Hansard: Second Reading debate: Electricity Regulation A/B [B20 – 2006]
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 09 Nov 2006
No summary available.
THURSDAY, 09 NOVEMBER 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
Involvement of government departments in the review of INDS, and the impact of Jipsa on people with disabilities
17. Ms P Bhengu (ANC) asked the Deputy President:
(a)To what extent are government departments aware of and involved in the review of the Integrated National Disability Strategy (INDS) and (b) what impact does the Joint Initiative on Priority Skills Acquisition (Jipsa) have on people with disabilities? N2161E
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Madam Speaker, the answer to the question is that national government departments are aware of the Integrated National Disability Strategy. Currently, the Office on the Status of People with Disabilities is involved with these structures concerning the review of the document.
Secondly, again the Office on the Status of People with Disabilities has regular consultative meetings and working sessions with governmental structures. Thirdly, all of these departments are working together concerning the development and implementation framework, and an updated version of the strategy.
In relation to Jipsa, as you know, Jipsa is an inclusive initiative which neither discriminates against race, gender nor people with disabilities. It is linked to economic empowerment programmes contained in the disability strategy. The Department of Labour, which is a key member of Jipsa, has in place the 4% target within the skills development strategy for persons living with disability. This will facilitate the employment of 2% of people living with disability through the job access strategy. However, I must be the first one to say that this is yet to be achieved. So there is cause to be concerned there.
Bringing disabled people into key positions still remains a challenge that we must all be seized with. Historically, we know that they were the most discriminated against and that they were not given a chance even to study, and, in some cases, they were even discriminated against by their families and communities. It is therefore imperative that, as the Presidency and government in general, we should also continue to work with the DPSA. Again, both the government and the nation are underperforming in this area and more urgent measures are needed.
Ms P BHENGU: Hon Speaker, Deputy President, the DPSA, that is Disabled People South Africa has noted that people with disabilities in South Africa are faced with multiple barriers to economic and skills empowerment. Disabled people continue to be discriminated against in the labour market and find themselves in a state of underdevelopment due to the past and present discrimination in accessing opportunities.
Skills training is one of the methods of breaking the cycle of discrimination and of empowering vulnerable groups, since most employers do not employ disabled people. Where they do, they often do not make necessary arrangements to facilitate employment. So what will the government do to ensure that the required target of 2% set out is met by each and every department?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: I need you, hon member, to assist me and all of us in government to do this work in a much better way. I don't want to think on my feet on this issue because I know efforts have been made. Clearly, the efforts that have been made have not given us the right results. So, I don't want to give you an answer for the sake of giving you an answer. I would like to invite you and members of the DPSA so that we can strategise afresh on this issue. Thank you.
Ms H WEBER: Madam Speaker, Madam Deputy President, the Integrated National Disability Strategy document is a good document, focusing on the prevention and diagnosis of disabilities as well as education and assistive devices for people with disabilities. It was published way back in 1997. It was meant to promote a better life for all people with disabilities. But here we are, nine years later, it is still a good document while the government has failed to implement it. What is the Deputy President going to do about this very document? Thank you.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Hon member, I am going to ask you to help me.
Dr U ROOPNARAIN: Madam Speaker, hon Deputy President, my question is related to hon Bhengu's question but I would like to take my question a step further. In the Department of Public Service and Administration we also have the SA Management Development Institute, Samdi, a separate department that deals with training. How could we bring Samdi on board so that those that are disabled, especially in the departments, can become more skilled and we would be able to retain them and fill most of the vacancies that can't be filled, that is the very critical posts that need to be filled?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Hon member, I don't want to pontificate on this issue. It's serious enough and it is difficult. As government, as this House, as other stakeholders, including Samdi – which fortunately right now is undergoing some review and is strengthening - we just need to go back to the drawing board. We need to go back to this good document and look at how and where we are failing to implement it in its spirit and letter. At some point, we would then need to come back to this House with some kind of an enhanced implementation strategy. That strategy would be inclusive of all stakeholders, parties and would have tighter monitoring mechanisms so that we can improve implementation.
So, I will take it upon myself, together with my colleague, the Minister in the Presidency, who, as you know, is also the responsible Minister. I will also engage other Ministers such as the Minister for the Public Service and Administration. We will put our heads together. We will involve yourselves as the House, the NGOs and so on so that we can strengthen our implementation. I should appeal to you to leave me for now so that I can think about this matter. I am a bit embarrassed about the state we are in. [Applause.]
Mr V C GORE: Madam Speaker, I want to say thank you to the hon Deputy President for her very honest and informative answers and for her very truthful way of accepting that the government has not done enough in this regard. Hon Deputy President, as you are aware, South Africa has made great strides on overcoming racial and gender integration. The ID acknowledges that there is still much to be done in this area. However, there can be no disagreement that people with disabilities and their families remain, to a large extent, excluded from mainstream society and from the rainbow nation concept. The INDS was a very important document in setting up a policy statement and identifying the barriers that exist concerning people with disabilities. However, the INDS was written almost 10 years ago and it is essential that this policy document must evolve into legislation and regulations to promote the rights of people with disabilities.
Hon Deputy President, is the government contemplating developing the INDS into legislation? If so what are the details? If not, would the hon Deputy President consider driving a process to do so? In relation to the very kind offer to include organisations such as DPSA in your consultative process, I would like to humbly remind you, hon Deputy President, that there are other organisations out there that represent the interests of people with disabilities.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Hon member, I don't think that we would resist turning the strategy into legislation if we were able to demonstrate that that will give us the results that we want. I think the most important thing here is to get the right results. So those are some of the things that we actually need to look into. But I also take your points notwithstanding that you may still think that the strategy is good. There is merit maybe in just looking at it in order to ensure whether there isn't anything that you can strengthen, including considering whether it could become legislation. I think we should be open to that. But, as I am saying, I just need a bit of time so that I can also assemble a team to actually work with us on this.
Policies and programmes formulated for the implementation of the UN Millennium Goals Agreement
19. Ms P Tshwete (ANC) asked the Deputy President:
Whether, with reference to the UN Millennium Goals Agreement to eradicate poverty and destitution, and which South Africa is signatory to, there are any policies formulated and programmes put in place to mainstream these goals and monitor implementation within the operational framework of national government departments; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details? N2162E
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Madam Speaker, the hon member, Bhele – Mrs Tshwete, will recall that shortly after the Millennium Declaration was signed in 2000, practitioners grappled with the issue of practical implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs, regarding whether new programmes had to be put in place in the various countries in order to realise the MDGs. The United Nations organisation encouraged member states not merely to adopt MDGs and indicators, but to tailor and customise them so that they reflect national development priorities, as established in a process that would also require broad-based involvement and an inclusive debate in different countries. Realistic time lines for achievement had to be put in place and also the MDGs needed to be adapted to different realities of different countries.
The Millennium Development Goals report must take into account the national development priorities, thus the targets needed to conceptualise the country's specific situation. For example, adaptation, not merely adoption of the goals needed to be given attention to. That is according to the UN report.
In our case, in South Africa, we have been able to integrate the MDGs in our national priorities as well as the government's programme of action. In fact, our targets as the country are even more ambitious than those reflected in the MDGs. For instance, in sanitation, as you know, we have an ambitious plan to eradicate the bucket system by 2007, universal access to potable water in 2008, universal access to decent sanitation in general in 2010 and universal access to electricity in 2012. All of our goals are tailor-made to ensure that by 2014, we would be able to half unemployment as well as poverty, which is a year before the MDG target as set by the UN.
Our MDGR that we submitted to the UN last year in September, clearly spells out that, in some respect, we are ahead of the goals that have been set and therefore South Africa stands a good chance to achieve all the goals as set. But, clearly, in a do-nothing scenario, we will not achieve what we can achieve. Therefore, we cannot be complacent in the work that we have already started and the goals that we have set for ourselves as a country. Thank you.
Nksz P TSHWETE: Enkosi kakhulu Sekela Mongameli ngengcaciso yakho ecacileyo. Ndinombuzwana nje ebendifuna ukuwubuza malunga neendawo ezityunjiweyo. Ingaba sele bekhona na abantu abasele bexhamla emaphandleni okanye iindawo esele zixhamla kula malinge okanye amaphulo akwiindawo ezityunjiweyo zasemaphandleni? Enkosi.
USEKELA MONGAMELI: Ewe Bhele, bakhona abantu abaxhamla kwiindawo ezityunjiweyo, qha ke undizumile ngalo mbuzo wakho, ngoba ndifuna xa ndiwuphendula ndityebise impendulo. Ngoko ke andinazo zonke inkcukhaca apha esandleni sam. Ndingakubhalela ndikunike iinkcukhaca zenkqubo yasemaphandleni apho abantu bengamahlwempu khona, kunye neekqubo ezikhoyo apho abantu bathi bancedakale khona. (Translation of isiXhosa paragraphs follows.)
[Ms P TSHWETE: Thank you very much, Deputy President, for your clear explanation. I have a short question for you with regard to the identified areas. Are there any people or places in the rural, that are already benefiting from these efforts or programmes in the identified rural areas? Thank you.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Yes, Bhele, there are people from the identified areas who are already benefiting. However, your question came unexpectedly because I wanted to ensure that when I respond to your question, I respond as broadly as possible. I therefore do not have all the details readily available at this moment. Necessarily, I can write and give you full details with regard to the progress that has been made in the rural areas where there are poor people, as well as the programmes that are in place from which people have benefited.]
The SPEAKER: Hon Dudley, do you not intend to ask a question on this one?
Mrs C DUDLEY: Sorry, I asked to speak on the previous question, but Mr Cupido is ready to ask a follow-up question on this one.
The SPEAKER: OK. Let's proceed then to Mr Davidson.
Mr I O DAVIDSON: Thank you, Madam Speaker. Thank you to the Deputy President for her extreme honesty in terms of today and yesterday. She was honest about what appeared in the newspaper, regarding the question of government falling short by about 2 million jobs in respect of the Millennium Development Goals target of halving unemployment in South Africa by 2014.
It is in relation to those statistics that I want to ask: Should we not be more honest about both our presentation and interpretation of those statistics? I refer specifically to the 544 000 jobs which have been supposedly created over the past year, of which 147 000 are in the agricultural sector. This is a sector that contributes less than 3% to GDP, which shed 138 000 jobs last year and indeed contracted by 33% in the last two quarters of this financial year. The statistics don't actually jell and, indeed, if you look at the 147 000 jobs that it created, it shows that there are subsistence farmers in the Eastern Cape and that is not bringing people out of poverty and eradicating destitution. Thank you.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Firstly, I must say that the reason why I thought we should share this information, in relation to what could happen in 2014 if we don't jack up, is that it's not because it is unachievable, but just to sound the alarm so that we all work even harder. That is, in a way, the worst case scenario. If we work much harder and push some of the sectors much harder, we will definitely be able to achieve the targets that we need to achieve. But as I am saying, it requires us to do much more than what we are doing now.
Secondly, that was in reference to the formal sector. There is more that we could still do and achieve if we are able to perform much better in the second economy and to improve the viability of the jobs that we create in the formal sector. Part of this was to say that those of us who work in the informal sector and in the second economy can play a very crucial role here to balance things out. Therefore, we need to roll up our sleeves and make that difference.
On being dishonest about statistics, I don't think that there is any intention from us to be dishonest. I am not carrying the figures with me so I can't look at where you come from. But, what I need to emphasise is that the reason why we emphasise growing sectors, manufacturing and even looking at new sectors, is because we recognise that sectors such as agriculture cannot play the role that they have always played in our economy. We are, in a way, taking into account what you are raising about agriculture. We cannot depend on agriculture to the extent that we have always depended.
Having said that, I don't want us to be understood as wanting to deprioritise agriculture, because that will be shooting ourselves in the foot. Anything that you can do to fight to protect the sector and to promote it is acceptable. We have areas of excellence in the agricultural sector. Support for education of workers, for instance, has to be much better. Access to productive land has to be a bit better as well as the ever-illusive breakthrough in the World Trade Organisation. If we can get a breakthrough there, again, there would be competition.
Use of technology in downstream industries has to be much better. I think, as government, where we can support and incentivise, we will do so. In our engagement with the industry, we always engage in a manner that indicates that we want to collaborate rather than deprioritise the sector. I think that is a very important message to send to the sector.
Mr H B CUPIDO: Madam Speaker and hon Deputy President, development assistance from Germany to South Africa within the context of meeting the Millennium Development Goals holds significant implications for the economic development of the country, particularly with regard to skills transfer within the technical and infrastructure ambits. I would like to know whether similar arrangements for assistance, within the parameters of the Millennium Development Goals, have been or will be effected between other European countries and South Africa, and if you are prepared to expand a bit more on this.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: In principle, yes, we are engaging anybody and everybody who cares to listen regarding these issues. We have held a meeting, which was co-ordinated by the Department of Foreign Affairs, where we engaged with all embassies in South Africa and we had a special session to engage with the EU ambassadors. The approach that we are taking with them is that we should be able to tap into their considerable resources that they have in that union. We have not reached a point where I can say, in detail, what it is that we are going to be able to achieve through the discussions that we are having.
One country which has come forward and has put a concrete proposal on the table is the Netherlands, concerning the area of training. They have also given us a very generous offer whereby we should be able to pick and choose the areas in which we would like to collaborate with them on training. The target is to train in the order of 100 young people per annum either in the academic stream or in acquiring practical experience. Concretely, around agriculture, as you know, there is a city which has some comparative advantages – Dordrecht. This city has a relationship with another Dordrecht in the Eastern Cape, concerning cheesemaking. That is what Dordrecht is known for.
It was heart-warming to visit that little town and find that there is a cheese factory which is making cheese and other dairy products. The farmers in the community, small and big, are able to come to the factory and deliver their milk, which is then processed. They are able to make money and people from the community are also shareholders. If you are a farmer who has one cow, you are able to milk your one cow, take your one bucket and make your little money. It is continuous and in that way sustainable. For us, this is a very good model of co-operation and co-ordination. We therefore agreed with the embassy in the Netherlands that we will hand-pick people from that community and send them to Dordrecht, in the Netherlands, so that we can enhance their cheese-making skills.
Progress made with Asgisa, and its effect on economic growth and job creation
20. Mr C M Lowe (DA) asked the Deputy President:
Whether she will make a statement on the (a) progress made with the implementation of the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (Asgisa), (b) suitability of Asgisa as a policy response to South Africa's growth needs and (c) effect of Asgisa on (i) economic growth and (ii) job creation thus far? N2148E
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Madam Speaker, in response to the question asked by hon member Lowe, as the member should be aware, we have been reporting on the progress that we are making on the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa from time to time, but we have not as yet provided a comprehensive report on all aspects. We should be able to do that in a year's time, and that would be at the beginning of next year, because we more or less started with the implementation at the beginning of last year, after we had made announcements following the state of the nation address.
When we make that report, Parliament will agree with us that the Asgisa intervention is a worthwhile intervention. The fact that we have now enhanced our co-ordination within the clusters and between the clusters is actually increasingly making us realise the value and overlaps that we have in government which, maybe, we did not exploit to the same degree.
Indeed, we are also able to work collaboratively with provinces as well as with local government. Even though we began with the implementation of Asgisa at the beginning of this year, I am glad to be able to say that when we do our report, we will be able to report about considerable progress that we have made in tourism, unblocking challenges in ... What is it called? When aeroplanes have to land? I'm having a senior's moment. Alec? It's the strategy we have for many aeroplanes to come to South Africa. [Interjections.] Airlift! We have been able to unblock what at some point looked like insurmountable challenges of opinion around the Airlift Strategy 2006, and therefore, we will be able to significantly increase the number of tourists.
We actually moved, as a result of Asgisa, from targeting seven million tourists per year to 10 million, and the department is comfortable that we are going to be able to deliver. Also, in tourism, we have been able, working together with all stakeholders of the sector, to have a shared and consulted agreement on the skills, where we need them and who must train and where we must train.
Concerning business processing, a relatively new industry in South Africa, with the work that we have been doing in Asgisa, we have consolidated an industry that did not present itself as a coherent industry in South Africa. We have therefore been able to engage between and amongst ourselves to design the incentives that we think should be targeted at that sector, and a training strategy and collaboration also with the information communication technology companies who have come to the party as a result of our constant engagement with them.
The biofuel strategy is also due to go to Cabinet soon. Again, we still think that the co-ordination we have been able to have in Asgisa to make all these activities happen proves that it was the right decision for us to have Asgisa.
Moving forward, we intend to focus, with similar intensity, on the other sectors that are identified in Asgisa, such as the creative industry, the chemical sector and the clothing and textile sector. Again, at an appropriate time, we will also report on that.
We have also mobilised stakeholders across the board in support of education and skills development through the Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition. Through that partnership, we can now say that we will substantially tackle the shortage of critical skills. We think that it is no longer an insurmountable task.
I have to say for myself that when I started, I was convinced or indoctrinated about how impossible it was to solve the problem of engineers in South Africa, but now I am in a much different space about that issue. This is because of the extensive and good work that has been done by the Department of Education, the Department of Labour, universities, labour, academics and everybody who is represented in Jipsa.
We therefore now have a coherent strategy about when and how we are going to address the issue of engineers; how we are going to address production, which means the passing rate at universities; how we are going to address the issue of registration which, again, is a challenge in that not so many of the people who graduate register and stay in the sector; how we are going to address the issue of retention so that they stay and work in the sector, as well as recruitment, and which categories of engineers we need to train in South Africa and which ones we need to recruit from outside, at least in the short term.
We have also gone to the similar extensive programme and planning in relation to artisans. We have identified some of the problems that we have in relation to producing artisans in South Africa. We have identified, in particular, the challenge of pathways, that to become an engineer in South Africa, you can either go through a further education and training college, you can be an apprentice at work, or you can go through a learnership. All of those need to be consolidated so that each one of them have similar quality and content, which has a balance of both theory and practice. In some of them, like learnerships, they are strong on theory but weak on practice. Apprenticeships that people do at work are strong on practicals and weak on theory.
In the consolidation that we are doing now, we will be able to standardise the quality. We have been able to identify the numbers that we require and we are able to state by when we will be able to train the numbers that we require. The Department of Labour has made provision for money that we are going to require. In addition, the Department of Education, through the FET programme, will also add on the skills that we need.
I don't think that if government had not chosen to have Asgisa and to co-ordinate, we would have moved with this unified approach to the extent that we have. Therefore, I still would say that it was the right decision that we made as government to choose this intervention.
Mr C M LOWE: Madam Speaker, I would like to say thank you to the hon Deputy President for a very comprehensive answer. I acknowledge as well that it's extremely difficult to accurately measure the effect of the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa on economic growth and on job creation. It is not something that you can just pull numbers out on. I am very aware of that.
I am also concerned that the term ``Asgisa'' is becoming, in some circles, really just a big, amorphous holdall for any economic development-related initiative. It's expected that everybody has to use the term or put it in an annual report, without much thought as to what happens after that.
Now, the Harvard Working Papers, as you are probably aware, concluded that, given our employment and productivity performance, even the largest investments envisaged in Asgisa, from R373 billion rising up to about R409 billion, will barely deliver the desired growth rates, while at the same time that will put a lot of additional pressure on investment. They believe that Asgisa has serious macro inconsistencies that need to be addressed.
You obviously are aware of these conclusions. I wanted to ask you, particularly in the light of your comments earlier this week that you may not meet your 2014 GDS employment targets, how are you specifically responding to those conclusions in that Harvard Working Paper, and what are you doing, before you have to report next February to us, to ensure that economic growth and job creation targets are going to be met, and achieved? Thank you.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: This is a sangoma question, but, anyway, I will answer. I did a course on being a sangoma, so I will try.
On how everybody has made the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative anything and everything, on the one hand, you may say that that's a problem because it becomes amorphous, but on the other hand, you may say that it shows the degree of acceptance. If people don't achieve what they need to achieve, but they give it their best shot, I don't think that you should judge them adversely.
I would have been more worried if people didn't speak about Asgisa, didn't smuggle it in any report that they wrote, because that would have been a total reaction. People are people. Entrepreneurs take their chances. They come to me, when they want an appointment, and say ``I've got a groundbreaking Asgisa idea. You have to see me.'' When I see them, they say, ``You know, ITC has not given me money. Please put in a good word''. And I will say, ``Where is the groundbreaking Asgisa idea?'' So, you will have those things, and we must give it the warmth that it deserves.
At the same time, you must have a hardnosed mechanism to measure the serious work that needs to happen. There are certain bodies who cannot play around with those kinds of things, and that is why we have a structured relationship with some of the major players in the economy, so that, through those particular groups, we are able to work with them systematically.
I think we will measure, in part and to a great extent, what is happening there. For instance, the work that you do with state-owned enterprises is not about faffing around. We want hard facts and hard figures about their contribution and so on. So, yes, there will be a lot of amorphous bits, but I think that in doing that, we are going to keep our eyes on the ball, and when we report, we will produce concrete figures that you can check for yourself.
I don't want to discourage the cute people on the side of Asgisa. People even have Asgisa T-shirts.
Regarding macro inconsistencies, yes, we have picked up some of those ourselves. In fact, as late as last week, we were looking at a report on how we are trying to actually align. I wouldn't like to be commenting about this before they have been formally presented to me and to Cabinet, but we are working on those, and when we report, we would also reflect on those inconsistencies.
The SPEAKER: Hon members, can I ask that you lower your voices as you talk to each other.
Adv Z L MADASA: Hon Deputy President, statistics reveal that about 55 000 graduates are unemployed in South Africa. One of the excuses that are normally advanced for this tragedy is that these graduates are not suitably qualified for the job market.
The question is: What measures has government taken, as part of the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa programme, to retrain these youths to ensure that they make a contribution to economic growth, to capacitate government and in their own lives? If I may add a rider and say that instead of recruiting people who voluntarily left the service, shouldn't you give priority to these youth who are already knowledgeable and easy to train? Thank you very much.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: I will agree with you, hon Madasa, that in quite a substantial number of cases, the employers are right when they say that our graduates are not suitably trained. There is that problem.
