Hansard: Second Reading debate: Division of Revenue Bill [B – 2009]
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 13 Feb 2009
No summary available.
FRIDAY, 13 FEBRUARY 2009
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
The House met at 09:05.
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.
DIVISION OF REVENUE BILL
(Second Reading debate)
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF FINANCE: Madam Speaker, hon members, section 214 of the Constitution requires that government ensure a transparent and equitable system to divide nationally raised revenue between the spheres of government. It further enjoins our three spheres of government to co-operate. The Division of Revenue Bill we tabled in this House on Budget Day is a concrete expression of the co-operative relations between the three spheres of government.
By setting out three-year allocations for the equitable shares and most conditional grants for provinces and local government, the Division of Revenue Bill further entrenches the transparency and accountability in our intergovernmental fiscal system. It allows all spheres of government to plan ahead and to get down to the business of delivering services to our people.
The 2009 Bill contains details on each grant. It outlines its purpose, criteria for allocating the grant and an account of the performance of each grant. Such information should contribute towards deepening our parliamentary oversight of the executive.
The priorities of and additions to baseline allocations are as follows. The Division of Revenue set out in this year's Bill gives effect to the priorities articulated by our President in his state of the nation address on 6 February. Over the period ahead, government's spending plans are focused on enhancing the quality of education; improving the provision of health care, particularly for the poor; reducing infant, child and maternal mortality rates; reducing the level of crime and enhancing citizen safety; expanding the built environment to improve public transportation and meet universal access targets in housing, water, electricity and sanitation; and decreasing rural poverty by taking steps to raise rural incomes and improve livelihoods by extending access to land and support for emerging farmers.
The budget framework allows us to provide an additional R158,1 billion in additional spending over the next three years in comparison with our spending plans from last year. Of the additional resources, national departments will receive R99 billion, and this includes R50 billion for Eskom, R47,8 billion for provinces and R11,3 billion for municipalities.
Schedule 1 of the Bill provides a summary of the allocation of funds to the three spheres of government. Of the R738,6 billion budget in 2009-10, national department functions amount to R483,7 billion. This includes debt service costs amounting to R55,3 billion and a contingency reserve of R6 billion. Provinces receive R231,1 billion, and R23,8 billion is allocated to local government.
Schedule 2 presents provincial equitable shares. Schedule 3 allocates equitable shares of municipalities. Schedules 4 to 6 allocate conditional grants and other grants to provinces and local government. Schedule 7 allocates in-kind transfers to municipalities. Schedule 8, which is a new schedule, allocates incentives for provinces and municipalities to meet targets with regard to priority government programmes.
The state of the nation address highlighted that, as part of our contribution to the income of the poor, the target for 1 million work opportunities through the Expanded Public Works Programme was attained in 2008, which was a year earlier than envisaged in our 2004 electoral mandate. This has created the possibility of expanding this programme and improving its quality. An amount of R1,4 billion is allocated to provinces and R1,9 billion is allocated to municipalities under the newly created expanded Public Works Programme incentive grant to boost job creation in development projects and community services. This grant will only be allocated to provinces and municipalities that meet the prescribed threshold targets of such programmes.
Members of the House will know that the Division of Revenue Act provides for a substantial share of nationally collected revenue to go to provinces to strengthen social services programmes that have a high impact on human development, quality of life and social transformation. The increase over baseline for the next three years amounts to R47,8 billion, as I have already indicated, to sustain the social progress made in recent years, to meet government's broader developmental objectives and to mitigate the effect of the current economic downturn on the poor. Including these revisions, allocations to provinces will amount to R284,5 billion in 2009-10.
The equitable share and provincial grants cater not only for improvements in education, health, welfare and housing, but also for investment in roads, agriculture, economic affairs and tourism, including allocations for labour-intensive programmes falling under the Expanded Public Works Programme.
On matters related to personnel, government has successfully increased the number of professionals in public health. In September 2008, 3 760 doctors, 16 478 nurses, 12 753 other health professionals and 16 610 support personnel had been recruited into the public health service since 2003. To help retain skilled personnel, the occupation-specific dispensation in the health sector, already introduced for nurses in 2007, will be extended to doctors, pharmacists and other health professionals in 2009-10, and R3 billion has been set aside over the MTEF for this purpose.
As in previous years, further investments in education are made to ensure that access and quality are improved. The 2009 Budget extends the no-fee schools policy from the poorest 40% of schools to the poorest 60%, and reduces the teacher-learner ratio in the poorest 20% of schools. Facilities that cater for learners with disabilities are to be modified and built.
The national school nutrition programme receives a further R4,0 billion over the MTEF to extend coverage to ensure that the poorest learners can be fed on all school days and to expand the programme to secondary schools and cushion the programme from food inflation.
The infrastructure grant to provinces is increased by R4,1 billion over the period, including R500 million to ensure that classroom space is available for Grade R learners entering the system. A further R1 billion is made available for schools to upgrade infrastructure, secure facilities and install libraries and laboratories. A technical secondary school recapitalisation grant, amounting to R280 million, is also introduced over the MTEF for equipment and facilities at these schools in keeping with our commitment to our manifesto for 2009.
A general adjustment is made to health budgets to reinforce the entire public health system and ensure that it can meet the needs of poor communities in particular. Allocations are set aside to expand the range of vaccines provided to children in order to reduce maternal and child mortality, and to combat HIV and Aids and extreme and multidrug-resistant TB.
The hospital revitalisation programme receives an additional R728 million to ensure that hospitals are appropriately equipped and modernised. An amount of R233 million is also added to the national tertiary services programme to protect real spending on goods and services in tertiary hospitals. In addition, provinces are expected to keep up their own hospital maintenance budgets.
The HIV and Aids programme receives an additional R932 million to meet greater demand arising from the faster take-up of antiretroviral medication, and to speed up the implementation of the comprehensive HIV and Aids plan. Spending on the programme grows to R12,4 billion over the next three years. By 2011-12 spending on the programme will be over R4,6 billion per year.
The budget also provides for provincial social development departments to meet their mandate to provide welfare services to the needy and vulnerable. Provision is made in the outer year to expand social welfare services to meet growing community needs, with a focus on strengthening early childhood development programmes.
Regarding other provincial functions, the land and agrarian reform support programme gives people from previously disadvantaged backgrounds access to land and support to make better productive use of such land. Over R1 billion is added to various agriculture programmes, including the Ilima/Letsema project. Transport-related adjustments include the creation of a new conditional grant: the public transport operations grant of R11,5 billion over the period for bus subsidies. The payment of bus subsidies to operators was previously funded through an agency agreement between the national and provincial governments.
Once again the housing programme is stepped up. The R3,7 billion added to the programme results in R44,7 billion being set aside for building houses over the next three years. By 2011-12 this government will be spending in excess of R17,2 billion per year on housing. Allocations for water, sanitation, electrification and municipal roads all rise in a complementary fashion. These investments, together with the rising allocations for public transport infrastructure, roads, schools, clinics, sport and recreational facilities and police stations, should provide for a built environment that will contribute significantly to sustainable community development and social cohesion.
As far as local government is concerned, the state of the nation address highlighted the progress made with regard to household access to basic services: access to potable water improved from 62% to 88%, electricity from 58% to 72%, and sanitation from 52% to 73%.
Over the next three years municipalities will receive R181,7 billion, including R9,3 billion in allocations in-kind. This also includes R22,9 billion for the sharing of the general fuel levy with metropolitan municipalities that will be introduced from 2009 as the primary replacement for the former Regional Services Council levies. The local government equitable share receives a further R2,5 billion for the delivery of free basic services.
Municipal infrastructure-related spending is allocated an additional R8 billion over the next three years. This results in total infrastructure transfers to municipalities amounting to just under R58 billion over the next three years.
The municipal infrastructure grant receives a further R4,3 billion and R525 million, which is added to the integrated national electrification programme to support municipalities. From the 2009 Budget, the reporting requirements on the municipal infrastructure grant will be refined to more appropriately capture varying service delivery levels.
A further allocation of R460 million is added to the 2010 Fifa World Cup stadiums development grant. Funds are also added to the 2010 Fifa World Cup host city operating grant. These contributions will support host cities in their preparations for the Confederations Cup in 2009 and the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
The electricity demand-side management grant, made available to Eskom in 2008-09, will also be extended to municipalities in the 2009 Budget to promote more efficient use of energy.
Finally, allocations for capacity-building totalling R1,7 billion over the 2009 MTEF are further complemented by the Siyenza Manje programme via the DBSA to develop skills in engineering, planning and financial management within municipalities.
It is clear that the allocations contained in this year's Division of Revenue Bill should put government in a better position to accelerate delivery and improve the efficacy of public services. I commend this Bill to the House. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr K A MOLOTO: Madam Speaker, hon members, the Division of Revenue Bill provides for the equitable sharing of revenue raised nationally among the national, provincial and local spheres of government. The national sphere of government receives 50,7% of the revenue, provinces receive 42% of the revenue, while the local sphere of government receives 7,3% of nationally raised revenue. It should be borne in mind that local government has powers to raise its own revenue within its jurisdiction. The provincial sphere of government receives R284,5 billion while the local government receives R49,6 billion.
There is greater focus on redirecting resources to both the provincial and local spheres of government. Provinces are at the forefront of delivery in housing, education, social welfare and health care. These are areas that have a direct impact on the lives of the poor. The challenges we face in the health system are to reduce the maternal and child mortality rates, and to intensify the fight against HIV and Aids and tuberculosis.
South Africa, as a signatory to the Millennium Development Goals, has pledged to reduce the mortality of children below five years by two thirds. This goal has to be achieved by 2015. The increased allocation to provinces will strengthen our efforts to prevent mother-to-child transmission, introduce vaccines, raise immunisation coverage above 90% and eliminate measles. We will win the fight against these communicable diseases.
This increased allocation will assist provinces in extending the occupation-specific dispensation to doctors, pharmacists and other health professionals. We need to retain these skills in public health care and even increase the number of these professionals in our public health care system.
No child should stay away from school because of hunger. The increased allocation to the national school nutrition programme grant will ensure that 60% of the poorest primary school learners will be fed on all school days. This programme ensures improved school attendance and increased learner enrolment. The right of children to basic food has to be defended. Learners in the targeted Quintiles 1 to 3 primary schools and Quintile 1 secondary schools are fed on all school days in all provinces. This programme has already reached 6 million learners in 17 899 schools. Working together, we can do more.
Every child has a right to education. The Freedom Charter has stated the people's views unambiguously. We have to honour that pledge in our manifesto. This year's Budget extends the no-fee schools policy to the poorest 40% of schools and ensures that public schools cater for those with disabilities. The teacher-learner ratio will be reduced in the poorest 20% of schools.
We have to ensure that our children have the necessary life skills to face societal challenges. Drug abuse, substance abuse and HIV and Aids are worrying phenomena. They have to be addressed by our education system. The life skills education grant aims to provide educators with the ability to provide such skills to our learners.
Five new conditional grants to provinces are introduced in the 2009 Budget. The public transport grant is meant for the subsidisation of service contracts entered into by provincial departments of transport and bus operators for the provision of subsidised services. Provinces receive R11,5 billion over the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework period for the subsidisation of commuter bus services.
The technical secondary school recapitalisation grant has been allocated R280 million for equipment and facilities at these schools. Available technical skills play a critical role in increasing productivity levels in manufacturing and in the service sector of our economy.
