Mr Michael Matshaya presented the Mayibuye Petition to the Committee in which he claimed to represent workers who were owed by the current Mayibuye Corporation. He claimed to represent 850 workers who were not paid the insurance that they were promised by their former employers.
The Committee was extremely concerned about whether or not Mr Matshaya received money from the people that he represents in exchange for his services because the petitioning process in South Africa is free, including cost of transportation and lodging. The Committee was also concerned that the petition was not actually a petition because the proper paperwork was either absent or incorrect. Regardless of the lack of information, the Department of Labour noted that the time to claim insurance reimbursement is 6 months after the incident and it has been over 6 years before the petition was filed. Mr Matshaya agreed that the papers he submitted were erroneous and that he did not have the documentation that the members were requesting.
Mr Henri Terblanche presented the Paternity Leave to amend the Basic Conditions of Employment Act to include 10 days of paternity leave for fathers of South Africa following the birth or adoption of a child. The petition is beneficial for both parents and the child because it may decrease maternity leave, increase positive physical health for both parents, increase positive mental health for both parents, and increase caring responsibilities of the fathers. The only negative aspect is the cost to the employer.
The main concern of Members was the Paternity Leave Petition implementation. This included costs, qualifications, and the division of leave based on gender. The cost may be outweighed by the benefits. About 40% of fathers in South Africa do not sign the birth certificate. Granting a separate paternity leave may grant the father more time than the mother and create an unfair gender division, especially considering the mother actually gives birth. Overall, the Committee questioned whether South Africa is ready for this amendment.
The Chairperson reminded the petitioners that they are under oath and that misrepresentation is punishable under law.
This petition included submissions from Mr Michael Matshaya; the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Mayibuye Transport Cooperation (MTC); Department of Labour; the NCOP table and the Select Committee on Small Businesses Development. Mr Matshaya spoke through a translator and explained that he is a consultant from Matshaya Consultants. He represents the workers that claim to be former employers of the Ciskei Transport Corporation (CTC), currently trading as Mayibuye Trading Corporation (MTC) and South African Transport Services (SATS), currently known as Transnet and they had unsettled claims against the two entities for unpaid wages, unemployment insurance fund (UIF) benefits and pension benefits. He began the investigation on June 7, 2007.
The list of claims against CTC made by the Mayibuye petitioners are:
- Unpaid wages;
- Unpaid UIF benefits;
- Unpaid pension fund contributions; and
- Unpaid dissolution benefits.
Those petitioners who were former employees of SATS had raised a claim against Transnet as a result of unfair dismissal after taking part in a wage related strike in 1988. The list of claims are:
- Unpaid wages as from 1 October 1988 to date;
- Unpaid UIF; and
- Unpaid pension fund contributions.
The petitioners requested the intervention of the Committee in securing the entitlements and benefits that are due to them as former employees of CTC and SATS. The petitioners, in particular those that were former SATS employees, further seek the intervention of the Committee in addressing the alleged unfair dismissal.
The Chairperson questioned how the workers delegated power to Mr Matshaya or how he came to hold the power of attorney in the matter.
Mr Matshaya responded that 850 workers gave him a personal directive to investigate CTC in the Eastern Cape on their behalf; most of the people ‘have departed’; only their beneficiaries are still living. During the investigation, he was accompanied by Captain Meyer from the East London provincial branch. After the Office of the former Premier, Ms Nosimo Balindlela was involved in the process, he gave the Premier time to investigate the matter, but they were not helpful. In February 2010, he visited the Union Buildings in Pretoria to formally launch a complaint. The then President, Mr Thabo Mbeki, gave him a letter to give to the Premier, Mr Membathisi Mdladlana, Minister of Labour at the time and Barbara Hogan, former Minister of Public Enterprises, in order to continue with the investigation.
The Chairperson clarified that Mr Thabo Mbeki was the President that Mr Matshaya referred to. He questioned whether or not this is a mistake.
