Hansard: Deputy President / Minister's Oral Replies to Questions of Members of Parliament
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 18 Aug 2009
No summary available.
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 Take: 185
WEDNESDAY, 19 AUGUST 2009
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
The House met at 15:00.
The Speaker took Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.
The SPEAKER: Order! The first item on the Order Paper is Questions addressed to the Deputy President. Members may press the "to talk" button on their desk, if they wish to ask a supplementary question. The first Question has been asked by the hon M M Sibhidla.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Speaker, hon members, our country, like the rest of the world, has been affected by the economic downturn. We are going through a recession for the first time in 17 years. As a result of this, tax revenues, after adjusting for inflation, are expected to decline significantly. Our government finds itself having to meet its commitments to the people of South Africa with fewer resources than before.
We are taking steps, however, to ensure that government works better and uses public resources to deliver services to the people. The overarching goal of these steps that we have taken is to make sure that departments operate better and serve our people with speed and effectiveness.
The two Ministers in the Presidency, Ministers Chabane and Manuel, will be tabling Green Papers on Planning and Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, respectively, in the near future, which will outline clear and concrete steps on how we plan to improve the way government does business.
Cabinet has also appointed a three-person Ministerial Task Team consisting of Ministers Gordhan, Chabane and Baloyi to make proposals on reprioritising spending to increase the impact of the Budget. The assignment of this task team is not to cut public spending, but to make proposals on how to reduce wastage and direct spending to new high-impact areas. They will be presenting their proposals to Cabinet in due course.
Beyond the immediate work of the Ministerial Task Team, government is undertaking a detailed and comprehensive expenditure review to identify whether there are programmes which should be scaled down and their funding redirected to high-impact priorities. National Treasury is looking into how government procurement is managed and investigating cases of impropriety in the awarding of tenders.
Let me say, in conclusion, that this government is taking all these steps because the challenges facing our society demand that we work better. It also has to be stated that Cabinet and the national sphere of government will work in concert with the other two spheres to give effect to these steps. Thank you.
Ms N N SIBHIDLA: Mr Speaker, thank you Deputy President for your adequate response. Indeed, it shows that the ANC-led government is committed to uplifting the lives of all South Africans by ensuring that there will proper planning and correct allocation of resources. The ANC also applauds the decision of the executive, informed by our manifesto to focus on skills development, which we think is the main contributor to the x-inefficiencies that we see in government and state owned enterprises.
I would like to take this opportunity to encourage all members of this House to use all the tools that we have identified to play their oversight role more effectively for the good of our people. All these good plans, if not communicated well to all relevant stakeholders will be as good as nothing. We therefore request the executive to develop a communication strategy that will be understood by all.
The SPEAKER: That was more like a statement than a question.
Ms A M DREYER: Mister Speaker, as the President quite correctly pointed out, times are tough, hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost and service delivery is literary falling apart with sewerage running through the streets. Yet, public servants, including Directors-General, fail to disclose their business interests and they further fail to sign performance agreements. These officials are displaying a total disregard for regulations - then they award themselves tenders worth R600 million or more!
If government wants to be taken seriously, it must not tell us about new plans and new structures. It must show by its actions that it will enforce the rules. My question is: Between April and August 2009 what disciplinary action has government taken against defaulting officials?
The MINISTER IN THE PRESIDENCY: NATIONAL PLANNING COMMISSION: Speaker, on a point of order: That is not a supplementary question; it is an entirely new question, which is unrelated to the question on the paper. It's not about fiscal efficiencies, I'm afraid.
The SPEAKER: Order! We will let the Deputy President decide on that one.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Speaker, obviously I would not have the data of actions taken since April to date at my fingertips, but of course, there are a number of cases that have been widly reported by the media of action taken against those who were found to have flouted the rules and regulations and procedures of awarding tenders. And that work must, indeed, continue to be done until we eliminate this challenge of the abuse of public resources. I make that commitment without any fear of contradiction. Thank you.
Rev K R J MESHOE: Speaker, Deputy President, over the years many service providers, who do business with government, have incurred great losses due to government's failure to pay them on time. Many of these service providers had to close down their businesses as a result.
There are still travel agencies today that allege that this Parliament has not settled some two-year-old accounts. Many minibus and bus operators that transport children from townships to school have also faulted due to lack of finance and late payment by government.
In view of this unacceptable practice, can the Deputy President tell us why service providers to government are paid so late and what has been done to ensure that they are paid promptly as a way to improve the operational efficiency of the state? Thank you
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you, hon Rev Meshoe. Obviously, government's position is that all the service providers ought to be paid within 30 days of providing such service. Where delays occur, there are channels for addressing them. As the President has already indicated, a hotline is going to be opened. That will be one more channel of addressing such delays.
My office has also received similar requests from time to time from service providers who are aggrieved, and we have ensured that we act with the requisite speed to nudge the relevant chief financial officers to meet their commitments. It is a challenge, I must admit, that in certain instances officials actually hide bills in order to cause such delays because they are mismanaging the funds. This is a problem we are aware of. We will take steps to ensure that we eliminate it.
At local government level, we are looking at processes of ensuring that each one of the municipalities would have deployed people with accounting qualifications, who need to be trained on the job. [Time expired.]
Ms P DE LILLE: Speaker, hon Deputy President, I'm sure you will agree with me that to achieve a developmental state, you need efficient and qualified public servants. I know of an incident in a Seta in East London where the CEO of that Seta forged all his qualifications. I reported it, he came to office with the police and he suspended a number of employees.
As one of the steps you are going to try and put into place, will you consider doing a verification of qualifications of all senior managers in departments? I ask this as the lack of skills has become an excuse for inefficiency, but then we appoint people without the right qualifications. I will also suggest that that is one of the steps that must be taken to make sure that we don't take people without the necessary qualifications to do the job.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you, hon Ms De Lille, I couldn't agree with you more. In fact, this is part of a normal procedure to verify qualifications, but as in all systems that are followed by human beings, there will, from time to time, be those cases where people succeed in dribbling themselves through the systems. Verification is a normal procedure. The Public Service Commission also does that on an ongoing basis. I'm glad that you are referring to a specific case that we can attend to with immediate effect.
QUESTION 2 THE DEPUTU PRESIDENT
QUESTION 1 THE DEPUTY PRESIDENT
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Hon Speaker, I would like to assure the hon members that Ministers are well aware of their obligations to account to Parliament in terms of the Constitution.
Hon Ellis, in his question to me, refers to Ministers who provide incomplete and inadequate answers and/or do not answer questions at all. I am not aware of that happening and he has not given me specific examples.
It is true, however, that Ministers do exceed the period provided for in the Rules of the National Assembly, for answering written questions, but I am sure that the hon Ellis is also quite aware that those same Rules provide for remedies to this problem, namely, the transfer of those question from written to oral reply. I am not aware of this being done in the recent period, however.
Hon members, as I have already stated, the Rules of the National Assembly do provide mechanisms for ensuring that questions to the executive are answered. As these Rules are adopted by this House and not the executive, I believe it would be up to the National Assembly to decide whether there is a need to tighten these Rules or to strengthen them in any way.
However, as Leader of Government Business, it is my duty and responsibility to ensure that Cabinet Ministers are reminded of their obligation and I do so by regularly reporting, in detail, to each meeting of Cabinet the number of questions each Minister has outstanding. That is the reply to the question. Thank you.
Mr M J ELLIS: Speaker, I want to thank the hon Deputy President for his reply. I wonder whether Mr Manuel will allow me to ask my follow-up question? [Laughter.]
The MINISTER IN THE PRESIDENCY: NATIONAL PLANNING COMMISSION (Mr T A Manuel): It depends on the quality of the follow-up! [Laughter.]
The SPEAKER: Proceed, hon Mr Ellis.
Mr M J ELLIS: I want to assure the hon Deputy President that there are a number of examples that we could give him of Ministers who have not replied to questions or who have replied inadequately. If he would be interested I certainly would be prepared to provide him with those examples.
Can I just say, hon Deputy President, that even now, since the election up until the present time, there are in fact 209 questions, in general, outstanding in terms of the Rules of Parliament.
