The sunset speech

It was a legacy State of the Nation address. Clearly, President Thabo Mbeki wants to put the state into fifth gear as he heads into the sunset.

The government is to become a service delivery agency where Cabinet ministers’ performance is measured by numerical outputs to their clients — South Africa’s citizens. The Presidency has become the engine room of the government, where Mbeki keeps a watchful eye on his legacy.

Last year only 50% of the goals he set himself were achieved. With the launch of the Accelerated Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (Asgisa), the 6% growth plan for the South African economy, in addition to the government’s Programme of Action, he will need to crack the whip.

What follows is a presidential guide that can be cut out and used to keep Mbeki on his toes.


  • Asgisa: By 2014, reduce unemployment from its current level (26%) to 15%.

— Between 2006 and 2009 increase economic growth to 4,5% and between 2009 and 2014 increase this to 6% of gross domestic product (GDP).
— Review competition law and industrial policies to dilute the concentration of South Africa’s upstream production sectors such as iron and steel, paper and chemicals.
— Increase public sector investment to 8% with a R372-billion boost over the medium term (40% of this will be spent by Eskom and Transnet).
— Grow the capital budget of government to an unprecedented level of between 15% and 20% annually.
— Grow the tourism sector from 8% to 12% of GDP.
— Develop a procedure by which 10 products will be set aside for procurement through smaller black-owned businesses.
— Create 100 000 jobs in the business, processing and outsourcing industry.
— Review the functioning of the development finance institutions including the Industrial Development Corporations, the Land Bank and the National Development Agency.

  • May: A project managed by the Development Bank of Southern Africa will deploy 90 out of 150 expert staff to local government.
  • July: National Industrial Policy Framework submitted to Cabinet.
  • Medium term: Boost the Expanded Public Works Programme by R4,5-billion.
  • Establish five business process outsourcing industries in rural areas.
  • Develop sector strategies for: community and social services, wood and paper, appliances, retail and construction.
  • Review the regulatory environment and the burden on small, micro and medium enterprises in terms of tax cuts, municipal regulation and the administration of labour law.
  • Address the challenges of import parity pricing with regard to steel chemicals.
  • Operationalise the second national telecommunications operator.
  • Implement a Regulatory Impact Assessment of the country’s policies on economic activity.
  • All regional electricity distributors to be operational.
  • Trade negotiations with China to reduce surge of clothing imports into South Africa.
  • Finalise black economic empowerment charters in wine; transport; construction; agriculture; auto and aerospace; property; pharmaceutical and health sectors.

Governance and administration:
At the heart of implementing the Asgisa is to realign the state into an agency for delivery.

  • February 10: The Department of Home Affairs will gazette the professional categories and occupational classes in terms of which quota work permits may be issued.
  • April: Review Public Service Act and Public Finance Management Act.
  • July: Proposals submitted to the Cabinet lekgotla on the harmonisation of salaries of legally qualified personnel in the public service.
  • July: The reflection of national economic policies in the provincial Growth and Development Strategies and Integrated Development Plans will be reviewed.
  • July: The governance and administration cluster and the economic cluster will review the capacity of government to implement the Asgisa.
  • July: Adoption of a comprehensive e-government across the public sector.
  • Mid-year: Establish proposals for the founding of a public sector college to ensure a better quality of entrant into the public service.
  • August: Complete a policy on the remuneration, grading, career pathing and salary progression of professionals in the public service.
  • November: Draft legislation to create an enabling environment for a single public service.

In 2006:

  • A government-wide monitoring and evaluation system.
  • Integrate front office (points of service delivery) and back office (information systems) across the public service.
  • Integrate the Intergovernmental Relations Bill in all provinces.
  • National Security Strategy to be finalised.
  • Complete the implementation of the Home Affairs National Identification System.


  • The government will establish the Joint Initiative on Priority Skills Acquisition to respond to skills crisis.
  • March: Deploy 3 000 community development workers.
  • Eliminate fees for the poorest quintile of the population.
  • Launch the National Social Security Agency to take over the social assistance function from provinces.
  • Finalise an agreement with the private sector to use the R42-billion set aside for housing.
  • Establish alignment between sector education and training authorities, further education and training colleges and higher education institutions.
  • Enrol 10 000 people in the National Youth Service Programme.
  • Enrol 5 000 volunteers to act as mentors to vulnerable children.
  • 2006/07: Eradicate the bucket system.
  • 2010: All households will have clean running water.
  • 2012: Every household will have electricity.


  • Review the willing-buyer, willing-seller policy.
  • Regulate conditions under which foreigners buy land.


  • Reduce the number of illegal firearms and ensure better processing of firearm licence applications.
  • Reduce drug trafficking.
  • Build four additional correctional facilities.
  • Implement the recommendations of the Jali commission.


  • Focus on peace and democracy in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire and Sudan.

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Vicki Robinson
Guest Author

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