Though we may differ, we need a relationship characterised by trust and mutual consent, Cyril Ramaphosa has told Parliament.
Cape Town - It is nearly 18 years since I last stood here to address this house. Much has changed over the years. Sadly, many of the people who occupied these benches as members of the first democratically elected Parliament have left us.
Those who are still here have, in some instances, got greyer and, in most instances, got wiser.
While much has changed inside this House, most remarkable are the changes that have taken place outside on the streets of South Africa, in our townships and villages, in our classrooms, clinics and places of work.
The lives of our people have improved. We can today tell the story of a country on the move towards a better life for all.
It is the story of orphaned Lesego from Mothibistad who has passed matric and is now studying engineering, and of Fatima from Sophiatown who now has a title deed and clean drinking water in her house.
It is the story of a country that moved from being a pariah state a mere 20 years ago to successfully hosting the 2010 Fifa World Cup and is now building the biggest telescope in the Southern Hemisphere, commonly known as the SKA.
Central to our vision is forging partnerships across society to address our shared challenges. It is about building consensus and promoting collaboration.
A critical feature of a successful social compact is that all parties need to recognise that a deal is being struck between the present and the future.
Key to establishing and sustaining a social compact is trust. Trust requires honest engagement between social partners on the issues that will move South Africa forward.
Once again, history calls upon all social partners to accept each other’s bona fides and to work in concert to accelerate transformation and eliminate inequality.
Ordinary people appreciate the call to work together.
Working together has become part of our DNA. It is what unites us, what makes us exceptional.
Our efforts to build social cohesion and promote inclusion depend on our collective ability to address poverty, unemployment and inequality.
We need to forge a common position among all stakeholders in Nedlac on what is required to improve the conditions of workers, to address inequality in the workplace, to improve productivity, and to achieve shared, sustained economic growth.
This, we believe, is at the heart of a new social compact that addresses the interests of all South Africans.
We need to broaden the reach and deepen the impact of direct job creation interventions that make an immediate difference in the lives of the poor and unemployed.
We call upon the private sector to open opportunities for young people through internships, mentorships and programmes that support young entrepreneurs. Let us swell the ranks of trainees, artisans and young entrepreneurs in our training and supplier development schemes.
Within the state, we will tackle unemployment and poverty through public employment initiatives like the Expanded Public Works Programme, the Community Works Programme, the Jobs Fund and the SMME Support Programme.
These interventions have demonstrated their value in alleviating poverty and creating opportunities for skills development and work experience.
It is proven worldwide that entrepreneurs are unique, as they are innovative, agile, respond quicker to market opportunities and are generally more competitive.
Herein lies the opportunity to create jobs and transform the structure of our economy.
We will pursue initiatives to better co-ordinate the provision of government support to entrepreneurs and reduce the administrative burden they experience.
Collaboration across sectors is necessary to achieve a skills revolution.
Oversight is critical to ensuring that government delivers.
The Presidency will provide strategic oversight over government programmes as part of monitoring progress towards a capable developmental state.
Our task is to support the president in ensuring the achievement of the goals contained in ministers’ performance agreements. We will focus on strengthening the chain of accountability throughout the public service.
We will continue to engage various sectors of society to detail the contribution they can make to the implementation of the NDP.
To this end, I have met the chief executives of major banks who have committed to develop concrete implementation plans that include funding options for our infrastructure programme.
As we seek to collaborate with our social partners to move South Africa forward, so too do we intend to develop a co-operative relationship between the executive and Parliament.
This informs the approach I am taking as Leader of Government Business.
As members of the executive, we are first and foremost representatives of our people. We are ultimately accountable, through Parliament, to the millions of South Africans.
This requires that we transcend mere compliance with parliamentary rules and practice, and instead locate our accountability firmly in the realm of public interest and public benefit.
The relationship between the executive and the legislature needs to be co-operative, honest and robust. Though we may differ at times, as we must, we need a relationship characterised by trust and mutual respect.
When I last stood before this House, we had just adopted our first democratic constitution.
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was our president, and we faced the challenge of putting in place the architecture of our democracy whose foundation was laid by successive leaders of the ANC including Chief Albert Luthuli who tragically passed away 47 years ago this week.
We worked together to craft a common future by adopting a constitution that served the needs and interests of all.
Today, inspired by the life of Madiba and drawing on our constitution-making experience, we need to work together to improve the lives of our people. We need to forge consensus and promote collaboration.
* This is an edited extract from Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s speech in the National Assembly during the Presidency budget vote debate this week.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.