Hansard: Questions for Oral Reply : President Jacob Zuma
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 11 Nov 2009
No summary available.
QUESTIONS FOR ORAL REPLY BY PRESIDENT JACOB ZUMA
THURSDAY, 12 NOVEMBER 2009
ê7. Ms D G Nhlengethwa (ANC) to ask the President of the Republic:
What (a) are the outcomes of the recent discussions between the Presidency, municipal managers, directors-general and representatives from all three spheres of government on the state of local government on 20 October 2009 and (b) measures will be implemented to strengthen governance at local government level? NO2630E
Let me first express my appreciation to the Mayors and Municipal Managers of all 283 municipalities for having taken their time to attend the meeting that was held in Khayelitsha on the 20th of October 2009.
We had fruitful discussions and the meeting was a success.
The outcomes of the meeting were that government should do everything possible to address the major challenges facing local government.
We resolved that we need to capacitate municipalities and strengthen intergovernmental relations in order to improve the delivery of services to the people.
We also resolved that we will improve the governance, financial and administrative capacities in some municipalities as well as root out corruption and address the political problems that are causing great delays in service delivery.
Furthermore, we agreed that there is a need for municipalities to prioritise skills development, and the recruitment of accountants and other skilled personnel to ensure efficiency.
It is apparent that at some municipalities, the lack of service delivery and mismanagement of resources is as a result of poor or unavailable skills.
The Local Government Indaba on the State of Local Government, which was held a day after the Khayelitsha meeting, resolved to develop a Turn-around Strategy for Local Government, which will be ready in the next few months.
The strategy is aimed at explaining in detail how government plans to change the state of local government in a manner that will ensure that local government functions efficiently and effectively in delivering services.
This strategy is also designed to provide solutions on how the lack of service delivery in municipalities could be turned around for the benefit of our people.
Honourable Members, we have asked the other two spheres of government to provide all the necessary support to municipalities in order to make sure that local government functions better.
In addition, provincial and national departments as well as other state organs that owe money to municipalities have been encouraged to pay what is owed as soon as it is possible.
Perhaps most importantly, we have made a call to all municipalities to focus on their mandate of serving our people with dedication, humility and honesty because we believe that better functioning municipalities will play a meaningful role in ensuring that our dream of a better life for all is achieved.
The Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs will monitor progress in this regard and report back on a quarterly basis.
I thank you.
ê8. Rev K R J Meshoe (ACDP) to ask the President of the Republic:
(1) Whether, during a meeting with religious leaders held in Bishop's Court on 17 October 2009, he stated that some laws on the nation's statute books are not in line with God's laws and need to be revised; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, which laws was he referring to;
(2) Whether (a) he intends to propose for these laws to be repealed or amended and (b) public engagements will be held in this regard; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, when will this process start? NO2628E
During an address in Cape Town on 17 October 2009, I said that some Christians sometimes feel that some of the country's laws do not accord with Christian principles to the extent that they should.
Having expressed that view, I wish to remind the House that South Africa is a secular state in which the Constitution and the rule of law are supreme.
It is a country of many faiths, denominations and beliefs.
The Bill of Rights stipulates that:
"Everyone has the right to freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion."
It would therefore be incorrect to give preference in the development of legislation to any one religion or faith.
As publicly elected representatives of our people from diverse religions, faiths and beliefs it is my contention that we should at all times strive to ensure that our laws neither offend the beliefs of any group nor impose the beliefs of another.
Rather, we should ensure that our laws are consistent with the values that are common to all South Africans.
As the Honourable Member would know, there are channels available for people who believe, within plausible grounds, that certain laws need to be repealed or amended.
I would therefore encourage people to understand the context within which our laws have been formulated.
Any person has a right to approach any of the relevant institutions should they feel that their Constitutional rights have been infringed upon.
I thank you.
ê9. Mr J H van der Merwe (IFP) to ask the President of the Republic:
(1) Whether he has been informed that the police has the requisite training to make split-second decisions when he informed a 1000 police station commanders that section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act, Act 51 of 1977 will be amended to give police lenience to shoot; if so, what are the relevant details;
(2) Whether this amendment would be extended to ordinary citizens; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details? NO2639E
None in this Parliament can refute the fact that our law enforcement forces are confronted by perilous situations as they seek to ensure the safety of the nation.
Having said that, at no point in my address to the Station Commissioners did I give police licence to shoot suspects in circumstances other than those provided for by law.
