Hansard: Appropriation Bill : Debate on Vote No 1 - The Presidency (Resumption of Debate)

House: National Assembly

Date of Meeting: 24 Jun 2009


No summary available.




Thursday, 25 June 2009 Take: 108





The House met at 14:04.

The Speaker took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.



Mr J J MCGLUWA: Speaker, I hereby give notice that on the next sitting day of the House I shall move:

That the House debates the following subject for discussion:

The unwarranted attack on our vuvuzelas by conservative elements and the evidence for that.


I will submit evidence when this matter is brought to the House for debate. [Applause.]



Ms J D KILIAN: Speaker, I hereby give notice that on the next sitting day of the House I shall on move behalf of the Congress of the People, Cope:

That the House-

(1) notes that –

(a) the SABC is an independent public broadcaster and as such belongs to all South Africans, irrespective of race, gender and political persuasion;

(b) it is facing its most serious financial and management crisis in the history of the Corporation, which has left producers unpaid and resulted in the cancellation of popular television programmes, and which could risk the screening of important sporting events; and

(c) most SABC board members resigned after political pressure to do so was exerted upon them by the ruling alliance, which now leaves a leadership vacuum in the public broadcaster; and

(2) therefore resolves to call on the Portfolio Committee on Communications ...

Mr C T FROLICK: Speaker, on a point of order: I wish to point out that the matter of the SABC Board is currently in front of Parliament, and that there is an inquiry that is currently taking place. And we believe that the relevant committee will report to the House on the matter. And as such I want you to rule on the matter, please.

The SPEAKER: Are you done, hon member? Hon member you are anticipating a matter coming before the House. You are, therefore, out of order. [Applause.]



Ms C DUDLEY: On behalf of the ACDP I give notice that I shall move:

That the House –

(1) notes the current Plan of Study for the Environmental Impact Assessment on Nuclear1, 2 and 3, which ended on 23 June 2009;

(2) acknowledges that amongst other things the plan focuses on the proposed nuclear power station at Bantamsklip, east of Pearly Beach and Gansbaai;

(3) further notes that this is in the magnificent Whale Coast area and southernmost tip of Africa where there is a delicate and harmonious balance between human settlement, tourism and natural environment;

(4) further acknowledges that if plans proceed as proposed concerned residents and environmentalists believe it would be disastrous for the region; and

(5) calls on the Government to seriously consider the concerns of people, the impact of the nuclear proposal on tourism in the area and the impact on the region in general.



Ms A M DREYER: Speaker, I hereby give notice that I shall move:

That the House debates the following subject for discussion:

The findings and recommendations made by the Auditor-General in his report on a performance audit of entities that are connected with government employees and doing business with national departments which revealed that more than 2 000 members of the public service were involved in tender rigging and corruption worth more than R610 million.



Mr W P DOMAN: Speaker, I hereby give notice that on the next sitting day of the House I shall move on behalf of the DA:

That the House debates the following subject for discussion:

The national government's recent acknowledgement that it is possibly considering abolishing or reducing the number of provinces and the implications this will have on the constitutional imperative of three independent spheres of government.




(Draft Resolution)

The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Speaker, I move without notice:

That the House –

(1) notes that our national soccer team, Bafana Bafana, will play in the Confederations Cup semi-final against Brazil today, Thursday, 25 June 2009;

(2) further notes that the organisation of the event has been really top class and even more pleasing is that players will be returning to their home countries with a good opinion of South Africa, the people, fans, stadiums, hotels and training facilities;

(3) believes that the participation of our national soccer team in this competition contributes to the efforts of the progressive humanity across the globe to deepen the bond of human solidarity across national boundaries; and

(4) congratulates the Bafana Bafana team and wishes them the best of luck in the competition.

Agreed to.




(Draft Resolution)

Mr M J ELLIS: Mr Speaker, I move without notice:

That the House –

(1) notes that the Springboks beat the British and Irish Lions 26-21 in the first of their three -match test series on Saturday, 20 June 2009;

(2) further notes that South African loosehead prop Tendai "the Beast" Mtawarira's outstanding performance resulted in him being Man of the Match;

(3) recognises that this win serves as a great boost for the Springboks who last won a series against the British and Irish Lions 29 years ago;

(4) acknowledges the unwavering and vibrant support shown by Springbok fans in Durban and around the country on Saturday who heeded to the calls of the team to wear green and who proudly waved their South African flags throughout the match; and

(5) congratulates the team on their victory and wishes them well for the second match of the test series at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday, 27 June 2009.