You talk, sir, about the fact that we can transfer questions from written to oral. I would like to say, Mr Speaker, that that is not always the solution because of the quotas that are applied to members.
May I ask the hon Deputy President one question as to the possibility of encouraging Ministers to reply in the future? In the provincial legislature of Gauteng, for example, if a Minister has not replied to an oral question, or a question, within the specified time, that Minister has to stand up and explain to the legislature at the next question day why that has not happened. Would the Deputy President be prepared to consider such a mechanism in this House? Thank you.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Hon Speaker, that really is not my gift. I think if the Assembly decides to introduce that, I will support it. Thank you.
The SPEAKER: Members are reminded to press their talk button if they wish to ask for the floor. Please do not use your neighbour's button. Use the button where your name appears.
Adv T M MASUTHA: Speaker, I would like to thank the Deputy President for his very eloquent answer. From the ANC's perspective, question time, and indeed all other platforms for holding the executive to account in terms of our oversight responsibility, is seen as an opportunity to allow the executive to give feedback to the people on the progress that is being made with the delivery of services as well as feedback on their response to the many challenges that face them. This is the opposite to the grandstanding and political point-scoring that is often reflected in some of the questions that some members of the Opposition ask. By doing this they are simply flooding the House with questions that are purely aimed at making political points.
Deputy President, I want to ask whether you will ensure that, in addition to responding to the questions that have been asked, the members of the executive actually ensure that, where measures need to be taken to correct certain errors, those corrective measures ...
The SPEAKER: Hon member, your time has expired.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Hon Speaker, we proceed from the understanding that the Ministers or Cabinet should subject themselves to the oversight responsibility of this Parliament - this National Assembly and the NCOP. As we understand it, the purpose of such oversight is to ensure that we discharge our responsibilities in a manner that serves the country. Therefore, it is in the interests of all of us to comply and co-operate with the requirements and responsibilities of this august House. Thank you.
The SPEAKER: Hon Mr Ellis, I shall allow you a second supplementary question. That will be the last one I shall allow you.
Mr M J ELLIS: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I simply want to ask the Deputy President whether he would prefer Members of Parliament to stand up and ask questions of intelligence and purpose, rather than the sweetheart type questions that Mr Masutha would like us to ask. Surely any Minister, and certainly the Deputy President, would far prefer to be challenged by questions rather than simply to be asked the sweetheart type questions that members of the ANC ask. [Applause.]
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Speaker, I would assume that all questions are asked sincerely and it is the sincerity of the questions that really matters because the purpose is to ensure that all of us are able to perform our duties and account to the people of this country who have sent us to this Parliament. Thank you.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Speaker, hon Mr M B Komphela, I am pleased to report that the march towards the successful fulfilment of our 17 guarantees for delivery of the 2010 Fifa World Cup continues to gain momentum. Many projects emanating from these guarantees have been put to the test during the recent Fifa Confederations Cup. As we are all aware, this test tournament was delivered with great success.
Starting from the first guarantee, which is the issuing of entry and exit permits, to the last guarantee, which is the availability of comprehensive medical services, government and the Local Organising Committee, LOC, have been working together for the successful implementation of these guarantees.
Among the achievements that I may cite include the following: the Department of Home Affairs launching and implementing an event-specific visa in November 2008; the finalisation and implementation of the security plan; the delivery of elements of the information and telecommunications technology infrastructure, which was successfully tested during the Confederations Cup; the development and testing of transport operational plans; the steady growth in the number of accommodation establishments signed up and the testing of social cohesion initiatives, as widely acknowledged during the Confederations Cup.
Although we have a long road ahead of us, I have no doubt that members present in this House today would agree that, even on the side of the national team, we are making progress. Their performance is not part of the 17 guarantees, of course, but it is part of the social compact we have with our own people.
We are quite aware, as has been made public before, that there are areas that require improvement. Through the 2010 Inter-Ministerial Committee, IMC, that I chair, we are helping the departments to overcome these challenges, especially in the areas of transport and accommodation. The IMC will soon audit the 2010 dividend for our country, in particular, small- and medium-sized enterprises.
It is true that, as part of our agreements with Fifa, procurement of goods and services for the 2010 World Cup has to comply with policies and procedures that apply in the public sector. This applies not only to government departments and host cities, but also to the Local Organising Committee, LOC. This means where public funds are involved, the Public Finance Management Act, and the Municipality Finance Management Act apply. In brief, procurement processes must be fair, competitive, open and above board.
To this end, government strives to ensure that procurement processes of host cities and Local Organising Committee, which is where most of the buying happens, comply with our local legal requirements. We do not expect any department, host city or Local Organising Committee to depart from these commitments. Where the PFMA, the MFMA and the Employment Equity Act are not followed, transactions will be reviewed during normal, internal audit processes as well as during the audit processes by the Auditor-General. The relevant authority will need to take action commensurate with the severity of the transgression.
We continue to encourage institutions of government and the LOC to comply and deliver their respective guarantees within the parameters of all applicable legislation, policies and regulations. This House must continue to ask questions and demand accountability from all those involved in the preparations for the 2010 Soccer World Cup, including the host cities and LOC. Thank you.
Mr B M KOMPHELA: Thank you, Speaker.
Motlatsa Mopresidente ke a leboha, empa mongaka ke batla hore re hlahise hanyenyane jwalokaha o bolela hore ho saeneng hona ha di-guarantee tsena ho etsetsa hore le bana ba thuthuhang, le bona ho be le seo ba ka se fumanang. Empa tjhee ha ho ne ho ahuwa ditediamo, ho lokiswa le ditsela, ho ahuwa le maemafofane, ho na le mohoo Motlatsa Mopresidente, o reng tjhee rona ba re fetile.
Jwale re ne re se ntse re kopa hore na Motlatsa Mopresidente o ikemiseditse hore jwaleka re ya re shebile Mohopeng wa Lefatshe wa 2010, ke ka tsela efe eo re ka etsang kateng hore re hle nne re tiise, re tlame masoba ana ka baka la hobane boMamkhize le boMamofokeng le boMamokoena, ha ba fumane letho mona. Ho fetwa ekare ba robetse. O fumane bana ba seng ba ntse ba hodile, haholoholo leano la tshekamelo, ho batho ba rona ba batsho Motlatsa Mopresidente, ke bona ekare e se e le ntho e lebetsweng. Mopresidente o tla etsa jwang hore kannete re ke re latele mekga ena e metle hakanakana e beuweng ke mmuso. Ke a leboha.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Speaker, the procurement processes with regard to the construction of stadiums and the expansion of roads benefit all our people. Of course, no doubt the tenders would be allocated to the most competent bidder. As far as these primary bidders are concerned, they have a clear understanding that they need to use subcontractors – some of our small- and medium-sized operators. In that fashion, the majority of our people will be able to benefit from this 2010 Soccer World Cup project. Thank you.
Ms C DUDLEY: Speaker, hon Deputy President, with the possible smokescreen of the Soccer World Cup to shelter human trafficking and terrorist agendas, what is being done by government to increase our capacity in this regard? Thank you.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you very much for that question, hon member. Part of the security establishment's responsibility is to ensure that all of our entry ports are well-equipped and staffed to ensure that the challenge of human traffickers and those who would like to turn our girl children into prostitutes are apprehended and brought to book.
Both the security cluster Ministers are well-aware of this and it is part of the preparations. The security forces are attending to this issue. The same is true for the Department of Home Affairs. I am well aware that this department has taken steps to ensure that we will benefit from the experience of the countries that have hosted this event before us, such as Germany. Those transgressors who were indentified in those countries are being monitored – I will not give the details here – to ensure that they don't bring their nefarious operations to our country.
That is why we are also very eager to ensure that the problems in Zimbabwe are resolved timorously so that we don't end up with too many young girls who are refugees with no place of fixed abode. Those girls are the ones that would be soft targets for this kind of operator. Thank you.
