Hansard: Second Reading debate: Renaming of High Courts [B 5B – 2008]
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 10 Jun 2008
No summary available.
TUESDAY, 10 JUNE 2008
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
The House met at 14:02.
House Chairperson Mr G Q M Doidge took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.
ANNOUNCEMENTS, TABLINGS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS – see col 000.
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr J P I BLANCHÉ: Mr Chairman, I hereby give notice that on the next sitting day I will move:
That the House resolves that –
(1) from 2009 onward Hansard no longer be printed in its hard copy form and that it only be made available on Parliament's website and on electronic disks; and
(2) all other tiers of government be requested to follow this example of modernising and cutting the cost of documenting parliamentary debates.
Mr G R MORGAN: Chair, I hereby give notice that on the next sitting day of the House I shall move, on behalf of the DA:
That the House debates the progress that South Africa has made in attempting to achieve sustainable development while taking into account that it has been six years since South Africa hosted the World Summit on Sustainable Development and the challenges of aligning a growing economy with the capacity of our environment.
GOOD WISHES TO BAFANA BAFANA AND THE SPRINGBOKS
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITION: Mr Chairman, I move without notice:
That the House –
(1) notes that Bafana Bafana beat Equatorial Guinea 4-1 on Saturday, 7 June 2008;
(2) further notes the Springboks' 43-17 victory over Wales in Bloemfontein on the same day;
(3) recognises that both these sports teams are great ambassadors for our country and instil a sense of pride in all South Africans;
(4) further recognises that both these victories inspire all our young South African sports men and women to develop themselves so that they excel in their chosen field of sport in the future; and
(5) wishes Bafana Bafana well in their away match against Sierra Leone and the Springboks well in their match against Wales on Saturday, 15 June 2008.
WELCOMING OF MEMBERS OF THE KNESSET AND THE MAYOR OF NAZARETH
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr G Q M Doidge): Order! I wish to acknowledge the presence in the gallery of a delegation which includes three Arab Palestinian members of the Knesset and the mayor of Nazareth. You are most welcome at our proceedings today. [Applause.]
Debate on Vote No 2 – Parliament:
The SPEAKER: Chairperson, Deputy President of the ANC, hon Members of Parliament, people of South Africa from all walks of life, honourable ladies and gentlemen, may I also extend a special word of welcome to the learners from the Intshukumo High School and the Lehlohonolo Primary School from Guguletu, as well as residents from my constituency. [Applause.]
Today is the last time in the life of the third Parliament that we will be considering the moneys allocated in Vote No 2, which are resources that enable us to execute our duties as public representatives and ensure that this institution fulfills its crucial constitutional mandate. It would therefore be appropriate to reflect on our work since 2004 and the achievements and challenges that remain. I am, unfortunately, limited by time in what I will be able to cover.
On the morning of the inauguration of the President in 2004, I met with representatives of all parties at the Union Buildings to begin to identify and prioritise the matters that would go into starting a new Parliament, as it has to be done each time the country goes to elections.
Shortly thereafter we restarted a broad consultative process towards a common vision for the institution. Finally, in February 2005, we agreed that our vision was to build an effective people's Parliament that was responsive to the needs of the people and driven by the ideal of realising a better life for all the people of South Africa. This vision puts people at the centre and speaks to Parliament's intent to change the lives of people for the better.
We also agreed that the parliamentary structure would be reviewed, allowing the Joint Rules Committee to reclaim its rightful place as the senior committee in charge of the core business of Parliament, as provided for in the Constitution. In the first decade, the Joint Rules Committee had ended up devoting much of its time to issues of micromanagement, while the core business was relatively sidelined.
During this third Parliament, four very important policies were adopted to help improve our work in the areas of security, international relations, financial management and the parliamentary budget, among other things.
At the start of the second Parliament, it was acknowledged that the regulatory framework for the financial management of Parliament was unsatisfactory. We had consequently decided to create a regulatory framework for the financial management of Parliament in a separate Act, in line with the principles of the Public Finance Management Act and consistent with the separation of powers. Much work has already been done, including intensive consultation with National Treasury. We anticipate the completion of the Bill within this year.
One of our core objectives is to exercise scrutiny and oversight over the executive. The traditional model of parliamentary oversight emphasises the notion of the separation of powers and checks and balances. This traditional model is a form of compliance auditing, focusing on the discovery of error. We have, however, begun moving away from this and have developed a model that promotes co-operation between the executive and Parliament in a manner that complements rather than hampers the effective delivery of services.
Earlier this year we adopted, in principle, the oversight model as proposed by the Joint Rules Committee's task team on oversight. Instead of an approach of confrontation between Parliament and the executive, the model attempts to redefine Parliament as a central component in Public Service delivery. The document still requires some refinement and the challenge remains, of course, to ensure its effective implementation.
The presiding officers have been concerned about our capacity to ensure and monitor compliance, especially our own compliance with the constitutional imperatives driving the institution. To boost the capacity of our legal services office we have restructured, to draw together, all elements of the parliamentary service involved in the legislative process into a section called Constitutional and Legal Services.
In addition to boosting our litigation and legal drafting capacity, the section will attract and develop the capacity to measure Parliament's outputs against the requirements of the law and the Constitution in particular.
The African Peer Review Mechanism's Country Report No 5 was recently tabled in Parliament. Parliament, through its participation in the African Peer Review Mechanism, envisaged that its process would assist in defining the active and independent participation of African parliaments in this important continental mechanism.
Eleven overarching issues have been identified in the report from the African Union as requiring attention, namely capacity constraints and poor service delivery; poverty and inequality; land reform; violence against women and children; HIV and the Aids pandemic; corruption; crime; racism and xenophobia; and, managing diversity.
Regarding international relations, Parliament's traditional roles of passing laws and conducting oversight remain part of its important core objectives. However, there is clear evidence to suggest that Parliament has evolved beyond that and has begun engaging in other strategic areas, such as international relations. Global economic forces and political developments impact significantly on South Africans.
At a political level, the Joint Rules Committee formed the Parliamentary Group on International Relations, the PGIR, which aims to help give effect to core objective no 5 in Parliament's Vision and Mission.
The International Relations Section manages Parliament's relationships with multilateral and bilateral partners and other stakeholders and facilitates the important international relations work our Parliament engages in. However, much still needs to be done to elevate this entity to a level that will adequately facilitate Parliament's international participation.
We remain committed to working towards the consolidation of the African agenda through our participation in regional multilateral structures, in particular the Pan-African Parliament and the Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum.
The third Parliament saw us hosting – in 2006 - the International Women's Conference on "Women and the Economic Recovery of Africa", the SADC Parliamentary Forum, and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association - Africa Region - Conference in 2007. In these rare interactions we, as African parliamentarians, explored issues of climate change and its impact on the continent, among other things.
We also explored the role of parliamentarians in building strong democratic institutions for promoting development in the 21st century. At a global level, the 118th Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly was the largest and one of the most successful conferences ever hosted by the South African Parliament. [Applause.]
Section 231 of the Constitution clearly states that the negotiating and signing of all international agreements is the responsibility of the executive. It goes on to state that an international agreement, with the exception of a technical or administrative agreement, is only binding once it has been ratified by Parliament.
A broader interpretation of this section suggests that if Parliament is allocated the responsibility of ratifying international agreements, then surely it should be consulted during the negotiation phase of that agreement so that it understands what it is ratifying later.
In building a people's Parliament that is responsive to the needs of the people, acting as a voice of the people, the work of Parliament and that of members, collectively and individually, is increasingly more focused on strengthening linkages between the people and their elected representatives. The third Parliament has adopted a focused approach to public participation in that it hosts sectoral parliaments for youth and women. The People's Assembly and the NCOP's "Taking Parliament to the People", on the other hand, give meaning to the concept of Members of Parliament engaging with people within their communities on issues that affect their lives.
Participants – especially the ones representing the sectoral parliaments - are selected from district and provincial activities from all over South Africa. They are also selected from urban and rural areas to ensure the maximum possibility for voicing issues from all sectors of society. The objective is to provide a platform for grassroots issues to be heard and deliberated on at the national level where workshops are held with MPs from specific portfolio committees.
With regard to the legislative sector, the Speakers' Forum, an association consisting of all presiding officers of the national Parliament and provincial legislatures, has taken proactive action to strengthen the legislatures to ensure that they continue to be the backbone of a successful representative democracy. Although there is respect for the constitutional responsibilities delegated to the legislatures, there is a need for the sector to fortify its domain and to continually assert itself against potential or actual threats to its independence.
The sector policy and strategy will be implemented through the European Union-funded sector policy support programme. The new programme is worth R150 million and will be implemented from 2009 to 2013. The Speakers' Forum has set up a secretariat to implement and co-ordinate all its programmes and decisions to ensure that there is sustainability and that the co-ordination of the legislative sector is strengthened. The secretariat is located in the national Parliament.
As one of the national strategies for enhancing public participation, oversight practices and other processes within the legislative sector, I would like to highlight the installation of video conferencing facilities in Parliament and the provincial legislatures. Use of video conferencing will enable effective co-operation within the legislative sector and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of communication within the NCOP cycle for processing Bills. It will also reduce the time and costs of travel. The second phase will look at linking elected representatives with our South African communities, especially in remote areas.
The Parliamentary Millennium Project, PMP, was initiated in 2001 by Dr Frene Ginwala and our own Mrs Naledi Pandor, the Minister of Education, when she was still the Chairperson of the NCOP, as a short-term intervention to highlight the importance of critically assessing the impact that the differing experiences of South Africans had on our identity as a nation in the making. This was done within the context of the African Renaissance. It became a mechanism through which ongoing work within the context of nation-building has been pursued.
The presiding officers of the third Parliament broadened the mandate of the project to include provincial legislatures. Moreover, the reach of the project was extended to include greater co-operation between all spheres of governance nationally as well as international partnerships. Currently, the PMP oversees and participates in 16 projects throughout South Africa.
A key project undertaken for the current financial year is the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the battle of Cuito Cuanavale. This project is being undertaken in partnership with the parliaments of Namibia, Cuba and Angola, as well as various South African government departments, academic institutions and civil-society organisations. The focus of this project is on reaffirming the importance of global solidarity and instilling a new patriotism amongst the youth that recognises the interdependence of Africans, both on the continent and in the diaspora.
Whilst we consider the budget, we also reflect on the many achievements made by this Parliament in reaching its vision of building a people's Parliament. The launch of Parliament's new emblem was celebrated on 27 March 2007. On this joyous occasion the old emblem was replaced with the new, representing our democratic dispensation, embodying the true values and spirit of our people's Parliament.
We are always conscious that members require more support to capacitate them to do the immense work to realise the objectives arising from our vision and mission. This support ranges from secretaries and content specialists to appropriate training, for example, to oversee the national budget under their relevant portfolio work.
The recently agreed to parliamentary budget policy begins to respond to these needs. One challenge continues to loom large and this is the physical space for parliamentarians to be able to do the work expected of them. We continue to make some progress in this regard.
Work that is under way includes construction at Africa House, that is the former British High Commission, which will house the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence - who continue to tell us that the circumstances under which they work are illegal - and Parliament's Protocol Services. This will be completed by November 2008. We expect construction of the other buildings to commence in 2009.
I now come to Vote 2 of the 2008-09 financial year. The budget for Parliament, Vote 2, continues to make provision for the implementation of our vision to build an effective people's Parliament. The total budget increased from R702 million in 2004-05 to R1,15 billion in 2008-09.
In Programme 1, which is about administration, the budget grew at an annual rate of 2,4% between 2004-05 and 2007-08 to a total of R191 million owing to the implementation of Parliament's master systems plan, the introduction of the Oracle enterprise resource planning system, the new travel system, the unified communications system, and the parliamentary content management system to centralise electronic management of all documents and records whilst also initiating the automation of the core business processes.
Programme 2, legislation and oversight, increased from R98 million in 2004-05 to R165 million in 2007-08 mainly owing to the "Taking Parliament to the People" programme, additional oversight capacity, and the implementation of the language policy project. Over the medium term, the budget for Programme 2 has grown by 6,5% owing to further improvements to the capacity of committees, especially in the area of research and content specialists.
Programme 3, public and international participation, increased from R38 million in 2004-05 to R60,9 million in 2007-08, at an average annual rate of 16,4%. The most significant increase was in 2006-07 in public affairs - the new parliamentary communication services.
The international relations budget, however, increased marginally to R12 million in 2007-08. A review of the international relations budget is currently being undertaken to ensure sufficient resources are allocated for members' international participation.
Over the medium term, the budget has increased to R64 million in 2008-09 owing to increased capacity in the areas of media and public relations and events management aligned to the parliamentary communication services. Of this amount, R15 million is allocated to international relations.
With regard to Programme 4, members' facilities, there was an increase from R107 million in 2004-05 to R173 million in 2007-08 and it makes provision for facilities including telephone, travel and other logistical facilities.
Programme 5, associated services, increased from R73 million in 2004-05 to R245 million in 2007-08 and it makes provision for constituency allowances, leadership support and administrative support.
With regard to future challenges, the reach of democracy and good governance increases day by day. The context within which Members of Parliament fulfil their work has changed dramatically over the past decade and continues to do so.
At least four different fronts provide some of the future challenges for the work of Parliament. Firstly, our representative and participatory democracy provides for the active involvement of our people in the processes of Parliament, thereby requiring us to provide public education, information and access to Parliament's processes.
Secondly, legislation and other instruments reflect an increasing complexity in the work of government as we regulate matters such as communications, the use of technology, the protection of the environment and many more. As Parliament oversees the work of the government, these complexities demand of members high levels of expertise, knowledge and capacitation in the relevant areas.
Thirdly, whereas members fulfil the vital role of communicating information about governance and other important matters, the expansion of information technology has provided greater access to information to citizens. In addition, and also assisted by the expansion of information technology, the role of the media has become more prominent in our society. These shifts necessitate a re-focus on how Members of Parliament use various mechanisms in reaching out to communities.
Lastly, the role that Parliament plays in international relations, as said before, and participation in global governance structures has increased significantly. Decisions around matters such as trade, energy supply and environmental affairs have moved to global governance platforms and therefore necessitate a review on how Parliament monitors the representation of the people at global and regional level. It is these and other trends that tell us that the future will bring many challenges that will necessitate that Parliament keeps on evolving as it continues to build on its capacity to respond to new challenges.
In conclusion, I wish to thank my colleagues the presiding officers from both Houses. I wish to thank yourselves, hon members; the broad parliamentary service under the Secretary to Parliament; and, of course, the staff of the Office, of the Speaker under Adv Cetywayo. I also thank the Table Office first led by Kasper Hahndiek and now by Kamal Mansura. I thank and congratulate the Speakers' Forum on a difficult journey well travelled together in the service of our people.
Lastly, but most importantly, I thank my children and broader family for their support, with special mention of my youngest child Neo Kgositsile sitting with his aunt in the gallery there. [Applause.] Hon members, I present to you Vote No 2, the budget of Parliament, for your adoption. I thank you. [Applause.]
USOSWEBHU OMKHULU WEQEMBU ELIBUSAYO: Somlomo, Phini likaMongameli kaKhongolose, mhla zi-13 kuNhlangulana, le Ndlu yesishayamthetho yazibophezela ngesinqumo odabeni lokudlula emhlabeni kukababa uWalter Sisulu ngale ndlela, ngicaphune:
Leli shanhlinziyo ebelithanda izwe lalo lichithe impilo yalo yonke lilwela iNingizimu Afrika esiziqhenya ngayo namuhla, futhi ubelidwala lesibindi nombonongqangi ophusile nokuyinto ebingumfanekiso kokumelwe abantu abaningi bezwe lakithi.
(Translation of isiZulu paragraphs follows.)
[The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Chairperson and the Deputy President of the African National Congress, on the 13th of June, this House agreed to a motion about the passing away of Comrade Walter Sisulu, which had the following words, and I quote:
This struggle veteran loved his country, he spent his whole life fighting for the South Africa that we are proud of today, he was a rock of fearlessness and sound vision which was the vision shared by many people in our country.]
In Baba Sisulu South Africa produced a leader of profound quality, disciplined and responsible; a father to all, whose life represents all that is good and beautiful in our beloved country. He remains our model hero. He remains our model father, and he will always be our model human being. And when we sing the praises of Father Sisulu, it is not of our own choosing; it is because his life obliges us to sing only good things about him. [Applause.]
And thus, limited by our own as well as human language's inability to capture in articulated form the totality of the objective matter, we, however, did our best to express how Walter Sisulu impacted on our minds and our nation's life. When in March this year the President of the ANC, Comrade Jacob Zuma, spoke of the renewal of values, he spoke of the need to strengthen the tradition of selfless service to the people, to be humble and always be prepared to listen as was the case with uTata Sisulu.
He spoke from an understanding that in order for us as a people to succeed in the effort to give birth to a just society, not only in codified form but also in lived experience, we would have to match and follow the lofty standards and heroic examples set by Tata Walter Sisulu, Chris Hani, Bram Fischer, Lillian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Solomon Mahlangu and many amongst the masses of the people of our land who acted together to ensure the defeat of injustice and who thus presented us with the opportunity to contribute to the creation of a peaceful and prosperous country.
When, in April 1994, the sun rose to cast light over the beautiful shores and mountain ranges of our country, the people of our land took it upon themselves to kick into the dustbin of history the life of political strife and confrontation.
The freedom we enjoy today holds a great promise, but it behoves us to act in unity to realise the beautiful and shining collective good. The Freedom Charter contains the people's injunctions and vision that steer our efforts as we work for the creation of a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights.
Over the past 14 years, Parliament has passed numerous pieces of legislation not only to address the legacy of the past but, more importantly, to lay a policy foundation for the birth of a South Africa able to take its rightful place in the family of nations. As we progressively unshackle ourselves from the past and march along the journey to realise the better day as visualised and codified in our Constitution, it is indeed correct that at particular moments we pause to evaluate the kind of progress we are making.
The cause for the pursuit of humane aspirations has made great progress in our country. We cannot and should not allow the challenges of the time to blind us to the immediate strides we have made together. We firmly agree with the Speaker in the adoption of the Parliament's mission and vision. We have indeed laid a solid foundation in locating the institution at the heart of the process of transformation.
The Constitution enjoins Parliament to facilitate public involvement. Our committees allow for public involvement, and participatory aspect of democracy therefore exists to a limited extent. By and large, the output of committees is good.
However, public participation in committees is impacted upon by broader social and economic factors. The fact that large sections of our communities are poor and live in underdeveloped areas while a minority is well off and owns the means of livelihood, defines which section can, in a sustainable way, consistently take part in the committee public hearings and exert meaningful influence on the general course of the evolutionary process.
To realise fully the demand that "The people shall govern" is a complex process that requires Parliament to make its contribution through finding creative ways to reach out to the people. In this regard, I believe we still have some extensive ground to cover.
One of the challenges relates to the issue of expanding the capacity of the institution's detailed programmes further to solidify the link between all the people and Parliament. We acknowledge the work that has been done as well as the ongoing efforts to deepen contact with the people. This includes the People's Assembly, the Women's and Youth Parliaments, and similar endeavours.
Nevertheless, I believe we need a paradigm shift in this regard. I think that the capacity of these programmes to have a lasting impact on the lives of the poor is limited. A lot of resources are provided to support a Member of Parliament on the benches and in the committee rooms of our Houses. However, the work of a member in a constituency receives inadequate support, generally, in resources and tools of the trade. [Applause.] In so doing, it is not just a member we are underresourcing, but such inadequacy extends the life of the marginalisation we aim to end.
Over and above the strengthening of human and material support to parliamentary constituency offices, let us reshape constituency work to build an active populace so that all the people in our country, rich and poor, can develop the sense to view themselves not only as subjects of the country but, more importantly, perceive themselves to be, feel and live as citizens of the country. [Applause.]
Our detractors at times accuse us of what they refer to as "a lack of confrontation" in Parliament. The proponents of this approach seek to persuade Members of Parliament to present stage-managed stunt shows. Shouting and hurling thinly veiled insults against the executive in the hope that this theoretical conduct will convince the electorate that the executive is being held to account, does not wash.
