Hansard: NCOP: Unrevised Hansard
House: National Council of Provinces
Date of Meeting: 18 Oct 2017
No summary available.
WEDNESDAY, 18 OCTOBER 2017
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF PROVINCES
The Council met at 14:04.
The House Chairperson: Committees, Oversight, Co-operative Governance and Intergovernmental Relations took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Hon members, I have been informed that the Whippery has agreed that there will be no Notices of Motion or Motions Without Notice. Further, that the Programming Committee has agreed to defer Oral Questions to the Minister on Environmental Affairs. The date is to be announced in due course.
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Hon House Chair, if you permit me to speak on the Order Paper. As it is, we have agreed with the changes that you have announced on the Order Paper in the House. We just requesting another alteration on the Order Paper so that the
Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services should be the first to start due to some reasons he put forward which other Ministers have agreed with. We have also agreed to it.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Okay. I think that is not a problem; the House agrees.
Ms T J MOKWELE: Chairperson, I am standing on a point of privilege, if you allow me. Since the beginning of the fifth Parliament, we as the EFF have recognised or noticed that Parliament conducts itself with two languages, which is English and Afrikaans. According to the Constitution, everybody in this country has a right, including the expression of his or her mother language.
Now, I am putting into the table that this matter of usage of only two languages in Parliament be set aside. We must be allowed to be able to use and to have access to information, be it in print communication or soft communication. We should be allowed to have access to every information in our mother language. Thank you very much.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Thank you, hon Mokwele. The modalities of making sure that the print and every kind of
communication is accessible will be addressed to the relevant committee. However, the issue in terms of the Constitution is very clear, you are quite correct: All languages in South Africa should be respect and we are free to express ourselves in any of the official languages in South Africa.
Let me take this opportunity to congratulate the new Minister of Communication: Hon Kubayi, congratulations! [Applause.] Before we proceed to questions, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you both, Ministers. As it was indicated, we will be starting with the Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, hon Cwele.
QUESTIONS – CLUSTER 4B: ECONOMICS
The MINISTER OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND POSTAL SERVICES: Hon
Chairperson, the response to the question to hon Ncitha is that: As SA Post Office, it should be noted that we are a service provider. We are also working very hard to assist another sister state agency, which is SA Social Services Agency, Sassa, that has a responsibility to take over the delivery of social grants to our citizens. So, we are working in a collaborative manner in that effect.
However, because there is a procurement process, the SA Post Office, did respond to the request for proposal. There was a due diligence by the SA Social Security Agency which was done on SA Social Security Agency’s behalf by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, CSIR. Currently, we are awaiting the outcome of those results. As soon as they can tell us, SA Post Office, what services they will require, we stand ready to assist SA Social Security Agency to deliver on its mandate. Thank you very much.
Ms Z V NCITHA: Hon Chair, I am appreciating the fact that the role of the Minister, as I understand, is one of being a service provider. However, the responsibility lies with the Department of Social Development. What I would then ask the Minister to do for us, because of that reason, is to help the NCOP by giving us a written response in terms of both departments so that we do not involve Minister in procurement issues as we want the state of readiness which may come from both departments collectively.
The MINISTER OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND POSTAL SERVICES: Hon Chair,
we really have got no problem. I will ask my colleague, the Minister of Social Development, that you could may be do that reporting jointly because we are working as one government. I am also very happy that you mentioned that as Ministers we don’t get involved in
tenders because we over ... [Interjections.] No, we don’t participate in tender processes. [Interjections.] Yes, we don’t! [Interjections.] We oversee the entities that are doing these tenders correctly. That is where our role as executive ... [Interjections.]
Hon members, the laws are passed by us as Members of Parliament, and we must respect them. The procurement laws are there because they passed by us, but I am made a commitment that I will engage my colleague. Maybe I should just to clarify: There is an interministerial committee that is dealing with this issue because as government, we are serious that we shouldn’t jeopardise the payment of grants to our social grant beneficiaries. That committee meets on a regular basis to assess this progress.
On the last assessment, we were hoping that after the assessment by State Information Technology Agency, Sita, then SA Social Security Agency would find out which services needed to be provided by the SA Post Office. As the Post Office, it is only when we know which services are we supposed to assist with that we can prepare and make sure that we run pilot projects on them so that there will be no rush at the end with new systems. Thank you.
Ms B A ENGELBRECHT: Minister, according to a newspaper report, Standing Committee in Public Accounts, Scopa ... [Interjections.] No, this why ... [Interjections.] Give me a chance! The Post Office and SA Social Security Agency went into negotiations and at this Scopa meeting, Scopa was informed ... [Interjections.] Mr Chair, I need protection, please!
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Hon members, hon members! Sorry, hon Engelbrecht! Hon members, let any member that is asking a supplementary question be accorded the respect. In as much as when you are asking such, she has to do the very same thing. Can we allow hon Engelbrecht to ask the supplementary question? You are protected, hon Engelbrecht.
Ms B A ENGELBRECHT: Thank you, Chair. It was said at the Scopa meeting that Post Office and SA Social Security Agency will be ready in November for implementations. I am concerned with your previous reply. I also want to link that to the Auditor-General, a panel of experts, including the former governor of the Reserve Bank, Governor Gill Marcus, who have a big concern that the SA Social Security Agency payment will not be done, especially seen in the light of your previous comment.
It has been said that the Minister of Social Development has been a huge obstruction in terms of the payment of SA Social Security Agency grants. I would like find out from you, Minister: Have you been in negotiations with the Minister in terms of taking over the payments. If so, what plans have been discussed; and if not, what is the current standing as per the knowledge regarding the Post Office taking over these payments.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Hon members, let me clarify this issue so that when we start we could all be on the same page. Time for reply of the original question by the Minister is five minutes. Time for asking a supplementary question is two minutes. Time for replying to a supplementary question is four minutes, and only four supplementary questions. When we do a supplementary question: It is a supplementary question; not supplementary questions. This is applicable to all of you.
The MINISTER OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND POSTAL SERVICES: It will be
difficult for me to respond to media allegations. What I can respond on however is what I know as a member of the executive. The original plan was that we should start piloting whatever tasks are given to us as government - whether it is SA Social Security Agency working with the Post Office or another stakeholder – before the end of this
year. We would do that piloting progressively so that there is no congestion towards the end of March. That report which suggested that we should be implementing soon was correct but it said that we should really have those pilot project running for handing over of processes of the current service provider.
I don’t have negotiations; I sit with the Minister in the interministerial committee which oversees this project. As I have said, as Ministers we don’t sit in allocation of tenders: But we make sure that we are satisfied that the reports which are submitted at the Constitutional Court are credible; and that we stick to time frames. I honestly hope that even with this decision by SA Social Security Agency they should come to some conclusion in the near future - maybe in a day’s or a week’s time – because that is what is going to be critical to assist us to move forward. Thank you.
Ms L C DLAMINI: Hon Chair and hon Minister, thank you very much for the responses. I am speaking under the impression that you are aware that you had to assist the Department of Social Development. So, even though there are some outstanding matters to finalise between the two departments, I hope you are preparing yourself. I just want to check that should it be finalised before the end of the month, are you in a position or do you have capacity to implement?
The MINISTER OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND POSTAL SERVICES: Yes, we do
have the capacity to assist in most of the aspects of this hand over. The only challenge is that we cannot invest money until we get the appointment letter. That is why we were hoping that if we can get the appointment letter and specified items they need assistance on with us, then we could deploy the resource to assist in that regard. As you know, the institution which would be dealing with this in SA Post Office, is mainly the Post Bank. The Post Bank is functioning very well, even under these difficult conditions in SA Post Office, Post Bank is still a very viable concern and it has got adequate capital to invest in the project of this nature as a cushion infrastructure within the SA Post Office group itself. Thank you.
Mr C HATTINGH: Chair, firstly, I think many of us were surprised that the executive work as unit. Nobody would have accused the Minister of Social Development for working in a unit because that was never the impression she created when she was responding here. She is very much on the own. I would like to ask the hon Minister. We here about the pilot projects going out.
The SA Social Security Agency grant payments were in such a mess, it reached international headlines. People in South Africa didn’t know
whether they were going to get their grants on time, so much that the Constitutional Court had to intervene. There are monthly reports that must go to the Constitutional Courts, yet reports are now during this week saying it appears that the deadline will not be met entirely.