Over and above the R2,5 billion added to the local government equitable share, the 2009 Budget earmarks R8 billion for infrastructure-related spending by municipalities. Through the municipal infrastructure grant, 835 000 household connections for water and 399 000 for sanitation have been made since 2004. Working together, we can do more. The ANC supports the Bill. [Applause.]
Mr S J F MARAIS: Madam Speaker, the Division of Revenue Bill has far-reaching implications with the aim to improve service delivery and the quality of life of all our citizens, particularly those at the local government level. The Bill empowers not just the national government but, importantly, also the provincial and local governments – the two levels of government closest to the citizens for service delivery and economic development, through, amongst other things, the equitable division of revenue.
The Bill provides for the medium-term projected divisions in support of planning objectives, once-off disaster funds, as well as much-needed funds for infrastructure development in support of the hosting of the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
Speaker, hierdie wetsontwerp bevestig die steun aan owerhede regdeur Suid-Afrika vir nie net die verbetering van dienslewering en lewensgehalte nie, maar ook vir die nodige stimulering van ekonomiese groei, infrastruktuur en werkskepping, behuising, gesondheidsdienste en kapasiteitsbou, wat opvoeding insluit.
Substandaard dienslewering kan nie toegeskryf word aan die tekort aan geld bewillig nie. 'n Groot bekommernis by die DA is egter die finansiële en bestuursvaardighede; dat dit nie by veral die meeste plaaslike owerhede bestaan om uitkomsgerigte en effektiewe bestuur van geld en die verwante prosesse te verseker nie.
Hoewel programme ingestel moet word om dit aan te spreek, is dit baie belangrik dat die Parlement sy oorsigrol behoorlik nakom en nie eers wag vir SKOOR om die tekorte en die probleme uit te wys nie. Daar is eenvoudig te veel voorbeelde waar veral plaaslike regerings misluk in hul rol as katalisator vir ekonomiese groei, werkskepping en dienslewering.
Mnr W P DOMAN: ANC-plaaslike regerings! (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)
[Speaker, this Bill confirms the support for authorities right through South Africa, not only for the improvement of service delivery and quality of life, but also for the necessary stimulation of economic growth, infrastructure and job creation, housing, health services and capacity-building, which includes education.
Substandard service delivery cannot be attributed to the shortfall of allocated funds. The DA is extremely concerned about the absence of financial and management skills at most of the local authorities – skills which are needed to ensure outcomes-based and effective management of money and related processes.
Although programmes must be instituted to deal with this, it is very important that Parliament properly complies with its oversight function, instead of waiting for SCOPA to identify shortfalls and problems. There are just too many examples where especially local governments are not successful in their role as a catalyst for economic growth, job creation and service delivery.
Mr W P DOMAN: ANC local governments!]
Mr S J F MARAIS: A concern we have identified is the difference in the 2009-10 equitable share amounts indicated in the 2008-09 medium-term provision and what was actually allocated this year, which can undermine effective planning and service delivery. The Cape Town Metropole, for instance, has been allocated R21 million less than in the 2008-09 budget and only 60% of the allocations to other comparable metropoles. Queries will, most certainly, be directed to National Treasury about this, but we hope this is not because Cape Town is a well-run, DA local government. Our suggestion to provinces and local governments is to involve public-private partnerships to assure project efficiency and to use the Expanded Public Works Programmes to upskill the unemployed.
Hoewel die DA realisties is oor die belemmeringselemente, het ons empatie met die bepalings en die oogmerke van hierdie wetsontwerp. Ek dank u. [Applous.] [Although the DA is realistic about the hindrances, we have empathy with the provisions and the objectives of this Bill. I thank you. [Applause.]]
Mr N SINGH: Madam Speaker, colleagues, let me start off by indicating that a delegation from KwaZulu-Natal has been visiting the Democratic Republic of Congo over the past few days. Yesterday, unfortunately, they were involved in a car accident. An official from the office of the premier, Mr Arno Hibbers, whom I have known for the past 15 years or so, passed on, as well as another official from Trade and Investment KwaZulu-Natal. Our heartfelt condolences go out to their families and to the department of the premier in KwaZulu-Natal.
I did indicate yesterday, when the presentations were made to us by the officials on the Division of Revenue Bill, that we were hamstrung by limited time in the portfolio committee. I made a suggestion that the new finance committee should really interrogate the principles that underpin and inform the division of revenue amongst municipalities and provinces. I think it is important that this happens so that we can all sing from the same hymn page.
As we have heard, this Bill provides for the equitable division of revenue raised nationally among national, provincial and local spheres of government. The hon Deputy Minister indicated that the allocation should speed up delivery, but the million-dollar question or, in this case, if I add provinces and municipalities, the $50-billion question is: does it actually speed up service delivery and does it lead to effective service delivery on the ground?
The Division of Revenue Bill allows for planning and accountability, but does this happen effectively on the ground? A case in point is clause 38 of this Bill, which makes provision for emergency funding during disasters. But, in many instances some of these disasters can be prevented if there is proper planning: spatial development planning in respective municipalities. You find houses built on flood plains; you find houses allowed to be built where the roofs are not properly put on and then if there is wind and these houses are subject to the elements, you find the roofs blowing off; you find houses flooded; and this is because of poor planning. If planning takes place initially, then we'll find that these people are not subject to these kinds of inconvenience that they are put through.
Coming to municipalities, I read the speech of the Premier of the Northern Cape, and yesterday she said:
However, general and financial management at local government level remains a cause for concern and needs our ongoing engagement. It is an indictment on all of us that 27 municipalities received disclaimers of opinion from the Auditor-General and that the general financial state of municipalities remains extremely weak.
This is not only applicable in the Northern Cape but throughout the country. We can dole out money from here; we can approve it as we would, and we have to, but the main thing is, is it being spent properly? Is there value for money for the people out on the ground? Thank you. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Ms S RAJBALLY: Madam Speaker, as usual the hon Minister of Finance outdid himself with a lavish record of the economics of South Africa and his great superman-to-the-rescue treats.
The MF is most pleased with the attention government is paying to education with the realisation that education is an investment. We are pleased with the expansion of the nutrition programmes and no-fee schools, but sincerely hope that these may extend to secondary school level as hunger in poverty-stricken communities knows no age and studying on an empty stomach is not easy.
Secondly, the attention paid to health care is welcome as poverty tackles the wellbeing of our nation. More local job creation must be the highest priority. The stark reality of crime in the country has South Africans eagerly listening to how government hopes to reduce it and, while the MF applauds the allocation made in this regard, we believe that crime needs to be deterred through punishment. In the almost crime-free Malaysia, a person may be given the death penalty for kidnapping.
While we are certain that motorists are not smiling at the hike in the petrol price, the MF is pleased with the funding offered for the improvement of transport and public works. It is a clear realisation that rural communities will only progress if we focus funding on their development and enhancement, for which hon Manuel has made great accommodation.
The MF takes this opportunity, however, to insist that old age pensions be greatly adjusted to R1 200 per month with the realisation that many households are dependent on that single income. The MF holds tight the hon Manuel's words that it's about "what money can buy", as this certainly will ensure greater delivery and accomplishment of our goals. The MF supports the Division of Revenue Bill. I thank you.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Thank you, hon member. Before I call the next speaker, who is the hon A I Van Niekerk? I am informed that this is also his farewell speech.
Dr A I VAN NIEKERK: Chairperson, it is not easy to stand here after 28 years in Parliament and to say goodbye. [Applause.] I will miss this, but I now think you will miss me too. And, I think, the Minister will also miss me, to some extent. [Laughter.]
On the Division of Revenue Bill, I have the following to say: South Africa has become a net importer of food. It worries me, and I hope it worries the Minister and everybody who deals with funds.
Droughts and floods plague agriculture. Our farmers are decreasing in numbers. Seven hundred farmers produce 60% of our total production. In my opinion, the Division of Revenue Bill does not reflect the remedy for this. More money is needed for agriculture and, as far as I'm concerned, the R1,6 billion which was given to bail out the airline problems could have been given to agriculture to produce food. I hope that the Ministers will attend to this, because I think this is a very important point.
Dit is my laaste toespraak na 28 jaar in die Parlement. Ek het baie beleef en ervaar. Ek het mense, beleide en Ministers sien kom en gaan. President Motlanthe is die vyfde President onder wie ek dien. Ek was deel van die verandering wat deur President de Klerk moontlik gemaak is en was bevoorreg gewees om deel uit te kon maak van die nuwe begin vir Suid-Afrika in President Mandela se Kabinet.
Ek het op my manier my beste probeer. Ek het nie altyd daarin geslaag om te kan doen wat ek wou doen nie, maar ek het my bes probeer om altyd te doen wat goed en reg is.
Ek sê dankie aan die kollegas in hierdie Raad wat my verdra het, en vir hulle vriendskap en kollegialiteit. Ek sê dankie aan die Departement van Landbou en Grondsake, met wie ek oor die jare te doen gehad het en met wie ek wonderlike tye ervaar het. Ek bedank die personeel van die Parlement vir hul professionaliteit. En dan, 'n besondere dankie aan my vrou en kinders in die galery, wat my ondersteun het en dit vir my moontlik gemaak het om my vaderland te kan dien. [Applous.]
Professor Bothma, die Rektor van Stellenbosch Universiteit, het in 'n kerkrede gesê dat niks ooit dieselfde bly nie; alles gaan verby met tyd en dan kom daar 'n nuwe situasie wat ook weer verbygaan.
Dit is waar. Niks bly ooit dieselfde nie. Wat nou is, gaan ook verby. Iets anders kom, en dit gaan ook verby. Die toekoms lê voor. Lotsgebonde is ons as burgers van Suid-Afrika aan mekaar toegewys om 'n sukses daarvan te maak.
My wens vir u en vir ons land is dat die vloek oor gister, en die euforie oor die nuwe, verby moet gaan sodat ons almal, as patriotiese Suid-Afrikaners, elk ons eie bydrae volgens ons vermoë kan doen om Suid-Afrika se probleme suksesvol op te los en die uitdagings te kan takel en van hierdie mooi land 'n sukses te maak. Ek dank u. Ek groet u almal. [Applous.] (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)
[After 28 years in Parliament, this is my final speech. I have witnessed and experienced many things. I have seen people, policies, and Ministers come and go. President Motlanthe is the fifth President under whom I have served. I was part of the change, made possible by President de Klerk, and I was privileged to form part of South Africa's new beginning in President Mandela's Cabinet.
In my own way, I tried my best. I did not always succeed in doing what I set out to do, but I tried my utmost always to do what was good and right.
I would like to thank the colleagues in this House who tolerated me, and I express my gratitude for their friendship and collegiality. I give thanks to the Department of Agriculture and Land Affairs, whom I have dealt with over the years and experienced wonderful times with. I thank the parliamentary staff for their professionalism. And then, a special word of thanks to my wife and children up in the gallery, who supported me and made it possible for me to serve my home country. [Applause.]
Once, when delivering an address in church, Professor Bothma, the Rector of Stellenbosch University, said that nothing ever stays the same; everything passes with time and then a new situation arises which will also pass again.
This is true. Nothing ever stays the same. The here and now will pass. Something else takes its place, but that too will pass. The future lies ahead. We, the citizens of South Africa, were assigned to each other by fate to make a success of it.
My wish for you and for our country is that the curse on yesterday and the euphoria over the new must pass, so that all of us, as patriotic South Africans, can make our own contribution, according to our own capabilities, to solve South Africa' s problems successfully and tackle the challenges to make a success of this beautiful country. I thank you. I bid you farewell. [Applause.]]
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: Chairperson, I rise on a point of order.
