_: Good morning to members of the media,
Members of the Portfolio Committee on Appropriations
Ladies and gentlemen.
Welcome to a good-news briefing.
Today, we officially launch the sixth edition of the Development Indicators Report, which covers the year 2012.
This briefing provides detailed information on key areas where we are making progress in implementing government’s policies and programmes and provide information on areas which are lagging behind. The evidence suggests that indeed life has changed for the better since 1994 and the country is steadily making progress in the key priorities it has set for itself.
There are many assessments from time to time about how we are doing as government or as the country as a whole but the Development Indicators Report is the definitive assessment and it tells us we are on the right track and doing well.
The 2012 report is a source of hope and spurs us as South Africans across all sectors and backgrounds to sustain and add to the momentum we have gained, even though economic conditions remain tough.
The Development Indicators Report is an annual publication of the Presidency with the purpose of tracking progress in implementing government’s policies and programmes. The report uses data sourced from government administrative datasets, official statistics and research done by South African and international institutions.
As a series, the Development Indicators Reports help to promote debate on the challenges faced by our country, and act as markers that help define the milestones in the journey of social change. Over the years, the quality of the data has improved and the publication has started to include extensive disaggregated data on trends in provinces, gender, sector and other variables.
Development Indicators 2012 contains 85 indicators clustered according to 10 themes, namely:
economic growth and transformation,
poverty and inequality,
household and community assets,
safety and security,
international relations, and
We have also included as annexures information on demographic trends informed by Census 2011, transport infrastructure profiles and energy. In a few months’ time, South Africa will be celebrating 20 years of Freedom. In this regard, the indicators trace progress since the advent of democracy in 1994.
The indicators trace the journey that our country has travelled to redress past imbalances and the progress that has been made to date. Development Indicators 2012 analyses trends for each indicator, outlines progress made and points at areas where extra effort is required if we are to achieve our goals as enshrined in our Constitution. In line with the five key priorities of government, the Indicators show the following:
Trend analyses suggest that South Africa’s enrolment rates for the compulsory age of schooling are excellent. The percentage of children attending Early Childhood Development facilities has increased, and Grade R enrolment rates have doubled from 300 000 in 2003 to 705 000 in 2011. The percentage of Matric passes has increased from under 60% in 1994 to 73% in 2012.
For the first time, Annual National Assessments are showing strengths and weaknesses of the educational system below Grade 12. These assessments have highlighted that as a country, we are simply not performing on the same level as other countries that spend the same or less on education.
We need to do more to get value for money and improve the quality of education. Among others, teacher performance and school management will be critical in this regard. The dramatic increase in the number of learners attending Grade 1 who have attended Grade R shows that government interventions are yielding results.
In this area, we are making commendable progress in improving the health status of the nation. The tide is turning and we are achieving more positive health outcomes. This has been critical to addressing the systemic racial and socio-economic inequalities that characterised the pre-democracy era.
Free primary health care for children and pregnant mothers has had a significant, positive impact in terms of immunisation and child nutrition, among other benefits.
South Africa’s bold leadership in turning the tide against the HIV and AIDS epidemic has also been acknowledged by UNAIDS in its February 2013 publication. Our country has one of the largest ARV programmes, with approximately 2 million people on treatment.
As a result, data from the Rapid Mortality Surveillance system shows that South Africa’s life expectancy has increased to 60 years, exceeding our 2014 targets. Infant and child mortality rates are also decreasing.
Inequities and the quality of health care remain an area of concern. This applies also to the number of mothers who die due to direct and indirect factors related to pregnancy.
Many targeted health interventions are in place to address these challenges, including the strengthening of health worker and management capability, the establishment of the Office of Health Standards Compliance and the development of a National Health Insurance System.
Ensuring that all South Africans are, and feel, safe
The evidence is clear: our battles remain difficult but we are winning the war against crime. The crime rate is coming down, although it remains at a very high level. Overall, government is making an impact on crime, with several surveys confirming that citizens and communities are now beginning to feel safe.
For example, the Stats SA 2012 Victims of Crime Survey (VOCS) showed that the percentage of households who experienced at least one incident of the identified crime has declined, except for housebreaking and theft. Close to 60% of households expressed satisfaction with the manner in which the police and courts were doing their work.
