Pretoria - Serious crime in South Africa has been declining since the advent of democracy, President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday.
“Compatriots, with regards to safety and security, the levels of serious crime and property crime have declined since 1994,” said Zuma.
“However, crime levels remain high, particularly crime against vulnerable groups, such as women and children, which require continued intensive focus.”
Zuma was releasing South Africa's 20-year review document at the Sefako Makgatho presidential guesthouse in Pretoria.
He said government had implemented several mechanisms and institutions since 1994 to combat corruption.
“These (mechanisms) are now being strengthened by implementing measures, such as preventing public servants from doing business with the state and better management of the risks related to government procurement processes.
“Corruption is not only a public-sector problem, and the country response has to include the private sector as well,” he said.
Zuma said government had made significant headway in the provision of services, including health care, education, water and sanitation.
“The country's improved response to HIV and Aids and tuberculosis has resulted in dramatic improvements in health outcomes, such as increased life expectancy, reduced infant and child mortality rates, and tuberculosis treatment outcomes,” he said.
“South Africa's HIV and Aids response has now received international acclaim. There has also been a significant reduction in malaria cases and deaths due to malaria. Severe malnutrition has also significantly declined.”
Looking ahead, Zuma said significant investments would be made for the provision of water, electricity, sanitation, schools, colleges, and housing, among others.
“With regards to basic services, it is impressive that a number of municipalities which had little or no pre-existing institutional foundations, have been able to deliver basic services to thousands of people who did not have them before in the past two decades.
“Some of the municipalities were geared towards serving a minority before 1994. The focus is now on reaching communities that are still waiting, particularly in informal settlements in urban areas and in remote rural areas,” he said.
Government had inherited enormous backlogs in the infrastructure required to deliver basic services.
“We are also still dealing with the impact of the Bantu education system which was designed to keep the black majority confined to unskilled labour,” he said.
But much work remained for government and citizens to achieve the expectations and aspirations of the nation.
“Going forward, we should commit to working together further, to implement the National Development Plan to deal with remaining challenges and take our country forward.
“South Africa is a success story. South Africa is a good story. We have succeeded because of the hard work of all our people who contributed in various ways to rebuilding their country,” he said.
Zuma said the review was government's “factual and frank” account of how South Africa had fared since 1994.
“The review is packed with facts and figures, it is honest and frank in its approach. Where facts indicate that we have challenges and we have made mistakes we say so,” said Zuma.
“It is government's most accurate account of work done in the past 20 years... it is about progress made and work that still needs to be done to move South Africa forward.”
Senior government officials, business executives, analysts, and media personnel packed the room at the guesthouse as Zuma read out the review document.
Zuma said the review was dedicated to former president Nelson Mandela who died in December.