Ek wil net vir Kraai sê: Jy't baie groot spore getrap; jy was 'n voorbeeld vir ons almal. Gaan rus nou lekker. [Applous.] [I just want to say to Kraai: You have left a lasting impression; you were an example to us all. Enjoy your rest. [Applause.]]
Ms R J MASHIGO: Chairperson, hon Ministers, Deputy Ministers and members, the cycle of poverty has to be broken and that is what the ANC-led government is doing.
Looking back to 1994, it can be noted that great differences are recorded. Reconstruction and development is a process. The people have seen the changes and appreciate the difference the ANC has made in their lives. The Minister of Finance expressed this in his presentation of the Budget Speech, in which he generously allocated funds to the poorest of the poor.
The Division of Revenue Bill, as already explained, will focus on policy priorities. It refers to all the monies transferred from the National Treasury to the different spheres of government: national government, the nine provincial governments and the 283 municipalities. This enables the money to reach the people for whom it is intended and to address the programmes identified.
There are, however, implementation challenges, like the nonalignment of programmes and the noncompliance of provinces with the national objectives, which, consequently, compromise service delivery to the poorest people. One of the areas that has received more money is the provinces. This is meant to improve education, health, roads and rural development.
My colleague has already covered education. School learner transport is a cause for concern, something that is also a provincial competence. We have children travelling long distances that cannot access the schools and, as a result, miss getting an education and miss receiving the meals at schools. This is because there is no transport to take them from these rural and farming areas to their schools.
The Department of Transport and the Department of Education should attend to this issue. The parents blame the Department of Education, because they know that children need to go to school to get their education and they think the transport must be provided by the Department of Education. Let's address this and see how the Department of Transport comes to terms with the fact that these children need to go to school. In the urban areas it is easier, but in the rural areas it causes a problem and, as a result, the cycle of poverty will never be broken.
With regard to health care, we know there is some improvement in access to health facilities and in the roll-out of the antiretroviral programme, but there is still a lot to be done. To achieve Millennium Development goal number 4 on the reduction of infant and child mortality, and goal number 5 on the health of pregnant women, we have to have proper facilities at a primary level that are well equipped and give quality care.
There are programmes in place to address these goals, like the programme on the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, antenatal clinics and many others. There is even a beautiful programme on saving mothers. However, the question is whether we are using all these available resources to achieve the best outcomes. This has been addressed by the National Treasury, which has allocated a large amount for the establishment of a national office for standards of compliance. This office will assist in setting norms and standards to address the problems in the health system.
The ANC strives for equality in the health service and to achieve this we will have to go through the process of setting up a national health insurance fund, an issue already being addressed. This will really bring about equality for those people who have never received proper health services. We are all aware of the fact that a large sum of money is going to private care services.
In the state of the nation address, the President stated that, "Rural development and agrarian reform is integral to the struggle to create a better life for all." This will increase food production and encourage agricultural farming. Not everybody wants to migrate to the urban areas. The land claim issues and the issue of people evicted from their land need to be addressed in order to ensure the expansion of agricultural production. People should know that they can produce where they live permanently without the fear of being moved.
The issue of roads is one of the objectives that I have mentioned. Our roads are in a bad state. All spheres of government have a responsibility towards the maintenance of roads, but it becomes difficult to know which government sphere starts where, because up to this point this has involved national, provincial and local government. As a result, our roads are full of potholes, the number of which is increasing every day. Soon labour-intensive maintenance will not be able to address the problem of potholes and it will deprive our people of jobs.
The Expanded Public Works Programme, as outlined in schedule 8, has special performance-based incentives. Provinces and municipalities must take up this issue because this is where our people can get jobs. There is an eligibility requirement to address this. We hope that all spheres of government will attend to it.
We have a problem with the fuel levy. The problem is that the fuel levy is earmarked for metropolitan areas and will be phased out in four years. We must remember this with regard to the Regional Services Councils. In this regard, let me mention Thabazimbi, which is a mining area. All the levies were taken and the revenue used by all the neighbouring towns. This fuel levy will address the metropolitan areas, but the areas around the mines and other poor municipalities will not be able to benefit from the fuel levy during this time. This is really discriminatory. I think this needs to be addressed.
The Constitution empowers us, as Members of Parliament, to exercise oversight over the departments. This Division of Revenue Bill talks about transfers to provinces and local government. It is our duty to call on accounting officers to tell us where there is noncompliance, because we do not vote for this money to be underspent or to be rolled over.
The voters out there have sent us here to represent them. The ANC has responded positively to their needs. I will limit myself in this presentation by only mentioning that there have been increases in social grants, no-fee schools, school nutrition programmes and labour-intensive programmes. As a result, we are aware of the fact that our members know where their services come from and we hope that they continue knowing until 22 April so that they know where to put their crosses. The ANC supports the Bill. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Mr W P DOMAN: Chair, I rise on a point of order: Is it in order that, apart from the DA and the IFP, all the other opposition parties are absent here today? Is this in order, or is this an indication of who should be trusted in the upcoming elections?
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): That is not a point of order, hon member.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF FINANCE: Chairperson, I say thank you to all the members who have spoken, particularly for supporting the Division of Revenue Bill that we have tabled here today. A number of issues were raised, some of which also came up in the committee yesterday, which I want to clarify again.
Mr Marais raised the issue of capacity to spend funds, but also acknowledged that there were various initiatives under way to address this. The municipal financial management grant that is made available is also one of the initiatives to modernise financial management, linking into greater development plans to budget, producing quality and timely in-year annual reports.
The other initiatives that also support this are the recently released draft regulations on budget formats and reporting, which will allow for a better account by municipalities of how funds are spent. The Siyenza Manje project, which I spoke about and which the Minister spoke about via the Department of Public Service and Administration, focuses on developing skills in engineering, planning and financial management in municipalities. And, of course, he also stressed the importance of oversight of the legislatures on this matter.
Mr Marais also spoke about the drop in the equitable share allocation, particularly in the Cape Town Metro. I would like to ask his party to deploy him in local government, because we have 284 municipalities and, as a Member of Parliament, I would have expected him to talk about all the municipalities. The drop in the allocation to the City of Cape Town is actually as a result of the Regional Services Council levies - which formed part of the equitable share, and we explained this in the committee yesterday - being replaced with the sharing of the general fuel levy from 2009. I trust that his arithmetic will then be better enhanced by factoring in this explanation.
We know that with the Regional Services Council levies there were a number of administrative problems, where they were collected at head office and not necessarily where the persons worked with regard to the former Regional Services Council levies. And, in order to mitigate the impact, the general fuel levy is going to be phased in over four years.
I can imagine why Mr Van Niekerk, in his retirement and farewell speech, is, after 28 years, able to overlook some of the things, because in our speech I did indicate - and I want to repeat this - that the land and agrarian reform support programme gives people from previously disadvantaged backgrounds access to land and support to make better productive use of such land.
Over one billion is added - not just this allocation - to various agriculture programmes, including the Letsema project. Also, if you go to your chapter on agriculture you will find that this is in addition to that.
With regard to the issue of the fuel levy that Ms Mashigo raised, we did try to explain that this goes to the metro municipalities, but we have, currently, an interim measure for the other local municipalities. This is only during the phasing-in period over the four years, and this does not say that the other municipalities will not be benefiting. We also indicated that we are in the process ...
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Ngqongqoshe usuphelelwe yisikhathi. [Hon Minister, your time has expired.]
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF FINANCE: We are also looking at making sure that other funding mechanisms are found for the other local municipalities, because this is only in the interim. I thank you. [Applause.]
Bill read a second time.
EASTERN CAPE RUGBY TEAM TO BE INCLUDED IN SUPER 14 RUGBY COMPETITION
Mr M M DIKGACWI (ANC): Chairperson, the ANC's study group on sport and recreation welcomes the decision taken last month by the SA Rugby Union, Saru, to include a team from the Eastern Cape to participate in the Super 14 rugby competition from next year. This decision is long overdue and vindicates the calls made by the ANC in Parliament since 2004 for such a decision to be taken.
The decision is a just reward for the thousands of black rugby players, their coaches and referees who persevered in their quest to achieve this goal. For too long, the Eastern Cape has been marginalised by Saru in its decision-making, and, as a result, valuable talent either left the area or simply stopped playing rugby.
The ANC study group further calls on Saru to intervene in the ongoing dispute in border rugby and not to use the current instability in the region to penalise and banish the entire province from participating in the Super 14 competition. Saru must now implement its decision, even if this means that the Eastern Province will be used initially as the base of the new franchise. Port Elizabeth now boasts a new 50 000-seater world-class stadium, a sports science institute at the university and all other facilities required to sustain professional rugby.
We believe that this move will ultimately result in equity in professional sport and will go a long way in addressing the legacy of racial discrimination in rugby. I thank you. [Applause.]
RESTRICTIVE LABOUR LAWS
Ms A M DREYER (DA): My Chairperson, in his Budget Speech the Minister of Finance quite correctly identified protecting the poor and sustaining employment growth as enduring principles. He further emphasised that job creation and broadening economic participation are still the goals of economic policy. But what is the experience of employers and millions of unemployed South Africans?
A lodge owner near White River in Mpumalanga tells me that she is inundated with requests for jobs from desperate local people and that she needs to employ more workers during the busy tourist months. But she turns away those people and, instead, looks to family and friends for help. Because of restrictive labour laws, she will not hire extra workers when she only needs them during peak hours, as she can't afford to keep them on her books during the quiet periods.
While there is a large pool of desperate people looking for jobs, and there are companies who need to employ more people, they don't, because government has put barriers between these two sides. If government were to stop interfering in other people's business, more jobs would become available and more people would have the opportunity to escape poverty.
Therefore, a DA government will remove the barriers between the two sides and make it easier to hire people by relaxing labour laws ... [Interjections.] ... and giving wage subsidies to companies that are prepared to employ first-time jobseekers. [Applause.]
TEARFUL NIEHAUS ADMITS FRAUD
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE (IFP): Chairperson, there are serious allegations of dishonesty in today's Mail & Guardian about the ANC's national spokesperson, Mr Carl Niehaus. I am very sad to bring this to your attention: "Tearful Niehaus admits fraud". The ANC's spin doctor forged signatures of top politicians, booked holidays on government accounts, and was pushed out of top jobs for financial misconduct.
What is very significant is that Mr Niehaus admits "most of what you've confronted me with is true ... I've made massive mistakes". This is a sad moment, but the question is: What is the ANC going to do about this? [Interjections.]
THE FIGHT AGAINST CRIME
Nksz N M MDAKA (ANC): Sihlalo, urhulumente oxhuzula imikhala okhokelwa ngumbutho wesizwe, i-ANC, ukholelwa ekubeni ubomi obungcono buquka ukhuseleko lwabemi beli lizwe, kungajongwe bala lamntu. Ukuqinisekisa ukuba asithethi nje - kuba kumnandi ukuthetha – siyenza, ukuzalisekisa izithembiso zethu.
NgoLwesithathu odlulileyo, uMphathiswa wezeziMali uye wathi thaca uHlahlo lwabiwo-mali lwalo nyaka-mali wama-2009-10. Kwenye yezinto azikhankanyileyo, uye wachazela isizwe ukuba iphulo lokulwa ulwaphulo-mthetho lifumene isabelo esithe kratya kunesiqhelo. Olu Hlahlo lwabiwo-mali lungqina esikuthethileyo, ukuba ulwaphulo-mthetho sokuze silunyamezele nakancinci.
