Hansard: Second Reading Debates:Tobacco Products Control Amendment Bill; Mineral & Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill; Liquor Products Amendment Bill / Legislative Proposal to amend the Broadcasting Act, Act No 4 of 1999
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 26 Jun 2008
No summary available.
THURSDAY, 26 JUNE 2008
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
The House met at 14:01.
The Speaker took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.
ANNOUNCEMENTS, TABLINGS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS – see col 000.
QUESTIONS FOR ORAL REPLY
THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC
Major outcomes sought at next Ministerial meeting of WTO
6. Ms N C Mfeketo (ANC) asked the President of the Republic:
What major outcomes will South Africa be seeking at the next Ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation, WTO?
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Madam Speaker, with regard to this question which deals with World Trade Organisation, WTO, negotiations, I would like to start by saying that South Africa is indeed a strong proponent of multilateralism, and our core objective in the Doha Round of the WTO negotiations has been to strengthen the global rules-based trading system in a manner that supports the development aspirations of the developing countries.
In our view, an equitable and balanced trading system that fully takes into account developmental prospects would enhance the legitimacy and stability of that trading system. South Africa supported the launch of the round on the basis of the mandate of the Doha Declaration that aimed to place the needs and interests of developing countries at the heart of its work programme. This approach and mandate has guided our participation in these negotiations.
Many milestones and deadlines have been missed in this complex negotiating process and it is not immediately clear when the date for the next WTO Ministerial meeting will be set. There is indeed some impetus towards convening the meeting in July, next month, but many issues still need to be resolved to ensure that the meeting of the trade Ministers has the essential elements for a successful outcome.
It is our view, which is shared by many other WTO members, that while it is of great importance that we conclude the negotiations as soon as possible to achieve the objectives agreed to in Doha, this must not be at the expense of the developmental content of the round. In this respect, we require significant progress in the agricultural negotiations as this is the measure of the development content of the round, given that most developing countries rely on agriculture for their development.
Recent reports in the international media suggest that the slow progress in negotiations on the industrial tariffs is holding up the conclusion of the round. But this is not the case. Agriculture remains the key to the round, setting both the pace and the mission for the other important issues for negotiations.
While important progress has been achieved in the agricultural negotiations, several key issues are outstanding. These include securing meaningful reductions in trade-distorting domestic subsidies in the developed countries so as to open up production and trade opportunities to more competitive farmers in the developing world, including those in Africa. This has become more urgent with the emerging global food crisis and, paradoxically, easier to achieve because global food prices are at record high levels. We also require an outcome that offers greater clarity and precision on the level of tariff reductions in agriculture.
Currently the range of outstanding issues and loopholes built into the negotiations give little comfort that the outcome of tariff reduction negotiations will result in significantly enhanced access to the markets of developed countries for agricultural products of export interest to developing countries. Progress on these agricultural issues at the next ministerial meeting is vital, and will determine progress in other negotiating areas, particularly industrial tariffs.
In the industrial tariff negotiations, also referred to as Non-Agricultural Market Access, Nama, negotiations, South Africa has played an important role. Since the Hong Kong Ministerial Conference in December 2005, we have convened the Nama 11 group of developing countries to work towards ensuring an outcome that supports our industrial developmental objectives.
In this respect, we recall and reaffirm the principle of less-than-full reciprocity because we have witnessed attempts to have it inversed with a range of demands that would result in developing countries, including South Africa, being required to accept tariff reduction commitments in excess of those to be borne by the developed countries. These demands are inconsistent with the Doha development mandate, and cannot be a basis for the conclusion of the round.
Indeed, I must say that South Africa is unique in the industrial tariff negotiations because of the historical injustice committed during the apartheid era that led to our country being classified as a developed country in the Uruguay Round. This means that South Africa and other members of the Southern African Customs Union, SACU, maintain levels of industrial tariffs that are uniquely lower than would otherwise be the case. The application of the agreed tariff-cutting formula in this round would result in deep cuts in applied industrial tariffs on a scale that is greater than the tariff cuts that would be made by other WTO members in either Nama or agriculture.
While we welcome the recognition by the WTO members that the situation of South Africa and Sacu is unique, this recognition should be meaningfully translated into agreement to extend the full scope of flexibility for South Africa and Sacu. Indeed, we are prepared to make a positive contribution to the negotiating outcome, but this must respect the developmental principles of the round, and it must be proportional and support our industrial policy and employment objectives.
One of the most positive aspects of the round has been the emergence of alliances and groupings that collectively seek to achieve development-supporting outcomes. These alliances have made an historic contribution to the global trading system, and have positively shifted the negotiating dynamic in favour of the developing countries. We would, therefore, expect that these alliances continue to demonstrate their strength in unity at the next WTO Ministerial meeting and, in this regard, we will continue to work closely with the G20, the Nama 11 and the Africa group. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
The SPEAKER: I was expecting the follow-up question to be from the member who asked the question, but I have on my list here the hon Frolick. [Interjections.] Hon Mfeketo?
Nksz N C MFEKETO: Ngokucacileyo, andililo ilungu elihloniphekileyo uFrolick. Ndiyabulela kuMongameli ngengcaciso ecacileyo. Andinawo umbuzo, kodwa icacile kum into yokuba kuza kufuneka ukuba siqinise idolo abameli bethu kuthetha-thethwano xa sele ibiziwe intlanganiso. Kukho izinto ezimbini ebalulekileyo ngezi ngxoxo zothetha-thethwano, zezolimo kunye nerhafu. Okokuqala, iyimfuneko into yokuba babenalo ugunyaziso olusuka kule Ndlu, oluza kwenza ukuba bazi ukuba zeziphi izinto abangenakugqitha kuzo, ngakumbi ngokubhekisele ekuncitshisweni kwerhafu. Okwesibini, njengoko usitsho, Mongameli, kufuneka siqinise umanyano lwamazwe asahlumayo ukuze sithethe into enye ngelizwi elinye. Enkosi. (Translation of isiXhosa paragraph follows.)
[Ms N C MFEKETO: Obviously, I am not hon Frolick. I thank the President for the clear explanation. I do not have a question, but it is clear to me that we should do something to strengthen the hand of our negotiators for the negotiations. There are two important issues with regard to these negotiations, namely agriculture and industrial tariffs. Firstly, the representatives must get a mandate from this august House regarding the scope of their negotiations, and more especially the question of the reduction of industrial tariffs. Secondly, as you said, President, we must strengthen unity amongst developing countries so that we speak with one voice. Thank you.]
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Indeed, I would agree, Madam Speaker. I am sure the House understands that this is a very complex process of negotiations with the number of countries involved and the issues on the agenda.
It would indeed be very important that the National Assembly and Parliament as a whole take a view on these matters, because they are indeed of critical importance to everybody. So I do support the point that the hon Mfeketo is making, that this House should say something about all of this to strengthen the hand of our negotiators.
I agree with that. Indeed, it would be good if that could happen, understanding the complexity of all this, of course, and understanding that when you get into a process of negotiations, you don't go there to present demands that everybody must accept or reject, but you go there to negotiate. But it would be important that there is a view of Parliament on these matters.
Most certainly, we will continue to seek the maximum unity of the developing countries with regard to this. It is critically important that, and as we are trying to indicate, the emergence of these groups like the G20 and the G11 had indeed made a very important impact on the manner in which negotiations take place. So it's a central matter that we have to pursue.
I would hope that, in that context, our Parliament would also find a way of interacting with other parliaments of the developing countries, and also with the European parliament, to make sure that we keep to the developmental objectives of this round, because that is a matter that is very hotly contested. It would indeed strengthen the hand of our negotiators if we had other parliaments in the developing countries and the developed world speaking in the same language, particularly with regard to ensuring that we respect the developmental objectives of this round. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr S N SWART: Madam Speaker and hon President, as was pointed out, the House will consider a motion later this afternoon that calls upon our negotiators and World Trade Organisation members in general to ensure a balanced, fair and developmental outcome of the WTO negotiations.
In view of the previous failures in this regard, particularly regarding the continued distortion of the agricultural sector to the disadvantage of developing countries - as you pointed out - how will our and other negotiators seek to achieve this goal which is critical in view of the current global food prices?
President, you did touch on that, but in other words, how will we ensure that the commitments undertaken by developed countries in cutting export and production subsidies as well as providing new agricultural market access to developing countries will be prioritised at the next round of talks? Thank you.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Madam Speaker, it is very good indeed that the House is debating this matter this afternoon, as suggested by the hon Mfeketo, but we can't guarantee all of these things. That is why I was saying that it would be important that our own Parliament interacts with other parliaments in the developing countries and parliaments in other countries in the developed world, really to make sure that this focus is kept, and, therefore, these matters of the agricultural tariffs, protection measures and all those topics are dealt with.
In a sense, what I am saying is that we have got to try and build up some pressure from below on the governments that have to take these decisions. We are dealing here with the West Europeans and the United States. They have got to get a sense of the feeling and the mood and so on of their populations. I think it is a part of our responsibility to mobilise those populations in those countries to say the same things as we are saying.
Everybody talks about the struggle against poverty. Everybody talks about the struggle to defeat underdevelopment. Let it find expression. These negotiations give a possibility for that to find practical expression with regard to these trading matters that have been negotiated. So, we can't guarantee that the developed countries are going to respond properly in terms of their obligations, but at least what we can do is to try and influence their populations to communicate the same message that we are communicating and, therefore, to give a mandate to their own negotiators that the people of Western Europe, the European Union and the United States are of the same mind that this challenge of poverty and development is a global challenge, and they must contribute to this; their governments must contribute to this. I think that is the only way that perhaps we will be able to get the kind of progress and movement that we need. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr A J LEON: Madam Speaker and Mr President, I wonder if I could ask you to comment on three brief aspects of this very troubled Doha Round which, as you have correctly said, has been going on for seven years. It has missed its deadline already three years ago for concluding the round.
The first is that the point has been made that in some ways the Doha Round could actually increase the volatility of food and agricultural prices, if it's concluded, on the basis that what's currently in the Doha Round proposals will further restrict the tools government might be able to use to ensure trade support for food security objectives. That, of course, is counterintuitive, but perhaps it is something that you'd like to comment on.
The second issue, as you correctly said, is that the G20 has been, in this case, a third force for the good - occasionally we find third forces for the good – and it has obviously been able to lift the weight of the developing nations. I wonder, however, if the President would care to comment on a report which came out of Geneva on 9 June. If I could just read to you from it. This deals with the Nama section of the trade round -
While some developing countries such as Brazil and South Africa argue that the controversial chair for the Doha-Nama negotiations, Ambassador Stephenson, had included some of their proposals, they reckon the text is flawed with regard to the range of cuts it has proposed in the Swiss formula.
Then it says, and this is the material point -
But Brazil is prepared to accept a low coefficient of 19 among the Nama 11 coalition of developing countries if it secures adequate flexibilities, which is not acceptable to other members such as India, Argentina and South Africa.
I mention that, President, because I think you are right. The developing world does require a unity of approach. But in view of these cracks or fissures which appear to have now emerged, is that possible going forward into the next stage of negotiations?
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: The hon Leon is asking that we enter into very detailed discussions about these negotiations: all these coefficients, this, that and the other, which you and I don't understand and Minister Mpahlwa does.
It is true that if you take the nonagricultural market access negotiations, as would be led by the Nama 11 group, which South Africa convenes, the situations in the different countries with regard to those industrial tariffs will not be the same.
That is why I was raising the issue about a special dispensation for South Africa and the Southern African Customs Union countries because of a situation that arose out of the agreement that came out of the Uruguay Round, which classifies South Africa in a particular place and therefore imposes a particular regime on us to lower our tariffs. If we go ahead with what might be a generally applicable coefficient with regard to the industrial tariffs, that means that we have to cut down to levels that would have a very negative impact on the South African industry.
Fortunately this has been recognised. The Director-General of the WTO, the European Union and the Americans have said that they understand the special place of South Africa and Sacu with regard to this matter because of what had happened. Therefore, we might say that these are the coefficients, generally, that we require from the developing countries but an exception will have to be made. We are saying that that has got to be translated into an actual written, concrete agreement.
It illustrates the point about the differences that would exist among the group. But, nevertheless, what the Nama 11 are saying is that it is indeed possible for the Nama 11 to agree. First of all, let me say that we are committed to making our own contribution to the success of the Doha Round. We are therefore not saying that other people must make commitments and sacrifices while we do nothing. We are committed to doing that, but we address this matter in a way that addresses the issue of nonequivalence in order to keep consistent with the objective of a developmental round.
So, certainly, as convenors of the Nama group, we are confident that it is possible to present a united view of the Nama group on industrial tariffs, bearing in mind that there will be differences in what needs to be done; because even if you take the agricultural tariffs, what the EU has to do and what the Americans have to do with regard to those tariffs is not necessarily exactly the same thing, because of the varying changes, differences and conditions among them. We think it is necessary and possible to maintain the unity of the developing countries with regard to this.
With regard to the matter of increased volatility in food prices, I would need to listen to that argument. I hope it is not an excuse not to act on these matters of the reduction of tariffs and domestic protection and all of that, by saying that if we do those things, then we are going to have increased volatility with regard to food prices. I hope it's not an excuse to avoid that.
Let there be movement to deal with all of these issues that are outstanding with regard to agricultural prices, and I think if we can do that and agree, then perhaps you could ask whether there are any negative consequences, and then we could consider those.
But, certainly, from the point of view of South Africa, fortunately with regard to the nonagricultural market access issues, there is agreement. Everybody recognises the fact that we stand in a special place, and when we say that there has to be particular treatment specific to us, it is not out of selfishness. It is in recognition of the objective reality that exists. What I am saying is that fortunately everybody recognises that, but it needs to be translated into a formal agreement within the context of the negotiations. Thank you. [Applause.]
Steps to identify and deal with causes of xenophobic attacks
7. Mr L M Green (FD) asked the President of the Republic:
(1) Whether the factors or causes that gave rise to the xenophobic attacks have been identified; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what are the relevant details;
(2) whether any steps have been taken to deal with the causes identified to build social cohesion among different foreign and ethnic groups; if not, why not; if so, what steps? NO1707E
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Madam Speaker, the wave of violence against immigrants in our country that started on 11 May this year, came as a big shock to the majority of the people of our country. As I have said before, these events have indeed shamed our nation and we have to ensure that such crimes do not recur.
On 14 May, a ministerial task team was set up to investigate the nature and possible causes of the attacks in Gauteng and, later, other provinces. That ministerial team has interacted with its counterparts from the relevant provinces and work continues to understand these issues fully. That ministerial task team will report in due course.
At the same time, however, the South African Police Service has made an extensive investigation based on the arrests and compiled a report on the causes of attacks on foreigners. This report covers a period from 2005 when various towns in the Free State were affected by service delivery protests, or what were called service delivery protests, which among other things, resulted in attacks on businesses owned by Pakistanis and people from Bangladesh.
From that time up to the recent violence against foreigners, the report compiled by the police says those who had been involved in the violence, gave the following as reasons for these attacks. Let me emphasise this, Madam Speaker, this is what was said by people who had been arrested and interrogated by the police, and that doesn't necessarily reflect the truth.
What they say is that the following are amongst some of the reasons for these attacks: that there is a perception that foreigners are responsible for the high levels of crime; that foreigners take up jobs that should be reserved for South Africans; that South African businesses, primarily within in the informal settlements, are not profitable due to foreign-owned businesses offering products at lower prices and remaining open for longer hours; that foreign-owned businesses trade in stolen and counterfeit goods, thus allowing them to sell their goods cheaper; that the RDP houses are being allocated to foreign nationals by corrupt municipal and other officials; that foreign nationals are accessing social services, social grants, health care, and so on; and that local South African women prefer foreign nationals as they are able to spend more money on them than the locals do. [Laughter.]
Now, I am talking here about people who have been arrested because they had been involved in the violence and when the matter was raised as to why they attacked those people, they said that these were the reasons.
The fact of the matter is that we have to attend to all of these matters – whatever their truth or otherwise – so that no-one uses these as reasons to engage in unacceptable behaviour. Again, it is clear that we have to continue addressing the socioeconomic challenges as part of an all-round response. Indeed, in many areas affected by these attacks, it is clear that competition for resources such as housing, entrepreneurship and employment has been cited as the main reason for this unacceptable behaviour.
Further, it is also clear that these attacks were in many instances perpetrated by criminal elements, at times using the reasons given above to engage in criminal activities. In this regard we must reiterate that whatever grievances any South African may have, this cannot be any justification to murder, pillage, or destroy property.
We are, indeed, investigating all of these matters, taking into account that each area affected has specific attributes that should be dealt with in their particular region. When this work has been completed, we will ensure that the lessons from this experience are communicated to the public. It is better for all of us to ensure that it does not recur.
Let me mention, for instance in this regard, some of the Somali traders have been saying to us that perhaps one of the things that needs to happen, is that there needs to be better regulation of the opening of the small spaza shops. In their experience, sometimes you get too big a concentration of spaza shops in an area and that, because of the intensity of the business competition, you then get this kind of consequence. Let's regulate this better – I am saying that some of the Somali traders are saying that – so that you are able to have small shops there which reflect the size of the market.
Of course, we are quite determined to ensure that the perpetrators of the violence are dealt with, and therefore special courts are being set up to speed up the prosecution of these people. Work is continuing to ensure that those temporary camps are properly equipped and everything else, so that, as much as possible, the people who are displaced are treated in as humane a manner as possible.
In that regard, I must thank all of the organisations of civil society that have participated in this process. In a sense what has happened raises, very sharply, these questions about social cohesion in our society.
Maybe the last thing I should say is that in the interaction of our officials with, for instance, the people who are at the Acacia camp in Pretoria, the message that has come from those people is that the attacks took them by surprise, because they had never sensed that there was any sense of hostility or antagonism between themselves and the communities within which they lived. So when this thing came, it came quite out of the blue, because the communities in which they live had never demonstrated any sense of xenophobia.
We always need to insist that what has happened in practice has in fact, whatever the correctness or otherwise of the reasons that had been stated by the people who have been arrested, opened a chance for looters and criminals. That really has been the focus of the attacks on the foreigners – to go for property. Indeed, many communities – the Zimbabwean community in Mamelodi for instance – are saying that they don't have any fear that they are going to be attacked, because their community is poor and has no property to loot. Indeed, no foreigners have been attacked in Mamelodi. It is, I think, critically important to focus on this matter of ensuring that the criminal elements in our ranks don't hide behind these notions in order to carry out the criminal activities which they have carried out. Thank you.
Mr L M GREEN: Allow me first, Madam Speaker, to thank the Presidency for organising this national tribute - in remembrance of victims of attacks on foreign nationals and South Africans - happening next Thursday. I think it is necessary that we, as South Africans, collectively express our remorse for the attacks on our fellow African brothers and sisters.
My follow-up question relates to the timing. The President indicated that it started on 11 May and that there was then a ministerial task team on 14 May, but the public impression is that it took government a very long time to respond. My question is: does it take government about 10 days, almost two weeks, to respond to a national crisis and are there any mechanisms in place right now to ensure that government would respond promptly if something like this should happen again? Thank you.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: I have heard this before and to tell you the truth, hon Green, I haven't quite understood what that meant. The first government response, and it was immediate, was to intervene through the police to stop the violence. It didn't take 10 days.
I don't know why the police would not be counted as part of the government. [Applause.] You can ask the hon Charles Nqakula here. The matter was acted upon very quickly to say that these things are happening and that we have to respond with the necessary speed. I must say that, even with regard to Johannesburg, the Metro Police, and the municipality, also responded with very good speed. I don't accept this idea that there was some delay and government was paralysed and didn't know what to do. It is incorrect.
There are some matters that didn't prove very easy. For instance, as you are aware, people ran to the police stations, which is quite natural and, of course, police stations don't have accommodation for that kind of person. So you couldn't very well drive these people away to somewhere else; you had to arrange as to where they would go. Obviously that could not be done overnight. Indeed, there would be a delay about that; about the resettling of people wherever.
So I don't know. As soon as we had a clearer picture of the displacement of people, people immediately got together at the disaster management centre and stayed in contact, served within the task team and got into contact with the provinces to do all of the detailed work that was necessary. They asked: What resources do we need in order to deal with this? This is the size of the problem; this is where it is; what do we do?
I think with regard to this argument about a delayed response, you would have to tell me what the delay was. What was it that was done on Tuesday that could have been done on Monday? Then one could deal with it, but it is this general statement that I don't think is correct. It doesn't help us to solve this problem.
You know we have communities, hon Green. The whole disaster management system, the Gauteng province and the ministerial task team identify a location, for example, Midrand in Gauteng, where we can put a temporary shelter. Fine, the problem that arises then is that the communities around there object and say, "Don't bring these people here." But where should we take them? "Take them anywhere you like, but not here!" So, you then have to engage those communities in a discussion to get them to agree to move. Indeed, you may not have been able to set up the tents on Monday – not because you didn't want to, but because you had to respond to what the communities say.