The curriculum alignment between the supply and demand sometimes is not what we would like it to be. We did a scientific study on the reasons why we have these unemployed graduates. Besides the fact that we did have a disproportionate number of people who were doing subjects that were not in high demand in the market, the other problem was that even those who had the right skills lacked the soft skills. We were actually amazed at the number of employers who complained about soft skills – communication skills, work ethic, presentation, and those kinds of things. Universities don't teach those things.
So, together with the Minister of Education, we are now looking at how we could make sure that, before the students graduate – being able to drive is just one of those skills – we make sure that those skills are integrated during the learning years, so that by the time they qualify, they have those skills.
Also, in addition, there is the challenge of ensuring that there is greater alignment between employers and educators. What we have been able to provide through the Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition is a forum where both educators and employers sit together. For instance, what we have been able to do to address the challenges of artisans and engineers is that we were able to crack that because we brought all the stakeholders together. In the case of artisans, for instance, employers were complaining about the quality of artisans, but they were not offering answers. When we sat all of them together, they were able to have a trade-off, including the fact that when employers train artisans at work, we do not have incentives for them to do that. That is why many employers will send young people to learnerships because there is a tax benefit there, and yet, they would prefer people that they trained themselves in the workplace.
Treasury now is looking at how we could align that so that even for those young and old people that are going through training at the workplace, we are able to provide incentives, so that people who graduate out of all these processes are more employable.
In addition, we have now commissioned, together with Umsobomvu Youth Fund, a private sector intervention to take the database that we have on unemployed graduates, and categorise the capacities and subjects that the people have learned and their job-readiness, and then design training interventions for the different categories.
We are hoping that they are going to report to us before the end of the month on how they intend to do that. We have asked them to prioritise ungraduated technikon students, because there is a large number of people with the skills that we are looking for. The fact that about 40% of technikon students are unable to graduate because they don't do practical work is again another challenge that faces them. They don't even become unemployed graduates. They just become ungraduated students who have not failed, but who have not been offered an opportunity by society to complete their studies.
So we intend to train those people, give them practical training, send them back to their institutions so that they can graduate – please go to their graduations as an incentive for them – and redeploy them back to society.
We think we can redeploy many of them in municipalities, because just for 2005, we have more than 8 000 people who are in that category. About 50% of those have an engineering-related qualification. That will, again, unleash a significant number of young people into the labour market.
I can go on about this subject. Stop me, because I am so passionate about it. Let me stop there. [Applause.]
Mr H J BEKKER: Hon Deputy President, the IFP is in full support of Asgisa and, in fact, we admire and congratulate you on the leadership that you are showing in this particular regard.
With regard to employment, we know that jobs are being created and that we're on track with a 4,5% growth rate - all this is very well. The IFP, however, is of the opinion that we will eventually need a continued 7% growth rate if we really want to break the back of unemployment in this country.
We would like to know whether you would consider also looking at monetary aspects, where instead of merely looking at interest rate hikes, you look at alternative aspects in terms of the over-inflationary and particularly overuse of credit in this country. The second part of my question you have actually answered, in terms of your previous question. We indeed support your passion for trade and particularly the training of artisans and the movement away towards that side. We can assure you that the IFP will support you all the way on that aspect. So, could you tell us, particularly concerning deregulation and those particular aspects, what can be done to further encourage particularly small business in this country? I thank you.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, IFP, for your support. I knew I could always rely on the IFP when the chips are down, or even when the chips are up. [Interjections.]
An HON MEMBER: ... and a piece of cake.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Yes, and a piece of cake. [Laughter.] I actually was not in the House yesterday when "Koos Cake" was here. I looked at it on TV and I said, "God, I want that cake." [Laughter.] Anyway, I am sure he munched it all by himself.
Mr M J ELLIS: Madam Speaker, if I could just say to the Deputy President I still own the cake. I have it, and if she would like a slice, I'll send it across to her office. [Laughter.]
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Please, send me a piece. Back to the question, hon member, these are issues that are a work in progress. On the issue of what we can do about the monetary policy, I don't think that there is a magic wand, and I also think that there is tension between what we can do as government and what we should allow the market to do. So, it is somewhat a chicken and an egg story that we are involved in. But I will refer this matter to the Minister of Finance because, as you know, he is an expert and there is the danger that when we all meddle in that, we actually compromise ourselves in terms of how we impact on the markets. I will make sure that there is a comprehensive way in which you get an answer on this issue.
Having said that, we are investing a lot in trying to promote a culture of saving in South Africa. But, again, I don't think we are succeeding as much as we would like to succeed. Again, this is actually one area in which we are mobilising ourselves and, in terms of our interaction, the private sector and citizens in general by asking what some of the things are that we need to do collectively so that we can actually address this issue, to the extent that we can address regulatory impediments that impact on small business.
The Minister of Finance has given some relief to small business, and I am told that those that are taking full advantage of it are definitely getting the relief they need but, as you know, entrepreneurs will always ask for more. We think that it was a significant intervention. Also, Sars is very meticulous, as you know, about making sure that all the deserving players are able to benefit.
In addition to that, we know that we have the outstanding issue of a regulatory impact assessment facility that we need to set up in the Presidency. That is one of the things that we are busy with. Don't steal my thunder, hon member. I would like to be able to report on this when I am satisfied that all the t's have been crossed and the i's dotted, but it's in the pocket. Thank you.
Mrs C DUDLEY: Madam Speaker, hon Deputy President, in view of the fact that the construction sector is one of the most crucial sectors for the development and maintenance of growth infrastructure required to boost our economy to the desired levels, and in addition to what you have said in regard to engineers, have you put in place any measures that will harness the strengths of the construction sector in such a manner that it addresses the unemployment crisis, while simultaneously contributing to stabilisation and progress within the construction sector? Thank you.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: The construction sector is one of the partners we are working with. In fact, it is one of the more organised sectors of the sectors we are working with. Minister Didiza is also working very hard, in her capacity as Minister of Public Works, with this sector. You would have also noticed that even the Minister of Education is dealing with cement and bricks now and, together with this sector, has announced co-operation in the area of skills and the fast-tracking of the skills that are required by the industry.
A lot of the work that we have been able to do in terms of engineers and artisans, we were able to do because we actually collaborated and participated with them. We have also developed a maintenance strategy of infrastructure in government, because we also see it as an important source of sustainable employment. Again, in developing that strategy, we had lots of consultations with the construction sector.
We have also been consulting and working with the construction sector, with regard to input costs for construction. How do we recreate some of the industries that are needed in order to lower the volume of imports of the goods that come into the construction sector? Minister Erwin, if you ask him nicely, will share the details with you, because he has been leading that process.
SOCIAL SERVICES AND GOVERNANCE
Adequacy of the provincial tendering process on the supply of learner support material, and delays in supply of school books
338. Mr A M Mpontshane (IFP) asked the Minister of Education:
Whether the provincial tendering processes concerning the supply of learner support material has been found to be satisfactory; if not, why not; if so, why are there delays in the supply of school books to schools each year? N1566E
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF EDUCATION: Madam Speaker, the short answer is yes or no. The procurement and distribution of learner-teacher support material is the responsibility of provincial departments of education. The processes and procedures differ quite substantially from one province to another. The procurement chain from specification to delivery is complex and depends on the timeframes attached to the screening and requisitioning processes.
The Department of Education has negotiated timeframes with the relevant stakeholders, including booksellers and publishers, for the timely delivery of learner support materials to schools for 2007. The department is monitoring the provincial education departments' processes to ensure that stipulated timeframes are complied with. Monthly progress reports in this regard are submitted to the Minister.
Provincial departments have improved their tendering processes over the years. They have awarded the tenders for the 2007 school year. However, delays in the supply of schoolbooks do occur. Most delays are due to the late ordering of books and of services, delivery processes and the fact that some books are not readily available on demand, specifically with top-ups that are out of print when ordered.
The department has established a consultative forum, which is represented by all stakeholders, to look into the procurement and distribution of learner support material across the country. All problems encountered are reported at the forum and, collectively, creative solutions are sought to remove obstacles and impediments that may hamper the process of delivery. Thank you.
Mr A M MPONTSHANE: Madam Speaker, hon Deputy Minister, the reason I am smiling is because your answer, with due respect, Deputy Minister, is leaving me not any wiser. The question is: Are the tendering processes satisfactory? The Deputy Minister answered yes or no. So, I am not too sure what the answer is. Are the tendering processes satisfactory in all the provinces? Because, Deputy Minister, we know that tenders in some provinces are given to unregistered companies, companies with no tax clearance certificates, and that would definitely not be satisfactory.
For instance, as we talk, two senior officials of the KwaZulu-Natal department of education have been suspended, involving tendering processes of about R70 million - money unaccounted for. All this, Deputy Minister, suggests that tendering processes are not satisfactory and that the problem persists. Does this suggest that the national department is powerless to improve the situation? Year after year provincial departments are failing the parents and the schools.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF EDUCATION: Chairperson, if the hon member had listened to my answer, he would know that I was quite clear in saying that the process varies from province to province. The hon member ... [Interjections.] Koos, I will. If you want the cake, I will give you the cake too.
Whilst the process differs and varies from province to province, the process is a very complex one. It involves screening of learners' support material and tender processes. What the Minister has done, is to initiate monthly reports that she receives from the provinces to ensure that where interventions have to be made, they are made timeously and appropriately.
You will have to agree that, in comparison to a few years ago, the tendering process, as well as the delivery of books, has improved markedly. Whilst there are problems, I think the national forum is a collective which looks at the difficulties and challenges faced by various provinces. Therefore, in consultation with the publishers and booksellers, they are able to ensure that there is more efficient delivery.
In terms of the information at our disposal, it would appear as if there would be almost full compliance next year for the delivery of books. Thank you very much.
Mr M J ELLIS: Chairperson, certainly, the Deputy Minister gives the impression that everything is back on track and that the delivery of books and so on is taking place as one would expect it to, but we know, Sir, that actually that is not the case and that a great deal of work still has to be done.
But I would like to ask the hon Deputy Minister in particular, with regard to provinces such as Mpumalanga, Limpopo, the Eastern Cape, those provinces that are performing particularly badly in the area of textbook distribution, whether he is satisfied - and he has referred to it to some extent today – with the reporting process that these provinces need to undertake to indicate not only that they are trying to improve the situation but what they are doing to improve the situation. Is this really satisfactory? If you wouldn't mind elaborating a bit on that, Deputy Minister?
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF EDUCATION: Certainly, Chairperson. Thank you very much, hon member. What I have indicated is that we have recognised the problem. And we have ensured that we establish a national team, comprising the national department as well as provincial departments, where we look at the issues and challenges of delivery, whether it's Mpumalanga, Limpopo, the North West or any of the other provinces.
The results of that are the following, in fact these are the benefits of that. Screening is taking place by a collective involving all provincial departments. So the curriculum is looked at by the collective and they decide on what books have to be put onto the list. The tendering process takes place much earlier rather than later. We look at challenges that various provinces face in terms of interaction with booksellers and publishers. There is engagement with the publishers and that forum has in fact moved the process forward much more efficiently and swiftly.
Indeed, there may be problems. Amongst the problems which I might not have spoken about is the difference between section 20 and section 21 schools. You know for a fact that resources are provided to section 21 schools and they have the responsibility and the power and authority to procure books themselves. On occasion, some of these schools tend to purchase quite late and the result is that the delivery takes place later. Now, we cannot assume responsibility for every governing body in the country, but what we can say quite confidently is that there has been a marked improvement in the delivery of textbooks. Last year, about 93% of the books were delivered already by the end of the year and we do believe that next year should be better than last year. So, tomorrow will certainly be better than today. Thank you very much.
Ms M J J MATSOMELA: Chairperson, we as the ANC do acknowledge and appreciate the continuous initiatives and guidance offered by the Department of Education to the provincial education departments. A case in point is the effective management of the learning and teaching support material tendering processes concerning procurement and the distribution of these in the North West province.
While doing school-related constituency work, I recently observed that the distribution of these materials is taking place for the 2007 academic year. On that note, could the Deputy Minister inform this House about the issues that are raised in the monthly reports that he receives from the departments regarding this matter and how the department intends to address challenges emerging from these reports? Thank you.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF EDUCATION: Hon member, in fact, your question and comments speak to the same issues that have been raised and I think they are quite pertinent in the context of the question that has been put to the Ministry.
The monthly reports focus on the progress made by provincial departments to procure and deliver learner-teacher support material on time for 2007. The issues raised and managed monthly relate to the deviation from scheduled activities, that is, incomplete or late submission of requisition by schools resulting in additional orders being placed, late delivery processes, unavailability of books and books that are out of print. In other words, it's a range of issues and challenges that are identified.
It has been found that most of the provincial departments will deliver all learner-teacher support material, or LTSM, before the opening of schools in 2007. However, the late screening and approval of catalogues for the phasing of Grade 9 did have an effect on the procurement cycle and it is expected that provincial departments will only be able to deliver textbooks for Grade 9 by the end of January or during February 2007.
The challenges emerging from the report are being managed by the provincial departments individually, and reported to the LTSM consultative forum, which is a national forum involving all provinces, to seek collective, creative solutions and remove any systemic obstacles that hinder the procurement and delivery services. Thank you.
Mr H B CUPIDO: Chairperson and hon Deputy Minister, the ACDP would like know whether the Minister can provide details about the progress of the national reading programme launched in May 2005, with specific reference to challenges that have been identified regarding literacy as well as envisaged changes to future implementation of the national reading programme? I thank you.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF EDUCATION: I could give you a very comprehensive response to that, hon Cupido, but it does not relate to the question concerned and it is not relevant. I do think an opportunity would present itself in this House when the Minister is going to make a comprehensive and full statement around this matter. I thank you.
The plan to develop policy and programmes on poverty and the destitution of families
365. Mrs T J Tshivhase (ANC) asked the Minister of Social Development:
Whether he is planning to develop any policy and related programmes in response to the findings on poverty and the destitution of families in the macro-social report; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details? N2128E
The MINISTER OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: Chairperson, first of all, I want to state that the process of the macro-social report on poverty is run by the social cluster as a whole and it's done from the Office of the President. In other words, almost all the departments of the social cluster participate and implement whatever has been decided regarding those bodies.
According to the macro-social report, some of the major social trends that keep people trapped in poverty include factors such as education, gender, geographic location, limited income, access to opportunities and assets, as well as the least effective social capital.
In response to these findings, the Department of Social Development is in the process of developing a strategy to mainstream gender in policies and strategies within social development. It is also conducting a study to assess the status and adequacy of services provided by the Department of Social Development, the 13 identified rural areas and eight urban renewal programme nodes. The findings provide evidence for the development of our strategy to improve service delivery in these areas.
The Department of Social Development is embarking on a process to develop community development policy and a comprehensive antipoverty strategy. These two processes are still at a very elementary phase where terms of reference and proposals have been developed but are still to be approved and tenders advertised.
The department has launched a sustainable livelihood project to link social grants and livelihood co-operatives which aim to restore participants as quickly as possible to self-reliance through strengthening their capacity to access local economic development opportunities and assets, and to utilise existing social capital effectively. In this, the department is working with the local government departments.
The department also has a draft national policy plan, which is in the final stages of being approved. This policy outlines key intervention areas, which focus on services to family. Poverty is dealt with through the key intervention areas outlined in this policy, with specific reference to its causes and impact on families. The policy is aimed at promoting integrated co-ordinated services to families in South Africa by all relevant stakeholders, with special focus on promoting functional families and preventing dysfunctionality as well as focussing on family preservation.
A draft five-year plan for families, which is aligned to the policy, has also been developed. Therein all stakeholders have indicated programmes that will deal with all the key challenges that families are facing. Poverty alleviation programmes and those focusing on destitute families have been outlined in this strategy.
Mrs T J TSHIVHASE: Ndi a livhuwa Muṱhomphei Minisiṱa. [I thank you hon Minister.]
With reference to the NDA, an entity of the Department of Social Development that is mandated to fund and capacitate community projects and programmes for a direct impact on improving the asset base of poor communities, I would like to know whether the department has a mechanism and system in place to monitor the NDA and to ensure that it carries out its mandate?
Ndi khou livhuwa. Vha nga ri fhirisa afho kha itsho tshipiḓa? [I thank you. Can you clarify us in that regard?]
The MINISTER OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: Yes, we do that. The NDA has a board and that board has been strengthened. I want to underline that the NDA has had a lot of problems. If you remember, the NDA was formed just after 1994 or 1995. The Deputy President, at the time, was in charge of that, within this Parliament. Quite obviously, we expected to have problems, but not in the manner in which we have.
At that time, the NDA was under Finance. But, apparently, Finance thought that it was better to get away from that problem, and some overenthusiastic official really agreed to take it. I was a little bit surprised that it had to come to us in the state in which it was. But, since then, it has had those problems, especially regarding this issue of management. I think there is no year whereby there has not been something amiss that comes out of it.
However, I think the new board has improved its status and the way it works. I do congratulate them because they took almost all the problems that had been there concerning the other boards before and are trying to resolve the issues. The way in which it has worked makes me want to say there is a promise that it can be better but it needs a lot of work and it still faces a lot of challenges.
Mr M WATERS: Chairperson, if you would allow me, I would like to thank the Minister for fulfilling the promise he made yesterday in the debate when I did ask him several questions. He didn't have the answers with him and he undertook to get those answers to me by today, and he has done so. I would just like to say: Thank you very much for that. [Applause.]
The macro-social report also indicated that poverty is increasing, and I am quoting from the report.
In 1995, 28% of households lived below the estimated poverty datum line of R322 per month. While this figure for 2000 was just under 33%.
The South African Survey, which is another report, also confirms that the number of people living in poverty is increasing. According to this survey, 17 million were living in relative poverty in 1996 and this had increased to 23 million in 2000. My question to the Minister is: Is it not time that government reconsiders its position regarding the introduction of a basic income grant?
The MINISTER OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: Hon member, quite obviously, I do agree with you that there is a lot of poverty in this country. I would like to invite this House to go to those areas where there is worse poverty, especially the Eastern cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo so that members can be able to understand what causes some of the problems we have in this country, especially crime and all the other antisocial activities that exist within this country.
We have not yet decided to institute the issue of a basic income grant. We are basically working towards something like that, so that all of us can be able to agree that there is a need for it. But that has not been policy so far. Some of the things that have been causing that are mostly the inability of government to basically reach everybody; and the problems we have in the department itself of reaching almost all the poorest of the poor.
I personally believe – and this is not an ANC position but my position – that we do need something like that. We do need something like that. I am sure that in the coming conference of the ANC next year it is one of the issues that we will have to debate and agree on quite clearly, that there is a need to relook at how we look after people.
Personally, I do not think that we would be able, in the next 10 years, to ensure that each and every able South African works. In the meantime, some of the social problems will increase. That is something that we still have to debate amongst ourselves. It's no secret but, basically, it is something that we ought to be doing and not be answering here during question time only but in our daily lives.
We are all empowered and well-affirmed individuals, 400 in all, but there are more than 23 million people that are not affected or do not know what they will eat tonight. That is a question about which we, as South Africans, individually and collectively, should do everything to ensure that we do discuss. The same issue arises, not only for us as parliamentarians but also for society. That is why the role of nongovernmental organisations becomes very very important since we are unable to touch everybody as a government while, at least, they have that possibility.
Mrs C DUDLEY: Chair, hon Minister, research shows that rural women in South Africa are most likely to be poor, least likely to have an education and least likely to find employment. They are most likely to suffer at the hands of an abuser and yet are most likely to be the head of the household and the sole breadwinner in their families. They are most often responsible for child care, accessing resources, fetching water, preparing food and caring for the sick and the elderly. Yet, rural women, however, have the lowest status and are least likely to occupy positions of power. Hon Minister, can you provide details of present and planned programmes aimed at the specific alleviation of poverty among one of the most marginalised communities in South Africa, that is rural women?
The MINISTER OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: Hon member, can you repeat the last paragraph of your question?
Mrs C DUDLEY: Hon Minister, I just want to ask whether you are able to give details of present or planned programmes that are going to be specifically aimed at the alleviation of poverty regarding rural women?
The MINISTER OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: I can but it's quite a big long thing and it would not necessarily encompass what you are asking for. But there are programmes that are there within the department, especially in the provinces that deal with the issues of poverty alleviation as such. Here, I do have one programme that deals with children, ie early childhood development. The numbers are stated here or my department can bring them to you so that you should be able to look at that.
However, we do need a comprehensive approach towards poverty. The tendency that is there when you talk about poverty is that you talk about questions of black empowerment, the elite and those that read and write in English but not about the ordinary person in general. I think we need the latter more than we need those questions. We can only be able to do that amongst our people if they mobilise themselves on the basis of the ANC policy. They should be looked into and all of us have to be in touch with our own people. I hope the ID does the same.
Special SABC team assigned to travel with the President
339. Ms M Smuts (DA) asked the Minister of Communications:
Whether there is a special SABC team assigned to travel with and provide coverage of the President on (a) foreign and (b) South African stories; if so, (i) what is the size and composition of the team and (ii) how much has its work cost the SABC? N2091E
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS: Mr Chairperson, we've been informed by the group executive of the SABC as follows, in response to the question posed: Two political journalists and a cameraman are assigned by the SABC News to cover the activities of the Presidency. These journalists are assigned to cover these activities both domestically and internationally.
The decision by the SABC to assign these journalists is in line with international press practice, for example, both the BBC and CNN have specialist teams that are assigned to cover the heads of state of the United Kingdom and the United States respectively. It is also part of a strategy on the part of the news division of the SABC to boost the quality of news across their platforms through the development of specialist beat reporters.
From the beginning of the financial year, that is, 1 April 2006 to date, this presidential team has cost the SABC R1,458 158 million. Thank you.
Ms M SMUTS: Sir, the presence of the hon the President yesterday at the funeral of a previous President, Mr Botha, was not only newsworthy, it was by all accounts worthy from every point of view and worthy of coverage and acclaim. But there is, however, Sir, a clear policy, as far as I can see, to cover the hon the President wherever he is, which is frequently abroad, whatever he does, and to do so unquestioningly.
