Hansard: NA: Unrevised hansard (Mini plenary)
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 14 Nov 2019
No summary available.
THURSDAY, 14 NOVEMBER 2019
PROCEEDINGS OF MINI PLENARY SESSION – OLD ASSEMBLY CHAMBER
Members of the mini-plenary session met in the Old Assembly Chamber at 14:02.
The House Chairperson Ms M G Boroto took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayer or meditation.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon members, join me in welcoming in the gallery our visitors. They are delegates from the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, Kenya, Botswana, Uganda, Zambia and South Africans. They are all attending the advance leadership academy here in Cape Town. You are welcomed, hon guests. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
Hon members, before we proceed with today’s business, I wish to remind you that we are meeting in a mini-plenary session. Therefore any decisions will be taken in a full plenary session of the Assembly. Thank you very much.
COMBATING INCREASING LEVELS OF VIOLENCE, DRUGS AND SEXUAL ABUSE IN SCHOOLS
Rev K R J MESHOE: Madam Chair, hon members and guests in the gallery, the ACDP requested this debate because we are deeply concerned about what is happening in our schools, given the numerous reports of violence, the proliferation of drugs and sexual abuse in and around many of our schools.
In my day strict discipline was the order of the day in most schools. Swearing at teachers, threatening them or hitting them was not an option. The ACDP wants to see a culture of order, discipline and respect restored to our schools. Additionally, our schools must be safe places for both teachers and learners. A child should never have to fear for their safety while at school and neither should the teachers be. Parents should also not have to worry about the safety of their children while they are at work.
For the next few minutes, I would like to highlight some of the challenges our children and teachers face in schools, particularly with regard to violence, drugs and sexual abuse, which I hope we can discuss further and together propose solutions to combat them.
In my closing statement, I will also offer some ideas of how we can tackle the crisis looming at our schools.
House Chair, between January and June this year, seven stabbings at schools around the country were reported in the news. Four of them were fatal. Last month, another learner was stabbed to death at school with a pair of scissors. If it is true that school violence mirrors what is happening in their communities, then surely, violence would have been worse in the 1980s and the 1990s.
The ACDP notes with concern that school violence now not only includes bullying and fist fights, but it also include murder.
Is it a coincidence, House Chairperson that the increasing levels of violence and murder in our schools seems to have started and increased after corporal punishment was banned in our schools? Why do some of our members call it barbaric or abuse when a headmaster accompanied by a witness, uses a cane to stop a learner from fighting, drinking alcohol and hitting a teacher in a classroom? Are we going to stand by and watch as violence increases to the point of loss of life without any serious intervention?
And we ask further how can female teachers be expected to cope with 16-year-old boys who come to school drunk, disrupt order in the class and then be threatened with rape or violence if they try to correct them?
House Chair, there are still many countries that still use a cane effectively to bring order in their classrooms, and consequently do not have violence and sexual abuse or murder in their schools. I believe that most, if not all these schools still enjoy a better level of discipline and see improved academic results than those schools where learners get away with unruly and violent behaviour. When strict discipline is not maintained in a school, then bullies and gangs will take over and destroy many of our children’s lives and future.
Forest High School learners in Gauteng, where a Grade 8 boy was killed in June this year, described their school to the media as a “Prison, where drug abuse is rife, and where older boys demand money from learners visiting toilets and force them to perform sexual acts on them.” Older boys are sodomised by their colleagues and they also do the same to the younger ones.
House Chairperson, this cannot continue! It cannot continue! It now appears that school bathrooms may also in future need security officers to ensure that what is happening in these days does not happen.
What should be done to stop abuse? It is a question I am asking. What should be done to stop bullying, attacks on teachers, destruction of property, rape, violence and loss of life in our schools?
Finding answers to these questions is the main purpose of this debate. I am looking forward to a constructive engagement with members, and also with solution solutions their proposing, so that order and discipline can be restored. A spirit of excellence in our schools can also be introduced so that our children and teachers will learn from a safe environment. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mr S N SWART: Hon House Chair, I rise on a point of order please.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Yes hon member, what is the point of order?