Now, the Minister comes here and say pilot projects must still be rolled out. What assurance do we have that the Post Bank will be able – in the limited time that remains – to get the infrastructure and all the software in place so that our beneficiaries of grants - people who heavily reliant on grants - will not be in the same position as last year where the payment had to go back to Cash Payment Services, CPS, which appears to be the Minister’s favourate supplier? What assurance do we have that in the limited time, we now approaching the end of October ... [Time expired.] My two minutes is over, I think so. Thank you. [Interjections.]
The MINISTER OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND POSTAL SERVICES: Hon
Hattingh, I don’t know where you get this impression that Minister Dlamini is working on her own. The government ... [Interjections.] Yes, she has got a responsibility. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): No, let me clear it early. Hon Hattingh, you can’t be dealing directly with the Minister. You have posed a supplementary question. Hon Minister, both of you should do anything via me.
The MINISTER OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND POSTAL SERVICES: Through you,
Chairperson: Let me not look at him. [Laughter.] I have just said that there is an interministerial committee - which is chaired by the head of state, being President Zuma – that meets on a regular basis. As government we are trying to prevent what happened last year. We make sure that these people who depend on social grants continue to have access to social grants.
Hence, after each and every one of those meetings, we issue a media press briefing where we answer the public directly in what we are doing. On the issues you are mentioning: Yes, they may be challenges as we move forward. Why do we say should start piloting now and not in March is to make sure that the change of systems doesn’t affect citizens. We must test them now to see if they are working well so that we don’t get surprises on the last moments. That is what we are doing as government as a whole, particularly led by the interministerial committee. Thank you.
The MINISTER OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND POSTAL SERVICES: Chairperson,
the question is about spectrum and the impact on reducing the cost of data in South Africa. The reply is as follows.
There is no direct conceptual or mathematical relationship between the use of frequency spectrum and the reduction of cost of data.
However, different factors can be applied to the use of spectrum which can have a positive or negative effect on the cost of data services. The cost of acquiring the spectrum by service provider is associated with spectrum fees. So, if your spectrum fees are high, then it is going to have an impact as the service provider then passes those to the input costs.
That is why, as government, we are not very excited about spectrum auctions because those will increase the costs of access to spectrum which is the resource needed by the operators.
Secondly, the amount of spectrum an operator has access to impacts on the cost of rolling out a network, particularly if you look at low-frequency spectrum, 700 to 800. Those who have that spectrum don’t have to build a lot of infrastructure. As a result, they
reduce the cost of deploying and we hope that that reduction in cost will be passed along to the consumers.
The other factor is efficiency of the use of spectrum.
All these things are reflected in the new White Paper we passed last year. Government really has to intervene in terms of legislation and policies to make sure that, as an economy, we have a fair access to the use of spectrum. That is why we are talking about open access networks and spectrum sharing so that we don’t increase the cost of deploying our networks.
So those are the key elements.
Basically, we are saying that the legislation we are trying to pilot
– which hopefully will reach here by the beginning of next year – specifically deals with implementation of the White Paper to give effect to these ... these ...
Lastly, the challenges ... for instance, if you just auction it, only those who have deep pockets ... and yet we still have the responsibility to make sure that, even those who wants to operate but don’t have deep pockets, have access to spectrum. If I want to
operate a network here in Cape Town or in the Western Cape I must have access. It just can’t be for the big companies or multi nationals. That is the approach we are taking as the government and the response to the issue of the impact of spectrum on the cost to communicate. Thank you.
Mr J W W JULIUS: Thank you for the response Minister. I am sorry, but I hope I had an hour for this one. Minister, I feel that the ANC-led government – as you said, that’s your position – does not have the appetite to reduce data costs in this country. Let me explain why. Data in South Africa is very expensive and we all know that, right? All cell phone operators in this country asked us as the committee that they want the spectrum to be open.
Firstly, the Minister of Communications, Faith Muthambi, didn’t want to open spectrum. The SABC ... the set-top things ... and then you interdicted the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, Icasa, to sell spectrum. And these operators wanted the spectrum. They told us in a committee meeting that if they have spectrum, they have a wider access. Wider access means that they can sell it for cheaper. It makes economic sense.
Now, your point then, that you don’t want the ones with bigger pockets to benefit ... they all already have Black Economic Empowerment, BEE partners. Instead of creating one crony of the ANC that will benefit out of your obsession not to free up this spectrum, you let all the people in South Africa that are using data suffer because of this high price.
Minister, you have the opportunity. Why don’t you just open up the spectrum? Can you undertake to open up the spectrum so that we can have cheaper data, or are you, the ANC-led government, not listening to the people of South Africa? Thank you, Chair.
The MINISTER OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND POSTAL SERVICES: Chairperson,
I think hon Julius has a lot of misconceptions. The ANC–led government is the one which is working to improve the cost of data. In this way, what you are saying as a member of the DA is that we should just sell everything and the market will sort itself out. The market has not solved itself since 1994. [Interjections.]
No, they were licensed by your partners in the National Party in 1993.
So, what I am saying is that the market has not solved these problems. And what we are saying is that we are talking about open access networks. We are talking about sharing of infrastructure because the cost is in the infrastructure. As the ANC-led government, we are talking about rapid deployment policy because the biggest cost – up to 47% of an operator’s cost – is that of trying to get passage to lay their networks. Those are the things we are doing to assist our operators. We don’t hate them; we love them.
But you also forget ... you talk about BEE partners. My understanding is that only one company is compliant with BEE regulations. All others are currently not complying. [Interjections.] Secondly ... [Interjections.]
Listen! Listen! Let me speak through the Chair not the ... [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Hon members, please listen to the Minister. Continue, hon Minister; you are protected.
The MINISTER OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND POSTAL SERVICES: Hon
Chairperson, we must liberate the hon Julius from the notion that only big companies have the capacity to deliver these types of
modern services. We have companies led by black South Africans who do not have access to spectrum and are doing operations in Africa and in many other countries. They also want to operate in their own country. So that is the mess we are sorting out which was handed over by the apartheid regime. We want to ensure that everyone has access to this natural resource called spectrum, and that the spectrum is used efficiently. Our policy now is that no one is allowed to hoard spectrum because we will take it back if someone does so.
So those are the measures that the ANC-led government are taking to reduce the cost.
In addition, we are deploying internet exchange points, not only in our regions but also in our towns. That is what will reduce the cost because you now don’t have to root your data through your former colonisers. Our data doesn’t have to be rooted through England anymore. So those are the things which are starting to bring down the cost of data. Thank you very much.
The MINISTER OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND POSTAL SERVICES: Chairperson,
let me say, it is important to note that a banking licence is not a
pre-requisite for the transactional business of paying social grants. We can pay the social grants because we have got the Postbank which is operational right now, like I have said before.
I can nonetheless confirm after complying with all requirements pertaining to the request for the authorisation to establish a fully-fledged bank. We have made all the submissions to the South African Reserve Bank and are awaiting the response of the regulator which is the South Reserve Bank.
In addition to that, in April this year we appointed a fully-fledged board of the Postbank itself to guide this process and we have been working very well with South African Post office, SAPO, to guide this process. We did meet the deadline which was set by the South African Reserve Bank as a regulator of the 4th of July. We submitted well before the 4th July.
Let me reiterate that the SAPO has assured me that it has sufficient assets and capabilities and human resource to facilitate the payments of social grants. We have got a national footprint of more than 2 800 points of presence across the country and there is no other institution - even the commercial bank which has got such a national footprint. Thank you.
Mr L B GAEHLER: Chairperson, hon Minister, when we visited the South African Reserve Bank as a Committee of Finance, according to them, they are still awaiting some more documents from you. I am surprised that you said you submitted all the required documents. According to them they are awaiting for more document to register their Postal bank. So, if you can clear us on that one. Secondly ... [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Hon Gaehler ... [Interjections.]
Mr L B GAEHLER: Yintoni ngoku? [14:29:41]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): We are doing supplementary questions. They are supposed to be four. You are doing the first one. No! Hon member, hon Gaehler is protected.
Mr L B GAEHLER: Can you help me, this man is ... [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Hon Gaehler, you have asked your question and the Minister will deal with the comment in terms of your question.
Mr L B GAEHLER: Chairperson, can you help me with this man here.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): I am saying you are protected.
Mr L B GAEHLER: Hon Minister, if the bank is registered, what mechanisms would you put in place to safeguard the social grants from being directed to bail out failing state-owned enterprise, SOEs. Thank you.
The MINISTER OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND POSTAL SERVICES: On the first
question about awaiting certain documents, Of course, we update the information as per the request of the regulator which is the South African Reserve Bank. Some of the information we have just updated is the issue of the bank controlling company and their structure because we still resolving that with National Treasury. We have now submitted.
