Hansard: Second Reading: Health Professions A/B [B10B – 2006]
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 12 Oct 2006
No summary available.
THURSDAY, 12 OCTOBER 2006
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
The House met at 14:05.
The Speaker took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.
ANNOUNCEMENTS, TABLINGS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS – see col 000.
QUESTIONS FOR ORAL REPLY
Plans by government to pursue its commitment to clean government and the eradication of corruption
13. Mr M T Goniwe (ANC) asked the President of the Republic:
(1) In light of the fact that a number of high-profile cases are before our courts, for example, the ongoing trial of the former Deputy President of the Republic, the ongoing suspicions about the armaments procurement and travel fraud trial involving Members of Parliament, and given the commitment of the Government to clean government and anti-corruption, are these cases an indication of deep-rooted corruption in government and other organs of State;
(2) to what extent, if any, is the Government's commitment shaken by these events;
(3) does the Government have a plan to pursue its commitment to fighting and eradicating corruption without fear or favour? N1209E
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Madam Speaker, first of all, let me apologise to the House for my failure to attend the last session, when we were supposed to answer questions - I think the expression that is used is, "for reasons beyond my control". It's a very good phrase to cover up all sorts of mistakes. I'd really like to apologise for that. As the House knows, it was for health reasons that I could not attend.
With regard to the question, I'm quite certain that we will all understand and respect the fact that the specific matters that the Chief Whip of the Majority Party has cited in the question are going through or are affected by ongoing legal processes, and thus it would not be appropriate to discuss them here.
As to whether these matters are an indication of deep-rooted corruption in government and other organs of state, the answer is no. However, this does not mean that we are not faced with the continuing challenge to always be on guard to ensure that corruption does not become entrenched in our society as a whole, covering both the public and the private sectors.
I have on previous occasions tried to address the critical factors in our society that ineluctably give birth to corruption. In this regard, I'd like to refer to an article by an American Christian, Sandi Magathan Droubay. She starts her article with the following quotation:
It is ironic that the United States of America, which claims to be a predominantly Christian nation, adopts a governmental system that strongly promotes capitalism.
She then proceeds, and I quote:
The above quote is by Dr Charles Mercieca, professor of history and philosophy at Alabama A & M University. Dr Mercieca goes on to state that capitalism has been identified with consumerism, which consists of a "successful business plot" that leads to rampant spending out of proportion to what one's needs really are.
We attempt to spend our way to happiness, but "things" don't ever really satisfy us and so we are encouraged, through advertisements and the use of credit, to buy more "things". The ever-elusive chase for happiness and security just goes on and on.
Capitalism feeds on consumption, greed seems to be inherent in the system. Look at what many corporations have done in the last several years in the name of greed and power.
Moreover, she says:
... according to George Soros, a billionaire and contributor to liberal causes, capitalism which is not constrained by government and morality leads to greed and avarice, making some people very rich and most of the people very poor. Soros goes on to say that
markets are inherently unstable, and in a system of laissez-faire capitalism goods and services are not distributed fairly.
In this regard, I've said in the past that our country is by no means immune to the greed inherent in the capitalist system and the ever-elusive chase for happiness and security of which Sandi Droubay spoke. I believe that we too have to take the observations made by George Soros seriously, that capitalism, which is not constrained by government and morality, leads to greed and avarice.
Recognising all this, our government does its best to remain vigilant at all times both to minimise the possibility for corrupt practice within the public sector and to catch those who might nevertheless engage in such practice.
It is notable in this regard that the commitment of the state to expose and defeat corruption is demonstrated by the fact that about 80% of cases reported in the media, of corruption, are discovered and reported by government.
There is no doubt that corruption poses a considerable threat to the imperative to improve the quality of life of our people and our prospects for development. And there's a real potential to corrode our democratic and constitutional values. Thus every case of corruption constitutes a crime against all South Africans. But there's not a single event that has shaken the resolve of government to fight corruption.
It is particularly unpardonable when people steal what was intended for the poor and marginalised, and thereby undermine programmes to build a better life for all.
It should also not be tolerated when people steal from shareholders, and thereby frustrate possible expansions by private business and the attendant possibilities to increase employment opportunities for other people.
As hon members are aware, we have a number of agencies that work very hard to ensure that we defeat this cancer in our society. These include the Auditor-General, the Public Protector, the National Prosecuting Authority and the Police Service.
We have seen from various examples that these bodies have acted with integrity and without fear or favour, or prejudice. Where there is reason to prosecute criminally, that decision is made on the basis of the law by the National Director of Public Prosecutions.
Where the state has suffered a loss, the accounting officers must make the necessary effort to recover such losses. When we can act through disciplinary or other means, we will do so.
The fact that acts of corruption are exposed and that steps are taken against alleged perpetrators should be celebrated as a reflection of the efficiencies of our institutions in dealing with corruption. The publicity given to these cases should, therefore, not be taken as an indicator of deep-rooted corruption.
Part of the government's plan to fight and eradicate corruption is through the laws that this Parliament has passed to empower the relevant state institutions to fight the perpetrators of fraud and corruption.
These laws include the Protected Disclosures Act, the Promotion of Access to Information Act, the Financial Intelligence Centre Act, the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act, the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, the Public and Municipal Finance Management Act, as well as the codes of conduct and ethics for members of the executive, the Public Service and local government.
Our legal framework conforms to the highest standards of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption; the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption; the SADC Protocol Against Corruption, as well as the OECD Convention on the Bribery of Public Foreign Officials in International Business Transactions.
We have done much in dealing with corruption. However, we can obviously do more. This is exactly why the programme of action of the Governance and Administration Cluster and Government also focuses on an impact appraisal of our framework.
Where we detect weaknesses, we have continued and we will continue to respond appropriately. Again, we have, together with business and civil society, adopted a national anticorruption programme for which we have provided resources to ensure its implementation.
Working together with our social partners, I'm confident that we must always seek to defeat those engaged in fraud and corruption, and ensure that our people, especially the poor, are able to access the resources intended for their development. However, as corruption is not just a problem in the public sector, we call on all South Africans to assist in ensuring that corruption is dealt with wherever it occurs, whether in the public, the business or the NGO sectors. Thank you, Madam Speaker. [Applause.]
UMBHEXESHI OYINTLOKO WEQELA ELIKWISININZI: Isininzi sabantu, Mongameli, inengcinga ethi le nkqubo karhulumente yinkqubo entle kakhulu. Loo nto yenza urhulumente wethu athembakale kwihlabathi liphela. Ngaba, Mongameli, xa ujonge le nkqubo ibaluleke kangaka, ucinga ukuba senza ngokwaneleyo na ukufundisa isizwe ukuba umntu, xa ethe wabekwa ityala, loo nto ayithethi ukuba uyenzile loo nto athyolwa ngayo.
Uloyiko lwethu, njengokuba siqhuba le nkqubo intle kangaka, kukuba ngathi isizwe sisele ngemva; sona sigweba umntu engekagwetywa. Xa ujonga kwakhona, Mongameli, kwinkqubo yohlaziyo-similo nesimo, i-moral regeneration, ngaba urhulumente wethu ukhupha imithombo eyaneleyo na kwidabi lokuqinisekisa ukuba indlela yokucinga yesizwe ilungiswe, abantu besi sizwe bafundiswe imikhwa emitsha eyahlukileyo kwimikhwa ebifundiswa yinkqubo yobugongqongqo yocalucalulo? [Kwahlekwa.] Enkosi. (Translation of isiXhosa paragraphs follows.)
[The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Mr President, the majority of the people have the impression that this government system is very good. This makes our government trusted by the whole world. Mr President, when you review this important progress, do you think that we are doing enough to educate the nation that when a charge is laid against a person, that does not necessarily mean she or he is guilty of any offence that he or she is alleged to have perpetrated?
As we are progressing with this important programme, our fear is that seemingly, we have left the nation behind because it is they who find someone guilty before he or she has been convicted. Mr President, when you look again at moral regeneration programmes, do you in your opinion think that our government is doing enough to change the mindset of our people, so that our society could be taught new customs different from those that were imposed upon us by the apartheid regime? [Laughter.] Thank you.]
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Madam Speaker, I believe that it is indeed important that we should educate our people, as the hon member is suggesting, to understand that indeed people may get arrested and charged. However, the fact that they are arrested and charged does not necessarily mean that they are guilty of what they have been arrested for and charged with.
It is important, indeed, that we should communicate this very firmly, and I do hope that the media would also play its role in this regard. Indeed, I think the hon member is correct to point to the problem that I think all of us have seen: When people get charged the message that gets communicated is that they are indeed guilty.
So, we, all of us certainly - I don't think this is just the government's responsibility – have a responsibility to make sure that this matter is properly understood. I'm absolutely certain that the media has an important role to play in this regard.
Njengokuba sele litshilo ilungu elibekekileyo, masingagwebi abantu bengekagwetywa ezinkundleni, kuba asizizo iijaji singengabo noomantyi. Ezi zinto kufanele siziyekele kwiijaji noomantyi, batsho ukuba unetyala na nokuba awunalo. (Translation of isiXhosa paragraph follows.)
[As the hon member has already indicated, let us not judge people without them having been proven guilty by the courts of law, because we are neither the judges nor the magistrates. We should leave all these decisions in the hands of the judges and the magistrates to decide whether or not you are guilty.]
The work being done by the Moral Regeneration Movement is indeed very important. I think it's critically important that we continuously address this matter of a commonly accepted set of values that have to drive what's happening in the country regarding what government is doing and what individuals are doing.
The Chief Rabbi is leading a process of elaborating a Bill for dealing with this matter of our moral obligations, which is equivalent, but, of course, obviously doesn't have the same force of law equivalent to the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.
This is an initiative to make sure that indeed we do lay this basis that will be acceptable to society as a whole so that we, all of us, act to police the respect and observance of the values that our society needs.
I do not believe that it's a matter of resources – certainly, there is no problem with regard to resources in the sense of money. However, I think that it is this commitment, which all of us must have, show, demonstrate and act upon as we build South Africa. The new South Africa must not be new only in the context of new houses, clean water, less unemployment, which are very important matters; I think it must also be new with regard to the moral standards that inspire our society as a whole. Thanks, Madam Speaker. [Applause.]
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITION: Mr President, it's nice to see you back looking fit and well, and with roses in your cheeks. [Laughter.] I want to suggest to you that there are two issues that undermine the ANC's reputation for fighting corruption. The first is Oilgate. The ANC election fund improperly received R11 million of taxpayers' money and you've done nothing to put it right.
The second is Travelgate. After three years and nine months the cloud of corruption and suspicion still hangs over Parliament. A few MPs faced justice, and others have been sacrificed. But they allege that more senior ANC politicians have escaped prosecution.
Will you tell us why it is that some, who have improperly benefited themselves at the expense of the public, seem to be getting away with it? More than 100 MPs are paying the liquidators. They are not all crooks, and they are not all corrupt; but some of them are. And I'd like to ask you what the government is doing to ensure that the corrupt are punished.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Madam Speaker, as I've just said in response to hon Goniwe, I'm not a judge; perhaps the hon Gibson is a judge. [Laughter.] Oh, I'm told he's a lawyer, which I am not.
Regarding the matters to which he refers, I'm quite certain that everybody in the country would like to see an appropriate and speedy as possible resolution of them. I'm certain that this includes the hon Mbulelo Goniwe, unless he stands up here and says that I'm wrong. But I'm quite sure that he also wants an appropriate and speedy as possible conclusion to these matters.
So, I'm afraid, hon Gibson, that I can't answer these questions of yours, as to what you call "Oilgate". As for that matter, I'm quite sure there are various processes that would have been dealing with it. We should ask the people who are dealing with it what they are doing with it, if they haven't resolved it.
