NA Speaker: Parliament Budget Speech
22 May 2018
NA Speaker, Ms Baleka Mbete, gave her Budget Vote Speech on the 22 May 2018
We are honoured to have in our midst today, members of the Mandela and Sisulu families.
I rise to table the last budget vote of the 5th Parliament. This budget is before us at an important time for reflecting on the journey we have travelled in this term as well as looking forward to the next elections. The contributions of giants who led us, our beloved Tata Nelson Mandela and Mama Albertina Sisulu, who were born a century ago this year, loom large in our memories.
I clearly recall the 9th of May 1994, as the nation and the world, watched Ma Sisulu proudly nominating Madiba as the first President of a free South Africa, a day which finally fulfilled the promise of the Freedom Charter: “that the People Shall Govern!”
As a new nation that is still emerging, it is incumbent upon us, to remember and honour the path chartered by Madiba, Ma Sisulu, Mama Winnie Mandela, Zola Skweyiya and others so that future generations could live in dignity and everyone could have the opportunity to realise their potential. Our Parliament is part of their legacy. We have lost the opportunity to be physically with them, to be guided by their passion and insight, but their wisdom wil steer us on forever.
As we work through the last year of the 5th Parliament, we are called upon to reflect on where we find ourselves as a country relative to the many goals we have set for ourselves, in our Constitution, the National Development Plan, and our Strategic Plan.
I can say without fear of contradiction that in this term, some lasting results were achieved in a number of areas. As the High-Level Panel Report asserts, while we still face the systemic challenges of undoing the socio-economic legacy of apartheid, we must also take pride in our remarkable achievements and milestones including a functioning democracy with credible institutions of governance, based on a culture of human rights and most importantly, the Will of the People! Of course, much more must be done.
Our democracy still needs to fine tune the transition between the change of leadership in the leading political party and government. The beginning of 2018 was a bit bumpy because of this. President, Cyril Ramaphosa, had been elected in December as President of the African National Congress (ANC). We had to delay the State of the Nation Address to finalise some procedures before we could go on to SONA.
Honourable Members will recall that 10 years ago we experienced a similar hitch though it differed in the detail. As the Speaker, I appreciate the effort and co-operative spirit of the leadership of the Presidency and the Office of the Chief Justice in working well with the Presiding Officers to ensure the final resolution of matters for all of South Africa. Our democracy is growing and maturing. We use our Constitutional institutions – not violence to settle our issues or differences.
Three Arms of State
The relationship between the three arms of state by its very nature can be characterised as dynamic and robust. During this term, the Heads of the three arms have met on several occasions to consciously cultivate an understanding of each other’s roles and challenges.
We are bound together in an on-going shared endeavour and working relationship to realise clean governance, deepening and further developing our democracy.
We have agreed that when next we meet at this level we shall bring along delegations in order to broaden the dialogues, with a view to foster deeper understandings of our respective branches, but conscious, not to intrude on each other’s competences.
At the start of the term in 2014, we crafted a Strategic Plan for our goals and objectives to be realised as we build an effective people’s Parliament that is responsive to the needs of our people. We resolved, among other things, to strengthen our performance and efficiency at law-making and oversight, to deepen public participation, and to improve and expand the administrative services available to members. Notwithstanding our challenges, we have made significant strides in each of these areas.
This being Parliament’s Budget Vote, it is prudent that I begin by first commending the institution for the clean audits it has been receiving for the 14/15; 15/16 and 16/17 financial years. This was a result of improved implementation of effective and efficient internal control systems.
With respect to our Legislative functions, and with the assistance of Parliament’s Legal Service Office, we have passed 74 bills emanating from the executive and 12 Private Members Bills. There are though quite a number of bills still before us. Amongst these were the Labour Laws Amendment Bill, a Private Members Bill introduced by Mrs Dudley of the ACDP, which addressed parental leave and proposes equal treatment for all. Considering the legislative workload, we need to consider how we reinforce the advisory and drafting services available to members and committees. As legal drafting is a scarce skill, Parliament should review the package offered to attract and retain legal experts.