There is no doubt that we are not here for that. Whilst we continue to robustly engage the executive without any favour and apology to anyone, including the executive and those detractors, our approach to oversight is not, however, a liberal one. Much as we want to hold the executive accountable, we as Members of Parliament must also be held accountable. In this regard, we should not and must never think that constituency work is not important.
Within this context it should be expected and indeed welcomed by all that we shall continue to perform our functions dutifully and express our views openly without fear or favour. This is not only part of fulfilling the mandate our people have bestowed on us, but also contributes to the national effort aimed at building a culture of free, open, meaningful and vibrant societal debate as a fundamental element of a democratic life.
Comrade Walter Sisulu was passionate about justice. He was unpretentious in his humility, resolute in his pursuit of freedom, a patient listener and a unifier. We need leaders like him. We need to strive to emulate the inspirational example he set as we march on to new battlefronts, armed with unwavering conviction and belief in the certainty of victory as we pursue the goal of a better life for all.
We must persist in endeavours to find creative ways to address our challenges, which in many ways contain aspects of both newness and uniqueness. Parliament has passed the legal framework to lay the foundation for the reconstruction and development of our country. We have adopted an oversight model to begin the process of strengthening the oversight function. We hold regular debates on matters relating to scrutinising and overseeing executive action.
We have succeeded in placing our Parliament at the centre of humanity's international affairs. We now need to strengthen the participatory aspect of our democracy. We need to take deliberate action to ensure the involvement of the poor, the vulnerable and the marginalised as part of deepening democracy and democratic practice and strengthening social cohesion. I support the Budget Vote of Parliament. I thank you. [Applause.]
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITION: Thank you, Mr Chairman. Mr Chairman, this is my first Budget Vote on Parliament as Chief Whip of the DA, and, as Chief Whip of the Opposition, I am an officer of this Parliament. I am, indeed, honoured to fill this position.
I bring with me a set of values that has become imbued in me throughout my political career. These values are honesty, integrity, trust, service to the community and, in such service, accountability, transparent government and, with this, the need for vigorous oversight, and tolerance of differences, but an absolute rejection of discrimination of any kind.
Yet, the irony is that in coming to the office, I find many of these fundamental values being challenged. The festering sore of Travelgate still casts a long shadow on this Parliament, and with the honesty and integrity of certain members being questioned, so is the honesty and integrity of all of us impugned, as is indeed the institution itself, as well as the trust of the people.
I am not sure whether Travelgate is symptomatic of the moral crisis facing our nation or just a major public relations disaster. I say this because amongst the 200-odd MPs that are reportedly on the list, I realise there are innocent individuals; MPs who have unknowingly been victims of deception and fraud by corrupt travel agents. There are those who were naive, who believed what corrupt travel agents said that they could do in respect of their travel vouchers. But there are also those who set out with deliberate criminal intent to defraud this Parliament and, in so doing, defraud the people of South Africa.
Madam Speaker, this sore continues to fester under your watch. You must take responsibility and move to restore Parliament's integrity as well as the trust of the nation. The only way to do this is for us to come clean, to be transparent, to publish the names on the list and allow for explanations to follow. Those who can explain, must explain. Those who cannot, must face prosecution or censure by this House. It is in this light that the DA has invoked the Promotion of Access to Information Act.
But there are other values that are also being challenged, and those are of oversight and accountability. The challenge, paradoxically, reached its height when the parliamentary oversight authority was approving Parliament's oversight and accountability model. It was at the very time that we were debating that very good document that the lights went out all over South Africa and yet Parliament, notwithstanding that model, refused to bring Minister Erwin to account.
Parliament and the Minister hid behind the notion of collective responsibility, and yet section 92(2) of the Constitution makes it quite clear that Ministers are both collectively and individually responsible to Parliament for the exercise of their powers and performance. [Interjections.] Here Parliament failed.
But this is not the only occasion on which Parliament has failed in this respect. There are others. Firstly, Ministers continually fail to answer written questions submitted to them within the 10-day timeframe stipulated in the Rules. Some questions go entirely unanswered. As at December last year, some 233 of the near 1 700 questions posed by the DA were unanswered. The President himself had failed to answer a single question by November of last year, only answering some of them when this failure was publicised.
Secondly, in respect of oral questions, many a time the relevant Minister simply fails to attend, leaving the question to be answered either by an ill-prepared Deputy Minister or by another Minister who has little or no knowledge of the subject. At one question session, seven out of the 12 Ministers failed to appear. All this exhibits contempt for this institution.
Likewise, there is disdain for Parliament when the answers to questions are nothing more than an exercise in obfuscation. Similarly, statements to the House lose their impact and relevance when the Ministers' benches are almost entirely empty. As a result, Ministers' responses are either nonexistent or, quite frankly, vague and embarrassing as other Ministers respond outside of their line functions. I think that it is time that we seriously contemplate reintroducing the whole concept of interpellations in this House.
What has also surprised me, listening to the various Budget Vote debates, is the complaint by both sides of the House as to how seldom Ministers actually appear in the committees. This, likewise, is a failure of Parliament.
There is also a failure of Parliament when motions tabled by members on current issues, which are important and of vital interest to the nation, are often ignored. I can cite here the whole question of challenges to the criminal justice system, the whole skills crisis in the country, the high levels of violence in our schools, the South African government's response to the crisis in Zimbabwe, etc.
Parliament's impotence in respect of oversight and accountability was further exacerbated when the Rules Committee recently adopted a new framework for the parliamentary programme for the rest of this year. The framework reduced the sitting days of Parliament to just 15 days after 30 June, effectively meaning that our ability to exercise oversight and demand accountability over the executive will be shut down for around 10 months – that is, until after the next election.
Finally, Parliament's role as a watchdog was severely compromised when the Speaker assumed the Office of Chairperson of the ANC and, even more so, when she became chair of the ANC's political committee – the body that defines its strategy in Parliament. This is not a problem of filling more than one job; it is one of being player and referee at the same time. It is an issue of impartiality which goes to the very core of the role of the Speaker.
Let me end on a positive note. The oversight and accountability model passed by the Rules Committee is a good one. What we need to do is give real and sustained commitment to both the letter and the spirit of the model, not just in the dying days of the Mbeki government, but in the future days of the Zuma era.
We need to restore the values I spoke of - restore Parliament's integrity and the trust of the people in this institution, ensure unhindered oversight and vigorous accountability, make this Parliament a vibrant place by making it the centre of real political debate in this country, by making this once great institution great again.
Finally, let me thank all the officials of Parliament for their commitment and dedication to service. In particular I would like to thank the Table, led by Mr Mansura, who have been outstanding in their support of all political parties. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: Chairperson, I think Mr Davidson has made an excellent speech. There were many questions that he put that, I think, should be answered honestly. On behalf of the IFP, I take this opportunity to thank all the people who have played a part in making such a success of our Parliament during this year.
I remember vividly the time when this new Parliament kicked off in 1994. It was the then Chief Whip of the now dead National Party who predicted doom and chaos. I was one of a few from the old dispensation who firmly believed that we would make a success of this Parliament, and I have been proved right.
Today, we manage our Parliament in accordance with the highest international standards. In fact, I think we rank among the highest in the democratic world. Much of this success, Madam Speaker, must be credited to you. We appreciate your ... Oh, there is a point of order.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr G Q M Doidge): Order! Thank you, hon Van der Merwe. Yes, Minister?
The MINISTER OF SPORT AND RECREATION: Hon Chairperson, I want to know whether it is in order for a member of this House to deliberately mislead this House about another member who is present in the House?
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr G Q M Doidge): Hon Van der Merwe, did you mislead the House? [Laughter.]
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: I have no idea what Minister Stofile is talking about.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr G Q M Doidge): Could you elucidate, hon Minister?
The MINISTER OF SPORT AND RECREATION: Hon Chairperson, the hon Van der Merwe alleges that I, as Chief Whip at the time, had prognosticated doom and he had prognosticated success ...
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: Awuhlale phansi ubambe umthetho. [Ubuwele-wele.] [Uhleko.] [Just sit down and abide by the House Rules. [Interjections.] [Laughter.]]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr G Q M Doidge): Order! Order!
The MINISTER OF SPORT AND RECREATION: ... and I argue that this is a total distortion of the facts, then and now.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr G Q M Doidge): I think Mr Van der Merwe can clarify what he said, but I heard differently, hon Minister.
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: Stoffie, I said that of Hennie Smit. I said "the then Chief Whip of the now dead National Party". Are you saying the National Party is still alive? Are you the National Party? [Interjections.] [Laughter.]
The MINISTER OF SPORT AND RECREATION: Indeed, I heard him incorrectly, but as to whether the National Party is dead or alive: in many ways it is very much alive on the other side. [Laughter.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr G Q M Doidge): Please continue, hon Van der Merwe.
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: Chairperson, if I may continue. Madam Speaker, we appreciate your creativity, your insight and your intellectual capacity to properly understand the deep challenges of this place and how to manage them. We thank you for performing your duties on a strictly nonpolitical basis.
Mhlonishwa, Somlomo siyabonga siyaziqhenya ngawe. [Hon Speaker, we are grateful and we are proud of you.]
I wish to also deal with the Travelgate matter. The reputation of this Parliament and its members has been terribly damaged by Travelgate, much more than meets the eye. Members have been portrayed as crooks, thieves and fraudsters. Seventeen members have been convicted by our courts, receiving heavy sentences. Allegations were made and are still rife in the media of Ministers who were involved in Travelgate and are repaying huge sums but who have not been exposed and prosecuted.
Disciplinary action is still pending against 12 members; several travel agents are being charged with criminal offences; a number of travel agencies have been liquidated; dozens of civil summonses have been issued against Members of Parliament; the furniture and cars of MPs have been attached and removed by the sheriff, causing massive humiliation and expense. The list of embarrassments is very long. Indeed, a dark cloud hangs over Parliament because of Travelgate.
What is our duty? I say our duty is to ensure that the truth is established - the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about Travelgate must be known. And the truth must surface before next year's election, because the problem is ours. It is not the problem of the new team of MPs.
Thanks to your intervention, Madam Speaker, I have been briefed on some aspects of Travelgate by the Secretary and by Parliament's lawyers. I was deeply shocked to learn that dozens of civil summonses issued against our members by the liquidators were wrongly issued; that the MPs did not owe the moneys for which they were taken to court. I also serve on the parliamentary disciplinary committee investigating complaints against the members who were convicted and against a further 12 against whom disciplinary action has been pending now for many months.
Based on information, I am of the opinion that some of our colleagues who entered into plea bargains and were then convicted by the High Court may have been convicted unnecessarily. It is strange also that 12 of our colleagues who were accused, basically, of the same charges as those who were convicted are not being prosecuted.
The truth must be told. South Africa has a right to know which MPs, if any, are guilty and which MPs are not guilty. The truth will set the innocent ones free, free from contamination by the guilty ones. Therefore, let the guilty ones be punished and the innocent ones be liberated from the scandal.
I therefore propose that a judge of the High Court be appointed to lead a commission of inquiry into Travelgate to establish and publish the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about Travelgate. That is the only way we will be able to protect the integrity of Parliament as an institution and the integrity of the innocent members. We cannot pass the buck to the next Parliament. The truth will set us free; nothing else. Thank you. [Applause.]
Ms J L FUBBS: Hon Chairperson, indeed it is a privilege for me to participate in this parliamentary debate on the budget of our Parliament of which we are all members because, indeed, Parliament is not this House as such. Parliament consists of the Members of Parliament acting collectively, either to legislate or to exercise their oversight, to ensure that the executive is indeed held accountable.
Parliament, I believe, is the institutional expression of the will of the people. The people's will is given fresh expression every five years, or it could be even more frequently during an electoral process. Since the dawn of a people's democracy in 1994, the people of South Africa have continued to identify the ANC as the party that should rule in government and provide the legislation and the service delivery which it believes needs to be provided in our country. [Interjections.] Frankly, I am not into space travel. I have no time for that at the moment.
A strong, democratic Parliament is one of our best instruments in defence of our democratic state and our dynamically evolving society. Indeed, Parliament is the primary institution of democracy and it is the voice of the people. It must ensure that the people's contract, which gave the ANC-led government an electoral mandate, is effectively implemented. And, in this way, the words of the Freedom Charter, "The people shall govern", gain further substance.
The ANC's policies continue to transform institutions of democracy. But, indeed, in reading and listening to our own speakers' inputs here this afternoon and in reading the various documentation and research we have produced, it is quite clear that we are simply at the beginning of the journey of parliamentary transformation. I would much rather that members of this House focus on this journey of transformation than get themselves tied up at gates of whatever kind.
Parliament's priority constitutional function, yes, is to legislate. But legislation is not worth the paper it is written on unless Parliament also exercises its constitutional function to scrutinise and hold the executive accountable. Because, indeed, it is the actions of the executive that bring life to the legislation that is passed in this Parliament.
The third Parliament is focused on results-based budgeting; budgeting that engages the executive and the committees, which is the engine room in Parliament, and in this House through questions, motions, statements and debate. But more and more we realised - I think we have passed over 1 000 laws; is it 800, 900 or so? – that we needed to repeal discriminatory legislation. But the time has also come to exercise our oversight as to how effectively the intentions of that legislation are being implemented by the executive.
Oversight, indeed, has many meanings. I think many of us in Parliament, and I don't excuse myself, believe that it means a little site visit with a bit of shopping on the side. Members, that is a very simplistic approach to oversight. What we mean when we talk about oversight is really scrutinising - not overlooking, forgetting, missing out - and applying our minds to the work being done by the executive and the bureaucracy.
Indeed, in this third Parliament of democracy there is an unequivocal injunction for the people to govern and for the implementation of these several resolutions that have been adopted at ANC conferences, because it is these resolutions that will govern our country in one form or another. We are and we have been elected to govern this country. And, in fact, there was an acknowledgement from the Chief Whip of the DA when he spoke about "a Zuma era". So, really, thank you very much, Ian. Yes, I have served with the hon member for many years in Gauteng.
On another issue, though: What is oversight? Oversight is constitutional, it is political, it is an electoral mandate and it is implementing that electoral mandate. It is, indeed, the Freedom Charter; it is participatory democracy. That, I think, is the word one needs to focus on - "democracy".
What drives oversight? What is driving oversight is our mission and vision to ensure that this is not just any kind of democracy, but that this democracy is one in which good governance prevails on a broader scale without referring to parochial interests every five minutes - being able to see the broad vision rather than just one little step ahead. We are all engaged in oversight. But when members of the ANC are engaged, they will be motivated by constructive oversight; oversight that will provide useful information to ensure that the executive can improve their performance.
So, oversight is driven by the need to encourage sustainable measures that will more efficiently, effectively and equitably deliver targeted services within that critical phrase "acceptable time parameters". The executive will be responsible for the outcomes and the administration: Public Service for the outputs that strategically execute these outcomes. In this way, oversight ensures that policy becomes a reality in people's lives.
We do need to contextualise what we mean by this accountability and so on. You know, when people talk about accountability, they see it as requesting the executive to make an appearance and engage them over something – that is accountability. The executive are accounting. If we do see that as accountability, we will pave the way for nonservice delivery; for no-service delivery. That is not what accountability is about.
Accountability is a long chain that includes Parliament. Now, the chain begins with the engagement: yes, prioritisation, planning, implementation and spending; the adjustments, the quarterly reports, annual reports. Yes, indeed, we must scrutinise this. But it also requires that we engage the executive here on site visits and, indeed, in their parlours and ask them to unpack their business plans. Exactly how do those business plans translate into service delivery in the communities, and how are they co-ordinated?
So, it is pointless for Parliament to be so critical of the executive that we exclude ourselves from poor performance. If we do not exercise our oversight robustly, we can expect poor performance.
One of the things we must, in fact, insist on in this House is that we are provided with what we could call "accessible documentation" - not those with all kinds of colours and charts. It must be accessible in that the information is unpacked from these huge books and that it tells us, in simple terms, how your budget, resources, people, money and the like translate into the delivery of your identified targets that link policy to delivery.
As I come to the end of my input here, let me just say that oversight puts a face on the budget. As such, we would ask ourselves how effectively we have all delivered together; how Parliament has performed its constitutional function of oversight to ensure that indeed this is a people's Parliament and a people's democracy that cares about the people who elected it. Thank you, hon Chair. [Applause.]
Mr G T MADIKIZA: Chairperson and hon members, for the third year running I am obliged to note that the Travelgate scandal continues to cast a shadow over the proceedings of this institution. A month ago we were shocked to learn that Parliament had set in motion a process to write off the debts incurred by those hon members and former members who were alleged to have abused their travel vouchers.
We had to learn of this development from the media, which immediately created the impression that decision-makers at this institution were attempting to effect a clandestine amnesty for those who were alleged to have committed fraud with taxpayer money. Even more disturbing is the implication that fraud is being condoned and that punishment for wrongdoing is a principle that does not apply to hon members of this House. This protracted scandal undermines the structure of this institution and calls into question Parliament's ability to oversee the executive's spending of taxpayer money.
Allow me to turn to matters of detail relating to the Budget Vote before us. As far as the new policy initiatives in Parliament are concerned, we are especially pleased with the intention to significantly expand human resource support to committees. At this point, one can only express the hope that these resources will be to the benefit of the committees as a collective.
We continue to believe that each individual member should receive considerably more support, especially in terms of human resources, for this institution to be on a par with the best examples of parliaments across the world. There can be no denying that the average South African Member of Parliament has to fulfil a wide range of tasks representing the diverse groupings, and the quality of his or her democratic work will depend on the amount of support provided to him or her.
Parliamentary performance, measured in terms of Bills passed, is half of what it was a few years ago. Numerous factors influence this, many of them outside the control of Parliament. But we must, nevertheless, guard against a drop in productivity.
Finally, allow me to note that in terms of the budgeted expenditure and policy pronouncement, it seems as if public participation is not a very, very high priority. As parliamentarians, we would be making a grievous mistake if we failed to recognise the signs of disquiet in many communities that feel marginalised.
There are vast numbers of people who resort to violence and protest in frustration against a system of governance that they feel does not consult them and is unaccountable to them. This highlights what a long way we still need to go to give proper expression to the constitutional ideals of proper public participation in decision-making processes and in holding the executive to account.
Finally, allow me to thank all staff members for their dedication and commitment towards the wellbeing of this institution. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mr B M KOMPHELA: Chairperson, hon members and comrades, this year's Parliament Budget Vote, which the ANC supports, is put forward during this month of June, which is a very historic month in the life of many of our young people who where of school-going age at the time.
The morning of 16 June 1976 dawned crisp and cold in Soweto. It was a Wednesday. Smiling parents waved goodbye to their children, caught in the belief that they where sending their children to school, not knowing that something was going to happen on that unfortunate day.
They had no idea of the events that would unfold later that same day. Protest marches had been planned. Students had prepared themselves to rally against the legislation of the apartheid white racist regime, which stipulated that for all learners the medium of instruction was Afrikaans.
Over a few weeks from 16 June, 700 black children lost their lives in that unfortunate incident. Today this budget must pay tribute to those heroes who sacrificed their lives in making this Parliament a democratic Parliament and a Parliament of the people of this country. It would no longer be a certain exclusive right for a particular grouping of people.
This budget must accelerate robust oversight support - that is, the pieces of legislation passed in this House - and it should demonstrate and advance a better life for all our people as a tribute to those heroes who died in this month, in 1976.
The ANC's policies to transform this institution of democracy have as their core objectives the speeding up of service delivery to create a developmental state in order to create jobs, the speedy eradication of poverty and the building of a caring society for all our people.
Modulasetulo, ntumelle ke hlahise ka tsela ena e latelang. Ditekanyetso tsena tse behwang kajeno, di behwa le hona ho tshetlehwa ke mokgahlo o moholo wa ANC, hore Palemente ena, enne e tswele pele e etse melao e tla tlosa bofuma le bomorabe, e tla ntshetsa batho ba rona pele. Re kopa hore ha dikomiti tsa Palamente di ntse di etsa mosebetsi, re ke re tlohele ntho ena e bitswang ka sekgowa: "One size fits all".