On the issue of the protection of social grants, let me just answer this one. Chairperson, we are always told at some stage when the post office was in trouble – and it put its finger in the kitty - in the money of the depositors. That will never happen. Since we have put measures in 2004, none of those things have ever happen. That is
why today I can say the Postbank as a subdivision is well-protected within the post office, it is profitable, it’s got more than 5 000 active accounts which are used by our own citizens, it’s got more than R1,5billion in terms of the capital adequacy requirements which is reserved there.
Now, we have got a board which we never had before; it was just a division and that board is made of professional people. We appoint the board in consultation with the South African Reserve Bank after thorough fit and proper assessment - vetting of these people. Those are the measures we have put in place that no one can put the finger in the kitty for the citizens.
Many of our citizens preferred to use Postbank because the transactional costs are the lowest. They are the lowest of any other commercial bank we have. There is no one who has got lower charges than the post office. That is what our people need particularly, those who come from lower segments of our society - the poorer section of our society. I hope those things will give confidence to all the members that will put practical measures in place to ring fence the Postbank from any maladministration. Thank you.
Ms L C DLAMINI: Sihlalo, siyabonga kakhulu ngemphendvulo Ndvuna nekutsi-ke timali tebantfu bakulelive tiphephile. Umbuto wami utsi
... it is an additional work ...
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Hon Dlamini, we were accusing hon Gaehler about the voice. It seems as if you have got the same problem. Be closer to your mike. [Laughter.]
Ms L C DLAMINI: Sihlalo, bengicale ngokubonga kutsi timali tetakhamiti taseNingizimu Afrika tigcineke kahle ePostbank. Siyakwamukela nekutsi lokuholelwa kwetimali tesibonelelo kutawuba sengetelo sePostbank.
Umbuto wami utsi, kulabasebenti leninabo lapha ePostbank ngabe benele yini kutsi nasenitsatsa lomsebenti batawukhona yini kuwenta lomsebenti; nekutsi-ke bayatikhuluma yini tilwini letikhulunywa ngulabantfu labatawube baholelwa lemali yetibonelelo.
Chairperson, yes, the post office does have trained staff in all our retail offices that are doing face and transaction with the citizens. And most of them speak the local languages. If you go to any outlying post office the longest queue will be to the Postbank teller.
Sometimes we ask people - why are you queuing here - they withdraw money from the commercial bank but they do their transaction through the Postbank when they are paying money to their children because it is much cheaper to do it through the post office. So we do have the staff. On the ground level the staff members are there.
What we are doing is that we are filling the vacancies at the top level as you know we have got the acting CEO. We have asked the board to expedite their final appointment of the CEO and other senior technical staff who are required - like senior Information Technology, IT, people, and senior IT risk officers. Those are the things we are trying to finalise before the end of this year. Thank you.
Chairperson, the state-owned, SOEs, companies rationalisation is on track following the recommendations of the Presidential Review Commission which was released around 2012 and the National Development Plan released around 2012. The report which we have is that we are trying to consolidate the state infrastructure companies, particularly in this phase of conversions. The first two companies we have identified as phase one, a rationalisation, are Broadband Infraco and Sentech. Broadband Infraco deals with a Telkom infrastructure and Sentech has been dealing with broadcasting infrastructure, but with the conversions they do exactly the same thing today.
Therefore, currently, these two companies, the boards are engaging, are doing due diligences so that we follow a rational process of rationalising these two entities. This is important to deal even with these challenges which have been faced by the Broadband Infraco in terms of financial position as you know that the financial position of Sentech is still very good, it is a well-run company. In the Broadband Infraco, BBI, we have just appointed the new chief executive officer, CEO, after the term of the previous CEO, and will start now in November. Those are the things that we are putting in place. You also remember that the BBI never had previously the chief
financial officer, CFO. Two years ago, we appointed the CFO and he said that he is just coming for a while. However, he has done a good job and he is staying in the company because we have extended his employment for another three years. Thank you very much.
Ms E PRINS: Hon Chairperson, through you to the Minister, thank you for the answers. I just want to check what will be timeframes so that we can speed up the roll-out of the Broadband Infraco network.
The MINISTER OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND POSTAL SERVICES: Like I have
said that the boards have been given the instruction. We really hope that some of the things may need legislation, but things which don’t need legislation will be implemented immediately. To illustrate the point they are already working together in most of the projects.
Current project of rolling-out the connectivity to eight districts as a state we took after failed tender processes by State Information Technology Agency, Sita. We took a process that we utilise the state-owned entities. This will also help to capitalise that and they are working together with Sentech to roll out infrastructure and they have identified and they are starting that roll-out already. The delay is mainly on the Sita side because they have to come with services. We are busy, currently, addressing that. Currently, the Broadband Infraco, the Sentech CEOs and the boards
are working much, much in a collaborative manner. In that manner we are also realising the value even as a state that in this collaborative that we are getting the infrastructure at the reduced cost. Thank you very much.
Mr J W W JULIUS: Hon Chairperson, through you to the Minister, thank you for the opportunity. I just need some clarity. It is just a clarity seeking question, hon Minister. You earlier said that government is on its way to include other partners in terms of spectrum. Government is now merging two companies and the soul purposes to improve national mobile broadband. Can you just explain to the House or to South Africans where do the cheaper data fit into this, the mobile operators at currently operating in South Africa and what Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, Icasa’s, view on this. Thank you, Chair.
The MINISTER OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND POSTAL SERVICES: I wish,
Chairperson, I can have more time with hon Julius. I think he mixes a lot of things up and that is very dangerous and they can explode his mind. [Laughter.] My clarity is like this ... [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Sorry, hon Minister. Hon Julius why are you standing?
Mr J W W JULIUS: On a point of order, the Minister just implied that I have a small brain. Can the Minister please withdraw that?
The MINISTER OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND POSTAL SERVICES: I withdraw.
Mr J W W JULIUS: I am very serious. I am not making a joke. I am very, very serious because I can equally say that the old man has a small brain but I won’t do it.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Hon Julius!
Mr J W W JULIUS: I am trying to get something out of you the whole day but I can’t get anything.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Hon Julius, without even wasting time, the Minister said that he withdraws. Continue, hon Minister.
The MINISTER OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND POSTAL SERVICES: The aim is
not only to improve mobile broadband, it is improved the whole broadband. As you know that Sentech deals with some satellite and also through the frequencies but the Broadband Infraco doesn’t deal with mobile. It deals with fibre which is a critical infrastructure.
Even for mobiles for them if they have got fibre nearby the costs will be low and the speeds will be high. Therefore, it is important for us to extend the fibre infrastructure as close as possible to every other facility including those mobile because they download fibre, they don’t just try and meet those towers until they reach you. That is what important that we start with these core infrastructure companies rationalising.
The second reason why we are rationalising is that as government we cannot afford to have companies which do the same thing. We don’t have the resources. Now, because it means that we will duplicate the structures, we will duplicate the CEOs and so on. Therefore, we are reducing the costs as government and increasing the efficiency by rationalising companies that do the same things because of the conversions. Of course, there maybe others as you know that there are other interests as a state we have enlisted companies. We are also looking on how we bring those into play. We have got fibre which lies with other state-owned entities like the Eskom, it has got fibre. You know it is a pilot. The SA National Roads Agency, Sanral, Metrorail and all of them have got the fibre which is not used to full capacity. Therefore, we are consolidating the state capacity so that we can increase our capacity to be able to deliver the efficient networks for future generations. Thank you.
The MINISTER OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND POSTAL SERVICES: Chairperson,
yes, the SA Post Office, Sapo, had focus a return profitability in 2017-18 financial year in the current corporate plan, but the achievement of the focus objective is unlikely given that an entity is still struggling with the legacy of structural and operational funding challenges. It still has funding challenges.
The department is working on what are we going to do to assist Sapo with revenue generation. We are working with Sapo to improve revenue generation including our own support to launch the e-commerce platforms. The e-commerce is the future and we are working with them to turnaround and even design how the platform would look like. The government also intends to recapitalise Sapo as you have heard in the February Budget Vote and we hope that even in this difficult times that recapitalisation will come through the adjustments. Why are we concerned about the recapitalisation? The current costs of borrowing are very high and they are really extracting a lot from us.