I am saying that, as you can see, the charge of an unduly delayed response on the part of the government would have to be stated in more specific terms.
Did the police move too late? Starting with the attacks that took place in Atteridgeville in Ga-Rankuwa, was it possible for government to respond earlier? I don't think so. Why is "police response" not "government response"? Whose response is it if it is not government's response? It is government's response. It had to be the first step to say let's stop people being killed and attacked. That is the first thing, before you ask where you can settle them. Thank you.
Mr W J SEREMANE: I concede that this xenophobic issue is a complex one, but despite that, I feel that it is proper also to look at it from another angle: that of reintegrating the victims of xenophobia. In the light of that I want to ask how much thought has been given to this matter; has it also been assessed by the relevant authorities and state organs? If that has been done, is the situation being monitored consistently until normality is restored?
Secondly, you hinted about the prosecutions. I would like to have more clarity on whether or not perpetrators of these attacks have been identified. If so, have they been prosecuted or arrested? I thank you.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Madam Speaker, with regard to the second part of the hon Seremane's question, he might want to pose that question to the Minister of Safety and Security and discuss it with him in detail. Indeed, people have been arrested. People have been charged and some of the charges are: assault with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm; common robbery; armed robbery; arson; housebreaking; public violence; attempted murder; malicious damage to property; intimidation; and so on. And there are specific numbers of people who have been charged with those various offences.
Another challenge that we face is the number of bodies in the mortuaries in these areas of conflict. For instance, probably a week ago the position was that the bodies that were collected in the mortuaries in the areas affected by this violence were actually mostly those of South Africans. We had 21 South Africans, five Zimbabweans, 10 Mozambicans, one Somali and 25 unknown. Whether all of these deaths were as a result of the violence or some other criminal offence is amongst the things that need to be established.
Part of the problem that the police are facing with regard to this is that among the dead are people who are called "undocumented". Here is somebody who is dead. You take the fingerprints, but there is no record in the South African system as to who it might be. So you have to go around the particular townships and informal areas and ask if anybody can recognise the person. The body was picked up here, but who is this person? It is complicated work, but it has to be done. That is part of the reality.
Yes, certainly, people have been arrested and people have been charged. To speed up the process rather than feed them into the normal court process, it was thought that to communicate a strong message against these attacks, these special courts would be needed.
You are quite correct, hon Seremane, that one of the critical matters that we are attending to and monitoring is this issue of reintegration. With regard to that, I must say, that we do have some very good examples of something that we keep discussing. This is the matter of uniting our people to act in pursuit of important national objectives. For example, if you go to Diepsloot, you see the people in the communities are organising themselves and asking: "Can these people who were displaced from our areas please come back? We have had no fight with them. There is no hostility towards them. Whoever attacked them, it wasn't one of us. It is not us as a community." You get a community response. You get a municipal response, a provincial response and a national response. Indeed that process of reintegration is taking place and it is a critical part of this.
We are interested in making sure that we don't create semipermanent, exclusive encampments of foreigners because that would encourage hostility towards them. Some of them are saying that the sooner they return to where they come from, the better, particularly given that some of them were really taken completely by surprise. There had never been any tension between them and the communities within which they live. Yes, the integration process is taking place and it is an important part of this. We are indeed monitoring this and trying to move it forward, as quickly as we can.
Mr M H HOOSEN: Hon President, I am sure that it was a very difficult time for you, having to deal with these xenophobic attacks. I therefore want to thank you for your efforts. I have this saying: The more you do, the more trouble you will get into. So thank you for the trouble you got into. Hon President, in the aftermath of these attacks, I am confident that you will agree with me that the education of our communities is a priority, if we want to prevent this from happening in future. As the ID we have called on all leaders to ban the use of this word "makwerekwere" from our vocabulary. This word really only serves to divide our people further and does nothing for unity. I want to ask the hon President if he would also add his voice to this campaign to ban and forbid the use of this word and to classify the use thereof as hate speech. Thank you, Madam Speaker.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Yes, Madam Speaker, obviously this matter of the education of our communities is important. I think we must take certain things into account. Let me tell the hon member a story. Some people – South Africans - organised a meeting in Hammanskraal in the middle of all this violence and said, "Away with these foreigners", and for the reasons I read out earlier. They said they were thieves and this, that and the other. And it was the community that said: "If you don't stop talking that nonsense, we will beat you up. These people have never done anything. We live with them here very well and there is not going to be any such thing here in Hammanskraal. If you continue with that campaign of yours, we will beat you up." And so Hammanskraal had no such problem.
The reason I mention this, hon member, is because, as I was trying to say earlier, it is important to understand properly what the real causes of this thing were. If we identify the causes wrongly, we will provide solutions which won't solve the problem. Sure, we have to educate the communities, as you indicated, against xenophobia. That is very important.
We must also take into account that the people who killed and burned others, are people who acted with criminal intent. They might hide their criminality behind the issue about the foreigners, this and that and the other. It is important to deal with this.
I do not know when the hon member got to learn of this word "makwerekwere". [Interjections.] In the Home Affairs committee? Ok! [Laughter.] Yes well, this word has been in currency among the African communities ever since Inkosi Buthelezi was a 10-year old. [Laughter.] It didn't pop up now. It is an old word. You don't use it and you are not supposed to use it in the presence of the foreigners, you use it when they are not there. [Laughter.] It is not a good word. Where you have that expression now, it would be wrong to conclude that it is an expression of xenophobia. It is not. It has been around, I think, since the mines were opened and migrant labour came from around the region. It derives from an ethnic group in Zimbabwe, the Makorekore. It was translated as "makwerekwere". It did not result in attacks on foreign nationals. The portfolio committee might indeed discuss it, but I think we have got to go a bit deeper than that to deal with this. It may be that you can try, hon member, to attempt to forbid the name. I am not sure that you will succeed, but the use of the name itself hasn't historically produced these attacks on foreign nationals. I agree that it is not a good word. It should be stopped.
The Batswana in Botswana have an expression for Tswana-speaking South Africans, who come and stay in Botswana. They call them "batla ka sepore", those who come by rail. [Laughter.] You can go and tell the Batswana to stop using that word, but I doubt if they will stop it.
Mr G D SCHNEEMAN: Thank you, Madam Speaker. Whilst there were a minority of people who were engaged in these unacceptable acts of violence, the goodwill shown and expressed by the majority of South Africans needs to be recognised. I would also like to concur with the comments that the President has made about the community of Diepsloot as it's part of the area where I do constituency work. My particular question to the President would be: What more can we do as South Africans to prevent such incidents from happening again?
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: I think the point that was raised by the hon Seremane concerning the issue of reintegration is important. We really have to push that, so that we do not have, as a kind of semipermanent feature of our country, these isolated communities of foreign nationals. The point that was made about the education of communities is also important; that is the issue about the mobilisation of communities to say that foreign nationals should come back and that those communities would protect them because there was never any fighting amongst them.
The work should be focused on those sorts of areas and it would be an important part of ensuring that this thing doesn't recur. We should also focus on attending to these other issues that are raised, some of which are legitimate, of people who come into the country illegally and then they get employed as they will accept rates of pay that South African workers wouldn't accept. They have to accept them because they are in a desperate situation. That results then in people saying: You are accepting low rates of pay and therefore keeping out South African workers.
That is something that we have to attend to. It is not the fault of the foreigners. It is the fault of our system. On the matter raised by the Somali traders - that we should not allow a situation where you get an oversupply of small shops in local areas - inevitably, that is going to result in conflict. We have seen that happen for instance with regard to the taxi conflicts. It is the same issue where there is insufficient regulation; you get particular routes oversupplied with taxis and it results in this kind of conflict. I think those are the specific matters that we need to attend to so that indeed, as you indicated, hon member, we don't allow this thing to recur.
Government's stance iro meeting on global food crisis held at Food and Agriculture Organisation of UN
8. Mr F T Maserumule (ANC) asked the President of the Republic:
How does the Government assess the current offer from the developed world to agriculture in light of the past meeting on the global food crisis at the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN? NO1713E
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Madam Speaker, I presume that the hon member is referring here to the agreement reached in Rome at the Food and Agriculture Organisation, FAO, summit, rather than the matter of offers from the developed countries. So, in broad terms, the agreement reached at the conference of the FAO consists of immediate initiatives for food aid as well as medium- to long-term strategies to improve agricultural production.
Of critical importance is the challenge to transform the structure of the world economy to enable higher levels of production by African farmers and access to their products, especially of the developed world. These are matters that are being discussed at the WTO.
The agreement also calls for increased financial support for the UN food emergency, security programmes and budgetary support directly to countries in need or those countries that have requested such assistance. According to the agreement this should be done through reviewing debt servicing and balance-of-payment support for imports; supporting the FAO-led initiative to improve production and productivity of small farmers through, for example, making available appropriate seeds; supporting people-centred, pro-poor policies for improvement of livelihoods and increased investment in agriculture; and increasing research in agricultural technologies and making such research available to all countries.
The agreement is consistent with the approach of our government and the call that was made by our Deputy President, who represented South Africa at this summit, for more support to the Nepad programme on agriculture, namely the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme; for more development assistance for research and the need to help decrease import bills in developing countries; as well as increased financial assistance to multilateral organisations such as the FAO.
In general, if this agreement is implemented, the right to food will be realised and the goal of feeding the hungry will not be so elusive. However, as we know, whether developed countries will fully respond to this injunction is a matter that we cannot guarantee. As an example, the current delay in the resolution of the impasse in the Doha Round, as we have just discussed, does demonstrate the kind of difficulties we face in trying to promote a fairer and just world trade regime.
It is important to note that the current food crisis does, again as we said earlier, provide opportunities and ideal conditions for farmers throughout the world, particularly African farmers, for increased productivity and production beyond a subsistence level.
The challenge that we face is how to take advantage of that opportunity. And at the same time, we should remember that trade subsidies and import tariffs of developed countries make this difficult.
Yet, the elements of the agreement reached in Rome are in essence not difficult to implement. The challenge is whether the developed countries, which have among themselves more than enough resources and capacity to address the food crisis fully and successfully, would have the political will to work together with the FAO and the developing countries to implement the agreement. Thank you.
Mr V G SMITH: Thank you, Mr President, for your response. We also agree that there can't be any guarantee that the developed world would honour the agreement.
In recognition of the challenges that you alluded to, in the Maputo Declaration the African heads of state resolved to allocate about 10% of their national budgets to the departments of agriculture in the various countries so that they can implement sound agricultural and rural development policies as part of solving this problem.
In our own country the budget of the Department of Agriculture is currently less than 1% of the total Budget. So could the President elaborate on the measures the South African government is taking or has taken to ensure that South Africa becomes self-sustainable with regard to food security, over and above the Doha negotiations that we spoke about earlier on and the fact that there's no guarantee that the developed world will meet the agreement? Thank you very much.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Madam Speaker, the hon Mr Smith is correct in what he says about the decisions that were taken by the AU summit when it met in Maputo with regard to this 10% budget allocation. That decision was taken and that decision remains the decision of the AU. However, when the matter was then discussed - this came out of a process that was led by the African Ministers of agriculture, working together with the FAO, etc – and presented to the Ministers of finance on the continent, it brought back the challenges that we face. The Ministers of finance said that, indeed, this was a very good decision. However, it means taking resources from somewhere else, because there was no spare money available somewhere to provide this 10% of the budget.
Now, should we move money from education or water or somewhere else in order to finance agriculture? I'm mentioning this to indicate that the matter is a challenge. Everybody recognises the importance of agriculture and the need to deploy these kinds of resources to agriculture. But where are the resources, particularly given that many African countries depend, in excess of 50% of their budgets, on donor support? And in many instances donor support is targeted: "We are going to give you this money to spend on education." You can't divert it to agriculture. So there is a remaining challenge.
With regard to our situation, yes indeed, the hon member would understand that this 10% issue is an aggregate figure that was given. The sorts of resources that would have to be given from country to country would vary, and indeed I would imagine that in the South African case in all likelihood you would not require that 10%, you would require something lower.
We have – I'm quite certain you know this – already taken a number of decisions together with commercial agriculture really to beef up and make sure that we further develop the agricultural sector to address this matter of food security and self-sufficiency.
So, there is that common agreement strategy between government and the commercial sector which we'll continue to review. Even in our last working group meeting we came back to this matter to ask what it is that we should do. Indeed, if there is enough time – if you were to pose this question on another occasion, hon member – we will give a detailed response as to what we are doing.
Regarding the commitment that we have made as government together with the private sector, we need to do something special about agriculture. We need to increase self-sufficiency in food and in a sense to reverse what has happened, where we have become an importer of food. We have to address the matters about food security and deal with issues about the proper utilisation of land in the former homeland areas – matters that the hon Buthelezi has been raising for some years. We can give a detailed account on that.
Indeed, this would then have to be reflected in the budget allocations to make sure that that programme succeeds. Thanks, Madam Speaker. [Applause.]
Dr A I VAN NIEKERK: Hon Speaker, I thank the hon President for his reply. I would like to pursue this matter a bit further in terms of the global food crisis that we are experiencing.
In the light of this global food crisis, sir, it is a fact that South Africa's food security position has shifted from a net exporter of food to a net importer of food. This is quite alarming to some extent, but it can be rectified.
I would like to know what actions we are taking to rectify this position and increase food production in South Africa, in addition to that which is being offered by the international world. Is the government, for instance, by any chance considering to develop the approximately 1 000 000 ha of high-potential land on our eastern shores, which stretches from the Kei River to Swaziland and at present represents 30% of our arable land but produces only 4% of South Africa's saleable agricultural products?
This land has the potential – and this has been well-researched and documented – to double South Africa's food production in a very short time. I think this is something we would have to look at, Mr President. Does government have plans in this regard?
If you look at Umzimvubu River, which runs to the sea and is the third largest river in the country, there are 300 ha of irrigatable land that lies fallow, waiting to be developed. I know that there are problems, but do we contemplate bringing that side of agriculture into production so that we can have better food security?
That's also the area where the poorest people in South Africa live. So this would automatically bring major development. I'd like to hear your comments on this, Mr President.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: I must thank the hon Kraai van Niekerk for providing a bit more detail to what I've just said to hon Smith.
It is precisely what I was saying. We have to deal with the problem that he has raised, of our being a net importer of food. I also said that among other things, we've got to attend to these parts of our country where the land is underutilised. This includes the former homeland areas and the areas that Dr Van Niekerk is talking about. He talked about the Umzimvubu River, and he is quite correct; and there are practical programmes that we have agreed on with regard to this. I must say that the big champion with regard to these same areas and the issue of the waters that flow into the Indian Ocean, has been Deputy Minister Dirk du Toit, championing the same areas.
Indeed, yes, let's have these practical programmes to catch some of this water, precisely for the purpose of irrigation that hon Van Niekerk talks about. Indeed, hon Van Niekerk, that is what I was talking about when I said that the strategic approach that we have agreed on regarding what to do further to improve and expand the size of the agricultural sector, includes exactly these areas and the sorts of interventions that you are talking about. They are very much part of the programme. Thanks, Madam Speaker.
Dr R RABINOWITZ: Hon President, in April 2008, an international group of independent multistakeholders, known as the International Association of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development, met in Johannesburg where it held its final intergovernmental plenary. Their main objective was to look at current technology and agricultural policies, in view of their response to food shortages, rural poverty, biodiversity and health.
In the synthesis report the body claimed that genetically modified organisms will not solve the food problems of the world. And this happens to be one of the major avenues through which the developed world offers to assist the developing world. They also claimed that more attention should be given to organic agriculture and to traditional knowledge.
South Africa, as it happens, was not one of the signatories to the final report and the GMO multinationals walked out of the proceedings. One wonders, Mr President, what your feelings are about this report, about the arguments they make and what your response is in this regard. Thank you.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Madam Speaker, I must confess that this is the first time I hear about the report and the meeting. I really would not be in a position to comment on it, because I didn't hear about this or see the report to which the hon member is referring.
It might be useful to look at it, but certainly in this country, we've never argued that the only intervention that is needed in order to address matters of food security is to resort to GMOs. So, I'm quite sure that a conclusion would not come as a surprise to us. Indeed, we've also never said anything negative about organic agriculture and respect for traditional methods.
I would imagine, that as with many other questions, these issues would require a multifaceted response, not a one-tracked one. But I would certainly appreciate having a look at that report. I'll ask the Minister for Agriculture, and if she doesn't have it I'll ask the hon Rabinowitz, so that we can look at those conclusions.
Indeed, we would have to study them, but I really do doubt that, as I was saying with regard to other question, you can't solve any issue just by looking at one track. I would suspect that you need many sources of interventions to address this matter. Thank you.
Receipt of letter from leader of Movement for Democratic Change in Zimbabwe
9. The Leader of the Opposition (DA) asked the President of the
(1) Whether he has received a letter from the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change in Zimbabwe dated 13 May 2008; if so,
(2) whether he will make a statement on the contents of the letter; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details? NO1704E
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Madam Speaker, the answer to this question about whether we received a letter from the leader of the MDC is: No, we haven't. And whether we would make a statement on the contents: No, we won't, because we don't have the letter. Thank you, Madam Speaker. [Applause.]
The LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION PARTY: Perhaps, Mr President, you have the same trouble with the post office as Amazon.com. [Laughter.]
If you haven't got the letter I will give you a copy, which we have. [Laughter.] The issues there are very much the ones that are still relevant today. I would therefore ask you, Mr President, if you will answer what emanated from the letter, but it need not be just related to the letter. And that is, given the decision of the MDC to withdraw their candidate from tomorrow's presidential run-off election as a result of the systemic violence and intimidation of ordinary Zimbabweans by Zanu-PF - as was confirmed by the United Nations Security Council resolution, with South Africa's concurrence - will you give this House the categorical assurance that South Africa will not recognise the results of tomorrow's illegitimate election; that you will decline to recognise Robert Mugabe as the next President of Zimbabwe; and that you will act diplomatically to isolate the illegitimate Mugabe government; if not, why not? [Applause.]
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Madam Speaker, I do not know if the hon Leader of the Official Opposition has been asked by the MDC to serve as their postwoman. [Laughter.]
So, I don't know, she is offering to give me a letter which she was not given by the MDC and claims that it's from the MDC. That is why I am asking: Did the MDC say "Here is our letter, hand it over". Of course they didn't. So she shouldn't offer to be a spokesperson or a postwoman.
When we had a debate on the Budget Vote of the Presidency, the hon Deputy Chief Whip of the Majority Party raised an important question which I thought all of us understand by now, but clearly we don't. We have been asked by the SADC region to conduct a process that will facilitate an agreement among the Zimbabwean parties. The hon Leader of the Official Opposition refers to the Security Council's Presidential Statement and that statement refers to that facilitation.
What we have to do is indeed to encourage the parties in Zimbabwe to reach the agreement that is necessary. We continue to engage in that process. As I speak here, our delegation is in Zimbabwe engaging the leaders of Zimbabwe with regard to this matter. That is what we have to do.
The hon Andries Nel addressed this matter when we discussed it, just to give an indication of what it means to carry out a responsibility of this kind, which was originally given by SADC, but was confirmed even earlier this week by the United Nations Security Council – the same position taken by the African Union. That is a task to which we must attend. Anything and everything we do has to focus on that because that is what we are about, what the facilitation is about, what this region is asking for, and what the Security Council is asking for - that the Zimbabweans must arrive at a position from which, together, they can address the political and economic challenges that the country faces. [Interjections.]
You know, hon Tony Leon, that the reason we negotiated in South Africa, we sat and negotiated for a number of years and reached an agreement, was precisely because people were being killed. They were even being killed during the course of the negotiations. We had to suspend negotiations at least twice because of that. De Klerk is white, Mugabe is black, surely they are not the same. The one is this side, the other one is that side. I don't know! [Interjections.]
The reason people negotiate is because they are at war. If they were not at war they would not need to negotiate. So, hon Leader of the Official Opposition, that is what we will do. We will continue to discharge the obligation that has been put to us. We have been asked if we could please lead this process and we will continue to do that. Hopefully the Zimbabweans, with such assistance as we can extend to them, will arrive at an agreement which will produce the kind of Zimbabwe that all of us want. [Applause.]
Mr S J NJIKELANA: President, have other political parties provided you with any proposition with a viable solution? I ask this question for the following reasons: Firstly, history has proven that it is only indigenous endeavours towards a negotiated settlement, as opposed to hostile and politically bankrupt options - as is currently promoted by the opposition - that have brought viable political solutions. Some of these include nonstarter military action or intervention.
Secondly, notwithstanding the current crisis in Zimbabwe, there has been progress stemming from the sterling work done by the President, as mandated by SADC. Among other things, we have seen the improvement of the constitution as well as the elections in March, which were preceded by electoral reforms.