Kule minyaka mihlanu izayo, umbutho wesizwe i-ANC uya kubulwa ngokungenalusini ubugewu, sibonise ubungqwabalala kubenzi bobubi. Xa simanyene, sincedisana, singenza lukhulu. Ndiyabulela, Mhlalingaphambili. [Kwaqhwatywa.] (Translation of isiXhosa paragraphs follows.)
[Ms N M MDAKA (ANC): Chairperson, the ANC-led government believes that a better life includes the safety of the citizens of this country, without considering the colour of one's skin. To make sure that we don't just talk the talk, but also walk the talk – talk is cheap – we keep our promises.
Last Wednesday, the Minister of Finance tabled the Budget for the 2009-10 financial year. Amongst other things, he mentioned to the nation that more money had been allocated to the crime-fighting campaign this financial year compared to previous years. This Budget confirms what we have promised the people, that we will never tolerate crime, ever.
In the next five years, the ANC will wage a total onslaught against crime and be tough on those who commit crime. Working together, we can do more. Thank you, Chairperson. [Applause.]]
Ms T V TOBIAS: Chair, I rise on a point of order. Is it parliamentary for Mr Singh to read a newspaper in the House?
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Hon Singh, will you put the newspaper down please.
RURAL SANITATION AND JOB CREATION PROJECTS
Ms M M NTULI (ANC): Chairperson, the ANC-led government will step up a massive Expanded Public Works Programme linked to infrastructure and meeting social needs, which involves home-based care, crèches, school cleaning and renovation, community gardens, the removal of alien vegetation, tree planting and school feeding.
Eighty-seven people located in Mount Ayliff, Mount Frere and Matatiel are working on the Ventilated Improved Pit – VIP - latrine sanitation project in Pitseng, Eastern Cape. The project focuses on the manufacturing of materials to be used in the construction of the VIPs in villages, including bricks, floor and roof slabs. The target group for employment includes women, youth and community members in the villages.
Miss Mamkayi, an orphan, is one of the 87 community members employed by the project. Before the opportunity arose to work on the project, she used to go to bed at night on an empty stomach, but that is no longer the case.
In the period ahead the ANC-led government will further accelerate and expand its investment in public infrastructure. Together, we can do more. Thank you, Chairperson. [Applause.]
RELEASE OF WAITING LISTS FOR OPERATIONS BY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
Mr M WATERS (DA): Chairperson, the DA's vision for quality health care in the public sector includes, amongst other priorities, the release of accurate waiting lists for all operations. In an open-opportunity society, the public must be empowered by being informed of how long people have to wait for operations at public hospitals.
Currently, there seem to be little or no comprehensive waiting lists in each of the provinces, rendering the public powerless and unable to demand a reduction in waiting time. The attempts by the DA in asking questions here, in Parliament, as to the length of all waiting lists in each of the provinces proved pointless as the department itself had no idea how many people were waiting for operations, or how long it would take before the operations would be conducted.
A DA government would conduct an audit of all provinces and determine the length of waiting lists for all operations, and we would make these lists public. We would set targets with regards to the reduction of waiting times, and we would utilise the skills in the private sector to reduce waiting lists by, amongst other things, accepting the offer by the private sector that doctors and nurses do a certain number of community hours per year.
The DA believes that quality health care in the public sector is achievable through innovative and bold initiatives, joint ventures between the public and the private sectors and the empowerment of the public. I thank you very much. [Applause.]
Ms M J J MATSOMELA (ANC): Chairperson, the ANC believes that the infrastructural programme roll-out must ensure an integrated approach to the provision of various services so that we upgrade our infrastructure in a manner that meets both basic needs and enhances new and effective economic activity. Building our capacity to grow is the third thrust of our spending plans. It is reflected in the government's R787 billion infrastructure investment plans and is a cornerstone of our development contract with business, organised labour and other social partners.
In this budget a further R6,4 billion is added for public transport, road and rail networks. In the period ahead, together with our people, the ANC-led government will accelerate and expand its investment in public infrastructure. This will include expanding and improving the rail networks, public transport and port operations, dams, housing construction, information and communications technology and energy-generation capacity, as well as education and health infrastructure. In the process this will also create additional decent work opportunities whilst meeting the basic needs of society. Yes, indeed, together we can do more. I thank you. [Applause.]
OFFICIALS AT MUNICIPALITY ALLEGEDLY DELIBERATELY CLAIM OVERTIME
Mr N SINGH (IFP): Chairperson, it has been reported in the newspaper which I was using as a reference document that some officials in the ANC-run Msunduzi Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal are allegedly deliberately not completing tasks during normal working hours so that they can claim overtime. This matter was raised by a councillor from within the municipality.
An urgent investigation needs to be conducted so that other officials and/or public servants who engage in these types of shenanigans are brought to book. These kinds of actions or inactions become doubly serious as we, in this House today, appropriate considerable additional allocations to municipalities. Thank you.
Mr D C MABENA (ANC): Chairperson, the ANC-led government has made significant progress towards housing delivery by building more than 2,6 million houses for more than 14 million needy households since 1994.
To build on the successes of our housing programme, the ANC-led government has once again committed a further R45 billion to the Breaking New Ground housing programme. Therefore the ANC, in partnership with our people, will work continually to increase access to secure and decent housing for all through government's adopted housing programme, including the continued conversion of hostels into family housing units. Together, we can do more. Ngiyathokoza. [I thank you.] [Applause.]
MINING DEVELOPMENT IMPACTING ON ENVIRONMENT
Mr G R MORGAN (DA): Chairperson, notwithstanding the important contribution that mining makes to the South African economy, the impact that mining has on our environment and affected communities adjacent to mines is often very severe and usually irreversible.
In the past few weeks, a company announced plans to establish an opencast coal mine adjacent to the Mapungubwe National Park, a protected area which forms part of the broader Limpopo/Shashe transfrontier conservation area. The opencast Vele Colliery will have a massively negative impact on this area, which has also been proclaimed a World Heritage Site. The mine expects to open in 2009, which means that the recently released scoping report is merely a cynical attempt to ensure procedural compliance.
Just because a particular mineral deposit exists in the earth does not mean that is has to be mined. It is the DA's position that extractive industries must take place where the impact on the environment and people is minimal.
Government is not yet learning from the mistakes of the past. Other areas of South Africa are under threat from the cumulative impact of mining, including the Mpumalanga highveld, Wakkerstroom and the Wild Coast.
We cannot wait three years for the environmental authorisation of mines to become the competence of the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism before the standards associated with mine approvals are improved. I call on the Minister of Minerals and Energy to reject the applications by companies that wish to mine in or adjacent to environmentally sensitive areas; and, in association with the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, to begin mapping effectively those areas of South Africa in which the number of mines should be strictly limited to ensure the lessening of a cumulative impact. I thank you. [Applause.]
ANC INITIATIVE: WAR ROOM ON POVERTY
Mr B J MNYANDU (ANC): Chairperson, despite significant progress made over the past 15 years, people living in rural areas continue to face the harshest conditions of poverty, lack of access to land and basic services.
The ANC is committed to a comprehensive and clear rural development strategy - linked to land and agrarian reform - towards improving the conditions of farmworkers and farm dwellers, and building the potential for sustainable rural livelihoods.
The antipoverty war room is an ANC-led government initiative, launched countrywide, with the objective of providing a cushion for families living in hardship and having no gainful means of improvement and employment.
This programme entails families from poor communities receiving food parcels and school uniforms and being registered for social grants. Together with our people, the ANC will step up programmes linked to infrastructure development and meeting social needs with home-based care, crèches, school cleaning and renovation, committee gardens, the removal of alien vegetation, tree planting and school feeding schemes. There is no doubt that together we can do more. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
ANC PROGRESS IN HEALTH PROVISION
Mrs B TINTO (ANC): Chair, the ANC-led government has made significant strides in health provision over the past 15 years. There have been improvements with regard to access to primary health facilities. Currently, 95% of South Africans live within five kilometres of a health facility, and all clinics now have access to potable water.
On the other hand, there are still many health care facilities that do not always have the required medicines, appropriate staffing levels and a constant supply of basic services, such as clean running water and electricity, hence the largest adjustment of ANC budget-spending plans is going towards poverty reduction. An amount of R25 billion is added to the provinces, mainly for education and health care.
Together with our people the ANC government will continue to work at reducing inequalities in our health system, improving the quality of care and public facilities, boosting our human resources and stepping up the fight against HIV and Aids and other diseases. Health reforms will involve the mobilisation of available resources in both the private and public health sector to ensure improved health outcomes for all South Africans. Together we will do more. Thank you, Chair. [Applause.]
CALL ON MEC IN NORTH WEST TO PUT MUNICIPALITY UNDER ADMINISTRATION
Mr W P DOMAN (DA): Chair, last week the DA called on the MEC for local government in the North West to put the Ngaka Modiri Molema Municipality under administration. This municipality is among the poorest in the North West. It is currently plagued by chronic water shortages and contamination. Yet the mayor of the municipality, Mr Themba Gwabeni, who is also a provincial executive committee member of the ANC in North West, recently channelled more than R4 million of the water budget and portions of budgets for other essential long-term projects to finance a group of under 15 youngsters on a 14-month-long soccer training camp in Brazil. I wonder what the Minister of Education would have to say about the schooling of these youngsters.
It is mind boggling to note how a municipality that needs more than R1,2 billion to meet its needs can still cut budgets for water to finance a soccer trip. The municipality's skewed priorities are clearly illustrated by its decision to fire its municipal manager for his apparent refusal to approve the payment of the trip. The prioritisation of extramural activities at the expense of basic services is a direct consequence of the inept leadership of the municipality. This must not be left unpunished in order to send a strong message that municipalities must not compromise service delivery. The R8,7 million spent on the soccer trip would have gone a long way towards helping meet the water needs in that municipality. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
DEVASTATING WILDFIRES IN AUSTRALIA
Ms S C VOS (IFP): Chairperson, I would like to state that this honourable House expresses its condolences to and profound sympathy with the government and people of Australia following the recent devastating wildfires in that country which have caused such terrible loss of life and property. Thank you.
MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS LETTING SOUTH AFRICANS DOWN
Ms H WEBER (DA): Hon Chair, once more the Minister of Home Affairs has let South Africans down. Countries with suspect passports were given 10 months to get their house in order. South Africa failed to do so. We are now compared to Lesotho, Venezuela and Swaziland. We should be proud of our passports, but as South Africans we are looked at with suspicion at airports as if we all have fake passports.
This is once more a reflection on a Minister who does not care and seems to look forward to her retirement. Minister, there is only 68 days to go. The Minister of Finance has allocated funds for improved information technology. What has happened to the R2,6 billion given to the "Who am I online" project? Obviously, we are sitting with a department that has a problem - 60% of employees unfit for employment, as was given by the director-general in the Auditor-General's report. The director-general admitted that he could not replace the people, once more proving that open opportunity would be advantageous to all South Africans.
RELEASE OF WAITING LISTS FOR OPERATIONS BY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
The MINISTER OF HEALTH: Chairperson, this is just a short reply to the hon Mike Waters. I thank him very much for his advice on how to go ahead with the hospital waiting lists. It is a serious issue; we do need those kinds of information systems to know how many people are on waiting lists. This does point out the absolute necessity for information systems of absolute integrity.
As the hon Waters might be aware, we have initiated the first stage of an e-health information system. This would be the first phase of a programme of looking at health information for each patient so that the final outcome is that any patient who is in any part of the country can move to another province or region and will be followed electronically instead of with paper. It is still a long way ahead, but the department is committed to getting a proper health information system going. Thank you.