Regarding what you call "Travelgate", I know that part of that particular matter is in the hands of the law-enforcement authorities, the courts, and Parliament, and I'm sure that the hon Madam Speaker might very well, from the point of view of Parliament, be in a much better position to answer this question than I am.
What I'm saying is that, obviously, we would, all of us, including myself, want the appropriate and speedy as possible resolution of this issue. But I wouldn't want to do what I've just spoken against, concluding, as hon Gibson has done, that there are so many MPs who are paying, whatever, and that a lot of them are not corrupt but some of them are definitely corrupt. Well, he knows; I don't. Indeed I'm quite sure that because he knows who is corrupt and why they are corrupt, he would assist the law-enforcement authorities with the necessary information ... [Laughter.] [Applause.] ... so that they are prosecuted. [Interjections.]
I wanted to say something about this gate business, which comes from Watergate. I'm sure there is sufficient imagination in the country for us not to be gating everything simply because there was "Watergate". [Laughter.] Thanks, Madam Speaker.
Mr B H HOLOMISA: Madam Speaker and hon President, my question is addressed to these suspicions and continuous rumours. There have been repeated insinuations regarding the President's involvement in the arms procurement process and questions regarding meetings at a critical time of the tender process, with one of the bidders. Given that these were even of interest to German prosecuting authorities and the media during the President's last visit to that country, it is perhaps now justified for a preliminary investigation of this matter in order to verify the authenticity or otherwise of these persistent rumours and insinuations.
It is this House, I submit, that elects our President, and therefore I would submit that this House should be the body tasked with such a preliminary investigation. Perhaps the Intelligence oversight committee, with its clearance on confidential matters, could liaise with the Office of the President in order to conduct such a preliminary investigation.
On the strength of such a preliminary investigation and the report of that committee, this House could then determine the way forward. The question is: Could the hon President perhaps indicate whether he would endorse such a preliminary investigation as a way of dispelling these rumours? Unfortunately, they keep on coming, and they even come from the ruling party.
The SPEAKER: Hon Holomisa, you don't have a lot of time because you decided to make a speech before asking a question.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: No, hon Holomisa, if, of course, Parliament can decide on such an investigation, we don't have any power of veto over decisions of Parliament; it may very well want to do that.
What I will say though, as a prediction, should the House decide on that course, is that they are not going to find this corruption that you are fishing for, because it doesn't exist. It doesn't matter who puts out rumours – I can put out a rumour today, that Bantu Holomisa was seen stealing a bag of potatoes from Checkers ... [Laughter.] ... and indeed persist with that story. Indeed the House may want to appoint a commission of inquiry to check whether Bantu Holomisa did steal a bag of potatoes.
They won't find any corruption, but by all means let them try. I'm quite certain that having done that and found nothing, there will be another rumour, and we'll set up another commission, by all means, and we'll find nothing.
There's no substance to these stories, hon Holomisa, none whatsoever. I suspect I know why rumours are being spread. You see, even if you can write to the German ministry of justice or government, or whomever, and ask them about that story and see what they say, they'll be very puzzled that there's any suggestion whatsoever that German prosecutors are doing an investigation such as suggested by your question. But ask them, don't take my word for it.
Long ago I spoke about the fishers of men and the fishers of corrupt men and women. They are very busy fishing. Let them catch the corrupt ones, but this one is a dead-end story, because there's no substance to it. All there is to it is mischief. Thanks. [Applause.]
Rev K R J MESHOE: Madam Speaker, hon President, when a presentation on management and accountability in local government was made to the Institute for Local Government Management it was stated that an attempt to quantify the impact and extent of corruption on local government is undermined by many factors, such as the lack of consolidated statistics and analyses of cases of corruption and fraud, and the limited research done on the manifestation of corruption on local government, especially in terms of good governance.
In the light of these statements, how does government hope to succeed in rooting out corruption at all levels? And secondly, will the President ensure that research is done on the manifestation of corruption and that the consolidated statistics and analyses of cases of corruption are compiled to help us quantify the impact and extent of corruption in our country? Thank you.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Madam Speaker, if this has not been done, I'm sure we can do it quite quickly; it can't take long. Indeed the government, as I indicated, keeps a very close eye on this matter. It may be that we haven't compiled statistics as to what it is that has happened over the past five years, or whatever period, but I'm quite certain that it wouldn't be very difficult for us to do that, precisely because, as you will have noticed, we have been trying to pay quite a lot of attention to this matter of the functioning of local government because of its critical importance with regard to addressing the challenges we face in the country.
In that context, we have, therefore, had to keep a very close eye on this matter of management of municipal finances and the implementation of the Local Government: Municipal Finance Management Act, about tendering procedures, and all those sorts of things. We've had to pay a lot of attention to them because they are critical to ensuring that we succeed with regard to this task of ensuring that local government does what it is expected to do.
That's why I'm saying that I'm absolutely certain - and maybe the Minister for Provincial and Local Government might want to contradict me – that it actually wouldn't take us very long, if we haven't done this as government to say: This is the picture; the statistics that give evidence, in terms of your question, in the absence of an attempt to quantify the incidence of corruption. I'm quite sure we can do that.
I really do believe that serious work has been put into this matter of ensuring that we have systems, mechanisms, the oversight, and so on, to really keep a close eye on this thing at that level of government.
Indeed, I must say that even the population is responding to this thing because, obviously, corruption at local government impacts immediately on people. This week a shebeen in Thabong, in Welkom, was closed. It was an illegal shebeen, and the residents in this particular area had been complaining to the government about this shebeen for 10 years, and nothing was happening. In the end they wrote to the President and said: "President, this is what we have been doing. Here are copies of letters that we have sent, and nothing is happening."
So we checked and acted on this thing, and the shebeen is closed. I'm giving that as an example of the people themselves saying: " We must." Of course, they are saying in the letter that part of the problem is that some of the people they were writing to, to say: "Close down this shebeen. We can't sleep at night", were drinking at the shebeen. Anyway, now it's closed. [Laughter.] Thanks, Madam Speaker.
Programmes to sustain peace and democracy in the DRC, and South Africa's role therein
14. Ms J L Fubbs (ANC) asked the President of the Republic:
(1) Whether, in light of the fact that the democratic election in the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, on 30 July 2006 is a historic milestone towards a stable continent and a prerequisite for development and prosperity, any programmes are envisaged to support and sustain this important development; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what programmes;
(2) what is the role South Africa can play in future to ensure that peace and democracy are enhanced in the DRC? N1210E
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Madam Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity once more to congratulate the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo for declaring through their votes that they want peace, democracy and progress, and in the process communicating the very good message that they are ready to make a break with an unfortunate past of violent conflict and war.
With regard to the programmes that are envisaged to support and sustain this important development in the DRC, as the hon member has asked, South Africa acts within the objectives and prescriptions of the African Union and its development programme, the New Partnership for Africa's Development. One of these roles is in the area of post-conflict reconstruction. In this regard, the protocol that establishes the Peace and Security Council of the African Union inter alia emphasises the promotion and implementation of post-conflict reconstruction initiatives and the prevention of the resurgence of conflict and violence.
I believe that our country and people should be proud indeed that we have done and will continue to do whatever is possible within our limited resources to support and assist the people of the DRC as they strive to build a better life for themselves.
We did what we could to ensure the success of the Sun City negotiations, which culminated in the signing of the comprehensive peace agreements in Pretoria in December 2002. The agreements pave the way for the formation of a transitional government, and the adoption of an interim constitution. We continue to work with the transitional government in the DRC together to create conditions conducive to the holding of democratic elections, and commenced with the implementation of programmes and projects that would form the foundation for the reconstruction and development of the DRC under the framework of the General Co-operation Agreement between our two countries, signed in January 2004.
Practical measures taken in terms of this agreement include the following: The SA National Defence Force has deployed personnel to provide cargo handling, aeronautical evacuation, airfield rescue, air support, firefighting and military police tasks at various locations. It serves as a rapid-reaction force, mainly in the troubled areas, and conducts engineering tasks as well as providing various services relating to the Congo River. It supports the integration process of the military formations, assisting with the formation of the integrated brigades, the identification and registering of personnel, and helping to refurbish the integration centres.
It works as a project office to facilitate future assistance with the DRC armed forces, and has assisted with the logistics or the distribution of ballot papers and ballot materials for the recent elections.
We also assisted the DRC with civil sector reform by, among other things, doing the audit of the public service, which resulted in that sister country saving millions of dollars, which were being paid to ghost workers. It was also done to expose ghost soldiers, again saving the DRC millions of dollars. Both these interventions are critical in terms of rebuilding the Congolese state machinery, which collapsed during the Mabutu years.
In addition, we have helped in training DRC officials on IT and Internet connectivity, training on the standardisation of information such as population registration and registration of births, deaths, marriages and divorces. This support also includes training on performance management for civil servants and, through the SA Management Development Institute, we are implementing a comprehensive training programme focused on different elements of the civil service.
Further, we are helping the DRC in areas like capacity-building for the development of human and infrastructural resources of their Ministry of foreign affairs and international co-operation. We are also helping with the capacity-building for immigration and civil service officials' identification of relevant equipment and infrastructure and transfer of technology.
Again, we are engaged in electoral security training, assisting with the development of an organic law that would ensure decentralised governance within three years in the 25 provinces envisaged in the 2006 constitution.
We are proud to say that our Independent Electoral Commission has done and continues to do impressive work in the DRC. This includes the training of the local electoral officers, capacity-building especially at the municipal level, the handling of very important logistics of the electoral process from ballot paper and result slips, to the printing and storage of the electoral kits.
Among other things, we have, through the IEC, assisted the DRC with 64 electoral project co-ordinators and IT personnel at its 64 regional electoral areas as well as sending, from time to time, additional IT specialists and assisting in the procurement of IT equipment.
It is worth noting that our business community has also responded positively to this effort of ensuring that the DRC takes to the high road with regard to its economic rebirth and social development.
But, as hon members know, some incidents of unrest occurred shortly after the results of the presidential election were announced. In this regard, I travelled to the DRC and met with all the major role-players. In line with our continued engagement in the DRC, we worked closely with the Congolese parties to find solutions to the matters that had resulted in the unrest. We are happy that the then contentious matters were resolved. We continue to follow up on these issues, focused on doing whatever we can to contribute to successful elections on the 29th of this month, being the second round of the presidential election and provincial elections.
Again, our government is working closely with the Congolese government and leadership to assist in the preparations for these elections, including assisting with the procurement and transportation of electoral material. Thank you, Madam Speaker. [Applause.]
Ms J L FUBBS: Madam Speaker, I thank the President very much. The House would agree with you that there are different forms of providing and assisting with support and development, especially in the light of our own country's history. I think you emphasised the point and hit the nail on the head when you said that South Africa is here and will be there and has agreed to be there to transfer technology and skills, etc.
So, no matter what we are doing, whether it is the SA National Defence Force, whether it is foreign affairs, whether it is finance, no matter what it is, we are there not simply to provide such development and support on a purely ...
The SPEAKER: Do you have a question, hon member?
Ms J L FUBBS: ... yes, I do ... consultative basis, but rather to create sustainable development.
In light of this, Mr President, can you please tell the House if you are thinking of any specific measures in the light, not simply of engineering as you put it and immigration and finance, but whether you are also looking at transport, roads, education and health? Thank you.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Madam Speaker, I must say that our involvement with the DRC processes has been driven in part or in good measure by our view that the Congo, DRC, as Zaïre, came to represent the example of the failure of African independence. Everything went wrong. It's a big country located in the centre of the continent. It shares borders with nine other African countries, and it's clear that if the Congo can recover and become the stable, peaceful and prosperous democracy that all of us want it to be, as the Congolese themselves want to be, it would make an enormous impact in terms of changing our continent as a whole for the better.