Hobane Modulasetulo, dikomiti tsena di na le diphephetso tse fapaneng, mme ka tsela e jwalo le ditekanyetso tsa rona ha di ya tlameha ho lekana. Hobane hona jwale, ho etsa mohlala, komiti ya tsa dipapadi e shebane le mosebetsi o moholo wa 2010, mme o keke wa kgona ho e thibela ho potoloha hore e kopane le batho, hore batho ba tle ba bone hore ba tla una eng mohopeng ona wa lefatse, o re o fuweng ke matjhabatjhaba.
Motlatsamodulasetulo, ha re ntse re tsamaya le dikomiti tsena diprofensing, ka nako tse ding re kopa batho hore ba re etsetse mosebetsi, mme batho bao ha ba re etseditse mosebetsi ba re etsetsa dijo le ditho tsohle. Ka mora dikgwedi tse 6 o fumana mohala o reng ba se ba o isitse maqwetheng. Jwale re ya kopa Modulasetulo, hore ha re ke re ba lefeng ka nako, hore ha ba re bona re tla ba se ka ba baleha, ba tsebe hore re tlo sebedisana le bona, hobane re etsa hore e be karolo ya participatory democracy ena e re buwang ka yona Palamenteng mona. (Translation of Sesotho paragraphs follows.)
[Chairperson, allow me to explain in the following manner. The budget that is being tabled today has been proposed and supported by a big organisation like the ANC, so that this Parliament should continue to introduce legislation that will help to eradicate poverty and racism, and to ensure the progress of our people. We would like to ask that, when parliamentary committees carry out their duties, they should do away with what is called a "one size fits all" mentality.
I say this because these committees have different kinds of challenges, and therefore, their budgets should also not be the same. For example, the sports committee is currently faced with the huge responsibility of the 2010 World Cup. Therefore you cannot stop it from visiting communities and meeting with people in order to make them aware of what they stand to gain from the World Cup tournament, which was given to us by the international community.
Chairperson, as we go around the provinces with these committees, sometimes we ask people to provide some services for us. When they do, they also prepare food and everything for us. After six months you get a call that tells you that you are being sued. Therefore, Chairperson, we would like to make a plea that such people should be paid on time, so that when they see us coming they should not run away. They must understand that we are there to work together with them, because we would like them to be part of the participatory democracy that we always talk about in this Parliament.]
The outcome of the 52nd national conference of the ANC demonstrated in clear terms that our movement is ready and willing to respond to the face of a national democratic revolution. ANC policies identify Parliament as the key institution through which all state institutions should transform. The restructuring and interrogation of how to strengthen Parliament's function are in line with the ANC conference resolution.
The analysis is that, whilst we have reached certain objectives of the national democratic revolution, such as the democratisation of the state, we still have to rearrange the functions of these institutions, such as Parliament, to give effect to the ANC policies that all of us supported.
The ANC national conference noted the following: The need for all legislation to exercise oversight responsibility more comprehensively by holding government accountable for nonfunctional and financial performance; to inform the public of the accountability system of the performance of the public sector; and, in addition, to note that Parliament has a special role to play in that all legislation furthers the transformation of the state and sets the tone for the transformation of all state institutions. This is according to the ANC. We will pursue these aspects to make sure that the aspirations and resolutions taken by the ANC make this Parliament part of what makes this country a better country for all of us to live in, black and white. We shall pursue this to the fullest.
I have been asked by Yunus Carrim to say that the capacity of the committee secretaries, the personal assistants and the researchers has to be strengthened – this is an observation made by all chairpersons. The calibre of the personal assistants, the committee secretaries and the researchers needs to be strengthened. I do know that their main challenge in Parliament is that Parliament cannot match the private sector in attracting the same quality of personnel and researchers.
The solution to this is that Parliament should continue to attract and retain quality researchers by matching the private sector's remuneration. Moreover, it should seek to have motivated researchers and motivated personnel because they cannot effectively pursue their support function if they are not motivated.
Parliament, by its nature, is the highest institution in the land and it should always produce a high quality output of world class standard through recruiting and retaining staff and through the quality of its work. All the people in this country are looking to Parliament as the highest output in this country. If we are to have Parliament respected, we must match the private sector and be able to outmatch them so that Parliament will be viewed respectfully.
In our oversight, for example, regarding the Department of Minerals and Energy, the department comes with consultants and many other people who are well equipped. In your committee you have one researcher who is not necessarily specialising in the area. And when you interact with the department, you will find that that kind of capacity is not there. Parliament must have this capacity, and Parliament deserves to be the equal of everybody in this country. It must also be idolised by everybody as far as human resources are concerned so that we at least retain better human capital forever. I thank you. [Applause.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Chairperson, in 2006 Parliament adopted the "Policy perspective and operational guidelines for Parliament's involvement and engagement in international relations". This is a very progressive piece of work and the most advanced as we are one of the few parliaments, if not the only one in Africa, which has such a policy to guide parliamentary work in international relations.
The policy says:
In an age where the line between the domestic and the international is becoming blurred, and when there is globalisation of problems, it is no longer conceivable that parliaments can only focus on national policy and leave it to governments to take decisions with wider implications. To do so, would amount to relinquishing their role as the people's representatives and doing no more than ratifying decisions while excluding themselves from the real problems. However, parliaments must ensure that they do not encroach upon the executive responsibilities in doing so.
We cannot achieve the new world order unless we are all there - actively. By all, I do not mean everybody in Parliament here. I am referring to those who are assigned and delegated from time to time.
Since the adoption of the policy, what has happened and what is not happening in Parliament? The parliamentary body called the Parliamentary Group on International Relations that the Speaker alluded to, was established as a necessity and a tool to be utilised in guiding Parliament and parliamentarians in the execution of the broad mandate of creating a better world for all.
International relations is not just about travelling but how to shape the globalising world to be a better place for all humanity, for a better, just and equitable world order for all, and not just a few.
Parliament being the people's voice and the people's representative must shape and play a role in international politics through its parliamentary bodies such as the Southern African Development Community parliamentary forum, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Pan-African Parliament and others such as the African, Caribbean and Pacific-European Union.
Some of the bodies need to be transformed. And I know that the hon Job Sithole always quotes the example of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. What is it? Why are we still bowing to the Queen, in this age and era? Those are the challenges and the politics that we need to engage. However, the balance of forces is not always in our favour. You will find that people like it the way it is, and each time you raise issues of a particular ideology or challenging issues, people will say that you found it this way and you will leave it this way.
Also, Parliament has not been able to participate in bodies such as global legislative oversight bodies on the environment. Parliamentarians for Global Action is having its 30th congress this year, and we have been refused permission to attend. There are so many other networks that Parliament is not involved in: the World Bank committee, the International Monetary Fund committee, the New Partnership for Africa's Development committee and many others in which parliamentarians are beginning to shape and influence policy through those particular networks and it is policy that governs relationships worldwide. If we don't influence policy, then it will be dominant over a number of issues.
We still have to establish the IBSA – India-Brazil-South Africa - committee, because in the convention which was signed and agreed to, there is a role for Parliament as there should be a parliamentary committee. We do have an European Union-South Africa committee because in the trade and co-operation agreement, which was signed with the EU, the parliamentary role is defined and that body has been in existence and meeting twice a year. Regarding the Russia-South Africa bilateral agreement that we signed, the role of Parliament was also defined, and we have not acted on this.
The only country that we have signed an agreement with is China, and that is the only one. We are sitting with 30 applications of parliaments that want to enter into formal relations with our Parliament, but the resources are not there to establish such committees or friendship groups in order to be able to respond to the request.
Also, these requests are being made because we are South Africa. Because of our stature in the world, the leadership role we have been playing so far on the continent, in the region and in the world, people expect us to play a similar role. That is why there is so much demand on the friendship group arrangements and so forth. But the budget allocation is nonexistent. It is not there and we cannot really engage with some of those issues.
International politics are complex. They are ideological in nature and very robust, and the balance of forces, as indicated earlier, is fluctuating and tilting either way. It needs people who can think. It needs strategists, internationalists, and people with diplomacy to execute the work, and most parliamentarians are not yet orientated in that particular direction. We need to have programmes in Parliament to orientate, to train and to focus on producing as many parliamentarians as possible who can represent Parliament in all these bodies, so that it is not only a few that are continually seen engaging in those particular bodies.
Are we winning in as far as our role in Parliament is concerned? We are just there. I can't say we are winning and I can't say we are losing, but we are doing our best.
Currently, we are faced with a situation next door in which the Pan-African Parliament, which is hosted in our country, is facing its own challenges. It is supposed to be a legislative body by the year 2009. How ready is it and how ready are we to make sure that we shape it into that legislative body? The report that has been produced says something else. I don't think we are ready. So, that is the issue that we still have to engage with and challenge. Therefore, the budget allocation has to be looked at differently if we are indeed to participate maximally in international relations.
The second area I will speak about is the oversight model, as was mentioned by many other speakers. I want to deal with an issue on a Bill which was presented when we were adopting the model. The Bill is on the procedure for the amendment of the money Bills. Since it was introduced, it has not gone through the processes of Parliament. It has not yet been tagged or whatever the mechanisms are. In the next session, when we come back from recess, it cannot go through those particular procedural elements for Parliament to adopt it. It will be one of the instruments that will give power to Parliament to engage in oversight.
The third area which has been delegated to me but has not yet been assigned is human resources in Parliament. Quite good skills do exist and reside in Parliament and, indeed, there are quite good men and women who are doing their best to ensure that the mandate of Parliament is fulfilled. They are doing their best to go the extra mile. The challenge is the issue of skills that keep on departing - being poached by the executive or going to greener pastures. I think the hon Komphela has already spoken about that particular matter.
Parliament also has a situation in which there are permanent people or temporary people who have been working for four years on a temporary job in certain sections of Parliament. There are very useful and good people there. I think we need to do an audit. In August, when we come back, that audit report must be given to you to show how many people are permanent, how many are temporary, and how long they have been, temporarily, in their jobs. I think that is a big challenge. We are glad that a new manager has taken over human resources in the past six months. We hope, therefore, that we will then begin to fix that. Parliament is the worst employer if one has to look at that particular situation.
The other area is the issue of the public participation model, which is still being developed. We hope therefore that it will begin to respond to the constitutional judgments so that, in the future, when Parliament engages in public participation, it does not go through the challenge of being taken to court and the legislation being returned to Parliament or to the legislatures in that people were not adequately consulted. We hope, therefore, that in August, when we launch the model, the public participation model will also be there so that we can then have all the instruments together.
Finally, I would want to engage the role of the media as agents and people who are supposed to be informing and educating the public at large. The Parliament press gallery is an organised entity that needs to be welcomed. However, they are not adequately resourced themselves. There aren't enough of them. They can't cover all the meetings of the portfolio committees if the meetings take place at the same time. As parliamentarians, as leaders here, we need to develop relationships with the media, understand them and they should also understand us. They must remain objective, obviously; report without fear or favour, but do so, however, in a responsible way. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
Mrs C DUDLEY: Chair, Madam Speaker, the primary role of Parliament, as we know, is to represent the people of South Africa and ensure government of the people by the people under the Constitution. Making laws and oversight of the executive are key functions. However, public access to Parliament, to parliamentary processes and, of course, to Members of Parliament through their constituencies is of critical importance.
Parliament's budget must ensure that the support services required for it to fulfil its constitutional duty are provided for, that political parties receive administrative support and that Members of Parliament are able to provide a meaningful service for their constituents.
The ACDP supports Parliament's objective to improve and strengthen both service delivery and oversight by employing an additional 29 researchers, six support staff, and 30 content specialists for committees by March 2009. The building of a new people's Parliament will also better accommodate the business of Parliament and improve public access, consultation and participation.
The Speaker invites us to "take a closer look and a moment to reflect"; well, here goes: A vibrant, adequately resourced legislature where MPs are free to debate issues and truly hold their political seniors to account has seemed, for many years, like only a fantasy. While we are currently catching a brief glimpse of what this could be like, we all know that should the majority party president, whoever that might be when the time comes, take office as President of the country, we will be back to the same predictable situation where instructions are taken and obeyed; no questions asked. We have all experienced it and I have done so for the past nine years.
Proportional representation has been instrumental in facilitating minority representation and buy-in to the constitutional process on the one hand, but, unfortunately, also creates the potential for a party stranglehold on members whose seats belong to the party and not the member; a small detail, of course, which is conveniently overlooked by many for the purposes of floor-crossing.
The power of parties over Members of Parliament has led directly to the tragic years of HIV/Aids denialism and the hundreds of thousands of lives lost as majority party MPs looked the other way. It has allowed for the unchallenged nontransparency of the highly questionable arms deal, third cellular licence and Oilgate, to mention just a few - old issues, maybe, but when not satisfactorily resolved skeletons in the closet.
Clearly, when one party has a significant majority, the party system renders Parliament's oversight role impotent and the integrity of Parliament wanting. At the very least, key parliamentary oversight committees like the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, Scopa, and the ethics committee should be insulated from political influence on members to allow them to take tough decisions in terms of real accountability, putting public interests above party interests.
At the time of the muzzling of Scopa over the arms deal, the question was asked of the then speaker Frene Ginwala: How easy is it to sit on the inner counsel of the party, to hear and take part in its most sensitive strategy debates and remain impartial in Parliament? And, of course, the same could be asked of the present Speaker and ANC Chair, if it weren't for the unusual dynamics being played out in the ANC right now. The reality is, however, that the Speaker appears to be using this window of opportunity to strengthen Parliament to at least make it practically possible, if not politically possible, for the legislature to hold the executive accountable in future. The ACDP will support this Vote. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mrs W S NEWHOUDT-DRUCHEN: Chairperson, hon Speaker, hon members: The people shall govern. The Freedom Charter adopted at the Congress of the People in Kliptown on 26 June 1955 states that:
The People Shall Govern!
Every man and woman shall have the right to vote for and to stand as a candidate for all bodies which make laws;
All people shall be entitled to take part in the administration of the country;
The rights of people shall be the same, regardless of race, colour or sex;
All bodies of minority rule, advisory boards, councils and authorities shall be replaced by democratic organs of self-government.
The dream of the Freedom Charter was therefore realised when we all voted in 1994.
In the ANC's 51st national council resolutions, it's stated that where people are not involved in the decisions that affect their lives, social policies and political interventions are less likely to succeed. Participatory democracy should therefore complement and enhance their representative democracy.
Considerable advances have been made by the ANC in transforming our system of governance into one in which the people are able to actively participate. This has been done through structures and mechanisms such as school governing bodies, community policing forums, ward committees, imbizos, constituency offices, the committee systems in Parliament and the legislatures' integrated development plans, amongst other things.
The ANC has taken steps in promoting participatory democracy by creating opportunities for the effective involvement and participation of men and women, of those who are not literate, the rural poor, the working people, people with disabilities and other targeted groups to gather and express themselves on matters relevant to their basic conditions.
The ANC has taken various initiatives on participatory democracy to create an integrated system of participation, including the identification of needs and priorities and the implementation of decisions affecting society. The aim is to increase our efforts to bring Parliament, legislatures and councils closer to the people.
Section 42 of the South African Constitution states that:
The National Assembly is elected to represent the people and to ensure government by the people under the Constitution. It does this by choosing the President, by providing a national forum for public consideration of issues, by passing legislation and by scrutinising and overseeing executive action.
In terms of section 57(b), the National Assembly may also make rules and orders concerning its business, with due regard to representative and participatory democracy, accountability, transparency and public involvement. The Constitution also mentions public access and involvement in the National Assembly, meaning that "The National Assembly must facilitate public involvement in the legislative and other processes of the Assembly and its committees; and conduct its business in an open manner, and hold its sittings, and those of its committees, in public" and "to regulate public access, including access to the media, to the Assembly and its committees".
The vision of Parliament is to build an effective people's Parliament that is responsive to the needs of the people, and that is driven by the ideal of realising a better quality of life for all the people of South Africa. For this to be realised, Parliament is conducting programmes and projects about Parliament in the form of outreach activities, publications and television and radio broadcasts, continuing the annual events which provide a platform for public participation in the process of Parliament, including "Taking Parliament to the People" through which the National Council of Provinces has two sittings a year in designated provinces.
The People's Assembly Programme in which Parliament hosts an annual sitting in South Africa also has the annual Women's Parliament focusing on specific topical issues, and the annual Youth Parliament focusing on education and participation of the youth.
Parliament assists its upper provincial parliamentary democracy offices. It holds public hearings and public dialogues. It has study tours and oversight and democracy road shows. It provides the information about Parliament through its In Session, Spotlight on Parliament, the NCOP News, A Day in Parliament which is in comic form, through radio and television and through an updated website.
It is my hope that by the end of this parliamentary term, Parliament will be able to host the Disabled People's Parliament, because people with disabilities are waiting to use Parliament as a platform to voice their issues as well.
Let me pause to show by way of statistics that our South African Parliament is really and truly a people's Parliament, following and living out its vision. The statistics show that in 2004, about 27 000 people passed through our Parliament's doors; in 2005 approximately 29 000 came to Parliament; in 2006 approximately 30 000; and in 2007 approximately 23 000. I know that in the years to come, more people will pass through the gates of Parliament.
In terms of section 59 of our Constitution, the National Assembly must facilitate public involvement in its legislative and other processes. It also obliges the Assembly to conduct its business in an open manner and hold its sittings and committees in public.
To facilitate public involvement, the legislatures must provide meaningful opportunities for public participation in the legislative process and take measures to ensure that members of the public are able to take advantage of these opportunities that are provided. These can include the dissemination of information concerning legislation, inviting the public to participate in the process, public education and consulting with the public on legislation.
Parliament does face many challenges to facilitate transparency. Therefore, the key challenges are the cost of making information available to the public, especially to the socially vulnerable - they are the ones who are less likely to have access to information, for example through the Internet - thereby ensuring that members of the public are able to engage with information produced by Parliament in a meaningful way. Parliament has to develop ways to communicate effectively in the language that is understood by the public.
I just want to add here, an example would be where we take Parliament to the people and at those meetings we record events and record what is being said at those meetings. But the process of recording is not brought back to Parliament; it is not recorded. The resolutions that are made there are not effectively brought back here and then taken to the various committees. And that, in itself, is a fault of Parliament and I think we need to work some system out where those resolutions can then be taken to the various committees.
All this will be done through the development of an integrated public participation model, which will work on an effective public education programme.
As we can see, Parliament continues its work as required by its constitutional mandate. As I said at the beginning, the People's Charter states that the people shall govern. Today I can say that, yes, we the people are governing and we are trying and we are making a better life for all. I thank you, Mr Chairperson. [Applause.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Thank you, hon member. Speaker, when you go to your constituency you need to invite her with you because the children were fascinated and taken up with her. So, they would be asking about sign language. I hope the hon Druchen will go with you to address them.
Ms S RAJBALLY: Chairperson, Speaker, Parliament has reached its third term of fulfilling its duties as a voice for South Africa by amending legislation to meet democratic values and the purport enshrined in the Constitution, to oversee that the government is acting positively on this and the policies and further maintaining international agreements and relations.
In respect of Parliament's budget for 2008-09, it is clear that the budget has been well aligned in consideration of the priorities. Looking at Parliament's 2004-09 strategic plan, the MF acknowledges great transformation over this period, but would like a report on progress made in regard to all intentions of this strategy and how close we are to closure of this in 2009.
Parliament has a pivotal role to play in oversight and our state of the nation address clearly highlights South Africa's focus points and initiatives needed to be prioritised in oversight by Parliament.
The MF honestly believes that our oversight visits give us a bird's eye view of the South African situation, and the regular oversight visits will certainly pressurise departments to step up their service delivery and remain on track in accomplishing priorities.
These oversight visits further enhance the accountability that needs to be exercised in line with our policy of transparency. It is very important to secure "Taking Parliament to the People". Many South Africans are not aware of the access they have to Parliament and that we invite their participation.
Parliament also plays a great role in enhancing co-operative governance and the integration of women, the physically challenged and the youth in parliamentary programmes and facilities that have been well endorsed, as we may find here.