Mr Matshaya continued to note that there was no satisfactory response or assistance from the Premier’s Office. In 2011, he organized workers to go to the Premier’s Office to launch a formal complaint in that office. From there, he met with a representative from the Premier’s Office, named Mahlubandile Qwase. If he remembers correctly, the representative was a Head of Department (HOD); he arranged a meeting on April 12 2011 at the East London transport office in Quigney. Mr Matshaya attended the meeting; government representatives with Mr Qwase were Mr Z J Malo, Advocate Zoleka Fanana, Mr Eric Fortune, and Ms Goliath Michelle. Mr Matshaya was accompanied by two witnesses, Mr M Maweni and Ms Finus Dubase, and a lawyer from East London, Ms Bulelwa Nomjana. Mr Qwase presided over the meeting; he asked what the main problem actually was. Mr Matshaya had replied that he was seeking a certificate to prove the closure of the company in East London and had been told that no such certificate exists. Mr Matshaya argued that it should be that way because the current company Mayibuye was operating under the licence of Ciskei Transport Cooperation (CTC) for which they got a subsidy; for which he had also found that CTC no longer existed. He asked the Minister of Transport via letter to stop funding the subsidy because that company no longer exists; by his request, it was closed. He is at Parliament to expose the Premier’s ignorance and he claimed that the Premiers succeeding one another all knew that the company was operating unlawfully. Mr Phakama Mfenyane from the Premier’s Office told him that he will not get what he wants; which was why he had came to the Committee. The insurer that was keeping CTC funds had been the Sanlam Benefit Fund. When he went to find out what happened with the money, they said that there was a clause which stipulated that upon 60 years of age workers had the right to benefit from this money. He knew that the money used to disband CTC had actually been moved to Mayibuye and he claims that Premiers at the time knew about this process. When he was accompanied by four members to the Office of the Premier Mr Makhenkesi Stofile, to see how the money was to be used, the Premier responded by asking how illiterates would know what to use the money for when they were so uneducated. Even the most recent Premier Ms Noxolo Kiviet had knowledge about that matter. The then Member of Executive Council (MEC) for Provincial Safety Liaison, Roads and Transport, Mr Thobile Mhlahlo, was also aware of these funds. He is petitioning Parliament because the Ministers in the Eastern Cape are consorting with the people presiding over these funds. He seeks help from Parliament.
The Chairperson thanked the petitioner for the presentation and opened up for questions.
Mr J Julius (DA, Gauteng) requested the actual signed petition from the petitioner.
The Chairperson asked if he meant internally and said that the administration had the signed petition.
Mr Julius requested these documents.
The Chairperson agreed to this request as well as the supplementary documents.
Mr D Ximbi (ANC, Western Cape) asked if the petitioner had something in writing from the group. He was also sure that Mr Thabo Mbeki was not the President and that Ms Balindlela was the not the Premier in 2010.
The Chairperson asked for proof that he can act for these 850 workers in order to convince Committee members.
Mr Matshaya said that on June 7 2007 he began investigating for the workers.
The Chairperson said that he understood that. The Chairperson asked for proof that he is acting duly for the petitioners because the Committee only has approximately 300 signatures and IDs, but not his signature. He asked for proof that the petitioner can act on their behalf.
Mr Matshaya responded that he has copies of the actual workers’ affidavits from CTC. He met the former Chairperson on 9 April 2014, as well as Mr Peter Lebeko [Manager: Office of Speaker], and the late Secretary, Mr Michael Coetzee. He also returned on 22 September 2014 where he was welcomed by Adv Phindela, Mr Xaso and others.
The Chairperson asked if he was sure that it was in 2010 because the former president Mr Thabo Mbeki and Premier Balindlela were not in office at that time.
Mr Matshaya was not sure if it was between 2010 and 2011 but he had been to Pretoria at the Union Buildings and also that he had been to Parliament in April where he had submitted to Mr Lebeko the letter from the President ordering the Premier to investigate.
The Chairperson asked for a copy of the letter.