We are quite determined to stay with the Congolese to produce this result. It's not producing a selfish outcome for South Africa, but an enormously important positive outcome for the rebirth of the African continent.
I am quite certain that the new Congolese government that will be installed after the elections at the end of the month will indeed have to attend to the matters that you mentioned of transport and roads and education and health and all of that. It's uniquely a responsibility of the Congolese government. Essentially, you are quite correct, hon member; part of what we have been trying to do is to give assistance in a manner, as we are indicating, that ensures sustainability.
For instance, I mentioned the matter of the work that we have been doing with regard to the civil service. The civil service in the Congo had collapsed for many decades. They had to start from the beginning to reconstruct it. Indeed, what our public service and administration team found, when it was doing its work, was that, for instance, you would get six people on the payroll, and they are getting paid, and when they check and verify, they find that it's the mother and father and four teenage children, who are being paid as employed civil servants. So you have to change all of those things to create the base for the Congo to be able to develop and recreate a Congolese state.
So, with regard to all the other matters that you mentioned, I am saying that, principally, these are the responsibilities of the Congolese government; but within the context of our continued support and assistance to the Congolese people, I am quite certain that we will also make a contribution to contribute whatever we can to make sure that they are able to build roads, able to set up a good health system, and indeed a lot of these matters are already subject to bilateral discussions. Thank you, Madam Speaker. [Applause.]
Dr R RABINOWITZ: Madam Speaker, my follow-up question was for the first question, not for this one.
Mr W J SEREMANE: Madam Speaker, Mr President, I think undoubtedly South Africa can be proud of the role it has played in the DRC and other countries in Africa.
The problem, however, is that because we are so willing to play that role, the other bodies that should be helping seem unwilling to bear the share of the load. What steps is South Africa taking to persuade and assure bodies such as the African Union and the United Nations that the reconstruction of the DRC, after elections, is absolutely essential, and that they must come to the party too in order to sustain the achieved goals, and also to enhance the effort that has already been made?
Furthermore, what steps will you take or suggest to ensure that there are no attempts to negate the outcome of the elections by the losing parties to avoid a situation such as, for instance, that in the Cape Metropole, where the MEC seeks to change the rules despite the legitimate outcome of elections, for instance, by changing the mayoral system? [Interjections.] This may not seem to be connected to this, but it is a mission that we have to carry in the light of democracy. Thank you. [Applause.] [Interjections.]
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: I don't know what will happen to the Kinshasa metro. [Laughter.] [Interjections.]
I refer the hon member to the conflict that erupted in Kinshasa after the announcement of the results of the first round of the presidential elections, and, of course, the parliamentary elections. We went there to discuss that particular matter with the Congolese leadership, in part to say to them that we should come back to normalcy, because we have these other challenges ahead of us and, as I was saying, fortunately, those matters got resolved.
I also want to pick up on the point that the hon Seremane is making, quite correctly, about the need for everybody in the DRC to respect the outcomes of the elections. That is one of the reasons we went there. Currently, we are engaged in discussions with the United Nations Organisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Congolese government to attend to some of those issues which might make a negative contribution with regard to that.
I am quite sure we will solve them so that in this next round of elections everybody accepts that the elections were largely fair and a fair reflection of the will of the people, and therefore, facilitate the possibility for no contest of the outcome once it is announced. So, that is a matter that is very much in hand.
We have for many years engaged the United Nations with regard to these post-conflict reconstruction processes, and I would like to believe that the UN, as a body, is indeed committed to this, as is the European Union, as is the African Union. Of course, they will make different contributions to this process, but I think if one takes what has happened up to now with regard to the co-operation that we have established with these bodies, I think it sort of portends the possibility of this continuing engagement based on a shared concern for the future of the DRC.
I mention, for instance, just as an example, hon member, that the SA National Defence Force has done a lot of work with regard to the training and so on of the integrated brigades. I must say that that particular process was financed especially by the Dutch government and the British government. They helped us with the funds. They were not themselves involved directly in the training and all that, but they provided the funds so that we can do this. Indeed, they have said that they would like us to continue with the programme. So, I think the indication is that there is a great willingness to continue with this engagement. I think it is because people genuinely understand that success for the Congo means this larger success for the African continent, to which I referred. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr P F SMITH: Speaker, through you to the President, we would like to indicate from the IFP's side, sir, that we strongly support what this government is doing in the Congo, both from the promotion of democracy side, institutional capacity-building as well as economic reconstruction, but I would like to know – it is a bit similar to the previous question, I suppose – about the role the international community is playing with reconstruction. I ask this because in the Comoros, where this government played a very dramatic role in rebuilding democracy there and in their economic reconstruction, there was an international donor conference where all role-players came together and governments committed themselves to various projects, including the South African government. Is there any chance of that happening in the Congo? Would it be desirable?
If the President has the inclination to answer a second question, what is this whole exercise costing us?
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: With regard to the second question, Madam Speaker, I am sure – I don't have any figures – that we can work on that, and provide the figures as to how much it costs. I hope, though, that the question is not being posed so that there might be a response which says that peace and freedom and democracy in the Congo is too costly, because I don't think we can measure it in those terms.
I would imagine, hon member, that indeed a pledging donor conference, such as the one that took place in Mauritius concerning the Comoros, would happen with regard to the DRC. I am sure that the Congolese government would be keenly interested to see that that happens. We would encourage it.
Again, I would like to think that there would indeed be a very good response to that, because it is obvious that part of the hesitation about assistance to the Congo was due to problems about these capacity issues. For instance, in reference to what I said to you about the co-operation between us and the British and the Dutch governments on the formation of the integrated brigades, the way the matter was agreed to by the Congolese government, the South African government and these two European governments was that the funds would be given to the South African government, and be administered by the South African government, and accounted for by the South African government. The reason for that is simply because we had better capacity to do that. So, given the confidence that these countries had in South Africa, it was possible for them to give this money. Otherwise they would not have done so. It is simply because, realistically, as the Congolese government itself knows, they would not have had the capacity to handle and administer these monies in an appropriate way.
I am saying this to emphasise that as the Congo moves forward with regard to its democratisation processes and therefore the possibilities to reconstruct the state, I think that will also encourage this greater interest in assisting the Congo to achieve its development goals. Thank you, Madam Speaker.
Dr P W A MULDER: Madam Speaker, the President is right. The Congo and the old Zaïre became symbols of Africa's failures. If this present effort fails again, it will strengthen these perceptions of failure, and we really cannot afford that, because the whole world is watching us and watching the Congo.
Because of the vastness of that country, governing and development being done, as I see it, from a central position, from Kinshasa, might fail. In their constitution, they make provision for 25 provinces. My question is: Isn't it better to have a bottom-up approach in that country because of its vastness - maybe stabilising the provinces and even having elections at that stage and then building up from there to make sure that we don't have a failure again? Thank you.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Well, the hon member is correct, of course, that the new constitution of the Congo provides for the creation of a larger number of provinces than is the case now, and therefore, elections will take place later to elect the provincial legislatures, precisely because of the matter to which we referred. It is a big country and all that, and needs a system of government that gets quite close to the people. You couldn't possibly govern the Congo just from Kinshasa.
I think that we need to appreciate where the country comes from. What you are saying may indeed be a good aspiration but I think the country has had limited possibilities because of its past, and, in that sense, had to take the first step. They recognise that, and that is why they said that they should keep that and do the provincial elections now, which they are going to do at the end of the month, in the provinces as historically defined. That is all we can do.
If we had taken on another task of demarcating new provinces at this stage, it would have been too much to chew. Let's start with this, recognise the problem, create new provinces in terms of their constitution, and then have another round of elections once we have a more stable situation.
I'm quite sure that the Congolese understand this challenge in the same way that the hon Pieter Mulder does, and I think the steps they've taken in this regard are correct, at least understandable. Thank you.
Succession within the ruling party, and its effects on governance
15. The Leader of the Opposition (DA) asked the President of the Republic:
(1) Whether the succession issue within the ruling party is having any negative effects on governance; if not,
(2) whether, with reference to his reply to Question 8 on 8 September 2005, his assurance that the Government was functioning properly and effectively remains valid; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what factors were taken into account in reaching this conclusion? N1196E
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Madam Speaker, let me start by saying that I appreciate, obviously, the concern of the hon member that nothing should happen that should compromise the effectiveness of government, and I fully agree with him in that regard.
Let me say that the matter as raised by the hon Leon of the succession issue within the ruling party, as he puts it, does not have any negative effects on governance. Indeed, the issue as raised by the member would not have any negative impact precisely because all members of our government are aware that the Constitution of the Republic provides for the processes to be followed in electing the President of the Republic.
In this regard, the next opportunity, as the hon member knows, to elect the next President of the Republic will be at the end of the term of this government in 2009. Accordingly, the people of South Africa will, through their political organisations, be able to choose leaders that they deem fit to lead the country. I therefore do not think that we should preoccupy ourselves so early with the subject of succession as far as government is concerned. [Applause.]
Again, I would like to reiterate what I have said in this House in the past, that government is functioning properly and effectively, always focusing its attention on the mandate which the overwhelming majority of South Africans gave to the ruling party to change the conditions of life of all South Africans for the better as well as to work for a better Africa and a better world.
I take it for granted, Madam Speaker, that the programme of action to achieve our objectives in the context of responding to the vision of a nonracial and nonsexist, just, stable, democratic and prosperous country is well known to this House. This programme is also available, of course, to the public on the government website. Hon members would also know that Cabinet assesses progress in implementing its programme on a bimonthly basis.
Indeed, Madam Speaker, if regard is had to the recent reporting cycle on the progress made by government in the implementation of this programme of action, the conclusion is inescapable that government continues to function without any disturbance.
During this reporting period, we informed the nation, among other things, that as part of the Batho Pele project, we developed a draft access strategy and an implementation plan that is currently undergoing a process of consultation. Its purpose is to accelerate access to public services over the next 10 years, thus allowing greater convenience for our citizens and improved responsiveness to their needs.
In this context further work has involved the roll-out of the Batho Pele change management engagement programme; the cascading of Batho Pele to local government; the convening of the presidential izimbizo and those of Ministers and Deputy Ministers as well as those at the provincial and municipal levels; and the development of skills for municipal managers, including senior and middle managers, just to cite a few examples of how government continues to function effectively, especially with regard to the poor.
The total number of children now receiving child support grants is 7,4 million. All in all, government provides social assistance grants to approximately 11 million people. This amounts to about 25% of all South Africans.
Efforts to expand access to education have continued unabated, as evidenced by the implementation of a voluntary no-fee policy. In this regard 9 500 schools have been identified and 3 million learners will benefit from this policy. Of the national total of 5,5 million indigent households, 2,9 million or 52% with infrastructure have access to free basic electricity.
Clearly therefore, Madam Speaker, it is beyond question that government is on course to deliver on its popular mandate. We have indeed made great strides with respect to the task of placing our economy on a higher growth trajectory. The roll-out of the infrastructure programme contemplated in Asgisa has commenced. The project to achieve the goals set in the national skills development strategy has culminated in the completion of the framework that is assisting us to identify the scarce and critical skills. Let me stop there for now, Madam Speaker. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
The LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Madam Speaker, thank you very much. Mr President, thank you for accepting my assurance about good governance and thank you for your display of a very good humour here this afternoon in response to the question I asked. I say this because you have said again today that the succession issue is having no negative impact on government and governance continues to function without any hindrance.