Mr J J MC GLUWA: Hon Speaker, during the previous Rugby and Cricket World Cups in South Africa, a lot of legacy projects have been left behind. I come from a rural province where some of these projects have become white elephants. Seeing that most, if not all, of the current stadiums are being built in metropolitan areas, my question is: What steps have been taken to ensure the effective and optimal use of the stadiums for the previously disadvantaged after the World Cup? Thank you.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: These stadiums have been built in some of the cities in rural provinces such as Limpopo and the Eastern Cape. Of course, they are in the major urban areas, but within reach of all of our people, including the poor. To ensure that our poorest of the poor in rural areas are not left out, government has introduced or established the Ministry of Rural Development, because we are well aware that most of the infrastructure development linked to the Fifa World Cup would take place in the urban areas, to the exclusion of rural areas.
That is why the Ministry of Rural Development will ensure that we also invest, as part of our countercyclical measures,in bulk infrastructure development in rural communities. That is the benefit of having invested in the Fifa World Cup; it has allowed us the space in the fiscus to divert resources towards rural development as well. Thank you.
Mnu B H HOLOMISA: Mhlalingaphambili, ndifunda apha kwinkokheli yam endikhokelayo uKompela ukuba ndingathetha ngesiXhosa. Umbuzo wam uthi, ingaba Sekela Mongameli ungeza nayo na ingxelo yethutyana ephuma kwikomiti eququzelayo, equka zonke ezi ndawo sithethe ngazo, ibekwe apha ePalamente ukuze siyithelekise nezithembiso esazenzayo, nokokuba siza kuziphumeza na ezo zinto. Kwicala elidibene neziseko zophuliso ezinxulumene nothutho sasithenjiswe ukuba kuya kubakho imizila kaloliwe kufuphi namabala emidlalo, kodwa ukuba ungaya kwibala lemidlalo eliseBhayi, kunzima kwa ukungena phaya ngemoto. Sifuna ingxelo yethutyana kwanokuba ngaba umgangatho wokwakhiwa wala mabala okudlala uyahambelana na nenkcitho yeezi bhiliyoni. Ndiyabulela.
USEKELA MONGAMELI: Lungu elihloniphekileyo, mandibulele ke ngombuzo wakho. Ndicinga ukuba siyiKomiti yabaPhathiswa singasenza eso sithembiso sokucela le ngxelo yethutyana size nayo apha ukuze kuqwalaselwe ukuba imali ithenge lento besifuna ukuyithenga na okanye ihle ngomlenze. [Kwahlekwa.] Enkosi.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Hon Speaker, as is commonly known, both the Charter of the United Nations and the Constitutive Act of the African Union respectively enjoin the international community and Africa to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security and to promote peace, security, and stability on the continent. The commitment to realise these objectives galvanised the AU and its Peace and Security Council as well as regional organisations to find durable solutions to the countries affected by conflict.
The promotion of peace and security is one of South Africa's most important objectives. This includes the strengthening of conflict-prevention and resolution capabilities of the region and rendering assistance with monitoring and addressing domestic issues that affect stability. The SANDF has formed part of and participated in various peace missions on the continent since 1994.
These include capacity building of the Central African Republic Defence Force; the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; integration and training assistance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; the AU Special Task Force in Burundi; the UN Mission and AU Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea; the AU together with the UN Hybrid Mission in Darfur; the Security Sector Reform in the DRC; and the deployment of military observers to the AU Mission in Northern Uganda and Southern Sudan; and the Specialist Advisory Team in the DRC.
In addition to these deployments on the continent we have also deployed observers to be in support of the UN Political Mission in Nepal. The Missions in Burundi and Northern Uganda as well as Ethiopia and Eritrea have been officially terminated, as a consequence of progress made in attaining the objectives set. Our participation in these missions strengthens our relations with these countries, the continent and the world at large in a variety of ways. To quote but a few instances:
Both the governments and peoples of these countries value the contribution that we make, and therefore relate to our own government and people in a variety of areas as friends and partners. The attainment of peace and stability in these countries and regions opens up possibilities for these areas to attend to matters of economic growth and development, in pursuit of which various sectors of South African society, from civil society to business, are able to make a contribution.
This helps to strengthen political, economic, cultural and other relations. The commitment that South Africa has shown to the attainment of peace and stability on the continent has improved our standing on the continent and further afield as a partner in promoting the African agenda and building a better world.
I thank you.
Mr M S BOOI: Thank you, Deputy President. As we are preparing for a peace-keeping mission month, where we are going to be showing appreciation for most of the contributions made by our soldiers, we would like to know from you as to whether all that has been said is sustainable or not. Is there any co-operation from these African countries; are they contributing to the rehabilitation and developmental programmes that we are outlining? We ask this so that the ordinary citizens of South Africa could appreciate the contribution that we are making.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Hon Speaker, I couldn't agree more with the hon member about some of our contributions towards the creation of more stable, well-managed continent. I have never received any remarks about that in the newspapers. It is only the negative aspects thereof that are given coverage.
I believe that it is important that our people should know that the creation of political stability is a great achievement and a great contribution by the SANDF in many countries that offer many visitors opportunities - for our investors and for our people. I thank you.
Mr J R B LORIMER: Mr Deputy President, are troops from the Burundi mission going to be redeployed to another peace-keeping mission or are they going to be deployed to protect South Africa's borders?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, hon member. I would hope that the achievement of peace and stability on the continent would exclude any more possibilities of us deploying our troops outside of our borders. As much as possible, we should really ensure that these conflict-ridden areas are stabilised.
We will do everything in our power to ensure that the need for more deployments outside of the country is lessened.
I think the SANDF should be kept in the barracks here at home and only be deployed outside of the barracks with the permission of this Parliament, so that we do not militarise our society.
I think even the deployment of the defence force here at home should really be confined to areas of extreme need. [Interjections.] There are all kinds of skills in the defence force. We think that the Ministry of Rural Development can benefit a great deal from some of those skills in making the quality of life of rural communities much better. As you know, there are engineers who could build bridges where they did not exist before.
The Minister of Defence agreed with us that the country could benefit more from employing the skills in the defence force here at home rather than keeping them deployed on foreign soil. I thank you. [Applause.]
Rev K R J MESHOE: Speaker, hon Deputy President, it has been reported that the SANDF record in Burundi, from 2002 to 2008 included some 400 cases of misdemeanour and nearly a thousand military trials for offences ranging from murder and rape, to absence without leave and rebelliousness.
It has also been reported that the UN, under whose auspices the peace-keeping the missions are run, was said to be shocked at the conduct of the SA troops.
Has the UN ever raised its concerns about the conduct of our troops, or has any country, where some of these misconducts and crimes were committed, ever complained? And has such unacceptable behaviour had any effect on our relationship with these countries? I thank you.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Hon Speaker, on the contrary, the term of the deployment of these national service men in Burundi ended early in 2008. It was through the UN request that their deployment was extended until the Burundian president was satisfied that they had done enough to train the local forces.
I bumped into him in Congo Brazzaville last week Friday and he thanked South Africa for having assisted in stabilising that country. I think the impact has been a very positive one. I thank you.
The MINISTER OF POLICE: Mr Speaker, we thank the hon Schneemann for asking a question of such critical significance to our country. Hon members, SAPS, working in partnership with other departments, did an outstanding job in managing the safety and security aspects of the Confederations Cup. Our country received commendations on the success of the soccer competition.
We, as a country, as well as various other bodies, including Fifa itself, were, in fact, highly delighted and satisfied with the overall management of the Confederations Cup. There was a noticeable trend of reduction in crime in the focal areas, suggesting, amongst other things, the positive impact of high police visibility. Twenty-five arrests were made in cases related directly to the event, including a case were two burglary suspects were arrested, convicted, and sentenced within twenty-four hours to a total of ten years' imprisonment.
Hon members, we must indeed mention that we benefited immensely from the fact that our country has accumulated a wealth of experience in hosting major events. Whether this experience is enough or not, will of course be tested to the limit next year.
We are also mindful of the fact that the scale of next year's operation will be much greater. However, even this aspect should be weighed against the vast knowledge accumulated through managing a good number of elections. On the whole, we mustreiterate that our government, the people of this country and the African continent are ready to work in partnership to make the next Fifa Soccer World Cup the best ever. I thank you.
Mr G D SCHNEEMANN: Deputy Speaker, I thank the hon Minister for his reply. We want to congratulate our policemen and women for the commitment and dedication which they showed during the Confederations Cup, and also to thank their families for the sacrifices which they had to make during this time. To all the policemen and -women in blue, we want to say that their efforts have indeed made us proud as South Africans.