Mr Matshaya remarked that unfortunately he did not have it. He had given it to Mr Lebeko.
Mr G Michalakis (DA, Free State) asserted that the names and signatures, specifically for those claiming to be represented, needed to have been present. He was wondering if he just has the ID documents or if all formal requirements have been met. Additionally, those signing must be aware of what it is that they are signing for.
The Chairperson said that that question could be responded to later because it involved internal organization, and that clarity questions should be addressed now.
Ms G Manapole (ANC, Northern Cape) asked if between 1990 and 2007 the petitioners were trying to organize themselves and why it took so long to seek help.
The Chairperson repeated the question.
Mr Matshaya replied that before starting investigating, he had met with workers on the 7 June 2007. The workers had told him that they had given up on enquiries from the provincial government as it was not giving any workable lead to follow. That had forced him to take statements from people that were former shop stewards at that time. After that he had gone to the provincial transport department where he had enquired about the closure of CTC and the report to prove that that had happened in August 2007. He never received that document. One of his informers within the government informed him that what he was seeking at the Premier’s Office in Bisho was not there at all. In 2008 he had organised mass action with the workers he was representing and they had marched to the offices of MEC Mhlahlo demanding that he hand over the actual certificate of closure for CTC. That had contributed to the delays in formally petitioning as well. Only after that did Mr Matshaya resolve to get an affidavit of signatures from the former workers, after soliciting legal advice from the Grahamstown High Court; as they had hit a brick wall.
The Chairperson was not satisfied with the response because Ms Manapole asked about before 2007. The committee wanted to know why there was such a delay prior to 2007. He asked the translator to summarize the statements.
Mr Matshaya explained that from 1990 to 2006 Mr Bhunyane Mfene was leading the workers but that the workers had given up hope in trying to access funds due to the fact that the government was not considering their request. This was why Mr Matshaya sought advice from the Grahamstown High Court prior to taking the case. As he followed the case, it had also involved attorneys Mr Smith and Tabata from East London and Mr Borne Nyoka from Port Elizabeth. That was why he had not dwelled on 1990 to 2006. He was not previously involved.
The Chairperson asked what Mr Matshaya would say if the Chairperson said that people were paid in 1995.
Mr Matshaya asserted that he would not be convinced until the certificate being requested could prove it.
The Chairperson asked for other clarity-seeking questions.
Mr Julius asked if the petitioner had said all that he had wanted to because Parliament was there to hear him; the Committee would act without prejudice.
Mr Michalakis asked how the mandate was given specifically to Mr Matshaya. He also asked what he did specifically.
The Chairperson was concerned that there was no power of attorney from the petitioners themselves giving Mr Matshaya representative status; all that was there was his signature as a witness himself. The Committee was struggling with the matter because there was no evidence that the petitioners would not return to Parliament saying that the Committee had not resolved their matter, even though it was dealing with it on that day.
Mr Matshaya said if the letter sent to him previously to appear before the Committee had communicated well enough that he should bring all relevant documentation, including the affidavits, his briefcase would have been full because he met regularly with the workers to report back on progress on the case. Some of the CTC workers had been to Parliament on September 22, together with those from South African Railways (SAR).
Mr Julius questioned the process on the day that the workers came to Parliament to petition, had they handed in a petition? The Committee expected the support staff and other officials should know whether or not the petitioners had mandated their representative(s) before the petition came to the Committee.
The Chairperson remarked that representatives from Parliament would speak to that matter.
Ms Manapole asked what would happen with the money if it were to be awarded to the workers and for what purpose the R1 000 was paid to Mr Matshaya. As far as she was aware power of attorney compelled the workers to pay Mr Matshaya what they pledged to pay him, but did not stipulate that he would be representing them. Petitioning was a free government process; had the petitioners been aware that they were signing that pledge to pay Mr Matshaya?
The Chairperson stated that there is a disadvantage because none of the workers are here. The Chairperson questioned what advised the workers to be absent. The Chairperson also questioned if Mr Matshaya was able to answer the question regarding the workers’ knowledge.