I had really wanted to ask this question from the hon the Minister because she used to run the SABC Board. We don't really like ANC Ministers and politicians to give the SABC any kind of instructions, but may I now ask the Deputy Minister whether he took note of the finding, in the Sisulu enquiry report into blacklisting, that Mr Zikalala, the MD of news, had given an instruction - he did not deny it - that Prof Sipho Seepe should never be used as a commentator unless there was a countervailing opinion and, on this specific ground, that he undermined the President? Now as the Sisulu commissioners point out, it is not the function of the SABC either to represent the government or to shield it from criticism. In fact, that would be contrary both to the broadcasting ...
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr G Q M Doidge): Order, hon member, firstly, your question is out of order, it's not what is before the House. That is a new question. And secondly, your time has expired.
Ms M SMUTS: Thank you, Chair.
Mr R D PIETERSE: Chairperson, hon Deputy Minister, we are talking here about the President of the country, the head of the state. We are not talking about anybody else who wanders overseas from time to time, someone whom nobody takes notice of here in the country or even on the street where he stays. He is the head of state. He is the country's President and my President. He is the President of the people.
Surely, Deputy Minister, you will agree with me that the so-called cost, because people refer to it as a cost to the SABC, is nothing but an investment to ensure that the public broadcaster of South Africa, the SABC in this case, does report to the people, the public, about what the President is doing overseas and in the country to ensure a better life for people. The SABC has a particular mandate to inform, to educate, to entertain, so when the President goes about his work - you don't see him on TV when he is on vacation - to ensure that tomorrow is a better day for all South Africans, the public needs to be informed by the public broadcaster.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr G Q M Doidge): Order, hon member! Your time has expired.
Mr R D PIETERSE: Thank you, Chairperson.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr G Q M Doidge): I am not sure if there was a question.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS: Yes, I think there was a question and it was related to whether the amount spent by the SABC should be considered a cost or an investment. I think the hon member is quite correct in stating that it is the mandate of the SA Broadcasting Corporation, as the public broadcaster, to keep the South African people informed.
When it seeks to do so with regard to the President, it is not seeking to do so with regard to an ANC politician. It seeks to inform the South African public of the activities of the head of state, of the government of South Africa, of a President who works and speaks on behalf of the entire people of South Africa.
Now, I think the cost to the country would be far more serious if we had a nation which was uninformed about what the government was doing in quite a transparent way. The fact that the SABC has taken it as part of its public broadcasting mandate to assign a specialist team to cover the activities of the President of the Republic of South Africa, so that our people can be informed as best as possible, and the transparency of this government be known to the entire world and the country, is in fact a laudable thing. I think the hon member is quite correct in his assertions in this regard. Thank you.
Ms M SMUTS: Chair, hon Deputy Minister, but is it properly informing the public, as you have just set out, if it covers the hon President wherever he goes, whatever he does, and it does so unquestioningly? Is that informing the public? It is because of that approach, it seems to me, that our news is sometimes accused of looking like a presidential diary. That is not real information, is it, especially when it is conducted on an unquestioning basis?
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS: Hon member, I think the answer is yes, the country is being informed and reliably so. Now, it may well be that you may not be happy with what is reported and I've seen often your interference in the matters of the SABC. As a politician, you do not hesitate to direct statements to the SABC, yet you are the first one that says that there should be no political interference in matters of broadcasting. But you always seek to interfere by making statements. [Interjections.] So I really think that the answer to your question is: I'm satisfied that the SABC does adequately cover the activities of the President and in a fair way. Thank you.
Impact of non-allocation of funds by the National Lottery Distribution Agency and the benefits derived by sports clubs in disadvantaged areas
363. Mr M M Dikgacwi (ANC) asked the Minister of Sport and Recreation:
(1) What impact does the non-allocation of funds by the National Lottery Distribution Agency have on sport federations and sport clubs;
(2) whether any sport clubs in the disadvantaged areas have benefited from the club support programme of his department; if not, why not; if so, how many? N2126E
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF SPORT AND RECREATION: Yes, the non-allocation of funds by the National Lottery Distribution Agency has meant that some projects that the federations were planning in anticipation of the funds had to be placed on hold or scaled down. In some cases, they used their own funds or funds allocated from the Department of Sport and Recreation. The delay in rolling out of the programmes of the federations that were mainly for capacity-building and the preparation of athletes, obviously, had a negative impact on the federations and the clubs. However, the lottery funding will not be lost to them, and let us hope that they will be able to catch up once the agency has been properly constituted.
The answer to the second part of the question is: Yes, many clubs in disadvantaged areas have been identified from the club development programme by the department, which we introduced for the first time, during this financial year. To date, since its implementation, the programme has been introduced in 42 local municipalities in seven provinces. It will then continue in the two remaining provinces.
As a pilot project, we introduced three clubs: football for males and females and netball. That was introduced in all municipalities. To date, we have formed 126 clubs. The programme has started with the development of human resources in most of these areas. Club representatives are trained in sports administration and team management. Both courses are accredited according to SAQA. Very soon, sports training in, specifically, football and netball will be started in the club development programme.
Mr M M DIKGACWI: Chairperson, firstly, I just want to understand as to what measures have been put in place by the distribution agency to fast-track the applications. Or, must they reapply? Secondly, what criteria are used to determine which clubs must receive club support funds? I thank you.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF SPORT AND RECREATION: Hon member, once the lotto agency is in place again, we will readvertise for applications to be launched with them. Secondly, the criteria that we use are that we are working in the identified poverty nodes as declared. That is the starting point for the department to roll out the clubs.
Mr S J MASANGO: Hon Minister, every citizen in this country should be given an opportunity to participate in any sport code that he or she wants to participate in. The problem is that there is a lack of or no facilities in the disadvantaged areas. I am especially talking about those sports codes that have been played by the whites only. What is this department doing to ensure that there are sports facilities in those areas and that they are maintained?
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF SPORT AND RECREATION: Hon Masango, you are aware, as a member of the portfolio committee, that we had a programme called Building for Sport and Recreation. Those funds that we received from the poverty alleviation fund were transferred to the municipal infrastructure grant.
We have said on numerous occasions in this hon House that it is for the local authorities to prioritise sporting facilities in the various areas, so that we can access the funds from the MIG. I need to say to hon Masango that we are in absolute agreement that the right of the child to play must be there and we, as government, are advocating that. We have done so during imbizo week. We have been able to observe the situation during this past imbizo, when we visited the Northern Cape. We have heard of some of those facilities that were announced and that will be rolled out by the municipal infrastructure grant.
Let me, however, also point out to the member that in northern KwaZulu-Natal where, in partnership with the Department of Education, we launched our school sports Mass Participation Programme during this past Saturday, we also heard the mayor of that area announcing three facilities that will be built next year by the municipal infrastructure grant. So, we are advocating this, and I am asking the hon member and all other members in this House to use the constituency offices and to advocate actively that the local authorities prioritise sport facilities, because the money that government provides is there.
Dr R RABINOWITZ: Hon Deputy Minister, do you have any idea of the timeframe within which you expect the lottery funds to be opened for applications again? I understand from your reply that funds are available from municipalities, from which keen and young soccer playing teams who are very much more enthusiastic about soccer because of the imminent Soccer World Cup, can apply for funding. But, there seems to be some confusion as to exactly where they apply for funding – whether it is from the local municipalities or the provincial funds as well. So, can you give us some clarity on that?
Can you also tell me if there are any current or future initiatives to work with LoveLife to take advantage of the sporting activities of these young people, and to also influence a change in their lifestyle through working with LoveLife? Thank you.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF SPORT AND RECREATION: Let me start with the last question on LoveLife. I think it is a new question and you will have to table it, but the Department of Sport and Recreation does have a programme with regard to LoveLife. If the hon member is interested in a more comprehensive answer, she is welcome to table the question and we will answer it comprehensively.
In terms of the first part of the question as to when we expect the lottery fund to open, that is an administrative matter. The Department of Trade and Industry, hopefully, once it is on board and the distribution agency has been constituted, will shortly take the decision to advertise for applications. In terms of the applications for funds to local authorities, it depends on the provincial government as to what they make available to the local authorities. But, what I was saying in terms of the MIG was that if they prioritise sports fields and facilities in the integrated development plan, they can then access the funds accordingly and have them built. If I am still not clear, hon Rabinowitz, table your question, and we will answer you more comprehensively.
Initiatives taken in view of recent incidents of violence and crime in schools
369. Adv A H Gaum (ANC) asked the Minister of Education:
Whether any new initiatives have been taken by her department and the provincial education departments in view of numerous recent incidents of an escalation of violence, crime and a lack of discipline in our schools; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details? N2133E
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF EDUCATION: Madam Chair, the emphasis on new initiatives is important, since the matter of safety in schools has become a matter of national concern in recent months. This is not to say that the issue of safety has been ignored in the past. Various important steps have been taken. Laws, policies, frameworks and guidelines have been developed to address crime, violence, drug use and abuse in schools. The primary protection of learners in this regard is set out in the Regulations for Safety Measures at Public Schools, published in terms of the South African Schools Act in Government Notice No 22754 of 12 October 2001.
However, we have been preparing over the past year to make a systemic change to the way in which we prevent crime and violence in and outside schools. The Department of Education, in partnership with the Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention, has piloted the Hlayiseka Be Aware and Take Action project in Limpopo, the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape. It is an early warning system of reporting crime and violence. A final report was submitted to the Minister on 4 October 2006 and we are developing implementation and operational plans to make the system work in all provinces.
There has been much comment in the press about a national pilot project to tackle crime and violence at the worst affected schools in each province. Provincial education departments were requested to identify schools in each province and suggest interventions that could be made to address crime and violence in these schools.
I can report that all provinces have submitted business plans to the Department of Education for consideration. Schools have identified interventions ranging from fences, burglar proofing, floodlights, alarm systems, metal detectors, CCTV technology, and the appointment of safety officers in schools.
Finally, at its last meeting on 23 October 2006, the Council of Education Ministers agreed to take the following measures to improve school safety: Firstly, a national template for a code of conduct will be made available to all schools. Secondly, the 2001 safety regulations will be made widely available in a simplified form, and I think many of you have noticed the publication in the Sunday papers of the past week. Thirdly, a national consultative forum on school safety will be convened before the end of this year.
Perhaps I could conclude by stating that yesterday, the Deputy Minister of Safety and Security and I met to look at a sustainable comprehensive systemic way in which the SA Police Service and the Department of Education could strengthen their collaboration - not in a few schools but in all schools around the country. Thank you very much.
Adv A H GAUM: Chairperson, we must welcome these comprehensive initiatives of the Minister. The danger is, of course, that we may be treating the consequences of violence and crime without paying enough attention to the causes. Something must be wrong with the moral fabric of our society and we certainly need a comprehensive intervention also, as far as the causes are concerned.
The Minister's plan to introduce random drug testing in schools should be supported. However, the legal problem might be that there has to be a reasonable suspicion about the presence of drugs on the relevant school premises before a search may be conducted. How do you plan to overcome this restriction and how far has the process developed to declare all schools gun-free? Lastly, would you be prepared to elaborate on the details of the plan to send ill-disciplined learners home for short periods? How would this work in practice? Thank you.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF EDUCATION: Adv Gaum, you have raised three issues, one is in relation to the schools being gun-free or weapon-free. In fact, the regulations, which have already been published for public comment in June this year, clearly request all schools to ensure that they post a notice that the school is a drug-free and weapon-free environment. This would enable searches to take place in the school. In the United Kingdom, for example, searches can take place without any reasonable suspicion occurring to show the seriousness of the state. So, those measures are in fact to be promulgated very soon as an extension of the Safety Measures Act.
With regard to the issue of drug testing, there are economic implications in this regard, as well as constitutional implications. We have the right to privacy on the one hand pitted against the right to security. That's something that we are looking at very consciously and we are investigating it. It would involve the consent of the parents, the consent of the learner and taking proper processes into account with regard to a dignified process. One has to just look at the example of the World Anti-Doping Association, which conducts tests on athletes to ensure that athletes do not cheat. They voluntarily undergo testing. So, these are matters that we are considering very carefully, with due regard to the constitutional implications, and it's something that we have to look at very carefully with due regard to the constitutional framework.
However, many schools have approached the department to say that we should give serious consideration to this particular factor, and some have in fact offered to contribute towards the costs of such an exercise. So, the department is investigating this particular aspect.
The Minister has at no stage stated that the children who are misbehaving or ill-disciplined will be sent home and entrusted with their parents to ensure responsibility. What the Minister indicated was that a mechanism should be put in place in all districts to deal with learners who are ill-disciplined so that they do not disturb the disciplined and the learning possibilities that occur within the learning environment. Certainly, districts will be paying particular attention to this, where a dedicated time and a venue will be created in order to engage in this particular issue.
Mr M J ELLIS: Madam Chair, my colleague, the hon George Boinamo, put a written question to the Minister recently asking in particular what the total number of incidents of school violence reported to her department in each of the three previous years is. The Minister, I'm sure, quite rightly replied that, in actual fact, this was a matter handled by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, and, consequently, these statistics were not readily available. Now, we are of the opinion, Mr Deputy Minister, that for the department to be able to handle this matter properly, it needs to know exactly what instances of violence in schools have been there over a period etc. You need to have those statistics. So, I want to ask you, sir, is your department in touch with the SAPS and the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development in order to try and get these statistics to handle the situation, and if so, what is the nature of that relationship? Thank you.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF EDUCATION: I would love to answer the question but the hon Ellis will notice that a similar question has been posed and is in fact on the Order Paper, which will be dealt with later.
Mr M J ELLIS: Madam Chair, I'm interested in that because I want to say to the hon Deputy Minister that part of my job as a Whip is to watch the time very carefully and I'm pretty confident that we will not get to that question. So, maybe, this is a good opportunity to answer it now. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms C-S Botha): Hon Ellis, I think we have to follow the Question Paper as it is set. It's not for you to change it unilaterally here. However, hon Minister, we can see what the time allows but I'm ... [Interjections.]
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF EDUCATION: Well, certainly, I think the discipline of the House is that we should deal with questions in the order that they present themselves and it's proper for a member to try to sneak a question ... Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms C-S Botha): That is exactly what I said.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF EDUCATION: Thank you, and I agree and endorse what the hon Chair said. Thank you.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms C-S Botha): It's very kind of you.
Mr M J ELLIS: Madam Chair, sorry. I just looked through the question paper again ... [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms C-S Botha): No, no. I'm sorry!
Mr M J ELLIS: It may be a similar question, Madam Chair, but it's not the same question. And I think, in the context of my question in relation to what the hon Gaum asked, there's nothing wrong with what I asked. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms C-S Botha): Hon Ellis, if there's time for the Minister and he wishes to answer on a question which is not directly related or is going to appear later on, I will allow him to do so. If in the meantime ... [Interjections.]
Mr M J ELLIS: Could I ask you one question, Madam Chair? Could I ask the Deputy Minister which question he is referring to? Which is the one that he says comes up on the Question Paper later on? [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms C-S Botha): I'm sorry, Mr Ellis. I can't be discussing the next questions. We are busy with question 369 and this is what we are dealing with and therefore I will now continue to ask the hon Dudley for her supplementary question.
Mrs C DUDLEY: Chair, hon Deputy Minister, the ACDP supports the proposed new measures. I wanted to ask the Minister and yourself if you are prepared to consider answers that do not fit into the humanist philosophy presently propagated. For example, our children are being brought up on secular humanism, which undermines moral values and leaves our children vulnerable at every turn. And, without moral absolutes, how would a child know that carrying a sharp weapon or beating a child within an inch of its life for a cellphone is wrong? Add to this the shocking indoctrination children receive on evolution which teaches racism in its most base form and questions the intellectual and moral capacity of the majority of race groups in South Africa. Surely, some drastic changes are necessary in this regard. Thank you.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF EDUCATION: Well, let's say that there are many perspectives to life which influence our moral and ethical upbringing amongst which is ethical or secular humanism. I think the issues of values and morals are critical – whether they come from a religious perspective or a humanist perspective, it's irrelevant. And responsibility for the upbringing, the attitudes, and the disposition of children become that of the parents, in any particular environment. I certainly do not think that this is the appropriate time to debate the value, scientifically or otherwise, of evolution and Darwinism. I think an appropriate forum should be made available for that discussion to take place.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms C-S Botha): Hon Deputy Minister, I did say that there was an opportunity for you to respond to Mr Ellis, if you so wish. There is now an opportunity.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF EDUCATION: Well, I could respond to Mr Ellis by saying that, in terms of the document that is before me, the question by Mr Boinamo is as follows: "How many children have been killed and assaulted in school grounds over the past six months up to and in including October 2006 and what steps is her department taking to prevent violence in future?" That question does appear on the Question Paper, hon Chair and I think that it's appropriate that we respond to it accordingly, at the appropriate time.
Mr M J ELLIS: Madam Chair, may I ask the hon Deputy Minister what that has to do with this relationship with the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, the SAPS etc? I mean, it's not answering my question that I put. I'm quite sure that I'm entitled to an answer to a question that was related to what Mr Gaum has said, and it doesn't matter if there's another question on the Question Paper later on. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms C-S Botha): I cannot decide for the Deputy Minister what he must say to you. I think he has dealt with the question the way he finds fit. I don't want to discuss it any further. I want to continue to question ...
Mr M J ELLIS: [Inaudible.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms C-S Botha): Hon Ellis, I think you are out of order. Can we please proceed. Can we please proceed to question 346 by the hon Coetzee to the Minister of Health.
Proposed introduction of community services for nurses in 2007, and choice of preferred locations by 2006 graduates
346. Mr R Coetzee (DA) asked the Minister of Health:
(1) Whether, with reference to her reply to Question 243 on 10 April 2006 and in light of the fact that the Nursing Act, Act 33 of 2005, has still not been implemented, she intends introducing community service for nurses in 2007; if not, why not; if so, what steps have been taken in this regard;
(2) whether student nurses who will graduate in 2006 have been requested to choose their preferred locations; if not, (a) why not and (b) when is it envisaged that this will happen; if so, on what dates in each case? N2100E
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms C-S Botha): Can we please proceed to Question 346 asked by the hon Coetzee to the Minister of Health. Hon Minister? [Interjections.]
Please, please, please give the opportunity to the hon Deputy Minister to answer the question. Hon Ellis! [Interjections.]
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF HEALTH: Madam Chairperson, the answer to the question is, yes, once the Nursing Act, Act 33 of 2005 has been promulgated and the required regulations have been issued.
The answer to the second part is no. The required regulations to facilitate community service can only be issued once the Nursing Act, Act 33 of 2005 has been promulgated. The implementation date will depend on the promulgation date of the Nursing Act, Act 33 of 2005.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms C-S Botha): I now call upon the hon Coetzee.
Mr R COETZEE: Madam Chair, that's a horrible confusion. Deputy Minister, in a reply to exactly the same question, which we received on 10 April this year, the Minister of Health gave exactly the same reply you've given now, "No, the Act hasn't been promulgated; no, the community service isn't happening and it won't happen until the Act has been promulgated." In other words, no progress has been made at all. I would like to ask you, firstly, what the department and the Ministry are doing to implement this particular piece of legislation?
Secondly, you will know that there is a massive problem in the relationship between the Ministry, the department and medical health professions in South Africa. What is the department doing to communicate with these future public servants whom we need to be motivated and enthusiastic about dealing with health in South Africa to alleviate the trouble and the uncertainty that they've had to live with throughout the entire course of this year?
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms C-S Botha): Hon Deputy Minister, before you answer, I'd like to remind the House that supplementary questions are actually a question and can, at most, have two parts. We aren't very strict about it but I think we must take some care to observe the rule. So it's one question – two related parts. Thank you.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF HEALTH: Madam Chairperson, I will help the hon member because he talked about confusion. I think the confusion is on his side. Maybe they actually do need some education in this way: Once this House passes a law, it is the President who then promulgates that law. Until he has done that, we are not in a position to implement a law that hasn't been promulgated. So, indeed, we are keen to have this law promulgated so that we can implement it.
Perhaps, I may just take the opportunity to say that community service has been one of the most successful programmes in the Department of Health. In fact, we are putting forward a proposal to other departments as well to make use of community service because we think, in the situation of shortage of skills, we can benefit from using the skills that are abundant in our country. And for that matter, I think it would be a good idea if all of us in this House offered ourselves for community service because there are a lot of skills in this house. We can go and help our local government in different ways, not necessarily politically but technically – with the technical skills that we all have.
Concerning the relationship between the Department of Health and the health professionals, indeed, I think I want to say that our health professionals are the backbone of our health services. Without them we cannot implement our health policies and programmes.
The relationship between the Department of Health and the professionals is indeed improving. A few moments ago I just talked to the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa - Denosa, which is, as you know, the association of nurses and they are very keen to help. I've figures from them which tell us how many nurses qualify a year and how many we need to train.
In this regard, I think I also want to make an appeal to all of us to help to restore the dignity of the profession. Let's restore the dignity of the nursing profession. Let's encourage our children to take up nursing. Then, in that way, we are going to help the department and the country.
Ms M F TLAKE: Madam Chair and Deputy Minister, I would like to applaud the Deputy Minister for answering the aforesaid questions on the issues of community health. However, Deputy Minister, I would like to direct a question to you as a follow-up.
We know that community service doctors have been very helpful in increasing the pool of doctors available to service the poor. Which other health categories are doing community service? What will be the benefit of introducing community service in the nursing profession? I thank you.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF HEALTH: Hon member, thank you very much for that. I think you are in support of our national policy to use national service.
In the Department of Health we don't have only doctors doing national service, we have a number of other sectors and professionals who are already doing community service. I don't have the exact information here but I can get the details for you regarding the sections that are doing community service in addition to doctors.
In relation to nurses, you know that our situation is that a number of rural areas are far from the centres and tend to be areas where many people don't want to go to. So, concerning that matter, we would like to encourage our young people – and they really love doing that – to go into the hinterland to help our people there. So, definitely, they will help us address the huge staff shortages in the rural areas.
You do find situations, for example, where we have a 50% vacancy rate in a rural clinic and we find a situation where there is a very high turnover. A number of nurses and professionals get trained, get located in rural areas and they leave. So one of the things that we are trying to do is to use our young people and we find that, in fact, they are very eager to do this.
We've had white doctors going to the most rural parts of our country, and they say "Please, give us another opportunity." Of course, one category that I may mention, which has just come to my mind, are dentists. We've had dentists who have done community service and have said to me, "We want to do some more." So this is a very successful programme.