Lastly, mediation in essence is about balancing the interests and perceptions of parties in conflict, as well as managing the sensitivities, with the ultimate aim of facilitating and not imposing a settlement. Thank you.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: I must say, hon Njikelana, indeed this is part of the question that we pose. As you would expect, many people speak to us and they say do this, that or the other. We continue to pose the question: Can you please give us some suggestions as to what else we might do that will produce a solution?
An HON MEMBER: Neem sterk standpunt in! [Take a strong stance!]
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: And we don't get an answer to that question. [Interjections.] We, however, remain convinced, hon member, that there can be no solution to the problems of Zimbabwe, without the agreement of the political leaders of Zimbabwe.
Nobody is going to impose any solution on them, so centrally important to anything that has got to happen there is to encourage these leaders of Zimbabwe to come to an agreement about all of the matters that face their country. [Interjections.] As I was saying, hon member, we will continue to do that, because in reality there is no other way forward, except for that kind of agreement. In much the same way as there was no way forward out of our own crisis, without the agreement of our own people. Zimbabweans are no different from us. We would indeed appreciate any suggestions that are made.
An HON MEMBER: Neem standpunt in![Take a stance!]
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: This would help us to expedite the process of the leaders of Zimbabwe agreeing on what to do about their country. Thank you, Madam Speaker. [Applause.]
Mr M A MNCWANGO: Madam Speaker, one would have expected the President to have been part of the meeting of the SADC security troika, which took place in Swaziland recently to discuss, among other things, the serious political and security crisis in Zimbabwe.
Given the central role that the hon President plays as a mediator, would the President care to share with us the reason or reasons why he didn't attend such a critically important meeting? Also, given the results of the election in Zimbabwe on 29 March 2008, when the MDC defeated ZANU-PF by a clear majority in the vote for parliamentary seats and became the majority party in parliament, and with Morgan Tsvangirai's victory over Mr Robert Mugabe in the presidential election, on what basis, Mr President, does the South African government continue to refer to Mr Morgan Tsvangirai as the leader of the opposition and Mr Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF regime as the governing party of Zimbabwe, when they have already been defeated in the first election? [Applause.]
An HON MEMBER: Well done!
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Madam Speaker, the issue of Zimbabwe is obviously - and all of us agree on this - a very serious matter indeed, and I really do wish people would treat it seriously. [Interjections.]
An HON MEMBER: Hoor wie praat! [Look who's talking!]
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Now, the SADC troika, the troika of the organ dealing with politics, security and defence, is made up of Angola, Swaziland and Tanzania. Those are the members of the troika; South Africa is not a member of the troika. It was precisely because of that. Also, the Chair of the troika, Angola, did not attend the meeting, which is why it was held in Swaziland, because Swaziland is the Deputy Chair.
His Majesty, King Mswati III, called me twice and spoke to me about the meeting. He didn't invite us, because we are not members of the troika. He called me twice after the meeting to brief me about its outcome. He didn't invite us, wasn't expecting us, and I'm not quite sure why you would suggest that we should have been there. [Laughter.]
As the hon Mncwango would imagine, the discussions that are taking place relating to the way forward in Zimbabwe must indeed respect the outcome of the 29 March elections. I am quite sure the hon Mncwango would expect that to be the case, and it is the case. So I want to allay his fears that there is anybody who is in any way trying to detract from the critical importance and relevance of the outcome of the 29 March elections with regard to whatever else might happen in Zimbabwe in the future. There is nobody who is suggesting that the results of these elections should be ignored.
I am quite sure that the hon Mncwango knows that as of now the House of Assembly has 99 MDC Tsvangirai members, 97 Zanu-PF members, 10 MDC Mutambara members and one Independent. They have not been sworn in and the reason they have not been sworn in is because, according to the constitution of Zimbabwe, the members of parliament would be sworn in after the President has been elected. That is what the constitution says and that is why they have not been sworn in.
An HON MEMBER: Within 21 days!
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: That is how their House of Assembly is constituted. There are three outstanding seats, because the candidates in those seats died before the elections were held, so they are going to have three by-elections. They are supposed to take place tomorrow. That is how that House is constituted and that will indicate some of the challenges, because none of the parties has an outright majority in that House of Assembly.
The elected members of the Senate are 30 Zanu-PF senators, 24 MDC Tsvangirai senators, and 6 MDC Mutambara senators. Its 30:30. Now the constitution of Zimbabwe, very much like our own here, says that the President ceases to be President when he or she hands over power to the newly-elected President. I am mentioning these things, hon M Mncwango, because I am saying that all of us agree that the Zimbabwe matter is serious. Therefore I think we need to deal with it seriously.
Familiarity with all of these details, which is important, would give you some indication of what the leaders of Zimbabwe have to do to address what is, in fact, a complex matter in order to arrive at a stable solution that is going to take their country forward. I am glad to say that at least the leaders of Zimbabwe are approaching this matter in that way. Thank you.
Dr S E M PHEKO: Mr President, I hope my question qualifies as a follow-up. The SADC countries mandated you to mediate in Zimbabwe. Was it right for your mediation efforts to co-exist with sanctions imposed by Britain and America? Sanctions on developing countries are the worst form of violence and genocide.
In our opinion, stability will come to Zimbabwe through peaceful means, not through bullies and warmongers, whose people are not suffering or dying in Zimbabwe. Thank you. [Applause.]
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Madam Speaker, the hon Pheko, I am sure, you will be aware of the fact that the SADC summit in March last year, which took the decision to ask us to carry out this facilitation role, did indeed ask for the lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe. That hasn't happened, but that was the view of SADC and it hasn't changed.
Hopefully the agreement that we hope is going to come from the leaders of Zimbabwe about their country would then also create the conditions for those sanctions to be lifted. It is indeed a very important element in terms of what needs to be done to address the challenge of the economic recovery of Zimbabwe and to impact positively on the lives of the people.
What I am saying is that, given the actuality, the reality of the situation that we face, my own view is that this matter of sanctions will only be addressed in the aftermath of an agreement that the Zimbabwean leaders might arrive at. Thank you.
Government's role in fostering social cohesion and the creation of a caring society
10. Mr H P Maluleka (ANC) asked the President of the Republic:
What is the Government doing to mobilise all sectors of the society in pursuit of the goal of fostering social cohesion and the creation of a caring society?
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Madam Speaker, the promotion of social cohesion and the creation of a caring society have indeed been and continue to be areas of priority focus for the government. A critical part of this relates to the responsibility of government to spearhead the transformation of society. It includes the following: a social and economic development agenda, especially the eradication of poverty; increasing our rates of economic growth; the elimination of inequality; and ensuring equitable access to social and economic resources for all South Africans.
In this regard, through the Budget Vote debates, the Presidency and the Ministers have accounted to the House on the ongoing measures aimed at ensuring shared economic growth and the acceleration of and improvement of the efforts towards the achievement of the goal of a better life for all.
Indeed, part of the challenge to foster social cohesion is that the economy of our country should be owned, controlled and managed by all sectors in all sections of the South African nation. This means that we should improve the pace and quality of the delivery of services in a manner that is befitting of and addresses the issue of human dignity. This challenge also relates to the need to interact continually with communities in various ways - such as through the izimbizo programme, the Presidential Working Groups, Nedlac and so on - in order to forge the partnerships that we need and that are critical to the achievement of the goal of social cohesion.
Furthermore, government has undertaken various campaigns working with structures of civil society in order to promote value systems of a caring and tolerant society and to improve the moral and ethical behaviour of all South Africans. These campaigns are done in collaboration with institutions such as those representing the faith communities and other structures of civil society.
I am referring here also to such issues as the Moral Regeneration Movement, the National Anti-Corruption Campaign and other campaigns focusing on various forms of crime, drug and alcohol abuse, and women and child abuse. And, indeed, as the hon member knows, these are carried out not only at national but also at provincial and local government levels.
We have also been very pleased with the initiative taken by the Minister of Education for all of us to debate the matter of a pledge to be taken by learners. Indeed, we believe this must apply to more than just the learners because it assists us to define ourselves and to say what it is that unites us as a nation. Clearly, we have to continue to address these matters in our educational curricula to see to what extent they contribute to all of this.
A matter, which is going to arise just now, about geographic and place names is one of these matters, again, which continues to be an area that we should attend to in order to address the matter of national and social cohesion. There are also other programmes, for instance those directed at young people, such as the National Youth Service and those for the encouragement of sports activities, which are also very important in this regard.
In short, this challenge of the creation of a caring society cuts across all government programmes and is demonstrated through such programmes as service delivery around housing, electricity, water, and sanitation for the poor; indigent policies of the different spheres of government; social grants; the rolling out of health services to the poor; and special dispensations for children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with disabilities. All of these, and many others, are clear testimony to the fact that one of the central tasks of a democratic government is, and continues to be, the creation of a caring society.
In this regard, we need to emphasise that members and leaders of all the parties assembled here do indeed also have a responsibility to promote this social cohesion and ensure that together we do build a caring society.
The question that we must continue to pose to ourselves all the time is: As the collective leadership of this country, what are we ourselves doing, and are we doing enough, to mobilise all sectors of our population to foster that social cohesion, so that we join hands to build the caring society the hon Maluleke is addressing? Thank you.
Mr H P MALULEKA: Thank you for your response, Mr President. Taking into consideration the damage apartheid has caused our country and its people, the ANC appreciates the fact that a lot of success has been recorded since the dawn of our democracy. We acknowledge the fact that we still have some work to do.
We also believe that the building of social cohesion and the creation of a caring society are not single events. This is ongoing work that needs the collective effort of society as a whole and - as you rightly said, Mr President - of the political parties that are sitting in this House and not only government, because some parties in this House see this as the sole responsibility of the ANC-led government.
In the light of the coming elections, what advice would you give, Mr President, to parties in this House, because these are matters that have attracted a lot of political posturing in this House? Thank you.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Well, I would not be able to comment on what's been happening in the House. I had thought that the issues the hon member was raising about social cohesion, a caring society and so on were matters that are common, or should be common, to the agenda of all of the parties. I think that even if you take our Constitution, broadly speaking, that this is what it indeed seeks to do – that we should all of us build this kind of society.
When I saw the question, hon member, I was a bit worried about it, because it asked, "What is the government doing to mobilise all sectors of the society?" I was saying that, sure, government must do what it can, but this is a national challenge that faces not just government as, indeed, you say, hon member.
Really, I would hope that all of the parties in the House would see it as their responsibility also to foster that social cohesion – because what is it to build a united, democratic, nonracial South Africa if it is not to address these matters of social cohesion and the construction of a caring society. Hopefully, hon member, when it comes to the appeal you have just made to all the other parties in the House, they will respond to it positively. Thanks, Madam Speaker. [Applause.]
Mrs S V KALYAN: Thank you, Madam Speaker. Hon President, as the first citizen of our country you have the greatest responsibility to foster social cohesion and perpetuate a model to create a caring society. To achieve this, you have to portray values in line with transparency, accountability and clean governance.
In the light of this then, hon President, can you explain how your decision yesterday to extend the contract of suspended National Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi - a man charged with a variety of corruption charges – furthers the values, especially that of clean governance, and what message exactly you are sending out, or whether your decision was based clearly on being a caring friend, giving jobs to pals? [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: Hon member, you of course realise that that is a totally new question. However, the President is at liberty to comment.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Not only is it totally new, Madam Speaker - and I'm really, really surprised - but the hon member has made a determination that the courts have not made. The fact that somebody is charged in this country does not mean that that person is guilty. Now, we all like to refer to the principle of innocent until proven guilty, but the hon Kalyan clearly has already determined guilt in this case.
What happened, as I'm sure the hon member knows, is that the National Director of Public Prosecutions said a few months ago that they were going to arrest and charge the National Commissioner of Police. As we had agreed with him, he needed to alert me to that because we also had to deal with matters that would impact on national security. Therefore we gave Jackie Selebi extended leave to allow for that court case and appointed an acting national commissioner.
That court case is outstanding. I do not know when it will be heard. The issue that then arose concerned his contract, obviously. Indeed, the hon member is quite right: We have extended it for a year. We have not, unfortunately, come to the determination that the hon member has arrived at, that because National Commissioner Jackie Selebi is charged, he is guilty and therefore that it is incorrect to extend his contract. [Interjections.]
So, no, we are not going to proceed on the presumption of guilt in this or any other case. We'll continue to respect the principle that people are innocent until proven guilty. Thanks, Madam Speaker. [Applause.]
Mr A M MPONTSHANE: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I'm pleased that the President has mentioned the education curriculum as one of the factors to foster social cohesion. In terms of this social cohesion, does the President believe that the preservation of a balanced history record does contribute to social cohesion? If so, how does the President view the current Grade 12 history book titled In Search of History, published by the Oxford University Press of South Africa, which distorts the role played and contribution made by the leader of the IFP in the liberation struggle in South Africa? I thank you.
The SPEAKER: Hon member, again, this is such a specific question that it is a totally different question. If you were raising the general principle, I would understand. However, again, the President is at liberty to reply.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: I must say thank you very much, Madam Speaker, to the hon member for suggesting that I must read this Grade 12 history book. I will, hon member. I haven't read it. I didn't know that it had references like that. I certainly will read it and maybe I can then tell you later what I think. [Applause.]
The SPEAKER: Hon De Lille? [Interjections.]
Mrs P DE LILLE: Stilte! [Silence!] [Laughter.] Madam Speaker, I agree with the President that we all have a responsibility. The Constitution places responsibility and obligations on both government and the opposition parties because poverty knows no political affiliation in our country. I think it is totally wrong for people just to dismiss everybody as not trying to build this social cohesion. We are trying, Mr President, in our own small ways.
Many a Minister here can attest to it that I have had meetings with many of them on many crucial issues in order to build that social cohesion. I think we must stop blaming and stop pointing fingers, and really get to a point where we can have a summit or sit down together with government and with the Ministers and work out the "how?" part. Because it is only once President Mbeki has challenged me: "Patricia, do this; Patriot Patricia, do this," and I'm not doing it that then they can say, "Mr President, they are not trying." Certainly, on the part of the ID, we are trying. Thank you.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: I must say she has spoken like a patriot, Madam Speaker. [Laughter.] This is very good. I'm really very glad to hear that. Perhaps in the context of the discussion that was agreed to which had been called for by the hon Holomisa, we can then do the work that the hon De Lille is proposing. I would also want to agree that we should recognise positive work that is being done by other people where this work is being done. But congratulations, hon De Lille, the patriot! [Laughter.] Thanks, Madam Speaker.
Implications of decision of eThekwini Metro Council to rename Mangosuthu highway
11. Mr M A Mncwango (IFP) asked the President of the Republic:
Whether, with reference to his reply to Question 9 for oral reply on 31 May 2007, the decision of the eThekwini Metro Council to rename Mangosuthu highway to Griffiths Mxenge, promotes reconciliation and nation-building; if so, how? NO1714E
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Madam Speaker, the purpose of reviewing geographic and place names is indeed to promote reconciliation and nation-building in our society. It is necessarily so that a process of renaming has to be inclusive and take into consideration the views of communities, including concerns that some of them may have.
As hon members are aware, the responsibility for street names and many local, geographic and other entities resides within the jurisdiction of the provincial and local governments. In taking these important decisions, these spheres of government are expected to be guided by the principles enshrined in the Constitution and relevant legislation. We do recognise that matters such as these do not necessarily lend themselves to consensual decision-making and will indeed generate intense debate. As such, those in possession of authority do carry the responsibility to ensure that their decisions reflect not only the views of the majority, but also evince reasonable levels of sensitivity and sensibility.
I am informed, hon member, that with regard to the specific question of the highway to which you refer, representatives of the ANC and the IFP in the eThekwini Council are interacting to try and find an amicable solution to this issue. We would want to encourage that. We therefore wish to call upon all of those entrusted with this responsibility of renaming streets and other geographical entities, the eThekwini Metropolitan Council included, to ensure that the decisions that they take indeed serve to achieve as much unity as possible.
In that spirit of inclusivity and nation-building, we would want to encourage representatives of the ANC and the IFP in the eThekwini Council to use the interactive meetings taking place between the two political parties to discuss this very issue of renaming streets in the metro and also to discuss the matter of the Mangosuthu Highway and see whether an amicable solution can be found. Thank you.
Mr M A MNCWANGO: Thank you, Mr President, for your response. I just want to preface my contribution, firstly, by saying that it is a pity that the President actually has not been given accurate information with regard to the interactions he is referring to between the two parties. As far as we are concerned, we are not aware of any discussions or meeting of any sort between the IFP and the ANC at whatever level with regard to this matter.
I do want to say, though, that arising from the President's comments, I would actually like to make a follow-up question and say that the President, in the course of his reply to my question last year, made a specific undertaking whereby he was going to dispatch two Ministers, the Minister of Arts and Culture and the Minister for Provincial and Local Government, to the eThekwini Municipality to mediate in the dispute because Cabinet was fully in agreement with us that the right processes had not been followed.
Would the hon President be able to tell us how far this mediation has progressed? Furthermore, we would also like to know when we can expect the Cabinet to table before the nation the proposals and guidelines on the street-renaming that was promised by the hon President during his reply on 21 May 2007.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: First of all, let me say thank you very much to the hon Mncwango for raising this matter about whether any discussions are in fact taking place. I was indeed informed, hon Mncwango, that there are such discussions as I have indicated. I will follow up on that matter because in any case that response was based on the recognition that there does need to be such interactions. I will certainly follow up on this because I had no reason not to believe what we were told in this regard.
Indeed, we discussed this matter of ministerial interaction, hon member. To some extent I was actually surprised that this matter came up again, because I had thought it would have set in place the processes which would assist the people in the eThekwini Municipality to resolve these matters. So, clearly, something didn't produce the results that were intended. So, we will have to go back to this matter.
With regard to the proposals from the Minister of Arts and Culture, I am not quite certain, to tell you the truth, as to how far we are with regard to the preparation of those proposals. I will have to check that with Minister Pallo Jordan. Thanks, Madam Speaker.
Mrs D VAN DER WALT: Hon President, the DA's position on renaming is committed to nation-building and we believe that South Africa should be shared by all our people. When we choose names that are aimed at reflecting our past histories, struggle and internal heroes, cultural, political and sporting icons, we should be choosing names that will truly seek to heal and unite communities rather than give offence to sections of the community or promote a single sector of the populace.
Currently in the eThekwini Council, by far, the overwhelming number of names recognises activists and members of a single political party only and originates from the headquarters of this political party. In fact, 126 of the 171 original names were proposed by the ANC region.
Madam Speaker, through you to the President, it has been a year since the last question - and Minister Mufamadi is never in the country anyway - will you therefore kindly agree to urgently intervene in the decisions being taken by the local structures in your party so that they would, and I quote from your answer on 31 May: "...not just deal with positions of dominant political formations." Thank you.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Madam Speaker, as I said to hon Mncwango just now, I will certainly follow up on this matter and even on the information we were given that an interaction was taking place to sort it out. As I said, it was based on the recognition of the need to do that interaction. So we will certainly continue to engage this matter, bearing in mind all of the challenges in this regard. One of the things, of course, that needs to be done is to respect what the law says with regard to all of this, but certainly we will continue to interact with the metro council to see how this matter can be resolved. Thanks.
Ms M L MATSEMELA: Mr President, national and social cohesion cannot be promoted by violent protests of interaction by supporters of political parties in pursuit of their demands. The ANC family believes that the issue of name-changes is a reality which must be dealt with according to the procedure you explained.
However, Mr President, what will your comment therefore be on the fact that all political parties have to deal with the issue responsibly and in a mature manner because the process of naming or renaming places, while it conforms to national legislation underpinning that process, will not be a perfect one, given our difficult past? I thank you.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: I cannot but agree with the hon member with regard to all of her observations. I think we have agreed before that, obviously, this is not a very easy matter. It naturally and necessarily raises all sorts of passions and indeed needs what she has called for - that it must be approached with a responsible attitude and in a mature manner. I really do want to agree fully with her with regard to all of those things, including the observation that she has made that certainly nobody should think that they have the right to resort to violent means in order to express their views and grievances and so on. That clearly is wrong. None of us can approve of that, and I am sure none of us do approve of that.
More generally, I think this is something that must be worrying all of us because there are too many of these kinds of instances where there are demonstrations of one kind or another that degenerate into this kind of violence, such as looting and breaking into of shops and all sorts of things. I think all of us must be worried. That must not become an entrenched part of the practise of political expression in this country. So I am sure that all of us here as leaders would want to make sure that we educate the people whom we lead and mobilise them away from resorting to violence in a democratic society. So surely we have to approach what is a sensitive matter with the sense of responsibility and maturity that the hon member indicates. Thanks, Madam Speaker.
Mr M W SIBUYANA: Madam Speaker, I just want to ask whether it is not our responsibility to conduct our issues in a manner which is not provocative because provocation is not an unlimited issue. People have the capacity to take it up to a certain extent. Is it not actually our responsibility to act in such a manner that will enumerate issues so that we can come to a conclusion which will actually enable us to be proud of our place?