RESTRICTIVE LABOUR LAWS
The MINISTER FOR JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Chairperson, this is in response to the statement about labour. For the first time in recent years the government has been able to create more job opportunities than entrants to the labour market. Over the past four years, more than 2 million people have been absorbed into the marketplace, so positive steps have been taken. The Expanded Public Works Programme is a clear illustration of the intention and ability of government to generate and create the appropriate opportunities for labour and skills development and, indeed, it is going to be expanded.
The hon member from the ANC made reference to the R787 billion for infrastructure over the next three years. A consequence and spin-off of this would be a huge opportunity to create employment. We have to place a particular responsibility on the shoulders of the private sector by saying - having due regard to the fact that these are the positive steps that are being taken by government - what are you as private entities doing to ensure that you create opportunity?
I ask the hon member who spoke about the appointment of people in a temporary capacity to look at the Labour Relations Act. There is no prohibition whatsoever on employing a person for a fixed period, for a particular time - so the tenure can be determined, as long as the remuneration and the salary are not below the minimum standards set out in legislation.
When you do not know what the Labour Relations Act entails, you tend to make these uninformed statements which tend to be misleading. So, I would certainly invite the hon member to have a discussion with me so that we can go through the details of the Labour Relations Act and perhaps she will be more enlightened in her statements to this House. Thank you very much, Chairperson.
DEVASTATING WILDFIRES IN AUSTRALIA
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Ms F Hajaig): Chair, this is just to assure the hon Suzanne Vos – I see she has left the Chamber - that our condolences have been sent to the Australian government for the loss of life of its citizens in the raging fires in Australia. Thank you.
ANC INITIATIVE: WAR ROOM ON POVERTY
RURAL SANITATION AND JOB CREATION PROJECTS
RESTRICTIVE LABOUR LAWS
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY (Ms E Thabethe): Chairperson, I'd like to respond to the statement on the war against poverty raised by the hon member Mnyandu. As we indicated two weeks ago on 30 January 2009, we rolled out this war room further to Mpumalanga and the premier of the province, Mr Makwetla, and his executive were present.
We hope that this then will conclude as we move on to finishing the two provinces so that people can really see that the ANC-led government is keen to make sure that they get out of poverty and truly show that "Working together, we can do more."
The second statement was given by the hon M M Ntuli with regard to rural sanitation job-creation projects. This also answers directly the hon Dreyer in that she must do a little bit of research and checking first, because today 87 people in Mount Ayliff can put food on the table because they are employed in this project to deal with the VIPs in the villages. So, rural development is part of the priorities that this government has.
Also, government cannot stop intervening. Government must intervene because the private sector, as I indicated even yesterday, also needs to take part and work with communities and government. So there is no way that you can say that some people are untouchable. They must create jobs and the government will then assist with the infrastructure and all it entails.
In addition to what Minister Surty said, I would like to say that the ANC-led government inherited a fragmented labour market in 1994. Today we talk about there being very good policies in place, which she should know about as a member of the Portfolio Committee on Labour. She must not only criticise. Where things are good she must say so.
I hope the voters are listening because she is actually going back to exploitation and working conditions - that workers must accept lower salaries. I hope they are listening. They can see that the DA government is going to put all those things in place. [Applause.] Together, as the ANC-led government, we will do more with what we inherited in 1994. Thank you. [Applause.]
THE FIGHT AGAINST CRIME
The DEPUTY MINISTER FOR JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Chairperson, I think I will respond to the member who spoke about the initiatives around crime. Obviously, this is a very serious problem in our country.
I would urge members to look carefully at the budget proposals that the Minister of Finance has made and see what a huge impact we are trying to make through spending on crime. One can look in particular at the ad hoc committee, chaired by the hon Sotyu, which is dealing with the forensic Bill. I think a few billion rand is being allocated to put the DNA databases and the DNA structure in place so that we are fully equipped to deal with DNA, which we aren't able to deal with today.
Secondly, the fingerprint databases are fragmented and the police do not have access to any of those databases except our own one. They don't have access to the Home Affairs database. They don't have access to the eNaTIS database of Transport. Through this legislation we are now linking up all those fingerprint databases, and we are going to give the police access to all of them.
So, I would urge people to study this. If they have further proposals on how to better the fight against crime, I ask that they please bring those suggestions forward. We will happily interact with them. Thank you.
African Youth Charter
(Consideration of request for approval by Parliament)
Mrs W S NEWHOUDT-DRUCHEN: Chairperson, the Joint Monitoring Committee on Improvement of Quality of Life and Status of Children, Youth and Disabled Persons has discussed the African Youth Charter and now presents it to the House for ratification.
On 9 December 1994, the first National Youth Summit took place. This was attended by more than 40 political, religious, cultural, sports and student formations of the youth. The summit set out policy consensus which would guide both state and government in the performance of the task of empowering the youth. The development of the youth policy for South Africa is therefore a core part of developing policies for the youth across the region, Africa, as a continent, and finally the rest of the world.
The charter is an important policy document that serves as a guiding framework to fast-track implementation of a comprehensive youth policy and strategies that will empower young people to take advantage of increasing opportunities. We note the involvement of South African youth organisations such as the National Youth Commission, the ANC Youth League, the NGOs and the SA Human Sciences Research Council in the process of developing and drafting to completion the charter as part of regional and African youth policy.
The African Youth Commission requested the Human Sciences Research Council to prepare a report on the status of youth in Africa and to draft the African Youth Charter in 2005. In July 2006, at the African Union Summit in Banjul, Gambia, the African heads of state adopted this charter. Countries now have to ratify this charter and put in place its institutional provisions to ensure that each country's youth policy is developed and implemented along with the charter's objectives.
The African Youth Charter concerns itself with the situation of African youth. Many of them are marginalised from mainstream society through inequalities in income, wealth and power; through unemployment and underemployment; through being infected and affected by HIV/Aids; through living in situations of poverty and hunger; through illiteracy and poor quality education systems; through having restricted access to health services and information; through exposure to violence, including gender violence; through engagement in armed conflicts; and through experiencing various forms of discrimination.
The African Youth Charter creates a binding framework for African governments to create supportive policies and programmes for our youth. It provides a platform for youth to assert their rights and execute their responsibilities to contribute to the development of the SADC region and Africa as a continent that has to develop to ensure a bright future for its people.
The key policy provision in the African Youth Charter is that the charter defines youth as individuals between 15 and 35 years of age. It outlines the rights, freedoms and responsibilities of young people, as well as the duties to be performed by states to advance their rights. The rights and duties are clustered into four main themes: namely, youth participation, education and skills development, sustainable livelihoods, and health and wellbeing.
The charter also specifies that states which are party to the charter should guarantee youth participation in parliaments and other decision-making processes, develop and implement comprehensive and coherent national youth policies, mainstream youth issues and establish a national youth co-ordinating mechanism.
As we move to ratify the African charter, we want to highlight these values as key driving and motivational issues for our youth to strive towards. The youth shall have a duty to become the custodians of their own development, and to protect and work for family life and cohesion. They shall have a duty to have full respect for parents and elders and to assist them at any time in cases of need in the context of positive African values. The youth shall have a duty to partake fully in citizenship duties, including voting, decision-making and governance. The youth should strive towards engaging in peer-to-peer education to promote youth development in areas such as literacy, use of information and communication technology, HIV/Aids prevention, violence prevention and peace building.
The youth shall also have a duty to contribute to the promotion of the economic development of states, parties and Africa by placing their physical and intellectual abilities at their service. The youth shall have a duty to espouse an honest work ethic and reject and expose corruption. They must also strive towards a society free from substance abuse, violence, crime, exploitation and intimidation. The youth must strive towards promoting tolerance, understanding, dialogue, consultation and respect for others regardless of age, race, colour, gender, ability, religion, status or political affiliation.
The youth shall have a duty to defend democracy, the rule of law and all human rights and fundamental freedoms. They must encourage a culture of human rights protection as well as civil society activities. The youth have a duty to be patriotic and respect African traditions and cultural heritage and to pass on this legacy to future generations. They must strive to become the vanguard of representing cultural heritage in languages and in forms to which youth are able to relate; and they have a duty to protect the environment and conserve nature. It is a pleasure for me to recommend the African Youth Charter for ratification by this Parliament. [Applause.]
There was no debate.
African Youth Charter approved.
HOW PARLIAMENTS CAN IMPROVE ACCESS TO HIV/AIDS TREATMENT (WITH REFERENCE TO THE REGIONAL TRAINING SEMINAR ON HIV/AIDS FOR PARLIAMENTS OF SADC AND EAC)
The MINISTER OF HEALTH: Chair, I would like to congratulate the Deputy Speaker of Parliament on the initiative taken on holding this extremely important seminar - cum -conference in Parliament this year.
It is very sobering to realise that in this day and age several provinces are facing stock-outs - shortages of antiretrovirals. The role of Parliament in such situations needs examination; equally so, the role of government must also be examined. What is the role of the different spheres of government? What do they have to do when these matters happen? But, most importantly, we need to understand what the dynamics are and what it is that led to this situation and what role Parliament can play in making sure that this does not happen in the future.
Firstly, we have to look at the cost of drugs, and that isn't an easy thing. We do have locally manufactured antiretrovirals. We are told by certain sources that we are paying too much and that we should be importing. What does that mean for local manufacturing by our local pharmaceutical industry? We need to make policy decisions on that, and we have been in discussion with our partner ministries on that matter.
But this not only has to do with the cost of the antiretrovirals. At the moment our people are at the first line of antiretrovirals. That is the first line that was produced to respond to the antiretroviral crisis. But we are going to have to be moving to the second line, which entails much-improved drugs with fewer side effects. Those are going to be expensive and they will also have intellectual property rights attached to them. So, the battles that we had around the first line are going to be battles that we are going to have around the second line. What role will Parliament play in that?
We saw the enormous battles that the developing countries had to engage in to get the cost of antiretrovirals reduced and bargain on the question of intellectual property. And we are going to have to go into a second round of that. It is very interesting to see how we will use the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights – Trips - to be able to significantly negotiate our way through these very difficult waters.
Costs are not just related to the individual cost of each tablet of each package. Costs are also related to the procurement procedures that we engage in as government. Costs are also related to the way that we manage our stocks. How long do we wait until we order the new supply? What is the procurement policy? Is the procurement policy clean? Are we procuring from the best possible sources?
Without wanting to invade or to undermine the executive authority, I do think that it is very important for parliaments to acquaint themselves with the niceties and details of these issues, not just simply because we have to exercise oversight, but because we have a pandemic in this country, an illness and a disease that is ravaging our country on a scale that no other illness has ever ravaged it.
The provision of antiretrovirals has been a beacon of light for so many people. It has given them their lives back. It has given families their breadwinners back. These issues are not just budgetary issues: Can we afford or can we not afford? These are issues that we need to engage in and not take simplistic views about or just keep on saying government must deliver. We need to understand not just the constraints and the difficulties, but also the commitment of government to deliver. We have delivered and will continue to deliver. So we need to understand the procurement processes.
We also need to understand the role of donors. It was in the last round of the Global Fund that we applied for additional funding, and we failed in that as a country. That was a terrible setback. But out there, there are large numbers of donors, and let me say that the Americans have been absolutely superb in our present crisis. The US President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief, Pepfar, has come to our assistance in a way that no other donor was able to. Within a couple of weeks they were able to identify a source of supply; they were able to get approval; and within a couple of days we are going to be able to roll out those antiretrovirals to the supply depot in the Free State.
