Hansard: NA: Questions to the President
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 11 Mar 2015
No summary available.
Wednesday, 11 March 2015 Take: 40
WEDNESDAY, 11 MARCH 2015
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
The House met at 15:02.
The Speaker took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.
The SPEAKER - STATEMENT
START OF DAY
APPLICATION OF RULE 111(6), RULE 108(9) AND RULE 316(1)
The SPEAKER: Hon members, before we commence with today’s business, I need to say something about Rule 111(6) in relation to Questions to the President and related matters. A number of statements have been made about the application of this Rule, including in correspondence to the Speaker. Rule 111(6) states that—
Where the order in which questions are put to the President according to Rule 108(9) is interrupted at the end of a Question session, the next Question session to the President starts from the point where the order was so interrupted.
As the Rule itself suggests, it should be read with Rule 108(9). At the start of a Parliament, a party sequence is decided and the order of rotation is determined by the Chief Whips’ Forum. The order of rotation in terms of which parties can put questions in the Fifth Parliament was determined by the Chief Whips’ Forum in terms of Rule 108(9) and published in the Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports, ATC, on 26 June 2014.
A similar provision to Rule 111(6) is contained in Rule 110(5) and Rule 109(6) in respect of Questions to the Deputy President and to the Ministers.
When a question session comes to an end, and this applies to all question sessions, the order of rotation is interrupted. Sometimes a question session may end in the middle of supplementary questions. In all instances, the next question session starts with the next party in the rotation to ask a new question. It never starts at supplementary questions. This has always been the case since 2002, when the current questions procedure was put in place.
This order of rotation applies for the duration of an annual session. This is in terms of Rule 108(9) and that is why today the order of rotation is as it was on 21 August 2014, because this is a new annual session and the order starts from the beginning.
The question session to the Deputy President last week, for instance, started from the beginning of the rotation. The order was interrupted after Question 4, which came from the ANC, and the next question session will, therefore, begin with the next party in the rotation, namely the IFP.
Therefore, because this is a new annual session, Rule 111(6) cannot apply to the start of today’s question session, as has been suggested by certain parties. I thought it was important to clarify that point. As members know, in terms of Rule 316(1), questions together with other business lapse at the end of an annual session.
The questions that were not reached on 21 August also lapsed at the end of 2014. Again, the Rule and practice on lapsing of business has always been applied to questions. Needless to say, the same explanation was given at the first meeting of the programming committee this year.
Hon members, notwithstanding what I have just said, I am aware of what I indicated at the end of the session on 21 August 2014, and this is what has informed current interactions on this matter at the level of the programme committee. At the very first meeting of the programme committee this year, the matter of the questions that were not reached on 21 August 2014, was discussed. At almost subsequence meeting of the committee the matter has received attention. I indicated at the meetings of the programme committee that my Office was in consultations with the Presidency to find a way to deal with the business that could not be concluded on 21 August 2015.
Members will remember that on 21 August, already I had given an indication about concluding the outstanding business. Possibilities were proposed by members in the committee. One was that additional time be set aside today for those questions to be dealt with.
Hon members will remember that in early February written replies to those questions were submitted by the Presidency. The additional time was meant specifically for supplementary questions.
It must be noted that if such a session for supplementary questions happened, a resolution would have needed to be adopted by the House as this is not provided for in the Rules. The other proposal was for an additional session to be scheduled. Members should remember that all these take place in the context of questions that lapsed at the end of 2014.
Hon members, I reported at the programme committee meeting on 26 February 2015, that the setting aside of additional time in today’s session had not succeeded. Of course, members acknowledged the fact that the Presidency had since submitted three days for questions for this year in addition to today’s session despite the fact that a framework has not been finalised yet.
Hon members, I have explained the application of Rule 111(6), and I have also given you an account of the deliberations that have taken place in the programming committee. Members are, without doubt, aware that this is the committee which, in terms of the Rules, is charged with scheduling the business of the NA.
While the committee has specific membership, of course, all members have the right to attend and to participate. We will be meeting again tomorrow at 8:30, so you are all welcome.
Today’s question session is in terms of the programme as agreed to by the programming committee. The parties in the rotation today are the ANC, the DA, the EFF, the ANC, the IFP and the NFP. They were entitled to put questions of their choice, which they have done.
What we have today are questions they believe should be responded to by the President. I must indicate that my Office has this afternoon received a letter from the hon Malema on the matter of questions to the President. The letter is receiving consideration.
As hon members will agree, this House has a duty to discharge its constitutional mandate of holding the executive accountable. We will now proceed with the business of today and allow the President to respond to questions on the Question Paper. I thank you hon members, for your attention.
Mr J S MALEMA
Mr J S MALEMA: Hon Speaker, may I address you? Thanks very much for the clarity provided.
I don’t think that you are being genuine with all of us here because when I wrote a letter to you last year, you made a commitment that a date will be set aside for the President to come and conclude the business of 21 August 2014.
Even in the statement you issued on 21 August 2014, you said there would be a session where the President would complete answering the questions of 21 August. In responding to me you created an expectation that the day will come while knowing very well that there is Rule 316.
The reason why the EFF wrote a letter to ask for a special sitting so that the President could conclude the business of 21 August 2014, was precisely because of Rule 316. We knew that if this matter was not attended to then, it was going to lapse.
You misled us and created an impression that, don’t worry, 11 March 2015 will come and therefore the President will complete the Questions.
We don’t have a problem with the President. All of you keep on creating an impression that we have a problem with the President. The problem is the Presiding Officers. You are the ones who put the President in a difficult position, and I am happy that today you addressed us before the President takes the podium.
We are not proud of interjecting every time, but you force us, by how you conduct the business of this Parliament, to end up interrupting the President.
I must commend you today for having spoken before the President takes the podium so that you and we finish this matter and allow the President to come and answer questions uninterrupted.
We are pleading with you: In the spirit of the letters you have written to us, and in the spirit of the communication and commitment you have made to the public, let us start with the questions of 21 August 2014, and then the President can proceed with the questions of this term. You have created the wrong impression and unnecessary expectations. This is what we are pleading.
HON MEMBERS: Yes!
Mr J S MALEMA: Please, let us stick to that. We are pleading with you, hon Speaker. [Applause.]
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITION: Hon Speaker, may I address you, please?
The SPEAKER: Hon Steenhuisen, let me just finish with the statement of the hon Malema.
Hon Malema, as I was saying in this ruling, I am pointing out that the Presidency has since submitted answers to the outstanding questions that remained after he was disrupted on 21 August 2014. Those answers have been submitted by the Presidency in this year, 2015.
The issue that was raised at the programming committee was the fact that there were outstanding expectations in terms of supplementary questions that would have, otherwise, been raised if those questions had been aired and answered during the plenary session in the House.
It is on that point that we are continuing to engage in the programme committee and we will continue to do so as from tomorrow and beyond. When the programming committee sits it will engage with whatever is necessary for those issues to be engaged with. Hon Steenhuisen, you may address me.
Mr J S MALEMA: Hon Speaker, I want to make a follow up on ... [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: Hon Malema, please take your seat because there is another hon member, who I have recognised, on the floor.
Mr J S MALEMA: I am not sure on what point is he rising; I want to ask a follow-up question to ... [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: I am conducting the meeting, hon Malema. Take your seat!
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITION: May I be given a chance to indicate ... [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: I am conducting the sitting, hon Malema. Hon Malema, please take your seat.
THE CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITION
THE CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITION: Madam Speaker, I think your interpretation of Rule 108 is correct. However, I would like to refer you to Rule 114 in the Rules Book – and particularly Rule 114(1) which says, and I quote:
Replies to questions for oral reply which have not been reached at the end of the time allotted on the question day must be submitted in writing to the Secretary for inclusion in the Official Report of the Debate of the Assembly.
Rule 114(2) goes on to say that-
If a reply to such a question is not received by the Secretary by 12:00 on the Thursday following the question day concerned—
(a) the question must be regarded as standing over;
We have heard from you today, and we have received the replies from the President, although they only arrived in February of the new term. So, for instance, what should happen then is that we must then move to Rule 115(2) which directs that the question that stands over in terms of subrule (1) must be placed on the Question Paper for reply on the next question day on which the person to whom it is addressed is scheduled to reply to questions.
Now if Parliament has been functioning correctly, that would have been in November last year, 2014, when the President was due to come here. Those Question Papers and the Guide to Procedure are very clear that the President answers a maximum of six questions. This excludes, one, questions on the Question Paper because they stood over. The Guide to Procedure is clear that questions to the President may stand over.
We all know that the President didn’t come during last year’s term and that, in fact, this is the first question session since your undertaking on 21 August 2014, when, according to Hansard, you said that you had agreed with the Office of the President on finishing, that is, work that is not completed yet – the questions to the President.
That, therefore, implies that those questions indeed had not lapsed and they remained alive. In addition to that, I would advance to you Madam Speaker that, by submitting written replies to those questions in the new term of this year, the Presidency itself revived those questions. Therefore they have not lapsed and they should be on the Order Paper.
Madam Speaker, I want to say to you that the DA is committed to today’s session continuing. We want the President to answer the six questions on the Order Paper as they appear. We want to be able to discharge our duties as Members of Parliament, MPs, of exercising oversight over that.
We don’t want to have a disruption today. But what I am going seek from you, Madam Speaker, is a commitment that when we do meet in programming committee tomorrow, a date is provided for these questions which are now regarded as standing over and have not been attended to. And I do so, Madam Speaker, because it is very important that we close this chapter that is now bedevilling every single key movement that we make in this House.
We must have those three questions dealt with. Let’s close this chapter and move on with the people’s business. There are more issues that we need to deal with than these three questions, but we cannot proceed until they are discharged. And I am making that earnest plea to you today. [Applause.]
The SPEAKER: Hon Steenhuisen, I have noted the point you are making and, of course, as I have said, we will continue to deal with these outstanding matters where they belong and that is in the programming committee. Hon Mulder, why are you on your feet?
Dr C P MULDER
Dr C P MULDER: May I address you now, Madam Speaker?
The SPEAKER: Yes.
Dr C P MULDER: Madam Speaker, you are technically correct in terms of your interpretation of Rule 116, but this is not about Rule 116. The hon Steenhuisen correctly pointed out that it is about Rule 114 and Rule 115. Now the problem is the fact that the President did answer those questions in writing. This has absolutely revived them and they should therefore be on the Order Paper, but they are not for today.
We also know, Madam Speaker, that during each and every meeting of the programming committee we engaged with you as well as the Ruling Party to try to find a date so that the President can come back and complete that question session. We could not succeed in doing so, and cannot succeed to do so today.
But what concerns me, Madam Speaker, is that - and I told you this in the programming committee – the President himself publicly denied that he has been contacted to come to Parliament to answer questions.
Now the problem is this: Somewhere somebody is misleading all of us. And I do accept that the President may be correct, but then we have a problem in the Presidency, Speaker, because you are engaging with the presidency – that is what you told us – in trying to find this date, but are unable to do so.
We tried to find this date even before the state of the nation address, in order to prevent any possible conflict, but we couldn’t do so. We had to proceed and we all know what happened.
Now we are here today, in terms of Rules 111 of this House. This is just an ordinary session in terms of the President’s obligations to come to the House and answer questions in the first term. But we all know we have one-and-half sessions’ time outstanding, and it is not being addressed.
Now, you are again saying to us that it will be addressed tomorrow in the programming committee. That may be so, but we also know that the President is on record as saying that he has not been approached. So you are approaching the Presidency, but the President is not aware of that. We have a problem, but you are not doing what you are supposed to do.
Mr N F SHIVAMBU
Dr C P MULDER
Mr N F SHIVAMBU: Hon Speaker, in the meeting of the National Assembly Programming Committee that took place on 26 January, we did point to the fact that Rule 111(1)(a) says that questions to the President must be scheduled for a question day at least once per term in accordance with the annual programme of Parliament.
We illustrated that in terms of our agreement last year, we fused three terms in the postelection period and the President only came for a question day on 21 August 2014. But he couldn’t conclude that question session so there are two question sessions which he was supposed to attend - which he did not - and there is one session which is incomplete. So, we have a debt of questions that we still have to ask the President; this is in addition to the ones that have not been answered.
We have made a plea recurrently. We have written you letters illustrating the fact that we need to complete that question session and still allocate the dates of when the President is going to answer the questions outside of the dates that have been agreed upon – the three dates that you have announced here today.
Can we please get guidance so that we know that we are going to be holding the President accountable? We have been elected to come and hold the executive accountable. That is what the Constitution says, that as Parliament we must hold the executive and the President accountable.
Also, let us not confuse oral questions with written questions. It is not a case of either or. It’s not that we can easily relegate the oral questions to written questions, which, in most instances by the way, he does not even personally respond to — instead they are responded to by the back office in the Presidency. And in most cases he possibly does not even know what they are saying.
We want to ask him questions directly and know the answers with regard to questions that we have asked. There is a time when we shall have to deal with the Rules of Parliament that have been violated, because you said that you have approached the Presidency but the Presidency says it has not been approached, as the hon Mulder said. Can we please get clearer guidance in terms of the whole procedure?
The SPEAKER: I didn’t hear hon Mulder saying that the Presidency had not been approached. The difference between the President and the Presidency is that you can’t expect a head of state to be engaged in details of how his programme must be done. [Interjections.] So, saying that the Presidency had not been approached is to say that, in fact, what we have been reporting to you is not true. The President is correct. He can’t know who is engaging his Office, his staff ... [Interjections.]
Mr M Q NDLOZI: Speaker, on a point of order ...
The SPEAKER: Can you take your seat, hon Ndlozi, until I recognise you? You can’t be saying, “point of order” on your feet. You know you are not allowed to do this. [Interjections.] You need to take your seat and I will then recognise you.
Mr M Q NDLOZI: Hon Speaker, Rule 70 allows me to stand.
The SPEAKER: Hon Ndlozi, I will recognise you when I’m through with what I am saying.
I am saying to you, when we, as the Office of the Speaker, say we are engaging with the Presidency, we are not talking about the hon Zuma. He is the head of state. [Interjections.] He can’t be expected to know whether or not he was engaged on the issue of days and whatever other details. [Interjections.]
Now, hon members, I have explained what I have explained, in the ruling. I have said that we have been given dates. Even though the framework has not been finalised, the Presidency has advanced and given us three more dates, in addition to today’s Questions to the President, and we are continuing to engage on other matters with the Presidency.
I would now like to appeal to hon members to allow us to proceed with the Presidency — with the President, not the Presidency! Allow the President ... [Interjections.]
An HON MEMBER: You are getting confused now!