There have been recent reports of challenges regarding the employment and training of security personnel for the Confederations Cup. Could the Minister indicate whether steps are being taken to ensure that SAPS work more closely with the Local Organising Committee to ensure that all security measures are adequately prepared for the 2010 Fifa World Cup next year? Thank you.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Are there any supplementary questions?
Mr S N SWART: Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. Arising from your response, hon Minister … [Interjections.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Sorry! Can the Minister reply first? Sorry.
The MINISTER OF POLICE: Madam Deputy Speaker, the hon member has touched on a critical point. In fact, after the Confederations Cup, we did interact with the LOC. But I just want to say, as part of what the member has said in commending the police work, that we did have a Plan B in case anything happened with the security personnel from the private security industry or the stewards. In fact, those of you who were part of the games would have noticed that members of the SAPS were indeed at the pitch,as it was expected earlier on that we we're going to have members from the private security industry. Thank you very much.
Mr S N SWART: Hon Deputy Speaker, arising from your response, hon Minister, it is clear that we learnt a number of valuable lessons during the Confederations Cup. One the incidents that received wide publicity was the alleged burglary of certain members of the Egyptian team's hotel room. I remember reading "Egyptian team robbed", which clearly was not the case. Burglary is not robbery. This notwithstanding the fact that members of the South African delegation to the German Soccer World Cup had their hotel rooms burgled, with little or no publicity.
However, hon Minister, what progress has been made with the investigations into this alleged burglary? And is it still alleged that Egyptian team members may have allowed the perpetrators into their rooms; and what steps will be put in place to avoid such incidents next year? Thank you.
The MINISTER OF POLICE: Madam Deputy Speaker, I thank the hon member. This is a matter which was highly publicised and it came out in a very nasty way, particularly within the media circles in South Africa. But, yes, the matter was investigated and a conclusion was reached on the matter: There wasn't any foreign forced entry into the rooms, and so on. And we were satisfied with the progress that was made there.
The point which we need to emphasise from that process is that indeed members of SAPS were up and about to ensure the safety of people and our visitors to the country, and yet we still emphasise that that happened! Thank you very much.
Ms D KOHLER-BARNARD: Thank you, Deputy Speaker. Minister, considering the security debacle during the Confederations Cup, which resulted in the Private Security Regulatory Authority instituting an investigation into allegations that the organising committee and its service providers employed unqualified security guards and stewards and considering that the security manager has just resigned - apparently shortly before being pushed, in fact - and considering that two weeks before the kick-off no company had even been appointed to provide security, is the SAPS ready, financially and procedurally, to step in yet again should these arrangements prove to be equally chaotic for 2010, without our citizens being left unprotected as a result?
The MINISTER OF POLICE: Thank you, Deputy Speaker. Hon member, the issue of the security we have just addressed here. As you know, Fifa regulations only allow private security or stewards on the pitch. We are in talks with the LOC, as the committee convened by the Deputy President of the Republic, to ensure that members of the private security industry do their job. If stewards are supposed to be on the pitch, they should be on the pitch. But as I said earlier on, we have taken extra care, particularly with these activities, which involve the entire world as it were. The SAPS will always be ready, and we'll be ready come 2010. Thank you very much.
Mr M E GEORGE: Madam Deputy Speaker, hon Minister, does SAPS have detailed crime statistics, specifically related to the Confederations Cup, that could be used to analyse trends in preparation for the 2010 Fifa World Cup? If so, Minister, can that information be made available?
The MINISTER OF POLICE: Madam Deputy Speaker, I thank the hon member. I am sure we can make those statistics available. But statistics as such will form part of the annual report on statistics, as it were, which will be released. That is one of the questions that are coming up as we proceed. But on the issue of the Confederations Cup, there were specific incidents and I've just mentioned the statistics here. We do not have more than the ones we have mentioned here, including the arrests that were made during the Confederations Cup, particularly, and focusing around the games and the areas were the games were played. This includes accommodation areas such as hotels and so on. So that's what we can repeat, or we can just forward it to the member. Thank you very much.
The MINISTER OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES: Deputy Speaker, thank you to the hon Selfe. I have articulated my position clearly on this matter before, Mr Selfe. In fact, what is even more interesting to me is that you do not ask or state why it is that I should send this matter for a review. And yet I am required to supply reasons why I have not done this.
I have indicated in the past that unless I am provided with compelling reasons to take this matter for a review, I will not do so. Until such time as this information is provided to me, I will not do so.
It is not, in fact, correct that I should act on the basis of information that is in the public domain through the media. I thought that we all understood procedures and how the parole system works; and therefore I cannot be expected to take a matter of this nature for a review on the basis of the public outcry and of information contained in the media. Thank you.
Mr J SELFE: Deputy Speaker, thank you to the Minister for that reply. I would suggest to the hon Minister that the compelling reasons lie in the fact that by all accounts Mr Shaik is well enough to drive around Durban streets, yet Mr Shaik was released in terms of section 79 of the Correctional Services Act.
That section states that an offender can be released on medical parole only if he or she or he is in "the final phase of any terminal disease or condition" in order "to die a consolatory and dignified death".
Now if the decision to release Mr Shaik was based on sound medical grounds, why is the Minister so reluctant to have this decision reviewed? Furthermore, Madam Deputy Speaker, what are Mr Shaik's parole conditions; is he adhering to his parole conditions? And why, if he has been released to "die a consolatory and dignified death", has he got parole conditions at all? [Applause.]
The MINISTER OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES: Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. Well enough to drive around? The two of us don't know that. We read about it. The two of us don't know. We have not seen it. [Interjections.] Well, I saw a picture of car supposedly with Mr Shaik's registration number; I did not see Mr Shaik in the car and I don't even know where the car was parked. That is the first point.
Secondly, I don't know what that means. I don't understand. I know when you talk about "terminal disease" or "terminal suffering", it means "dying". Nyani ke! [It is true]. But if you have a terminal disease, does it imply that you may not be able to work, move around, get into a car and drive? I don't know. Thula, thula, Natsika! [Keep quiet, Natsika!]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order!
The MINISTER OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES: The person next to Ma Njobe - I've forgotten the name - allow me to talk. Just wait, then you can ask a follow-up question, right? Kohler-Barnard, honourable, just be honourable.
Now, Mr Selfe, the other thing that I wanted to say to you is that I thought you and I know that there are parole officers responsible for each one of the parolees, and unfortunately for you and me, I have not received a letter from a parole officer suggesting that there is a case for Mr Shaik to answer. Now I cannot base my actions purely on what I read in the media. I have to be given information.
Maybe as part of your oversight function you should actually call in the parole officer to account. What I do have, is a file that contains information about communication between Mr Shaik and the parole officer on occasions where he has requested to be released to go out of his premises. [Interjections.] Kohler? Now I really cannot be expected to act on the basis of media reports, with due respect. Thank you. [Applause.]
Ms P DE LILLE: Deputy Speaker, hon Minister, if some miracle happened and Mr Shaik recovered, and he is not dying and he is fit again … [Laughter.] You know, a miracle could be drinking French wine, eating curry and a miracle happens and he recovers. If he recovers, will he be sent back to jail, because then certainly he didn't die?
I think the Minister must explain this. I don't know what the law says. I don't know if the law says that if you recover and there is a miracle that you must be sent back to jail. What is the legal position? Thank you. [Applause.]
The MINISTER OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES: I also don't know, but what I would propose is that the portfolio committee needs to amend the Correctional Services Act in order to make sure that if a person does not die at time when we all anticipated that the person would die, that then there should be action taken by way of sending the person back to prison. It is not I who can take that kind of decision; it is the portfolio committee, if it so wishes, which can propose an amendment to the Correctional Services Act.
Mr T W COETZEE: Madam Deputy Speaker, in connection with what the hon Minister said about not being able to react to articles and suggestions, she is the responsible Minister. Why doesn't she then ask for an in-depth investigation around Mr Shaik? If she doesn't know, why doesn't she make it her business to find out and report to the National Assembly?