Dr R RABINOWITZ: Hon Deputy Minister, the IFP supports the idea of community service – for many professions, but I'm speaking only on behalf of health. I just wonder if the delay has something to do with the concern that there are nurses who will not want to be sent to areas where they don't want to go – maybe areas that are far from their homes?
Has the department, or would you, consider a change of policy, which would involve drawing nurses to underserved areas through incentives, rather than insisting that people go to places where it's not convenient for them? In that way, one is not likely to lose any nurses and you would have a win-win situation for everybody. Thank you.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF HEALTH: Unfortunately, I don't know the exact reasons for the delay. I could get the answer for you from the Presidency and find out what the reason is for the delay.
But when it comes to giving incentives, one of the things that we actually do in the Department of Health – and I've been involved in this – is to assist our young health professionals in their choice of where they want to go. Some of them have come to us and said: "I want to go to Empangeni." In that situation we try our best to see if they can be posted in the area where they want to go. Some of them want to go to a particular area for a different reason, maybe because they think they'll learn more in that area in the field that they are interested in. So, indeed, I think we can give incentives. Of course, you also know, hon Rabinowitz, that we have a policy of rural allowances. This too is helping us because it actually gives people an incentive to go to a rural area.
Very recently I was in a conference looking at bone and joint diseases. And one of the people who gave a presentation works in Mseleni, in a rural area in northern KwaZulu-Natal. The slides she showed indicated that she immensely enjoys working in that area. So, maybe we need to begin to project our rural areas as areas where you can actually live and enjoy yourself. Some of our traditional leaders in the House can also help us here and invite us to come to their areas, saying "It's a lovely area – you are going to learn so much in the area where I live." Those are some of the things we can do.
Mrs C DUDLEY: Hon Deputy Minister, with the drastic shortage of nurses throughout the country and many hospitals having to limp along with less than 50% of the required numbers, and the fact that the Health department's policies appear to rely on the need for increased responsibilities for nurses, does the department have knowledge of the actual numbers of nurses needed in the health care sector presently and in the next five years? Does the department know exactly what the needs are in terms of training facilities? If so, what are the relevant details? Thank you.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF HEALTH: Thank you for that question, hon member. Of course, I think if you had had a chance to look at our human resource plan, which was launched by the Minister of Health earlier this year, you would have been able to see that, indeed, we have worked out what the needs are in the area of different sectors and professions in the Department of Health.
But just for your information, in 2005 we trained 1 533 nurses. The need for nurses is still huge because you find a situation where, according to our statistics, we have one nurse per 245 people. Now this is not something that is acceptable, because you can imagine a nurse having to look after 245 people. The ideal ratio is one nurse to 60 people.
So, indeed, we are aware of the shortage, and one of the strategies that we have adopted is to open nursing colleges that were closed in order to create a bigger pool of colleges that can train greater numbers of nurses. Of course, in this area we find that we have a challenge in that we need tutors who are going to teach our young nurses in these colleges. So we are looking at this issue and we are talking with the profession to see how we can deal with it. Thank you.
Plans to make the ticket prices for 2010 FIFA World Cup affordable
371. Mr B W Dhlamini (IFP) asked the Minister of Sport and Recreation:
Whether his department, together with the relevant authorities, have any plans in place to make the ticket prices for the 2010 Fifa World Cup affordable to the majority of South Africans, especially for the matches involving our national team; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details? N2140E
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF SPORT AND RECREATION: Deputy Chairperson, the 2010 Fifa World Cup is an event of the Federation of International Football Association of Sport, Fifa.
As in previous World Cup tournaments, Fifa has its own contracted agency called Match, which handles, amongst others, other aspects of business for Fifa – the marketing, accommodation, ticketing, catering and hospitality.
Government has raised the issue that, while this is an international event, for which tickets are sold worldwide, the majority of South Africans who follow football ardently have tough economic circumstances. Government has raised this issue with Fifa and with Match, who are at present considering ways of accommodating the request forwarded by government.
Let me also say that it needs to be noted that even in a much more affluent society and country such as Germany, the majority of football followers watched the tournament on big screens at fan parks, and didn't attend matches at stadiums. Thank you.
Mr B W DHLAMINI: Chairperson and Deputy Minister, I am happy that there is something that the government has done about this because we wouldn't like to see a situation like yesterday, where we had a cake in the room but couldn't eat it. I think all South Africans would like to take part in the eating of the cake that we are busy baking for 2010.
So, I am pleased that there is hope that there will be positive outcomes in the interventions that we have asked for with Fifa. Thank you.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF SPORT AND RECREATION: Chair, the problem with yesterday's cake is that the candle was too much big for the cake! [Laughter.]
Ms M W MAKGATE: Madam Chair, I thank the Deputy Minister for his elaborative and informative answer. However, we would like to know what control measures are in place to ensure that people who cannot afford expensive tickets benefit from discounted or cheaper tickets? Thank you.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF SPORT AND RECREATION: Hon Deputy Chair, hon member, I think we will have to be patient for that announcement to be made. We are very far away from 2010. We are still in the run-up to that. We have identified the shortcomings in terms of ticketing and we recognise the challenges. I think we will have to request the hon member to wait for an announcement in that regard, for the time being.
Mr S J MASANGO: Chairperson, Deputy Minister, we have seen in Germany that millions of people enjoyed watching the World Cup matches on big screens. But, in South Africa, the rural people are in most cases forgotten, if not neglected, when big sport events are staged in this country. What I want to know is: Wouldn't it be good for us to have big screens in the rural areas also so that they can also enjoy these big events?
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF SPORT AND RECREATION: Deputy Chair, hon Masango, yes, obviously, the more fan parks and big screens we create in the 2009 Confederations Cup and 2010 FIFA World Cup, the better for all of us. We are certainly going to engage with the local authorities to make sure that we make it accessible for our people.
I think it is much more conducive to go to a fan park or to a place where there is a big screen to share in the hype of the event rather than to sit in your house with a closed door, all by your lonesome self and watch this wonderful spectacle taking place, all by yourself. So, we took note of that and we are working on it.
Financial support by Government in preparing Team S.A. for 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, and regular updating of Sport and Recreation S.A.
362. Mr L R R Reid (ANC) asked the Minister of Sport and Recreation:
(1) In light of the 2008 Olympic Games to be held in Beijing, China, what type of (a) financial and (b) other support is the Government currently giving to sport federations and the SA Sport Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) in preparing Team South Africa to compete and be successful at the games;
(2) whether Sport and Recreation South Africa (SRSA) is updated on a regular basis on the state of preparedness and readiness of athletes who are earmarked by Sascoc to win medals in the Olympic Games; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details? N2125E
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF SPORT AND RECREATION: Chair, I would like to say to the hon Reid that the Department of Sports and Recreation is working very closely with the SA Sports Confederation Olympic Committee, known as Sascoc, in the preparation programme for federations and their athletes who have hope that they will qualify to participate in the Olympics and the Paralympic Games in Beijing in 2008.
As far as financial assistance is concerned, the department has allocated R9 million to federations to participate in international events, and this is part of their preparation for Beijing. In addition to this, the department has also allocated another R9 million to Sascoc for their Operation Excellence Programme, which further assists teams and athletes in their preparation.
Secondly, the department itself has also contracted the services of the High Performance Centre at the University of Pretoria, and this was done through a tender process where the athletes and teams are accommodated in camps, or in residential programmes where they are tested, trained and where they receive the best medical and scientific support.
The department pays for all the transport, accommodation, meals, and medical and scientific support as well as any sports technology support that may be required. For this, we have budgeted R16 million.
In answer to the second part of the question, whilst Sascoc has programmatic and oversight responsibility for the programme because they are focusing on the high performance part of sport, the department is updated on a regular basis on the progress of the teams and their athletes. Athletes who are part of the programme also have to sign a performance contract which binds them to certain standards and performance.
Officials of the department also monitor the programme through regular site visits to the High Performance Centre.
Mr L R R REID: Chairperson, thank you, Deputy Minister, for your response. We all know that to win an Olympic medal, an athlete must be trained from a very young age. Therefore I would like to ask the Deputy Minister: Is there a continuous programme in place to identify and train young athletes to equip them for Olympic glory?
Secondly, as Sascoc is responsible for preparing Team South Africa, how regular is the contact between the Department of Sports and Recreation and Sascoc to monitor the readiness and progress of our athletes? Thank you.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms C-S Botha): Hon Deputy Minister, I don't think Mr Reid heard me when I spoke earlier on about the one-question two-parts issue, but please go ahead and answer if you feel that way inclined.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF SPORT AND RECREATION: Chair, I would like to say to the hon Reid I am absolutely in agreement and so is the Department of Sport and Recreation about the fact that we will have to start to get our athletes into a 4-year, 8-year or even 12-year cycle if necessary. That is precisely why we did announce earlier on that there would be an athletes' support programme which will be rolled out by the department. We will make it possible for our athletes that are now preparing for Beijing to concentrate fully on their preparation.
As far as Sascoc is concerned, there is quite regular contact between Sascoc and us. They are in charge of the high performance part of sports, but as the responsible department and the custodian, we are interacting with them on quite a regular basis. We attend the president's council meeting where we give direction to them. Yes, we have regular meetings with the management of Sascoc.
Mr S J MASANGO: Chairperson, Deputy Minister, when financing this federation for the Olympic Games preparation, do you have a monitoring mechanism to ensure that the money is spent to uplift the performance of the specific athletes so that, when they perform there, they bring the medals to South Africa?
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF SPORT AND RECREATION: Chair, yes, as I have answered hon Masango, we don't only have the athletes sign a contract relating to their performance, but the federations who are the recipients of some of the funds are also obliged to inform us. We interact with them on a regular basis as they qualify to go to Beijing to make sure, through our monitoring system and the site visits that we do through our officials and the department, that they are performing according to standard.
See also QUESTIONS AND REPLIES.
NOTICE OF MOTION
Mr L B LABUSCHAGNE: Chair, I hereby give notice that on the next sitting day of the House I will move:
That the House calls on the Speaker to institute a practical arrangement for the expeditious serving of legal processes on Members of Parliament, respecting the integrity of Parliament, the privacy of members, and serving the interests of justice.
LAUNCH OF GLOBAL HUMAN DEVELOPMENT RESEARCH REPORT IN KIRSTENBOSCH GARDENS, CAPE TOWN
The DEPUTY CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Chairperson, we move without notice:
That the House-
(1) notes that-
(a) today, 9 November 2006, the United Nations Development Programme launches a Global Human Development Research Report in Kirstenbosch Gardens, Cape Town;
(b) this is the first time that a primary launch of the Research Report is happening in an African country;
(2) recalls that-
(a) this Research Report covers development issues with a focus on a particular issue every year and that this year the focus is on the global water crisis; and
(b) the Research Report is entitled Beyond Scarcity, Power, Poverty and the Global Water Crisis; and
(3) commends the decision taken by the United Nations Development Programme to have the primary launch of the Research Report in an African country.
SUSPENSION OF RULE 253(1) FOR PURPOSES OF SECOND READING DEBATE ON ELECTRICITY REGULATION AMENDMENT BILL
The DEPUTY CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Chairperson, I move the draft resolution printed in the name of the Chief Whip on the Order Paper, as follows:
That Rule 253(1), which provides, inter alia, that the debate on the Second Reading of a Bill may not commence before at least three working days have elapsed since the committee's report was tabled, be suspended for the purposes of conducting the Second Reading debate on the Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill [B 20B-2006] (National Assembly – sec 76) today.
PUBLIC SERVICE AMENDMENT BILL
(First Reading debate)
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms C-S Botha): I would just like to remind members that, in terms of the guidelines adopted by this House on 12 September 2006, the member in charge of a Bill will be allocated 15 minutes to make an introductory speech and to reply to the debate, while other members may speak for no longer than three minutes each.
There is no speakers' list for first reading debates. After the introductory speech, members who wish to participate in the debate must press the "to talk" button on their desks, and, when recognised by the presiding officer, may speak from their floor microphones. I now call upon the Minister for the Public Service and Administration to make an introductory speech on the Bill.
The MINISTER FOR THE PUBLIC SERVICE AND ADMINISTRATION: Chairperson and hon members, the Bill which is placed before you today for a first reading provides an opportunity for Parliament to strengthen the organisational and human resource matters in the Public Service.
Hon members will be aware that we are drafting a more far-reaching piece of legislation to create a single Public Service covering the three spheres of government, which will be tabled before Parliament towards the end of next year, that is 2007. For various reasons, it is necessary to step in with some urgency to strengthen the current Public Service Act of 1994 while we undertake the necessary consultation processes on the more far-reaching Bill.
The changes that are required are based on our experience over the past 12 years arising from the arrangement of some organisational and human resource matters in the current Public Service Act, both directly and indirectly, which impede the delivery of services to citizens by national and provincial departments. These matters include inadequate provision for the deployment of staff where they are most needed.
Some government functions are provided through national or provincial departments and are not close to the point of service delivery, and are without direct accountability and decision-making by the functionaries tasked with such delivery. On the other hand, some government functions are provided through entities outside the Public Service, without direct control and influence by its political head.
The Public Service Act and its prescripts are frequently not complied with, which results in weak organisational and human resource practices as well as legal disputes. Employees dismissed from departments for any kind of misconduct, including misconduct involving corrupt acts, are often reappointed soon after dismissal.
Employees suspected of transgressions sometimes resign and are appointed in other departments without disciplinary steps being instituted or continued for those transgressions. Some provisions in the Act have resulted in legal disputes while others are obsolete, overly complex or in conflict with other legislation.
The primary aim, hon members, of the Bill is therefore to improve the organisational and human resource framework for the Public Service to address the abovementioned obstacles to service delivery. For this purpose, the key objectives of the Bill are to improve staff mobility arrangement for the Public Service through allowing for deploying staff where they are most needed, but with due consideration of the circumstances of the affected employees.
It's also to introduce government agencies as a new institutional form to be accommodated within the Public Service to enable direct service delivery through a focused, ring-fenced, separate entity under the direct control of a Minister, premier or MEC. It is also to enhance compliance with the Act, through investigation and compulsory discipline of transgressors and reporting thereon. It further looks at enabling the institution of disciplinary steps against employees for alleged transgressions at their former departments.
We are also wanting to introduce anticorruption measures to prohibit the re-employment of persons in the Public Service dismissed for specific kinds of misconduct, such as misconduct involving corrupt acts. It is proposed that the prohibition on re-employment be for a stipulated period and to allow that different periods may be determined for different kinds of misconduct.
It's also to address a number of legal difficulties arising from the day-to-day application of the Act as well as arbitrations and court cases, and to simplify the Act through streamlining several provisions, removing obsolete provisions and aligning the Act with other legislation in order to facilitate its application.
Better staff mobility is proposed by clarifying the transfer and secondment provisions, and transfer and secondment provisions can take place with the affected employee's consent. Provision is also made for transfers and secondment in the absence of such consent. This, however, requires prior consultation with affected employees and its aim must be to enhance service delivery or be otherwise in the public interest. The continued employment of transferred employees, namely no break in service for the purposes of pension and other benefits, is also included in the Bill.
A government agency, as a new organisational form, is proposed to function as a separate institution in the Public Service, with its head as the accounting officer in terms of the Public Finance Management Act. This model is based on the public entity proposals by the National Treasury and the Department of Public Service and Administration. This government agency model could be introduced separately from other proposals regarding public entities.
The agency model is suitable for an institution with a unique identity that has specific measurable functions that can be locally grouped in terms of a particular service delivery model, for example a large public hospital. Such an agency may have original statutory functions or assigned or delegated statutory functions or a combination of these. The assignment of statutory functions of the executive authority to the head of an agency with accompanying shifting of accountability is proposed to be subject to Parliament's approval.
To improve compliance with the provisions of the Act, the Minister is enabled to conduct investigations, and if an investigation confirms noncompliance, the Minister can take remedial steps, including binding decisions.
Provision is made in the Bill for enhancing greater alignment and co-ordination, only where desirable, between the conditions of service of the general Public Service falling under the Public Service Act and certain sectors, although parts of the Public Service have their own employment legislation.
To assist with the enforcement of the provisions of the Public Service Act, executive authorities are compelled to take disciplinary steps against transgressing heads of department, and heads of department are to take such steps against transgressing employees. They are also required to report transgressions to the Minister for the Public Service and Administration and the director-general of the department, respectively.
The Minister for the Public Service and Administration may also report transgressing national executive authorities to Cabinet and transgressing provincial executive authorities through the relevant premier to the provincial cabinet in question. That Minister must also annually report – that's the Minister for the Public Service and Administration – transgressions to the relevant committees of Parliament and of the provincial legislatures concerned. That's of course the Minister of that department and the MECs.
The Bill also aims to remove current legal difficulties with the head of department being vested by the Public Service Act with the power to dismiss an employee on the grounds of misconduct, while the chairperson of the disciplinary hearing pronounces the sanction in terms of the relevant collective agreement for non-senior management service employees and the relevant ministerial determination for senior management service. It is proposed that all sanctions pronounced by the chairperson must, subject to the exhaustion of all available internal appeal processes, be implemented by the head of department.
The abscondment provision for employees was revised to shorten the period of absence to 10 days, since the current provision of one calendar month is unduly long, especially if compared to employment practices in other public institutions as well as the private sector. Employee candidature for election to the National Assembly or provincial legislature or municipal council and their appointment as permanent delegates to the National Council of Provinces are proposed to be regulated in accordance with the Constitution.
A comprehensive delegation provision enabling the Minister and executive authority and head of department to delegate their powers or duties in terms of the Public Service Act is also proposed.
If the Bill is passed by Parliament and signed into law by the President it would, together with the required new regulations, improve the efficiency of the organisational and human resource framework for national and provincial departments by introducing a new service delivery model and enforcement mechanisms, as well as simplify and clarify the Public Service Act.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms C-S Botha): Hon Minister, you have 15 minutes, but I just want to caution you that you are now going into your reply time.
The MINISTER FOR THE PUBLIC SERVICE AND ADMINISTRATION: Thank you. These measures are designed to enhance governance, accountability and compliance, which would in turn lead to improved service delivery to the people of South Africa. Thank you.
Mr K J MINNIE: Chairperson, hon Minister and colleagues, the Public Service Amendment Bill is the first shot fired by Government to move towards a single Public Service in 2009. The creation of a single Public Service is nothing more than an attempt to place the Public Service under central control, leading to a central bureaucracy.
Government agencies are being introduced as a new institutional form within the Public Service to enable direct service delivery through a ring-fenced, separate entity under the direct control of a Minister or other executive authority. This is the creation of another ANC monstrosity without any indication of the costs involved.
Alhoewel plaaslike owerheid aanvanklike deel van die beplanning van die enkele staatsdiens was, is dit nie by die huidige wetgewing ingesluit nie. Dit sal egter deel wees van die wet wat vorentoe voorgelê sal word. Die wetsontwerp konsentreer hoofsaaklik op die mobiliteit van amptenare en bemagtig die Minister en die President om amptenare sonder hulle instemming te verplaas. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraph follows.)
[Although local government was initially part of the planning of the single public service, it is not included in the existing legislation. It will however be part of the Act that will be tabled in future. The bill concentrates mainly on the mobility of officials and empowers the Minister and the President to transfer officials without their consent.]
Government agencies will be able to enforce political will onto employees, and should they not be willing to co-operate, they can be transferred at the whim of the Minister and against their will.
Die DA sê ons moet plaaslike, provinsiale en nasionale owerhede versterk deur alle beskikbare vaardighede te gebruik en sodoende dienslewering verbeter. Die wetsontwerp meng in met funksies van ander owerhede en die regte van individue, en is na my mening ongrondwetlik.
Die vraag ontstaan ten opsigte van sogenaamde regeringsagentskappe: waarom gebruik ons nie die bestaande strukture nie? Waarom versterk ons hulle nie? Waarom gebruik ons nie die 40 000 vakatures wat in die staatsdiens is en waaronder ek glo 'n klomp vaardige mense aangestel kan word nie? Waarom gebruik ons nie daardie strukture en daardie vakatures om die probleem aan te spreek in plaas daarvan om nuwe strukture te vestig nie? Ek dank u. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)
[The DA says that we must strengthen local, provincial and national authorities by using all available skills to consequently improve service delivery. The bill interferes with functions of other authorities and the rights of the individual, and is unconstitutional in my view.
The question that arises with regard to so called government agencies is: why do we not use existing structures? Why do we not strengthen them? Why don't we use these 40 000 public service vacancies to which many skilled people can be appointed? Why don't we use these structures and these vacancies to address the problem instead of establishing new structures? I thank you.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms C-S Botha): I recognise the hon Roopnarain.
Mr K K KHUMALO: Chairperson, I have been pressing the button all along from this side, but it appears my mechanism is not working.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms C-S Botha): Are you the hon Khumalo?
Mr K K KHUMALO: That's correct, yes.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms C-S Botha): Sir, I have your name on here, but I have it after several other names, so I will call on you.
Dr U ROOPNARAIN: Chairperson and hon members, improved service delivery is one of the highest priorities of any government. In order to be able to serve the people of South Africa, the Public Service must be adequately staffed.
At the moment, the vacancy rate is too high and these vacancy rates are the result of poor personnel management, poor leadership and lack of appropriate management skills. This is a national shortage that must be addressed. The Bill is a consequence of weak organisation and human resource practices. The IFP welcomes the Bill, especially in trying to provide for greater alignment between conditions of service and the various departments.
The Bill also attempts to introduce government agencies as well as the prohibition of the re-employment of those transgressors who have committed acts of corruption and misconduct. There is no doubt that delivery of services is intimately related to the efficiency of administration and the absence of corruption.
Despite the merits of the Bill on paper, the IFP does have a certain reservation, especially about the manner in which secondments and transfers take place, namely without employees' consent. Let me just say that the IFP opposes the enforced movement of public servants from place to place.
Also, the IFP believes in freedom of choice. Public interest is too subjective and due process is not an adequate provision. We believe that due process is too costly, too complex and too cumbersome. This means that public servants who don't want to be moved will take packages and the Public Service will be left with more vacancies.