The SPEAKER: ... to actually answer the questions that everybody has been saying he must come to answer. The hon Chief Whip?
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Hon Speaker, I really want to plead with the House that all of us, the Chief Whips, should meet tomorrow and follow exactly what ... [Interjections.] You did not even hear what I was going to say. [Laughter.] [Interjections.]
Can you turn to page 203 of this book, if you have it? [Interjections.] This book is very specific. It is, in fact, a guide to interpreting the Rules that you are reading. On page 203 of this book, in the last line, it specifically says, and I quote:
Generally speaking, questions to the President do not stand over.
This means the questions that have not been dealt with can still be asked in the next session. They do not stand over, so the questions that people are looking for can still be put on the Order Paper – even tomorrow. There’s no reason why we should be haggling over the questions that are outstanding. [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: Can I recognise the hon ... Ndlozi, please, sit down! Take your seat.
Mr M Q NDLOZI: I am honourable.
The SPEAKER: Hon Ndlozi, please take your seat.
Mr M Q NDLOZI: May I please address you, hon Speaker? I am rising in terms of Rule 70 ...
The SPEAKER: Hon Ndlozi, take your seat. Hon Steenhuisen?
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITION
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITION: Madam Speaker, again I rise on Rule 114 from the same book that the hon Chief Whip of the Majority Party is quoting. On the very same page, six lines up, it states:
The President answers a maximum of six questions on each occasion. This excludes –
And I repeat:
(1) questions on the Question Paper because they stood over.
That clearly indicates that questions to the President may stand over, but generally do not, because, I think, we must accept the events of 21 August 2014 were extraordinary. They don’t generally stand over, because we generally complete the six questions. However, where they are not completed, Rules 114 and 115 give us the guidance of what we must do in that instance. This book says that they can, in fact, stand over, and they must.
An HON MEMBER: Hear, hear!
The SPEAKER: Yes, hon Steenhuisen. You addressed me on that issue, and I agreed that we will deal with that issue which you had raised, and I publicly accepted that. Hon Ndlozi?
Mr M Q NDLOZI
Mr M Q NDLOZI: Thank you, hon Speaker. We do not agree that these questions must be postponed to be dealt with by a programming committee. They have been there. They have run their due course. By the way, in terms of the Presidency or the President, we do not put questions to the Presidency. We don’t want explanations from the Presidency. We want answers; we want an explanation from the President, who is duly elected by the House.
Therefore, you must be telling us about the responses to come to account in this House in terms of the President, not the Presidency! The President is the one that comes here for oral answers to oral questions. So that must be very clear. Those are the terms that we use in terms of the Rules. We don’t think that the questions and the discussion about the question must go back to the programming committee. They have run their course.
Our position is that the President is here, and the hon President must take the platform and continue where the session ended. He can read! He can read those written replies. He can turn them into an oral reply. As a matter of fact, they are there so let him take the platform and continue, as it has been agreed. Do not postpone them and then want to convince all members of the House. Why should it be turned into a merry-go-round?
We know the reason that those questions are being ignored will be defeated in the programming committee, again. We have been there many times. The reason it will be subjected to the same defeat is that they don’t want to answer those questions. So, if that is not the truth, if they do want to answer those questions and they have answered them in writing, let him take the platform - that is our proposal – and continue, and read them, so that he can say, “All right, South Africans, I was asked these questions and I am complying with what I have been asked”.
That is what we are saying. Going back to the programming committee is a merry-go-around. We are playing with the country. It cannot be.
The SPEAKER: Thank you, hon Ndlozi. For today, we have questions that we have agreed with the parties that I read out are for today’s business. We are not throwing away the three questions and what the hon Ndlozi is saying, but we are saying we won’t change the decision we have taken about what the business for today is.
We did ask the Presidency, and we do actually deal with the Presidency. We have to deal with the Presidency because we can’t be engaging the President, although he is the one who ends up answering. However, when it comes to making the arrangements for his programme, we, indeed, have to deal with his Office. So, I really would like to ask and appeal to you, hon members, that we proceed with today’s business.
The LEADER OF THE OPPOSITIO
The LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Hon Speaker, with great respect - and I want to support the Chief Whip of the Majority Party in this regard – we have come to this House to engage in effective oversight. What is crystal clear is the fact that, yes, the President had missed sessions from last year. At least, on that point, we must be willing to agree.
I also want to support the view that the questions be resurrected, which we’ve agreed to, so far. I disagree with the hon Ndlozi that we must begin with those particular questions, and I want to state that.
What, then, is important, however, hon member, is that tomorrow, we can’t be entering into a discussion about if and when. I want to implore you, Speaker, that tomorrow morning’s programming meeting must begin on one point, and one point alone: When is the date that the President is coming to catch up on those respective questions? [Interjections.]
We accept that there are three additional ones. We want more dates from the Presidency so that we get an additional date so we can begin at that point. Failure to do that means every question-and-answer session that begins with the President must go through the same process that we are going through now.
South Africans expect us to effect oversight. All I’m requesting is for that oversight to be effected. Let us get additional dates going forward, and let’s get one more, by tomorrow morning, so that, in fact, we can proceed with the remaining three questions. It’s the only commitment I ask for, Speaker. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
Mr G A GARDEE
The LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
Mr G A GARDEE: Madam Speaker, in terms of Rule 4 of the Rules of Assembly, no convention or practice shall limit or inhibit any provision of these Rules. Accordingly, the Chief Whip there, from reading a convention and a guideline cannot say Rules 114 and 115 should be set aside.
Notwithstanding that, you are on record, Madam Speaker, on the watershed day of 12 February, when we were beaten up by your police here, that – and I will read from your Hansard:
The President will be answering questions in the National Assembly on 11 March.
That is from the press statement on 21 August and from the 21 August 2014 Hansard record when you were adjourning the House.
I want to move forward to the back-and-forth letters we have been writing to each other, and to which you have been responding. In terms of common law and the doctrine of legitimate expectation, you have created an expectation in the country, the world and among the voters of this country that the President, at his next appearance, would start from where he was interrupted. [Interjections.]
Did we, then, send a wrong message and were we dishonest with the country in this House, when it is on record, in the Hansard, that you are recorded as having said that?
On several platforms, you have created the impression that the EFF may appear to be unreasonable, because the President is going to come here on 11 March 2015, anyway. Here is the President, today. It is 11 March, not the Ides of March! [Laughter.] As such, he can explain himself and answer the question. When is he going to pay the money? Thank you. [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: Hon Gardee, today we have specific questions that are lined up for answers from the President. The rest of the issues that have been raised have been noted and are being dealt with. I now want to call upon ... [Interjections.]
Mr N S MATIASE
Mr N S MATIASE: Speaker!
The SPEAKER: Why are you on your feet, hon member?
Mr N S MATIASE: I rise on the basis of Rule 70.
The SPEAKER: What are you rising on? [Interjections.]
Mr N S MATIASE: Can you protect me in exercising my right to address you.
The SPEAKER: What are you rising on, hon member?
Mr N S MATIASE: I rise on a point of order, Madam Speaker.
The SPEAKER: Hon member, are you going to say what your point of order is or not?
Mr N S MATIASE: I am about to say that. Can I ... [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: Please go ahead and say it!
Mr N S MATIASE: Can I be allowed to proceed?
The SPEAKER: Proceed!
Mr N S MATIASE: Madame Speaker, we are in this House to use the only tools that we have at our disposal and those tools are our words. We are going to use clean words. There are no other tools that we can use to hold the executive accountable except by using these tools. We can only exercise our right to use these tools in this House.
We, the EFF, are of the view that the President cannot evade all questions. Regardless of the intentions of the executive or the Presiding Officers of this House, whether these questions have to do with dolus directus, dolus indirectus or dolus eventualis ... [Interjections.] ... the President must answer these questions.
He cannot expect all of us as citizens of this country to answer these questions while he is the only person who refuses to answer these questions. We expect this House to hold the President accountable to answer these questions so that we can conclude these matters because they stand over as he never concluded his replies to these questions on 21 August 2014. These are the words and the tools we are using … [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: Hon member, I have not heard a question so far and you have been talking for quite some time.
Mr N S MATIASE: These are the words and tools at our disposal that we are using to hold the executive, particularly the President, accountable. [Interjections.]
Mr N S MATIASE
The SPEAKER: Hon Carter.
Ms D CARTER: Hon Speaker, I must say that it is quite disappointing — I have had my hand up for about 20 minutes. However, if I can just also say that I am not going to go back into the Rules of the NA and all the Rules that have been quoted.
I think it is crucial though that when we go to a programming forum or the Chief Whips’ Forum, we should not have an issue of majority rule, so that we can have a decision ... [Interjections.] ... made tomorrow in order to have this Question session.
I would even propose that we must have it before we break for the constituency period, or even have it during the constituency period, so that we can deal with this once and forever. Thank you.
The SPEAKER: Hon members, the only item on today’s Order Paper is Questions ... [Interjections.]
Ms N R MASHABELA
Ms N R MASHABELA: Hon Speaker, I rise on a point of order, asseblief!
The SPEAKER: Hon member, please take your seat. Please take your seat, sisi! Hon members, please may I appeal to you to put your hands down and allow the House to proceed with the Business of the Day which I was just announcing. Allow the House to make progress, hon members. [Interjections.]
Ms M S KHAWULA: [Inaudible.]
I have heard that before. [Laughter.]. It is not the first time at all. [Laughter.] I do not want assistance.
Ms N R MASHABELA: Hon Speaker, maybe I am the one who wants to be assisted. [Interjections.]
USOMLOMO: Bengingekakuvumeli ukuthi ukhulume.
Ms N R MASHABELA: Hon Speaker, Hon Speaker! Speaker, you cannot be trusted anymore.
USOMLOMO: Oh, angisahloniphekile manje? [Ubuwelewele.]
Ms N R MASHABELA: Speaker, in fact, your intention is to collapse this Fifth Parliament!
The SPEAKER: Hon member, please take your seat.
Ms N R MASHABELA: You have given the impression to the people of South Africa that when the President comes here ... [interjections.] ... on 11 March 2015, today, he will answer all questions. [Interjections.] So our question, even today, is: The people of South Africa want to know, when is the President going to pay back the Nkandla money? This is a matter of interest for the people of South Africa. They want the answer today!
Ms N R MASHABELA
The SPEAKER: Hon member, please take your seat. Hon members in the benches of the EFF, can you allow the House to proceed with today’s business, please. [Interjections.] No, I do not want proposals. The only thing I want is that the House be allowed to proceed with its business.
The issues that are of interest to you have been allowed and they have been raised. You have complained and I have announced that the letter of your leader is with us. We have received it, and it is being attended to. Could you allow us to proceed with the today’s business?
Ms H O MAXON: Order, Speaker! [Interjections.] Hayibo, who are you – shut up! [Laughter.] [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: Hon member, can you please take your seat? [Interjections.] Hon members, please allow the House to proceed with its business.
Ms E N LOUW: On a point of order, Madam Speaker.
The SPEAKER: Now you are talking after your colleague has spoken. So which one, in your plan, is the one I am supposed to listen to?
Ms E LOUW: Hon Speaker, can I address you? [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: Hon members, order! [Interjections.] No, let me talk to you, hon members.
Mr J S MALEMA: No, on a point of order! [Interjections.] No, no!
The SPEAKER: No, hon Malema. Please let me ... [Interjections.] Not when I am speaking. Whatever you want to say ... [Interjections.]
Mr J S MALEMA: You are casting an aspersion on our organisation.
The SPEAKER: But you must allow the Chair to finish what the Chair is saying before you rise and start to talk.
Mr J S MALEMA: But you are out of order! We should not allow you to be out of order. [Interjections.] You are out of order, Speaker!
The SPEAKER: Hon Malema, order! Hon Malema, I am not going to allow you to speak when I am speaking. That is what I am not going to allow!
Mr J S MALEMA: But I am rising on a point of order, Chair.
The SPEAKER: But you must allow the Chair to finish what the Chair is saying.
Mr J S MALEMA: And then, will I be recognised?
The SPEAKER: You will be recognised if you respect the House.
Mr J S MALEMA: Okay.
The SPEAKER: You see, hon members, if you do not want order to reign in the House, of course there will be disorder because no one person can create order in the House. Therefore, order in the House requires the co-operation of every hon member. I am appealing to hon members to actually do the honourable thing and that is to allow us to proceed with the business of the House which is before us today.
Hon members, I have given you an opportunity and you have raised the issues that you wanted to raise. Now you are starting to rise, to jump to your feet, and to speak one after the other. I appeal to you, hon members, to allow us to proceed with the business of the House. We need to proceed with our business. [Interjections.] The only person I am now going to recognise is the leader of the EFF, the hon Malema.
Mr J S MALEMA
Mr J S MALEMA: Speaker, it is very wrong of you to suggest that there is a plan here ... [Laughter.] ... because I think that it is a very serious insinuation and it is unparliamentary, especially coming from you. I hope you will withdraw that statement.
The second point that I am rising on is that you can be guaranteed that there is going to be answering of questions by the President because that is what we are here for. This House is not going to degenerate in any case. You must help us to do that.
Hon Maimane put a firm proposal to you which you must put to the House. In line with your suggestion that tomorrow the programming committee will look at these matters, his firm proposal is that we should only look at the matter of 21 August 2014, and agree on a date that the President will come back to conclude the business of that said date.
If we can agree on that, this is going to be the most peaceful meeting. [Laughter.] [Applause.] [Interjections.] I can guarantee you that.
The SPEAKER: Hon members, as I was saying, before I was interrupted, the only item on today’s Order Paper is Questions to the President. Of course, hon members know the process of speaking when you want to speak. You have buttons on your desk, and there is a talk button. The first question has been asked by the hon Mthethwa.
Mr N F SHIVAMBU: Hon Speaker ...
An HON MEMBER: There is a proposal. [Interjections.] Put the proposal. [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: Hon members, the proposal made by the hon Maimane does not depend on this House; it depends on issues that need to be processed outside the House. Hon Shivambu?
Mr N F SHIVAMBU: Can I please make a proposal?
The SPEAKER: No, take your seat, hon Shivambu.
Mr N F SHIVAMBU: Can I assist you in that process?
The SPEAKER: Take your seat. [Interjections.] Order, take your seat!
An HON MEMBER: He’s the Chief Whip. [Interjections.] He’s our Chief Whip, so please listen to him.
Mr J S MALEMA: Hon Speaker, can I please address you? All of us here are rising respectfully. We are pleading with you to commit. This House can give a mandate to any committee. [Interjections.] Please commit. I don’t see the Chief Whip of the Majority Party having a problem with that.
