
We are pleased with the growth of our early childhood education programmes, including Grade R.
 
We are also pleased with our adult education programme, Khari Gude, which has reached more than 2,2 million people between 2008 and 2011.
 
We also continue to encourage people from all walks never to stop learning.  Many were inspired when accomplished musician and my special guest, Mr Sipho Hotstix Mabuse obtained his matric last year, at the age of 60.
 
Honourable Members,
 
We declared education as an apex priority in 2009. We want to see everyone in the country realising that education is an essential service for our nation.
 
By saying education is an essential service we are not taking away the Constitutional rights of teachers as workers such as the right to strike.
 
It means we want the education sector and society as a whole to take education more seriously than is happening currently.
 
All successful societies have one thing in common – they invested in education. Decent salaries and conditions of service will play an important role in attracting, motivating and retaining skilled teachers.
 
In this regard, we will establish a Presidential Remuneration Commission which will investigate the appropriateness of the remuneration and conditions of service provided by the State to all its employees.
 
I have directed that the first priority should be teachers.
 
The Commission will also assess the return on investment.
 
In elevating education to its rightful place, we want to see an improvement in the quality of learning and teaching and the management of schools. We want to see an improvement in attitudes, posture and outcomes.
 
Working with educators, parents, the community and various stakeholders, we will be able to turn our schools into centres of excellence.
 
Honourable Members,
 
Five years ago, South Africa had such a low life expectancy that experts suggested that by 2015, our life expectancy would have been exactly where it was in 1955.
 
It was with good reason that we were delighted when late last year, studies from the Medical Research Council, the Lancet medical journal and others began reporting a dramatic increase in life expectancy from an average baseline of 56 years in 2009 to 60 years in 2011. These reports also noted significant decreases in infant and under five mortality.
 
Increased life expectancy is a key to the country’s development. People are returning to work, they are being productive, economically and socially.  The family structure is increasingly stable and parents live longer and are able to take care of their children.
 
We should not become complacent, in light of these achievements.
 
Given the high co-infection rate between HIV and TB, we have integrated these services.
 
Work is also continuing on the research side. South Africa has discovered a candidate drug to treat Malaria.
 
In addition, researchers at the Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa consortium, also discovered broad neutralising antibodies against HIV.
 
Deputy President Motlanthe has appointed new members of the South African National Aids Council Trust. We congratulate the team, which is led by retired Judge Zac Yacoob, as chairperson.
 
Diseases of lifestyle are on an alarming increase.  We have to combat and lower the levels of smoking, harmful effects of alcohol, poor diets and obesity.
 
Honourable members,
 
In 2014 we will create the National Health Insurance Fund. The Department of Health will accelerate and intensify progress in the pilot districts.
 
In that regard, as from April this year, the first group of approximately 600 private medical practitioners will be contracted to provide medical services at 533 clinics within villages and townships in 10 of the pilot districts.
 
Compatriots and friends,
 
In June we will mark the centenary of the 1913 Land Act which turned black people into wanderers, labourers and pariahs in their own land.
 
Former ANC President Sefako Makgatho outlined as such in his 1919 ANC conference presidential address.
 
He said;
 
“The Native Land Act still operates as mercilessly in different parts of the Union, and as a result many native families are still working for white farmers only for their food’’.
 
We are also honoured, in this year of the anniversary of the 1913 Land Act, to have present among us, Mrs Nomhlangano Beauty Mkhize, one of the veterans who together with her husband, Saul Mkhize, led the struggle against forced removals in Driefontein and Daggaskraal, in the present Mpumalanga Province.
 
The land question is a highly emotive matter.
 
We need to resolve it amicably within the framework of the Constitution and the law.
 
I received a message on Facebook from Thulani Zondi who raised his concern about the slow pace of land redistribution. He said:  “Mr President, as we are commemorating 100 years since the Land act of 1913 was introduced to dispossess the African majority.
 
I urge you to accelerate redistribution of the land to the landless African people.
 
“When we do the redistribution we need to be mindful of food security. Training and mentorship of emerging black commercial farmers must take place”.
 
From 1994, we have been addressing the land reform problem through restitution, redistribution and tenure reform.
 
As stated before, we will not be able to meet our redistribution targets.
 
Government’s mid-term review last year revealed a number of shortcomings in our land reform implementation programme. We will use those lessons to improve implementation.
 
Firstly, we must shorten the time it takes to finalise a claim. In this regard, Government will now pursue the ‘just and equitable’ principle for compensation, as set out in the Constitution instead of the “willing buyer, willing seller” principle, which forces the state to  pay more for land than the actual value.
 
Secondly there are proposed amendments to the Restitution of Land Rights Act, 1994 in order to provide for the re-opening of the lodgement of restitution claims, by people who missed the deadline of 31 December 1998.
 
Also to be explored, are exceptions to the June 1913 cut-off date to accommodate claims by the descendants of the Khoi and San as well as heritage sites and historical landmarks.
 
Another key lesson is to provide adequate post-settlement support to new landowners so that land continues to be productive.
 
We also need to provide better incentives for commercial farmers that are willing and capable of mentoring smallholder farmers.
 
Another challenge we have faced is the preference for money instead of land by some claimants, which also does not help us to change land ownership patterns.
 
As part of the Presidency stakeholder engagement programme ahead of the State of the Nation Address, Deputy President Motlanthe held a meeting with both farmers and farm workers in Paarl on Tuesday.
 
Stakeholders agreed that there should be peace and stability in the agriculture sector and that the living and working conditions of farm workers should be improved urgently.
 
It is also encouraging that even the farmers called for the fast tracking of land reform and support to emerging farmers.
 
We will continue the engagement with both farmers and farm workers.
 
Compatriots and friends,
 
We should also remain mindful of rapid urbanisation that is taking place. The Census Statistics reveal that 63% of the population are living in urban areas. This is likely to increase to over 70% by 2030.
 
Apartheid spatial patterns still persist in our towns and cities. Municipalities alone cannot deal with the challenges. We need a national approach. 
 
While rural development remains a priority of government, it is crucial that we also develop a national integrated urban development framework to assist municipalities to effectively manage rapid urbanisation.
 
As part of implementing the National Development Plan, all three spheres of government need to manage the new wave of urbanisation in ways that also contribute to rural development.
 
Honourable Members,
 
Improving the status of women remains a critical priority for this government.
 
The Bill on Gender Equality and Women Empowerment has been approved by Cabinet for public comment. The Bill criminalizes practices that have adverse effects on women and girls.
 
It also legislates the 50/50 policy position with regard to the representation of women in decision making structures.
 
Honourable members,
 
The brutal gang rape and murder of Anene Booysen and other women and girls in recent times has brought into sharp focus the need for unity in action to eradicate this scourge.
 
The brutality and cruelty meted out to defenceless women is unacceptable and has no place in our country. Last year the National Council on Gender Based Violence was established.
 
It comprises government, non-governmental Organizations, Community-Based Organizations, Faith-Based organizations, academia, research institutions, government, men’s groupings, and representation from women, children and persons with disabilities.
 
We urge this coordinating structure to make the campaign of fighting violence against women an everyday campaign.
 
We applaud all sectors for the campaigns that have taken place already, highlighting that such acts will not be tolerated.
 