Also, if transfers are not attached to incentives, the vacancies in the Public Service will escalate further and service delivery will be further hampered. In order for the state to deliver on its mandate, it's imperative that public servants are given adequate incentives.
The IFP looks forward to deliberations in the portfolio committee. I thank you.
Ms S RAJBALLY: Madam Chair, for a change, the MF has moved up on your list.
Constitutional supremacy in South Africa has instituted a system of government comprising of three spheres - national, provincial and local government. This is for ensuring that there is no centralisation of power and that all sectors remain answerable for effective governance. These spheres have operated effectively in transforming us into a democracy and in instituting growth and development for the South African people. Operating together, yet independently, and in a transparent system, we have delivered much success, and continue to pursue our intentions to eradicate poverty, stabilising sustained development for the betterment of an equal South Africa.
This Bill has the intention of addressing the shortcomings and loopholes in Public Service and regulates personal matters. The MF, itself, however, is concerned with possible criticism the Bill may receive in view of centralisation of power in the Presidency. This is one political objection, that is, it may allow the majority party powers in our democracy which go against constitutional values.
We, however, acknowledge the necessity and importance of this Bill in informing management of matters pertaining to probation, retirement, abscondment and re-employment. The MF supports the Public Service Amendment Bill. I thank you.
Mr H B CUPIDO: Chairperson, the amendments to the Public Service Bill concentrate mainly on improving service delivery. For almost as long as it has been in existence, our Public Service has generally not been held in high esteem by the public. Complaints about poor service delivery and unfriendly, unco-operative and inefficient service have become part and parcel of the image portrayed by Public Service institutions. The irony of this situation is that the very words "public service" make it clear that the aim of such an institution is to provide service to the public.
The ACDP recognises that many government departments, and even the embattled Home Affairs department, have shown vast improvements in the manner in which staff deals with the public and with the effectiveness of daily operational systems.
The Public Service Amendment Bill makes provision for spreading the delivery of service to where it is most needed. This will in effect bring government closer to the public, which is a goal that should have been reached many years ago in our democracy.
The Public Service does not deliver to the public it serves because the government may not be sufficiently aware of the fact that the public servant is the government's first line of contact with the people. It is through the public servant that the man and woman in the street is introduced for the first time to the government that he or she has put into power.
The ACDP is encouraged by the fact that the Bill is primarily structured around improving service delivery and improving the organisational human resource framework. Every effort must further be made to ensure that the transfer of staff from one office or province to another is handled with sensitivity. The ACDP is in favour of the first reading debate.
Mrs M S MAINE: Chairperson, the introduction of the amending Bill on the Public Service will certainly bear good fruits when it comes into effect.
This amending Bill will create a conducive environment in many departments because it will improve governance via direct accountability and decision-making, as close as possible to point of service delivery. It will also facilitate service delivery to ensure that a better life for all is realised.
Frankly, the amendment of the Public Service Bill seeks to address, among other things, the area that directly or indirectly hampers service delivery. For example, improving staff mobility arrangements within the Public Service. The fact that we have three spheres of government doesn't mean that our Public Service is fragmented. The Public Service Amendment Bill will enhance and improve the quality of service to all our people.
Therefore, there will be much greater co-ordination between government departments. Furthermore, the amendment of the Public Service Bill will have a positive impact on the intergovernmental framework, as it will allow different government departments to work closely to ensure that the needs of our society are addressed accordingly to guarantee that the Batho Pele principles are taken into consideration.
Finally, the amendment of the Public Service Bill will assure that public servants redeployed to other departments don't lose their jobs. In this way, there will be a greater mobility of staff entering certain departments with no fear of or perception of losing their jobs, and it will allow vertical transfer of skills from one sphere of government to the other.
The amendment of the Bill will also assist in addressing the problem of mismatched skills. Thus, the amendment of the Public Service Bill might enhance the labour force level. Ke a leboga. [Thank you.]
Mnr I F JULIES: Agb Voorsitter, met die sentralisering van munisipaliteite om dienslewering te verbeter het die teenoorgestelde plaasgevind. Dienslewering het drasties verswak. Die DA glo 'n enkele staatsdiens gaan nie dienslewering verbeter nie. Inteendeel, dit gaan die staatdiens nadelig raak.
'n Enkele staatsdiens is nie die oplossing vir beter dienslewering nie. Wat dienslewering wel sal verbeter is beter koördinering, beter opleiding van personeel en die skep van 'n kultuur van Batho Pele – die mense eerste, en die samewerking van gemeenskappe. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)
[Mr I F JULIES: Hon Chairperson, with the centralisation of municipalities to improve service delivery, the opposite occurred. Service delivery weakened drastically. The DA believes that a single public service will not improve service delivery; on the contrary it will adversely affect it.
A single public service is not the answer for better service delivery. What will improve service delivery will be better coordination, better training of staff and the creation of a culture of Batho Pele – the people first, and the cooperation of communities.]
Democracy is a political system in which decision-making power is widely shared among members of society. A state within which all authority is concentrated within the central government, and where the other spheres of government exercise only the authority allowed to them by central government, is a unitary state and, Minister, a unitary state won't be able to deliver services to all our people. I thank you.
Ms A VAN WYK: Chairperson, while we were speaking, a question asked from that side of the House: Why are we debating it then if it is not a fact? I think it would be a good idea if there were to be a workshop to explain first reading debates to those members who don't understand it. We are debating exactly this issue today so that we can highlight the introduction of this Bill so that those people outside who have an interest in it will actually have the opportunity to become aware of it and to address it.
From the side of the ANC we welcome the introduction of this Bill and the process of engagement that was laid out here today. The importance of a strong dedicated Public Service corps cannot be disputed or overemphasized. Failure by public servants means that we fail to meet expectations or to provide delivery and address the real needs of our people.
To be a public servant is not just to have a job, it is a vocation that influences the quality of life of millions of our fellow citizens for the better. The Batho Pele principle must become an ethos, a way of living for every single public servant, whether the most junior or the head of the department. It is in light thereof that we welcome the issues that are opened up for debate through the introduction of the Bill.
I want to focus specifically on those clauses that will address discipline within the Public Service. The period for abscondment will be reduced from a month to ten days. The deemed resignation will exclude the applicability of disciplinary procedure. In light of the high absence rates amongst public servants, this suggestion must be welcomed. Absence puts unnecessary stress on those public servants that are committed and hardworking. It also negatively impacts on service delivery and has an add-on effect. An hour lost is one less application that can go through the system. The Bill does, however, provide that the provision of the reinstatement of such employees remains. The Bill also introduces prohibition on re-employment in the Public Service for a prescribed period of employees dismissed for misconduct, including conduct of a corrupt nature.
Currently, employees who are found guilty of misconduct or of conduct of a corrupt nature can be re-employed elsewhere in the Public Service. This has now made such redeployment impossible, before a certain cooling-off period has passed. In our fight against corruption, this sends out a very strong message of no tolerance for corruption or misconduct. Many, and I believe the majority, of the public servants are hardworking people and their own performance morale and delivery is affected by acts of misconduct and corruption, even more so when they hear that such a person has now started working at another department.
The introduction of the Public Service Amendment Bill will also attempt to clarify and properly address provisions regarding performance of outside remunerative work. The guiding principle here will be the effect of the functions of such an employee and the possibility of a conflict of interest.
We welcome this introduction and we hope that all who will be affected by this will make use of the processes that were outlined on how to engage in the Bill. If we do that we will be able to ensure that we pass, in the end, an Act which provides an environment that is conducive to those who commit their careers to the Public Service, and that we enhance service delivery and truly create a better life for all who live in South Africa. I thank you.
The MINISTER FOR THE PUBLIC SERVICE AND ADMINISTRATION: Hon Chairperson, I would want to remind those members who are talking about a single Public Service, particularly from the DA, that they are in the wrong debate; save your speeches for when we engage on the single Public Service debate. I see this is a trial run but you are wasting your time; keep your powder dry.
I would also want to respond to the hon Roopnarain. She spoke about the improvement of service delivery that is required, that vacancy levels are too high and that this is a result of poor personnel management. Our concern is precisely that we want to move away from narrow personnel management to human resource management. This particular Bill seeks to ensure compliance with the regulatory environment within the Public Service and greater accountability for it as well. So look at those particular clauses.
I would further want to add that the Public Service Act at present enables transfers in the public interest without the consent of employees. What we are doing is simply proposing due process. So I don't think we must look for ghosts where there are none. We are actually putting in the legal framework on what is already in practice and what is there in the Public Service Act, but with some improvement.
I should also say that employee-initiated severance packages need the employer's permission before they are granted, and that has been the case at the moment. That is because we want to avoid a movement out, as with the voluntary severance packages where we lost people that we actually needed to retain.
I would like to express my appreciation to those members who reflected a profound understanding of what we are trying to achieve with this particular Bill: the fact that this is to take forward our transformation agenda and it's to ensure that, in reality, we create a better life for all by creating the environment that will make that possible, taking into account our experiences over the past nine years.
Hon members Van Wyk and others, including hon Cupido reflected that deep understanding, and I think that is the understanding that clearly says that we need to ensure that the Public Service is so structured that it, as the state machinery, will reflect the responsiveness to the needs of the developmental state.
An issue that I should raise further is that the Bill also guarantees that, where there is the mobility of employees across the different spheres of government, they will not lose their conditions of service and macro benefits such as medical aid, access to pension fund, etc, and that should be taken into account.
I think if there is one point that one could and should make, it is that centralisation is not anti-democratic, and there is a need for a profound understanding of that. I think if you look at the various developed democracies and look at the United Kingdom, there is much greater centralisation than there is in the South African situation, and if you want to ensure the decentralisation of a particular function, you need to ensure that you have a strong centrifugal point because decentralisation, an impactful and effective decentralisation, is dependent on a strong centre. So let us not confuse issues.
Hon Julies, we are a unitary state at the moment, so don't get confused. Go and read your Constitution and read it from start to end, starting with the basic values, the preamble, and the founding provisions. Spend some time on chapter 10. Maybe you will learn something, and keep that for the single Public Service debate.
I would like to see us working together and running a workshop, preparing ourselves in a constructive way to deal with this amending Bill. Thank you very much.
ELECTRICITY REGULATION AMENDMENT BILL
(Second Reading debate)
The MINISTER OF MINERALS AND ENERGY: Chairperson, hon members, I table before you one of the key pieces of legislation in the energy sector, the Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill. This Bill seeks to regulate the total electricity value chain, namely generation, transmission, reticulation, distribution and the trading of electricity.
You will recall that when my predecessor, Minister Hendricks, tabled this Bill in Parliament last year, it became clear that the issues that pertain to the reticulation of electricity would need to be dealt with in terms of section 76 of the Constitution. The Bill was therefore withdrawn to allow the issues that relate to electricity reticulation to be removed, while the issues that relate to section 75 of the Constitution were being considered and deliberated upon.
The section 75 process was duly completed, and the Electricity Regulation Act was signed into law in August this year. Issues pertaining to electricity reticulation as an area of competence of the local sphere of government, in terms of the Constitution, were therefore excluded from that Bill.
Today I'm pleased to table before you a legislative framework that will provide regulatory certainty to the whole value chain of the electricity industry, including reticulation services.
The piece of legislation I present to you today is anchored in our energy policy developed in 1998. The White Paper on Energy Policy was informed by the realisation of the fact that the apartheid system had bequeathed to us a legacy of an electricity industry characterised by a chaotic regulatory regime, poor and fragmented service delivery, and limitation of access to the privileged minority. As was stated in the said policy, various legal instruments would be needed to give effect to a number of objectives outlined in the Energy White Paper.
Subsequent to the promulgation of the Energy White Paper, numerous Cabinet decisions were taken as part and parcel of the tools to actualise this policy, with due regard for the dynamic global environment impacting upon the electricity industry in general.
This piece of legislation is, amongst other things, one of such instruments designed to weave together the various aspects of the plan to restructure the electricity industry, as contained in the said Cabinet decisions. In that regard, the greatest challenge we face is to ensure that our legislative framework is in line with the prevailing constitutional framework and provisions of other prevailing subordinate legislation.
This Bill seeks to empower our energy regulator, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa to efficiently and effectively regulate this industry, and that would include reticulation. In that context, there is the power of the regulator to address such concerns as the blackout pandemic that we see in our major cities. This would include Johannesburg and, of course, Cape Town; and we have experienced this in the recent past when we lost one of Eskom's Koeberg units and other municipal electricity distributors.
Ironically, when the section 75 issues pertaining to this Bill were being deliberated upon in the National Assembly last year, one of the Koeberg units was out of commission. I hope that there won't be any outage after we've completed this Bill. No sabotage, hey. [Interjections.] So, are you making a confession, sir? [Laughter.] The introduction of this Bill will ensure that stringent levels of quality of supply are imposed, and we would want the blackouts to be a thing of the past.
Also to be introduced in due course will be the Electricity Distribution Industry Restructuring Bill, which will complete the suite of laws that are meant to ensure that the electricity sector is governed in an efficient and orderly manner.
It is a well-known fact that South Africa has been enjoying the cheapest electricity prices in the world, at a wholesale level. It is also a fact that our domestic tariffs in most local government cases do not reflect these low prices, which, in some cases, result in lower levels of affordability. If energy is not affordable, then it is not accessible. If we are to address poverty and facilitate the improvement of the quality of life of our communities, we have to regulate the electricity industry in a manner that will achieve these key objectives.
The White Paper on Energy Policy identified a number of weaknesses within the electricity regulatory regime that need to be addressed. One weakness is the powers of the Energy Regulator to regulate the industry, and that would include the municipalities. We are also going to look at harmonising the legislation with the constitutional framework. For example, the prevailing electricity regime at that time put the onus on the alleged perpetrator to prove their innocence rather than presuming innocence until proven guilty.
A framework for the setting of tariffs by distributors of electricity, including municipalities, will also look at key performance indicators for municipalities in relation to electricity reticulation services. Lastly, we will look at the relationship between municipalities as services authorities, as well as service providers that provide reticulation services on behalf of the municipality.
To address the above gaps in the electricity legislation, I would like to put the intention and rationale of this Bill in context. It is common cause that the challenges in the electricity sector are both regulatory and structural. This Bill seeks to strengthen the regulatory regime irrespective of the structure of the industry. However, to ensure effective regulation, the Electricity Distribution Industry Restructuring Bill seeks to address the structural issues through consolidation of the industry.
The divergent views of the public hearings were an indication of the complexity of the matters this Bill seeks to address. To this end, I am happy to inform this House that we have considered all the views that were tabled and we are now ready to present to you a Bill that seeks to regulate the electricity industry while recognising the constitutional mandate of the municipality. Indeed, it was a very tough exercise.
Hon members, I would like to take you through the issues that, I believe, are critical to this Bill. The first is the need for us to clarify the role between the Minister and the regulator so that there is no confusion in this area. In terms of the governance framework, the Minister will remain the custodian of government policy and its monitoring. The Minister will also draft regulations. After all, anything related to policy is an executive function.
The regulator will be responsible for those administrative functions that will include overseeing adherence to regulations. It will also be responsible for the execution of such regulations, and the drafting of rules and procedures pursuant to such regulations. In addition, the regulator will draft directives as provided for under the regulations.
The local government legislation regime already defines the authority-service provider relationship. It is the intention of the Bill to leverage this definition and enhance it in the context of the provision and regulation of the electricity service. The definition of the service provider has been refined in a manner that will ensure appropriate regulation by Nersa.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms C-S Botha): Hon Minister, your time has expired.
The MINISTER OF MINERALS AND ENERGY: Thank you, hon Chairperson. [Applause.]
Mr E N MTHETHWA: Chairperson, comrade Minister, and members, the first point we want to make about this Bill is that this is one of those pieces of legislation in the broad transformation project of our society. It becomes important, therefore, that we start by quoting what was said at the ANC's 51st National Conference in 2002:
The process of rationalising electricity distribution should continue, ensuring viable and affordable electricity supply to all regions, as well as the progressive achievement of universal and affordable access, on the foundation of a minimum free basic electricity service to all households.
This resolution is informed by the status quo in the industry structure that is fragmented. If I can give an example: Of our 284 municipalities, 180 of them supply electricity, whereas in the rest of them, the electricity is supplied by Eskom. There is uncertainty in the industry regarding electricity provision, partly owing to little or no maintenance, resulting in the failure of the infrastructure.
Members would know that when we started to implement the RDP, as from 1994, and because we were chasing a particular target, the infrastructure collapsed due to too much pressure. Some municipalities experienced an internal lack of capacity to deliver and maintain services such as electricity provision.
The Bill seeks to regulate the remaining aspects in the electricity value chain, as comrade Minister has said, but with specific reference to reticulation, which so far has not been regulated. As you know, in this country we have more than 2 000 different tariffs. We need to provide a framework for certain tariffs. We need to harmonise the relationship between municipalities - in this case the authorities - and service providers.
But, members, we have traversed a path – a path of public hearings - which started on a highly divergent basis. As it continued, we were able to harmonise views by, and most specifically, leaving out the definition of reticulation, as contained in schedule 4 of the Constitution. As we have said earlier on, the division between the service authority and the service provider is very important, so that we can regulate the latter.
It is our view, members, that this piece of legislation places a firm basis for the overhaul of the industry to be in line with the transformation agenda undertaken in the new dispensation.
We also support the Cabinet's intention to introduce the electricity distribution industry restructuring Bill soon, in order to essentially introduce the REDs and complete the transformation process in this sector. I thank you. [Applause.]
Adv H C SCHMIDT: Madam Chair, the economic regulation of a particular sector should, as an important objective, promote low electricity tariffs. Currently, a myriad of domestic tariffs are determined outside the current regulatory framework that is applicable to the generation and transmission of electricity. This leads to consumers, and in particular the domestic users, suffering from high tariffs set by municipalities in order to ensure maximum revenue and to be able to subsidise other services which local government is compelled to deliver.
The most important feature of this Bill is to provide regulatory clarity in respect of the role of municipalities, in conjunction with the envisaged REDs. What is important to note is that municipalities will not be compelled to enter into service delivery agreements with the REDs, but will have the opportunity to provide for the reticulation and distribution of electricity themselves.
The original Bill has, subsequent to public hearings being held, been amended substantially. The administration of the Bill, the setting of norms and standards, and the prescription of general key performance indicators for the reticulation and distribution of electricity will be executed by the National Energy Regulator, acting in consultation with the Minister of Minerals and Energy, and not by the Minister acting in consultation with the NER, as was previously the case.
The executive authority for the reticulation and/or distribution of electricity continues to be vested in local government, with the additional requirement that those municipalities wishing to undertake the reticulation and/or distribution of electricity themselves, as well as those wishing to conclude service delivery agreements with REDs to exercise the reticulation of electricity on their behalf, will have to be licensed by the NER to ensure that minimum standards in the provisioning of electricity are to be maintained. The executive authority of local government – as provided for in terms of schedules 4B and 5B of the Constitution – regarding electricity reticulation vests, of course, in local government.
It is argued that, in order to enable a municipality to perform its constitutional obligation of rendering its services to a community in a sustainable manner, service providers such as REDs and municipalities should be licensed. The purpose thereof would be to ensure that the NER can effect uniformity in the provisioning of electricity through national norms and standards. A nondiscriminatory licensing regime, regulated by – very importantly – an independent authority, namely the NER, is envisaged.
The fact that the department proposes to regulate a service provider by requiring it to be in possession of a valid licence does, arguably, not infringe the constitutional function of the municipality to render electricity reticulation. Municipalities and entities will only have to apply for a licence in so far as they themselves elect to provide for the provisioning of electricity to consumers. They do not have to apply for a licence in respect of other services that they provide and will not have to do so if they conclude a service delivery agreement with service providers. This also does not prevent the municipality from performing that same function. It merely stipulates that the party employed by the municipality to assist it in rendering that function must be a licensed party.
On the question of surcharges to be levied by municipalities, it is important to note that such surcharges are not prohibited by this Bill. What is intended is that municipalities "ring fence" the reticulation and distribution of the electricity function, to ensure that a sustainable and viable service will be rendered by the municipalities and/or service providers. This is to ensure that municipalities do not use the revenue intended for maintenance and the replacement of ageing electricity infrastructure for other services.
In terms of section 26 of the Local Government: Municipal Systems Act, the Bill authorises a municipality to render its services by way of being a licensed service provider registered or recognised in terms of national legislation. In light of the above, the DA supports the Bill. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mr H J BEKKER: Madam Chair, this Bill has gone through a rough ride. It was even rejected by the different organisations at the hearings, including the portfolio committee. There were a number of points on which we disagreed; however, we are happy that they have been amended accordingly by the department.
Among the definitions, the word "reticulation" caused quite a debate and was open to many interpretations. We are pleased to note that the department has clarified what was meant by "reticulation", that is, "trading with or distribution of electricity by a municipality in the community within its area of jurisdiction and includes services associated therewith".
We were also concerned about municipalities being reduced to reticulating only to customers requiring between 11KV and 22KVs. This was going to be a serious setback because it would deprive the municipalities of light industrial or commercial customers.
Another concern was that the municipalities would have to keep separate financial statements of the reticulation businesses. However, it was pointed out that ring-fencing was for proper financial reporting and preparing the process towards the introduction of the regional electricity distributors, or REDs. Our argument was that some municipalities did not have dedicated staff for water and electricity, and therefore there would always be an overlap of services.
We sincerely hope that the amendments will help to reduce the price of electricity. We need even cheaper electricity in this country to be absolutely competitive, although ours is one of the lowest electricity rates in the world. It can help our industry tremendously if we can even improve on this. We also need to ensure that the municipalities have proper skilled people to deliver electricity of high quality.
Finally, we have also been concerned about the constitutionality of the amendment, but we believe that the amendments, in their current form, will be acceptable and that this will address the problem. The IFP supports the amendments before us. I thank you.
Ms M D SEADIMO: Chairperson, hon members and the Minister of Minerals and Energy, the Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill should be understood within the context of the broader transformation of the electricity distribution industry.
This Bill flows from the Electricity Regulation Act passed by the House at the beginning of the year. The main object of this Bill is to insert a new chapter into the Act dealing with the reticulation of electricity by municipalities. This legislative development seeks to provide a framework for the setting of tariffs by municipalities. It also empowers the Minister to prescribe key performance indicators for municipalities in relation to reticulation services.