Please commit that tomorrow’s programming committee meeting will decide on a date when the President will come to answer the outstanding questions. That is all that we are asking for, so that when the President stands up, we only ask relevant questions. You are making an incorrect decision because if the President stands up there, we are going to have to ask the questions of the 21st, and we don’t want to go there.
We are pleading that, if possible, let’s get the Chief Whips to go out and agree, and then come back and talk to you with regard to an agreement reached on a particular approach. We are pleading with you, hon Speaker. Let’s agree that tomorrow’s programming committee meeting will deal with the outstanding questions of the 21st and decide upon a date. We are asking respectfully, even before the President takes to the podium.
The ANC people who are supposed to care about their President are the ones who should be agreeing with us to resolve this issue before the President takes the podium. [Interjections.] They are howling, and want to subject their President to being humiliated, because if the President stands there we will start doing what you are doing now. [Interjections.] Please!
The SPEAKER: Order, hon members!
Mr J S MALEMA: There’s nothing you can do. You can call the police. There’s nothing you can do. Nothing! [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: Order, order! Hon members, if there is one thing that is not going to happen today, it’s that this sitting will degenerate. This House is going to have an orderly sitting and we are going to agree that we proceed with the business of the House.
Before the hon Maimane got up and raised the issues of the programme committee, I, from this Chair, told you that we will take the issue of further engagement to the programming committee.
Now I don’t understand what is new that we have to agree on. We agreed that we are going to conclude that discussion because with regard to those issues, there are details which cannot detain the whole plenary session. So I don’t know what we are trying to get. [Interjections.] Hon members, I would ...
Mr G A GARDEE
Mr G A GARDEE: Madam Speaker, will you recognise me?
The SPEAKER: I recognise you, hon Gardee.
Mr G A GARDEE: Thank you, Madam Speaker. Our experience in the programming committee is that the ANC majority rides roughshod over all decisions ... [Interjections.] ... and undermines very serious issues of national interest.
We are appealing to you that it won’t be a train smash if the Chief Whip of the Majority Party quickly summons the Chief Whips of other parties for a five minute engagement ... [Interjections.] ... and agree on what will be agreed on tomorrow. Let’s have that assurance.
The President is here and he is going to speak, but I think the conduct of the Presiding Officer and the howlers, as is happening here, is sending a wrong impression and, in fact, it is a wrong legacy for the poor President in that every time he must appear here ... [Interjections.] ... he must be taken through such rough engagements, as is happening now. Please save the President and request the Whips of parties to agree on the matter now. Doing that won’t be too bad.
The SPEAKER: Hon Steenhuisen?
Dr P J GROENEWALD: Agb Speaker, ek steek my hand op maar u kyk nie in die rigting nie.
The SPEAKER: I never saw you, hon Groenewald. I will recognise you later. I am allowing hon Steenhuisen to speak now.
Dr P J GROENEWALD: Dan moet u my asseblief erken, agb Speaker.
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITION
Dr P J GROENEWALD
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITION: Madam Speaker, I don’t think we are apart from each other in this House today. I think we agree. [Interjections.]
I’m not negotiating; I’m addressing you, Madam Speaker, not the members over there. I’m saying to you that I don’t think that we are far apart from each other. I think we accept that we must deal with this matter. We all want to move on with the people’s business in this Parliament.
I heard from you that tomorrow morning in the programming committee we are going to discuss this matter and agree on a date when the President will come and answer those three remaining questions. That’s my understanding of where we are.
I’m quite comfortable if that is the case; then we can move forward. I don’t see why the House has to degenerate or have threats of degeneration. We have found each other; we are close together. You can just confirm that and we can close this matter because we must move on.
The SPEAKER: Hon members, I repeat that tomorrow morning at 8:30, the National Assembly Programming Committee will meet to deal with issues of programming. It deals with those issues, including programming for the President, so those issues will be discussed there.
Why we can’t proceed until then, I don’t know. What is it exactly that we are expecting now ... [Interjections.] ... because there is no hesitation. I am saying that tomorrow morning at 8:30 I will be chairing a programming committee meeting. [Interjections.]. Let me recognise hon Groenewald and hon Kwankwa; just those two whom I have not recognised as yet. Hon members, please put down your hands.
Dr P J GROENEWALD
Dr P J GROENEWALD: Agb Speaker, ek het ‘n versoek. Hierdie saak kom nou al van Augustus verlede jaar. Dit is ’n vraag van nasionale belang. Die enigste persoon wat die antwoord kan gee is die agb President en hy sit hier.
Ek wil u versoek om vir die agb President te vra of hy nou bereid is om op te staan en die antwoord te gee. [Tussenwerpsels.] Ek praat met die agb President en nie met die ander lede nie.
Kom ons hoor by die President, nie die Presidensie nie, want hierdie hele probleem kan opgelos word as die agb President opstaan. Nou word daar gesê dat hy al skriftelik beantwoord het. Laat hy nou vir ons die antwoord gee en laat ons die opvolg vrae vra en laat hierdie saak vir eens en vir altyd afgehandel word.
Hon Speaker, I will repeat it in English, if you didn’t understand. [Interjections.] I am requesting the following. The problem with this entire issue is the fact that the hon President does not answer.
I want to request that you ask the hon President – he’s present – whether he is willing to stand up and answer the question. I’m sure that by now he knows the answer to the question! [Laughter.] Then we can solve this problem because it is in the national interest that we solve this problem with regard to the question. It is as simple as that. I thank you.
The SPEAKER: I wonder which question that is, but hon Groenewald, I wanted to point out that on the Question Paper today is a question about the President coming to answer questions so, yes, that will happen. However, I don’t know which question you were talking about.
Dr P J GROENEWALD: Agb Speaker, ekskuus, maar ’n goeie begrip het ‘n halwe woord nodig. [Tussenwerpsels.]
The SPEAKER: No, hon Groenewald, I have not recognised you.
Dr P J GROENEWALD: Agb Speaker, ek sal my nie steur aan die ander lede nie. As u nou nie verstaan nie, dan gaan dit oor die vraag van Nkandla. Ek laat my nie vertel ... [Tussenwerpsels.] U sien, dit is die problem: u speel speletjies in hierdie Parlement. U, as Speaker, moet begin ernstig raak. Dit is duidelik dat dit oor die vraag van Nkandla gaan. Dit is die probleem; dit is die doring in die vlees. [Tussenwerpsels.]
Nee, jy sal nie vir my sê om te sit nie! [Tussenwerpsels.]
Mr N L KWANKWA
Dr P J GROENEWALD
Mr N L KWANKWA: Speaker, the UDM feels that we are making a mountain ... [Interjections.] Can I continue, hon Speaker?
THE SPEAKER: Continue, hon Kwankwa.
Mr N L KWANKWA: We feel that we are making a mountain out of a molehill. We have reached a compromise, to a large extent. We started with different extremes, where some wanted the President to answer today and others said that there is already a process underway to deal with outstanding questions.
I think you have to meet us halfway, as the opposition parties. In the past, there were many times where we would press you to try to get a date from the President and we would fail dismally. We are not expecting you to get a date from the President during this sitting. I think that would be unreasonable.
Madam Speaker, what we expect and what the people of South Africa would love to hear is a commitment from you that we will have a date tomorrow to communicate to South Africans on which the President will come back to answer the outstanding questions.
At least the President is here and you don’t have to liaise with the Presidency. You can talk to him directly. This is the commitment that we want, as the opposition. Thank you.
THE SPEAKER: Hon Maimane, you are the last person that I will call. [Interjections.]
THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Hon Speaker, consistent with the proposal I made earlier that the programming committee must begin with the date, there is a question here on the Order Paper, which I have asked, which requires the President to say on which dates he wants to address the House.
I want to say that the Presidency has given a few dates. For today’s session, can we proceed with the business to the point where the President is allowed the privilege to first, respond to the question, and second, to make a commitment that he, his Office and your Office will then give us a date for the outstanding session that we had asked for. I want to request that this be the process forward. Thank you.
THE SPEAKER: Hon members, we have now spent an hour on this. [Interjections.]
THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Hon Speaker, here is a point of order. [Interjections.]
Mr N F SHIVAMBU: Hon Speaker, I have been asking ...
THE SPEAKER: I have not recognised you, hon member.
Mr N F SHIVAMBU: Will you please recognise me, Speaker?
THE SPEAKER: Hon Shivambu, I have not recognised you.
Mr N F SHIVAMBU: Why have I not been recognised? Please, recognise me.
THE SPEAKER: Hon Shivambu, I am not recognising you right now. Who is the hon member at the back?
Mr G S RADEBE: Hon Speaker, is it parliamentary for hon Groenewald to say to you, jou G-A-T? [Interjections.] He said, “jou gat”. It is unparliamentary. He must withdraw that and he must apologise.
THE SPEAKER: Hon Groenewald, if you said that, I would like you to withdraw it.
Dr P J GROENEWALD: Agb Speaker, ek weet nie wat was nou gesê nie, want die Sweep van die ANC kom staan ook hier. Sy probeer hier om van ’n kant af praat. Wat is gesê? Het ek iets gesê? [Tussenwerpsels.] Het u gehoor wat ek gesê het?
THE SPEAKER: I heard what you said, but many times hon members say things that we can’t hear from the Chair and our attention is always drawn to those statements. I believe hon Carter is assisting you to hear what is claimed you said.
Dr P J GROENEWALD: Ek hoor nou wat hulle sê. Nee, agb Speaker, die mense moet mooi luister as ek praat. Ek het gesê, “Julle asse, man! ek sal nie na julle luister nie.” Dit is wat ek gesê het. Hulle praat eintlik twak. Hulle moet ook mooi luister. Twak. [Tussenwerpsels.]
PROF N M KHUBISA
Dr P J GROENEWALD
PROF N M KHUBISA: Madam Speaker, I think the NFP is on record as tell the programming committee ... [Interjections.]
Ms L M MASEKO: Madam Speaker, on a point of order: We are being insulted by these hon members. I don’t know if we can call them honourable. You saw when the whole side looked at this side. It was because the hon Groenewald said, “Jou gat!” This one said, “Jou gat man.” Then he repeated it again. It is not acceptable, hon Speaker. Can you rule on that, please? [Interjections.] Not on another day, now!
THE SPEAKER: Hon members, really, we can’t go on like this. We just cannot, as adults, go on like this in broad view of the whole public of South Africa.
Mr A M MATLHOKO: Madam Speaker, can’t you address your members there? They are the ones who are making a hullabaloo in this House.
PROF N KHUBISA: Madam Speaker, as the NFP, it is on record that we told the programming committee that we are grateful for the comprehensive responses His Excellency the President gave, but there was a commitment after hon Singh engaged you that we will perhaps ask for more dates, knowing that the President only comes once a term. There was that commitment and I am sure that it still stands.
Having said that, I think we are closer to one another right now. The only thing at stake is that you should give us a pronouncement, a commitment. It will only take one second to tell us that you will give that tomorrow.
THE SPEAKER: Hon members, let us not hold up the House unnecessarily. The issues we are talking about are not matters on which I, personally, must commit because it does not depend on me. I can take the issues up and I will and always do report back to you. [Interjections.] No, hon Shivambu. Hon Shivambu, please. [Interjections.]
Ms H I BOGOPANE-ZULU: Hon Speaker, ...
USOMLOMO: Ubani okhulumayo laphaya ngemuva?
Ms H I BOGOPANE-ZULU: Bogopane-Zulu.
THE SPEAKER: Why are you on your feet, hon Bogopane-Zulu?
USOMLOMO: Awuhlale phansi sisi ...
THE SPEAKER: Can I deal with these other issues before you rise? Hon Shivambu, what is the issue?
Mr N F SHIVAMBU
Mr N F SHIVAMBU: Hon Speaker, I am sure we are two minutes away from the President answering the questions for today. If you agree that we are going to set the date tomorrow for his appearance to conclude the questions of the 21 August 2015, we can then move on.
There is no crisis about that. We have made a commitment. In principle, we have agreed that the President must appear for more than one question session per term. We have agreed to that in the programming committee.
What is wrong with making that commitment in categorical terms and then start with the official business of this House two minutes from now? I don’t think there can be a problem with that. That is what we are asking for. Can we get an agreement that we are going to set a date for a question day for the President tomorrow in the programming committee? That is what we ask.
THE SPEAKER: We already have three dates. [Interjections.] We are working on that issue and you can’t say that unless you get the detail on this matter, we can’t do anything else. I don’t understand that approach to things.
Dr C P MULDER
Dr C P MULDER: Hon Speaker, I would like to assist and I think we can move forward. We are not far apart. You are absolutely correct; you cannot give any guarantee in terms of any extra sittings. You cannot do that. It is also not correct that we need some commitment from the ruling party in terms of agreeing to that, because they have already agreed to that.
I would suggest that we proceed with questions. The President is here. He heard what this is all about. We never want this to happen again. When we come to Question 2, let’s give the President the opportunity to give that commitment and then we can just formalise it tomorrow morning. Thank you. [Interjections.]
Prince M G BUTHELEZI
Dr C P MULDER
Prince M G BUTHELEZI: Who are these people who are howling? [Interjections.] Why are they howling like that? [Interjections.] I’ve never interfered with them when they are speaking.
Hon Speaker, I just wanted to ask a question: What is meant by having an Order Paper? It seems to me that we are burying the idea of an Order Paper today if we are now going to deviate from the Order Paper and direct the Speaker to do what we say she must do.
So I am asking whether, in the event of an impasse such as we are in, it is possible for us as the House to vote on the issue; because, quite clearly, there are people who do not want us to proceed and then there some of us who want to get on with the business. Is it possible to vote on the matter? Is it possible? I’m just asking this question. [Applause.]
The SPEAKER: I wish uBaba had raised this issue earlier; maybe then we would have been long finished with it. But when hon Mulder put his proposal, I thought the House, without pronouncing as such, actually agreed with him. And so, let us proceed.
Ms H I BOGOPANE-ZULU: Madam Speaker, you have forgotten about me!
The SPEAKER: Hon Bogopane-Zulu, I really wish to suppress you, so allow me to suppress you today because I really think we have made progress. The first question was asked by the hon E M Mthetwa so I now ask the President to come to the podium.
QUESTIONS FOR ORAL REPLY
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Hon Speaker, we aim to achieve a number of goals through the Back to Basics local government revitalisation programme.
We want to put the people and their concerns first and ensure constant contact with communities through effective public participation platforms. We want to improve the quality of services and the speed with which the services are delivered.