Party Political Funding
Another high point for the Assembly was the adoption of legislation to regulate funding for political parties. The manner and transparency of funding are paramount in the context of building public confidence and integrity in the political system.
We have agreed with the Executive through the Leader of Government Business that legislation must reach us by no later than 30 May 2018. House Chairperson Frolick will share further details on the action plan intended to process legislation by Committees within the remainder of the term.
I hasten to say, however, that the number of bills passed is only one indicator of our performance and, as such, must be weighed against the quality of our engagements and the impact of the laws themselves on the ground.
Honourable Members, as the High-Level Panel Report and our oversight activities highlight, despite very good legislation, implementation remains our Achilles heel.
As Parliament, it is our duty to step up our monitoring and evaluation function in pursuance of our people centred agenda. We must accept that failure in service delivery does not just reflect badly on the part of our government, but speaks also to the rigour of our oversight and accountability measures.
Prior to our first elections, Madiba said that, I quote “if there is a single lesson to be drawn from Africa’s post-colonial history, it is that accountable government is good government”.We have done our best and lived up to our objective of becoming a People’s Parliament. We have seen examples of excellence emerging, specifically with respect to Parliament’s oversight inquiries and investigative capacity. The probes surrounding corporate governance at the SABC and allegations of State Capture at other state entities have not only brought to light some governance failures but are also beginning to yield changes and action against those found to be compromised in one way or another. We must continue to build on best practices in the exercise of this duty.
We are also beginning to see improvements in the ability of Portfolio Committees’ to oversee the budget. The appointment of specialised staff to support Committees is yielding meaningful results. Thus far, we are the only Parliament that has the ability to amend a budget of the executive. We thank the chairpersons of Committees for their diligence and commitment.
Gender Responsive Budgeting
It is unfortunate that while South Africa was once an international model of best practice for gender budgeting, we reached a point where the gender responsive budgeting initiative fell apart. We cannot accept that we once were an international model of best practice on this, but that we are now at a point where gender responsive budgeting is only taking place in isolated incidents.
We must support the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus initiative to re-ignite gender responsive budgeting and planning. By the end of the 5th Parliament a policy to guide how budgeting and planning from a gender perspective should be in place as part of our legacy project.
Committees in Parliament will not be performing adequately if they are not collecting the requisite information to review revenue projections and assess budget appropriations in terms of their gendered implications. I shall repeat what I stated last year: Gender Responsive Budgeting is non-negotiable and I expect movement in this regard.
Since the establishment of the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO), Parliament’s ability to engage with, and interrogate, both budgets and budgetary outcomes has been significantly elevated. We must continue to build the support available to committees so that they play a proactive role in the budget process as envisaged by the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act. We have highlighted to the Minister of Finance the need for this Office to be funded in order for its support to be extended to all Portfolio Committees.
We take this opportunity to remind the Minister of Finance of the Office of Institutions Supporting Democracy. This Office is part of the Speaker’s Office and has a large volume of work which the Deputy Speaker will elaborate on.
The 5th Parliament has also appointed a new Public Protector, Commissioners at the South African Human Rights Commission, Gender Commission and other institutions. All these appointments were, as recommended in the Kader Asmal Report, subjected to public scrutiny and involvement. Conceptual work towards standardising the appointment procedures of the ISD’s is underway. The Office of Institutions Supporting Democracy (the OISD) which is the link between Parliament and ISDs, is also finalising a report on the proposed amalgamation of some of the bodies as well as the proposed shifting of ISD Budgets to Parliament. The processing of ISD reports are also improving, with at least 80 percent of ISD reports discussed by Committees.
Executive/LOGB; Attendance of Ministers
Concerning the relationship between Parliament and the Executive, I should acknowledge that there have been some efforts to address concerns expressed about the attendance of Ministers in the House. Our work with the Leader of Government Business (LOGB) is yielding good results in this regard and I can confirm that practical steps are being taken to better coordinate our work. The Office of the Leader of Government Business has now introduced a roster for Ministers to ensure improved planning of diaries based on clusters.