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Hon Sibuyana has clearly spoken as the mature elder that he is. I think with regard to this whole issue, as the hon member was saying earlier, given our history, this is not an easy issue. So, quite obviously, as we approach it, we must indeed avoid acting in what he described as a provocative manner. It is very easy to say things and do things that come across as provocative. The point that was raised earlier is an example. One might think that a name like "makwerekwere" has been in such long usage that it is okay, but indeed it may very well be provocative. So I agree, hon member. But thank you very much for that piece of wisdom. Thanks a lot, Madam Speaker. [Applause.]
See also QUESTIONS AND REPLIES.
Business suspended at 16:03 and resumed at 16:17.
JOINT SITTING TO CELEBRATE DR NELSON MANDELA'S 90TH BIRTHDAY
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! I wish to announce that the Joint Sitting to celebrate the 90th birthday of Dr Nelson Mandela will begin at 9:30 tomorrow morning and not at 10:00 as it was previously announced. [Interjections.] No, there will be no breakfast.
SUSPENSION OF RULE 253(1)
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Madam Deputy Speaker, I move without notice:
That Rule 253(1), which provides inter alia that the debate on the Second Reading of a Bill may not commence before at least three working days have elapsed since the committee's report was tabled, be suspended for the purposes of conducting the Second Reading debates today on the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill [B10D – 2007] (National Assembly – sec 75), Air Services Licensing Amendment Bill [B 25B – 2008] (National Assembly – sec 75), South African National Space Agency Bill [B 20B – 2008] (National Assembly – sec 75)and Liquor Products Amendment Bill [B 22B – 2008] (National Assembly – sec 75).
WTO DOHA ROUND NEGOTIATIONS
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Madam Deputy Speaker, I move:
That the House–
(a) the possible convening in the near future of a Ministerial meeting aimed at reaching agreement on modalities on the main subjects on the agenda of the World Trade Organisation, WTO, Doha Round negotiations; and
(b) that the Doha Round is mandated to "place the needs and interests of developing countries at the heart of its work programme";
(2) further noting that–
(a) South Africa is particularly vulnerable in the industrial tariff (Non-Agricultural Market Access or Nama) negotiations because of the historical injustice that led to our country being classified as a developed country in the Uruguay Round negotiations;
(b) this means that South Africa's, and Sacu's, bound industrial tariffs are uniquely lower than would otherwise be the case, and that the application of a Swiss formula with low coefficients would therefore result in deep cuts in applied industrial tariffs on a scale greater than commitments that would be made by other WTO members in either Nama or agriculture; and
(c) in recognition of this, the Chair of the Nama negotiating group has proposed that South Africa be given additional flexibilities allowing an extra one to six per cent of tariff lines to be cut by less than the full formula cut;
(3) calls on our negotiators and WTO members in general to ensure –
(a) a balanced, fair and developmental outcome to the negotiations;
(b) the recognition that agriculture is the locomotive of the Round and that agriculture remains the sector most distorted to the disadvantage of developing countries, and that these distortions continue to impede an adequate production response to the current global food crisis and that therefore the commitments undertaken by developed countries in cutting export and production subsidies as well as providing new agricultural market access to developing countries will set the level of ambition of the round as a whole;
(c) comparability between the level of ambition in agriculture and Nama and respect for the principle of less than full reciprocity in reduction commitments made by developed and developing countries;
(d) a fair and reasonable set of obligations for developing countries taking formula cuts in NAMA that ensures that they retain policy space to promote industrial development; and
(e) adequate recognition for the specific situation of South Africa and Sacu, meaning –
(i) a reasonable coefficient that gives effect to the principle of less than full reciprocity in reduction commitments; and
(ii) additional flexibilities meaning that no less than an additional six per cent of tariff lines will be subject to less than the full formula cut to take account of the effects of South Africa's classification as a developed country in the Uruguay Round and the fact that its obligations will apply to all members of the customs union, Sacu, that includes three Small Vulnerable Economies and a Least Developed Country that would otherwise not be obliged to take formula cuts.
Consideration of request for approval of candidates recommended for appointment to council of independent communications authority of South Africa
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The question before the House is that Mr F K Sibanda, Ms N Batyi and Mr T Makhakhe be approved for appointment as councillors to fill vacancies on the Council of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa.
There was no debate.
Mr F K Sibanda, Ms N Batyi and Mr T Makhakhe were accordingly approved for appointment as councillors to fill vacancies on the Council of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa.
Question agreed to.
Consideration of legislative proposal to amend the broadcasting Act submitted by the portfolio committee on communications
Mr I VADI: Deputy Speaker, it is my pleasure to introduce this memorandum which aims to amend the Broadcasting Act, Act No 4 of 1999. The proposed committee Bill seeks to insert provisions in the Broadcasting Act which will allow for the removal of a member of the SABC Board by the President on the recommendation of the National Assembly and for the dissolution of the SABC Board itself, should it be necessary.
The rationale for this Bill can best be understood against the background of the recent unsatisfactory state of affairs at the SABC. The dysfunctionality of the board and the persistent conflicts between the board and the executive management have severely tarnished the image and reputation of the corporation in the eyes of the public.
The current Broadcasting Act has weaknesses in that it does not have an enabling mechanism either for the President of the country or the National Assembly to intervene when things go seriously wrong at the SABC.
The hon Minister of Communications pinpointed the problem in her recent budget speech when she said:
It is evident that both the executive and Parliament will have to review the legislative and appointing processes to ascertain whether this legislation, drawn up at a particular historical time, is relevant for our current historical conjuncture.
She added that –
The powers given to the appointing authority, the processes of appointing and removing board members, the Public Broadcaster's Charter, and the role of the executive and/or Parliament, clearly need reviewing, without sacrificing the broadcaster's independence but clarifying the nature, content and form of that independence.
She then invited the Portfolio Committee on Communications to look into this matter. The committee has taken up the invitation by the Minister to review the Broadcasting Act. It is with this in mind that the committee desires to introduce a committee Bill on the issue.
We trust that this House will grant permission to the committee to proceed with this matter today. Should that be the case, the committee will publish a Bill shortly, invite public comment on it and hold public hearings before considering and finalising the amendments.
The committee wishes to reassure the House that in spite of the limited time available in the next session of Parliament, a fully transparent and participative approach will be adopted when finalising the proposed amendments. The committee therefore strongly recommends that the National Assembly grants it permission to introduce a committee Bill. Thank you. [Applause.]
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Deputy Speaker, I move:
That the House gives its permission for the legislative proposal to be proceeded with.
Mrs S A SEATON: Madam Deputy Speaker, the IFP would like to make a declaration and call for a division on this issue.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The IFP is allowed to make a declaration.
Mrs S A SEATON: Thank you very much, Madam Deputy Speaker. On a point of process, the IFP is very unhappy about the way in which this matter has been dealt with. I was called out of another meeting on Tuesday, just before lunch, to attend a meeting because there was no quorum. The reason obviously was that the member representing my party wasn't there.
The items on the agenda that had been sent out did not include this issue at all. There was no mention of this matter on the agenda and therefore opposition parties obviously did not see it as essential to be there; the matters that were on the agenda were purely to look at the programme for the next term.
I raised this issue when this matter was put. I could see the concerns, but I believe there has been undue haste here. I don't believe that it is that necessary to try and push this thing in this manner.
I requested an opportunity for parties to look at this, to consider it and to come back. I don't see any reason why this cannot be dealt with at a later stage; and on this basis the IFP cannot support the matter. We cannot support this process and we ask for a division to be called.
Ms M SMUTS: Madam Speaker, the ANC has never bothered to explain its unhappiness with the three SABC board members, imposed on them by Luthuli House pre-Polokwane, which turned into a concerted and shameful attack against the whole board, nine of whom they chose.
Their attempt to ambush the board and pass a motion of no confidence failed. They are now using a proposal which I made to them when their party first started to exert pressure on them, post-Polokwane, with regard to the three imposed persons. I suggested that we should introduce legislation in order to amend the Act's removal provision.
The Act uses the Chapter 9 institutions' appointment mechanism – because independence is important – and it should, in fact, give Parliament a commensurate role in removal, as for the Chapter 9 ones.
I see from the draft Bill that the ANC has taken another lesson from me, and that is that there has to be grounds for removal, misconduct, incapacity and so forth. Removal cannot be arbitrary, because the process is then open to political abuse.
However, from that point onwards this proposal deteriorates and becomes unacceptable. Why should the dissolution of an entire independent body be contemplated? Is it conceivable that an entire body of eminent persons would be found one by one to be incapacitated? That is certainly not what is going on at the SABC, and that is not the purpose of this amendment. The purpose is a political purge.
And the proposal for an interim board is a dead giveaway. Mr Dali Mpofu and the chief financial officer and the chief operating officer are to form the interim board, in terms of the draft Bill. They are to be joined by four persons appointed – wait for it – directly by the President. But that was the problem to begin with! It is contrary to the Broadcasting Act to allow the executive a direct role. Yet, now we are being asked to legislate on the exact thing that caused the unhappiness in the first place because power has passed to different hands.
I would say that we should refer this memorandum back under Rule 238 (3) for reconsideration of the dissolution and the interim board provisions, if I had any hope of sense prevailing – I do not. That committee is not capable, with respect, of due process and I suggest that the House should refuse the permission. [Applause.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Any other party wishing to make a declaration? None. I am looking at Rule 84, Mrs Seaton, that you need at least four members and I saw there are three of you; no, now I see two others.
Well, hon members, there were objections and therefore we need to put the question fully. I now put the question. Those in favour shall say aye.
Hon MEMBERS: Aye!
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Those against will say no.
Hon MEMBERS: No!
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I think the ayes have it.
Motion agreed to.
Mrs S A SEATON: I called for a division.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I know that, but we have a procedure. I have to note the objection of the DA and that of the IFP.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! Hon members, just for your information, the Youth Parliament is in session and we have deployed a lot of Members of Parliament to those commissions. We had to allow time for them to come back from 90 Plein Street and from all over where they were. [Interjections.]
An HON MEMBER: [Inaudible.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Yes, there are also deployees from the DA.
AYES – 156: Abram, S; Anthony, T G; Baloyi, M R; Bloem, D V; Bogopane-Zulu, H I; Botha, N G W; Burgess, C V; Cachalia, I M; Carrim, Y I; Combrinck, J J; Cronin, J P; Diale, L N; Didiza, A T; Dikgacwi, M M; Dlali, D M; Doidge, G Q M; Du Toit, D C; Fazzie, M H; Fihla, N B; Frolick, C T; George, M E; Gerber, P A; Gogotya, N J; Gololo, C L; Gore, V C; Gumede, D M; Hanekom, D A; Hendrickse, P A C; Hlangwana, N; Hogan, B A; Huang, S; Jacobus, L; Jeffery, J H; Johnson, C B; Johnson, M; Kasienyane, O R; Kekana, C D; Khauoe, M K; Khoarai, L P; Kholwane, S E; Khumalo, K M; Khunou, N P; Komphela, B M; Koornhof, G W; Kota, Z A; Kotwal, Z; Landers, L T; Lekgetho, G; Lishivha, T E; Louw, J T; Louw, S K; Ludwabe, C I; Maake, J J; Madella, A F; Maduma, L D; Madumise, M M; Magubane, N E; Mahlaba, T L; Mahlawe, N M; Mahomed, F; Mahote, S; Maja, S J; Makgate, M W; Malahlela, M J; Maloney, L; Maluleka, H P; Manana, M N S; Martins, B A D; Mashiane, L M; Mashigo, R J; Mashile, B L; Masutha, T M; Mathibela, N F; Matlala, M H; Matsemela, M L; Matsomela, M J J; Mayatula, S M; Mbombo, N D; Mentor, M P; Mfeketo, N C; Mgabadeli, H C; Mkhize, Z S; Mlangeni, A; Moatshe, M S; Mofokeng, T R; Mogale, O M; Mogase, I D; Mokoena, A D; Monareng, O E; Montsitsi, S D; Morkel, C M; Mosala, B G; Moss, M I; Motlanthe, K P; Motubatse-Hounkpatin, S D; Mthembu, B; Mthethwa, E N; Ndlazi, Z A; Ndzanga, R A; Nene, M J; Ngaleka, E; Ngcengwane, N D; Ngcobo, B T; Ngcobo, E N N; Ngculu, L V J; Njikelana, S J; Nkuna, C; Nogumla, R Z; Nonkonyana, M; Nqakula, C; Ntuli, B M; Ntuli, R S; Ntuli, S B; Nxumalo, M D; Nxumalo, S N; Nyambi, A J; Nzimande, L P M; Olifant, D A A; Oliphant, G G; Oosthuizen, G C; Pahad, E G; Phadagi, M G; Phala, M J; Pieterse, R D; Radebe, B A; Rajbally, S; Ramakaba-Lesiea, M M; Ramodibe, D M; Rasmeni, S M; Schippers, J; Schneemann, G D; Schoeman, E A; Seadimo, M D; Sefularo, M; Sekgobela, P S; Selau, J G; September, C C; Sehlare, L J; Sibanyoni, J B; Siboza, S; Sikakane, M R; Sonjica, B P; Sonto, M R; Sosibo, J E; Sotyu, M M; Surty, M E; Tinto, B; Tlake, M F; Tshabalala-Msimang, M E; Tshivhase, T J; Turok, B; Vadi, I; Van den Heever, R P Z; Vundisa, S S; Wang, Y; Xingwana, L M; Zulu, B Z.
NOES – 28: Botha, A; Botha, C-S; Dudley, C; Ellis, M J; Farrow, S B; George, D T; Kalyan, S V; King, R J; Labuschagne, L B; Lowe, C M; Madikiza, G T; Marais, S J F; Mfundisi, I S; Mpontshane, A M; Nkabinde, N C; Rabinowitz, R; Roopnarain, U; Schmidt, H C; Seaton, S A; Sibuyana, M W; Sigcau , S N; Smuts, M; Swart, M; Swart, P S; Van der Merwe, J H; Van Der Walt, D; Van Niekerk, A I; Zikalala, C N Z.
ABSTAIN – 1: Mtshali, E.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Has the hon Minister not voted?
The MINISTER OF MINERALS AND ENERGY: Madam Deputy Speaker, I did vote, but under the name of Minister Pahad because I was sitting in that seat. Well, it is one vote. I did not vote in proxy; I made a mistake. It was an honest mistake and I am just being open about it. So, I don't know, you can guide me. [Interjections.] I didn't vote twice; I voted once.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: That will be corrected.
An HON MEMBER: A red card!
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: There is no red card; not even a yellow card. It's honesty which we need to appreciate.
Question agreed to.
Motion accordingly adopted.
TOBACCO PRODUCTS CONTROL AMENDMENT BILL
(Second Reading debate)
The MINISTER OF HEALTH: Deputy Speaker, hon members, it is indeed an honour for me to lead this crucial debate today not only as part of our commitment to improving the quality of life of our people, but also to comply with what our Constitution and the National Health Act demands of us. I have no doubt in my mind ... [Interjections.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! Hon Minister, let us try to get an audience and allow those people who would like to leave to do so quietly, please. You may now proceed, Madam Minister.
The MINISTER OF HEALTH: I have no doubt in my mind that as legislators you will agree with me that what the Constitution of this country and the National Health Act demand is that we work without favour or prejudice to ensure that, indeed, we do our best to improve the quality of life of our people.
I have no doubt in my mind also that what we are doing today is precisely geared at enabling us to achieve that strategic objective. Allow me to point out that improving the quality of life of our people is not something that we can only achieve by building clinics and hospitals. Neither can it be achieved solely through the mere provision of drugs and other medicines.
The achievement of this goal requires all of to create and provide an environment that will minimise the chances of our people being exposed to diseases, both communicable and noncommunicable.
What we are therefore doing today is aimed at reaching consensus on this critical matter within the context of our Healthy Lifestyles Campaign and thus giving effect to both the supreme law of this land, which is the Constitution, and the National Health Act.
As we debate this amending Bill, therefore, let us do so with the full conviction and with the full knowledge and understanding that tomorrow will indeed be better than today. What is equally important when debating this Bill, is for us to approach this debate with a fair understanding of the burden that tobacco-related diseases continue to place on the health status of our people and on our country's health system.
Therefore, it is my wish that this amending Bill gets similar attention to that which was given to the one passed by this Parliament in 2007, because it is the second part of the same Bill and the goal, which is to protect our people against the harmful effects of tobacco products, remains the same.
Perhaps it is appropriate that I deal with the accusation that as the Department of Health we did not consult enough in our quest to give life to this Bill and, indeed, in order to safe lives. The chairperson of the portfolio committee will surely agree with us based on the evidence, both oral and written - indeed, we complied with all the consultation requirements as far as this matter is concerned. This we did within the context of both the Constitution and the National Health Act, but we were also guided by that which we reasonably considered to be the common goal of all our people.
We are fully conscious not only of the sensitive nature of the work that we do and the Constitution which guides us, but also the human and individual liberties that allow people to conduct trade in a way that is permissible by the laws of our country. And, therefore, we could not have been driven by malice or hatred – contrary to what some seek to suggest.
The Tobacco Amendment Bill before us focuses on the trade and marketing of tobacco products. Hence, it proposes amendments that seek to improve further the operation of the Act and close any gaps and loopholes that have been used by the tobacco industry to circumvent the objects of the current Act.
The main provisions of this amending Bill are to strengthen the sections which prohibit advertising, promotion and sponsorship; set standards for packing and labelling of tobacco products including pictorial warnings on packages; remove misleading package descriptions such as "light" and "mild"; control the ingredients in and emissions from tobacco products; and to increase penalties for breaking the law.
The publication of this Bill was approved by Cabinet in 2003 and it was gazetted for public comment from 17 October 2003 to 17 November 2003. My department collated a substantive number of submissions received from individual members of the public, retailers, the tobacco industry, its associates and health organisations in line with what the laws of our country require as far as legislative consultation is required.
In general, the majority of the submissions supported the proposed amendment to the Bill, except some submissions which made alternative proposals that were not necessarily in line with the objectives of the Bill. The Bill has therefore been amended taking into consideration comments received.
Allow me to provide this House with a clause-by-clause analysis of the Bill in order to ensure fairness and balance in dealing with this matter.
Clause 1 seeks to amend some of the definitions in the present tobacco legislation to extend the application of the Tobacco Products Control Act and to close loopholes that exist in the present tobacco legislation.
Clause 2 seeks to prohibit the advertising, promotion and distribution of tobacco products as well as prescribing the information required in respect of the packaging and labelling of tobacco products. It seeks to prescribe conditions under which sponsorship by tobacco industry and associate industries will be allowed.
Clause 3 seeks to prescribe standards for manufacturing and importation of tobacco products in the Republic of South Africa. Clause 4 seeks to protect children by prohibiting the owner or a person in charge of a business to allow any person in his or her employment or under his or her control, who is under the age of 18 years, to sell or offer to sell any tobacco products on the business premises.
Clause 5 seeks to prohibit any distribution which is free or at a reduced price, or reward to anyone with tobacco products. Clause 6 seeks to prohibit access to vending machines by persons under the age of 18.
Clause 7 seeks to prescribe signs in respect of tobacco products and information that must be displayed at the point of sale and on the vending machines. This section also seeks to prescribe the quantities of a specific tobacco product to be sold in a single package. Clause 8 seeks to increase the penalty for contravening provisions of the Act to increase its value as a deterrent.
In line with what I've said at the beginning, as the Department of Health and as government, we are all fully mindful of the fact that the tobacco industry is a leading business in this country and therefore it cannot be accurate that malice and hatred influenced us in approaching this Bill, as some would like to suggest.
What drives us is the consensus based on the submissions – including those from the tobacco industry – and the consultation process that tobacco products are indeed harmful, compromise the health of user and nonuser alike and therefore place a burden on our country's health system. In line with the International Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and guided by our own moral obligation as government, we cannot simply turn a blind eye to this matter.
Looking at the global picture, as far as tobacco use is concerned, it is recorded that most users of tobacco products start smoking before the age of 18, with almost a quarter of those beginning before the age of 10. The younger children are when they start experimenting with smoking, the more likely they are to become regular tobacco users and the less likely they are to quit.
The Tobacco industry has taken this opportunity to lure young people through sponsorship, advertising and glamorisation of tobacco products by falsely associating the use of tobacco product with success, adventure, appeal and glamour. This creates in the minds of our young ones the impression that tobacco products generally signify progress as far as life is concerned.
The message I wish to put across to our young people is that this projection of success is incorrect and dangerous. The use of tobacco products is harmful.
I know, or thought, that somewhere in the gallery of this House there are representatives of the tobacco industry – or they may be listening from somewhere else – who are keen to listen and hear which direction this debate is taking. I have no doubt in my mind that as responsible fathers, mothers, grandmothers and grandfathers, wherever they are listening to this debate, they surely will agree with us that trade and profiteering cannot be all that inform and guide our human existence.