Mr S N SWART: House Chair, I would like you to look into the attendance at mini-plenaries, the number of Members of Parliament, MPs, here that maybe we can look into it particularly from the majority party. These are serious issues that we are considering and just as to how we attend in mini-plenaries. I know is a mini- plenary, but it does not mean that the majority party should attend with a mini-attendance. If you would look into that I would appreciate that. Thank you. [Applause.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Thank you very much, hon member. As you requested hon member, we will look into it. Thank you. Hon Nkomo, it is your time. [Applause.] Hon members, before she continues there are clocks here. Once there is nothing and no colour you must know your time is over. Thank you. Continue.
Ms Z NKOMO: Hon House Chair, schools are the places where minds are formed and leaders are developed for the future economically, prosperous and growing nation we are working towards. It is a place whereby we arm and prepare our young learners for future contributions they will make in our economy, sectors and places of work. This happens in the microcosm of schools, which is part and parcel of society.
It is concerning though, that these places of learning in the transition to democracy have been characterised by alarming high- level of both political violence and violent crimes. Brutal force was used on learners in our schools and we hoped that we would overcome these practices post1994. Assault, rape and sexual violence however have been prevalent in South African schools even postdemocracy.
The schooling system operates within our societal patriarchal system. It is not exempt from such negative spillovers. As we have seen the scourge of gender-based violence in our streets, places of work, homes and universities - this has also spillovers in our schools. A concerning statistics of the highest incidence of rape occurring in South Africa of 138 per 100 000, schools will not be exempt. It is therefore concerning, but not surprising to find the high–level of school-related gender-based violence. This nature of violence has detrimental effects on the ability of learners to complete and benefit from educational opportunities open to them.
Before moving forward with strategies, we must address challenging circumstances we find ourselves in as a country and respond adequately. In order to employ effective interventions and measures
to combat such violence, protect and empower the girl child from such exploitative behaviour we must acknowledge the shortfalls.
It is a point to consider that we must investigate where we have gone wrong as a nation, and how do we rebuild and create a safe environment in our schools. A police state where schools are heavily guarded and children searched in order to prevent gang violence and murders on site should not be normalised. We must combat and impede violence with the utmost commitment, but prevention is certainly better than cure. However what are the reasons for such behaviours?
Our society is highly violent and the respect for human life and laws of our land had become the norm. We need to rebuild the respect of human life. We need to rebuild the respect for elders. We need to rebuild the respect for teaching and training learners without abusing and exploiting the most vulnerable who are in our hands. As a person, I am reminded of the times of civil society and churches joining together towards a cause of nation-building in the times of anti-apartheid movement.
I believe for us to rebuild confidence and protection in our schools, it will require societal transformation and partnership with all stakeholders. Moral regeneration is not something we can
consider at a high or theoretical level. It is necessary and sufficient condition for creating a safe and protective school environment. We must drive moral regeneration; however we ourselves must be examples as leaders.
We must bring back respect for teachers; with the advent of social media we have seen the worst form of ridicule and disrespect of our educators. We need to rebuild mutual respect for girl children. We have seen shocking beatings that are violent of male learners on girl children. We have seen brutal bodies being dragged by school children in our nation over the last few months. We may have become desensitised, but this cannot be a norm.
We want to ensure that the young girl child in a safe and protective environment is able to reach her highest capabilities and potential. Equity in schools means that we have equal access and equal opportunities to becoming scientists, astronauts, engineers, artisans and entrepreneurs irrespective of their backgrounds and gender. This means the stereotypes and norms about what a girl child is expected to become and do must be changed.
Career guidance fairs and expos are tools that our Department of Basic Education must employ in partnership with the agencies like
Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, CSIR, and the Department of Higher Education, Science and Technology which are examples of means and mechanisms to expand the knowledge and access to information of our young learners. We have to continue massify such interventions to reach the most rural areas and regions that are not economic hubs and centres where such interventions are most needed.