We are also working to look at the new licensing regime in the whole postal sector. Firstly, that will come through the legislation to prevent the dumping of mail particularly by international
terminations by other operators but also in terms of the obligations. The only entity which is bearing obligation is Sapo and all other more than 300 operators operating in our country have absolutely no obligations. So, these are the thing we should deal with through legislations. However, in the short term we are hoping for recapitalisation, but we are also working with them to come with new business models. I have just used one, the e-commerce, but also the financial sector hence we are talking about licensing of the Postbank. Those are the new revenue-generating mechanisms. Globally, the letters are reducing. The contribution of letters is diminishing at a global level.
The payment of social grants, if it comes to us, will also contribute. That is why we are also encouraging other government departments to do business with Sapo so that we utilise the capacity because we don’t want to reduce the number of jobs at this stage because of the economy and level of unemployment. Thank you very much.
Ms T J MOKWELE: Chair and hon Minister, thank you for the response. It looks like the plan that you are having probably will yield results. I heard you saying that you are encouraging other government stakeholders to do business with Sapo. My question to
you, hon Minister, is, in your meetings with departments, other than encouraging them, what is it that the departments can assist Sapo with to create income? What is it that is concrete that the departments per se can do? We know that Sapo is a government entity and this could assist mostly the vulnerable people. Thank you very much.
The MINISTER OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND POSTAL SERVICES: Chairperson,
we honestly hope that these plans will work because we are working hard for them to work if we can just first reduce the cost of servicing the debt, and if we can just have the money to pay the banks which gave us R3 billion. It is not really assisting us because it is servicing that debt which is huge.
In encouraging other departments, government has already taken a decision that we should try to give just a courier business. Courier business is increasing because the younger generation buy online.
But even if you buy online through internet we still have to deliver. So, we are really trying to nudge government in the courier business. We had a snack through the current procurement Act. The chief procurement officer who was there who wrote to departments not to comply with what was said be set aside. We are trying to resolve
that with the current leadership in the National Treasury because that is what will be important.
The SA Post Office employs quite a lot of our citizens who have no high end skills. The challenge which normally people have when they want to burst Sapo they say that Sapo strikes as if the other companies don’t go on strike. The right to strike is enshrined in our Constitution. Since 2014, we have been working very well with our unions. I need them regularly to let them understand the financial position of the company. When the financial position improves then we look at the benefits for the workers because they are working hard. I have seen them. Those are the measures that we are continuing to encourage.
I will be very happy if you, as Members of Parliament, can take a decision that Parliament uses the courier services of Sapo. They have an office right here, but then you go. I won’t mention the companies that you are using, but I know them [Laughter.] No, but I am talking as an institution. That is what we are basically encouraging.
Lastly, Chairperson, we have been working very closely with Sapo to assist them to retain the big customers like the University of South
Africa, Unisa. My department has been working with the management of Unisa and now we are having more collaborative relationship than before. Those are the things we are really doing to hold on the key customers because Unisa will continue to post letters to their students. Some of the things they need from us is space. We have a lot of warehouses in our mail centres where we are now looking forward to work with them to also utilise those warehouses. Thank you very much, Chairperson.
Ms Z V NCITHA: Hon Chair, I would like to ask the hon Minister to share with us and South Africans about the progress made in terms of dealing with challenges that are faced with the Post Office and the long-term strategy to deal with them to make sure that the Post Office is a credible institution. Thank you.
The MINISTER OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND POSTAL SERVICES: Chairperson,
the first thing we do is to stabilise the management and appoint the board because these are key things. All senior strategic positions - chief executive officer, CEO, chief financial officer, CFO, and chief operating officer, COO - are filled. The last one is the COO. She is a very capable lady, experienced and I have full confidence that she will turnaround the operations. Although she has started this year, she is working flat out. Last week, ten days ago, I was
at the Johannesburg mail centre. They are managing to sort out the mess which was there. You can see the workflow that they are really processing - the mail which comes from outside and that which goes outside.
Regarding the board, unfortunately, our chairperson left because of other business things. We have an acting chairperson and we will be appointing. But the board is new. They are quite committed South Africans. These are the things you sought first because they are basics. You must have governance and accountability structures in place.
We are engaging with the workers. We are engaging a new business opportunity for Sapo, what is generation of revenue. As I have said, the e-commerce business is a growth area. The Universal Postal Union, UPU, has approached us to utilise Sapo infrastructure as the basic warehouse for the whole of Africa e-commerce and they are working closely with us. The Universal Postal Union is a UN, specialised body. We are working with them on this e-commerce project. We are working very closely on making that the financial services and financial inclusion project is realised by our citizens. Those are the key elements and putting key platforms to change the business model.
Lastly, in addition to that you may know that there was a Public Protector report and the Special Investigating Unit, SIU, report on the Post Office about the maladministration previously. The current board is working collaboratively with the SIU to try and recover the assets which were misappropriated from Sapo.
Currently, we are also trying to get Sapo to move back to their offices. You will remember that they left their beautiful office in Pretoria and went to rent in Centurion. We are pushing them to go back to their offices which are vacant in Pretoria. Those are the things which will reduce the costs and make the company more profitable. Thank you very much.
Mr L V MAGWEBU: Chairperson and hon Minister, a lot of questions have been asked about the endeavours that you should be making to make the Post Office a credible institution or entity and its profitability. I think you have touched a nerve when you raised the issue about the SIU’s involvement and all the maladministration and the issues of corruption in the Sapo. My question is, is it correct that as we are standing and sitting in this House today – because it’s only you and me standing – the SA Post Office is still stuck with a lease agreement and is still renting its main office at Eco Point yet the SIU in its own report had indicated that that contract
was irregular? Despite that, I want to know from you, what have you done to make sure that those who were involved in the procurement processes that led to the irregular contract that left the SA Post Office paying exorbitant amounts of rental fees, are held accountable? If you have not done that, Minister, why?
The MINISTER OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND POSTAL SERVICES: I will
answer through you, Chair. Eco Point matter is being addressed. There is a challenge why they are still there. If it was me they would have just left, but now we will be asked to pay for fruitless expenditure. The challenge is that, much as the SIU has pronounced, for us to nullify that contract we must get a court order. Now, the SIU and the Sapo board are working flat out to get that court order. But what is disturbing is that the current owners are having every trick to delay. They are asking for postponements, asking for unreasonable number of documents, and they are losing them and request them again. They are playing the court game of delaying.
Unfortunately, we have to follow the rule of law in all these things.
However, I have no reason to suspect the SIU, the SIU is quite efficient and they are working closely with the board, really. For me they should have come out as of yesterday. What they have done
now is to withhold the payments so that we can see whether those people challenge us because they are really holding us ransom. They do not want to go to court for these things to be heard, but at the same time they want us to continue paying. Those are the things which we are trying to do to push for the accountability and making sure that we recover.
The people who have done this are being disciplined and some of them have been disciplined, but the biggest culprit is that they also use legal representatives, and as you know, you get all these delays. We are working flat out. Whenever I meet the board we continue to push them to finalise these things and to get our lawyers not to extract. At some stage we were having cash problems. Even our lawyers would come and claim, “Pay us first before we do the work.” In terms of the Public Finance Management Act, PFMA, we are not allowed to pay upfront, but we must pay for services rendered. So, those are some of the things that are really holding us at ransom, but we are trying to resolve them with the cash flow improvement. Thank you.
Ms B A ENGELBRECHT: Chair and Minister, thank you for those answers. If you get the SA Social Security Agency, Sassa, contract which is valued and estimated at roundabout R130 billion, what guarantees can you give this House today that the endemic corruption and
maladministration that appears to be so apparent in the Post Office would be rooted out? Thank you.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON: Hon Engelbrecht, we leave it to the Minister to comment. You can look at the original question because the supplementary question must be linked to the original question.
The MINISTER OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND POSTAL SERVICES: I will
respond to this thing of endemic allege and endemic corruption. Yes, there was corruption in the past, but I have no reason to believe that there is corruption now. We have a very effective management under Mark Barnes and the new COO. [Interjections.] Hon Chairperson, I speak to you.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Hon Minister, you are protected. Hon members, let us not...
The MINISTER OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND POSTAL SERVICES: I have just
outlined to you about the board which we have appointed which is led by Advocate Ngidi currently. He is a very efficient acting chairperson and a lawyer. When we were appointing that board we were looking for people who have corporate experience and variety of
skills. Their skills are very diversified and they are working very hard to restore the dignity of the Post Office.
