Hansard: NCOP: Questions to the Deputy President
House: National Council of Provinces
Date of Meeting: 25 Mar 2015
No summary available.
NATIONAL COUNCIL OF PROVINCES
25 MARCH 2015
WEDNESDAY, 25 MARCH 2015
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF PROVINCES
The Council met at 14:04.
The Chairperson took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.
The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP
START OF DAY
CALL FOR NCOP TO INTERVENE IN PROPOSED KNYSNA N2 TOLLED HIGHWAY DEVELOPMENT
The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: Hon members, in terms of Rule 233, I would like to announce that the Council has received a petition calling for the NCOP’s intervention in the social impact assessment of the proposed Knysna N2 tolled highway development by the SA National Roads Agency Limited in Knysna, Western Cape. This petition comes from Mr Velile Waxa, on behalf of the concerned communities of Phelandaba and Rhobololo.
I also want to inform you that I have been informed that the Whippery has agreed that there will be no notices of motion or motions without notice for this sitting. I therefore wish to take this opportunity to welcome the hon Deputy President to the House so that we can proceed with questions as they appear on the Order Paper. Please take the podium, hon Deputy President. The first question comes from the hon Dr H E Mateme.
QUESTIONS FOR ORAL REPLY
QUESTION 1:The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Hon Chairperson, in relation to the first question about attacks on foreign nationals, the attacks being levelled at foreign nationals are obviously a matter of great concern for the government of the Republic of South Africa and for all South Africans who have embraced the values of our Constitution and appreciate what our country stands for in terms of its ethos and the principles it has adopted.
Our security services will continue to monitor areas that are affected and areas that are likely to be affected by these violent attacks. Particular attention will be paid to stabilising areas where this type of violence is manifest. The perpetrators of crimes against foreign nationals must know and have to know that they will face the full might of the law.
However, to deal effectively and meaningfully with attacks on foreign nationals, we need to increase efforts to promote social cohesion and nation building. Communities that are bound together by a sense of common purpose; that value tolerance and respect for others, as well as respect their rights, are less likely to be sites of violence against other people, especially foreign nationals. These are communities where steady progress is being made in addressing the social and economic needs of our people, which is the prerequisite for social inclusion.
The National Development Plan envisages a nation that accepts that people have multiple identities. It envisages a nation that shows respect for our diversity and is united in that diversity. It envisages a nation that is more cohesive and inclusive. It provides a framework for actions that will address poverty, inequality and unemployment, all of which tend to undermine social inclusion.
Young people are critical of the success of these efforts to promote social cohesion. The Department of Arts and Culture has appointed a number of eminent individuals as advocates for social cohesion. Some of these are our former Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Frene Ginwala, and Advocate George Bizos. There are a number of others. They have had a number of dialogues with the youth across the length and breadth of our country about social cohesion and nation building.
The community conversations convened by that department involve the youth and vulnerable groups in our society, including foreign nationals. They exchange knowledge on their histories and explore ways of forging a common identity in a free and democratic society. The government recognises that stopping violence against foreign nationals must be a collective effort. It cannot be done by the government alone. It requires all of us as South Africans to join hands to remove the scourge in our country.
We need to affirm the values of our Constitution. We need to build communities that are inclusive and cohesive. We need to work harder to address the social and economic needs of our country. This is our task as we build our nation; as we foster the project of social cohesion. Thank you.
SEFEPISEGOLO SA LEKGOTLA LA BOSETŠHABA LA DIPROFENSE: Modulasetulo wa Lekgotla, ke leboga sebaka sebaka se, ke leboga Motlatšamopresidente ge a tsebiša badudi ba Afrika Borwa gore mmušo wo ke mmušo wa go hlokomela batho kamoka go sa kgathalege gore motho o tšwa kae, o dula kae goba o bolela polelo efe.
Motlatšamopresidente, ke be ke kgopela gore o sedimoše badudi ba Afrika Borwa ka botlalo gore gabotsebotse - bagaditšong ba re mmušo wa go etwa pele ke ANC ge o tliša bophelo bjo bokaone mo bathong, o bo tliša o lebeletše bao e lego maloko a mokgatlo wo o bušago. Ke kgopela tlhalošo ye e tletšego go bontšha gore mmušo wo o hlokomela badudi ba naga ye kamoka go sa kgathalege gore mokgatlo wa gago ke o ofe. Tshedimošo ye ya ditaba tše di diregago kua malokheišeneng a borena ga re di thabele. Re leboga ge o botša setšhaba gore ga se pholisi ya mmušo wo. Re kgopela gore le ba hlalošetše gore gabotsebotse pholisi ya mmušo wo e reng. Re a leboga.
MOTLATŠAMOPRESIDENTE: Pholisi ya mmušo wo o etilwego pele ke ANC e ithekgile godimo ga Freedom Charter. Ngwaga wo ke ngwaga wa Freedom Charter; ke ngwaga wa bomasometshela wa go ba gona ga Freedom Charter. Ka fao, ka wona ngwaga wo re tla be re keteka Freedom Charter.
Ge batho ba badišiša Freedom Charter gabotse ba tla hwetša gore ge e bolela ka botlalo e re lefase le re dulago go lona; lona le la Afrika Borwa, ke lefase la rena kamoka, batho kamoka bao ba dulago go lona ba swanetše gore ba dule ba tseba gore ba na le ditokelo. Ke lefase la rena gomme kamoka ga rena re swanetše go dula re tseba gore lefase le la demokrasi leo re le lwetšego ka madi le ka lehu ke lefase leo le swanetšego gore le akaretše batho kamoka ga bona. Yo mongwe le yo mongwe yo a dulago mo o swanetše gore a dule a tseba gabotse gore o na le ditokelo tšeo di tla hlomphiwago ke mmušo. Bohle bao ba dulago mo ba na le tšona.
Bjale taba ye ya gore re lwe le batho bao ba tšwago dinageng tša ka ntle ga se taba yeo e sepedišanago le Freedom Charter ye ya rena. Ga e kopane le Freedom Charter ka ge e le kgahlanong le seo Freedom Charter e se bolelago. E kgahlanong le Molaotheo wa rena ka ge wona o bolela gore re swanetše go amogela ditokelo tša batho bohle, re di hlomphe. Ge re sa hlomphe ditokelo tša batho ba bangwe gona le rena ditokelo tša rena re ka se di hlomphe. Go hlompha ditokelo tša batho ba bangwe go ra gore re swanetše gore re hlomphe le tša rena. Taba ye bohlokwa mo Afrika Borwa yeo e amogetšego Freedom Charter; Molaotheo wa rena wo o nago le seo re se bitšago go re ke ditokelo tša botho, ke ya gore kamoka ga rena re na le ditokelo gomme re swanetše gore re hlomphe batho ba bangwe, le ge e le batho bao ba tšwago ka ntle.