While we realise that the National Assembly operates on a system of proportional representation, we deem it necessary that the House considers giving smaller parties more time to express their needs, views and reservations from the podium. We believe that having one or two minutes to speak in debates seriously compromises our ability to represent our people.
Secondly, while we note that the budget allocation to our constituencies may have been largely improved, our office allowance limits us from acquiring adequately skilled support staff with suitable salaries. So, in this way we feel that the smaller parties are compromised.
We are, however, proud of the Parliament of South Africa and are proud to be part of it. We strive on a daily basis, with both sides aching, to achieve the desires of our voters. We are a people's government and we remain answerable and accountable to the people, for the people.
We applaud the Chairpersons of both Houses, the committee chairs, the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker, the Chief Whips, Mr Mansura who is always ready to help us, members of both Houses, the administration of both Houses, all Parliament staff and our support staff for coming together and turning the wheel of democracy to another successful term of governance, transformation and a great step closer to growth, development and equality for all. The MF supports this Budget Vote. I thank you, Chairperson. [Applause.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Mr Chairman, Madam Speaker, hon Members of Parliament, the general wellbeing of Members of Parliament is a fundamental and supreme prerequisite for the efficient operation of the institution. It is therefore an imperative for the institution of Parliament itself to nurture and enhance, without any measure of doubt, the social, political and economic support systems that must underpin the performance of the Members of Parliament both inside and outside the institution.
It is also important not only to strengthen the structures and bodies created by Parliament, but also to enable members to fulfil their constitutional mandate as elected members and the voice of the people.
The Rousseau Contract, which is the Social Contract with Parliament, is in essence a contract between Members of Parliament and the people. On 3 November 1774, after being elected as a representative for Bristol, Edmund Burke said:
Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests, which interests each must maintain as an agent and advocate against other agents and advocates. But Parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation with one interest - that of the whole: where not local purposes, not local prejudices, ought to guide, but the general good, resulting from the general reason of the whole.
Therefore, Members of Parliament will always share, individually and collectively, in the success or failure of service delivery. A healthy, mentally alert, well-trained, skilled and well-resourced member becomes an effective vehicle in realising the mission and vision of Parliament.
The mandate of the internal arrangement is, among other things, to mobilise some of the facilities in working with the relevant offices to enhance and support the performance of the Members of Parliament. For instance, our strategic objectives include to ensure that members' needs are taken care of, to align all structures dealing with members' interests and facilities, to ensure the wellbeing of all members, to enhance the capacity of members to discharge their constitutional objectives, to receive and report on issues related to members' interests, and to facilitate the implementation of special projects as directed by the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker.
The following projects are in progress, in consultation with the various functional departments. In the Speaker's Office the French language classes are ongoing. Well, people say that French is the language of love. Some say it is the language of diplomacy, depending on why you are taking French classes.
We are embarking on an official languages training project. The Chief Whip's Forum requested us to look at the official languages in that members ought not to be trained in French only but also in other official languages of this country. We are looking into that.
We are also embarking on an artworks project depicting the leadership of the three previous Parliaments. Here we have suggested that a wall be devoted to this kind of history where one has the President, the Vice President, the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker of all these Parliaments and the heads of political parties in Parliament during that period.
We are also embarking on designing home-grown presiding officers' robes. I am sure members are aware that it is only the Table which wears the traditional robes, while the Speaker and the Chairperson are not doing so at this point in time. The Speaker has allowed the project to go ahead so that we look at what kinds of home-grown robes there are for the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker and the Chairpersons.
The equality review debate is pending. Now this debate ought to look at questions of justice, equal rights, gender, people living with disabilities, the youth and the whole idea of freedom. We are also negotiating with the Office of the Secretary to Parliament about the issues in the villages where members are living - their conditions. We are also negotiating with him on the question of security in villages and also in Parliament.
In terms of institutional support, we are improving the catering services, and this project is ongoing. We are also trying to improve the parking facilities for members.
The members' facilities handbook review is pending because there is a committee which is also working on issues with Judge Moseneke and which is dealing with some aspects of the handbook review. So, we have left that responsibility to them and to the Secretary to Parliament's unit.
The SAA gold voyager cards were issued to members. I think members will have some privileges here as they now have a gold card. They can go into the reserved facilities at airports and also take someone with them. So they will be treated with respect. Members have been issued with parking cards for the Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban airports so that they can park in different areas using different cards.
The refurbishment of members' offices is ongoing, and I am sure that by tomorrow we will get a report on how far the refurbishment of members' offices is. Much has been done in the last three Parliaments, from 1994 to date, to improve the working conditions of members. However, a lot more has to be done to meet the emerging challenges.
Most of the members' interests we are currently dealing with have also occupied the attention of my predecessor, the hon Sandra Botha, who is here. Only a fool would say, when they occupy an office, "I am doing well. My predecessor did not do well." Only a fool would say that. She did well. [Interjections.] [Laughter.] Somebody is saying "obviously".
We have periodically made reports to the various structures of Parliament, including the quarterly consultative forum and the Chief Whips' Forum. On the progress and the challenges we face in dealing with the interests of all members, we trust that the party Whips of all parties will update their members on these matters and provide us with feedback continually – not to have members joking about the Rules ... [Inaudible.] They must be informed by their party Whips.
We believe it behoves all Members of Parliament to assert themselves to turn this institution and its bodies and Chambers into a place where the members of the public say: This is the place where men and women of honour of all political persuasions deliberated over important matters of state for the betterment of all citizens, and where our children say: This is where I want to make a contribution to South Africa one day - in Parliament - because I know they care.
Assertiveness: yes; robustness: yes; vibrancy: yes, but that does not mean blatant disregard for the conventions of Parliament or disrespect for the House decorum, or undermining the integrity of other hon members. Anything contrary to this sends conflicting messages to the already troubled human, ethnic and race relations in our country.
Human relations, race relations, ethnic relations are troubled in our country at present and the kinds of things we say here send a message. One way or another, they also influence the activities of even these young people who are sitting here. So I think we need to maintain this dignity and decorum.
I would like to express my sincere thanks to the presiding officers, to yourself, Madam Speaker, to the Deputy Speaker and to my fellow House Chairpersons, to members of the quarterly consultative forum, to the Secretary to Parliament and his deputies, to the heads of departments and, finally, to all managers and support staff, the Table included, in the Speaker's Office for their unwavering support. I thank you, Mr Chairman. [Applause.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Thank you, hon member. You saved me from saying your time had expired, because you are going to come back to me one day.
Ms M V MERUTI: Chairperson, hon Speaker, hon members, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to start by saying to all fathers, as Sunday is Father's Day, "Happy Father's Day." [Applause.] I hope you love, honour and respect your women.
The ANC supports this Budget Vote. Our policies on the transformation of institutions of democracy have, at their core, the objective of speeding up delivery in order to push back the frontiers of poverty, create employment and build a caring society for the people. At the heart of advancing this agenda is a participatory model on which the South African Parliament is premised.
Parliament is one of the primary institutions of democracy as it legislates and oversees executive action, facilitates and promotes the people's participation and involvement in governance and policy issues, and deals with issues cutting across the three spheres of governance through which we co-operatively manage and govern the sustainable transformation of South African society.
Parliament brings its influence to bear quite effectively in its legislative work. We must understand Parliament as a part of the interplay of democratic institutions. This is quite different from the notion of the United States Senate and the British House of Commons. Members would be surprised to learn that our Parliament is far more robust in many respects than these parliaments which are much older and viewed by some as more effective.
In forging the participatory democracy model in our legislative arm of governance, the ANC resolved the need for all legislatures - Parliament, provincial legislatures and municipal councils - to exercise their oversight responsibility more comprehensively by holding government departments and organs of state accountable for both nonfinancial, that is service delivery, and financial performance, and to inform the public of the accountability system for performance in the public sector.
In addition, it is noted that Parliament has a special role to play in ensuring that all legislation furthers the transformation of the state and sets the tone for the transformation of all state institutions.
The ANC's 52nd conference resolutions on governance, as a pillar of democracy and development, further provide direction to strengthen the capacity to hold cadres deployed in executive positions accountable. They emphasise governance and the state as an important pillar in the overall transformation of society. They correctly recognise Parliament and legislatures as the important spaces within which democracy comes alive through engagement with the people on activities that make this a people's Parliament.
The work in committees, as well as the programmatic activities, have to be informed by programmes focused on the broad objective of pushing back the boundaries of poverty and creating better employment. The Constitution is very clear about this as a key pillar of our democracy.
As the ANC-led government, we do not take these policy issues lightly. Therefore, we commend Parliament's stated objective to improve public participation in all parliamentary processes as set out in the Constitution, and its commitment to be responsive to the electorate, especially its commitment to improve its public education, the provision of information and access to its processes in striving to increase the involvement of people.
Parliament aims to do this through the development of an integrated public participation model. Through this project, it aims to address this issue programmatically and to ensure line functions for the allocation of budgetary items.
Alongside this project, public participation is being developed as the core function of Parliament. The model will inform all public participation programmes of Parliament, as well as all supportive communication initiatives. Parliament still needs to provide adequate information to South Africans on the many avenues in which they can participate in parliamentary processes.
The challenge remains to develop systems and processes in line with Parliament's oversight and public participation models to ensure that the public participation inputs received are correctly channelled and utilised by the committees in their oversight and legislative work.
Given the geographical spread of the country and the challenge to bridge the urban-rural development gap, we have to ensure access, opportunity and space for all people to engage continually with people who are ordinarily outside national debates in society.
Om hierdie uitdaging aan te pak, het die Parlement die parlementêre kantore vir demokrasie – dit is die "parliamentary democracy offices" – as 'n loodsprojek in die plattelandse provinsies soos die Noord-Kaap, Noordwes, en Limpopo van stapel gestuur. 'n Deurlopende sleutelaktiwiteit in die parlementêre kantore vir demokrasie sal wees om plaaslike politieke debat aan die gang te sit; om ons mense se oogpunte aangaande sake van nasionale belang, belangrike beleidsrigtings, en wetsontwerpe voor die Parlement, aan te spreek.
Parlementêre kantore vir demokrasie sal ook help om die Parlement se oogmerke van publieke deelname te bereik; om 'n sigbare parlementêre teenwoordigheid in die provinsies te skep; om groter doeltreffendheid te verseker in die verkryging van toegang tot plaaslike gemeenskappe; en om plaaslike bystand vir parlementêre programme te skep. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)
[In taking up this challenge, Parliament has launched the parliamentary democracy offices as a pilot project in the rural provinces such as the Northern Cape, North West, and Limpopo. An ongoing key activity in these parliamentary democracy offices will be to initiate local political debate; to address people's views regarding matters of national interest, important policy directives, and Bills before Parliament.
Parliamentary democracy offices will also assist in achieving Parliament's objective of public participation; creating a visible parliamentary presence in the provinces; ensuring greater efficiency in gaining access to local communities; and creating local support for parliamentary programmes.]
It is crucial that we engage in a debate on what the difference is in functionality and role between parliamentary constituency offices and parliamentary democracy offices. Given the challenges of underdevelopment and the need for people's voices to be part of transformation processes, there are key roles and functions for each to fulfil. We cannot allow structures to exist that can be misused for purposes that could derail the ongoing project of transformation and development as driven by the ANC-led government.
In addition, we are aware of the fact that as an institution of democracy and a key driver of processing transformation, there is a need for Parliament to promote a positive image of the institution to South Africans.
The establishment of an enabled, sufficiently resourced, comprehensive and proactive communications service to execute an appropriate – that is, internal and external - communications strategy on the work of Parliament and parliamentarians is essential. Further work must be done towards promoting a better understanding of the role of Parliament, both internally and externally, and raising awareness in the public domain.
Programmes such as the People's Assembly, "Taking Parliament to the People", the Women's Parliament and the Youth Parliament need to be monitored and assessed, as has already been said. This is to speed up the reporting and adoption process of reports so that issues raised in these participatory processes find their way into the programme of Parliament. This is an important aspect of oversight and engagement, and our view is that it should inform the programmes that are advanced by government. I thank you. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Mr N T GODI: Chairperson, Madam Speaker, comrades and hon members, may we, at the outset, express the APC's support for this Budget Vote.
We take note of the fact that the annual audit reports for this third Parliament have been progressively improving with the last one actually being an unqualified audit opinion. Though with some emphasis of matter, we congratulate the accounting officer and hope that dialectically we will move to a clean audit.
This improved financial management state has one blind spot: it is not underpinned by a legislative framework as required by the Constitution. The draft financial administration of Parliament Bill needs to be finalised. This is a constitutional obligation which will help to regulate the financial administration of Parliament, and ensure that all revenue, expenditure, assets and liabilities of the institution are managed effectively and efficiently.
We also note that underexpenditure, though it has progressively declined over the years, remains a challenge that must be tackled. According to the Estimates of Expenditure, Parliament's unspent funds are retained by Parliament to use according to its priorities. However, there are no explicit specifications of where and how these rollover funds will be utilised.
It should be noted that Parliament's surplus account increased by almost 68,9% over the period 2004-05 to 2007-08. There is almost R400 million in that account, and yet Parliament's operational budget over the medium term is expected to gradually increase by about 6,7%.
We understand that this increase is due to capacity needed for the oversight functions of committees and for the international participation models being developed and implemented. Yet, over the medium term, the legislation and oversight programme's budget only increases by 0,91% in real terms, contrary to what is stated in the Estimates of Expenditure which is that this programme has grown annually by 6,5%.
The APC raises these issues, because, correctly so, the third Parliament's strategic focus, unlike before, has been on enhanced oversight and we know that this has always been hampered by capacity and the need to finalise the new oversight model.
Lastly, Madam Speaker, I do want to state that your assistance, when we were faced with the rank insolence of the SA Wine Industry Trust, Sawit, has led to better understanding and co-operation. Sawit is coming to appear before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts on 24 June. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
Mr L M GREEN: Chairperson, Madam Speaker, hon Ministers and members, a few years ago there was much talk about moving Parliament elsewhere. The reason mainly given at the time was the saving on costs and travel time. It is good news to know that the Mother City will retain Parliament, and there is no longer any loose talk of moving this great institution somewhere else.
Since then, Parliament has structurally undergone some facelift reforms. It also adopted a new emblem and acquired its own website. Through maintaining its institutional stability Parliament has been strengthened to focus on its core objectives, such as building democracy and developing its oversight functions.
Parliament's expenditure trends have steadily increased over the past few years, especially with regard to functions such as "Taking Parliament to the People", and improving its oversight functions and the implementation of Parliament's master systems plan.
Parliament's website it still a work in progress, but the FD is happy to see that, in an attempt to keep the public better informed, the Hansard proceedings of the House are now timeously put online for public scrutiny.
However, parliamentarians need to be informed about how the process in the implementation of Parliament's Content Management System is taking shape. The cost of the system is estimated to run into millions, yet it is not adequately communicated whether the system is successful in meeting its objectives or whether the process flow of information is reaching and benefiting the users.
For instance, at a very general level of encouraging public participation, where do the public go when they need up-to-date minutes or committee reports on issues of the day since such reports are not readily available on Parliament's website? However, the Parliamentary Monitoring Group is the obvious answer. Should there therefore not be a public-private partnership between Parliament and the PMG?
One of Parliament's other key strategic objectives is to develop an institution that is transparent and responsive to the electorate. Transparency is only the first step in the right direction; the follow-up is to act against anyone found to have brought the institution into disrepute. Unfortunately, with regard to the Travelgate issue, Parliament has yet to prove that it will enforce its oversight authority with a firm commitment.
In days gone by, Parliament was used as a means to an end for the interests of a minority. It is now an institution with an identity encapsulating the values of a democratic society. For Parliament to succeed in bringing people closer to Parliament, it should invest in buying more selected time slots in which to televise debates in the House.
Finally, we have no doubt that Parliament's service ethic to support all members and the public is generally of an acceptable level, but the broadening of its democratic mandate and oversight functions within society is a way to enhance the institution's public status. The FD, therefore, supports this Budget Vote. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mr B MTHEMBU: Chairperson, hon members, I rise on behalf of the ANC in support of the Budget Vote for Parliament.
The ANC has consistently articulated a very clear vision for democratic governance institutions and their transformative role as legitimate platforms for representing the aspirations of the people. It is a vision inspired by the Freedom Charter, adopted by the Congress of the People in 1955, which states that the people shall govern and that government must be based on the will of the people.
In essence, Parliament represents the voice of the people through their elected representatives. Parliament expresses the will and preferences of the people, and transforms those into policy. In this context, Parliament has a developmental role towards its broader constituency, the people, on issues of human capacity development, eradication of poverty, social justice and the creation of a caring society, especially for the poor and the vulnerable.
It is not a mere happy coincidence that, in 2004, Parliament formulated a vision that it wants to build an effective people's Parliament that is responsive to the needs of the people and that is driven by the ideal of realising a better quality of life for all the people of South Africa.
Parliament as a people's representative is constitutionally mandated to exercise oversight and accountability over the executive and other organs of state. In implementing the oversight and accountability functions, Parliament seeks to ensure that the national development priorities are being implemented as well as assessing whether the intended policy outcomes are being realised.
The adoption of the new oversight model in April 2008 by Parliament is an important development in the evolution of Parliament as a learning organisation and as a people's Parliament. In essence, the new oversight model constitutes a strategic paradigm shift with the potential to enhance the status and role of Parliament as one of the key organs of state, not just a junior partner, but an equally important partner with a specific mandate. It constitutes a strategic paradigm shift because it will necessarily lead to the reconceptualisation of the function and role of the parliamentary committees.
In terms of this model, parliamentary committees will be expected to develop their oversight programme in alignment with the vision of Parliament of building an effective people's Parliament. In so doing, parliamentary committees will move from a narrow focus on monitoring departments' compliance with their strategic operational plans to a more expansive view of oversight in realising the ideal of a better life for all people by focusing on issues around service delivery, and the impact or effect of policy implementation.
The ANC welcomes the envisaged increase in researchers and content specialists as part of strengthening the oversight role of committees. Much has been said about the need for this. One needs to add that this envisaged step is welcomed because we believe that it will improve the quality of reporting in particular.
Parliamentarians deal with a massive amount of information. We need it to be processed by people with the requisite research capacity and, therefore, we hope that in future we will be able to have reports that will be presented in the form of actionable recommendations which will produce results rather than mere bureaucratic rituals for simple noting.
The Constitution has created three spheres of government, namely, national, provincial and local. All these spheres of government are distinctive but interrelated and interdependent. The Constitution enjoins the three spheres of government to co-operate with one another in mutual trust and good faith by fostering friendly relations, assisting and supporting one another on matters of common interest, and co-ordinating their actions and legislation with one another.
In carrying out its oversight and accountability mandate, it is of critical importance that the oversight processes of Parliament must seek not only to adhere to but, equally important, to actively promote the values and principles that underpin co-operative governance.
South Africa is one sovereign state and its indivisibility and the question of national unity need to be preserved as a matter of priority. All spheres of government are required to provide an effective, transparent, accountable and coherent government of the Republic as a whole.
In terms of the Act, we are enjoined as Parliament to make provision for structures that will enable us to promote that, and we are happy that Parliament has done that by enacting the Intergovernmental Relations Framework Act. In terms of this Act, we are expected to ensure that it is effectively implemented.
I am saying this because, much as the Act itself refers to the executive, what is important is that there is no Act or law that can just go to the executive without Parliament processing and passing it. We confer powers on the executive and the administration and, therefore, we've got the responsibility to exercise oversight; there can be no excuse. It is important that Parliament, especially the NCOP, which is a custodian of intergovernmental relations, is seen to be doing that.
In terms of the Act, the provinces and municipalities exercise their distinctive powers within the regulatory and oversight framework as set by national government. The national government therefore has a responsibility to monitor compliance with those frameworks and, if need be, it can intervene decisively if there is no compliance. Although the NCOP as a custodian of intergovernmental relations provides a mechanism for improving interaction and co-operation between government spheres, in this regard it plays a very crucial role in terms of executive action.
I want to point out that the African Peer Review Mechanism has listed the intergovernmental framework as a best practice. Parliament, especially the NCOP, is in a better position to oversee effective implementation of this system and, in so doing, can accelerate service delivery to our people.
