Hansard: EPC: Resumption of Debate on Vote No 1 – The Presidency (Reply by President)

House: National Assembly

Date of Meeting: 27 May 2015

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Minutes

UNREVISED HANSARD

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

Wednesday, 27 May 2015                                                          Take: 300

 

WEDNESDAY, 27 MAY 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 prayer or meditation.

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS, TABLINGS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS – see col 000.

 

 

 

The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC

 

 

UNREVISED HANSARD

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

Wednesday, 27 May 2015                     Takes: 300 & 301

Start of Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

APPROPRIATION BILL

 

Resumption of Debate on Vote No 1 – The Presidency (Reply by President):

 

The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Hon Speaker, Deputy President, Ministers and Deputy Ministers, hon members of this Parliament, thank you for the opportunity to respond to the 2015 debate on Budget Vote No 1: The Presidency. I wish to thank all hon members for the contributions that have been made to the debate.

 

Deputy President Ramaphosa said yesterday that the country is not on a slippery slope and that we are on an upward slope, making steady progress. [Applause.] [Interjections.] Indeed, we stand by our statement that the country is making progress. [Interjections.] [Applause.]

 

Some of the hon members on the opposition benches need to accept the fact that reversing the legacy of apartheid will take decades. [Interjections.] [Applause.] The damage was extensive - damage over centuries. We cannot fix it overnight. [Interjections.] [Applause.] The structure of the apartheid economy will also take longer to transform. That’s a reality, and if you wish to get into the details, we could do so. [Interjections.] We will continue to work steadily towards this goal so that we build an inclusive economy that will create jobs and help us build a better life for our people.

 

The apartheid economy was racial: It excluded people. It excluded the majority, and that is what we are dealing with now. It did not just exclude them; it excluded them from proper education. [Interjections.] It actually took a decision that Africans, or black people, did not need mathematics because where would they use it? [Interjections.] That was Dr Verwoerd. It’s not a secret. [Interjections.] All they had to do was learn how to communicate, and that is the damage. That is why we have the education problem today. [Interjections.] That is why we have the problem of unemployment. That’s why we have ... all of these are issues we had to redress – because of apartheid. [Interjections.] Apartheid took hundreds of years, not just 21, damaging the country. [Interjections.]

 

In February, we announced an economic growth target of 5% by 2019. We reaffirm this target, knowing fully well that it is not going to be easy to achieve it. [Interjections.] We recommit to it because all of us in the country have to make an effort and play our part to achieve inclusive growth. The quarterly Statistics SA report helps us to keep track of progress and to enhance our efforts.

 

The hon Godi warned that we should guard against a sense of normality about the poverty and suffering of the poor. He also reminded us that the greatest challenge of our time remains the fight against unemployment, inequality and poverty. This remains a disproportionate burden of the African people, in general, and the working class, in particular. Indeed, we will never rest for as long as there are still people in the country with no food to put on the table. [Interjections.] [Applause.]

 

Hon members will recall that we have interventions in place already, which are igniting growth. The economic cluster is implementing the Nine-Point Plan for growth that I announced in the state of the nation address, in February. The plan is a response to four big challenges that slow down growth. These include the current electricity shortage, the availability and cost of broadband, a regulatory environment that is cumbersome and labour market stability. [Interjections.] All of these are being addressed.

 

An HON MEMBER: By whom?

 

The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Deputy Minister Mzwandile Masina provided an update ... [Interjections.] ... on what we are doing to promote economic growth, including enhancing trade with the continent and globally. [Interjections.] The matter was also covered by the hon Smith, who called for strengthened partnerships with SADC and Brics, given the economic challenges faced by our equally valued trade partners in Europe and the United States.

 

Hon members also raised the issue of load shedding. This is also being addressed. [Interjections.] Government has completed a medium-term outlook model for the supply and demand of electricity. The model indicates that demand will exceed supply for the next 24 to 36 months. [Interjections.] To increase supply, Eskom is implementing a structured planned maintenance programme to ensure that the availability of all power stations is improved.

 

Eskom has also commissioned the supply of 100 MW from the Sere Wind Farm here in the Western Cape, while 827 MW of cogeneration contracts have been signed, adding much-needed capacity. It must be noted that Eskom added 160 000 households to the electricity grid in the past financial year ... [Applause.] ... which added to the demand for electricity. [Interjections.] These were the people who were excluded by apartheid, by the way. [Interjections.]

