Speech made by Dr. Nelly Mwaka on behalf of the Resident Representative at the KZN Legislature SDGs Workshop

Sep 20, 2016

UNDP HIV/AIDS and Gender Manager, Dr Nelly Mwaka


Programme Director,

Honourable Nonhlanhla Khoza, Chairperson of the kwaZulu-Natal Women’s Caucus

Honourable Thokozile Didiza, House Chairperson of the National Assembly,

Honourable Members of the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial legislature,

Colleagues from the UN System in South Africa,

Ladies and gentlemen.


In September 2000, the world’s leaders met at the United Nations Headquarters in New York to set out a new global vision to strengthen efforts for peace, human rights, democracy, strong governance, environmental sustainability and poverty eradication. South Africa, together with 188 other UN member countries, adopted the resulting Millennium Declaration, which committed members to ambitious targets with clearly defined timelines. The roadmap for achieving the Declaration’s commitments resulted in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

In similar fashion, through an extensive and inclusive consultative approach, world leaders met at the same venue in September last year to adopt a new global agenda called the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with its attendant set of international goals and targets called the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). I will leave the finer details of the transition from MDGs to SDGs to the team that is here with us.

South Africa can take pride in owning one of the best articulated Constitutions in the world today. Parliament and Provincial Legislatures, by virtue of their mandate as set out in the Constitution (Act 108 of 1996) have a critical role in ensuring that the Executive is held accountable to meeting all National and International goals as articulated in the National Development Plan (NDP) and the SDGs. To this end, former Minister in the Presidency, Trevor Manuel, had at one MDGs event in Parliament, asked a number of pertinent questions to honourable members …and I quote…”How has the Legislative Sector executed its constitutional mandate? …to what extent is progress  being made towards achieving the MDGs? …are government policies being effectively implemented for the MDGs and, what impact do these policies have on South Africa’s quest for achievement of the targets outlined in the MDGs?” - These questions implied that failure to pursue the achievement of targets at the national and global level by Members of Parliament, they were reneging on their constitutional mandate as I have mentioned earlier. These questions continue to be relevant now in the NDP/SDG era as they were during the MDGs.

As we continue to deliberate on the linkages between the National Development Plan, African Union Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, let us keep in mind that the SDGs should be viewed as a package of minimum development standards that countries should strive to achieve. In the case of South Africa for instance, the goals and targets stated in the SDGs can be subsumed in the National Development Plan - Vision 2030; the Constitution of 1996, the Freedom Charter of 1955 from which the Constitution draws its inspiration, and the many other development strategies at the sectoral level that are far more elaborate than the broad goals in the SDGs.

On 28 August this year in Nairobi Kenya, the United Nations Development Programme launched its second Africa Human Development Report under the theme “Accelerating Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Africa”. The key message from the report which is of extreme relevance to this workshop is that the cost of not addressing the gender gap is enormous. Gender inequality is costing sub-Saharan Africa on average $US95 billion a year, and in 2014, the cost of gender inequality peaked at US$105 billion, equivalent to six percent of the continent’s GDP’ which further jeopardises the continent’s efforts to achieve inclusive human development and economic growth. 

The report also states that as African women attain higher measures of economic and social wellbeing, then all of society benefits. Gender equality is a critical enabler of all development. In addition, Maximum human development cannot be achieved with only economic and political advancement without breaking social barriers to women’s economic and political participation. The trapping of too many African women at the lower spectrum of economic opportunities perpetuates the same socio-economic status for their families. The report concludes that active implementation of existing legislation is pivotal. Social and institutional silence on violence against women combine to perpetuate systemic and normalized violence in Africa. The challenge, therefore, is not fine-tuning existing legal standards, but rather, ensuring standards are advocated, accepted and fully implemented and enforced.

I am pleased to note that South Africa, and indeed the Province of KwaZulu-Natal will not be starting from scratch in embarking on this development trajectory. Remarkable progress has been made since the transition to democracy in 1994. A solid foundation for democratic governance has been established, while there is improved access to education, health services, water and electricity, housing, and social protection for the historically disadvantaged. However, despite this significant progress, South Africa is still grappling with developmental challenges caused by poverty, unemployment and inequality.

Being the second largest provincial economy in the country, KwaZulu-Natal has enormous responsibilities in ensuring that all arms of the provincial government work together towards sustaining and improving on this lofty position, as well as address the persistent challenges of high unemployment rates and poverty, particularly in rural parts of the province. Addressing these challenges will have a direct impact on the achievement of the national aspirations articulated in the National Development Plan and ultimately, the Sustainable Development Goals. This necessitates the need for all arms of the provincial government to know how their functions and responsibilities contribute to the greater good of the Province, and ultimately the country as a whole.

I hope that after the intense deliberations during these two days, all of us will take home new insights and understanding of our roles and how we can engage with the national and international development agendas in order to make the lives of all South Africans better.

I thank you. 

For more information contact:

Christina Shora Nyambalo

UNDP Communications Officer

Email: christina.nyambalo@undp.org

Cell: +27636970544

UNDP Around the world

You are at UNDP South Africa 
Go to UNDP Global