I have directed law enforcement agencies to treat these cases with the utmost urgency and importance. The Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Units, which were re-established in 2010, have increased personnel.
 
During the last financial year, the Units secured over 363 life sentences, with a conviction rate of 73% for crimes against women above 18 years old and 70% for crimes against children under 18 years of age. 
 
Masibhunkule sisebenze sonke, silwe nalenkinga esibhekene nayo yabantu abadlwengula omame nezingane, ngisho nezalukazi imbala. Ihlazo nobunswelaboya obesabekayo lokhu abakwenzayo. Izigilamkhuba kufanele zibikwe emaphoyiseni ziboshwe.
 
Government is adding other mechanisms to protect women, such as the Protection from Harassment Bill. While the Domestic Violence Act also provides protection, it only applies to persons who are in a domestic relationship.
 
The Protection from Harassment Bill also deals with harassment by persons who stalk their victims by means of electronic communications.
 
In addition, the Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill was passed by the National Assembly last year and is now at the National Council of Provinces.
 
Once implemented, the law will  assist women and children, who are often victims of this heinous crime.
 
Compatriots and friends,
 
There is increased visibility of the police which contributes to the reduction in the levels of serious crime.
 
The operations focusing on illegal firearms, stolen and robbed vehicles, liquor and drugs which are regarded as main generators of crime have assisted in crime reduction.
 
Compatriots and friends,
 
Government continues to wage a war against corruption.
 
The capacity of the Special Investigating Unit has grown from an initial 70 staff members to more than 600 at present.
 
I have since 2009, signed 34 proclamations directing the SIU to investigate allegations of corruption, fraud or maladministration in various government departments and state entities.
 
Criminal Investigations were initiated against 203 accused persons in 67 priority cases under investigation by the end September 2012.
 
In total, pre-trial proceedings have been initiated against 191 persons. A total of 66 persons under investigation are alleged to have received R5 million or more benefits through corruption. Freezing Orders were obtained against 46 persons.
 
In other successes, in the past financial year, 107 officials working within the criminal justice system were convicted.
 
The Asset Forfeiture Unit seized assets valued at more than R541 million. A total of R61 million of these assets have already been forfeited to the State. The assets are channelled back to fighting crime and corruption through the Criminal Asset Recovery Account.
 
Last year, additional funding of R150 million from the Criminal Assets Recovery Account was approved for the work of the Anti-Corruption Task Team which comprises the Hawks, the Special Investigating Unit and the National Prosecuting Authority.
 
These resources are aimed at strengthening the capacity of these law enforcement agencies in our resolve to fight corruption.
 
We urge the private sector to also take this fight against corruption seriously so that we tackle it from all angles.
 
To further boost the fight against corruption, we will fill all vacant posts at the upper echelons of the criminal justice system.
 
Compatriots and friends,
 
Honourable Members,
 
There are some lessons from Marikana and other incidents that we cannot allow to recur in our country.
 
Our Constitution is truly one of our greatest national achievements.   Everything that we do as a government is guided by our Constitution and its vision of the society we are building.
 
We call on all citizens to celebrate, promote and defend our Constitution.
 
Our Bill of Rights guarantees that “everyone has the right, peacefully and unarmed,  to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket and to present petitions”.
 
We therefore call on our people to exercise their rights to protest in a peaceful and orderly manner.
 
It is unacceptable when people’s rights are violated by perpetrators of violent actions, such as actions that lead to injury and death of persons, damage to property and the destruction of valuable public infrastructure.
 
We are duty bound to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution as the supreme law of the Republic. We will spare no effort in doing so.
 
For this reason, I have instructed the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster to put measures in place, with immediate effect, to ensure that any incidents of violent protest are acted upon, investigated and prosecuted.
 
Courts will be allocated to deal with such cases on a prioritised roll. The law must be enforced and it must be seen to be enforced – fairly, effectively and expeditiously.
 
The citizens of our country have a right to expect that their democratic state will exercise its authority in defence of the Constitution that so many struggled so long and hard for. We cannot disappoint this expectation.
 
The JCPS Cluster has therefore put measures in place at national, provincial and local level to deal with such incidents effectively.
 
Let me hasten to add that government departments at all levels must work closely with communities and ensure that all concerns are attended to before they escalate.  That responsibility remains. We are a caring government.
 
Honourable Members,
 
This year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the birth of the Organization of African Unity which has been succeeded by the African Union.
 
We pay tribute to the OAU for its relentless struggle for the decolonization of our continent, including contributing to our own freedom.
 
We will continue to work for a stronger and more effective organization of our Union.
 
The NEPAD programme as well as the African Peer Review Mechanism have just celebrated their tenth year of existence.
 
As the convener of the NEPAD Presidential Infrastructure Championing Initiative, South Africa continues to work with other champions to implement high impact infrastructure projects in the continent.
 
On peace and security, we stand by the people of Mali in their effort to claim and assert the territorial integrity of their country.
 
We urge the leadership in the Central African Republic, Guinea Bissau and Somalia to continue their march towards lasting peace for the sake of their people. We remain firmly opposed to unconstitutional change of government.
 
We are encouraged by the developments between Sudan and South Sudan. We commend our former President Thabo Mbeki and other members of the AU High Level Panel for the dedicated manner in which they have been working with the two sides.
 
We are in solidarity with the DRC as the country battles the menace to its security.
 
South Africa will continue supporting Africa’s peace efforts including through mediation, troop contribution for peace keeping, and by providing material and financial assistance.
 
In this regard, we look forward to the conclusion of political dialogues in Zimbabwe and Madagascar.
 
Our vision of a better Africa in a better world will receive great impetus when we host the 5th BRICS Summit next month in Durban.
 
We are inspired by the exponential growth of bilateral relations, diplomatically and economically, between South Africa and other BRICS countries.
 
Strengthening North-South relations remains central to our foreign policy agenda.
 
We reaffirm our partnership with countries of the North, especially the USA, Europe and Japan.
 
The UN’s 70th anniversary provides an opportunity to take forward the transformation of the UN Security Council.
 
We shall continue to use the G20 to represent the aspirations of the people of Africa and push for the transformation of Bretton Woods institutions.
 
South Africa’s internationalism has a strong element of solidarity to it.  We stand with the people of Palestine as they strive to turn a new leaf in their struggle for their right to self-determination; hence we supported their bid for statehood.
 
The expansion of Israeli settlements into Palestinian territories is a serious stumbling block to the resolution of the conflict.
 
The right of self determination for the people of Western Sahara has to be realised.
 
We remain firm in our call for the lifting of the economic embargo against Cuba.
 
Working together we can do more to create a better Africa and a better world.
 
Compatriots,
 
In the year 2012, we focused on preserving and promoting our country’s cultural heritage with particular emphasis on our liberation heritage.
 
We also hosted a historic National Summit on Social Cohesion, focusing on building a socially inclusive, caring and proud nation.
 
In the implementation of our programme we will work with our Social Cohesion Advocates; eminent South Africans drawn from a variety of sectors within our society.
 
We are proud to have in our midst this evening, two of our eminent social cohesion advocates, Judge Yvonne Mokgoro and Advocate George Bizos.
 
Compatriots,
 
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Raid on Liliesleaf Farm, the Escape from Marshall Square as well as the Start of the Rivonia Trial.
 
