Hansard: Second Reading Debate: Methodist Church of Southern Africa (Private) Act Repeal Bill; Dutch Reformed Churches Union Act Repeal Bill; Bible Society of South Africa Act Repeal Bill; Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa (Private) Act Repeal Bill
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 23 Sep 2008
No summary available.
TUESDAY, 23 SEPTEMBER 2008
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
The House met at 09:35.
The Deputy Speaker took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.
NOTICES OF MOTION
Start of day
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr W P DOMAN: Madam Deputy Speaker, I hereby give notice that I intend moving the following motion: That the House debates the collapsing state of local government in South Africa and possible solutions to the problem.
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY
Mr W P DOMAN
MOTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
THE PASSING AWAY OF THE SECRETARY OF DEFENCE
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Madam Deputy Speaker, I move without notice:
That the House –
[TAKE IN FROM MINUTES]
CELEBRATION OF HERITAGE DAY
Mr M J ELLIS: Madam Deputy Speaker, I move without notice:
That the House –
[TAKE IN FROM Minutes.]
THE DEATH OF JOHN MATSHIKIZA
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Madam Deputy Speaker, I move without notice:
That the House –
[TAKE IN FROM minutes.]
SEPTEMBER 21 AS AN INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Madam Deputy Speaker, I move without notice:
That the House –
[TAKE IN FROM MINUTES.]
RESIGNATION OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Madam Deputy Speaker, I move without notice: That the House -
[TAKE IN FROM MINUTES.]
Dr C P MULDER: Madam Deputy Speaker, yes, the FF Plus objects to the motion, and would ask the opportunity for a declaration of vote after you have put the question fully.
Mr M J ELLIS: Madam Deputy Speaker, the DA will not be opposing the motion, but we would also like to make a declaration of vote.
Mr G T MADIKIZA : Madam Deputy Speaker, I would also like to register a declaration of vote by the UDM. Thank you.
Mrs C DUDLEY: The ACDP will not be opposing the motion, but will make a declaration.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Let me now put the question: Those in favour say Aye; and those against No. [Interjections.]
I think the Ayes have if. We have a request for declarations, so we need to allow that.
The DEPUTY CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Madam Deputy Speaker, just on a point of order: You can correct me if I'm wrong, but do the rules not specify that at least four members need to request a division. I only see three members of the FF Plus.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Yes, I think there is a technicality there. I think Mr Nel is correct.
Dr C P MULDER: Madam Deputy Speaker, may I address you? In terms of Rule 83, it is up to the Speaker to ascertain whether there are four or more members who would support a division. [Interjection.] I would suggest that you ask if there are four or more members who would support the division and then proceed with the proceedings. Thank you.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: You know, Dr Mulder, I would really like to allow the declarations and what I wanted to ask is, despite the fact that the caucus of the FF Plus is present here, and they don't make the four, we need to find out if there are members of the National Assembly who would like to be associated with that request. If we do have a fourth member of the National Assembly saying "yes", we then have to allow the declaration. If my interpretation of that rule is correct. [Interjections.] I just want to check with the Table. Is that interpretation correct?
Mr S SIMMONS: Madam Deputy Chair, I would like to be associated ...
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Until you know who I am and address me accordingly. I am still the Deputy Speaker.
Mr S SIMMONS: Madam Deputy Speaker, awfully sorry. I want to be associated with that declaration of the FF Plus.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I think, members of the National Assembly, we now have four members among us who are associated with the request and we shall allow members who would like to take the opportunity of declarations, I have noted the FF Plus, the DA, the ACDP, the ID, the ANC, the UCDP.
Declarations of vote:
Dr C P MULDER: Madam Deputy Speaker, in April 2004, this very House, the National Assembly, elected Mr Mbeki in terms of section 86(1) of the Constitution for a second time as President of the Republic. At that moment he was no longer a member of the legislature, but became the Head of State and the Head of the National Executive.
The question now arises: Is it constitutionally sound for the legislature and only one House thereof to effectively determine on which day the Head of the National Executive and the Head of State resigns? Because this is exactly what this motion before the House stipulates, the date on which the Head of the Executive resigns. We decide, not the executive.
The second reason why we vote against this resolution is based on the principle of natural justice, the audi alteram partem rule, "hear the other side". This principle is one of the basic fundamentals of our legal system. Even the most junior clerk in the public service will be given his or her chance to put their case, yet we are denying this basic right to the Head of State today. The question is why? It may be that the Head of State does not want to make use of such an opportunity, but we believe that Parliament, as the head of the legislature, who elected the President should afford him such an opportunity.
In his message to the nation on Sunday evening, Mr Mbeki said the following:
I would like to state categorically that we have never done this and never compromised the right of the National Prosecuting Authority to decide whom it should prosecute or not prosecute.
Yes, politically, the President as a member of the ANC reports to his own party, but constitutionally we believe he reports to Parliament. The motion may be unconstitutional and it also denies the President the opportunity to report back to the National Assembly, the very body that elected him to this office.
We are of the opinion that he should get that chance and then we can take a vote on whether it is constitutional or not. We will therefore, Madam Deputy Speaker, vote against this motion. Thank you.
Mrs C-S BOTHA (DA): Madam Deputy Speaker, the ANC's decision to force the resignation of President Thabo Mbeki has nothing to do with the interests of the people of South Africa, but has everything to do with settling political scores. The ANC has turned its internal battles for power into a problem for all of South Africa. The move is clearly an attempt to find a political solution to ANC president Jacob Zuma's legal problems - a solution his supporters such as Julius Malema have long been calling for. Replacing President Mbeki with a Zuma proxy will open the way for the ruling party to ensure that Mr Zuma does not have to face a court of law to answer to 783 allegations of corruption against him - something the DA will fight every step of the way. Therefore, it is clear that this decision to recall President Mbeki was not based on important matters of principle. This could have easily been done differently.
The DA has long contended that there are in fact a number of very valid and principled reasons why President Mbeki should not be in office. These include the following: His inexplicable and devastating denialism of HIV/Aids and crime which have cost the unnecessary loss of tens of thousands of lives; his undermining of his own vision of an African Renaissance by siding with despots, both just north of our border and across the world; his protection of his close allies such as Jackie Selebi and Manto Tshabalala-Msimang at the expense of service delivery and South Africa's international standing; his failure to deal decisively with virtually endemic corruption within government's ranks; and by eschewing Nelson Mandela's nation-building project, he has left South Africa more divided than when he assumed office.
The DA looks forward to the elections of 2009 - when the people of South Africa, rather than the ANC, get to choose South Africa's next president. People are sick and tired of the factionalism ... [Interjections.]
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, hon members! Please!
Mrs C-S BOTHA: People are sick and tired of the factionalism of the ANC and the abuse of state institutions for factional advantage. The DA will therefore offer South Africa a clear alternative to the ANC - a party that places the rule of law, the Constitution and the interests of South Africa before internal power struggles, and a leader who is a person of undisputed integrity.
In the interim and in the broader interests of South Africa's political stability, the DA will support this motion. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr G T MADIKIZA
Mrs C-S BOTHA
Mr G T MADIKIZA: Madam Deputy Speaker, hon members, the UDM would like to declare that as a matter of principle, it declines to be part of this process for the following reasons: firstly, the reasons for which the President has been pushed to resign are unclear and untested; secondly, he has not been afforded the opportunity to explain himself to the structure that elected him to high office, that is this Parliament - technically speaking; thirdly, we cannot be seen to rubber-stamp the ruling party's internal affairs. Parliament should have been given the opportunity to debate the circumstances surrounding the resignation of the President. I thank you.
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE
Mr G T MADIKIZA
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: Madam Deputy Speaker, the IFP does not want to make politics out of this very important issue of selecting a president of this country. We feel that President Mbeki has chosen the correct way, constitutionally and legally, to tender his resignation. Having read this motion, what can be found wrong with it? He has expressed his own will to resign, and Parliament is dealing with the matter in terms of the Constitution. I don't see where there is any breach of the Constitution.
The words used by Dr Mulder are that President Mbeki should be given the right of audi alteram partem. We have no say over that. That is purely an ANC matter. It is in their caucus and in their party that they have to decide whether they want to hear him or not. As far as I am concerned, maybe they have already heard his side. But that is an internal matter for the ANC. They have accepted this. Dr Mulder, I bet you R1000 that you are wrong. [Applause.]
MrJ H VAN DER MERWE
Mr S N SWART: Madam Deputy Speaker, the ACDP regrets the way in which President Thabo Mbeki has been treated by his own party. The ANC National Executive Committee, NEC, announced their decision to recall President Mbeki on Saturday. By Sunday, he had to write a letter of resignation to save himself from further embarrassment. The fact that this resignation is to take effect on Thursday, 25 September, gives him very littletime to make arrangements to vacate his office. We believe this is unfair to treat a Head of State in this manner.
However, we have differed and disagreed with him on many issues. We even indicated that we would support a motion of no confidence. We, nevertheless, believe that he did a good job, particularly when it comes to economics. Our economy maintained an average growth of 4,5% per annum, and we wish him well.
As far as the FF Plus's objection to the motion read yesterday is concerned, we understand that President Mbeki has brought an urgent application to the Constitutional Court. There he will be given an opportunity to put his version of events, as to whether there was political interference with the National Prosecuting Authority.
Whilst we believe the President has been treated unfairly and unduly harshly and that we have differed with him on previous occasions, this we believe is mainly as a result of internal squabbles within the ANC which have resulted in much anxiety, stress and fear amongst our citizens. Our reputation has also been damaged internationally. We will, however, support the motion as President Mbeki has resigned. Thank you.
MRS P DE LILLE
Mr S N SWART
Mrs P DE LILLE: Madam Deputy Speaker, this is not a time to gloat. I think what we do need is to see from the ANC a clear plan as to how they are going to deal with the exit of President Thabo Mbeki - the impact this will have on the economy, international relations, governance and all of those things. We would like to see that clear plan. This is because what we need now is a leadership that can give us hope; a leadership that can inspire ordinary South Africans to continue to face the many challenges that we have to deal with - HIV/Aids, unemployment, crime and corruption. That is what we would like to see now.
I wish Thabo Mbeki well in his future endeavours. The ID will support the motion.
Mrs P DE LILLE
Mr N T GODI: Deputy Speaker, comrades and hon members, the position of the APC on the recall of the President has been made very clear. However, we do want to state that if Parliament was debating an impeachment or was going to pass a vote of no confidence in the President, as the APC, we think it would be proper to afford him an opportunity to address Parliament and give us his side of the story. But we do take note that we are dealing with a letter from the President – a letter of his own resignation. Therefore, this has to be dealt with a little differently.
The politics around his recall are clear and known to all of us or are a matter of speculation. I am certain that it might not be an area that we would manage to go into or that would assist us in relation to what is currently before us. What we would like to see as the APC is a smooth, speedy and dignified transition. Therefore, we want to support the motion believing that history and the people will make their own judgement. Thank you.
Mr I S MFUNDISI
Mr N T GODI
Mr I S MFUNDISI: Madam Deputy Speaker and hon members, the conduct of the ANC in the passed weekend is reminiscent of what they did 14 years ago when they, in the dead of night, descended on Kgosi Mangope'sresidence to tell him that he was no longer President. They told President Mbeki that he was no longer President without taking into account that he was elected by members of this honourable House. They are inclined to keep on informing, and this will develop into a culture that has to be stopped before it takes root.
The ANC has been speaking in forked tongues on this matter. The secretary-general was on record as saying this was done in the national and public interest. The treasurer-general, on public television, said they did this because they lost confidence in the President. The President of the ANC said, yesterday at a press conference, that this was in the interest of democracy. This gives different messages. Therefore, we want to advise the ANC that they should learn to consult stakeholders and desist from throwing their weight around, citingnumbers in what they do. They need to learn that it is in the spirit of the law that these things have to be done. I thank you.
Ms S RAJBALLY
Mr I S MFUNDISI
Ms S RAJBALLY: Madam Deputy Speaker, we stand in this august House, which is democratically controlled, and every South African has a democratic right to do what is right for them. I want to praise our outgoing President for what he has done and thank him for taking the right route. He had the democratic right to resign. Let us not play dirty politics on this. We wish him well. If he chose to resign, we wish him well for the future and say that he has done the right thing. The MF supports the motion. I thank you.
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY
Ms S RAJBALLY
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Madam Speaker, hon members, we should note that the decision to recall the President has been one of the most difficult decisions we have ever had to take in the history of the ANC. The ANC is fully cognisant of the fact that the decision comes with a degree of pain for the President of the Republic, his family, friends and members of the ANC, ordinary South Africans and members of the international community.
We recognise that Comrade Mbeki is a longstanding member of the ANC and that he has dedicated his efforts to the service of our country. Accordingly, the decision to recall him could only be taken after thorough consideration of challenges, and had to be taken with the best interest of our country at heart. Yesterday, the President of the ANC, Comrade Jacob Zuma, said that the country needs a strong and united ruling party at the helm of government, capable of galvanising support for the government's development agenda. As the ruling party, we need to sustain the confidence of our people in the ANC and its government. All of us have a responsibility to appreciate the co-operation of Comrade Mbeki and respect that. It is for this reason that as the ANC, we take pride in the calibre of leaders that we have produced as an organisation - leaders who place the interest of the organisation and the country before their personal preferences. It is in this interest of the country to conclude this matter speedily. This House has a responsibility to ensure that this happens. I thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. [Applause.].
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The objections raised have been noted.
Dr C P MULDER: Madam Speaker, on a point of order: I did indicate that we will call for a division.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Yes, I was not yet there.
Having four people that have supported the call for a division, we will now ring the bells for five minutes to give effect to the division.
Question put: That the motion be agreed to.
The House divided:
[TAKE IN FROM MINUTES]
Question agreed to.
Motion accordingly agreed to.
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY
AD HOC COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL YOUTH DEVELOPMENT AGENCY
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Madam Deputy Speaker, I move the motion printed in my name on the Order Paper:
That the House appoints an ad hoc committee to consider legislation on the National Youth Development Agency, the ad hoc committee to-
(1) consist of 13 members as follows: ANC 8; DA 2; IFP 1; and
other parties 2;
(2) perform the functions listed in Rule 201(1)(a) and have all
the powers listed in Rule 138;
(3) confer with the relevant Council committee; and
(4) report by 20 October 2008.
Didn't you hear me, Madam Deputy Speaker?
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I did hear you.
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Oh! Thank you.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Are there any objections? [Interjections.]
Mr M J ELLIS: Madam Deputy Speaker, on a point of order: The Chief Whip of the ANC is a very large man. But he can speak very, very softly.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: What is your point?
Mr M J ELLIS: We didn't hear what he said. You might have heard him, but we didn't hear a word he said. If he could use that big voice of his, Madam Deputy Speaker!
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Alright, Mr Ellis. I'm sure he doesn't mind repeating that now that we have established you like his voice.
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Thanks, Madam Deputy Speaker.
I move the motion printed in my name on the Order Paper.
Can you hear me now?
Mr M J ELLIS: Yes.
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Oh! Thank you.
The MINISTER OF HEALTH
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY
MEDICINES AND RELATED SUBSTANCES BILL
(Second Reading Debate)
The MINISTER OF HEALTH: Madam Deputy Speaker, hon members, it gives me great pleasure to present to this House, for a second reading, a very important Bill...[Interjections.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, hon Minister! Hon members, those of you who are moving out, would you please do so quietly so that we give audience to the Minister. Thank you, hon members.
The MINISTER OF HEALTH: As I say, it is a very important Bill, the Medicines and Related Substance Amendment Bill.
The current global financial crisis illustrates the need to regulate markets. Any unregulated market brings with it a number of challenges and perversions. It is government that must ensure that we put in place mechanisms that prevent market failures before they happen, especially in health matters.
The objective of the Medicines and Related Substance Amendment Bill is to create an authority that regulates medicines, foods, cosmetics and medical devices. The original version of the Bill also sought to introduce public interest as criterion when one introduces a product into the South African market.
Regulating and registering human medicines dates back to 1965 in South Africa, with the establishment of the Medicines Control Council and mandated by the Medicines and Related Substance Act 101.
Veterinary medicines have been regulated since 1947 but were only brought under the ambit of the Medicines Regulatory Authority in 1979 after the definition of the medicines was amended to include...[Interjections.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, Hon Ministers! I'm sorry; I might have to ask you to excuse yourselves for some time if this is going to continue. Hon Minister, please continue; some of your colleagues were noisy.
The MINISTER OF HEALTH: As I said, veterinary medicines have been regulated since 1947 but were only brought under the ambit of the Medicines Regulatory Authority in 1979 after the definition of the medicines was amended to include veterinary medicines. More than
38 000 medicines have been registered over the years.
Initially, regulation focused on market authorisation of medicines. Later, the regulation of the development of medicines, based on evidence from clinical trials, was included as one of the main criteria for registration, later to be followed by licensing of manufactures and distributors. Licensing enabled the regulatory authority to track the movement of medicines from manufacturer to end user and to ensure that manufacturers and distributors adhere to good manufacturing and good distributing practices respectively, and that developers adhere to good clinical practice.
Again later, pharmaceutical vigilance and post-marketing surveillance were formally added to the functions of the regulator. In South Africa this is the Medicines Control Council. These initiatives were in line with the international trends and the needs of our own country to ensure that citizens were not exposed to substandard medicines. These measures also assisted in managing the risk of wide circulation of counterfeit medicines and round tripping, which means that the identity of the manufacturer is difficult to ascertain.
Over the years, it became clear that the model that was developed more than 40 years ago is no longer appropriate or efficient. The increased volume of work and over-reliance on external expects who have primary jobs elsewhere, has let to the inefficiencies and inordinately long times for both market authorisation and authorisation of conduct of clinical trials.
Pharmaceutical vigilance and post-marketing surveillance are still relatively weak. Gaps have also been identified in a number of areas that are not efficiently and effectively regulated. These include medical devices and in vitro diagnostic medical devices, complimentary medicines, African traditional medicines as well as food stuffs and cosmetics that contain scheduled substances.
It was against this background that the ministerial task team was established in 2006. And I am pleased to present the amendment Bill that enables us to address the shortcomings highlighted above.
The objectives are to ensure that the new regulatory authority effectively and efficiently protects public health through regulation and acceptable benefit risk profiles of medicines devices, in vitro diagnostic medical devices and specified food stuffs and cosmetics. It promotes public health by helping patience to use these products to understand their benefits and risks and also improves public health by encouraging and facilitating development of products that would benefit patience.
Accurate information in the marketing of products is another area of concern. And I'm pleased to announce that there is agreement between manufactures and government that we need to work together in addressing ethical marketing standards. I am also pleased to announce that regulations for complimentary medicines have been published for comment.
We have also published a draft policy on traditional medicine for comment. As we have done before, the public comments on these would be greatly welcomed in order to facilitate our work. We would strictly work on regulations that would include but are not limited to timelines for the approval of market authorisation of products, amended fee structures, more detail on transitional measures, more detail on expects that may be required, and transparency and consistency. The establishment of an authority with adequate resources to evaluate submissions timeously was generally welcomed and accepted.
In terms of the registration process, the Bill has been amended substantially by the portfolio committee. Although we were saddened by the removal of the Minister's protection of the public interest in the Bill by the portfolio committee based on the public hearings, our willingness to concede to such a removal demonstrates the dynamic engagement between the executive and the legislature. This dynamic relationship also characterises the relationship between us as a department and the portfolio committee.
We do however remain concerned and in fact believe that the people of this country are going to be left exposed to products that are not in their best interest.
The Bill as approved by Cabinet proposed the registration of health products to go through a process of certification of every product based on efficiency, safety and quality. This certification would allow a manufacturer to export the health products after obtaining such a certificate. However, the product could not be registered for sale and use in South Africa unless it met the criteria of public interest as well.
The current registration system is limited to consideration of safety, efficacy and quality only. This current system fails to take account of other factors that are in the public interest. It is important to bear in mind that unlike chewing gum, for instance, medicines are not a normal commodity of sheer trade. Government therefore has a responsibility to take necessary steps to protect the public from unsafe health products.
Contrary to what the critics say, this is not just my opinion as the Minister of Health of the Republic, but also the practice in many countries across the world. I have heard arguments that public interest is unscientific and cannot be used as a criteria for registration. However, it is important that factors such as economics, epidemiology and affordability are considered in addition to issues of quality safety and the facetiousness of health products.
However, we remain convinced that over the next few years this issue would re-emerge to take centre stage... [Interjections.] [Time expired.] [Applause.] Mr L V J NGCULU
The MINISTER OF HEALTH
Mr L V J NGCULU: Deputy Speaker, Chief Whip and hon members I rise in support of the Medicines and Related Substance Amendment Bill. It is a Bill that seeks to register the SA Health Authority that will be replacing the Medicines Control Council and the appointment thereof of the Chief Executive Officer of this authority and for the registration of medicine, medical devices, food stuffs and cosmetics which as defined in the Act's list of scheduled substances.
This is necessitated in particular by the recognition of the fact that the previous Medicines Control Council had proven to be inefficient and had not been able to satisfy its own mandate and in this regard a new body has been created. It will, unlike before, have a full-time CEO with his staff and ensure that all the recognised inefficiencies in the registration of medicines and medical devices are addressed. It should also ensure that we are able to improve these inefficiencies to ensure that the body of scientific researchers are encouraged to respect the processes in our country.
This Bill will now ensure that there would be a single process of registration of drugs based on efficacy quality and safety, that is, any drug in South Africa to be registered will only be governed by scientific rules and nothing else. The CEO shall be appointed for a period of five years, renewable once and shall in this way give confidence that that the CEO actually do his work or her work without fear or favour. There is a provision, I heard members form the DA and the IFP says that the provision in section 3(6) to cover conflict of interest has not been addressed. I want to assure members that that particular section has been addressed in terms of the conflict of interest.
There are rules set in terms of how the CEO can be removed from office, based on objective grounds rather than subjective, or shall I say, political grounds. Such rules cover matters of misconduct, permanent incapacity or engaging in activity that is reasonably capable of undermining the integrity of the authority. What gives confidence to those involved in the research and development of medicine and medical devices is the fact that the process to consider the application of medicines has now being well- streamlined, complying with the rules such as payment of fees, particulars in terms of the samples.
The authority must also investigate and satisfy itself that any product to be registered is suited for the purposes it is intended for, complies with the prescribed requirements, safe and of good quality and is efficacious. It shall register the medicine or medical devices. This section goes along way in addressing undue delays and frustrations many people experienced in the past.
The appeal process is also governed in a particular way in terms of those who may have been aggrieved by the decision of the CEO. There are stipulated timeframes for such a process that within 30 days of being aware of the decision you shall appeal and also in the case of the CEO, there will be first attempts to mediate such a problem without any legal representative to ensure the speed of addressing such a problem. Where such a process fails in terms of finding an amicable solution then there are administrative matters that will be addressed. Those particular aspects and hearing the people on should be within stipulated timeframes. This is actually the beauty of this particular legislation.
What can be adduced here is that there is a conscious effort in this Bill to correct mistakes of the past of the previous council. Everything is now designed to be dealt with speedily and judicious effort without prejudice to the parties concerned, as well as to ensure that the Bill itself now is able to ensure that the registration of medicine in South Africa is only governed by scientific methods and nothing else.
Allow me therefore, Deputy Speaker, to thank in particular the Director-General, the Department of Health staff and the registrar, Ms Mandisa Hela. We actually navigated together and sometimes we all felt that we may not find easy solutions to this Bill as it was quite difficult but we produced a product we present here today. I must also thank in particular members of the portfolio committee for their sterling and diligent work, preparedness to complete the work yet ensuring that the quality we produce here is not compromised. The ANC supports this Bill. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mrs S V KALYAN
Mr L V J NGCULU
Mrs S V KALYAN: Deputy Speaker, the main aim of this Bill is to dis-establish the current Medicines Control Council, MCC, and form a new body to be called the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority.
The current MCC was conceived in 1965 and has never been reviewed, and the complaints about the efficiency and output have been never-ending. As it stands now, it is hugely dysfunctional with a 97% backlog in respect of medicine registration.