Ultimately, members, the only tests we will have is when we go to a branch of a Post Office and get efficient services. That is the test I have put to both the management and their accounting authority in the form of the board. I am not satisfied just by reports which are written on paper. I do visit post offices and I do see. What is good now, unlike before, when I or a member find something, they resolve those things. It is no more like before where you find repeated problems and when you ask what you have done you found no resolution to the problem. So, Sapo has a good future and will be a strong institution.
I will just use this example as I end, Chair. One of the companies which is now listed was exactly in the same state in 2012. Today, that company is a state-owned enterprise and is bringing close to a billion rand profitability per year. At that stage people were saying just sell this thing. A key strategic asset like this one has good infrastructure. If you go to any “dorpie” [small town], the nice looking and strong building is a Post Office - look at the original Post Office building. We are intending to roll out government services to become a government portal in each of those
post offices so that the services, whether is it licensing or any government services, people can receive it there because we are now connecting them to internet. Thank you very much.
Mr L V MAGWEBU: Chairperson, just a point of clarity. Minister, which bank do you bank with? Is it Postbank or...[Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): No, hon Magwebu! Hon Magwebu, don’t do that. You are totally out of order. I have clarified well here that we will have four supplementary questions. It was hon Ncitha, yourself, hon Prins and hon Engelbrecht. Those were the four supplementary questions and now you are out of order.
The MINISTER OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND POSTAL SERVICES: Chairperson,
I think I have given an answer to this question but I repeat, the first thing hon Julius, the ANC government is pushing for the financial inclusion as a matter of policy.
The Postbank is part of that instrument of ensuring that all our citizens can have access to banks, that will help us move our economy from informal economy to a formal economy when people have got bank accounts; that will help us to be able to count more
economic activities than currently where we are counting a small portion, and that’s why you will find in some of the countries now as you are saying their gross domestic product are above South Africa, because they are counting everything.
However, the Postbank currently provides a number of saving and transactional products to customers and manages 5,8 million accounts as from the 30th September this year. All transactional products are compatible with the automated teller machines or what is called ATMs and point-of-sale POS devices with the National Payment System. So we are part of the National Point Payment System already.
After the banking licence is granted Postbank intends embarking ... [Interjection.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Hon Minister, sorry!
Mr T C MOTLASHUPING: There is an instrument that speaks. Oh!
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Hon members, hon members, hon members whose gadget is that?
Ms T G MPAMBO-SIBHUKWANA: It is mine, I apologise.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Can that not happen again please? Okay, the apology is accepted. Can you continue hon Minister?
The MINISTER OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND POSTAL SERVICES: Thank you
Chairperson. I was saying the Postbank after getting licence intends to embark on a lending offering which is aimed at strengthening the bank current value proposition.
A fully-fledged bank will have a full-lending capability subject to complying with relevant regulatory requirements. So in short, when we have that we will be complying with all the regulatory requirements imposed by the Reserve Bank.
The bank is also exploring the provision of other products such as the insurance projects to support the growing demand of this product segments. The bank is also currently procuring a full service digital and electronic channelling in order to facilitate online banking and electronic payment at low-cost for its customers.
So those are the technical things we are doing currently; and with the current licence and in preparation for fully-fleshed licence. Thank you very much.
Mr J W W JULIUS: Thank you, House Chair. I think it is commendable Minister that we have our Postbank. The problem that we have in South Africa in terms of all our endeavours is corruption, corruption and corruption; now where I getting at Chairperson, allow me in my two minutes.
We have state capture dodgy dealings and the rejection of major banks. Major banks have rejected the Guptas, right; they don’t have a place to bank at the moment. Now they are interested in banking with the Postbank. One of the – you must listen. One of the Gupta said that they wrote to the department and say we hope you will not be bias. We want you to be unbias so that when we apply for a banking account at the Postbank we will be able to use it.
Now, the question is Minister, this Postbank that the ANC is starting, will the Guptas be allowed to bank there seeing that for various reasons all major banks, even the Bank of Baroda rejected them. Will the Postbank give an opportunity for the Guptas to bank there, or any company associated with the Guptas? Thank you, Chair.
The MINISTER OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND POSTAL SERVICES: Now, eh hon
Chairperson I‘m not aware of any letter written by that family to
us. I have not seen such a letter, or let me just simply say there is no such a letter.
I have just said yes, the bank won’t be discriminating anyone because it deals with financial inclusion; but it will fully comply with the requirements because we are governed by the regulator which is the South African Reserve Bank. That’s a commitment we have made even during our application of the licence, and that’s a commitment which is in the board and a commitment which is with the management.
All this other things in the media I won’t really comment about them. We hope to be much as we are going to be lending at a reduced costs; it wouldn’t be so cheap that we are going to need bailouts again.
We want it to be a viable, sustainable bank which is affordable to our people. We respect the regulations which are set up by the regulator, which is the Reserve Bank in this. That’s my answer thank you very much.
Mr S J MOHAI: No follow up hon Julius. Your attention has been called on several times. Thanks Chair, and I also want to thank the
Minister for conceptual clarity on the Postbank and clearing quite a number of questions why the need of the Postbank.
However, Minister as you already highlighted that in every small town there is existing infrastructure for the Postbank. The question really as you have said is that the Postbank is part of the system to advance financial inclusion; but by a way of emphasis maybe, if you can Minister, just articulate how will the Postbank advance the plight of the poor and serve the rural communities who genuinely are in need of service? I think the greatest test will be how the Postbank will reach out to these communities. Thanks.
The MINISTER OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND POSTAL SERVICES: Thank you,
Chair. Thank you very much hon member. The first thing is that of our reach – the current infrastructure is reaching every small dorpies. If you go even to the rural KwaZulu-Natal where I come from or in the rural Eastern Cape or the rural Limpopo, the first thing you will see in those small dorpies is the Post Office. There are closer to our people we are trying to serve.
The second element is that one of the cost of burrowing. The Postbank won’t be looking for super profit but we will be looking for sustainability profit, so that they can continue to lend to
those who are in this market, bearing in mind that the market segment we are targeting is what the other bank has classified as a high risk.
To us, we don’t see it as pure high risk because of the listed risk assessment in terms of the amount of loans, but we think it will stimulate the economic activity. If an auntie wants to buy a stove or an equipment to make amagwinya, they may just need R20 000. This thing of collaterals because we are far from where the people stay, eh, makes these people not to have any access to finance, and these are the small businesses which create more jobs.
The small farmer who needs to get just the small implement, the seeds or inputs for a farm, instead of waiting for all this lengthy processes in far distant towns, they will have access to the financial services; and that will stimulate the rural agriculture which is core of the economy in those rural areas.
The informal sector is vibrant economy. If you go to a near township there is vibrant economic activity but they just don’t have access to these finances. That is why we are trying o revive even those branches which were closed because of the financial challenges in the Post Office so that we have got a fully-fledged and extent the
services to reach as many people as possible. Those are the efforts which we are trying to put.
We are also modernising the Post Office because if we just modernise the efficiencies will be huge. If we have got fast-speed internet in all our branches, then no one will be queuing waiting for the call which comes from Bloemfontein just for the transaction.
So those are the things yes, that’s why we want them to have a fair access to spectrum for all, not for the few. Eh, so those are the measures we are putting, hon Chairperson, to assist and bring confidence to our people.
The issue of financial inclusion, Chairperson, is so important for our economy. The real growing sector is going to be in that uplifting of the currently marginalised grouping to meaningfully participates in our economy. We want to abolish this thing of first economy and the second economy. Thank you very much.
Mr O S TERBLANCHE: Thank you, Chairperson. Eh, Minister thank you, eh, I think it’s in everybody‘s interest that - you know we get the Postbank to work properly; and you gave us a lot of insurances that that is exactly happening at the moment, but you also told us that
the Postbank is still not a profitable organisation. You also told us the importance that people must make use of the Postbank.
Minister, my question now to you sir, you as the Minister and the board of that organisation and the top management of that organisation, Minister do you use the Postbank for your banking of staff that you need to do? Do the board and the top management also use the Postbank? Thank you.
The MINISTER OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND POSTAL SERVICES: Let me start
by correcting the first thing, I have never said the Postbank is not profitable. It is the South African Post Office, SAPO which has got the financial challenges. The Postbank as entity is profitable?
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): They are two separate things.
The MINISTER OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND POSTAL SERVICES: Eh, it is
working well, well-managed; their accounts are increasing on a daily basis. Eh, the rate of increase is about 27% or 30%, I can’t remember exactly. That shows you that there is effective banking for these people. Eh, I will urge all the members to open even the saving accounts with the Post Office. Yes, yes they do have a saving account, but I want all of us – no wait members ... [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Hon members, lets listen the Minister is still responding to the questions.