Although we have a policy framework, legislation and other structures to facilitate co-operation, there are, however, some challenges. These challenges centre on turf battles and overemphasis on distinctiveness over and above the interrelatedness and interdependence of all spheres of government and organs of state. We do have cases where some departmental officials refuse to co-operate.
The ANC wants to call on all organs of state to internalise the values that underpin the public service and administration, as enshrined in our Constitution. We are, first and foremost, servants of the people. The interests of the people come first rather than our distinctive spheres of fiefdoms. We need to develop a political culture of co-operation, mutual respect and trust as a prerequisite for effective intergovernmental relations. I thank you. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Mr S SIMMONS: Chair, hon Speaker and colleagues, Parliament is certainly one of our constitutional democracy's most important pillars. I therefore have to thank and congratulate the hon Speaker and the hon Chairperson of the NCOP and presiding officers on their hard work and dedication to ensure that this institution fulfils its constitutional mandate. Also, the diligence of parliamentary staff cannot go unnoticed. Thank you all.
This does not mean that there is no room for improvement. One such area is that of support to the smaller parties. Parties may differ in terms of number of representatives but their primary function in this institution remains the same. Therefore I wish to call on the hon Speaker and all other role-players to consider the current regime of support for parties based entirely on the number of representatives in those parties in Parliament.
The NA proposes that a minimum allocation system be introduced in order for all parties to deliver the same quality of oversight work. One of the most important aspects is access to quality research staff remunerated by parties. The current allocation is of such a nature that if a small party wishes to appoint a good researcher, a significant portion of that party's budget will be exhausted. Also, an adequate allocation should be made for office infrastructure.
I would be failing in my duty if I did not question the manner in which the Travelgate saga was concluded. This concern stems from the reluctance to explore the sworn statements made in a court of law, implicating hon members of this House. One would expect that a greater degree of transparency would be shown in this matter, because we are answerable to the electorate and the taxpayer. The NA supports this budget. I thank you.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr G Q M Doidge): Hon Chairperson, Madam Speaker, Deputy President of the ANC, members of the executive, hon members and our guests in the gallery, this Parliament is founded on the will of the people and, in terms of our Constitution, is a formal gathering of elected representatives in a forum designed to liberate and legislate on issues affecting the electorate.
The National Assembly is a deliberative assembly with the democratic power to create, amend, redraft and pass legislation, with an added mandate to oversee the transformation of our society.
In modern-day government, Parliament's role and functions have advanced to oversee and scrutinise executive action and to hold the executive accountable to the representatives of the people in a spirit of co-operative governance. In the South African context, Parliament is an equal arm of government, of equal constitutional standing, is independent from and is interdependent with other arms of government.
Parliament has the exclusive authority, in passing the budget, to provide the necessary resources to the government to execute the mandate they were elected on and to ensure delivery to the people. It is therefore the central role of Parliament to ensure that the democracy of which they are the custodians is in the 21st century by ensuring government by the people, and by being accountable to the electorate by providing access to information on what government is doing in a progressive and transformative legislative framework.
On the issue of the legislative framework, the presiding officers have appointed a task team, under the leadership of the hon Fatima Chohan, which will begin working and looking at our legislative process in terms of Constitutional Court rulings and other High Court rulings as well as interpreting our Constitution and drafting a guideline document for committee chairpersons when considering legislation.
Parliament must ensure that when we carry out our oversight function, we utilise the best available information and tools of the trade within the co-operative governance model that our Constitution prescribes, with mutual respect for the three arms and spheres of government. Parliament must ensure that we encourage and entrench participatory democracy by being accessible, responsive, and open to consulting those that elected us.
On this note, I think an area of work that we have not done in the past 14 years is that we have not defined the relationship between the legislature and the executive. I think there is a serious misreading of accountability in terms of how we understand the PFMA.
Parliament must also ensure that our legal, technical and administrative support and the elected representatives buy into the modern-day information society, and that the tools that are available to enhance our all-round accessibility and core business functions are implemented. An example in this Parliament is that 412 Members of Parliament are currently utilising the unified communication system, which is still in its infancy but will, in future, become the absolute communications facility for elected representatives in Parliament.
We commend Parliament and the parliamentary service on this initiative, which, at present, is a world leader in a communication solution for Members of Parliament. Members of Parliament need to network with other parliaments and colleagues around the globe, as outlined by hon House Chairperson Bapela. They need real-time information and access to international best practice at all times. Access to information is key to legislators and the electorate, as we all need to be held accountable. We need a transformed information society to craft and make good laws and to carry out effective oversight to enhance the development of our country.
There are currently 26 portfolio committees. There is a committee of chairpersons, six joint committees, a committee on public accounts, a committee on the Auditor-General, a subcommittee on international affairs that is part of the Foreign Affairs portfolio committee, and a committee on private members' legislative proposals and special petitions. This brings to 37 the total number of committees. The functioning and co-ordination of these committees and of their work and planning in the National Assembly is facilitated through the committee of chairpersons.
Parliament has, in the past financial year, provided additional capacity to the research unit to provide at least one researcher for each committee in both the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces. Some committees such as the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development, the Select Committee on Finance, the Committee on Public Accounts, the Select Committee on Security and Constitutional Affairs, and the Joint Budget Committee are provided with two researchers each.
The recent improvement in committee support introduced substantive content support to committees. In addition to dedicated research capacity, each committee is provided with the following support, namely a content adviser, a committee secretary, a committee assistant and a secretary to the chairperson in addition to the researcher I mentioned. The content advisers, who provide strategic advice to committees on content, will provide analysis of information required by committees. The support structure to committees will bring the support level up to at least five support staff per committee, and in some committees with heavier workloads up to six or seven staff members for each committee.
Members of Parliament and committees have had access to a fully functional special library, the library of Parliament, including a full reference service, interlibrary loans, a specialised clipping service, electronic and hardcopy journal subscriptions, a comprehensive law section focusing on South African law, processing and indexing acquisitions and special services. However, since 2005 the library has increased its acquisition of electronic sources of information and the provision of electronic information products such as blogs.
The enhanced support to committees project also includes the appointment of subject-specialist librarians per cluster of subject-related committees. This is intended to improve the quality and relevance of information, resources and products provided by the library of Parliament. Subject-specialist librarians will also be required to provide proactive, customised information to members and committees in specific areas of interest.
Due to financial constraints, the appointment of subject-specialist librarians has been held in abeyance until sufficient resources can be secured in the budget. We call on the Secretary to Parliament to expedite the availing of adequate resources, and the recruitment of these specialist librarians to enhance the support to all committees of Parliament. From 2005 to date the budget for support to committee work in relation to research and the library has increased by at least R6 million, and, in terms of committees' operational budgets and their support staff, by at least R11,5 million.
In addition to the support already mentioned, the constitutional and legal unit has assigned a legal adviser to provide legal and procedural advice to each cluster of committees. We applaud the additional resources allocated through the different divisions and sections of Parliament to support the constitutional mandate of committees. This office also has the mandate of ensuring that the use and deployment of ICT in Parliament is in the 21st century. The House Chairperson of Committees and ICT is the representative of Madam Speaker, who is a board member in the Global Centre for ICT in Parliament.
This centre has done extensive work in developing the Africa
i-Parliament's knowledge and information project, which is currently benefiting a number of African parliaments. With me here are the reports that have been recently released. Some of them were circulated at the IPU. They are also available on the website. You will see the contribution that the South African Parliament has made in this Global Centre for ICT in Parliament.
Officers have been mandated to serve on the following structures of Parliament, namely the Quarterly Consultative Forum, the Chief Whips' Forum, the National Assembly Programme Committee, the National Assembly Rules Committee, the Joint Rules Committee, the Budget Forum of Parliament, the Focus Group on Committees - and a more recent development for the past two years, Mr Davidson, has been the convening of the task team on the remuneration of public office-bearers.
All this is possible as I am supported by a very able and dedicated team of personnel, who have only recently joined the Office of the Speaker. The team is led by Ms Chenille Jales, executive assistant and head of the office of the House Chairperson: Committees and ICT; Ms Kwanele Mashiyi, committee co-ordinator; and Ms Nomusa Ntuli, executive secretary. I wish to extend my sincerest gratitude and appreciation to this exceptional team of dedicated people, for the commitment that they have displayed to the many challenges that we are faced with on a daily basis including a very moody boss, I am told. [Laughter.]
I wish to thank all the presiding officers and you, in particular Madam Speaker, for your wise leadership, as well as the Office of the Chief Whip of the Majority Party, and all other political parties in Parliament, the Secretariat, and in particular the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary to Parliament, divisional managers and the entire parliamentary service, and, last, but not least, all the chairpersons of committees for their co-operation and support in carrying out the mandate of this office.
A very special word of appreciation goes to the former Legislation and Oversight Division manager, Mrs Keswa. I remember the old name of the division, LOD. I give a special word of thanks to you and your division and, in particular, Ms Zanele Mene and her colleagues Albert Mamabolo and Gadija Abdullatief, as well as the NA Table led by Mr Mansura. I thank you all very much. [Applause.]
One last commercial, Chairperson, which I am sure you won't mind: with me I have two publications, the new NA Rules and the Joint Rules of Parliament. I only have one problem, Mr Mansura, which is that you have changed the colour of the Joint Rules from blue to brown. I see you have maintained the green. [Laughter.] But that is the new Rules book that all members will be given. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
Mrs S A SEATON: Madam Speaker, Chairperson, given my time constraints today I will not deal with the strategic plan or reflect on the many achievements which I know we have made over the past years but, rather, I will concentrate on a few important issues that require urgent attention.
I want to look at our budget process. The present preparation process is totally unacceptable. We have a parliamentary Joint Budget Committee, which rarely meets; when it does, the members are either not informed or are informed at the very last minute, rendering the committee a committee in name only, unable to adequately participate in crucial preparations for our budget. This committee has to be given a new set of teeth and be allowed to use them.
I would like to talk very briefly about computers, and the House Chairperson Mr Skosana has said that well-resourced members make an efficient Parliament. Many months ago a decision was taken that all members would receive a laptop and a portable printer as well as a desktop and four-in-one printer fax-scanner copier. It was also decided at the time that management would investigate refunding those members who had diligently been paying or refunding Parliament all along for their computers. It was also decided that full responsibility would be taken by Parliament for these computers until they became the property of members.
We are now well into our third term and nothing has yet happened and one wonders why. There is still a lot to be sorted out. This begs the question: Who is in control of Parliament - parliamentarians or officials? It seems to me that we still have the tail wagging the dog, and it is high time that Parliament was in full control of its members through the presiding officers. It is time for us to ensure that the decisions taken by Members of Parliament are carried through, expediently.
Madam Speaker, I now come to an issue you would have expected me to raise today: the issue of members' pensions. This matter has been outstanding for a very long time and it is most unfortunate that 14 years into our democracy, in the last year of our term of office, we're still struggling to secure a decent, livable pension for Members of Parliament.
There is a private member's proposal for a Bill dealing with the issue of pensions. We need to speed up the processing of this Bill and conclude this matter by the end of this month, ensuring that those members who are to retire at the end of this term of office, which is next year, can do so with dignity. Madam Speaker, I appeal to you not only in your capacity as Speaker today, but also when it comes to the other hats you wear that members have been referring to, as well as to the leadership of the ANC, to see that we members have a decent pension at the end of this term of office. [Applause.]
When it comes to the issue of House Chairpersons – the title - I would strongly recommend that the title of "House Chairperson" be changed to that of "Assistant Speaker" as the existing title confuses outsiders tremendously. I think, at times, our own members are confused. They refer to them as deputy chairpersons and the like, and I really think the time has come for us to accept that they are, in fact, assistant speakers.
In conclusion, Madam Speaker, this is the last Budget Vote for Parliament in this term of office. I would like to express my appreciation to you in particular for always being open to exchanging ideas and views, and listening to the needs of members. I know that that is a concern of yours, and it has been a pleasure working with you. I sincerely hope that on the issue of pensions, you are going to work very hard with us over this next little while. [Laughter.]
To my colleagues in the Whippery across party lines: thank you for your co-operation and comradeship. Together we have achieved a great deal in the past few years, and that is a fact. Because we've stood together and worked together, we've achieved things, and I thank you all tremendously for that. We can win when we work together.
To management, to heads of departments, to Mr Mansura and the Table assistants who work with us on a daily basis, especially those of you giving untiringly of your time and effort in the best interests of Parliament at all times, I thank you all most sincerely. I really do hope that we are going to move forward in a positive manner, that this Parliament will leave something really wonderful for members that come after us, and I sincerely hope that one of those will be a decent pension. I thank you all. God bless you. [Applause.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Thank you, hon member. I don't know whether the hon Seaton realised that the hon Minister of Education said "it's a doek" when you said hats. [Laughter.]
Mr M J ELLIS: Thank you, Mr Chairman. I must say that when you look at the speaker's list, when you participate in a debate of this nature, and you see the hon Sybil Seaton's name on the list, you know that one thing you don't have to mention is salaries, pensions and members' interests – anything - because she is going to do it for us. But I want to say, at the same time, that that doesn't mean that we disagree with what the hon Seaton has said. We certainly do, and we thank her for the effort she has made in this regard.
I want to say too that when you look at the speakers' list that the ANC presents at debates of this nature, you are often intrigued as to what process they must have followed in choosing their speakers. I must say that it was particularly noticeable to me this year that the hon Andries Nel was not speaking. Normally, he makes a remarkably good input. I want to say to the hon Nel that I hope that you haven't been dropped, that maybe you are just being rested for this debate. [Laughter.]
Madam Speaker gave a very thorough overview of our Parliament and what we have and what we have been achieving and what we are achieving at present. Other speakers such as the hon Chief Whip of the ANC, the hon Q – I've forgotten what his initials are – the hon Mr Doidge and others certainly did exactly the same thing. But they painted a very rosy picture of the way we conduct ourselves in this institution. It's "G Q M" Doidge; that's better, Geoff. Now I remember. Thank you very much indeed.
Certainly, many mechanisms have been created for Parliament to fulfil its three key objectives, which are and I name them: to pass laws, to oversee and scrutinise executive action, and to facilitate public participation and involvement. In other words, it is elected to act as the voice of all South Africans, a point that the ANC Chief Whip made very clearly.
But, despite what many ANC spokespersons have said, including here the hon G Q M Doidge, over the years one has tended to note that Parliament has tended to transform itself into an institution that largely contradicts how it is portrayed on paper. Many people begin to question more and more the extent to which it does serve the interests of all our citizens or just the interests of the majority party.
These contradictions play themselves out in many areas. Perhaps it was best demonstrated by a point made by the Chief Whip of the Opposition, the hon Davidson, earlier in this debate on the dual role currently held by the Speaker of the National Assembly. I want to say, Madam Speaker, we really have nothing against you as a person, and I really mean that very sincerely. But the question has to be asked again and again: How is it that a person mandated to protect the independence and integrity of our legislature meant to fulfil this duty if she also serves on two of the highest decision-making bodies in the majority party, namely that of ANC Chairperson and Chair of the ANC's political committee?
While it appears that Parliament is achieving the objective of passing laws, there are two important points to be made in this regard. The first is that the legislative powers of Parliament have, and we believe this very sincerely, been largely undermined by the majority party.
The ruling party has largely attempted to turn the legislature into a rubber stamp to further its own political interests, which are set not in this Parliament but in Luthuli House. This is made evident by a number of pieces of legislation that are currently being rushed through Parliament, including the General Laws Amendment Bill, which will disband the Scorpions, the Expropriation Bill, and the Protection of Information Bill. All of these are a great indictment of this Parliament, but also of the ANC as to how it intends to run this country.
Secondly, it has taken Parliament over three years for the Financial Management of Parliament Act to be introduced to a parliamentary committee, and for this committee to deliberate and consult stakeholders. How is Parliament expected to pass Bills that must be implemented by government departments when it cannot even adopt a Bill meant for itself? This is a very important piece of legislation that is, at this stage, all but lost. The hon Bapela also raised this matter, and it is essential for this Parliament that this Bill is resurrected and this must happen soon.
In the same vein, while we are under enormous pressure to pass these and many other Bills, we find our work drastically reduced for the rest of this year. I want to remind you, Madam Speaker, of what you said in this debate last year.
Hon members, I have raised the matter of the changing patterns in the functioning of Parliament as we move further away from the beginning of the democratic dispensation with its attendant institutions. Previously during informal discussions on drastically cutting down the time spent by MPs in Cape Town, a caution was raised. This related to concerns from the executive council cutting the time down could immobilise the institution when important legislation needs to be passed.
This is a valid concern you said, Madam Speaker, that requires our collective careful consideration.
But, suddenly, as we get to the end of this particular Parliament, we find that the amount of time set aside for debate for the rest of the year, has been drastically reduced. We are going to spend only 15 days from the end of June through to the end of the year trying to process 60 pieces of legislation in an almost impossible amount of time. So, Madam Speaker, I urge you, even at this stage, to go back and read what you said to us last year in Parliament and see, even at this stage, if we cannot make Parliament infinitely more credible as we move towards the end of the year. Thank you very much indeed. [Applause.]
Mrs M M MADUMISE: Chairperson, allow me to leave the hon Ellis in the hands of our capable Speaker. Please deal with him, and deal with him effectively! [Laughter.]
I stand here, Maureen Madumise, to support this Budget Vote. I am supporting this Budget Vote simply because it is going to make the lives of parliamentarians different from all the other years. Unfortunately, I will not be able to be part of this, but I would like the Speaker to honestly take her cue from the hon Seaton about our pension. [Laughter.] Thank you very much. [Applause.]
Parliament is one of the arms of government and is the highest lawmaking institution in the country. Therefore, our role as parliamentarians is an important and varied one as we are involved in processing legislation, exercising oversight and working in our constituencies. In order for Members of Parliament to do their work effectively, Parliament has to ensure that members are adequately resourced.
When I look back, it is clear that we have made considerable progress, but more has to be done. One of the areas in which we have made progress is with ICT. But we are still not using what we have to great effect. It is envisaged that Parliament be made a paperless institution, and we need to reflect on how far we have come in this regard. Are we using the technology at our disposal to achieve this paperless dream? I think a great deal more effort must be put in by all of us to make the kind of progress we desire.
At my age - and I want to challenge you, hon Dr Buthelezi - I can receive and send e-mails using my laptop, even to you. [Laughter.] I can even use the new cellphone that I carry in my pocket as a computer. I can use that effectively to communicate with you. [Laughter.] I refuse to be intimidated by technology. That I am not going to allow, not at my age. [Laughter.]
As Parliament is not a corporation that has an endless stream of money, this does place a great deal of strain on the resources we have available to us to be effective. Of course, we do not expect everything to be resolved overnight. Parliament's budget has to therefore strike a balance somehow to accommodate its different responsibilities so as to fulfil its constitutional mandate to the people of South Africa. We are truly privileged to be here representing the aspirations of our people. While there are shortcomings, I am sure Parliament will address those as we progress towards ushering in our fourth Parliament in 2009.
Parliament should ensure that members' travel entitlements are adequately provided for. Very often, the allocation is not sufficient because we find, at the beginning of every year, that there are a number of MPs who come to us pleading for entitlements or vouchers to go and do work. One of them is Dorothy Ramodibe. [Laughter.] When you have used up all your vouchers you come to me for more. [Laughter.] So, the Speaker must see to it that the entitlements are enough for all the members so that they are able to do their work in the constituencies they belong to and do not have to come to me to give them entitlements to be able to do their work. I am not Parliament. I am Maureen Madumise. [Laughter.]
On that note, Madam Speaker, in your absence ... [Interjections.] Where are you?
The SPEAKER: I am here.
Mrs M M MADUMISE: Oh, thank you very much. You are listening to me. On that note we welcome the new travel system that you will introduce soon and it will enable Parliament to close the gap that was greatly abused by some of us, although not me in particular. [Laughter.]
An issue under discussion involves the assignment of staff to members. When are we going to get one secretary per member so that the members of this Parliament can be effective in doing their work? This is an issue I am sure will be resolved as Parliament proceeds with its strategic plan. A major obstacle in finalising this is the lack of space. But, I believe, progress is being made in this regard, as you said.