Let me read you a quote from the front page of the Sunday Times of 6 August this year, which was never repudiated by your very effective and instantaneous media machine. It said:
President Thabo Mbeki told ANC leaders privately that the Jacob Zuma saga had plunged the movement into a crisis unprecedented in its history and demanded they stop fighting for power and to put the people first.
In a blistering political overview presented to the ANC's national executive last weekend, Mbeki said party leaders had been consumed by internal differences and had turned their backs on the voters. In the strongest utterance yet on the Zuma saga, Mbeki said the crisis plaguing the ANC was the worst in the party's history; denied conspiring against Zuma, whom he fired as the country's Deputy President a year ago; and ...
And this is the material point, Mr President –
... accused party leaders ...
And this is a direct quote –
... of engaging in destructive infighting instead of delivering services to the masses.
Now I did not say this. Allegedly you said it. Obviously, the Sunday Times might be misreporting you, but I have seen no repudiation of that by the Presidency.
Mr President, in addition to what you allegedly said in August this year, may I ask you to comment on the following facts. The former Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Mr Billy Masethla, was fired by you for authorising illegal surveillance, among other things, that was allegedly being used in terms of the succession battle within the ANC. Surely, that is an issue that goes to the heart of governance.
The former Premier of Limpopo, Mr Ramatlhodi, appointed by you, has made the accusation that the National Prosecuting Authority is being used to further partisan political interests related to the succession issue or struggle. Surely, that is an issue that goes to the heart of governance and the rule of law.
You, yourself, sir, only last Friday in your online website column drew attention to the fact that during the official state visit by the Indian premier, Dr Singh, the country was embarrassed by the booing of yourself, and presumably him, by supporters of Jacob Zuma. You drew national attention to this fact.
Also the week before that we had the Deputy President and senior members of your own Cabinet getting a very rough time at the congress of Cosatu. Surely these issues, Mr President, go to the heart of governance. [Interjections.] [Time expired.]
The SPEAKER: Hon Leon, I have now given you two extra minutes.
The LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thank you very much. The questions have been put.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Madam Speaker, the question was whether the succession issue within the ruling party was having any negative effects on governance, and whether government was functioning properly and effectively; and, if so, what factors were taken into account in reaching this conclusion? That's the question. So, I answered the question and said, whatever might be happening to the ruling party, it doesn't have any negative effects on governance – and that is the truth. Then I went on to answer the end of this question – what factors were taken into account in reaching this conclusion? That is why I have talked about all these things that are happening, about child support, fee-free schools and all that.
Now the hon member then follows up with a completely different question ... [Interjections.] Yes, of course it is completely different. [Interjections.] It is completely different. Now, he quotes some story in the Sunday Times, which says it quotes me – sure. I am saying whatever is happening in the ruling party has no negative effects on governance.
Now, if the hon Tony Leon asks us to go to the Old Assembly Chamber and asks me to address him on the ANC, I will do that and discuss all of these things that he seems to be so preoccupied about. [Applause.]
He talks about what happened to the Deputy President here at the Cosatu congress: we had a meeting of the trade union working group last week, with the trade unions and most of the senior leadership of Cosatu there; the newly elected president and all the newly elected or re-elected ones were there. We were discussing the challenges that face us with regard to the economy – the Deputy President was also there - and agreed that we probably need a two-day lekgotla with the trade union leadership from all the federations to look at how we respond to all of this. And on that agenda will be a presentation by the Deputy President.
So, whatever happened at the Cosatu congress last week didn't affect the work that we are doing as government with the trade unions, including Cosatu, to address these matters of common concern to the country.
Now the hon members want me to answer the question differently. They didn't assist me by providing me with the draft answer to this question. Because their draft answer would have said, of course the succession issue is affecting the government negatively – read the Sunday Times, read this, read that and the other. [Interjections.]
What they don't want to do is to look at the actuality of what is happening. That is a much better truth than is printed in the newspapers. [Applause.] They don't want to do that. They don't want to look at the actuality of what is happening. The reason for that is that they are unhappy that the government is succeeding. Thank you, Madam Speaker. [Applause.]
Mnu M T GONIWE: Enkosi kakhulu, Mhlalingaphambili. Mongameli, mhlawumbi nam ndingabuza umbuzo ongeyonxalenye yemibuzo efanelekileyo. Kambe ke njengokuba uyimboni nenkokeli ezikisa ukucinga kakhulu, ungasinceda apha Mongameli kulo mba.
Apha esizweni abantu bakholelwa ukuba ukususwa kukaHelen Zille njengelungu lePalamente apha eKapa, anyulwe abe ngusodolophu kwisiXeko saseKapa yinto yokuba wayenika inkxalabo kulawulo ngegqudu lukaLeon noGibson. Ngaloo ndlela ke babe bamkhuphela ngaphandle ngokumthulela kulawulo lwesiXeko saseKapa.
Kwakhona kukho into eyakhe yehla apha, apho wathi wagityiselwa ngezitulo kwintlanganiso eyayiseCrossroads. Kukrokreleka ukuba loo mkhuba wenziwa ngabantu abangawuthandiyo laa mbutho, kuba bathi eza nkokeli ziingqukunyembe, imisonto enyikinyiki, iimbabala zolwantunge. Abantu babona into ethi kule minyaka iliwaka sikuyo la a mbutho awunakuze ukhokelwe ngumntu omnyama.
Inkcaso enjalo Mongameli, inagalelo lini ekwenzeni ukuba urhulumente asebenze kakuhle? (Translation of isiXhosa paragraphs follows.)
[Mr M T GONIWE: Thank you very much, Chairperson. President, maybe I would also ask a question that is not part of the relevant set of questions. Probably, as a visionary leader and a creative thinker, you could also help us on this issue.
People in the community believe that the removal of Helen Zille as a Member of Parliament here in Cape Town and her subsequent election as Mayor in the City of Cape Town was as a result of the nervousness she was causing in the monopolistic rule of Leon and Gibson. In so doing they managed to get rid of her by offloading her onto the City of Cape Town.
Again, there was an incident where chairs were flung at her in a community meeting that was held in Crossroads. It is believed that people who are against that party were responsible for this incident. They claim that those leaders do not have backbones. People have realised that in this millennium a black person will never lead that party.
Mr President, what impact does such opposition have on the smooth running of the government?]
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Well, Madam Speaker, I must confess that the issues that the hon member is raising are somewhat above my head, and beyond my reach. I really have absolutely no idea as to what is happening within the DA, and the fate of particular individuals there. I really don't know, and I am absolutely sure it is not a matter that I should concern myself with. [Applause.]
I think we have all made this point, including the DA, that as South Africans, as all these political parties, whatever our differences, that we do indeed need to respond to the common challenges that we have identified in the country. The DA says, quite correctly, it is an opposition party; therefore it must discharge its responsibilities in that regard. That is very correct. But it is also a South African party, I am sure, committed to helping and working with everybody to ensure that we solve the problems that we face, whether it is unemployment or crime or persisting racism or sexism, and so on. And I am quite sure that in addition to what it says about itself as an opposition party, correctly, the DA would also say it has a role to play in building this new South Africa. And I am sure that the leadership of the DA, right or wrong, has a high opinion of itself, but I think that is fine, in all its elements. Thank you, Madam Speaker. [Applause.]
Mr W J SEREMANE: Thank you, Madam Speaker. Just to respond to this Helen Zille thing, and I think the President has handled it very well ... [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: Hon Seremane, that's not the question really.
Mr W J SEREMANE: I am putting the question, Madam Speaker. The question is: Especially in the light of what has been said, should we entertain such cockeyed questions, which are spurious vexations, as the one from the hon Goniwe, Mr President?
The SPEAKER: Surely, hon Seremane, you can't ask the President such a question. Maybe that is an issue that faces us here in Parliament. But the hon President is free to answer.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Well, I was indeed going to say, Madam Speaker, that as I understand it, Parliament has various rules and you, Madam Speaker, have the responsibility to make rulings on whether speeches are cockeyed or not ... [Laughter.] ... of course, on the assumption that speeches have eyes. [Laughter.] No, I wouldn't want to comment on the matter, Madam Speaker. The rules would apply. Thank you, Madam Speaker.
Bridging councillors' salary gaps
16. Mr P F Smith (IFP) asked the President of the Republic:
Whether, in light of the Government's efforts to bridge the salary gap between councillors in metropolitan municipalities and those in smaller councils, he has given consideration to the parity of salaries of the various councillors; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details? N1203E
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Madam Speaker, in deciding the new salary package for councillors, the Minister for Provincial and Local Government, the hon Sydney Mufamadi, took into account recommendations of the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers, and a number of other matters relevant to local government.
Central to these matters is the developmental role of the municipalities. As we know, our municipal imbizo programme has highlighted the crucial developmental role played by the local government sphere, whether at the local, district or metro levels, in our efforts towards improving the conditions of life in local communities.
Arising from the focused attention given to the local sphere of government in the past year, the complementary strategies of Project Consolidate, the creation of a single service and a concerted effort to recruit skills, these begin to address the technical ability of municipalities to undertake the development challenges facing them.
The other side of the same coin is of course the need to attract requisite skills to ensure that public representatives are able adequately to represent their communities and to incorporate common needs and priorities into policy, oversee the implementation of policies and maintain community confidence in the delivery system and its achievements.
In recognition of this developmental role of councillors, an improved remuneration dispensation came into effect for councillors elected after the last local government elections. The final consideration of this dispensation by the Minister for Provincial and Local Government was based on the importance of salary alignment between public representatives in the local, provincial and national spheres of government.
This approach, as with the creation of a single Public Service, promotes the mobility of relevant skills between the different spheres of government. Indeed, we now have a basic alignment between the salaries of full-time councillors and those of public representatives in the other spheres of government. For example, the salaries of metropolitan mayors, Deputy Ministers and members of provincial and local councils are now similar, and salaries of mayors in Grades 1, 2 and 3 are aligned to those of members of provincial legislatures in the various notches.
In addition, government has also recognised that although the complexities of delivery and development in a small municipality may differ from those in a metropolitan municipality, the strategic developmental role requires councillors of the same calibre. Consequently, there is a reduction in the gap between the salaries of full-time councillors in smaller municipalities and those in the larger ones.
Disparity between the smaller and the metropolitan councils has taken into account the different developmental imperatives and resources between the various categories of the municipalities. A grading system for municipalities has been developed that takes into account two important factors, namely, the total population and the total income of specific municipalities. A further important factor is whether councillors work on a full-time or part-time basis.
The question of councillors' salaries amounts to more than a consideration of parity. It must continue to address the challenge to improve the capacity of our developmental state to create a better life for all the people of the nation and therefore the quality of the time and means we provide for our public representatives, including councillors, to contribute effectively and efficiently to the achievement of this objective.
In this regard let me conclude by saying that given what I said, and I have some additional background information on this matter, I am certain that the President should avoid being drawn into the councillor salary process and recommends that the hon member should take up the matter with the Minister for Provincial and Local Government. Thank you.
Mr P F SMITH: Thank you very much, Mr President for your comments. I would also like to thank, while I am on the floor, the Minister for Provincial and Local Government for gazetting the increases as he did. We do support them.
The question is put to the President because executive authority vests in him and his Ministers. So, that is his will. The question is correctly targeted, I think. However, the detail could be pursued with the Minister and there is no problem with that.
The issue is complex and we agree that it is not a question of simply automatically saying there should or there shouldn't be parity. However, although people welcome the changes that were made recently, there are still a lot of suggestions that the principle of affordability by the local authority is unfortunate and does not apply elsewhere. For example, if you were to take members of provincial legislatures, whether from the Free State or Gauteng, basically the packages are the same. There is a maximum, but essentially the packages for public representatives at that level are much the same countrywide.