Mr Matshaya agreed that when he was here on the 23rd, he was accompanied by workers but cannot answer the question fully.
Mr Michalakis wanted Mr Matshaya to confirm whether he was an attorney and could he explain what the R1000 instalment paid monthly to him was for. If he could not, could he explain how he had been selected to represent the workers before the committee?
Mr Matshaya said that the R1 000 was to open the file, per person.
The Chairperson asked him to submit a copy of the letter as evidence.
Mr Michalakis read the report saying that the document says R1 000 per month, and that if that is not the case, then document does not reflect this properly.
Mr Matshaya explained that it is a one-time payment for opening the file.
Mr Michalakis claimed that it is frightening if each person from the 850 people has signed a power of attorney to pay R1 000 that is over R1 million.
The Chairperson agrees that the documents reflect that there is ‘R1 000 per person per month’.
Mr Michalakis asserted that even R1 000 total for everyone is fraud because people can bring a petition to Parliament for free.
Ms Manapole agreed that this is fraud because the cost of a petition is free so that every citizen in South Africa can come to Parliament and ask for help regarding injustice. Unfortunately, none of the workers are here to say that they are aware of what they signed but she doubts that they are willing participants.
Mr Gary Rhoda, Legal Advisor, South African Parliament, explained that it is not a Power of Attorney it is only an acknowledgment of debt, although he is not sure the amount of debt. It is problematic that there are no explicit powers that were stated, but it does state that petitions come straight to the Committee first, which is not in accordance with the NCOP Rules; each petition must be deposited with the Secretary of Parliament. It appears that the Committee secretary to the NCOP and NA took it upon themselves to launch this petition and that is troublesome because it is not compliant with the NCOP Rules. The Committee should check with the committee secretaries to see that a formal petition was filed by the petitioners and if Mr Matshaya is a representative. Mr Matshaya also signs as a witness on the same document that ‘he is a representative of’; this is a clear conflict of interest in any legal office. There needs to be more clarity.
Mr L Suka (ANC; Eastern Cape) asked for clarity if each person pays R1 000 or if that is the total. It was clear that there is an outstanding amount owed after signing the document in question for each individual.
Mr Matshaya explained that the R1 000 was a security fee against people possibly lying about whether or not they worked for the CTC. Since he had not and could not get the CTC records, the only evidence he relied on in terms of whether the petitioners were employed by CTC was the Sanlam Benefit Fund he had alluded to above; since Sanlam had been the administrating insurer.
He had signed as a witness because he was aware of only 10 workers with blue cards proving they had been employed by CTC, the rest had paid the R1000 as that guarantee fee.
Mr Suka asked what the actual amount he was charging each alleged worker then, because there was a security fee and a guarantee that Mr Matshaya was alluding to at that moment.
The Chairperson reminded the petitioner that he could be held legally responsible for misrepresentation.
Mr Matshaya claimed that the R1 000 is paid after people receive their compensation of their funds.
Mr Suka asked if he was representing the people with blue cards or the other 300 people that did not have one. There were two figures there which were 300 and 850. He asked which was which.
Ms Manapole asked for confirmation that the R1 000 is a one-time payment.
Mr Matshaya explained that the workers pay R1 000 when they get compensation from the fund.
Ms Manapole says that the paper in front of them says something different and that it is signed. Secondly, she asked if he was aware that the process of petition submission at Parliament is free. Thirdly, she asked if whom he represents is also aware that the process is free.
The Chairperson answered that the petitioner knows because Parliament has paid his transport and expenses to be at Parliament. The Chairperson asked if he was aware that the petition process is free.
Ms Manolope requested that the petitioner responds.
Mr Matshaya stated that from today onwards he is aware. Prior to today he was unaware that there was a process and he first went to the President.
The Chairperson asked if the petitioner was aware that to petition and to give evidence is free.
Mr Matshaya reaffirmed that he is aware now.