The MINISTER OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES: Deputy Speaker, one of the things all of us have been saying - and in fact you have said so in the past - is that Mr Shaik should be treated like any other person, like any other citizen, like any other former inmate who is now out on parole. He is not the only one was released at the time on medical parole. But what we are doing is drawing a lot of attention to an individual and we are elevating him, in my view.
I really suggest that we should actually request the department to come and present to the portfolio committee a whole list of names of people who have been released on medical parole.
Secondly, I want to remind hon members that we have already referred this matter to Judge Desai and the Parole Review Board for them to develop a policy around medical parole. What we have indeed is that we release a person on the basis that the person is about to die, but in fact a number of them have not as yet died. Maybe they are dying, but they have not as yet died.
I really want to request that, even with regard to that, it is the responsibility of the portfolio committee to monitor and make contributions and inputs to Judge Desai and his team, to make sure that the whole area of medical parole is properly defined. Thanks.
Ms J F TERBLANCHE: Madam Deputy Speaker, I would just want you to make a ruling, please, with reference to Rule 61, which says that no member shall refer to any other member by his or her first name or names only. I heard the Minister refer to the hon Diane Kohler-Barnard as "Kohler" and "Kohler-Barnard", and I don't think that is parliamentary. [Applause.]
Mr T W COETZEE: Madam Deputy Speaker, on a point of order: With due respect, the Minister did not answer any of my questions. Could she answer what I have asked her, please?
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Can we move to the next question?
Mr M J ELLIS: Madam Deputy Speaker, I'm sorry to interrupt further, but the hon Terblanche did in fact raise a point of order and you haven't ruled on that at all. I'm sure that you should rule and simply say that the hon Minister should ...
The Deputy Speaker: I'm attending to that; I will rule at some stage.
Mr M J ELLIS: Only at some stage?
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Yes.
Mr M J ELLIS: Fine. Thank you.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND CO-OPERATION: Deputy Speaker, the answer to the question is yes, indeed, there have been very many positive developments in Zimbabwe since the January 2009 SADC Extraordinary Summit. These developments include the passing of Constitutional Amendment 19; they also include the formation of the inclusive government and the passing of the National Security Bill, amongst other things. The country's parliament is also working to fulfil its constitutional mandate and the Joint Monitoring and the Implementation Committee is functioning.
There is, therefore, a noticeable progress regarding the functioning of the inclusive government, notwithstanding the few outstanding issues which still need to be resolved. All the parties are committed to the full implementation of the Global Political Agreement, GPA, and South Africa, SADC and the AU as the guarantors of the GPA will remain seized with developments in Zimbabwe and will provide the necessary support to the Zimbabwean political leadership to implement the GPA.
The constitution-making process is also progressing, notwithstanding some concerns raised by civil society. Of importance, we believe, is the fact that they continue to participate in the process and as we know, under the GPA, these parties must draft a new constitution for Zimbabwe in order for it to be put to the electorate in a referendum.
Now, recognising the progress in the political and economic reforms that has been made since the formation of the inclusive government in February this year, and also notwithstanding the two outstanding issues that have been referred to SADC for mediation, it is our view that the inclusive government can be sustained and it is the view of our department that the outstanding issues will be resolved soon.
The answer to the second part of the question is no. Provisions of the GPA have not yet fully been implemented. In order to ensure the conditions for free and fair elections, however, an inclusive and participatory process is underway to draft this new constitution for Zimbabwe under which future elections will be conducted. Thank you.
Ms M E PILUSA-MOSOANE: Deputy Speaker and hon Deputy Minister, I am satisfied with the response to this question. Thank you.
Mr G G BOINAMO: Deputy Speaker, will the Minister consider the appointment of the joint task team between officials of the Department of International Relations and Co-operation and the Department of Home Affairs, and perhaps the Department of Trade and Industry, to assess the social and economic impact that the inflow of the political refugees from Zimbabwe has on service delivery in South Africa? Thank you. [Applause.]
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND CO-OPERATION: Deputy Speaker, once again I think the supplementary question has nothing to do with the original question which related essentially to the sustainability of the new Global Political Agreement and the new government in Zimbabwe. However, I will certainly take the question of the hon member back to the Minister for consideration.
I'm sure that she and her colleagues in the Department of Home Affairs and, indeed, in the Department of Trade and Industry are engaged in such activities and in reflecting on what some of these matters mean to us in South Africa. Thank you very much.
Mr K S MUBU: Madam Deputy Speaker and hon Deputy Minister, there are serious reports of continued human rights violations, intimidation and arbitrary arrests of MDC activists by the police in Zimbabwe. It is known that the Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, is loosing its majority in Parliament because of these arrests.
Just to give one example: The husband of the Minister of Regional Integration and International Cooperation in Zimbabwe, who is an MDC Mutambara official, passed away this week after being attacked in her home in Harare in July by ZANU PF thugs. What is the department doing to address the deteriorating human rights situation in Zimbabwe? [Applause.]
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND CO-OPERATION: Hon Mr Mabu has a question on the Order Paper a little later on which refers to the report that he is quoting from and we will answer that duly when that arises.
Suffice it to say at this stage, hon Mr Mubu, that we as a government are fully engaged with the process in Zimbabwe, also as SADC members, in the reconstruction and the developments that are taking place in Zimbabwe.
It is South Africa's wish and desire that Zimbabwe return fully to democracy and that the Global Political Agreement agreed to by all parties is fully implemented, as I've indicated in my response.
South Africa, of all countries in the world, has been the one that has stuck with the process and has taken measures and worked extremely hard in order to see that there is a peaceful and satisfactory resolution to the difficulties that that country has faced. Thank you.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND CO-OPERATION (Ms S C van der Merwe): Thank you very much, Deputy Speaker. The position of the South African government on this matter has been that the current divide between Fatah and Hamas does indeed present an impediment to political negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians in that any final political solution, we believe, to the conflict has to have the support of the major political formations in Palestine, including Hamas.
Whilst the Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas can negotiate with Israel, as he is the president of the PLO, the current divide between the Fatah-controlled West Bank and the Hamas- controlled Gaza make any final, negotiated solutions to the conflict very difficult to implement.
In response to the second part of the question, the South African Representative Office in Ramallah continues to engage with the PNA, PLO and Fatah as well as Hamas in the course of diplomatic practice, in an effort to promote national unity in Palestine. Our government encourages both formations to form a national unity government until new elections can be held in Palestine.
South Africa also continues to encourage the unity of the Palestinian people through and within international forums such as the UN Security Council and the Non-Aligned Movement. Thank you.
The MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND MILITARY VETERANS: Hon Groenewald, Marievale is a military base on the East Rand, in the Johannesburg area, and has been a matter of concern for many Members of Parliament; it has been a concern of members of the community around there, too. It has since also become a very serious concern to me.
After a great deal of confusion over who is responsible for the base, we have finally arranged that we, as the Defence Force, are responsible for it. Therefore, the answer is that we are responsible for the administration and the maintenance of the base.
The second question is: Who lives on the base? We have two types of people who live on the base. There are the residents, the official residents, who are SANDF personnel. We also have the unofficial residents – the illegal occupants. The legal residents are allowed to stay, because they work in that environment, and we are trying to assist the illegal residents to find better accommodation somewhere else.
The Department of Defence and Military Veterans and the Department of Public Works, in conjunction with the municipality of Ekurhuleni, are in the process of seeking alternative accommodation for the illegal occupants. We are very aware of the danger around the area that they live in, and an interdepartmental task team has been set up to facilitate this.
Yes, I have been informed about the concerns about the area, and I have been given a general overview of the military base. There is no transport arranged for the people who live there, the official residents. They are members of the construction and engineering regiments and their work is very close by, within walking distance. so we have not arranged any transport for them. Thank you.
Mr P J GROENEWALD: Adjunkspeaker, eerstens, baie dankie vir die volledige antwoord van die agb Minister. [Deputy Speaker, firstly, I would like to thank the hon Minister for her comprehensive answer.]