When the Bill was initially presented to the committee it contained an amendment referred to as the two-tier registration system. What this meant was that the new authority would certify all products, be it medicines, medical devices, foodstuffs and cosmetics with medical claims. And the registration of all products would be done by the Minister. Now, we could not understand why this needed to be done. Why have an authority and yet give the final decision to the Minister?
The DA was vehemently opposed to this for two reasons: It is our considered opinion that only the scientific criteria of efficacy, safety and quality should determine registration; and that the authority to be established should be responsible for both certification and registration and that the Minister of Health should not be involved in the process at all. Every presentation made by civil society and the health sector stakeholders were also opposed to the two-tier registration process.
After a really healthy engagement on this issue, the entire committee reached consensus on a one-step process. The anti-rubber stamp stance that we took was indeed quite refreshing.
Section 36 allows the Minister, on the recommendation of the authority, to exempt any product from the operation of any or all of the provisions of the Act. This may be done in the case of an emergency where an unregistered product needs to be registered quickly to counter an outbreak of the disease or on compassionate grounds where a person has a rare disease.
The DA has a slight reservation about this particular amendment. In the case of the MCC, this extraordinary exemption was based on the unanimous recommendation of the members present at any meeting of the MCC. This has been changed to the recommendation of the authority, and our reservation centres on the fact that the Bill is silent on the actual structure of the new authority. So who and what the authority is, is unclear. We understand that it is going to be clarified in the regulations.
There was a further unexplained amendment to the Bill after public hearings were completed of the appeals process against the registration of any product. It really would have been disastrous had this amendment been allowed to go through unchallenged.
Pharmaceutical multinationals would have been able to oppose the registration of generics and it could have been misused politically by any person opposed to science.
Thankfully, good sense prevailed and the committee rejected the last-minute, sneaked-in amendment.
We, in the DA are still not too happy about the definition of the term "product". It is our considered opinion that a medicine is a medicine. Ironically the title of the Bill refers to medicines and related substances but the actual use of the term "medicines" has been deleted from the Bill. It seems to have been an oversight and we feel that the title should have been amended accordingly.
I would like to thank the Chair of the Portfolio Committee on Health for the manner in which he allowed this Bill to be deliberated. Those of you who were there will concur that this was a real example of democracy at work. With regard to the assurance that he gave us that the clause that I was looking for in terms of the conflict of interest with the Chief Executive Officer, yes, it is in the Bill. But I must place on record that although the committee section said that this Bill had been distributed to members on the 15 September, it should appear that Marks Building was left out, no one, not any of the small political parties had receive this Bill. In fact, it was placed in my hands this morning at about 7:00 after making a fuss.So, I think management in Marks Building need to really take a look at that.
We hope that this Bill will improve the weak regulations of the registrations of health products. The DA supports this Bill. We await the regulations eagerly. Thank you. [Applause.]
Dr R RABINOWITZ
Mrs S V KALYAN
Dr R RABINOWITZ: Chairperson, the issues in this Bill are complex, dealing not only with convention on medicines but with the fine distinction of when food, cosmetics, vitamins or a herb should be regarded as medicines and it must be registered and when it is nearly a product that can be sold without being registered.
Registration follows a process that would establish that the medicine, food, cosmetic or herb is safe or of good quality and in some cases effective. It also requires licensing of the facility used in production to ensure that it employs good manufacturing practises.
The portfolio committee did good work to change an unworkable, shockingly drafted Bill into one that can at least function. But the removal of the two-tier process and the inclusion of provisions for medical devises have taken the Bill from impossible to bad.
We are left with the structure, of which the Minister will appoint the Chief Executive Officer, CEO, and the CEO will appoint the staff and they are all accountable only to the Minister. And the Director-General is also accountable only to the Minister who license premises.
We, like the Department of Finance, wanted a board, a council, or at the very least, an executive committee, to ensure some transparency and accountability of the authority. We only lack the Minister who can do as he or she pleases; appoint anyone he or she deems qualified to any committee to do what or she approve. That person will decide what classes of medicine to call up for registration and what to exclude on any grants, what to schedule and why.
An important provision of the committee was that the CEO and staff should have no financial conflict of interest. That is not how it was raised in the final draft. At least we expect that conflict of interest must be declared. The public is again exposed to a board without independence, without clarity and without accountability. And it is the poorest least resourced and most ignorant to be exposed. Quack medicines, toxic substances and hygienic production facilities can easily fall through the cracks while the authority can be staffed by persons who have major financial interest in a billion dollar industry involving the most advanced and complex science in the world.
Our experience in the current Minister's desired views about food, vitamins and medicines should have prepared us for the better law. Government would not be able to monitor medicine and medical product through this law. It would be now left to the public. Look for registration numbers on every medicine and then report it to the authority and the press if there is not one. Any substance being touched as the medicine should be reported to the authority, the press and IFP Members of Parliament.
I have the respect for the good work done by the committee. The IFP would not vote against this Bill. But out of concern for the lack of accountability of this authority, we will not support it. We choose the option to abstain. Thank you.
Ms N C NKABINDE
Dr R RABINOWITZ
Ms N C NKABINDE: Chairperson and hon members, the Bill before us abolishes the Medicines Control Council and replaces it with the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority. It cannot go unnoticed that the Medicines Control Council, had have on previous occasions, differences with the Minister of Health.
We believe it would be a grievous error to prevent a culture of fearless independence in any regulator, especially one which is responsible for such a sensitive sector as medicines and related substances. One needs only to look at the current baby-poisoning crisis in China to see the results of insufficient regulatory independence and power.
We live in an age where the disease burden and the openness of our borders combine to create circumstances where the public is flooded with an endless stream of medicines, cures and treatments. It is absolutely vital that ruthless people aren't given the space to exploit this situation to the detriment of people's health.
We call upon the Minister to appoint a CEO that will be scrupulously independent. The UDM supports the amendment Bill. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mrs C DUDLEY
Ms N C NKABINDE
Mrs C DUDLEY: Chairperson, the Medicines and Related Substances Amendment Bill will dissolve the Medicines Control Council and substitute it with the Health Products Regulatory Authority. The fact that board members on this regulatory authority will be full-time is a welcome improvement on a situation where the council used to consist of part-time members.
The ACDP congratulates the Portfolio Committee on Health on a job well done. Initial concerns that a two-tier system of certification and registration would increase the potential for political interference by the Minister of Health have, to the relief of many, been addressed by providing that the regulatory authority both certifies and registers the medicines.
Considering Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang's record of questioning mainstream HIV/Aids science and her delaying tactics with regard to introducing antiretroviral treatments into the national health system, the prospect of the Minister controlling which drugs and medicines can be registered in South Africa was a scary thought. The ACDP will support this very important piece of legislation. Thank you.
Ms S RAJBALLY:
Mrs C DUDLEY:
Ms S RAJBALLY: Chairperson, the MF has no issue with the regulatory board being replaced by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority. It is important that this regulatory body functions over all the stipulated products and we enquire as to whether the body will have access to international regulatory bodies whose products are imported to South Africa.
Liaison between these bodies is crucial to ensuring the safe and qualitative access of products to the South African community. Further we are interested as to how this body shall function and how often the Minister may meet with it to ensure its effective and accountable endorsement.
Shall the new regulatory body also oversee products that are already on the market; and how long would an application of concern of a particular product take to actually receive attention?
Further, we believe the body needs to be made accessible to the people and that its formation and purpose need to be made public.
Lastly, how does one measure a complaint when the adverse effects of medication may be recognised as just that?
The MF supports the Medicines and Related Substance Amendment Bill. Thank you.
Mrs M M MADUMISE:
Ms S RAJBALLY:
Mrs M M MADUMISE: Chairperson, let me take this opportunity to congratulate the chairperson, hon James Ngculu, for the way he guided the portfolio committee towards producing a Bill that is acceptable to all parties. There is no one who can say that they were not listened to or that their views were not considered seriously by this portfolio committee, including the DA's hon Kalyan and the IFP's Dr Rabinowitz.
The Bill makes provision for the establishment of the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority that replaces the Medicines Control Council and, which will function independently from the Department of Health and the Ministry.
The need for this authority is clear when we consider the way the MCC functioned, which was grossly inadequate for processing applications for registration and resulted in major backlogs.
The Bill raised a number of rather contentious issues which were debated thoroughly by the committee. Through the assistance of the legal minds from the state law advisor, Parliament and the Department of Health, the committee ensured that the Bill would stand up to any legal challenges.
It is the committee's experience that routinely legal action is implied by some who make submissions during the public hearing process. The committee therefore adopted a standard practice which confirms the legal validity of the legislation through consultation with the legal assistance at its disposal.
It is critical for this authority to be established without further delay in order to deal with the backlog of registration. The authority will establish the various components required to carry out its mandate which will also brings South Africa closer in line with healthcare trends all over the world.
A number of stakeholders promoted the idea of a free market in health care. The primary objective of the free market is profit, which has the unfortunate result of people being unable to access health care. The ANC is not opposed to a free market but we cannot have a health care system that is not regulated by government. This is clearly not in the public interest.
We have a responsibility to the millions of members of the working class and the poor people in our country to ensure health care for all. This Bill, in my view, is aligned with the pending implementation of the national health insurance. I look forward to the day that the national health insurance is implemented. This will be a major milestone for the people of South Africa and the ANC-led government.
An interesting element of the Bill is that it will also regulate the use of chemical substances in the manufacturing of cosmetics and foodstuffs. Products using scheduled substances will have to register their products in the prescribed manner and will be compelled to advertise the contents.
The Bill also makes provision for medical devices and in vitro diagnostics devices previously not covered and ensuring that only licensed distributors are allowed to supply health care providers. This is going to be a milestone for those who are using medical devices for massaging and for other related issues.
They will be able to use this kind of important issue as there are many unscrupulous businesses supplying products using inferior materials that can do more harm than good. It is imperative for us to begin discussions around the state pharmaceutical company that will contribute to making health care available to all our people.
The ANC has prioritised health and education as key areas on which to focus. In this regard and with respect to achieving the ideals of the Freedom Charter that compels us to provide free health care for all citizens, the ANC will pay particular attention to health and education over the next five years.
This will include the implementation of the national health insurance. We do so without apology to those who desire a free market system in health care as we cannot compromise the health of a nation for the sake of profit. This Bill is but a small step in the right direction towards the national health insurance and the universal access to quality health care.
The Bill provides for amendments to the definitions and the scope of the authority's work incorporates all fields of medicines, including veterinary medicines, remedies used in complementary health therapy and medical devices.
It also confers upon the CEO the power to appoint suitably qualified staff and may contract other suitably qualified persons to assist the authority to carry out its functions. This will be a challenge as we have a shortage of skills and we would have to offer attractive packages and conditions of employment to attract suitable staff.
The authority as an independent statutory body makes decisions on registration of products based on science with regards to safety, quality and efficacy. I believe that the process of registration is fair, including the contentious issues of the appeal process and the authority should function smoothly once all the teething problems have been resolved.
The independence of the authority is critical and in this regard it is envisioned that the authority will become financially self-sustainable in the short to medium term with the initial financial assistance from the Department of Health.
The committee really took its time in the processing of this Bill to ensure that what we produced at the end was a legislation that all parties and stakeholders found credible and acceptable.
We tried to accommodate everyone's concerns that were raised during the public hearings, and as has become common practice we call upon members of the public, stakeholders who attend the committee meetings to clarify issues from their perspective.
In this way, the committee could apply its mind having had the benefit of their input. Some stakeholders commented that they are happy that our democracy is actually working and that they have the opportunity to participate.
It is gratifying to note that perhaps we are becoming seasoned democrats and that we are setting the standard for those who will follow us into this institution – the highest law-making institution of the country.
In conclusion, I would like to note that the establishment of the authority is critical to ensure unnecessary delays in registering essential medicines and to ensure the safety, quality and efficacy. I thank you.
The MINISTER OF HEALTH
Ms M M MADUMISE
The MINISTER OF HEALTH: Chairperson, we remain strongly convinced that there are several circumstances where it may be necessary to consider additional factors in the registration of products above those in the amendment Bill. Just to cite one example: We currently have a drug on the South African market that is registered for use in assisting with insomnia. The product is safe, effective and of good quality. For this indication and on this basis the Medicines Control Council approved its registration.
However, this product is also being used to spike drinks of unsuspecting young women who are then raped. Clearly, we will all agree that we should protect young women from such acts. Should we allow such products to be sold on our markets, given the threat to the public? Those who share the same morality and values will certainly see some substance in this argument. There are many examples that I could have cited. Surely, this is not about giving powers to the Minister. Ministers come and go, but the realities of life remain. We have to keep our eyes on that which is good for the public, as elected representatives of the public.
As most of us would know, the African Union and our government have put local manufacturing of pharmaceuticals on the agenda. We have also identified the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals as a potential growth point within the national industrial policy. This ideal would not only make medicines accessible, but they have spin-offs such as job creation, skills development and a stimulation of research and development.
South Africa, unlike Brazil and India has lagged behind in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals in the country. This pharmaceutical manufacturing sector has lagged behind due to cheaper products being imported from other countries. The inclusion of public interest as a condition for registration is not unusual in developed and developing countries. In fact, in some of these countries there is no limitation on the criteria that must be considered. Australia and the United States are such examples. What their Secretary for Health may consider as matters of public interest may be relevant. The multinational pharmaceutical industry continues to do business in such countries even with the criteria of public interest.
I have not heard anyone saying that these criteria are unscientific when this country introduced public interest as a criterion for registration of medicines. Neither have these companies argued that Ministers in these developed countries have inappropriate powers over the registration process. Any Minister of Health must have stewardship over all aspects of health system, both public and private. The argument that the Minister of Health should not have a role at all in medicine registration is not in the best interest of our country and it is not in line with international best practices.
It is our considered view that this matter ought to have been allowed into the Bill for what we are calling for, is what other nations are already doing. We respect the view, of course, taken by the portfolio committee on this matter. For us, the driving principle was and remains public interest, particularly for those who are vulnerable, poor and uninformed.
Let me take this opportunity to thank the portfolio committee and its chairperson for the support in doing our legislative work. Comrade chairperson, thank you for your patience, objectivity, vision and insight in doing the work of your committee. Yours has been a difficult task of balancing and weighing public interest against very powerful global commercial interest that if not checked, would have easily compromised that which is good for our people as is in the intention of all our legislation.
Ngiyanibonga nonke malungu ekomidi lezempilo ePhalamende. Ngiyabonga. [Ihlombe.]
Bill read a second time.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENCE
The MINISTER OF HEALTH
NATIONAL CONVENTIONAL ARMS CONTROL AMENDMENT BILL
(Second Reading debate)
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENCE: Chairperson, hon members, it has always been a pleasure for me to stand before this important House, the National Assembly, as it represents an important sphere of our governance in the constitutional arrangements of the Republic of South Africa.
Our Constitution enjoins all of us to continuously ensure that we enhance co-operative governance in the manner that we process the country's legislation. As you are aware, the National Conventional Arms Control Committee has made amendments to the Convention on the Arms Control deal in order to address two fundamental aspects around Arms Control: Firstly, to improve and facilitate the regulatory role of the National Conventional Arms Control Committee in relation to the transfer of conventional arms in South Africa. Secondly, the Bill will bring the Act in line with the business realities of the National Conventional Arms Control Committee, NCACC, and the defence industry.
This can only be attributed to the regulation of processes and procedures of the NCACC in order to enhance and facilitate its internationally recognised arms control mechanisms. The Bill further commits our country to the international agenda of disarmament and nonproliferation of arms. Built into this agenda is the right of states to engage in responsible and accountable trade in arms.
Given South Africa's strong defence industry base, the need for South Africa's own effective mechanism to regulate arms transfer is fulfilled by the existence of the NCACC, established and operated under the Act.
Chairperson, the proposed amendment seeks to order, to correct, and to extend the application of the Act from being only concerned with regulating trade in conventional arms, as conducted across South African borders, to include regulating possession of conventional arms in South Africa and domestic trading amongst South African persons on conventional arms.
In order to cater for, and accommodate, all the work conducted by the NCACC, the Bill proposes that the objects of the NCACC be extended to include the regulation of conventional arms possession and domestic transfer of conventional arms. In accordance with the international rule and practice applicable to arms trade and to ensure control, recipient countries are obliged to provide, and use, a certificate for convention arms they purchase from South Africa. This proposed amendment is informed by the prevailing market realities where defence industry operations are arranged on a value-chain principle.
The Bill proposes that, over and above the existing offences, unauthorised possession and domestic trade be criminalised and corresponding penalties be applied. The Bill further proposes the introduction of administrative penalties in order to deal with what could be considered as less serious violations of the Act.
The Bill proposes that the South African National Defence Force, SANDF, and the South African Police Service, SAPS, be exempted from the permit requirements in instances of legitimate emergency operations and deployment. This will be done to ensure that the SANDF and the SAPS attend to all impending security emergencies but without derogating from accountability and responsibility requirements in control items transfers.
In order to promote compliance best practices in the defence industry, the Bill proposes that the NCACC be provided with a platform to issue guidelines for defence industry internal compliance programmes. Linked to this industry's internal compliance programme, the Bill proposes the introduction of the concept to grade companies.
I trust that all members of this House will join in the endeavour to create a much better world by supporting this Bill. I thank you.
Mr F BHENGU
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENCE
Mnu F BHENGU: Sihlalo, mandibulele kuTshangisa onguSekela Mphathiswa.
My brief this morning will equally serve as an ode, paying obeisance to the former Secretary of Defence, the late Mr January Boy Masilela, affectionately known as "Che" whom we laid to rest on the 31 August 2008; to be precise, 23 days ago. As the former commissar and political instructor of our uMkhonto weSizwe, he would be in accord with the ANC today in supporting the amendments effectuated in the National Conventional Arms Control Amendment Bill debated today.
To remind ourselves about our commitments to international peace, our Freedom Charter reads:
South Africa shall be a fully independent state which respects the rights and sovereignty of all nations.
It further reads:
South Africa shall strive to maintain world peace and the settlement of all international disputes by negotiation and not war.
Coupled with these assertions our Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act 108 of 1996, chapter 11 section 198 (c) and (d) reads:
(c) National security must be pursued in compliance with the law,
including international law;
(d) National security is subject to the authority of Parliament
and the national executive.
Thus the executive is required by this Act of Parliament to implement and oversee the policy and by reversion, account to Parliament.
It is worth mentioning though that it is of great concern to the Portfolio Committee on Defence that the capacity of the National Conventional Arms Control Committee, NCACC, is not in line with its responsibilities to meet some of its statutory obligations. This needs urgent attention by Cabinet. Among these is failure and in some instances late tabling of reports to Parliament by the NCACC as required by the Act; irregular meetings of the NCACC that negatively affect the functioning of this statutory body. We do appreciate the fact that the members of the NCACC are Ministers with line-functions which become a priority, but this supplants the NCACC work.
The NCACC defaulted by not establishing subcommittees as prescribed by the Act that would carry out delegated, assigned and defined functions of the NCACC. The Auditor-General also made reference to this matter in his report.
Other inadequacies were that country reports tabled annually with the United Nations by the NCACC substantially differ in content with the reports tabled to our Parliament. In essence, reports tabled with the United Nations by the NCACC were never tabled with our Parliament for endorsement.
Another ill-defined area of activity is the need to balance confidentiality requirements with the need for transparency and accountability regarding the transfer of controlled items. This also refers to what should and must be tabled to Parliament as classified and unclassified information.
The lack of enhancement of the End-User Certificate to balance our international requirements with specifications that will compel importing countries not to utilize our controlled items unsanctioned and illicitly.
The Portfolio Committee on Defence succeeded though in improving the Bill in respect of the following matters: We agreed on the deletion of the term "conventional arms" by insertion of a more inclusive term "controlled items"; agreed also not to establish and give statutory status to a proposed scrutiny committee; agreed that one of the main functions of the NCACC, namely the approval of permits, cannot be delegated to senior government officials and that the provisions in the founding Act should be adhered to, to ensure the effective functioning of the NCACC; and we further agreed to the retention of the original title of section 23 of the Act, namely "disclosure and non-disclosure of information" and not the suggested amendment of "reporting".
We also endorsed that the clause compelling the NCACC to report to Parliament on quarterly basis be retained. The NACC was in breach of this mandatory requirement. We also gave effect on a clause that will allow Parliament access to any information regarding the transfer of controlled items involving the country. The confidentiality clause in a contract of sale in section 23 is for instance not applicable to Parliament.
The amended section 23 also connoted a restriction to the quantity of the controlled items that can be disclosed to Parliament. This clause was amended to give effect to absolute disclosure subject to Parliament's provisions for dealing with sensitive and classified information.
An amendment regarding tabling of reports to Parliament, which was not happening, was made. We then agreed that before reports are tabled with the United Nations they must start with the country, because it is the country that reports to the United Nations and not the NCACC. The inclusion of additional definitions and clarification of terms to enhance the readability and accessibility of the amendments was also effected by the portfolio committee.
The memorandum of the objective was also extended to better reflect the changes that have been made in the Bill. These include sections on offences, penalties, administration penalties, exemptions, industry compliance programme, programme approval and regulations and notices.
The cross-referencing to other Acts was also extended to capture in the memorandum of objects and the reasons as to why these cross-references were mentioned in the Bill. Some members would be talking directly to that. On regulations the portfolio committee recommends that the NCACC avails them to Parliament on their completion to determine whether they are in line when the amended Bill becomes an Act.
Having said that, a word of gratitude and thanks for the sterling and optimum work to Mr Dladla, the NCACC Director on Arms Control; Mr Njikela, Director for Legal Support in the department; Colonel Apsy, the Deputy Director Arms Control Policy; Ms Kubushi, head of Legal Services in the department; and Mr Mfanelo Zamisa our liaison officer.
Lastly, also a word of thanks goes to the SA Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Related Industries Association, AMD, directly to Mr Simphiwe Hamilton who came to present before the portfolio committee; the Institute for Security Studies, Mr Guy Lamb; Armscor, Mr Boet van Staden; the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference, Adv Mike Pothier; The Ceasefire Campaign, Mr Rob Thompson; and also to late submissions made to my office by some members who were quite concerned about the NCACC Bill. I want to also extend heartfelt thanks to them.
I also want to thank the parliamentary staff, Ms Balie, Mr Peter Daniels and Maggie van Niekerk. You are the best!
Kumalungu ale komiti ndifuna ukuthi nakobekekileyo uMnu Shah ngesiXhosa kuthiwa, mathol'anyongande kukwabelana.
If you find difficulty in understanding that we can have our own meeting then I will explain this to you. [Laughter.]
To members of the portfolio committee, truly, you have been supportive. I appreciate your support. Ndiyabulela. [I thank you.][Applause.]
Moulana M R SAYEDALI-SHAH
Mr F BHENGU
Moulana M R SAYEDALI-SHAH: Chairperson, the DA believes that it is imperative for us as a country to reinforce our adherence to constitutional order and to ensure that the rule of law and democratic governance prevail at all times. Therefore, the strengthening of the institutions and legislation that will facilitate the promotion of good governance, transparency and accountability in the management of public affairs and public resources is of critical importance.
Being signatory to relevant protocols on arms trade, we must, as a country, remain committed to the agenda of disarmament and nonproliferation of arms, as you heard the Deputy Minister say.
Given the fact that South Africa has a very active defence industry, we must exercise our right to trade in arms, again as the Deputy Minister said, "in a responsible and accountable manner", and for that we may have to formulate and implement sound and relevant legislation by also establishing effective mechanism to regulate arms transfers.
The African continent is confronted with the problem of refugees. We recently had to deal with the complex challenges presented by the existence of refugees in our own country. It is estimated that there are presently 5 million people in Africa who have been forced to live outside their countries of citizenship or are displaced within their own countries because of civil wars and armed conflicts. It is, therefore, now more important than ever before that our defence sector is subject to rigorous scrutiny and that all our arms transactions are transparent and effectively controlled.
We cannot allow weapons manufactured in South Africa or weapons allowed to pass through South Africa to contribute to the suffering of our fellow African brothers and sisters on the continent. We were, therefore, outranged when the NCACC, the National Conventional Arms Control Committee, recently issued a conveyance permit for a Chinese weapons shipment, which was destined for Zimbabwe, in April 2008.