Agreed to.




(Draft Resolution)

Mr M J ELLIS: Mr Speaker. I move without notice:

That the House –

(1) notes that Monday, 22 June 2009, marked the beginning of Literacy Week in South Africa;

(2) acknowledges that basic literacy is the cornerstone of education, is a means for social and human development and provides people with the opportunity to empower themselves and to achieve their goals;

(3) recognises that there are millions of children and adults in South Africa who are illiterate and as a result are at a greater risk of falling prey to academic failure, unemployment, poverty, substance abuse and resorting to crime in order to be able to feed themselves and their families;

(4) acknowledges the selfless role played by stakeholders in civil society and in local communities to support and encourage children and adults to become literate; and

(5) calls on all South Africans to recognise and promote the importance of literacy and to help both children and adults attain this basic human right.

Agreed to.

The MINISTER OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Hon Speaker, this is not an objection but just an amendment. The hon Ellis read the date as the 23rd and I think it was the 22nd. That's all. It is just an amendment. Thank you

Mr M J ELLIS: Thanks.

Agreed to.




(Draft Resolution)

The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Madam Speaker I move without notice:

That notwithstanding Rule 23(2), which inter alia provides that the hours of sitting from Mondays to Thursdays shall be 14:00 to adjournment, the hours of sitting of the House on Wednesday, 1 July 2009, shall be 12:00 to adjournment.

Agreed to.




(Draft Resolution)

The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Speaker, I move that the House, in accordance with section 193(5) of the Constitution, appoints an ad hoc committee to nominate a person for appointment as Public Protector, the committee to -

(1) consist of 14 members composed as follows: ANC 8; DA 2; Cope 1; IFP 1; and other parties 2;

(2) exercise those powers in Rule 138 that may assist it in carrying out its task; and

(3) report to the House by 28 August 2009.

Agreed to.




Vote No 1 - The Presidency:

(Resumption of Debate)

The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Speaker, Deputy President, Ministers and Deputy Ministers, hon members, friends, colleagues and comrades, it was on this day 54 years ago that delegates from all over South Africa gathered in Kliptown for the first time, on this first day of the Congress of the People. [Applause.] This event, which produced the Freedom Charter, changed the course of this country's history.

In a personal account published in the Sechaba journal in 1980, an unnamed delegate to the Congress of the People wrote:

As one approached Kliptown ... one could see the streams of other delegates arriving – some in cars, some in buses, others in carts or on foot, many carrying banners and wearing colourful national dresses for a gala occasion.

Today, 54 years later, we are gathered in the National Assembly as representatives of the people of South Africa from all over. Like those delegates that arrived in Kliptown, we have been sent to this Parliament carrying on our shoulders the wishes, hopes, aspirations and expectations of the people of South Africa.

This fact became apparent to me as I listened yesterday to the contributions made in the course of the debate on the budget vote of The Presidency. I wish to thank all the hon members who participated in the debate. The comments, criticisms and suggestions were appreciated and have been noted.

In considering the budget, operations and function of The Presidency as the central executive authority of our democratic government, members returned again and again to a common vital theme. That is that the people must be at the centre of everything we do and that we must build an inclusive, caring, responsive and effective government.

In this, hon members, echoed the Freedom Charter, which continues to provide an enduring vision of a new South African society. In its preamble, the Freedom Charter says:

We, the People of South Africa, declare for all our country and the world to know: That South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people.

It captures the fundamental and enduring principle at the heart of our democracy that the people shall govern, and underscores the notion of an inclusive society, a country in which all South Africans have a place in the sun.

The hon Madikizela-Mandela said we needed to ensure that ours is a participatory democracy. She called on us to develop a participatory culture in which our people are not treated as voting fodder, but as agents of their own liberation. The work of The Presidency is guided by precisely this sentiment.

Hon members, we appreciate the fact that all the parties supported the Budget Vote of the Presidency. This indicates to the Presidency the enormous responsibility we have to ensure that we not only do well in overseeing the work of government, but that we also strive to be an institution that represents the aspirations, the identity and the pride of all South Africans, regardless of race, gender or class.

We were moved by the kind words of Umntwana wakwa-Phindangene, the hon Prince Buthelezi, in stating that the success of a Presidency of the Republic is the success of the nation. We will serve taking those words into account. [Applause.] This indeed indicates a very important point that, whilst the President of the Republic belongs to a political party, once he becomes State President, he becomes the President of all the people of South Africa. [Applause.] We have to be sensitive to this fact.