We want to ensure that municipalities are well-governed. This means that they should cut wastage, spend public funds prudently, hire competent staff and ensure transparency and accountability.
Back to Basics also means ensuring sound financial management and accounting, and prudently managing resources.
This approach has been adopted by all spheres of government and by all municipalities. An interministerial committee on basic services has been established to ensure tangible benefits in the quality of services that people receive.
Performance indicators have also been developed to measure progress. About 160 municipalities have reported on progress in terms of these indicators. In this regard, we have assessed the performance of all municipalities in the country and have categorised them into those that are performing well, those that are at risk and those that are dysfunctional.
Task teams have been set up in each province and onsite visits and assessments are being conducted at all at-risk and dysfunctional municipalities.
Based on the diagnostic report, municipal support plans are being developed to co-ordinate the response of provincial and national government departments.
All municipal managers and their direct reportees have undergone competency assessments. We are also working with municipalities to fill key vacancies and rectify wrongful management appointments.
A database of public officials, who have been convicted of fraud and corruption, has been established to ensure that such persons are not employed in the public sector.
In addition, the Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs has applied to the Municipal Demarcation Board for the review of 73 unviable municipalities, with a view to their dissolution or possible merger with stronger municipalities. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr E M MTHETHWA
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC
Mr E M MTHETHWA: Thank you, Mr President. In your response, you indicated that there are municipalities which are doing very well across the country. In terms of the Back to Basics approach ...
...ungakwazi yini ukusitshela ukuthi yibaphi omasipala asebakwazile ukusebenza kahle kakhulu kulolu hlelo oluthi: Azibuyele Emasisweni? Ngiyabonga Mongameli.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Well, all I have, hon member, is the number of those that are working. Unfortunately I do not have the names of those specific municipalities. [Interjections.] I’m dealing with the record of what is happening.
There are many who are working very well, but there are others who are not working very well — and some of the municipalities have won awards because of the high quality of their work. [Interjections.] Some people are saying Cape Town, but I’m not sure about that. That’s why I’m not mentioning any! [Laughter.]
Mr K J MILEHAM
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC
Mr K J MILEHAM: Mr President, if the ethos of the Back to Basics programme is improved service delivery at a local government level to those South Africans who need it most, then how and why are lucrative tenders for basic services still being handed out to the politically connected few? How is it that companies such as Siyenza Group are awarded more than half-a-billion rands worth of tenders to provide basic sanitation for one rural community in the Eastern Cape, and have been paid for work that has not been done, but still nothing happens?
Is there any political will invested in the Back to Basics approach, when merely a few weeks ago it was revealed that your own son-in-law, Lonwabo Sambudla, is a significant role-player in the company that was handed this very lucrative tender to provide basic service delivery?
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Hon member, I am not a businessperson. I don’t deal with business deals or whatever. You are asking the wrong person, I’m sure. If you are interested, ask the person you referred to as my son-in-law. That is the person who can answer the question. I am not in business. I’m not in the municipality in the Eastern Cape.
When things happen in the broader scheme of things in government, the reports will come to me. Only on the reports that I have received, will I have the capacity to respond to your question. You want me to speculate, but I can’t speculate on what the media writes. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr M HLENGWA
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC
Mr M HLENGWA: Hon Speaker, hon President, at the outset I just want to say the IFP supports the Back to Basics programme, simply because it is a carbon copy of the IFP’s manifesto. So we appreciate that combination of good governance and service delivery.
Mr President, I have two quick questions. The first issue is about the Back to Basics programme at local government level which will by and large be driven by provincial government. Now, who is monitoring provincial government, because they themselves have become a runaway train? The issue of co-operative governance seems as if we are all playing policeman in local municipalities but nobody is cracking the whip at provincial governance.
Secondly, you touch on the issue of the Municipal Demarcation Board, MDB, and the review of the boundaries and so on. Now a case in point is the proposal that uThungulu, which incorporates Nkandla, Mthonjaneni, Mhlathuze, Mbonambi and uMlalazi, be converted into a metro when we know very well that it is a large, rural municipality that has no chance of survival as a metro.
Are these proposals actually genuine and in the interests of service delivery or are there other sinister motives behind those who would seek to achieve something else? Thank you.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Hon member, we are together on some issues with the IFP, do you agree? You say we are agreed. That’s the beginning of a process, I’m sure. [Laughter.]
Well, hon member, firstly, we developed the Back to Basics programme in order to deal with and make municipalities deliver, and also do the basic things that generally are not being done by municipalities. It is an important programme that we adopted. I am happy that you are saying your party agrees. So we are all going to participate in that programme with no debate, at least between us, as government, and the IFP. It is very, very important to agree on this matter because it is important. I’m sure uNdabezitha will be very happy to hear that there is a point of convergence between the two parties. Not so? Agreed? Agreed. [Laughter.]
On the issue of the areas you that counted, including Nkandla – which has become very a famous village — I don’t know where that proposal came from. I’m not sure the proposal is accurate, that you put Mthonjaneni, Nkandla and others together and make a metro out of them.
That is not a city. I thought metros are actually derived from places that can become cities and cities that are big enough to become metros. Now, what you are counting are small towns. Nkandla is a small town and Mthonjaneni is very small — it’s just an hotel. [Laughter.] So I don’t know where that report came from.
I have heard about this. I’m not going to say how I heard about it, but I heard it differently, as a joke. Somebody said Nkandla – the residence of the President – is going to qualify as a metro, and I thought it was just a joke! [Laughter.]
Rev K R J MESHOE
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC
Rev K R J MESHOE: Speaker, with due respect to the incumbent who is a capable and efficient Minister, a number of political heads who preceded him failed in their efforts to see local government deliver the professional service expected of them.
Ongoing protests by angry communities who are demanding access to clean drinking water and electricity are clear evidence that their frustrations at inefficiency and failure to deliver services have reached boiling point. How does the President’s call for going back to basics address the inefficiency and lack of skills and capacity in dysfunctional municipalities?
The ACDP believes it would be more helpful to focus on building the capacity of councillors and employing capable and qualified officials, than introducing yet another turnaround strategy that will not likely yield the desired results.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Speaker, I’m not sure whether the hon member is disagreeing with the programme because I think the programme is very clear about it that we have to take certain actions. This Minister took action after making a very thorough assessment of what the department believes needs to be done.
One of the issues that is included in this process is the need to employ qualified people to do specific things, or training people so that they are capable of dealing with the tasks that they are employed for. It is part of what the Minister has put forward as a programme to address exactly the point you are raising.
Part of the reason the Minister came up with the programme is precisely because he realised the things you are talking about. This programme is a remedy for the points that you are raising of municipalities that are not cleaning up their acts, or of municipalities that are not doing anything to move forward. This is a way to commit everyone to participate in making municipalities work. That is the programme the Minister has introduced which needs to be supported by all of us. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Hon Speaker, the Presidency has proposed to the Speaker dates on which I will appear before this House to respond to oral questions, excluding today. I am also scheduled to appear three times this calendar year as required by the Rules of Parliament.
The dates for the three remaining quarters have been produced and proposed as follows: 18 June 2015, 06 August 2015 and 19 November 2015. In addition, as has been the practice since 2009, I will also answer questions at the NCOP on 14 May 2015.
Let me add that the executive also accounts to Parliament through the fortnightly question time of the Deputy President, regular questions for written reply to both the President and Deputy President, as well as written and oral questions to Ministers.
This is in addition to appearances by departments to account before committees in Parliament. The executive also accounts through the state of the nation address, as well as various budget vote sessions, including that of the Presidency. So, the executive does account to parliament. Thank you. [Applause.]
The LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
The LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: President, I want to highlight that section 91 and section 92 of the Constitution implore you to account to this House, and nowhere else. It is also connected to Rule 111, which highlights the fact that the President must appear four times in this House.
Let’s reflect on the year that has passed and argue the case that over and above the issues that you have raised, the President failed to appear in this House last year.
Kunjalo nje futhi Mongameli kunezinto ezasala zangonyaka odlule, njengemibuzo eyabuzwa ngeNkandla, uPhiko Lukazwelonke Lwezokushushisa, i-NPA, njalo njalo.
It’s important because this gives us an opportunity, not just through written questions, for us to be able to engage you, as we are doing right now.
It is also important for the people of this country that the President at least commits to completing the last session of the questions, and also makes a commitment to the people of this country that the answers to be given on that respective day that we will agree on, will be answered fairly and accurately for the people of this country.
Thank you for the dates that you have given, but my question is: Are you willing, before the people of this country, in the spirit of accountability, to say that you will, before the programming committee meeting tomorrow — as we’ve had the discussion — commit to an additional day on which the questions on the Order Paper left over from the last time will then be discussed and answered accurately and fairly?
Can I request that the President, at least as the President, instructs the Presidency to liaise with the Speaker so that the date is agreed to by tomorrow’s programming committee meeting for the people of South Africa? Thank you. [Applause.]
The PRESIDENT: Speaker, I am happy that the hon member has given a background to why he is asking a question on why we should discuss and make a commitment. There has never been an occasion where this was required. Ever since I have been in this Parliament ...
Mr I M OLLIS: [Inaudible.] [Interjections.]
The PRESIDENT: Yes, please talk to your people. If they want an answer they must listen. I am answering your question, but somebody is talking over there. That’s what causes problems in this Parliament.
I have never been required to do so. Whenever Parliament says I must come to this House, on anything, I make an appearance. I have never refused. The background to the point you have just made is I was standing here, having not refused, having not dodged answering questions in Parliament, as you have been saying [Applause.]
Up to that day, I have never … [Interjections.] I was standing here. I answered two of the six questions; the third one, I answered many times. My time was usurped by the EFF many times, but I answered the question. They wanted me to give the answer they wanted, not what I was saying. [Applause.]
They even said they would not leave until that question was answered. You were there — “We are not going to leave this Parliament until this question is answered.” But I had answered it. Instead of allowing us to continue and finish, they started doing what had never been done in this Parliament before, chanting songs about the question and caused chaos in Parliament. I was not able to proceed with the answers.
Mr M Q NDLOZI: On a point of order. [Interjections.]
The PRESIDENT: I was not allowed the time.
The SPEAKER: No, hon Ndlozi. [Interjections.] No, hon Ndlozi! The President is answering a question; can you take your seat.
The PRESIDENT: Then in the process I was then asked ...
Mr M Q NDLOZI: Hon Speaker, respectfully ...
The SPEAKER: The Order is for the President ...
Mr M Q NDLOZI: I am rising on Rule 70 in the Rules; I am raising a point of order.
The PRESIDENT: And this is what happened on that day, hon member. This is what happened on that day ...
Mr M Q NDLOZI: Can I really be allowed to call a point of order?
The PRESIDENT: ... when I was busy answering and some people stood up and made it impossible for me to answer the questions. The end result, because it was taken by your Parliament as misbehaving actually ...
Mr N F SHIVAMBU: Hon Speaker, the matter of our chaos is before the committee.
The PRESIDENT: ... they appeared before the disciplinary committee on the basis of that. This Parliament ...
Mr M Q NDLOZI: Hon Speaker, on a point of order ...
The SPEAKER: Hon President ...
The PRESIDENT: This Parliament did not act honourably towards me. They stopped me from answering questions. I never dodged it.
The SPEAKER: Hon President ...
The PRESIDENT: And you were busy from that time dealing with that issue, and what you have been saying in public is not true, that the President is avoiding it and he is dodging. It is absolutely not true.
AN HON MEMBER: You are dodging it now.
Mr M Q NDLOZI: I am respectfully raising a point of order, Speaker.
The PRESIDENT: Since that day, ...
Mr M Q NDLOZI: Respectfully.
The PRESIDENT: Since that day, nobody has ever said, here’s a date, come and address us.
Mr M Q NDLOZI: Respectfully.
The SPEAKER: Hon President.
The PRESIDENT: Where do you get the fact that I have not answered questions?
The SPEAKER: Hon President, can I take that point of order?
The PRESIDENT: No, there has never been a date given to me to come to Parliament to answer questions. Why did you say that? Did you ask me? I never dodged a question. I want that issue to be cleared. I have never dodged questions in this Parliament. [Applause.] I have never!
Mr N F SHIVAMBU: On a point of order, Speaker.
The PRESIDENT: I have never! [Applause.]
Mr N F SHIVAMBU: On a point of order, Speaker.
The SPEAKER: Hon President.
The PRESIDENT: I have never! You asked a question, listen to my answer. And, again, I am saying it is a good thing that you started by giving a background ...
Mr N F SHIVAMBU: On a point of order, Speaker.
The PRESIDENT: ... because you have been saying to the country, the President is dodging answering questions in Parliament.
Mr N F SHIVAMBU: Can the Speaker be defended? Can we have the attention of the President and can the President listen to the Speaker, please?
The PRESIDENT: I am saying it is not true because since that day, this Parliament has never asked me to come and answer questions. I have never dodged. There has never been a question that was brought to me. That is very clear. [Applause.]
Mr N F SHIVAMBU: Hon Speaker, Order!
The PRESIDENT: Now that you are asking the question, I am saying: I have never refused when Parliament says, here is a date. I do not decide the dates.
Mr G A GARDEE: On a point of order, Mr President! The Speaker has requested you to sit for a point of order!
The PRESIDENT: All that you are doing is you are giving ...
The SPEAKER: No, hon Gardee, I never recognised you.
The PRESIDENT: We negotiate, we agree on the date with Parliament and once it’s agreed on, I have and will always come if Parliament has agreed on a date. There is no doubt about that. [Applause.] That is the answer.
The SPEAKER: Hon President, I would like to request the hon President to take a seat. I want to take those points of order. [Interjections.] Somebody rose on a point of order and I want to recognise him. Hon Ndlozi? Can you take your seat, hon Shivambu.
Mr M Q NDLOZI: Hon Speaker, and very respectfully, Mr President, we are not trying to interrupt, but the matter ... [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: No! What is the point of order, hon Ndlozi?
Mr M Q NDLOZI: Yes, I couldn’t hear myself! Hon Speaker, the matter of 21 August 2014 is sub judice, and I would really like you to guide the House with regard to members expressing themselves about whether there was chaos, disruption and all those things.
The matter is sub judice; it’s before a court of law. So we appreciate the explanation around the answer to the hon Maimane, but we must refrain from making a judgement on what is before a court of law. That is all I am saying, because the President was deliberating on his version of events that occurred on that day.
It’s sub judice. There are rulings in this House that we can’t express ourselves on the matter that is before a court of law. That is really all we wanted to say.
The SPEAKER: Well, hon Ndlozi, in actual fact, sub judice does not mean that when an issue is before a court there can’t be a reference to it. [Interjections.] Of course, we can’t go into the merits of the case before a court of law; we can’t deal with the merits of what is before a court of law.
The LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
The LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Madam Speaker, I just want to clarify the point where the President said we had not asked. We were assured by your Office that you were consulting with the President on the dates.
The SPEAKER: With the Presidency!
The LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: I have written to the Office of the Presidency regarding dates, so it’s not that we haven’t tried to ask if the President can come to the House. I can’t accept that we failed. I would like to know how the process works so we can effect it, particularly in completing the session for tomorrow — if I can be specific.
The SPEAKER: Okay, hon Maimane, we will talk in the programming committee meeting about the details, but for now we are allowing the President to take further supplementary questions on the question that you have asked.
Mr J S MALEMA
Mr J S MALEMA: On a point of Order, Speaker.
The SPEAKER: What’s the point of order, hon Malema?
Mr J S MALEMA: The President is dealing with the merits of the case, and the case is before court. All we are asking is that the President should refrain from doing that. That was my first point of order.
The second point of order is that on a number of occasions you called upon the President to stop so that you can recognise a point of order. The President did not listen to you. Please express yourself on that issue because you will set a wrong precedent and it will be difficult in future for some of us to be stopped because all of us in this House must be treated as equals, hon Speaker.
Again, the matter is before court, no matter how agitated we are, let us not be tempted to deal with the merits of the case.
The SPEAKER: Hon Malema, for a start, the President is nobody’s equal here … [Interjections.] … in the same way as hon Buthelezi is not our equal here — in the same sense. So, I just don’t want us to be confused on the terms that we use. Hon Buthelezi.
Mr N F SHIVAMBU: Hon Speaker.
The SPEAKER: Hon Shivambu, please take your seat, I have recognised the hon Buthelezi.
Mr N F SHIVAMBU: Can you recognise me after him, please.
Prince M G BUTHELEZI
Mr N F SHIVAMBU
Prince M G BUTHELEZI: Hon Speaker, His Excellency, the President, I just want us to be sober for a moment and look at those young people there, and think about what they think of us when we behave in this manner. [Applause.]
I think that it is wrong for anyone who is speaking to be interrupted because anyone else can speak after that person has finished saying whatever that person has to say. [Applause.] And that is regardless of the fact that this is our head of state; it’s quite apart from that. I have talked here with my colleague about the same issue. He said no, he mentioned our party. We had a dialogue about it because I was talking about this.
And then when the hon Ndlozi got up and the Speaker said he must sit down, the Chief Whip said, “Don’t sit down”. We can’t have that kind of chaos here. I am actually pleading with you with all the humility I can muster. Let’s not do this to ourselves. Let us not mutilate the minds of those young children there. Let us not degrade our country and ourselves. Let us not make asses of ourselves.
The hon President, apart from the fact that he is the leader of the ruling party — to which, we, in the opposition, are opposed — he is our head of state and we can’t take that away from him. I warned you, even last time when Mr Mbeki was treated badly and some of you said you’d die for Zuma, that it was wrong and I told you don’t do this. [Laughter.]
The SPEAKER: Hon members, I want to recognise the next hon member for a follow-up question, and that is the hon Mulder.
Mr N F SHIVAMBU
Mr N F SHIVAMBU: Hon Speaker, on a point of order.
The SPEAKER: What is the point of order?
Mr N F SHIVAMBU: Hon Speaker, you can’t be in that Chair and say we are not equal. [Interjections.] The Constitution and the Rules of this House treat all of us as equals. Your authority as the Speaker must be respected. When you say to the President he must stop speaking, he must stop speaking. If he doesn’t do that it means we can all follow his tune, and when you tell us to stop speaking, we will not stop speaking.
Please retract that articulation you made when you said that we are not equal and there are people who are more equal than others. There is no such thing. Fortunately, the Constitution protects the equality of all of us; it does not protect the equality of some over others.
All of us are subjected to the Rules of this House whilst it is constituted. That is how we must move forward. The hon President is speaking and he is told to stop, but he doesn’t stop.
The SPEAKER: Hon Shivambu, you have made your point and I note it, but that doesn’t make you equal to the President or to the hon Buthelezi. [Applause.]
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITION
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITION: Madam Speaker, may I address you in terms of Rule 113(5)? The first person who gets a supplementary question is the hon Maimane. The President was busy responding before the points of order broke out. I don’t think he had finished because he hadn’t yet given the hon Maimane a proper answer or a date. [Interjections.] I wonder if he wouldn’t mind just finishing before you move on to the hon Mulder? Thank you.
The MINISTER OF HUMAN SETTLEMENTS: Thank you, Speaker; I have been waiting for a while. Speaker, on the basis of maintaining the decorum of the House, I would like you please to draw the attention of the Chief Whip of the Opposition to how he is expected to behave in the House. He has no right to point like this at the President. [Interjections.]
Gestures are not allowed in the House and he cannot talk to the President in the way that he has been talking to him. I would like you to rule on that. Thank you. [Interjections.]
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITION: Madam Speaker, I accept the admonishment and the advice from the colleague across the floor. However, perhaps you would then like to please tell the President to stop pointing at the hon Maimane and me. Thank you. [Interjections.] [Applause.]
Mr J S MALEMA: Hon Speaker, on a point of order: We rise here on two points of order, and we expect you to make a ruling. I have said the President dealt with the merits of the case, which is point number one. Point number two is that we understand where you are coming from but, ordinarily, you would agree with us that when you call all of us to stop speaking, all of us should respect that, including the President. Can you please make a ruling on these two issues?
The SPEAKER: On the issue of the merits, I cannot claim to have heard every detail of what the President was saying. [Interjections.] So, I can only rule when I have checked the Hansard on what exactly the President was dealing with. Indeed, I will make the ruling. If it was on the merits, I will, indeed, raise that issue with the President.
On the matter of whether he was hearing me as I was asking him or not, what I could see was that he was in full flight in responding to and engaging with the hon Maimane. [Laughter.] [Interjections.] [Applause.] So, I couldn’t quite tell. I couldn’t figure out whether he was hearing what I was saying. [Interjections.]
Hon Maimane, the President was responding to you. In your view, was he done? [Interjections.] Hon President, were you still finishing off? [Interjections.]
The PRESIDENT: Hon Speaker, I answered the question. [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: All right.
The PRESIDENT: Now that is part of my problem because when I was speaking, members starting speaking to you and I continued to answer the question. How could I have heard, when people are shouting over me? I never heard you saying I must stop. [Interjections.] Honestly. People were shouting ...
... nywe nywe nywe nywe.
Now, how could I hear you? [Laughter.] I’m busy talking and I was answering the question, as required. Really, I never heard you. I’m very sorry, if you did ask me. However, I did answer the question and my hon member heard it. You heard my conclusion. [Interjections.] You heard. You did! [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: Yes. Can I now ask the hon President ...
The PRESIDENT: Hey? No!
The SPEAKER: ... and the hon Maimane ...
The PRESIDENT: No. I’m not giving you a date. I don’t give dates. [Interjections.] [Laughter.] I said so. I said never, at any time, did Parliament say I should come and I did not come. Whatever decision Parliament takes, whether it’s tomorrow or any other time, once Parliament has taken that decision, I will always comply. That’s the point I’m making. [Applause.]
Dr C P MULDER
Dr C P MULDER: Hon Speaker, through you to the hon President, you have given us three dates. Now that is just in terms of the Rules, in terms of Rule 111. That is the normal expectation, because Rule 111 states it should be once per term.
Today was done for the first term, and there are three more to come. It was also pointed out, hon President, that you are part of the executive and in terms of section 91, you are accountable to Parliament. Also, in terms of section 55 of the Constitution, we must maintain oversight over the executive, including the President.
Now, I understand that the answer you originally gave to this question was prepared before today’s events; and that is the answer you gave that this is how oversight is done, this is how you answer questions, etc, etc.
However, hon President, you were a witness to what happened today in Parliament and it is absolutely true that we cannot decide on your behalf when you will come to Parliament, or not.
You see, Mr President, I want to quote to you what you yourself said on 15 February 2015, the Sunday after the state of the nation address. You were on television, on SABC1, and you were asked about what had happened. You said the following in your reply, which was about how to prevent what happened today:
Parliament must stick to the Rules. Simple. Parliament must apply the Rules very strictly. Then Parliament will come back to its normality.
Now, with all due respect, Mr President, you were in breach of the Rules when you did not come to Parliament in November last year. [Interjections.] You did not come to Parliament! That issue was discussed at the Chief Whips’ Forum on many occasions. It was discussed in the programming committee, and the message we received was that the President was not coming unless this and this happens.
Now, today, Mr President, with all due respect, you say to us you have never been asked to come here. I understand that and I accept that. Then we have a huge problem in the Presidency of South Africa, because the executive is pleading and saying that it wants to co-operate so please arrange with the President. You say you’ve never been asked. Then there’s a problem with the Presidency.
Now, Mr President, I want to ask you the following question to diffuse what’s happening to the detriment of all in South Africa: Are you, Mr President, prepared to give a commitment today, on this very afternoon, to South Africa, that you are prepared – with the exception of the three dates that you’ve given - in principle, to come to this Parliament on another occasion to sort out what is causing all the problems? It’s a simple question, Mr President. I call on you, as the President. You have an obligation. [Interjections.]
The PRESIDENT: Hon Speaker, firstly, the hon member is making a very serious allegation that I did not come to Parliament in November. Now, Parliament never set a date for me to come, and I did not come. Whatever the occasion for coming, Parliament does not wake up and say that this is now the court and I must go and answer questions.
Parliament meets … [Interjections.]And this is where you cause a problem where I cannot even hear the Speaker because you are talking whilst I am talking. [Interjections.] You don’t want to hear what I am saying. That’s the problem!
Parliament meets in its own processes and determines the date and informs the Presidency of the date to answer questions. It is agreed, and I will come. There was never a date put. You are making a very serious allegation – that I violated the Rules of Parliament by not coming. This is a serious allegation.
Can I simply wake up in Pretoria, or wherever, and just appear here to come and answer questions? I can’t! There must be a date put, and the date must be on the Order Paper. Why do you say I violated the Rules of Parliament? How did I do that? It is a very serious allegation that you are making.
I don’t think we should play around. Part of the reason that has caused people to argue here is because the question that is being asked is based on what happened on the date I was here when I was interrupted. If I answer questions referring to that date, and members feel uncomfortable, it’s not I that started saying so.
Even the follow-up question was dealing with that situation in Parliament. I had to deal with it, and I said I have an opportunity today to answer for myself because you have been saying I am dodging Parliament, and I am saying it’s not true! [Applause.] That is why I was raising my voice – because it’s not true.
You have been saying that this President does not want to account, he is dodging Parliament. I have never dodged Parliament. It’s not true. This is what you have been feeding the country and it’s an untruth.
I was here, answering questions. I was interrupted and I couldn’t proceed. The fact that there were questions that were left unanswered, is not my responsibility. I was here to answer questions. It’s the responsibility of your members in this Parliament.
That’s what I’m saying, and I therefore said, answering the question directly, once Parliament has taken the decision, I have never refused to come to Parliament. You take the decision, anytime – whether it’s tomorrow or any other day – to say I am required to come and here are the questions, I will be here. I have answered the question. [Interjections.] What’s your problem? Really! What is your problem? [Applause.]
Ms E N LOUW
Ms E N LOUW: Speaker, indeed, we were voted into this House by members of the EFF, and we are going to ask questions that members of the EFF want answers to. We are not going to put beautiful questions to the President here.
Your Excellency the hon President of South Africa, in all honesty, haven’t you considered yet, or thought about, a date on which you are going to decide to target your machines to pay back the money?
An HON MEMBER: Never!
The PRESIDENT: Thank you, Speaker. Never have I ever thought about the date when I will pay back the money. Firstly, there is no money that I’m going to be paying back without a determination by those who are authorised to do so, as recommended by the Public Protector. [Applause.]
When you asked this question, you were, in fact, moving ahead of the parliamentary process which was dealing with that very issue, and I said so on that day.
The Public Protector has not said, “Pay back the money”. The Public Protector has said in terms of the costs, that where, in her view, there were undue benefits to the family and me, she thinks this money must be paid back, but it should be determined by the Minister of Police. [Interjections.]
That determination has not been done. Why do you say I should pay back the money? You don’t even know how much. You don’t even know whether the final answer will be that I should pay back the money! [Applause.] [Interjections.] The question itself was premature. I did answer on that day. You did not like the answer and you said, “You will answer this question or we will not leave this Parliament.”
That is what I was saying. Now you asked me a question. Your leader is going to say I’m getting into the merits of the case. I am answering you. [Laughter.] I’m answering you. That’s what I’m doing. [Applause.]
Ms E N LOUW: Speaker, on a point of order.
The SPEAKER: No, hon member. You have asked your question.
Ms E N LOUW: No, I am rising on a point of order.
The SPEAKER: What is your point of order?
Ms E N LOUW: I am rising on a point of order — and your reluctance to listen to us is really unbecoming. [Interjections.] The point of order I am raising is: The President is pointing his finger at me, and in my culture and in my understanding that is disrespectful. [Interjections.] I will not tolerate that from any person, be it the President of a country or whomsoever. [Interjections.] I will not tolerate it. [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: The hon the President, perhaps you should withdraw the finger.
The PRESIDENT: I have withdrawn my finger. [Laughter.] I am withdrawing my finger. [Applause.] I have withdrawn my finger. [Laughter.] As you can see from my hand I held here. [Laughter.]
Mr D M GUMEDE
Mr D M GUMEDE: Hon Speaker, His Excellency the President has answered questions from this Parliament for a solid five, if not, six years, and he has answered them to the satisfaction of the majority of this country. [Interjections.]
Time after time, all the time, and every time, the President answered questions as required by Rule 111(a), until he was disgracefully, rudely and indecently interrupted by some members of this House. [Interjections.] That the President evades questions is totally untrue.
The SPEAKER: Are you going to ask a supplementary question, hon Gumede? [Interjections.]
Mr D M GUMEDE: Yes, Speaker. Your Excellency, under your leadership, has there ever been a lack of accountability to Parliament by the executive, which you represent? I thank you.
The PRESIDENT: Hon Speaker, no. As far as I remember, the executive has come to answer questions at all levels. There has been no time that the executive did not come to answer questions. In fact, there has never been a complaint because it has never happened.
We have always come to account. The only time was when I was interrupted and I couldn’t finish the question, which started the problem. That’s when there was a problem. [Applause.]