Ms Manolope wanted confirmation so that in proceeding she noted that there may be a typo in the documents.
The Chairperson said that this issue can be discussed during deliberations.
Mr Suka asked where the petitioner operates from and how often the business is open. He also asked if he uses a secretary.
Mr Matshaya said that he uses his son as a pseudo secretary because the company is small and up and coming.
The Chairperson asked him if the Power of Attorney document properly describes his situation.
Mr Matshaya noted that there is a typing mistake.
The Chairperson questioned which mistake he is referring to.
Mr Matshaya pointed out that one name was next to an ID although it was not confirmed where he actually worked. He said confusedly that wording of the entire paper is wrong.
The Chairperson asked him if the content is what he knows, regardless of whether or not it is his. He asked repeatedly if the petitioner knows the document.
Mr Matshaya responded that the document is written wrongly.
The Chairperson asked the NCOP front desk from where the document was received.
Mr Luvo Nxelewa, Procedural Officer, National Council of Provinces (NCOP), said that he and his colleague, Mr Scone, received the document from Mr Matshaya on October 8, 2014 at the Visitors’ Office.
Mr Michalakis asked the Chairperson to remind Mr Matshaya that he is under oath and then asked what his day-to-day profession is.
Mr Matshaya claimed that his day-to-day job is to trace funds that have been lost in various places.
Mr Michalakis wonders how the documents can be so incorrect if that is his daily job. If he works with these documents every day, Mr Michalakis has a hard time believing that they can be so incorrect. He should know what his documents say, if not, the documents would have been corrected long ago. He cannot believe that.
The Chairperson said that the Committee must go off the evidence submitted by the petitioner.
Ms Manapole noted that he did not submit a petition. She wonders if any of the ex workers have paid Mr Matshaya any amount of money to open the case.
The Chairperson asked how much was paid to Mr Matshaya by the workers, if any.
Mr Matshaya said that R50 must be paid to trace the information.
The Chairperson confirmed that Mr Matshaya is claiming that each person paid R50, not R100.
Mr Matshaya agreed and that the rest will be paid after the benefits from the fund is received.
The Chairperson instructed Mr Matshaya to refer to where the document claims that each person is to pay R100 per month; it is signed by Mr Matshaya as a witness. The Chairperson asked if he is aware of this.
Mr Matshaya said that it is R50.
The Chairperson asked why Mr Matshaya did not say this earlier when he was questioned. He thanked him for having confidence in Parliament. The petitioner will be informed of the decision made. The Chairperson said that the Chief Executive Officer of Mayibuye was requested.
The Committee Secretary informed the Committee that the new CEO phoned Parliament claiming to not be prepared; therefore, the CEO will not be in attendance. The Transnet Labour Manager will also be absent.
The Chairperson allowed the Department of Labour to speak. The Chairperson reminded him that he was under oath and that was legally responsible should he provide unauthentic information.
Mr Thembinkosi Mkalipi, Acting Deputy Director General: Labour Policy and Industrial Relations, Department of Labour, explained that the letter from Parliament to Mr Matshaya on the 18th was to establish the facts about non-payment of insurance. It does not indicate whether information regarding whether or not people have been paid was provided. The ID number is the best way to check the insurance. All the information for all petitioners should be submitted in order to check. The law says that insurance payment disputes should be claimed within six months, not six or more years after. The time constraints and lack of information must be considered, even if there are funds.
The Chairperson asked about the specific Mayibuye case.
Mr Mkalipi reiterated that too much time has passed because the application must be done in six months according to the law. There are appeals to address this issue should information come forward such as the ID numbers and what people have contributed to the fund; those who did not contribute cannot be paid. This information has not been received, although it should have been in the letter. If it was received, it still may not be reimbursed because of the legal time constraints.