You can leave the earpiece, hon Minister, I'll change to English. Actually, I was thanking you for the thorough answer to my question. Deputy Speaker, as the hon Minister said, it was a serious concern for her as well. I think if there is one common aspect about any individual's life, it is that he or she wants certainty about the place where he or she lives and can stay. Now there is clarity, because the community wants to develop the area for the benefit of the entire community and, of course, it will also benefit the SANDF.
My follow-up question is: Is the Minister willing to go - I don't expect her to go herself, as Minister - or rather send a very senior official, whom I would like to accompany, to the people and the residents of Marievale and explain the situation to them so that there can be certainty also for those people? Thank you, Deputy Speaker.
The MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND MILITARY VETERANS: Yes, I'd be very happy to accompany you to the military base, but not for the reasons that you outline. We, ourselves, are very concerned and very interested in developing the environment, and if the community there would like to develop a golf course, I would also like to develop a golf course for my people. Their health and general recreation is very important me, so we would be going there for two different reasons.
I have certainly dealt often enough with the kind of problem concerning illegal occupants and will be very sensitive to ensure that they are given the benefit of a discussion between us and them and indication of what other arrangements have been made.
Hon Mr Groenewald, if the community has approached you because they are interested in developing it for their own purposes, we are also interested. So please carry this message to them. We will develop it for ourselves, and it will be in very good condition. Thank you.
The MINISTER OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES: Thank you Deputy Speaker, and thanks to hon Mr Smith for the question. The Department of Correctional Services is participating at the National Integrated Case Flow Management Committee, NICFMC, which is a cluster structure under the leadership of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.
It is a primary reality that these delays are court delays and therefore not in the domain of the Correctional Services Management. The Department of Correctional Services uses the relevant criminal procedure provisions that enable the following: correctional supervision as an alternative to bail where appropriate; reduction of bail applications in terms of section 63(1); applications by heads of centres for detainees to be released in lieu of bail or the amendment of bail conditions, where appropriate, in terms of section 63(a); the placement of under-18 awaiting trial detainees, ATDs, under correctional supervision of a correctional officer in terms of section 71; and, of course, plea bargaining in terms of section 10 (105)(a).
The successful use of these provisions requires close co-operation between the criminal justice system departments. There is a continuous process of engagement between these departments at various levels. There are, of cause, 11 existing correctional centres earmarked for conversion to remand detention facilities.
The Commissioner of Correctional Services has approved it that an in‑depth cost analysis be carried out to determine the possibility of refurbishing these existing facilities. The analysis will be used to request National Treasury for funding for the refurbishment project. The assistance of the National Department of Public Works has been requested to appoint a team of consultants to carry out the cost analysis. This analysis is expected to be finalised in the current financial year. I thank you.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you Minister. Is there a supplementary question hon Smith?
Mr V G SMITH: Thank you, Deputy Speaker. Thank you, Minister, for clarifying that this is an issue not restricted to correctional services only. However, Minister, the founding provisions of our Constitution talk to human dignity and the advancement of human rights. The Bill of Rights talks to individuals not being deprived of their freedom arbitrarily or without just cause.
But we have in our system many individuals who are incarcerated purely because they can't afford bail of R1 000, and they clearly are not a threat to society. When do you think this joint cluster approach will deal with that matter?
Secondly, in terms of the awaiting trial detainees, you have 33 female awaiting-trial-detainees, and five of them have been in prison for more than three years; that's about 15%. Of the 2 847 male awaiting-trial-detainees, 512 of them … [Time expired.]
The MINISTER OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES: Hon Member Vincent Smith may be aware that there is what is called a "bail protocol", which has recently been signed by the Minister of Justice, Minister of Police and the Department of Correctional Services. The Bail Protocol is meant to assist us in releasing people whose bails are less than R1 000. That is another way of dealing with overcrowding in the area of awaiting trial detainees.
I also agree, hon member, that it is inhumane and unconstitutional to have people who are awaitin-trial detainees in the main prison in our facilities. It is for that reason that that team which was reviewing the entire functioning of the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security, JCPS, cluster directed us, as the Department of Correctional Services, to establish within the department a branch that will purely look after the needs and management of the awaiting trial detainees. It is because of the conditions under which the awaiting-trial-detainees are currently kept. We are looking into that matter.
I'm really sorry, hon member, that you could not finish the last question because I didn't understand what the question was about.
Mr A T FRITZ: Hon Minister, year after year the problem of overcrowding is raised. The question from the DA is: When is the Minister going to look at an accurate forecasting model of the prison population, where the Minister can say that in the next five years what the number of awaiting trial people coming into your centres will be? That is the first part of it.
The second part is that both Judge Jali, from the Jali Commission, and Judge Yekiso, from the Office of the Inspecting Judge, referred to forecasting models. I think the time has come for us to look at this, because we are going to spend R8 billion on new prisons in the next financial year. We really need to look at some forecasting models. That is my question, Madam Speaker.
The MINISTER OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES: Thank you very much, Mr Fritz. I don't know what the predictions will be or how to forecast the coming in of new people, because the business challenge we have as the Department of Correctional Services is that, as you release people, more people come into our centres.
At the point when we joined the Department of Correctional Services, we had plus-minus 67 000 awaiting trial detainees. That was in May. There are many awaiting trial detainees who have since left our centres, but the numbers are not being reduced, as you are aware.
Much as we are applying all these procedures of trying to alleviate the load and relieve correctional services of people who are awaiting trial detainees, there is, unfortunately, an increase in violent crimes committed by some people; and the courts obviously decide not to grant bail to persons who have been involved in very serious and violent crimes. They don't grant them bail. We have to live with the reality that we will continue to have that problem.
Lastly, I have been saying, Mr Fritz and hon members, that building more facilities, building more prisons, is not the solution to the challenges of our society. What is of importance is for us to prevent our children from committing crime. That is what we need to address, because if you look at the number of awaiting trial detainees and even the number of people who are incarcerated at the centres, 70% of those are young people who range in age from 17 to 35 years.
We cannot have an entire generation of people being incarcerated in prisons. There is something which we have to do as a society. We have to take responsibility for what is currently going on in the country, and we have to come to an indaba and discuss what has gone wrong for us to be having these kinds of numbers at our centres and that are also made up of mainly young people. Thank you. [Time expired.]
Mr S N SWART: Thank you, Deputy Speaker and hon Minister for those comments about our children, which we fully endorse. We have supported the restorative justice approach in the Child Justice Bill to prevent reoffending, particularly where there is no danger to society.
Minister, you referred to various initiatives to cut down on the awaiting trial population and you made reference to section 63(a). Is there not a reluctance to make use of that provision, because the head of prison then has to admit that the conditions have reached such an overcrowded level that the health of prisoners and wardens are at risk?
As it's only under such circumstances that applications can be brought under section 63(a) of the Criminal Procedure Act, would that not in another sense be a matter of the commissioner admitting a failure before such an application can be brought? Is that not the reason why we see few applications in terms of section 63(a)? Thank you.
The MINISTER OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES: It can't be an admission of failure, really. I think that the Office of the Inspecting Judge, Mr Van Zyl, is quite vibrant and very active, and he is keeping all of us on our toes. That is the first thing.
The second issue of overcrowding is a matter which is under discussion and one which has actually become a matter of public debate on how we can best deal with the issue of overcrowding. I think that it wouldn't be too embarrassing or shameful for heads of centres to acknowledge that there is a problem of overcrowding.
In fact, in a number of instances, we have come up with statistics as to the number of bed spaces we have and what number of occupants we have. So it is the bed space as against the number of people incarcerated at the centres.
We know that in many instances we are way above the numbers we should be having at our centres. In some cases, overcrowding is at the level of 200% or even more. I don't think that that is embarrassing; maybe the police are doing a good job.
What is needed is for us to get the courts to appreciate that custodial sentences are not necessarily the best. There are alternative ways of dealing with crime. The issue of conversion of custodial sentences to correctional supervision comes up.
It applies to ATDs, and people should understand that to send a girl child who is 15- or 16-years-old to prison for shoplifting to await trial for over a year is inhumane and unconstitutional. A lot of work needs to be done by mainly the judiciary to appreciate that prison or correctional centres cannot be the only answer to the ills of society. Thank you.
