Speaker Baleka Mbete: Unveiling of the Inscriptions Ceremony

Speech by speaker of the National Assembly Ms Baleka Mbete: At the unveiling of the Inscriptions Ceremony

Programme Director

Your Excellency President Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa

Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces Me Thandi Modise

Families of Madiba and MaSisulu, who have honoured us with their presence

All Ministers and Presiding Officers here present,

Valued stakeholders from across the board, including media representatives

Ladies and gentlemen

We are concluding the fifth parliament’s business this month and we will have national and provincial elections on 8 May, after which we will establish the 6th democratic Parliament and elect the President.

I am sure I speak for many when I say, we have a great cause for celebrating the Silver Jubilee Anniversary as parliament. We witnessed its birth on 9 May 1994, when MaSisulu gracefully stood up to nominate Madiba for election as the first President of a free and democratic South Africa. That marked a massive nation building project in which Parliament played a leading role of bringing South Africans together � through their public representatives � to build a new country.

The journey traversed so far with its ground-breaking milestones, disappointing lows and vigorous revivals helped build this institution. Parliament continues to affirm democratic values espoused by Madiba and MaSisulu and other leaders in just 25 years, Parliament presided over defining decisions, which includes:

Managing a smooth transition from President Nelson Mandela, to President Thabo Mbeki, to President Kgalema Motlanthe, to President Jacob Zuma and to our current President Ramaphosa;

Passing about 2 000 Bills as part of building a new nation from the ashes of apartheid and colonialism that had ravaged our society and built divisions with which we are still grappling in our nation building project;

Approving budgets involving trillions of rands which changed the lives of millions of South Africans and shifted human development outcomes. These included increased life expectancy, vastly improved access to education with 8 in 10 children enrolled and registering high matric pass rates, tripling enrolments at tertiary institutions with billions given in bursaries, a six-fold increase in uptake of social security benefits. Millions have benefited from housing, access to electricity, literacy programmes, water and many other amenities.

I must also hasten to say, there are many other areas where the execution of many world acclaimed policies and programmes did not result in the desired national outcomes and impact. As this bold and ambitious Parliament, we with the Speakers’ Forum actually assigned an independent High Level Panel, led by one of our former Heads of State, to conduct a clinical assessment of the impact of our laws of where it matters most, the people. Without fear, favour or prejudice, this panel reflected on areas that require immediate and urgent interventions by Parliament. These include inequality, land hunger, unemployment, poverty, participation in mainstream economic activities and social cohesion. The 5th Parliament has included these in the legacy report so that the 6th Parliament can hit the ground running.

Parliament’s lows were reflected on. A lot of introspection was engaged in. Parliamentary inquiries into incidents of state capture, corruption and serious maladministration were exposed. Parliament held public processes towards appointments to state institutions such as the NYDA, the Public Protector and the SABC Board, to mention but a few. We trust that the remodeling undertaken and these projects will help Parliament turn the tide in respect of public trust of Parliament, which had taken a knock at some point earlier.

Parliament took delivery on its functions to new heights:

serving as a true platform for national dialogue on key issues, passing legislation that makes a difference in people’s lives;

sharpening oversight including stakeholder engagements in government programme evaluation and playing a key role in section 100 interventions, in terms of the Constitution;

Heightened participation of people in Parliamentary activities, including Taking Parliament to the People, stakeholder engagements with periodic briefings made;

Parliament shifted the paradigm in many respects in the international sphere with many MPs serving as leaders at the SADCPF, Pan African Parliament, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Brics Parliamentary Forum and Inter-Parliamentary Union levels. One of the top highlights was the IPU dedicating a slot for celebrating Madiba last year in Geneva where we intensified the campaign to promote the values that will be unveiled today by the President.

Institutional capacity of both Parliament and the nine provincial legislatures grew in leaps and bounds, with hundreds of Members graduating, the staff complement increasing four-fold, and successive years of clean audits achieved by Parliament and many legislatures.

On behalf of current and past leaders of Parliament, I wish to extend our gratitude to all who made all these possible.

First our parliamentary staff have been a key pillar in our five legged strategy especially during the 5th term, together with their families and their Unions;

Political parties in Parliament;

Stakeholders who share our vision of a South Africa where the best ideals outlined in our constitution are made real for even the most vulnerable in our society;

The media, especially our resident members of the Press Gallery Association without whom the achievements made in improving awareness, understanding of our mandate, performance rating and public awareness of opportunities for meaningful participation in Parliamentary activities would not have been possible.

Your Excellency, President Ramaphosa, my colleagues Presiding Officers, Honourable members, our honoured guests, valued stakeholders and everyone gathered here today, that has been the story of our Parliament. The 5th Parliament Legacy Report will be shared with all of you � and watch this space regarding the 25th Anniversary celebrations planned for this year.

I thank you

Source: Government of South Africa