Hansard: Second Reading Debate: Social Assistance Amendment Bill; Deputy Minister of Arts & Culture Response; Members' Statements
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 16 May 2008
No summary available.
Friday, 16 May 2008
FRIDAY, 16 MAY 2008
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
The House met at 9:03.
House Chairperson Mr K O Bapela took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.
Notices of motion
Start of Day
NOTICES OF MOTIONS
Mrs C DUDLEY: Chairperson, on behalf of the ACDP, I give notice that I shall move:
That the House debates the controversial issues surrounding the teaching of evolution in South African schools.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Is there any other motion? [Interjections.] I looked around and you didn't stand up. [Interjections.] It's too small? My apologies.
Mrs S A SEATON
END OF TAKE
Mrs C DUDLEY
Mrs S A SEATON: I hereby give notice that I shall move as follows at the next sitting of the House:
That the House –
(1) notes with concern the incidences of violence against foreign nationals in Alexandra and other areas;
(2) rejects the violence against foreigners in the strongest terms possible, and
(3) accepts the IFP's proposal for the immediate establishment of a commission of inquiry into the root causes for the attacks on foreigners, the commission's terms of reference to include making recommendations to government on how to prevent future attacks.
END OF TAKE
Mrs S A SEATON
CONDOLENCES TO THE FAMILY OF PINKY MSELEKU
Mnu B Z ZULU (ANC): Singumbutho wesizwe i-ANC sifisa ukwedlulisa ukuzwelana kwethu nomndeni wakwaMseleku ngokushona kukaNksz Pinky Mseleku. UNksz Mseleku ushone mhla zi-4 kuNhlaba 2008. Ubekade aziwa kakhulu ngemisebenzi yakhe emihle kwezomculo kanye nemidlalo yaseshashalazini. Ungomunye wabasunguli be-Cape Film Commission kanti futhi uke wahola ne-National Television and Video Association. UNksz Pinky Mseleku uyohlala ekhunjulwa njalo ngemisebenzi yakhe yokugqugquzela umculo we-jazz kusukela eminyakeni ye-1960. Ngesikhathi esekudingisweni eseZimbabwe uke wadlala kanye nezingqungqulu zomculo ezifana no-Hugh Masekela, okwathi emva kwalokho wamenywa umfowabo, uBheki Mseleku, ukuthi ayodlala e-London.
Ekubuyeni kwakhe ekudungisweni uNksz Mseleku wavula isikole sokuphucula imfundo eThekwini ngenjongo yokusiza intsha ehluphekile. Esebenzisa ezokungcebeleka uNksz Pinky Mseleku wabamba iqhaza elikhulu emzabalazweni wenkululeko yaleli zwe. Sithi kwabakwaMseleku akwehlanga lungehli! Ngiyabonga.
Mr E W TRENT
END OF TAKE
Mr B Z ZULU
LACK OF RESPONSE TO RECOMMENDATIONS OF PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION
Mr E W TRENT (DA): Chair, it is clear that government is not serious about rooting out financial mismanagement in government departments. The latest example of this indifference comes from Wednesday's meeting with the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, where we met with the Public Service Commission.
The PSC questioned the seriousness of departments when it comes to reporting financial misconduct, taking action against officials and co-operating with the commission. Whilst there has been a significant increase in the number of cases reported, few end with criminal proceedings. In fact, in 83% of the cases of guilty officials, they merely gOt written warnings. Even more worrying is the decline in discharge or firing from the Public Service as an appropriate sanction.
Parliament has allocated more than R100 million to the PSC in the current year, yet departments often simply choose to ignore the recommendations made in these reports, thereby undermining the intended role of the PSC in its attempt to help with good governance. The large number of departments who receive qualified audits year-after-year illustrates this point.
The DA calls on the Minister to explain to Parliament what she has done in response to the PSC recommendations in more than 30 reports. There are 30 reports that I know of – there might be more – that have been tabled since January last year. That's not even two years. There are 30 reports. What has the Minister done to make sure that the departments respond to those recommendations?
I think it's shocking because, in fact, what she is doing now, by not responding or insisting on a response, is condoning what I would call ``fruitless expenditure''. [Time expired.]
Mrs S A SEATON
END OF TAKE
Mr E W TRENT
ISSUES AROUND TEACHERS' STRIKE IN 2007
Mrs S A SEATON (IFP): Chairperson, the general strike by Public Service workers during 2007 in a dispute over pay increases caused major damage to various sectors of the South African society, not least the education sector where learners suffered greatly due to absent teachers and classroom disruptions.
Many thousands of teachers went on strike, but there were also many thousands of other teachers who did not go on strike, and diligently showed up at their schools, willing to teach. Of course, the ``no work-no pay'' rule applied to the strike, and the IFP has no problem with that, but we do have a major problem with the fact that deductions were made from the salaries of teachers who had not gone on strike.
Due to administrative incompetence, thousands of teachers suffered unnecessary financial loss, putting them in a precarious position. To add insult to injury, many thousands of teachers are, to this day, still waiting for the erroneous deductions to be rectified by the Education Department. That this is allowed to continue almost a full year later is indicative of the dismissive attitude of the department to teachers and their contribution to the education of our youth.
The IFP therefore calls on the national Minister of Education to urgently intervene in the provincial departments to ensure that the deductions made from salaries of teachers who did not participate in last year's strikes are immediately returned to those dedicated teachers who have suffered enough.
Mr CV BURGESS
END OF TAKE
Ms S SEATON (IFP)
ALLEGATIONS OF RACISM
Mr C V BURGESS (ANC): Chairperson, during the last constituency period, the Portfolio Committee on Safety and Security undertook tours around some parts of our country.
Among the places visited was Badplaas police station to investigate allegations of racism. It had been alleged that white police officers use separate toilets from the black police officers and black police officers are not allowed to use vehicles.
Another incident of racism took place in the North West. A father and his son were arrested following an alleged racially motivated attack during which one victim's arm was broken at Swartruggens. Samuel Morumula and James Mpeti, both aged 58, were assaulted at Doringskom Farm where they wanted to meet the owner to discuss business on Worker's Day last week.
Racism, one of the great evils of our time, bedevils human relations between individuals and nations and across continents. It brutalises entire peoples, destroys persons, warps the process of thought and injects into human society a foul air of tension, mutual antagonism and hatred. It demeans and dehumanises both victim and perpetrator, locking them into a vile relationship of master, race and untermenschen : Superior and underlying each with his position defined by race.
The ANC condemns all forms of racism and calls on all South Africans to fight and expose racism in all its forms. [Applause.]
Mrs C DUDLEY (ACDP)
END OF TAKE
Mr C V BURGESS
POST-ELECTION VIOLENCE IN ZIMBABWE
Mrs C DUDLEY (ACDP): Chairperson, the following is not just news headlines, but it is the reported reaction of four international ambassadors and retired South African army generals investigating post election violence in Zimbabwe: "Shocking levels of state-sponsored terror." "Extreme brutality." "Murder." "A Horrifying picture." "Absolutely urgent the world sees what is going on." "Violence has to stop."
Twenty-four people have been murdered and a thousand hospitalised in what Doctors for Human Rights say in unprecedented brutality and callousness. Reporters have said President Mbeki was shaken by these reports. Is he shaken enough to say what needs to be said?
In response to a previous ACDP statement in this House, the hon Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms van der Merwe, assured us that government would be vigilant. So when will enough people have been beaten, tortured and murdered before the vigilance leads to official condemnation?
SADC says Zimbabwe's political environment is not secure or safe or fair for a runoff vote for the presidency. The ACDP agrees, however, every extra night thousands more Zimbabweans are violated. The runoff vote must be held without delay and South Africa and SADC can and must induce this. As more and more people seek asylum in South Africa every day, enormous pressure is being placed on overcrowded and underresourced communities. Last night on TV we saw foreigners fleeing to police stations because of xenophobic violence in Alexandra and now in Diepsloot.
Yes, President Mbeki denounced the brutality, but why is brutality wrong in South Africa, but condoned in Zimbabwe? Thank you.
Dr C P MULDER (FF Plus)
END OF TAKE
Mrs C DUDLEY (ACDP)
COLLAPSE OF ZIMBABWEAN ECONOMY
Dr C P MULDER (FF Plus): Chairperson, the crisis in Zimbabwe is getting more serious every day. The Zimbabwean Central Bank yesterday issued a new Z$500 million banknote worth less than R15,00 to try and ease cash shortages amid the world's highest rate of inflation. The previous highest denomination note was for Z$215 million, issued only 10 days ago.
Toe Mugabe president van Zimbabwe geword het in 1980 was die inflasiesyfer 7% en teen 1990 het dit gestyg tot 17%. In 2000, toe die Zimbabwiese kiesers Mr Mugabe se referendum verwerp het, was dit reeds 56% en gister was die inflasiekoers 165 000%.
Sedert die verwerping van die konstitusionele referendum in 2000 is die politiek in Zimbabwe gekenmerk deur die agteruitgang en wegbeweeg van demokratiese bestuur. Dinge soos demokratiese verkiesings, die onafhanklikheid van die regbank, regsoewereiniteit en die vryheid van rassediskriminasie het in die slag gebly. Hoe het die ANC-regering daarop gereageer? Met stille diplomasie. Stille diplomasie wat gelei het tot stilswyende goedkeuring en geimpliseerde ondersteuning.
At independence in 1980 Z$1 was worth more than US$1. Today just one in five of the adult population is believed to have a formal job and some 3 million Zimbabweans have left the country for a new life in South Africa. These three million Zimbabweans can do Southern Africa, Africa and the world a big favour. There is enough time until the postponed second round election takes place. Return to Zimbabwe and use you democratic vote to get rid of the dictator Mugabe once and for all.