We recognise that our success in this area is the result of a national effort, and so we pay tribute to individuals, community safety forums, businesses and other social partners who are working with government to achieve success. Let’s continue Working Together.
The strides made have been critical to address the impact of the pre-1994 Criminal Justice System which lacked integrity and legitimacy. Drug-related crime has shown an increase however, possibly as a result of police-initiated efforts and/or the increase in the number of syndicates and dealers.
The reintroduction of specialised units such as the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Units is a critical step for combating the violence against women and children.
The Economy: Stability in tough times
Economic trends are showing South Africa’s stability in the face of global challenges. Growth has been slower in recent years, partly as a result of the impact of the global crisis and industrial conflicts. Inflation remains within our target range, which has ensured the maintenance of a relatively low interest rate environment for some time.
Fixed capital investment is lower than at its 2008 peak, but it is still higher than it was in the early 1980s. Government and state-owned enterprises’ investments have helped to secure a positive trend in this regard, even during the global financial crisis.
Data shows significant setbacks in our ability to reduce unemployment, poverty and inequality. Unemployment remains a challenge, especially for the youth.
To address this, government has introduced public employment programmes such as the Expanded Public Works Programme and the Community Works Programme. Through these programmes, work opportunities have been created and income support has been provided to many unemployed people.
Compared to 1994, average real incomes have been rising. However, South Africa still ranks among the most economically unequal societies in the world. Furthermore, while the poverty indicators show slight improvement over time, just more than half of South Africans – 52.3% according to Stats SA – still live below the poverty line of R577. Also, 13.3% live in inordinate poverty.
As government, we have prioritised measures that will help address this, building on independent studies that demonstrate the impact of social grants and other interventions in fighting poverty.
Household and Community Assets
Government has sustained its drive of delivering housing to the poor, reaching a cumulative target of 3.38 million. A 50% growth in formal housing has translated into additional 5 677 614 formal homes since 1994.
Compared to 1994, there has been improvement in basic services, with 95% access to water infrastructure and 83.4% access to sanitation infrastructure and 76.5% households with access to electricity. Proper maintenance of infrastructure remains a challenge in places, affecting the quality and functionality of services.
Regarding rural development and land reform, since the inception of the restitution programme in 1995, 79 696 claims have been lodged, 77 334 have been settled of which 59 758 have been finalised.
Though the pace of settling these claims has improved since 2009, claims settled are not necessarily finalised for hand over. The remaining claims for settlement are largely on high value commercial farmlands, and difficult to resolve.
Since 2009, the number of hectares acquired under the land acquisition programme has been rising. Despite increasing effort at restoration of settled land for multiple uses, newly acquired land is still often under-utilised, post settlement.
To address this, 1 269 farms have been recapitalised between the 3rd quarter of 2009 and March 2013. However, recapitalisation needs to be coupled with improvements in other forms of support, such as access to finance and markets and agricultural support.
Budgets: Personal and Public
Ladies and gentlemen, it is worth a reminder that the number of registered individual taxpayers grew from 1.7 million in 1994 to 14 million in 2013.
Total tax revenue grew from R114 billion during the 1994/5 tax season to R814 billion in 2012/13. These are notable achievements that have been attributed to our world-renowned efficient tax administration and among others, the introduction of e-filing.
The country’s transparent Budget process is also highly regarded world-wide. Although there has been a decrease in the national departments that receive qualified audits, this remains an area of significant concern throughout all spheres of government.
There is also a setback in perceptions regarding the fight against corruption – a critical area that has been prioritised by the Governance and Administration Cluster.
Cause for hope
Since 2014 is the year when our country will celebrate 20 years of democracy, our country’s progress should be viewed against what we inherited in 1994. Viewed in this light and appreciating sometimes difficult choices we have to make, it is our view that the country has made tremendous strides in changing the lives of people.
Admittedly, more needs to be done to achieve the goals we set for ourselves in 1994. However, based on the data presented and other evidence, life has indeed changed since 1994 and we are making progress.
This publication should inform, educate and enable comparisons – and demonstrate how, working together as a nation, we can take our human development progress to another trajectory.
Cell: 082 847 9799