 

Looking ahead, the Minister of Public Enterprises, Ms Lynne Brown, has asked Eskom to accelerate the completion of the build programmes. The Minister has also directed the utility to improve its project management and contracting, in order to increase the generation capacity of the existing fleet. [Interjections.]

 

The Minister of Energy, Ms Tina Joemat-Pettersson ... [Interjections.] ... and her department are currently focused on implementing the other four key components of the government’s five-point plan to address the electricity challenge. The role of this department is to ensure that there is sufficient, reliable and consistent supply to meet the growing demand.

 

The Department of Energy has a programme to procure additional supply using independent power producers. The additional supply will come from coal, renewables, cogeneration and also gas-to-power.

 

An HON MEMBER: Too little, too late!

 

The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: The gas-to-power initiative offers a new investment in the economy, as significant infrastructure will have to be installed.

 

To reduce the time required before regulatory authorisations are provided, government has synchronised environmental impact assessments for water and mining rights applications and has set a maximum of 300 days for all these authorisations to be issued.

 

Earlier this year, we announced the establishment of a fast-tracked interdepartmental clearing house for investors for problem-solving, comprised of the Departments of Trade and Industry, Home Affairs, Economic Development and the SA Revenue Service.

 

To stabilise labour relations, government will implement the agreements reached with business and labour, including the consideration of a national minimum wage.

 

The revitalisation of mining towns – which is another project we committed to – is continuing, as reported by Minister Jeff Radebe who chairs the interministerial committee responsible for this intervention. [Interjections.]

 

Agriculture has a huge potential for job creation and is one of our key targets for igniting growth. Interventions include providing market access for smallholder farmers and providing technical support as well as bringing 1 million hectare of land into full production over the next three years. [Interjections.]

 

Government and the private sector have also developed the Agricultural Policy Action Plan. [Laughter.] [Interjections.] Support for the manufacturing sector is also continuing as part of promoting growth.

 

We have committed more than R2,8 billion to companies in the manufacturing sector, through the Manufacturing Competitiveness Enhancement Programme, as I indicated earlier this year.

 

Let me reiterate what I said yesterday, that we value the positive contribution of the National Infrastructure Plan to the country’s competitiveness. We are on the right track, and we will continue with this programme. [Applause.]

 

There are also big investment opportunities for the private sector in the massive public infrastructure build programme. Already we have achieved notable successes in locomotive and bus production. We will also actively support domestic manufacturing enterprises in the ocean economy, including shipbuilding and marine engineering, as part of Operation Phakisa.

 

Economic growth will not be achieved by government alone. It takes all sectors – business, labour and politicians. We need to reach a stage where hon members make constructive suggestions on how to improve economic growth. [Interjections.]

 

An HON MEMBER: Vote for the DA! Kick the ANC out of office! That’s a positive.

 

The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: South Africa belongs to all of us.

 

Minister Radebe raised this issue of people who forever see horror stories and make a habit of talking South Africa down. [Interjections.] It does not help our country at all. Our country is doing well under difficult global economic conditions. [Interjections.] [Applause.]

 

An HON MEMBER: You are in denial!

 

The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: To those who are patriotic, this is a period of unity in action and not of point-scoring. [Applause.]

 

Hon Khubisa, you said accountability by government is a constitutional obligation that the Presidency should enforce. We agree totally, and we are enforcing it, which is why government reports regularly to Parliament and to the public through izimbizo and other mass-communication mediums.

 

We have also taken note of your request that we should report regularly on the establishment of the New Development Bank or Brics Bank. The work towards operationalising the bank is according to schedule. All countries expect to complete the ratification of the agreement establishing the bank next month, June 2015. [Applause.]

 

The inaugural meeting of the governors of the bank is set to take place in July 2015 at the 7th Brics Summit in Russia. [Interjections.]

 

Russia ... you love it, hey? [Laughter.]

 

It is expected that the president and four vice presidents of the bank would have been appointed by the time of the summit.

 

The New Development Bank is expected to commence business in the second half of 2015. A technical secretariat, to be based in Shanghai, will carry out the day-to-day work of operationalising the bank.

 

The African regional centre, upon commencement of business, will immediately be open to consider projects on the continent.

 

Hon Cardo, I would caution against problematising ... [Laughter.] ... all professionals ...

 

 ... Bengifuna nihleke ... [Uhleko.] [... I just wanted all of you to laugh ... [Laughter.]]

 

... who are appointed to senior positions. Your stereotyping of all appointees as being cronies and pliable is really unfortunate and uncalled for. It actually smells of something that I am not going to say. [Interjections.]