The same thing would apply in the National Assembly. It doesn't matter whether you come from a poor province or a rich province, when you are here it is all the same.
So, one view is that the principle of affordability, which underpins the current dispensation in respect of councillors, should perhaps be reviewed.
The President also mentions the issue of a single Public Service and I presume that in time that implies that conditions of service for employees would be standardised across the country. You will never know, but normally with the Public Service standardising is presumably upwards, whereas the principle wouldn't apply to the elected representatives at the same level.
Finally, what goes to the heart of the developmental issue which the President raises, is the fact that councillors, and I refer here specifically to the part-timers, who are in the vast majority, perform the same tasks. Whether you work in a poor rural municipality or in a metropolitan area, you do the same job.
In fact, as a councillor, your transport costs incurred in performing your functions are likely to be higher in a poor area. You have vast distances that you have to cover.
We are pleased that there has been development that has taken place this year and we support it. But really, we want to know whether government has any intention of going beyond this, or is this basically it for the foreseeable future? Thank you.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Madam Speaker, as I had indicated, the Minister has been in consultation with the remuneration commission. Now, in June this year the commission suggested to the Minister, among other things, that he should make submissions to the commission on the further restructuring of councillor remuneration below the upper limits.
There is ongoing work with regard to this matter and it is being handled between the Minister and the independent commission that generally determines salaries and conditions for public representatives.
The question therefore is by no means closed. So, what the hon Smith said would therefore not apply. We have not said, "That's it because it is not yet it. Thanks.
Mr W P DOMAN: Madam Speaker and Mr President, the Minister was very wise to publish draft proposals about this remuneration, but unfortunately, or it was because of comments that he received, he deviated in two substantial ways from what was originally published in the final determination.
The one is that what is quoted is the total cost for the municipality and not what the councillor receives. It is not totally aligned.
Secondly, the travel allowances of mayors have now been separated and these are proportionally higher, more than 25% of the salary at the moment. Therefore, these people won't have any tax claim because most of them are using official vehicles.
Apart from that, Mr President, the Minister is not prepared ... [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: Hon member, do you have a question?
Mr W P DOMAN: Yes, I do.
The SPEAKER: Please ask the question.
Mr W P DOMAN: The Minister is not prepared to dedicate a portion of the remuneration as a political allowance, but he says they are politicians. I want to ask you, Mr President, if you would consider asking the Minister to look into these aspects as far as the tax applications for councillors are concerned.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Yes, I will. Thanks.
Ms S RAJBALLY: Madam Speaker and hon President, bridging the gap of councillors' salaries should assist in service delivery, but smaller councils are still hindered by minimal resources.
Can the hon President enlighten the House as to what is being done to assure that this initiative is not hijacked by that reality? Thank you.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Madam Speaker, can I again really please plead that we engage the Minister with regard to all of this? I would like to think that I am kind of super knowledgeable, and I would like to pretend to be so, but I think it would be a pretence.
Let us engage the Minister on these details because indeed the Minister is preoccupied with the challenge to ensure that the system works and that if it doesn't work we will make sure that it works. Let's change what needs to be changed, and that includes ensuring that your elected representatives have proper resources and are remunerated properly so that they are able to discharge these responsibilities.
Certainly, the Minister is driven by these objectives and I think to that extent we will be very, very happy to consider such views as they might be put even by members of the opposition parties.
Impact of impasse in Doha Development Round on relations between developed and developing nations
17. Mr B A D Martins (ANC) asked the President of the Republic:
(a) What impact is the current impasse in the Doha Development Round of World Trade Organisation negotiations having on relations between developed and developing nations and (b) what interventions might resolve this impasse? N1211E
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Madam Speaker, the fundamental issue at stake in the World Trade Organisation Doha Development Round negotiations is the balancing of the global trading system in favour of the developing countries. The Doha mandate called for basic reforms in agricultural trade, including removal of export subsidies, the substantial reduction of trade distorting domestic support and improved market access for agricultural products from the developing countries.
It also called for, inter alia, the removal of tariff peaks, escalations and nontariff barriers on exports of manufactured products from the developing countries, as well as aid for trade programmes to assist the least developed countries to address their capacity constraints.
These reforms have long been identified as a critical component of the broader multilateral programmes aimed at reducing poverty and underdevelopment, to which the international community has committed itself. This includes the UN Millennium Development Goals and the programme agreed at the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development.
The impasse in the WTO Doha Development Round negotiations arises, in our view, from the inability of the major developed countries - which are also the biggest disbursers of development-distorting agricultural subsidies - to produce a sufficiently credible response to the Doha mandate, in particular, in the area of agricultural trade.
The implications of the suspension of the negotiations reach beyond the narrow area of trade, and raise real questions about whether the developed world will be able to master sufficient political will to rise above mere rhetoric and concretely commit to agreed programmes of action on critical developmental issues. The response to the challenge posed by the current impasse in the Doha Development Round negotiations will thus be an important test of nothing less than the ability of the international community to address some of the most critical challenges of our time.
Impelled by the need to ensure the revival of the Doha negotiations, the trade Ministers of the G20 - developing countries that have worked together on the issues of agricultural trade and which have emerged as a major force in the negotiations - met in Brazil last month to explore options for bringing the Doha Development Round to a successful development-orientated conclusion in the near future.
At the conclusion of their meeting, these countries demanded the immediate resumption of these talks on the basis of the original pro-developmental aim, with agriculture at the top of their agenda. As the G20 made this call, it was fortified by the collective voice of other developing countries' groupings, whose representatives were also invited to the meeting.
Efforts to ensure that the Doha negotiations go back on track also continue, both in bilateral and multilateral fora. Again, the India-Brazil-South Africa dialogue forum meeting in September, also in Brazil, voiced its disappointment with the collapse of the negotiations and called for the expeditious elimination of all distortions affecting agricultural trade and production, and full incorporation of agriculture into the rules of the multilateral trading system.
An important and integral element of the Doha Development Round talks is the industrial tariff negotiations, the so-called
nonagricultural market access or Nama negotiations which the developed countries believe are central to the Doha negotiations.
We, together with other developing countries, including what is called Nama-11, which are developing countries focusing on Nama, are of the firm view that these discussions must be underpinned by important developmental principles concerning the Nama negotiations, namely that tariffs be reduced, particularly on products of export interest to developing countries. Developed countries should do more than developing countries with respect to tariff reductions on the basis of the principle of less-than-full reciprocity.
There should be special and differential treatment in favour of developing countries. There should also be comparable reductions between industrial and agricultural tariffs. This implies that developed countries should not demand excessive tariff reductions on industrial products from developing countries, while they themselves are offering minimal tariff reductions on agricultural products.
The above notwithstanding, we and our partners in the Nama-11 are ready to make a constructive and positive contribution, resulting in an outcome premised on the proportionality of concessions between developed and developing countries and in keeping with the developmental framework already agreed upon. We believe that it is critically important that we relentlessly continue to play an active role in any formal or informal WTO processes that get under way, with a view to resuscitating the negotiations without delay.
Beyond this, we will continue to use whatever other multilateral and bilateral platforms are available to present our message so that the rebalancing of the global trading system in favour of developing countries must remain a global priority. We also, in this regard, support calls for an appropriate involvement of heads of states and governments in seeking a solution to this impasse. Thank you.
Mr B A D MARTINS: Your Excellency, I thank you for your answer. Would it be propitious, in the light of the impasse between the USA and the EU, for the 56 members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States to seek with renewed vigour to address the following fundamental issues in the World Trade Organisation: firstly, the inequality in the trading system, where developed countries have continued to distort global trade and to protect the markets, and stifle the development prospects of developing countries; secondly, the unbalanced rules, where the costs to developing countries of implementing rules have been far higher than the benefits in most cases; and, thirdly, the lack of capacity of many developing countries to participate meaningfully in the trading system as a result of skills and infrastructural deficits and other challenges? I thank you.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: As the hon member knows, the EU is one of the negotiators in this WTO process. They are among the players that must get together to produce these outcomes that we have been talking about. Therefore, indeed the EU is exposed precisely to these matters that the hon member quite correctly raised, affecting the global trading system. I am quite sure that it would indeed add more pressure if the ACP countries as a group did approach the EU to raise precisely the matters that the hon member raised.
These matters are important in the context of the current negotiations that the ACP countries are having with the EU to negotiate various economic partnership agreements. These principles and these observations are important, even with regard to that. Yes, indeed, most certainly, the ACP countries should do this.
I think that those of us who are in the G20, Nama-11 and so on, and who are directly involved in these negotiation processes, should also, in the context of the WTO negotiations, emphasise these points - which have actually been recognised. And that is why there are certain basic principles agreed to with regard to the Doha Development Round, to favour developing countries. It was precisely because of the recognition of this.
The critical challenge is to take that commitment in principle and translate it into an actual decision that impacts on these development challenges. But certainly, yes, the member is correct. The ACP countries need constantly to confront the EU with regard to these issues. I thank you.
Mr H J BEKKER: Madam Speaker, primarily, the impasse is due to the unwillingness of the USA and the EU to withdraw subsidies to their farmers. This subsidisation is so enormous that it even exceeds the GDP of Africa south of the Sahara. Will the hon President agree to alternative interventions? We particularly ask the hon President to propose that the EU and the USA should also subsidise on an equivalent basis the farmers of the developing countries, particularly those of Africa.
The first prize would be the abolishment of agricultural subsidies. But the second prize of rewarding and subsidising our own farmers on an equal footing would go a long way to levelling the playing fields. Would the hon President consider such an alternative? I thank you.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Madam Speaker, our Minister of Foreign Affairs told me that the system we have allows for the appointment of presidential envoys. With regard to this proposal, I'd like to consider appointing the hon member as a special envoy to talk to the Americans and the British and the EU to ask them to subsidise African farmers. I'd be very glad if the hon member would accept that job. [Laughter.]
This matter is indeed of critical importance to the lives of billions of people. Whatever the technical languages and the formulae, in the end what it is about is changing the lives of billions of people for the better. That is why it has to succeed. I think we have got to try and do what at some stage the USA Anti-Apartheid Movement used to say: Keep the pressure on. We have got to keep the pressure on, on this matter. Hon Bekker, I hope you will please accept my request and go to Washington and Brussels as my special envoy. Thanks, Madam Speaker. [Laughter.]
Dr P J RABIE: Hon President, if we analyse the latest Doha talks, it is fairly evident that the developing countries – and I think you have mentioned it – act in self-interest through a number of means and so forth. Hon President, it is clear that South Africa would have to fend for itself; we will have to seek our own markets; and we will have to become globally competitive. One of the latest reports of the World Economic Forum says that we have excessive red tape in our country. You have also alluded to that fact and also to very rigid labour laws. My question to you is: Will the ANC consider the relaxation of the excessive red tape and the rigid labour laws to enable us to grow and to develop markets in our neighbouring countries?
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: I am sure the hon member knows that we instituted a process in government which sought to measure the issue of the cost of the impact of our regulatory framework, with a view to making sure that we do indeed make the necessary changes with regard to that in order to address precisely the point of the red tape and so on, which the hon member is talking about.
Yes, indeed, we took that decision some time back. That work is going on and we would want to make sure that we move with the necessary speed and the necessary precision to reduce our red tape and therefore the cost of the regulatory system, so that indeed we are able to expand these economic possibilities. I'd like to assure the hon member that the government is indeed attending to that issue.
Government's commitment to inclusive nation-building
18. Dr P W A Mulder (FF Plus) asked the President of the Republic:
Whether, in light of the statement in the Freedom Charter that South Africa belongs to all its inhabitants, white and black, the Government is still committed to inclusive nation-building that includes everyone; if so, what factors were taken into account in reaching this conclusion? N1206E
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Madam Speaker, the full passage to which the hon Mulder refers reads as follows:
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;
that our people have been robbed of their birthright to land, liberty and peace by a form of government founded on injustice and inequality;
that our country will never be prosperous or free until all our people live in brotherhood, enjoying equal rights and opportunities.