Ideally, members should be provided with a secretary, a researcher and an administrator. Fortunately for me, I have an assistant who does all three. But that is the exception rather than the rule, because I am me. [Laughter.] I wish to take this opportunity to thank him – that is Keith Woodman, my secretary – for the wonderful support he has given me, which makes my life as a member so much easier.
Parliament, of course, provides members with administrative support as far as it is able, and we are very grateful. But there is a question of work ethics – absenteeism. Madam Speaker, I have never seen a thing like this in my life. When you phone an office – not my office, Keith is very reliable ... [Laughter.] – looking for the secretary of a member, the secretary is not there, the administrator is not there and the researcher is nowhere to be found to help me develop my speech to speak in your Budget Vote debate, Madam Speaker. [Laughter.]
One is aware of the activity taking place with respect to the refurbishing of offices. I urge this House to pass a resolution right now, Madam Speaker, to put my office at the top ... [Laughter.] ... because I won't be here next year, so that I can at least enjoy comfort for the couple of months that I will be here.
This is, however, an important process as we receive guests from faraway places. We should be able to make people who visit our offices comfortable during their time here. It will also add to the decorum of Parliament and instil greater pride in this august House.
The refurbishment must be accompanied by cleaning - I don't know when last my office was cleaned; ooh, uh uh ... [Laughter.] - and maintenance. I am aware that there are efforts in this regard. I think a great effort should be made to provide a well-maintained air-conditioning system and lifts that work all the time. Most of the members are late for their committee work because of the lifts around here. They get stuck all the time. I remember that you, hon Mangosuthu Buthelezi, were once stuck in a lift for hours on end. You were rushing to a meeting. You were still a Minister then. You remember? [Laughter.]
As a member of the Portfolio Committee on Health, it is appropriate for me to speak about the healthy lifestyle programme implemented by the Department of Health.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Is that a point of order, hon Buthelezi?
Prince M G BUTHELEZI: Yes. I didn't quite hear what the lady wanted to know from me.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Hon Madumise, the hon Buthelezi wants to know what you asked him.
Mrs M M MADUMISE: Do you need a hearing aid? Are you like me? [Laughter.] I said that you were once delayed in a lift that got stuck. It got stuck. You were still a Minister then. Now, I'm saying ... [Interjections.]
Prince M G BUTHELEZI: I didn't know you were behind that, madam. [Laughter.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Hon Madumise, could you conclude? Your time has expired. Just conclude, please.
Mrs M M MADUMISE: A ko mphe nakonyana e nngwe hle! [Just give me a little more time, please!]
Parliament is required to support the operational activities of the members of both the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces by providing the necessary operational facilities. It has to do this within the budget. I am not going to waste my time on the budget allocations. A lot has been said thus far.
As members, we made a conscious decision not to determine our own salaries. Moseneke, do something about it. [Laughter.] And, in doing so, please include the thirteenth cheque, hle mme [please ma'am]. [Laughter.]
Members, as instruments in the entrenchment of parliamentary democracy, should be appropriately remunerated. We are here to serve the people of South Africa. The facilities provided by Parliament are to be used for the benefit of the people.
In conclusion, I wish to remind us all that as members we should take the lead in preserving the decorum of this august House at all times. Thank you. I support this Budget Vote. [Applause.]
Mr M J ELLIS: Mr Chairman, I rise on a point of order. The hon Madumise made a very important speech. But during the course of it, she put forward a resolution to Parliament that her office goes to the top of the list in terms of refurbishment. We've just had a quick meeting of the DA and want to second that proposal. [Laughter.] We believe that this very important item should now go to the vote, sir. [Laughter.]
Mrs S A SEATON: Chairperson, I rise on a point of order. The DA has already got theirs for their top people, we haven't. [Laughter.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Well, let this then go back to the Chief Whips Forum to be decided on there.
The SPEAKER: Thank you very much, Chairperson. Thank God I left myself some minutes earlier, so maybe I could go through most of the issues, even if it is not all of them.
I'll start with the travel voucher issue. Just for the information of the House, this issue has been on the agenda and there have been briefings at the Parliamentary Oversight Authority, as well as the Chief Whips' Forum on the latest developments. Briefly just to say that unfortunately the liquidation process has been very slow, as well as erroneous – as hon Van der Merwe has pointed out. It is a matter on which one would need more than what I am able to say here. We believe that in particular because of the countless cases where members were wrongly targeted in the liquidation process, to a point where a lot of what resulted in litigation against members was then rescinded by the courts.
We believe that these matters have to be brought to a close. I agree with Mr Van der Merwe that it is not something that we intend leaving for the Fourth Parliament. We should try and bring it to a close and we are in discussion now – and this is the latest development – with the liquidators about how best to wrap up the matter as quickly as possible, including all the matters that were raised by hon members.
The next issue is the capacity to implement resolutions of the House. It is a matter that in fact presently we are looking into because what we normally do, whether it has been the People's Assembly or resolutions that emanate from the House, we always forward them to the relevant offices of the Minister. The question that I have just recently posed to us internally as Parliament is: To what extent are we following up to make sure that there has been implementation and that is a matter on which I have to come back.
An issue was raised, I think by Mr Davidson, relating to Mr Erwin. I want to say that on 17 August there was a statement delivered by the Minister on issues relating to a particular incident at the electricity generator and members had an opportunity to respond to that statement.
On 19 September 2006 there was again a debate on a motion that was moved by the then Chief Whip of the DA relating to statements reportedly made by Mr Erwin. Again on 30 January 2008 there was a joint sitting debate on the national energy challenges and Mr Erwin participated in that debate. It can't be correct to say that he has never been held to account. He has actually appeared before this House. [Interjections.]
On constituency work, I can only report that the money allocated to each member has increased from R77 000 per member per year in 2004 to R414 000 per member per year. That is all that I am going to report.
As regards the set of issues raised by hon Godi relating to rollover finds, one set of these we inherited from the Second Parliament. The second reason why we accumulated these moneys was that there would be lots of vacancies that would not be filled and that money would stay there. The other aspect was in the budgeting process and that was the issue of overbudgeting. That is what accounts for the accumulation of rollover funds, which, as Mr Godi said, have now been brought down to an increasing extent.
The question is: What has happened to that money? Some of that money went into starting the space utilisation project. I don't have the amount here but it comes to about R300 million, for instance for the work that I referred to earlier that is happening in Africa House and the executive suites, as well as in the Speaker's Offices. A total of R130 million was allocated to operations and this was because a request by Parliament for additional funding was declined. In fact, we were referred back to the rollover funds and so the amount of R130 million was used in that respect.
We wish to report that Parliament has spent all of its voted funds for 2007-08 and that is the financial year that is currently being audited. A point was made, I think by hon Davidson, that Parliament must go back to its former glory. Where was the former glory? What we know is what the record tells us and that is that this Parliament has been steadily developing its capacity and has been improving along the lines that have been put before the House.
As regards the points raised by Ms Seaton about the budget process and the budget forum meetings, we do need to look into that and the forum needs to start meeting. It should have started meeting. I agree with your points.
The computers issue is on the agenda of the next POA meeting. You heard Mr Skosana indicating that it is a matter that is being dealt with as we speak. As regards members' pensions, the Bill is in the process and there is a lot of discussion. There is a process and, in fact, a delegation is going to see the President in order to engage with him before he makes his final determination on how to respond to the recommendations made by the Moseneke Commission. We will engage with him next week. We are finalising the date with the President's Office so that the delegation, that will include hon Seaton and hon Ellis, will go and interact with the President in this respect.
As regards the question of the terminology for the House Chairpersons, it was actually originally Assistant Speakers but then, with engagement and consultation, it ended up as House Chairpersons. Now there is a proposal that it should go back to Assistant Speakers. Like every other matter in Parliament, it will be subjected to a process of engagement and put through the mill and then we will see what the outcome is.
I really enjoyed hon Madumise's speech. I think I have covered most of the points ...
Prince M G BUTHELEZI: It was entertainment for all of us.
The SPEAKER: Yes, it was indeed, especially for Baba Buthelezi. Thank you very much, Chairperson. [Applause.]
PALESTINIANS COMMEMORATE NAKBA
Ms K R MAGAU (ANC): Chairperson, this year the world marks the 60th anniversary of the Nakba, which commemorates the 1948 events that saw the mass deportation of a million Palestinians from their cities and villages, the massacre of civilians and the razing to the ground of hundreds of Palestinian villages.
It is an irony of history that the Nakba occurred in the very year, 1948, that the international community declared with one voice, through the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that "Everyone has the right to a nationality. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property. No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."
The international community represented by the United Nations General Assembly has expressed itself on this tragedy many a time. One of the most important pronouncements on this matter is UN General Assembly Resolution 194, which was passed on 11 December 1948 and has been reaffirmed every year since then.
Nakba was not a once-off event. It continues today with the confiscation of Palestinian land and the expansion of settlements. And 60 years on, refugee camps still exist in different parts of Palestine.
The ANC believes that a peaceful settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, in line with the UN resolution, will bring lasting peace between Israel and Palestine as well as the whole of the Middle East. I thank you. [Applause.]
CONDITIONS IN REFUGEE CAMP IN MIDRAND
Dr D T GEORGE (DA): Chairperson, last Monday I visited the Midrand refugee camp and place of safety, located in my constituency, for 350 people previously sheltered at the Rabie Ridge police station. Although the DA supports the relocation from the police station, it is clear that the disaster management plan was not implemented effectively.
The tents were erected on a barren intersection on private land without the owner's knowledge or permission and without regard for the dignity of the human beings who must live there. There was no food or cooking equipment and the water tank had run dry. There were no medical facilities or shower facilities. There was no fence and security was minimal.
On Sunday I visited again. Although conditions had improved significantly, with the assistance of the local community and nongovernmental organisations, the water supply remained inadequate and only the local authority can resolve this.
The South Africans at the camp and those who originated from Zimbabwe and Mozambique want to be reintegrated. The 27 Malawians at the camp want to be repatriated to Malawi. This process has not been initiated nor has there been any communication in this regard.
The DA calls on government to act to resolve this humanitarian crisis by ensuring that there is a sufficient supply of water to the camp and that the reintegration process is initiated and properly managed to prevent any further violence. Thank you.
Mr N SINGH (IFP): Chairperson, the South African government and a variety of public enterprises have embarked on a massive infrastructure spending programme to enable our country to achieve higher rates of growth and to be in a position to meet the challenges of tomorrow head-on.
Obviously, someone has to pay the hundreds of billions of rands needed for this expansion programme. Some of the costs will be funded directly from the fiscus via tax revenue, and some of the costs will be borne by companies such as Transnet and Eskom by raising finance from their balance sheets in the equity markets. Another funding avenue for government is to issue bonds.
Currently, South Africa is running a budget surplus and no new government bonds have been issued for a while, meaning that there is a shortage in the market. However, the infrastructure programme may necessitate new government bonds being issued in the short term. It is therefore of the greatest concern to the IFP that existing government bonds are taking a beating at the moment due to the weak rand, high oil prices and the general edginess ahead of the forthcoming monetary policy committee decision on interest rates.
The yields for the R153, 157 and 186 bonds climbed in trading on Monday, and we are aware that yields move inversely to bond prices. Last week foreigners were net sellers of more than a billion rands in local bonds. Should this trend continue, it means that government will have to pay out much higher amounts when these bonds mature, placing pressure on national revenue and spending capacity. It would have been an advantage if the hon Minister of Finance were here so that we could hear his views on these worrying trends. Thank you.
SERVICE DELIVERY IN MOKWAKWAILA VILLAGE
Manana C NKUNA (ANC): Iknomu eka Mutshami wa Xitulu, hi ku yimela vaaki va le ka Mokwakwaila eLimpopo, thekinoloji ya tsotsomba. Hambi swi tano hi tsakela ku nkhesa Ndzawulo ya Swavuhlanganiso mayelana na Hofisi ya Poso leyi simekiweke masiku lama hundzeke leyi nga ka korhokela miganga ya 63. Vaaki vat a posa na ku amukela mapapila, vata pfula ti akhawundi, vata veka na ku teka mali. Vutomi byi antswela tolo eka Mokwakwaila.
Hi kombela ku hatliseriwa hi vukorhokeri bya "Information Technology". Xavumbirhi, eka Department ya Home Affairs eGiyani hi kombela mi engetela nkarhi eka vukorhokeri bya nwina leswaku mi nga siyi vanhu mi nga va pfunanga.
Xo hetelela xikontiri lexi sukaka eka Matipane xi ya eGiyani xa karhi xa hela vanhu va kota ku famba kahle va ya vona "Multipurpose Community Centre" leyi nga kona. Inkomu. [Phokotela.] [Va phokotela.] (Translation of Xitsonga member's statement follows.)
[Ms C NKUNA: Thank you, Chairperson. I am speaking on behalf of the residents of Mokwakwaila in Limpopo who feel that technological advancement in their area is slow. However, we would like to thank the Department of Communications for the post office which has been established a few days ago to service 63 wards. Residents will now be able to send and receive mail, and even open savings accounts. Life is indeed getting better in Mokwakwaila.
We are, however, firstly asking for the speedy delivery of information technology services. Secondly, we would like to request that the Department of Home Affairs in Giyani extend their service times so that no one is left without being attended to.
Lastly, the construction of the tarred road stretching from Matipane to Giyani is in its final stages. This will give people access to the existing multipurpose community centre. Thank you. [Applause.]]
THE MILLION-MAN MARCH
Ms N C NKABINDE (UDM): Chair, today the Million-Man March took place in Pretoria. South Africans from all walks of life marched peacefully to the seat of government to express their concern about crime in this country. To show the UDM's support for this initiative, party leader Bantu Holomisa joined the march. The UDM views this march as part of bolstering efforts to combat crime in South Africa.
It will send a strong message to the would-be perpetrators of crime. Government should take this march seriously. It is not just a once-off event, but an expression of deep-seated concerns. Crime in this country is killing and maiming our brothers, sisters, parents and children. It takes from our midst the people we love and the people we depend on.
Crime has affected all of us, from the rural areas to the suburbs, from the President to the homeless. It has cost our economy dearly as well, thereby contributing to unemployment and general suffering. Unfortunately, it has impacted on service delivery too with senior government officials being involved in white-collar crime.
We salute the initiatives taken by the organisers of this march and by all those who participated in it. I thank you, Chairperson.
RACISM PRACTISED BY UNIVERSITIES
Dr C P MULDER (FF Plus): Hon Chairperson, racism is alive and well in South Africa and is being nurtured and developed by some of our universities. What is even more upsetting is the fact that those who are participating in or practising racism are relying on the Constitution and legislation from this Parliament.
Here in my hand I hold the guidelines for admission to the University of Cape Town for 2009 for holders of the National Senior Certificate. This is for this year's Grade 12 pupils in our schools. The University of Cape Town has its own racial classification on its campus. Students have to indicate whether they are black, brown, Indian or white. What a disgrace! But that is not all. They then go on to blatantly discriminate between black, brown, Indian and white people internally.
If you wish to study medicine at UCT in 2009, as a black student you have to obtain 74%; if you are brown you have to obtain 78%; if you are Indian you have to obtain 88%; and if you are white you have to obtain an average of 91%. That is not happening in 1950s apartheid but is happening in the democratic South Africa of 2008.
For this, UCT relies on the founding principles of our Constitution and on the Higher Education Act of 1997. Who are these children who are being treated in this way? My own daughter is one of them. She was born in May 1990. This is after Mr Mandela was released. All of them - black, brown, Indian and white - were only four years old in 1994 when the ANC came into power. They were all seven years old in Grade 1 when the ANC had already been governing for three years. They were all in the same schools with the same educational frameworks and opportunities. The University of Cape Town is a racist institution and a disgrace to our Constitution.
BUS ACCIDENTS IN DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE COUNTRY
Nk M D NXUMALO (ANC): Sihlalo, uKhongolose ufisa ukwedlulisa ukudabuka okukhulu emuva kwemibiko yezingozi zamabhasi ezenzeka ezindaweni ezehlukene ezweni lakithi. Lezi zingozi yilokhu ziqhubeka nokuthatha izimpilo zabantu bakithi. Okubuhlungu kakhulu ukuthi phakathi kwabashonayo kukhona nabantwana abancane kakhulu kanjalo nabazali abashiya abantwana sebeyizintandane. Sinokwesaba okukhulu mayelana nokwenyuka kwenani labantu abashonayo kulezi zingozi. Siyazwelana kakhulu nemindeni eshonelwe ngokunjalo nemindeni yalabo abalinyalelwe yizihlobo zabo.
Siyazi ukuthi ukujula kwamanxeba esinawo kungefaniswe nawezihlobo zegazi ngokunjalo nemindeni yabo abalimele kulezi zingozi. Siyabonga kwabosizo lokuqala ngemizamo yabo futhi siphinde sibonge abasebenzi basezibhedlela ezamukele abalimele kulezi zingozi ngokuzikhandla kwabo. UKhongolose wenza isicelo kuzo zonke izimboni zamabhasi ukuthi ziqaphele izimo abashayeli bamabhasi abasebenza ngaphansi kwazo, njengamahora abawasebenzayo futhi kumele kube khona abengeziwe abazophumuzana nomshayeli uma kuhanjwa ibanga elide. Lokhu kuzonciphisa izingozi ezibangwa ukukhathala kwabashayeli. Siyacela siwuKhongolose ukuthi uMnyango Wezokuthutha nohulumeni abangenelele ukuze kuncishiswe le nkinga engaka yezingozi.
Thina njengoKhongolose sithi ayiqine imthetho elawula izimo zamabhasi namatekisi athutha imiphakathi yakithi. Siyayikhalisa kakhulu imiphakathi eyakhele izwe laseNingizimu Afrika. Emindenini elinyalelwe nabalimele uqobo sithi uNkulunkulu abe nabo futhi belulame emoyeni nasezinhlungwini. Emindenini nasezihlotsheni zabedlulile emhlabeni sithi, "Dudu, akwehlanga lungehli". Ngiyabonga. [Ihlombe.] (Translation of isiZulu member's statement follows.)
[Ms M D NXUMALO: Chairperson, the ANC wishes to express its deepest shock at the reports of bus accidents happening in different parts of our country. These accidents claim the lives of our people. It further saddens us that amongst the casualties, there are young children as well as parents who leave their children orphaned. And we are very concerned about the increasing number of people who are killed in these accidents. We convey our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and we sympathise with the families whose relatives are victims.
We understand that the pain that we feel cannot be compared to the pain felt by the blood relatives and the families of the victims of these accidents. We thank the first aiders for their attempts and we also thank the employees from the hospitals that admitted the victims of these accidents for their tireless efforts.
The ANC is making a plea to all bus companies to revisit the conditions under which bus drivers work. Conditions such as working hours and the question of co-drivers for long distances should be addressed. This will minimise accidents caused by driver fatigue. We as the ANC ask the Department of Transport and government to intervene so as to diminish this major problem of road accidents.
We, as the ANC, say that the laws that regulate the bus and taxi industries, which transport our communities, must be strictly enforced. We sympathise with the communities in this country. And to the families of the victims and the victims themselves we say: may God be with them and we wish them a speedy recovery both spiritually and physically. To the bereaved families and relatives we say that what happened is a matter of destiny; may they find solace in accepting it as such. Thank you. [Applause.]]
Mr S SIMMONS (NA): Chair, the NA has, for a long time, suspected that the ANC government and its officials are not always honest with the South African people.
It was reported in the media on 5 June that Dr Lionel Louw of the Office of the Premier of the Western Cape had told civil society organisations that a decision had been made at national Cabinet level to formally ask the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to intervene in the refugee crisis. It was then established that this was not the case.
This is indicative of the ANC government's modus operandi. The ANC government is further increasing the lack of trust between itself and the electorate, and it is a disgrace that nongovernmental organisations are unable to take the word of government in good faith. I thank you.