Mr Suka took this as a preliminary hearing in terms of the petitioner because there are grey areas in terms of the petitioners that the Committee needs to explore. As the Chairperson of the Select Committee on Labour, he requests an authentic list of members that the petitioner represents so that it is clear who is being discussed. Possibly, the Department of Transport can go to their local areas to confirm and assess exactly what has happened so that the Department of Labour can source information from their counterparts, this includes the Board Members of Mayibuye and others who did not attend. A verified authentic report is needed for the Committee to assist. The figures needed verification; more authentic information was needed. Smith and Tabata had moved on with their lives, but these people could be followed up with.
Ms Manapole noted that it is difficult to proceed, even if information comes forward. The Department of Labour just stated that the law says that the time period has passed.
The Chairperson said that the Department of Labour was invited simply to say what has been done and what knowledge it has. At the moment, the Committee wants to hear the positions.
Ms Manapole asked if requesting information only raises hopes if more documentation is being requested.
The Chairperson asked if the Committee can respond to the request without all of the information.
Mr Suka said that this is the first time this matter has been before the Select Committee on Labour. All facts must be on the table and there are still questions of authenticity. The determination will be made when the facts are given and the authenticity of the presentation is determined.
Mr Ximbi stated that Mr Suka had covered his questions and he would like to hear from the NCOP.
Mr Nxelewa said that on 22 September, former employees from CTC arrived at Parliament requesting pensions from CTC along with ex-employees of TransNet; after which the Secretaries of both Houses issued a correspondence to make sure that this issue was dealt with by November. It was signed by the Secretaries of the NA and the NCOP; after which, the NCOP Secretary consulted Mr Scone in the Procedural Office to expedite the office and the preliminary investigation. The work was divided so that the NA focuses on TransNet and the NCOP focuses on the Mayibuye Corporate. On 10 October 2014, the petition was referred to this Committee. On 8 October Mr Matshaya provided the Visitor Centre without the Power of Attorney or the IDs of the beneficiaries. The documents were signed off for and given to the Committee. On 27 October 2014, the Ciskei Bus Company responded that it does not have documents of the former CTC and that it cannot find information besides what the lawyer has. The Procedural Officer is still waiting for the Ciskei Bus Company to indicate if he will make the information available and at what cost; the Procedural Office depends on this response and its influence is limited on the matter.
Mr Nxelewa said information regarding TransNet from the NA was shared. On 26 September 2014, NA officials requested information from Mr Salani on the bases of the response received from the Public Protector. Mr Salani responded by stating that they had no knowledge of Mr Matshaya and they have no company named Rodrick Salani Consultants and their company is instead known as Gateways Rod Juris. He further indicated that on the basis of this background the matter from their side had been concluded. It is important to note that Mr Salani was requested by the NCOP for information substantiating the conclusion of the matter from their side, Mr Salani responded by saying he would liaise with his legal team and the Office of the Public Protector on the matter and respond formally in writing. The NA has yet to receive a formal written response or additional information from Mr Salani. On 13 October 2014, the Department of Labour requested a final list of beneficiaries regarding the TransNet matter. The Parliamentary Liaison indicated that a list of 554 beneficiaries was given but it did not include IDs, CTC services, or interests. On 14 October, the Department of Public Enterprises forwarded the response from TransNet on the issue of pensions and a letter of dismissal; it supplied background information. The letter indicated that the Department of Labour records could not reflect employees of TransNet because November 1st 1998 employees contributing to the fund were paid; however, it only included people who were employed at the time with corresponding ID numbers. The names and ID numbers were not mandated on the database.
Ms Manolope explained that a petition should have signatures of all of the petitioners attached. She asked if NCOP Rules 229 to 234 was followed. There is a process.
Mr Nxelewa replied that after the 22nd the NCOP Procedural Officer showed him the letter that the issue has being acted upon. The petition was also referred to this Committee as well.
The Chairperson asked if he received a petition.
Mr Nxelewa replied no; an existing letter was the basis for his action.