Se se raya gore bagaetsho, gantsi re fitlhela e le gore boMmasepala ba rona ba duedisa batho lekgetho le le farologaneng mo kgaolong e le nngwe go na le makgetho a le mantsi tse di duedisiwang batho. Jannonong Molaotlhomo o, o tla dira gore Tona e netefatse gore go nne le makgetho a a lekalekanang mo Aforika Borwa yotlhe. (Translation of Setswana paragraph follows.)
[Ladies and gentlemen, this implies that most of our municipalities charge people residing in the same area different levies, which results in some people paying more levies. Now this Bill shall ensure that the Minister sees to it that there are equal levies for everyone in South Africa.]
The Bill makes provision regarding the relationship between municipalities and service providers who provide reticulation services on their behalf. It also provides for service delivery agreements entered into by a municipality with an external service provider.
Furthermore, it allows the Minister to make regulations relating to standard provisions included in the service delivery agreements. The Bill also allows the National Energy Regulator of South Africa, in consultation with the Minister, to prescribe general key performance indicators in respect of the technical operational issues pertaining to the reticulation system for municipalities.
In order to ensure that a quality service is rendered, the Bill caters for norms and standards relating to quality of supply, and it is compulsory for them to be included in service delivery agreements.
This Bill empowers the Minister to make regulations regarding types of energy sources from which electricity must be generated and percentages of electricity that must be generated from different energy sources.
The Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill serves as a springboard for the realisation of the RDP pronouncement of electricity for all. This legislative development seeks to integrate the regulation of the electricity distribution industry and to do away with different tariffs. This will benefit the poorest of our country immensely.
Central to the essence of this Bill is efficiency and improved quality of service provision. As the ANC-led government, we are committed to ensuring that the masses of our people become beneficiaries of equal services. This Bill sets a clear path for us to achieve our transformation agenda in the electricity industry. I thank you. [Applause.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms S-C Botha): Thank you, hon Seadimo. I believe that was your maiden speech. I would never have guessed! [Applause.]
Mr H B CUPIDO: Chairperson, the ACDP welcomes the fact that the Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill will put in place a solid foundation from which the six regional electricity distributors will function. Regarding the national regulation initiatives, it is our belief that the regulation by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa, Nersa, will ensure that municipalities consistently act in the interest of consumers; and that the quality of electricity and the reliability of electricity provision is in accordance with the highest standards.
Strengthening of the regulatory framework means that standardised service levels agreements will form the basis of operations of municipalities. It will further be possible for municipalities to add a surcharge to the electricity tariffs. All these factors contribute towards the establishment of regulated municipalities that can simultaneously generate revenue and deliver better services.
The ACDP supports the amendments of the Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill. Thank you. [Applause.]
Ms S RAJBALLY: Chairperson, for those South Africans who are the major victims of poverty, the commitment by government that by 2008 all households will have clean running water; that by 2010 they will have decent and safe sanitation; and that by 2012 there will be electricity for all, brings hope but is yet a long wait.
The MF notes the united effort by all sectors. There is a need to press on towards the realisation of the potential of local government to speed up delivery. We find that the reticulation of electricity by municipalities is a great means to stimulate and increase income for municipal services.
However, we have noted that the Bill fails to provide for skills development and education of personnel that shall operate these facilities at municipal levels. We also express our concern regarding the management of payment of rates and tax. We do believe that this should be transferred to an ad hoc section that could deal with late payment areas and payments in general ...
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms C-S Botha): Hon Rajbally, your time has expired.
Ms S RAJBALLY: The MF supports the Bill. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
HON MEMBERS: Malibongwe! [Praise!]
Mr M H MATLALA: Igama lamakhosikazi! [The name of women!]
Chairperson, hon members, it is imperative for the House to locate the Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill within the broader context of the transformation of electricity industry, in particular the electricity distribution industry.
The Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill serves as a propeller to the realisation of an integrated electricity industry. This legislative development seeks to provide uniformity as it integrates tariffs setting through the national framework of the norms and standards. This piece of legislation effects changes that will go a long way in protecting the masses of our people from unequal tariffs. Interestingly so, we have approximately 2 000 tariffs that are in existence. Others are called inner-city tariffs and others are called outer city tariffs. Unfortunately, our people are subjected to whatever tariffs the municipalities deem appropriate. The Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill seeks to do away with this scenario.
Consistent with the RDP's pronouncements of electricity for all our people, this Bill gives practical expressions to our ANC-led government's policy of free basic electricity for the poorest of the poor of our people. This indicates our consciousness and concern regarding the conditions that our people are subjected to.
Central to the essence of the Bill is to ensure affordability of electricity for the masses of our people and improved quality of service provision. The ANC-led government believes that our people should be beneficiaries of quality and efficient service. The Bill lays the regulatory basis of a rational electricity distributor. The regulatory provisions in this Bill are at the heart of the existence of the REDs and charting the way forward for the electricity distribution industry.
Furthermore, in order to ensure that there is no confusion on roles, the Bill clarifies the roles of both the REDs and municipalities. The Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill is a crucial piece of legislation in effecting transformation in the electricity distribution industry. We believe that it will benefit the masses of our people a great deal. I thank you, Chairperson. [Applause.]
The MINISTER OF MINERALS AND ENERGY: Chairperson, I think I must take this opportunity to thank heartily the portfolio committee, led by a very capable young man, Comrade Mthethwa. Thank you for the overwhelming support. [Applause.] It is so refreshing to listen to South Africans speaking in one voice on such a matter that would impact positively on the lives of our people.
I will just quickly speak to the benefits of this Bill. Adequate and improved quality of supply of electricity is what we want to achieve. We also want to ensure that we provide free basic electricity reticulation services to the poor as part of our poverty alleviation intervention. We want to ensure universal access to modern form of energy for all South Africans.
Regarding the issues that the hon member of the MF raised in relation to the skills development, that is a very important matter and we can accommodate it on the regulations. But, concerning the issue of rates, I think that that is a function of the services authorities. We cannot interfere in that matter.
Thank you very much, colleagues. We will still rely on you to monitor this, going forward. We might have to improve here and there but thank you very much for the support. [Applause.]
Bill read the second time.
The House adjourned at 17:21.
ANNOUNCEMENTS, TABLINGS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS
National Assembly and National Council of Provinces
1. The Minister of Finance
(a) Agreement between the Government of the Republic of South Africa and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran regarding Mutual Assistance between their Customs Administrations, tabled in terms of section 231(2) of the Constitution, 1996.
(b) Explanatory Memorandum to the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of South Africa and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran regarding Mutual Assistance between their Customs Administrations.
(c) Agreement between the Government of the Republic of South Africa and the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo regarding Mutual Assistance between their Customs Administrations, tabled in terms of section 231(2) of the Constitution, 1996.
(d) Explanatory Memorandum to the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of South Africa and the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo regarding Mutual Assistance between their Customs Administrations.
2. The Minister of Trade and Industry
(a) Report and Financial Statements of the Technology and Human Resources for Industry Programme (THRIP) for 2005-2006, including the Report of the Auditor-General for 2005-2006.
(b) Government Notice No R.873 published in Government Gazette No 29186 dated 1 September 2006: International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa: Import restrictions on textiles and clothing originating from the People's Republic of China, in terms of the International Trade Administration Act, 2002 (Act No 71 of 2002)
(c) Government Notice No R.949 published in Government Gazette No 29245 dated 21 September 2006: Prescribed Time Frame for Free Credit Records, and Determination of Application and Registration Fees, in terms of the national Credit Act, 2005 (Act No 34 of 2005).
(d) Government Notice No 928 published in Government Gazette No 29233 dated 22 September 2006: Incorporation of an external company as a company in the Republic of South Africa: Star Gaze Limited, in terms of the Companies Act, 1973 (Act No 61 of 1973).
(e) Government Notice No 960 published in Government Gazette No 29256 dated 29 September 2006: Incorporation of an external company as a company in the Republic of South Africa: Portfolio Deal Services Limited, in terms of the Companies Act, 1973 (Act No 61 of 1973).
(f) Government Notice No 995 published in Government Gazette No 29277 dated 13 October 2006: Standards Matters, in terms of the Standards Act, 1993 (Act No 29 of 1993).
3. The Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism
(a) Request for approval by the National Assembly of the exclusion of Portion 1 of the farm Mozib 279, the farm Droogte Veldt 292 and Portion 1 of the farm Than 280 from the Vaalbos National Park in terms of section 21(1)(a) of the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act, 2003 (Act No 57 of 2003).
(b) Explanatory memorandum on the proposed exclusion of Portion 1 of the farm Mozib 279, the farm Drooge Veldt 292 and Portion 1 of the farm Than 280 from the Vaalbos National Park in terms of section 21(1)(a) of the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act, 2003 (Act No 57 of 2003).
1. Report of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development on the withholding of remuneration, Magistrate M Matereke, in terms of Section 13 (4 A) (a), dated 8 November 2006:
The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development, having considered the report on the withholding of remuneration of Mr Matereke, tabled by the Acting Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development on the 12 October 2006 in terms of section 13(4A)(a) of the Magistrates Act, 1993, reports as follows:
The Committee recommends that the House approves the suspension of the salary of Mr Matereke as recommended in the report tabled by the Acting Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development.
2. Report of the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services on Annual Report and Financial Statements of the Department of Correctional Services for 2005/06, dated 07 November 2006.
The Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services, having considered the Annual Report and Financial Statements of the Department of Correctional Services for 2005/06, reports as follows:
The Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services has scrutinised the Annual Report of the Department of Correctional Services for 2005/06, including the Report of the Auditor General.
The Portfolio Committee held the following meetings to discuss the 2005/06 Annual Report and Financial Statements of the Department of Correctional Services (DCS):
· Deliberations with National Treasury on Legislative Oversight through Annual Reports of Departments as well as Research Analysis of the 2005/6 Annual Report of the DCS.
· Formal deliberations and assessment on the Audit Report of the Auditor General on the 2005/6 Annual Report of the DCS; Financial performance andexpenditure of the DCS for 2005/6.
· Hearings with the Department of Correctional Services on the 2005/6 Annual Report of the DCS.
B. Findings and key issues of Concern:
The Portfolio Committee noted the following key issues:
1. Deliberations with National Treasury on Legislative Oversight through Annual Reports of Departments.
· The role of Portfolio Committees was clearly indicated in this guideline and it was emphasised that it is the duty of the Committee to question the DCS on any irregularities that comes to the Committees attention.
· The Committee agreed that the interaction with the National Treasury was empowering, but wanted to know whether the Executive is aware of the guidelines by Treasury on how to analyse Annual Reports of Departments, as it appears that the Department is not aware of this.
2. Research Analysis of the 2005/6 Annual Report of the DCS.
· The Research Analysis identified many shortcomings in the structure of the Annual Report. It does not report on all the targets as set out in the Strategic Plan and in many cases it was unclear as to whether the targets had been met or not.
· Programme 1: Administration:
The DCS has developed an Integrated Human Resource Strategy to address recruitment, retention of scarce skills and the quality of performance management and development systems.
Equity and Recruitment: It is unclear as to what the targets are for gender and racial equity in the DCS.
Vacancies: The overall vacancy rate for the Department for 2005/06 was 7.8%. This is an increase from the previous year where the vacancy rate was 7.3%. The DCS thus did not meet their target to decrease the vacancy rate.
Performance rewards and promotions: An interim promotion model was developed, negotiated and implemented. The target for 2005/06 was to finalise the career pathing models (i.e. the promotion model). It seems as if this target was not met, as the promotion model is an interim one.
Skills and training: The DCS has embarked on a skills audit to identify existing skills and skills required.
Disciplinary and corruption cases: 68% of the 359 corruption and fraud related cases registered for 2005/6 were finalised. The DCS is implementing the anti-corruption strategy in partnership with the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) and the Directorate of Special Operations (DSO).
Vetting of officials: 50% of all officials should have been vetted, but only the officials from the Gauteng region were vetted. The DCS states that vetting is slow as the DCS is reliant on National Intelligence Agency (NIA).
Financial Management: The fact that DCS has received a qualified audit opinion from the Auditor General for the past 5 years makes it clear that there are financial management problems in the Department.
Review of policies: The DCS is in the process of reviewing policies and procedures to bring them in line with the White Paper.
· Programme 2: Security:
Unnatural Deaths and assaults: Both the number of unnatural deaths in prison and the number of assaults decreased in 2005/06 in comparison with the previous year.
Escapes: The number of escapes decreased substantially from 171 in 2004/05 to 112 in 2005/6, however escapes have become increasingly violent. The decrease in escapes is attributed to the installation of new security equipment, training of officials and the development of a strategy to deal with escapes.
Security Plan: The Security Management Policy and Minimum Security Standards for Correctional Services were approved during 2005/06.
Security Infrastructure: Access control equipment was installed in 66 Correctional Centres at a cost of R88 million.
· Programme 3: Corrections:
Centres of Excellence (CoE): The 36 Centres of Excellence (6 in all 6 regions) were launched in 2005/06. A project manager has been appointed to ensure optimum performance of the C of E.
Unit Management: The Report does not state whether the DCS has completed and approved a national resource provisioning plan with regard to identifying the necessary resources required to implement unit management at the various centres.
Risk assessment, profiling and sentence plans: The 2005/06 Report states that the target of using the risk assessment and offender profile tool for 23% of offenders was not met, but it does state that the tools were developed during2005/06 (in draft form).
Offender Rehabilitation Path: The Offender Rehabilitation Path (ORP) was developed which outlines a process to be followed from admission to release, including reintegration into the community, in line with the White Paper on Corrections.
Overcrowding: In March 2006, the total inmate population was 150 302 in comparison with 180 335 in April 2005. However, the approved offender capacity was only 114 796 and thus there was still a 76.6% rate of overpopulation.
· Programme 4: Care:
Social work, psychological and spiritual sessions for inmates: The DCS reached its targets in terms psychological sessions and spiritual care sessions, whilst the number of social work sessions dropped.
Pharmacies: 18 community service pharmacists were allocated to DCS in 2005/06. The Department of Health facilitated registration, listing and licensing of DCS pharmacies to ensure compliance with the new pharmacy legislation.
HIV/AIDS: The target for training of 420 inmates as master trainers and peer educators for HIV/AIDS awareness was surpassed and 1 254 inmates were trained. The targets for training correctional officials including health care workers of 1 160 trained officials were not met and only 355 officials were trained
· Programme 5: Development:
Implementation of new policies and procedures: Development policies and procedures were to be implemented at 50% of all management areas prioritising the C of E. The procedures have been developed but not implemented.
Education: According to the Report, the target for the number of inmates participating in formal education programmes was not met due to the special remissions
Skills Development: According to the Report, the reason why only 8 502 offenders (in comparison with a target of 21 000) participated in skills development programmes in 2005 was due to the late receipt of funds fromthe Department of Labour. In 2004/05, 15 004 offenders participated in these programmes.
Work opportunities: Only 3 400 internal work opportunities were provided to inmates in comparison to a target of 32 700.
· Programme 6: Social Reintegration:
Community Corrections: The Report states that the target of reducing the number of probationers and parolees per supervisory officer to 30 was not achieved. In addition, only 10.3% of absconders were traced in comparison with a target of more than 36%.
Correctional Supervision and Parole Boards: The DCS developed Directives involving Complainants Involvement in Correctional Supervision and Parole Boards (CSPB). The DCS also developed a Service Charter and Minimum Standards for Victims. The Boards did not reach the target of placement of 55% of cases before it under correctional supervision. The Report attributes this to longer sentencing patterns. The chairpersons and vice chairpersons of the 52 boards nationwide were inaugurated in 2005/06.
· Programme 7: Facilities:
New Prisons: According to the Strategic Plan, 4 new prisons should be completed by 2006/7, but this target will not be reached, because of major setbacks during 2005/6. The Annual Report does not report back on the target in terms of the second group of 4 prisons, which referred to the completion of a feasibility study.
Maintenance: Only 15% of prisons were audited with regard to minimum standards and norms during 2005/6 compared to the target of 25% that were to be audited.
Own Resources: Own Resources refers to the involvement of offenders in maintenance work in prison. The DCS planned to approve a policy in this regard during 2005/06 and establish capacity building for the implementation of this policy.
3. Formal deliberations on the 2005/6 Audit Report of Auditor-General and the financial performance and expenditure trends of the DCS.
In a meeting with the Office of the Auditor -General (AG) and National Treasury:
Directorate: Correctional Services, the following key issues were highlighted:
3.1 Key issues of concern raised by the Auditor -General:
· The DCS attributes its problems with internal control on its information system (computer systems and programmes) and says that it can only address these problems once the systems have been attended to.
· However in the opinion of the AG's office, the problem is not with the information system. The problem lies with the fact that, while DCS has a Compliance Management Policy, this policy is poorly monitored and there are poor controls at the lower levels, (i.e. in prisons, areas, and regions) where incorrect information is fed to Head Office. In the opinion of the AG, if lower level supervision was properly performed (i.e. the information was monitored by supervisors at all these levels), then the information could be more verifiable. The problem lies with monitoring and DCS needs to ensure compliance before reports are sent to Head Office.
· The AG's office has stated that there are at least 3 Qualifications in this report which can be resolved by the end of 2006 to ensure that they do not result in Qualifications in the next audit.
· The monitoring and review processes at institutional, area and regional level is the main problem facing DCS, which leads to poor audit performance.
· According to the AG, while Regional Commissioners try to attend Audit Committee meetings, the Accounting Officer must attend these meetings as well as the Chief Deputy Commissioners.
· The lack of financial skills in DCS was identified as a problem.
· Public Private Partnerships Prisons (APOPS): The AG's office is adamant that the APOPS lease should be identified as finance and not an operating lease and this opinion has been substantiated by 2 other independent auditors.
· According to Treasury, it might be because DCS has an incorrect understating of the powers of accounting officers to sign a finance lease (they may in fact sign a finance lease for a PPP).
· Public Private Partnerships Prisons (APOPS): The DCS told the AG that they will set up a meeting with Treasury and the AG to resolve the disagreement over the operating versus finance lease issue. To date (10 months into the new financial year), they have not done so. In the opinion of the AG, these matters should have been resolved in 2005 and should not have resulted in a qualification.
· Asset Management: The AG raised the concern that problems with Asset Management began as a Matter of Emphasis as early as 2002/03 and turned into a Qualification in 2005/06, because the problem was not seriously addressed by DCS during the interim period.
· The AG's office believes that the problems with asset management can be addressed before the integrated system comes on line, by DCS being aware of the information that is required and then putting in place processes to address this.
· According to the AG, the Provisioning Administration System (PAS) can reconcile differences between Basic Accounting System (BAS) and the Web Asset Tool (WAT). This is not done at regular intervals at area and regional level. The AG is of the opinion that this is achievable.
· Medkor: The problem identified with Medkor relating to amounts paid on face value was identified last year and not rectified. This year, the problem is compounded by the fact that the DCS cannot identify who its current and continuation members are. In the opinion of the AG, this problem with the database of current and continuation members is easy to rectify and should have been sorted out by DCS before the end of the 2005/06 audit as it just needs commitment and manpower. In the opinion of the AG, this should not have escalated to a Qualification.
· Medkor: The AG's office asked for the involvement of the internal audit committee to resolve the problem with the medical aids specifically the checking of the database, but DCS stated that they did not have enough staff to do this.
· Medkor: The AG's office says the problem with the medical aid database may have arisen because DCS does not have contracts with the medical aids.
· Employee benefits and Leave: The AG stated that lack of skills and capacity in the Human Resources division is a serious problem. The AG also said that they have informed the DCS that this Emphasis of Matter will escalate to a Qualification if they do not take urgent steps to address the problem.
· Supply chain management: The AGs office has stated that the response of DCS to the concerns that it raised over contracts and the level of sign off were 'wishy washy' and that there was little detail in the response. The Special Investigation Unit is addressing some of these concerns.
3.2 Key issues of concern raised by National Treasury
· Treasury has noted with concern the fact that the DCS has stated that it has problems dealing with National Treasury and that Treasury has been unhelpful. It also notes as inaccurate, the statement in the Report that Treasury turned down enhancements to the asset management system. In fact, the decision not to authorise enhancements in this regard was a Cabinet and not a Treasury decision.
· Treasury has noted that the DCS spending during the 2005/06 financial year is erratic.
· It was also noted that the end of the financial year expenditure (March 2006) is very high (18.2% of the total budget) as compared to other months.
· According to Treasury more appointments of administrative and other support staff under the Public Service Act could result in about R40 million savings each year on pensions alone
· There was a huge downward trend in expenditure on training in 2005/06, considering the problems with skills in the DCS. The Head Office and Free State/Northern Cape region were the only 2 areas where the expenditure on training increased and all other areas experienced a decrease in expenditure.
4. Hearings with the DCS on the 2005/6 Annual Report and Financial Statements of the DCS.
The following are key areas of concern raised by the Committee on the Annual report and the responses of the Department.
4.1 Auditor-General Report
· The DCS received a qualified audit opinion by the Auditor- General for the 5th year in a row and the most audit qualifications in government for this financial year.
The Department of Correctional Services (DCS), Treasury and the AG's office agreed that the key problem is that there are poor monitoring systems in place at prison, area, and regional level to ensure that the information that is fed upwards to Head Office is correct. DCS explained that because of the legacy of problems inherited in DCS it has been difficult to deal with the resultant problems, while at the same time ensuring that the Department continues to function in its daily duties. DCS provided input at the meeting with the Portfolio Committee on ways in which it is improving its monitoring and reviewing processes as well as the financial management training of its employees.
4.2 Key areas of concern in the AG's report and the response of DCS included:
· APOPS: APOPS was indicated as an operating lease and not a financial lease in the Annual Report. The DCS has now agreed with the AG that the R195 million is a financial lease and this will be indicated in the next Annual report. .
· Staff debt: Debtors records – the DCS will review these records in order to have debt written off for deceased members and will also look at how other departments deal with the issue of recovering debt and may use an external agency to assist in addressing this problem.
· Asset Management: DCS wants to implement the system used by the Department of Justice and will speak to Treasury about this in order to reconcile its records.