Mr S J NJIKELANA (ANC)
END OF TAKE
Dr C P MULDER (FF Plus)
HUMANITARIAN AID TO MYANMAR
Mr S J NJIKELANA (ANC): Chairperson, at a recent meeting of the EU Commission, the Foreign Policy Chief of the EU, Mr Xavier Solana, made the following statement: "We have to use every means to help those people", obviously referring to the people of Myanmar, due to the tragedies that have recently befallen them.
Furthermore, the Junior Minister of Human Rights in France, Rama Yade, indicated that her country, together with Germany and Britain, were ready to deliver aid without Burmese Government consent and she made reference to a 2005 UN principle.
What do these statements imply? It baffles me. Even journalists had pains in further questioning Mr Solana about his dubious statements. Then the question also arises: Will the Western world once again impose itself on a sovereign state under the guise of ensuring human aid? On the other hand, the behaviour and attitude of the Myanmar Government, with its alleged resistance to external human aid cannot be condoned at all. Any endeavour to save human lives in a genuine and honest manner deserves positive response as well as praise. However, we have to commend the leadership of Mr Ban Ki-moon in ensuring that the United Nations provides the desired aid for the people of Myanmar. As for those who want to thrive on human tragedy and use it for selfish ends, as well as political and economic interest, I have one message: You are living on borrowed time and posterity will judge you, even when you are in this world no more.
Hi kensa ngopfu. [Thank you very much.]
Mr W P DOMAN (DA)
END OF TAKE
Mr S J NJIKELANA (ANC)
COMMENDABLE LEADERSHIP IN CAPE TOWN MUNICIPALITY
Mr W P DOMAN (DA): Voorsitter, die DA is trots daarop dat die Ouditeur-generaal weereens vir Kaapstad Munisipaliteit met Helen Zille aan die spits as burgemeester 'n skoon, ongekwalifiseerde finansiële verslag vir die afgelope jaar gegee het.
Dit is maar net weer 'n bewys dat waar die DA leiding neem, skoon administrasie aan die orde van die dag is. Dat dit vermag is ten spyte van al die politiekery om van die DA-geleide koalisie ontslae te raak – ons tel nou al 13 pogings – spreek boekdele vir die leierskap wat aan die dag gelê word.
Ironies, vermeld die Ouditeur-generaal dat daar verbeter kan word met waterverslagdoening en skuldinvordering – albei sake wat oorgeërf is van die vrot administrasie van die ANC onder burgemeester Mfeketo en die ANC se lakei, die munisipale bestuurder, dr Wallace Mgoqi. [Gelag.]
In skrille kontras met Kaapstad, is daar die swak bestuurde en dikwels korrupte munisipaliteite onder leiding van die ANC dwarsoor die land. Ons daag die ANC uit: Stel vir ons 'n lys van ANC-beheerde munisipaliteite beskikbaar wat 'n ongekwalifiseerde verslag ontvang het. Ek was voorverlede week in Kimberley waar die Sol Plaatje Munisiplaiteit die sewende agtereenvolgende jaar so swak gevaar het dat die Ouditeur-generaal weereens geweier het om selfs 'n opinie uit te spreek oor die munisipaliteit se finansies.
Section 136 of the Municipal Finance Management Act states:
If the MEC for local government in a province becomes aware that there is a serious financial problem in a municipality, the MEC must promptly act.
Why are the ANC MECs afraid to act? Why are they neglecting a legislative duty? Are they afraid of comrades? Are they toeing the party line? Are they not liable for this inaction? South Africa deserves better financial management at municipalities. [Applause.]
Mr N B FIHLA
END OF TAKE
Mr W P DOMAN
EASTERN CAPE RAIL TRANSPORT
Mr N B FIHLA (ANC): Yesterday the Eastern Cape rail conference got underway in Port Elizabeth. The conference will, amongst others, investigate ways to encourage commuters, particularly those living in poor areas to make use of rail services.
The conference convenes under the theme: "Back to rail, connecting the Eastern Cape", and is hosted by the Eastern Cape Department of Transport and Roads. The conference will, in search of the means to make rail viable in the Eastern Cape, look carefully at the framework governing the rail industry in South Africa, including legislation, regulations, and the involvement of key stakeholders.
The conference will feature an exhibition of the Kei Development Corridor Mega Projects. Specific projects in the corridor include mega projects in various sectors such as agriculture, tourism and the industry, such as the Wild Coast, N2 toll road, Kei Rail, Ugie- Langeni road and mass food production.
The ANC believes that it is important to encourage people to use rail transport as there has been an increase in the levels of road traffic from freight public passenger and private passenger vehicle transport.
There is, furthermore, a need to put measures in place, to ensure the strengthening of rail infrastructure in preparation of the 2010 Fifa World Cup. The conference also presents an opportunity for the private sector to take part in the exciting initiatives that are expected to boost economic development in the Eastern Cape. I thank you.
Mrs I MARS (IFP)
END OF TAKE
Mr N B FIHLA
CORRUPTION IN ALLOCATION OF HOUSES
Mrs I MARS (IFP): Chairperson, 26 public servants appeared before the regional magistrate on Thursday and were fined R 2000 and R 5000 with an alternative six- to twelve-monthly jail sentences, for taking part in housing scams. A further 30 are to appear in court in connection with similar scams each month until December. There are thousands of people who have been struggling and waiting years for the houses.
It is through unscrupulous public servants such as these that the people who really qualify for and deserve houses are made to suffer. It is questionable whether such light fines will be a deterrent and stop dishonest public servants from committing similar offences in future. The capacity of the relevant managers, as well as the anti-corruption measures within the departments concerned must be questioned and re-examined.
Measures must be taken to correct this mess and root out the criminal element within this and all government departments. We have got to stop the rot, if we are going to deliver on our promises. I thank you.
Mr D A OLIFANT
END OF TAKE
Mrs I MARS
Mr D A OLIFANT (ANC): Hon Chairperson, the ANC-led government has identified the Broadband Infraco-led African West Coast Cable or shortly, the AWCC project as a lead initiative to create sustainable and comparative international bandwidth market in the country. The process towards the launch of the undersea cable in partnership with the private sector and other governments on the continent is at an advanced stage.
The AWCC is a 3 840 gigabits super-cable, which will stretch from the Western Cape to the United Kingdom with capacity terminating in London. This project has brought together 40 nations and some of the world's most influential telecommunications players in a joint effort to use the state of the art technology in linking people.
The ANC believes that information and communications technology, along with biotechnology can make major contributions to reducing world poverty. This is because ICT can overcome barriers of social, economic and geographical isolation and increase access to information and education. I thank you.
Mr G G BOINAMO
END OF TAKE
Mr D A OLIFANT
CONDITIONS OF SCHOOLS NOT IMPROVING
Mr G G BOINAMO (DA): Chair, in January two young learners died after they fell into pit latrine at Hlalanikahle primary school in Bushbuckridge. Subsequent reports by members of the school governing body reveal that the pit latrines had no foundations and that a slab had merely been placed over corrugated iron sheets and untreated pine poles that were laid across the pit. However, the DA is shocked to hear that almost five months later nothing has been done by the Department of Education to improve the situation.
While teachers have made their toilets available to the learners the children are scared to use them, choosing rather to use school grounds; and not only is that a health hazard, but it is also degrading for these learners. A reply to a DA question in March reveal that 14 years since the ANC came into power and promised to make conditions in schools better, some 80% of public schools in South Africa still either entirely depend on pit latrines or a combination of other types of sanitation facilities. Only 20% of schools have proper sanitation. The DA calls on the ANC to stop simply making promises. It needs to start holding those accountable for the poor delivery of basic services at schools and start giving our children the education they deserve. Thank you.
Ms B T NGCOBO
END OF TAKE
Mr G G BOINAMO
REHABILITATION OF EX-CONVICTS
Ms B T NGCOBO (ANC): Chairperson, the ANC-led government is indeed making a difference to the lives of the people. The continued support, networking and partnership of NGOs from Kokstad, with the Correctional Services towards stability in the community has yielded positive results in the district, towards rehabilitation of ex-convicts particularly the youth.
It is worth noting that there is a group of youth that has progressed in the following areas: A group of five youths has registered a viable general trading on co-operatives for which a tax clearance has been done, and further it has registered with database of different sectors; there is a group of youth that is running campaigns at the schools around Kokstad alerting learners of the consequences of being involved in drugs and crime as well as addressing the issues of HIV/Aids and teenage pregnancy.
Two members of the youth are engaged in welding and are making burglar bars and other steel equipment; and two have gone back to school at a tertiary level, and six have been employed by the municipality with support of the local economic development manager. The municipality has also begun to recognise the effectiveness and the role that the NGOs play in ensuring implementation of service delivery. Only the ANC is able to move this quick, and we would encourage other areas in the country to do likewise. Thank very much.
Ms M TWALA
END OF TAKE
Ms B T NGCOBO
EASTERN CAPE MARKETING OF FARM PRODUCTS
Nksz N M TWALA (ANC): Sihlalo, urhulumente osemikhaleni, nokhokelwa ngumbutho wesizwe i-ANC uthe rhoqo, ubambisene namahlakani ayimbumba yomfelandawonye, uzama ukuphucula ubomi babantu. uMasipala okwingingqi yeNciba ubambisene neSebe lezoLimo kwiphondo leMpuma Koloni uthe ngoLwesihlanu ogqithileyo waba nomboniso wemveliso yamafama akule ngingqi.
Le mini yaziwa ngegama lokuba yiNguni Production Day. La mafama akule ngingqi aye afumanisa ukuba imveliso yawo, ingakumbi kwimfuyo yeenkomo zesinguni iyaziwa kakhulu ngabantu abavela kwindawo ezingaphandle kweNciba. Isebe lezoLimo nalo liye lababonisa, lubacacisela ngoncedo abanokuthi balifumane abantu xa bejongene nemiceli-mngeni kwezolimo. Thina, singamalungu ombutho wesizwe siyakuhlala sithe nca kwisibhambathiso esasenza nabantu sokudala amathuba emisebenzi, nokulwa nendlala.