A series of events are being planned throughout the year to mark the three events, culminating in a national commemoration on the 11th of July.
 
Honourable Members
 
We have just concluded a highly successful Africa Cup of Nations tournament. We extend hearty congratulations to the African champions, the Federal Republic of Nigeria and also to all participating teams for their contribution to showcasing the standard of African football.
 
We thank all our people for being excellent hosts and fans.
 
I had the opportunity to personally thank CAF President Honourable Issa Hayatou for affording us the honour of hosting the AFCON.
 
Compatriots and friends,
 
As I said earlier, this programme of action will be implemented differently as the activities of departments must be aligned with the National Development Plan.
 
Compatriots,
 
Before concluding, let me take this opportunity to extend our heartfelt condolences to the family of struggle stalwart and prominent human rights lawyer, Comrade Phyllis Naidoo who passed on today.
 
Only recently, we lost Comrade Amina Cachalia.
 
We are truly saddened by the loss.
 
Honourable Members,
 
Compatriots,
 
As South Africans, we should continue to have one primary goal – to make our country a truly great and prosperous nation.
 
Happy Valentine’s Day to you all!
 
I thank you.
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US President Obama’s inaugural speech 21 January 2013

Vice President Biden, Mr. Chief Justice, Members of the United States Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens: 

Each time we gather to inaugurate a president, we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution.  We affirm the promise of our democracy.  We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names.  What makes us exceptional – what makes us American – is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” 

Today we continue a never-ending journey, to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time.  For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth.  The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob.  They gave to us a Republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed. 

For more than two hundred years, we have. 

Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free.  We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together. 

Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce; schools and colleges to train our workers.

Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play. 

Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.

Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone.  Our celebration of initiative and enterprise; our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, are constants in our character.

But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.  For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias.  No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores.  Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people. 

This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience.  A decade of war is now ending.  An economic recovery has begun.  America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands:  youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention.   My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it – so long as we seize it together. 

For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.  We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class.  We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship.  We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own. 

We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time.  We must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, and reach higher.  But while the means will change, our purpose endures:  a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American.  That is what this moment requires.  That is what will give real meaning to our creed.  

We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity.  We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit.  But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.  For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty, and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn.  We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few.  We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us, at any time, may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other – through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security – these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us.  They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great. 

We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity.  We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.  Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.  The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult.  But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it.  We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise.  That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks.  That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God.  That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.

We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.  Our brave men and women in uniform, tempered by the flames of battle, are unmatched in skill and courage.  Our citizens, seared by the memory of those we have lost, know too well the price that is paid for liberty.  The knowledge of their sacrifice will keep us forever vigilant against those who would do us harm.  But we are also heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war, who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends, and we must carry those lessons into this time as well.

We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law.  We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully – not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear.  America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe; and we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad, for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation.  We will support democracy from Asia to Africa; from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom.  And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice – not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes:  tolerance and opportunity; human dignity and justice. 

We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth. 

It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began.  For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.  Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.  Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote.  Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.  Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm. 

That is our generation’s task – to make these words, these rights, these values – of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness – real for every American.  Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life; it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way, or follow the same precise path to happiness.  Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time – but it does require us to act in our time. 

For now decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay.  We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate.  We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect.  We must act, knowing that today’s victories will be only partial, and that it will be up to those who stand here in four years, and forty years, and four hundred years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall.
 
My fellow Americans, the oath I have sworn before you today, like the one recited by others who serve in this Capitol, was an oath to God and country, not party or faction – and we must faithfully execute that pledge during the duration of our service.  But the words I spoke today are not so different from the oath that is taken each time a soldier signs up for duty, or an immigrant realizes her dream.  My oath is not so different from the pledge we all make to the flag that waves above and that fills our hearts with pride. 

They are the words of citizens, and they represent our greatest hope. 

You and I, as citizens, have the power to set this country’s course. 

You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time – not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals. 

Let each of us now embrace, with solemn duty and awesome joy, what is our lasting birthright.  With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history, and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom. 

Thank you, God Bless you, and may He forever bless these United States of America.

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US President Barack Obama’s acceptance speech 2012

Tonight, more than 200 years after a former colony won the right to determine its own destiny, the task of perfecting our union moves forward.

It moves forward because of you. It moves forward because you reaffirmed the spirit that has triumphed over war and depression, the spirit that has lifted this country from the depths of despair to the great heights of hope, the belief that while each of us will pursue our own individual dreams, we are an American family and we rise or fall together as one nation and as one people.

Tonight, in this election, you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back, and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America the best is yet to come.

I want to thank every American who participated in this election… Whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time.

By the way, we have to fix that.

Whether you pounded the pavement or picked up the phone… Whether you held an Obama sign or a Romney sign, you made your voice heard and you made a difference.

I just spoke with Governor Romney and I congratulated him and Paul Ryan on a hard-fought campaign.

We may have battled fiercely, but it’s only because we love this country deeply and we care so strongly about its future. From George to Lenore to their son Mitt, the Romney family has chosen to give back to America through public service and that is the legacy that we honour and applaud tonight.

In the weeks ahead, I also look forward to sitting down with Governor Romney to talk about where we can work together to move this country forward.

I want to thank my friend and partner of the last four years, America’s happy warrior, the best vice-president anybody could ever hope for, Joe Biden.

And I wouldn’t be the man I am today without the woman who agreed to marry me 20 years ago. Let me say this publicly: Michelle, I have never loved you more. I have never been prouder to watch the rest of America fall in love with you, too, as our nation’s first lady. Sasha and Malia, before our very eyes you’re growing up to become two strong, smart beautiful young women, just like your mom. And I’m so proud of you guys. But I will say that for now one dog’s probably enough.

To the best campaign team and volunteers in the history of politics… The best. The best ever. Some of you were new this time around, and some of you have been at my side since the very beginning.

But all of you are family. No matter what you do or where you go from here, you will carry the memory of the history we made together and you will have the life-long appreciation of a grateful president. Thank you for believing all the way, through every hill, through every valley.

You lifted me up the whole way and I will always be grateful for everything that you’ve done and all the incredible work that you put in.

I know that political campaigns can sometimes seem small, even silly. And that provides plenty of fodder for the cynics that tell us that politics is nothing more than a contest of egos or the domain of special interests. But if you ever get the chance to talk to folks who turned out at our rallies and crowded along a rope line in a high school gym, or saw folks working late in a campaign office in some tiny county far away from home, you’ll discover something else.

You’ll hear the determination in the voice of a young field organizer who’s working his way through college and wants to make sure every child has that same opportunity. You’ll hear the pride in the voice of a volunteer who’s going door to door because her brother was finally hired when the local auto plant added another shift. You’ll hear the deep patriotism in the voice of a military spouse whose working the phones late at night to make sure that no one who fights for this country ever has to fight for a job or a roof over their head when they come home.

That’s why we do this. That’s what politics can be. That’s why elections matter. It’s not small, it’s big. It’s important. Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated. We have our own opinions. Each of us has deeply held beliefs. And when we go through tough times, when we make big decisions as a country, it necessarily stirs passions, stirs up controversy.

That won’t change after tonight, and it shouldn’t. These arguments we have are a mark of our liberty. We can never forget that as we speak people in distant nations are risking their lives right now just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter, the chance to cast their ballots like we did today.