I am sure that as responsible members of our society, they will agree with us that what we do today is geared at improving the health and quality of life of our people. As responsible corporate citizens, they should agree with us that spending billions of dollars worldwide each year to spread the marketing net as widely as possible to attract more users and paralyse global health in the context of severe challenges, cannot be morally acceptable.
Concerning the proposed new ways of packaging and labelling of tobacco products globally, many people misunderstand, underestimate or are not fully aware of the risk of morbidity and premature mortality caused by tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke.
There is persuasive evidence that text plus picture-based health warnings on tobacco product packaging tend to provoke an increased emotional response, are more salient and potentially more effective than text-only warnings. Pictures may also be better able to provide information to those with low levels of literacy or low income, who may have little access to other health information. Using a range of messages increases the likelihood of impact across different population subgroups as different messages resonate with different people.
I have no doubt in my mind that having outlined the context and rationale for doing this work, we can count on your support in ensuring that as the sun rises tomorrow, our people will say with confidence that today is indeed better than yesterday.
Over the years, as a country, we have been a shining star insofar as tobacco control globally is concerned. Later this year, our country will be hosting the Third Conference of the Parties in Durban as part of the efforts of nations of the world to take stock of how much work we have done as individual countries as far as control of tobacco products and promoting primary health care is concerned.
For us, the fact that this conference will take place on our soil, is indicative of the appreciation that countries of the world have for us regarding tobacco control and compliance with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, of which we are a signatory. [Time expired.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: You may give us a concluding sentence. But not a page! Thank you, hon Minister. [Laughter.]
Mr L V J NGCULU: Madam Deputy Speaker, allow me to rise in support of the Medicines Control Amendment Bill. This is yet another block in our endeavour as a country to protect the public from the dangers of smoking.
Both those involved in the tobacco industry and those opposed to the use of tobacco, as well as the policymakers whose responsibility it is to serve the public, agree that tobacco is uniquely dangerous and its use is bad for both the health and economy. It makes workers sick, therefore increases health care costs and reduces productivity in all sectors of the economy. The fact is that tobacco is perhaps the only legal product that kills when the user uses it exactly as the manufacturer has intended. There is no such a thing as the safe use of any tobacco product. If, therefore, we all agree with this point, why then go the route of legislating against tobacco products?
This is because even though we may all agree with the points as raised, the devil is in the detail and there is a divergence of interests that then comes into play. The tobacco manufacturers do so in order to maximise profits, whereas our agenda as legislators and government is to protect the public from harmful products and thus promote good health and a healthy lifestyle; hence the amendment to this particular Act, Act No 93, as amended in 1999 and 2007.
The purpose of the amendments are, in a nutshell, to close loopholes that exist in the current Act in a way that better protects and promotes public health; to strengthen the section that prohibits advertising and regulates the promotion and labelling of tobacco products in order to avoid issues of "mild" and other so-called nefarious ways of promoting tobacco products; and to strengthen the Act so as to better protect and promote the interests of the public.
Even though the 1999 Act banned tobacco advertising and its promotion, the industry found new measures to circumvent these provisions. In other words, the industry found other means to attract new smokers – especially young children and the youth as entrants to the use of tobacco – such as the use of the internet, smses and other marketing means. Some marketers of tobacco even went to schools and clubs and offered free tobacco, knowing full-well that once people get hooked or addicted it is very difficult to quit.
The Bill now prohibits any form of advertising in whatever form or medium. Even in cases where people produce clothing using the brands of tobacco products such as on fashionable clothes, which we sometimes see in leading stores, it should be to an extent that it is not seen, or perceived to be, promoting tobacco products or their use. The Bill states that no person shall advertise or promote or cause any person to advertise or promote tobacco products either through direct or indirect means, including sponsorship of organisations, etc.
We have thus defined advertising in relation to tobacco products in a way that says tobacco promotion is to maximise sales and creates awareness and recommendations for the use of tobacco products. This therefore is the crux of this amendment. It is fundamental for all of us to understand that the tobacco industry and its manufacturers focus most of their resources on advertising, because it is this activity that helps the sales, and ways and means of boosting sales, with an inordinate amount of resources being expended on this to maximise profit.
The other aspect is that in this Bill, also the question of pro-packaging information that now is prohibited should be done in a way that must not be misleading, false, deceitful and erroneous. Every avenue that could be used, be it at displays, wholesale or retail outlets, is now covered in the Bill and all are regulated in a manner so that principally the user, and the public in particular, are protected from the dangers of smoking.
It is not just a slogan but it is the truth that tobacco is dangerous and kills. The Bill will make a significant contribution to reducing the health, economic and environmental harm caused by tobacco use. Already evidence is there that the previous interventions of the Act have helped to reduce smoking in South Africa.
The ANC supports this Bill and we would like to thank the many members of the public who came to make their submissions and gave their co-operation. This assisted in making a positive input to the final product, which we think will once again make South Africa a pacesetter for the developing countries.
We can say without fear of contradiction that we have tried to be thorough and accommodating in our public participation process. We can therefore say that the product we are presenting today enjoys the broad support of all those who have taken the time and energy to come and make submissions to the portfolio committee.
When thanking everyone in this regard, the ANC also wants to say that we all agree that it is not only we, the portfolio committee members and others who are interested in the public health industry, who buy into this product, but the tobacco industry itself has actually come to agree at this particular point.
Deputy Speaker, allow me to thank the director-general and his team in the Department of Health for their diligence and support during this process and, equally, members of the portfolio committee for their patience. They were thorough and diligent in dealing with this piece of legislation. The ANC supports this Bill. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
Mrs S V KALYAN: Chairperson, any legislation designed to protect the health of our children is most welcome. The essence of the object of the Tobacco Products Control Amendment Bill is to reduce incidence of smoking in young children and the health impact of tobacco use and is indeed applauded.
However, when legislation aimed at protecting one sector of the society, namely children, punishes the free choice of another section of the society, which is adults, we must question the balance of how the rights of all the individuals are protected. In the ten-minute break that we had when the division was about to be called, one of our members went out to have a cigarette, on the one hand. On the other hand, a member from our party who has smoked for 31 years, decided it was in the best interest of his health to quit – after 31 years. Now, these are the choices that I am talking about. Restrictive legislation is not the way to achieve primary health objectives.
The overzealous foot soldiers from the Department of Health were hell-bent on pushing through this Bill and spent much of their time vilifying the tobacco industry. I also suspect that the portfolio committee was misled on the department's consultation with the tobacco industry.
The DA supports the amendment of banning the sale of tobacco products at educational institutions which caters for under-18-year-olds. But at universities there are only a handful of 17-year-olds. I ask: Why ban the sale of cigarettes at universities? What about the majority of students over the age of 18 and the adult staff who work on campus? This overregulation is a disproportionate interference with the freedom of adults to choose and purchase tobacco products.
There are two areas that the DA has issues with. The first one is the restriction on vending machines. The proposed amendment allows for the Minister to decide where vending machines selling tobacco products may be placed. This amendment flies in the face of free enterprise. Cigarettes are legal products and South Africa is not a nanny state.
The second matter that we take issue with is the prohibition of the sale of tobacco products through the internet. It is quite clear that the Minister of Health does not share the President of South Africa's love for the internet. We live in the global age. The Deputy Speaker herself is a great proponent of the IT age. Online shopping has become the order of the day. Many people shop for groceries, clothes, alcohol and cigarettes via the internet. Yet, the amendment introduces a measure as draconian as this. In this day and age, banning sales and purchases on the internet is bizarre. Again, I understand that we want to protect under-18s, but why do we punish adults for making choices?
This is the fourth major overhaul of tobacco control legislation in just over a decade. Approximately 10 million cigarettes are sold illegally in South Africa every day. This is a total excise loss of approximately R1,4 billion annually for government. The consequence of overregulation will facilitate and encourage the expansion of the illegal trade and associated criminal activities like tax avoidance and disregard for public health warnings.
We have passed legislation in this House that allows children from the age of 12 years to have abortions and use contraception without parental consent, and here we are, running around and banning the sale of cigarettes at universities to students of 18 years old and above. The Minister should exercise her nanny inclinations on sensible regulations based on sound scientific research, and embark on public health education and campaigns rather than punishing adults who choose to indulge in their freedom of choice.
Dr R RABINOWITZ: Chairperson, the IFP is a party that advocates freedom of choice. However, we underpin our policies with ubuntu – the English equivalent of which is respect, compassion and integrity.
How does this relate directly to smoking, with regard to our selection of how much to regulate the tobacco industry for public protection and how much to leave to individual choice? If there is a single industry that offers a classic model of the need for regulation of the private sector for the protection of the public, it is the tobacco industry.
The industry makes huge profits from promoting a habit that is the single most unequivocal cause of lung cancer, emphysema, coronaries, vascular disease, high blood pressure and a host of other diseases.
It is no wonder the South African stock exchange looks forward to British American Tobacco, which posted a profit of £2,27 billion last year, as an independent player. Yet, some representatives of this industry were technically tedious and intimidating in our path towards concretising this legislation. There was a brief period in the process of adopting this Amendment Bill when it appeared to have slipped off the agenda. This would also have negated the 2006 Amending Bill, as the two are interdependent. Some members of Parliament – I was happily one of them – stood their ground and we now have a completed Bill.
But one must not put it past the industry to try yet again to stall implementation through impacting regulations. Unfortunately Parliament will play no role in the regulations, which are considerable and left to the Minister for the sake of flexibility. The committee resolved that the department must come back with those to ensure that they support the purpose of the Bill.
We have tried to keep tobacco sales off the internet. Why? Because it not controllable and would negate all our efforts in this legislation, particularly amongst the youth. We have also attempted to curb the sly ways that the industry sometimes uses to have so-called industrial communication land up in school lockers and fostering smoking among the youth.
The industry argues that we will not be able to implement these laws. They could be right, but we have made an effort to conscientise the public and to limit the impact of a health scourge. The public will have to play its role to ensure that these laws are enforced. I thank you. [Time expired.] The IFP supports the Bill.
Ms N C NKABINDE: Chairperson, hon Ministers and hon members, the Bill before us further refines the initial intentions of government with regard to the control of tobacco products. Time does not permit me to explore the details of the latest amendment; suffice it to say that there are changes in the detail, but not in our over-all policy direction.
Allow me to comment on the current legal dispensation regarding tobacco. It is complicated and difficult to enforce and it seems to become more so with each new amendment. Government is also running the risk of being accused of unfairly litigating against one industry while other industries, with equally dubious effects on the health of the nation, can seemingly get away with murder. The economic and social costs of smoking are undeniable, but can we honestly claim that alcohol exerts a lower toll? What about the various products that contributes to cardiovascular diseases and diabetes? We have a responsibility to pursue all health issues with equal vigour. The UDM supports the amending Bill. I thank you.
Mrs C DUDLEY: Chair, the ACDP supports this Bill which aims to address loopholes in legislation with regard to the advertising, sponsorship, promotion, packaging and labelling of tobacco products.
The Bill also prohibits the sale of tobacco products to and by persons under the age of 18 years and increases the fine for contravening the provisions of the Act. The manufacturers have successfully exploited these loopholes in order to continue advertising their products, and their ingenuity would be impressive if it were not for the reality of the damage done by tobacco products.
In 2006 Judge Gladys Kessler of the United States wrote –
This case is about an industry that survives, and profits, from selling a highly addictive product which causes diseases that lead to a staggering number of deaths per year, an immeasurable amount of human suffering and economic loss, and has a profound effect on our national healthcare system.
One of many important, but highly contested clauses in the Bill prohibits the sale, supply, distribution or buying of any tobacco product through the internet. Without this clause, every computer with internet is, as the department pointed out, like an unattended cigarette vending machine – making it way easier and cheaper for kids to buy cigarettes. Children as young as 11 years old have been successful more than 90% of the time in purchasing cigarettes over the internet in the United States.
Tobacco is a uniquely dangerous consumer product. It is the only legal product that kills the user when used exactly as the manufacturer intends. In South Africa tobacco kills one person every 20 minutes or 30 000 per year. Effective tobacco control legislation is essential and this will necessitate keeping up with, if not ahead of, the tobacco industry's creative ways of getting around existing legislation.
Arguments by the tobacco industry that proposed ... [Time expired.] I thank you.
Mr I S MFUNDISI: Chairperson and hon members, it has been a long time since the Department of Health has come up with a good piece of legislation such as this one for controlling tobacco products, as it seeks to give credence to the adage that prevention is better than cure.
The UCDP will support this Bill because it seeks to protect our young people against the evil of smoking. It is good that it prohibits the advertisement and sale of tobacco products to persons younger than 16 years old. Children of this age may not come near, let alone use, tobacco products. We all know that the fumes of tobacco are unhealthy, even in the ecology.
Smoking can cause heart diseases and strokes. It can hurt the physical fitness of young people. Nicotine is, after all, as addictive as heroin, cocaine and alcohol, and this poses a problem for adolescents.
It is good that the ANC does not quibble about the rights of people pertaining to their bodies, as they do with abortion and same-sex marriages. This time they know and accept that young people's bodies should be protected and defended, because teens who smoke are more likely to use alcohol.
The big question is the extent to which the legislation is enforceable. We know of instances when the law-enforcement agencies say it is difficult to do so. [Time expired.]
Ms S RAJBALLY: Chairperson, hon Minister, it is scientifically proven that it takes up to 30 days to clear the smoke of one cigarette from your lungs.
As a result of chain-smoking many end up with cancer and other diseases. Either way, the tobacco industry remains a lucrative market drawing newcomers from as early an age as nine years. While laws exist that children below the age of 18 years may not purchase tobacco, adults still use children as the mules for their daily purchase and shopkeepers are more than willingly to sell to minors to keep up their profits.
We need to introduce harsh punishment for this and look at the method of randomly monitoring sales of tobacco to minors. How else are our children accessing tobacco if not buying directly from the shops?
We need to take a serious look at this hubbly-bubbly, also known as a water pipe, and falsely believed to be healthier than cigarettes. Its smoke contains numerous toxins known to cause lung and heart disease. While water does absorb some of the nicotine, there is still a sufficient dose of this drug to cause addiction. The MF supports the Bill. [Time expired.]
Mr A F MADELLA: Chairperson, hon Minister, Deputy Ministers, hon members, leaders of the Department of Health fraternity who are here, stakeholders in the tobacco industry, campaigners against tobacco smoking, ladies and gentlemen, the SA Medical Association argued in its submission to the public hearing on the Tobacco Products Control Amendment Bill that, in our beloved South Africa, one person dies every 20 minutes as a result of a tobacco-related disease.
This, according to our esteemed professional doctors' association, translates into three people an hour, 72 people per day and a staggering 26 280 people per year. The figures quoted by the National Council Against Smoking are worse. It stated that approximately 42 000 people die annually in South Africa as a result tobacco-related diseases.
The impact of these deaths on our country's economy, skills base and health care system cannot be overemphasised; it's enormous. These deaths could be said to be unnecessary because they are entirely preventable by not smoking. Smoking kills! The ANC government, in its quest to better the health of the nation as a whole, has introduced a series of amendments to our tobacco legislation to further reduce the impact of smoking on the health of our nation. These amendments were introduced in 1999, 2007 and of course today.
The strategic purpose of this Bill before this House is to comply with the WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control which came into force on 27 February 2005, closing, as our Minister has indicated, existing loopholes in the Act and strengthening the Act to better protect and promote public health.
The production, manufacturing and sale of tobacco are legal activities in South Africa, and the industry's contribution to employment, foreign exchange earnings and our state coffers via taxation is duly recognised. This Bill does not intend to place a ban on tobacco products but, amongst other things, intends to limit its availability to children so as to reduce its impact on them and to promote healthier lives.
Today it is possible and legal for a child to go into a shop and purchase tobacco products. Research done by the SA Medical Research Council points to the alarming fact that one in every five children between the ages of 13 and 15 smokes. The research also reveals that between 80 000 and 100 000 children start smoking every day throughout the world.
Children who start smoking will in all probability continue to smoke in adulthood and therefore substantially increase their probability of succumbing to a tobacco-related illness.
Smoking is a learned behaviour and is highly addictive. This Bill intends to discourage tobacco use amongst children by increasing the age limit for children to be allowed to purchase any tobacco products from the age of 16 years to the age 18 years. Through these amendments, a child who is a person in terms of the Child Care Act – a person under the age of 18 years – cannot buy cigarettes. It will be an offence to supply or sell a tobacco product to a child.
In addition, this Bill also outlaws the sale or supply of any confectionary or toy product that resembles a tobacco product. These sweets which look like cigarettes begin to entice children as young as five, six and seven years of age into the habit of smoking and can no longer, in terms of this Bill, be sold or given to children. Our children's entry into the world of smoking must be delayed for as long as possible in order to protect their health. These amendments, which I may say enjoyed the full support of the tobacco industry, will, at the end, hopefully contribute to this delay.
The availability through the sale of tobacco products at any health facility, including pharmacies and educational institutions where there may be students younger than the age of 18 years, should not be allowed in terms of this Bill. Our hospitals and pharmacies, which are institutions for healing and recovering from illnesses cannot, through the sale and supply of tobacco products, contribute to the festering of diseases.
This Bill also proposes to place a restriction on the use of vending machines in the sale and supply of tobacco products. It is illogical that vending machines that sell beverages or confectionary items also sell tobacco products because such machines are usually and frequently accessed by children – and, of course, nonsmokers like me, would be unnecessarily be exposed to tobacco products against our will.
It is, therefore, correct that vending machines that sell and supply tobacco products, should only do that. Those machines should be designated to places where children cannot access them. The designation and placement of such vending machines must be done in accordance with the direction of the Minister of Health, Comrade Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who is responsible for the health of our nation.
Such vending machines must display the notices that contain the necessary information regarding the tobacco product as prescribed by the Act. In addition, this Bill also outlaws the sale or supply or distribution of tobacco products through the internet, postal services or any other electronic media, because the question of age verification will be a difficult one if not impossible to enforce. However, this prohibition does not apply to any commercial communication between tobacco manufacturers, importers, trade partners, employees and shareholders.
These matters are provided for in the Bill that all stakeholders involved in its processing may have agreed to. It is our view as the ANC that this Bill will close the loopholes in the Act, especially those that have allowed tobacco products to be promoted amongst young people.
Life is not an academic exercise. The government is right to protect the nation, especially against destructive habits like smoking. The ANC therefore has no qualms in supporting the passing of this Bill. I thank you. [Applause.]
The MINISTER OF HEALTH: Chairperson, I did mention that later this year we shall be hosting the Third Conference of Parties on tobacco control.
This conference will take place shortly after the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Alma Ata Declaration, which places emphasis on primary health care in line with our own approach to the provision and delivery of health care in this country.
I am, therefore, delighted that this House understands and has approached this Amending Bill and the debate within the context of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and the primary health care approach. I want to thank the hon members for supporting the Amending Bill.
We listened to hon Kalyan. Honestly, as a South African, I thought she should agree with the mothers of this country, mothers of reason, that trade and profiteering cannot be all that informs and guides our human existence. The exercise of choices has to occur within a particular context which, in this case, is the promotion and protection of public good.
Chairperson, let me thank, in particular, the hon chairperson of the committee, Comrade James Ngculu, for being the anchor that has been driving this Bill. I know that, in driving this Bill, he was also guided by the vision of the ruling party, the ANC, as far as health and health delivery is concerned. I, therefore, thank him for being a disciplined cadre of the majority party in our Parliament. Masizithande sonke futhi sithandane [Let us love ourselves and love others.] Thank you very much.
Bill read a second time.
MINERAL AND PETROLEUM RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT AMENDMENT BILL
(Second Reading Debate)
The MINISTER OF MINERALS AND ENERGY: Chairperson, there can be no better way of celebrating 26 June, Freedom Charter Day, than by amending the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, MPRDA, to ensure that the mineral heritage of the country is equitably shared. The MPRDA is a piece of legislation that has been a significant tool in facilitating a process of redistribution of the wealth of our country, as envisaged by the Freedom Charter.
Today we proudly stand on the shoulders of the giants of our struggle who crafted the Freedom Charter, which is as relevant today as it was 53 years ago when it was conceived. We are in awe of their foresight and wisdom.
Although we are not yet where we should be in terms of changing patterns of ownership, we have made significant strides in creating an enabling environment for the participation of the previously excluded majority of our people in the mainstream of the growing economy.
The amendment of this Bill and therefore the review of the Mining
Charter scheduled for next year will further enhance the capacity of this ANC-led government to increase the pace of transformation in
this very important sector. It is only then that we can truly say that "The people shall share in the country's wealth".
It has taken a long time to get to this point in terms of the Bill, but it was all to ensure a strong, clear and streamlined regulatory process. We believe that to a great extent we have managed to do just that. This will further enhance the economic development drive, but most importantly, it will economically empower our people.
Since the promulgation of the Act and the four years of
implementation to date, the Department identified a number of
provisions that required amendments in order to facilitate the smooth regulation of the industry and enhance the process of transformation in the sector.