· Medical expenditure: A Project Manager will be appointed to monitor medical expenditure. The DCS is trying to address problems in the database without relying on the database from the administrator. The DCS has embarked on a process called Integrated Corporate System and places regular advertisements in newspapers calling on continuation members to register.
· Housing loan guarantees: An Action plan has been drawn up and the DCS will look at improving capacity in the Human Resources section.
· Audit Committee meetings: The DCS stated that it is not always possible for the Accounting Officer to attend these meetings, but the Chief Deputy Commissioners do attend these meetings where possible.
The Committee has raised a number of key concerns, especially with regard to the number of performance targets not met for 2005/06. These include:
· Vetting of correctional officials: 50% of officials in high risk centres should have been vetted last year and were only vetted in Gauteng.
· The DCS mentioned that the National Intelligence Agency does vetting of officials and that this is a partnership between two Departments.
· The Annual Report does not make mention of the Awaiting Trial detainee (ATD) children population and whether this is decreasing.
· The DCS stated that there is an Interdepartmental Committee dealing with ATD's and ATD children. The DCS provides weekly statistics to the Department of Social Development with regard to children that were arrested and need to be moved to Secure Care Facilities.
· A number of critical posts have very high vacancy rates and the number of personnel in some of these posts is actually decreasing rather than increasing. An increase in the vacancy rate from 7.3% in 2004/05 to 7.8% in 2005/06 was noted.
· These include:
o Financial and related professionals.
o Social workers.
The DCS stated that it does have a Recruitment and Retention strategy in place, but mentioned that they do not only compete with other departments, but also with other countries.
· The Committee was concerned that there is little progress with regard to the building of prisons and mentioned that overcrowding is worsening the pressure on existing facilities.
The DCS indicated that time frames will be established on the basis of the feasibility studies.
· The Committee was concerned about the performance bonuses paid out to the Accounting Officer and senior managers. The Committee wanted to ascertain how much in rand value is paid to the Accounting Officer in terms of Performance bonus and the Committee is of the opinion that if a Department does not perform, no Performance bonuses should be paid out.
The DCS stated that severe action will be taken against staff who are not performing after interventions has been put in place and that it is busy addressing under performance in the DCS. The DCS stated that it is important to reward staff for excellent performance.
· The Committee was very concerned about the equity plan of the DCS and requested statistics with regard to racial and gender breakdown of new recruits during 2005/6.
· The Committee was concerned that the DCS purchased vehicles to the amount of R 94 million during March 2006, just before the end of the financial year.
The DCS stated that it decided to use its savings in other areas and identified the need for smaller vehicles such as combis to transport offenders. This was done throughout the whole financial year and the vehicles were delivered during
· The risk assessment and profiling tool was reported as developed in 2004/05 but not implemented as per target in 2005/06.
· HIV/AIDS training for correctional officials did not meet the target of training of 1 160 officials (including health professionals). Only 355 officials were trained.
Having considered the 2005/6 Annual Report and Financial Statements of the DCS, the Portfolio Committee makes the following recommendations:
Auditor General Report
The Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services is extremely concerned that the DCS has received a qualified audit opinion from the Auditor -General for the 5th year in a row.
In addition, the Committee notes that the Department received the most qualifications in its audit in 2005/06 in comparison to any other department. The Committee recommends that:
1) The Department of Correctional Services submits a full written report (Action Plan) on issues raised in the Auditor -General Report 2005/06 to the Portfolio Committee, by 1 February 2007. This report must include:
· A full explanation on progress made to address each of the areas of qualification and matters of emphasis outlined in the Auditor General Report for 2005/06.
· An outline of future actions which will be taken to address these areas.
· An outline of clear time frames by which each of the actions taken to address each qualification and matters of emphasis will be implemented. This report will be presented during the first quarter of 2007/8. .
2) The Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services will establish a subcommittee of selective members of the Committee to deal with the issues raised in the Auditor –General's Report. This subcommittee will be supported in its functions by the Committee Secretary and the Parliamentary Researcher.
3) The Department of Correctional Services must report to this subcommittee on a monthly basis. This must be in the form of a written report to the subcommittee, submitted on the 1st day of each month beginning February 2007, outlining the following issues:
(1) Progress in addressing each of the areas of qualification and of matters of emphasis outlined in the 2005/06 Auditor General Report.
(2) Identification of the current stumbling blocks in addressing each of the areas.
(3) Steps taken by the DCS to overcome these stumbling blocks.
(4) Amendments to the time frames stipulated in original report submitted to the Portfolio Committee on this issue.
4) The Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services will invite the Auditor General on a quarterly basis to report on problems related to issues outlined in the Auditor–General's Report, as well as new issues that may have arisen in the course of the 2006/07 financial year and issues that may arise in 2007/08 financial year.
5) The Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services will invite National Treasury on a quarterly basis to report on expenditure trends within the DCS, as well as problems related to any issues outlined in the Auditor General Report.
6) In order to improve the effectiveness of the Audit Steering Committee:
(1) The National Commissioner and the Chief Deputy Commissioners must attend all Audit Steering Committee meetings.
(2) Regional Commissioners should be encouraged to attend all Audit Steering Committee meetings where possible.
Technical Changes to the Annual Report
In order to improve the ability of the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services to effectively fulfil its oversight function over the Department of Correctional Services, the Committee recommends that:
1) Each target outlined in the DCS Strategic Plan is covered in the Annual Report so that there is clear information available to the Committee and the public on whether DCS is achieving its identified targets. Future Annual Reports should therefore include:
· A clear identification of each and every target, whether in table or descriptive form.
· An outline of progress and constraints in meeting each target for the relevant financial year.
· Clear identification as to whether each target was achieved or not achieved.
2) When the DCS appears before the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services to present on its Annual Report, its presentation must include:
· A comprehensive briefing on departmental performance and the extent to which the targets outlined in the Strategic Plan were met for the relevant year.
· An overview of the financial statements of the Department for the relevant year.
· An outline of key issues raised in the Auditor Generals report for the relevant financial year.
Performance of the DCS
The Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services notes with concern that a number of performance targets as outlined in the Strategic Plan for 2005/06-2008/09 were not met.
The following recommendations are made with regard to the DCS performance in 2005/06:
1) The DCS must submit to the Portfolio Committee by 1 February 2007, an action plan with clear time frames for all the projects identified by the Department for the 2006/07 financial year. This plan must report whether the time frames identified in the action plan have been or will be achieved, and if not what steps will be taken to address the problems.
2) The increase in the vacancy rate overall in the DCS from 7.3% to 7.8% must be addressed as a matter of urgency. The two main areas of concern are the high vacancy rate by professionals in the Care Programme (including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, psychologists and social workers) and vacancies with regard to financial professionals and human resources related personnel. In terms of all categories of professionals, the DCS should:
· Consider employing professionals under the Public Service Act, rather than the Correctional Services Act, as well as provide clarity on whether Professionals are generally employed under the Public Service Act or Correctional Services Act. Treasury has stated that very few Professionals in DCS are employed under the PSA in comparison with other departments such SAPS or Defence.
· Identify in the form of a written report submitted to the Portfolio Committee by 1 February 2007, interventions that it has and will be taking to ensure the recruitment and retention of professionals in the abovementioned categories. This report should include a description of creative measures to reduce the current outflow of professionals from the Department.
3) The DCS must submit to the Committee a report identifying new recruits for 2005/06 broken down in terms of province, race and gender.
4) The security vetting of officials working in the DCS, especially at high risk centres must be addressed as a matter of urgency, in order to reduce the likelihood of DCS compliance in escapes and other corrupt activity in prisons. The DCS must submit a report to the Portfolio Committee by 1 February 2007, detailing measures that it has taken and will be taking to ensure the security vetting of officials at high risk and other centres, in order that its target of completion of the vetting process for all officials by the end of 2007/08 is realised.
5) The Committee recommends that the DCS prioritise training for officials including health professionals in managing HIV/AIDS and that it ensures the speedy rollout of implementation of the comprehensive HIV/AIDS programme in all management areas. In addition, the DCS must prioritise discussions with the Department of Health with regard to the accreditation of correctional centres as ART centres. A written progress report on the management of HIV/AIDS in prisons must be submitted to the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services twice of year. This report should include:
· Outline of the key components of the comprehensive HIV/AIDS programme.
· Progress on the implementation of the comprehensive programme in all management areas. Clear time frames should be stipulated for implementation.
· Stumbling blocks in the implementation of the plan.
· Steps taken to address these problems.
6) The poor performance of the DCS in meeting its targets in the Development programme for 2005/06 is noted. The DCS must submit a written report to the Committee by 1 February 2007 outlining:
· Barriers faced by the Department in realising its targets in terms of the Development programme for 2005/06.
· Identification of measures that have been taken to address these problems in 2006/07.
7) The DCS must submit the feasibility study report on the second set of 4 new prisons to the Portfolio Committee by 1 February 2007. The DCS must include a report identifying clear time frames for the various processes involved in the building of each of the 8 prisons.
8) The DCS must report to the Portfolio Committee on a quarterly basis, in a comprehensive written report, on progress made with respect to each of the 8 new prisons. This report, which must be given to the Committee on the 1st day of each parliamentary quarter must include:
· Progress with respect to each prison.
· Stumbling blocks with respect to each prison, which may affect time frames.
· Mechanisms to overcome these stumbling blocks.
· New timeframes where applicable.
The Portfolio Committee may call the DCS to present on these reports wherenecessary.
9) The DCS must submit by 1 February 2007, a list of all facilities which have been or will be upgraded or renovated and are due for completion in the 2006/07 financial years.
The DCS received a qualified audit report for the fifth year in a row. This is of enormous concern to the Committee, particularly in light of the comments made by the Auditor-General in Parliament, where he stated that poor financial management processes may also point to poor performance information processes in a Department. The concern is that if the DCS processes for management of its financial information are faulty, then its processes for managing performance information may also be faulty. This may mean that the performance information provided in the Report is questionable.
The Committee takes cognisance of the fact that the Department is facing serious challenges and is in the process of addressing it. The Committee feels that only through strengthened partnerships, the DCS will be able to address challenges. The Portfolio Committee will monitor the progress made with regard to the recommendations.
Report to be considered.
3. Report of the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services on its Visit to Prisons in the Gauteng Province, 03 November 2006:
The Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services having undertaken an oversight visit to the Gauteng province from Monday 09 October till Friday 13 October 2006, reports as follows:
The Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services undertook an Oversight visit to the Gauteng Province from 09 – 13 October 2006.
The following members of the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services visited prisons in the Gauteng province.
· Mr. DV Bloem (ANC) (Chairperson)
· Mr MA Cele (ANC)
· Ms LS Chikunga (ANC)
· Mr. NB Fihla (ANC)
· Mr. S Mahote (ANC)
· Ms ZN Nawa (ANC)
· Ms. W Ngwenya (ANC)
· Mr. LJ Tolo (ANC)
· Mr. ET Xolo (ANC)
The following Members submitted their apologies:
· Mr J Selfe (DA)
· Mr MR Shah (DA)
· Mrs. SA Seaton (IFP)
The objectives of the visit were to examine the following:
Awaiting Trial Detainees (ATD's): The large number (46 327/ 29%) of awaiting trial detainees in our prisons contributes toward the problem of overcrowding. The delegation focussed on the plight of the ATD's in the various prisons with a view to identifying blockages in the system, which prevent release while awaiting trial. Awaiting trial prisoners are not involved in any training rehabilitation programmes. They do not receive schooling and seldom have access to recreational activities. The Committee intended to meet with the various stakeholders in the province who play a role in determining the release of ATD's into the community, including the police, the justice officials, the Legal Aid Board lawyers and representatives from the Department of Social Development.
Oversight over the Department of Correctional Services (DCS): The DCS
has appeared before the Committee on many occasions with regard to its budget, Annual Report and Strategic Plan. One of the ways in which the Committee can monitor the implementation of legislation and policies of theDCS, would be to investigate the implementation of policies at the different Correctional Centres.
Staff Concerns: The delegation met with correctional officials at the prisons in order to discuss staff concerns and solutions to the problems faced by staff on the ground.
Corruption: The DCS stated that it is committed to a cleansed, trained and dedicated management, the consolidation of relations between managers and their staff in order to form a team necessary to deliver on rehabilitation and an enhanced ability to immediately investigate, prosecute and deliver appropriate sanction to any allegation of corruption. The Committee is of the view that staff of the DCS should strive to improve public perceptions of the DCS. Only the behaviour of officials will dictate how the public perceives Correctional Services.
Youth and Children in prison: There are 2354 children under the age of 18 years in prison, 12 are younger than 14 years, 1217 of them are awaiting trial, and 1137 are serving sentences. In line with the President's State-of-the-Nation Address, the priority of the Committee remains to assist in the creation of a better environment for juveniles in conflict with the law and to ensure that children are not in prison. With the Special Remission process and a concerted effort of the DCS, Prosecutors and Magistracy, there are now 706 less children in prison, but the Committee does not want to see children in prison at all.
Overcrowding: Centres in the Gauteng region such as the Johannesburg and Pretoria Central prisons are extremely overcrowded. Many efforts of the DCS are hampered by the severe overcrowding. A lot of offenders are repeat offenders and the Committee wants to ensure that rehabilitation programmes are implemented in the region. This is one of the measures to reduce the overcrowded prison population.
The Committee visited the following prisons in the region:
· Pretoria Central Correctional Centre
· Baviaanpoort Correctional Centre
· Leeuwkop Correctional Centre
· Johannesburg Corrrectional Centre
D. Findings and recommendations
The following are the findings and recommendations of the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services:
1. Overview of the Region
The Gauteng region has 8 Management areas, 27 Correctional Centres and 8 Community Correction offices. Five Centres of Excellence were established in Gauteng, namely Baviaanspoort – Emthonjeni; Johannesburg Female Centre; Johannesburg Medium C; Leeuwkop Medium B Centre and Pretoria Central Centre.
The region had 22 escapes during 2006, of which many were very violent. Many of the escapees were rearrested through the hard work of officials, the Emergency Support Team and various other measures to curb escapes. Many of the sentenced offenders and the awaiting trial detainees at Johannesburg Prison were involved in cash –in-transit heists or are suspects in cash-intransit and are often the ones who plan these escapes.
The region has a total number of 9009 staff members. Some of the challenges faced by the staff members are shortages of staff, the slow pace in filling of vacancies, overcrowding, low morale as a result of poor salaries, corruption as well as the high number of HIV positive inmates and problems with the accreditation of Anti Retroviral Treatment sites.
Whilst the Committee was informed of the many programmes the different centres offer to offenders, it must mention that Gauteng has two piggeries, a broiler and 7 vegetable gardens. The region produces fruit, red meat as well as milk. The region also has its own abattoirs for slaughtering. The Leeuwkop Management Area has one of the biggest and well developed golf courses in the Gauteng region and has received many offers to purchase from local and international interested parties.
The Committee was informed that the region has successful interaction with the Intersectoral Justice Cluster and attends monthly meetings. The Committee only met with Magistrates, Prosecutors and the Police at the Johannesburg Management Area, as this initiative was not organized and coordinated by the Department as requested by the Committee at an earlier stage.
The region has a total of 43 538 offenders of which 26 890 are sentenced adult Offenders, 12 311 are unsentenced adult offenders, 3691 are youth offenders under the age of 21 years and 646 are children under the age of 18 years. The region has a total approved accommodation of 25 347 and is 172% overcrowded.
Overcrowded conditions in prisons affect both offenders and staff working within those prisons. The following table represents the percentage of occupation in the most overcrowded centres in Gauteng.
Johannesburg Medium B
Johannesburg Medium A
Even though the above mentioned centres are the most overcrowded in the region, the Committee feels that the entire region is extremely overcrowded and this has a serious negative impact on the morale of staff as well as offenders. It is only a matter of time before structures such as Johannesburg 'Sun City' prison, originally built to house 4837, but now houses 11 948 offenders, will collapse. At this specific centre, 119 offenders sleep in a cell built to house 38 offenders. Of these inmates, 16 sleep in the shower and toilet area. It was mentioned that it is difficult touse the ablution facilities (1 toilet only) at night, as inmates sleep in the corridors and some even underneath the beds.
Overcrowding also poses a health risk not only to offenders, but to staff as well. Officials must take offenders to the Baragwanath Hospital, which has a high number of Tuberculosis patients. Many officials contracted TB, because they must guard and handle these offenders infected with it. Overcrowding has a serious effect not only on the inmates, but on the Correctional staff as well. Staff members have to guard, count, rehabilitate and lock up inmates and in many instances the staff to inmate ratio can be very high. Many of the male staff members are under extreme pressure at these centres, because they have to guard the offenders as well as safeguard their female colleagues as well.
Not all inmates at the centres can participate in rehabilitation programmes as the facilities are not conducive for rehabilitation programmes and because of the high occupation levels, programmes such as social work programmes cannot be offered to inmates. Some social workers can see as many as 1150 offenders. Offenders must be assessed within the first three months of admission and must thereafter attend programmes for up to six months before the social workers can compile a profile of the inmate.
Some inmates have to wait up to 1 year before being seen by a social worker. An offender must also attend three programmes before his/her profile is being drawn, but because of staff shortages and availability of space, many offenders only attend 1 programme. Before an inmate appears before the Parole Board, he must have been through the programmes and a profile must be drawn. This is not always possible and has resulted in many actions against DCS.
Management has also indicated that often inmates' visits have to be shortened because of the number of inmates incarcerated and the visitors they receive. Correctional facilities do not have the infrastructure to accommodate the huge number of visitors visiting the facilities.
2. Intersectoral Communication
The Portfolio Committee met with the Intersectoral Cluster only at the Johannesburg Management area and had very successful discussions with all the stakeholders. Intersectoral communication between the various components of the criminal justice sector including the police, the courts and the prisons are imperative in all the management areas in the region.
(a) The SAPS from the Johannesburg region indicated that they have good working relations with the DCS in terms of combating overcrowding and handling the vast number of Awaiting Trial detainees at this management area. The SAPS had a huge operation in the Johannesburg City centre, where they tried to identify persons with parole and the DCS assisted with this operation.
SAPS also indicate that they are in continuous discussions with Magistrates with regard to alternative sentencing and are also of the opinion that when a person admits to guilt, he /she should be considered for community supervision. The SAPS regularly visits Johannesburg Correctional centre in an attempt to identify awaiting trials who might be wanted for other crimes. This initiative is made easier with the successful implementation of the Inmate Tracking System.
(b) Senior Prosecutor, West Rand: The prosecutor also indicated that the West Rand has very successful interactions with the DCS.
They have introduced a plea bargaining project. Monthly statistics on plea bargaining are forwarded to the National Director of the National Prosecuting Authority. Senior persons have also been appointed as plea bargaining officers and prosecutors come to the centre during the week to identify individuals who want to Plea bargain. The Director General of the Department of Justice has approved a Saturday court in Soweto where such cases are being heard. The Independent Prison Visitors should also explain to inmates their options in terms of plea bargaining.
It was also mentioned that diversion can only take place with organizations who have the necessary funds to run diversion programmes. Due to the serious nature of offences, i.e. murder, rape, cash –in-transit heists, many juveniles can't be considered for diversion programmes.
It was also mentioned that magistrates were informed that if bail is set for less than R 1000.00, the person should be sentenced to community corrections, but it was also stated that the Judiciary is independent and this cannot be forced upon them.
(c) The Johannesburg Justice Centre: It was indicated that Legal Aid can only assist if there is continuous co operation between the DCS and SAPS. It was mentioned that Plea bargaining was tried at the Johannesburg court, but was not very effective. The Justice Centre tried to open Saturday courts at the Johannesburg court, but the Chief Magistrate and the Chief Prosecutor were reluctant.
(d) The staff of Correctional Services also highlighted the importance of community corrections. It was mentioned that some inmates are being sentenced for petty crimes and that DCS staff is in a position to identify who are seasonal offenders e.g. those who commit offences during winter with the intention of being detained.
Comments and Recommendations
The Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services understands that the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) cannot be held solely responsible for resolving the problem of long periods of awaiting trial. The Committee, through interaction with the different stakeholders, has established that cooperation between the DCS and the Johannesburg and Wynberg courts is very difficult and that the Magistrate at the Johannesburg court refused to attend this meeting as it was beyond his working hours.
The Committee recommends the following additional measures that should be initiated in the shorter term to reduce the awaiting trial population:
(a) The Portfolio Committee believes in a just and fair judicial system and will never be soft on crime, but in an attempt to relieve overcrowding in Correctional Centres, recommends that the DCS should liaise continuously with Magistrates with regard to those ATD's who cannot afford bail and that such people should be considered for alternative sentencing.
(b) Independent Prison Visitors (IPV's) should act as the link between the offender, DCS and the Judiciary. It is the responsibility of the IPV to ensure that all cases are attended to.
(c) The Committee supports the recruitment of senior persons as plea bargaining officers.
(d) The Committee is very impressed with the successful intersectoral activities and commitments in the region.
(e) The Committee is aware that the Judiciary is independent, but urges that all stakeholders in the cluster must communicate and participate to ensure intersectoral solutions. The DCS must take responsibility for ensuring the effective functioning of cluster committees at all levels and should report back to the Committee on this matter.
(f) The Portfolio Committee recommends that Community Structures must be set up with all relevant stakeholders to monitor the reintegration of offenders on parole.
3. Staff Concerns
The Portfolio Committee met with both management and staff in all Correctional Centres to address key concerns and problems. Most of the problems identified were common not only in this region, but countrywide. The Committee was particularly impressed that staff members throughout the region were interested in feedback from the Committee and wanted to know if objectives the Committee has set in place, has been achieved. The following are some of the key concerns highlighted by managers and staff:
The DCS has phased in the 7-day establishment. Previously the DCS functioned as a 5-day establishment, which means that work during the weekend is paid out as overtime. Due to financial concerns with overtime payments, it was necessary for the DCS to move to a 7-day establishment.
With the 5day establishment, staff working on a Saturday get one day off, which must be taken within 21 days and Sundays are paidas normal overtime. This has resulted in staff taking Fridays or Mondays off and is very problematic to other staff members.
Many Heads of Prisons find it difficult to relieve staff during the week, because of staff shortages. In addition, they raised concerns that the shortage of staff means that other staff members suffer when staff takes leave that is owed to them in lieu of overtimepayment.