We are encouraged by the contribution of many hon members on how the national planning function can be executed to the benefit of all South Africans. Minister Manuel and other speakers elaborated on processes relating to national strategic planning. These explanations, hopefully, reassured all hon members who were in doubt that what we are envisaging is a democratic process in which this House and Parliament, as a whole, will have an important role to play.

It must be a process in which broader society should be involved, giving practical expression to our efforts to involve the people more integrally in the process of governance. Let me reiterate that the process of strategic planning will involve not only national government, but all the spheres. Working together, we will make it work.

We noted the concern of hon Dandala, that we must ensure that national planning does not stifle innovation or initiative. National strategic planning will facilitate and enhance, rather than hinder, delivery. As in the debate on the state of the nation address, virtually all hon members who spoke on this matter supported the need for an effective monitoring and evaluation system.

In a systematic and detailed manner, Minister Chabane explained the process we will follow to put the monitoring and evaluation systems in place and how Parliament will be involved. This is informed by the common understanding that the worth of good ideas and good policies reside in their implementation and the impact they make on people's lives. Attached to this is the need to monitor that implementation, to evaluate impact and to intervene when weaknesses are identified. This is precisely what we intend to do.

The hon Gigaba was correct when he said that one of the most important lessons of the past fifteen years has been that, without a strict monitoring and evaluation mechanism, you cannot effectively measure progress achieved, nor timeously put in place interventions to enhance delivery. He echoed the views of a number of speakers when he said, "Failure to implement our programmes as the state and", wisely, "to spend public funds amounts to total disrespect for the public."

A number of hon members expressed themselves on the size and cost of the executive, including the Presidency. Let me reiterate that, in terms of processes to set up these structures, everything is going well. The task team set up to deal with these matters is hard at work. It has ensured that, in all instances, the new members of the executive are able to hit the ground running. I'm certain that hon members themselves would have noticed this from the presentations that departments and Ministries, old and new, made on their strategic plans to the relevant parliamentary committees.

The hon Trollip is worried about the size of government. He speaks of a "massive cabinet" and a "bloated bureaucracy". The issue is not so much whether the government is too big or too small, but how it should best be organised to meet the developmental needs of the country and to make optimal use of the resources available. [Applause.] Let me assure the House once again that the changes we have made to the configuration of departments are guided by the need to improve service delivery and to correct the weaknesses that the people had identified.

We have done so fully aware of the financial implications of our decisions and mindful of the constraints that the economic downturn has placed on public finances. While our plans are indeed within our means, we cannot be complacent. We need to spend wisely. We need to eliminate wasteful expenditure. We must be able to measure the developmental return on our investments. All of the programmes we outlined in the state of the nation address will require funding. The costs of these programmes are negligible when compared to the cost to society when not implementing them. The cost of educating our people or ensuring access to health care is nothing compared to the cost of not doing so. [Applause.]

We have noted the concern of hon members about the use of consultants in the Public Service. We will watch the trends very closely to ensure that senior managers do not over-use consultants, especially since they are employed on the basis of the expertise they profess to have. [Applause.] We agree that we should reduce people who are employed to do particular jobs but then employ other people to do the same jobs.

Hon Godi, we share your unease about the report by the Auditor-General regarding entities that are connected with government employees doing business with government departments. We will look carefully into the compliance with conflict of interest prescripts for public servants. Such behaviour will not be tolerated.

A number of hon members raised the critical question of the relationship between the party and the state. Others have spoken about the relationship between the party and the government, influenced by media reports on this matter. The hon Madikizela-Mandela answered the question of who governs the country clearly. [Applause.]

On 22 April 2009, an overwhelming majority of South Africans voted for the African National Congress and gave it the mandate to govern the country for another five years. The ANC rules; we see no need to debate that reality. [Applause.] The resolutions of the ANC conference in Polokwane in 2007, later defined in our election manifesto, form the basis of the policies and programmes of this government. There is, therefore, nothing untoward in a statement that says the ANC makes policy.

Having formed a government to implement its policies and programmes, the ANC cannot then disappear for five years. [Applause.] It must perform its own oversight functions to ensure that the government it formed stays true to its mandate. It owes that to the electorate of this country. In undertaking this responsibility, the ruling party will engage in internal processes and consultations it considers necessary, as do all other political parties. The organisation's interaction with cadres it has deployed does not detract from the responsibility of government to serve all the people of South Africa. I must also add that hon members should not be afraid of the robust debate within the ranks of the ruling party, or within the alliance. It does not make sense to call for a robust debate within this House and in society at large, but then insist that the President of the ANC should stifle debate within his own party. [Applause.]