The Bill thus had, as its main objective, the technical improvement of the principal Act to allow for a more efficient and effective management of the country's mineral resources. As a result, a number of definitions have either been brought in or clarified, for example, the definition of "beneficiation", which indicates the levels of beneficiation currently possible with our mineral commodities. This clarification is important in order to guide the industry and all of us on this important step that South Africa has taken to develop its minerals further and thereby create new jobs and develop new skills.
The Department of Minerals and Energy, DME, sees this as a major way of reducing the high levels of poverty and proposes that we create sustainable beneficiation industries, and as the DME we are leading in this process.
Section 2 of the principal Act has been improved upon to include
communities and their active participation in the mineral and
petroleum industries. The latter is being reinforced in the Bill by a new provision relating to a proactive administrative action where an application for a mining right covers an area occupied by a
Further, the separation of powers between the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Minerals and Energy has been catered for in the Bill, and the Minister of Finance will thus determine and levy state royalties in terms of an Act of Parliament, hence the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Royalty Bill that is currently going through the parliamentary process. The Minister of Minerals and Energy will prescribe levies and fees in consultation with the Minister of Finance.
The need for co-operative governance was re-emphasised through the parliamentary process, when the DME and the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, DEAT, were tasked to find a solution regarding the environmental provisions in both the principal Act and the Bill. The location of such provisions in the principal Act and the Bill was an issue.
After much debate and constructive arguments, and most importantly, with the guidance of and the interaction with the Deputy President, we finally agreed on a resolution thereof and tabled the agreement before the two portfolio committees. I must thank both the chairpersons, but most importantly, both study groups of the DME and DEAT for their contribution and leadership in this regard. The agreement includes the three main broad areas that follow. Firstly, we are saying there should be one environmental impact assessment system that should be used and that is the one that is prescribed in the National Environmental Management Act, NEMA, under the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism.
The second one is that the Minister of Minerals and Energy is the authority responsible for implementing environmental management legislation and regulations, as set out by the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, in all prospecting, exploration, mining and production areas, and so on. Thirdly, the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism is the responsible authority for appeals relating to environmental matters.
Those are the three main broad areas that constitute the agreement between the two departments; and that agreement now forms the basis of the two committees' decision to remove the environmental provisions from the Act and the Bill and place them within the ambit of the NEMA amendment process. This is a negotiated settlement between state departments and has taught us a lot in terms of co-operative governance.
This was not an easy task, but here we are. It is to a very great extent a win-win solution. The challenge now is to ensure that all those who are impacted upon, such as the mining industry, are not negatively affected by the transition, which is set to take place over 18 months. I am therefore happy to introduce new definitions, environmental authorisations, and so on.
The Bill also seeks to improve the handling of residue stock piles and residue deposits. This area of the Bill has also been contested by our stakeholders, some holding the view that the clarification of these definitions as done as a response to a court decision. I must then try to clarify that we did this only to provide clarity, the same clarity that the court should have given.
Table 3 of Schedule 2 to the principal Act already covers any common law right that either had or did not have a prospecting or mining authorisation during the repealed Minerals Act era. Therefore, the addition of "or old order right" to the two definitions seeks to clarify once and for all the legal position on mine dumps.
Again I want to assure the stakeholders that the Bill has no intention of expropriating any dump. The state is paying
enough for mining legacies already as it is now paying for the rehabilitation of derelict and ownerless mines. What I want to clarify with them is that even though the provisions of the Mine Health and Safety Act are used in "works" areas, as defined in that Act, using the same provisions pertaining to operations winning minerals from dumps is more of an exception, and is merely to ensure that some authority will look after the health and safety of employees in such operations.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr G Q M Doidge): Order! Hon Minister, you have run out of time. I'm putting you on the reserve you have for your response times, so if you want to finish your point I'll allow you to do so.
The MINISTER OF MINERALS AND ENERGY: Thank you very much, Chairperson. The NEMA will be applicable to all operations affecting the environment, including those winning minerals from dumps. This would be in the same vein as it would be for all prospecting and mining rights.
The department also has a major duty of collecting mineral production and sales statistics for the calculations used in economic indices such as the CPIX, GDP and the others. If, therefore, for any reason it happens that the DME cannot account for any minerals produced and sold from the mines in this country, the world will regard our indices with disdain and as having no integrity, because there could be no integrity attributed to our numbers. How can we even think of doing that when there is the Kimberly process certification that we initiated ourselves? So it is important that we should be allowed to regulate this area also. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
Mr E N N NGCOBO: Chairperson, hon Ministers and Deputy Ministers, hon Members of Parliament and guests, before I read this Bill, which is very important for our people, I would like to make some observations on what has happened in terms of some misprints, so that at least we capture their essence and do not pass on the Bill to the NCOP without having noted these misprints.
They are nothing but printing errors because, as the Minister has just said, the Portfolio Committee on Minerals and Energy together with the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs and Tourism and the two Ministries have had long-term interactions, during which we agreed on all of these matters. I am sure that there must have been some misprints because of the pressure of this week.
I will read the misprints, but since the Bill is still within the precincts of Parliament, this is no train smash. It will undergo the interactions of the Members of the NCOP and they will make the necessary corrections.
On Page 3, line 33, we have to substitute the definition of "environmental authorisation" with the following definition:
"'Environmental authorisation' means as defined in section 1 of the National Environmental Management Act, Act 107 of 1998. ..."
Secondly, on page 14 line 13 we have to substitute section 38A with the following:
38A (1) The Minister is the responsible authority for implementing environmental provisions in terms of the National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (Act No 107 of 1998) ... as it relates to prospecting, mining, exploration, production or activities incidental thereto on a prospecting, mining, exploration or production area.
(2) An environmental authorisation issued by the Minister shall be a condition prior to the issuing of a permit or the granting of a right in terms of this Act.
Furthermore, we have to insert a new clause on page 26 after line 44. It reads as follows:
The principal Act as amended by this Act is amended with effect from a date 18 months after the date on which the provisions relating to prospecting, mining, exploration and production and related activities come into operation in terms of section 14(2) of the National Environmental Management Amendment Act of 2007 in order to revert the powers of the Minister in so far as the issuing of environmental authorisations, the submissions of application for such authorisation and the submission of environmental reports are concerned to the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism.
Those are the misprint corrections that need to be affected. I would like to thank my committee members very much for having worked very hard to get this Bill to where it is today. Indeed, I also thank the Minister for having been able to spearhead this effort of liaising with the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism to align this Act so that it really is governed by all the relevant national legislation of our land.
The Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill, Bill 10D-2007, at political level, in its current form fundamentally puts into practice one of the resolutions taken at the 52nd Conference of the ANC at Polokwane at the end of last year. The latter reads as follows:
The use of natural resources of which the state is the custodian on behalf of the people, including our minerals, water and marine resources, in a manner that promotes the sustainability and development of local communities and also realises the economic and social needs of the whole nation. In this regard, we must continue to strengthen the implementation of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, MPRDA, which seeks to realise some of these goals. Our programme must also deepen the linkages of the mineral sector to the national economy through beneficiation of these resources and creating supplier and service industries around the minerals sector.
That is how our Polokwane resolution regarding this Bill read.
What are the socioeconomic implications of this political exercise at national level? The implications are grotesque, that is, thousands of mining applications that have hitherto been delayed, especially for historically disadvantaged South Africans and small-scale miners, will now be processed much faster and in accordance with the foundations of uniform environmental regulation of the land as based on the National Environmental Management Act.
The socioeconomic implications of the Bill also mean that for the first time there is the removal of unnecessary bureaucratic red tape and this will result in a positive impact on the advancement of the economic redistribution agenda of our ANC-led government and
the promotion of mineral wealth empowerment of previously disadvantaged communities in the mining industry.
In its political entirety this Bill goes to the heart of the
Freedom Charter in terms of our people sharing in our country's mineral wealth that lies beneath the ground. Whoever could have imagined that, 53 years later, which is today – June 26 a very special day in the ANC history of the struggle – some of the most important national resolutions taken in Kliptown would be realised during our lifetime? Isn't it amazing? This is thanks to the unique and well-focused leadership direction of our movement, the ANC.
At a technical level the Bill seeks to facilitate the smooth implementation of a new minerals and mining dispensation, as the hon Minister has just said, with sound administrative practices as enshrined in the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act, Act No 3 of 2000. Furthermore, it seeks to address ambiguities that have existed in the principal Act with regard to certain definitions, by introducing certain new definitions such as the Minister has already highlighted.
Whilst the Bill makes provision for the Minister of Minerals and Energy to be the responsible authority for implementing environmental policy and legislative requirements if these relate to prospecting, mining, exploration, production and related activities in accordance with NEMA, it, however, provides that the Minister of Environmental affairs and Tourism be responsible at the end of the day for drafting and promulgating all environmental policy and legislation as enshrined in NEMA and its amendment Bill.
At another level, the Bill further empowers the Minister of Minerals and Energy to levy certain fees in terms of the principal Act, whilst there has been conferred upon the Minister of Finance the powers of determining state royalties in terms of the new Mining and Petroleum Resources Royalty Bill, thereby promoting co-operative governance and separation of powers between the Ministries.
At a politico-economic level, the Bill seeks to promote historically disadvantaged South Africans, including the community in the mining industry, whilst at the same time preventing the possibility of fronting, share manipulation and dilution coupled with the misuse of the black economic empowerment concept, as advocated in the policies of the ANC to empower potential and emerging black entrepreneurs.
Many submissions by participants in the recent public hearings were made to the effect that this Bill says very little, if anything, about the substantial and meaningful expansion of opportunities to historically disadvantaged South Africans including women and that there is gross limitation of consultations with communities and affected parties in the new Bill as against the principal Bill.
However, the Portfolio Committee on Minerals and Energy feels that this is a gross manipulation of factual realities, in that this Bill empowers the Minister of Minerals and Energy to impose conditions as are deemed necessary to promote the rights and interests of the communities in the vicinity of mining activities, including conditions requiring the participation of the said communities. But furthermore, the Bill strengthens the manner of consultations with the landowner, lawful occupier, as well as interested and affected parties and communities through ministerial regulations that effect such consultations. This is referred to in clause 12(d), 18(e), 23(e), 53(d), 57(d) and clause 61(d) of the Bill as amended.
The Bill also does consider the issue of local and foreign capital investments in the country in that it makes available all geological data and mining information of the country's mineral resources at the Council for GeoScience.
In terms of beneficiation, the Bill also encourages beneficiation by empowering the Minister to set out the levels of beneficiation by regulations, whilst it also aligns itself appropriately with the definition and level of beneficiation as required for royalty and in terms of the targets as set out in the Mining Charter.
Through this Bill mineworkers are also protected from possible retrenchments resulting from granting of new mining rights, in that the holder of a mining right has to inform the Minister about such possible retrenchments in which case the Minister can immediately institute corrective measures through the instruction of his or her advisory board to mitigate the impact of such retrenchments. What more can we ask of the Minister – the Minister has done enough! Thank you to the two Ministers. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Adv H C SCHMIDT: This Bill introduces tenets of both good and ill-conceived legislation. A commendable introduction, which has caused uneasiness within the Departments of Minerals and Energy and Environmental Affairs, relates to the introduction of principles as contained in the National Environmental Management Act of 1998 as the uniform standard in terms of environmental authorisations.
The compromise between the two departments has led to a transitional period during which the Department of Minerals and Energy will be responsible for all the environmental authorisations. In return the department will enforce the NEMA principles. These amendments are supported.
However, the Bill seeks to subject residue deposits and residue stockpiles to the operability of the principal Act, the effect of which will clearly constitute expropriation. As stated during public hearings on the Bill, the intention of the legislature was, correctly, not to govern the mine dumps in the principal Act. This Act will expose the state to significant claims of compensation and have a negative impact on security of tenure for dumps being processed or to be processed.
The unduly wide ministerial discretion currently contained in the principal Act has been further widened by the fact that the Minister will now be granted the power to require from mining companies, which apply for a licence and duly comply with the Mining Charter and the Social and Labour Plan, to implement additional community participation of up to 10%. This unbridled discretion may be set over and above the requirement of the 26% set by the Mining Charter and other legislation requiring BEE and affirmative action. It will no doubt ensure more uncertainty in the outcome of the application process.
An important compact between government and the mining industry, which has led to the voluntary introduction and acceptance of the Mining Charter, was the security of tenure granted to the mining houses in terms of which conversions of mineral rights from old order to new order rights could not be refused. A major shift in this notion was introduced by the fact that this Bill seeks to compel the department to refuse an application if the holder does not comply with the request of the department within 60 days. This provision may be inherently unfair in instances where the mining company cannot comply with the request within a period of 60 days due to circumstances outside of its control. This will effectively lead to the mine closing with the resultant loss in jobs and production.
In terms of item 11 of Schedule 2 of the Act, a mining company must continue to pay royalties to the community whilst in terms of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Royalty Bill the mining company will also be forced to pay royalties to the state. This is clearly a duplication of royalties as per the Royalties Bill introduced by the Minister of Finance in this House the day before yesterday.
Any denial of the double taxation of royalties on the difference between state and community royalties is artificial and less than honest, especially in the light of the fact that the MPRDA took away the mineral rights of the communities but expect the mining companies to continue paying royalty to these negatively affected communities. In reality the state has failed to pay these communities compensation for the expropriation of their mineral rights.
The most equitable solution would be for the state to require the mining companies to pay the royalties to it, and then in turn to pay a portion of the royalties to the communities. Government has basically expropriated the mineral rights of many communities without it paying them any compensation.
The requirement that the approval of the Minister be obtained for any change in interest of ownership in an unlisted mining company, close corporation or any other legal entity having an interest in mineral rights, is government interference at its worst. It is sincerely hoped that government has informed itself of the possible consequences of this draconian requirement.
Government has abused the assurances given by the Minister of Minerals and Energy that the Bill will resolve some of the concerns of the mining industry. This Bill has not done so. In view of the above the DA will definitely not be supporting this Bill. I thank you.
Mr M W SIBUYANA: Chairperson, we in the IFP supported the original Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act which provides for equitable access and sustainable development of the nation's mineral and petroleum resources. This revolutionary piece of legislation changed the way the mining operations were conducted in this country.
The Bill before us today will complement and enhance the principal Act and align it with the National Environmental Management Act, No 1998. In the past mining activities took place with little or no consideration for the environment and the surrounding communities. The problems that are being experienced today with regard to mining rehabilitation bear testimony to this.
I, therefore, cannot stress enough the importance of aligning mining activities with environmental issues. With this Bill the Minister of Minerals and Energy will be the responsible authority for implementing environmental matters in terms ofNEMA and environmental legislation that relates to mining activities. The extra powers given to the Minister did create a lot of controversy, but I believe that it is in the best interests of mining activities. This will save a lot of time, cut out a lot of red tape and streamline mining activities.
I do, however, urge the Minister and other responsible authorities to use these new powers responsibly and not let the mining activities occur at the expense of the environment. Mining activities must be conducted responsibly and environmental issues must always be to the fore of our thinking. The IFP supports this Bill. I thank you.
Ms S RAJBALLY: South Africa has always been commended for its rich supply of minerals. But it is its management that most effectively promotes its success. This amending Bill clearly facilitates this and further enhances effective management through co-operative governance. Co-operative governance through all spheres of government is what drives our democracy, our economy and the social development of South Africa.
The rising cost of fuel is indeed a great worry. While public transport welcomes a large increase of persons commuting with them to escape the high petrol price, we believe that something needs to be done to subsidise the high cost of fuel. The Minority Front supports this Bill. I thank you.
Ms B TINTO: Chairperson, I'm not disappointed by the hon Schmidt. There's nothing that he supports although he attends meetings all the time and agrees with us in those meetings; but he must report to his party and then his party tells him not to support anything that is going to build this country. So I was expecting that from Mr Schmidt.
Let me bow my head and join all those members of this House, particularly the SACP, in expressing our condolences to the family of Brian Bunting, a true comrade. We also express our condolences to the family of the veteran, Mama Dorothy Mfacu from Gugulethu, who will be buried on 28 June. May their souls rest in peace.
The ANC has been very consistent in its approach to serving the interests of the people, in particular the poor majority. The thrust of this Bill, the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Amendment Development Bill, the MPRDA, is to make sure that the mineral resources of our country are shared among the people of South Africa. All must be able to benefit from them; not only the rich but also the poor. As the Freedom Charter says: "The people shall share in the wealth of the country." This will be done through beneficiation.
Our history is not a history of marginalisation and exclusion of others. It is a history of empowerment of the previously disadvantaged communities and all humanity. We believe in the principle of equal opportunity. We are still committed to and steadfast in the quest to attain the ideals as contained in the Freedom Charter. The promulgation of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill strengthens our resolve to advance the transformation agenda smoothly and efficiently, as we believe that the objective of the National Democratic Revolution will not be fulfilled without the promulgation of progressive policies and legislation.
Indeed, it has been a long road for us to adopt the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill [B 10D-2007], as we understand the mandate given to us by the Constitution of South Africa to pass laws that are credible for the benefit of the people of South Africa. I must say that enough thought and scrutiny was given to this Bill, as the process started in 2007 when the Department of Minerals and Energy presented to us the proposed amendment of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act of 2002.
The B 10D-2007 version of the Bill, that is the initial version of the Bill, was adopted by us on 20 June 2007. The Bill did not proceed further than the NCOP, as it was referred back to us. The Portfolio Committee on Minerals and Energy, with the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, was afforded an opportunity to make submissions on B 10D pertaining to the regulation of the environmental management system. As I have already indicated, the journey was not easy. The people of South Africa are waiting for us to make a momentous decision on what the Bill seeks to achieve at the end of the day.
Despite the fact that the initial Bill that was presented to us was in favour of promoting sound environmental management, the two departments, the Department of Minerals and Energy and the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, were afforded an opportunity to reach an amicable solution pertaining to sound environmental management principles. As a result of such an extensive consultation process between these two departments, a clear separation of powers between the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism and that of the Minister of Minerals and Energy was commendable.
The Bill seeks to harmonise the environmental impact assessment requirements with national norms and standards set out in the National Environmental Management Act of 1998. Since B 10D-2007 was adopted by us, and as it also allowed for consultation between the two departments, as the Portfolio Committee on Minerals and Energy, we could have decided to instruct the state law advisors to revise the Bill accordingly. However, we had to afford the people of South Africa, including the stakeholders, an opportunity to make their submissions on the Bill even if time was not on our side.
There are no fundamental changes introduced in B 10-2007D. It is actually clear that the Bill sought to achieve the improvement of the technical nature of the MPRDA, in order to promote efficient and effective administration of the country's mineral resources. In addition, the objects of the initial Bill are still maintained in the latter version of the Bill, as it seeks to enhance the promotion of the participation of the historically disadvantaged people, including the community in the mining industry, whilst, at the same time, preventing the occurrence of fronting, share manipulation and exploitation of BEE.
The Bill empowers the Minister, where the application relates to the land occupied by the community, to impose conditions as are necessary to promote the rights and interests of the community, including the conditions requiring the participation of the community. That did not go down well with most of the stakeholders in their presentations to us. The response of the Department of Minerals and Energy pertaining to this indicated that the Minister, when imposing conditions that require community participation, will take into account the existing arrangements not to exceed the requirements regarding empowerment, social and economic welfare, the Mining Charter and the social labour plans required.
Also, such participation by the community will be on a commercial basis in our sober judgement. We are agitated by the fact that the regulators of the MPRDA are still having a problem with holders of old order rights that suspend the administration process, by submitting the necessary information within a reasonable time for the Minister to make the decision. [Time expired.] The ANC supports the Bill. [Applause.]
The MINISTER OF MINERALS AND ENERGY: Thank you very much, Chairperson. I only have three minutes to respond to Mr Schmidt. Thank you to all the members and the Minister in absentia. With regard to the issue of royalties, Mr Schmidt, this is a matter for the National Treasury but the MPRDA has entrenched the rights of the communities so they can continue to receive them; there is nothing to the contrary. It is also not true that the Bill sets an additional 10% as raised by you with regard to the issue of residues.
The Minister's power to set these conditions is meant to ensure that in the context of the BBBEE requirement, the communities hosting such operations will be considered therein – nothing separate from that. However, with regard to the same issue of residues, if we do not regulate, nobody will know how much minerals have been recovered even from the mine dumps. Nobody would know what profits have been made there. After all, what is in the dumps themselves is still the mineral wealth of this country and it must be shared by all the people of South Africa. So, Mr Schmidt, unfortunately, we will have to regulate the mine dumps because there are treasures in them.
I thank all the members for participating and I hope that we will all support the Bill, including Mr Schmidt, after the explanation that I have given him. [Applause.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr G Q M Doidge): That concludes the debate. Are there any objections to the Bill being read a second time? Please raise your objection, hon Kaylan. I put the question: Are there any objections to the Bill being read a second time? You can put your objection, please.
