Budget Debate Vote Speech
By Hon. M. Hlengwa MP
Spokesperson on Science and Technology
Delivered at Parliament in OAC
The Department of Science and Technology seeks to boost socio-economic development in South Africa through research and innovation. To achieve its goals, the Department provides leadership, an enabling environment and resources for science, technology and innovation – or so it says it is doing.
Chair – It is unfathomable that this department suffers neglect from the current Cabinet, it is dismissed as ‘mere’ backbench portfolio’ and its budget remains one of the lowest.
However, Science and Technology plays a pivotal role or rather should play a pivotal role in our country. Our ever-growing youth population strives and lives for new technology and innovation.
This department has certainly failed our young people in being an incubator to develop the latest technological innovations and cutting-edge high-tech which may see exorbitant data costs lowered for example.
South Africa’s competitiveness within the BRICS-nations, we fair rather miserably and as sentiment has it, slow, far-behind and backward.
Although there are many examples of sterling work done which we may applaud and commend the department in driving, it is frustrating to note that so much more work can be done within this department, especially when our rural young people find themselves at a severe disadvantage in terms of accessing programmes through this department.
Research and development (R&D) in strategic focus areas such as space science, energy, biotechnology, nanotechnology, robotics, photonics, and indigenous knowledge systems etc. require more funding and support to many who are financially needy, yet hold the required skills to make a significant contribution in the above mentioned fields.
Although, I am aware that R&D receives the biggest cut of this budget and therefore, I am pleased that it still remains the backbone of this department, students are still begging for bursaries.
In terms of technology innovation, we are lagging far behind other countries in developing tech-industries, which translates to jobs as we are in infancy stages with regards to the much talked about fourth industrial revolution.
Chair, we need to host less talk shops and see the technology industry open up and getting South African’s excited about science again, let’s see this department as a driver for job creation.
The IFP supports this budget.
I thank you.