It is envisaged that this Bill before the House, namely the National Conventional Arms Control Amendment Bill of 2008, will ensure that the South African arms control mechanism becomes more effective, thus promoting responsibility and accountability in South African arms transfers, which will satisfy South Africa's high standing and obligation on arms trade.
During the consideration of the Bill, the defence committee took into account the concerns raised by various stakeholders through their respective submissions. We thoroughly interrogated the Bill before us and on several issues we requested necessary changes to be effected. The members of the defence committee raised several objections and serious concerns in respect of certain sections of the Bill, which are too numerous to mention within the limited time at my disposal.
This is a good piece of legislation. However, the DA has some concerns, which I'll share with the House. We do not think that the directorate has the necessary capacity, resources, infrastructure, funds and people with the necessary skills to implement the piece of legislation, bearing in mind that the Bill has cross-referencing to other relevant legislation. It includes, but is not limited to, the prohibition of mercenary activities and the regulation of certain activities in the country of armed conflict.
The other serious concern that we have is the issue of conflict of interest. We believe that all staff members of the NCACC and its directorate should declare their interests.
In conclusion, I wish to thank the chairperson, the hon Bhengu, for allowing us to participate fully in the deliberations, for appreciating the concerns of the DA and giving us sufficient time to speak to relevant issues. It's a pleasure working under his wise stewardship, I must say.
I also thank my colleagues in the defence committee for their diligence and to place on record our gratitude and appreciation to Mr Dladla, who runs the directorate and who has been very patient with us. He took all our concerns very seriously and did whatever was necessary to satisfy our concerns.
I also wish to thank the gentlemen from the legal services department, especially Mr Njikela the director, for his hard work in processing the Bill as well as everyone else who helped in the formulation and passing of this Bill. I believe that the Bill will go a long way towards strengthening our arms control regime. Therefore the DA will support the Bill. I thank you.
Mr V B NDLOVU
Moulana M R SAYEDALI-SHAH
Mnu V B NDLOVU: Sekela Sihlalo, neNdlu ehloniphekile, ...
... the global arms trade and industry are shrouded in secrecy, thereby creating potential for abuse and corruption. For this reason, transparency in weapons deals is vital.
South Africa built up a formidable arms manufacturing industry during apartheid, which the democratic government decided to retain for the most part after 1994. Our country is, therefore, an exporter of weapons to support the local defence industry and to retain the skills that have been built up over decades. As an arms exporter, South Africa has to comply with international agreements as well as various United Nations principles such as taking human rights into account when considering which countries to sell arms to.
The National Conventional Arms Control Committee was established by law after the Cameron commission found that South Africa's arms exports had to comply with the international human rights regime.
The Act, amongst other things, required the committee to report the details of our arms exports to Parliament so that the legislature could maintain oversight over the executive to ensure that it complies with the law. However, herein lay the major weakness of the piece of legislation as the reporting requirements were not strictly adhered to and Parliament was for long periods not supplied with the necessary quarterly and annual arms export information.
No doubt, some concerns about the confidentiality of arms agreements played a role in this deficiency, but one thing is clear: no one is or should be above the law.
The Bill before the House attempts to rectify certain deficiencies in the principal Act, which the IFP supports. Our major concern with the Bill had to do with the reporting requirements to Parliament. For this reason, the IFP was steadfastly against diluting Parliament's role in any way. We found unanimous support for this in the portfolio committee and its chairperson.
The IFP will, therefore, support the Bill as it reinforces the strict reporting requirements for the NCACC to Parliament. It is now up to parliamentarians to ensure that the law is implemented and enforced, thereby holding the executive to account.
We want to pass a vote of thanks to the chairperson and to all the department's officials who have been involved in bringing about this amendment. Thank you.
Mr S N SWART
Mr V B NDLOVU
Mr S N SWART: Chairperson, we, as a nation, have committed ourselves to the most noble international agenda of disarmament and nonproliferation of arms. In terms of these international agreements, states, however, do have the right to engage in responsible and accountable arms trade. There are stringent reporting requirements to the United Nations in terms of these agreements.
As much as we, in the ACDP, deplore international arms trade for the loss of life and maiming that occurs in situations of armed conflict, we believe that countries should have the necessary defence capability to defend their sovereignty. A strong defence industry base, such as the one we have in South Africa, also provides much in the line of skills development and employment, which we cannot afford to lose.
One of the greatest challenges, however, remains in the area of ensuring responsible and accountable trade in arms. What we clearly need is an arms control mechanism that is more effective in promoting responsibility and accountability in South African arms transfers.
The Bill seeks to achieve this, and the ACDP will support the Bill. However, we note concerns relating to the capacity of the defence portfolio committee and the NCACC to carry out their duties. This also raises the question of why Parliament did not exercise its oversight function more effectively. However, we wish to indicate that we will support this Bill. I thank you.
Ms P DANIELS
Mr S N SWART
Ms P DANIELS: Chairperson, the Portfolio Committee on Defence takes its oversight responsibility seriously. We do our oversight over the National Conventional Arms Control Committee, NCACC. Arms control is a sensitive issue which is subject to various international protocols through institutions such as the United Nations. With the advent of democracy in the country in 1994, South Africa took its international responsibility regarding conventional arms very seriously as a responsible global citizen.
This amendment seeks to deal with several developments that have taken place and necessitate the Act to be more focused, clearer and ensuring that arms control in South Africa is conducted on a commonly understood and unambiguous basis. The Portfolio Committee on Defence deliberated extensively on the issues of finding the right balance between security, transparency, accountability and international obligations, as well as the need for a defence industry.
Key to these amendments is the issue of political control; hence we have to do away with the committee that suggested that officials should run with the business of arms control. The NCACC would report to Cabinet and Parliament, and should submit such information to on all transfers of controlled items on confidential basis upon which would report to the United Nations.
This Amendment Bill also talks to cross-referencing on various other pieces of legislation that has a bearing on the NCACC and arms control in the country. The Fire Arms Control Act, No. 265 of 1956, the Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction Act, no. 87 of 1993, the Explosive Act, No. 15 of 2003, and the Nuclear Energy Act, No. 46 of 1999. Clear references to these Acts would ensure proper boundaries, management between NCACC and other agencies of government, as well as ensuring seamless integration between them.
It is indeed the responsibility of South Africa, as a member of the international community, to maintain and promote its own national security interests and those of its allies, avoid contributing to internal repression, systematic violation or suppression of human rights and fundamental freedoms. South Africa should not trade in conventional arms with states engaged in repression, aggression, terrorism and adhere to international laws, norms, practices, obligations and commitments of the Republic including the United Nation Security Council's arms embargoes. When the Chinese ship was to dock in the South African waters, Zimbabwe was not under embargo at that time.
Having given our support to the National Conventional Arms Control Amendment Bill, this is not incumbent on the executive, especially the NCACC political heads, to see to the proper and effective implementation of the Act. As we prepare for the next Parliament, it is also prudent to have an NCACC that is effective, consistent and reliable. It is my sincere believe that this would go a long way to ensure that South Africa's arms control mechanism would become more effective, thus promoting a responsibility and accountability in arms transfer. This in turn, would be in line with South Africa's standing obligations on arms trade. I thank you. [Applause.]
Ms S RAJBALLY
Ms P DANIELS
Ms S RAJBALLY: Chairperson, if there is anything we believe in, is that a gun-free South Africa would be a safer and happier country, but unfortunately crime has created enough insecurity in our people that has engaged almost every household to investing in a gun for their protection.
Beyond the domestic challenges of violence, is the most common form of use of weapons such as guns in war. To fuel this war, many engaged in the illegal sale of arms that without a conscious, violates the human rights of many and in more serious cases, takes the lives of many.
In view of South Africa's international commitment to the international agenda of disarmament and non-proliferation of arms, the MF welcomes this Bill and the management sector that should be received by the National Conventional Arms Control Committee. It would be interesting to measure the statistics of the illegal trade of arms across our borders or the incidence of illegal trade of arms by South Africans globally. We would like to thank the Chairperson in respect of this Bill. The MF supports the National Conventional Arms Control Bill. I thank you. [Applause.]
Dr E A SCHOEMAN
Ms S RAJBALLY
Dr E A SCHOEMAN: Chairperson, the National Conventional Arms Control Committee, NCACC, was established in terms of the National Conventional Arms Control Committee Act 41 of 2002. The committee consists of Ministers and Deputy Ministers associated with the arms trade such as Foreign Affairs, Trade and Industry, Defence, Intelligence, Safety and Security, Public Enterprises, etc. Both the chairperson and the deputy have to be Ministers not involved in the arms trade in anyway.
The intention of the Act was to ensure transparency and accountability regarding the transfer of all conventional arms. Accordingly, the oversight responsibilities of Parliament were respected and guaranteed. According to the Act the committee has to present to Parliament a copy of the annual report which is submitted to the United Nations.
In addition, quarterly reports of all conventional arms exports have to be submitted to Cabinet and Parliament, effectively to the Joint Standing Committee of Defence, as well as an annual report to Parliament, effectively to the Portfolio Committee on Defence. This annual report has to be submitted within the first quarter following the relevant calendar year.
In general, reporting by the NCACC has left much to be desired, and the committee by and large has been noncompliant with the Act in this regard. Quarterly reports have never been received by Parliament and apparently neither by Cabinet. Parliament receives its annual reports late, and it is also not clear if the annual reports which were submitted to the United Nations where ever handed to Parliament.
On receiving the annual reports, the portfolio committee expressed its dismay regarding both the format and quality of information contained in the report, as well as the insistence on secrecy and confidentiality; all these while the United Nations reports were far more comprehensive. Moreover, these reports were in the public domain and could be accessed on the Internet.
In its deliberations on the Bill, the committee addressed the above-mentioned deficiency through clause 24 of the Bill which amends section 23 of the principal Act by amongst others: Firstly, the addition of subclause (1)(c) which states that the committee must report to Cabinet and Parliament on all transfers of controlled items concluded during the previous quarter. All transfers referred to marketing, contracting, exporting, and importing and conveyance authorisation by the NCACC.
Besides providing adequate details on all transfers relating to country, type, quantity and value, the report must also provide description of controlled items transferred. A copy of the annual report must also be tabled in Parliament prior to submission to the United Nations.
Secondly, the addition of subclause (4) which states that in cases where certain information concerning the quantity of controlled items is omitted in terms of a confidentiality clause in a contract of sale, the committee must submit such information to Parliament on confidential basis.
There is no doubt that this Bill which is a final product of intensive deliberations and panel beating by the portfolio committee complies with most of the requirements set by all participating political parties. It undoubtedly enhances the criteria of transparency, accountability and oversight and I have no hesitation in supporting its adoption by this House.
In conclusion, I would like to express my appreciation to all those members of our committee who made such constructive contributions to our deliberations. Besides the names that have already been mentioned I would like to once again from our side to mention the name of the chairperson of our committee, Comrade Fezile Bhengu. I want to thank him for the way he conducted the meetings, his leadership and his diligence. Thank you. [Applause.]
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENCE
Dr E A SCHOEMAN
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENCE: Hon Chairperson and members, I just want to take this opportunity to thank the portfolio committee for the manner in which they have dealt with these very complex amendments, and also thank all parties for supporting them.
I have taken note of the concerns that you have raised, hon chairperson, on the report and meetings of NCACC, the National Conventional Arms Control Committee. We will also have to look at the manner of reporting to the United Nations, because it is not so easy. Probably, it would be a good thing to report to Parliament before you report to the United Nations. That is a good thing and I agree with that, but we also need to look at the practicalities thereof. To what extent is that practical?
A declaration of interest is done because that is a norm in South Africa. If you are involved in anything, you must declare your interest. That is the reason all members who served on the NCACC must declare their interest because we are dealing here with many businesses in the defence industry.
I also concur with baba Ndlovu that there must be transparency, but I must also caution baba Ndlovu that transparency has got limitations. We are dealing here with weapons and with countries. Sometimes we take a decision on the basis of reports we got from our South African secret service, intelligence, counterintelligence about a country on issues that are sometimes very sensitive.
Sometimes we decide that we are not going to sell weapons to country A because we believe that country A is not run properly and that such weapons could be used against ordinary citizens. This is not a matter that you can just wake up and publish, because sometimes it's a sensitive matter and you have to take into account diplomatic relations between countries. So, there is the issue of sensitivity.
We must also be conscious that we are dealing with our own industry. If, in doing things, we do things that might also destroy our own industry, that would be counterproductive because it would mean that jobs would be lost. This Bill deals with a very complex matter. I agree with everybody that buying weapons is not like buying a loaf of bread from Pick n Pay.
We are talking about things that can kill human beings, so they must be properly regulated. Again, thank you very much to the Department of Defence and also to the office staff in absentia.
I am only happy that at last this Bill has been tabled before Parliament because these amendments have been on the cards for the past three years. The Auditor-General had to be involved because there is a part that affects them. There are many other parties that had to be involved before the Bill was even brought to Cabinet and then to Parliament.
Thank you very much for the role everybody has played in making sure that this Bill is now tabled before Parliament. Thank you very much, Chairperson.
Bill read a second time.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (DOIDGE)
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENCE
RESULTS OF THE VOTES ON THE MOTION TABLED BY THE CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr G Q M Doidge): Hon members, I draw your attention to the following announcement: That on the vote on the motion tabled by the Chief Whip of the Majority Party, which was on the Order Paper, the results that were reported to the House were as follows: 299 in favour, Noes 10 and abstentions 0.
I wish, therefore, to announce that there was indeed one abstention recorded during the division and that the record of Parliament will now be adjusted accordingly. That does not affect anyway the outcome of the results. Thank you very much.
Mr M J ELLIS: Mr Chairman, may I simple ask whether any pressure was put on the person who may have abstained to change his or her vote?
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr G Q M Doidge): No, it was a technical hitch relating to the technology that was used in the voting process, Mr Ellis. Thank you very much.
Mr P A GERBER
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON
METHODIST CHURCH OF SOUTHERN AFRICA (PRIVATE) ACT REPEAL BILL
DUTCH REFORMED CHURCHES UNION ACT REPEAL BILL
BIBLE SOCIETY OF SOUTH AFRICA ACT REPEAL BILL
THE APOSTOLIC FAITH MISSION OF SOUTH AFRICA (PRIVATE) ACT REPEAL BILL
(Second Reading debate)
Mr P A GERBER: Chairperson, the four Bills before the House, today, deals with six old and redundant Acts, dated, as far back as 1911. These Acts are the following: The Methodist Church of South Africa Act; the Dutch Reformed Unification Act of 1911; the Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa Act with an Amendment Act; and the Bible Society of South Africa Act also with an Amendment Act.
We are repealing these Acts to give effect to the constitutional principles of human dignity, freedom of religion and association, equality and advancement of human rights and freedoms, nonracialism and nonsexism. We are taking the state out of the business of the churches.
Some of these Acts, specifically, have direct racial and sexual discriminatory clauses. The Apostolic Faith Mission Act No 24 of 1961 in Clause 2 of the Schedule of the Act refers to "non-European adherence" and in Clause 38, 44 and 54 of the Schedule, expressly, excludes female members of the church from holding influential positions such as the President, Vice- President, General Secretary and General Treasurer.
Status has also played an enormous role in having your own Act of Parliament and I read for you from the Minutes of the Bible Society meeting that was held in Bible House, Greenmarket Square in Cape Town on Wednesday, 14 February 1968 at 9:15. And I quote under matters arising: "Dr Payne asked why it was necessary for the society to be registered as a company if it could operate as welfare society. The hon Treasurer explained that a company enjoys a highest status than a welfare society and it would add to the Bible Society's esteem in the eyes of the public."
Chair, the most controversial Act currently there, is the Dutch Reformed Unification Act 23 of 1911 and, specifically, the colour clause in Clause 9 which deals with the status of certain Coloured members as declared. It said: "No coloured person, being a member of the Dutch Reformed Church of the Colony or the Province of Cape of Good Hope, shall be entitled, to claim membership of the united church in the event of his finding himself, in any of the adjacent provinces and so long as he shall remain without the boundaries of the Province of the Cape of Good Hope, upon return to the Cape of Good Hope he can continue with his membership."
The Dutch Reformed Church started to initiate the separation of believers by the colour of their skin already, way back in 1857, when it formed three extra separate Dutch Reformed Churches, namely: The Dutch Reformed Mission Church for Coloureds; the Dutch Reformed in Africa for Africans; and the Reformed Church in Africa for Indians. It might be said that the Dutch Reformed Church was one of the architects of apartheid.
When I accidentally recovered this Dutch Reformed Act of 1911, my instincts told me that this is wrong. Although this Act was never implemented by the Dutch Reformed Church, it was still intact and on our statutes. It was, however, a very emotional decision for me as I was raised in a Dutch Reformed parsonage – seeing that my late father was a Dutch Reformed Church dominee and the church has been very good to me and my family. But it was also in the Dutch Reformed Church that I became aware of colour and racism.
During those days, if you as a "Dominee" didn't belong to the Broederbond you would be relegated to the poor, difficult, sometimes, remote congregations. My late father who didn't believe in things such as Super Afrikaners but only normal Afrikaners, ended up being "Umfundisi" in Pondoland and, then, came back in Kraaifontein which was a poor White suburb and one of the last mixed suburbs, in the 1960s.
The Coloured Dominee Peters from the Coloured Dutch Reformed Church in Kraaifontein – who became good friends with my father – met with him weekly, to discuss mutual challenges as their congregation overlapped. One day, at primary school, one of my school classmates asked me if my mother was giving Dominee Peters tea from the same cups or whether he used a tin mug; that was the first awareness of racial discrimination, I can recall. Ironically, my late father had his farewell sermon in the very church of Dominee Peters in 1974 as he was refused to do so in his own church – that was quite revolutionary in 1974 in Kraaifontein.
One of the worst experiences that I had in those years was when a well-known wine farmer from Kraaifontein in those days, Oom Johnnie Huskisson, lost his only son in a car accident. It was very tragic and tough for my father as they were good friends and he had to bury him. When I got to the church all the farm workers from his farm were there, but they had to sit in the foyer and on the steps and listen to the service outside on the loudspeakers – I will never forget that for as long as I live.
If you were a White Dominee who moved to a Coloured congregation, you would loose your Dominee title and become an "Eerwaarde". Its ironic that the White Dominee couldn't live in his congregation because of the Group Areas Act. These "Eerwaardes" were often referred to as "die Hotnosdominees van die hotnoskerk".
Tweedeklas-Dominees vir die tweedeklasmense. [Second-class Dominees for second-class people.]
Speaker, 14 years into our democracy we are still living in separate townships, send our children to separate schools and go to separate churches – something I can't explain to my children.
South Africa's irony is that we are in a state of continuing polarization of our people. Despite our new political dispensation and the Constitution, we still have the White Dutch Reformed Church upholding the separation of our people along ethnic divisions.
In 1975, the Coloured-Indian Dutch Reformed Church started discussions to unify the whole Dutch Reformed family. Sadly, 33 years later, this unification process has grinded to a halt as the White Dutch Reformed Church is delaying the process.
A united Dutch Reformed Church will send such a strong message of reconciliation desperately needed in our country. But they have to unconditionally commit themselves to unification – just as the former homelands did when they unconditionally reunited into one South Africa. We can't afford these "Church Homelands" anymore in South Africa. Discrimination in these churches must stop, whether it's White on Black or White on White. It's unacceptable; just as there are no Super Xhosas or Super Zulus or Super Tswanas or Super Afrikaners. We, as the ANC, will not associate ourselves with this kind of discrimination.
Those pseudo-quasi-para-intellectuals, so-called Super Afrikaners out there, who think that the ANC will allow internal discrimination inside certain groups; will be surprised. My father often said that the Bible in the hand of an idiot can be the most dangerous book in the world.
This lack of harmony, specifically, in the Dutch Reformed family is seriously derailing our reconciliation in South Africa. If the White Dutch Reformed Church doesn't wake up, it will go the same route as the old National Party and disappear on the horizon and become absolute.
With this bit of background, Chairperson, I put these four Bills for further discussion. Thank you.
Mrs D VAN DER WALT
Mr P A GERBER
Mrs D VAN DER WALT: Chairperson, indeed the objects of the repeal Bills under discussion today are to, one, give effect to the constitutional principles of human dignity, equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms, nonracialism and nonsexism; two, to remove legislation that creates the impression that the Constitution promotes segregation along religious lines; and three, to remove racially discriminatory legislation from the statutes.
All the bodies consulted agreed to the repeal of these Acts. In our democratic country we can no longer have Acts in place which state that, and I quote:
The non‑European, that is to say, the Indian, coloured and black adherents, shall be governed by separate policies.
In the presentation to our committee, the Dutch Reformed Church acknowledged that Section 9 of Act 23 of 1911 indeed discriminated against Coloured members of the Cape Synod. I am going to repeat this - although hon Gerber did read it as well – and I quote:
No coloured person, being a member of the Dutch Reformed Church of the colony or province of the Cape of Good Hope, shall be entitled, by reason of such membership or of the passing of this Act or of the union brought about thereby, to claim membership of the United Church in the event of his finding himself or of his being or becoming resident in any of the adjacent provinces, etc.
This church indeed expressed its gratitude to the hon Gerber for bringing this private Bill to Parliament. As Tony Leon always said, one has to give credit where credit is due.
May I also add that today these churches have an open membership policy in all their various structures, theoretically as well as in practice. In my home town Tzaneen, for instance, some of these churches also have services in our indigenous languages.
Terwyl dit nodig is om wette soos dié te herroep, is dit ook van die uiterste belang vir almal van ons in die Huis om ook elke dag die voorbeeld aan al ons mense daar buite te stel van 'n werklik nie-rassige samelewing.
Ons mag nie toelaat dat party mense elke keer wanneer hulle in 'n hoek is op 'n rassistiese wyse reageer nie. Die Speaker van hierdie Huis se reaksie op die Zapiro-spotprent van onlangs, wat dalk onsmaaklik vir sommiges was, het dadelik ras daaraan gekoppel. Dis juis 'n onaanvaarbare optrede en dra glad nie by om 'n nie-rassige samelewing te bevorder nie.
Ek stel voor dat almal tyd beskikbaar maak en gerus weer ons Grondwet bestudeer en ernstig besin oor hoe ons dit gaan uitleef in ons daaglikse leef- en werkswyse om die korrekte voorbeeld vir alle Suid-Afrikaners te stel. Die DA steun die wetsontwerpe onder bespreking. Dankie.
Mr M J BHENGU
Mrs D VAN DER WALT
Mr M J BHENGU: Chairperson, at the committee level we debated all these four pieces of legislation, that is the repeal Bill on the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, the repeal Bill on the Dutch Reformed Church, the Bible Society of South Africa and the Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa. We exhausted quite a lot of things and we realised that there was actually no controversy around all these repeal Bills. Therefore, we came to a consensus that indeed the racially motivated legislation be removed from the statutes. The IFP accordingly agrees to this. Thanks.
Mr S N SWART
Mr M J BHENGU
Mr S N SWART: Chairperson, the ACDP notes what has been said regarding the preferring of one faith above another in terms of the constitutional values. However, we need to be mindful of the fact that 70% to 80% of South Africans profess to be Christians. We also need to be mindful of what Constitutional Court Judge Sachs said in the Fourie judgement, that, and I quote:
In the open and democratic society contemplated by the Constitution the religious beliefs held by the majority of South Africans must be taken seriously.
The ACDP notes that a lengthy consultation process has taken place and that all church denominations involved, as well as the Bible Society, after expressing initial concerns, support these Bills. However, we must emphasise that initial objections were raised in particular relating to property, tax and other unintended consequences. We understand that there are enormous consequences relating to property rights.
The Bible Society raised the issue of its tax exemptions and was given the assurance that this would be retained. We also understand that assurances were given to the churches regarding a transition to do with property, pension funds and medical aid. However, in view of the racial and gender discrimination contained in certain of these Acts, clearly the ACDP is fully supportive of the initiative to repeal these Acts that deal with racial and gender discrimination.
We also trust that the repeal of these Acts will result in the unification of different racial groupings within certain denominations, notwithstanding the fact that already the membership of those churches remains open. So, we also express our gratitude to Mr Gerber. The ACDP will support these Bills. I thank you.