 

These are South Africans who take up very difficult appointments in a developing country with serious challenges of reversing the apartheid legacy. Most of the senior appointees in government and public institutions are doing a hard and thankless task while they are attacked every day for doing their jobs.

 

We need to show some appreciation to many of them who do their jobs diligently and professionally, serving the nation. We should also be cautious about stereotyping and stigmatisation of black professionals, as it works against the nonracial society we are working so hard to build. [Applause.] We should support all those who work selflessly to help us achieve the country’s developmental goals.

 

Deputy Minister Manamela responded to questions about the National Youth Development Agency. [Interjections.] The agency has been repositioned and is functioning effectively to support youth development and empowerment. [Interjections.]

 

Hon Holomisa, we have noted your comment that we are not mobilising the country behind the economic transformation programme, including the National Infrastructure Plan. The Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordinating Commission management committee, led by Minister Nkwinti and the secretariat, led by Minister Patel, will look into this matter and undertake remedial action especially with regard to communicating the programme to the public and stakeholders.

 

We also share your concern about the culture of lawlessness. Indeed, it cannot be tolerated. Campaigns such as Operation Fiela are designed to deal with this challenge. [Applause.] We urge Members of Parliament as well to assist us in addressing this culture in their constituencies as it needs to be a collective effort by all leaders in society, to promote respect for authority and the laws of the country.

 

Hon Madiba Nkosi Zwelivelile, you touched on an important matter: the need to celebrate our arts and culture and our artists. The Presidency takes this matter seriously. Over the past five years, we have run a consistent programme of supporting artists.

 

The Deputy Minister in the Presidency leads a team of Deputy Ministers who support performing artists and musicians on matters including piracy, copyright protection and infringement, airplay in the broadcast media, social welfare and social security as well as income tax awareness. A key achievement of the past term was to get the artists to be united and to have one umbrella body to liaise with government.

 

The Cultural and Creative Industries Federation of South Africa was thus launched in March this year. [Applause.] The Presidency will continue to support artists working with the Department of Arts and Culture so that we do not have a recurrence of the situation where our artists die destitute, while they have brought joy to millions of our people during their careers. [Applause.]

 

I thank Minister Shabangu for reminding the House about gender parity. The mission of our government is to create a nonracial, nonsexist, democratic and prosperous society. She correctly pointed out that the cornerstone of Africa’s development is the advancement of women and youth as agents of change.

 

A number of contributors raised the question of the Marikana report. I think it is important to remember that, when Marikana happened – precisely because we appreciated the extent of what happened at Marikana – we decided to establish a commission and asked a judge to chair it. The commission was given a particular timeframe in which to conduct its work. Once they started working, they realised they needed more time. They actually asked for an extension more than once. Precisely because we appreciated the importance of the matter they were dealing with, we granted them the extensions. The commission has completed the report and has submitted it to the President. It followed the submission up by coming to brief the President on the report.

 

Like all other reports, the President has to look at the report and apply his mind, considering the advice from those who are professional, who understand the law and who must help, particularly when it comes to the recommendations. This is what the President is busy doing. [Applause.] I made this point in my presentation, and yet “Give the Report! Give the Report!” is used repeatedly as a slogan as if we don’t care about this matter – as if this very commission was not appointed by us. There is no report that is not going to be given, but we cannot just release the report for the sake of it, without any clear instructions or directions regarding the implementation of its recommendations. [Applause.]

 

The manner in which the contribution was made here by some members is just that they want the report. They say, “We want the report”. However, you get the report, you read it, but you can’t do anything about it. [Interjections.] You won’t – because for you, it would be just for information. The President has to say what must be done about the recommendations. [Applause.] It is important for us to be aware of this.

 

That is a problem of the parties that suffer from poverty of politics ... [Applause.] ... because they have no substantial political issues to raise in Parliament. That’s the problem. [Interjections.] Anything that comes, they jump onto it, and it becomes a slogan. That’s the problem – the poverty of politics. They’ve got nothing to raise. [Applause.] That’s a problem. [Interjections.]

 

If you listen to our good friends, the opposition ... I’m telling you, you can think you live in another world. [Interjections.]

 

Some people who could not pronounce Nkandla, have now learnt “Nkandla! Nkandla! Nkandla!” [Laughter.] [Interjections.] Even if you tell them the Nkandla report is being processed, it is going to come – I mean, three investigations have been made – “Nkandla!” [Interjections.] [Laughter.]