On the other hand, there are matters relating to the state. Those institutions which are meant in their composition and conduct to be nonpartisan should and will remain so. As we all know, matters relating to these institutions are regulated by provisions of the Constitution and the laws of the country. We have frequently stressed that we cannot allow a situation in which the institutions or resources of the state are used to advance partisan interests. Where there are violations of these legal prescripts, we need to ensure that action is taken in line with our laws.

I share the concerns of hon Dandala on this matter and join him in calling for all organs of the state to ensure that they do not promote the interests of any one party to the exclusion of others. [Applause.] We would also like to make our national days more meaningful and inclusive to all South Africans. The Presidency welcomes suggestions on how this can be done.

The hon Meshoe wanted to know when we would implement the decision on the wearing of name tags by frontline public servants and what we would do if they refused. The Department of Public Service and Administration, responsible for government's Batho Pele customer care programme, will communicate with all government departments to ensure compliance in this regard.

Minister Patel reminded us of the enormous opportunities on the continent and that our vision should be to build a major industrial economy with strong linkages in the region. He also cautioned that the conduct of South African business on the continent should reflect our own values and democratic ethos as a nation. This matter has been raised a few times and our business communities should treat it with the seriousness it deserves.

Hon members, as the Deputy President emphasised ... [Laughter.] ... work on 2010 continues apace, and all challenges are receiving attention. It is very short. Just yesterday, the man had been the President. [Laughter.] Why shouldn't we be calling him President? [Laughter.] Like the Speaker, at times, with me should say "Madam Speaker, Mr Speaker." It is the same thing. At least, if he was never President, we would be complaining. He has been the President, so we can't keep on slipping up. [Laughter.]

Hon members, Umntwana wakwaPhindangene, the hon Shenge, reminded us of the critical point that we must look beyond the 2010 Soccer World Cup and ensure that the marketing of the country intensifies beyond the tournament. We must ensure that the legacy of infrastructure, stronger national unity, marketing opportunities for the country and other benefits are sustained beyond the World Cup.

The international marketing of the country is one issue we should place firmly on the agenda of our interaction with opposition parties. Together, we must support programmes that send out a positive message about South Africa to the world. Sadly, it is often South Africans who communicate negativity about our beautiful country. We will reflect on our marketing instruments to assess effectiveness.

Again, we wish Bafana Bafana well, and, logistics allowing, I should be able to join other fans at the stadium this evening as they play one of the most important matches in their history. [Applause.] Hon members, as you might remember, it has been a while since the national team reached the semi-finals in international or continental games. This is an achievement that they should share with the whole nation. And, of course, we want them to go to the finals. [Applause.]

Hon members, as the global recession begins to take its toll on our country, we take wisdom again from the hon Shenge that unity is a key tool in our response. He said, "one, naturally, does not expect all political parties to sing from the same hymn sheet, but we can at least sing certain bars of our song of survival in unison". Let me add that it is not enough that we, as the government, tell the people what we are doing in order to give them a better life.

Our success, as the government, will also depend on the extent to which people take advantage of opportunities laid out by government and initiate their own projects. This partnership between government and the people should hold true at all times. It should hold even more urgently in times of big challenges, like in these times of economic recession when opportunities are fewer and needs are many. It is in such times that we should remember the words of the Chief Whip of the Majority Party, the hon Motshekga, who reminds us that a nation should take lessons from its own traditional spirit of Ubuntu and assist one another, especially families in distress.

I have observed with fascination the learned discussion between the Minister responsible for Planning and members of the Official Opposition, especially hon Ellis, on chickens with teeth and pigs that fly and some pictures to support this. [Laughter.] They are clearly experts on the matter. Hon Ellis even produced documentation to prove this point. [Laughter.] I am sure that only in South Africa chickens could grow teeth and pigs could fly. [Laughter.] I trust that the Minister and Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry took note and will protect the chickens and the pigs accordingly. [Laughter.] [Applause.]

Hon members, thank you for supporting the Presidency Budget Vote. Working together we must do more to fight hunger and poverty and to make South Africa a winning nation. I thank you very much. [Applause.]

Debate concluded.

The House adjourned at 14:49.


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