Ms Manolope asked if Rules 229, 230, 232 and 233 were followed. Rule 229 shows the petition process; Rule 230 talks about the language; and Rule 232 involves launching the approval of the Chairperson. She asked if the NCOP Chairperson gave permission for this petition to proceed to this Committee because there is no letter indicating such. There is only a letter from the NA and NCOP Secretaries. She asked where the NCOP Chairperson signed.
Mr Nxelewa insisted that the NCOP Chairperson signed a memorandum indicating that the issue has been referred to the Committee. The letter that was signed by both NA and NCOP Secretaries was acted upon, not the actual petition.
Mr Ximbi clarified that the officials were working under instructions. He asked if they found out Mr Matashaya’s job and about the powers of attorneys. He asked that when investigating the case and the documents, if the officers found that this submission should be here today.
Mr Nxelewa felt that it was a petition because it deals with people who travelled from the Eastern Cape to Parliament to submit their concerns. Then a letter from the Secretaries was submitted. The Procedural Officers felt as if the matter should be acted upon.
Mr Michalakis commented that this meeting was taking a long time and believed that to be a petition, rules must be adhered to, as Ms Manapole said. He asked if all the NCOP rules were complied with before the petition was submitted, specifically Rule 231. He suggested not to proceed and not to spend more money until the Committee is sure that it is actually a petition.
The Chairperson explained that the Procedural Officer was invited because some of the guidelines appear not to have been followed. It is not usual to have the Procedural Officer at a Committee meeting but the mishap made it important to include them in hearing the petition. The issue will be deliberated and reported on at a later date.
Ms Manolope said that not all questions were answered.
The Chairperson said that the lack of clarity will be discussed and addressed later and suggestions will be reflected in the report because there is no more information to get. The Chairperson said that it was explained why things were done as they were done.
Paternity Leave Petition
Mr Henri Terblanche presented the petition to amend the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (No 75 of 1977) to include 10 days of paternity leave for fathers of South Africa, following the birth or adoption of a child, as the current paternity leave is not sufficient. Fathers can only take family responsibility leave for three days if a child is born or is sick. In some cases, three days is not enough time. For example, his children and wife spent a lot of time in the hospital in one year and the family responsibility leave was not enough.
Research findings indicate that in Sweden the high take-up of parental leave by Swedish fathers is linked to the increased contact with their children in the event that the mother and the father separate. The research findings showed that Swedish fathers who took 120 days or more of leave in the 1990s reported that this enabled them to develop closer emotional relationships with their children and this made them feel responsible for childcare even after their leave period was over. Research findings from Israeli and the US further show that fathers who take longer paternity leave not only remain focussed on their children after their birth but also remain supportive towards their partner and place a higher value on their family life.
The petitioner made the following arguments in favour of fathers being granted paternity leave:
- Paternity leave enables mothers to take shorter maternity leave and this is very helpful for mothers.
- Paternity leave may improve both the fathers’ and mothers’ physical and mental health and this has positive spin offs for employers.
- Paternity leave is one way in which the responsibilities of fathers may be increased and enhanced.
Mr Terblanche explained that the cost of maternity leave is only R4 396. According to the Population Reference Bureau, the average number of children per mother in South Africa is only 2.3 and he assumed that 3 to 4 is near the maximum; R4 396 per child over a lifetime is not an excessive amount of money. Employers or the Unemployment Insurance Fund could pay the cost of paternity leave.
Algeria, Djibouti, Kenya, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Tunisia have paternity leave in the public sector; there are 9 countries implementing paid paternity leave in Africa.
The only negative aspect is the cost to the employer and there are numerous positive benefits. There are benefits involvement of both parents in child birth and adoption. Mr Terblanche asked the Committee to consider the amendment, especially noting that other countries have begun to increase their paternity leave.
The Chairperson requested the documents being referred to and asked if there were any clarity-seeking questions.
Mr Suka thanked Mr Terblanche for the presentation. He recognizes that Mr Terblanche had a bad experience not being able to see his twins in the Intensive Care Unit and he asked if the petitioner was proposing that three days was not enough time for paternity leave.