Ms D M RAMODIBE
Mr S N SWART
Ms D M RAMODIBE: Chairperson, hon members, the ANC welcomes the following amendments: the Dutch Reformed Churches Union Act Repeal Bill of 2008, the Methodist Church of Southern Africa (Private) Act Repeal Bill of 2008, the Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa (Private) Act Repeal Bill of 2008 and the Bible Society of South Africa Act Repeal Bill of 2008.
Some of the bodies consulted included the Council of African Instituted Churches, the Muslim Judicial Council and the SA Council of Churches.
During the apartheid era the same Bible that we are using in the democratic government was used to oppress the majority of the people of this country. The state at the time made use of the concept of law and order to maintain the status quo, which it depicted as normal. However, those unjust and discriminatory laws of the apartheid era were an institutionalised disorder of oppression.
Anyone who tampered with that law and order was made to feel that he or she was lawless and disorderly. In other words, the people were made to feel guilty of sin. Notwithstanding the fact that this was an oppressive ruler, they chose to use the text in the Bible that says:
Thou shall obey the ruler.
The church at that time played a very significant role in an attempt to interpret the same Bible used by the state to oppress the poor. As Dr Albert Nolan puts it:
God is on the side of the poor.
The SA Council of Churches, which was then led by Bishop Tutu, the Institute for Contextual Theology, which was then led by Rev Frank Chikane, and the Christian Institute, which was led by Dr BeyersNaudé, are among those institutions that were brutalised by the then system.
Section 31(1), in Chapter 2 of the Constitution, clearly stipulates that persons belonging to a cultural, religious or linguistic community may not be denied the right enjoyed by other members of that community to enjoy their culture, practise their religion and use their language.
It is in this spirit that the churches, in line with the Constitution, repeal the laws, to, one, give effect to the constitutional principles of human dignity, equality and the advancement of human rights and freedom, nonracialism and nonsexism; two, remove legislation that promotes unfair discrimination from the statutes. So says the church.
This is quite a huge step forward - a positive one - taken by the church in liberating itself. The church will no longer be seen to be divided into two, black and white, even within the same denomination.
We would like to thank the ANC-led government for introducing the healing and reconciliation process. Let us continue to bring back ubuntu and enhance social cohesion in order to build the nation. The ANC supports the Bill. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mr I S MFUNDISI
Ms D M RAMODIBE
Mr I S MFUNDISI: Chairperson and hon members, the UCDP fully supports the Bills that seek to remove legislation that is discriminatory. It is unfortunate that some people were discriminated against on the grounds of their race or gender. This is in conflict with the Christian beliefs that people are equal and call one another brother and sister.
The disparities in the standard of living among the clergy of the said churches, the stipends they receive, the edifices they use for worship and the manses they live in are a clear sign that this cannot be allowed to continue while the Constitution of the country emphasises civil liberties to people. The fact that the affected
have been consulted and alerted to these important matters of equality before is commended. This is a wake-up call to all and sundry in this country to do introspection and rid themselves of any vestiges of discrimination.
The UCDP supports the repeal of all four Acts as indicated on the Order Paper.
Ms S RAJBALLY
Mr I S MFUNDISI
Ms S RAJBALLY: Chairperson, the MF is a firm believer and follower of our national Constitution of 1996 and its Bill of Rights. The freedom, dignity and rights of our people need to be upheld to the highest level to ensure that democracy also reaches the heights it can. Furthermore, the freedom of religion, expression and being oneself is important to the preservation of the rainbow nation we have become. The MF believes that it is crucial that we identify, rectify and amend all our legislation that shall lend the promotion of human rights, nationally and in our international relations. The MF supports the removal of all provisions that may be discriminatory in this nature. The MF supports the repeal of the above Acts. I thank you, Chairperson. [Applause.]
Mr P A GERBER
Ms S RAJBALLY
Mr P A GERBER: Chair, since I tabled these private members' Bills, 15 months ago on 5 June 2007, a lot of interaction involving a lot of role-players took place, and I would like to thank the following: The ANC for allowing me the freedom to do this - never once did they doubt my bona fides; the Committee on Private Members' Legislative Proposals and Special Petitions, chaired by Comrade Vytjie Mentor, for all the support all the way; the Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture, with the chairperson Comrade Tshivhase, and members for their warm support; all the other parties for supporting these repeal Acts; Adv ZurayaAdhikarie, specifically, one of the senior parliamentary legal people, for without her, there wouldn't have been these Bills here today. Unfortunately her father passed away last night. So, she can't be here.
Furthermore, I would like to thank all the churches and the other role-players for their positive attitude and input. Lastly, I would like to thank the librarians of the parliamentary library for all the research and assistance regarding these Bills.
I would like to quote just one paragraph from the Hansard of 1 February 1911. It was a comment made from the speech of the hon Mr J W Quinn who was a Member of Parliament of Troyeville in those years. He said: "After all that the Minister has said, one fact stood out that by this Bill they were deliberately saying to a member in this colony, who prefers to believe in the same teachings and the same doctrines as themselves, by this clause, that he should not sit behind or sit with his fellow professing Christians in any other colony in the union." How could they expect any blessing upon a law dealing with church affairs when they did a thing of that kind? It was a clause which united every teaching of the founders of the religion they professed. He could quote to them any number of passages to show them that they were doing a weakened and an improper thing. It was a disgrace to the Statute Book; it was a disgrace to the church which was infinitely worse.
I would like to dedicate these repeal Acts to the many Dutch Reformed Church dominees who paid the price for standing up against discrimination in churches over many decades – some well-known and some not so well-known. This doesn't matter. There were smear campaigns; lives were destroyed; families were shattered; wives were antagonised; and children were humiliated. Some of them went to their graves much sooner than they should have. The struggle has not been in vain. I dedicate these repeal Acts to all those brave people like Dominee Nico Smit, to my late father, to Dr Beyers Naudé and all the others who are still out there.
I would like, in closure, to quote from Dr Beyers Naudé's book, Oom Bey for the Future: Engaging the witness of Beyers Naudé:
As daar uit al die ellende, die onreg en die pyn van apartheid sulke bewyse van vergifnis en versoening kan kom soos dié van Tshenuwani Farisani, Nelson Mandela, Frank Chikane en talle ander, dan het ek hoop vir hierdie land.
Colleagues, when we walked in here this morning, these Acts were still on our Statute Book. When we walk out of here this afternoon, let's be glad that we did a small bit to liberate our statutes and churches from more than 90 years of religious legislation in South Africa. I thank you. [Applause.]
Bills read a second time.
Mr N T GODI
Mr P A GERBER
CONSIDERATION OF NINETEENTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - AFRICA INSTITUTE OF SOUTHERN AFRICA
CONSIDERATION OF TWENTIETH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - MINE HEALTH AND SAFETY COUNCIL
CONSIDERATION OF TWENTY-FIRST REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - ANNUAL REPORT AND REPORT OF THE AUDITOR-GENERAL ON FINANCIAL STATEMENTS OF BOXING SOUTH AFRICA FOR FINANCIAL YEAR ENDING 31 MARCH 2007
CONSIDERATION OF TWENTY-SECOND REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - ANNUAL REPORT AND REPORT OF THE AUDITOR-GENERAL ON FINANCIAL STATEMENTS OF DEPARTMENT OF SPORT AND RECREATION SOUTH AFRICA FOR FINANCIAL YEAR ENDING 31 MARCH 2007
CONSIDERATION OF TWENTY-THIRD REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - ANNUAL REPORT AND REPORT OF THE AUDITOR-GENERAL ON FINANCIAL STATEMENTS OF INDEPENDENT ELECTORAL COMMISSION FOR FINANCIAL YEAR ENDING 31 MARCH 2007
CONSIDERATION OF TWENTY-FOURTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - ANNUAL REPORT AND REPORT OF AUDITOR-GENERAL ON FINANCIAL STATEMENTS OF SOUTH AFRICAN MANAGEMENT DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTE (SAMDI) FOR FINANCIAL YEAR ENDING 31 MARCH 2007
CONSIDERATION OF TWENTY-FIFTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - ANNUAL REPORT AND REPORT OF AUDITOR-GENERAL ON FINANCIAL
STATEMENTS OF GOVERNMENT PRINTING WORKS FOR FINANCIAL YEAR ENDING 31
CONSIDERATION OF TWENTY-SIXTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - ANNUAL REPORT AND REPORT OF AUDITOR-GENERAL ON FINANCIAL
STATEMENTS OF DEPARTMENT OF HOME AFFAIRS FOR FINANCIAL YEAR ENDING 31 MARCH 2007
Mr N T GODI: Chairperson, comrades and hon members, firstly we would like to thank the Whippery for having made space for us to have these resolutions passed, and we want to indicate that we still do have a number of outstanding resolutions that we would not want to leave for the fourth Parliament. We hope that we will be able to get space for them to be passed.
We are bringing before the House these eight resolutions as they appear, that is the Africa Institute of Southern Africa, Mine Health and Safety Council, Boxing South Africa, Sport and Recreation, Independent Electoral Commission, South African Management Development Institute, Samdi, the Government Printing Works and the Department of Home Affairs. Except for the IEC, which had an unqualified audit report and which we called out of concern about the state of their information technology infrastructure, its readiness and capacity to handle next year's elections, there were no issues by the Auditor-General. However, we remain concerned about the Department of Home Affairs and the Government Printing Works whose audit opinions were disclaimer and adverse report respectively. The same thing would apply to the Africa Institute of Southern Africa which had a disclaimer.
The issues that have been raised by the Auditor-General will relate to in large measure to governance issues, that is internal control measures as well as capacity, level of vacancies and systems related issues. On a number of these issues we also suggested deadlines by which post the adoption of these resolutions by the House there should be communication back to the National Assembly on measures taken to address the issues identified. I think the honours remain with the Speaker's office to ensure that the deadlines are met and follow-ups are done when those deadlines have been identified.
In terms of the details of each of these reports, my comrades and colleagues who will be talking before me will deal with them in detail. Safe to say that, we will be pleased and be happy if these resolutions could be passed by the House. Thank you.
Mr R T MOFOKENG
Mr N T GODI
Mr T R MOFOKENG: Chairperson, I think my chairperson has outlined the reports. It is true; there are eight of them. They start from report 19, Africa Institute of Southern Africa, which is a disclaimer; 20th report, the Mine Health and Safety Council, which is qualified; the 22nd report on Sport and Recreation, which is qualified; 23rd report on Independent Electoral Commission, which is unqualified; 24th report on the South African Management Development Institute, which is unqualified; 25th report of the Standing Committee of the Government Printing Works that shows the opinion of adverse; and 26th report on Department of Home Affairs, which shows disclaimer. All these reports are up to midnight 31 March 2008. After midnight the books were closed; the transactions of documents were closed and the report had to be handed over. I think I can only touch on a few of those which show disclaimer, qualification and adverse opinion from the Auditor-General.
Let me start with the 20th report of Standing Committee on Public Accounts, Scopa, on Mine Health and Safety Council, dated June 2008. For the financial year 2006-07 the Auditor-General expressed a qualification audit opinion on the financial statement of the Mine Health and Safety Council. This was a reversal of the unqualified report received by the entity in 2005-06, the first in a number of years.
Before elaborating on details of the audit report, it is important to remind ourselves of the crucial responsibility that has been entrusted to the council. The Mine Health and Safety Council derives its mandate and responsibilities from section 43 and section 44 of the Mine Health and Safety Act, which roles are listed as follow: Firstly, to advise the Minister on all occupational health and safety issues in the mining industry related to legislation, research and promotion; secondly, to review and develop legislation for recommendation to the Minister; thirdly, to promote health and safety in the mining industry; fourthly, to oversee research in relation to health and safety in the mining industry; and fifthly, to liaise with other bodies concerned with health and safety issues.
I point these out so that we do not lose sight when examining financial statements - Scopa is only dealing with the financial statements; the money side of its administration office, its delivery office - whether it really incorporates and makes sure that everything is given to its mandate. This has far greater impact on human beings working in the mines as well as their dependants.
During the year in review, according to the Department of Minerals and Energy, there were 209 actual fatalities in the mining industry. When I work it out, trying to make some calculations, this translates into a fatality rate of 0,21 million hours worked and 0,46 per 1000 persons at work. This is a big loss.
Equally important, is the need to address the serious health challenges in the mining industry. This means more resources deal with such occupational health matters as tuberculosis associated with the exposure to silica dust. The increase in prevalence of HIV infection has led to a doubling in new TB cases and increased mortality. Noise-induced hearing loss has also been recognised as a major occupational health risk in the South African mining industry.
It is incumbent upon us to hold the council to account in fulfilling its functions. It is with dismay and shock, therefore, that we table before this House a report that notes the following: The Mine Health and Safety Council had a poor control environment on these categorised issues; firstly, there was no segregation of duties throughout the accounting division which was exacerbated by the suspension of the general manager or financial manager who acted as general manager or financial manager; secondly, capacity within the finance division was limited which severely impacted on the efficient performance of the audit; thirdly, the corporate structure of the entity had a negative impact on operations such as the merging of the roles of the general manager and financial manager into a single position which created a void when this individual was suspended; lastly, a complete fixed asset register was not available in violation of Public Finance Management Act and Treasury regulations.
In light of all these, one has to be optimistic that the goal of zero injuries and fatalities will always be striven for. Whilst we fully expect business and labour to play their part, we have a responsibility to hold the regulators equally to their side of the bargain.
With regard to the three clapped together, that is report 23, 25 and 26, reports of Scopa on the Department of Home Affairs, that is on Home Affairs, Government Printing Works and Independent Electoral Commission. I want to clap these three entities together even though I know very well that the IEC has received unqualified report; it has done well, we are faced by 2009 elections and as such we must talk about these three issues.
It is self-explanatory why these three entities are covered in a single statement. Their work is complementary and their impact on South Africans is far-reaching. A prime example is the upcoming elections. It is disheartening therefore that two of these entities fell short of the Auditor-General's report scrutiny, with a disclaimer opinion of the Department of Home Affairs and an adverse audit opinion on the Government Printing Works.
Consciously, whether we choose to or not, South Africans entrust the Department of Home Affairs with recording the most intimate details of our lives. We deal with birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce certificates and death certificates, etc. We also entrust the department to maintain the integrity of all our information so we may exercise our civic duties, like registering to vote. Home Affairs is also called upon to ensure the state carries out its obligations to those who collect social grants, children grants and pensions. All of these functions require a well-functioning department. That is why I emphasise that we should be very strict on that.
Consequently, the Government Printing Works is the repository of the security printing press that enables Home Affairs to disburse such documents as IDs, passports, etc. It is profoundly disappointing to note that the two organisations in the forefront of documenting our people, so they may access government and other services, have consistently drawn the ire of the committee to give it eyeshot. The committee therefore proposes that the reports be adopted by the House. [Time expired.]
Mr E W TRENT
Mr R T MOFOKENG
Mr E W TRENT: Chair, yes, as the chair of Scopa, that is the Standing Committee on Public Finance, said, resolutions must be passed. Of course, questions then arise: When they have been passed, what then happens to them? Do they have the desired effect? I think that is really what we should be talking about, and I'm going to deal with those matters in due course.
I want to just begin with another issue that really concerns me, although I wanted to talk about Scopa today. The second report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts on the Central Energy Fund and subsidiaries was tabled on 18 March 2006.
The recommendations on that Scopa resolution are very far-reaching and I don't have time to quote all of them. However, the Auditor-General noted a few things regarding them. He said that the Imvume Management trust clearly misled PetroSA with regard to the purpose behind its request for an advance payment.
He also said that a decision by PetroSA to deposit this money in a bank account separate to the standard account used by PetroSA and Imvume was irregular, and so on.
I find it very strange that that report is a complete contradiction of the report tabled by the Portfolio Committee on Minerals and Energy which endorsed the Public Protector's report that said that Imvume Management had done nothing wrong. I will quote what the Public Protector said, because I think it's rather interesting. He said that:
The decision to approve this loan in advance was not unreasonable; it was done in terms of policy and legal prescripts, and it was well-founded and properly considered.
You know what is amazing, that Scopa report disappeared off the Order Paper; it was never debated in this House. Now, I want to know, why? We must take Scopa seriously. Scopa does its work independently, and if it makes recommendations that embarrass the government, they must accept that, but they must also allow us to debate them.
As this term of Parliament draws to a close, so does the term of this committee. As usual, I will not deal with the reports as they are to be found on pages 1566 of the ATC. Perhaps now is the good time to reflect on the weaknesses in the accountability cycle.
We are still dealing with 2007 reports when the 2008 reports are being tabled right now. As many as 52 reports have already been tabled. Some of them could be completely out of date and some of them, of course, if they had been dealt with earlier, might have been able to stop some profound negative effects that have resulted from the departments' behaviour.
I just want to use two examples from these reports. The first one is the report on the Department of Home Affairs and the Government Printer. This report is way out of date. The new one will be coming any time now, and we know that they have a turnaround plan in place. We don't know whether this plan is working or not, but, when we come with all these recommendations we are presupposing that they have done nothing in the past year.
Even more serious is the report of the Department of Sport and Recreation. That report says – and remember this is a 2007 report – that R2,4 million was paid to athletes for the 2000 Olympic Games. No verification for the validity and accuracy of these payments could be performed as no details of the athletes were attached to the invoices. No wonder Team SA didn't do very well in Beijing! If that's the way the Department of Sport and Recreation behaves, how do you expect our athletes to behave?
We should have dealt with this report when it should have been, months and months ago. In fact, they are already back from Beijing and we are only dealing with the report now. I don't understand this; we've got to do something about this.
I'm not blaming Scopa. I want to put together a proposition. I believe that the problems arise because Scopa is not being dealt with in the way it should. I want to make two suggestions, and the first is that Scopa should not be subject to the normal programmes of Parliaments, such as constituency periods, etc, because our work is a cycle and things have to take place at certain times.
We've had no meetings since the last week of June, because half the time people are sitting at the People's Parliament in Limpopo or are doing something else. We are never going to get through these reports for 2008.
The next thing that I believe should be done is to guarantee the independence of members of Scopa, putting in place mechanisms that guarantee that independence. We were going to go on a study tour to the Scandinavian countries – it's a pity we didn't go. We are told that in these countries – and we can only accept that it is true – when a member becomes a member of Scopa, that person is given immunity from being disciplined by his or her party. In other words, you become an independent voice in Parliament and you can say what your conscience tells you to say, not what your party tells you to say.
With that bit of advice, the DA will support the adoption of these reports. [Time expired.]
Mr H J BEKKER
Mr E W TRENT
Mr H J BEKKER: Chairperson, today I find myself a great deal in line with the hon Mofokeng. Yes, a lot has been said and we've dealt with these reports in detail.
Normally, when Scopa reports on a certain entity, it would spell trouble for that specific entity. Unfortunately, we are not dealing with and we cannot reveal the few that are absolutely clean and right, that we can boast about. However, it is continuously the same groups that are falling into trouble.
With regard to the African Institute of SA, we've got one of the most noble organisations advancing Africa and the African sciences, and what do we see?; it is falling apart right at the top.
We've heard what the hon Trent has said with regard to Boxing SA and the Department of Sport and Recreation. I agree with him that what these two institutions are doing must spill over to their teams.
I now come to the Government Printing Works and Home Affairs. Problems with regard to these two institutions have been recurring. Sometimes their reports have had to be taken back altogether and they could not be dealt with. We are sitting here with one such report.
If one were to go into details, one would need a great deal of time to deal with the Department of Home Affairs only, because that department needs absolute interrogation.
The Public Finance Management Act set the aims, goals and targets in terms of handling matters. Surely, if you've got the right chief executive, a good financial officer with knowledge, there should never be problems; there should not be a reason for you to end up before Scopa to come and explain.
I want to pay tribute to the current Scopa members and our chairperson. I think that we have gone into this matter without fear and that all chief executives are now absolutely frightened to appear before Scopa.
Yes, the Auditor-General has raised the bar with regard to compliance. It is much more difficult to get away with things now than it was five, six or seven years ago. I think that Scopa, as a group deserves the applause of this House in terms of what has been done, particularly with regard to members of the executive and the right to refer them to our chairperson and our group chairpersons. I thank you. The IFP, in this case, supports the endorsement of all the reports. Thank you.
Ms S RAJBALLY
Mr H J BEKKER
Ms S RAJBALLY: Chairperson, in view of the Scopa reports, the MF is pleased with the findings, and requests that the recommendations be given priority.
We further find it crucial that the bodies that have been under review ensure that the recommendations are endorsed in the next financial phase to secure the plugging of loopholes and to ensure efficiency.
Lastly, we propose that the system of accountability and transparency be heightened so that the public can be aware of it and also be able to comment on it too.
It is all well that these reports appear accessible, but we seek a media release that shall keep the public abreast of all developments. The MF supports the Scopa reports. I thank you, Chairperson.
Mr P A GERBER
C/W: Ms S RAJBALLY
Mr P A GERBER: Chairperson, a wise man once said it is easier to talk yourself out of Parliament than into it.
The reports before us, I'm only going to focus on one, and that is the Government Printing Works. It is an adverse opinion by the Auditor-General and it is not good news for us. It is a very, very important institution and it is really unacceptable that this institution is in this state. We cannot have a turnaround strategy every two years. You will get drunk eventually if you turn around too many times. [Laughter.]
I will show you this document. This is the Government Tender Bulletin. Government Printing Works are battling to make their books balance and they are battling with income. This document is sent to you if you are a subscriber to the State Tender Bulletin it is sent to you every week. I just want to show you the subscription rate for this - it is on the back here. Government Tender Bulletin of the Republic of South Africa subscription rates local is R30 plus VAT per annum. You are getting this for R30 odd, every week, and it comes to about 52 copies. You can subscribe to this if you live overseas as well. Even if you live overseas, they will still mail this to you on a weekly basis via mail, and the cost is R40 for the year. This has been going on for more than a decade, because I have been receiving this document for over a decade, without any increase in price.
I just think that sometimes when an institution runs into problems, we opt for the easy way out and that might be corporatisation. I don't think you can corporise something if it is in such a state. If you want to corporatise something then see that the institution is in a proper state. Many times corporatisation is just used as an easy way out and eventually to decorporatise something is very difficult. If you look at Environmental Affairs with the Marine Living Resources Fund, for them to bring that back into the department is going to be so costly, and now we are sitting with the same institution that is not functioning well. We can say the same about Cape Nature; it should never have happened, but it happened. To bring that back into the department is just chaos, so I think we should really think again before we go on to the corporatisation of Government Printing Works.
Then the Auditor-General is also saying that debtors are not followed up properly. If you have debtors, someone around the corner buying from you and that person is moving away, then I can understand that it is difficult to collect the money. But the debtors of the Government Printing Works are state departments, state institutions, provincial departments - I can read them to you. This is the debtors for February. The provinces: The Eastern Cape owes them more than R5 million; the North West owes the Government Printing Works R2,8 million; Limpopo owes them R6,8 million; Mpumalanga owes them R3,9 million; the Northern Cape owes the least – R349 000; The Western Cape owes the government printing works R1,04 million; KwaZulu-Natal R2,9 million; the Free State R724 000; Gauteng R4,2 million. The Johannesburg Council itself, the municipality owes the Government Printing Works R446 000; then the national departments vary between R28 million, R21 million, R3 million, R6 million, R7 million to R2 million.
If you add this up it is more than R100 million that is owed to the Government Printing Works by our own institutions. Surely you don't need to be a chopper pilot to collect this money. You don't need a debt collector; we just have to do our job. Why do we need to corporatise and cut these things? I really think it is unacceptable.
To come back to what my colleague from the DA, the hon Mr E W Trent, has said, I hear what you are saying and in many respects we agree with certain things. The PetroSA issue is obviously not on the agenda now, but I think that we can look at our processes at Scopa. Our committee deals with more than 280 annual reports with departments, parastatals and all these other museums, etc. Whereas other committees deal with three or four and we are really lenient and we should maybe look at a country like India that has two Scopas - one that specifically deals with parastatals, your Transnets, your Eskoms and those things. Maybe in the new Parliament, whoever comes after us, it might be an option to look at that.