But despite all our differences, most of us share certain hopes for America’s future. We want our kids to grow up in a country where they have access to the best schools and the best teachers. A country that lives up to its legacy as the global leader in technology and discovery and innovation, with all the good jobs and new businesses that follow. We want our children to live in an America that isn’t burdened by debt, that isn’t weakened by inequality, that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet. We want to pass on a country that’s safe and respected and admired around the world, a nation that is defended by the strongest military on earth and the best troops this – this world has ever known.

But also a country that moves with confidence beyond this time of war, to shape a peace that is built on the promise of freedom and dignity for every human being. We believe in a generous America, in a compassionate America, in a tolerant America, open to the dreams of an immigrant’s daughter who studies in our schools and pledges to our flag.

To the young boy on the south side of Chicago who sees a life beyond the nearest street corner. To the furniture worker’s child in North Carolina who wants to become a doctor or a scientist, an engineer or an entrepreneur, a diplomat or even a president – that’s the future we hope for. That’s the vision we share. That’s where we need to go – forward. That’s where we need to go.

Now, we will disagree, sometimes fiercely, about how to get there. As it has for more than two centuries, progress will come in fits and starts. It’s not always a straight line. It’s not always a smooth path. By itself, the recognition that we have common hopes and dreams won’t end all the gridlock or solve all our problems or substitute for the painstaking work of building consensus and making the difficult compromises needed to move this country forward. But that common bond is where we must begin. Our economy is recovering. A decade of war is ending. A long campaign is now over.

And whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you, I have learned from you, and you’ve made me a better president. And with your stories and your struggles, I return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever about the work there is to do and the future that lies ahead.

Tonight you voted for action, not politics as usual. You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours. And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together. Reducing our deficit. Reforming our tax code. Fixing our immigration system. Freeing ourselves from foreign oil. We’ve got more work to do.

But that doesn’t mean your work is done. The role of citizens in our Democracy does not end with your vote. America’s never been about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us together through the hard and frustrating, but necessary work of self-government. That’s the principle we were founded on.

This country has more wealth than any nation, but that’s not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military in history, but that’s not what makes us strong. Our university, our culture are all the envy of the world, but that’s not what keeps the world coming to our shores. What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth.

The belief that our destiny is shared; that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations. The freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for come with responsibilities as well as rights. And among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That’s what makes America great.

I am hopeful tonight because I’ve seen the spirit at work in America. I’ve seen it in the family business whose owners would rather cut their own pay than lay off their neighbours, and in the workers who would rather cut back their hours than see a friend lose a job.

I’ve seen it in the soldiers who reenlist after losing a limb and in those SEALs who charged up the stairs into darkness and danger because they knew there was a buddy behind them watching their back.

I’ve seen it on the shores of New Jersey and New York, where leaders from every party and level of government have swept aside their differences to help a community rebuild from the wreckage of a terrible storm.

(APPLAUSE)

And I saw just the other day, in Mentor, Ohio, where a father told the story of his 8-year-old daughter, whose long battle with leukemia nearly cost their family everything had it not been for health care reform passing just a few months before the insurance company was about to stop paying for her care.

(APPLAUSE)

I had an opportunity to not just talk to the father, but meet this incredible daughter of his. And when he spoke to the crowd listening to that father’s story, every parent in that room had tears in their eyes, because we knew that little girl could be our own.

And I know that every American wants her future to be just as bright. That’s who we are. That’s the country I’m so proud to lead as your president.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: And tonight, despite all the hardship we’ve been through, despite all the frustrations of Washington, I’ve never been more hopeful about our future.

(APPLAUSE)

I have never been more hopeful about America. And I ask you to sustain that hope. I’m not talking about blind optimism, the kind of hope that just ignores the enormity of the tasks ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. I’m not talking about the wishful idealism that allows us to just sit on the sidelines or shirk from a fight.

I have always believed that hope is that stubborn thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting.

(APPLAUSE)

America, I believe we can build on the progress we’ve made and continue to fight for new jobs and new opportunity and new security for the middle class. I believe we can keep the promise of our founders, the idea that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight, you can make it here in America if you’re willing to try.

I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We’re not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America.

And together with your help and God’s grace we will continue our journey forward and remind the world just why it is that we live in the greatest nation on Earth.

Thank you, America. God bless you. God bless these United States.

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Fast facts about South African Sign Language

South African Sign Language (SASL) is a visual-gestural language using the hands, face, torso and space in front of the signer to express meaningful utterances. SASL is recognised in the South African Constitution (1996) as the “twelfth” language of South Africa, after the eleven official languages. Entering into the exciting world of the Deaf through South African Sign Language is an amazing experience, since one learns very soon that signs are not glorified gestures, and one can only marvel at the way in which SASL can be used to express even very abstract concepts.

The Deaf community consists of people who communicate in sign language, and is not restricted to the group of deaf people whose primary language is South African Sign Language. Children of Deaf adults (CODAs) and some hearing people also communicate in sign language (and often work as interpreters). It is wrong to assume that all deaf people communicate in sign language. This situation explains why, by convention, deaf (with a lower-case ‘d’) refers to the population who has a hearing disability whereas Deaf people (with a capital ‘D’) refers to the population who makes use of South African Sign Language and who identifies itself with Deaf culture.

More and more hearing South Africans are learning sign language to improve their relationships with the approximately 1.5 million South Africans who are Deaf or hard of hearing. SASL is the only language in South Africa that is understood by all communities, regardless of whether the signers are from Zulu or Afrikaans or English or Tswana-speaking backgrounds. Some of the signs may be different, but the language structure is the same – and it is a beautiful, expressive language.

Sign languages, however, are not universal – SASL (and other signed languages such as American Sign Language (ASL) and British Sign Language) are not related to the spoken languages used in the community. In fact, American and French Sign Languages are closely related, whereas British Sign Language is pretty different from ASL!  

Learning SASL will expose you to a new cultural and linguistic community whilst at the same time helping you realise the importance of being able to communicate with and understand Deaf and Hard of Hearing people.

Copied as fair use from www.witslanguageschool.com  

IS LIP-READING AN EFFECTIVE WAY TO COMMUNICATE WITH DEAF PEOPLE?

Not really. Forty to sixty percent of English sounds look alike when spoken. Thirty percent of what is said is actually discernable or visible on the lips, and the other seventy percent is guesswork. This sets up the perfect situation for miscommunication and misunderstanding.

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South Africa: State of the Nation Address by President Jacob Zuma, 12 Feb. 2012

9 Feb 2012

Honourable Speaker of the National Assembly,
Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces;
Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and Deputy Chairperson of the NCOP;
Deputy President of the Republic, Honourable Kgalema Motlanthe;
Former Deputy President FW De Klerk,
Former Deputy President Baleka Mbete,
Honourable Chief Justice of the Republic, and all esteemed members of the Judiciary;
Honourable Chairperson of the SADC Parliamentary Forum and Speaker of the
Parliament of Zimbabwe; Mr Lovemore Moyo,
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Honourable Minister of International Relations of the Republic of Angola, Mr Rebelo Chikoti,
Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Mozambique, Mr Julio Baloi,
Distinguished Premiers and Speakers of our Provinces;
Chairperson of SALGA, and all local government leadership;
Chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders;
The Heads of Chapter 9 Institutions;
The Governor of the Reserve Bank;
Leaders of all sectors from business, sports, traditional and religious leaders,
Members of the diplomatic corps;
Special and distinguished guests,
Fellow South Africans,
Dumelang, good evening, goeie naand, molweni, thobela, abuxeni!