The MINISTER OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND POSTAL SERVICES: I’m
AN HON MEMBER: Including you and your board.
The MINISTER OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND POSTAL SERVICES: No, it is
not me and the board it is South Africans. I will even encourage my own organisation, the ANC. I’m encouraging them to use the Postbank. I hope the DA also will use the Postbank so that we walk the talk.
Thank you. [Interjections.]
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS (Ms M T Kubayi): House Chair, your request is duly noted. Firstly, let me take this opportunity to thank the hon members for the questions. Regarding the questions from hon Julius, for the 2016-17 financial year, the Government Communication and Information System, GCIS, placed advertising to the value of R81,874 in the New Age for the voter education campaign.
However, during the same period, the GCIS spent a total of R844,140 in all media on advertising for various campaigns such as state of the nation address, voter education and local government elections. Of the total amount, R300,000 was spent on 50 community radio stations; an amount of R138,875 was spent on adverts as well; an amount of R169,535 was spent on times media and R68,010 was spent on independent newspapers. I thank you Mr Chair.
Mr J W W JULIUS: Through you House Chair, let me congratulate and welcome the Minister. You know, there’s sometimes a new mandate, I just hope that it is not a Gupta mandate for you, Minister. I have faith in you that you will actually not follow that mandate. Well, people can haul at me; the speculations are all over the news following yesterday’s speculations. I think that it is worth mentioning ... [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Hon Julius, you are out of order. Can you focus on your supplementary question? Congratulating the Minister was in order, but not the other things that you’re saying.
Mr J W W JULIUS: In my two minutes I can do it!
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Yes, do it!
Mr J W W JULIUS: Yes, I’m in my two minutes. Minister, the former GCIS head, Mzwanele Manyi, was ANC affiliated. He recently bought the New Age Newspaper and the Africa News Network7, ANN7, from the Guptas. This is the same family that contracted the public relations firm, Bell Pottinger, to flare up racial tension in South Africa, which the DA, at least, followed up.
Now, last month or six weeks ago, the new owner of these media companies announced that his media would be the primary communications’ hub of South Africa. Now, my question is: Will the GCIS use the New Age and ANN7 as its primary communicator in the future as stated by Mzwanele Manyi? Thank you, Chair.
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS (Ms M T Kubayi): House Chairperson, firstly, let me start by saying that transformation in the media sector is very necessary and important. Therefore, we welcome to see more and more black people buying into the media space because, transformation can’t be compromised. So, with Jimmy Manyi joining as an owner, I think it needs to be welcomed because, we’re seeing more transformation.
On the issue of ANN7 and the New Age being primary communicator, I don’t think that there is any decision like that; you are speculating. We do not have that decision as the government. So, we are utilising ... [Interjections.] Thula wena! [Keep quiet!] We are utilising all the platforms.
As I said earlier, I could count for you all the newspapers and how the number is balanced in terms of the amount we are spending, and that is not going to change. We are working together with all the media houses. What I need to emphasise though is that, they need to transform.
Ms T J MOKWELE: Through you hon Chairperson, Minister, I hope that you will continue where hon Ayanda Dlodlo left the institution. They can belong to the ANC but not serving the same master ... [Interjections.]
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS (Ms M T Kubayi): Hon Mokwele, don’t be tempted to say that!
Ms T J MOKWELE: You know!
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Hon Nthebe and hon Mokwele!
Moh T J MOKWELE: A o a bona Nthebe ... [Tsenoganong.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): No, no no! Address him through me, please!
Ms T J MOKWELE: I will address him!
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Can you leave hon Nthebe alone and ask the question! Order, members!
Moh T J MOKWELE: Tona, re a go amogela mo Lefapheng la Tlhaeletsano, a o a utlwa? Re solofela gore o tla re emela sentle gape o tla dira gore tirelokgaso ya rona ya bosetšhaba e re akaretse rotlhe go netefatsa gore e gasa ka tolamo e bile go sa kgethololwe ope.
Tona, re a itse gore Tirelokgaso ya Aforika Borwa e ne e na le tumalano le setlamo sa New Age go dira kgaso ya mo mosong. Ke batla go itse gore tirelokgaso ya rona e dirile letseno la bokae go tswa mo kgasong ya mo mosong le New Age? Ke a leboga.
TONA YA TLHAELETSANO (Moh M T Kubayi): Modulasetilo, ke rata go raya Motl Mokwele gore ke lebogela mafoko a gago a go nkamogela. Se ke ratang go se tlhalosa ke gore ke tshwanela go lebelela dibuka tse di maleba gore ke kgone go go fa karabo e e nepagetseng ka ga ditšelete ka gonne ga ke na tsona gone jaanong. Jaaka o itse se se diragetseng, boto e e tswileng e ile ya fedisa tumalano eo.
Re tshwanetse re boele morago re bone gore go dirisitswe bokae pele go fedisiwa tumalano eo. Madi a re neng re a lebeletse ke a ngwaga yotlhe, segolobogolo a ditirelo tsotlhe tsa makwalodikgang a rona. Mabapi le se o se botsang, re tla tshwanela go boela mo wena go go naya dipalo tse di nepagetseng. Ke a leboga.
Nksk T G MPAMBO-SIBHUKWANA: Sihlalo weNdlu, mandamkele uMphathiswa omtsha ndimqhwabele izandla ngokuba edlale indima yakhe njengomama. Ndifuna ukwazi kuye ukuba uyasenza kusini na isibophelelo sokuba akasayi kuvumela nakanye ukusasazwa kolwazi neendaba ezinesheyi [propaganda] obelusenzeka phambi kokuba angene kweli sebe?
UMPHATHISWA WENKONZO YEZONXIBELELWANO NENKQUBO YOLWAZI
NGEZAKWARHULUMENTE (Nks M T Kubayi): Sihlalo weNdlu isifungo sisenza
kanye njengabahloniphekileyo nabaPhathiswa. Ndenza isifungo njengoMphathiswa weSebe lezaMandla phambi kwejaji noMongameli ukuba ndiza kusebenzela ilizwe loMzantsi Afrika. Ndisame kweso sifungo endasithatha ngaloo mini. Kufuneka siyazi ukuba eli sebe lenzelwe ntoni na. Isizathu sokuba libekhona sesokuba kufuneka libe ngumlomo karhulumente. Ngoko ke andiyazi le uza nayo yeendaba nolwazi [propaganda] kuba eli sebe lithethelela urhulumente, hayi omnye umntu.
Xa eli sebe lithetha, liza kuthetha ezi zinto zenziwa ngurhulumente kuba abanye oonondaba abathandi ukubhala ngezinto ezintle ezenziwa ngurhulumente. Yiyo loo nto sisebenzisa kakhulu lona ukuba libe ngumlomo karhulumente kuyo yonke into esiyenzayo. Eli sebe liyakwazi ukuba lithethe ezi zinto zintle sizenzayo, kuba zininzi mama. Enkosi Sihlalo weNdlu.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Thank you for the answers, hon Minister. We now come to Question 275 asked by hon Koni who is not in the House. In terms of the Rules, hon Mokwele will be standing in for hon Koni.
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS: Chair, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, Icasa, has established a Complaints and Compliance committee in terms of section 17A of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa Act, Act 13 of 2000, to investigate and hear if appropriate, and make a finding on all matters referred to it by the authority and complaints received by it.
To date, the authority has not received any information regarding theft of data. However, upon receipt of such information, a detailed investigation will be conducted and a report will be made available.
Mme T J MOKWELE: Ke a leboga Tona. Ga kena potso.
Ms B A ENGELBRECHT: Minister, data for all is a fight that the DA is bringing to the ANC government. We believe that data is a critical
Chair, protection again, please.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Hon members, I can’t be constantly reminding you ... It is entirely up to us to sustain and
maintain the decorum of the House. Hon Engelbrecht, you are protected and I hope that when the others are speaking, you will do the same.
Ms B A ENGELBRECHT: I will give it my best shot, Chair, thank you.
Minister, the DA believes that data for all is a critical right and we believe that it is an economic necessity to ensure that we increase the economic activity of our unemployed, our youth and our students. The price of data must fall. However, we believe that providers such as Vodacom and MTN – who are charging huge amounts for their Long-Term Evolution, LTE, connections – are accountable to the people of South Africa. What measures will your department take to monitor these companies and prevent them from acting in these illegal manners? Thank you.