We thank the LOGB for his support in this regard. Members of the House must be better able to exercise due diligence and oversight over Government.
We are enjoined by the Constitution to work collaboratively across spheres. A significant body of work has been undertaken by the Legislative Sector, led by the Speakers Forum, which is intended to, among other things, promote co-operation, develop benchmarks and best practice for the sector.
The Forum has implemented a number of initiatives to enhance the capacity of the sector, including the introduction of a sector-wide Oversight and Accountability Model and the Public Participation Model. As Members will recall, the work of the High-Level Panel was also initiated by the Legislative Sector through the Speaker’s Forum.
The obligation placed on Parliament to involve the public in all its affairs has received sustained focus in the 5th Parliament, with the introduction of the Public Participation Sector Model, which emphasises meaningful public engagement. Further adjustments to the Model is expected in line with the recommendations of the High Level Panel report.
I can report that, over the past four years, the institution undertook 82 oversight visits and held 29 public hearings, out there. There is, always room to improve in the level of engagements with our people and communities especially our outreach activities, to rural and marginalized communities. Ongoing community protests in various parts of the country are an indication that something is inadequate. We should ask ourselves whether a fresh look or approach to constituency work might help.
As we provide more time on the programme for Members to spend in their constituencies, we must critically assess the support to Members in their constituency offices- and the interface between Constituency Offices and the Parliamentary Democracy Offices in the few provinces where they exist. This is a matter that I would encourage the 6th Parliament to explore further.
Ethics and Integrity
I am also pleased to inform Members that the Speaker’s Forum has agreed on the need for the Legislative Sector to regulate and cohere on governance matters, specifically those related to ethics and integrity. It is envisaged that a National Integrity Commission will ultimately be established for this purpose.
The Speaker’s Forum has also proposed the introduction of Ethics and Integrity Legislation, as a contribution towards building integrity in State Institutions, mindful that there is no single formula for resolving the often complex and difficult ethical tensions that politicians face. This said, as individual members, we must live up to the expectations of the people and always maintain the highest ethical standadards.
I have been informed that Congratulations are in order to all Honourable Members for declaring your private interests in Parliament’s register last year.
As our democracy matures, new challenges emerge that require reflection and review of the way we conduct our business and how we conduct ourselves as public representatives.
At times during this term, the House experienced unprecedented instances of disorder. It is our hope that this will stay firmly in the past.
Since adoption, the new rules have since been applied, and proven beneficial. Thankfully, the quality of debate and order in our proceedings has certainly been improved.
Pursuant to a court judgment, additional work to give effect to Section 89 of the Constitution will shortly be finalised.
Speaking of healthy debate in this House, years ago Ma Sisulu cautioned that we, as public representatives should, at all times be receptive and responsive to the needs of our people. Notably, in the 5th Parliament 12 snap debates were held.
The consultation process towards agreeing on how best to accelerate land reform will benefit from the past weekend’s Land Summit and we expect next weekend’s ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) to take us even further. However, suffice it to say however ``land grabs should not be condoned. “
The world's problems are deeply interconnected. Countries and their citizens are exposed to economic crises emanating from far away from here.
As the 5th Parliament we have assumed increased responsibility in international relations. We continue to work with global parliamentary bodies such as the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) and Common Wealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) to build a closer and more effective relationships between Parliaments. We use the opportunity to improve our capacities to deal with the challenges of our peoples and our respective institutions. We are honoured that the next session of the IPU in October 2018, will honour the centenary celebrations of tata Nelson Mandela.
I wish to congratulate the new Members of our Parliament who were recently sworn in at the Pan-African Parliament.
Similarly, those of us that are members of the SADC PF , we must continue to push for the forum to become a fully functional Regional Parliament. We are the only region that does not have a Regional Parliament. In the 6th term, we should consider the establishment of Friendship Groups with a few Parliaments, especially those countries with whom we share values or those who stood in solidarity with us.