Taba ye kgolo yeo re swanetšego go re re e gopole ke gore ka nako yela ya kgatelelo ba bantši ba rena ba ile ba tšwa mo nageng ye ya rena gomme ba ya mafaseng a mangwe. Gona mafaseng ao re ile ra swarwa gabotse ra amogelwa ka diatla tše pedi. Ka go rialo, le bao ba lego mo, go na le mabaka ao a ba tlišitšego mo. Ba bangwe ba bona ba tšwile mafaseng a bobona ba tšhaba; ba bangwe ba tlile mo ka ge ba nyaka go tšwetša maphelo a bona pele. Re swanetše go ba sware ka tsela yeo le rena re ka ratago go re re swarwe ka yona. Re swanatše go ba swara ka tsela yeo le bona ba bego ba swere baetapele ba rena ka yona.
Beke ye e fetilego re be re boloka mohu J B Marks le ntate Kotane la bobedi. Ba be ba le mafaseng a ka ntle. Moo ba bego ba le gona ditokelo tša bona ga tša ka tša gatakwa. Ba ile ba dula mafaseng a boRussia, boZambia, boTanzania le mafaseng a mangwe a mantši ba na le ditokelo.
Molaetša wo re o romelago setšhabeng sa rena sa Afrika Borwa ke gore a re swareng batho bao ba tšwago mafaseng a ka ntle gabotse. A re dudišaneng le bona gomme go be le seo re se bitšago gore ke tulo mmogo. Re kgone go dudišana mmogo; ge go na le mathata re dule fase re boledišane ka ona. Ke yona tsela yeo ANC e nyakago go iša bophelo bja rena kamoka pele. Ke a leboga.
The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: Does any other member have a follow-up question? [Interjections.] Please remember that I am going to take only three more questions. Hon Rayi, I recognise you. I also recognise hon Smith and hon Vawda. If you have supplementary questions, I will endeavour to recognise in the next round the hands that were up and that I did not recognise in this round so that we spread the time around. Hon Rayi, I am sorry, it must be the jet lag! It is Mr Gaehler. Mr Gaehler, my apologies.
Mr L B GAEHLER: Not a problem, hon Chairperson. Deputy President, it looks like most of the xenophobic attacks are on those foreign nationals who are doing well in what we could call survival businesses - spaza shops, hair salons, etc. Is there any government regulation to control these foreign nationals who are coming in just to do that type of business? Is there any policy that controls that, and if there is none, do you envisage having one? Lastly, is there any capacity to capacitate our people to run such businesses? If you go around South Africa, even in the villages, all the shops are being run by foreign nationals. We are not against them coming in but at least...
... abantwana bethu, mayibekhona into abayifumanayo. Noko makungasele kuhambe neengququ ezi zesonka, Sekela Mongameli.Ingaba lukhona kusini na ulawulo kulo mhlaba ukuze naba balapha babenento abayifumanayo? Enkosi.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Businesses that are run in our country have to be run in accordance with the laws that regulate businesses. They have to be registered in terms of the laws of our country; they have to be registered for VAT and in terms of various other regulations. Clearly, businesses that are owned by foreign nationals also have to comply with the laws of our country. They cannot operate outside the parameters of the laws of our country.
It is true that a number of foreign nationals have spread across the country and are running a number of businesses. Some of these are survival-type businesses and they can be found in our townships, in our various towns, and all that. One would obviously hope that everything is being done in accordance with the regulations that govern the registration of such businesses and that they comply with all the regulatory aspects of our laws.
People complain about these businesses and say that they are using a number of methods to be able to offer much lower prices for various commodities. I know that the Minister of Small Business Development has been in dialogue not only with a number of foreign nationals but also with a number of business organisations that represent businesses in our country, in the townships and in various small towns. She is currently preoccupied with precisely this challenge; this issue that has been raised by a number of business people. I am sure they will be able to find a good modus operandi so that those business owners, if they continue to run their businesses, will be able to run them without any threat of violence being levelled against them. Obviously, our local business people should also continue running their own businesses and competing with the foreign-owned businesses.
I think a clear and level playing field needs to be created, and that Minister is busy with that. I know that for a fact. Thank you.
Ms B S MASANGO: Hon Deputy President, what is the role of the Moral Regeneration Movement in fostering social cohesion in communities among South Africans and foreign nationals? Thank you.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: The moral regeneration process was aimed at fostering moral regeneration among all of us as South Africans - and it has been busy with that. That was also a task that was undertaken by the former Deputy President.
The President has raised this and he would like the current Deputy President to also be seized with this matter. As we take this on, my office is going to do preparatory work to see how best we can strengthen the project of moral regeneration in our country. The way in which it was initially conceived was absolutely important. It was right to have done so and it achieved a lot.
Currently we want to continue with that type of work. We want to make sure that this whole task of moral regeneration is indeed spread throughout the country so that we should not just be at national level but also at provincial level and even at local level. It is a matter that we are paying close attention to and we will be getting into the task with a great deal of enthusiasm. Thank you.
Mr C F B SMIT: Hon Chairperson, hon Deputy President, I would like to know whether the government recognises the consequential link between youth unemployment and poverty and the increase in looting that takes place during the attacks on foreigners, as recently witnessed. If not, why not? If so, what plans are in place to combat the increased levels of unemployment and its concomitant frustration?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Yes, there is clearly a link, in part, between what is happening in terms of unemployment and the frustration that a number of our people experience. However, as I said at an earlier stage, quite a bit of what happens in terms of attacks on foreign nationals is also inspired by criminality. We have heard of foreign nationals being targeted by people with criminal intent, looting and stealing goods from their shops. Our view is that there can be no justification whatsoever for anyone, even if you are unemployed or under stress, to go and violate the rights of other people and to go and steal their property.
Clearly, unemployment is a major problem in our country. The government has and continues to take steps to address the challenge of unemployment. We have identified three ills in our country: unemployment, inequality and ... and we are addressing those. We are addressing them in quite a vigorous way and the government has set up a number of initiatives and programmes to reduce the level of unemployment and to address the question of inequality and poverty. Those are being addressed.
As we have often said, this is a government that has demonstrated that it cares. It is a government that underpins everything it does with a great deal of care for its citizens. We have set up various programmes, including the Expanded Public Works Programme, which, in the next few years, is going to offer job opportunities to up to 6 million people, and many of those will be young people.