Mr J SELFE
END OF TAKE
Ms M TWALA
THE CAUSES AND SOLUTIONS OF XENOPHOBIA
Mr J SELFE (DA): Chairperson, xenophobia constitutes a very serious challenge to South Africa and its people. If the incidence of violence against foreign nationals in the Alexandra and Diepsloot are anything to go by, then xenophobia is on the brink of becoming a national crisis. We take this opportunity, once more, to express our sympathy with those affected, and our appreciation to the police and the emergency services for containing this explosive situation.
But it is very important that we understand the root causes of xenophobia. These are principally the competition for scarce resources, mainly jobs and housing; and the perception that foreign nationals receive these resources ahead of citizens of South Africa. Unless our economy is unshackled to create jobs; and unless the government has a coherent policy of managing migrants these problems will persist.
Most importantly, unless government beefs up border security, illegal foreign nationals will continue to pour into South Africa, placing intolerable strain on our capacity to provide even basic humanitarian assistance to migrants.
But we also need urgently to deal with regional instability, notably, the political crisis in Zimbabwe. The failure of President Mbeki's policy of silent diplomacy is directly responsible for the flood of the migrants to South Africa, and indirectly for these incidences of xenophobia. [Applause.]
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF ARTS AND CULTURE
END OF TAKE
MEMBERS' STATEMENTS - Mr J. SELFE (DA)
DEATH OF PINKY MSELEKU
THE CAUSES AND SOLUTIONS OF XENOPHOBIA
VIOLENCE IN ZIMBABWE
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF ARTS AND CULTURE: Chairperson, I would like to respond to a couple of the statements that were made by members in this House. On behalf of our government, the Ministry and the Department of Arts and Culture, I would like to join the ANC in expressing our deep felt condolences to the Mseleku family on the passing of the legend, Pinky Mseleku. It's not only a loss to the Mseleku family; it's also a loss to the creative sector as a whole - and also to the South African nation.
Also, what I would like to just point out; although we might be discussing it further; is that in so far as racism is concerned, it seems like it is only a sector of the South African population that is concerned about racism. We must remember that all of us are in this together and we just have to fight racism.
Also, I would just like to say that we are all concerned about the violence in Zimbabwe; we are all concerned about the economic crisis in Zimbabwe. But, I'm not sure whether other people think that it is going to be helpful to just say these things here in South Africa. What the President is doing is mediating in Zimbabwe and talking to all the parties there. [Interjections.] I'm not sure whether you are listening or you don't want to hear. Zimbabwe is a sovereign state. Zimbabwe is not a tenth province of South Africa. Thank you.
The DEPUTY CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY
END OF TAKE
MINISTERIAL RESPONSES – The DEPUTY MINISTER OF ARTS AND CULTURE
CONSIDERATION OF NATIONAL GAMBLING AMENDMENT BILL
The DEPUTY CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Chairperson, I move:
That the Bill, as amended, be passed.
MINISTER OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
END OF TAKE
The DEPUTY CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY
SOCIAL ASSISTANCE AMENDMENT BILL
(Second Reading debate)
The MINISTER OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: Hon Chairperson, hon delegates, ladies and gentlemen, at the many izimbizos that other Ministers and I have attended there has always been one recurring question. It is a question that has irked us and disheartened us. There is a question we have come to expect and one which we have not been able to provide a satisfactory answer to, until now.
The question is: Why if the Constitution stipulates equality between men and women, have men been handed the short end of the stick in terms of the pensions and are men only eligible for the old-age grant from the age of 65 years, while women receive the grant from the age of 60? I can assure you, as I have reassured many that it is not want but rather economic necessity that dictates the rules of eligibility for the old-age grant. We have ridden roughshod over the rights of older men, as we have perceived them to be the stronger sex and more able to handle life's hardships than older women. It is a liberty we have taken reluctantly and one which the Social Assistance Amendment Bill seeks to remedy.
Our system of social security has expanded significantly in respect of social assistance, growing from the average rate of R2,5 million in 1999 to over R12,7 million in 2008, amounting to 3,4% of the GDP and covering at least 28% of the population. Therefore, it is unquestionable that social grants are the cornerstone of all present social security systems.
The recent income and expenditure survey still shows that the income inequality as measured by the Gini Coefficient continues to worsen with 10% of the population receiving 50% of the income. The impact of social transfer on the Gini Coefficient is substantial and plays a significant role in reducing inequality in our country. We must thus make an effort to remove all access barriers to social assistance with the view of expanding access and coverage.
Following the findings of a study undertaken by the Economic Policy Research Institute, we have discovered that the means test acts as a deterrent to retirement saving among the poor, and I will be announcing changes to this in due course. In continuing to improve access to social security, let me now turn my attention to the Social Assistance Amendment Bill. The Bill has two objectives. The first one is to equalise the age eligibility for men and women over a period of time.
Once again, financial necessity describes that this occur progressively in the following manner with men being eligible for the old-age grant - after 1 April 200 2008 from the age of 63, after 1 April 2009, from the age of 61 and after 1 April 2010 from the age of 60. It is envisaged that the potential of 450 000 men will benefit from the passing of this legislation, with approximately 121 000 coming on board this year.
These are mainly black males who were excluded by the apartheid regime from obtaining benefits that would prepare them for their retirement and protect them against poverty. In conjunction with the National Treasury, we have allocated R1,2 billion during this financial year to accommodate these new recipients.
The legislation acknowledges the strategic role that older persons play in society. Older persons are instrumental in caring for the needs of their children, grandchildren and orphans as a result of the HIV/Aids pandemic that is crippling our nation. We cannot just simply regard them as grant recipients, but also need to recognise and appreciate their role as providers of care and ambassadors for moral regeneration.
However, this added responsibility has created a burden especially for men aged 64 years and younger, as they lack income support to continue to build the nation through their role as primary care givers. We are well aware that poverty and unemployment has caused many families to rely on social pensions for their survival, especially where a social grant is the only source of income in a household.
To this end we must continue to reform the retirement industry in a consistent and coordinated manner. Let me point out that in the area of social insurance, we are making steady progress in the development of proposal for reform of our retirement provisioning on issues relating to this. In particular, we have developed concrete proposals on the introduction of a mandatory contribution for all those in employment.
The overarching goal of this reform work is about ensuring that no citizen of this country is forced to live in poverty and to prevent everyone from falling into poverty. For those who have the means to contribute or save, we must create a system that provides income-smoothing over their lifetime, and protects against severe reversals of income due to unavoidable events such as death, disability and old age.
Our view is that the contributory system must be as inclusive as possible without severely reducing the disposable income of low-income earners. For this reason, we would like to see the mandates applying to all those earning R1 000 per month and above, with government providing some assistance in the form of our contribution subsidy to those who earn very low incomes.
In order to provide reasonable income protection in retirement, we would like to see a large proportion of the contribution going towards a defined benefit at retirement. At a minimum, our income replacement rates must be well above the current levels of 28% offered by the private retirement industry. Given the low income levels in this country, we think that a responsible government should be able to guarantee a minimum income of at least 40 percent of lifetime earnings at retirement.
As most of us are aware, mortality rates are extremely high especially at the income levels we are targeting. There is a likelihood that a significant proportion of our contributors will either die or become disabled before they reach retirement age. This has important ramification for the financial suitability of our proposals. And this is why we are carefully investigating the feasibility and affordability of providing for death and disability benefits as part of the mandatory contribution.
Initial indications are that this will not come cheap, and may require an estimated 4% of the mandatory contributions to be dedicated to this. Our work in this regard is due for completion at the end of this month and further details will obviously be thoroughly discussed along with the rest of our proposals in a transparent manner.
Unemployment poses an important constant constraint on our ability to create a well-functioning social insurance system. In our context, the rate of unemployment stands at an uncomfortable 40%, while the ability of our formal sector to absorb new job-seekers has been declining. Those who lose their jobs in the current climate have a high risk of staying unemployed for extended periods. As a result, the benefit provided by our Unemployment Insurance Fund have been shown to be wholly inadequate, with the maximum benefits only providing cover for up to 234 days; about eight months.
For this reason, we are working in collaboration with the Department of Labour to examine the feasibility of linking our social assistance benefits to enhance those available to UIF beneficiaries, while providing support to ensure quicker re-absorption into the labour force.
Much analysis has been done, and we are now considering some specific proposals that we will publish for consideration during this year.
Of course, the reforms under consideration will necessitate a re-examination of our tax system and the levels of income across subsidies provided within the social insurance framework. For our part, we have made specific recommendations for the introduction of a contribution subsidy which can be financed by removing the existing tax expenditure subsidy.
Our view is that the existing system is regressive in that it favours the rich, while condemning the low-income earners to rely on the old-age state pension. In attempting to create a comprehensive and inclusive social security system, government will have to examine the current institutional environment to ensure that we improve its performance and coherence. The current fragmentation and gaps in the system will provide a total reconfiguration of the whole institutional framework, including the administration, management, governance and oversight of both private and public participants in the system.
This is one of the more vexing challenges facing us, and we will need to challenge some vested interests while protecting the legitimate and vesting rights of those who have contributed to date. We will also need to fix the car while it moves, as we take into account the significant capacity of the private retirement industry and other public social insurance schemes while considering the appropriate allocation and institutional design of the new National Social Security Fund.
Clearly, we will have to create a fund to act as the key vehicle for mandatory contributions from low-income members who are currently not covered. On the subject of existing funds, I must take this opportunity to stress that government has no intention of raiding any existing retirement funds or absorbing them into the new social security funds.