RAND WATER BOARD WAGE DISPUTE
Mrs D VAN DER WALT (DA): Chairperson, it is unfortunate that the majority of residents in Gauteng, the North West, the Free State and Mpumalanga could be without water for the rest of this week because of a wage dispute between the Rand Water Board and the SA Municipal Workers Union.
Water is a source of life and no individual can live without it. Therefore, the DA urges the Rand Water Board to meet Samwu's demand for a proper increment to avoid the chance of residents going for days without any water.
Rand Water is not the only water board that is confronted by disillusioned and underpaid staff. Earlier this year the DA released a document containing the enormous skills challenges that prevent water boards from supplying healthy drinking water to the public. We also highlighted that the majority of water boards are experiencing an exodus of staff in pursuit of better working conditions. Their departure to greener pastures leaves water boards without the necessary skills for healthy water provision. The challenging conditions that water board staff work under justify their demands for better remuneration. Thank you, Chair.
HEALTH OF AFRICAN WOMEN
Mr D C MABENA (ANC): Chairperson, the head of the United Nations Population Fund has noted that the health of African women is lagging behind the rest of the world. As a society, we need to move this to the top of our agenda.
Of all the Millennium Development Goals, goal number 5, which is preventing women's death during pregnancy and childbirth, is generating the least resources and lagging the furthest behind. The ANC believes that, as a country, we need to work to eradicate all manifestations and consequences of patriarchy, including the feminisation of poverty, physical and physiological abuse, the undermining of self-confidence, and open and hidden forms of exclusion from positions of authority and power.
Critical in this regard is the creation of the material and cultural conditions that would allow the abilities of women to flourish and enrich the life of all humanity. The ANC remains committed to the struggle for the emancipation of women, the combating of sexism and ensuring that the voice of women is heard fully in the running of the affairs of our country. I thank you. [Applause.]
IMPASSE BETWEEN PRIVATE HOSPITALS AND HEALTH DEPARTMENT
Dr R RABINOWITZ (IFP): Chairperson, in view of the current impasse between private hospitals and the Department of Health and 14 years of mistrust that has prevailed between the agents delivering private health and the hon Minister of Health, the IFP calls for more transparent consultations between representatives of private hospitals, private pharmaceutical manufacturers, private medical schemes, pharmacies and doctors, on the one hand, and government regulating bodies, namely the Council for Medical Schemes, the Board of Healthcare Funders, the Medicines Control Council and the Department of Health, on the other.
Failing this, we are concerned that shotgun legislation, based on mistrust and incomplete evidence, will be counterproductive to building a bridge between the public health sector and the private health sector so that they work together to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Thank you.
CHILD MORTALITY RATES IN AFRICA
Mrs W S NEWHOUDT-DRUCHEN (ANC): Chairperson, on the occasion of the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development on 28 May 2008, Unicef globally launched the "State of Africa's Children, 2008" on child survival.
The executive director of Unicef pointed out that every year nearly 10 million children die before their fifth birthday, and half of these deaths occur in Africa. In sub-Saharan Africa the mortality rate for children under the age of five decreased by 14% between 1990 and 2006. However, with one in every six children dying before their fifth birthday, sub-Saharan Africa still remains the most difficult place in the world for a child to survive.
The recent attacks on foreign nationals and South Africans have also had a negative impact on the survival status of children in South Africa. South Africa is a signatory to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. We need, as a nation, to remain cognisant of the millions of children across the world and on our continent who battle for survival on a daily basis.
The campaign on the protection of children and the promotion of their rights must not be limited to a week, but must be part of our daily commitments. Thank you. [Applause.]
POACHING OF RHINOS
Mr G R MORGAN (DA): Chair, the DA notes that there has recently been a significant increase in the poaching of rhinos in South Africa.
A recent reply to a DA parliamentary question by the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism revealed that over the past four calendar years, 44 white rhinos were killed by poachers in the Kruger National Park. I am told by park officials that already this year more than 10 white rhinos have been killed.
It is for this reason that the DA welcomes last week's announcement by the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism that there will now be a national moratorium on the trade in individual rhino horns. This will allow the necessary time for all conservation authorities to ensure that the procedures for the legal export of rhino horns are consistent, enforceable and not undermined by loopholes. It has been found that some individuals had been applying for permits to hunt rhino, but that the legal hunts never happened, and that these individuals holding permits were then legally exporting illegally obtained horns.
The strengthening of our protocols will, hopefully, make it tougher for poachers to operate in South Africa. Nevertheless, owing to the fact that many of our protected areas are now effectively transboundary parks, that is they span our borders, it is important that our neighbouring countries enact a similar moratorium while they get their own houses in order.
The horns of rhinos that are poached in the Kruger National Park, for example, are not just exported out of South Africa, but are also exported out of Mozambique. I trust that the Minister will engage with his counterparts in our neighbouring countries to ensure that the relevant protocols that were signed before the establishment of the transboundary conservation areas are fully enforced. I thank you. [Applause.]
SOCIAL INEQUALITY AND SCHOOLING
Mr B G MOSALA (ANC): Chairperson, according to a report released on Wednesday last week by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, Unesco, social inequality has a major impact on the kind of schooling children receive and it poses a significant challenge to providing all children with equal learning opportunities.
The data reveals how social inequality affects a child's opportunity to learn and, clearly, no country, rich or poor, is immune to these disparities. The report reveals a particularly glaring gap between resources available to urban and rural schools.
Education is a foundation of democratic societies and globally competitive economies. It is the basis for reducing poverty and inequality, improving health, enabling the use of new technologies and creating and spreading knowledge.
The ANC believes that education must be elevated from being a departmental or governmental issue to a societal issue - one that occupies the attention and energy of all South Africans. Education is fundamental to the achievement of the society envisaged in the Freedom Charter. Thank you. [Applause.]
Nk B T NGCOBO (ANC): Sihlalo, uMnyango Wezobulungiswa siwushayela ihlombe ngokuthi ubhekelele ukusabalalisa uhlelo lokondliwa kwabantwana olubizwa nge-Operation Isondlo. Lolu hlelo luqale eLimpopo ngo-2005. Kulo nyaka ka-2008 lusabalalele KwaZulu-Natal, lapho obaba babantwana bephoqeleka ukuthi bondle abantwana. Njengamanje uMnyango KwaZulu-Natal uqashe laba okuthiwa abaphenyi kanye nalabo futhi abaqeqeshwe ngokomthetho abangabasebenzi bezesondlo ukuthi kube yibo abazokwenza umsebenzi ubukade wenziwa abantu besifazane abawomama.
Siyakuncoma-ke lokhu ngoba uyakwazi ukulandelela labo baba abangondli. Waphinda futhi waqoqa obaba bezingane ukuthi kuxoxiswane ngoba nabo baneqhaza okufanele balibambe njengabazali. Kuwo lo nyaka abantu abayizi-5009 balandelelwe yilezi zakhiwo kwaze kwagcina kutholakale imali eyisigidi esi-1.5 zamarandi enikezwe labo mama obekufanele banikezwe. Lolu hlelo-ke lunikeza obaba nomama nezingane amandla. SinguKhongolose sithi obaba abadlala umacashelana amahlathi aphelile sizobabamba. Ngiyabonga. [Ihlombe.] (Translation of isiZulu member's statement follows.)
[Ms B T NGCOBO (ANC): Chairperson, we applaud the Department of Justice for facilitating and spreading the programme called Operation Isondlo. This programme started in Limpopo in 2005. This year, 2008, it has spread to KwaZulu-Natal where the fathers are compelled to pay maintenance for their children. Right now the relevant department in KwaZulu-Natal has employed investigators and maintenance prosecutors who would do the work that was done by the women.
We applaud this initiative because it will make a follow-up on those fathers who do not pay maintenance. The department also called together the fathers of these children in order to engage them, because they also have a role to play as parents. Just this year alone, at least 5 009 fathers were investigated through this programme and this led to the recovery of R1,5 million which was given to the women who were the beneficiaries. This programme gives the mothers, fathers and children power. As the African National Congress we say to the fathers who play hide and seek, there is nowhere to hide, we are going to catch them. Thank you. [Applause.]]
CONDITIONS IN REFUGEE CAMP IN MIDRAND
THE MILLION-MAN MARCH
The MINISTER OF SAFETY AND SECURITY: Chairperson, members of this House, I am part of a joint task team which was put together in order for us to respond to the issue of people who have been displaced as a consequence of the violence that erupted in our country recently. We had to act and act quickly to address the problems of the people. Obviously, we were bound to make mistakes with regard to that, but everything we did was well intentioned.
As people, therefore, who are dealing with the matter, we had certain experiences. Firstly, members of the ANC who went to the areas where displaced people had been accommodated went there to help. But there are other people, hon George, who went into those areas simply because they wanted to nit-pick. I hope you are a medical doctor, hon George - Dr George, because if you are, there is ample space for medical doctors to go into those areas and help, and not nit-pick.
The issue of the land we have been using is, of course, a matter in which, unfortunately, we went onto land that was private. That land is owned by a thoroughgoing South African who said to us: Yes, you came onto my land. But, as a South African, I am giving you time. Let these people live here while you are looking for alternative accommodation for them. As a South African, I am happy to allow you to use this land at least for the next two months. This came from a South African who did not want to nit-pick.
The issue which was raised by the hon member of the UDM is a matter that we support. We support all ventures and campaigns by South Africans who raise the matter of the high levels of crime in South Africa. We appreciate that.
Therefore, we are also happy that there are people who came out today and participated in the march in Tshwane. We hope that everybody who was there - and all other people who become part and parcel of campaigns similar to the one that happened today - will also one day say that they are elevating their participation in the project against crime in South Africa to a point at which they themselves will join the community policing forums; where they themselves will be reservists and participate in sector policing in South Africa; and where they themselves will volunteer so that they work with law-enforcement agencies to ensure that they rid our country of crime. Thank you, Chairperson. [Applause.]
SERVICE DELIVERY IN MOKWAKWAILA VILLAGE
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS: Chairperson, with regard to the statement given by hon Nkuna, I would like to say thank you very much for bringing the fact that 63 villages are able to access the services of the post office to the attention of this House.
If we just think about the number of people that might be living in such villages and what has happened to make them bankable in South Africa, it is quite an achievement. This is what the ANC has been saying all along. We don't have to just do things where the media is, but we should also deliver where the media is not present because many people now became bankable.
We believe in people who have hitherto been excluded, for example, if we look at the Post Office's accounts such as the Mzansi account, the Post Office has the bulk of them. The Post Office has about 40% of them as compared to other banks. The next bank that follows is at 20%. It shows you how the Mzansi account has really tapped into the resources that we have for savings and so on. We would like to say, thank you very much for alerting us to that.
With regard to the fact that communication technology should also be deployed, we would certainly look into the area of not only bringing technology equipment into those post offices, but also to see to the training, so that we can extend this in the spirit of the Thusong Centres, which we are rolling out with multipurpose centres, as well as with the post offices. We hope you would see that sooner, rather than later.
I would also like to say, with regard to the multipurpose centres that you have also mentioned; we would certainly look into the rollout of Information Communication Technology equipment within them; again in the spirit of turning them into Thusong Centres.
Finally, I would also like to thank the Speaker, hon Doidge and their teams for Parliament's improvements in bringing it into the information society and for sharing their experience with other African countries. But also particularly in helping to further liberate Comrade Maureen Madumise and bring technology into her life. [Laughter.] You can see it has improved your lives here as well. If it could improve her life, what more can it do to the lives of the 60 villages that have been connected to the post offices. I thank you very much. [Applause.]
PALESTINIANS COMMEMMORATE NAKBA
RACISM PRACTISED BY UNIVERSITIES
The MINISTER OF EDUCATION: Chairperson, I rise with a bit of trepidation to speak in response to members' statements, given the opinion of the Chief Whip of the Minority Party that Ministers who are unintelligent with respect to other portfolios, sometimes respond to statements. I think that at some point, the House must guide us, so that if we should only speak with respect to our portfolios, we would do that.
However, we respond on a broad number of statements because, as the executive, we regard ourselves as having collective responsibilities for all matters of government. Therefore, I rise in that regard and hope that the hon Chief Whip of the Largest Minority Party would accept that. [Applause.]
I wish to welcome the statement of the member of the ANC, concerning the 60th Anniversary of the Nakba uprising. I think that the invasion of the territory of Palestine and the fact that the people there still do not enjoy rights to their own land is a matter that this Parliament should give consistent attention to. We tend to remember the people of Palestine only when important anniversaries arise.
Yet, as parliamentarians, given our membership of the United Nations, Resolution 194 should be one that we are actively ensuring is implemented. As the ANC, we stand with the people of both Palestine and Israel in ensuring that the peaceful solution to this particular problem is found.
With respect to the statement made on the University of Cape Town, I think if anyone were to call it a racist institution, all we could say is that the particular person is guilty of terminological incertitude. The University of Cape Town is appropriately addressing the years of inherited negative discrimination that this country has experienced. And I would want to say that we would like to examine whether the University of Cape Town ... [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Hon Minister, just wait for a moment. Is that a point of order?
Dr C P MULDER: No Chairperson, I would like to enquire if the hon Minister is prepared to answer a question.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Hon member, I thought maybe you were rising on a point of order.
Dr C P MULDER: Chairperson, in terms of the rules, I thought it was up to the Minister to indicate if she would be prepared to answer a question.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): No, no, it is now time for the responses, not questions.
Dr C P MULDER: Chairperson, I know it is not question time.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): We are now dealing with responses.
Dr C P MULDER: I know.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): But, what do you want to do?
Dr C P MULDER: I would like to ask if the hon Minister is prepared to answer a question. She is free to indicate if she would be prepared to answer a question during her reply time. I would like to know if her answer would be a yes or a no.
The MINISTER OF EDUCATION: I thought maybe it would be useful for the hon member, not to jump up nervously, but allow me to complete my response. [Laughter.] The University of Cape Town is an institution that is extending efforts to address the decades, if not the centuries, of discrimination that there were against the entry of particularly black people of African descent to universities, specifically to medical education in South Africa.
There isn't exclusion, but there is entry based on particular criteria that the university has developed, taking into account the history that existed in this country. The hon member can shout, and point his finger at me. If he had been prepared to point at Verwoerd, Vorster, and others, we would not be such a long way down the line in development. [Applause.]
Finally, I would agree with the hon member Singh that certainly, we should look at innovative ways of developing instruments for financing and infrastructure, both in South Africa, and I think you would agree, on the continent as well. Therefore, the recent decision of heads of state of the African Union, with respect to the utilisation of some of the pension funds towards our infrastructure development, is certainly a very important decision on their part.
Secondly, I am sure that he would agree that all of us as members of Parliament should participate in the purchase of government bonds that have recently been made available through very accessible pay points such as post offices and so on. This is to make sure that we contribute to ensuring that there is funding available through savings in the public purse, to engage in the very necessary infrastructure development that our country needs.
I think the sale of bonds could not be the primary source of funding for infrastructure development, given its structure of a promissory note. Therefore, it is very necessary for government not to rely only on that source, but to look at a range of flexible sources of financing for infrastructure.
Of course, we should congratulate our government on putting aside R60 billion towards infrastructure development in the next ten-year period. I think that should be a positive development, but it is key for us as Members of Parliament to purchase government bonds ourselves, and become South African savers. I thank you.
SERVICE DELIVERY IN MOKWAKWAILA VILLAGE
The MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS: Chairperson, with regard to the Midrand Refugee Camp, I don't believe there is any truth that there are Malawians who would like to be repatriated or who have been refused permission to go back home. Those displaced persons who have indicated that they would like to be repatriated have been repatriated.
Hon members may be aware that we have scores of Mozambicans who have since gone home precisely because they have indicated an interest in returning to their country and they have since been sent back to their country, of course with the help of their own government and international organisations on migration. If you know of any Malawians who would like to go back to their country but who were refused permission to do so, please let us know so that we can facilitate their repatriation to their country.
With regard to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, I couldn't understand the issue you were raising hon member - quite honestly. But during this period we are all of us, both nationally and provincially in Gauteng and in the Western Cape, working very closely with the UNHCR to deal with the challenges which are confronting us in relation to the plight of the displaced.
So, if there has been any statement to the effect that the government of the Western Cape is working very closely with the UNHCR in relation to the displaced persons, obviously there would be truth to that. But I couldn't understand the issue you were trying to raise.
Lastly, with regard to the allocation of more service time to Mokwakwaila Village, obviously, hon members, we would welcome the opportunity to interact with local communities and to be advised by the people in that area. If there is need for an extension of hours or more days for the visits by the mobile units in that area, that would obviously be considered by our regional or district offices in that area. Thank you very much.
PROHIBITION OR RESTRICTION OF CERTAIN CONVENTIONAL WEAPONS BILL
(Consideration of Bill and of Report thereon)
Mnu F BHENGU: Impilo yam inkenenkene namhlanje. Kodwa ngamafuphi, lo mthetho uyilwayo yile Ndlu nakukhumbula ukuba sasivumelene ngawo siyile Ndlu ngomhla we28 ka Agasti kulo nyaka uphelileyo. Inkqubo ke ithi sithi sakuwuphumeza lo mthetho siwuse kwiBhunga lamaPhondo leSizwe. IBhunga lamaPhondo leSizwe liwuphononongile labuya neziphakamiso. Ziphakamiso ezo esithe sakuzijonga savumelana nesiphakamiso esikwisahluko sesibini icandelo lesihlanu, isahluko sesibini icandelo lethoba, isahluko sesibini icandelo leshumi, isahluko sesithathu icandelo leshumi elinanye, njalo isahluko sesine icandelo leleshumi elinesihlanu, isahluko sesine icandelo leshumi elinesixhenxe.
Masikhumbuzane ke ukuba lo mthetho uthini, unqanda ntoni ukwenzela ukuba singalibali. Kaloku silelo lizwe elivumelanayo nomdibaniso wamazwe ekunqandeni ukusetyenziswa kwezixhobo nokuthengiswa kwazo. Ezo zixhobo zigqaliwe kwavunyelwana ngazo ukuba mazingasetyenziswa kuba zinobungozi nobuzaza. Ezinye zezo zixhobo zezo ezithi zakusetyenziswa iingceba zazo zingakwazi ukuba zibhaqeke ngeX Ray xa zithe zibe ziyangena emzimbeni.
Ezinye zezo zixhobo zezo ezisetyenziswa zibeyimigubo etshisayo nezimphekayo umntu, esisetyenziswe ngalo mazwe ke angabuxabisanga ubomi bomntu nalo mazwe axhasa ubugrogrisi. Ndithetha ke nonooxhaka aba abasetyenziswayo enibabiza ukuba ziBooby-Traps. Zezo ezisetyenziswa ngendlela ekhohlakeleyo ezifakwa ezidumbini zabantu abaswelekileyo ezinkomeni njalo njalo. Uze uthi wena xa ufika pha utsho nawe itshoba lilale umbethe.
Indawo enye ke Mphathiswa esingakhange sivumelane neBhunga lamaPhondo leSizwe lisolotya apho abathi imimiselo maze lithi isebe lakho lakugqiba ukuyiphonononga nokuyibhala ize kule Ndlu yoWisothetho uMongameli engakayisayini njengomthetho, sathi ayinakuvuma le Ndlu ukuba siwulandele loo mgaqo. Kodwa ke izise nto esiyiphawulileyo siyikomiti. Ngelithi siphawulile siyile komiti ukuba imimiselo ayiyifumani indlela ebuyayo ukuba ize kuphononongwa kwayiNdlu le ekubeni amasebe eyenzile. Loo nto inikize ukuba xa ujonga ukusetyenziswa kemithetho esiyiphumezileyo phaya ekuhlaleni kubekhona ukusilela kuba kaloku asiyenzi le nto ikukuhlola ufumanise ukuba nemimiselo ayithethi nto inye nomthetho lo esiwupasisileyo.
Ithi ke lo nto siyile komiti siyafuna ukuphakamisa ukuba ngokubhekisele kwimimiselo makathi amasebe akuphuma nayo alandele laa nkqubo yeengxelo zonyaka zamasebe. Andithi zizekuzithi thaca kodwa azekufika apha ePalamente ukwenzela ukuba ikomiti zikwazi ukuyithatha imimiselo ziyiphonononge ziyijonge zibone ukuba zithetha ncakasana laa nto iphaya emthethweni. Ndiyabulela. [Kwaqhwatywa.] (Translation of isiXhosa speech follows.)
