President Jacob Zuma 

Progress made in moving South Africa forward in 2017

By Jacob Zuma

The year 2017 has been an eventful year for South Africa and a lot of progress was made in fighting poverty, inequality and unemployment, as we continued to drive back the stubborn legacy of apartheid and colonialism.

President Jacob Zuma

Work continued in earnest to implement programmes that will improve the quality of life and move us closer to attaining the goal of a truly united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.

A lot of progress has been made in the extension of basic services to the people. Many more South Africans now have access to housing, water and electricity. We have also further expanded access to education and health care, while laying the foundation for greater growth through our massive infrastructure rollout.

At the midterm of the 2014-2019 term of office, a total of 906 859 Households have been connected to the grid since 2014. A further 56 678 Households have been connected to non-grid electricity. Overall, access to electricity has increased from 77% of households in 2002, to 84,1% in 2016, reliable water services have been provided to an additional 361 500 households in 2017.  Overall, access to water has increased from 80% in 2002 to 85% in 2016. A total of 1.12 million households have been given access to decent sanitation since 2014. On the whole, access to sanitation increased from 80% in 2002 to 85% in 2016.

Of concern to Government is the fact that poverty levels in the country appear to be on the rise. StatsSA informs us that the population living below the poverty line increased to 55,5%. Coupled with extensive economic interventions to improve the socio-economic conditions of South Africans, the democratic government has provided a comprehensive safety net to vulnerable people.  A total of 17 million people have benefitted from social grants provided by government.

In the past days and weeks, Government has worked hard to ensure that this critical service to our people is not interrupted and that there is certainty on the provision of all social grants. A landmark agreement was reached between the South African Post Office (SAPO) and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) to bring to life a new grants payment system. In particular this new system, while drawing on the resources and capabilities of the South African democratic state, will also make allowance for the participation of other partners such as enterprises and commercial banks, in the payment of social grants to beneficiaries.

A Services Agreement between SAPO and SASSA was signed on 07 December 2017 and gives effect to the implementation of the phasing in of SAPO and the Postbank as a service provider and also as one of the key channels through which grants will be paid. Government will continue to do everything possible to ensure that there is no interruption to the grants payment process to the beneficiaries. Government remains committed to providing social assistance through grants to poor and vulnerable South Africans.


In 2017 government also accelerated its drive to grow the economy and create jobs. South Africa, like many other countries, is facing severe headwinds, and is facing challenging economic conditions. This has however not stopped government from doing all it can to reignite economic growth.

Following a turbulent year in 2017, SA has just emerged from the recession.  The country’s GDP rebounded by 2.5% in Quarter 2 2017 and subsequently to 2% in Quarter 3 of 2017. Both these figures reflect improvement compared to the 0.7 % decline in Q1 of 2017. Furthermore, during Q3 of 2017, the country’s Agricultural output expanded by 44.2%. The mining and quarrying industry increased by 6.6% and the manufacturing industry increased by 4.3%. Finance, real estate and business services slowed to 1.2%.

Amongst our major concerns as government are the national unemployment rate, which remained unchanged at 27.7% for most of 2017, as well as depressed levels of business and consumer confidence. For these reasons, I have directed the Minister of Finance, working with the Presidential Fiscal Committee to identify concrete measures to urgently address the challenges identified in the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement.

We remain committed to maintaining a sustainable fiscal framework and to ensuring that a solution is found to address the roughly R40 billion gap that has been identified through a combination of expenditure reductions and revenue-enhancing measures. In particular, the four areas of intervention are:

  • To identify and finalise proposals for about R25 billion cuts in expenditure in areas that will not negatively affect economic growth prospects and job creation.
  • To identify and finalise proposals for revenue-enhancing measures amounting to about R15 billion including, where appropriate, tax measures.
  • To develop a phased-implementation plan to enable the proposals for fee-free higher education for students from poor and working class backgrounds to be implemented in a fiscally sustainable manner.
  • To identify the package of economic stimulus measures that will be implemented to enable the economy to grow at a faster rate.

The continued collaboration between business, labour and government remains key to growing the economy and creating jobs. By working together we can build an inclusive economy which benefits all South Africans. Government has laid the framework for this through progressive economic and social policies.

Reigniting growth

The Nine-Point Plan, first announced in the 2015 State of the Nation Address, has been a deliberate intervention that works, and whose impact is being felt in key strategic sectors at a scale large enough to ignite economic growth and create jobs. Areas of focus include energy, manufacturing, transport, telecommunications, water, tourism, the ocean economy, mining, agriculture and the Industrial Policy Action Plan and attracting investments.

While the plan draws to a conclusion in 2019, it would have set in motion a number of levers to boost the economy’s future growth.