On the contrary, we would like to ensure that all those who have previously contributed, receive the full benefit of their contributions when they reach their retirement age. In fact, I wish to applaud all those employers and unions and other stakeholders who had the foresight to establish their retirement funds, be it provident or pension funds before government embarked on this initiative. International evidence suggests that we are all myopic and tend to rely only to save for old-age when compelled. The fact that some stakeholders took the responsible measures they did to encourage saving for retirement is worthy of praise rather than punishment.
Therefore, I must assure all provident and pension fund members that their savings are safe, and the reform proposals under consideration will look at how to improve and enhance these savings rather than reduce them in any way. If anything, we are exploring various scenarios of how government can contribute to people's savings and what mechanisms can be employed to improve the benefits they receive at retirement.
Government is prepared to invest in the establishment of a new national social security fund and provide contribution subsidies to those who have very low incomes, while preserving the benefits of those who have made contributions through other vehicles. We will even be bringing proposals to all stakeholders on possible exemption for specific funds where adequate risk pulling is occurring, and the funds are meeting the desired criteria for accreditation in the new environment. [Time Expired.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON: (Mr K O Bapela) Hon Minister, Hon Minister, I even added one minute twenty three seconds to your speech because of the cough, and my apology in that one. Your time has expired. [Laughter.]
Before I call the next speaker, hon Minister you were heard calling us delegates. We know that you are attending many government conferences and parties, but we are still hon members, not delegates. [Laughter.] I am just saying that on a lighter note.
Mr M T MASUTHA
END OF TAKE
The MINISTER OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
Mr T M MASUTHA: Hon Chairperson, hon Minister, hon members, colleagues and friends, before I proceed, may I express - I believe on behalf of the House at large - our common sense of empathy with Mr Mkhongi who is an alternate member of this committee and who was due to participate in this debate this morning, but because having taken ill this morning, is unable to be part of this debate.
Let me also start by indicating that there wouldn't have been a better occasion for this debate to take place other than on the occasion where this country has celebrated many milestones and many historical events, including the struggles of women who fought against apartheid in the 1956 rebellion that women waged at the Union Buildings and many others.
I do not only rise on behalf of the ANC to support the Bill before us, but I rise also to invite this House and the rest of our country to join hands in celebrating this momentous occasion of historical importance.
Our Constitution says in section 27, which part of the Bill of Rights is, that everyone has the right to social security including the appropriate social assistance if they are unable to provide for themselves. We as the elected tribunes of our people and therefore the custodians of their best interest have the added responsibility not only of upholding the Constitution but also of making the promises that the Constitution made to them a reality.
In 2004, this Parliament rose to the occasion, when it passed the current Social Assistance Act and its companion, the South African Social Security Agency Act, to centralize the administration of the social assistance program in its entirety in the national sphere of government.
This was done amidst a plethora of court challenges initiated by our people against various provincial administrations for their failure to pay social grants due to them for various shortcomings due, to amongst other things, high levels of inefficiency, lack of capacity and other related difficulties experienced by provinces or provincial administrations.
On that occasion, Parliament did not wait for the courts to conclude on the legality and, more importantly, constitutionality of the transfer of this function to the provincial sphere. It promptly proceeded to rectify the situation as is indeed required of it by the Constitution by ensuring that the entire system is centralised.
Today another milestone will be reached when this Parliament, for the first time in the history of this country and as one of the few nations of the world, brings true fulfilment to our constitutional promise of equality between men and women, where, unlike most instances, it is the men that are aggrieved.
This is not all. One of the things that is not contained in this Bill but equally of historical importance is the raising of the age from 14 years to 18 years for children who qualify for the Child Support Grant. This is a change that only requires to be effected through regulations by the Minister and the portfolio committee will soon be calling the department to provide a progress report in this regard.
But all these great reforms to our social security system must be placed in proper context. The ANC has for some time now been advocating for the integration of our social security system as a step towards the eventual creation of a comprehensive social security system. This would assist in eliminating current high inefficiencies, especially with regard to the equitable distribution of the massive resources already locked in within the system.
I understand for an example that over R3 trillion, that is approximately three times of our GDP, is locked up in retirement funds which are supposed to constitute the central pillar of our social security system. These funds are savings that are meant to allow our people to retire in dignity.
Ultimately, whilst social assistance provides the most needed safety net for those in dire need, the primary challenge is to ensure that the constitutional obligation in section 27 that I alluded to earlier, must eventually be realized, namely that everyone has a right to social security. We therefore look forward to a progress report from both the Minister of Social Development and Minister of Finance who is responsible for Treasury in progress that has been made in reforming, especially our retirement and our health insurance system.
Many people who should have benefited from some of these funds over many decades have not benefited due to many challenges including unclaimed benefits which are mainly due to lack of information on the part of beneficiaries or failure by some of these schemes to trace beneficiaries.
Social security cannot be limited to income, substitution or support but it must include healthcare cover, which becomes even more critical as people grow older. It must ensure adequate provision for such basic necessities as adequate nutrition, housing, transport etc.
We are a caring society. We are a people-centred society. All of these are ideals for which the ANC, both as a liberation, a revolutionary and democratic movement has struggled for and won in its fight against apartheid. The ANC leads, the ANC lives, Limpopo has decided, JZ has confirmed and Thibos has given the go ahead, and so it shall be done.
Let me however clarify that these changes cannot take effect until this Parliament has changed the law, hence the Bill currently before us. As the committee, it took us two days to finalize and report on this Bill, which included giving an opportunity to all political parties participating in the committee to brief their caucuses last Thursday, before we passed the Bill that afternoon.
As chairperson, I made an initial attempt to intervene in the tagging of the Bill by proposing that Parliament uses the much quicker legislative route under section 75 as opposed to the much longer route of section 76 of the Constitution in passing this Bill. Unfortunately, the State Law Advisors insisted and remained adamant that this is a section 76 Bill and I decided not to pursue the matter, even though I am still convinced that their opinion was legally incorrect and mine correct. I felt that any delay in the tagging of the bill could further jeopardize the speedy conclusion of the legislative process.
I also wish to advise potential applicants that this law does not provide for retrospectivity. This means that applicants who reach the age qualification of 63 this year can only lodge their applications for the social grant due to them from the day the law takes effect. That means after Parliament has passed it and the President has signed it into law.
We debated this matter extensively in the committee and concluded that to do otherwise would result in iniquitous situations, which time does not allow me to expand on at this point in time. What remains though is for all of us to do all that is in our power to expedite the completion of this task in ensuring that the legislation is put in place and people can start to benefit.
Hunger is upon many of our people and these grants are going to have an impact far beyond the direct financial benefit that will be due to the beneficiaries in that it will extend to the entire family, the entire household and the whole community who very often look up to these grants for their very survival.
Let me conclude by expressing appreciation to my colleagues in the committee across political parties - and I am very confident that all political parties will not oppose this Bill because all of us have long been waiting for this occasion to eventually arise; the Minister for his tireless commitment to service to our people but more importantly our people under the leadership of the ANC for bringing us all here, especially the ANC members, to be able to provide the service and to be their representative and ensuring that their aspirations are finally realised. I thank you.
Ms J A SEMPLE
END OF TAKE
Mr M T MASUTHA
Ms J A SEMPLE: Chairperson, hon Minister and hon members, public representative across the country are continuously inundated with queries about social assistance grants. There is no doubt that these grants are, in many cases, the only way that millions of poor people in South Africa survive, and the only way they can put food on the table, however little that may be.
However, we must guard against South Africa becoming a total social welfare state. We cannot allow people to be born, live and die, merely relying on a social grant to survive. There must be opportunities for people to acquire skills and, even more so, opportunities for them to get jobs so that they have their own way to benefit from their own earnings.
By equalising the age of eligibility for men and women, even though this is staggered from 63 years in the current year to 61 in 2009 and to 60 in 2008, a large number of indigent men will be able to live out their old age in slightly better circumstance and dignity than they would have otherwise been able to do. It must be remembered though that the old-age grant is only applicable from the date of application, and it is not retrospective to the date on which the applicant reached the appropriate age. It must also be remembered that the grant is subject to a means test. This means that not every person who turns the relevant age automatically qualifies for the grant, as the husband of one of our members of the portfolio committee discovered, much to his disgust!
The means test also applies to the income of both partners if they are married. The DA has dealt with so many old people whose combined income puts them just outside the minimum amount or other old people who have to draw on their meagre savings to pay the rent and then have their pensions deducted with the same amount. We almost feel that the means test discourages savings and have even told elderly people not to get married in case they lose their pensions! The same applies to domestic workers who have been given a small pension by their employers, but are then told that they do not qualify for a state pension as well. We appreciate the Minister's commitment today to safeguarding people's existing savings towards their retirement.
We realise that social assistance grants are for the poorest of the poor but many people who are not quite as poor feel entitled to their share. I am not referring to well-paid civil servants in this regard but those who are just over the poverty line. The DA welcomes indications that the means test has been re-evaluated, as this will bring relief to many people who are on the border of poverty and suffer hugely as a result. We look forward to the Minister's recommendations on the new social assistance retirement fund, but I do hope that hon Masutha's reference to the R3 trillion locked up in retirement funds does not mean that the ANC is thinking of plundering these funds. This would be a huge mistake.
A further amendment to the Social Assistance Act is to allow the Minister of Social Development to establish an appeals tribunal to hear cases where applications for social grants have been denied. Once again, there are thousands of these - over 20 000 appeals on disability grants in KwaZulu-Natal alone. Clearly, it is impossible for the Minister and his office to deal with this mammoth task or indeed to give them the proper consideration they deserve.
The DA questions the fact that disabled people have to have their disabled status verified every six months. Surely a person with a permanent disability can be classified as such? A further problem is that it appears that one state doctor can overrule another state doctor. We have an example at present where Dr A says Mrs X is disabled and entitled to the grant, while Dr B says the same Mrs X must go and get a job at Spar when she has had a stroke, dribbles and is incontinent. How can she possibly be employed?