 

Even when we discuss very serious matters, they will get up and say, “On a point of order”. “Yes?” “Nkandla”. [Laughter.]

 

Thixo wase-George Goch! [Uhleko.] [Oh God of George Goch! [Laughter.]]

 

That is part of the problem. [Interjections.] Again, it emphasises the poverty of politics in our opposition parties.

 

I can’t remember ... I can’t remember ... You know, part of the reason I can’t deal with all the contributions is that I’m dealing with contributions that were very meaningful. There were others. They said nothing – things like, “There is a broken President in a broken country”. You know!

 

Maye babo! [Uhleko.] [Oh my! [Laughter.]]

 

Now, at the end of that contribution, I try to find out what it is that I could respond to. What is it really? Is it true? Now, you can’t ... so, very seriously, you have to respond to people who said things.

 

For example, the opposition should indicate what alternative to the current policy their policy presents. However, there is no debate in that area – no debate! Others want to stand for hours, just one after the other, with “point of order”, “point of order”, “point of privilege”, or “point of ...” [Interjections.]

 

We maye babo! [Oh my!]

 

You know, I would be failing in my duty if I do not comment on how our democratic Parliament is conducting its business during this term.

 

An HON MEMBER: You failed South Africa really badly!

 

The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: As elected leaders of our people in this House, we have a joint responsibility to build our country. [Interjections.] We have a responsibility to demonstrate to those who elected us that we are here doing serious business. [Interjections.] Parliamentarians should appreciate this responsibility. The responsibility is to work to better the lives of our people.

 

Let me reiterate that Parliament is an important pillar of our democracy. Members of Parliament must demonstrate that they take Parliament seriously so that our people can continue to look up to this institution. [Applause.] [Interjections.]

 

I have met a few colleagues from this continent who have seen our television footage. They have been asking me the following question: What is happening to your Parliament? We thought we were learning from South Africa. What is happening? [Interjections.]

 

Then I say to them, well, we will put it right. Don’t worry. It is our duty to help our colleagues.

 

The conduct of some of the Members of Parliament raises doubt about their commitment to the work of this Parliament. [Interjections.] We trust that the matters of decorum will be taken seriously so that we do not disappoint our people. [Interjections.]

 

I wish I could be given just one day to be a presiding officer. [Interjections.] Just one day ... [Laughter.] ... but of course, it can’t happen. [Interjections.]

 

However, it is vitally important for us to know that we have a responsibility to our people. Through the manner in which we behave at times, we actually undermine their intelligence and why they elected us to this House ... [Interjections.]

 

As leaders of this House, we are South Africans, and we have a duty to build our country together. Let us work together to build a truly nonracial, nonsexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa. It is vitally important.

 

I have said before, and to the leaders of the opposition parties, that being in opposition in a democracy ... I understand it differently. You have to oppose, and your opposition must be felt. It must be constructive because, if you are not serious, we are not going to take you seriously. We are not even going to listen to what you say. We need you to say things like, “You are wrong here”, or “You are not doing things well”, and argue. [Interjections.] Let us have a democratic discussion — a debate that deals with the issues of the country. [Interjections.]

 

You can’t sit and finish a year discussing the house of one man. Just one man. [Laughter.] A house. [Laughter.] [Interjections.] Just a house. [Interjections.]

 

Now, can you take allegations and make them judgments?

 

An HON MEMBER: I’ve seen the pictures!

 

The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: That is never done. Democracy doesn’t necessarily allow you to do whatever. Democracy, you know, takes times. Yesterday, we were supposed to finish dinner at eight. We started dinner at eight. Why? You know it. [Interjections.]

 

So, let you ... appreciate the fact that, as leaders ... I appreciate the interventions by zikaMntwana because he always said that we did not fight for our freedom to behave like this. He said so. We need to be responsible. It is vitally important that you should be responsible. You can’t just take Parliament as another place, as if it is a kindergarten. It is a serious matter. We are dealing with the country. It is as serious as when we were fighting for our liberation. We needed to change South Africa for the better. [Applause.] You can’t change it in the manner in which we conduct ourselves.

 

An HON MEMBER: You are making it worse.

 

The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: Now, as I am saying, you can’t even take time to respond to a real, cogent argument. What is there to respond to? A broken President? A broken country?

 

We maye babo! Wanda msebenzi; imali yodwa engekho! [Uhleko.] [Oh my! This is a daunting task! [Laughter.]]