The MINISTER OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY (for The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development): Madam Deputy Speaker, the reply to the question is as follows: With respect to Part 1, over the period of April 2008 to March 2009 the committee did consider and authorise arms sales transactions to a number of countries.
Since its assumption of duty on 21 July 2009, the current committee has considered and approved the 2008 National Conventional Arms Control Co-ordinating Committee annual report. This annual report was prepared in compliance with the provisions of section 23 of the National Conventional Arms Control Act of 2002. To that end this annual report covers the 2008 calendar year, as prescribed by section 23 of the Act.
The committee is on the process of tabling the 2008 annual report to Parliament. The countries and arms categories that are involved in these transactions are reflected in that annual report. In view of this, the House and hon members are requested to allow the tabling of the 2008 annual report to take place. Once this is done, the committee will be available to Parliament to discuss the contents of the annual report.
We answer in that fashion, Madam Deputy Speaker, because the list of transactions is extremely long and is in the annual report in full. Members of the portfolio committee have invited the chairperson of the control committee to appear before the portfolio committee on 2 September. The meeting is already on the committee timetable of meetings. Therefore the committee will have the opportunity to peruse and consider the full details of that report.
With respect to Part 2 of the question, as far as the newly constituted National Conventional Arms Control Committee is concerned, all meetings held thus far have been based on prescribed quorum requirements. With respect to the 2008 calendar year, the report that will be tabled in Parliament reflects business conducted in terms of the said Act.
Mr D J MAYNIER: Madam Deputy Speaker, we say in the preamble to legislation regulating the conventional arms trade that our country is a responsible member of the international community and will not trade in conventional arms with states engaged in repression, aggression or terrorism.
Now, the National Conventional Arms Control Committee, under the leadership of Minister Jeff Radebe, stepped up to the plate and did the right thing when they recently refused to authorise the sale of thousands of aviator G-suits to Iran. Will the Minister once again step up to the plate and do the right thing, and give this House the assurance that she will stop the sale of thousands of sniper rifles to Syria and millions of rounds of ammunition to Zimbabwe?
The MINISTER OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Madam Deputy Speaker, as I have indicated, when we conduct our business as the committee we do so in terms of the Act and its provisions. I do not deviate in any way in my reply from that assurance to the House.
Mr M J ELLIS: Madam Deputy Speaker, there is a bit of a confusion here: The hon Maynier would like to ask a second supplementary question.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Mr Maynier, if you are serious about the second question, can you do that?
Mr D J MAYNIER: Madam Deputy Speaker, I am serious. The National Conventional Arms Control Committee is due, as the Minister says, to appear before the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans on Wednesday, 2 September 2009. Will the Minister be prepared to provide members of the portfolio committee with copies of the all the minutes of all meetings of the NCACC as well as copies of the minutes of all meetings and supporting documentation of the scrutiny committee which advised the NCACC over the past five years before that meeting?
If the Minister has nothing to hide, she surely must be prepared to provide the documents to the members of the committee. [Applause.]
The MINISTER OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Madam Deputy Speaker, I am a little surprised. The hon member indicated that he is fully aware of the contents of the Act and its provisions. I do not recall any section of the Act, which I have read copiously as he has done, that demands the sorts of documents he has referred to. What the committee will get is the annual report, as required in section 23 of the Act. As to other documentation, I think that matter will be dealt with in the process of the meeting, but there is no requirement in the Act for such. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr D J MAYNIER: Madam Deputy Speaker … [Interjections.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Mr Maynier, surely you know that you cannot ask a third question. You can ask a maximum of two questions.
Mr M J ELLIS: Madam Deputy Speaker, the Rules make it quite clear that there will be four supplementary questions to every question, but the Rules do not indicate that any one person is limited to two questions only – the Rules do not state that. And one person can ask all four supplementary questions if there are no other supplementary questions from any other party.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Are there any other further supplementary questions?
Mr D J MAYNIER: Yes, there are.
Ms D KOHLER-BARNARD: The hon Maynier would like this question, I am asking for the following one, so that I am not put last on the list again.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Is that a question or a comment?
Ms D KOHLER-BARNARD: Madam Deputy Speaker, I was answering your request.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon Maynier, I shall very, very reluctantly allow you the third one, which will be the last one.
Mr M J ELLIS: Madam Deputy Speaker, on a point of order: Why would you reluctantly allow him a third question, and if necessary … [Interjections.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Because there has been a practice of allowing two questions and this session is structured so that everybody can ask questions, not just one person … [Interjections.]
Mr M J ELLIS: If I may, Madam Deputy Speaker …
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I don't think we are going to have a dialogue, Mr Ellis. [Interjections.]
Mr M J ELLIS: Madam Deputy Speaker, it's a very important principle, because what happens today will happen in the future. I will write to you and we will sort it out. [Interjections.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, hon Ellis! Do that at another time. Let us not have a dialogue. Hon Maynier? [Interjections.]
Mr D J MAYNIER: Madam Deputy Speaker, the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Mr Ebrahim Ebrahim, recently made a very welcome statement on the situation in Burma, when he said that the government of South Africa was deeply saddened and regretted the decision of the Myanmar authorities to convict Aung San Suu Kyi on charges of subversion.
It appears that this government has made a foreign policy about-turn, and for once we are supporting the democrats and not the dictators. But it was not always so, and in the light of this, would the Minister tell this House whether the National Conventional Arms Control Committee has ever authorised or refused any permit in relation to conventional arms transfers to the military regime in Burma?
Mr M S BOOI: Madam Deputy Speaker, on a point of order: I had thought that there was some clarity when it was said that there is a law and that law doesn't say that you have to go into the details of what has been presented before the committee. I thought that the hon member had read the law, and the law just says that we have to have a particular report will be presented to Parliament.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you, hon Booi. Can we ask the Minister to be the one to decide on that?
The MINISTER OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Madam Deputy Speaker, that is a very different question. However, in terms of the information available to me, all details with respect to countries and types of arms purchased will be in the 2008 report submitted to Parliament - all countries and the types of arms provided or sold.
The MINISTER OF POLICE: Deputy Speaker, the criminal trial involving the head of the Krugersdorp Organised Crime Unit and the other members has not yet been finalised by the court. The matter was postponed on 12 October 2009, in the High Court in Johannesburg. Considering that the matter is now in our courts, we believe that hon members will appreciate the need for caution in discussing such matters. Thank you.
Rev K R J MESHOE: Thank you, hon Minister, for the reply. We heard this afternoon from the Minister of Correctional Services that about 70% of awaiting trial detainees are young people. Many of them, I'm sure, especially those who are still indetention for violent crimes, have access to illegal habit-forming drugs. It is mainly these young people we want to protect from druglords and crime syndicates.
We believe that severe sentences - while I understand that the matter is before the courts - have to be imposed on druglords and that syndicates have to be smashed, so that our children can grow up in drug-free areas. Will the Minister consider giving the challenge of smashing drug traffickers and druglords to the newly established Hawks, so that this problem can be solved once and for all? Thank you.
The MINISTER OF POLICE: Deputy Speaker, in spirit I agree with the hon Rev Meshoe. The syndicates, that we are talking about, not only for drug trafficking, but also for other scourges like human trafficking, are part of the programme of the broader SAPS. And, as you know, because these are priority crimes, the new unit, the DPCI, or the Hawks, as we refer to them, will be dealing with this as well. It is a broader challenge within the entire police service. Thank you.
Ms D KOHLER-BARNARD: Deputy Speaker, could the Minister explain to this House why it is that cases against members of SAPS are kept out of the public eye, when transparency in this sort of unutterably distasteful case is called for, with SAPS proving to the citizens of this country that they deal harshly with transgressions of the law on the part of their members? Is it perhaps that in instances the punishment in relation to an infraction by SAPS members so seldom seems commensurate with the initial action? For example, when two Volksrust officers locked a female into an all-male cell where she was gan-raped, they were told not to do it again for six months, after which it would be expunged from their records. They face no loss of income, no demotion - in fact, nothing at all. Surely, this lack of firm action not only undermines the morale of the good cops, but also discourages people from co-operating with the police.
The MINISTER OF POLICE: Deputy Speaker, I find that contradictory. How do you then know that there are cases which involve police if there are no records and if they are kept away from the public? You know, because everybody knows, because SAPS works for the entire nation and each and every case is equal to any other.