In its preamble the Constitution of the Republic of course captures the essence of the message of the Freedom Charter as follows:
We, the people of South Africa, recognise the injustices of our past; ... believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.
I am quite convinced that the hon Mulder will agree that the spirit of common belonging that both the Freedom Charter and the Constitution enjoin us to pursue is premised on two critical and interdependent assumptions. The first of these is a recognition that whatever our origins, all of us who are citizens of the Republic have a right to claim this country as our own, and to pronounce without fear of contradiction that we are South Africans and Africans. As such, we have to work together to build one nation, united in our diversity.
The second assumption, closely connected to the first, is that our common sense of belonging should be premised on the transformation of our society in a manner that ensures social justice for all and equal access to opportunity. As such, for nation-building and reconciliation to have real meaning and be sustainable they should be accompanied by a process of reconstruction and development.
The success of our nation-building project depends centrally on our respect for the diversity of our nation. For us as South Africans to achieve national and social cohesion, we have to respect that diversity. This also means that as each one of us promotes our diverse and individual language, cultural and other interests, we must also make an effort to support the efforts of other component parts of the nation to achieve objectives similar to our own.
In this regard we must continue to count on the experience and capacity of the Afrikaners and of the whites in general themselves to promote diversity and national cohesion by encouraging and supporting the development and protection of the languages and cultures, especially of those who for centuries were discriminated against. Obviously we must address a number of issues related both to the common sense of belonging as well as a transformation process that brings about the social justice we have mentioned.
The first matter I would like to address in this regard therefore is language and culture. For many decades there were only two official languages in this country. It was in that context that Afrikaans-speaking people, using both public and private sector resources, worked hard to protect, develop and promote their language and culture to the level that both are as developed as they are today. Today, unlike in the past, the democratic government is faced with the challenge of protecting, developing and promoting 11 official languages and cultures, as well as all the other languages and cultures, including Sign Language.
Among other things, this means that Parliament, the schools, courts, government offices as well as the private sector have an obligation to ensure that all languages and cultures are developed, advanced and entrenched in all areas of life, including the scientific field. To do so effectively means, among other things, that resources should be shared.
The second matter relevant to the issue of belonging is that of the impact of development or underdevelopment on human settlement patterns. As we know, the majority of the poor, who are black, still live in underdeveloped areas, which for over a century were labour dormitories or reserves. While it is impossible to reverse the century-old settlement pattern in a period of just over a decade, it is important that all of us, especially this Parliament, should lead a campaign of changing this discriminatory race and class habitat pattern so that the poor should also feel that South Africa belongs to them.
The third issue is that of gender, with specific reference to the incidence of crime in this case. The recently released police statistics tell a horrific story of those living in poor areas, especially women. The overwhelming majority of violent cases of death, rape, grievous bodily harm and others happen in these poor areas, hence the need to address the human settlement patterns.
It is therefore important that, in whatever we do, we should ensure that we protect the women and children of this country and improve their living conditions so that they can confidently also claim that South Africa really belongs to them. More generally, we have to sustain our efforts to build a truly nonsexist South Africa so that the women of our country and the girl-child should also feel that South Africa belongs to them.
Thank you, Madam Speaker, I'll stop at that point. [Applause.]
Dr P W A MULDER: Madam Speaker, hon President, last year we all made speeches in this House in which each gave their interpretation of the statement in the Freedom Charter that South Africa belongs to everyone who lives in it, black and white. [Interjections.]
It is encouraging to hear today that the President has not since then changed his view on this, and I must be honest with regard to all the arguments that have been put here and say that I think the FF Plus totally agrees, and you can look at our speeches to see how we put it.
Our problem is, unfortunately, that this is not what the voters experience at local government level. If at local government level the ANC, without prior consultation, proposes that names of towns which have huge historical and emotional value for the Afrikaner, such as Pretoria, Potchefstroom and Lydenburg – and I name them specifically, and not Klipfontein – be changed unilaterally, it sends a strong message to the Afrikaners that their history and their heroes are not important and will not be accommodated in South Africa.
In many African states the argument to change names was that the colonial rulers had returned to Europe and they could honour their heroes over there. It's not possible for us. Afrikaner heroes have to receive acknowledgement in South Africa, because this is also their country and my country, and because they will not be honoured in Europe or any other place in the world. If the Freedom Charter is still true, as the President has said, then everyone's heroes must be accommodated here in a win-win situation.
My question: Is the President prepared to hold talks with us in order to establish to which degree it is possible to find solutions which are acceptable to all on both sides, because at the moment it's not done? Thank you. [Interjections.]
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Madam Speaker, indeed, this is an important issue. And indeed, as with many other issues, it poses its own challenges with the different claims that we have in the country, where, in quite a lot of instances, my hero may very well be your villain. So, we need to see how we can deal with this.
From the point of view of government we would indeed agree with you very, very fully, hon Mulder, that the way to handle this thing is indeed to engage in discussion with everybody concerned. I agree absolutely; this is what ought to happen, in the process of which we would educate one another about ourselves, educate one another about our history, and in the process do what I've been trying to say, namely learn to hear one another. So, I would indeed very much agree to this.
Now as to what we should do with regard to this ... I see Minister Pallo Jordan is here. Let me discuss the matter with him to see – he leads us on this issue in government – how we might take it up. Perhaps it will be in the direction that you are indicating, but I'll discuss it with him and I'm quite sure he'll come back to you to see what we should do. But certainly, we need to engage this issue, and indeed, if we can produce win-win solutions, that would be very good.
Next time you come to the Union Buildings, Dr Mulder, I'll take you to the West Wing of the Union Buildings, the Presidency. I'll take you to one of the levels on the first floor there, and you will see a bust of Jan van Riebeeck. It sits there. Each time I walk up the steps that's the person who says, "Good morning, Mr President"! [Laughter.] Thank you, Madam Speaker. [Applause.]
Mnr P A GERBER: Agb President, as 'n Afrikaan in die algemeen en 'n Suid-Afrikaner in besonder is dit vir my baie verblydend om te sien dat die VF Plus besig is om die Vryheidsmanifes – wat terloops nie deur die ANC opgestel is nie, maar wel later aanvaar is – te internaliseer, en dit voorspel iets goeds vorentoe.
Tydens die onderhandelings by Kodesa, toe leiers opgestaan het vir die ideaal om iets te doen aan die lot van alle Suid-Afrikaners, om 'n einde te bring aan onregverdigheid, is 'n sein van hoop uitgestuur in 'n land waar baie trane oor die afgelope 300 jaar gevloei het. Hierdie sein van hoop, wat alle doemprofete verkeerd bewys het, het een van die magtigste mure van onderdrukking platgevee.
"To walk the extra mile" het nuwe betekenis gekry. By die histories-inklusiewe Kodesa is die bomenslike vermag deur toegewyde Suid-Afrikaners. U passie vir nasiebou in Suid-Afrika is ook alombekend en ons steun u hierin.
Mnr die President, my vraag is: Wat sal die gevolge wees vir ons jong demokrasie in Suid-Afrika, en ook vir Afrika as geheel, indien daar sekere mense in Suid-Afrika is wat nou wil begin retireer op hierdie ekstra myl wat ons almal saam inklusief geloop het? Stem u verder saam dat ons nie moet toelaat en dit ook nie kan bekostig dat sekere mense en rolspelers afdwaal van die breë, inklusiewe padkaart wat ons gesamentlik as 'n nasie uitgeëts het vir hierdie jong land van ons nie? Baie dankie. [Applous.] (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)
[Mr P A GERBER: Hon President, as an African in general and a South African in particular, I see it as a hopeful sign that the FF Plus is in the process of internalising the Freedom Charter - which, by the way, was not drafted by the ANC, but adopted at a later stage - and this bodes well for the future.
During the negotiations at Codesa, when leaders united for the purpose of doing something about the fate of all South Africans and to bring an end to injustice, a sign of hope was sent out in a country where countless tears have been shed over the past 300 years. This sign of hope, that proved all prophets of doom wrong, destroyed one of the mightiest walls of oppression.
"To walk the extra mile" gained new meaning. At the historically inclusive Codesa the nearly impossible was achieved by devoted South Africans. Your passion for nation-building in South Africa is also widely known and we support you in this.
Mr President, my question is: What will be the consequences for our young democracy in South Africa, and also for Africa in general, if there were to be certain people in South Africa who now wish to start retreating from this extra mile that all of us have walked together? Do you further agree that we must not allow and can also not afford certain people and role-players to deviate from the broad, inclusive road map which we, as a nation, have etched out together for this young country of ours? Thank you very much. [Applause.]]
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Yes, hon member, indeed all of us must surely work at the task of uniting the greatest possible number of South Africans around this perspective spelt out in the Freedom Charter. I'd like to believe that in reality there will not be many people in the country who want to depart from that inclusive road map, which is critically important for the success of the country. I'd like to believe that we don't have many of those people.
As to those who remain, as I was saying, I believe that it is important that we continue to engage everybody to try and bring them on board, and in some sense avoid merely denouncing them simply because these are people who still happen to carry the burdens of the past, who have found it difficult to break with the prejudices that were sustained in this country for so many centuries. So I'm saying that perhaps what we need to do is to continuously engage also people of that kind, but I think it's also important that we find a way by which we celebrate the progress that the country has made and is making towards building this new society.
The media says good news is no news. We do not report that a plane took off on time. That's not news. We report that it was five hours late. That's news. This means that we do all these positive things, but are we telling this good story about South Africa, which would also have an impact on those people who are still prisoners of the past, to say, indeed the doom and gloom that was feared never happened, but even in this enormous, great experiment in which we're involved to build this inclusive society we're actually making progress?
I think this story needs to be told and if told it would also have an impact on the doubting Thomases or omasalela [people resistant to change] so that it encourages them to feel the challenge: "Here is very good progress being made. Why am I not part of it?" I think that kind of challenge would help us to make sure that indeed, as you suggest, we should not have any significant numbers of people in this country who would want to drag us backwards to a very bad period of conflict. Thanks, Madam Speaker.
Mrs P DE LILLE: Thank you, Madam Speaker. Mr President, I accept your answer, but we must also acknowledge that we do face an identity crisis in this country. We are the only country in the world that has failed to identify ourselves. What I want to ask you today, Mr President is: What is the difference between a South African and an African? Until we clear that up, it is going to be much more difficult for us to build up a sense of loyalty and patriotism to our country. I am particularly worried about the poor people in this country because there is a competition for scarce resources amongst the poor in South Africa. Some political parties also exploit that, especially because we cannot identify ourselves properly. I feel we need not to punish the poor even more by subjecting them to various race criteria, but we should be sharing the resources equally amongst the poor.
The key to this is: Who are we? I am a South African, first and foremost. If anybody else wants to call himself or herself coloured or Indian or white, I think it is also their choice. We need leadership from you on the issue of this identity crisis that we face in South Africa. Thank you.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: One of the things in this response says that according to a report issued by government on the macro-social trends in South Africa in 2004, a future fact study indicated that 71% of South Africans of all races defined their primary identity first and foremost by the group to which they belonged. A total of 71% identified themselves as African or South African.
It says that this was in contrast to earlier periods when most South Africans defined themselves mainly in terms of their race or ethnic or language identities. I think, hon De Lille, this report says that we are making progress with regard to addressing that identity crisis. That does not mean that it was solved. It doesn't mean that what you said was incorrect. I think we should say, surely, there has been change in the minds of our people in the last 12 years. It can't be that they have stood still with regard to this identity matter. They haven't. This figure indicates this sort of forward movement.