[Mr F BHENGU: I am not feeling well today. But, in short, you will remember that on 28 August last year we all agreed on the Bill that we are debating in this House. The procedure is that once we have passed the Bill, we then refer it to the National Council of Provinces. The NCOP has scrutinised the Bill and came up with recommendations. After looking at those recommendations, we agreed with the recommendation in Chapter 2 section 5, 9, 10, Chapter 3 section 11 and Chapter 4 section 15 and 17.
Let us remind one another about the content of this Bill, so that we do not forget what it is preventing. By the way we, as a country, support the call by the UN Convention to curb the use of and the trade in conventional weapons. Those weapons have been inspected and it was agreed that they should not be used because they are too dangerous. Some of the fragments of those weapons, when used, cannot be detected, even with the use of an X-ray, when they happen to pierce the body of someone. Some of these weapons are used as burning powders to burn a person.
These weapons are used by those countries that do not respect the value of human life and countries that support terrorism. I mean even those complicated ones, that you refer to as booby traps, are being used. These are used in a brutal manner as they are injected into dead bodies, cattle etc. Once you get there, you die as well.
Minister, there is one area where we could not reach an agreement with the NCOP, and that is the regulations, which state that after your department had finished scrutinising and writing them, they should send them to the National Assembly before the President signs them into an Act, but we said as this House we are against such a ruling. But they came up with something that we have noticed as the committee. What we have noticed as the committee is that these regulations do not come back, so that they could be scrutinised by this House when the departments are done with them. When you monitor the implementation of the laws we passed at community level, you will notice that there is some inconsistency between them and the regulations because we do not inspect as to whether the regulations are talking to the laws we have passed.
Therefore, as the committee we want to propose that, as for the regulations, the departments must follow the procedure of the annual departmental reports. I do not mean that they should come and table them, but they should be sent to Parliament so that the committee can scrutinise them and make sure that the regulations are in line with the Act. I thank you. [Applause.]]
There was no debate.
USOSWEBHU OMKHULU WEQEMBU ELIBUSAYO: Sihlalo ohloniphekile, bengithi:
Asiwamukele lo Mthethosivivinywa njengoba uchitshiyelwe nje.
Ngiyabonga. (Translation of isiZulu motion follows.)
[The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Hon Chairperson, I move:
That we adopt the amended Bill.
Bill, as amended, accordingly passed.
RENAMING OF HIGH COURTS BILL
(Consideration of Report)
There was no debate.
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Chairperson, I move:
That the Report be adopted.
Motion agreed to.
Report accordingly adopted.
RENAMING OF HIGH COURTS BILL
(Second Reading debate)
Mr G SOLOMON: Thank you, Chairperson. Chairperson, the Renaming of High Courts Bill is part of the process of transforming the judicial system to create a single integrated, accessible and affordable court system, with a High Court in each province to be situated in the capital of such province.
The Bill is an interim measure aimed at establishing certainty and uniformity as to the names of all High Courts, pending the promulgation of comprehensive new legislation in respect of a restructured court system. The High Courts are to be named after the respective provinces in which they are situated, thus doing away with outdated and inappropriate references such as Bophuthatswana, the Transvaal Provincial Division and the Cape of Good Hope Provincial Division.
This Bill will bring these courts in line with the new boundaries that came about after the scrapping of the former homelands and the establishment of nine provinces in terms of section 103 of the Constitution.
Since the coming into force of the Constitution, there is no longer a Supreme Court in South Africa, with its appellate, provincial and local divisions. Instead, a provincial or local division of the Supreme Court of South Africa, or a Supreme Court of a homeland, or a general division of that court must be construed as a reference to a High Court.
Thus the Constitution provides for the Supreme Court of Appeal and a number, namely thirteen, of discrete High Courts. This is set out in the Constitution, specifically in Schedule 6. Item 16(6)(a) of Schedule 6 to the Constitution provides that as soon as it is practical after the new Constitution comes into effect, there should be a comprehensive rationalisation of the structure, composition, function and jurisdiction of all courts, in order to establish a judicial system suited to the requirements of the Constitution.
Originally, back in 2003, the Superior Courts Bill had sought to address discrepancies and legacies around the names, seats and jurisdictions of the High Courts as part of the realisation process described in schedule six of the Constitution. The Superior Courts Bill was, however, later withdrawn, following a government decision to consult more widely with concerned stakeholders. This consultation process is continuing.
The Renaming of High Courts Bill is an interim measure in the unfolding rationalisation process. Consultation in respect of this Bill, involved the Chief Justice, who conferred with the Heads of Courts. The Bill was also considered by the Judicial Service Commission. The only point of concern was that expressed by the Judge President of the North West Division, who requested that the High Court should be known more appropriately as the North West High Court Mafikeng, rather than the North West High Court Mbabatho.
This renaming process does give rise to anomalies in jurisdiction, for the High Courts as well as for Statutory Law Societies. The jurisdiction issue, however, which is also part of the ongoing rationalisation process, is addressed through the interim Rationalisation of Jurisdiction of High Courts Act, Act No 41 of 2001. This Act was passed as a matter of urgency to enable the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development to alter the area of jurisdiction of any High Court.
Chairperson, why do we want to rename the High Courts? The renaming of High Courts is considered important because it is mandated by the Constitution. Although the Constitution does not prescribe how the High Courts should be named, it was undesirable to preserve and use the names of certain High Courts, some of which still retain their apartheid origins. It was felt that the enactment and implementation of the Bill will go a long way towards clearing up the uncertainty and confusion about several of the High Court names.
Chairperson, the consequence of the Bill is that 13 High Courts in eight provinces will have new names. Currently there is no High Court in Mpumalanga. I understand it is in the planning stage. The Witwatersrand Local Division becomes the South Gauteng High Court Johannesburg while the Transvaal Provincial Division becomes the North Gauteng High Court Pretoria, Durban and Coast Local Division and Natal Provincial Division Pietermaritzburg become KwaZulu-Natal High Court Durban and KwaZulu-Natal High Court Pietermaritzburg.
There are four High Courts in the Eastern Cape Province which will be named Eastern Cape High Court Bisho, Eastern Cape High Court Grahamstown, Eastern Cape High Court Mthatha, and Eastern Cape High Court Port Elizabeth. The High Court located in Bloemfontein becomes Free State High Court Bloemfontein. The Cape of Good Hope Provincial Division becomes Western Cape High Court Cape Town. The High Court located in Kimberley becomes Northern Cape High Court Kimberley. The High Court located in Thohoyandou becomes Limpopo High Court Thohoyandou.
Originally, the Bill provided for the Mbabatho High Court to become North West High Court Mbabatho. The Department of Justice, however, informed the portfolio committee that a request has been made to amend the Bill to reflect the fact that as Mbabatho is a suburb falling within Mafikeng Municipality the court should more appropriately be renamed North West High Court Mafikeng. The committee agreed that the Bill should be amended accordingly.
In conclusion, Chairperson, given their role and status, the High Courts deserve to have fit and proper names. It must be understood, however, that these are interim measures, until such time as the Superior Courts Bill of 2003, which was withdrawn for further and wider, consultation with stakeholders, returns to deal comprehensively with the process of rationalisation of High Courts in order to rectify discrepancies and old legacies around the names, seats and jurisdictions of High Courts, as required in section 6 of the Constitution. Thank you, Chairperson.
There was no debate.
Bill read a second time.
CONSIDERATION OF REPORT OF PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT ON JOINT OVERSIGHT VISIT TO POLLSMOOR PRISON TO CONSIDER THE POSITION OF AWAITING-TRIAL PRISONERS
CONSIDERATION OF REPORT OF PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON CORRECTIONAL SERVICES ON JOINT OVERSIGHT VISIT TO POLLSMOOR PRISON TO CONSIDER THE POSITION OF AWAITING-TRIAL PRISONERS
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES: Chairperson, I rise on a point of order. The correct terminology is awaiting-trial detainees, not prisoners. They've not been convicted yet. So, can the table assistants help us with that in terms of the correct terminology. It's awaiting-trial detainees.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Alright we'll have to look at that in terms of the law and the terminology and everything and so we will duly correct it, should it be that way.
CONSIDERATION OF REPORT OF PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT ON JOINT OVERSIGHT VISIT TO POLLSMOOR PRISON TO CONSIDER THE POSITION OF AWAITING-TRAIAL DETAINEES
CONSIDERATION OF REPORT OF PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON CORRECTIONAL SERVICES ON JOINT OVERSIGHT VISIT TO POLLSMOOR PRISON TO CONSIDER THE POSITION OF AWAITING-TRIAL DETAINEES
Mr J B SIBANYONI: Chairperson, I am going to talk on the report of the Justice Portfolio Committee and the Committee on Correctional Services as well as the select committee. This visit took place on 23 October 2007 and the purpose or the aim of the visit was to look at the situation of awaiting-trial, I will say "detainees", although the report says "prisoners". Now there were also representatives from the Magistracy, the National Prosecuting Authority and the Judicial Inspectorate of Prisons and our focus was to establish the rate of overcrowding.
It is unfortunate that I am speaking now after the learners have left because what shockingly came out was the number of juveniles or children who are in detention. Now the Department of Correctional Services hosted us and then it gave a briefing to the committees I have mentioned and thereafter there was extensive discussion, that was followed by a visit to the places of detention and the Members of Parliament had an opportunity to interact or to speak with awaiting trial detainees. Amongst them there were juveniles, there were children and there were also pregnant women. But let me just immediately say that conception, we established, occurred before they were detained.
Pollsmoor Prison is overcrowded. I must emphasise, Pollsmoor is overcrowded. Maybe, to use the language of hon Skosana, it has been the case even previously and we will never say the people who were there previously didn't work. The present occupancy rate is 168%. One hundred and sixty eight percent, while Pollsmoor is designed to accommodate 4 252 offenders, by the time we undertook the visit, we found that there were 7 296 offenders. A total of 4 823, that is 66,8%, were awaiting-trial detainees. At the female centre there were 397 offenders and there 47% were awaiting trial. The occupancy rate there is 162%.
The department also provided information on the number of successful convertions to correctional supervision in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act and that was in respect of the period 1 March 2007 to 30 March 2007. Now section 62(f) of the Criminal Procedure Act empowers the court to release an accused on bail under the supervision of a probation officer or a correctional official and then section 71 thereof provides that awaiting-trial juveniles may be placed in a place of safety under supervision, and section 72 refers to the release of an accused person on a warning, what is normally referred to as free bail.
Now there are also interventions which we were asked to address regarding the overcrowding at Pollsmoor Prison. Among others, these were the appointment of four additional court officials to assist with the reduced bail applications and alternative placements for awaiting-trial detainees, and then also heads of centres attend monthly case-flow meetings to address the management of overcrowding.
Furthermore, a list of awaiting-trial children is provided to various courts and at case-flow meetings on a monthly basis and the names of awaiting-trial children are given to the Department of Social Development on each Friday. There is constant interaction between in-house social workers and the Department of Social Development for available bedspace at places of safety.
Chairperson, the MPs were also told about the concern that the majority are juveniles and they are held there for aggressive offences. We were told that their parents do not always want them at home for reasons that include being unable to guarantee that they would be able to bring their children to court on their appointed dates. Pollsmoor officials also explained to the MPs that there were many awaiting-trial detainees who could not afford bail, even if it was below R1 000.
Chairperson, I want to talk about the legal facilities. We were told that the Legal Aid Board visits there on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and that officials from the Department of Justice also visit Pollsmoor to explain about plea bargaining. However, on further discussion, we were told that the Legal Aid Board officials sometimes do not consult with detainees before these people appear in court and that the consultations are conducted at court.
We came away with certain recommendations. The report comes with certain recommendations that there should be incremental improvements in the position of awaiting-trial detainees at Pollsmoor and further that this report will be referred to the Department of Justice to await a written response. A further recommendation is that the committee will convene a joint meeting of the relevant departments, the Pollsmoor management and other stakeholders within six months to monitor progress. A further recommendation is that for awaiting-trial detainees to constitute 66,8% of the Pollsmoor offender population is altogether unacceptable.
The committee is further concerned about the number of awaiting-trial detainees who are being detained in prison simply because they are unable to meet bail, especially when the bail is below R1 000. We were also told about the report that the Criminal Procedure Act allows for the release of awaiting-trial detainees who have been granted bail, but are unable to pay bail. I must further say, Chairperson, that the committee felt that the judiciary should make use of alternative sentencing so as to ensure that those who have committed petty offences are not sent to the already overcrowded prisons.
Further, the committee will refer the report to the Legal Aid Board and request a report within two months. In so far as this is concerned I must say there have been some ad hoc interactions with the Legal Aid Board and some of the issues that were raised are being, and some of them have already been, addressed.
The committee feels that magistrates should seek to visit correctional facilities, particularly in respect of awaiting-trial detainees. There should be greater collaboration between all role-players, ensuring better conditions for and the speedy sentencing of awaiting-trial detainees.
Now the committee notes that while sentenced children and juveniles take part in education, sport and developmental programmes, we were told that awaiting-trial children and juveniles are not allowed to take part. Why? Because awaiting-trial detainees are the responsibility of the Department of Justice while the sentenced ones are the responsibility of the Department of Correctional Services.
The committee is of the opinion that an integrated justice system should apply. All children and juveniles, both those that have been sentenced and those awaiting trial, should be allowed to take part in the abovementioned programmes.
Chairperson, the committee believes that more should be done to ensure that pregnant women who have committed petty crimes are not detained in prison, but are diverted to community correction or other appropriate interventions. The committees which have visited the prison commit themselves to working with the relevant departments and other stakeholders and we hope that the committee on Safety and Security will also be on board in future when these are taken forward.
In mid-August there will be a report relating to the Child Justice Bill. The Justice Committee has visited one-stop centres and it will indicate the matter of capacity so as to contain children in conflict with the law. Thank you, Chairperson.
Mr D V BLOEM: Good afternoon everybody and let me greet you all in the name of the African National Congress.
It is very good to hear that a member of Justice has tasted the bitter pill of overcrowding in the prisons. We took them as a Portfolio Committee on Justice to Pollsmoor to say to them: "Come and drink of this bitter water of overcrowding". And I am happy that Comrade J B knows at least what is going on in Correctional Services.
But, Chairperson, this joint oversight visit by these three committees was a clear indication that Parliament is very serious in addressing the ongoing problem of overcrowding in our prisons. The aim of the visit was to look at overcrowding in Pollsmoor, especially for those awaiting trial. The Deputy Minister is correct. It is awaiting-trial detainees. You are correct, Deputy.
The Department of Correctional Services provided us with a breakdown of awaiting-trial detainees in Pollsmoor who either have not been granted bail or who have been granted bail but could not afford to pay this bail. Chairperson, I must say that all three committees are not happy with the state of affairs when it comes to awaiting-trial detainees in Pollsmoor.
I am not going into the details of this report because Comrade J B is very good at that. The report is there for anybody to read and I will urge the members of this House and the public at large to read this report. This is the report. It is a very good report from the three committees. And I will agree with the previous speaker of the department, or rather the Justice Portfolio Committee.
But, Chairperson, I think I must address something that happened – a very painful matter. All of us know that yesterday the High Court in Johannesburg or in Gauteng sentenced the murderer, the rapist of seven-year-old Sheldean Human, to a life sentence. I have said it before, and I want to repeat it here today, these monsters belong in C-Max in Kokstad. And the Department of Correctional Services must make sure that this monster serves 25 years.
Life means 25 years behind bars. You cannot spend 10 years or 15 years in prison for committing such dangerous crimes. The Parole Boards must make sure he serves the 25 years there. And after that, then he can be considered to be placed on parole. He is a very dangerous person. He is a threat to women and children and the whole of society. He must sit in prison until his 25 years have expired. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
There was no debate.
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Chairperson, I move:
That the first Report be adopted.
Motion agreed to.
Report accordingly adopted.
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Chairperson, I move:
That the second Report be adopted.
Motion agreed to.
Report accordingly adopted.
INDIA, BRAZIL, AND SOUTH AFRICA (IBSA) SUMMIT IN BRASILIA, BRAZIL
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AFRICA COMMAND (AFRICOM)
(Consideration of Reports of Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs)
Mr D J SITHOLE: Chairperson, the first report of the India, Brazil and South Africa, IBSA, summit deals with the fact that the portfolio committee went to attend the summit in Brazil. We recommend to Parliament that oversight over that particular engagement will be difficult for the portfolio committee to undertake.
In our recommendation to Parliament, we want to propose that Parliament sets up a mechanism to do oversight on IBSA, specifically. We suggest that a multiparty forum be created to deal with oversight on IBSA and that it be located within the structures of Parliament that deal with international relations. We felt that this would not be adequately attended to if it were within the portfolio committee itself.
On the Africa Command that the United States of America has proposed, they have been looking for a place on the continent to set up this command. Currently, the command is structured in such a way that it is spread between three command centres. They want to centralise the Africa Command within the continent. We have been briefed by all the structures that are involved - Defence and Foreign Affairs. We also called on the NGOs that made a presentation.
It became apparent to us that if we or any member of our region agreed to host the Africa Command it would create very serious problems for us over both the short term and the long term. We want to suggest that we stand firm as a country and, in fact, communicate our opposition to hosting such a command on the continent and within our region to other member states in the region. We recommend, in that report, that South Africa rejects this with contempt and then mobilise and lobby all other member states on the continent to reject hosting such a command.
We are, however, aware that other countries may have an interest in hosting the command. Liberia has expressed such an interest. But our government persuaded the Liberian government to realise that hosting that command would actually have a negative impact on our continent because it would militarise the continent over the long term and create problems for us.
The other aspect that we have warned about is what we call mission creep. That is, once we agree to this command that comes with ideas, it will, however, over the long term have other implications that the continent might not be able to deal with. We therefore want to suggest to Parliament that we communicate to our executive that under no circumstance should we consider any request of that nature. Thank you, Chairperson.
There was no debate.
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Chairperson, I move:
That the report on India, Brazil and South Africa Summit in Brasilia, Brazil be adopted.
Motion agreed to.
Report accordingly adopted.
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Chairperson, I move:
That the report on United States of America Africa Command be
Motion agreed to.
Report accordingly adopted.
HEARINGS ON THE STRATEGIC PLAN AND BUDGET VOTE 34: DEPARTMENT
OF WATER AFFAIRS AND FORESTRY
PUBLIC HEARINGS ON FORESTRY TRANSFORMATION CHARTER, NATIONAL FOREST ACTION PLAN AND INDUSTRIAL POLICY
(Consideration of Reports of Portfolio Committee on Water Affairs and Forestry)
Ms C C SEPTEMBER: Chairperson, hon Deputy President of the ANC, in the 20 minutes that have been allocated to me, which I am obviously going to take and speak for 20 minutes ... [Interjections.] No, hon members, you can't be "moeg" [tired].
I will deal with the two reports before us. The one report deals with the strategic plan and budget of the department and the second report deals with the public hearings that were held on forestry, in particular, subsequent to that. We are asking, in particular, on the strategic plan and budget of the department, that what we need to focus on here is that the committee emphasised that the department needs to give an updated report on their asset management. Secondly, the committee asked that the water services strategy comes to the portfolio committee.
On public hearings, in the main, the committee was seized with listening to various communities coming from, in particular, the Eastern Cape, Knysna, George, Plettenberg and so on. Here we had to deal with the mitigating effects of when government commercialised and privatised forestry and the net effect that this had.
The committee, in this regard, asked that we engage with regard to this net effect and obviously the consequences of having sold forests and the privatisation thereof. The committee recommends that we engage in this. Policy reviews need to also be conducted in this regard because it cannot be the intention that we impoverish people. Our intention is to make sure that we improve people's lives and give them access to the economy in forestry. We urge that you accept this report. Thank you very much.
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Chairperson, I move that the reports be adopted.
There was no debate.
Motion agreed to.
Reports accordingly adopted.
The House adjourned at 18:36.
No related documents