Mrs S V KAYLAN: Chairperson, will you please record the objection of the DA.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr G Q M Doidge): Certainly, thank you very much. Any further objections? None. Order! That objection will be noted.
Bill read a second time (Democratic Alliance dissenting).
AIR SERVICES LICENSING AMENDMENT BILL
(Second Reading debate)
Mr J P CRONIN: Chairperson, hon Ben Martins and other backbenchers present in the House, the Air Services Licensing Board basically licenses air services operating domestically within South Africa. Operations outside of South Africa, including SAA operations, fall under a different dispensation.
This is a small, technical amendment to the principal Act, the Air Services Act of 1990. Back in 1990, when they referred to chairpersons, they referred to them as "chairmen", and they referred to "hes" without "shes". We have obviously cleaned that up in this amendment.
More substantially, although not on a massive scale, we have also added other amendments. We've arranged for a consultation process that the Minister must pursue prior to selecting members for this, basically, advisory board. We said that, amongst the stakeholders who must be consulted by the Minister in putting together the board, organised labour should also be included.
We've also added an amendment, which allows for some kind of continuity in this board. In the principal Act, it just says that board members can serve for three years and that's it. That may be desirable in the case of the poorly performing members, but we want to allow for the possibility of continuity and therefore they can be reappointed for periods not exceeding three years.
Finally, we also allow for the Chairperson of the Air Services Licensing Board to be, potentially, a member of the Public Service and potentially, therefore, a member of the Department of Transport. We think that it is important to ensure that there's a dynamic link between the department, and the Minister specifically, and this board. That's basically it.
I am pleased to say that in the committee, as with many of the other pieces of legislation that the Portfolio Committee on Transport deals with, we had a very good consensus and we agreed that there was no need for a debate on this Amending Bill. Therefore the committee is happy to report on the consensus on this amending Bill. Thank you, Chairperson. [Applause.]
There was no debate.
Bill read a second time.
SOUTH AFRICAN NATIONAL SPACE AGENCY BILL
(Second Reading debate)
The MINISTER OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Chairperson and hon members, the Bill before us provides for the establishment of the South African National Space Agency as a public entity that will co-ordinate and integrate National Space Science and Technology Programmes and conduct long-term planning and the implementation of space-related activities in South Africa for the benefit of all citizens.
The Bill is intended to promote the peaceful use of space; support the creation of an environment conducive to industrial development and space technology; foster research in space science, communications, navigations and space physics; advance scientific, engineering and technological competencies and capabilities through human capital development outreach programmes and infrastructure development; and foster international co-operation and space-related activities.
Among other things, the agency will be responsible for the implementation of any space programme in line with the Space Affairs Act of 1993, the implementation of the National Space Science and Technology Strategy and the acquisition, assimilation or dissemination of space satellite data for any organ of state.
Because of its strategic geographical location and enriched biodiversity, South Africa is well positioned to lead research on the continent in terms of understanding and projecting changes to the physical earth system and their impact and to develop strategies for mitigating and limiting their long-term effects.
In this context South Africa's competency and capability in space science and technology should become a key contributor to global space, science and technology. The South African National Space Agency will therefore become an important vehicle for promoting our growing satellite industry and a range of innovations in space sciences, earth observations, communications, navigation and engineering.
In this era of significant climate change the attendant social, economic and environmental consequences underline the need for more significant monitoring of the earth systems, and the role of the agency in the implementation of the National Space Science and Technology Strategy and related programmes will be critical.
Space science and technology benefits a broad range of role-players, and as a way of consolidating efforts aimed at maximising the return on investment in this field, most countries have national legislative and policy instruments which attempt to reform and consolidate the broad diversity of parties that stand to benefit from space activities.
Internationally space policies are normally co-ordinated through dedicated controlling bodies. Historically space agencies have played a key role in supporting and co-ordinating R&D and scientific programmes because they are directly involved in the development and running of the programmes and are ideally placed to develop an indigenous space industry by contracting out projects.
The exploitation and application of space technologies is essential in solving some of the current and future challenges faced by society, which include but are not limited to global warming, climate change and energy needs. Governments and societies are increasingly realising the enormous potential of space sciences and how they can be applied in people's daily lives.
Space activities have specifically contributed and have the potential to continue addressing major societal challenges. These relate to the state of the environment, the use of natural resources, the increase in mobility of individuals and products and their consequences, growing security threats and a shift towards the information society.
To derive maximum value from space applications, we need to fulfil several conditions such as developing our space systems further, improving the integration of these systems with ground base systems and establishing the sustainable and predictable provision of space- based services. This is the part we need to follow if we want to achieve economic growth targets that can yield benefits to all our citizens.
On the basis of the consultations and comments received, we are comfortable at this point that the establishment of the South African National Space Agency is seen as a very positive intervention in the country. In terms of the corporate form, the agency will be a Schedule 3A entity.
Hon members, I now wish to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to Deputy Minister Derek Hanekom, the portfolio committee led by the chairperson hon N G Oliphant, the director-general Dr Phil Mjwara and the management team and staff of my department for working as a collective in the drafting and consultative processes of this Bill.
Chairperson, I submit to the House the South African National Space Agency Bill for consideration and approval. I thank you.
Mr G G OLIPHANT: Thank you, Chairperson. Members, today you will see that chairpersons get more minutes than Ministers, so let's start with first things first. The ANC members will remember that today, 26 June 2008, is the 53rd anniversary of the adoption of the Freedom Charter at the Congress of the People in Kliptown. It is at times like these that the revolutionary forces in our country need to ask the question: How many of the 10 clauses of the Freedom Charter have we fully implemented to date, and what still has to be done to achieve the full implementation of the decisions and mandate given by our forebears?
Amongst us in this House we have hon Ben Turok who was amongst the outstanding leaders of the Congress of the People. He was the chairperson of the provincial action council in the Western Cape at the time. Comrade Ben Turok prides himself on having introduced and written the economic clause of the Freedom Charter: "The people shall share in the country's wealth." Congratulations, Madala, and happy birthday! [Applause.]
Professor Z K Mathews, grandfather of the Minister of Education, Comrade Naledi Pandor, will always be remembered as the initiator of the idea for the Freedom Charter and the Congress of the People over 50 years ago. Thank you very much, Prof.
Some of the ANC members will remember the very rendition of the time, particularly in the early 80s ...
...ke Oliver Tambo, yo o re dumeletseng go tsamaisa Freedom Charter. O ne a na le bomang? Le Mandela le Sisulu, le Mandela le Sisulu." (Translation of Setswana paragraph follows.)
[... it is Oliver Tambo, who allowed us to keep the Freedom Charter going. Who was there with him? It was Mandela and Sisulu, Mandela and Sisulu.]
Let me return to the Freedom Charter. Clause 10 of the Freedom Charter states:
There Shall be Peace and Friendship!
South Africa shall be a fully independent state, which respects the rights and sovereignty of all nations;
South Africa shall strive to maintain world peace and the settlement of all international disputes by negotiations – not war;
Peace and friendship amongst all our people shall be secured by upholding the equal rights, opportunities and status of all; …
The right of all peoples of Africa to independence and self-government shall be recognised, and shall be the basis of close co-operation.
Key amongst the objectives of the South African National Space Agency Bill is the promotion of the peaceful use of space and the fostering of international co-operation in space-related matters. Space infrastructure and technologies are, by their nature, of dual use. These can be used for both civilian and military applications. Today's rockets were developed from yesterday's missiles.
Nations that use space effectively will enjoy added prosperity and security. We have fought against the colonisation of our continent over many years and decades. Now is the time to avoid the re-colonisation of developing nations through our effective use of outer space. Africa must be amongst the nations that hold a substantial geographic advantage.
According to the submission received from the University of the Western Cape, at least three fellow African countries have established their national space agencies years ago. They are Algeria, Nigeria and Egypt. It is overdue that South Africa follows their lead if we are to maintain our sincere and technological reputation.
Mr M J ELLIS: Chairperson, on a point of order: Talking about space, is it appropriate, sir, that a man who occupies so little space in terms of his size should occupy so much time in terms of this debate? [Laughter.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr G Q M Doidge): Unfortunately, Mr Ellis, that is not a point of order.
Mr G G OLIPHANT: Some people are just a waste of flesh and food!
Mr Keith Gottschalk, from the Department of Political Studies of the University of the Western Cape, further went on to remind us, and I quote:
In the past it was the Nasa who selected a historically disadvantaged schoolgirl in Khayelitsha, flew her to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, JPL, in Pasadena, California, and trained her to operate robotically one of their two Mars rovers. In future, it should be our own space agency that organise such schools outreach programmes.
Like many other Bills that went through Parliament, the South African National Space Agency Bill was subjected to public participation and scrutiny. The DST, which is the Department of Science and Technology, Mr Ellis, also gave a report during this process about their own consultation processes, which was very helpful.
The portfolio committee wishes to thank the University of the Western Cape, the University of Cape Town, the Department of Communications, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Telkom, SunSpace, Marcom, the SA Astronomical Observatory, C&M Space Investments, Eskom, Sanparks and Sentech for their valuable written submissions and in particular those entities that afforded the committee the opportunity to interact further with their oral submissions. Nagomso! I must say, the DA was very well behaved here on space matters.
An HON MEMBER: We always are!
Mr G G OLIPHANT: The Bill has been greatly improved from its original form and I wish to thank members of the portfolio committee across all political parties for their excellent work. Give them a big hand. [Applause.]
There were, however, issues that the committee members were uncomfortable about, which included the fact that the Bill was tabled before Parliament without a properly approved National Outer Space Policy by Cabinet. This policy is still in draft form.
Similarly, the National Space Science and Technology Strategy still has to be approved. The committee was assured that both this policy and strategy would be adopted in August 2008, with the formal launch of the strategy in September 2008. We, however, derived some comfort from the fact that there is not necessarily a policy vacuum because we have some legislation on the Statute Book of Parliament: the Space Affairs Act of 1993.
Another matter of concern was the money to be appropriated by Parliament to fund the agency. This matter obviously has to be balanced against other national, competing priorities here on earth. The acquisition and development of appropriate skills and technology was urgently raised during the committee's deliberations and will continue to a form part of and a basis for our ongoing oversight work.
We are encouraged, however, by the determination of private companies like SunSpaceand Marcom. They already have world-class technology in space science and continue to train scientists and engineers in these fields. For example,SunSpace has already built three satellites, two of which were launched and one is still in operation. The Sumbandila Satellite was completed and handed over to the Department of Science and Technology in 2006. This third satellite was intended to be a Low Earth Orbit Satellite and still has to be launched. Sumbandila is an 80 kg microsatellite built bySunSpace under contract to Stellenbosch University on behalf of the DST and that contract was awarded in 2005.
During our public hearings there were suggestions that with some modifications, Sumbandila could be launched into higher space and still provide high-resolution earth observation data.
Let me remind you that in 2007, the department deployed nine black engineering interns to build the training model satellite, while at the same time commissioning developments for a new sensor intended to be used in future remote sensing satellites. Remote sensing from space can provide critical data for flood prevention and flood mitigation.
As stated in the National Space Science and Technology Strategy, timely satellite imagery and communication enables links in hard-to-reach places and can help to stem catastrophic economic and human losses. With these space technologies and applications, societies are able, amongst other things, to engage in communication and navigation positioning anywhere in the world, observe any sport on earth accurately and locate objects anywhere on earth on the surface of the globe. Your mobile phones, your car phones, tracking systems in your vehicles or any fixed asset can be located anywhere using this technology.
As the saying goes, colleagues and comrades, particularly from the DA, using this technology you can run, but you can't hide – we'll find you. For the business community, in particular, the benefits are enormous, and for you, comrades, who travel a lot with your swipe cards, bank transaction times are decreased through instant communication. Broadcast information become worldwide commodities and productivity and deficiency are generally improved. For example, this is the technology necessary for our 2010 Soccer World Cup tournament to be successfully accessible with the necessary equipment to all our homes and anywhere in the world.
Our country has excellent facilities and remarkable capabilities to enhance our competencies in space science and technology. The South African Astronomical Observatory, SAAO, is doing our national research for optical astronomy, the primary function of which is to further fundamental research in astronomy and astrophysics at national and international levels.
You must know that this is Greek to some of my colleagues who are here. [Interjections.] And you can hear the vessels that make the most noise!
In 2005 SAAO made the transition from the construction phase to the operational phase of the Southern African Large Telescope, SALT, in Sutherland. With the large-scale facilities like SALT and other initiatives such as the Square Kilometre Array and the ZSAT, Southern Africa is emerging as a regional space science and technology hub.
The Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory is another facility responsible for research and training in radio astronomy and space geodesy in South Africa. This is one of only six permanent fundamental space geodesy stations worldwide and participates in Geodetic Very Long Baseline Interferometry, VLBI.
With regard to Satellite Laser Ranging and the Global Navigating Satellite System, GNSS, this radio astronomy group is part of the National Astrophysics and Space Science Programme for postgraduate students. The last one that I'll mention just to keep my colleagues on my left hand side very warm, is the Hermanus Magnetic Observatory. It is one other such facility which functions as part of the worldwide network of magnetic observatories. Its core function is to monitor and model variations of the earth's magnetic field.
This Bill is also intended, amongst other things, to advance scientific engineering through human capital. In 1987 the Department of Communications established the Institution for Satellite and Software Applications, ISSA, and the main aim and objective was to introduce young black engineers to the fields of space engineering and space science and technology. More than 500 graduates in satellite engineering, network security and ICT policy research were produced. I am left with one minute.
The vision of ISSA has subsequently evolved to the development of higher level ICT applications to meet the needs of the country and continent.
Finally, the Bill makes provision for the appointment of board members, their remuneration, the establishment of committees and meetings. The CEO and other employees of the agency will have the possibility of a pension fund, which may be established under the Pension Fund Act of 1956.
Comrades, before joining this Parliament in 1994, I was part of the collective of mine workers who dug the deepest mines in the world. Now today I am joining another collective that is determined to launch the highest rockets in the world. [Applause.] I suppose that's the South African spirit of always wanting to be the best.
Let me conclude by thanking the ever hardworking and efficient staff who made it possible for us to conclude our work successfully: Ms Zelna Jansen, who is our committee secretary; Thando Nkalitshana, the study group secretary; Nina Parsons, the PA to the chairperson; the parliamentary legal advisor, Ms Rifilwe Mathabathe; and the state law advisor, Ms Phumelele Ngema, for having been there when we needed them the most. Comrades, thank you very much. [Applause.]
Mr M J ELLIS: Chairperson, I rise on a point of national importance. Could I address you on it, please? One of my colleagues indicated to me – and it is a very important point I believe – that the satellites that the hon Oliphant mentioned can detect anything from a long way off and can find things. As he said: One can never hide from them. We would like to suggest that he gives one of these satellite contraptions to the hon Bloem, who can then help find the 26 000 missing prisoners in this country! [Laughter.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr G Q M Doidge): I am sure the two chairpersons can work something out. Thank you, hon Ellis.
Mr S B FARROW: Chair, I trust our chairperson, the hon Mr Oliphant, would be able to add that long dissertation to his thesis on time or space, or some doctorate of some sort, because he certainly gave us a sort of a long haul there. At the outset, I would just like to also apologise for my colleague the hon Blanché. He is overseas, Minister, and I am sure he would have liked to have been part of this debate, which is a very exciting one.
The South African National Space Agency Bill which is before us binds South Africa closer to the family of nations wishing not only to explore space, but to use it to advance life on Earth. The Bill draws us closer into this family of space explorers, and opens up opportunities for South Africans to play a role in the peaceful use – and I stress peaceful use – of space. To this end, the portfolio committee had the opportunity to meet with enthusiastic citizens, who are eager to start building satellites and rocket launchers, during the public participation process.
The Bill will enable South Africans to actively engage in space technology and industrial development and will foster research in astronomy, Earth observation, communications, navigation and space physics.
More importantly, the passing of the Bill could be an opportunity again for the development of world-class aerospace products and attracting commercial direct foreign investments, all of which is good for our economy and good for job creation. It is important though that the agency envisaged in the Bill must be seen to be supporting the creation of an environment conducive to this development actively and not in essence be seen as competing with private industry. To this end, government must leave industrial development in the hands of the private sector whilst playing a major role in the facilitation and the creation of support mechanisms for small, medium and micro enterprises in this new, exciting arena.
The Bill will further allow South African entities to be part of international co-operation in space-related activities, and bring Africa on board with the other nations already active in this field. The agency will also ensure that government departments will in future work together collectively on space policies while forming an alliance with international space agencies in order to share costs and at the same time share and promote space policies.
This Bill will advance our scientific engineering and technological competencies and capabilities through human capital development and outreach programmes. The Bill will allow the space agency to acquire, assimilate or disseminate space satellite data for any organ of state. It makes the older generation such the hon Mr Ellis and me here very excited as South Africans when we open doors for even younger South Africans to take part in the wonderful world that space travel has opened up for Earth and all life on it.
South Africa has up to now played a significant role in the development of space exploration, and this Bill is just one more achievement added to our role model profile as Africa's leading modern democracy. We have come a long way since Hartebeesthoek first became Africa's eye to the sky.
The data that will be collected, distributed and disseminated will be to the advantage and peaceful development of Southern Africa, and will open up windows of opportunity for Africa as whole, be it in agriculture, weather forecasting, navigation or many other fields of activity. Of particular importance in this regard is the role South Africa can play in monitoring and evaluating climate change and food security in a continent plagued by droughts, floods and the resultant hunger and poverty that follows such disasters, Minister.
This Bill is a small step for Parliament but a giant step for Africa, and therefore, the DA has no problems or any doubt in supporting this very worthwhile Bill. Thank you, sir. [Applause.]
Dr R RABINOWITZ: Chairperson, perhaps it is the nature of humans that we rather prefer to reach outwards towards our Maker somewhere out there in the vast expanse of the universe than to be content with our mere mortal selves.
The establishment of the SA National Space Agency will certainly cater to this calling and inspire young scientists to want to contribute towards the most romantic and dramatic of all sciences: space science! But space and time are relative phenomena. Across the ocean is now across the road. Big Brother in the bedroom is now a satellite eye in the sky. The Earth is indeed a global village openly connected through the Worldwide Web.
Now we reach the next phase which is an interlinked and interactive network of independent content providers from around the globe, sourcing information from satellites configured in such a way that they communicate with others participating in the system. Among the otherwise excellent goals of this Bill is one that wishes to ensure independence from other technologies.
Why, if we are working for the common good and we align ourselves with the international Global Earth Observations System, Geos, which aims to make Earth observation a global public good accessible to all? The power of an eye in the sky as an invader of privacy is immense, and it is important that the information is openly shared.
We are all children of Gaia, Mother Earth, susceptible to the impact of climate change and perhaps never before has the world needed to co-operate in its response to societal issues of disaster, health, energy, water, weather, ecosystems, agriculture and now even crime monitoring. We are not exactly frontrunners in the space race, and we heard yesterday in an excellent report by our chairman how we are failing miserably to protect our indigenous knowledge.
While we reach for new heights, let us not ignore what is under our feet. For the satellite information to be useful to government, superb co-ordination amongst various departments will be required, and that is repeatedly recognised as one of our major failings. Mr Cronin's idea of an administrative committee that co-ordinates government business or the IFP's proposal of a President and an Executive Prime Minister dedicated to managing government business could add immense value to the way our country operates by linking the macro to the micro and one department to another.
No amount of space specialists will enhance the status of our students in maths and science. Hence the ability to convert inspiration through perspiration to aspiration and qualification will remain a major challenge of this Bill. The IFP supports it. Thank you. [Applause.]
Ms S RAJBALLY: Chairperson, the MF is excited that South Africa has finally displayed an interest in astronomy and that our people will soon be engaging in their own studies of space.
The IMAX theatres in Pretoria and Durban host a number of educational documentaries on our planet and space. We are disappointed that the IMAX theatres in Cape Town and Johannesburg have closed down. We find them very beneficial in educating our people and creating an interest among our young. The travels of our Mark Shuttleworth were certainly an achievement and a proud encounter for South Africans. We are pleased that we as a nation are extending ourselves through science and technology to learn more about our planet and space.
The MF, however, is interested in how this will affect our budget and how monies have been allocated to carry this out. Further, we would like to know whether there is an international agreement that we have to ratify to introduce the SA National Space Agency.
Chairperson, it is with great excitement that the MF supports this Bill.
The MINISTER OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Chairperson, it remains for me to thank hon members for a wonderful debate which was entertaining at times.
Although it is space that we are dealing with here, it is actually about Earth. It is about what happens on our Earth: about our health; education; communication; agriculture; town planning; disaster management; navigation; mineral exploration; estimation of our water resources; and, above all, the development of new technologies, engineering and taking our country forward and modernising our economy. But, unfortunately, hon Ellis, we can also find you, if we want to find you, by using this type of technology.