It is worth reiterating what I told the station commissioners. I said:
"As you are aware, we seek to strengthen the hand of the police in dealing with violent criminals.
"We intend to finalise amendments to Section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act, with a view to taking the amendments to Parliament soon.
"This is a measure aimed specifically at dealing with serious violent crime and dangerous criminals.
"It is the duty of the police to protect all people against injury or loss of life.
"But when their lives or the lives of innocent civilians are threatened, police sometimes have no choice but to use lethal force to defend themselves and others…
"We expect our police officers to observe the law and respect the rights of innocent citizens, at all times."
The Criminal Procedure Act deals with the use of force in effecting arrest.
In our view, where the law still exhibits gaps that negatively impact on the ability of the police to perform their work effectively, then such gaps in the law must be addressed without delay.
This would include the use of deadly force as provided for and defined in our legislation.
As the Minister of Police has already said in this House, the technical amendments to Section 49 will take cognisance of the founding principles of our Constitution.
The exact detail of the wording of this amendment is being finalised and still has to be submitted to Cabinet for ratification.
Police recruits undertake general training, part of which includes equipping them with the skills and knowledge required for them to use deadly force under the circumstances stipulated by law.
But that training needs to be improved.
Therefore the proposed amendments that seek to provide more clarity, need to be complemented by training of all police officers on the relevant sections of the legislation.
Section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977, refers to "an arrestor", who can be any person who is authorised in terms of the Act to effect an arrest, including a citizen's arrest.
In light of the work still being undertaken, it's not possible to say what effect the proposed amendment would have, if any, on this provision.
I thank you.
ê10. Mrs F Hajaij (ANC) to ask the President of the Republic:
What are the (a) obstacles and (b) challenges facing the African Union and the Pan-African Parliament in promoting (i) peace, (ii) development, (iii) democracy and (iv) economic growth on the African continent? NO2631E
The African Union has, since its inception in 2002, made important strides towards the goal of establishing an African Economic Community as outlined in the Abuja Treaty.
However, as the African Union (AU) continues to grow as a continental entity, a number of challenges remain, particularly with respect to peace and security, regional integration, development and economic growth.
Some of these relate to the AU's institutional architecture and capacity constraints.
Decisions of the AU Assembly are often not implemented timeously.
It often takes a long time for treaties to be ratified by member states.
There are also challenges around the mandate of the AU Commission, specifically the implications of transforming the AU Commission into the AU Authority.
The financing of AU activities and non-payment of contributions by some member states limits its capacity to undertake its work.
Peace missions in Africa often face challenges relating to funding and capacity.
During its tenure in the UN Security Council, South Africa advocated the need to strengthen and enhance the relationship between the UN and regional organisations such as the AU.
Despite a UN Security Council resolution, the AU continues to struggle for funding from its own resources to intervene in the continent's conflicts.
The attainment of democracy in all parts of Africa is an important AU goal.
In this regard, the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance marks the culmination of commitments that have been collectively taken by African member states over the last two decades.
It provides a consolidated point of reference for all AU efforts to enhance the overall state of democracy, elections and governance across Africa.
The pace of regional integration on the continent is uneven.
Within the eight regional economic communities protocols and programmes are often not harmonised.
Some countries are members of more than one regional economic community.
There is also a disjuncture between the integration processes underway in the regional economic communities and the accelerated momentum given to the union government process.
In other words, the political integration process is not sufficiently aligned to the economic process.
Development is hampered by the low levels of intra-Africa trade and the lack of cross border infrastructure.
Poverty and unemployment, exacerbated by the global economic downturn, continue to undermine development.
This is compounded by food and energy insecurity; the impact of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis; and low levels of education.
The Pan-African Parliament similarly faces challenges around its institutional and financial architecture.
These challenges are not unique to a structure of this magnitude that is still in its infancy.
There is a need to improve the working relationship between the African Union and the Pan-African Parliament.
Since the election of the new Bureau of the Parliament, the relations are on the mend.
Another challenge is the absence of the Terms of Reference to guide the review of the Protocol establishing the Parliament.
These are important for guiding the transformation of the institution from an advisory body to a legislative structure elected by universal adult suffrage.
Since the AU is yet to make a final determination on this matter, it is difficult for the Parliament to chart its way forward.
The Parliament's lack of enforcement powers – its inability to ensure that its recommendations and resolutions are binding – reduces its capacity to contribute to peace, development, democracy and economic growth.
Despite these challenges, the organs of the AU continue to play a critical role in advancing the renewal of the African continent.