I want to say this here, because I mentioned it previously. I just think we do all this work, we go sit in there for hours to thrash out reports. It's a lot of work, but when your report eventually comes to Parliament then the people who are supposed to be in charge of these reports, take ownership of them and take them to the departments, for instance the Ministers, there is nobody here. I really think it is unfair. [Interjections.] I really think it is unfair and the least that they can do is apologise. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
The DEPUTY CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Chairperson, I move that the report be adopted.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): The motion is that the report be adopted. Are there any objections? No objections.
Now before I suspend the House, I have been requested to humbly request hon members and this House to recognise a school of young people who have come all the way from Colesberg to see you and say that they admire you. [Applause.]
Remember the adoption is in respect of all the reports. Thank you.
Business of the House suspended at 12:36.
Business suspended at 12:34 and resumed at 14 04.
The Speaker took the Chair.
Start of Day
LETTER FROM THE CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA
The SPEAKER: Hon members, before I take members' statements, I would like to read a letter I received from the Chief Justice. It reads:
I have been advised of the resignation of the President of the Republic of South Africa, and that it will take effect on 25 September 2008.
In terms of section 86 (3) of the Constitution, I determine that the meeting of the National Assembly to fill the vacancy of the President will be held on Thursday, 25 September 2008, at 11 o'clock.
I will be pleased if you could inform members of the National Assembly accordingly.
Annexed are the rules for the election of the President, which should be distributed to members of the National Assembly before the sitting.
Justice Pius Langa
Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa
So, we will circulate the Rules, hon members.
Mr V G SMITH (ANC)
THE PIETERMARITZBURG HIGH COURT JUDGEMENT AGAINST JACOB ZUMA
Mr V G SMITH (ANC): The ANC welcomes the decision of the Pietermaritzburg High Court, delivered on 12 September 2008, invalidating the charges against the ANC president, Jacob Zuma. The judgement is a victory for justice.
Our Constitution guarantees every South African the right to a fair trial, which includes the right to have their trial begin and conclude without unreasonable delay and to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. The ANC has consistently asserted the view that this case and the manner in which it has been handled and commented upon has subjected our president to the torture of public condemnation and has violated his right to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise.
The ANC extends its appreciation to the public, members and supporters of the ANC and the democratic movement who demonstrated their principled and disciplined support for the ANC president throughout this process. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mrs C-S BOTHA (DA)
Mr V G SMITH (ANC)
Mrs C-S BOTHA (DA): Madam Speaker, the news that broke in the past hours tells us that South Africa is now on an irrevocable path of political realignment. The resignation of the Deputy President, 10 government Ministers, ... [Interjections.] ... including Finance Minister Trevor Manuel and three Deputy Ministers in protests against President Thabo Mbeki's forced resignation, shows that the divisions within the ANC run much deeper than the ruling party has admitted to. The division is not a crack; it is a canyon.
The ANC president, Jacob Zuma, and the ANC's soon-to-be-nominated presidential candidate, Kgalema Motlanthe, now need to move with speed to reassure the people of South Africa and the markets that there will be policy continuity in the affected Ministries and that there will be competent people to run them, especially with respect to the crucial Finance Ministry.
The DA extends their invitation to all those who put the Constitution and the vision of a prosperous and just South Africa first to start the necessary processes that will lead to the formation of a much needed political regrouping. This is an opportunity for all loyal South Africans to act consciously in the interest of our young democracy. [Applause.]
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE (IFP)
Mrs C-S BOTHA (DA)
EROSION OF SOUTH AFRICA'S POLITICAL STABILITY
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE (IFP): Madam Speaker, the shocking resignation of the Deputy President, 11 Ministers and three Deputy Ministers has disturbingly demonstrated that the decision taken by the ANC to recall President Mbeki was made in indecent haste, ill-conceived and ham-fistedly handled and only serves to further erode political stability in South Africa.
The IFP pays tribute to the courage of the Ministers who have resigned. Today's events are seen as an unmitigated disaster and a watershed moment in the history of ... [Interjections.]
I think you should also leave. [Laughter.]
Today's events prove that the ANC's vow to govern South Africa for another thousand years lies in tatters. We hear that a new party will soon be established, and I believe they are gathering in Potchefstroom. It means that the end of the ANC is fast approaching.
The question is, how many of these members will be in the new party and how many will be in the old party? [Laughter.] Maybe the majority!
Indeed, this week is the longest week in my 31 years in Parliament. [Laughter.] [Applause.]
Mr H P MALULEKA (ANC)
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE (IFP)
Mr H P MALULEKA (ANC): Tomorrow, 24 September, our country will be celebrating Heritage Day. The theme for this year is, "Celebrating our dance, our heritage". [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: Order, hon members!
Mr H P MALULEKA: As the ANC, we believe that a flourishing cultural life is vital for the wellbeing of South Africa. We have always striven to facilitate and celebrate cultural production that captures the diversity, complexity and vibrancy of our people.
Fundamentally, in our country, the right of all South Africans to practise their religion, uphold their culture and speak languages of their choice is guaranteed. Amongst others, it is through arts and culture that a sense of national identity and pride continues to develop. Arts and culture is potentially a unifying force of humanity. Thriving and thought-provoking artistic cultural practices and dance contribute to a democratic and tolerant sociopolitical environment in society. The ANC calls upon all South Africans to celebrate out diversity in dance and in other artistic forms to display our rich heritage to the world. Thank you.
Rev K R J MESHOE
Mr H P MALULEKA (ANC)
RESIGNATION OF CABINET MEMBERS AND DEPUTY MINISTERS
Rev K R J MESHOE (ACDP): Madam Speaker, the ACDP is very concerned about the resignation of 11 Cabinet Ministers and 3 Deputy Ministers, including the Deputy President and, most importantly, the Minister of Finance. This is a clear vote of no confidence in the Zuma camp, and it is a direct result of the purging of members of the Mbeki camp. We hoped for a smooth transition to the new administration. However, this is clearly not going to happen as evidenced by these resignations. These resignations will result in further apprehension among our citizens.
As a leader, I want to make an appeal to our citizens to remain calm in the midst of this political storm. We trust that this will not have negative consequences for service delivery. We welcome the fact that the Ministers have expressed their availability to assist the incoming administration in the handover process and in any other assistance that might be sought from them.
We are extremely concerned about the resignation of the Minister of Finance and his Deputy, who have been crucial in providing economic stability during the recent political uncertainty in our country. We already have a global financial crisis. Minister Manuel's resignation, in particular, may well result in foreign investors withdrawing funds from South Africa. This is the last thing we need as it would have a knock-on effect on economic growth, contributing to further unemployment and poverty. We trust, however, that ANC president Zuma's reassurance that economic policies will not change under his administration and that he will provide foreign investors with the confidence that South Africa remains a sound emerging market to invest in and that the political uncertainty will be addressed in the next few months. The ACDP urges the hon Minister Trevor Manuel to accept an appointment to the new administration as the Minister of Finance.
We need to lay this sorry saga squarely at the door of the ANC. Its internal struggles between the Mbeki and Zuma camps have resulted in this sorry state of affairs. The ANC has placed its narrow party interest ahead of that of the nation's. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Mrs P DE LILLE
Rev K R J MESHOE
RESIGNATION OF CABINET MEMBERS AND DEPUTY MINISTERS
Mrs P DE LILLE (ID): Madam Speaker, like the rest of South Africa, the ID is shocked to hear about the mass resignation of Ministers from the Cabinet. It is clear that the ANC is at war with itself. A once proud liberation movement has lost its way.
In the passed few days, the ID stressed that the ANC must have a clear plan to deal with the resignation of the President and any other Ministers and senior officials. Clearly, this does not seem to be the case as they had insured the nation that certain Ministers would stay. Now they are gone. The Zuma camp has failed to plan ahead to prevent a political and economic instability. It is therefore the view of the ID that Mbeki should dissolve Parliament and call for an early election. South Africans need a decisive leadership now more than ever before in our democracy, and we need to give our people hope. Thank you.
Ms A VAN WYK
Mrs P DE LILLE
PREVENTION OF CRIME
Ms A VAN WYK (ANC): Madam Speaker, the ANC has consistently called for a united national effort to fight crime. Communities and civil societies should take active part in the fight against crime - lead, champion and facilitate crime prevention strategies. Government should work in partnership with the civil society, nongovernmental organisations, community-based organisations and business sectors.
In an effort to further broaden the front against crime and other social ills, the ANC has also called for the formation of street committees. Last year, Primedia joined hands with the SAPS to launch an anti-crime line programme. The anti-crime campaign allows members of the public to send information anonymously through a short message system about suspected criminal activities. The campaign has proven to be a success. Since the launch of the campaign to date, more than 500 suspects have been arrested and goods that cost more than R20 million have been confiscated. The ANC believes that we need to build on the work already done to mobilise our communities more effectively to defeat crime.
Mr I S MFUNDISI
Ms A VAN WYK (ANC)
RESIGNATION OF CABINET MEMBERS AND DEPUTY MINISTERS
Rre I S MFUNDISI (UCDP): Motlotlegi Sebui, ga fale lega fale Mmokgatlo wa ANC o bua gore, gore o tlo o fele, ke one o ka iphedisang. Go bonala jalo gore nako e tlile e o iphedisang ka yone.
Go tlogela tiro ga Ditona di le some le bongwe, ke go supa go tlhoka boikanyego mo boeteledipeleng jo bo tlang. Ka jalo, se se raa gore re tshwanetse go tlhokomela gore ga go na kwa re tla isiwang teng ke bošha jo bo tlang jo.
Re ele tlhoko gape gore mo gare ga dilo di le dintsi tse di tlhokagalang, dipuo di le dintsi tse ba neng ba di bua, ba ntse ba re ba leka go dira kagiso, gore ba seka ba felelwa ke batho pelo, ba ipheletse pelo ka bo bone.
A ke khutlise ka gore ga go na sepe se se botoka kwa ntle ga gore re re; e kete lefatshe le le ka tshegofadiwa, ga rena kagiso le kutlwano, mme ra segofala re le setšhaba. Puso e e tlang e le yone re e rapelele e tle e kgone go ntsha maung o a a tshedisang. Ke a leboga.
Mr S SIMMONS
Mr I S MFUNDISI
ANC IS A PARTY IN DENIAL
Mr S SIMMONS (NA): Madam Speaker, I have, not too long ago, alluded to the fact that the ANC is a party in denial. What has happened in the past few days confirms this. The ANC continues to insult the intelligence of ordinary South Africans whilst it is clear that the governing party is split. The ANC refuses to be honest with the people.
This is a result of the terms to force diverse ideologies into one political formation. If we believe in the constitutional principle of multiparty democracy, we would understand that it is important to allow freedom of political association.
Therefore, the National Alliance rejects the Democratic Alliance's attempt to promote an amalgamation of current opposition parties. They seek alliances with parties to whom they lost significant ground in recent violations. They lost Macassar, Stellenbosch, George and most recently almost got beaten by the Freedom Front in Pretoria. Let's not forget Beaufort West that they lost to ICOSA. The National Alliance tells the DA, ANC and ID that the Western Cape Province is not available on a platter.
Mr J P I BLANCHÉ (DA)
Mr S SIMMONS (NA)
Mr J P I BLANCHÉ (DA): Madam Speaker, in the light of saving energy, we call on the last person to leave the ANC, to please switch off the light.
Mrs L S CHIKUNGA (ANC)
Mr J P I BLANCHÉ (DA)
NATIONAL ARBOUR WEEK
Mrs L S CHIKUNGA (ANC): The African National Congress's vision embraces a transformative approach to environmental issues based on the idea of sustainable development, which is built upon the interconnection of environmental, social and economic justice. The first to the seventh September has been observed in our country as National Arbour Week. The aim of the week was to promote awareness for the need to plant and maintain indigenous trees throughout South Africa, particularly, for the many disadvantaged communities who often live in barren areas.
Forests form an important part of South Africa's natural resource base and make a significant contribution to the economy. Trees are national treasures and provide wood, food, habitat and clean air for the humanity and animals. I thank you.
Mr V B NDLOVU (IFP)
Mrs L S CHIKUNGA (ANC)
DEATH OF OFF-DUTY POLICE OFFICERS
Mr V B NDLOVU (IFP): Madam Speaker, according to the 2007-08 annual report of the SAPS, one in seven police officers was killed during the past year. Most of them died whilst they were off duty. In the past six years, a total of 662 police officers were killed. It seems as if police officers in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape are in more serious danger of being killed.
According to the police, most officers are attacked while chasing suspects or during arrests, but most are being killed while off duty. Apparently, they are being targeted when they are alone or when attempting to carry out their crime-fighting duties. Even more disturbing is the analyses that show that criminals are shooting to kill to escape arrest by aiming at unprotected areas on the officers' bodies.
The IFP finds these figures very disturbing. Not only does it indicate the extent to which criminals treat the police with disdain, it also highlights the violent nature of the crime in our country and where every criminal appears to have a forearm.
The IFP therefore calls on the police authorities and the Minister to improve the safety of police officers while on and off duty. They are there to protect the community. At least what we can do is to protect them whilst carrying out their duties.
The IFP is totally against the establishment of street committees. Instead police have to be protected and empowered to deal with criminals. Thank you.
Mr L K JOUBERT
Mr V B NDLOVU
NICHOLSON JUDGEMENT AND SUSPENSION OF DIRECTOR
Mr L K JOUBERT (DA): Madam Speaker, in view of the findings of Judge Chris Nicholson in the Zuma case that and I quote:
The NDPP states unequivocally that Mr Pikoli was suspended by the President because of a breakdown in his relationship with the Minister of Justice. There should be no relationship with the Minister of Justice. Certainly, as far as his decision to prosecute or not prosecute anybody. All that is clear from the Constitution, the National Protection Authority Act and various prosecution policies, directives codes of conducts etc. The suspension of the national director was the most amnions move that struck at the cord of the crucial state institution.
We therefore, wish to call on the President to reinstate the National Director of Public Prosecutions with immediate effect. I also wish to avail myself to this opportunity to give notice that I will introduce a Private Members Bill to amend the National Prosecution Act to give effect to the criticism of the judge by
(a) reviewing section 33 of the National Prosecuting Authority Act which obliges the National Director Public Protection, NDPP to provide the Minister will reasons for any decision since it is clearly unconstitutional, and
(b) creating an independent structure similar to the judicial service commission for the appointment of the National Director of Public Prosecutions. I thank you
HON D C MABENA
Mr L K JOUBERT
MALARIA-RELATED DEATHS IN ANGOLA
Mr D C MABENA (ANC): The rate of death associated with malaria in Angola has been declining from 25 000 in 2003 to 7 000 cases in the last financial year because of peaceful conditions, the country has experienced since 2002 the sanitation service network has been expanded resulting in radical decline in malaria-related rate of death. The drop of malaria related death by more than 50% over the last five years of peace surpassed the goals set in Abuja, Nigeria for African countries to reduce 40% of the rate of death caused by the disease.
This development underlines the importance of ongoing support to countries seeking to build and strengthen national dialogue around the ongoing process of reconciliation, reconstruction and nation building. It emphasises the centrality of peace in the process of realising developmental goals.
The ANC calls on all South Africans to remain steed fast in our collective commitment to work towards the achievement of a better Africa and a better world. We commend the government and people of Angola on the progress they made in the fight against malaria. Amandla! [Applause.]
HON E M TRENT
HON D C MABENA
TRANSNET LAND ASSEST SALES
Mr E W TRENT (DA): In his reply to my question number 1526, whether the arbitration award was made in favour of a company called South Fort, the Minister of Public Enterprises said that either Transnet or its subsidiaries would be adversely affected by the ruling.
Of course, what he failed to tell us was that Transnet had to give away 33 hectares of prime development real estate in the PE Harbour, valued at more than a billion rand for a paltry R330 000 in order to reverse a monumental blunder whereby approximately one third of the existing Manganese or storage facility was inexplicably signed away by someone in an agreement between Thisaga Sun Ibhayi and Transnet.
In terms of final arbitration, Transnet will be required to remove all plants, railway line by the 25 February and constructive five meter high concrete wall around this facility.
If the Minister thinks that giving away a billion rand is not adversely affecting Transnet, well then he doesn't understand the meaning of the word adverse. This is just another example of how state entities are being allowed to trade recklessly with assets that historically belong to the people of South Africa. The sooner the government and the relevant Minister realise that they are merely custodians of these assets and at the public demand that they are held accountable for their actions the better.
The Minister must now tell us whether the processes that they followed prior to the signing of the initial agreement between Thisaga Sun and Transnet met all the constitutional requirements of transparency, fairness and competitiveness, if so, why? And if not was there any action taken against any person or persons for failing to comply with any relevant legislation and or regulations or directives, if not why not?
Hon E W TRENT
HON B M NTULI
ICT TECHNOLOGY'S ROLE IN SERVICE DELIVERY
Mr B M NTULI (ANC): Madam Speaker, ANC-led provincial of KwaZulu- Natal has set up a nerve centre that will make it possible for government to track development and service delivery using information communication technology innovations. These would make it possible at the press of a button to track process on service delivery.
The centre aims to strengthen government services by offering as single view of government programmes. This will assist in providing better service delivery to the public in line with Batho Pele principles. The centre will enable the office of the premier to quantify and measure trends in departmental and provincial performance areas, thereby ensuring that current service levels are better managed in consistently improved.
The ANC remains committed to ongoing improvement of the delivery of basic services to all of the people and in particular to the poor. Thank you. [Applause.]
The MINISTER OF SPORT AND RECREATION
Mr B M NTULI (ANC)
ON FORMER PRESIDENT MBEKI
The MINISTER OF SPORT AND RECREATION: Madam Speaker, I have heard several members expressed their views on the resignation by the President and lately by the Deputy President and some Ministers of our Cabinet. Immediately reminding all of us of what our ex-President of our country, President Mandela, had always said about difficult times that, difficult times are the only time when the true nature and great of a combatants and fighters are better assessed.[Applause.] It is not during the ease of flowing around with the stream and flowing down with the wind that the calibre and character is explained to those who witnessed it.
The ANC at this point in time, is confronted with that challenge, not for the first time, not for the second time, not for the last time, and our history is rich with examples of how the leaders of this mighty organisation have consistently over the period of time been able to confront the difficult times.
When a big tree fell in the forest, like a big tree that President Mbeki was, as a leader of our Cabinet and still he is, as a member of our communities, the sound of that falling tree is very big and reverberates across the forest. But, that sound does not translate to the decimation of the forest. [Applause.]
We want to appeal to the people of South Africa and indeed also to the members of the ANC to remember that when we were deployed to the positions that we hold, this did not depend on our own feeling and not in our decisions. The ANC has made it very clear to its members on Sunday that they must stay in place until they are further instructed what to do. And that is exactly what the tested members of the ANC have done.
We must not forget that not all of us in the ANC were born in this organisation. Some of us came with a 1980s model of the ship. And as such, it is not unheard of. One the tarentale [guinea fowls] hearsothers cackling in the forest and also begins to fly in that direction. These things will happen to the ANC exactly as it was happened to all the parties across the floor.
We call on our people to stay fast, to stand fast and not to be confused by political utterances. I thank you. [Applause.]
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF SAFETY AND SECURITY
The MINISTER OF SPORT AND RECREATION
CRIME PREVENTION STRATEGY
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF SAFETY AND SECURITY: Madam Speaker, responding to the comment made by hon Van Wyk, the crime prevention strategy formulated by the SA Police Service indeed one of its cornerstone is the partnerships. The partnership with the media has yielded lots of results and we have welcomed that. That is not the only one. Fight against crime between us and big business against crime has yielded results. Religious leaders are participating in this process and various communities are partnering with the police in fighting crime in this country. And that is yielding results.
The success and to the great extent the drop of crime in our communities is because of the various partnerships which we are involved in. The question of the ANC calling for street committees to be formed is also one method of ensuring that we fight crime in our communities. And we all know that the police on their own will no be able to be successful in fighting crime without the communities supporting them.
The matter of us being able to capacitate the police is one of the issues we involved in and we will continue to capacitate and make our members to be competent.
Hon Ndlovu, the street committees is one aspect which will create stability in our communities. If you feel that you are threatened by the communities, the police on its own cannot fight crime alone. They need you and they need every member of the South African public to participate in that. Members of the police are members of communities, including you, so join them. If you have a better model than the street committees then do tell us what is that model. And if you don't want street committees, South Africans do need them. Communities who have created street committees have been successful. It is only you, on this side of the House who are always objecting the positive aspects of fighting crime. I am disappointed, hon Ndlovu, for you to be part of those who are not prepared to offer an opportunity by communities to fight crime together with the SA Police Service. [Applause.]
The MINISTER OF LABOUR: Madam Speaker, on a point of order, is it parliamentary for the hon member, Mncwango, to make a nice little gesture to the hon Minister, which means something in my village, that's almost like slaughtering someone. Is that parliamentary?
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: Madam Speaker, on a further point of order, I've noticed what Mr Mncwango did. He didn't do that for the hon member there but to that Minister. [Laughter.]
The MINISTER OF LABOUR: That makes it even worse. [Laughter.]
The SPEAKER: Hon members, I note that the House is very excited. I am not sure why. I would like to appeal to hon members to calm down. There is no crisis.
The MINISTER OF EDUCATION
ANC IS PROUD MOVEMENT OF THE PEOPLE
THE FIGHT AGAINST MALARIA
CELEBRATION OF HERITAGE DAY
ARBOUR DAY CELEBRATIONS
The MINISTER OF EDUCATION: Madam Speaker, I want to assure the hon De Lille that my party remains a proud movement of our people. It has a history of which it can be proud and it will continue to make history with our people. We are not a new party that struggle to find its way. We are a tried and tested party. Relevant movement find relevant and vibrant thousands of testing times. And we will continue, hon Van der Merwe, to be relevant for centuries to come.
We are very pleased to note the improvement in the management of the malaria disease in Angola as referred to by the hon member of the ANC. We would like to congratulate the Minister of Health and the Department of Health for the role they have played in SADC and other regions of the continent to assist in overcoming the plight of malaria related deaths, which has decimated many African communities for decades. The role played by our government since an advent of democracy in assisting our neighbours to overcome these challenges is a record of which as the government, a country and Parliament, we should justly be proud.
I would also want to welcome the hon member who made reference to Heritage Day and hope that all of us will celebrate the theme of dance that has been referred to. And that each one of us as members of Parliament will participate in the celebrations that will be held across our country. We are proud as this government - I certainly won't celebrate with you hon member because I am sure you cannot dance on your spindly legs - and party to have played a leading role and ensuring diversity in cultural activities, recognition and celebration of our previously neglected cultural expressions. We therefore do encourage all members to celebrate Heritage Day.
Finally, on the matter of the environment and trees, we hope that all hon members did participate in this Arbour Day celebration in September in the planting of trees throughout our country, because as the hon member reminded us that trees generate oxygen and the beauty they bring are important part of what we should do to sustain in our environment and ensure that we preserve the earth for all humanity. I thank you. [Applause.]
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS
The MINISTER OF EDUCATION
ACCESS OF ALL PEOPLE TO ICT SERVICES
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS: Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon member Makhosi Ntuli from the KwaZulu-Natal for bringing to our attention the role that information and communications technologies would play in the lives of ordinary people. As this government, going on what its party had committed it to do particularly at the Polokwane Conference that the expansion of access to ICT services will improve the lives and the humanity of ordinary people, particularly in the rural areas.
It is a commitment of this government to expand access to make sure that people can have access to services. KwaZulu-Natal in particular has been very instrumental in demonstrating this for us. They have developed a broadband strategy precisely to make sure that they can connect the different municipalities with their rural areas in order to show what services are possible or are available in their vicinity or nearer to them than ever before.
So, working together across the spheres of government, from national to provincial and to local government has been something that we have been doing for the past 18 months to two years. It shows that indeed when people have these accesses their lives do get better. Therefore the vision that this government has is not an empty vision of using ICTs for socioeconomic development.
I hope that other members of this House will be able to go out and see where such needs are, how they could be accessed by ordinary people in order to assist those people to get a voice to say that they need these services. We thank you very much for bringing that to our attention. Thank you. [Applause.]