I would like to extend warm greetings to all on this important day.

It is an honour to speak to South Africans in this House and in their homes and viewing centres around the country.

I also extend a warm welcome to Ambassadors and High Commissioners representing 146 countries, with which South Africa has diplomatic relations. We value your presence in our country.

Compatriots and friends,

This State of the Nation Address takes place during a significant year in the history of our country, the centenary of the ruling party, the African National Congress.

In marking this occasion we are recognising the work of all South Africans in bringing about a truly free, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous country.

We wish to single out the former presidents of the ANC who led our struggle for liberation and of creating a better life across generations. We salute John Langalibalele Dube, Sefako Makgatho, Zac Mahabane, Josiah Gumede, Pixley ka Isaka Seme, AB Xuma, JS Moroka, Chief Albert Luthuli, Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki.

We welcome the families of the former ANC Presidents who are our special guests this evening.

We also recognise other components of the liberation movement – the Black Consciousness Movement which was led by Mr Steve Biko, whose son Samora is also our special guest, and the Pan-Africanist Congress which was led by Mr Robert Sobukwe.

We acknowledge too, the contribution of the late former MP, Ms Helen Suzman, who was a lone voice in this very House, speaking out against oppressive laws.

Honourable Members,

Compatriots and friends,

The year 2012 is also special because it marks the 16th anniversary of the Constitution of the Republic, which gives full expression to our democratic ideals.

The Constitution is South Africa’s fundamental vision statement, which guides our policies and actions. We reaffirm our commitment to advance the ideals of our country’s Constitution at all times.

Compatriots and friends,

At the January Cabinet lekgotla, we decided to undertake a mid-term review, looking at progress from 2009 till now instead of the usual annual review.

The mid-term review indicated steady progress in various areas such as health, education, the fight against crime, human settlements, energy, water provision, rural development and others.

However, the triple challenge of unemployment, poverty and inequality persists, despite the progress made. Africans, women and the youth continue to suffer most from this challenge.

Somlomo nosihlalo abahloniphekileyo,

Njengekhabhinethi kazwelonke sithathe isinqumo sokuthikufanele senze ngokwedlulele, ukukhulisa umnotho wezwe, ukuze siqede lezizinkinga zokwesweleka kwemisebenzi, ubumpofu kanye nokungalingani ezweni.

Ilezo zinto ezintathu esizobhekana nazo ngqo, kulonyaka naseminyakeni ezayo.

Compatriots,

When freedom was attained in 1994, South Africa inherited a problem of structural unemployment which goes back to the 1970s. Employment continued to deteriorate in the 1990s and the early 2000s due to slow growth and declining employment in gold mining and agriculture.

Although jobs grew rapidly during the boom of 2003 to 2008, unemployment did not fall below 20%.

Employment received another setback in the recession of 2009.

Fortunately, Government entered the 2008-2009 recession with healthy public finances, and a comparatively low level of debt.

This allowed for a flexible response to deteriorating economic conditions.

For example, we increased spending on social security and on infrastructure development to stimulate the economy, mainly through the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup build programme.

Informed by some of these difficulties and the need to move away from piecemeal planning, we took a decision in 2009 to establish the National Planning Commission and asked them to produce a national development plan for the country, informed by the Constitution of the Republic.

The Commission released the first draft of the National Development Plan for consideration, which looks at where we want to be in 20 years’ time.

The Plan also directly addresses the elimination of poverty and inequality as critical points that must be attended to.

The solution for the country therefore, is higher growth and job creation to reduce and ultimately eradicate poverty and inequality.

As a developmental state that is located at the centre of a mixed economy, we see our role as being to lead and guide the economy and to intervene in the interest of the poor, given the history of our country.

Informed by this responsibility, in2010 we launched the New Growth Path framework and identified our job drivers as infrastructure development, tourism, agriculture, mining, manufacturing and the green economy.

We declared 2011 the year of job creation, and mobilised our social partners, namely business, labour and the community sector, to work with us in implementing the New Growth Path.

The results are encouraging, although we are not out of the woods yet, given the global economic situation.

The fourth quarter figures released on Tuesday, indicate that the rate of unemployment has come down from twenty-five percent to 23.9% as a result of new jobs.

During 2011, a total of 365 000 people were employed. This is the country’s best performance since the recession of 2008.

What is also important is that all the new jobs are in the formal sector of the economy, in sectors such as mining, transport, community services and trade to name a few.

There are two main things that we did right in 2011 which are contributing to this joint success.

Firstly, we mainstreamed job creation in every government entity including state owned enterprises.

Secondly, we strengthened social dialogue and cooperation between government, business and the community sector.

The Accords, signed by government, business and labour on procurement, skills development, basic education, and the green economy, confirm our common purpose and determination to build this country.

Government alone cannot solve the challenges faced by the country, but working together, solutions are possible.

Compatriots,

Let me take this opportunity to report back on the undertakings made in the SONA last year.

The Job Fund which we announced last year began operating in June. Over 2 500 applications were received in the first round. Project allocations of over one billion rand have been committed.

We had also announced 20 billion rand worth of incentives under Section 12(i) of the Income Tax Act, designed to support new industrial projects and manufacturing, and seven projects with an investment value of 8,4 billion rand were approved.

The procurement regulations empowering the Department of Trade and Industry to designate specific industries where local content is prescribed came into effect in December.

The sectors include clothing textiles, canned vegetables, leather and footwear.

Progress has also been made in amalgamating small business institutions, and a new entity will be launched this year.

We had announced 10 billion rand to be set aside by the IDC for job creation.

To date, about one point five billion rand was approved for 60 companies to promote job creation.

Compatriots and friends,

The mining industry, one of the job drivers in the New Growth Path, plays a critical role in the socio-economic development of the country.

As part of addressing the triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment, government has developed a beneficiation strategy, which seeks to provide opportunities in the downstream part of the minerals sector.

We remain committed to the creation of a favourable and globally competitive mining sector, and to promote the industry to attract investment and achieve both industrial growth and much-needed transformation.

Honourable Speaker,

Honourable Chairperson of the NCOP,

The work done last year indicates that if we continue to grow reasonably well, we will begin to write a new story about South Africa—the story of how, working together, we drove back unemployment and reduced economic inequality and poverty.

It is beginning to look possible.

We must not lose this momentum.

For the year 2012 and beyond, we invite the nation to join government in a massive infrastructure development drive.

Baba Somlomo noSihlalo,

Sizoqala umkhankaso omkhulu wokwakha izingqalazizinda ezweni lonke. Lokhu kuzophakamisa izinga lomnotho, futhi kuveze amathuba emisebenzi.

Compatriots,

We will use the project management expertise gained during the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup to make this project a success.

The infrastructure plan will be driven and overseen by the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission, (PICC), which was established in September, bringing together Ministers, Premiers and Metro Mayors under the leadership of the President and the Deputy President.

The PICC has identified and developed projects and infrastructure initiatives from state-owned enterprises as well as national, provincial and local government departments.