 

I am pleading: let us change, let us respect the Rules, let us respect the presiding officers, and let us respect one another. [Interjections.] It is extremely important. [Applause.] Let us raise our issues with dignity. Let us show this continent we belong to that we have something to offer as a democratic South Africa ...  

 

An HON MEMBER: Not with your reputation!

 

The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: ... so that those who are following can learn from us. It is very important. It is a plea. You have a right; you have the discipline of your own parties. Our discipline is known. [Interjections.]

 

An HON MEMBER: Please, man!

 

The PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC: We are highly disciplined, and that is why the people of this country will continue to vote ANC. [Interjections.]

 

No, don’t worry about that. There are parties that will never grow beyond a particular point, and they know it as they sit here. Thank you, hon Speaker. [Applause.] [Interjections.]

 

Mr M Q NDLOZI: Hon Speaker ... hon Speaker ... you are running away, President. You are running away, President. President, you are running away.

 

HON MEMBERS: ANC! ANC! ANC! ANC! ANC! ANC! ANC! ANC! ANC!

 

Mr M Q NDLOZI: Hon Speaker, can you call the police for this choir? We want to speak about “cogent arguments”.

 

The SPEAKER: Hon President, I can assure you that you don’t want to be a presiding officer for one minute. I thank the hon President. That concludes the debate on this Budget Vote and the business of the day. [Interjections.]

 

The CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITION: Madam Speaker, point of order. [Interjections.]

 

The SPEAKER: What is the point of order? [Interjections.]

 

The CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITION: Is this the discipline of the ANC that the President is talking about? [Interjections.]

 

The SPEAKER: Hon Steenhuisen, what is the point of order? [Interjections.]

 

The CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITION: Is this the discipline of the ANC that is being boasted about? They are very disciplined – good to see.

 

The SPEAKER: Hon members, the House is not yet adjourned. I have only thanked the President. [Interjections.] Hon Steenhuisen?

 

The CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITION: Madam Speaker, there were several points of order taken yesterday, and the presiding officer agreed to go back and consult the Hansard. There were some serious points of order taken yesterday on serious matters that affect the decorum of the House. I’m sorry the President has run away because he expressed a great deal of interest in the decorum of the House, but he has gone now, see ... great respect for Parliament.

 

Nevertheless, these rulings are important, and it is important that they be given. They cannot be left to simply carry on for days. There were serious allegations made against the hon Maimane which don’t require a long explanation or investigation. They were personal. They were out of the Rules, and I expected the ruling to be made today.

 

There was an indication made that an investigation would be done into hon Masina’s use of the F-word at the podium. That is not here.

 

The longer we leave these unattended to, the more it affects the decorum of the House. I ask when we can expect a ruling on these matters.

 

The SPEAKER: There are a number of rulings that are outstanding. Hansard has been requested to prioritise all outstanding matters from yesterday’s sitting so that the hon member who was in the Chair would be able to make those rulings as soon as possible. That is as far as we can take it at this point. Thank you. [Interjections.]

 

Ms M T KUBAYI: On a point of order, Speaker ...

 

The SPEAKER: What is your point of order, hon member?

 

Ms M T KUBAYI: Speaker, hon Steenhuisen has just made a remark that the President has run away. [Interjections.] That is not correct. He needs to withdraw that statement. The President is not a member of the House and, therefore, once he is done with his business, it is the norm that he can stand and leave. He is not a member of the House. So, that statement by hon Steenhuisen is unparliamentary. [Interjections.] It is false. It is misleading, and therefore he needs to withdraw it. [Interjections.]

 

The SPEAKER: Hon member, I will look at the issue of saying the President has run away. The House is now adjourned.

 

Debate concluded.

The House adjourned at 15:52.

 

 

 

__________

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS, TABLINGS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

National Assembly and National Council of Provinces

 

The Speaker and the Chairperson

 

1.       Bills passed by Houses – to be submitted to President for assent

 

  1. Bill passed by National Council of Provinces on 27 May 2015:

 

  1. Banks Amendment Bill [B 17B – 2014] (National Assembly – sec 75).

 

TABLINGS

 

National Assembly

 

1.       The Speaker

 

(a)      Reply from the Minister of Social Development to recommendations in the Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report of Portfolio Committee on Social Development on Performance of Department of Social Development and Entities for 2013‑14 Financial Year, as adopted by the House on 18 November 2014.

 

Referred to the Portfolio Committee on Social Development.

 

 


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