Mr Terblanche said that he would like three days of family responsibility leave and an additional ten business days paternity leave.
Mr Michlakis asked if in the research, he had found any challenges for consideration so that South Africa can avoid them.
Mr Terblanche replied that the problem is eligibility. Some countries require the father to be living with the mother of their child and in South Africa. Alternatively, the father does not have to reside with the mother, but he believes only 40% of fathers names are on birth certificate. The child’s birth certificate is necessary to prove eligibility.
Mr Julius admired his courage to come to Parliament with this petition. He wonders if the wording intentionally includes newborns and adopted babies.
Mr Terblanche clarified that he cannot put himself in the shoes of a father of an adopted child but he believed that the fathers of adopted children should be awarded the same opportunities.
The Chairperson asked if Mr Terblanche believed that the economy of South Africa is ready to accommodate this proposed amendment economically.
Mr Terblanche answered that he worked out the specific cost of approximately R4 300; social development benefits should also be considered. The benefits outweigh the fiscal costs.
The Chairperson thanked the petitioner and the Committee would inform him of what the decision is. The Chairperson asked the Department of Labour to speak on the issue; the Chairperson warned him that he is under oath.
Mr Mkalipi responded that only women give birth; therefore, the men should not get the same level of protection as women. Progressive countries share responsibilities. Keeping the family responsibility leave and adding the ten days paternal leave creates a division because then women still fall only under the family responsibility leave for three days. The men then receive more leave; this disadvantages women. Gender based leave must be equitable. He asked where the division between family responsibility and paternity leave is. He agreed that it benefits society for mothers and fathers to spend time with their children. However, the amendment disadvantages single mothers who would then only be entitled to three days’ family responsibility leave whereas children with both parents would receive more attention. He agreed that both the mother and father need more time to spend with their children after childbirth and that the existing family responsibility leave can be extended to prevent inequality.
The Chairperson clarified that the Department is not considering this amendment. The Chairperson said that the Committee now has responsibility.
Mr Julius questioned what the Department of Labour’s initial stance was and if it was changed because, if not, the petition may not have made it this far. Secondly, women need the support of their partners after the birth of their child. He asked about the impact on the economy and the grants because it should be the first and most likely argument, from which the Committee can work upon it. He asked if the problem was thought of first, then a solution, or if impact on the economy was considered first.
Mr Mkalipi explained that numbers must be crunched in order to assess the potential impact on the economy. The department thought of who would pay the costs. The fiscal cost may not outweigh the social benefits. The department cannot argue against the importance of both parents being with their children. Children who end up in trouble with the law usually have an absent parent according to research. An economic assessment must be done at a later stage; the study should start in September. The changes to labour law are done by Parliament and the department cannot pre-empt it. There is a moral argument for more days of leave for both parents. Other more progressive countries have leave that is divided between parents. The amendment might create some problems that may need correction in less than a year.
The Chairperson asked if the Committee supported such legislation, if the department would have a choice.
Mr Mkalipi agreed.
Mr Julius pointed that there is no economic impact assessment and recommended that one is done by the Department of Labour. He asked if it was possible.
The Chairperson said that if it is requested, that it must be done.
Mr Rhoda added that he is concerned because the petition is for an amendment and only Members of the House can introduce an amendment to a Bill. He does not think that this should come in the recommendation phase, but rather a finding should be made in an area so that a Member can introduce the amendment. When the Member introduces it, then an economic impact assessment is within the necessary route that the proposed amendment would take as well as researching, tabling, drafting, and consultation.
The Chairperson responded that it was the committee’s decision whether the committee would be for the petition or against it; but that would be the route taken if the committee would be for the petition.
The Chairperson thanked the petitioners for their input and presence. The Committee will consider all of the information given, ask more questions, and inform the petitioners of their decision. The Chairperson appreciates that the petitioners have had faith in Parliament and its processes. The Chairperson wished everyone a festive season.
[Apologies from Ms T Wana, Mr Chetty and Mr M Mohapi were given.]
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