Thirty years ago, the battle of Cuito Cuanavale, which is said to have been the largest battle waged on African soil since World War II, culminated in the freedom we are enjoying today.
Lest we forget, the Cubans fought alongside us at the most critical moment and it was through their selfless efforts that apartheid was finally defeated. It is for that reason that I am considering an invitation from the Cuban Parliament to lead a Parliamentary delegation to Cuba sometime this year.
As Parliament, we also have an obligation to stand with the people of Palestine. We join the government and the rest of the world in condemning the senseless massacre of men, women and children by the Israeli government.
With respect to the proposal of relocating parliament from Cape Town to Pretoria, an external service provider Pamoja PTY LTD has been appointed to conduct a 6-month socio-economic and impact study commencing this month.This is a matter that we will hand over to the 6th Parliament.
Since we started implementing the Financial Management of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act, Parliament’s budget is overseen by the Joint Standing Committee on the FMPPLA, which reports to this House. I wish to thank the Committee for its thorough scrutiny and constructive guidance. I assure Members that the decisions of this Committee will be duly implemented.
Parliament’s 2018 budget proposals are again directed at meeting our strategic priorities.
For the 2018/19 financial year Parliament’s actual allocation is just over Two Point Four Billion Rands- (R 2,451,625 Billion.)
We requested an amount of Two Point Eight Billion `Rands (R2,842 billion) to Treasury as budget estimates.
We thus have a shortfall of Four `Hundred and Seventy-Six Million Rands-(R 476 million).
Honourable Members must be mindful that the budget also includes medical aid, and salaries of members, amongst others.
Parliament has a direct charge to the National Revenue Fund, as a provision for Member’s remuneration, which is a total of just over Four Hundred and Ninety Three Million Rands (R 493.161 million).
Honourable Members, as we have highlighted during this term, Parliament has continuously faced significant budget shortfalls, which have direct implications for the performance of our constitutional obligations. As the Legislative Sector, we have called for a paradigm shift in the way the budget is allocated and we are working to address this matter, by amongst other direct engagement with the Minister of Finance and Treasury staff.
We wish to report that, following a report by Parliament’s Audit Committee, unfortunately, the Secretary to Parliament, Mr Mgidlana is facing disciplinary action related to, inter alia, alleged contraventions of the Financial Management of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act, Parliaments policies, as well as the National Road Traffic Act. An independent chairperson has been appointed and an external initiator was appointed to lead evidence. I shall report to the House on completion of the process.
Honourable Members, it is critical for Parliament to take care of its staff and ensure that relations between Management and staff are as harmonious as possible. Regular engagements between Management and organised labour are ongoing, on a range of issues. Two relationship-building summits between management and staff were facilitated by the CCMA.
I have since learnt that staff are happy with the introduction of the Group Life Scheme for all Parliamentary employees and their immediate families. This will go a long way in bringing relief to employees and their families in the event of bereavements.
As we approach the sunset of the Fifth Parliament, we do so cognisant that we have to reflect on our progress but plan for the new dawn. The Sixth Parliament will continue the historic mission of transforming our society.
I have instructed the acting STP to expedite the finalisation of the Legacy Report of the 5th Parliament. The Deputy Speaker has been tasked by the Speakers’ Forum to lead the process of the Sector Level Legacy Report.
I would like to say a word of thanks to all who enable us to work and serve the people – In particular, my dear husband, family, my daughter Maghotso and her fiancée, my colleagues, the Presiding Officers of both Houses, the President and all Members of the Cabinet; Honourable Members of this House; the Acting Secretary and administration and most importantly my own staff led by the Executive Director of the Office. Your commitment and sacrifices have enriched our legacy.
Honourable Members, our social compact with our people demands that we remain true to our vision and the ideals entrusted to us by generations of our leaders. We salute Madiba and Ma Sisulu. Their memory propels us forward, at all times.
I urge this House to support this Budget Vote 2.
Thank you Deputy Speaker