We receive heart-wrenching letters from people who cannot even afford to buy bread, and cry that nobody wants to know them in case they get asked to provide that loaf of bread. Let's hope that the appeals tribunal will at least bring some consistency to these decisions. Considering the current number of appeals, the DA questions how long it will take the new appeals tribunal to get through the backlog that seems to grow with almost every passing week. We do not, however, dispute that there is a desperate need for such an appeals tribunal, and the sooner it starts, the better.
The DA supports the amendments to the Social Assistance Amendment Bill. [Applause.]
Mrs I MARS
END OF TAKE
Mrs J A SEMPLE
Mrs I MARS: Chairperson, the Social Assistance Amendment Bill before us today consists of half a page. However, not withstanding its size, this Bill will impact positively on the lives of many of our most deserving citizens.
In the first instance, and very importantly so, the Bill gives effect to the right of equality enshrined in our Constitution by removing discrimination against men on grounds of gender in the qualifying age for social assistance. This must be welcomed, as it finally removes one of the last forms of statutory gender discrimination still existing in South Africa.
The IFP, and I think most of us, would have liked to have this implemented immediately. However, we accept that it is a section 76 Bill, and we have to wait for the finalisation of all this. We also accept that the phasing-in of the age equalisation over a period of time must be deemed a prudent approach as it allows the funding implications to be more easily managed.
With staggering increases in transportation and basic food prices, any cash injection into poor households must be welcomed and, as such, this House should seriously consider relooking the issue of the basic income grant.
Home Affairs indicate that the smart card will be available in the very near future, and grants will be accessible through the smart card.
The IFP welcomes the creation of an independent appeals tribunal because it creates an alternative to the courts to adjudicate disputes arising from rejected social assistance applications. This, we feel, will alleviate the pressure on the courts and avoid the build-up of massive backlogs currently experienced.
We are however concerned that, although the budgetary implications of creating provincial appeals offices are obvious, the fully fledged tribunal only come into effect in April 2010. This raises the question as to whether the interim arrangements will be able to effectively deal with the current backlog of tens of thousands of cases.
We totally agree that the issue of the means test needs to be discussed as a matter of absolute urgency. I think my colleague from the DA has gone into this in more detail, and we totally agree that there are so many marginal cases that we will have to find a mechanism to accommodate these also very, very needy and desperate people.
We suggest that Parliament maintains careful oversight over this process and ensures that all deadlines regarding the full implementations are observed.
The past accumulation of massive backlogs remains a matter of great concern. How long can we expect an aged person to wait for a decision as to their eligibility to qualify for social assistance? Of course, this applies to sick and injured people as well.
The continuing reform of social assistance is heartily supported by the IFP, and we thank the Minister. Thank you, Chairperson. [Time expired.]
Mr I E JENNER
END OF TAKE
Mrs I MARS
Mr I E JENNER: House Chairperson, the Minister, members, the ID strongly supports this Bill and believes that it is long overdue.
We have consistently argued, for many years, that the previous dispensation regarding pensions was unconstitutional and that it discriminated on the basis of both age and gender. Old-age pensions have also proven to be one of the greatest poverty alleviation measures in South Africa and grandmothers and grandfathers have often had to support their entire families on these pensions.
The Amendment Bill, which will ultimately give men their pensions at 60 instead of 65, will therefore go a long way in providing
much-needed income to families that are being burdened by spiralling food and energy prices. Our only regret is, Minister, that this Amendment Bill will only equalise pensions in a staggered manner over the course of three years.
We believe that with our huge budget surplus the government should have implemented these changes immediately to provide urgent relief to millions of families in South Africa.
Die ander kwessie is, Minister, dié van 'n totale welsynstaat wat op hierdie stadium irrelevant is. Mense van 60 kan nie meer vaardighede en alternatiewe inkomstes bekom nie. Die mense van Gode in die Oos-Kaap, die mense van Rietpoort in Namakwaland, en die mense van Vanrhynsdorp verwelkom hierdie stap en vandag is die geskiedenis, met betrekking tot pensioene, herskryf. Baie dankie.
Mrs C DUDLEY
END OF TAKE
Mr I E JENNER
Mrs C DUDLEY: Chair, the ACDP supports this amendment to the Social Assistance Act of 2004 which attempts to address inequality regarding the age of men and women eligible for a state pension. When it is fully implemented, eligible men will be able to access their pension when they turn 60. The phasing in of this, of course, is unfortunate, but appears presently to be the most practical solution.
The ACDP welcomes the Minister's statement with regard to
much-needed plans to re-evaluate the present means test and sees this as a priority. The Bill also provides for an independent tribunal appointed by the Minister to consider all appeals against decisions of the agency.
As these amendments to the Social Assistance Act are not controversial and have been well explained by previous speakers, I will take the opportunity to comment generally in terms of grants and poverty alleviation. We all know that much-needed grants, in addition to pensions, are a necessary short-term intervention in the face of tremendous needs and wide-spread poverty. We also know that money alone never has been – and never will be – a lasting solution.
Poverty is not a money problem. It is a skills and relationship problem and throwing money at it will not make a sustainable difference. Skills acquisition and mentoring are the real needs and we must find ways to create greater opportunities for skills transfer and mentoring.
The ACDP calls on the Minister of Social Development to take up the mission of convincing government to introduce significant incentives such as tax breaks for companies employing numbers of people for the purpose of skills development and mentoring. It will be tragic if our people stay trapped in dependence and poverty when economic freedom could be their reality. Thank you.
The MINISTER OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
END OF TAKE
Mrs C DUDLEY
The MINISTER OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: Chairperson, I take this opportunity to thank the House for accepting this Bill. Quite obviously, there are many issues which need to be accelerated as fast as possible.
In our offices we've got quite a big number of people who have already applied for this because they understood that, when the President speaks, it becomes the law, and as such they'd expected that this Bill would be in effect from 1 April. Unfortunately, because of the tagging of this Bill, it had to go through the process where it had to go to the provinces.
We have discussed this whole issue with the presiding officers - the Speaker and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces. Although we agree that it should not have gone that way because provinces have very little to do with the grants at the present moment since the establishment of SA Social Security Agency, we didn't want to stop the process as it was. So, I take this opportunity to appeal basically to the House and also to the NCOP to accelerate this thing as fast soon possible.
On the issue of when this is to take place, I think we would have loved this to start in June, but it depends mostly on the process in the NCOP. I hope the processes will move as fast as possible.
On the independent appeal tribunal, we are just waiting patiently for this Bill to come into law. We've already appointed the people; we are only waiting for the Bill to be passed, and would start – hon Mars - in KwaZulu-Natal where there are lots of problems which need to be resolved.
On the question of the doctors and on decisions not agreeing with each other, I think it could help if members of this House could intervene many times and try to assist these people. It takes a long time to write a letter to the MEC; sometimes, people don't understand, and take that all the way to Pretoria.
If you see somebody who is disabled and you can, as a commissioner of oaths, give your stamp or signature, for us that is enough, so that the person can get the necessary pension that he or she is entitled to.
With regard to children, as the last speaker said, we agreed in Pholokwane that a child is a child until the age of 18, and that cannot be changed by any individual or government because that is the definition given by the Constitution and we can't change it. We are trying in government to ensure that this does become that. On the issues being raised, Members of Parliament should also help us to assist those children who are in dire need.
Sassa is there to assist as much as possible, and I think we have ordered that they should assist and talk to the Members of Parliament to resolve some of these issues because everything is upon us. We might disagree ideologically, but these are our people, and we should serve them as best we can. I thank you. [Applause.]
Bill read the second time.
Mr K O BAPELA / XENOPHOBIA DEBATE
END OF TAKE
The MINISTER OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
DEBATE ON REPORTED INCIDENTS OF VIOLENCE AND ALLEGED XENOPHOBIC ATTACKS IN ALEXANDRA AND OTHER AREAS.
Mr K O BAPELA: Madam Speaker, the reported xenophobic incidences in Alexandra and now in Diepsloot that captured the headlines and news this week are shocking, horrible and shameful. These incidences must be condemned and denounced by every South African.
I was born and grew up in Alexandra myself and all those years in the yard where I stayed we had foreign nationals from Mozambique and in the yard next to us there were foreign nationals from Malawi. As children, we went to the same schools, lived together, played together and were just simply Africans. We were just human beings. Alexandra has had foreign nationals who stayed in the areas since the 1930s. This is not a new phenomena or occurrence, having foreign nationals there. We had and continue to have people who are born and bred in Alexandra. We have children who came from the rural areas and grew up in the township. The area was occupied by the African migrant workers itself since 1912, when Mr Papenfus, the owner of the then farm, was unable to attract white buyers and later sold the plots to Africans in the place known today as Alexandra, named after his daughter.
We are also proud to have had people who lived in Alexandra such as Moses Kotane, Nelson Mandela, Alfred Nzo, B A Xuma, Florence Mophosho and many others, among whom were foreign nationals, such as Samora Machel, who once stayed in Alexandra when he was a migrant worker in Johannesburg. Samora Machel later emerged and formed the Frelimo movement and became its leader and then liberated Mozambique. We also had Chinese shops in the township. We grew up buying from their shops, we did not just trade in Alexandra, but lived there as well. We have always had Indian neighbours as well.
On Monday this week, when my children were preparing to go to school, we got a call from their grandmother to say that they did not sleep the night before, on the Sunday night, as there were screams, shootings and people running up and down the street and they did not know what was happening. Later the news came that there were attacks and foreigners were the victims, hence the commotions of the night before. No sooner had information been heard, the incidents spread and there were battles in the streets with the police who were trying to calm the situation and protect the residents.