Comments and Recommendations
The Portfolio Committee supports the decision to move from a 5-day to a 7-day establishment.
The Committee recommends the following:
(a) That all Heads of Prison should ensure that action plans are completed to ensure the correct staff complement especially over weekends.
(b) The Portfolio Committee is of the opinion that more staff needs to be recruited in order to have the full staff complement working over weekends.
3.2 The Awaiting Trial Detainee population
Staff has indicated that it is extremely difficult to work with awaiting trial offenders, as the DCS has no policy to guide staff when guarding and handling ATD's. ATD's are not classified in terms of their crimes and many often brag and boast to officials that they have all the privileges. All ATD's can receive food parcels from outside and this is often where firearms and drugs are smuggled in.
Comments and Recommendations
The Committee is aware that the White Paper on Corrections does make provision for Awaiting Trial detainees and that the ATD's are not solely the responsibility of the DCS alone. The DCS is only responsible to detain such persons until such time they are found guilty or acquitted. With 14 726 persons in awaiting trial (Johannesburg prison receives ± 1000 ATD's daily) in Gauteng, it becomes critical that a policy be developed for the handling of ATD's. Staff at the Pretoria prison have recommended that a disciplinary system needs to developed for awaiting trials as well, as the DCS currently only has a disciplinary system for sentenced offenders.
(a) The Committee recommends that the DCS develops policy with regard to all areas concerning Awaiting Trial detainees. The policy should include the privileges of ATD's as well as a guide on the handling and guarding of such persons.
3.3 Training of officials
The Committee has heard numerous complaints from staff that not enough training is being afforded to them. With the onset of the White Paper, that states that officials are rehabilitators and does not only correct offending behaviour, staff training and development on the White Paper is imperative.
Comments and Recommendations
Staff development and training is vital in any institution or organization. The workforce needs to be empowered and capacitated to deal with the challenges faced by the DCS. The Committee was informed by the Regional office that the DCS is currently busy with a project looking at the re-defining of job functions of DCS staff and 500 staff members will also be chosen to undergo Emergency Support Training (EST). The DCS will also go on a market drive to promote the White Paper on Corrections as well as implement training on the Offender Rehabilitation Path.
(a) The Committee recommends that all staff, especially long serving members of the DCS, be trained in terms of the Strategic objectives of the DCS i.e. the White Paper.
3.4 Abuse of Power
The issue of abuse of power has been mentioned by staff throughout the region. It was stated that disciplinary procedures often are not fair and that managers favour certain staff above others. Officials also claimed that they are being threatened by managers. It was also stated that unqualified persons as well as persons not from a specific management area, get positions, rather than those who have the qualifications and are employed at a specific centre for a lengthy period of time. Staff is also of the opinion that offenders have more rights and privileges afforded to them by managers, than those who have to rehabilitate them. This scenario makes it very difficult for staff to work with offenders as they are not being respected by the offenders and in some instances, by the management as well.
Staff stated that their grievances are not attended to or even ignored and that the guideline/manual on grievance procedures is not being used. Staff indicated that when grievances or complaints are lodged, they are labeled as problematic and are often served with suspension letters.
Comments and Recommendations
Through intensive discussions with the management in all the areas, many of the challenges facing staff were brought to the attention of the Committee. The Regional Commissioner and the Regional Executive were part of the visit throughout the region and clarified many of the concerns raised by staff members. The Regional delegation indicated in more than one instance that issues raised by staff are not taken lightly, but very seriously. The region held management workshops as well as 'Relationship building by objective' sessions to empower managers. It is clear to the Committee that the Gauteng region has a very strong managerial leadership and is capable of handling grievances or complaints and execute functions.
Staff complained that they have little interaction with the National as well as the regional office. It was also mentioned that staff meetings are not held and that the interaction between the Portfolio Committee and staff, is the first of its kind. Important developments and key information are not filtered through to staff.
This causes a lot of uncertainty and confusion amongst officials as they are not adequately informed on key issues and developments within the Department.
Comments and Recommendations
The Committee recommends the following:
(a) It is recommended that monthly meetings be arranged in each management area and that these meetings be adequately represented by officials from the Regional Office. The Committee further recommends that the National Head office embark on country wide staff information sessions, where staff will get information on all new developments within the DCS. This will certainly address concerns of staff members and relieve frustration in the work place.
(b) Verbal communication is important and written memorandums and newsletters should not be identified as the key components of communication. In addition, staff must be given the opportunity to discuss and identify their concerns in a nonthreatening environment and management needs to take these concerns seriously and identify constructive ways of addressing them.
3.6 Salary Adjustments and Promotions
Staff was extremely dissatisfied with the current status of promotion and salaries. Staff feel that they should be on par with the salaries paid to SAPS staff. Staying on the same salary levels is demoralizing staff. Furthering academic qualifications, with or without bursaries awarded by DCS, serve as no incentive to staff as there is no upward mobility.
The Committee was informed that the Interim Promotion Policy implemented by the DCS only benefited certain categories of staff e.g. those with matric. Many employees did not benefit from the Interim Promotion policy, as they did not meet the criteria, but had years of service in the DCS. Many long serving staff members in the DCS do not have matric and this was not recognized previously. Staff felt that Interim policies oppress certain staff categories.
Some of the Correctional Centres in Gauteng are situated in very upmarket areas e.g. Leeuwkop, which is situated in Bryanston in Johannesburg. Staff has to travel very far to the workplace as they cannot afford property in these areas, with many having to pass through tollgates daily. It was cited that this scenario is worsened by low salary packages of staff. It is the view of staff that the DCS will not attract staff such as artisans, educationist and nurses because of the unattractive salary packages. Many other Departments, such as the Department of Education has recently upgraded salaries of its employees.
New entry level staff has indicated that they have to wait almost two years before they graduate and receive their certificates. This has a negative impact on these staff members as they are not considered for promotions.
Comments and Recommendations
The Regional Executive has confirmed that staff at lower levels (e.g. those with secondary education up to Grade 10) would be considered in the next Interim Promotion phase. It was also mentioned that the DCS is currently working on Group Insurances schemes for staff members. Staff at the Baviaanspoort Centre recommended that staff within the staff component of a centre should first be considered for promotion rather than others from outside.
(a) The Portfolio Committee recognises the implementation of the Interim promotion policy within the DCS, but recommends that much more needs to be done in terms of promotions. The lack of promotion is one of the key factors that have led to the decline in staff morale.
3.7 Shortage of Professional Staff
The shortage of professional staff within prisons hampers the ability of DCS to fulfill its stated mandate of rehabilitation. Many DCS officials e.g. nurses, leave the Department in search of better work opportunities, some being employed abroad and some returning to the Department of Health, who offer better incentives to health care workers. The ratio of nurses to inmates is sometimes as high as 1100 inmates: 3 nurses, as is the case at the Leeuwkop Centre.
The shortage of social workers is especially problematic, as it is a requirement that an inmate must consult with a social worker before appearing before the parole board. The shortage of social workers means that parole hearings are often delayed. The ratio of social worker to inmate can be as high as 1 to 1150 as is the case at the Johannesburg Medium B.
Poor salaries and difficult working conditions for professionals have been identified as key reasons for the inability of DCS to attract and retain professional staff. The need to offer improved salaries for professionals was identified as a priority by staff.
Comments and Recommendations
The Portfolio Committee recommends as follows:
(a) The Committee is aware that the DCS has a retention and recruitment strategy for professional staff, but this should be considered for all staff of DCS, not only professionals.
(b) The Portfolio Committee has on numerous occasions complained about the salary packages of Professionals. Those packages will not attract and retain the necessary and critical staff members.
(c) The Portfolio Committee should be provided with a list of all vacant positions within the DCS.
3.8 Shortage of staff
Whilst many of the staff members understand the provisions and or procedures of the 7-day establishment, it has created many problems within their working environment. When offenders go to court e.g. a maximum offender must be escorted by two officials, there are not enough officials to assist with other duties.
The guarding of inmates has become a very stressful duty, because of the high numbers of inmates in the centres coupled with the shortage of staff.
Staff shortages in terms of the approved post establishment compared to the actual filled vacancies proves to be problematic. Administrative staff at centres is often used to assist with the daily movement of offenders.
Given the circumstances and dangers of the Correctional Service, staff well being and development is essential. The Committee was informed that there is a shortage of Employee Assistance Practitioners throughout the region.
Comments and Recommendations
The Gauteng region has a high offender population of 43 538 with only 9009 officials to guard, count, lock up, escort and rehabilitate offenders.
(a) The Portfolio Committee would like to be kept abreast with the recruitment drive of staff in the DCS on a 3 monthly basis.
(b) With the high levels of stress amongst staff as well as staff suicides, the Committee urgently recommends that the appointment of an Employee Assistance Practitioner (EAP) in the region be fast tracked.
3.9 Danger Allowance
The Committee was informed that staff do not receive danger or special allowances for working with ATD's. Only staff that work with offenders such as at the CMax centre in Pretoria and those working with maximum offenders, receives danger allowances. Many staff members have to stand in at the Maximum centres when there is a staff shortage, but do not receive a danger allowance. Staff said that the ATD's are also very dangerous persons just as sentenced maximum offenders.
Comments and recommendations
(a) In the light of the above, the Committee recommends that danger allowances for staff working with ATD's, be developed.
Correctional Centres were not built to rehabilitate offenders, but rather to detain people. These facilities are very old and definitely not conducive to rehabilitation. DCS facilities are literally bursting at their seams.
It is difficult to implement Unit Management at these facilities and with the high inmate population, rehabilitation programmes cannot be implemented.
A centre such as Johannesburg prison can receive about 6500 visitors weekly. Visitors must come through one area, the visitors centre, which is very small and has one turnstile. This can be a lengthy process.
Fences are falling apart and it has proved to be very easy to escape by merely jumping over fences. Another area of concern raised with the Committee is that some kitchens are very old and dilapidated, but are in the process of being revamped.
Comments and Recommendations
(a) The Committee recommends that the upgrading of facilities be prioritized. Proper fencing at facilities is a prerequisite and will definitely assist with security measures.
(b) The Portfolio Committee is aware that all maintenance and repair work of all government buildings are done by the Department of Public Works, but recommends that the DCS looks into the possibility of using its own labour force (inmates) to do minor maintenance and repair works.
The Committee is very disappointed that yet again the issue of lack of resources is stressed by staff in this region as in many other regions. Staff is not allowed to have their mobile phones inside the sections and the absence of telephones in the different sections is not only problematic, but dangerous as well.
It was stated there are many telephones that can be utilised by the inmates, but staff do not even have access to telephones, two way radios or office materials. The Committee was also informed that many cash-in-transit heists have been planned from within the Johannesburg prison, because inmates have access to telephones.
Comments and Recommendations
The Portfolio Committee recognises that there are 241 Correctional Centres country wide, but it is a serious problem if the National and Regional offices do not provide the basic resources.
Resources, such as telephones or two way radios are essential to combat escapes, assaults or the ambushing of staff members.
The Committee recommends the following:
(a) The Committee is aware that the DCS has utilised its budget to purchase protective clothing such as bullet proof vests, but would like to see that sections are equipped with telephones for staff and that each staff has a two way radio.
3.12 Bagless Prison Society
The bagless prison society was introduced to assist the DCS in combating the smuggling of weapons, drugs etc. This is problematic to female staff as they are not provided with facilities to store their handbags, the contents of which may be needed during a working day.
Comments and recommendations
(a) Accessible lockers for the storage of handbags should be made available in all sections.
(b) The Head of Prison is responsible for ensuring that the policy is applied equally to all staff in the prison, including management.
3.13 Transport and Transfers
The issue of transport and transfers was also raised with the Committee throughout the region. Staff indicated that previously they have been provided with transport to and from work. This is no longer the case and seems to be problematic to staff, considering the location of Correctional facilities.
Many staff members identified that they had been placed to work in prisons far from their hometowns and that they had applied for transfers to prisons closer to their hometowns.
Comments and Recommendations
(a) Recruitment should be nation wide but placement after training should take into consideration proximity to the areas in which people come from.
E. Youth in Prison
The Committee is very concerned about the high number of youth in prisons. The centres visited had high numbers of youth in their care, many with extremely violent offences or are suspects in very violent crimes. This contributes to the fact that Magistrates do not consider alternative sentences or send persons to diversion programmes, because of the serious nature of the offences.
It must be mentioned that the youth the Committee interacted with, praised the officials who take care of them and has a lot of respect for them. They also indicated that socio -economic circumstances often force them into crime. Many youth indicated that they would like to attend more educational and recreational programmes and that the DCS should attempt to better equip them for release. This was cited as a reason for recidivism.
A number of unsentenced juveniles were identified in the prisons with the option of a fine but could not afford to pay.
Comments and Recommendations
The Portfolio Committee believes that youth especially those under the age of 18 years do not belong in prison. The Committee supports the commitment by President Mbeki, in the State of the Nation Address to ensure that the number of children housed in prison is drastically reduced. This should occur primarily through diversion from the criminal justice system but also by ensuring that there are sufficient alternative care facilities in the country for those children who require placement in these facilities.
However, the Committee also believes that out of all offenders, it is those young offenders who are incarcerated in prisons that could be most successfully rehabilitated to ensure that they do not recommit crimes on release. Young offenders should thus be targeted for access to educational, training and treatment programmes.
The Committee also feels that young offenders accused of non-violent crimes, who are deemed by the courts not be a threat to society and have been granted bail of R1 000 and below, but who are in prison as they could not pay the stipulated bail amounts, should be released.
The Committee recommends the following:
(a) Youth should be transferred to prisons in the area in which they live rather than in the areas where they committed the crime, in order to facilitate continued contact with families, which is an essential component of rehabilitation.
(b) The Committee strongly recommends that the DCS have all steps in place before a juvenile is being released. It must be compulsory for all youth to attend Social Reintegration programmes, to prepare them for their release.
(c) The Regional Commissioner must report to the Committee, within 3 months of tabling of this report on identified shortages in all juvenile centres with regard to professional staff including teachers, trainers, social workers, psychologists and health care professionals and other challenges.
F. Mothers with Babies
The Committee also interacted with Mothers with babies who are incarcerated with them. Many of the children have been born whilst the mother was incarcerated (mother arrested when pregnant). The Committee recognizes the continous effort by the DCS to create a conducive environment for children in their facilities.
What is of huge concern to the Committee is the fact that most mothers were sentenced for petty offences such as theft of infant milk or clothing. It costs theDCS far more to keep mothers with children incarcerated than the actual value of the items that were stolen.
Staff and mother with babies pleaded with the Committee that children, incarcerated with their mothers, should not be kept in prison. This was demonstrated by handing over a teddy bear with a slogan saying "Take me Home" to the Committee.
Comments and Recommendations
(a) The Committee urges the DCS to sensitise Magistrates and prosecutors about the effects prison can have on mothers with children. This should be done through regular interaction with the Intersectoral Justice Cluster.
(b) All children above the age of 2 years old should go to crèche outside of the prison. The prison management must take responsibility for liaison with the community in which the prison is suited to make arrangements of this nature.
(c) The Committee recommends that the Justice Cluster must, as a matter of urgency, obtain alternative accommodation for those females who do not pose a threat to society as a measure to alleviate overcrowding. This category of female offenders can be detained in Secure Care Facilities.
(d) The Committee also recommends that the Justice Cluster must, as a matter of urgency, obtain alternative accommodation for children who do not pose a threat to society as a measure to alleviate overcrowding. This category of children can be detained in Secure Care Facilities.
It is the mandate of the Portfolio Committee to do oversight over the Department of Correctional Services and to ensure that policy is implemented. The Committee recognises that the Gauteng region faces many serious challenges and that the strong and capacitated management contributes to the successes of the region. It is only through regular interaction with the management and staff on the ground that the Committee will better understand and monitor the implementation of policy of the DCS.
The Committee applauds the officials of the region for their hard work under very difficult circumstances, especially the staff of the Johannesburg Management Area. During the visit, the Committee was made aware that the Baviaanspoort Correctional Centre does not have a Parole Board and this matter raised serious concerns both by the Committee and the inmates incarcerated at the centre. Through the intervention of the Committee, an Acting Chairperson has now been appointed.
The Committee will monitor the implementation of the recommendations in this report.
Report to be considered.
4. Report of the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises on the Transnet Pension Fund Amendment Bill [B 30-2006], dated 8 November 2006:
The Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises, having considered the subject of the Transnet Pension Fund Amendment Bill [B 30-2006] (National Assembly – sec 75), referred to it and classified by the Joint Tagging Mechanism as a section 75 Bill, reports the Bill with amendments [B 30A-2006].
The Committee reports further that:
1. The Transnet Pension Fund Amendment Bill is an outcome of the agreement negotiated between the Transnet management and trade unions to settle the major strike that took place early this year. The Minister of Public Enterprises contributed to the settlement of the strike and endorsed the agreement. The Portfolio Committee welcomed the settlement of the strike.
2. Given the context and nature of the Bill, the Committee felt that we should process the Bill without undermining the agreement arrived at – but in a way that is consistent with our powers and functions as a parliamentary committee to determine legislation. We are clear that our Committee is not an industrial relations forum or bargaining chamber. Our amendments to the Bill therefore aimed to simplify the Bill, make it more readable, avoid undue repetition and erase inconsistencies. Our other concerns, obviously, were around the constitutionality of provisions of the Bill and their consistency with other legislation.
3. We found processing the Bill challenging for many reasons. We will not deal withall the reasons here. Suffice it to say, that the Bill had to be fast-tracked in the difficult end-of-the-year period and we had limited time to finalise it. It is, moreover, a Bill that amended an Act originally adopted in 1990 that was, by today's standards of "plain language drafting", extremely badly written. Many of the amendments to the original 1990 Act that made up the current Bill were also, unfortunately, written in the old "pre-plain language drafting" style. The Bill dealt too with very technical issues that require a certain understanding of pension issues – and though the Committee coped, we had to do so without assistance of a suitably experienced pensions expert. The Committee also did not get adequate legal support to process the Bill – and this matter will be raised further with the appropriate authorities. The Committee is certainly clear that we cannot process legislation of a good quality in these circumstances, and we are determined that we should not find ourselves in this situation again. In short, within capacity and time limits, we sought to simplify and improve the Bill. With better support and more time we could have done better. The Bill though does meet the basic requirements, and so is offered to the House for adoption. Of course, if there are unintended consequences to any of our amendments to the Bill, the Committee will expeditiously attend to this through a further Bill the Minister might introduce to parliament.
4. Although the key provisions of the Bill were meant to be an outcome of the negotiated settlement between the Transnet management and the trade unions, it emerged at the public hearings on the Bill that at least one of the Transnet unions, UTATU (United Transport and Allied Trade Union) and an SAA union, AUSA (Aviation Union of South Africa) felt that people who become employed by an "alternative employer" (as defined in the Bill) after the implementation of this Bill should be allowed to join the Transnet Retirement Fund and that if they were to be excluded, this should not be set out in the Bill but in the rules of the Fund. The Transnet management opposed these proposals. The Transnet management and the unions presented their respective arguments regarding these issues in written form.
5. Consistent with the Committee's views that we cannot serve as an industrial relations forum or bargaining chamber, we felt that it was not appropriate for us to decide on whether new employees should belong to the Transnet Retirement Fund. Following further negotiations between the Transnet management and trade unions on the recommendation of the Committee, we were informed that SATAWU (South African Transport and Allied Workers Union) and SARHWU (South African Railway and Harbour Workers Union), who represent the majority of workers, agreed that new employees should not be included in the Transnet Retirement Fund and that this exclusion should be set out in the Act and not just in the rules of the Fund. UTATU and AUSA still held to their views, but decided that they would not pursue the matter further with us - and wanted us to record their views in our report to Parliament. The Committee processed the Bill accordingly. However, some members of the Committee felt that it was not necessary for the exclusion of new employees to be set out in the Bill. Others suggested that whether the provision to exclude new employees from the Transnet Retirement Fund is in the Bill or not would not, ultimately, affect decisions by the unions to take industrial action on the matter – and so too much should not be made about the practical effects of the differences between the management and some of the unions on this matter.
6. In processing the Bill, various issues relating to the pensions fund industry not germane to this particular Bill arose. The Committee is aware that Treasury has for many years now been undertaking a major review of the pensions industry, and following discussions on this, feels that this process needs to be finalised as soon as possible. This matter has already been raised verbally with the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Finance, Mr Nhanhla Nene, who responded sympathetically. It was agreed that individual members of our Committee will also raise their concerns relating to broader pension fund issues with him.
7. Several members of the public who responded to our request for comments on the Bill raised concerns about the Transnet Second Defined Benefit Pension Fund (TSDBPF). We also received a collective submission on behalf of pensioners with similar concerns. But these concerns cannot be addressed through the processing of this particular Bill. They essentially revolve around the following:
· Since 2003 pensioners of the TSDBPF have been receiving increases of 2% per annum.
· There are pensioners who receive less than the amount granted to those receiving State Old Age Pensions.
8. Obviously, the Committee empathises with the above concerns. In her briefing on Transnet's Annual Report to the Portfolio Committee on 10 October 2006, the CEO, Ms Maria Ramos said that Transnet was also concerned about the issues raised by the pensioners in section 9 above and had presented a proposal to the trustees of the Fund in this regard. With the money that will come into the TSDBPF with the recent sale of the V and A Waterfront, the prospects of resolving the matter are much greater. The Committee also raised the matter in the First Reading Debate on the Bill, and welcomes the Minister's favourable response.
9. Other issues raised by pensioners of the TSDBPF directly and through the collective submission dealt with claims that the TSDBPF has been mismanaged and suffered undue financial losses. Unfortunately, the Committee cannot address these concerns through the processing of this Bill, and will refer them to Transnet and the TSDBPF Board to attend to – and will monitor developments in this regard. The Transnet management agreed to assist with regard to the dependants of pensioners who were entitled to be part of the Fund but had only recently become aware of this.
10. The Committee expresses its appreciation to all those who contributed to the processing of the Bill through the National Assembly.
11. The Committee reports to the National Assembly that the Bill, as amended, is supported by all parties in the Committee.
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