As part of improving the ease of doing business, Government launched InvestSA One-Stop-Shops in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and the Western Cape. The One-Stop-Shop concept creates a conducive environment by providing a focal point of contact for investors to obtain all services to fast-track projects and reduce government red-tape when establishing a business. The One-Stop-Shop provides services offered by key departments such as Home Affairs, Labour, Environmental Affairs, Trade and Industry and agencies such as Companies and Intellectual Property Commission, South African Revenue Service and Visa Facilitation Service centres, amongst others.

In 2017 South Africa made further gains as a preferred investment destination for many of the world’s top companies. South Africa has proven itself to be a popular investment destination which consistently attracts some of the world’s top businesses to its shores. The country has on a number of occasions consistently come out on top as the investment destination of choice.

In this year Ford invested R3 billion at its Pretoria assembly plant in order to increase production for its Ford Ranger model.

This builds on the country’s reputation as a preferred investment destination and affirms government’s Automotive Production and Development Programme in attracting global automotive producers.

Last year Toyota announced that it would manufacture the new Toyota Hilux and Fortuner models as part of a R6.1 billion investment; BMW planned to construct a R6 billion a state-of-the-art body shop and Beijing Automobile International Corporation planned to invest R11 billion in an automotive manufacturing plant in the country.

The upgraded and new roads have made travelling easier and more accessible.  Our investments in transport have seen the launch of new trains, as well as the expansion of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems in various cities.

Government has embarked on one of the world’s biggest rail transport projects to overhaul the country’s passenger trains worth more than R50 billion.

Through our work we are broadening the extent to which black South Africans meaningfully participate in the productive sectors of the economy and are actively remedying some of the injustices of the past. In this regard government has created a hive of economic activity in our rural areas through the revitalisation of agriculture that opens opportunities to South Africans who need it the most. It includes a programme of equity sharing on farms that is benefiting 921 households on 90 191 hectares to the tune of R631 million. Similarly, the One Household One Hectare programme to increase tenure, food security and develop farmers operating on a small scale has benefited 6 000 households.

Poorer communities in outlying areas are being drawn into the mainstream economy through six new industrial parks and 11 agricultural parks, special economic zones and the rollout of broadband services in rural districts.

It also includes the creation of 1770 jobs in marginalised coastal communities through aquaculture projects that have attracted R444 million in private and public sector investment.

We launched the Black Industrialists Programme to kick start greater participation of black South Africans in the industrial sector. Government has thus far supported 46 projects that have attracted R3.7 billion of private-sector investment and created 19,859 jobs to date. To support localisation, 21 products and sectors have been designated for local production.

This year also saw the launch of the refurbished Babelegi Industrial Park in Hammanskraal as part of government’s plan to accelerate economic development and job creation in the area.

The R42 million project is part of government’s Revitalisation of Industrial Parks Programme and one of six parks that are being revitalised across the country for broader economic and industrial development.

Earlier in this year the first phase of the revitalised Vulindlela Heights Industrial Park in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape was also launched.

Through the revitalisation of industrial parks government is boosting jobs creation and inclusive growth. The move of economic activities away from urban centres is also part of government’s economic transformation efforts.

Government has been hard at work to grow the contribution of small businesses which fulfil an important role of empowering people and drawing new entrants into the economy.

We launched Operation Phakisa in 2014 to advance the implementation of the National Development Plan 2030 and progress has been made to improve performance in six areas, which are the. Oceans Economy, Scaling up the Ideal Clinic Realisation and Maintenance Programme, Leveraging Information Communication Technology in Basic Education, Galvanising Growth, Investment and Employment Creation along the Mining Value Chain and Mining and Related Communities, Biodiversity, as well as Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development.

Through Ocean Economy delivery lab, a total of R24,5 billion has been unlocked in investments. This global figure consists of R15,6 billion of investments by government and R9.1 billion of private sector investments, as well as R1,25 billion of private sector investments in the process of being secured. A total of 6 517 jobs have been created. The Department of Trade and Industry has also provided incentives to the value of R 428,8 million.

The largest investment in the Oceans Economy, facilitated through government incentives, was directed to infrastructure development, mainly ports, manufacturing, boat building, aquaculture and scientific surveys in the oil and gas sector. The global amount of R24,5 billion consists of investments from different components of the Ocean Economy lab. The Maritime Transport and Manufacturing Delivery Unit has secured investments to the value of R5,6 billion; while the Oil and Gas component unlocked a total of R18,4 billion. Aquaculture has raised R444,5 million; Marine Protection Services and Governance R 31,2 million and Coastal and Marine Tourism R40 million.

Government plans to establish the KwaZulu-Natal Boatbuilding Park, the single largest boat building facility in Southern Africa, in the Port of Durban to tap into the boatbuilding sector’s new investment, exports and job creation potential.