In terms of a number of projects that the government is involved in, including infrastructure roll-out projects, there are set-aside processes that are going to enable young people to get positions in various construction opportunities. As we speak, we are also trying to get a number of young people into training opportunities so that they can increase their skills. The skills level of young people is being addressed in a vigorous way through the Technical Vocational Education and Training colleges that we are spreading out through the country. So, it is a government that is at work; it is a government that is addressing all these challenges of unemployment, inequality and poverty. Through the various programmes, we believe we are making progress. Progress may well be slow in the eyes of other people but it is being made on a continuous basis. Thank you.
The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: Hon members, I did arithmetic the Setswana way. The Rules allow for only four supplementary questions and I recognised an extra hand. I apologise to the hon Vawda. My apologies, sir.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Hon Chairperson, with regard to Question 2, progress is being made with all elements of the five-point plan that was decided on by Cabinet last December to address the electricity challenge that our country faces at the moment.
On the immediate interventions to improve supply – which was one of the first issues that needed to be addressed – Eskom has taken steps to improve the maintenance and operation of its power stations. These steps include adherence to planned maintenance schedules and the deployment of senior managers to power stations.
This was an important step that Eskom had to take. It was during the process of the energy war room that Eskom recognised that it needed to deploy its senior managers to the stations so that they are not only at Megawatt Park in air-conditioned offices. They should also actually go to the power stations themselves and monitor everything that is happening. That has been done. Senior managers are now working at power stations. They are stationed there to make sure that the maintenance programme is adhered to and that maintenance of our ageing fleet of generators does take place.
The synchronisation of the first unit of the Medupi power station to the grid was successfully started in February, as the Minister of Public Enterprises announced. Barring any unexpected delays, it is due to provide full power to the grid by the middle of this year.
The war room is facilitating engagements between Eskom and municipalities to improve the management of load shedding. This will include the use of technology on how best load shedding can be managed.
On the co-generation of electricity by the private sector, regulatory processes are currently under way to renew the existing short-term co-generation contracts between Eskom and private sector co-generators and enter into new short-term co-generation contracts.
The Department of Energy is currently running a process of procuring longer term co-generation contracts. The department has entered into contracts with independent power producers to provide peaking plant power of up to 1 000 MW. This is currently being built. It is under way. It is being built.
The department has also managed four procurement processes with the private sector for renewable energy projects. This has resulted in contracts being entered into for 3 900 MW of power, with more than 1 500 MW already on the grid.
This demonstrates that work is being done on co-generation and also on independent power producers by working together with the private sector to address this challenge. The war room has been involved in doing this in conjunction with Eskom.
On the conversion of diesel plants to gas, plans are being developed to convert Eskom’s existing diesel-powered open-cycle turbines to gas. Under consideration is the import of gas from a number of sources and, in this case, especially from our neighbour, Mozambique, which has gas in abundance. Also under consideration are importing liquefied natural gas, as well as using local off-shore gas sources and, in the future, Karoo gas sources.
On the construction of a new private sector coal-fired plant, the Department of Energy has issued a request for proposals from the private sector for a new coal power station of 2 500 MW. The Department of Energy will also be issuing a request for information for independent power producer projects to provide up to 3 000 MW of gas-fired power stations.
The other issue that we needed to address and which Cabinet decided on was to see the extent to which there can be a reduction in electricity demand. The department has also issued a request for information on possible demand-side options. The department will be making announcements shortly regarding the awarding of incentives or subsidies to successful demand-side management proposals. The war room has also been engaging with business organisations on a mechanism to reduce and better manage demand.
Last week I had the opportunity to meet with Business Leadership SA, which represents a number of businesses in our country. These are some of the issues that we discussed and they also had opportunity to raise a number of proposals. They put a number of proposals on the table.
Working together with Eskom and other stakeholders, we are definitely taking decisive action now to reduce the need for load shedding and to secure our energy supply into the future. This is a work in progress, as the challenges continue to raise their heads. We were clear that this was not going to be a short-term issue; it will be long-term, but we continue to invite all South Africans to work with us and to have a level of understanding because we are addressing the issues that concern all of us as a nation. Thank you.
Ms E C VAN LINGEN: Hon Deputy President, here is your presentation on the five pillars. It is actually a little bit misleading because we are not going achieve with it what we are supposed to achieve. Although the plan has five pillars, a lot of it is window dressing. It actually only concentrates on the performance of Eskom, and we now know that a third of Eskom’s generation is offline. Two of the pillars... [Interjections.]
The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: Hon Van Lingen, there is a point of order.
Ms L C DLAMINI: Chair, I do not think it is parliamentary to say to the Deputy President of the country, on the issue of the five pillars, that a lot of them are window dressing.
The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: Hon Van Lingen, please proceed. I think the Deputy President will deal with whether there is window dressing or no window dressing. But your point is taken, hon member.
Ms E C VAN LINGEN: Gas and energy efficiency is what is in focus. The problem is that gas regulation is not in place. Energy efficiency needs huge interventions at local government level, which is very difficult to control. The plan seems to be devoid of actual economic data and, for example, when you have chosen to do energy efficiency... [Interjections.]
The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: Hon Van Lingen, there is another point of order. [Interjections.] All right. Proceed, hon Van Lingen.
Ms E C VAN LINGEN: Why are we not doing the third and fourth windows of the independent private producer programme? You did say it was coming, but it is not happening fast enough. I have a few more points but I will ask my question.
The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: You have in fact asked a number of questions, hon Van Lingen.
Ms E C VAN LINGEN: Will the hon...
The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: Please! May I remind members that you have two minutes in which to make your preamble and put a supplementary question. You still have some time, but you did put a supplementary question. I do not know whether you want to go back to your preamble to make do with the rest of your time, but, hon members, please confine yourselves to the Rules: You have two minutes to ask one supplementary question.
Ms E C VAN LINGEN: I would like to know what criteria were used to assess the selling of non-core assets of Eskom, and where we are going with those.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: To answer that more directly, Treasury and the Department of Public Enterprises are dealing with that matter and it is entirely in their hands. They are in the process of dealing with that. I will not pre-empt what they are doing by giving an answer right now or even by giving you a suggestion of what they are doing. Once they have concluded all that, they will go public and everything will be done as transparently as possible. They are looking at various options. I think we should give them the opportunity and the time to come forward with whatever proposals they are dealing with.
We cannot sit here and try to manage Eskom from afar. We must give them the opportunity. There are quite a number of structures, including Treasury and the Department of Public Enterprises, that are deeply involved in that whole process.
Let me just go back to your initial opening statement. I do not know why you would say that what the war room is doing is window dressing. The Cabinet gave the war room five issues to address. Those issues are being addressed.