THE MINISTER OF MINERALS AND ENERGY / National Radioactive Waste Disposal Institute Bill
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS
NATIONAL RADIOACTIVE WASTE DISPOSAL INSTITUTE BILL
(Second Reading debate)
The MINISTER OF MINERALS AND ENERGY: Madam Speaker, hon members, the protection of our citizens and the environment now and in the future remains one of the priorities of the government. As the Department of Minerals and Energy, we have a responsibility for the administration of matters relating to nuclear energy in South Africa. This responsibility includes ensuring the establishment and maintenance of an appropriate policy and legislative framework related to nuclear matters.
The use of nuclear energy requires the development and maintenance of a comprehensive regulatory infrastructure. That infrastructure is in the main in place and the development of this piece of legislation is aimed at further strengthening the infrastructure.
The sector is governed in terms of the Nuclear Energy Act 46 of 1999 and the National Nuclear Regulator Act 47 of 1999. The Nuclear Energy Act establishes the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa, as the state's institution responsible for nuclear energy research and development. The National Nuclear Regulator Act established the National Nuclear Regulator in order to regulate the safety of nuclear activities.
Radioactive waste management is a critical step in the chain of use of nuclear energy. In South Africa radioactive waste is produced by electricity production, nuclear energy research and development, production of radiopharmaceuticals, decontamination, as well as decommissioning and mining activities. Presently in South Africa, the storage of used nuclear fuel and management of radioactive waste are undertaken safely by operators.
The National Nuclear Regulator ensures the regulation of radioactive waste safety during storage and transportation. Currently, a generator of radioactive waste, namely Necsa, operates the national radioactive waste disposal facility at Vaalputs. International practice is that the generator of radioactive waste must not be the operator of radioactive waste disposal facilities.
South Africa is a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, an agency of the UN established to promote the safe and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The IAEA produces safety standards that are used by member states to guide the use of nuclear energy. As a responsible member of the international community, South Africa has to continuously maintain an appropriate legislative framework for the safe and peaceful use of nuclear energy.
South Africa is a contracting party to the IAEA's convention on nuclear safety and the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management. South Africa acceded to the joint convention during November 2006.
It is indeed heartening to note that South Africa's Ambassador, Abdul Minty's, candidature for the position of Director-General of the IAEA has been endorsed by Cabinet. I trust that members would join me in wishing him success during the selection process. [Applause.]
The development of the Radioactive Waste Management Policy and Strategy was identified in the White Paper on Energy Policy 1998, as one of the critical medium-term milestones. Cabinet approved the Radioactive Waste Management Policy and Strategy of the Republic of South Africa in November 2005. The implementation of the policy requires the establishment of three management structures.
The first one is the National Committee of Radioactive Waste Management, which is an oversight committee of government charged with the responsibilities of ensuring the implementation of the policy. It was established in November of 2006. Represented on this committee are the Departments of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Water Affairs and Forestry, the Department of Health as well as the National Nuclear Regulator.
The second structure is the radioactive waste management fund. This fund is still to be established by an Act of Parliament. The purpose of the fund will be to ensure that there are sufficient financial provisions for the long-term management options of the various waste forms. The generators of radioactive waste will contribute to this fund as per polluter pays principle.
The third one is the National Radioactive Waste Management Agency as a creature of statute, hence this Bill. During the interactions between the department and portfolio committee in processing the Bill, it was agreed that the title of The National Radioactive Waste Management Agency be changed to the National Radioactive Waste Disposal Institute.
The objects of the Bill are to provide for the establishment of a National Radioactive Waste Disposal Institute in order to manage radioactive waste disposal on a national basis; to provide for its functions and, for the manner in which it is to be managed; to regulate its staff matters; and to provide for all matters connected therewith.
This institute will manage radioactive waste disposal on a national basis in line with international developments where many countries have separate bodies for handling radioactive waste disposal.
Dealing with used fuel and radioactive waste disposal is a long-term issue, which requires focused attention of a dedicated organisation.
The establishment of the institute will leave the operators to focus on their core business, be it medical isotope production, nuclear research and development or electricity generation. The generators will, however, remain financially responsible for the disposal of the waste.
This institute, once established, will be the only organisation to handle radioactive waste disposal and predisposal management. As part of the consultation process we went to a number of institutions including Nedlac. I therefore urge the members to support the Bill. I thank you. [Applause.]
E N N NGCOBO
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS
Mr E N N NGCOBO: Madam Speaker, hon members and hon Ministers and Deputy Ministers, guests of Parliament, I happen to have a very important guest at the gallery who must be acknowledged and thanked for coming. He is one of the top cardiologists at Groote Schuur Hospital, the Director of the Division of Cardiology, Dr Schrire. He wanted to hear how Parliament conducts debates in terms of nuclear energy. [Applause.]
Radioactive wastes are waste types containing radioactive chemical elements that do not have a practical purpose in our lives. They are sometimes the products of nuclear processes such as nuclear fission. For those who do not know nuclear fission, it is when uranium or heavy isotope interacts with small particles to produce nuclear energy and radiation, but they can also emanate from industries that are not directly connected to the nuclear industry.
For instance, it has been estimated that for the past 20 years the oil producing endeavours of the United States of America have accumulated 8 million tons of radioactive waste, although the bulk of this waste is classified as low-level waste, meaning that it contains low levels of radioactivity per mass or volume. Such waste consists of used protective clothing, which may have been slightly contaminated, but it is still dangerous in case of radioactive contamination of a human body through ingestion, inhalation, absorption or injection.
The issue of disposal matters for nuclear waste is one of the most pressing current problems the international nuclear industry is faced with when trying to establish a long-term energy production plan. There is, of course, hope that it could soon be safely solved as evidenced by my former Portfolio Committeeon Science and Technology's visit to Sweden where they have successfully managed to win public perceptions against nuclear waste disposal because of innovative methods developed there to deal with this challenge. The USA is also engaged in deep research to solve this problem through such techniques as transmutation reactions, remediation of some contaminated sites, et cetera.
In this connection, the International Atomic Energy Agents has recently published a document which seeks to model all effects involved in the dissolution of the waste form in a similar way as experienced in processes involving disposal sites.
The management and storage of nuclear radioactive waste continues to be a challenge even in the Republic of South Africa as it is globally, even in the context of continuous scientific innovation on waste storage as already elaborated in the aforementioned sections of my speech. Hence it is imperative to ensure that the management of waste storage fulfils international benchmarks on best practices and upholds sustainable development principles. The ANC holds that:
Our vision of the future includes a sustainable economy where all South Africans, including present and future generations, realise their right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or wellbeing.
This is one of the resolutions that were taken in the 52nd conference in Polokwane about nuclear energy.
The management of radioactive waste cannot be left to chance. It requires a dedicated state entity to manage the disposal of all waste. The National Radioactive Waste Disposal Institute Bill is intended to ensure that a state owned waste disposal entity is established. The establishment of this entity allows the generators of waste to focus on their core functions and issues of safety. For example, Eskom would no longer be responsible for the disposal of its generated radioactive waste.
The objectives of this Bill, as the Minister has already reaffirmed, is to provide for the establishment of a National Radioactive Waste Disposal Institute and to manage radioactive waste disposal on a national basis on her behalf, at present.
In terms of the Bill, the institute would be responsible for amongst others; the production of disposal solutions, the issuing of disposal certificates, managing disposal facilities and designing new facilities when needed. It further seeks to improve communication to the general public on waste management issues. As a state owned entity, the financial affairs would be governed by the Public Finance Management Act. Finance would also be derived from the radioactive waste management fund soon to be established in terms of money bills procedures, as well as from loans, over and above that appropriated by Parliament.
It also outlines responsibilities for the generators of radioactive waste to meet in order to qualify for a waste disposal certificate. In terms of the Bill, generators would have to have waste management plans and strictly adhere to the certificated criteria. The entire Vaalputs disposal facility, including all staff, would be incorporated into the institute. This is done first as to enhance the already existing skills in this area at Vaalputs, but it is also done to fully capacitate this new institute with human capital it so desires. It is envisaged that with the development of activities and responsibilities of this institute more young talents will also be developed in the specialised areas of Nuclear Engineering and Reactor Physics, which will be a plus to South Africa's skills development programme in Science, Engineering and Technology.
At a political level, at the 51st conference at Stellenbosch it was resolved that decisions on nuclear energy must be based on a comprehensive and transparent environment impact assessment. It follows that all radioactive waste management activities shall be open and transparent and the public will have access to information on radioactive waste management activities as long as it does not infringe on the security of radioactive waste material.
Thus, the creation of a state-owned institute is critical in ensuring compliance in terms of safety and security of radioactive material. This entity is correctly positioned in the state to ensure ecologically sustainable development and utilisation of natural resources whilst promoting socioeconomic, as well as technologically balanced human capital.
What is the philosophy behind this? The principle governing management and disposal of radioactive waste is based on the concept known as, delay and decay. In itself radioactivity, by definition, reduces over time and so the waste needs to be isolated for a particular time period until its components have decayed such that it no longer poses a threat. The question now at this juncture is whether or not we should endeavour to avoid causing harm to remote future generations, perhaps many thousands of years to come after our generation. It is here where philosophy must assist our judgements as at present. In conclusion, the ANC supports the Bill.
Adv H C SCHMIDT
Mr E N N NGCOBO
Adv H C SCHMIDT: Madam Deputy Speaker, it is still surprising to see that there is a Minister around after this morning's events.
This Bill intends to establish an institute to manage all radioactive waste destined to be disposed off at an authorised waste disposal facility. The institute, which will be called the National Radioactive Waste Management Institute, will be wholly owned by the state.
The institute will, inter alia, be responsible for research and to develop plans for the long-term management of radioactive waste storage and disposal, maintain a national radioactive waste data base, manage the disposal of any ownerless radioactive waste on behalf of the state, and assist generators of small quantities of radioactive waste in all technical aspects related to the disposal of such waste.
The institute will further manage a fund which will consist of money appropriated by Parliament, money received from waste generators on a cost recovery basis for the services rendered, as well as loans raised by the institute, and donations. This fund will be managed in terms of the Public Finance Management Act, PFMA, as it has been expressly provided in the legislation, in order to ensure a measure of control over the fund and the institute – which is welcomed.
Any person wishing to dispose of radioactive waste at an authorised waste disposal facility, managed by the institute, will have to apply to the chief executive officer for a radioactive waste disposal certificate. Disposal of such waste will have to conform to certain criteria determined by the institute.
As this Bill intends to regularise the disposal of all radioactive waste at disposal facilities which are to be managed by the institute, this Bill is supported.
This Bill should not be seen as a step in the proliferation of nuclear energy as the institute will primarily be responsible for the disposal of radioactive waste currently generated, as well as waste to be generated from any possible approved new nuclear power generation capacity.
Although this Bill deals with the way in which radioactive waste is to be dealt with, it does not follow that government should not continue to develop renewable forms of energy generation. As such, renewable forms of energy generation are important for the long and medium term planning process.
Government should furthermore be compelled to share the responsibility to develop and create a sustainable environment for renewable energy as part of a sustainable energy mix for the future.
It goes without stating the obvious that international standards have to be complied with in the disposal of radioactive waste. In this regard, the difference between low, medium, and high level waste needs to be mentioned.
Currently, only low and medium level wastes are stored at Vaalputs, whilst the spent fuel, or high level waste, is stored in tanks at the Koeberg nuclear power station where the radioactive waste is generated. What ought to be guarded against, was a possible notion that the high level spent fuel generated in other countries be processed in South Africa on a profit basis.
In so far as this Bill intends to enforce the adherence of international standards for the disposal of radioactive waste, it needs to be mentioned that government should focus on providing strategic direction in respect of the above matters.
It is important to note that, internationally, the notion of recycling spent fuel is becoming a viable alternative due to, inter alia, economic feasibility thereof and the dramatic reduction in the amount of high level spent fuel.
South Africa was a signatory of the International Atomic Agency and had to adhere to the international standards on the management of nuclear waste. In light of the stated objectives of the Bill to provide for a responsible method of dealing with radioactive waste, this Bill is supported. I thank you.
Mr E J LUCAS
Adv H C SCHMIDT
Mr E J LUCAS: Madam Deputy Speaker, it is obvious that South Africa needs more energy. We are a growing economy and a growing population and our current resources are struggling to cope with the extra demand for energy. Nuclear energy is a viable option which I believe will contribute to easing our energy woes and allow us to continue on our path of economic growth. There are, however, concerns which need to be addressed and plans which need to be implemented before we can fully utilise and enjoy the benefits of nuclear power.
The major concern with nuclear energy centres on nuclear waste and how best to store and dispose of it. This is a concern that is shared the world over; not just in South Africa. The devastation and destruction that will happen if this waste is not disposed of in a proper and safe manner, is unthinkable. Up until now, we have not been able to get a convincing response about issues surrounding nuclear waste.
The long awaited introduction of the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor, PBMR, has been a drawn out affair. The PBMR has been on the agenda for many years with a lot of financial investment going into it. While we, in the IFP, believe that there are great benefits to be gained from the introduction and use of the PBMR, we are worried about the safety issues thereof. I have been told that the PBMR operates at extremely high temperatures and the risk, therefore, also seems to be higher. Again, we need more interaction and instruction with the relevant authorities and experts on these important issues.
The idea of nuclear energy evokes fear in people. They immediately recall the nuclear disasters of the past. We need to conduct an education campaign and engage with the general public to inform them of the developments that have occurred with regard to nuclear energy and the safety features that there are in place, as well as explain to them the benefits of nuclear energy.
In conclusion, I would like to reiterate the fact that we need more information and engagement about the safety issues of nuclear energy and the PBMR in particular.
The IFP supports this Bill. Thank you.
Mr L W GREYLING
Mr E J LUCAS
Mr L W GREYLING: Deputy Speaker, the ID will support this Bill, but only because we recognise the dire need for an institute of this kind to deal with the accumulation of large amounts of highly radioactive waste as a result of our past nuclear programme.
While an institute like this is certainly necessary, though, the ID is extremely concerned that the ultimate responsibility for the disposal of this waste will now rest with the institute, and not the generators who created the waste in the first place.
We are also extremely concerned that Eskom can see this as an invitation to build more nuclear-powered reactors, while not having to take final responsibility for the health or environmental impacts emanating from the generation of high level radioactive waste.
The ID also respectfully differs with the opinion in the Bill that it does not need to be referred to the National House of Traditional Leaders, as nuclear waste is currently being dumped on the ancestral lands of the Nama Khoi. We, therefore, believe that they should have the right to deliberate on this Bill as well.
With these significant reservations in mind, the ID will support the Bill.
Mrs C DUDLEY
Mr L W GREYLING
Mrs C DUDLEY: Deputy Speaker, because radioactive waste is harmful to both human health and the environment, the National Radioactive Waste Disposal Institute Bill is necessary in order to set up a juristic body under the authority of the National Energy Regulator to implement disposal of radioactive waste; to manage and monitor waste disposal facilities; and to provide criteria regarding the management of radioactive waste factors generally.
While this may contain the risks to some extent, it will not, however, eliminate the risks. The management of radioactive waste produced by the various stages of the nuclear fuel cycle, has always been a major concern. The ACDP supports the concept of an independent agency that would manage the disposal of all radioactive waste in South Africa, as an international best practice in the nuclear industry recommends.
It is important, however, that the state and Eskom do not abdicate their responsibility and that the rights of communities are respected. Renewable energy projects must be urgently prioritised and supported on a far greater scale. The ACDP will be supporting this Bill.
Mr C D KEKANA
Mrs C DUDLEY
Mr C D KEKANA: Madam Deputy Speaker, we support the Bill and the institution – that is the Nuclear Radio Active Waste Disposal Institution. This is because, just to give you an example of why it is so important for us to support this institution. At the world summit on upgrading and renewal of cities in Johannesburg held in 2002, it was said that if you really want to renew cites and upgrade them there is one area that you can focus on is waste. So deal with waste and our cities will be beautiful and renewed. By waste they meant different types of waste like we know there is physical or solid waste, chemical, biological and radiological waste, which is our focus today.
Now, what came very clear in that summit was that we should treat waste as a resource, and just like any other natural resource manage it properly and actually protect it, because it can contribute economically, socially and environmentally to our country. Again, in that summit it was said that if you manage waste properly it can ultimately be recycled and create jobs for people, and - as I have already said - contribute economically.
There are three areas of focus which need more research, and I am sure the institution will embark on that research. The one area is that if you store radioactive waste above ground the advantage is that later when new technologies are developed it can be retrieved and recycled. The second one is the one of reprocessing the radioactive waste, and it was also said that oversees people are already reprocessing this, and there are two countries that are in the foremost and that is Japan and France who are reprocessing radio active waste and recycling it. As I have said this is contributing to the economy.
The last area of research is the deep geological disposal areas and most countries overseas are already using this, and also the advantage here is that this safeguards future generations, but it is the type of a restoring disposal that can be retrieved and recycled. So the focus is ultimately that if you handle waste it cannot be waste as I understood today, but can be a resource that can be productive in the future. In fact even manufactures are persuaded to design their manufacturing and products such that the waste that is produced is either biodegradable or useable in the future. That is why we support this institution because we think there is a lot of research that must be conducted so that our waste cannot be wasted but it can be productive. We support the Bill. Thanks. [Applause.]
Ms S RAJBALLY
Mr C D KEKANA
Ms S RAJBALLY: Madam Deputy Speaker, the MF realises the danger of radioactive waste and the importance of maintaining an independent and focused body over its management. The MF is pleased to introduce the National Radioactive Waste Management Agency to be the body to do this. In view of the Bill, it appears that much clarity over its function and the position of persons under its employee may be determined. It is noted that the international independent bodies are employed to manage similarly, but we are concerned about the great independence this body should carry and would like it to be liable to another authority to ensure flexibility, transparency and accountability. The MF supports Financial Radioactive Waste Management Bill 2008. I thank you. [Applause.]
The MINISTER OF MINERALS AND ENERGY: Thank you very much, Deputy Speaker. Thank you very much to all the hon members who have overwhelmingly supported us on this important Bill. Just to say to Mr Lucas: I noted your comments about the need to interact, especially on the PBMR and public awareness. I fully support that. Indeed, South Africa's public needs to be educated on this very important issue of nuclear energy. I was happy that yesterday there was such a debate which I think enlightened some of the members, and even members of the public on the importance of nuclear energy. Regarding public awareness, I fully agree with you. We won't pursue the PBMR programme at all costs. We are cautious in terms of how we are approaching that particular programme.
Mr Greyling, on the issue of accountability that you raised: The waste acceptance criteria proposed in the Bill will ensure that the waste is in a form that is safe and can be disposed of safely. Eskom will always be responsible for the costs associated with the disposal of waste. Also, on the issue of generators being held responsible for waste, we are adopting the "polluter pays principle", which means therefore that whoever is responsible for polluting through their generation, they will be responsible to pay. We will monitoring the actions of the generators. We are also establishing a national committee of waste management, on which the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism sits and indeed, it is more to play an oversight role and ensure that policy is implemented. I thank you for your support.
Bill read a second time.
The MINISTER OF MINERALS AND ENERGY : MINE HEALTH ANMD SAFETY AMENDMENT BILL
The MINISTER OF MINERALS AND ENERGY
MINE HEALTH AND SAFETY AMENDMENT BILL
(Second Reading debate)
The MINISTER OF MINERALS AND ENERGY: Thank you very much, Deputy Speaker, hon members. It is an honour and a privilege for me to address this House on the health and safety of mine workers, which has been a subject of intense public debate in the recent past. The past century of mineral exploitation on South African soil has led to a desirable economic development and the undesirable loss of human life.
This places a heavy responsibility on us to protect the lives of mineworkers as implored by our Constitution. Section 24 of the Constitution, places a lofty responsibility on the state to provide an environment that is not harmful to the citizens of the country.
In the case of mining, the state responded, in 1994 by setting a process in the Leon Commission of Inquiry into mine deaths. That culminated into drafting the current Mine Health and Safety Act that has contributed significantly to the improvement of health and safety at mines. This is the first amendment to the Act that was done in 1997. It was done in order to incorporate the system of administrative fines for none compliance.
In terms of this system, the department is empowered to impose fines on a mine for none compliance with the act. The past 10 years of implementation has taught us, however, that sanctions for none compliance are weak and they are inadequate to compel mine owners to invest in the health safety of workers. As you will notice, from the long title of the Amendment Bill, the objectives of the proposed amendments are the following: To review and strengthen enforcement provisions; to simplify the administrative system for the issuing of fines; to reinforce offences and penalties; to remove ambiguities in certain definitions and expressions; to effect certain amendments necessary to ensure consistency with other laws, particularly, the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, of 2002 and to provide for matters connected therewith.
The Bill further seeks to harmonise the administrative processes in the Mine Health and Safety Act, with the sound administrative practices and the objects of promotion of Administrative Justice Act. In the past three years, however, occupational deaths in the mining industry have been hovering around 200 per year. Last year the number of deaths increased by 10% from 201 in 2006 to 220 in 2007.
This figure is too high by any standard. The number of injuries, let alone the number of those with ill health is 30 times more than the number of deaths per annum. Deaths per annum are around 6000. Occupational illnesses noise including hearing loss, silicoses, and complications brought about and compounded by the HIV/AIDS and TB are amongst the worst killers of mine workers.
These deaths often go unnoticed because of the latency period associated with occupational illnesses. Not withstanding the fact that mining has played and continues to play a crucial role in the growth of our country's economy. It is on the same breath maiming and killing significant number of workers and continues to expose the public to health and safety risks in some areas.
Unsafe work, if unchecked, also leads to tremendous human suffering. This is often compounded and complicated by social conditions of developing states, like our own South Africa, in our South African mines which mines source their labour from Mozambique, Botswana, Lesotho and, far-lying rural South Africa. The social and economic impacts of unsafe work therefore, are far-reaching beyond our borders. Unsafe work takes its toll on individuals, on their families, their communities and nations.
In this day and age of open economies and competition for markets by nations and countries, unsafe work can and often has negative consequences for the economy. Unsafe work leads to reduced competitiveness and productivity due to loss of experienced labour force through occupational death and injuries, damage to equipment, associated loss of production, and tainted image of the country, a secure investment destination. Even more important in the South African developmental state context, unsafe work negates government's efforts to reduce poverty, to create employment and maintain a sustainable economic growth path.
Unsafe work ends with a death of 200 mine workers, and injuries close to 6000 a year. Some of these injuries are amputations of limbs that translate into loss of an ability to earn income, loss of quality of life and increased medical bills. In the last couple of years, the fatalities in the mines have stagnated around plus minus 200. This figure is too high by any measure. In October 2007, 3200 workers were trapped underground for 42 hours. Had these workers not been brought to safety, this event could have been the worst disaster in the history of mining, not only for South Africa but for the rest of the world.
In conclusion, effective regulation needs a clear policy and legislative framework, ability to enforce legislative requirements and adequate sections for failing to comply. Good legislation is only good for as long as it can be enforced. Although, there are a growing number of small and medium players in South African mining, its general character is that of a well established and well resourced industry. The situation requires a strong and well resourced enforcement entity to fearlessly take the industry on compliance.
The increase on fines from R200 000 to R1 million will serve as an incentive for mine workers to invest in health and safety. Re-enforcing the right of workers to refuse to work in dangerous places will improve safety performance of mines and the country. The establishment of Mine Health and Safety Inspectorate as an entity of government will assist in attracting the requisite capacity to enforce legislation. Strengthening Health and Safety training requirements should lead to improved focus on potentially dangerous situations at all levels of mining organisations. I now request the House to adopt the amendments as proposed. Thank you.[Applause.]
Mr E N N NGCOBO
The MINISTER OF MINERALS AND ENERGY
Mr E N N NGCOBO: Madam Deputy Speaker, hon members, hon Ministers and Deputy Ministers, let me first thank the people that I worked with on these amendments, because we really strained ourselves many nights in the past two weeks trying to get these amendments ready for the mining industry.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! Hon members, it is very difficult for us to follow what the speaker is saying. May we please appeal to those people who still need to hold meetings to please do so comfortably in a restaurant or in their offices. If this does not improve, we will have to call people by name and ask them to leave. We have children who are here to observe what Parliament is like and what happens here. They also can't follow the debate. Hon member, please continue.
Mr E N N NGCOBO: Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I was still thanking my portfolio committee members for really having dedicated themselves when we were working on these Bills, even coming on Mondays and sometimes leaving at 10 o'clock in the evening. This also applied to officials of the department, who were involved in getting these Bills ready for today.
