6 June 2007
Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka highlighted some of South Africa’s successes at the 60th World Association of Newspapers Congress in Cape Town this week, saying the country’s first decade of democracy was about reconstruction and development.
“It was also about bringing large numbers of historically excluded people into a net of the serviced population,” she said during a lunch organised by the International Marketing Council of SA (IMC).
Mlambo-Ngcuka said the government was aware of negative international perceptions that persisted despite the advances the country was making in providing a better life for all.
There was a need, she said, for South Africa to project its successes better while continuing to deal with its problems, and it was for this reason that the IMC had been established.
Following the 1994 elections, the government had focused on providing access to basic services such as water, sanitation, energy, housing, healthcare, education and improving rural infrastructure.
“In the second decade of our democracy we are focused on universal access to basic services and improving their quality, which demands infrastructure and human resources,” Mlambo-Ngcuka said.
She also highlighted some of the progress that the country was making through the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for SA (Asgi-SA), which aims to achieve 6% annual economic growth by 2010 and to halve unemployment and poverty by 2014.
Mlambo-Ngcuka said South Africa’s economy had grown at around 5% since 2004 and that over the past five years the country’s gross national income per capita had risen from under US$3 000 (approx R21 000) to over US$5 000 (approx R35 000).
“During the same period we cut taxes several times; reduced the budget deficit to virtually zero; reduced government debt to one of the lowest levels in the world; reduced inflation to 3-6 percent; and reduced poverty through a system of social grants which now reaches 11-million beneficiaries.
“For three years in succession we have created over 500 000 additional jobs in the economy.”
At the same time, to ensure that the economy was truly being shared, it was crucial to reach out to unemployed and poorly skilled people, especially young South Africans, the Deputy President said.
The government would achieve this through providing universal access to infrastructure, quality education and skills as well as social development initiatives.
“South Africans are today working together to confront and overcome some of the greatest challenges that face not only ourselves but millions across the globe,” she said.