Since last week, we have been giving some answers and some insight into precisely what is being done. Several of the issues that you are alluding to are being addressed. The immediate measures have had to do with things like maintenance. We all agreed that maintenance had fallen behind and that Eskom had not been paying close enough attention to maintenance. That is now being addressed.
The fleet of generators is now being looked at very closely. The original equipment manufacturers are involved. A number of other contractors are also involved. Skilled managers and technicians are dealing with the issue of the immediate measures that need to be taken.
The issue of conversion from diesel to gas is a matter that does not need much regulation because it can be done now. The Department of Energy will be finalising aspects of regulation. All of this is meant to ensure that we do convert from diesel to gas because we are spending a lot of money on diesel. Gas would be a lot cheaper on a unit basis. We are also looking at co-generation.
This is not a smokescreen. It is not nothing that you are talking about. It is precisely what is being done. We are dealing with independent power producers and this is an effort through which Eskom and the Department of Public Enterprises are dealing with a number of parties and a number of stakeholders to address the energy challenge that our country faces.
The fact that the business community has come forward to say, “We would like to work with you to address the issues that confront Eskom right now” should be seen in a serious light. It is not a smokescreen. It is not anything that one should dismiss in the way that you are dismissing it. Those business people are serious people and they are equally concerned, like all of us should be, about the challenges we face. But they are coming forward with answers. They are not coming forward empty-handed, with ideas that are pipe dreams, but they are coming forward with real proposals. We are working with them to address our challenges. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr V E MTILENI: Deputy President, how do you think the five-year plan will succeed when there are leadership squabbles and instability at Eskom?
I also want you to provide us with any proper and convincing explanation of why the four executives at Eskom were suspended. Was this is not political expediency on the side of the ruling party and those who are maybe prepared to toe the line on party politics ...
The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: Hon Mtileni, I have spoken very simple English. You have two minutes in which to ask a supplementary question. That question must be a follow-up question; one that arises from the response that was given to the principal Question put. It cannot be a new Question. So, I want to grant you the opportunity to do so because you still have time to put a supplementary question to the Deputy President, arising from the response to the question of hon Van Lingen. I am sure you were listening to him.
Mr V E MTILENI: Yes, but I thought this would also make sense. Anyway, just because...
The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: It might make sense. I do not want to have this dialogue. [Interjections.] Order, hon members! I do not want to turn this into a dialogue, I just want us to go back to the Rules. I do not want members thinking of what it makes or how clever it sounds. I want you to ask a follow-up question arising from the response. Please avail yourselves of the time available.
Mr V E MTILENI: Xandla xa Presidente, ndzi ta mi vutisa hi Xitsonga. Hi mpfhuka ku sungula hasahasa ya ku timeka ka gezi swi tikomba tiko ra hina ri kongomangi helo. Tsundzukani leswaku xiyenge xa mabindzu xi twe ku vava nkarhi lowo leha. Ndzi lava ku tiva leswi: xana Hofisi ya n’wina yi swi kotile ku tihlanganisa na van’wamabindzu ke? Nakambe loko kuri leswaku mi kotile ku tihlanganisa na vona mi fikelele xikongomelo xihi xa xitshembihiso lexi mi nga xi nyika ku ya emahmlweni mayelana na hasahasa leyi nga eku humeleleni mayelana na ku timeka ka gezi. Sweswi swi chavisa na lava ehleketaka ku ta sungula mabindzu etikweni ra hina. Xana hi rihi kungu rihi leri mi nga va na rona na van’wamabindzu va laha tikweni ra Afrika-Dzonga ke? Inkomu.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Regarding the so-called squabbles that you are talking about, I would say they are not squabbles. The Minister of Public Enterprises announced that the four executives had been informed by the board and the chairperson of the board that they had been requested to take leave of absence so that an inquiry and an investigation could ensue. She was particularly concerned about the quality of information that was coming though on issues that she regarded as being pertinent to addressing the challenges that Eskom is facing. That inquiry should be commencing soon. It is really about getting information into her hands so that she can better assess precisely how Eskom is going to go about addressing all these issues.
There is no political expediency about this, including, now, the issue of governance. The issue of governance is clearly a concern to us as government. We are certain that the Minister of Public Enterprises, working together with the board, will be addressing the issue of leadership. Every institution, every entity needs good, strong leadership to be able to execute its tasks. That issue is being addressed and we will soon have answers and solutions to the challenges of leadership that we are also facing.
But having said that, the issues that I addressed - in terms of how the war room is helping to address these matters - continue. These issues relate to the immediate interventions that need to be taken, and they continue. Last week I also announced that I appointed a panel of advisers of highly skilled people, eminent people, who are assisting and providing advice. They are coming up with solutions on how best we can address some of these challenges.
So, when it comes to leadership, it is not as if there suddenly is a huge vacuum. The board also appointed acting people - and they are acting. They will execute their tasks within the parameters of the policy framework in which Eskom has to operate and with the guidance of government but, especially and no doubt, with the Department of Public Enterprises.
Coming to the other issue that you raised in relation to...
Eka xivutiso xa wena xa leswaku xana hi tirhisana njhani na van’wamabindzu, nhlamulo hi leswaku hi hlanganile na vona vhiki leri nga hundza. Loko hi hlangane na vona...
*** Language spoken has changed to English ***
... as I said earlier, we were able to hear their proposals.
One of the issues that came out of that is that I am going to convene a summit that will involve all stakeholders in our country – labour, business and government, Eskom, and all the key players. That summit will address, discuss and come up with a number of suggestions on the issues that face us all collectively as South Africans with regard to electricity provision.
So it is not as if we are doing nothing. We are working day and night to address these problems. One of the things I even said to some of the Eskom managers is that even if they had to go and sleep at the door of the power station, I want them to do that because we want energy provision in our country to be resolved. The fact that they have been deployed to the power stations should be a demonstration of the seriousness with which we are approaching this task.
I would like to assure all South Africans that we are addressing this problem. It is a complex problem. It is not yesterday’s problem. It emanates from our past. We need to address it collectively, with cool heads and with a strong will, knowing that we will overcome this problem. We have overcome much more difficult problems in the past. We will also overcome this electricity challenge.
What we do not need is moaning and whinging and all that. What we need are people who will come forward and say, we want to strengthen your hand, we want you to be strong, and we want you to take action to resolve the problems that beset the country. That is what we expect from us all. [Applause.]
The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: Order! You had your chance, hon Mtileni. It is hon Khawula’s chance.
Mr M KHAWULA: Thank you, hon Chairperson. Hon Deputy President, in October 2014, the hon Minister of Finance announced the bailout of Eskom in the amount of R23 billion, to be paid in three instalments, or tranches, to Eskom. Against this background there is an estimated amount of about R10 billion that is owed to Eskom by government at the national, provincial and local government level.