My daughter is in Grade 11 in the Wendywood High School and is a member of the Learner Representative Council. She asked a question as the news was spreading, and her question was: Daddy, we have children at our school who are from other countries. I, myself, have a friend who is from the DRC, who is the granddaughter of Patrice Lumumba, the former Prime Minister of the freed Zaire – now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
"What explanation am I going to give?" she asked, and this was quite embarrassing, but I had to give a response by going through the history of South Africa, how South Africa is intertwined with the continent, its history, the migration flow to South Africa in the sugarcane fields, the mines from Mozambique and Lesotho and that it has always been this country that had had foreign nationals staying with us and how it contributed to our economy. And I also gave the history of Alexandra, as articulated in my earlier input.
Thousands in Alexandra, I know, do not approve of what has happened. Speaking here and being associated with Alexandra myself, and also Job Sithole, sitting there at the back, and other MPs who were once members here like Nat Kekana, Joe Nhlanhla and Wally Serote, we would like to say to our African brothers and sisters that we are sorry about what happened and our resolve for a united Africa and its prosperity remains solid. We grew up in the ANC that taught us as individuals and the entire community about the Freedom Charter, which says there shall be peace and friendship. And I am sure that the late Alfred Nzo, Thomas Nkobi, Moses Kotane, Martin Ramokgadi, Florence Mophosho, Choabi, Thoko Mngoma, Vincent Tshabalala, Zephania Mdakane and many other of our heroes and heroines must be turning in their graves about what has happened.
In engaging closer with the developments and speaking with our own comrades and members on the ground, I can confirm without a doubt that criminality and the hooligans are running amok. Not only foreigners were victims, as there are known South Africans who got killed in the incidences.
On Tuesday, before leaving Johannesburg to come to Parliament, during the day we went to the Alexandra transit camp, which was one of the areas attacked the night before. Most of the people there are South Africans who are in transit to get their homes, or some of those whose houses were gutted by fires and they would be accommodated temporarily there. They said that the people who attacked them came in at night and ranged from the ages between 15 and 22. These people told them to produce their IDs and they asked them who they were and once you said you are South African and from a particular ethnic grouping, they would then say "join us" and if people didn't join them, they were attacked and in the attacks their possessions also got stolen, as they did with the other foreign national groupings. Popular items that got stolen there were DVDs, televisions, music systems, cellular phones, money, and jewellery and in one incident even a fridge.
As we debate in this House today, many of those houses have been taken over and their owners have fled and new owners have occupied them. We hope, therefore, that the police will later investigate this, once the situation has calmed. These violent attacks that started that night and affected the people of Alexandra and the foreigners who had to flee to the police station were protected there.
The statistics are indicated in the following just to indicate the criminality of the incidents: Two people were killed, the third person was not related to theses incidents; one is a South African and one is a foreign national. Of those there were two unconfirmed deaths that were reported yesterday, but they are not yet verified. Of the injured 65, 40% are South Africans and 60% are foreign nationals.
The arrests that occurred just around those particular incidents and in those areas where this happened two people were arrested for carrying illegal firearms and of the 60 arrested, three were arrested for rape; 24 arrested for public violence; two people were arrested for causing grievous bodily harm; and 14 for house breaking and theft. This then begins to give the type of criminality that is going on there. In characterising the situation briefly is that these groups of 15 to 22 years, when you calculate from 1994, most of them were between three and seven years old. They do not know where we come from as a country; they do not know where we are, where we are going and who we are. I think there is a lot of work that needs to be done by parties and organisations to ensure that we educate and create consciousness and awareness within this particular population, because it is going to be a growing population of born-frees who don't know where we come from, where we are and where we are going. Therefore this is a challenge to political parties and I hope that more money will be allocated to party-building and party organisation in whatever way.
The people of Alexandra have already responded to the situation and I think as we go there in the coming weak, as Parliament, we need them to also give that particular support. On Tuesday a meeting of 8 000 was convened to call for calm, addresses by various leaders from the province and also from the local communities. Quite a number of other leaders had visited the area as well.
The IFP and the ANC are working together in the area to ensure this and have, since Tuesday, been appearing in all the meetings together to ensure that we indeed do deal with that particular situation. Other organisations are giving relief, such as the NGOs, the civil society, religious groups, and so forth. We also need to begin to contribute to that. The challenge facing us is: What do we do?
Other people in the debate will probably want to say that there is a failure of services in Alexandra or it is the failure of the Presidential project, but it is not like that. I come from Alexandra; we know what the situation is. The land issue is a problem. The land in Limbor park – people are refusing to allow that. There are many objections there. Also with regard to the land in Leeuwkop – it ended up in court and then we lost that court battle. It could then halve the population of Alexandra. What is happening is that people are fighting for the small, scarce resources that are there. Housing has developed so phenomenally to an extent that people are now beginning to ask who should be benefiting. It is not about where are the houses, it is about who should be the beneficiaries. Some say that it should only be people born and bred in Alexandra, whereas others are saying that those who are from rural areas should not be benefiting and then foreign nationals are also included in that particular issue. Therefore, as we debate this issue, let's then look at this.
Lastly, Parliament will be visiting the place next week and we are hoping that the Speaker will look at the memo. We are also organising a prayer service, as we visit the place next week Friday. A task team from Parliament will then be meeting next week Tuesday. [Time expired.] Thank you. [Applause.]
C/W: Mrs S M CAMERER
END OF TAKE
Mr K O BAPELA
Mrs S M CAMERER: Thank you, Madam Speaker. South Africans are exceedingly xenophobic. The underlying causes are complex and include South Africa's racist history along with the extreme levels of poverty. Largely black African foreigners face abuse and discrimination with South Africans reacting to refugees, asylum seekers, undocumented immigrants with hostility and resentment leading to intermittent violent attacks.
These are the findings of the SA Human Rights Commission in its comprehensive 2006 report on its joint hearings with Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs on xenophobia. Accordingly for the Home Affairs Minister to pretend, as she did in this House early in the week, that the xenophobic attacks are still going on in Alexandra township and now spreading to surrounding areas such as Diepsloot and Olifantsfontein and are being stoked by a "third force", is nonsensical disinformation.
The 2006 findings confirmed extensive earlier research on the subject. However, the Alex violence is perhaps the worst xenophobic outbreak that South Africa has experienced. The DA condemns xenophobia, which as I said, keeps exploding in areas of our country where really poor South Africans have to rub shoulders and compete for services and resources with large numbers of refugees and foreigners.
On behalf of the DA's public representatives involved with the Alexandra township including myself, I would like to register our outrage over these attacks mostly against Zimbabweans and Mozambicans in the past few days in Alexandra township. We make an earnest appeal to all concerned for calm and to restore peace to Alex and for all residents to co-operate with the police. We are pleased to note that 200 extra metro cops have now been deployed to Alex to cope with this emergency. If necessary, there should be civilian intervention by the SA National Defence Force to provide back-up for the SA Police Service to prevent the attacks from spreading and further loss of life. It is vital for government, all local public representatives, civil society, trade unions and faith-based organisations to work together to this end.
It must be acknowledged, in spite of the refusal of the previous speaker that the reason for this boiling over of resentment in Alex Township is in line with the findings of the SA Human Rights Commission. A large majority of the residents of Alexandra Township live in appalling socioeconomic conditions. Social services have all but collapsed in many areas. These impoverished residents fear that foreigners are taking from them desperately needed resources, including jobs. Times have become harder with the recent steeply rising cost of fuel and food. However, this is no excuse for violent attacks as we have seen in Alex and earlier in Worcester and the Cape Flats.
To address the slum conditions after similar unrest in Alex Township in 2001, President Mbeki announced the Alexandra Renewal Project. Seven years later, despite these promises, very little has been done and the dynamics, as I am sure the previous speaker will have to agree, have not substantially changed. Once again there has been a failure of policy implementation by the Mbeki government.
The part of Alex that falls into my constituency is in Ward 91 - a crazily composed ward. [Interjections.]
Mr D J SITHOLE: Madam Speaker, on a point of order: I rise to raise an issue ...
The SPEAKER: Hon member, are you asking the member a question or are you rising on a point of order?
Mr D J SITHOLE: I am rising on a point of order, Madam Speaker.
The SPEAKER: What is the point of order?
Mr D J SITHOLE: The hon member is misleading the House when she says nothing is happening in Alex. I grew up there. I know exactly how many units and how many roads ...
The SPEAKER: No, hon member. I think that is giving information. If she is not deliberately misleading the House then that is not an issue. Please take a seat, hon member.
Mrs S M CAMERER: Thank you. Well, if you listen to my speech you will hear why I say that.
The part of the Alexandra Township that falls into my constituency is in Ward 91 – a crazily composed ward - half the superrich suburbs of Illovo, Inanda and Atholl, and the other half a very poor Alexandra residence. There are no xenophobic attacks on the rich side, although crime afflicts them all and now criminals have got into the act in Alex, piggybacking on these ... [Interjections.]
Mr K O BAPELA: Will the member take a question?
The SPEAKER: Will you take a question, hon member?
Mrs S M CAMERER: No. I have far less time than you, hon member.
The SPEAKER: She doesn't want to take a question.
Mrs S M CAMERER: ... piggybacking on these Alex attacks. One of our DA councillors who live in Alex told me yesterday that it was now mostly criminals who are chasing foreigners out of their homes in Alex and stealing their TVs, phones, whatever possessions they have.
In its National Action Plan for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights published nearly 10 years ago, government acknowledged that we had a problem of between 2,5 and 8 million undocumented aliens as well as the need to do something about this. At the same time a Roll Back Xenophobia Campaign was announced by the Human Rights Commission. Well, 10 years on, the problem has got worse and again little has been done. In fact, the Human Rights Commission acknowledges this but pleads inadequate resources in its 2006 report. The DA believes that government should urgently allocate resources to revive this robust xenophobia campaign.
We believe that in the short term there is a desperate need for crisis management to contain the dire social situation that is developing over a thousand foreigners that are encamped around the Alex and Bramley police stations in appalling conditions.