We must apologise to health workers and to patients who presented themselves to those facilities and who were turned away because we could not initiate them onto antiretrovirals. This is a sobering moment in our history - related to the roll-out of antiretrovirals - when provinces start to exceed their budgeted targets; when they have more people on antiretrovirals than they anticipated and then do not have a budget going forward. What are the policy decisions? How do they manage that process and how do we go forward? And, I think, this has been a very salient learning experience for all of us in the health sector.
So there is the aspect of donor co-ordination as well. We are a country that is proud of having a health infrastructure. We are not the average developing country that has to depend heavily on donors to provide a lot of health care services, and we are proud of that. But we must also realise that we simply do not have the resources to roll out a health care delivery system on the scale that we would wish, under the weight of the burden of disease that we are carrying at the moment. So donor co-ordination becomes a major priority. We need to know those donors, what they need, what lead times they require, what they can offer us so that we can move swiftly and efficiently with our partners. In the SA National Aids Council's resource-mobilisation committee we are setting up the resources to be able to do that as best as possible.
Let us not just isolate this issue in terms of HIV and Aids alone. There is tuberculosis as well. TB is the twin; it walks the same path as HIV and Aids. And so parliaments really need to be looking at what is happening with our TB programmes. The debate at hand is: What do parliaments do to assist with the treatment of HIV and Aids? As a person who has long sat on these benches, this is something very dear to my heart: The oversight by Parliament.
I want to say that we cannot see the national Parliament in isolation to the provincial legislatures. Health is a concurrent function. We do have the National Council of Provinces that plays an invaluable role in bringing in the provincial perspectives. But let me just share with you an experience I have had. When we were in the public accounts committee, way back in 1994, one of the first initiatives we undertook was to set up an association of public accounts committees that has met every year since then for 15 years. This was an association of the national public accounts committees and the provincial ones. We would have a national get-together every year to assess where we were; the common issues facing us as legislatures exercising oversight.
Health service delivery is primarily in the provinces. The national Department of Health is primarily a department that sets standards and quality assurance. It is not really at the coalface of health service delivery. If we are going to have proper oversight, we need to be co-ordinated. I must say that it would be wonderful if this could be done in the way that public accounts committees do it: On a nonparty basis, with our provincial counterparts, to see what effective oversight is.
The national department, the national legislature and the national parliamentary committee on health can play an invaluable role when we are looking at the Doha agreements on Trips, and the kinds of international instruments that can facilitate our access to antiretrovirals, and other measures to support the fight against HIV and Aids. It is at that local level – the provincial level - that we really need the oversight, and we need to be supporting our provincial counterparts. They often come under incredible pressure and they need support from all of us, working together.
Let me also just say that here in this House every MP has access to a constituency office. We need to set in place early warning systems around drug supplies and procurement. One of our best early warning systems would be for each and every MP to be in contact with what is happening in their clinics and hospitals. That would be an important port of call for every parliamentarian and every health care worker or every patient. We would not need to have the NGOs and health workers calling on us and making us aware of the problems that they are experiencing in our provinces.
The constituency offices should be an important port of call for every health worker and every patient in order to be able to say: "Listen, people are coming here and I don't have drugs, not only antiretrovirals, but drugs for diabetes, hypertension ..." – that kind of stock-out. So, we really want to make the appeal as the Department of Health that individual MPs take it upon themselves to stay very close to what is happening in our health care system.
There are many roles and very important roles. There is a suggestion that there be a specific committee on HIV and Aids and TB. I would endorse that. There are other ways in which one could do this. We could also have a subcommittee on health that looks specifically at those issues and Parliament would have to undertake to play a role.
But a national conversation is going to have to take place around the challenges that we face: Financial, human resources and whatever. Everybody has the right to protest, to embark on legal litigation, but we all need to say that together we need to be facing these problems. We appreciate this initiative from the national Department of Health and we congratulate Parliament, and we hope that in the next Parliament we will have very active and vigilant Members of Parliament when it comes to health issues and to HIV and Aids in particular. Thank you very much. [Time expired.]
Mr N SINGH: Chair, I wonder if the hon Minister has time to take a reasonable question.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A C Nel): Her time has expired, but we will ...
Mr N SINGH: Madam Minister, you spoke about Pepfar funding. Now last year ...
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A C Nel): Let me just first ascertain if the member wishes to take a question.
The MINISTER OF HEALTH: I will.
Mr N SINGH: Thank you. Madam Minister, we rely very heavily on global funding. I chair a hospice on the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal. Last year, we understand, R835 million-odd was not made available because the Department of Health did not endorse an application. Many hospices rely on global funding and especially to go out and help people infected with HIV and Aids. Could you give us some indication, Minister, whether a new application will be supported?
The MINISTER OF HEALTH: We are in the next round of applications now, and we have the Development Bank of Southern Africa assisting us in getting a proper secretariat in place. We are working on this and UN Aids has given us technical support to do that. So we are working very hard to ensure that that process will go ahead. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mrs S V KALYAN: Chair, given that an estimated 5,7 million South Africans are infected with HIV, it was highly appropriate that the regional training seminar on HIV/Aids was held in our Parliament. There was overwhelming consensus at the seminar that parliamentarians can and must play a critical role to improve access to HIV treatment, to provide support to infected and affected persons, and to transform attitudes.
It is heartening to note that since September 2008, the government of South Africa has buried all the garden remedies in the compost heap and ditched the nonsense rhetoric about HIV/Aids and that the Minister of Health has publicly stated that HIV causes Aids and she has committed herself to tackling the pandemic holistically and scientifically. [Interjections.] [Applause.]
Bly stil! [Keep quiet!] While the denialist attitudes are gone, the political leadership of South Africa still needs to be more forceful in our commitment to deal with this disease. As parliamentarians, we have a duty to create an enabling environment for infected persons. The tragic case of the young mother in Lusikisiki who murdered her four children and then committed suicide because of the stigma around her HIV status should never have happened. All of us must take collective responsibility for those deaths.
The Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum Model Law on HIV/Aids has been drafted from a human rights perspective. It is basically a set of key recommendations for member states to shape their own domestic legislation with.
Firstly, the Parliament of South Africa needs to have a conversation on whether we need a specific HIV Act, or whether we should integrate the model law into existing legislation. Secondly, we need to look at specific problem areas in the model law, like disclosure of status to third parties, decriminalising sex work, consensual same-sex relationships and criminalising societal behaviour, and to analyse these recommendations in the context of our Constitution with a focus on human rights.
Access to medication is a fundamental component of the right to health. All parliaments should and must establish enabling legislation necessary for the production or importation of cheaper drugs. The high cost of antiretrovirals, especially second-line drugs, is prohibitive.
South Africa's Aids programme is heading for a funding crisis. Last year we set aside R4,5 billion for Aids, but by the department's own admission we need at least R6,4 billion because more people are seeking treatment than budgeted for. Therefore we need to rely more on donor funding and we need to be more relaxed about the strict conditions we impose when accessing these funds.
Earlier this year R80 million in funding from the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria was put on hold because the government did not have structures to administer it. I acknowledge that this is the legacy of the former administration which did not trust donations from the international community, but I am hopeful because I have just heard you, Minister, in that we are working, as we speak, to put these systems in place so that we can use every possible cent in the war against Aids.
There are encouraging signs that our Aids epidemic is stabilising. We hope that this trend will be shown to continue in the results of the next antenatal clinic survey which, presumably, will be released within the next couple of months. But the treatment and prevention programme is still nowhere close to where it should be.
There are many practical things that we, as parliamentarians, can do to address the pandemic. Firstly, we need to depoliticise the issue. The DA fully supports the recommendation that Parliament establish a cross-party committee on HIV and Aids. We would go a step further and call for this cross-party committee also to be represented on the SA National Aids Council. Furthermore, we need to see civil society as an important partner in the fight against HIV and Aids.
Secondly, we need to be far more aggressive in removing the stigma associated with HIV and Aids. A campaign encouraging testing for one's status, spearheaded by our Parliament, would be an excellent starting point.
The DA has signed up to the one million tests programme initiated by the Aids Health Care Foundation, and I urge all political parties in this House to do the same. We should use our public positions to appropriate funds for health care and exercise our oversight of executive actions more vigorously.
Because of the lack of political will for the development of a coherent, quality medicine regulation system, we have situations such as the one that the DA was approached with earlier this year. Some Aids researchers have been waiting for two years for approval from the Medicines Control Council for a clinical trial on a potential Aids treatment. They faced losing their funding if the application was not approved by the end of the year. The trial has still not been approved.
It is time for proper medicine regulations to be restored. Political appointments in the MCC, which keeps the old order entrenched, must be swept away and the focus on quality and professionalism must be restored. The DA supports the call by the Treatment Action Campaign to up the CD4 count from 200 to 350 to qualify for treatment. It just makes good sense.
Minister, you've put out a challenge that all Members of Parliament should go out to their constituencies and monitor the availability of medicines in the clinics and hospitals. I put a question to you, Minister: Will you then lift the blanket ban that exists at the moment because of which public representatives cannot enter hospitals? They have to apply in writing, and sometimes it takes six to eight weeks before you get a response. I would like to take up your challenge, but, at the same time, I ask you to advise or notify clinics and hospitals that public representatives should be able to walk into the hospitals and that they should be unafraid to answer questions when it comes to shortages of medicines and the like. [Applause.]
HIV and Aids is a global emergency and a fundamental human rights issue. We have a duty to promote a nonpartisan approach to the HIV pandemic and the DA associates itself fully with the resolution of the parliaments. Thank you. [Applause.]
Dr R RABINOWITZ: Chairperson, this debate is centred around a report with a considerable focus on rights, but asking practical responses from MPs. Two issues stood out for me in the report. The first was the Model Law on HIV/Aids and the second issue was on ways of improving access to cheaper ARVs.
As an IFP member, I am wary lest we fall into the trap of putting blame on others for our failures as government and MPs to address HIV effectively.
In 2005, the Inter-Parliamentary Union adopted a resolution about the role of Parliament in advocating and enforcing human rights in strategies for prevention, management and treatment of HIV and Aids. It was carried into the Model Law over which we, as MPs, have had very little input.
The rights aspect of managing the HIV and Aids pandemic is important, but it is also important that we don't fall into another trap of focusing too much on human rights aspects and too little on the practical implementation of an adequate response to the pandemic. Rights misapplied can do more harm than good. And too often the policy agenda has been set by activists who had their own agenda. In the early days, it was decided for us that the right to secrecy for HIV was paramount. That bias came from the West; it was imported into Africa, fostered by academics and endorsed by our leaders. It has contributed towards making HIV different.
Let us focus on nondiscrimination more than on secrecy. If we treat HIV like an ordinary disease, so will the public. If we focus on nondiscrimination, we will not allow the illness to be treated differently by insurance companies with regard to death benefits, by medical aids with regard to chronic medicine benefits, and we will also not allow the chronic illness grant to be based on the CD4 count but on the ability to work, linked to a patient's attempt to try to find word.
At the seminar several speakers argued for greater use of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights – TRIPS - in the World Trade Organisation, allowing patents to be overturned and compelling companies to give compulsory licences for the production of generics.
In our experience, that has not been necessary. What is necessary is government will to make treatment available and to engage in good-faith negotiations with companies to allow appropriate medicines to be manufactured, often through partnerships with the generic and the parent companies that still keep their licences.
The price in South Africa is currently R130 per patient for appropriate medication. That is more than affordable; it is cheap.