I would like to know what this war room is doing about government also contributing to Eskom’s financial problems through its failure to honour the payments that are due to Eskom. Thank you.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Chairperson, this is one of the issues that led the Minister to request this investigation, so that we can get better information on precisely that as well.
So, the war room is aware that there are a number of problems. At local government level, Eskom is owed. Even users in various parts of the country owe Eskom. A number of government departments also owe Eskom. The war room is going through precisely those issues in order to address them and to ensure that Eskom has a better debt collection process or mechanism. That is being addressed and we are hoping that Eskom will be able to sharpen its own mechanism to collect monies that are owed to it.
There are quite a number of reasons for these monies being owed and being outstanding, but we are addressing that because we would like all those who owe Eskom, be they municipalities, government departments, individuals or individual users, to pay up. We must pay what we owe Eskom so that Eskom can have sufficient resources to address our electricity challenge. Thank you.
Ms L L ZWANE: Chairperson, Your Excellency the Deputy President, we are really happy for the clarity that you have given with regard to the various interventions by the government of the Republic of South Africa as it tries to ensure that the situation of Eskom stabilises. However, maybe it would be in the public’s interest to know if government has actually finalised the issue of tariffs. Thank you.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: The issue of tariffs belongs in the terrain of the National Energy Regulator of SA, Nersa. As the regulator, Nersa is the one entity that determines the tariffs. Clearly, it works with Eskom and, of course, the Department of Public Enterprises, and the tariffs are then finalised. But Nersa is the main player in this.
So I think we should wait for Nersa to give that final determination. That is the entity that we appointed and which we have as the regulator. A regulator takes various factors into account independently and that should finally lead to a decision on the tariffs. So, Nersa, I am sure, will come clean on all this. Thank you.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Madam Chairperson, the SA Development Partnership Agency, SADPA, was established as a government component in 2013 under the authority of the Minister of International Relations and Co-operation. Currently, plans are under way to operationalise the agency at some stage this year.
The eighth South Africa-Germany Binational Commission, BNC, was held in Pretoria on 21 November 2014. It was co-chaired by the Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, and the German Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
The BNC comprises nine committees, which are responsible for implementing BNC outcomes and identifying new areas for possible co-operation between our two countries. The Foreign and Security Policy Committee of the BNC includes in its agenda extensive consultations on continental and global issues. Co-operation between South Africa and Germany is ongoing, and there will be continuous engagements between the two countries to follow up on the outcomes of the eighth BNC.
The ninth BNC will be hosted by Germany in 2016. Like other international partners, Germany will be working with South Africa as we expand our development co-operation on the continent. Thank you, Madam Chair.
Ms T MOTARA: Chairperson, Deputy President, in light of the number of strategic agreements and advancements that we have made through these agreements, in your opinion, is South Africa still in need of strategic development aid; and are we best placed to drive and deliver on development packages for the rest of Africa? Thank you.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Chairperson, yes, we still need a number of engagements, interactions and relationships with a number of international players, countries included. We do need these to further advance our own interests.
We should remember that we are characterised as a developing country, and as we develop, it is in our best interest to have international linkages. We have done extremely well as far as having close relations with a number of partners is concerned, also in the form of forming binational councils with them. We co-operate at close range and are able to reach a plethora of agreements that are able to take our objectives and vision forward.
So, as with Germany and, indeed, a number of other countries, we do enter into these agreements. As we enter into them, what we seek to do is to advance our own national interests. These agreements enable us to do so. They are a very good platform that enables us to achieve our own objectives. Of course, on a partnership basis, we also help to advance the interests of our partners.
When it comes to Africa, Africa is a very important continent to us. We are a part of Africa. We are Africans and as we advance our own interests, we would also like, on an integration basis, to ensure that the number of African countries that we have dealings with, economically, socially, trade-wise and security-wise, are also advanced. We start off with SADC, our own region. We co-operate very closely with a number of countries in SADC and, indeed, with the rest of Africa.
So, reaching agreements and entering into agreements should be seen as an aspect of one of our most important tasks, as we extend our co-operation and our friendship, with a view to advancing our own interests, as South Africans, as a nation. We want to place our interests and the interests of our people first, so that we can address issues of poverty, unemployment and inequality. Using relationships with other countries, be they of advanced economic development or developing countries, we are able to achieve that. That is the remit of President Jacob Zuma’s government. Thank you very much.
Mr J W W JULIUS: Chairperson, hon Deputy President, during the conclusion of the eighth Germany-South Africa Binational Commission in November 2014, it was announced that Germany had committed substantial financial resources to promote these countries’ excellent bilateral relations. The negotiations also affirmed Germany’s intention to assist South Africa in its transition to a Green Economy under one of three focal areas of German development: co-operation, energy and climate.
Will the hon Deputy President please provide the details of South Africa’s transition to a Green Economy with the assistance of Germany, or are we only looking at Russia now, with nuclear power? Thank you.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Hon Chairperson, we, as I indicated, have various agreements with a number of countries, and Germany, clearly, is one of them. As a country with a developed economy, they have developed quite a number of technologies that we can learn from; technologies that can help us address our own challenges. That is the advantage of having these binational commissions, or councils. Through them, we are able to mine some of their technologies and get as much assistance as we possibly can.
With regard to advancing to a Green Economy, we are one of those countries in the world that are greatly admired for the way we have embraced green energy formation or generation. Many countries, particularly in the developing world, have not advanced as much as we have. We have done a lot and we have used various technologies from a number of countries - Germany included - with regard to solar, wind and various other technologies, including gas. We are using those technologies that we are learning from them.
I do not have the actual detail right now of the extent to which we have been working with Germany in a particularised way. However, what we are doing is to take forward the relationship that we have with Germany to address quite a number of projects that we have in common. That is the advantage of the binational councils that we have with Germany. Thank you very much.
Mr V E MTILENI: Chairperson, the proposed SA Development Partnership Agency would replace the African Renaissance and International Co-operation Fund, originally targeted to position South Africa as a leader in the regeneration of the African continent. Unfortunately, South Africa sees the African continent as a war zone and not as a continent full of potential and worthy of a clear and strong commitment from the country.
Is South Africa still committed to the African Renaissance project? If so, why is the country no longer talking about Nepad and the African Peer Review Mechanism, which were initiated in the former administration? How would SADPA reinvigorate the role South Africa plays in the development of the continent? Thank you.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: I missed the last part – what was that?
The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: The last part of the input, Deputy President, is the real supplementary question. How is SADPA ...
Mr V E MTILENI: Yes. How would SADPA reinvigorate the role South Africa plays in the development of the continent as a whole?