These have been clustered, sequenced and prioritised into a pipeline of strategic integrated projects.

We have chosen five major geographically-focussed programmes, as well as projects focusing on health and basic education infrastructure, information and communication technologies and regional integration.

The projects are as follows;

Firstly, we plan to develop and integrate rail, road and water infrastructure, centred around two main areas in Limpopo: the Waterberg in the Western part of the province and Steelpoort in the eastern part.

These efforts are intended to unlock the enormous mineral belt of coal, platinum, palladium, chrome and other minerals, in order to facilitate increased mining as well as stepped-up beneficiation of minerals.

Using the developments in Limpopo as a base, we will expand rail transport in Mpumalanga, connecting coalfields to power stations.

This will enable us to decisively shift from road to rail in the transportation of coal, which has caused a deterioration of the roads in Mpumalanga.

The eastern parts of the North West province will also benefit from the greater focus on infrastructure connected to mining and mineral beneficiation.

Secondly, we will improve the movement of goods and economic integration through a Durban-Free State-Gauteng logistics and industrial corridor.

This project is intended to connect the major economic centres of Gauteng and Durban/Pinetown, and at the same time, connect these centres with improved export capacity through our sea-ports.

In this regard, I am pleased to announce the Market Demand Strategy of Transnet, which entails an investment, over the next seven years, of three hundred billion rand in capital projects.

Of this amount, 200 billion rand is allocated to rail projects and the majority of the balance, to projects in the ports.

Amongst the list of planned projects, is the expansion of the Iron Ore Export channel from 60 million tons per annum to 82 million tons per annum.

It also includes various improvements to the Durban-Gauteng Rail corridor and the phased development of a new 16 million tons per annum manganese export channel through the Port of Ngqura in Nelson Mandela Bay.

The Market Demand Strategy will result in the creation of more jobs in the South African economy, as well as increased localization and Black Economic Empowerment. It will also position South Africa as a regional trans-shipment hub for Sub-Saharan Africa and deliver on NEPAD’s regional integration agenda.

We have also been looking at the necessity of reducing port charges, as part of reducing the costs of doing business. The issue of high port charges was one of those raised sharply by the automotive sector in Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage during my performance monitoring visit to the sector last year.

In this regard, I am pleased to announce that the Port Regulator and Transnet have agreed to an arrangement which will result in exporters of manufactured goods, receiving a significant decrease in port charges, during the coming year, equal to about 1 billion rand in total.

Thirdly, we will develop a major new South Eastern node that will improve the industrial and agricultural development and export capacity of the Eastern Cape region, and expand the province’s economic and logistics linkages with the Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

In the former Transkei part of the Eastern Cape, we are committed to building a dam using the Umzimvubu River as the source, in order to expand agricultural production.

In addition, the implementation of the Mthatha revitalization project, which is a Presidential special project, is proceeding very well.

Work is at an advanced stage to improve water, sanitation, electricity, roads, human settlements, airport development and institutional and governance issues.

Fourthly, in the North West, we will expand the roll-out of water, roads, rail and electricity infrastructure. Ten priority roads will be upgraded.

Fifthly, we see enormous potential along the west coast of the country and need to improve infrastructure to unlock this potential.

Our plans include the expansion of the iron-ore rail line between Sishen in Northern Cape and Saldanha Bay in the Western Cape, which will create large numbers of jobs in both provinces.

The iron-ore capacity on the transport-side will increase capacity to 100 million tons per annum.

This will allow for the expansion of iron-ore mining over the next decade to feed the developing world’s growing investment in infrastructure and industrial activities.

Compatriots,

We have also identified critical social infrastructure projects. These include projects aimed at laying the basis for the National Health Insurance system such as the refurbishment of hospitals and nurses’ homes.

A total of 300 million rand has been allocated for the preparatory work towards building new universities in Mpumalanga and Northern Cape.

Another infrastructure project with great potential is South Africa’s bid to host the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope in partnership with eight other African countries. The winning bid will be announced next month. We urge you to support the country’s bid.

Lastly, our infrastructure work extends beyond our borders. South Africa champions the North-South Road and Rail Corridor, which is part of the African Union’s NEPAD Presidential Infrastructure Championing initiative.

Work in this regard, comprises various inter-related projects that cover roads and railways, border crossings, energy and information and communication technologies.

Compatriots,

The massive investment in infrastructure must leave more than just power stations, rail-lines, dams and roads. It must industrialise the country, generate skills and boost much needed job creation.

I will convene a Presidential infrastructure summit to discuss the implementation of the plan with potential investors and social partners.

Honourable Speaker, Honourable Chairperson of the NCOP,

I would now like to discuss matters relating to the extension of basic services, addressing inequalities, peace and security and social cohesion.

I received a lot of valuable correspondence in the run-up to this SONA. Such interaction enables us keep in touch with our people and their needs.

I received an email relating to a housing problem from Mzukisi Mali, a public servant from the Fingo area in Grahamstown. He wrote;

“In 1994 my income was too high to get an RDP and too low to get a

bond, this continued until to date.I have three children and my

wife is not working.

“When I apply for an RDP I am told that I do not qualify and cannot get a bond because I am risky to the banks…’’

Fortunately we have gone some way to address the problem facing Mr Mali and many others.

In 2010, we announced a one billion rand guarantee fund to promote access to loans.

We are pleased to report that this fund will start its operations in April, managed by the National Housing Finance Corporation. The scheme will enable the Banks to lend to people who are in a similar situation as Mr Mali.

In addition, from April, people earning between three thousand five hundred rand and

R 15 000, will be able to obtain a subsidy of up to R83 000 from Provinces, to enable them to obtain housing finance from an accredited Bank.

Ungalilahli ithemba Mr Mali nabaningi abanye, kuzolunga ngenxa yalomxhaso ozotholakala kohulumeni bezifundazwe, kanye nalomshwalense omusha ozokwenza kubelula kumabhange ukuthi aniboleke imali.

Compatriots,

There is an ongoing concern from business and communities about high electricity costs.

I have asked Eskom to seek options on how the price increase requirement may be reduced over the next few years, in support of economic growth and job creation and give me proposals for consideration.

We need an electricity price path which will ensure that Eskom and the industry remain financially viable and sustainable, but which remains affordable especially for the poor.

However to achieve sustainability, a pact will be required with all South Africans – including business, labour, municipalities, communities and all customers and suppliers.

We must save electricity.

For the next two years, until the Medupi and Kusile power stations come into operation, the electricity system will be very tight.

We should all play our part in order to avoid load shedding.

To increase energy capacity we will continue searching for renewable energy sources, especially solar electricity and biofuels as we implement the Green Economy Accord with economic stakeholders.

To date we have installed more than 220 000 solar geysers nationwide.

The Government target is one million solar geysers by 2014-2015.

Honourable Members,

Compatriots,

Government continues to extend access to basic water supply. However, clearly, water access is still a challenge in some areas.

An email from Mmatsheko Pine from Hammanskraal is a case in point.

The writer says; “There is the area called Ngobi near Hammanskraal, under Moretele Local Municipality, the people residing in the area are now old, aged and mostly sick.

“The area has been without water for the past two years. People rely on rain to harvest water.

There are water pipes and machines installed but the problem is said to be pressure to pump water. Could your office kindly assist with the powers that be?”.