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS: Thank you very much, hon member. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Sorry, hon Minister. Yes, hon Motlashuping?
Mr T C MOTLASHUPING: Chair, this question is not related to the major question.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): No, hon members ...
Mr T C MOTLASHUPING: The first question talks about the investigation of a company and what steps have been taken, while this one is about data. There is a question on the Question Paper that deals with data.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Thanks, hon Motlashuping. Hon members, I have consistently said that supplementary questions must be linked to the original question. However, let me leave it to the hon Minister to decide whether she will respond to the question or not. Hon Minister?
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS: Chair, there is a question here but just to clarify something hon member. You would remember that I was the Chairperson of Telecommunications and Postal Services. I led an investigation. I am not so sure what you are talking about when you say the DA is leading. The DA has never led on Data Must Fall.
Never. We did an investigation and if you need that report it is available in Parliament.
The Portfolio Committee on Telecommunications and Postal Services, of which I was the chairperson at the time, did public hearings on Data Must Fall. We called several people. We called academics and we called people from the small, medium and micro enterprise, SMME, sector. You would remember that at the time we had one of the people who owned an online radio station like Tbo Touch which became an online campaign as well as where we collected signatures to start the campaign on Data Must Fall. So please don’t claim easy victories!
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS: Chair, as you are aware, the President of the Republic of South Africa has signed a proclamation authorising the Special Investigating Unit, SIU, to conduct its constitutional mandate at the SABC. The SIU has already commenced its work and, in fact, I have been informed that they have been allocated an office at the SABC. Once the investigation is complete, it is only then that the truth will be known.
It must be noted that government has sufficient institutions in the country, such as the Hawks and the Asset Forfeiture Unit, to deal with all alleged misconducts and it is not up to the Minister to predetermine the outcome of the investigation. So, in the true sense
of it, I don’t even have to write anything. All the institutions, like the Hawks, follow the matters and they investigate on their own. The matter is currently in relevant hands and we would like to leave it at that so that we can focus on our mandate as the department. Thank you.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Sorry hon Dlamini, let me deal with hon Julius.
Mr J W W JULIUS: House Chair, I rise on a point of order for clarity sake - only for clarity sake. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Order members!
Mr J W W JULIUS: Ao bathong! [Good gracious!] You didn’t even hear what I want to say. Pardon me on the Rule, Minister. The Rule that you are referring to now is it the same Rule that states when a member is not in the House then that question could be deferred or be given to someone else? I just want you to.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Hon members, it is not a difficult thing. Let’s allow him to speak then we will deal with it.
Mr J W W JULIUS: House Chair, they must listen because in the next term we will be sitting there and they will also argue. Let me ask as I am asking it for clarity. Can you quote the Rule because according to my knowledge you are in the House?
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Let me assist and deal with the point of order. Hon Motara, do you want to talk about the same matter?
Ms T MOTARA: House Chair, the Rule indicates that if the member is unable to take the question. It does not state if the member is not in the House. He must read the Rules.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Thank you.
Ms T J MOKWELE: House Chair, I hope that the decision that we are taking today, especially the very same Rule, will apply to all members of this House. I have made an arrangement and those people are not here, Nthebe. Again, it will apply to members of the opposition. I so wish. I don’t argue anything. I even asked you, but you are here. If you are reading it that way, it’s fine. We are going to do the very same thing and rule the same. We are going to
do the very same thing and rule it like you are ruling it today. We have taken the decision.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Hon members, let me assist. The Rule says if a member is unable to take the question and proper arrangement has been made with another member in the House. This is what the Rule is saying and there is nothing that has been violated here. Hon Dlamini, can you continue?
Ms L C DLAMINI: Hon House Chair, let me take this opportunity to congratulate the Minister for her new responsibility with an understanding that she will do the best she can. My follow up on the question is just to check whether the laws of the country do allow monies to be recovered from anyone if those monies were benefitted through corrupt activities or means if those people, person or senior managers are out of service? Is it allowed? Do the laws of the country allow us?
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS: Yes, indeed, there are mechanisms whereby when a person has left the employer, a company or the department is able to recover. What others do, they use your pension fund by not releasing it and hold it until you are able to pay all the monies that is owed. Each entity or company apply the rules
based on how they are able to. If it is corrupt or illegal activities like in crime environment, the Asset Forfeiture Unit will come and attach any asset in the house or the house itself. Those laws exist within our country and we are able to implement them as government.
Mr B G NTHEBE: Minister, we know that you are quite capable. As the new Minister now responsible, are you committed to make sure that such allegations are, through the consequence management framework and through the new board that is now in place, going to avert future happenings of allegation of corruption?
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS: I will be meeting with the teams, all the boards and also the leadership of the department.
Definitely, it is important that we bring credibility to our institutions and our entities. One of the things that one would have to do is to evaluate if there are weaknesses and where there are weaknesses definitely we have to work with the team in Communications to be able to bring measures in place so that we bring confidence in the public as well as South Africans so that whatever we talk about and what we do, could be believed by South Africans because we would have shown systems of consistency, accountability and transparency. Thank you very much.
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS (Ms M T Kubayi): House Chairperson, the disciplinary hearing has been finalised for Mr Motsoeneng. He was found guilty and dismissed. The matter is currently before the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, CCMA, because he is challenging that decision. No outcome has been received yet.
Mr Aguma was charged but resigned before disciplinary process could be concluded. On the matter with regard to consequences, we do believe that consequence management should apply where there is wrong doing but I think what is going to assist us is the investigation by the SIU as proclaimed by the President, where we will be able to see who has done what, where and what penalties will have to applied.
At this moment we can only say this is what we think has happened but tangibly with the relevant institutions and they will be able to assist us and understand the nature of the crime or the nature of the issue that has been committed so that it can be responded to. I think that for me is very important that we allow both the institution and also the SIU to complete so that we can deal with
the matter properly. As the matter goes we can be keeping the House updated and the relevant committee. Thank you.
Mr L B GAEHLER: Hon Minister, we want to know whether you intend to enforce the labour court order ... [Interruptions]
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS (Ms M T Kubayi): I can’t hear.
Mr L B GAEHLER: … whether you intend to enforce the Labour Court order for Hlaudi to pay back the legal costs for the South African Broadcasting Corporation, SABC, eight journalists? You got it?
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS (Ms M T Kubayi): They are making noise this side as well, they wanted to be naughty.
Mr L B GAEHLER: It is a point of order.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Sorry, it is a point of order. Sorry hon Gaehler, let me deal with hon Labuschagne.
Mr L B GAEHLER: Keep quiet.
Ms C LABUSCHAGNE: If she puts off her microphone while he is talking, can you ...
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Hon Gaehler! Thanks, hon Labuschagne.
Mr L B GAEHLER: Thank you for protecting me.
Ndiphetheke kakubi apha ngulo mama.
Whether the Minister intends to enforce the Labour Court order for Hlaudi to pay back the legal costs for the SABC eight journalists?
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS (Ms M T Kubayi): Chairperson, I think the hon member will understand the South African Broadcasting Act, 1999. The Minister doesn’t have direct authority over the executive in the SABC. That matter is the responsibility of the board. Thank you.
Mr S G MTHIMUNYE: Chairperson, my concern again, hon Minister, may not be your direct responsibility but is about the so-called SABC eight who wants to be freelancers in an organisation. I think we must find a way to reign them in because they can’t be freelancers in an organisation. They must always comply with the editorial
policy of that organisation. Now, they seem to want to be freelancers.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Hon members! Order! I will leave it to the Minister. The question of hon Mthimunye is not linked to the original question. It is a totally new question but I will leave it to the Minister. Hon Minister, if you want to comment.
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS (Ms M T Kubayi): Chairperson, I am not so sure. I am not aware of that issue. If indeed there are individuals in the SABC who are behaving like free agents. We will definitely attend to it.
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS: Hon Chair, the SA Broadcasting Corporation‘s, SABC, staff members are not authorised to seek permission or there is no way where they need to seek permission from the Minister each time they meet stakeholders as part of their work and therefore, even in this instance or any other Minister did not need to be informed. To this end the Minister has been informed that the meeting that took place was a routine meeting of which Presidency had already responded to through a media statement. Thank you very much, Chair.
Mr J W W JULIUS: Hon Minister, it is now in the public domain that the President appointed the SABC board after he summoned those people to his office. It is no surprise that the board chairperson, Bongumusa Makhathini, is also a chairperson of the foundation run by one of the President’s wives. The deputy board chairperson, Febe Potgieter-Gqubule, is a close ally advisor to the President’s other ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, NDZ. Even you Minister, was reshuffled yesterday. Can the Minister ensure ... [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Hon Julius, what is the relevancy of that? Let me deal with hon Motara.