The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: The first part was a smuggling in of a question on Nepad and the African Renaissance. The Deputy President may choose to respond to it, but it is really a new question.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Chairperson, I will respond to the one that was prefaced by “South Africa sees Africa as a war zone”. [Interjections.] I think that is factually and completely wrong. South Africa does not see Africa as a war zone.
An HON MEMBER: Hear! Hear! [Applause.]
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: If there ever was something that is completely off the mark and wrong, it is the statement that the hon member has just made! [Laughter.]
South Africa is committed to the African continent. We are not only committed but we are African. We are part of the African continent, and our commitment to its development is irrevocable. It is not to be brought into question, ever.
If one wanted to know whether Nepad was being implemented, one would need to see what South Africa was doing across the African continent. We have embassies strewn throughout a number of countries in Africa and we occupy pride of place - and not only on the African continent. We are a respected member of the African Union and we participate with all the countries there. The fact that the African continent saw fit to elect one of our own, a home-grown person, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, as chairperson of the commission should testify to the fact that our commitment to Nepad is quite deep and it is thorough.
Now, what are we doing on the African continent? We are obviously pursuing our own interests, but, at the same time, we promote the interests of various African countries in the way we trade with them, in the way we deal with them, both at a social and political level. That is what we do, and we are advancing our interests as we advance the interests of a number of other countries in Southern Africa.
The Department of International Relations and Co-operation is the one that deals with SADPA and they are advancing our interests in relation to that. I would get that department to give chapter and verse, precisely, of all the initiatives that they are involved in. The SA Development Partnership Agency will assume responsibility for co-ordinating a number of other initiatives of assistance to and co-operation with a number of countries on the African continent.
I would like to assure the hon member that we are living out the African Renaissance. We are implementing Nepad. Our relations with various countries in Africa are underpinned by our strong resolve to make sure that we develop the African continent as we develop ourselves. We do not want to see ourselves developing without moving along and co-operating fully with countries on the African continent. Thank you, Chairperson.
An HON MEMBER: Hear! Hear! [Applause.]
Ms C LABUSCHAGNE: Hon Chair, Deputy President, good afternoon. I would like to know what is or would be the differences in the form, the status and the mandate of the SA Development Partnership Agency and the existing development partnerships that you spoke about now, such as the Southern African Development Community and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development. That is, what are the differences in form, status and mandate. Thank you.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Chairperson, the Department of International Relations and Co-operation did a presentation to, I think, some of our stakeholders on the establishment of the SA Development Partnership Agency. The key aspects of the SA Development Partnership Agency are to replace the Africa Renaissance and International Co-operation Fund; to advance the African agenda; to promote regional co-operation; to promote South-South co-operation; and to promote the Millennium Development Goals, with the objective of focusing on co-operation between South Africa and other African countries. That is the main objective.
The SA Development Partnership Agency will address the shortcomings in the management and implementation of development projects experienced, where the African Renaissance and International Co-operation Fund may have fallen short. In addition, SADPA will use development co-operation as a tool to advance South Africa’s foreign policy goals. That is what it will be doing and focusing on.
This is no different from what I have been saying. Our main objective is to promote good relations with all countries on the African continent and get to a point where, as we develop, we also force the development of other countries. In this way, we can be seen as a good neighbour, an ideal neighbour, one that all countries on the African continent can do business with. So, this is what drives and propels our foreign relations policy. Thank you very much, Chairperson.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Hon Chairperson and hon members, South Africa has signed bilateral agreements with Russia in several areas, including in the area of nuclear energy. In his 2015 state of the nation address, President Jacob Zuma indicated that any matters related to the procurement of nuclear energy will be done in an open and transparent manner.
As announced by the Department of Energy, South Africa has also signed bilateral agreements on nuclear energy with China, South Korea and France. The process of signing agreements with the USA, Canada and Japan is at an advanced stage. The governance of the SA Nuclear Energy Corporation, Necsa, is guided by, among others, the Nuclear Energy Act, the Companies Act and the Public Finance Management Act, and it would therefore be unaffected by any bilateral agreements. I thank you.
Mr M KHAWULA: Thank you, hon Deputy President, and by the way, I noted with interest your response to the question of the suspensions affecting Eskom’s board and the stamp of approval thereof, compared to the similar matter of Necsa’s board suspensions and blockages. These are two different boards with similar issues, but with different approaches.
In view of the developments at Necsa, there are seemingly sour working relationships between Necsa board members and the chief executive officer, and also between Necsa board members and the Minister. After the board suspended the CEO and the Minister intervened for the board to reverse its decision, it is alleged that this was done to protect some powerfully connected people at Necsa.
Should the board not be given space to implement its mandate transparently and impartially by, among other things, being left to conduct their original investigation into the CEO? This is an investigation that the Minister had supported earlier in December, and she even wrote a supportive letter on the move to the board. However, in February she backtracked in a surprising about-turn. Why is the board not being trusted to execute its mandate? Is this interference not shielding those who may be culprits in the required investigation?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: I am not aware of anyone who is being shielded. The Minister, as a public official in our country, will always seek to act in a way that will advance the interests of the Ministry that she oversees, the interests of South Africa and, indeed, our collective interests as South Africans. What is under way is a process where things are being addressed with a view to finding solutions. Clearly, solutions will be found, and I would regard this as a hiccup in the process of governance and in the process of trying to see how best these institutions should be run.
I would advise that we wait for the process to unfold and thereafter the Minister and government will be able to set out very clearly what the way forward will be. So, I would advise us to have patience. I know that when these things happen it is always disturbing, unsettling and unnerving to all of us, but let us rest assured that the matters are being handled and they are being addressed. Proper solutions will be found, as we always seek to find proper solutions to all the challenges that we face. Thank you, Chairperson.
Ms E C VAN LINGEN: Deputy Minister, as I am standing here, I have in my hand the agreement between the government of the Russian Federation and the government of the Republic of South Africa on the strategic partnership and co-operation in the field of nuclear power and industry. Why has government been so secretive about this agreement while it has already been made public in Russia, and when will it and the other agreements that you have signed as the executive be tabled in Parliament?
The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: Hon Van Lingen, you are making my life very difficult as you are introducing a new question.
Ms E C VAN LINGEN: No, Chair, it is not new.
The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: It is a new question. That question does not derive from what was asked by the hon Khawula. I am again going to leave it to the discretion of the Deputy President. However, it is a completely new question and has nothing to do with the question put by the hon Khawula and the response that the Deputy President gave to that question.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Hon Chairperson, suffice to say that when the President delivered the state of the nation address, he said all the things that are being done with regard to nuclear energy are going to be done in a very open and transparent manner. That is what our President said. I think we should rely on that and know that he has put all that to the nation. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
Mr V E MTILENI: I am covered because part of what … was asked by Ms van Lingen. Is this ... [Inaudible.] ... going to open ... [Interjections.]