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Hon Speaker, we want all state institutions to function efficiently and effectively. Various criminal justice institutions mentioned are fully functional and this is demonstrated in their respective quarterly performance and annual reports.
The justice, crime prevention and security cluster Ministers are putting measures in place to ensure that the functioning of the institutions is not negatively affected by the ongoing court processes and enquiries. The National Prosecuting Authority, NPA, the Special Investigating Unit, SIU, and the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation are independent and must execute their mandate without fear or favour.
The perception that I influence these institutions unduly is unfounded and baseless. We should respect all institutions established in terms of the Constitution even if we disagree with their decisions. I thank you. [Applause.]
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC
Mr J S MALEMA: Hon Speaker, Mr President, there is an impression created that the destabilisation of this institution is as a result of your interference because you want to protect yourself from a possible prosecution by the National Prosecuting Authority, NPA, both on the previously dropped charges and the activities as they relate to Nkandla.
The Public Protector, Mr President, has made it very clear and there is no suggestion that there is a possibility of you not paying back anything. The Public Protector said that you must pay for nonsecurity features. The Special Investigating Unit, SIU, has conducted an investigation and put a figure on nonsecurity features so the question of how much the nonsecurity features are worth does not arise.
The point is, you need to commit that once the Police Minister, working with Finance, has determined, as per the remedial actions of the Public Protector, how much needs to be paid, you will indeed comply with the Public Protector’s remedial actions.
So, really, Mr President, we have a problem because that report was actually released almost 12 months ago and there is no action so far from your side in terms of the remedial actions of the Public Protector.
Also, you have given the Minister of Police an instruction, in whatever report or letter you wrote to him, to determine an amount as per the remedial actions of the Public Protector. To this day, he has not come back to you, a man who is supposed to act when instructed by the President to act. He is not responding to you, he takes his own time. The only thing he specialises in is the firing of the head of the Hawks.
You are dealing with an incompetent fellow here, who has been given a task by your good self and yet is unable to come back to you as to when you should pay back the money and how much.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Hon Speaker, firstly, I have never interfered with any institution and I will never do so. Secondly, I have no case against me. The NPA dropped the case.
It was not influenced by me, but it did that on its own accord. There is no case against me regarding Nkandla neither is there a pending arrest. You will recall, hon Malema, that when the headlines came out, they said that I have squandered R250 million. That is what the headlines said.
The task team of the government investigated and did not find that I took even a penny. The SIU also investigated and did not find that I ever took even a penny. The Public Protector equally made the same finding. I never took a penny from what was happening there.
Then the Public Protector made recommendations and recommendations are recommendations, they are not verdicts. Recommendations are recommendations subject to being taken or not taken, if they are recommendations. It is only a judge’s verdict that can say you either have to go to prison or pay the money.
If there is a recommendation then that recommendation has to be subjected to those that the Public Protector reports to. Parliament, which is an appropriate body, has dealt with this issue and made specific directions that include that the executive must work on this issue you are talking about.
The Minister of Police has said it in public that at the end of March he is going to conclude and come back to present the report. So, I do not know why there is an issue of paying back the money.
In the first instance, a recommendation is a recommendation. It cannot be equated to a verdict. I hope you have lawyers there. I am sure that they will help you to interpret this. [Applause.] [Laughter.] Thank you very much. [Laughter.]
Dr B H HOLOMISA
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC:
Dr B H HOLOMISA: Hon Speaker, hon President, given the seriousness of the wide-ranging allegations against you, sir, and in particular with respect to your constitutional responsibilities, amongst other things, promoting the confidence of citizens in these criminal justice institutions as well as the judicial system, would you not find it appropriate for you to take sabbatical leave whilst relevant institutions conduct their investigations?
In the case of public servants this best practice has always secured credibility for a process of investigation that precedes formal charges, if any.
Ungalwi Nxamalala, uphendule nje kakuhle, mhlekazi. [Kwahlekwa.]
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: No ...
... buza kakuhle kuba andikuva ukuba ufuna ukuthini kanye kanye.
The Speaker: Hon President ... [Interjections.]
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Madam Speaker, I did not get exactly what is the question from the hon member.
USOMLOMO: Ingaba ufuna aphinde?
UMONGAMELI WERIPHABLIKI YOMZANTIS AFRIKA: Ewe, ukuze ndimve kakuhle.
The Speaker: Please, hon Holomisa.
Zinike isikhathi baba.
Gqr B H HOLOMISA: ... ngumkhuluwa wam lo ndiyamcenga.
... given the seriousness of the wide-ranging allegations against you, sir, and in particular with respect to your constitutional responsibilities amongst other things, promoting the confidence of citizens in these criminal justice institutions as well as the judicial system, wouldn’t you find it appropriate for you to take sabbatical leave whilst relevant institutions conduct their investigations? In the case of civil servants this best practice has always secured credibility for a process of investigation that precedes formal charges if any.
UMONGAMELI WERIPHABLIKI YOMZANTIS AFRIKA: Hayi ndikuvile,. inye indawo endingayivanga ...
Gqr B H HOLOMISA: Kulungile.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: ... hon Speaker, I don’t know what are these allegations. Unfortunately the hon member is not telling me so that I will know that I have allegations that are being investigated against me. He seems to be aware of them. What are these allegations?
Gqr B H HOLOMISA: Makhe siqale kule yeeTapes kuba zona zisenkundleni kwaye kuyaphandwa ngazo. Ewe, zisenkundleni.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC (Mr J G Zuma): No, that is not an investigation against me. It is not. You are wrong on the first one. [Laughter.] [Applause.] What is the second one? No, I am not being investigated.
Dr B H HOLOMISA: The second one is that there are findings by the Public Protector, and I am not talking about recommendations but findings, where you are alleged to have misused or that you have benefited out of state resources. [Interjections.]
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: No, please. There is no allegation being investigated, hon member. What is the third one because that one is not true? What is the third one? [Laughter.] [Applause.]
Gqr B H HOLOMISA: Eyesithathu ke, Nxamalala ... [Uwelewele.]
Mr J S MALEMA: Speaker, I rise on a point of order and with due respect, Mr President.
The SPEAKER: Hon Malema, can you perhaps allow hon Holomisa’s question session to end?
Mr J S MALEMA: No, I am rising exactly on that. Hon Speaker, you are creating a wrong precedence. You are creating a dialogue. You are allowing a dialogue between the President and hon Holomisa and tomorrow when we try to do the same you will have a problem with that.
The SPEAKER: Indeed.
Mr J S MALEMA: Please, I am asking, hon Speaker, even when the President is out of order, you must be able to, in a respectful way, be able to say, “Hon President, allow hon Holomisa to finish his questions and then you can answer”. I am pleading that ... [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: Okay, hon Malema, I have heard you. Can you ... [Interjections.]
Mr J S MALEMA: Again I am pleading for equal treatment. Equal treatment, Mr President. Equal before the law!
The SPEAKER: Hon Holomisa, I think you have finished the issues that you were listing.
Ggr B H HOLOMISA: Eh, Nxamalala.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Yebo baba ...
Gqr B H HOLOMISA: Musa ukusingxamela, mama, sinikwe ithuba lokuthetha noMongameli. [Kwahlekwa.] Izityholo mhlekazi zikuhleli usangena e-ofisini, jonga iindleko ozihlawulileyo ukuzikhusela kuzo zonke ezi zityholo. Loo nto nje iyodwa yokuba uthi unguMongameli kube kuxoxwa ngawe ezinkundleni, ichaphezela ukuzithemba kwabezomthetho.
The SPEAKER: Hon Holomisa, it is fine. We have heard the point you are trying to make. Hon President.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC (Mr J G Zuma): Hon Speaker, I tried to understand the hon member and I have not understood him. What are these allegations? He is not able to tell me so that I can answer the question whether I must take sabbatical leave or not. So, how do I answer when there are no allegations because the things that he spoke about, firstly, are the tapes and they are not investigating me. Secondly, the findings of the Public Protector are not charges against me.
There is talk about me in the country every day. I mean, that is what is happening. Now, why should I say that an allegation warrants my taking sabbatical leave? So, I can’t take sabbatical leave because there is nothing. Like the allegations against me, there is talk about talks and people are talking all the time about Zuma.
They talked about me before I was a President, they are talking about me when I am a President, and I think because I am a politician and a leader people tend to try to find something to say about Zuma. My surname is very nice and simple — Zuma. [Laughter.] It is very simple so they like pronouncing it all the time.
What’s the problem? You can’t take leave because people are saying there is a Zuma in South Africa. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
Ms L A MNGANGA-GCABASHE
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC
Ms L A MNGANGA-GCABASHE: Madam Speaker, His Excellency the President of South Africa ...
... i-ANC, uKhongolose wabantu, uyaqhubeka nokuseka izikhungo ze-criminal justice system kuhlanganisa i-NPA, i-SIU kanye nama-Hawks. Siyaqhubeka ngokucela ukuthi bonke abantu bakithi bazivikele futhi bazisekele lezi zakhiwo.
The Hawks continue to do its duties under a collective leadership. Theses institutions have never been meant to protect any individual. To suggest this is a fallacy and should be rejected with the contempt it deserves.
Ukhongolose ulithemba ngokugcwele ihovisi likaMongameli nomsebenzi wakhe ... [Ubuwelewele.]
USOMLOMO: Mhlonishwa Mnganga-Gcabashe, unawo umbuzo?
Nks L A MNGANGA-GCABASHE: Umbuzo wami, Sihlalo nakuwe Mongameli, ingabe seluqalile yini uhlelo lokuvala isikhala esivuleke ngenxa yokwesula kwenhloko yama-Hawks ngezizathu zomndeni waso ezaziswa yisona isikhulu kanye neNingizimu Afrika yonke. Ngiyabonga.
UMONGAMELI WASENINGIZIMU AFRIKA (Mnu J G Zuma): Yebo. Ngemuva kokuba acele ukuhlala phansi loyo owayephethe leso sikhundla, sibeke osabambile. Ngale nkathi ebambile, kuyahlelwa kulungiselelwa ukuthi leso sikhala sivalwe yilabo abazothathwa ukuze babambe leso sikhundla. Ngakho-ke, uhlelo luphakathi nendawo. [Ihlombe.]
Rev K R J MESHOE
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC
Rev K R J MESHOE: We are aware that the Deputy Chief Justice Moseneke has expressed concerns about centralised government appointment processes. Does the hon President not agree that Parliament should be given a greater role in the appointment and firing process of the National Director of Public Prosecutions? Would this not enhance the independence of the National Prosecuting Authority, NPA, and help bring stability to the institution?
Secondly, Mr President, we would like to know why you have not responded to the report compiled by the former Constitutional Court Judge Zakeria “Zak” Jacoob who recommended a formal inquiry into the NPA as well as the suspension of various NPA deputy directors.
Does this not strengthen the perception that the President is protecting certain prosecutors who are perceived to be supporting him, as he is continuing with the inquiry against the head of the NPA, Advocate Mxolisi Nxasana and yet not acting on the report of Judge Jacoob?
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC (Mr J G Zuma): Hon Speaker, firstly, the Constitution was written by public representatives of the people of this country, representing the people of this country. It was adopted here by all parties.
Who am I to have my own view on it? I am sure that people have the right to have views, like the Deputy Chief Justice, but I think that those who made the Constitution were very wise indeed and they knew what they were doing.
I am not sure if at all people wanted changes, and I think you are one of those who said that this ANC wants to change the Constitution. We have never moved on a single issue. Now because the Deputy Chief Justice said this, you want me to do what you thought the ANC will do using its majority.
We have never proposed any changes, so to speak, because things were done by hon members after having been considered, debated and negotiated. This Constitution, if you look at it, is balanced and it is as a result of very thorough negotiations. You need to know if you were to tamper with one what will happen to other balances.
I am sure that once the members or citizens feel that we need to change the Constitution, they will make proposals and I am sure that this Parliament could look at it or an assembly could be established. Who knows?
I can’t take an opinion on the views of individuals, no matter who they are in society, when they just express them somewhere. If you said to me that somebody wrote me a letter saying that they propose x, y and z, and asked why I am not responding to the letter, then I will understand. But to catch things flying around because somebody has spoken, I will then be answering everything.
You know that there are opinion makers in this country and they are always on TV, and that means that I would be answering everybody every day. I do not think that’s my job. People who have strong views and think that they want something to be done will come here. I am saying that people are entitled to express their own views and I do not think that I should be blamed if I do not respond to those views. So that is absolutely critical.
Please remind me what the second part of your question was.
Rev K R J MESHOE: Why has the President not responded to the report compiled by former Constitutional Court Judge ... [Interjections.]
UMONGAMELI WASENINGIZIMU AFRIKA (Mnu J G Zuma): Sengikuzwile. Ngiyakhumbula manje ...
... compiled by the judge. Who asked the judge to compile the report? [Laughter.] [Applause.] You know that if you have somebody doing work then there is somebody who must have either appointed that individual, or established a group or whatever, and that person reports to the person who appointed him or her.
I never appointed a judge to investigate anything so there is no report that comes to me for me to respond to somebody that I did not appoint. How do I do that? I don’t know who did it. Those who did it I am sure are the ones who are qualified to receive the report and act on the report and recommendations. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
The PRESIDENT: Thank you, hon Speaker. We launched Operation Phakisa last year to fast-track the implementation of government programmes in line with the objectives of the National Development Plan, NDP.
The Operation Phakisa programme, which focuses on the oceans economy, focuses on four priority areas, namely marine transport and manufacturing; offshore oil and gas exploration; aquaculture; and marine protection services and ocean governance.
Projections are that we will need more than R9 billion for infrastructure to support the oil and gas industry and to expand manufacturing at the ports.
The refurbishment of existing ship repair facilities has already commenced. Contracts have been awarded for work on the facilities in the ports of Port Elizabeth and Durban, while tenders for the remaining facilities are at various stages.
Transnet has committed funds for the implementation of a concession model for private sector investment in new marine manufacturing port facilities.
Engagement with industry in this regard has already commenced.
In the upstream oil and gas sector, seismic surveys are being conducted on the South, West and East Coasts through reconnaissance permits as well as exploration and production rights. Drilling is also taking place along the South Coast.
Gas fields are being developed along the South and West Coasts for further gas supply to the Mossel Bay refinery and in Saldanha Bay.
In respect of aquaculture, fish farming projects have already begun in Doringbaai, Hamburg and Hermanus, creating jobs in these areas.
The Environmental Impact Assessment and Biodiversity Regulations have been amended to provide a conducive environment for aquaculture development. A further review of the alien invasive species regulations is underway.
We are also working with international partners to ensure the implementation of some of the projects. In this regard, we are engaging Norway as a partner to develop marine spatial plans.