Of course, it should be noted that the workplace in mines is characterised by a plethora of eminent dangers from accidents such as rockfalls, to health-threatening contaminants such as dust fibres, chemicals, etc.
Mineworkers are consistently teetering on the brink of injury or harm, even death, as mines are largely deep and high-risk, especially the gold and platinum group metal mines.
To compound matters, the existing legislative framework, that is the Mine Health and Safety Act of 1996, has not protected adequately those who are vulnerable to injury and harm. In recent times, the South African mining industry has been beset by accidents resulting in serious injuries and deaths. These unfortunate occurrences have continuously brought about a discourse on whether mine safety legislative frameworks were appropriate enough to force mine owners to observe mine health and safety rules to hold the scourge of mining accidents. I've got here a list of accidents, and the number is going up. If I had time, I would have shown you how the trend is continuing.
The Mine Health and Safety Act of 1996 has failed to ensure that mine health and safety requirements are observed by mine owners, hence the mining industry continues to be dogged by accidents. The existing legislative regime lacks the bite to force the mining industry to comply. It is within this context that the Mining Health and Safety Amendment Bill is relevant.
Consistent with international practice, the amending Bill seeks to strengthen the mine health and safety legislative framework. This Bill fortifies the commitment to achieving safe workplaces, thus saving the lives of mineworkers through compliance with mine health and safety regulations.
The object, as the Minister has said, is to review and reinforce the enforcement provisions to simplify the administrative system for issuing fines, to improve health and safety advice, to improve governance of research and to enhance consistency with other laws such as the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act of 2002.
In terms of section 10, the employer is required to keep records of training. This is intended to ensure employer accountability in terms of training provisions, and improvement in respect of health and safety standards in mining.
Section 11(5) focuses on employer investigation. It introduces timeframes with respect to the initiation and completion of investigation by employers. This seeks to ensure prevention of similar accidents.
Section 13 caters for occupational medical practitioners to be used in mines. Previously, mines could utilise the services of a medical practitioner. The mining context requires the services of an occupational medical practitioner.
In terms of exit medical examinations, the amendment limits the time within which exit medical examination must be conducted. This is intended to ensure that employees do not wait indefinitely before exit medical examinations are conducted.
In terms of section 47, the mine health and safety inspectorate is established as an organ of state. This is intended to address capacity challenges besetting the regulator and to allow the state to regulate effectively health and safety conditions in mines.
At political level, the accidents that have characterised mining in South Africa have raised a lot of questions around sanctioning mechanisms and necessitated the reopening of the debate on the effectiveness of existing laws on mine health and safety.
Weaknesses in the enforcement of mine health and safety regulations have portrayed the South African mining industry in a negative light in terms of safety standards. The lack of a strong and biting legislative framework, in the form of capacitated regulatory entities, has not helped in terms of compliance by the mining industry.
To transform the above state scenario, the Bill seeks to strengthen our legislative framework and hold mine owners accountable for acts of negligence that result in injuries and loss of life. In strengthening the regulatory framework, state regulation of mine health and safety, as advocated by this Bill, will go a long way towards improving the regulatory capacity.
The mining sector action plan to achieve health and safety targets has milestone. The mining Tripartite Leadership Summit was held on 5 September 2008 and shared the concern that as a country, we are not achieving the health and safety targets and milestones that we agreed on in 2003, as outlined below. For instance, there was an industry target that there must be a zero rate of facilities and injuries, that by 2013, the gold sector must at least achieve the safety performance level's equivalent to the current international benchmarks for underground metalliferous mines.
By 2013 in the platinum, coal and other sectors, we aim to achieve constant and continuous improvement equivalent to current international benchmarks at least. Regarding the elimination of silicosis, by December 2008, 95% of all exposure measurements results will be below the occupational exposure limits for respirable crystalline silica of 0,1 mg per cubic metre. These results are individual readings and not average results.
After December 2013, using present diagnostic techniques, no new cases of silicosis will occur among previously unexposed individuals. These are all milestones we have set ourselves.
All the stakeholder leaders in that summit fully support the following values: Zero harm in the workplace; care, dignity and respect for all; emphasised diversity; elimination of discrimination; recognised societal impact of occupational health and safety; a learning and participatory culture rather than a culture of blame; fair sanction to ensure compliance, but strictness on repeat transgressions; honest integrity and transparency, which will also lead to more trust; occupational health and safety as a co-value of every company, and this should take precedence over production.
Based on the above values, the stakeholders, therefore, undertook to: One, have a clear vision for safety and health improvement and to articulate it everyday with passion, respect and transparency; two, comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Rules Act - and walk the talk, by the way; three, require participation by all employees; four, value the advice of occupational health and safety professionals; five, integrate OHS, Occupational Health and Safety, in all business decisions; six, provide positive feedback when progress in occupational health and safety is evident; seven, hold all stakeholders accountable for improving safety and health performance; eight, undergo regular assessment as a health and safety leader; nine, fully commit to improving the health and safety culture in the mining industry, ten, show eagerness to learn; and eleven, ensure that individuals fulfil successfully their health and safety responsibilities.
With such a properly represented forum of stakeholders in the era of mine health and safety, the amending Bill presented before this House today can only strengthen the above-mentioned values and undertakings by the summit. In conclusion, the ANC supports this Bill. Thank you very much.
Adv H C SCHMIDT
Mr E N N NGCOBO
Adv H C SCHMIDT: Madam Speaker, despite progress made with regard to the improvement in the number of fatalities and injuries suffered in mines during the last decade, such was progress was unfortunately not sustained during the years 2006 and 2007. In fact, a number of serious incidents during the course of the past year have indicated a need for renewed emphasis on mine health and safety by all involved in the mining sector.
These incidents have furthermore caused President Mbeki – nearly, erstwhile President Mbeki - requested an audit of safety in mines earlier this year. It is not known when the results and recommendations of the report will be made known to the public but this report is, clearly, overdue. It is important that an objective and honest assessment be made as the causes of the various incidents with action steps to be taken to limit the number of serious and fatal incidents.
Although many of the issues raised in the Bill are supported by various stakeholders, few issues remain problematic, inter alia, the dramatic increase in the punitive measures to be implemented by the Inspectorate against mines as employers.
The notion of criminal responsibility by the mines for the loss of lives and serious injury has been introduced. Although corporate responsibility is appropriate in most circumstances where life and limb is at stake, the applicability thereof should be introduced with more circumspection than is, currently, the case.
The legislative injunction that senior managers and owners of mines may not, in certain circumstances, on the fact that the incident was caused by the culpable action of the employee, is concerning. Strict liability should be imposed only in the rarest of circumstances and where the combined attempt by all the stakeholders on a voluntary basis is sought at all costs.
The imposition or the maximum fine of up to Rl million by the Inspectorate could lead to the closure of mines, especially small mines in circumstances where the attainment of continued and extended opportunity especially with regard to Broad Based black Economic Empowerment, BBBEE, is a requirement in the mining industry.
In an industry where the collective approach to the prevention of life and limb is required, unduly penalising the mines as an important role-player is unfortunate and might lead to complete reporting in order not implicate oneself, especially where the portfolio committee decided that the report to be forwarded to the inspectorate would not be exempted as evidence against an employer
or senior manager where mine management has been accused of gross negligence or intentionally causing a death or serious injury to employees.
The increasing number of deaths and incidents in mines, in the last two years, provide an unfortunate momentum to measure, albeit, unduly harsh at first glance. As the last resort, these measures should be applied sparingly with due consideration of all the relevant factors, including the reasonableness of measures taken by the mines to educate employees; introduce additional safety measures, including the particular individual responsibility of the employees responsible for such incidents.
Mindful of a certain measure of resistance to certain proposed amendments to the Mine Health and Safety Act, the Bill is nonetheless supported. I thank you.
Mr E J LUCAS
Adv H C SCHMIDT
Mr E J LUCAS: Madam Deputy Speaker, we, in the IFP, are deeply, concerned about the number of accidents that occurring in our mines. Government, together with the mining houses, must do everything in its power to try and limit, and hopefully eliminate fatalities in mines. The life of workers should take priority even over profits as
money is not enough to compensate a family for the loss of a loved one. While I do understand that mining is a hazardous operation, one death is one death too many.
It is important for the mining industry and the Chief Inspector of Health and Safety to work together to find a workable solution to this serious problem and reduce the number of accidents. It is interesting to know that the Chamber of Mines supports efforts to co-operate with the inspectorate, but they have reservations about the clause dealing with criminal liability which they believe to be too punitive and not in practice in other parts of the world. It will also discourage investment in the industry.
The IFP is very concerned with the skills shortage in the
inspectorate. This is unacceptable as it impacts on the people's safety and lives. We are also concerned with the fact that the inspectors who are trained by the inspectorate are often poached by stakeholders in the mining industry. We know that this cannot be stopped as the inspectorate cannot compete with the higher remuneration packages and better working conditions on offer. But we
do urge the various stakeholders within this industry to work together in order to reach some sort of workable situation as this does have the negative effects on the inspectorate and their ability to perform their duties.
The Amendment Bill will be of great assistance and it will mean that the Mine Health and Safety Inspectorate is a juristic person with power to generate and administer its own funds. It is, however, important that the inspectorate and the industry co-operate in order to make progress. The IFP supports this Bill.
Mr L W GREYLING
Mr E J LUCAS
Mr L W GREYLING: Deputy Speaker, the ID certainly supports this Bill and we hope that it will help in preventing the tragic loss of lives that occurs too frequently in our mines.
This Bill, however, will only be effective if the department urgently enhances the capacity of the inspectorate so that the effective preventative action can be taken ahead of time.
The ID is also concerned that there are unacceptable delays in the processing of cases by the National Prosecuting Authority, NPA, when it concerns the death of miners. This needs to be rectified urgently so as to ensure mineworkers that their lives are as valuable as anyone else's. The ID will support this Bill. I thank you.
Mr H B CUPIDO
Mr L W GREYLING
Mr H B CUPIDO: Hon Deputy Speaker, working in the mines has always been a challenge and a high risk working area. People work for long hours under very difficult conditions which many times led to incidents where lives were lost. One reason for the occurrence of life-threatening incidents is the fact that machinery and equipment being used for 24 hours are not serviced regularly or replaced on time.
South African mines experienced disastrous accidents in recent history which made the hon President Thabo Mbeki to call for an audit on mined safety and conditions in the mining industry. The ACDP agrees with the hon Schmidt that this report is long overdue.
Chairperson, about 4 000 incidents were happening per year of which most are not fully investigated due to the shortage of inspectors. This is an unacceptable high number of incidents even in the light of the huge number of mine workers.
The ACDP, therefore, supports the introduction of heavy fines where it is proven that negligence resulted in accidents and that such fines be used to improve the safety of mineworkers.
The ACDP, therefore, supports the introduction of heavy fines which will improve the safety of mineworkers as it is proven that accidents resulted in negligence. The ACDP also supports that every employer should investigate and report in detail every incident that happens in the mines that would have an effect on the safety and health of our workers. The ACDP supports the amendments to the Mine Health and Safety Amendment Bill. Thank you.
Mr T L MAHLABA
Mr H B CUPIDO
Mr T L MAHLABA: Madam Deputy Speaker, hon Ministers, Deputy Ministers, hon members, indeed it is with great honour for me and that of my colleagues in the portfolio committee to be privileged to participate and contribute in our small way in the redrafting and amending of this piece of legislation.
As different nations, countries, ethnic groups and individuals have in life conquered a number of battles, in most instances there would be claims and counterclaims on the course.
We have been engulfed by diseases and sicknesses not only us as human beings alone, but including animals and plants. Examples could be made of chickenpox, polio, malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/Aids. But the question is: How swift do we deal with such incidents?
Nginesibonelo lapha engifuna ukusenza lapho okuthi uma kuke kwaqubuka isifo samatele, okuyisifo esitholakla ezilwaneni ezinezinselwa, kuphuma amasosha, amaphoyisa nezinsiza ezehlukene kwakhiwe izivimbamzila, kufunwe amakhambi futhi kuchelwe imithi kuze kubulawe nezilwane okusokela ukuthi zingase zithinteke ekubhebhethisekeni okukanye ezingangenwa yilesi sifo kuleyo ndawo. Bonke abalahlekelwe yimfuyo ngaphansi kwalesi simo bayanxeshezelwa ngoba bezwelwa, kodwa okubalulekile ukuthi le ndawo iyahenqwa ibe ngaphansi kweso lokulawulwa uhulumeni.
Ngomlando esinawe ngokwesimo ngale mboni ukuthi ingomunye yemisebenzi enothisa kakhulu nengumgogodwa womnotho, ikakhulukazi eNingizimu Afrika. Umlando uphinda uyasho ukuthi izimbiwaphansi ngezinye zezimboni ezinomlando wokwakha izinkubela, izintandana nobuhlwempu emizini eminingi, ikakhulukazi ezindaweni zasemakhaya nasemiphakathini empofu.
Sakwazi ukuqeda ezombango kanjalo nobandlululo kanti nezobunhloli zisezingeni eliphezulu. Yini ebanga ukuthi sehluleke ukunqoba ukuphalala igazi lokhu okwenzeka minyaka yonke. Ngaphandle kokukhala kwabasebenzi nenhlangano yabo eyihawu labo, i-NUM, esibancoma kakhulu ngokuba nesineke nokubekezela esimweni esifana nalesi ungathola ukuthi izinhlangano ezizimele kanye nalabo abathi balwela amalungelo esintu awubezwa bekhala ngalesi simo.
As a committee empowered by the votes and the Constitution of our land, we are saying: Gloves off. We are determined to decisively deal with and put a stop to this carnage.
Whilst I want to acknowledge some improvement comparatively speaking to the years before democracy, the current death toll is unacceptably high where an average of above 200 deaths are reported yearly from 2000, of which one should say that from 2000 to 2007 August last year, 2033 lives were lost and 34 814 injuries were sustained.
Here we are not talking about those who later die a lonely and painful death of chronic illnesses through occupational diseases. In most of the instances if not all, rock falls, rock bursts and fall of ground have been highlighted as a major contributing factor. And these are caused by seismic events.
The above situation flies in the face of section 11 of our country's Constitution which says and guarantees that everyone has the right to life in the Bill of Rights as enshrined in Chapter 2 of the same Constitution.
Whereas South Africa is hailed as a global experience champion in the mining fraternity, it is very sad that it seems we are the worst in terms of employee welfare.
It is even alleged that some of the companies implicated in contributing to this sad status of affairs are able to behave internationally where they operate.
We want to warn as early as now that those who are not going to heed this call will find themselves either without the mining permits, paying fines of up to R3 million, imprisonment or all of the above.
If these measures are implemented with the same resolve we employ when we deal with the examples of which I've made earlier on, we should be able to put this matter under control.
As a committee, we expect co-operation from all stakeholders to be genuine in their endeavours and double up their efforts in the quest to stop these deaths in the mining industry. We are mindful of the dangers associated with the industry and the need to protect and promote it, but not at the expense of human life.
Our oversight over the department that we will execute this legislation and our visits to the sites where these crimes are perpetually perpetrated is going to be vigorous and it will be met with impunity it deserves.
As the ANC, we support the Bill. Unfortunately it took 10 years for it to be brought back to this House for amendment in spite of the deaths taking place and especially because we are a caring organisation and the government of the people by the people. And we are determined we are going to win this battle.
As the parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Minerals and Energy, through this amendment which includes criminal liability to whoever may participate in the cause of occupational injuries, diseases and deaths to any miner and hope to see soon being compliant with.
In our in-depth scrutiny of this situation, we have looked at the compensation part of the problems and found challenges that add insult to injury that there is an urgent need to harmonise the policies as belonging and administered by the Department of Labour and the Department of Health respectively, which talk about compensation after miners have become victims of the hard labour contribution. We support this Bill. [Applause.]
Ms S RAJBALLY
Mr T L MAHLABA
Ms S RAJBALLY: Hon Deputy Speaker, over the past few months we have been plagued with great amount of mining incidents, accidents and deaths through the country. This Bill thus comes to us satisfying a degree of relief in the concern of securing safe mining and preserving the rights of those who work in these mines.
The public at large is not aware of the extreme conditions under which miners work with the risks involved in their work.
If every one would have the privilege of visiting the Kimberly mine, it offers the education of these extremities and even takes u to the depths that these miners are exposed to.
However, it remains a profession that, that is the income to many households and the importance of their contribution to our country's economy in great.
Without a doubt this Bill is our responsibility and we hope that it may be applied effectively so that all miners may remain responsible to its provisions and the health of miners.
The Minority Front supports the Mines Health and Safety Amendment Bill. I thank you. [Applause.]
The MINISTER OF MINERALS AND ENERGY
Ms S RAJBALLY
The MINISTER OF MINERALS AND ENERGY: Deputy Speaker, I must acknowledge the presence of some of these people who go down the shaft and they have done that most of their lives. They are led by Comrade Gona, Comrade Gcilikishana up there, but also have to appreciate their invaluable contribution. They are up in the gallery. They have contributed tremendously in shaping this amendment Bill. We thank them for that. [Applause.]
I have also noted the concerns raised by members; appreciate the support, the committee and everybody who has been involved in ensuring that finally we are where we are. It may be having some shortcomings but I think it's better than what we had before.
Certain concerns that are raised such as the capacity of the inspectorate, Mr Kriel, I fully agree with you, it's a very rare skill. We need to do more in terms of developing it. We have started to engage with the institutions of higher learning. I went to Wits University; I've also been working with the University of Fort Hare. We have established a branch in Fort Hare to ensure that mining companies themselves are contributing to the development of those skills.
I agree with you in terms of processing of cases. We are again working with the Department of Justice and these matters are being looked into.
Concerning the President's report, Mr Smith's report is ready. The problem is that it had a limitation in terms of achieving its mandate. It was looking at legal as well as technical compliance. But as far as technical compliance is concerned, there was a limitation.
If you look at a quick win in terms of reducing accidents, we need to pay attention to infrastructure. I think that is the first step that we need to do because when you get to other areas of seismic occurrences it then becomes a bigger problem because you can't predict a seismic occurrence butyou canwell maintain your shaft so that it doesn't break in the middle of nowhere and kill many mine workers. It fell short of that hence I had to withhold it until I found a way of ensuring that we deal with that matter. But, we have looked at 333 mines; we have inspected all of them. As I say, I was not happy with the technical aspect of it. Otherwise the report is ready; we would find a way of processing it.
On the issue that you are raising about small scale mining, I take note of that, but there are guidelines and the inspectorate is aware of the guidelines that would then ensure that any penalties are proportionate to noncompliance. So, we are looking into that and we would ensure that we don't kill small people, especially given that some of them are new in the industry. So, we would have to accommodate that.
Otherwise, thank you very much to all of you members and those who have been patient to support us. Thank you very much indeed! [Applause.]
Bill read a second time.
The MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS
The MINISTER OF MINERALS AND ENERGY
BUILT ENVIRONMENT PROFESSIONS BILL
(Second Reading debate)
The MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS: Deputy Speaker, Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Public Works, Ms T V Tobias, Chief Executive Officer of the Council for Built Environment and officials present, hon members, during the past two weeks we've had an opportunity to engage with the Council for Built Environment, the industry in the construction sector and the Science Bono. Through these engagements, we were trying to motivate young people who are actually interested or those who may be interested in the built environment and expose them to this sector. This work, in part, emphasised the importance of skills development in this area.
Furthermore, last week we were able to set up a task team that brings together major universities and technikons that actually train these professionals, the Departments of Education and Labour and the Council on Higher Education. All of these important bodies were necessary in finding a way in which we can improve the skills pool in the built environment.
I want to remind hon members that in line with Asgisa, the challenge of skills shortage has been identified, hence the formation of the Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition, Jipsa. Among the challenges identified was the issue of engineering, which is a scarce skill in our country.
I must also inform hon members that despite all the challenges that we might have had in our interaction with the Engineering Council of SA, we were able to have a workshop, collectively, to look at this Bill and other challenges that face the sector. We have indicated that where we may still need to improve the Bill, we will use the process of the National Council of Provinces to ensure that we accommodate any new needs. I am sure members of this House will appreciate that. Hon Blanché, you may feel comfortable. [Interjections.] You too, thank you.
When we set up the Council for Built Environment in the year 2000, it was envisaged that it would act as an umbrella body for the professional councils on discharging a number of government policies and legislative mandate. It was envisaged that the CBE would take a lead in the transformation of the built environment professions and deliver on the needs of all South Africans.
We would have expected the CBE to lead in protecting the South African public from unsafe practices by built environment professionals and in ensuring good governance on the provisions of professional services related to the built environment sector by practitioners in both the public and private sectors.
Hon members might know about the famous Njaka Bridge incident. This is a matter we are still pursuing in order to find a way to inform those professionals that were responsible for the design and the construction of that bridge of the key challenges regarding their work so that they can improve on it.
As autonomous bodies, the professional councils were to have fulfilled the role of self-regulation in the various professions. The piece of legislation provided for the statutory council to be responsible for issues pertaining to individual professions such as the registration of professionals, accreditation of educational institutions, maintenance of professional standards and discipline of registered persons.
It is for this reason that when we undertook a study, together with the resultant interaction between the Department of Public Works, the Council for Built Environment and the professional councils, we identified a number of challenges facing the built environment professions. These challenges related to limited access, but in particular to the low levels of registration and to governance issues. Therefore, the Bill that we are proposing seeks to deal with this issue in the main.
I must, therefore, mention that there have been issues raised in the public debate and to us as the department, during the workshop, by the related professions. One of those issues relates to the fact that the Bill might be overstepping its scope with regard to the training of such professionals, which is a purview of the Department of Education.
We have decided, in consultation with the Minister of Education, that we will deal with those issues in the NCOP. We will amend the Bill so that it is in line with the training of such professionals. This will enable us to avoid what some hon members have warned about, that if we are not careful our actions may affect the standard of training of these professionals.
Similarly, challenges in respect of the constitution of some of the institutions, such as those that belong to the Engineering Council of SA, spread beyond just professions in the engineering council or in the built environment, but also to chemical engineers, who are not necessarily part of the built environment. We have acknowledged that we will need to correct those issues appropriately in the NCOP process so that we do not, by default, create a challenge for the professions going forward.
There are also some issues that, as part of the standards, inform the work of the Construction Industry Development Board. We have agreed, together with ECSA, that we will address those issues so that there is no anomaly in what is provided for in the Construction Industry Development Board and this piece of legislation.
I therefore would like to thank hon members for the way in which they have assisted us in improving the Bill from the draft that we had brought to them. I am sure we can still continue to do so.
Hon chairperson, you have sometimes been very tough, I must say, in your leadership and guidance during this process. We have had to appreciate that your toughness has been meant to assist us, as the department, to improve and take into consideration what other stakeholders might have raised.
I would like to say thank you to all the members of the Portfolio Committee on Public Works for the way in which we have engaged on this piece of legislation. I would also like to say thank you to the Council for Built Environment as well as other professions. I hope that by working together on this piece legislation, we will indeed improve the environment as well as the regulatory processes in the built environment sector. I thank you, Chairperson.
Ms T V TOBIAS
The MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS
Ms T V TOBIAS: Hon Chairperson, the hon Minister Comrade Thoko Didiza, hon Members of Parliament, ladies and gentlemen.
The Built Environment Professions Bill we are debating today is a culmination of the findings by the Portfolio Committee on Public Works, which met on 14 November 2007 and deliberated on the following challenges after engaging with the presentation of the Council for the Built Environment, CBE. The key objectives of the Bill is to integrate all legislations that regulated the Built Environment; to reinforce the transformation of this sector; revise the strategies of the current regulatory framework; entrench ethical standards on education and training for this environment; and to provide for international recognition.
The following challenges, however, were experienced – and I'm going to mention a few - there were funding challenges for the councils; reporting challenges since there was fragmentation; lack of signage on reporting templates; lack of capacity on how to manage the workload of registration; lack of compliance with the Public Finance management Act, PFMA, to ensure that there is financial reporting; some councils not reporting to the Auditor-General; different standards on funding; professional registration and listing of councils as public entities and registration of artisans was not very clear as to whether this should be done by the Council for the Built Environment, CBE, or Comparative, International Development Education, CIDB.