The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: Order, hon members! There is a member on the floor! Proceed, sir.
Mr V E NTILENI: I said that the Deputy President has answered the question that I was going to pose to him.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you.
Mr V E NTILENI: I was going to ask whether this nuclear deal ... [Interjections.]
An HON MEMBER: You are covered!
Mr V E NTILENI: ... was not going to open up the opportunity or leave other ANC members with kickbacks when this deal is ... [Inaudible.]
The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: You are totally out of order, sir. [Laughter.] Deputy President, that was not a question. Hon members, that was the last request for supplementary questions on that question that I received.
Ms E C VAN LINGEN: Chair, the hon Labuschagne has been trying to catch your eye, so it is not out of disrespect that I am getting up to point that out.
The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: Hon Labuschagne, did you want to ask a supplementary question on this particular question?
Ms C LABUSCHAGNE: Yes.
The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: Please take the floor.
Ms C LABUSCHAGNE: Thank you very much. Hon Deputy President, apart from the fact that the terms of the agreement leans very heavily in favour of Russia, for example with it being able to veto South Africa’s intentions to do business with other nuclear vendors for a minimum binding period of 20 years, it appears that the agreement lays the groundwork for government to govern the contracting, which is designed possibly to sidestep the constitutional requirements for open and competitive tendering processes. What procurement process will be used to ensure that the nuclear build programme will be open and transparent, as the Constitution demands?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Madam Chairperson, as I said in my initial answer, one of the processes that is involved in all of this is the process through which various agreements are being entered into with a number of parties. I said that Canada and the USA are also in line to enter into similar agreements with South Africa. You could say that this is the preliminary stage and what has been happening now are ongoing pre-tender workshops that involve a number of parties, officials, experts and various people from all those countries and entities. They have been involved, over quite a number of days, in workshops to look very closely at what is involved in all of this.
The next process is going to be the tendering process. Clearly, the tendering process that we will get involved in is going to be one that is very much in line with a good tendering process, where, as the President said, there will be openness and transparency. That is what is going to unfold with regard to all of this.
All these ghost stories and horror stories, and the things that people are talking about, are clearly things they are imagining. I think we should rely on what the process that is under way will yield and precisely on what the President said in the state of the nation address. Thank you very much.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Hon Chairperson, I have been informed by the Department of Energy that it is currently doing an analysis and evaluation of all the bilateral agreements on energy that have been signed with 63 countries.
From 1994 until 2009, the Energy portfolio was part of the Department of Minerals and Energy, and most bilateral agreements involved both Minerals and Energy. The department itself has been requested to disaggregate this information so that the work done by the Energy portfolio could be properly evaluated. The Department of Energy will make this information public as soon as this work has been completed.
Government is currently considering further bilateral co-operation and partnership agreements, especially with countries within the African continent. The bilateral co-operation partnerships that South Africa is seeking and planning to sign, which focus on policy and expert assistance and, in some cases, on pilot projects, form part of this co-operation on sustainable energy infrastructure, such as a pilot solar rooftop project. Thank you.
Mnu A J NYAMBI: Ngiyabonga sihlalo,kuyintfokoto kimi kutsi lombuto uphendvuleke ngalokugcwele, ngaphandle kokutsi nje lokusele kuwo kwekutsi ...
... is it possible to give the House the time frame that has been given for that process of the evaluation of the bilateral agreements? Thank you.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Chairperson, I sought to get the time frame, but I was not able to get it before coming here. All I was told was that the work is in process and once the work has been properly concluded, it will be made public. I am sorry that I cannot give you chapter and verse, or the date and hour of when that will happen. Thank you.
Mr L B GAEHLER: Hon Deputy President, has the government signed any bilateral co-operation agreements with African countries? If so, how many African countries have signed bilateral agreements on energy? Thank you.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Hon Chairperson, as I indicated, this evaluation is currently under way and so far up to 63 agreements have been signed. We will be able to disaggregate all this and identify the number of agreements that have been signed in relation to energy and with which countries.
What we can say is that in pursuance of African policy - of co-operating with a number of countries in Africa - we have entered into a number of agreements and some of them have to do with Energy. That will be disclosed publicly once the information has been properly aggregated. Thank you.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Chairperson, in many countries in the world, public employment programmes are important policy instruments that governments use to create short-term employment programmes. This has been used as a policy instrument from time immemorial. Hon members may recall from history that whenever there were challenges that countries faced, many countries and governments embarked on public employment programmes. We are not new in this.
Currently, many of our people are unemployed and the government, as a responsible government, has decided that it will embark on public employment programmes to ensure that their livelihoods are secured and advanced. This would apply to the number of our people whose livelihoods are threatened by poverty, structural unemployment and economic recession, including natural disasters, job losses and seasonal job-demand shortfalls.
In South Africa, the Expanded Public Works Programme, EPWP, is a government initiative aimed at addressing the triple challenge of unemployment, inequality and poverty through the provision of short-term to medium-term work opportunities. To ensure that that the programme is sustainable, the EPWP is designed to equip participants in these programmes with training and work experience to enhance their ability to earn a living in the future. Public employment programmes under the EPWP cover a wide range of different sectors, including infrastructure, social, environmental and nongovernmental.
Since the establishment of the EPWP, over 5 million South Africans have benefited from work opportunities created through some of these programmes. The EPWP achieves far more than providing income to the most needy among our people. It also improves the lives of the poor by providing a wide range of services, as well as assets. For example, it provides home-based care for the sick and elderly. By removing invasive alien plants, it creates better pasture for grazing in a number of areas in our country. Through better roads, it creates better access to markets, schools and clinics and enables people to go about.
Approximately half of all EPWP participants were unemployed for more than three years prior to working in the EPWP projects. The EPWP provides an opportunity for them to work and to earn an income. What many of us have seen is that, as people participate in these programmes, they are able to gain skills which they are then able to gainfully use or deploy whenever they get more permanent work. These programmes have been lauded internationally. South Africa has received great recognition for pioneering or charting new paths with regard to the way that we are implementing these public employment programmes. They are serving a good purpose for our people. Thank you.