We have further launched a five-year programme with Germany, focusing on developing marine spatial plans in the region together with Namibia and Angola, worth €8,9 million.
Hon Speaker, in order to successfully implement all the projects, we need to enhance the skills base in the country.
The People’s Republic of China has offered 2 000 study opportunities for South African students over a period of five years. Earmarked fields of study include maritime, marine and ocean related areas.
Some students have already qualified in maritime studies through the World Maritime University in Sweden. We need to work together to create opportunities for these graduates both in the private and public sectors.
Hon Speaker, in the health Operation Phakisa, the Department of Health, working with all provinces as well as private and nongovernmental stakeholders, has completed a planning laboratory in Pretoria. Detailed plans have been developed with these stakeholders to roll out a programme to realise the ideal clinic initiative across all clinic facilities in South Africa.
We are also exploring Operation Phakisa initiatives in mining and agriculture. The successful implementation of Operation Phakisa initiatives is changing the way government works in the designated sectors, and will certainly change the way we contribute to economic growth and job creation. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr A F MAHLALELA
Mr A F MAHLALELA: Somlomo, angitsatse lelitfuba ngibonge kuMengameli ngetimphendvulo langinikete tona. Kuyacaca, Mengameli, kunome ngubani kutsi ngempela siyachuba.
It is clear, hon President, that the ocean economy will go a long way in contributing to the wellbeing of the masses of our people by creating jobs and improving the livelihood of our people, while an Ideal Clinic Initiative will further enhance access to good quality care for all our people.
As we expand Operation Phakisa, hon President, in the context of both the ocean economy and also the Ideal Clinic Initiative we will require a massive skilled workforce. Beyond the skills that you have referred to, do we have other plans for skilling internally in South Africa so that we have massive workforce that is sufficiently skilled to be in a position to meet the challenges that this Operation Phakisa in both the ocean economy and the creation of the Ideal Clinic Initiative which will change the way we do things. So I just want to understand whether we have, internally, in terms of our own institutions, a programme to increase that skilled workforce so that we are able to meet these challenges. Thank you.
The PRESIDENT: Thank you, hon Speaker. Yes, we are in the process of developing skills internally, particularly with regard to the ocean economy. As you would know, that is an area where, as a country, we have not participated a great deal. Therefore, the skills in that area are not in abundance. So, we are doing everything we can to skill our people who must participate in this new kind of economy.
With regard to health, it is the workers who are already working who are being prepared to work in the new method that is being done. Of course, that will go to those who are still training so that they are being prepared to do exactly as it is required by the programme. However, in the clinics the nurses and doctors are, in fact, in a sense trained while they are participating in the laboratories that plan and discuss what needs to be done.
However, we will add more skills because we need more people in order for Operation Phakisa to succeed. Thank you.
Ms T STANDER
Ms T STANDER: Ndiyabulela, Somlomo. Mr President, you launched Operation Fetsa Tlala with the expressed purpose reducing abject poverty and hunger, but a Statistics SA report that at February 2015 shows that 12 million South Africa still go to bed hungry.
You launched the Batho Pele Programme to prioritise service delivery for our country’s citizens, but in the past 18 months we have seen more and more violent service delivery protests across the country.
Now you have launched Operation Phakisa, but there is no clarity on the legislation regarding the oil and gas operations involved with the projects because you have referred the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act back to Parliament; and you mentioned it as a priority area in your answer here today.
Further, you are quoted as saying that this particular area has a lot of uncertainty surrounding it. Secondly, there is no progress in the national marine spatial planning framework. Thirdly, there is no word on when we can expect the Oceans Bill that was supposed to appear before Parliament this year.
It seems that in the 14 months since Operation Phakisa was announced the legislation framework has gone absolutely nowhere. How then can you assert that the oceans economy will grow from contributing R54 billion annually to R177 billion with an additional million jobs by 2023, when it is clear that Operation hurry up or Phakisa is becoming nothing more than operation lind’uncame. (Going nowhere slowly). [Applause.]
The PRESIDENT: Linda u...?
The SPEAKER: Uncame! Linda uncame.
The PRESIDENT: Oh, linda uncame. Oh! Okay, ngikuzwa kahle-ke ntombazana. [Laughter.] Well ... [Interjections.]
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITION: On a point of order ... [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: Yes, hon Steenhuisen, what is your point of order?
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITION: Members of this House are hon members and they are not to be referred to as intombazana! [Laughter.] This is not a laughing matter! [Laughter.]
The SPEAKER: Yes, it is not! [Laughter.]
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITION: It’s not a laughing matter! We had a debate here last week about women and women’s rights. The President has violated it and he must refer to the hon Stander as an hon member.
AN HON MEMBER: We are equal! [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: Hon President, please ... [Interjections.]
The PRESIDENT: Hon member, thank you very much, hon member. Thank you for the correction, thank you very much. [Laughter.]
As you have said, we launched Operation Phakisa last year and there has been a lot of work that has been going into it with a view to being implemented. As we said, we have covered two areas where there is detailed planning about what needs to be done. It is a plan that is going to change the manner in which our blue economy operates.
People have been working on it ever since, because they had to work on the plan first and then present it. Once the plan is there then we can ask how we implement the methodology and that is what the government is doing; and it is doing every necessary thing. Government does not talk about a thing today and then it happens the same day because it must go through the proper channels and stages.
With regard to the Bill, yes, the Bill was returned because there were issues that needed to be rectified by this House. I don’t think that just because we want to deal with the gas thing we can then take a Bill that is not accurate and work on it because we have it. Once a Bill becomes an Act it must meet the entire requirement so that we are able to move forward. So, bringing it back here is not a delay as there are many Bills that were returned if there was some aspect that needed to be fixed.
I am sure there are many Bills that the opposition has challenged and have taken us to court on. We can’t blame them for delaying the Bills because they think certain things should be fixed even though they were passed here and sent to the Constitutional Court to be checked against its constitutionality.
Why is it strange if the Bill is sent to me and when I look at it I think there are things that needed to be fixed? I don’t think that holds water. Thank you.
Prof N KHUBISA
Prof N KHUBISA: Madam Speaker, Your Excellency, in the light of the soaring levels of poverty, unemployment and the ailing economy of our country, and also with the understanding that most of our black people have been left on the periphery with regard to them being exposed to scarce skills in these industries that you have mentioned — in fact, you have mentioned a number of big projects — I would like to ask how many of our black people are going to get access to the big projects that you have mentioned and how many have secured them? Thank you.
The PRESIDENT: Well, I don’t have the actual figure as to how many will have the access. It is a little difficult for me to sit here and say so many people will have access, when we have not done specific statistics on the projects and what kinds of volumes of productions the specific industries will bring. The fact that the majority of the black people are out there is a historic fact, and we have done many things to ensure that they are incorporated and are part of the economy.
We are now in a programme where we said the manner in which they have been participating in the past is not enough to have shares in companies. We must create black industrialists, and that programme is ongoing, so that we can perhaps at a quicker pace absorb many black people into the industries.
It was here where I referred, for example, to the record of the stock exchange that only 3% of the blacks have anything to do with the stock exchange; and I said we need to increase that number, and what we are doing in terms of the projects, is specifically to address those kinds of issues. The only problem is that we cannot address them overnight because we are dealing with a problem of centuries. Thank you.
Ms S J NKOMO
Ms S J NKOMO: Thank you very much, hon Speaker. There are quite a few issues, hon President, which are quite important when it comes to Operation Phakisa, noting that this programme is a programme that was done effectively in Malaysia and it actually yielded quite a lot of fruit.
When it comes to the ocean economy and we look at most of these trainees who are back in our country, what type of mentorship programmes are in place so that when they get back to the country we ensure that they fall back into our country and ensure that we don’t get what we call a skills flight, which we see in many of the areas.
Furthermore, in Operation Phakisa, especially on the health side we have seen progress that has been achieved to date in the improvement in the quality of health care in government clinics by introducing uniform standards. But then the problem is that, hon President, I am not just talking about opening and closing times of clinics, I am actually talking about certain areas which are problematic when it comes to some of our highly skilled medical and nursing staff leaving our country and going to other countries.
How do we ensure that they stay in the country, and that they are actually equipped to be highly qualified, so that even with the latest of equipment that we set before them, they would be able to use that equipment?
Looking at areas of electricity and water in the clinics which is problematic, how much of the load-shedding that we have seen in our country has created problems? We have seen a few of our patients actually dying. I think, lastly, we need to determine the number of percentages of healthcare clinics ... [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: Hon member, which one of the many questions must the President answer?
Ms S J NKOMO: He may answer all of them; we have all the day, madam. Thank you.
The PRESIDENT: Thank you, hon Speaker. Well, insofar as Operation Phakisa and the Blue economy are concerned, I said we are working on developing skills generally in the country so that our people would be able to participate in those opportunities. We have not as yet sent people who would be coming back already. Those who are already there and have skills will participate, but we are sending others to gain more skills in this area. We are focusing on it as we have identified the area as an important area to grow our economy.
With regard to Operation Phakisa, as far as health is concerned, well, what I have just said is what we have been doing to plan in all areas and we have not completed the entire medical kind of facilities. It is a plan that is going to affect all other institutions that relate to health in the country. We are going to be working on it and will therefore absorb those skills that are there.
I am sure those people who are leaving will come back once we are able to operate and expand the space. What is difficult to do is to stop people from going. But it is the manner in which we are going to be operating that will attract those kinds of skills to remain in the country.
That is why we should be able to work together to ensure that Operation Phakisa succeeds so that we could retain the skills that must be implemented. We will also be training other people, and I am sure in the medical area people are training continuously.
All we are saying is that we are now introducing a methodology that is going to make things move quicker in terms of what is happening in the health sector. Thank you.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA: As I indicated yesterday in my response to hon Shenge in the National House Of Traditional Leader’s debate, while it is true that the Cabinet committee made a recommendation to Cabinet to accede to the amendment of Chapter 7 and 12 of the Constitution, Cabinet in its wisdom decided not to accept the proposal for the amendment of the said chapters. Thank you, Chair.
PRINCE M G BUTHELEZI: Your Excellency, hon Ministers, hon Deputy Ministers and hon members, yesterday, as His Excellency has stated, he gave the National House of Traditional Leaders the same answer that Cabinet never made a decision on the matter. Yet the President, as Deputy President of South Africa, actually chaired the very Cabinet committee that made the recommendation.
On 26 August 2009, His Excellency gave the same evasive answer in this House when Mr Smith raised the issue. If you recall, I stood up and lamented that my country was being ruled by deception. Your answer, sir, has changed over time, but surely the facts cannot change.
In 2008, at a continental meeting of traditional leaders in Durban, convened by MEC Mabuyakhulu, the President was asked why Chapter 7 and 12 of the Constitution have still not been amended and His Excellency laughed and then said the comrades did not want it. So which version is the truth? I was in the Cabinet, when your Cabinet committee made this recommendation. I was also present when you admitted that the ANC rejected protecting the powers and functions of traditional leaders. Surely we deserve some honesty, Mr President.
For 21 years, government has played a cat-and-mouse game with traditional leaders over their powers and functions. Is it not time to do the honest thing which is to amend the Constitution and abolish this institution of traditional leadership?
That is evidently what the comrades want. I know that there are many republicans in your Cabinet. I know that you are a monarchist yourself. Dr Dube, Dr Sam and Nkosi Luthuli were monarchists, but I know that you are dominated by republicans in your Cabinet.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA: Well, we have been discussing this matter with hon Ndabezitha for a long time and I agree that we can’t change facts. I don’t think each time we talk about it we are able to introduce different facts.
What I said yesterday was to clarify the issue as I’ve just clarified it that Cabinet never took the decision to amend Chapter 7 and Chapter 12 of the Constitution, which was a recommendation of a Cabinet subcommittee which I chaired and the hon Mntwana was part of it.
In the committee we discussed it and finally, after many negotiations, agreed that we should recommend the amendment of a particular section of the Constitution with these Chapters 7 and 12. We indeed presented this to Cabinet which had established us as a subcommittee. Cabinet did not accept our recommendation and the matter should have ended there.
If there are views, as hon Shenge says now, he does hold views and he feels that the Constitution should be amended, that is a new matter. No, it is not a new matter, is an old matter that he feels very strongly about, he has the right to make presentations, but to quote that committee as if the Cabinet did not honour what it decided, is what I was correcting. The subcommittee of Cabinet continually makes recommendations to the Cabinet.
The Cabinet, at times, rejects and does not accept them and that is the end of the story. They accept others. That is a continuous thing. If memos are submitted to the Cabinet, the Cabinet will look at the memo, accept it or say, “Sorry, we don’t accept this memo”. There is nothing strange about it. It was not because this was coming from the traditional leaders only. It is the views of the people on this matter, as it will happen on any other matter.
Insofar as the thinking of people in the world is that some are monarchists and some republicans, that is a normal thing. It is like that in this world. In other places where there were traditional leaders they ceased to exist because the republicans were stronger and got rid of them. In some places, they survived. It is not something new as we are not on a different planet. We are here, and it is a question of how we handle these matters and whether we agree.
If you take our history, I think it is actually for the first time in the democratic South Africa that traditional leaders are being accorded status in structures. It has never been done before. We should be saying, yes, democracy has made progress and our view on the traditional leaders is actually a constructive one. Between the monarchists and the republicans there is a balance and respect in South Africa. Let us not make this bubble too big. Let us nurse it because it is an important delicate balance that we need to create.
Yesterday, we raised the issue of the Khoi and San. We are very serious about that matter because they have a very unfortunate and painful history. We can’t say because they are a community, we can’t do anything about it. It’s important, but I’m saying the manner in which we deal with issues should be constructive so that we are able to find a solution whereby we can live side by side without tensions. I think that is what we should be dealing with.
At times there will be amendments to the Constitution of one kind or the other, and at times they will be rejected. It’s not just that things that have not been accepted are only related to traditional leaders. There are other things that have not been accepted. There are other things that are in the Constitution that other people do not like, but because we have balance in this rainbow nation, I think our approach to the Constitution should take that into account.
My view is that this democratic government has done far, far better than any other system has done before in South Africa. There was no national house of traditional leaders where they would come together. They were separated. They had to ...
... khuleka koomantyi bakhumule izigqoko bathi nkosi, nkosi, amakhosi.
We abolished all of that. There is now a house at national level, there are houses of traditional leaders in the provinces and it is the first time that they can meet and discuss different programmes together. So I’m saying we have done much better than any other system before this democratic government. Thank you. [Applause.]