In the medium to long term however, a number of steps need to be taken and shortcomings addressed which were identified in the 2006 report, including the urgent transformation of Home Affairs. The report found that those officials tasked with protecting foreigners such as SAPS and the Department of Home Affairs display the highest levels of xenophobia, despite official condemnation of it. There is an urgent need for training for these officials. The long mooted refugee council should urgently be established. There is a need for greater public awareness. More pro-active strategies to combat the scourge of corruption and bribery in the Department of Home Affairs are needed.
To those the DA would like to add the following key issues which need to be dealt with in order to prevent future violent attacks: An end to the government's denial about the extent of the problem of xenophobia in South Africa; recent attacks on Somalis were dismissed as purely criminal acts; we've got to address the security vacuum along our borders and we have to commission a survey to determine exactly how many illegal immigrants there are in South Africa, where they are located and develop solutions which will see them properly integrated into South Africa or returned to their country of origin.
Minister Nqakula, like his boss on Zimbabwe, says there is no crisis in Alex. If not, it certainly will become one unless the government acts speedily to remedy its administrative shortcomings right away. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr M B SKOSANA
END OF TAKE
Mrs S M CAMERER
Mr M B SKOSANA : Uzocinywa ubani? [Who is going to switch it off?]
Madam Speaker, I must say that it pains me immensely to have to stand before this august House to refute what is obviously an evil Machiavellian propaganda attempt to apportion the blame onto other political parties and at the same time pledge my party's sympathies for those affected by this senseless violence. There are conflicting versions regarding the causes and implications of this incidence.
For this reason the IFP urges the President and government to immediately institute an independent commission of inquiry to investigate the real factors underlying this violence and other measure will simply be superficial.
Just after xenophobia had reared its monstrous head in Atteridgeville, the IFP issued a statement appealing to political leaders of all the political parties, including religious leaders in South Africa, to break the silence and condemn xenophobia which has now become rampant in our country.
We lamented the horrors of seeing men, women and children hunted down like wild animals, their property destroyed simply for taking refuge in our country. Yes, those foreigners who are seen to be involved in criminal activities should be reported to the law enforcement agencies and let the law of the land take its course.
It is equally criminal for local residents to take the law in their hands, resulting in wanton theft, destruction and killings that we are now seeing - as the hon Bapela described so aptly. Criminal elements will definitely lurch onto this situation of semi-anarchy to fulfill their evil intentions, and the police ought to be firm in curbing lawlessness.
Regrettably, this mayhem could be indicative of the reaction from sections of people who, after 14 years of liberation, still suffer the severe psychological, social and economic "unfreedoms" and deprivation; warning us all that the legacy of colonialism and apartheid added to the illusive freedom and nation-building can be a lethal combination. It is in fact the recipe for a protracted social conflict. We ought to guard against that and we ought to be realists.
Lastly, the IFP commends government Ministers, all political parties, the NGOs, the law enforcement agencies, local government officials and all members of our society who are now co-operating in these conflict areas to bring tolerance, peace and normal life for all. Thank you.
Mrs P DE LILLE
END OF TAKE
Mr B M SKOSANA
Mrs P DE LILLE: Madam Speaker, the ID condemns the senseless killings and attacks of foreigners. I want to deal with some of the causes of xenophobia before coming to the solution. Xenophobia is happening because we have no proper mechanism to deal with the refugees and illegal immigrants. We have also failed to meet our UN Convention on Refugees and AU obligations. We have no proper control at our borders and there is wide-scale corruption at Home Affairs.
The African Union has also failed to deal with the rogue leaders who cause war and instability in their countries and do not treat their people with dignity. These rogue leaders drive people to what they think are greener pastures in South Africa; only to find that our own people are struggling to get the most basic needs, leading to a competition of scares resources where the poor turn onto the poor instead of focusing their anger on government.
The government took the easy option by issuing work permits to refugees which is creating more competition for scarce jobs. What are the solutions? We need stricter control at our porous borders. UN obligations must be provided at the point of entry and we need an education campaign to teach our people the difference between a refugee and an illegal immigrant. The genuine refugees who have been displaced in Alexandra and Diepsloot must be accommodated in safe refugee camps as soon as possible and illegal immigrants must be deported immediately. Thank you.
Ms C M P RAMOTSAMAI
END OF TAKE
Mrs P DE LILLE
Ms C M P RAMOTSAMAI: Madam Speaker, hon Members of Parliament and fellow South Africans, it is with great regret that we too today as South Africans and MPs debate the ugly incidence of violence and attacks on our fellow Africans.
Madam Speaker, I tend to disagree with the statement made by hon member Sheila and I believe the statement she made is far from truth. As far as I can remember, Madam Speaker, we as South Africans have lived side by side with our fellow Africans, fought together in trenches and planned how to overcome colonialism in our countries and gaining freedom in our country.
The previous hon member Bapela has articulated some of these matters. I just want to give you one example of these: In the Western Cape, and in Cape Town in particular, labourers who came from the then South West Africa-Namibia today worked in Cape Town. Amongst those people included was Comrade Toivo ja Toivo who stayed in the Langa flats in Cape Town. We believe, Madam Speaker that the formation of South West African People's Organisation was planned in the flats in Langa, and I think we need to remember this and actually see it as the jewel for us as South Africans. This they did with comrades such as Tinto and Annie Silinga. And these were not South Africans - they were Namibians. They were migrant labourers but they were actually staying together with South Africans at the time.
Chairperson, why do we experience incidents of xenophobic behaviour today? There are a number of reasons and Comrade Bapela has articulated some of the issues that happened in Alexandra.
In the Western Cape Madam Speaker this attack has mainly happened in the areas such as the Masiphumelela squatter camp, in Lawaaikamp in George, Danoon which is in Table View, in Worcester and recently, perhaps in Valhalla Park.
The arrival of foreigners in Cape Town and the Western Cape, we must admit, has increased drastically since the more efficient processing of documentation by Home Affairs. The opening of a refugee process in Home Affairs office in Nyanga has meant that whereas 3 000 foreigners were processed on an average of a year in Cape Town, that number now was processed between January and March this year, which clearly shows a drastic increase.
In these acts of xenophobia, Madam Speaker, there are strong agitations in communities. At first people call these African foreigners "amakwerekwere" and they see them as stealing their jobs and money from the fellow South Africans. These acts lead to intimidation until some of these Somalians leave their spazas and businesses and ultimately were killed and some burnings of their belongings and lootings as well.
Madam Chair, Somalians in the case of the Western Cape, have got very good entrepreneurial skills and local spaza owners see them as breaking the rules of business because they sell according to the people's needs. They sell bread by the slice, the tea by the teabag and the sugar by the teaspoon, etc, whereas South Africans only sell in prescribed packs or boxes.
South African people thus saw the Somalians drawing away their businesses. It therefore became clear that xenophobia was inspired by the South African shop-owners and spazas, and not by the community. The community in this case saw the Somalians as a benefit. And how can we begin to look and solve some of these problems, Madam Chair?
In the year 2005 and 2006, when these incidents happened in the Western Cape, the Office of the Premier of the Western Cape established a directorate of social dialogue to bring harmonisation where these communities live side by side. It was established that in some cases some youths are paid to attack shop-owners who are Somalians and later ordinary Somalians. This directorate was created to co-operate between Somalia businesspeople and South African businesspeople and this built a very good relationship.
In some cases, some Somalians became wholesalers and South African retailers, which became clear that the fight over economic resources can be overcome when people talk to each other. It's not like this government is not doing anything about it. It is how quick we can actually look at and consistently deal with this thing. It is not about the South African government not doing anything about it. It is not that South Africans have always been xenophobic.
Employers, Madam Speaker have also contributed to this mayhem by employing the African foreigners for cheap labour - avoiding paying good salaries and avoiding South African labour laws. [Interjections.]
Mrs S M CAMERER: Madam Speaker.
Ms C M P RAMOTSAMAI: What are you saying, hon Sheila?
The SPEAKER: Order! Do you want to ask a question?
Mrs S M CAMERER: Yes, please. Would you take a question?
Ms C M P RAMOTSAMAI: No, I am not prepared to take a question. Sit down. [Laughter.]
The SPEAKER: No, she is not prepared to take a question. [Laughter.]
She learnt from your example.
Ms C M P RAMOTSAMAI: In this case, Madam Chair, South Africa has got laws that protect workers. And what do employers do? They go and poach people who are in need and prefer to pay them almost next to nothing because they would take anything. They actually would not fight for rights in South Africa.
That is not fair of the foreigners because they are actually being exploited. It is also not fair for our fellow South Africans because there are workers' rights in this country that all of us must follow, and some decide to actually avoid that.
Madam Speaker, my only call is that we as South Africans must be tolerant of our fellow Africans in this country. We have lived with them for a very long time and this can only be overcome if we realised that we are all the children of one continent.
And unfortunately there are other foreigners. There are Chinese, Indians and all others. Why then are we doing this to our fellow African foreigners? It is a fact that we need to sit down and we have to tighten up our laws. Yes, I agree but that should not actually lead us into killing our own people. We are Africans, they are Africans, and they actually had all the guts to keep us for all these years while we were suffering under the apartheid rule. They actually were tolerant and did everything good for us. They assisted us in getting the freedom we are benefiting today. Therefore, comrades I call upon all of us in this House on whatever side of the House to go to these communities and actually talk to our people to be tolerant while we solve the long-term problems that have been created by the apartheid system in this country. I thank you, Madam Chair.
Mr S N SWART
END OF TAKE
Ms C M P RAMOTSAMAI
Mr S N SWART: Madam Speaker, the ACDP is similarly shocked and appalled at the continuing xenophobic attacks in Alexandra and elsewhere. The situation appears to be spreading and worsening. It is disgraceful that people who flee from violence, oppression, and starvation in their home countries are being subjected to these horrific acts of violence. The ACDP condemns these acts in the strongest terms and expresses its condolences with the families of the deceased persons.