Amongst the major milestones achieved is that 6 of the 9 harbour tugboats being built by a local company, South African Shipyards, for Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), have been delivered as follows: Two tugboats, namely, Cormorant and Osprey have been delivered at the Port of Saldanha, while two other tugboats (Mvezo and Qunu) are based at the Port of Elizabeth. The fifth tugboat (Ukhozi) was delivered at the Port of Richards Bay in May 2017, and the 6th Tug (Umbilo) destined for Durban was launched into the water in May, 2017.

Skills development is a core component of the Ocean Economy, in which women and youth are prioritised. A total of 614 women have been trained in Marine Manufacturing and 733 women in Marine Transport sectors. A total of 1 317 youth have been trained in Marine Manufacturing and 1834 in Marine Transport sectors.


Programmes to improve health care continued. The work of the health sector was overshadowed by the tragic death of mental health patients in Gauteng Province in 2017. This tragedy has caused a lot of pain and is subject to an arbitration process being managed by former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke. We extend our deepest condolences again to the families of the deceased.

Overall, the health status of South Africans continues to improve.  Evidence from Statistics South Africa points to the fact that total Life Expectancy at birth has increased from 62.9 in 2014 to 64 years in 2017. Male life expectancy has reached 61,2 years and Female life expectancy is at 66,7 years. Infant and under-5 mortality rates continue to decline consistently. Good progress is being made in screening for and management of Non-Communicable Diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

By September 2017, a cumulative total of 6 127 886 users of public health services were counselled and screened for raised blood glucose levels and 6 688 613 people for high blood pressure.

An Effective response to HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis (TB) is being maintained – through increased testing and provision of antiretroviral treatment (ART) and TB treatment Cumulatively, a total of 5 641 516 people were tested for HIV during April-September 2017. A total of 3 955 185 people living with HIV were retained on ART.  A total of 86% of TB patients have successfully completed their treatment.

In 2017 a major milestone was reached in healthcare with the ground breaking pricing agreement reached by the Department of Health in collaboration with a number of international organisations to accelerate the availability of the first affordable single-pill HIV treatment regimen.

South Africa today has the biggest treatment programme in the world with over 3.9 million people on treatment by August 2017. The treatment has led to increase in life expectancy and low levels of mother-to-child HIV transmission rates.

Progress has been made in the Operation Phakisa Ideal Clinic Realisation and Maintenance programme, a systematic intervention designed by government to the improve quality of care at our Primary Health Care facilities. An ideal clinic is a clinic with good infrastructure, adequate staff, adequate medicine and supplies, good administrative processes and sufficient bulk supplies that use applicable clinical policies, protocols, guidelines as well partner as partner and stakeholder support, to ensure the provision of quality health services to the community.  An Ideal clinic fosters community ownership and pride. By the end of June 2017, a total of 1108 clinics in the public sector had achieved ideal status. This performance translates to 30% of the existing stock of 3,477 PHC facilities. The set target is that 2,823 PHC facilities should become ideal by March 2019.


We have expanded access to free education for children from poor households. More than nine million children attend no fee schools, which represents at least 80 percent of our schools.

Since 2009 government has progressively worked towards eliminating mud schools and inappropriate school structures, replacing them with state-of-the-art buildings, especially in historically neglected areas.

Through the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative Project, government has completed over one hundred and thirty five new state-of-the-art schools in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape and other provinces.

We have also made massive strides in making higher education affordable and accessible to all. The National Student Financial Aid Scheme increased from R2.4-billion in 2008 to R15 billion in 2017. In 2017 over 460 000 students were funded by NSFAS for both university and TVET Colleges. Government funding for education has helped to ensure that deserving students can access education at all 26 public universities and 50 public TVET colleges.

The Operation Phakisa in the Basic Education sector programme seeks to leverage and enhance the use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) for teaching and learning. Through the Universal Services Access Obligation (USAO), telecommunication companies in the private sector are contributing resources towards increasing access to connectivity for public schools and strengthening public-private partnerships. Since this Phakisa programme was launched in October 2015, a total of 3,455 schools have been connected to the internet and received devices under the Universal Services Access Obligation (USAO) project. 54% of the existing 24,000 schools have acquired connectivity through various technologies. A total of 31 800 teachers have been trained in various levels of Information Communication Technology skills. The archaic methods of teaching and learning are being rapidly replaced as teachers and learners move towards the 21st century.

These are some of the major areas of progress that we are making through Operation Phakisa.

Fight against crime and corruption

Fighting corruption remains a priority for government. In 2014 I established the Anti-Corruption Inter-Ministerial Committee, which is mandated to oversee all government’s anti-corruption efforts and initiatives.