Chairperson, accreditation of professionals was also not clarified by the Professional Councils and professionals had endless appeals which could have been avoided if this matter was taken into consideration. The portfolio committee established that there are serious legislative gaps disempowering the Council for the Built Environment to exercise its oversight over other professional councils. There was fragmented planning and those councils were not transparent, for example, some of them refused to provide our Minister with information related to their work which led to litigation processes; and the lack of equitable distribution of resources to address demands of the targeted groups. If you look at the councils as they stand, the issues of race, gender and youth were not adequately addressed.
Finally, there were barriers to access and some of the professions had a protracted registration and accreditation process. All of these challenges question the constitutional principle which provides transparency to be fostered by providing the public with timely, accessible and accurate information as required by the Promotion of Access to Information Act, PAIA.
Having identified these legislative gaps, the Portfolio Committee resolves to meeting and discussing with the Minister on the need to review and redraft the CB Act with the intention to address the abovementioned challenges. The Minister agreed in principle to close the gaps, hence, these discussions today. Hon Chairperson, this country still has a long way to go in addressing inequalities and issues of transformation. This is still a bitter pill to some, therefore, I won't be surprised if some hon members behave in an unhonourable manner during the discussions of this Bill – hon Blanché, and I hope you won't. I also won't be surprised if we are accused to be racists while trying to transform our country to be nonracial, nonsexist and prosperous.
We deliberated clause by clause, and the new paradigm shift will ensure that all professional councils are funded equally by our government; report to one council; have a standard reporting template; the board to oversee the work of the councils; peer review will not be left as voluntary associations will be given recognition through certification; all international agreements will remain; international recognition will be maintained as government has proven that it adheres to standards as reported by Professor Sangweni, the Chairperson of the Public Services Commission, in his 2007/2008 Report. This was re-emphasised by the Higher Education of South Africa, HESA, and the South African Qualifications Authority, SAQA, that, indeed, this Bill pursued international best practice and ethical standards.
However, we should also accept that there was an oversight by the department and Cabinet on the role of the Minister of Public Works in determining the curriculum for the Built Environment. We must admit that this seems to be providing our Minister with sweeping powers that overlaps with the powers of the Minister of Education. I hope that this matter will further be dealt with, as the Minister has already said by the National Council of Provinces because by the time we were dealing with this legislation, the Portfolio Committee on Education was also dealing with the National Qualifications Framework, NQF, and the Cabinet need also to internalise legislation before its submission to Parliament to allow alignment of interest of different departments to avoid confusion and late intervention by different departments.
Drafting should also be in such a manner which shows that legal matters receive utmost attention to maintain integrity and professionalism to law making processes. The issue of standardisation of requirements for accreditation of students from each Further Education and Training, FET, colleges and universities is imperative as this discriminates the majority of youth who hail from poor backgrounds, who couldn't afford to study at universities but opted for FET colleges. We also need to analyse the worrying trends reported by the Department of Labour on shortage of skills which is tabulated for all sectors and the Built Environment has proven to be having low numbers of engineers.
Chairperson, the ANC-led government has worked very hard to create an enabling environment for all South Africans through interventions that allow the developmental states to intervene and not to allow markets to abuse their status through an uneven competition. Economic growth is only taking place when demands and supply are at equilibrium and, therefore, this Bill will empower aspirant engineers in the built environment to enter this sector with confidence and participate in the growth of our economy.
I want to thank all our support staff who worked hard to advise us and the Minister of Public Works incorporating with the portfolio committee in making sure that this Bill is presented. The ANC will support the Bill. I thank you.
Mr J P I BLANCHé
Ms T V TOBIAS
Mr J P I BLANCHÉ: Chairperson, as it stands, unfortunately, I have to advise the Minister that the DA cannot but vote against this Bill.
We have seen how the engineering institutions had been rudely named and shamed when they appeared in front of that committee. It was a very unprofessional way in which they were dealt with. Let's get to what happened and what we think should be done.
The Engineering Council proved to us that it should be retained as a registering authority for engineers, technologists, and technicians in South Africa, and that rationalising is probably an objective that can be reached. Then, combining councils with allied interests into three, instead of six, is a better option than what we have on the table at the moment.
The Engineering Council proved to us that it was doing all it could to integrate previously disadvantaged individuals into the engineering professions without the risk of lowering safety standards and professional excellence – something which this Bill cannot achieve as it stands.
The Bill also places the Washington, the Dublin, and the Sydney Accords, which are international accords that internationally recognise the certification of South Africa's engineers, technicians, and technologists, at risk. In its submission to the portfolio committee, the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers stated that it outright rejects the Bill, and were not the only institute to go that length of rejection.
Parliament should, therefore, ask why Public Works brought the Bill to Parliament. The answer lies in the ANC's race-based employment policies. These policies have caused an exodus of highly skilled technical people from public administrations like local governments, provinces, and state departments.
In recent years, this started showing up in the Public Works budget. A growing number of consultant firms had to be called upon to oversee the projects of state departments and local authorities. Those skilled technical officials, who previously used to work for the state departments and public works, were now employed as consultants – doing what they used to do, but at much higher remuneration because they were the only people to know how to do it.
Why is this? It is because the ANC's policies have not delivered maths and science graduates at school-leaving level to replace those who were forced out of the engineering positions in these public administrations, in the local authorities, and in public works. [Interjections.] To cover up its mistake, the ANC then followed the lead of its Health Minister to recruit in Cuba. When the Cuban engineers arrived here and had to produce their certificates to Public Works, it was discovered that their accreditation does not meet with South African, and other accord signatory, standards. That is why the Bill is tabled: To lower the professional standard in Public Works to Cuban level.
Chairperson, do you know what? No buildings higher than six floors, large bridges, or large dams have been designed or built in Cuba since the 1959 revolution. These so-called professionals, thus, do not even have the experience of large structures. Despite the rude behaviour of ANC Members of Parliament towards the presenters of the engineering institutes, they managed to prove that they have transformed that professional sector by integrating and registering previously disadvantaged individuals in large numbers as members of their institutes.
The Institute of Civil Engineers has since 1993 changed its membership from a white male dominated organisation to one that now boasts 43% nonwhite membership and, sir, it is not the organisation's fault that it is still below 50%. That is due to ANC education policy which fails to deliver science and maths students, in larger numbers, who could be taken up in these engineering professions.
Chairman, let me end by quoting what Truman Goba said – Chairperson, again the ANC is saved. Let's hope that there is some sort of reason and I am glad to see the Minister one of them. [Interjections.] [Time expired.]
Rev K M ZONDI
Mr J P I BLANCHÉ
Rev K M ZONDI: Chairperson, I rise in these turbulent times in the history of our country to intervene briefly, but positively and constructively, in the debate on the Built Environment Professions Bill.
The Bill before this House is long overdue and, therefore, the IFP will support it. We do so, not because it is a perfect Bill acceptable to every stakeholder in the built environment community, but because it is a necessary step in the right direction, providing for the regulation of the wide range of affairs affecting the built environment professionals who practice their profession in the service of the people of our land.
I say this Bill was long overdue because it seeks to consolidate a number of necessary regulatory interventions which were scattered among seven pieces of legislation which gave rise to the current seven professional councils governing the affairs of the built environment industry.
The Bill tightens the loose ends in the legislative regime, providing for the regulation of the affairs of the built environment professions, their training, and their registration. In doing this, the Bill also seeks, more importantly, to protect the public against unprofessional conduct by the built environment professionals.
The Bill also seeks to promote a broad-based urgent and necessary transformation agenda within the built environment arena, so that the built environment industry is not left behind of other transformation developments, affecting various other aspects of life which have unfolded since the advent of our democracy in 1994. I thank you, Chairperson.
Ms N D NGCENGWANE
Rev K M ZONDI
Ms N D NGCENGWANE: Chairperson, hon Ministers and Deputy Ministers, hon Members of Parliament, ladies and gentlemen, in the year 2000 seven pieces of legislation were approved by Parliament in order to regulate the built environment; six of them regulating the professions and the seventh establishing the Council for the Built Environment, CBE. I will not mention all of them.
Before the promulgation of the seven Acts, the government engaged the formal and informal professional sectors in the built environment in a dialogue to develop a regulatory model that would eliminate fragmentation, align itself with transformation and other imperatives and priorities of our society, that would be cost-effective, that would set minimum competency standards for persons to perform professional acts, that would protect the public against unprofessional acts, and that would open up access to professions, amongst many other issues.
The government viewed the professions as an asset that would assist our new democracy to create an equitable built environment. The manner in which the built environment professions would be regulated was therefore important. On the other hand, the professionals agreed with these sentiments and emphasised the importance of self-regulation by the professionals.
This was premised on the assumption that professionals are best equipped to regulate their professions and the government acceded to that view. The dialogue resulted in the promulgation of the above six professional councils and the Council for the Built Environment, which in turn would serve as an umbrella body of the six professional councils.
In short, the regulatory model of the stand-alone professional councils came as a result of that dialogue. Eight years down the line, we have witnessed the shortcomings of that model. The model is too expensive and very inefficient, if we have to make it work. It results into fragmented planning and implementation of policy. It does not achieve the desired goals as spelt out in the corresponding Acts, hence the introduction of the Built Environment Professional Bill.
The Portfolio Committee on Public Works held public hearings in the Built Environment Professions Bills from 12-14 August 2008. It invited oral submissions from different stakeholders who had made written submissions to the committee on the Bill. I will concentrate more on the submissions made by different people and organisations.
The Bill provides a clear line of accountability by the council to the Minister. This is very important because the current legislation does not articulate itself clearly in this regard and as a result, creates unnecessary tensions between various parties concerned in the regulation of the built environment. The Bill regulates the built environment professionals in order to promote growth and transformation.
The committee on public works received more than 50 submissions in response to its call for representation on the Built Environment Professions Bill I will select but a few. Mr L M Buthelezi, representing the disadvantaged graduates from the traditional universities and especially from the universities of technology and also those who qualify by experience and are practising in the fields of built environment professions, after discussions with colleagues and students made it very clear that the Bill addresses the issues of architectural apartheid with the professions and other fields falling under the built environment profession.
As even in government the composition of the middle management in the 14 years down the line of our democracy still leaves much to be desired. This is caused by the overstating of minimum requirements and emphasis on having 10 years experience after professional registration in the advertisement of posts, a situation favouring those who qualified during the apartheid government period.
Mr Abraham Rakau, in his submission believes that the Engineering Council of SA's delay in registering black engineers means that they will remain employed by the white engineering firms at all times and for the rest of their lives. It also means that no participation in any other business opportunities or any large-scale projects on their own.
He believes that ECSA is out of line with the transformation agenda. Thank you. [Time Expired.]
Mr W D SPIES
Ms N D NGCENGWANE
Mr W D SPIES:
Agb Voorsitter, `n minuut is ongelukkig te kort om al ons besware te lug en ek sal my bes probeer. In die eerste plek was daar oor hierdie wet geen konsultasie gevoer voordat dit deur die Minister ter tafel gelê is nie. Die enigste vorm van konsultasie was openbare verhore deur die komitee. Ek was self bevoorreg om een vergadering by te woon. Dit was `n verleentheid; nie net vir die komitee nie, maar ook vir hierdie instelling. Die manier waarop professionele mense deur `n komitee in hierdie Parlement behandel word, is nie aanvaarbaar nie. Dit is nie goed nie en ons kan dit nie goedpraat nie.
Die betrokke verteenwoordigers van die Ingenieursraad is soos misdadigers behandel, omdat hulle alternatiewe standpunte op die tafel geplaas het. Terwyl hulle soos misdadigers behandel word, voer die regering hier `n wet deur wat voorsiening maak vir die onteiening van die bates van die Ingenieursraad, sonder dat daar `n sent vergoeding in die vooruitsig gestel word. Dit kom neer op misdadigheid en niks anders nie. Die tweede belangrike punt is dat hierdie wet die internasionale erkenning wat die Suid-Afrikaanse ingenieurskwalifikasie geniet, op die brandstapel plaas.
Daar is wyd getuig en duidelike bewyse is aangevoer dat internasionale erkenning afhang van sogenaamde "peer review". Dit word deur die nuwe wet afgeskaf en die nuwe wet maak daarvoor voorsiening dat die Minister bepaal wat die toelatingsvereistes, al dan nie vir `n ingenieur. Hierdie wet sal doodgewoon die uitvloei van kundigheid verhaas en dit is `n slegte wet vir Suid-Afrika. Ek dank u. [Tyd verstreke.]
Ms S RAJBALLY
Mr W D SPIES
Ms S RAJBALLY: Chairperson, South Africa seeks the effective development and growth of its nation and we, as Parliament has a duty to oversee its enhancement through legislation and policy.
It is evident that in terms of the built environment that there have been a number of challenges that we honestly feel should have been realised in the first place as a possibility and therefore, we constantly invite transparency and accountability through authority and oversight.
The MF, however, welcomes the establishment of the SA Council for the Built Environment and respects the provisions that shall encourage its effective and efficient running and oversight of the built environment. However, we are concerned as to how these challenges are identified and how it shall be addressed without it compromising that portion of the built environment that may be effectively operating. With all the concerns raised, the MF supports the Built Environment Professions Bills. Thank you.
Mr L D MADUMA
Ms S RAJBALLY
Mr L D MADUMA: Chairperson, one must start by saying that it is a pity that the DA, in the name of Blanché, has shown this House that he is not committed to the cause of this nation. I must say that he has displayed white arrogance throughout the public hearings. [Interjections.] He was undermining the chairperson. He even walked out of the meetings. Now, today in front of his bosses, he claims that at least he knows about the public hearings. He is lying in this House. He must stop lying. You do not know anything about what was said by the engineers.
Mr M J ELLIS: Mr Chairman. Mr Chairman!
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Is it a point of order?
Mr M J ELLIS: It is a point of order, Mr Chairman. The hon member speaking at the podium now said that Mr Blanché is lying and that, sir, is unparliamentary.
Mr L D MADUMA: But what is he doing? You were not there. You walked out of the meeting.
Mr M J ELLIS: You can't say things like that! You can't say things like that! I have asked for the chairman. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Hon Maduma! Can you sit down? Please let there be order. I am trying to control the proceedings. Are you done with your point of order?
Mr M J ELLIS: Mr Chairman, yes. I say that what the hon member at the podium said was unparliamentary.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Hon Maduma.
Mr M J ELLIS: Honourable?
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Maduma.
Mr M J ELLIS: Maduma. I haven't got it in front of me, Mr Chairperson. Thank you.
Mr L D MADUMA: You know that you are lying.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Thank you. You can take up – hon Maduma, you can stand up on the podium. I want to make the ruling that you should, indeed, withdraw the remark of another member lying in the spirit of continuing the debate. Just with draw it.
Mr L D MADUMA: So, he's not talking the truth, because he was not in the meeting. That is a point.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Hon Maduma, I said withdraw the word "lying" first.
Mr L D MADUMA: I withdraw the word "lying", but he was not talking the truth, because he was not in the meeting.
Mr M J ELLIS: Mr Chairman, that is absolutely unacceptable. He either withdraws properly, Mr Chairman, or he doesn't withdraw and then we will take whatever action we believe should take place after that. You can't say he is not lying, he is just telling untruths. It doesn't work like that.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): I will just come back on that issue. I am informed that it is a matter of semantics. The intention is still the same, hon Maduma. Just withdraw and then continue with your speech after withdrawal.
Mr J P I BLANCHÉ: Point of order!
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): The point of order has already been done. I don't know which one now.
Mr J P I BLANCHÉ: This is another point of order, Mr Chairman. Must he withdraw first?
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): We want the hon member to withdraw first, please. Can we do that? Hon Maduma...
Mr L D MADUMA: I withdraw, Chairperson.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Thank you very much. What is the point of order now?
Mr J P I BLANCHÉ: Mr Chairman, the hon member is alleging that I was not in the meeting. He was fast asleep. He had to be woken up. [Laughter.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Hon member, please, those matters belong to the committees, not here. You can continue, hon Maduma. [Laughter.]
Mr L D MADUMA: Chairperson, I want to say that when I say that what he says is not true, there is no reason for the engineers to report to him. We have got a chairperson of the committee. They are supposed to report to the chairperson, not to him. Because he was not in the meeting, he went around and asked them what they said in the meeting.
Having said that, he talked about the safety standards. The safety standard is done by the peer review and, therefore, it is their responsibility – those engineers. This Bill is trying to redress that problem. It is not of our making; it is a problem of your regime – your previous government, who established those voluntary associations! [Interjections.]
Talking about the recognition of the international agreements, this Bill is going to recognise those agreements. It is not true that it is going to undermine those agreements. That is not true. You know that. The Cubans are doing a very good job in South Africa...
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): I want to protect the speaker. There is a running commentary from you, hon Blanché.
Mr L D MADUMA: The Cubans are doing very well. You know that your colleagues took a voluntary severance package and they have come back as consultants. You know that! That is your strategy, because you did not want this current government. You did not want this current government to utilise the expertise in terms of a developmental state. You did that deliberately! So, you come back to reap the benefits of the state. That is your responsibility. You must say that now.
Having said that, Chairperson, allow me today to participate in this debate which is close to me as a cadre of the ANC that have committed itself to bring a better life for all South Africans. This historic commitment was taken at Kliptown more than 53 years ago when people of this country met because of the pain inflicted to them by the white minority regime – your previous government – to our people. You had no right to rule over the majority of this country.
In mapping out the future South Africa, it said: "All people shall have equal rights to trade where they choose, to manufacture, and to enter all trades, crafts, and professions". This was in understanding that blacks in this country were not taking part in the economic stream, using their talents and skills to better their lives. That was your responsibility!
Now, the government under the stewardship of the ANC has realised, after 14 years of democracy that some professions continue to be gatekeepers to black professionals. You know that; we debated that in the committee. You know to whom I am referring. Recognising their potential, black professionals, when leaving tertiary institutions, do not find it easy to register their professions so that they can practice.
This is evident in research done in 2003, which suggested the following disparities: 61% of all university of technology graduates...
Mr M J ELLIS: Mr Chairman, on a point of order: On the one hand the hon Maduma was saying that Mr Blanché wasn't there, but now he is saying he was there when he was debating the Bill. I plead, Mr Chairman, for consistency. Maybe he was, as Mr Blanché says, fast asleep.
Mr L D MADUMA: In the committee! Not in the public hearings! He ran away! He knows that!
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Hon Maduma, I couldn't hear the point of order. Now you are aiding us. The other hon member was still trying to say what the point of order is. Whatever you have said, I've heard that at one point he said he was not there, and at another point he said he was there. I think he is referring to various meetings – many other meetings – so let's not enter into that particular space for now.
Mr M J ELLIS: That is fine, Mr Chairman, I just would like him to be a little bit more consistent.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Thank you very much.
Ms T V TOBIAS: Chair, on a point of order: I just wanted to know: is it so painful for the DA to just swallow a short speech like this? [Laughter.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): It is not a point of order. Thank you. Hon Maduma, continue. No, your time has not expired. Continue, hon Maduma.
Mr L D MADUMA: The proportion of architecture and engineering white male students who graduated in relation to enrolment is 22%. Yet, in the case of black male students only 8,4% of the African males were able to graduate between 1986 and 2003. Out of the total graduates, only 23% have registered with professional councils.
Now, we need to find out where those graduates are who were denied registration for our system to talk to the built environment challenges of graduates who must practice a profession.
Eight years down the line, it has become clear that the Council for Built Environment continues to encounter challenges in instituting its mandate. There are professional councils that are resistant to change to be in line with the prescripts of the new dispensation. The ANC government cannot fold its arms when the transformation agenda is being hindered by certain individuals who still live in the old apartheid system. It is against this background that the Department of Public Works presents this Bill to this House. This Bill seeks to bring a new organogram that will provide better co-ordination of all professional councils and accelerate transformation in the built environment and sound governance. The ANC supports this Bill. [Time expired.]
The MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS
Mr L D MADUMA
The MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS: Chairperson, I never expected that this debate was going to be so heated. [Laughter.] But I must say that the exchanges reflect how robust the debate was in the portfolio committee and I am sure, as I said earlier, that we will continue to engage on this legislation, following the interactions that we have had.
The Chairperson also indicated that one of the issues that we do need to address, as government going forward, relates to the issue of the funding mechanism. Also the issues of skills development that I referred to earlier, which hon Blanché had also raised, I think it is important for all of us to acknowledge that the challenge that our country faces in terms of the skills gap is not a matter that has just arisen, it's a legacy of our past, which all of us have accepted. It is also a matter that is going to take a bit of time.
If you look at the skills pipeline, indeed you have to deal with the issues of foundation, education, that Minister Pandor has actually raised in terms of ensuring that all children up to matriculation level would have mathematics or even mathematical literacy. I think that is one of the interventions.
If you look at the Department of Education, once again, with regard to the Naledi schools, that is another intervention of trying to improve maths and science within our institutions. Similarly, some of the training that is given to the educators is thought to improve their capabilities so that they do, as they impart the knowledge, improve the skills base. When we look at this issue we need to appreciate that there are interventions. Obviously the challenge is massive, but also when you deal with built environment, and I am sure with any other skill, you have to look at the throughput that gets at a university level. And what happens afterwards? A majority of students actually, in the science fields, there is a lot of seepage at university level – some of which reflects, as the need for support, which must continuously be given to those students, some of it is as a social consequence where some of those children drop out because maybe their parents cannot take them forward. There are many reasons for seepage at that level.
With regard to builT environment, unless you are able to have work placement to assist you in going back to the work environment with practical knowledge, indeed it does affect you in the completion of your university degree. The other challenge is, after a degree in build environment it doesn't make you an engineer because you have got your degree in engineering, or an architect. You still have to spend time as a candidate in a workplace environment. Unfortunately a number of black professionals in this field or black graduates have never had an opportunity for absorption. That is why the Department of Public Works has actually started an internship programme where we bring in these young graduates to be mentored by those who are experienced so that they are prepared for registration. This Bill seeks to deal with those issues, rather than reducing the standards, as might be seen.
Secondly, I do want to indicate that there is no way we can say legislation is brought to Parliament because we want to settle whatever scores that might be there or that might have been perceived as our racial, in my view. We bring legislation because we seek to improve the regulatory environment and create the space for development in this particular sector, so I must say the reference was unfortunate, Mr Blanché, because it cannot be true.
With regard to the Cuban engineers, I must say that when we went to actually source those skills as a result of the challenge: Firstly, I must explain that the challenge in the built environment is not a South African phenomenon but it's a global phenomenon. Go anywhere in the world, every country is complaining about a shortage. Because of the built environment programme all over the world, the majority of South African companies when they go and get tenders outside, like in the Middle East where there is a lot of growth and development, they actually go with those skills that we require as a country. It is something we much appreciate as a phenomenon that is going to take some time for us to address.
When we went to Cuba, as part of our bilateral, we actually went with the engineering council. They were part of the interviewing panel to ensure that the skills of the people we get would be consummerate to what we require as a country. I wouldn't say that the standard of Cuban engineers or architects is actually lower than the South African standard. We are working with professional institutions to ensure that we deal with that challenge.
With regard to the issue of registration, indeed it has improved. Let's ask, where has it improved? If you look at that increase in terms of diversity as we say, hon Blanché, those numbers actually reflect technicians and technologists who are from historically disadvantaged sectors. You still have a challenge in having your graduates improve in the registration of professionals who come from the historically disadvantaged communities. I must also say that in our workshop with Acsa we have agreed that this is a challenge we need to address and I hope, going forward and working with the various councils, we will be able to tend to this matter of skills, not just because we need to, but because it is necessary in supporting our construction industry, supporting our infrastructural development, as well as our economy as a country. I thank you, hon members and I am sure you support this Bill. [Applause.]
Bill read a second time (Democratic Alliance and the Freedom Front Plus dissenting).
BIRTHDAY WISHES TO MADAM SPEAKER
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Before I adjourn the House, I got a note from the Deputy Speaker informing us as the house that we should join her and the rest of the National Assembly in wishing the Speaker, Ms Baleka Mbete a happy birthday for tomorrow. We will not be here, because we will be in our constituencies celebrating Heritage Day. So, when the bells ring, those who are available can do so at the Speaker's Chamber at the back here. I hope the message is understood.
The House adjourned at 16:48.
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