As the need for second-generation, combination and newer drugs becomes necessary, I suggest that we employ the same approach. Let's keep Trips in reserve as a stick but engage in good-faith negotiations. And, had the previous Minister of Health been more accessible to Parliament's views previously, we would have not had an expensive court case in terms because she didn't want to distribute antiretrovirals and blamed the big-drug multinationals.
The structure of our health service does not foster access to treatment or to medication. It is far too centralised. Budgeting and implementation are confused. Some programmes are duplicated, some are contradicted. Some budgets are not spent, some are overspent.
Districts should be strengthened and decide priorities close to the point of delivery, then integrate the services to carry them out. This will improve transparency, efficiency and accountability.
To make medicines more accessible, we should bring the private sector on board to manage clinics and hospitals, to run fleets of mobile units, to manage drug distribution. We should work with the NGO sector in the open and not as a form of political patronage - one of the reasons why the Global Fund was obstructed in KwaZulu-Natal in the past. We should open our arms to international donors and not try to remain self-sufficient, as the previous Minister claimed she wanted to be. Hopefully, we have a new approach from our new Minister.
In the early days, as I pointed out, the KwaZulu-Natal ministry, for political reasons, obstructed the Global Fund, which has happened again recently. The SA National Aids Council remains relatively ineffectual. Therefore, hon Minister, let us by all means establish another interparliamentary committee. But we had one before; it evaporated in the heat of politics.
Let the new committee, if we do form it, comprise a team of drivers and not debaters, of actors and not of activists. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mrs H I BOGOPANE-ZULU: Mr Chair, I think sometimes it really hardens me when colleagues come to the podium without having done their homework. [Interjections.] No, I will deliver my own speech, just be patient.
It hurts because sometimes when we want to engage with concepts, especially around the issues of HIV and Aids, it helps if you do your homework. You can never equate confidentiality with secrecy, and if you understood the realities of HIV and Aids, you could never make the comments my colleague has just made. So that is one of the things that we need to deal with as Parliament.
Let me first talk about the Inter-Parliamentary Union Advisory Committee on HIV and Aids, a committee that was established by 12 members from around the globe and is endorsed by the Inter-Parliamentary Union governing body and the 152 parliaments who form the membership. That committee was established because we understood that on the debate of HIV and Aids, parliaments have been lacking.
The train left the station and, for some reason, parliaments and parliamentarians were left behind. Now we are sitting in a process that has moved on without us and we need to invest energy, time and resources to catch up, because our being left out has caused a lot of challenges in the fight against HIV and Aids.
One of the most important aspects are the international instruments that are being ratified - sometimes by our government – and which commit us as Members of Parliament in our absence. We then find ourselves having to respond to things that we have not committed ourselves to, but, at the same time, possibly establishing a lack of coherence and follow-up.
We have the special session on HIV and Aids that takes place every two years. I think it's important for this Parliament, in endorsing the committee to be established in whatever form, to do a wonderful job in following up and ensuring that Parliament, as an institution, has the budget to enable South Africans to engage with the report long before it reaches the United Nations. That will go a long way.
We have the Abuja Declaration, to which we've committed ourselves, that has set certain standards and, for some reason, Parliament has never had an opportunity to actually engage with the Abuja Declaration. Amongst the challenges, the Abuja Declaration says that we need to allocate 15% of our health budgets. How will we do that as overseers of the national budget if we have not had the opportunity for actually meaningful engagement? So we need to look, as Parliament, at the strategies of how we engage with these political commitments government and the executive commit themselves to.
We need to look at issues of legislation. I think that at this time in our history we do not want to be passing an HIV Act. I can confidently say that South Africa has the best HIV legislation in the world. We have the right policies, but we have a challenge in implementing them. [Applause.] We have them, they are there. Now let's implement them.
As was said by the previous speakers, we as parliaments need to begin to do that through our constituencies in partnership with our other partners, and in that way we will give meaning to the different pieces of legislation and policies that we already have. This would mean that we have moved four, five steps ahead of the Model Law for SADC and that we could share with other SADC countries what we have learnt.
The world is in the process of criminalising HIV. What have we done as Parliament? We need to look back and ask what is our role and what have we done to ensure that the criminalisation of HIV does not happen. I know that when we talk about criminalisation, we talk about difficult issues. The reality is that we can't continue to criminalise sex workers and assume that we don't contribute to the criminalisation.
We need to deal with difficult issues, because HIV is a virus that has gone deeper into our cultural values, that has really challenged everybody in everything that we do. So we need to begin to contribute and make sure that issues of criminalisation, especially of those vulnerable sectors, are dealt with as a matter of urgency.
This is one of the priority areas in our national strategic plan. The section on human rights and access to justice will be made a reality solely by us in this Chamber and in the legislatures. Come 2011, we need to look back at what has been outlined in the national strategic plan and what we as Parliament have contributed towards achieving that.
The member before me talked about secrecy and confidentiality and whatever her understanding of that was. We have very high levels of stigmatisation, whether we agree or not. You cannot take a disease that has been associated from its beginning, from its genesis, with immorality and sexuality and want to pretend that its confidentiality can be associated with secrecy. To me, that's very irresponsible.
We need to deal with issues of notification and disclosure. They are challenges, but they have nothing to do with secrecy. We need to evaluate where and how and what value they will add. We need to ask the right questions, not if we want to talk about the numbers but if we want them for health system purposes - then, let's go there. But we should not go there just because somebody thought that secrecy and confidentiality can never be confused. [Applause.]
There are issues of travel bans. We are now talking about the UK requiring visas, but the debate we have missed is that before long people on the African continent, especially from sub-Saharan Africa, will never be able to leave their own countries and that includes South Africans. Because we have a high prevalence of HIV, countries want you to declare your HIV status as a condition for obtaining a visa, assuming that they are issuing bans. What have we said as leaders in this House? We need to begin to open the dialogue on that.
The Minister talked about patent rights, and my colleague before me said that the former Minister of Health wasted money by having a court case. What she does not realise is that that court case set and brought the prices of medicines down. [Applause.]
That court case tested the Trips agreement. That court case set the precedent in that when negotiations are entered into, we will implement them. So we will go ahead and as we establish the form of this is and as we engage on HIV, we will continue to test the flexibilities. We will continue to work on looking at issues of issuing compulsory or voluntary licences, but we will do everything we should to bring the price of drugs down, especially the second-line drugs. That's what we'll do. It's important also ...
Dr R RABINOWITZ: Chairperson, on a point of order ...
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A C Nel): Hon member, please take your seat. There is a point of order.
Dr R RABINOWITZ: Chairperson, is the hon member aware that at the time that the court case ...
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A C Nel): Sorry, are you rising on a point of order?
Dr R RABINOWITZ: Yes.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A C Nel): What is the point?
Dr R RABINOWITZ: The point of order is that the member said that I was wrong ...
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A C Nel): No, no, that's not a point of order. [Interjections.] Please take your seat.
Dr R RABINOWITZ: Well, may I ask the hon member a question?
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A C Nel): Will you take a question, hon member?
Mrs H I BOGOPANE-ZULU: Time permitting, Chair, I will.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A C Nel): Okay, time permitting at the end of her speech.
Mrs H I BOGOPANE-ZULU: Time permitting, I will definitely take the question. [Interjections.]
With regard to the issuing of permission for people to do research in South Africa, I think it is very important that we understand that sometimes people access funding for research without having followed the necessary procedures. We must never, as South Africans and as this Parliament, allow researchers to undermine ethics and efficacy in the name of accessing research. We can't and we won't compromise. [Applause.]
We have seen what happened with microbicides and we will continue to pressurise the ethics committee on its responsibility to work and function effectively. And, as this Parliament, I think at some stage we need to look at the guidelines that were set. This is because a lot of researchers come to South Africa and target rural areas. They bring consent forms written in English that are not explained half the time and they give people money. So we need to look at all those realities: That when people want to do research, which we support, we must engage more on the research.
Monitoring and evaluation remain our biggest challenges. But let me talk about what our responsibilities are in the few seconds I have left. As Members of Parliament we need to make sure that as opinion leaders we say the right things, we use the right language, we stop saying people are suffering from HIV. They are not suffering; they are infected and affected.
We need to be able, as decision-makers, to make the right decisions collectively as leaders. We need to be able to oversee and provide the required leadership. We need to be able to ensure that when we do our constituency work, when we engage with the budget, when we engage with the executive, we provide the expected leadership and that we roll out and become treatment partners to those constituencies that we serve. We are the ones that will carry their voice so that this Assembly can listen to those unheard voices. As South Africa, we have a challenge.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A C Nel): Hon member, your time has expired. [Interjections.]
Mrs H I BOGOPANE-ZULU: Thank you very much. [Interjections.] No, I could've taken the question if I'd had the time! [Applause.]
Ms T B SUNDUZA: Chairperson, hon members, distinguished guests, it is my honour to speak for the first time in this House. [Applause.] I thank my party, the ANC, for the confidence it has in me.
Parliamentarians, as representatives of the people, have a key role to play in response to HIV and Aids - one of the most serious threats facing the world. They represent and have the platform to reflect the concerns of all people, including those living with or affected by HIV. As opinion leaders and decision-makers, parliamentarians can promote informed debate on issues related to HIV. As legislators, parliamentarians can lead the drafting, adoption and oversight of the implementation of the legislation that protects human rights and that advances effective HIV prevention, care and treatment. These are some of the interventions in which parliamentarians can play a role.
It was this immense platform and opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people afforded to public representatives that gave birth to the IPU Advisory Group on HIV and Aids. This advisory group's key mission is to provide guidance to IPU member states on the implementation of international commitments on HIV and Aids. It creates the opportunity for parliamentarians to network and to share their experiences and progress in order to develop an integrated approach to the fight against Aids.
We must value the opportunity the IPU provides to parliamentarians to share their knowledge of programmes and strategies. This assists all countries in benefiting from this knowledge and developing more effective strategies in their own response to the Aids pandemic. At a policy level, it also provides the opportunity to develop a common approach, particularly in the area of ensuring that those who are HIV-positive are protected against discrimination in any form.
At its 52nd national conference in Polokwane the ANC resolved, among other things, the following: That education and health be key priorities of the ANC for the foreseeable future; to further strengthen the public health care system and ensure adequate funding; that government intervene in the high cost of health provision; to develop a recruitment and human resource development strategy; to develop a memorandum of understanding with foreign countries on the exodus of health professionals; to accelerate the roll-out of the comprehensive health care programme, such as the provision of ARVs at all health facilities and the strengthening of capacity to monitor the side effects of ARVs; to intensify our efforts to create an environment that promotes positive individual behaviour in our communities, especially amongst young people; and that more resources are allocated to programmes on sexual awareness, with ANC branches being actively involved in these programmes.
Health is, in fact, one of the key priorities of the ANC-led government, and will remain so when the ANC returns to lead the new government after the 2009 elections. Critical to our response to the Aids pandemic is to ensure that all health facilities have the capacity to provide ARV treatment, notwithstanding the challenges confronting us to achieve this.
As critical is the implementation of the national health insurance, which guarantees that all South Africans have free access to health care. The new ANC-led government will ensure the implementation of this over the next five years. Furthermore, the new ANC-led government will reconsider establishing a state-owned pharmaceutical company to regulate and provide cheaper drugs.
What else can members do to get more involved? We can play a key role in raising awareness of the potential benefits of HIV testing and counselling and ensure that people's right to privacy is respected. In this regard, we should be encouraging as many people as possible to get tested and know their status. We can assist in the prevention of prejudice, discrimination and stigma against those who are afflicted and affected.