Much progress has been made since their establishment in forging African unity and developing a common vision for a peaceful, stable and prosperous continent.
As South Africa, we must undertake to work with our fellow Africans to overcome these challenges, and ensure that the AU and Pan-African Parliament realise the expectations of the people of this continent.
I thank you.
ê11. The Leader of the Opposition (DA) to ask the President of the Republic:
(1) Whether the Government has a different policy towards the political and economic stability in Zimbabwe as compared to the quiet diplomacy of the previous government; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what are the relevant details;
(2) Whether he has been informed of a certain document (details furnished) that was submitted to his office on 23 October 2009; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so,
(3) Whether the Government will consider implementing the proposals contained therein; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details? NO2638E
South Africa's approach to the political and economic challenges facing Zimbabwe is premised on the sovereign right of the people of Zimbabwe to determine their own future.
Its approach is guided by the common values and objectives of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), to which both countries belong.
Our response needs to be located within the positions adopted by multilateral institutions like SADC and the African Union.
As is commonly known, SADC has been engaged with the parties in Zimbabwe in pursuit of a solution.
Under the auspices of SADC, the main political parties to the political dialogue concluded and signed the Global Political Agreement (GPA) which in turn formed the basis for the formation of the Inclusive Government in Zimbabwe.
As part of SADC, we have consistently worked towards ensuring that all of the terms and conditions of the GPA are implemented by all the parties.
As the Chair of SADC from August 2008 to September 2009, South Africa played a central role in facilitating the current agreement.
There have been some notable achievements since the inception of the agreement, including the establishment of an inclusive government, an improved political environment, and progress towards economic recovery.
Where obstacles have been identified, we wasted no time in interacting with all role players, particularly the Zimbabwean protagonists to impress upon them, both publicly and in private discussions, to remain true to the commitments contained in the GPA.
To this end, South Africa participated in the Summit of the Troika of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security, which met in Mozambique on 5 November 2009.
The Summit decided that the three political parties signatory to the GPA should engage in dialogue with immediate effect within 15 days and not beyond 30 days.
This dialogue should include all the outstanding issues emanating from the implementation of the GPA and SADC Communique of 27 January 2009.
The Summit confirmed South Africa as the facilitator on behalf of SADC, and charged it to remain seized with the developments on the implementation of the GPA.
We are required to evaluate progress and report back to the Chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.
South Africa will therefore be engaging with the parties in Zimbabwe in the coming days and weeks to assist them to resolve all outstanding matters within the deadlines to which they have all agreed.
The difficulties experienced in fully implementing the GPA should not cause us to abandon this agreement, as some have proposed.
The progress that has been made should instead encourage us to work harder to resolve the few outstanding issues.
The contents of the document referred to in paragraph (2) of the question are being studied and will be accorded the necessary consideration.
It is nevertheless important to reiterate the principle point that the people of Zimbabwe have the sovereign right to determine their own future.
Our role, as South Africa and the broader international community, is to provide whatever assistance we can to ensure the resolution of the challenges they face.
South Africa is fully supportive of the Global Political Agreement, and is committed to the decisions that SADC has taken on this matter.
I thank you.
ê12. Rev H M Dandala (Cope) to ask the President of the Republic:
(1) Whether he will publish the records of complaints received through the presidential hotline; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details;
(2) Whether any person has been investigated as a result of the presidential hotline; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details? NO2640E
The Presidential Hotline was established as part of an enhanced public liaison capacity within the Presidency.
Its objective is to provide redress for members of the public who have not been adequately assisted by the structures and process of government, and for those who are too far from where government centres or offices are found.
The hotline is an important part of our effort to improve the accessibility, responsiveness and transparency of government.
We will therefore be publishing on a regular basis reports on the complaints received by the hotline.
We will also indicate what responses or actions have been taken to address the matters raised.
I have requested the public liaison unit in the Presidency to develop a standard reporting format that will enable us to make public a detailed report on the matters handled by the presidential hotline.
This will assist us in understanding the nature and extent of the challenges our people face, and, importantly, monitoring how these issues are being attended to by government departments.
We will then be able to track progress over time.
We are committed to making available as much relevant information as possible without compromising the confidentiality and privacy of any callers or other individuals.
The hotline has received a number of corruption-related allegations.
These are forwarded to the relevant departments or entities affected.
However, due to the sensitive nature of the information and the fact that these are still at the stage of allegations, divulging details could compromise any subsequent investigation that may follow.
It could also prejudice the rights of those against whom the allegations have been made.
I thank you.
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