Ms P T VAN DAMME
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC
Ms P T VAN DAMME: Mr President, in your response to the debate in The House of Traditional Leaders yesterday, you suggested that the children of young mothers should be separated from them and taken far away or banished to Robben Island. This is also not the first time you have said this; you said it in 2009.
So my question is: Are you, as head of state, considering implementing a programme where the children of young mothers are taken away from them, because this is clearly a view that you hold quite dear?
Don’t you think that such a programme would be in violation of two sections of the Constitution, specifically section 9(2), which prevents women from being discriminated on the grounds of pregnancy and section 28, which protects the rights of children to parental care? Thank you.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA: Speaker, I didn’t say young children must be taken away from their mothers. I must correct that first. I was responding to a contribution by one traditional leader, Ngangomhlaba Matanzima, who spoke on this issue.
In the process of responding, I said I had a view on this issue when I was campaigning in 2009, and I made these suggestions, and I said the women said they do not want to hear that.
I was merely talking about a historical fact and I was repeating what I had said then because I was saying we need to talk about it and find a solution. What do we do with this problem? You can come up with different ideas. That’s what I was saying. I only referred to what I said then, and said that I was actually stopped by the women who said that I should not continue with it. So yesterday I didn’t say let us take this action. Not at all! Thank you.
Mr Z M D MANDELA
Mr Z M D MANDELA: Your Excellency Mr President, Chapter 12 of the Constitution recognises the status and authority of traditional leaders and their traditional institutions, that being the national house of traditional leaders as well as the provincial houses of traditional leaders. But with the wall-to-wall municipalities, we have also seen their inclusion as a local government structure.
Ndicela ukuqonda ke Bawo uMongameli ukuba yintoni na enokwenziwa ukuxhobisa iinkosi ukuba zikwazi ukumelana nomsebenzi wazo, zikwazi ukujongana nezinto ezidla umzi ngokuncedisana nokubambisana norhulumente weli xesha ukuze zikwazi ukuzisa izisombululo kuluntu lonke lwakowethu. Enkosi.
The PRESIDENT: I’m happy that the hon member raises the issue because it was one of the major subjects of discussion yesterday in the house of traditional leaders. There was actually a plea made by traditional leaders that they need to be trained so that they can participate effectively in local government.
They made that request and the response from the Minister was that the matter is going to be discussed by the department and traditional leaders. But it was also indicated that they have already been getting training to participate and are well prepared to do so. However, it is clear that we need to do more and perhaps cover all municipalities so that they are able to participate.
Yesterday, they talked, among other things, about the need for the tools of the trade because they need to be mobile and active so that they can do the work. So, the point you are making is a point that other traditional leaders have made and I think that matter is going to get careful consideration from the department.
Certainly, it is a very progressive request because they have to participate and work. Yesterday, they were even talking about tilling the land. They must participate with their people. So, it’s a good one. I’m happy that the tension is disappearing and co-operation is emerging. We should all work together. Thank you.
Ms D CARTER
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLI
Ms D CARTER: Mr President, with regard to the powers and functions of traditional leaders, our Constitution provides that persons or communities whose tenure of land is legally insecure, as a result of past discriminatory laws or practices, are entitled to ensure that it is legally secure.
I understand the balancing act, but to this end the 1997 White Paper on land policy recognised those with de facto occupation and user rights on traditional land as the underlying owners. However, law and policy, under the administration of the ruling party, have come down squarely in favour of transferring title of communal land to traditional leaders and institutions as opposed to the people who live and work on the land. Now, is government not denying the rights of many to legally secure tenure as set out in our Constitution thus perpetuating the ills of apartheid? Thank you.
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA: I’m not sure I heard the part about perpetuating the apartheid laws. What is it about? I didn’t hear that clearly.
Ms D CARTER: What I am saying is that by not transferring the land to the people who work it, are we not also denying them the rights to actually own the land?
The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA: Oh, I see. No, as far as I know, there are programmes that are being designed - I think, but now I’m not sure whether it is a Bill or still a paper - to actually deal with the issue of how to empower those who are on communal land so that they could have the value that is recognised properly and ownership.
As far as I know, the matter is in the process of being considered as part of dealing with the land question. At the moment if you stay there, you can’t say you own it in the modern sense, but it is yours as long as you are there. Nobody is going to take it away from you, but you cannot use it, for example, if there is collateral or something.
So, that matter is going to be debated and I’m sure even this Parliament will be debating what the best system is that we need so that those people who stay there have a better kind of ownership than they have now. At the moment it is communal. They own it and they are staying there, but if one goes one can’t sell it, it remains for those who are there.
I’m not sure what will happen once we come up with a system in so far as that kind of arrangement is concerned. That is going to come up after the discussion and then we will finally decide this is the system we need in the communal land or in the rural areas. So, at the moment, I can’t predict what will be the final outcome.
For example, in KwaZulu-Natal province, the land is in the Ingonyama Trust. So what do you do with that? These are matters to be talked about and I’m sure in other areas there might be other systems. The fact of the matter is that all citizens must benefit equally. I’m sure after the process we will agree and come to a conclusion. Thank you.
The PRESIDENT: Hon Speaker, during the state of the nation address of 2015, I outlined what government is doing to respond to the energy constraints which are an impediment to economic growth.
The state of the nation address for 2015 unequivocally reaffirmed government’s commitment to addressing our challenges. We outlined the short, medium and long-term plans that we have put in place. The short and medium-term proposals involve improved maintenance of Eskom power stations, enhancing the electricity generation capacity and managing the electricity demand.
The long-term plan involves finalising the energy security masterplan and also making the necessary legislative and regulatory changes where the need might be. The Department of Energy is reviewing the public’s comments on the Independent Services and Market Operator Bill and will accordingly submit the amended Bill to Cabinet this year. Thank you, hon Speaker.
Mr M L SHELEMBE
Mr M L SHELEMBE: Hon Speaker, Mr President, knowing the consequences of the shortage regarding electricity, firstly, why did you not update us in time as members of Parliament? You stated in 2014 that that Bill will be finalised and we haven’t heard anything until today.
Secondly, considering the need that we have, the Minister of Human Settlements was tasked with ensuring that 1,5 million houses are built, but this should be adequate housing. Now, how are you going to address that issue where you are saying that five-point plan will be effective in the next 15 months or three years? Therefore, what is the solution in the meantime while there is that gap now where there is no solution?
Mr President, can you convince us that we are going to see load shedding being stopped in the next three years? Can you convince me that in the next three years there will be no electricity supply being interrupted? I thank you.
The PRESIDENT: I’m trying to connect the question. I am not sure whether I am clear on it. I will answer it as I understood it.
The SPEAKER: Yes, hon President. Why did you not tell us what you needed to tell us about the load shedding?
The PRESIDENT: Maybe he wants to clarify things. Now, there he comes back to the microphone, hon Speaker. [Interjections.] I am trying to clarify my mind.
Mr M L SHELEMBE: Thank you, Speaker.
The SPEAKER: He is a man who takes his time making his point so I don’t know that he’s welcome to go to the microphone. Hon Shelembe, get straight to the point.
... uthini baba?
Mr M L SHELEMBE: Having heard, Mr President, that that Bill will be reconsidered, you said there is a five-point plan to address the issue at the moment. My concern is that while we are waiting for that, how you are going to address this because I can see Eskom is unable to address the issue or to supply electricity satisfactorily? An amount of R23 billion has been given to Eskom even while it is failing to address the issue. Thank you. [Interjections.]
The PRESIDENT: Hhayi! [No] He is not making it better. [Laughter.] He is making it more complicated. [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: Hon President ...
... phendula nje lokho okuzwile, baba. [Uhleko.]
The PRESIDENT: Okay! Well, we have been saying that there is a challenge in energy and Eskom is working hard; we have opened up a war room to address the issue. Indeed, there was the issue of the money and we took a decision that we will find money to deal with Eskom. I think the money has been found so that we can address the load shedding.
Why was the Bill brought back? I’m sure there must have been issues around the Bill and why it was brought back; I don’t know. I don’t know what the issues are. [Laughter.] That is why I was saying I do not hear everything. However, I can guarantee that the matter is under the consideration of Energy and Eskom. We are dealing with it.
I doubt if we will take two years before we deal with load shedding. I think we will be able to deal with load shedding at the right time in terms of how we deal with challenges that face us today. The hon member must trust that we will do what we said we will do regarding energy. Thank you very much, hon Speaker.
Mr G MACKAY
Mr G MACKAY: Madam Speaker, Mr President, although a commitment was made by your government – well, an ANC government – over a decade ago to source 30% of electricity from independent power producers, they still only account for about 2% of our energy supply. This is due, in large part, to the monopoly granted by the state to Eskom over the generation, transmission and delivery of electricity.
The regular blackouts experienced by all South Africans and the inability of Eskom to meet the energy demands of households and business are is undeniable proof of the harm of Eskom’s continuing monopoly over South Africa. Mr President, in light of your failure to obtain the backing of your party for the Independent Services and Market Operator Bill, what will your government do now to put an end to Eskom’s unfettered control of our electricity sector? I thank you.
The PRESIDENT: Hon Speaker, I think government is working very hard to look at the variety of options that are available to address the challenge that we face, including the generation that will come from the private sector as part of what is in the basket and what we are looking at. Therefore, we have not said we are not going to do that, because we need a solution that is going to solve the problem of energy in our country.
Therefore, there is nothing we are not considering. We are considering all options, including how to involve the private generators and how much we interact with them. That, I’m sure, at the right time, there will be a progress report on the matter. Thank you, hon Speaker.
Mr J A ESTERHUISEN: Madam Speaker, hon President, I’m very surprised that you entertained this question because this Bill has actually been scrapped, but, having said that, the second part of the question is still relevant.
Mr President, we, as the IFP, cannot fault the decision to withdraw the Independent Services and Market Operator Bill as we do not need further regulation in the energy supply market with its intended financial implications.
However, hon President, what are you doing to ensure that our energy supply side lacuna is speedily resolved –the gap in the market? Do you intend to fully deregulate and open up the energy supply market to independent private operators as part of this strategy going forward? Thank you.
The PRESIDENT: I am not sure whether I heard the speaker, he is very far. I am not sure. Can you speak closer to the microphone, please — just closer, like I am doing?
Mr J A ESTERHUIZEN: I beg your pardon, hon President. I asked: What are you doing to ensure that our energy supply side lacuna is speedily resolved? Do you intend to fully deregulate and open up the energy supply market to independent private operators as part of the strategy going forward? I thank you.
The PRESIDENT: Okay, I heard you now. Thank you very much. I have just given the same answer, exactly the same answer. What I said now, you are asking exactly the same question. That is the same answer I would give to you, really. Thank you very much, hon Speaker.
Mr M Q NDLOZI
Mr M Q NDLOZI: Hon Speaker, hon President, the fallacy rooted in the question that has been asked is to think that if there is a demonopolisation of Eskom, there will be efficiency in the provision of energy. It will not happen, precisely because every time the private sector comes into any industry, they collude and they fix the prices — as we saw with the price of bread — and they make it expensive. Like the banks or the financial sector they collude and fix prices. Therefore, it must never happen that we demonopolise.
That logic is not the logic of the Freedom Charter that all monopoly industries upon whom a lot of South Africans depend for their livelihoods are not in private hands and are not driven in the interest of making profits, but in the interest of serving the people.
Shouldn’t you extend the same logic to nationalise the banks and the mines, since this is the year of the Freedom Charter?
What exactly is your plan, because in terms of your pronouncements in the state of the nation address it is not very clear? What are you really going to do with the green energy sources; can you give us specifics? What is the real plan that you say is going to be embarked on in terms of green energy sources? Thank you very much.
The PRESIDENT: Hon Speaker, firstly, we have a policy on the economy that has been declared a mixed economy. We took that position a long time ago after a long debate on the issue you are raising. Therefore, you engage on that policy if you don’t agree with it. So you could engage.
Insofar as the issue of energy is concerned, that is what we are working on. I think in a matter of a few days, or shortly, we will be opening a huge clean plant in one of the provinces. We are working on it and we are putting an energy plan in place that uses clean and other types of energies so that we can produce the volumes we need in the country.
That plan is there. That is why we talk about an energy mix, because we are talking about clean energy as well as energy that is not necessarily clean. We are putting these together to produce the energy we need.
However, of course, the comment you made about, what was your word – demonopolising? Demonopolising is not an issue really because it is an issue of how we handle these things. There are examples of countries that nationalised the means of production and they went down.
It is not necessarily an answer to everything. Others went further than nationalisation. They went to a socialisation of the means of industry, right?
The system, if we use a particular system, depends on how you handle the means of production as a country and as a government to satisfy your people. From our point of view, for now, we think the mixed economy addresses that, because it allows government to intervene decisively in certain industries. The private sector itself has a particular way of making a contribution.
Now, with regard to the issue of energy, we have said we are looking at the options to deal with the crisis right now, because there is a crisis. As you know, we are rolling out energy to poor people and to every corner of this country. We took that decision because we are saying poor people also deserve energy.
That is a programme we are taking up, in whichever hands the means of energy are, that is a decision, that is a programme. That is why today rural areas are not the same. That is what has, in fact, caused energy to be in huge demand because the usage of it by the ordinary people, to us, is a priority.
Therefore, I’m just saying much as your comment of demonopolising etc, is an issue we might sit down and talk about. There are example where nationalisation was done but people were dealing with it. They were not able to satisfy the people because people can nationalise and that nationalisation could end up not reaching the people.
It is a question of what is it that we are talking about; are we talking about a party that is clear? What party? What is their ideology? What are we trying to do? What are the means with which we are going to be able to do that? It is not a small matter. How do we handle that matter?
Therefore, I’m saying it is an open question that might need a debate on what is it that we think will work and help to change the quality of the lives of our people. It is a debate I think we could open and talk about.
For now, we are faced with the challenges of an energy shortage; that is what we are looking at dealing with. I am sure when we have the luxury of time, we can debate the theoretical issues. Is nationalisation the solution; or is socialisation a solution? Has it been experienced anywhere else in the world? What has happened?
The Freedom Charter, for example, as you talk about it, makes very clear issues. However, the debate about nationalisation was led by the icon that we all love, Nelson Mandela, who said we should debate the issue. It was Mandela who finally said we should adopt a mixed economy. We should not forget.
I know you guys will say Mandela did not say this. No, it was Mandela who posed the question: If you say we must not nationalise, what is the option? There was a debate and it ended up with the ruling party, the ANC, taking the position that we need a mix economy for now. That is what happened. Thank you, Madam Speaker. [Applause.] [Interjections.]
The House adjourned at 18:25
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