The issue of drugs that has been raised here, and which I think we should confine ourselves to, as referred to by the hon Rev Meshoe, is a matter, as I have said, which is being dealt with; but I don't think we should come and mislead the House and say those cases which involve police are kept away from the public eye. It's not true. Thank you.
Mr Z S MAGAGULA: Deputy Speaker, what measure has SAPS put in place to ensure that men and women of integrity are deployed to the Organised Crime Unit, and what other measures could be implemented to reduce such incidents in the future? I thank you.
The MINISTER OF POLICE: Deputy Speaker, as the hon member knows, we launched a new unit, DPCI, which took on board members of the crime, unit amongst other things. Subsequent to that, a thorough process of vetting and security clearance is still being undertaken, because we made the point that we should be thorough as far as that is concerned. Rather delay for the thorough process and outcome thereof, than rush the process. Thank you very much.
Mr R L RAMATLAKANE: Deputy Speaker, I'm sure it's allowed to have a minor deviation from the norm concerning a maiden speech and that I may have a supplementary question today; and I will make my maiden speech at the next available opportunity.
We believe and we want to say that the police are doing very, very good work. We are all indebted to them and we must always support them when they do a good job - all of us. Therefore, we shouldn't take a position where we paint all the police with the same brush. There are a few, however, who are behaving inappropriately in the police, in terms of committing crime. I want to ask the Minister whether there are any records kept in the department of the police's alleged involvement in drug trafficking, and if the department has the capacity to detect it and, of course, prosecute all those who are involved in inappropriate behaviour in the department?
The MINISTER OF POLICE: Deputy Speaker, hon member, not much has changed, since the last time you were the MEC of Safety and Security in the Western Cape. [Laughter.]
The hon member will know that, in terms of statistics, whether you are a member of the police or not, if you are engaged and involved in crime, you are recorded as such - a criminal. Perhaps a special request for just focusing on the police can be put forward, because we may want to talk about this matter to see what we can do. Thank you very much.
The MINISTER OF POLICE: Deputy Speaker, I thank the hon member for the question. The Community Patroller Project is one of the projects that have been initiated by the Department of Community Safety in the Gauteng province. Patrollers receive a R300 voucher as a token of appreciation. The vouchers are issued on a quarterly basis and are meant for volunteers or patrollers who would have actively participated in the patrol activities during each period under review.
As part of improving the programme, Gauteng is considering further developing the skills of volunteers through learnership programmes and facilitating support from other government institutions, with a view to achieving the following: assisting in equipping these patrollers for employment opportunities; and encouraging entrepreneurship amongst patrollers, which could result in them empowering each other and volunteering to assist the police for many reasons.
Patrol groups undergo NQF Level 3 security-related training. This process equips them to understand better the environment in which they work. It also opens up opportunities for them to be employed in the security industry. Thank you.
Ms M T KUBAYI: Madam Deputy Speaker, I would like to thank the Minister for the response. I hope that the government and the department will increase the stipend or reward beyond the R300 voucher that is allocated every three months. I am sure that if this can be done, the people who are volunteering - for example Ntate Abe Lebelo of Ward 14, the leader of patrollers in Soweto - would be happy and more motivated as they continue doing the good work.
Their work includes ensuring the safety of residents as they walk to and from work. This further indicates that working together as government, legislatures and members of the community, we can do more to create safer communities. Thank you.
The MINISTER OF POLICE: I agree with the hon member. Thank you.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: That was a comment.
Ms D KOHLER-BARNARD: Madam Speaker, could the Minister explain why a total moratorium has been placed on the taking on of reservists, with no date announced for its lifting? Could the Minister also tell us whether the same moratorium relates to patrollers? We have a number of citizens offering their services to SAPS, expecting no payment at all, and yet we have this huge blockage that has developed.
Certainly, I have heard that patrollers, while not asking for salaries, are given certain food parcels as a sort of gift for doing the work that they do. It is of great concern to the citizens who are proffering their services that are turned away.
I would like to know when this turning-away process is going to stop. Also, why is it that you are even considering allowing reservists without driving licences to be admitted through the back door, as it were, into SAPS when we already have such a huge problem with SAPS members who do not have driving licences, even today?
The MINISTER OF POLICE: Madam Speaker, I would invite the hon member to just give details and to substantiate particularly on the question of the turning away of members of the public who want to join the reservists.
As you would be aware, what is currently happening with the reservists is that they are divided into four categories. Amongst those four categories is a category for those who are unemployed. That is the group we are dealing with currently, in terms of looking at the feasibility of having them as employed police officers, so there isn't any turning away of would-be police reservists.
However, as I say, if you have any evidence in that regard, we would definitely welcome it because we have been going around the country and people have been showing their enthusiasm to join the police service, whether as reservists or even as patrollers, as it were. And we encourage people to do that, but if there are people who are turned away, we really would want that evidence. Thank you very much.
Mr L RAMATLAKANE: Madam Speaker, I also want to say that the involvement of the community in the fight against crime is an important pillar in its success. However, I just want to ask the Minister, in relation to the community safety department in Gauteng, whether that kind of project is going to be broadened beyond Gauteng. If so, I would like to know whether there is any consideration for some degree of cover for those who have been recorded as the normal participants in the fight against crime, for example, in the case of volunteers whom we heard qualify for a stipend.
Is there something beyond the stipend or food parcel in terms of the cover? If so, how broad would that be? If there is already something in existence, could details of that be made available?
The MINISTER OF POLICE: Madam Speaker, the broadening of the scope is what provinces do. We were dealing with a specific province here, namely Gauteng. And this question of the hon member is related to the original question.
In terms of resources for patrollers and the general public, I am getting an indication from members from both sides of the House that they would motivate strongly for us, as the SA Police Service, to get more resources. I hope so because, frankly speaking, the enthusiasm out there is too great for any one department to be able to absorb everyone.
Things are complicated by the fact that we have a high rate of unemployment in the country, so both people who have very good intentions and and those with not-so-good intentions would want to come to the fore, in so far as that is concerned. But I am pleased that hon members will really support us. Thank you.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER
The MINISTER OF POLICE
REFERENCE TO OTHER MEMBERS BY FIRST NAME OR SURNAME ONLY
(Point of Order)
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon members, in response to the Point of Order raised by the hon member Terblanche, I agree that hon members should not refer to any other member by his or her first name or surname only. I would encourage hon members to observe this Rule. In this instance, however, I do not consider a withdrawal necessary. That is my ruling.
NOITICE OF MOTION – Mr S B FARROW
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr S B FARROW: Deputy Speaker, I hereby give notice that on the next sitting day of the House I shall move the following motion on behalf of the DA:
That the House debates South Africa's readiness in relationship to transport logistics for the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
Mr M S F DE FREITAS
Mr S B FARROW
Mr M S F DE FREITAS: Deputy Speaker, I hereby give notice that on the next sitting day of the house I intend moving the following motion on behalf of the DA:
That the House debates the impact of the proposed taxi strike on the delivery of the Bus Rapid Transit System in Gauteng and its impact on the Fifa World Cup.
Mrs J D KILIAN
Mr M S F DE FREITAS
Mrs J D KILIAN: Deputy Speaker, I hereby give notice that on the next sitting day of the House I shall move:
That the House-
(1) notes that -
(a) on 19 August 2009 the South African Police Service reached a settlement agreement in terms of which certain police officers were appointed to promotion posts with effect and remuneration backdated to 2004; and
(b) the underlying precedent created by the settlement could have an impact on similar cases in the SAPS and the Public Service in general; and
(2) resolves to call on the Minister for Public Service and Administration to –
(a) investigate and compile a database of vacant specialist positions in the Public Service that cannot be filled due to the absence of suitable applicants from specifically designated population groups;
(b) conduct a skills audit to determine the availability of duly qualified applicants from other population groups that may be suitable to fill such positions in order to enhance service delivery in the short and medium term; and
(c) implement effective programmes for mentoring and skills
transfer that would ensure sustainable long-term availability of specialist personnel.
The House adjourned at 17:15.
C.I/LB / END OF TAKE
No related documents