Our intensified fight against corruption is not limited to the public sector but extends to the private sector where there has been serious reports of corruption and collusion and attempts to unduly influence government policy direction and in pursuit of other interests.

In the meantime, progress has been made in fighting corruption within the public sector. Since 2014 the number of persons convicted in respect of high priority matters (in which potential corruption per case is to the value of R5 million and above) stands at about 66.

From 2014 freezing orders for instances of corruption amount to R4 785 billion. I have signed 31 proclamations empowering the Special Investigative Unit to investigate serious malpractices, maladministration and corruption in connection with the administration of State Institutions and to take appropriate and effective civil action.

Government has also established the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer in order to modernise and consolidate the State’s fragmented legislative framework for procurement and supply chain management.

Among others, this has contributed to the strengthening of accountability through focused governance monitoring and compliance arrangements; using technology smartly to reduce red tape, bringing efficiency and effectiveness in the procurement process; and establishing strategic procurement principles.

Since its establishment this office has taken bold steps to curb waste, leakages, wrong doing and corruption.

Other notable achievements recorded since 2014 are the development of Public Procurement Bill which aims to modernise the public procurement and Supply Chain Management function.

Earlier this year government tabled an Anti- Corruption Discussion Document for public consultation.  The discussion document will serve as the basis for country-wide consultations leading to the development and adoption of South’s first National Anti-Corruption Strategy.

The National Anti-Corruption Strategy hopes to achieve the following outcomes:

  • Building a resilient anti-corruption system;
  • Strengthening accountability and responsibility of public servants;
  • Creating a transparent, responsive and accountable public service; and
  • Strengthening judicial governance and the rule of law.


We also remain a listening and caring government that is responsive to the needs of the people. Through our Imbizo programme we continue to ensure that people have direct and unmediated access to their government.

The programme is principled on direct, unmediated, two-way interactive communication that incorporates feedback and is based on collective solution driven engagements. In 2017 there were 237 Izimbizo which were undertaken by myself, the Deputy President and Members of the Executive.

Our dedication to being a responsive government is further supported by the Siyahlola Presidential Monitoring Programme. Siyahlola is a first-hand assessment of progress in line with the outcome-based approach of government, which targets government priority areas.

The Year of OR Tambo

2017 was also the year of OR Tambo. Throughout the year government along with the people of South Africa remembered and commemorated the life and legacy of one of our icons.

On 27 October the nation paid homage to OR Tambo at the place of his birth, and elsewhere around the country. I led the commemoration celebrations in Mbizana in the Eastern Cape on 27 October and also unveiled a statue of OR Tambo at the OR Tambo International Airport on 19 October. On 1 October a new R5 coin commemorating the centenary entered into circulation.

In 2018 the country will mark the centenary of the life of former President Nelson Mandela and all South Africans are encouraged to join in the yearlong celebration as we pay tribute we pay tribute to one of Africa’s greatest sons.

Preparations for Nelson Mandela’s centenary celebration are continuing in tandem with the closure of the 100 year anniversary of OR Tambo at the end of this year.

The various events during the yearlong commemoration of OR Tambo were indeed a fitting tribute to his life and legacy, but OR would never have been happy with mere events, without accompanying tangible meaning.

Our society is built on the values of democracy, equality and respect for all. While the values of non‐racialism and non‐sexism are central to our democratic values and principles. As South Africans we must continue to build on this legacy; there is so much more that unites us as a nation than that which divides us.

By working together we can build the nation of our collective dreams as we jointly move South Africa forward.

Safer Festive Season

Following a long year many South African will be going away this festive season. We wish everybody a safe and prosperous time, whether they remain at home or decide to travel to friends and family or on vacation.

Government calls on South Africans to have a relaxing festive season but to do it responsibly. Government for its part will do all it can to ensure a safe festive season for all. Traffic officers will be out in force during the festive season, and there will be zero tolerance for road users who drive recklessly, are negligent and drive at excessive speed.

All of us have a role to play in driving safely. Responsible drivers ensure that their vehicles are roadworthy and obey the rules of the road. We call on road users to report those who drive recklessly. By working together we can ensure that our roads are safer for all.

It is also important that we behave responsibly at all times. Those who choose to consume alcohol are advised to do so in moderation, and to never drink and drive. Alcohol and drug use can lead to promiscuous behaviour, which increases the risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

We must also be vigilant when at pools, beaches or near water. Children must not be left unattended at swimming pools or beaches.

Ultimately being safe this festive season lies in our hands. Government wishes all South Africans a safe and prosperous festive season. Let us enjoy the break and return invigorated next year so that we can together move South Africa forward.

Jacob Zuma is the President of South Africa

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