I agree. You will remember earlier on when we had to deal with the problem of the child support grant that it is a very difficult question because of these race things. The Africans had been completely excluded from this system. So the coloured population here were very dependent on this grant and it was very necessary. It was for the poor people who needed the support. So what do we do? We obviously can't continue with this racist thing. Let child support grants be available to all children who need this grant, and we took this decision.
The next question is at what rate do you set it? If you said that we opened it for everybody in the country at the levels where it is, it would be absolutely unaffordable. Instead of dealing with that portion of the population, you would now have to deal with the millions of the entirety of the population. It is very, very difficult. We had to do it gradually over time. You had to bring it down, knowing very well that it would have a negative impact on people who were already poor. But if you didn't do that, you would not be able to bring in the other people, who were a much larger number. They now form part of the 7 million children who receive these grants. I am citing that. This is reality. This is actuality. And if anybody had caught us at a particular moment during that movement they could have said: But why is this government continuing to discriminate against the Africans? Look at the coloureds; they are getting more. It was the case until we arrived at this point of parity. These are the challenges that we face with regard to this.
Not long ago I was here in the Western Cape, talking to some of the leadership in the province and they were saying that one of the mistakes that some people make in their heads only – I hope only in their heads – is that they don't see many coloured people living in shacks, as they would see Africans living. They underestimate the housing crisis among the coloured people. They are not going to the houses and into the backyards and seeing the shacks in the backyards. I am saying that these are the things that we have got to take into account. Let us respond to the needs of the poor. Indeed I would want to agree very much with you, hon De Lille, that it would be wrong for any political party or political leader to seek to exploit the situation for political gain. It is wrong.
Fortunately, in the instance that I was talking about, namely referring to the child support grant, I can't recall that anybody decided to take this on. It would have been quite easy to look at this and decide that we were advantaging the coloured people. They didn't like the coloureds and so on; it would have been quite easy. I do recall that it has never happened like that. Yes, it is a continuing debate. I was told not long ago that there is even a debate about whether people should call themselves "natives". Well, may we not live in interesting times? Thank you, Madam Speaker. [Applause.]
Mr I F JULIES: Madam Speaker, I would like to put my question to the President in Afrikaans.
Oudpresident Nelson Mandela het in 1994, onder andere, gesê: "Ek het die ideaal gekoester van 'n demokratiese en 'n vrye samelewing waarin alle mense in harmonie saamleef en met gelyke geleenthede."
Mnr die President, die verdeeldheid in die Wes-Kaap is tussen swart en bruin gemeenskappe, en dié etniese verdeeldheid is baie, baie ongesond vir 'n vrye samelewing. Wat is die rede hiervoor?
Die bruinmense voel hulle word opsy gestoot ten gunste van ons swart broers en susters wanneer dit kom by behuising, swart ekonomiese bemagtiging en werksgeleenthede.
Mnr die President, my vraag aan u is: kan u vandag die bruinmense die versekering gee dat hulle gelyke geleenthede sal kry waar nodig, en op meriete, net soos ons swart medelandgenote? (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)
[Former President Mandela said, amongst other things, in 1994: "I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities."
Mr President, the dissension in the Western Cape seems to be between black and coloured communities and this ethnic division is very, very unhealthy for a free society. What is the reason for this?
The coloureds feel that they are being marginalised with regard to housing, black economic empowerment and employment opportunities in favour of our black brothers and sisters.
Mr President, my question to you is: Can you today give the coloureds the assurance that they will get equal opportunities where needed, and on merit, just like our black fellow citizens?]
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Yes, most certainly I would like to give that assurance very firmly and very unequivocally that indeed we can't build a society, one of whose objectives or practices are to discriminate against a section of the South African population, including the coloured population or the brown people, as the hon member says.
When I was responding to the hon Patricia de Lille and gave this example of the child support grant, the point that I was making is that it is actually quite easy for me to say what I have just said. There is absolutely no problem, and I say this honestly, in terms of making sure that there is no discrimination against the coloured population here in the Western Cape or anywhere else in the country.
It is in the doing that the challenge arises. I was told, and I don't know if I told the story here, that here in the Western Cape there is one of the district municipalities here that employs a total of 500 workers, of whom 8 are African. It is disproportionate with regard to the population of this area. There is too much underrepresentation of the African community there: 8 out of 500. Naturally there would be some agitation about this matter. The agitation is not a problem but how do you correct that imbalance? You can't say: Tomorrow I am going to lay off 20 coloured workers in order to put in 20 African workers. You can't do that. It would be wrong but yet you have to address this imbalance. The challenge is in the doing. It is not in the declarations, which would be relatively easy.
Most certainly, hon member, I agree with you very fully that the matter of these divisions here in the Western Cape is indeed extremely troubling. I believe that if we can solve this issue, produce the correct results in the Western Cape with regard to the matter of building a nonracial society, we will be able to do it in the rest of the country. It is a particular challenge. [Applause.]
It also refers in part to what the hon De Lille was saying, and it is one of those issues that, if it were ever possible, should in a sense be out of bounds in terms of our political contests. We shouldn't really be playing around with these things because we just want political power or to be elected, and so on. Because of its sensitivity, its intricacy and the difficulty of dealing with it in a way that, when you try to say that we are ending discrimination, you can't end old discrimination by producing new discrimination. That wouldn't solve the problem. Indeed, I agree about this part; and the assurance that the hon member asks for, I can give that most certainly. We would do whatever is necessary to be done to make sure that there is no discrimination against coloured people in this province, or anywhere else in the country. Thanks, Madam Speaker. [Applause.]
See also QUESTIONS AND REPLIES.
PARLIAMENTARY DELEGATION TO MONITOR ELECTIONS IN DRC
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Madam Speaker, I move the draft resolution printed in my name on the Order Paper as follows:
That the House, noting that the Democratic Republic of the Congo is holding a second round of presidential and provincial elections on 29 October 2006, resolves, subject to the concurrence of the National Council of Provinces, that –
(1) the South African Parliament send a 30-member multiparty delegation to observe these elections;
(2) the delegation form part of the South African National Observer Mission;
(3) the delegation observe the campaign in the run-up to the elections, the casting of votes and subsequently the counting of the votes; and
(4) the delegation table for consideration and debate the report of the National Observer Mission to Parliament on its return.
Motion agreed to.
RECOMMENDATION OF PERSONS TO FILL VACANCIES ON COMMISSION FOR GENDER EQUALITY
(Decision on Question)
There was no debate.
Question put: That Adv S Khutsoane, Ms N Memani-Balani, Ms R Shabodien, Mr B G Khumalo and Ms K V Meruti be recommended for appointment as part-time commissioners and Dr T Maitse, Ms N P Gasa, Ms J L Hicks, Mr D M Shozi, Ms Y Abrahams and Ms N E P Loyilane be recommended for appointment as full-time commissioners, on the Commission for Gender Equality.
The SPEAKER: In terms of Section 193(5) of the Constitution, persons recommended for appointment as commissioners must be approved by the majority of the members of the assembly. As there is no demand for a division, members will be required to record their support for the question by using the electronic system in order to establish whether we have the required majority in support of the recommendation. The bells will be rung for five minutes to enable hon members who have left the Chamber to join us so that we can then begin with the voting process.
AYES - 246: Abram, S; Anthony, T G; Arendse, J D; Asiya, S E; Asmal, A K; Bapela, K O; Bekker, H J; Beukman, F; Bhengu, M J; Bhengu, P; Blanché, J P I; Bogopane-Zulu, H I; Booi, M S; Botha, C-S; Botha, N G W; Burgess, C V; Carrim, Y I; Chohan-Khota, F I; Coetzee, R; Combrinck, J J; Cronin, J P; Cupido, H B; Cwele, S C; Dambuza, B N; De Lange, J H; Delport, J T; Dhlamini, B W; Diale, L N; Didiza, A T; Dikgacwi, M M; Direko, I W; Dithebe, S L; Dlali, D M; Doman, W P; Dreyer, A M; Du Toit, D C; Dudley, C; Ellis, M J; Erwin, A; Frolick, C T; Fubbs, J L; Gabanakgosi, P S; Gaum, A H; Gerber, P A; Gibson, D H M; Gigaba, K M N; Gololo, C L; Goniwe, M T; Gore, V C; Greyling, L W; Gumede, D M; Gumede, M M; Hajaig, F; Hanekom, D A; Harding, A; Hendricks, L B; Hendrickse, P A C; Hogan, B A; Holomisa, B H; Holomisa, S P; Huang, S; Jacobus, L; Jeffery, J H; Johnson, C B; Johnson, M; Jordan, Z P; Joubert, L K ; Julies, I F; Kalako, M U; Kasienyane, O R; Kekana, C D; Khoarai, L P; Kholwane, S E; Khumalo, K K; Khumalo, K M; Khunou, N P; King, R J; Komphela, B M; Koornhof, G W; Kota, Z A; Kotwal, Z; Labuschagne, L B; Landers, L T; Lekgetho, G; Likotsi, M T; Lishivha, T E; Louw, S K; Lowe, C M; Lucas, E J; Luthuli, A N; Maake, J J; Mabe, L L; Mabena, D C; Madasa, Z L; Maduma, L D; Madumise, M M; Magau, K R; Magwanishe, G B; Mahlaba, T L; Mahomed, F; Maja, S J; Malahlela, M J; Maloyi, P D N; Maluleka, H P; Maluleke, D K; Manuel, T A; Mapisa-Nqakula, N N; Martins, B A D; Masango, S J; Maserumule, F T; Mashiane, L M; Mashigo, R J; Masutha, T M; Mathebe, P M; Mathibela, N F; Matlala, M H; Matsemela, M L; Matsomela, M J J; Maunye, M M; Mbete, B; Mbombo, N D; Mdladlana, M M S; Mentor, M P; Meruti, M V; Mgabadeli, H C; Mkhize, Z S; Mkongi, B M; Mlambo-Ngcuka, P G; Mlangeni, A; Mnguni, B A; Mnyandu, B J; Moatshe, M S; Modisenyane, L J; Mofokeng, T R; Mogale, O M; Mohamed, I J; Mohlaloga, M R; Mokoena, A D; Moloto, K A; Monareng, O E; Montsitsi, S D; Moonsamy, K; Morgan, G R; Morobi, D M; Morwamoche, K W; Mosala, B G; Moss, L N; Moss, M I; Mpahlwa, M B; Mpontshane, A M; Mshudulu, S A; Mthethwa, E N; Mtshali, E; Mufamadi, F S; Nel, A C; Nene, M J; Nene, N M; Newhoudt-Druchen, W S; Ngcengwane, N D; Ngcobo, E N N; Ngcobo, N W; Ngele, N J; Njikelana, S J; Njobe, M A A; Nkabinde, N C; Nonkonyana, M; Ntombela, S H; Ntuli, B M; Ntuli, M M; Ntuli, R S; Ntuli, S B; Nwamitwa-Shilubana, T L P; Nxumalo, M D; Nxumalo, S N ; Nyambi, A J; Nzimande, L P M; Olifant, D A A; Oliphant, G G; Opperman, S E; Pandor, G N M; Phadagi, M G; Phungula, J P; Pieterse, R D; Rabie, P J; Rabinowitz, R; Radebe, B A; Ramakaba-Lesiea, M M; Ramgobin, M; Ramodibe, D M; Ramotsamai, C P M; Reid, L R R; Rwexana, S P; Saloojee, E; Schippers, J; Schmidt, H C; Schneemann, G D; Seadimo, M D; Sekgobela, P S; Selfe, J; Semple, J A; September, C C; Seremane, W J; Shabangu, S; Sibande, M P; Siboza, S; Sibuyana, M W; Sigcau , S N; Simmons, S; Sithole, D J; Skosana, M B; Smith, P F; Smith, V G; Smuts, M; Solo, B M; Solomon, G; Sonjica, B P; Sonto, M R; Sosibo, J E; Sotyu, M M; Steyn, A C; Surty, M E; Swart, S N; Thabethe, E; Thomson, B; Tinto, B; Tlake, M F; Tobias, T V; Tsenoli, S L; Tshivhase, T J; Tshwete, P; Turok, B; Vadi, I; Van den Heever, R P Z; Van der Merwe, S C ; Van der Walt, D; Van Dyk, S M; Van Niekerk, A I; Van Wyk, A; Vundisa, S S; Wang, Y; Weber, H; Woods, G G; Xingwana, L M ; Zikalala, C N Z; Zita, L; Zulu, B Z.