Ms C LABUSCHAGNE: Chairperson, through you to the Deputy President: Would you please provide us with information on what measures government will, or have, put in place to enable people involved in the short-term job-creation programmes, such as the EPWP, to migrate into permanent and full-time positions, as promised by President Zuma in his most recent state of the nation address.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Chairperson, the programmes under the EPWP enable people to gain skills, to gain experience, to be exposed to a labour market, and to learn how the world of work operates and works. By so doing, they are, in the main, particularly for young people, training grounds to prepare young people for the world of work. It is through these processes that young people are then made attractive to potential employers. In the main, potential employers want people who have a measure of experience, who have a measure of skill and who can demonstrate that they know how the world of work operates. So, these EPWP public employment programmes, more than just being processes or a project through which people earn a short-term income, are preparatory ground for people to showcase themselves to potential employers and demonstrate that they can work.
Now, a number of them, some of whom I have met personally, have been able to say that through the EPWP projects, they were able to gain this or that job because they got used to the world of work and they were able to do some building, fighting fire, etc. A good demonstration of that is what we saw here in Cape Town, when we had that fire. Many of the people who fought the fire gallantly are people who were trained in Working on Fire. They gained their skills there. [Applause.]
Many of us are often tempted to dismiss these programmes as Mickey Mouse; as amounting to nothing. In fact, these are meaningful jobs. They are job opportunities, yes, but they perform meaningful work. I have seen how those who work in the environmental sector are able to gain skills, removing invasive plants in our country, and they have been able to free the waterways and our riverbanks. Through that, they also gained skills and knowledge of plants. They know what is invasive and they are able to make a contribution in as far as the environment is concerned. Where do they get jobs? Some of them finally get jobs in forestry. They finally get jobs in farming operations and all that.
So, I urge us, as South Africans, never, ever to dismiss as Mickey Mouse the task that is being done by all those people in our country who wear the orange overalls. They are doing meaningful work. Let us give them the respect and the recognition they deserve. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr M KHAWULA: Chairperson and Deputy President, in the 2013-14 audit report for Public Works, the Auditor-General states that the EPWP employment figures are, in his opinion, unverifiable. I do not know whether something will be done to address that, but I also want to know the following: Outcome 4 of the National Development Plan speaks of decent employment through inclusive growth. The hon Deputy President has responded to this partly, but he has done so indirectly. I would like to know, in a direct response, whether the short-term job-creation programmes that we are talking about are a response to Outcome 4 of the NDP – in a direct, not an indirect way. Thank you.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Chairperson, clearly the issue of being able to verify the job figures would be a challenge because these jobs are created throughout the length and breadth of our country, quite a number of them at provincial level and many of them at local council level. Because they are temporary in nature, even if I were to be an auditor, I would also find it quite difficult to put my finger on them at the time. With time, possibly after a few months or so, the figures are set, and they are verifiable. I do not know what period the Auditor-General was dealing with.
The Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation has been able to go into somewhat greater detail evaluating the efficacy and the effectiveness of the EPWP projects. They have been able to satisfy themselves that they can look at the figures that they are being given and verify it. So, I think it is possibly a question of timing in terms of when those figures can be verified. However, it is a complex matter. I am not saying that it is beyond the ability of the Auditor-General to do so, but I just think that we can verify it in a number ways.
Outcome 4 of the NDP refers to “decent jobs”. Now, decent jobs are jobs where people perform permanent work, where people benefit from all the other benefits that an employment process can offer them, like pension, medical aid, and all that. The EPWP jobs are not permanent jobs. We should regard them as a stepping stone - as a good stepping stone - and that is why we call them job opportunities. They are not permanent jobs, and that is the clear distinction. In this regard, we are not trying to hoodwink anyone. These are jobs that are of a temporary nature, short term or medium term, where people participate in a particular project, one that is limited in duration, and even the participants accept them as such. They know that EPWP jobs are for a particular time, and they participate enthusiastically, knowing that they can learn skills, gain experience, and are then able to showcase themselves to future employers who may want to employ them. So, there is a clear distinction between the two. Thank you, Chairperson.
Mr F ESSACK: Chairperson and Deputy President, I will try and keep it simple. Will the hon Deputy President please provide examples of successful short-term job-creation programmes where government, the private sector and civil society have worked together to combat poverty sustainably? Thank you.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: You said you were going to keep it simple, hon member. [Laughter.] There is a plethora of them. I am quite happy, hon member, to provide that information in writing because there are quite a number of instances. What I did cite is Working on Fire. This is where the private sector and government have been able to participate in training people, making sure that they can attack fire, work against fire, without getting killed and without burning out.
I know of a number of instances around the country where Working on Fire training has been done. I know of instances where these people have been trained through the EPWP, and they are then able to work with private sector entities, and they become like an army on standby to fight fire. They are then sustained through stipends from the EPWP. The private sector also assists. These are highly trained people who, whenever there is a fire, are able to get into their vehicles, in their uniforms and with their equipment, to go out and fight fire.
I also know of those who work in the environmental sector, and I am quite happy to provide chapter and verse and to name operations as much as possible because these are real-life instances. These are not imagined. They are real instances of people who are benefiting from this process and where there is wonderful co-operation between the private sector and the public sector. Thank you, Chairperson.
Mr S G THOBEJANE: Chairperson of the NCOP, through you to the Deputy President: One has no doubt that the programme we are talking about is helping our communities a lot. There is no doubt, and nobody can make you doubt that programme. However, there are small challenges that I want to check on. One is the matter of how they are monitored. Of the 5 million that are we are talking about, how do we ensure that we do not recycle one person again and again, while others are looking at that particular person? What kinds of monitoring are we putting in place to make sure that this programme ultimately achieves what we intended it to achieve? Thank you very much, Chair.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Chairperson, I would like to thank the hon member for raising that question because it has been raised before – that these programmes should not be programmes through which we recycle the same people over and over again, and they become experts at working in EPWP projects. This is a process from which we are still learning a lot of lessons ourselves. As we gain experience and knowledge, I am sure we are getting better and better, also at being able to manage the people who participate. As we manage them, we should create a very good balance of making sure that we do not recycle too many people.
It is inevitable, I think, that we will find that people who have participated before do come back to participate. The good thing is that they know that this is part-time. They come in and then they leave. It is not a permanent kind of employment, so when they are not selected the next time, they will not believe that they have the right to have been selected. They will not say, “This is my rightful role. I should be here all the time.”
As we gain more experience and as we get better and better, we will make sure that the recycling is not a great component of the programme. There will be some who will be participating perhaps twice or three times, but we need to have a level of consideration to ensure that we do not recycle too many people, even as we are looking for experience. We should be focusing more – yes – on younger people and on bringing new people into the programme so that every South African who is without a job and who can participate in this programme has the chance to participate. Thank you, Chairperson.
The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: Deputy President, this concludes our question session for today. We wish to take this opportunity, sir, to thank you for making the time to come to the National Council of Provinces to provide responses and to give account of what government is doing. Thank you, sir.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you. [Applause.]
The Council adjourned at 15:47.
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