I have asked the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs to investigate this matter with a view to finding an urgent solution.

Water expansion has been delayed in some parts of the country due to a lack of infrastructure.This is being attended to. For example, five new water augmentation schemes are on schedule.

These are Olifants River Water Resource in Steelpoort in Limpopo Province, the Vaal River Eastern Sub-System in Secunda in Mpumalanga, Komati Water Augmentation Scheme in Nkangala in Mpumalanga, the raising of Hazelmere dam in KwaZulu-Natal and the Clan William Dam in Clan William in the Western Cape. In addition, nine out of 25 dams have been rehabilitated.

In relation to the announcements we made during the United Nations COP 17 climate change conference, an amount of 248 million rand is to be invested over next two years to deal with the issue of Acid Mine Drainage in Witwatersrand.

Let me take this opportunity to congratulate the inter-ministerial committee on COP 17 for making the conference a huge success

The final outcome of COP 17 was historic and precedent setting, ranking with the 1997 conference where the Kyoto Protocol was adopted.

Building on the success of COP 17, South Africa will participate in the Rio plus 20 Summit in Brazil, which marks the 10th anniversary of the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

Honourable Speaker and Honourable Chairperson,

Our intensive focus on education is paying off.

We are pleased that the matric percentage pass is on an upward trend.We congratulate the teachers, learners, parents and the communities for the efforts.

We will continue to invest in producing more teachers who can teach mathematics, science and African languages.

Compatriots,

Our call to teachers to be in school, in class, on time, teaching for at least seven hours a day remains pivotal to success. We thank the teacher unions for supporting this campaign.

A major achievement is the doubling ofGrade R enrolment, from 300 000 in 2003 to 705 000 in 2011. We appear poised to meet our target of 100% coverage for Grade R by 2014.

To fight poverty and inequality and to keep learners in school, over 8 million learners attend no-fee schools while over eight million benefit from government’s school feeding scheme.

Last year, national government instituted a Section 100 (1)(b) intervention in the Eastern Cape, to assist the department of education to improve the delivery of education.

Problems included non-delivery of textbooks, non-payment of scholar transport, excess teachers and a general poor culture of learning and teaching.

The implementation of the intervention will continue and we are working well with the province in this regard. Sizimisele ukwenza immeko yemfundo ibengcono eMpuma Koloni. We call on all stakeholders to work with us to make this turnaround a success.

Compatriots,

During the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup, we resolved that the South African legacy would be to promote universal access to education.

School attendance in the country is now close to 100 percent for the compulsory band, 7-15 years of age.But we remain concerned by the report of the General Household Survey in 2010 that just over 120 000 children in that band are out of school.

Grade 10 drop outs appear to be a problem, particularly in the rural and farm areas of the Western Cape.

The national Government will work closely with the Western Cape government, to trace these learners and provide support so that they do not lose their future.

With regards to higher education, we are exceeding targets. Close to 14 000 learners were placed in workplace learning opportunities over the past year, and over 11 000 artisans have completed their trade tests.

Siyajabula ukubona ukuthi liyanda inani lentsha efunda amakhono kulamakolishi abizwa phecelezi ngama-Further Education and Training Colleges.

Siyaninxusa bazali ukuthi nigqugquzele izingane zifunde kulamakolishi. Akufanele zicabange ukuthi imisebenzi ifundelwa emanyuvesi kuphela.

Siyawadinga amakhono atholakala kulamakolishi.

To expand access to tertiary education as per our announcement last year,200 million rand was utilised to assist 25 000 students to pay off their debts to institutions of higher learning.

Compatriots and friends,

We congratulate the health sector as well as the South African National Aids Council led by the Deputy President of the Republic on the success of the HIV and AIDS programme.

While we are doing well with regards to treatment and the prevention of mother to child transmission, general prevention efforts must also be accelerated.

We also wish to encourage South Africans to live healthier lives to reduce the impact of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and hypertension.

Compatriots and friends,

The year 2013 will mark the centenary of the Natives Land Act of 1913, which took away 87 percent of the land from the African people.

The Constitution requires that the State must realise the restitution of land rights for those who were dispossessed by the 1913 law.

We have only distributed 8% of the 30% target of land redistribution for 2014 that we set ourselves. The process is slow and tedious and there is general agreement that the willing buyer- willing seller option has not been the best way to address this question.

That is why have introduced a new policy framework, the Green Paper on Land Reform.

We urge the public to participate in the process of improving land redistribution and reform to reverse the impact of the 1913 Act.

Honourable Speaker,

Compatriots,

On economic transformation, we are amending the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act. The amendments amongst other things, establish a statutory Commission that would deal with non-compliance and circumvention.

The proposed law will also criminalise fronting and other forms of empowerment misrepresentation.

With regards to issues of disability, we have directed all government departments to ensure that we meet the target we set several years ago of having 2% of people employed in the Public Service to be disabled persons.

We are also working towards a

Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill, to promote compliance in both government and the private sector and to provide for sanctions in the case of non-compliance.

Meanwhile, the NEDLAC Process on the Atypical Forms of Employment and Labour Broking has now been completed.

Government seeks to eliminate all forms of abusive practices inherent in labour broking, in order to strengthen the protection of vulnerable workers. We trust that common ground will be found this year on this matter.

Compatriots,

In 2009 we made a commitment to accelerate the fight against crime and corruption.

The crime statistics for the period 2010/2011 indicate that our country witnessed a decline of 5% in the number of reported serious crimes compared to the previous year.

We will however, not become complacent. We are continuing to implement our programmes of making South Africans feel safe and to be safe.

We also continue to improve the performance of the state in various ways, including the fight against corruption.

The Multi-Agency Working Group on procurement led by the National Treasury, SARS and the Financial Intelligence Centre is reviewing the entire state procurement system to ensure better value for money from state spending.

Initiatives include the vetting of supply chain personnel in government departments.

To further improve security, the Department of Home Affairs, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the banking industry, to roll out the online fingerprint verification system in all participating banks, to assist in fraud prevention and detection.

Compatriots and friends,

We are working with various provinces to improve governance, systems and administration.

These include Gauteng to improve health service delivery, the Free State on transport and roads and Limpopo to improve governance and financial administration in five departments, including the provincial treasury.

We welcome the launch of Corruption Watch by COSATU, as well as the recent agreement between government and business to implement anti-corruption programmes.

These interventions will complement the work of government in combating corruption.

Compatriots and friends,

As part of promoting social cohesion, this year we will undertake and continue many heritage projects.

Museums and centres to be unveiled will include the 1980 Matola Raid museum in Maputo, the Ncome museum in KwaZulu-Natal, phase 2 of the Freedom Park museum and the Steve Biko heritage centre in Ginsberg in King Williamstown.

We have also prioritised thehomes and graves of former ANC Presidents and other national heroes including Thomas Maphikela, Lillian Ngoyi, Walter and Albertina Sisulu, Griffiths and Victoria Mxenge, Robert Sobukwe and others.

Memorial sites to be prioritised include that of the Pondo Revolt, the sites of the Frontier Wars, the 1913 revolt by African women in the Free State, the 1957 anti-pass revolt by women in Zeerust, the Rocklands Civic Centre in Mitchells Plein where the United Democratic Front was formed and the Gugulethu Seven monument in Cape Town.