Question agreed to.
Nominations accordingly agreed to in accordance with section 193(5)(b)(ii) of the Constitution.
HEALTH PROFESSIONS AMENDMENT BILL
(Decision of Question on Second Reading)
There was no debate.
Question put: That the Bill be read a second time.
The House divided:
AYES - 201: Abram, S; Anthony, T G; Arendse, J D; Asiya, S E; Asmal, A K; Bapela, K O; Beukman, F; Bhengu, P; Bogopane-Zulu, H I; Booi, M S; Botha, N G W; Burgess, C V; Carrim, Y I; Chohan-Khota, F I; Combrinck, J J; Cronin, J P; Cwele, S C; Dambuza, B N; De Lange, J H; Diale, L N; Didiza, A T; Dikgacwi, M M; Direko, I W; Dithebe, S L; Dlali, D M; Du Toit, D C; Erwin, A; Frolick, C T; Fubbs, J L; Gabanakgosi, P S; Gaum, A H; Gerber, P A; Gigaba, K M N; Gololo, C L; Goniwe, M T; Gumede, D M; Gumede, M M; Hajaig, F; Hanekom, D A; Hendricks, L B; Hendrickse, P A C; Hogan, B A; Holomisa, B H; Holomisa, S P; Huang, S; Jacobus, L; Jeffery, J H; Johnson, C B; Johnson, M; Jordan, Z P; Kalako, M U; Kasienyane, O R; Kekana, C D; Khoarai, L P; Kholwane, S E; Khumalo, K K; Khumalo, K M; Khunou, N P; Komphela, B M; Koornhof, G W; Kota, Z A; Kotwal, Z; Landers, L T; Lekgetho, G; Likotsi, M T; Lishivha, T E; Louw, S K; Luthuli, A N; Maake, J J; Mabe, L L; Mabena, D C; Madasa, Z L; Maduma, L D; Madumise, M M; Magau, K R; Magwanishe, G B; Mahlaba, T L; Mahomed, F; Maja, S J; Malahlela, M J; Maloyi, P D N; Maluleka, H P; Maluleke, D K; Manuel, T A; Mapisa-Nqakula, N N; Martins, B A D; Maserumule, F T; Mashangoane, P R; Mashiane, L M; Mashigo, R J; Masutha, T M; Mathebe, P M; Mathibela, N F; Matlala, M H; Matsemela, M L; Matsomela, M J J; Maunye, M M; Mbete, B; Mbombo, N D; Mdladlana, M M S; Mentor, M P; Meruti, M V; Mgabadeli, H C; Mkhize, Z S; Mkongi, B M; Mlambo-Ngcuka, P G; Mlangeni, A; Mnguni, B A; Mnyandu, B J; Moatshe, M S; Modisenyane, L J; Mofokeng, T R; Mogale, O M; Mohamed, I J; Mohlaloga, M R; Mokoena, A D; Moloto, K A; Monareng, O E; Montsitsi, S D; Moonsamy, K; Morobi, D M; Morwamoche, K W; Mosala, B G; Moss, L N; Moss, M I; Mpahlwa, M B; Mshudulu, S A; Mthethwa, E N; Mtshali, E; Mufamadi, F S; Nel, A C; Nene, M J ; Nene, N M; Newhoudt-Druchen, W S; Ngcengwane, N D; Ngcobo, E N N; Ngcobo, N W; Ngele, N J; Njikelana, S J; Njobe, M A A; Nkem-Abonta, E; Ntombela, S H; Ntuli, B M; Ntuli, M M; Ntuli, R S; Ntuli, S B; Nwamitwa-Shilubana, T L P; Nxumalo, M D; Nxumalo, S N; Nyambi, A J; Nzimande, L P M; Olifant, D A A; Oliphant, G G; Pandor, G N M; Phadagi, M G; Phungula, J P; Pieterse, R D; Radebe, B A; Ramakaba-Lesiea, M M; Ramgobin, M; Ramodibe, D M; Ramotsamai, C P M; Reid, L R R; Rwexana, S P; Saloojee, E; Schippers, J; Schneemann, G D; Seadimo, M D; Sefularo, M; Sekgobela, P S; September, C C; Shabangu, S; Sibande, M P; Siboza, S; Sithole, D J; Smith, V G; Solo, B M; Solomon, G; Sonjica, B P; Sonto, M R; Sosibo, J E; Sotyu, M M; Surty, M E ; Thabethe, E; Tinto, B; Tlake, M F; Tobias, T V; Tsenoli, S L; Tshivhase, T J; Tshwete, P; Turok, B; Vadi, I; Van den Heever, R P Z; Van der Merwe, S C; Van Wyk, A; Vundisa, S S; Wang, Y; Xingwana, L M; Yengeni, L E; Zita, L; Zulu, B Z.
NOES - 47: Bekker, H J; Blanché, J P I; Botha, C-S; Coetzee, R; Cupido, H B; Delport, J T; Dhlamini, B W; Doman, W P; Dreyer, A M; Dudley, C; Ellis, M J; Gibson, D H M; Gore, V C; Greyling, L W; Harding, A; Joubert, L K; Julies, I F; King, R J; Labuschagne, L B; Lowe, C M; Lucas, E J; Masango, S J; Morgan, G R; Mpontshane, A M; Nkabinde, N C; Opperman, S E; Rabie, P J; Rabinowitz, R; Roopnarain, U; Schmidt, H C; Selfe, J; Semple, J A; Seremane, W J; Sibuyana, M W; Sigcau , S N; Simmons, S; Skosana, M B; Smith, P F; Smuts, M; Steyn, A C; Swart, S N; Van der Walt, D; Van Dyk, S M; Van Niekerk, A I; Weber, H; Woods, G G; Zikalala, C N Z.
Question agreed to.
Bill accordingly read a second time.
The House adjourned at 16:30.
ANNOUNCEMENTS, TABLINGS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS
WEDNESDAY, 11 OCTOBER 2006
National Assembly and National Council of Provinces
1. The Minister of Housing
(a) Report and Financial Statements of the Social Housing Foundation for 2005-2006, including the Report of the Independent Auditors on the Financial Statements for 2005-2006.
2. The Minister of Arts and Culture
(a) Report and Financial Statements of The Playhouse Company for 2005-2006, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements for 2005-2006.
1. The Speaker
(a) Letter from the Minister of Finance, dated 4 October 2006, to the Speaker of the National Assembly, in terms of section 65(2)(a) of the Public Finance Management Act, 1999 (Act No 1 of 1999), explaining the delay in the tabling of the Annual Report of the Government Employees Pension Fund for 2005-2006:
ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENTS OF THE GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES PENSION FUND FOR THE FINANCIAL YEAR ENDED 31 MARCH 2006
On 12 May 2005 the Minister of Finance announced the appointment of a Board of Trustees for the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF), as contemplated in Section 6 of the Government Employees Pension (GEP) Law of 1996, as amended.
Section 9(1) of the GEP Law provides that the Board shall, in respect of each financial year, draw up annual financial statements for the Fund and shall, in terms of Section 13 of the Law, submit copies of such duly audited financial statements to the Minister of Finance.
The statements mentioned in terms of Section 9(2) shall consist of-
· Statement of Funds and Net Assets as at 31 March
· Revenue Account for the year ended 31 March
· Cash Flow Statement for the year ended 31 March, and
· Notes to the Annual Financial Statements as at 31 March.
The statements are to be compiled in conformity to the Generally Accepted Accounting Practice (GAAP) and be accompanied by a report of the auditors of the Fund as prescribed in Section 13 of the Law.
Section 9(6) further provides that the Minister of Finance shall, within 30 days of receipt of such financial statements, submit the annual financial statements as well as the report of the auditors and information referred to, to Parliament, together with such comments as the Minister may wish to make.
The annual financial statements and reports required by Law for the financial year ended 31 March 2006 have been compiled and audited by the external auditors Deloitte and Touché, Pricewaterhouse Coopers Inc and Desai Jadwat Sondiyazi Inc. All the requirements stipulated in the GEP Law, including time frames, have been complied with.
The financial statements as presented are unqualified and, in all material respects, fairly represent the net assets of the Fund as at 31 March 2006 and the results of its activities and cash flows for the year ended, in accordance with the GEPF's accounting policies, the provisions of the GEP Law 21 of 1996, and the Rules of the Fund.
In accordance with the GEP Law I have the pleasure in submitting the annual financial statements as well as the annual report of the GEPF for the year ended 31 March 2006 to Parliament.
TREVOR A MANUEL, MP
MINISTER OF FINANCE
(b) Letter from the Minister of Public Enterprises dated 6 October 2006 to the Speaker of the National Assembly , in terms of section 65(2)(a) of the Public Finance Management Act, 1999 (Act No 1 of 1999), explaining the delay in the tabling of the Annual Reports of Denel and Alexkor:
Late Tabling of Denel and Alexkor Annual Reports
This serves to explain the late tabling of the Annual Report and Financial Statement of Alexkor Ltd and Denel (Pty) Ltd pursuant to Section 65(2) of the Public Finance Management Act, 1999 (PFMA).
The tabling of the Denel Annual Report and Financial Statements has been delayed due to the complexity of implementing the International Financial Reporting Standards. The Financial Statements have now been finalised and the Annual General Meeting is scheduled for 19 October 2006.
Regarding Alexkor Ltd, the delay was due to the awaited outcome of the land claim negotiations with the Richtersveld Community. A series of meetings were held in this regard and a settlement has now been reached; this settlement remains to be confirmed by order of the Land Claims Court. The Annual General Meeting will now be called with 21 days notice.
Accordingly, the Annual Report and Financial Statements of Denel and Alexkor will be tabled promptly after their respective Annual General Meetings.
I trust that you will find this in order
Alec Erwin, MP
Minister of Public Enterprises
THURSDAY, 12 OCTOBER 2006
National Assembly and National Council of Provinces
The Speaker and the Chairperson
1. Introduction of Bills
(1) The Minister for Public Enterprises
(a) Transnet Pension Fund Amendment Bill [B 30 – 2006] (National Assembly – proposed sec 75) [Explanatory summary of Bill and prior notice of its introduction published in Government Gazette No 29303 of 12 October 2006.]
Introduction and referral to the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises of the National Assembly, as well as referral to the Joint Tagging Mechanism (JTM) for classification in terms of Joint Rule 160.
In terms of Joint Rule 154 written views on the classification of the Bill may be submitted to the JTM within three parliamentary working days.
National Assembly and National Council of Provinces
1. The Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development
(a) A report on the withholding of remuneration of Mr M Matereke, an additional magistrate at the Magistrates Court, Johannesburg, who is under provisional suspension, in terms of section 13(4A)(b) of the Magistrates Act, 1993 (Act No 90 of 1993).
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