Hon members, we have today laid a foundation for an exciting future for our country in the area of science, technology and engineering. I thank you very much for a wonderful debate. [Applause.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr G Q M Doidge): I hope you don't exclude the hon Bloem and his initiatives, hon Minister!
Bill read a second time.
LIQUOR PRODUCTS AMENDMENT BILL
(Second Reading debate)
Mr D M DLALI: Chairperson, in terms of the powers vested in me by the chairperson of the committee, I submit this Bill for consideration and approval.
However, there are a few things that I want to mention in terms of the Bill in the event that they have not been captured well as a result of the misprints in this Bill. On page 3, line 5, omit "members" and substitute it with "persons"; on page 3, line 37, omit "more than once"; on page 3, line 57, after "shall", insert "immediately thereafter"; page 3, line 59, after "serve" insert "more", that is Clause two. Then, in Clause four, on page 4, line 43, omit "in" and substitute with "including but not limited to".
Having said that, I must add that this Bill has, of course, been agreed to by all parties in the committee, which is a very progressive move by all the parties, irrespective of affiliation.
The main aim of this Bill is to amend the Liquor Products Act of 1989. This Act makes provision for control over the sale and production for sale of alcoholic products for drinking purposes; the composition and properties of such products; the use of certain particulars in connection with the sale of such products; for the establishment of schemes; and for control over the import and export of such products.
This Bill now seeks to amend the principal Act in the following manner: It amends the composition of the Wine and Spirit Board to ensure it represents the entire industry; formalises the custom that the board, in advising the Minister on any aspect of the Act falling outside the ambit of schemes, first consults the interested parties; makes provision that products intended to form alcohol after their sale to the consumer also fall under the Act; amends the requirements of wine to conform to international standards and trends, which includes the proposal that this includes wine made from grapes of the genus Vitis and not only from the species vinifera as is the case at present; creates the framework of compliancy with the Republic's international obligations in respect of geographical indications; clarifies that schemes which are all administered by the board may only be established in respect of liquor products derived from grapes; ensures that the importation of liquor products is subject to the Republic's international obligations; makes provision for the regulation relating to quantity and marking of receptacles used in the production and storage of liquor products; and makes provision for regulations to allow the relaxation of requirements of a regulation or a scheme so as to enable more flexible application of this regulation.
I quickly want to add some other issues. In terms of the background and all that can be done, at present there is a project in the Northern Cape and Free State, which is part of this programme. However, a master plan for further development of the project over the next five years has been developed in collaboration with the department of agriculture of the Northern Cape, and will be submitted for official approval shortly.
Between 650 and 720 ha can be developed for processing of the participating sellers. It will not only provide entry to previously disadvantaged individuals in the wine industry, but also contribute largely to the upliftment of the various communities. The project will provide work for at least 400 people on a full-time basis, and for around 1 300 people on a part-time basis, with an estimated yearly wage income of R15 million. I thank you, Chairperson. [Applause.]
Mr M J ELLIS: Chairperson, just before you do put the question, may I say this is the second time this afternoon that a chairperson has started off a speech by indicating that there are printing errors or editing errors. One does then feel concerned that a Bill of this nature, or Bills of this nature, might well become printed in the unedited form. And I presume, sir, that there is a mechanism to make sure that this is not the case and that, in actual fact, before the President is asked to sign it, those errors will in fact be corrected.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr G Q M Doidge): Thank you, hon Ellis. As no amendment to a Bill can be moved from the podium, the purpose of reading them into the record is so that Hansard can record what the findings of the committee are in the final reading of the Bill, which is a good exercise.
These points will be brought to the attention of the NCOP because these Bills still have to go to the NCOP for concurrence. However, it is a good practice showing that Members of Parliament are looking at the final version of the Bill. So these points will be communicated to the NCOP for them to take them into consideration, but I think all parties must also alert their counterparts in the NCOP to look for these mistakes and rectify them. Thank you, Mr Ellis.
There was no debate.
Bill read a second time.
JUDICIAL SERVICE COMMISSION AMENDMENT BILL
(Consideration of Bill and of Report thereon)
The Chief Whip of the Majority Party, moved: That the Bill, as amended, be passed.
Motion agreed to.
There was no debate.
Bill accordingly passed and Report adopted.
SOUTH AFRICAN JUDICIAL EDUCATION INSTITUTE BILL
(Consideration of Bill and of Report thereon)
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Ngingajabula uma singase siyamukele Sihlalo. Ngiyabonga. [Chairperson, I will appreciate it if we could adopt it. Thank you.]
Motion agreed to.
There was no debate.
Bill accordingly passed and Report adopted.
EXPENDITURE FOR THE THIRD QUARTER OF THE 2007-2008 FINANCIAL YEAR
EXPENDITURE FOR THE FOURTH QUARTER AND YEAR-TO-DATE 2007-2008 FINANCIAL YEAR
(Consideration of Reports)
Ms L L MABE: Chairperson, I will present the Third and Fourth Quarter Reports of the Joint Budget Committee on spending by government at the same time.
Ke simolole ka gore mokgatlho wa rona wa ANC o dumelana le repoto e e tlhagelelang e. [May I begin by saying that our party, the ANC, agrees with this report.]
The JBC did its oversight function on general government expenditure. It held workshops with a few selected departments to have more interaction with the relevant ones, but also to go more deeply into their spending patterns. The portfolio committees of those departments were invited and we commend them for their interaction with the Joint Budget Committee because that exercise strengthened their joint oversight with us on conferral responsibilities and we learnt much from each other.
The departments that were invited were National Treasury, Transport, Home Affairs, Housing, Agriculture and Land Affairs. Although we did oversight over all departments, these were given specific attention.
With Correctional Services and Health more focus was placed on the research that was done on the Kimberly prison and Upington hospital.
Regarding current expenditure, general spending increased in comparison to the previous financial year and it was at 98,5%, which is a great improvement. The virements and shifts in current expenditure were largely attributed to vacancies and delays in procurement, which impacted negatively on service delivery. We hope that in the forthcoming quarters expenditure will increase in those two aspects. The committee has observed that departments budget for the filling of vacancies, then later during the financial year utilise those funds for other activities. With regard to those activities, we have a concern with the intergovernmental co-ordination and monitoring, which remain a problem in terms of how national departments co-ordinate their functions with local government or with provincial departments to ensure that spending does take place.
High expenditure in the last quarter has now turned from a March spike into "the last quarter spike", which means that departments now spend in the last quarter whereas in the past they used to spend in the last month of the financial year – and this needs to be taken note of. National Treasury underspend on funds that are transferred to either provinces or local government, and we are appealing to National Treasury to assist local government and certain provincial departments to plan in order to ensure that those funds are transferred on time.
Although we support the fact that when plans have not been put in place funds must not be transferred. This has also been done by the Department of Housing which we commend for having transferred funds from the Eastern Cape and the Free State governments to other provinces where they could not spend on housing.
The Department of Transport had a positive spending on taxi recapitalisation, although they spent 53% of the allowances in March. That was good spending because finally those taxi owners were paid for recapitalisation. The department also highlighted challenges with regards to vacancies, weak procurement processes and lack of clarity regarding departmental functions between the national department and the provincial governments.
Furthermore the committee was concerned with transferred funds that go to either provinces, local government or public entities. In this regard reference was made to the South African Social Security Agency, Sassa. Huge amounts of funds go to Sassa and they need to be monitored very closely because there has to be change after its formation, in terms of the way grants go to the recipients.
The JBC intends to pay more attention to the transfer of funds in future quarterly reports. The Department of Land Affairs will continue to underspend due to protracted negotiations associated with the purchasing of land.
Re le komiti ra re kgang ya gore o a rekang lefatshe o tla tshwanelwa ke go reka go yo a leng ikaeletseng go le rekisa, ga re dumelane le yone. Ke bua ka kgang ya [willing seller willing buyer approach] ga e re thuse ka sepe e bile re ka itumela ga selo seo se ka fedisiwa. Gore go seke ga tlhole go nna le gore yo a rekisang o tla tshwanelwa ke gore a fiwe madi go ya ka mokgwa o ene a batlang ke teng. Selo, se re busetsa kwa morago gore re seke ra baakanya dikgang tsa lefatshe la rona.
Kgang ya gore fa lefapha le sena mananeo a gore madi a dirisiwa ka tshwanelo kwa mafapheng a leng kwa tlase,go matshwanedi gore fa madi a sa dirisiwe sentle re a tshware mme re a ise kwa re as ek gore go na le bokgoni jwa gore madi ao a ka dirisiwa.
Fa re lebelela tiriso madi mo capital expenditure, re lebeletse Lefapha la Home Affairs. (Translation of Setswana paragraphs follows.)
[As the committee, we do not buy the idea that the purchaser of the land should show his intention to buy only if the seller is prepared to sell. This willing seller willing buyer approach does not help us in any way and we would be happy if it is eventually abolished so that there will never again be a seller who asks for an offer in order to be able to sell. This whole thing is a total drawback which makes it difficult for us to resolve our land issues.
If the department does not have measures in place to ensure that spending is done properly in the provincial departments and local government, it is then advisable to withhold funding for departments which use their finances inefficiently, and rather transfer them to the departments which will use them efficiently.
With regard to spending in capital expenditure, we are actually looking at the Department of Home Affairs.]
The Hanis project has been in the pipeline for a long time and spending in this regard should be given serious attention because this project must come to fruition; it must become a child that can walk on its own. Furthermore we were concerned about spending on the Upington hospital and Kimberly prison. We do not understand why there is no budget for that because the ground work has been done, so why is there no budget for this project to be completed.
The findings of the committee are that spending has increased in most departments, although there are challenges that still prevail; but it is good that spending has increased. We also noticed that virements and shifts are still attributed to vacancies and delays in procurements. Poor planning implementation and financial management are still a challenge to most departments and this needs serious attention. Many departments experience difficulties with the Department of Public Works with regard to capital spending and maintenance.
Ka kakaretso mafapha a lela ka lefapha la Tirelo ya Setšhaba. Fa ba tshwanetse gore ba dirise madi go tokafatsa dikago tsa mmuso, ditirelo tsa setšhaba e ba tshwara diatla. Mme re ka itumela fa lerapha la ditirelo tsa setšhaba le ka leka go baakanya ntlo ya yone gore ba kgone gore ba thuse mafapha a mangwe a kgone go dira tiro ya bone. (Translation of Setswana paragraph follows.)
[In general, many departments are complaining about the Department of Public Works. Other departments are willing to spend their budgets to improve government buildings but Public Works retard them in this regard. We would be happy if Public Works would put its house in order so that they do not delay other departments but rather help them to carry out their functions.]
Some of the departments do not respond timeously to queries by the committee. This creates a challenge when we have to finalise our reports, because if responses come after the reports have been adopted there is no way that we can include them.
In addition, one of the recommendations that we propose is that both the Departments of Public Service and Administration and National Treasury must revisit their policy on spending on vacant posts. The Department of Public Works must strengthen its capacity to improve co-ordination and working relations on capital projects and maintenance with other departments.
I attended a meeting of the NCOP with the Auditor- General, where the Auditor-General earlier on indicated that financial spending in all government spheres can be improved provided that simple basics are put in place. The Auditor-General also indicated that it does not require complex skills to get people who can do filing and can file documents so that when auditing takes place documents can be provided. Those are not rare skills; they can be provided for and they are there in the market.
We are happy, as the JBC, about the portfolio committees that worked with us. We learned from our interaction about policies that you deal with and you benefited from us on how spending in your respective department takes place. I would also like to thank all the budget committee members and all the staff that worked with us for the effort that they put into the work of the committee. We thank the departments that responded to our queries and we hope that in future other departments will respond on time and not when it is already too late.
Ke tla kopa rre Modulasetulo gore e re fa ke baya repoto e fa pele ga ntlo e mo nakong e e tlang re tle re bone go na le phapang e kgolo. Bokgoni bo teng bo kwa mebileng, di tlhoka fela gore di tsewe di tsenngwe mo mafapheng, bo dirisiwe gore dilo di tle di tsamaye ka tshwanelo. Ke a leboga. (Translation of Setswana paragraph follows.)
[Chairperson, I would appreciate it if next time when I present this report before the House, we should be able to notice a major difference. There are a lot of skills out there in the streets, they only need to be brought in and be used by these departments, to ensure that everything goes well. Thank you.]
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Modulasetulo a re adopt report ena. Re a leboga. [Chairperson, I move that this report be adopted. Thank you.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr G Q M Doidge): I was very happy that the Chief Whip used the English word for "adopt" because SeSotho ha ke se tsebe. [I don't know Sesotho.] The motion is that the report be adopted.
Motion agreed to.
There was no debate.
Reports accordingly adopted.
AD HOC COMMITTEE ON MATTERS RELATING TO THE EX-MINEWORKERS' UNION
(Consideration of Report thereon)
Mr M R SONTO: Chairperson, Ministers, Deputy Ministers and hon members, I submit to this House a committee report on matters relating to the ex-Mineworkers' union, and the necessary recommendations for consideration and adoption by this House. This comes after a preliminary report was tabled here and an extension was granted as requested by the ad hoc committee.
These matters emanate from a historical practice of the old regime of creating the wealth of the country through the toil and sweat of mineworkers, who benefited nothing in return. Drawn from small towns, villages and far-flung rural areas, these mineworkers would brave the heat, cold and storms queueing for work in the mines at various Teba offices, as these were recruiting agencies for various mines.
Nobody from the recruitment agencies or none of the mine bosses cared to call these workers by their names, as numbers on their wrists bands were their form of identity. Their addresses were unknown and the areas from which they came were regarded as dormitories from which cheap labour could be extracted. Hailing from all the hinterlands of South and Southern Africa, they would crowd onto various trains heading for various mines.
The report we are tabling is confined to those who came from South Africa. Their work deep down in the belly of the earth was not only dangerous, because little attention was paid to safety, but was also hazardous to their health, leaving various mineworkers with lung and other forms of diseases. The disputes and claims by ex-mineworkers' unions and other unions – we happened to listen to them – came about because of limited compensations paid to ex-mineworkers.
The fragmented manner in which these limited compensations were made, created an assumption amongst ex-mineworkers and their families that a lot should be expected from the mines and government departments, which were later drawn into the process of resolving the matter. This expectation translated into, and was projected in, various protest actions by ex-mineworkers and people related to them.
Whilst claims were made that the ex-mineworkers' union and others, do not have the status of being a union in terms of the Labour Relations Act, LRA, the committee held the view that these were formations whose claims bore legitimacy in many respects and they had a case in their cause. Because there were no proper records kept by the employer and the recruiting agent, Teba, and, to an extent, because of their movement to townships, it became and is still very difficult or impossible to trace or track these ex-mineworkers.
It was most interesting for the committee to observe that each stakeholder interviewed within the process attempted to deny responsibility and shifted the blame to another stakeholder. This was the case in particular with Teba, the Chamber of Mines, the National Union of Mineworkers, Num, and the two provident funds. The committee also found a lot of disjuncture in the manner in which government departments sought to solve the problem, with each department having its own approach.
This opened government departments, and the institutions involved, to forms of exploitative actions against them by the unions and members associated with them. The committee found out that while the benefits were, indeed, paid out to bona fide beneficiaries that could be identified, there are sums that have not been paid out or disbursed and the fragmented system of payment has not been rectified.
Given the unique situation here, there needs to be a co-ordinated approach, and the committee recommended the establishment of an interdepartmental task team that would adequately co-ordinate these matters, as published in the Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports, ATCs. As the chairperson of this ad hoc committee, I would want to thank everyone who made the task of this ad hoc committee less difficult. I stand here, on their behalf and representing them, asking Parliament to adopt the report and accede to the recommendations therein. I thank you. [Applause.]
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Modulasetilo, a re amogele pegelo e. Ke a leboga. [Chairperson, let us adopt this report. Thank you.]
Motion agreed to.
There was no debate.
Report accordingly adopted.
PROTOCOL AMENDING THE AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA AND THE GOVERNMENT OF AUSTRALIA FOR THE AVOIDANCE OF DOUBLE TAXATION AND THE PREVENTION OF FISCAL EVASION WITH RESPECT TO TAXES ON INCOME
(Consideration of request for approval by Parliament in terms of section 231(2) of Constitution)
AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA AND THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SUDAN FOR THE AVOIDANCE OF DOUBLE TAXATION AND THE PREVENTION OF FISCAL EVASION WITH RESPECT TO TAXES ON INCOME
(Consideration of request for approval by Parliament in terms of section 231(2) of Constitution)
Mr M N NENE: Ngiyabonga Sihlalo, mina okwami kulula nje ... [Chairperson, mine is very easy, it ...]
... is just to request that this House, in terms of sections 231(1) and 231(2) of our Constitution adopts these double taxation agreements. Thank you. [Applause.]
Motion agreed to.
There was no debate.
Protocol and agreement accordingly adopted.
The House adjourned at 19:15.
ANNOUUNCEMENTS, TABLINGS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS
National Assembly and National Council of Provinces
The Speaker and the Chairperson
1. Bills passed by Houses – to be submitted to President for assent
(1) Bills passed by National Assembly on 26 June 2008:
(a) South African Judicial Education Institute Bill [B 4D – 2007] (National Assembly – sec 75)
(b) Judicial Service Commission Amendment Bill[B 50B - 2007] (National Assembly – sec 75)
2. Introduction of Bills
(1) The Minister of Trade and Industry
(a) Companies Bill [B 61 – 2008] (National Assembly – proposed sec 75) [Explanatory summary of Bill and prior notice of its introduction published in Government Gazette No 31104 of 30 May 2008.]
Introduction and referral to the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry of the National Assembly, as well as referral to the Joint Tagging Mechanism (JTM) for classification in terms of Joint Rule 160.
In terms of Joint Rule 154 written views on the classification of the Bills may be submitted to the JTM within three parliamentary working days.
3. Classification of Bills by Joint Tagging Mechanism (JTM)
(1) The JTM in terms of Joint Rule 160(6) classified the following Bills as section 75 Bills:
(a) National Radioactive Waste Management Agency Bill [B 41 – 2008] (National Assembly – sec 75).
(b) Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill [B 42 – 2008] (National Assembly – sec 75).
(c) Legal Succession to the South African Transport Services Amendment Bill [B 43 – 2008] (National Assembly – sec 75).
(d) Medicines and Related Substances Amendment Bill [B 44 – 2008] (National Assembly – sec 75).
(e) National Conventional Arms Control Amendment Bill [B 45 – 2008] (National Assembly – sec 75).
(f) Intellectual Property Rights from Publicly Financed Research and Development Bill[B 46 – 2008] (National Assembly – sec 75).
(g) Skills Development Amendment Bill [B 49 – 2008] (National Assembly – sec 75).
(h) Built Environment Professions Bill [B 53 – 2008] (National Assembly – sec 75).
(i) Medical Schemes Amendment Bill [B 58 – 2008] (National Assembly – sec 75).
(2) The JTM in terms of Joint Rule 160(6) classified the following Bills as section 76 Bills:
(a) National Road Traffic Amendment Bill [B 39 – 2008] (National Assembly – sec 76).
(b) Public Administration Management Bill [B 47 – 2008] (National Assembly – sec 76).
(c) National House of Traditional Leaders Bill [B 56 – 2008] (National Assembly – sec 76).
The Bill has also been classified as a Bill falling within the ambit of section 18(1)(a) of the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act, 2003 (Act No 41 of 2003).
(d) Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Amendment Bill [B 57 – 2008] (National Assembly – sec 76).
The Bill has also been classified as a Bill falling within the ambit of section 18(1)(a) of the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act, 2003 (Act No 41 of 2003).
4. Calling of Joint Sitting - amended
The Speaker of the National Assembly, Ms B Mbete, and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Mr M J Mahlangu, in terms of Joint Rule 7(2), have called a joint sitting of the Houses of Parliament for Friday, 27 June 2008 at 9:30 in order to celebrate the 90th birthday of Nelson Rholihlahla Mandela, former President of the Republic.
B MBETE, MP M J MAHLANGU, MP
SPEAKER OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY NATIONAL COUNCIL OF PROVINCES
National Assembly and National Council of Provinces
1. The Minister for Public Enterprises
(a) Eskom's 2008/09 tariff increase and amended pricing structure subsequent to NERSA's revision of the 2008/09 Eskom price increase from 14,2% on 18 June 2008, tabled in terms of section 42(2) of the Local Government: Municipal Finance Management Act, 2003 (Act No 56 of 2003), and supporting documents required in terms of section 42(3) of the same Act.
National Assembly and National Council of Provinces
CREDA INSERT REPORTS - T080626e-insert1 – PAGES 1437-1456
No related documents
- B7-2008 - Tobacco Products Control Amendment Bill
- B10-2007 - Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill
- B22-2008 - Liquor Products Amendment Bill
- B20-2008 - South African National Space Agency Bill
- B25-2008 - Air Services Licensing Amendment Bill
- B50-2007 - Judicial Service Commission Amendment Bill