Many families are devastated by the loss of loved ones and do not deserve to be treated in an undignified and disrespectable manner. This disease affects us all. We can promote compassion and understanding within the broader society and speak out on the tolerance and the rights of women, children and vulnerable groups.
As legislators, we can ensure that our laws and regulations eliminate all forms of discrimination against people living with HIV and that we move away from rhetoric and ensure appropriate action. We must also ensure that the World Trading Organisation's Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights is incorporated. We must use this immense platform we are given as parliamentarians to preach the ABC. We must reject coercive approaches to HIV prevention such as mandatory HIV testing, restriction of movement and criminalisation of harm-reduction measures. Equally, we must reject the gender-based inequalities that fuel the epidemic and work with members of vulnerable groups such as sex workers, men who engage in same-sex activity, drug addicts and prisoners.
We are aware that the SA National Aids Council, Sanac, has met regularly in recent times and that there is unity in purpose among stakeholders as we combine our efforts to rid our society of the disease that has caused so much pain in the lives of our people, especially the poor. According to the national strategic plan, there are plans to duplicate the Sanac structure and establish it at provincial level, as well as at local level. We must ensure that this happens and that we are at the forefront of mobilising our constituencies to become involved in these structures.
Research is a critical part of planning in our response to HIV and in gauging whether our interventions are having the desired results. From recent surveys it appears that young adults, who were most vulnerable to infection, have started to understand the message of prevention, and we have seen a decline. This is good news, but it does not mean we can now rest on our laurels. We need to intensify our prevention campaign.
In conclusion, I wish to say that we are well placed in many of the areas I have mentioned, but we fall short on implementation. I urge all hon members to commit themselves to taking the necessary action to reverse the impact that HIV and Aids has on our people. We must unite to defeat this disease in the same way we came together in unity to defeat apartheid. There is a role for each and every one of us. I thank you. [Applause.]
Ms S RAJBALLY: Chairperson, the MF found that the recent seminar held in Cape Town with SADC and East African Community members on the subject of HIV and Aids was of great benefit, and that it was educational on the reality of the pandemic on the continent. It is crucial that HIV and Aids are tackled on an international basis, as well as on a national basis.
It is pleasing to note that we have one of the largest antiretroviral programmes. But it is certain that the need does exceed the supply. In this respect, all our efforts need to be embraced to ensure that the pandemic is stopped from infecting more South Africans.
Madam Minister, an article by Natasha Joseph in the Cape Times has been greatly inspiring. She states, and I quote:
One million male condoms on average are distributed in Khayelitsha every month. This initiative of the City of Cape Town and NGOs working in the HIV and Aids sector has yielded fantastic results, says the city's health department.
Thanks go to you, Madam Minister.
She continues in writing, and I quote:
Over a three-year period, the dramatic scaling up of condoms distributed in Khayelitsha resulted in a 50% drop in the incidence of sexually transmitted infections.
The MF is in full support of all initiatives and embraces their influence, as parliamentarians, on rescuing communities from this dreadful disease of HIV and Aids. I thank you. [Applause.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A C Nel): Thank you very much. Hon members, the next speaker will be delivering her maiden speech. I call upon the hon B T Shongwe. [Applause.]
Ms B T SHONGWE: Chairperson, Madam Deputy Speaker, I am delighted to participate in this debate on the Inter-Parliamentary Union and HIV and Aids.
Firstly, I want to commend the Minister and the ANC-led government for, once again, sending a clear message that says: We care, we are pro-poor, and that we put our money where it is needed most. I was fortunate enough to be a participant in the first regional training seminar on HIV and Aids that was organised by the IPU and hosted by the South African Parliament in January 2009.
I wish to express my sincere thanks to the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker and the hon Bogopane-Zulu for championing this seminar, which was the first of its kind held by the Southern African Development Community and the East African Community.
Holding this seminar on the continent, specifically in South Africa, was crucial as we acknowledge that Southern Africa is the epicentre of the Aids pandemic. I say this because of the 14 member states of the Southern African Development Community, nine have an adult prevalence rate higher than 10%, six states have a rate higher than 20%, and one state has a rate higher than 30%.
In 2005, South Africa was home to 14,8 million of the 38,6 million people living with HIV in the world. These HIV-prevalence estimates conceal the much more appalling reality of the pandemic's impact on the human, social, economic and development structures of most of the Southern African states.
In more than 20 years on the subregion, HIV and Aids has reduced life expectancy; orphaned millions; affected food security and economic growth; and compromised hard-gained improvements in social and development structures. I therefore urge this House to take forward the recommendations, lessons learned and facts shared by critical formations such as the civic associations, the IPU and members from various parliaments.
On 28 November 2008, South Africa joined the Southern African Development Community in adopting the Model Law on HIV and Aids. The adoption of the Model Law by an institution as influential as SADC has brought to the foreground the importance of legislation and the urgency of legal reform as crucial parts of the response to HIV.
The Model Law enforces a common approach. We hope that this Model Law, which was developed by the SADC region, will build on existing best precedents. At the same time, we should be mindful that the ideal should not be uniformity for uniformity's sake. Country-specific differences still need to be accommodated.
The adoption of the model legislation underlines the need for an appropriate stimulus for debate and advocacy - very much what we are doing here today. Very importantly, for people living with HIV, human rights organisations and other civil-society groups, the Model Law is a powerful tool for advocacy targeted at legal and policy reform.
As an ANC member I join my voice to the many voices that have called for a cross-party committee on HIV and Aids. We ask that the members of the Fourth Parliament realise the recommendations of this House. In addressing the HIV and Aids pandemic, we must give more urgency to the many cross-cutting factors that have an impact on HIV infection, especially where women are concerned. Some of the critical areas that require further redress include the systematic nature of gender-based violence, especially rape, and the phenomenon of concurrent partners, which are drivers of the pandemic. Better strategies, more resources and education of boys and men are crucial in putting to rest outdated cultural practices and bad behaviour.
Since Polokwane we have seen spaces opening up for us to better interact with very important stakeholders in all relevant sectors. Strained relationships between government and civil society have been repaired and restored. The ANC must be congratulated on continuing its long walk with civil society. Indeed, civil society was alongside this government when it fought hard and bruising battles and was bold enough to take on the might of the multinationals in its quest to make medicine more affordable and accessible, not only for South Africans but for the rest of the continent and the world.
We can turn the tide if we take seriously the recommendation to target districts or areas, where we know the infection rate is high, with specific programmes, measures and interventions, as opposed to a one-size-fits-all approach. Addressing systemic weaknesses in the health system, such as quality of care, and the lack of personnel and remuneration, can go a long way towards accelerating our ideal of a better life for all.
This government is applauded all over the world for having the most expansive and largest number of people – over 600 000 - on antiretroviral treatment. Treating Aids is, however, expensive and requires long-term commitment. Currently, provinces such as the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal are under tremendous budgetary strain, but already the Minister has reflected what the challenges are and how she is going to address them.
We therefore need to use the legislation that this House has passed with so much courage to ensure that we access drugs at a cheaper rate. But we must also make use of the flexibilities that the World Trade Organisation provides for accessing drugs more cheaply.
The ANC Polokwane resolution calling for the establishment of a state-run pharmaceutical manufacturing plant in South Africa must be taken forward as a matter of urgency. Not only will this initiative benefit South Africans, but it will be benefit the rest of the countries on the continent.
It is now urgent that we revisit the first-line treatment regimes that we offer as first treatment as well as the second-line drugs commonly used to treat multidrug resistance. As the ANC, we call on opposition parties, civil society and stakeholders in the country and all over the world to work with us to ensure that people infected with HIV and who need treatment will receive the treatment they require. Together we can do more.
This requires bold moves and a conceptual mind-shift. Health is not a profit commodity, but a matter of pride and not of shame. The ANC lives. The ANC leads - forward with a better life for all. I thank you. [Applause.]
SADC AND EAC REGIONAL TRAINING SEMINAR ON HIV AND AIDS
The DEPUTY CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Chairperson, with leave, I move without notice:
That the House –
(1) notes that members of the Parliaments of the SADC and EAC countries met in Cape Town on 20 and 21 January 2009 for a regional training seminar on HIV/Aids;
(2) notes further that the event was organised by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and hosted by the South African Parliament;
(3) appreciates the role played by the IPU Advisory Group on HIV/Aids in co-ordinating this event and congratulates the new chairperson of the IPU Advisory Committee, Henrietta Bogopane-Zulu, on her appointment;
(4) associates itself with the view that, among others, the high cost of HIV/Aids drugs for African governments impacts on the affordability of anti-retroviral drugs;
(5) encourages our government and Parliament to consider the SADC Model Law on HIV/Aids in our endeavours to enhance the fight against the epidemic through legislative and other means;
(6) recognises the important role that Parliaments could play in the exercise of their oversight in ensuring that health care is prioritised in the national agenda and that adequate provision is made in the budget for HIV/Aids treatment;
(7) fully supports the recommendation of the seminar that Parliaments should establish cross-party committees on HIV/Aids; and
(8) strongly urges the Fourth Parliament to amend the Joint Rules for the purpose of establishing a Joint Committee on HIV/Aids.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! During the speech by the hon P J Groenewald yesterday, a point of order was taken by the Deputy Chief Whip of the Majority Party, the hon G B Magwanishe, concerning a reference by the hon Groenewald to the former head of state as having acted - and I quote from the Unrevised Hansard - "like the three little monkeys - I hear, I see and I say nothing" when it came to Selebi.
I undertook to study the Hansard and give a considered ruling on the remark. In delivering my ruling I should first like to remind the House that protection in terms of the Rules is only afforded to sitting members, although it has on occasion been extended to Members of the National Council of Provinces and premiers.
After studying the Hansard I am satisfied that the hon Groenewald, in referring to the three monkeys, was making use of a metaphor. The intention was not literally to imply a resemblance of the former president to an animal. I am, accordingly, of the view that this remark by the hon member was not offensive and was not in contravention of the Rules.
I would like to remind members that the hon Groenewald made a later remark to the effect that if members were to vote in favour of the matter before the House, they would be "acting like the three monkeys". I ruled this remark to be unparliamentary and had to ask the hon member to leave the Chamber when he refused to withdraw it.
I confirm that this ruling was indeed correct, as the hon member deliberately used this as a simile with the clear intention to liken members' actions to monkeys. I must emphasise that reference to animals, and specifically, in the context of our history, to monkeys is unbecoming. I must strongly urge members to refrain from using such terminology.
I also wish to address the House on the matter raised with reference to an alleged remark that a certain member should go back to Pakistan. Although no member accepted responsibility for making this comment, such remarks are deeply offensive, especially given the recent spate of xenophobic violence and intolerance directed at foreign nationals. I must caution members as public representatives, entitled to freedom of speech, to exercise moderation in their conduct and language so as not to undermine the integrity of this House.
The House adjourned at 11:31.
ANNOUNCEMENTS, TABLINGS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS
National Assembly and National Council of Provinces
1. The Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism
(a) Notice No 22 published in Government Gazette No 31789 dated 9 January 2009: National Environmental Management Act, 2008 (Act No 62 of 2008).
1. Report of the Portfolio Committee on Communications on the Broadcasting Amendment Bill [B72B-2008] (National Assembly – sec 75), dated 12 February 2009:
The Portfolio Committee on Communications, having reconsidered clause 3 of the Broadcasting Amendment Bill [B72B-2008] (National Assembly – sec 75) and the President's reservations on the constitutionality thereof (Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports, 10 February 2009), recommends that the President's reservations be accommodated, and presents an amended Bill [B72D-2008].
No related documents