Ms T MOTARA: Chair, the person that the hon Julius is referring to is equally a Member of Parliament and must be referred to as such.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Hon Julius, the point of order is sustained. The person referred to is a Member of Parliament. Therefore, in terms of the Rules of Parliament we have to refer to each other appropriately. Therefore, you can refer to the hon member appropriately.
Mr J W W JULIUS: The President’s ex-wife, hon Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
Ms T J MOKWELE: On a point of order, Chair, I just want to check what is offensive about being labelled as a wife of someone. What is offensive about it because she is an ex-wife and then what? That woman is an ex-wife of Jacob Zuma, JZ. It is true. There is nothing offensive of being called an ex-wife of somebody. We always refer to Mama Winnie as an ex-wife of Nelson Mandela. She doesn’t get any offense. Therefore, there is nothing wrong with Julius saying to her that she is an ex-wife.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Hon members, it is not for me to start here dealing with the rules that we have adopted that are still guiding us. Let us refer to each other appropriately in as much as ... [Interjections.] ... hon members, let us not get to the debate of discussing what is just wasting time. However, let us respect each other and refer to each other appropriately. I am a husband of somebody but I can’t be referred to as such ... [Interjections.] ... no, I am an hon member. Hon Julius!
Mr J W W JULIUS: Chairperson, let me get to the point. Communications is a very, very strategic department, Minister. The Government Communication and Information System, GCIS, sends information from government. Government message must go out and propaganda can easily go out. Therefore, I’m asking you, Minister,
based on the facts that I’ve given you now. Can you guarantee that the SABC will not be captured again like before? Thank you, Chair.
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS: Hon Chair, it is very confusing from the executive side that Parliament would engage in a process, recommend to the President that these are people who need to be appointed, threaten with courts to say if you do not appoint these people we are going to court. When President appoints and follows the legislation South African Broadcasting Act, then you complain.
Why did you recommend those people as Parliament if you found them not suitable because it is a process of Parliament? So, you are casting aspersion on the Houses of Parliament. You are casting aspersion on the capability and the work of Parliament. I’m not so sure if that is what you want to do, hon member, because all those members that are recommended were not by the executive. It was members who are recommended by Parliament. When Parliament does that process it understands that any of those individuals that are submitted can become chair and can become deputy chair.
I think that I need to address a matter in order for us to understand that we live in a society where our past is very important and where we have faced triple challenges as women and therefore we should not continue to be oppressed as women. Members
of the House must be cognisance that women strides are important and such chauvinist approach into debates are very hurtful to women.
Ms T J MOKWELE: On a point of order, Chair, you know let me tell you Lewis I have a right to speak in this House.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): No, hon Mokwele!
Ms T J MOKWELE: If maybe you don’t know that it is within my right Lewis ... [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Hon Mokwele, no, we don’t have Lewis here.
Ms T J MOKWELE: We have. We call each other like that.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): No, we have hon Nzimande
Ms T J MOKWELE: He is not offended. You can ask him.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): No, there are rules in this House.
Ms T J MOKWELE: That is what you are doing. You find the systems and you just follow into a system.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): No, hon Mokwele, we have got rules in the House.
Ms T J MOKWELE: I know. Those rules were never adopted that is point number one. We are still busy with the rules and you know very well.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Can you take a seat so that I address?
Ms T J MOKWELE: You know very well that as a House we have never adopted any rules.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Can you take a seat so that I address you. Take your seat.
Ms T J MOKWELE: Therefore, it is not for you to say that. I will sit down but I’m still going to point out my point of order because I was addressing that matter.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Yes, hon members, the National Council of Provinces just have Rules. These are the rules, what is happening currently is a process of amending the existing rules. Therefore, it is very wrong and incorrect to stand on the platform and say that we don’t have rules. We have adopted these rules. If you refer to each other there is a way how you refer to each other. Hon Mokwele, can you ask your question?
Ms T J MOKWELE: No, I am fine I just wanted to tell you that we have the right to speak. As women we can’t ... you can switch it off I have got a very ... voice ... Chair.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Hon Mokwele, you said that you are fine.
Ms T J MOKWELE: I have never said I am not speaking.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): No, you said that you are fine.
Ms T J MOKWELE: Saying fine doesn’t mean that I don’t have to speak.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Okay, speak.
Ms T J MOKWELE: I’m standing on a point of order to say that as a woman I will never use my position to oppress another woman. As women we must never ever take any matter as oppressive and see us as victims. We must be able to differentiate things. If you are called by the position of your marital status is not a problem. You can be called an ex-wife. You can be called a wife. It is not an offensive matter, Minister, and I will never ever oppress any woman. Thank you very much.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Hon members, can you allow me to move to the next question, not unless we want to make this thing an issue. Hon Minister, we now come to Question 251 asked by hon Singh. I’m reliably informed in terms of the rules that hon Zwane will be standing in for hon Singh. Hon Minister!
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS (Ms M T Kubayi): Chairperson, I need to highlight my response because I am not sure if the member was aware. What the member asked is a very detailed question that almost when we worked on it, it gave us about nine pages of a response because there are specifics since she requested details. I am going to try and summarise it, if member want we can give them copies so that they have access to it.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): NO, I can assist you Minister. In terms of the Rules if you are dealing with statistics you can just provide the reply in writing. However, there is nothing wrong with summarising it, you can just do the summary of it.
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS (Ms M T Kubayi): Thank you Chair, Icasa does not regulate retail prices, however, it monitors prices in terms of regulation 9(1) of the Standard Terms and Conditions Regulations, Government Gazetted number 332954 and regulations 5(1) of the End-user and subscriber Service Charter Regulations, Government Gazette 39898. In terms of the costs to communicate and data issues, the authority currently has various projects and initiatives to address this matter. Of significant public interest, this includes priority market study and international data price benchmarking research report.
Preliminary research conducted internally by the authority ascertained that various factors potentially influence the pricing of data. These non-restrictive factors include technology spectrum, access to network useful life replacement of equipment. Geographical factors include borders, ridging mountings, coverage of tunnels; coverage of rails, capacity of rural areas and the others is the NIR regulations and energy costs. The pricing of any products services
based on demand and supply, this fundamental component of demand and supply represents the willingness of consumers to pay a certain price and operators to engage in buying and selling.
The authority has not yet conducted a study on the market analysis of whether prices of data are based on demand and the country’s standard of living and demographics of products. However, the authority is of the view that prices are based on both demand and standard of living. The view is based on observation drawn from monitoring of tariff plans in the notification that the authority received from operators. So, those I do have statistics and we will give them. One needs to highlight that there is more work that needs to be done in order to deal with issues of cost to communicate in the country and especially on data costs. So, it basically gives you all the issues and costs analysing it.
Chair, as I said earlier, if members can take time to look at the report of the Portfolio Committee on Telecommunication it will even give you countries in terms of the analysis of costs so that when we engage it gives an informed decision on what needs to be done. Thank you very much.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): You can just say one sentence that you officially table then members will be given the copy.
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS (Ms M T Kubayi): Yes. Thank you very much. I officially table this comprehensive response for members to go through.
Ms L L ZWANE: Chairperson, ...
... ngoba umphathiswa usethe uzosinikeza amakhophi empundulo egcwele, mhlawumbe ngingabonisa ukubonga ngokuzikhathaza kwakhe ukuthi awuphendule lo mbuzo ngendlela ezosanelisa uma sesifunda idokhyumenti ayiphethe. Sihlalo, ngifisa ukungeza izwi lami ekutheni siyambongela umphathiswa ebuholeni obusha akanikezwe bona. [Ihlombe.]
As women we are rising higher and higher and we are going to give you all the support that you need.
Nokuthi siyakwamukela futhi ezweni labashadekazi. Siyabonga. [Uhleko.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Hon members, allow me to take this opportunity to thank the hon Minister of Communication, new from the box in the portfolio for availing herself to answer questions. Thank you Minister. [Applause.]
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS (Ms M T Kubayi): Thank you very much.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr A J Nyambi): Hon members, allow me to take this opportunity to thank both Ministers for their availability today and you members and emphasize that the issue of the conduct and the decorum is not an issue of an individual but it is the issue of all of us. At all times whatever we do we must know that we have a responsibility as hon members of this august House called the National Council of Provinces.
The Council adjourned at 16:04.