We are also in the process of purchasing and rehabilitating the Winnie Mandela house in Brandfort, the Dr. Moroka house in Thaba Nchu and the Bram Fischer house in Westdene.

Additional projects include the launch of the Dube Tradeport and the unveiling of the statue of John Dube at King Shaka International Airport next month and renaming the Kings House presidential residence in Durban after Dr Dube.

The Presidential Guest House in Pretoria will be named after Mr Sefako Makgatho and the Diplomatic Guest House in Pretoria after the late prolific diplomat, Mr Johnny Makatini.

Government will also table the National Traditional Affairs Bill which makes provision for the recognition of the Khoi-San communities, their leadership and structures.

It is important to remember that the Khoi-San people were the most brutalised by colonialists who tried to make them extinct, and undermined their language and identity. As a free and democratic South Africa today, we cannot ignore to correct the past.

I discussed this matter extensively with the Khoi-San community when I met with them in Cape Town last year and we agreed to work together to redress the injustices of the past.

Compatriots,

Next year 2013, the seat of government, the majestic Union Buildings, will mark 100 years of existence and planning will start this year to mark the centenary.

Fellow South Africans,

We must perform better in sports this year! Our star performer, Oscar Pistorius has set the standard for the year by winning the 2012 Laureus Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award.Congratulations for this achievement.

We also congratulate the national women’s soccer team Banyana Banyana for qualifying for the London Olympics for the first time. With our support, they will do well.

We have been given the honour to host the Africa Cup of Nations next year, replacing Libya as they are unable to do so.

Compatriots,

Allow me to use this opportunity to extend heartiest congratulations and good wishes to Mama Rebecca Kotane, wife of former ANC treasurer general, Moses Kotane and SACP general secretary, who will turn 100 years old on Sunday the 12th of February.

The Young Men’s Guild of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, Amadodana aseWesile, is also celebrating 100 years this year.

Another centenary celebration is that of Omama Besililo of the United Congregational Church of South Africa.

We wish them all successful celebrations.

Compatriots,

We have outlined a busy infrastructure implementation programme for now until 2014 and beyond.

I would like to appeal to all our people to join hands as they always do, as we deal decisively with the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality. Nobody will do this for us, it is in our hands. And we are all equal to the task.

As we get back to work tomorrow, let us internalise the words of ANC Women’s League founding president Charlotte Maxeke who said in her Presidential address to the National Council of African Women.

“This work is not for yourselves — kill that spirit of self, and do not live above your people, but live with them. If you can rise, bring someone with you’’.

I thank you.

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Pivotal HIV prevention trial in Africa continues, but makes crucial change. What does this mean for HIV prevention for women?

Johannesburg, South Africa, and Washington, DC, September 28, 2011–A pivotal trial testing the use of oral and topical prophylaxis to help prevent HIV has been modified, according to an announcement made today by the Microbicide Trials Network. The VOICE study (Vaginal and Oral Interventions to Control the Epidemic) sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the US National Institutes of Health, is evaluating the safety and efficacy of two antiretrovirals (tenofovir and Truvada®) taken daily as oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in women, as well as a vaginal microbicide containing tenofovir in gel form. The study is taking place at sites in South Africa, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

A meeting of the independent Data Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) last week recommended that the trial continue, but that women assigned to the tenofovir tablet should discontinue use of the study product. It is important to note that the decision to stop oral tenofovir does not reflect safety concerns associated with that regimen; the DSMB concluded that the study would not be able to show a difference in effectiveness between tenofovir and placebo. The study will continue to evaluate whether Truvada® and the vaginal gel are effective in preventing HIV compared to their respective placebos.

In their review, the VOICE DSMB also considered recent results from two previous clinical studies of tenofovir and Truvada®, which showed striking evidence that oral PrEP can help reduce HIV infection. In the Partners PrEP study, sero-discordant couples (i.e., in which only one partner had known HIV) showed 62 percent fewer infections in those taking tenofovir and a 73 percent HIV risk reduction in participants randomized to Truvada®. In the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention TDF2 study in Botswana of sexually active men and women, researchers found a 62 percent risk reduction of HIV infection in men and women taking Truvada® as compared to those in the placebo arm.

Responding to this change, Yasmin Halima, Director of the Global Campaign for Microbicides, stressed the value of VOICE: “With the good news that PrEP has been shown in studies to reduce HIV risk in men who have sex with men, sero-discordant couples, and sexually active heterosexual men and women, the key question remains—do we have sufficient evidence that PrEP works in women? For this reason, VOICE continues to be an exceptionally important study. Not only does it include both oral PrEP and a vaginal microbicide in the same trial, but VOICE, we hope, will help provide the evidence we need to bring us closer to delivering two more options for women.”

Other trials also underway testing oral and topical PrEP include a study of the tenofovir tablet for HIV prevention in injecting drug users in Thailand, and the FACTS 001 trial, which plans to test tenofovir gel used by women before and after sex. These additional studies will add to our level of knowledge and provide additional safety and insight to use and adherence in different population groups.

“As advocates, we are mindful of these studies and their progress—and their potential for impact on the communities we serve,” said Samukeliso Dube, Head of Africa Programs for the Global Campaign for Microbicides. “While this is an important decision, we are pleased that VOICE will continue, as it will help answer critical questions about PrEP in women. Most of all, we applaud the women who volunteer for such trials—without their courage, we would not be able to develop the tools we so urgently need to help protect women from HIV.”

The Global Campaign for Microbicides remains committed to making available a variety of tools that women in Africa can use to protect themselves from HIV, including microbicides and slow-releasing vaginal rings, in addition to other prevention options.

About the trialVOICEQ&A about the modification of VOICE

Partners PrEPCDC

TDF2 study

About PrEPPre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is the use of medicine in advance of exposure to something potentially harmful, such as a disease or condition. Within the context of HIV, it is the use of antiretroviral medicine by HIV-negative people before sexual activity or other high-risk behaviors.

About microbicidesMicrobicides are being developed as products that could be topically applied by a receptive sex partner to reduce the risk of becoming HIV infected during sex. Microbicide candidates are being formulated as vaginal gels, suppositories, and slow-releasing vaginal rings.

AVAC.

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President Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma appoints commission of inquiry into the Strategic Defence Procurement Packages

President Jacob Zuma has decided, in terms of section 84 (2) (f) of the Constitution, to appoint a commission of inquiry to investigate allegations of wrongdoing in the Strategic Defence Procurement Packages, generally known as the “arms deal”.

In 2009, legal proceedings were instituted in the Western Cape High Court asking the Court to direct the President to appoint an independent judicial commission of inquiry into allegations of wrongdoing or to require him to reconsider his refusal to do so.  It later transpired that the Western Cape High Court was the wrong forum to hear the matter. An application was then brought in the Constitutional Court. The matter is set down for hearing on 17 November 2011.

President Zuma assumed office when the matter was already pending in the courts of law. He had previously taken a view that since the matter was the subject of litigation in a court of law, he should allow the legal process to take its course.

However, he has since taken into account the various developments around this matter and also the fact that closure on this subject will be in the public interest.

The President will soon announce the terms of reference and the composition of the commission including the time frames.

The President has requested the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development to take the necessary steps to implement this decision.

Issued by: The Presidency
Pretoria

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