We welcome the appointment of the special task team to probe these attacks and the deployment of more policemen. We agree that poor service delivery and the rising costs of living, whilst being a reality, can never justify such attacks. As South Africans have also been attacked, it is clear that criminals are using this as an opportunity to run rampant.
Terwyl die ACDP gevolglik hierdie xenofobiese aanvalle ten sterkste veroordeel, moet die regering daadwerklike stappe doen om die onhoudbare situasie in Zimbabwe aan te spreek. Wydverspreide intimidasie en geweld in Zimbabwe sal meebring dat ál hoe meer vlugtelinge na Suid-Afrika sal kom. Dit kan op sigself verdere xenofobiese aanvalle op hierdie vlugtelinge in Suid-Afrika meebring. Die Zimbabwiese krisis moet indringend aangespreek en opgelos word.
The ACDP appeals to all to show compassion and to help those who have frequently run from unimaginable hardships in their home countries, many fleeing torture, oppression and persecution. Let us provide them with the safe refuge.
We also appeal to church leaders, faith based organisations and other members of civil society to get involved as peacemakers and to encourage congregations to extend compassion, help and assistance to all foreigners and South Africans suffering at this time. I thank you.
Dr C P MULDER
END OF TAKE
Mr S N SWART
Dr C P MULDER: Madam Speaker, things do not just happen. People do not get up one morning and decide that they are going to be xenophobic today. No, it does not work that way. There is a causal link between things. Today everybody is condemning these xenophobic attacks and rightly so. The FF Plus also deplores these actions because it is completely wrong.
But suddenly government is taken aback and astounded: How could this happen? And we view it today. Well, maybe the policy failure chickens of the ANC is coming home to roost one after the other. I have already said that there is a causal link. Let me name four policy failures by the ANC government which the FF Plus believes played a direct link in these events.
Firstly there is the issue of the silent diplomacy towards Zimbabwe since 2000 which eventually led to tacit approval and implied support for what Mr Mugabe and ZANU PF are doing. The effect of this is that three million Zimbabweans had to flee from Mugabe's tyrannical rule to SA. Secondly, the ineffective Departments of Home Affairs and Safety and Security t are incapable of securing South Africa's borders and to process refugees. Thirdly, racially motivated equity labour laws that make it very difficult for small and medium enterprises to flourish and employ as many people as possible. This would have assisted with growth and job opportunities for all and fourthly, very poor service delivery on ground level by inept ANC-ruled local councils marked by corruption and infighting.
All these factors are conducive to the xenophobic outbursts that we have seen. I want to predict that these reasons will not be taken up in any investigation and that the opposition parties will be blamed for various reasons. The fact of the matter is, we can not get away from this: The Zimbabwe crisis is now escalating beyond Zimbabwe into the Southern African region. It will not go away; we have to address that. Only then Zimbabwe can be a success and these kinds of things will not happen. That is the real reason. Thank you, Chairperson.
Ms M M MDLADLOSE
END OF TAKE
Dr C P MULDER
Ms M M MDLALOSE: Madam Speaker, it is crucial for the government and the people not just place a blanket label of xenophobia on the Alexandra attacks. Thorough investigations and analysis need to be conducted on these violent attacks before we can categorise them. The community of Alexandra is not being exposed to foreigners for the first time. This community has had a number of foreigners living and working within this township. Thus the question we need to be asking is what has triggered this sudden animosity in the community.
The government needs to accept that lack of employment, entrepreneurial skills and general dissatisfaction with the quality of life among some of the people are the root causes of the attack.
As we all are aware that often skilled foreigners come from their countries as a result of political violence and cross onto South African soil in search of safety, economic opportunities and a better life. When these skilled foreigners secure employment and a better life then there will definitely be a rise in tension levels among the poor who do not get these opportunities. That is the root of the problem.
Abantu bakithi bahluphekile, bese ke bethatha ukuhlupheka kwabo bekubhekisa kwabafikile ngoba bona bebonakala bengathi yibo ababathathela amathuba. Sidinga ukuthi sikuchithe lokhu okwenzekayo kodwa futhi sidinga ukuthi sibheke indlela yokwelapha isimo sase Alexander nakwamanye amalokishi lapho kunezinkinga khona. Ngiyabonga
Mr S SIMMONS
END OF TAKE
Ms M M MDLALOSE
Mnr S SIMMONS: Speaker, vreemdelingehaat kan ontstaan wanneer vreemdelinge gemeenskappe binnedring en met plaaslike gemeenskappe meeding om werkgeleenthede. Wanneer die situasie egter sulke ernstige afmetings aanneem dat die plaaslike gemeenskap se vermoë om werkgeleenthede te bekom, bedreig word of hulle moet kompeteer met die vestiging van ondernemings in die gemeenskap, kan die vreemdelingehaat oorgaan in geweld teen die vreemdelinge.
Geen Suid-Afrikaner sal hierdie optrede van geweld teen vreemdelinge goedpraat of ondersteun nie, en dit is verblydend dat die polisie gou opgetree het. Leiers van verskeie vlakke en organisasies is tans besig met die betrokke gemeenskappe om vrede te bewerkstellig en met die gemeenskappe van Alexandra en Diepkloof te onderhandel om hulle optrede te beëindig.
Soos dit maar altyd die geval is, duik die skelms op om die situasie tot hulle eie voordeel te gebruik. Hierdie element moet gou en dringend uitgeroei word. Die Parlement moet sy sterkste misnoeë en teleurstelling teenoor die betrokke gemeenskappe uitspreek en versoek dat hulle hul optrede onmiddellik staak. Daar moet egter onmiddellik 'n ondersoek geloods word om te bepaal waarom die betrokke gemeenskappe so opgetree het ten einde te voorkom dat 'n herhaling van hierdie vreemdelingehaat plaasvind of uitbrei tot ander gemeenskappe.
Ons moet dit alles in oorsig neem ten opsigte van ons migrasiebeleid. Die NA is van mening dat die regering hopeloos te tegemoetkomend is ten opsigte van die instroming van buurlande. Die Engelse spreuk lui, "Charity begins at home." Die maatskaplike omstandighede van arm Suid-Afrikaners kan nooit ondergeskik wees aan dié van inkomelinge nie. Die staat skep vir hom 'n enorme maatskaplike las, wat tot nadeel is van arm Suid-Afrikaners. Ek dank u.
Mr M W SKHOSANA
END OF TAKE
Mr S SIMMONS
Mr W M SKHOSANA: Madam Speaker, members, I think we need to ensure that, as we speak here, we do not speak as a country which is not part of the global world.
We have been part of all laws which govern refugees and asylum seekers. South Africa is part of the refugee phenomenon. For instance, we have the Refugees Act, Act 130 of 1998 and the Immigration Act, Act 19 of 2004. The Refugees Act stipulates that South Africa has agreed to the 1951 Convention Relating to Status of Refugees, the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1969 Organisation of African Unity Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa. In agreeing to the various conventions and protocols, South Africa has agreed to and has committed itself in terms of accepting refugees and dealing with them.
As part of this, the ANC, by taking the matter forward in its conference resolutions in Polokwane, identified challenges regarding the movement of people, as we all know that we have this mobile life that we live. With the mobility of labour and skills which characterise the world outlook come new challenges that confront us such as xenophobic tendencies and the lack of appreciation of new developments and their positive spin-offs. The conference therefore resolved that the ANC reviews the current policy and systems, including our laws that also take on board new decisions on the free movement of people and regional economic communities.
We also need to take into account that as a SADC country, we have long relations with our neighbouring countries. People who are in Swaziland move into parts of Limpopo, and there is no problem regarding that. People who are in Lesotho also pour into parts of the Free State, and there is no problem with that. The same applies for people in the North West, as well as in Namibia. We have people who were residents and citizens of Namibia, as my fellow comrade has said, Mampe here, who came and worked here and formed organisations which liberated them. So, we are all South Africans as one. We have it in ourselves that...
...umuntu ungumuntu ngabanye abantu.
We cannot leave this out.
The conference also resolved that there is a need to work closely with SADC countries and ensure that policies that relate to particular countries are harmonised in as far as issues of immigration are concerned, and that they are in line with our protocols as a region. The conference also resolved that our policy needs to take into account the United Nations' codes on refugees that we have ratified to ensure that the manner in which we treat refugees is humane, including taking lessons from other countries which give support like education and social welfare.
I don't think it is correct for us, like the hon Patricia de Lille said, that we need to take refugees into camps. We have taken a conscious decision that we are not going to take refugees into camps. But we will ensure that we integrate refugees with the people of South Africa.
But we also need to identify certain problems which might be the cause of this. I think on that aspect, we might also need the help from the side of our fellow members here, the DA, on issues regarding land. If you can look very well at the Linbro Park land and the Leeuwkop land and even the land that is around Kelvin, the Ratepayers Association clubbed with the DA to ensure that there is no development that will take place in and around those areas that will enable houses to be built so as to allow our people to have access to housing. So, we make this appeal to say that as much as we work together with our people, alliances and churches, you need to ensure that you, with the people that you have an alliance with, identify this problem and assist us to resolve this particular problem. It is very important to work as a team.
It is also important to identify that as much as we are in this new democracy, people must understand that we have upheavals like in the case of farmers, whom I don't want to align with the FF Plus and so on, who just go across the border of Limpopo and grab people to come and work in a farm and thereafter, towards payday, call the police and tell them that the people were foreigners. These farmers also agitate the issue of having uncertainty and problems in that particular part of the country.
It is also important to identify certain things that go in line with the issue of trading. As South Africans, we need to acknowledge that those people who come from our neighbouring countries try very hard, especially those from Zimbabwe - women in particular. You will see them going around selling their handworks to fellow South Africans. We all appreciate the amount of work they put into these handworks. So far, we need them as much as they need us on this matter. I thank you. [Applause.]
The House adjourned at 11:11.
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