In response to this, according to the National School Violence Study children spend approximately half of their hours at school. Schools can serve as the second important socialising mechanism after the home. We however as a nation, know that many come from families that are broken, with no parents or elders. Poverty is entrenched or dysfunction where safety, security and love is not found in the very homes schools going learners come from. Therefore communities themselves need to be rebuilt.
A study undertaken by the SA Medical Research Centre for the Department of Health, entitled, The 1ST National SA Youth Risk Behaviour Survey of 2003 provided statistics of violence in schools. The study consists of fights and 23 schools in each province, which sampled 14,776 learners. The study revealed that 17% of students carried weapons, 41% of students were bullied, 14% belonged to
gangs, 15% had been forced to have sex, 15% had been threatened or injured on the school property, 19% were injured on school property and 19% were injured in fights and 32% felt unsafe at school.
Another study revealed that 50% of students experienced violence either as victims or perpetrators.
Teenage pregnancy year on year is above 50 000 in our schools with devastating consequences on learners. [Time expired.] Thank you. [Applause.]
Mrs N I TARABELLA-MARCHESI: House Chairperson, fellow South Africans, spaces of learning have turned into spaces of tragedy and trauma. According to the Police Minister, 22 learners lost their lives last year across the country. These incidences happened inside school premises where they are supposed to be learning and safe. The DA believes that national government should understand that our first responsibility is to care for our children, and if we fail at this, we fail at everything.
Government must be the first to meet its obligations followed by parents and communities, only then we will succeed. We have to accede that resources at schools are not only necessary, but crucial. We need to have adequate funding, not R7,1 million per year
that the Department of Basic Education allocates to promote social cohesion, safety and implementation of school sport. Because at the end of the day, one cannot stop to wonder what if the learners we lost were exposed to schools with adequate resources like libraries, decent school grounds, teachers who are supported, after school activities, communities that are neighbourly - maybe their lives could have been saved.
As South Africans we cannot be deaf to the fact that the legacy of apartheid, with parents leaving their children at school and working far from their families as migrants, destroyed the family structure. The socioeconomic issues which we face like poverty, unemployment and inequality equally put further strain on the family structure.
The family structure plays an important role in building character and produce responsible citizens.
Fellow members, child-headed houses cannot be a normal phenomenon. Single parents having to juggle between two to three jobs, leaving home early and coming back late at night, whilst having no choice but to leave the children to fend themselves, cannot be a normal phenomenon because in the end, who does the parenting? Who disciplines? Whom do these children account to? Where is the government which is supposed to intervene? We need social workers;
we need psychologist to assist such families, including the communities and, Ntate Meshoe, churches as well. Government cannot hide behind the excuse of a lack of funds but continue to bailout state-owned enterprises, SOEs, year after year.
Without involvement of parents, the streets and gangs become “parents”. As we all know, streets are a petri dish for violence. Children will often see violence and emulate it, and this results in it spilling into the school environment. We need to understand the root causes of violence and not only focus on the side effects. We need social workers and psychologists in our schools to identify these root causes before they become problems.
The difference between a child who goes to school in the township and those who attend fee-paying schools, is that one has more opportunities that the other - an opportunity to become a professional rugby player like Siya Kolisi; an opportunity to be a university graduate or skilled professional who can find work easily or an opportunity to be an entrepreneur. Access to such opportunities is often not afforded to learners in township schools. The majority of township learners attend dysfunctional schools in an environment located in a sea of poverty, with little prospects for a
better future, unless you are born a genius or extremely hardworking, you stand almost no chance to escape poverty.
On the other hand, the reason behind learners at fee-paying schools becoming successful is not necessarily that they are geniuses or more hardworking than their peers at non-fee paying schools. It is because they generally have stronger family structures, receive support from their teachers, have after school tutors and many after school activities and fewer children in classroom. These are the building blocks to a better future and that keep them out of streets and out of trouble - which means that even until today, after 25 years of democracy, the side of the city you are born in and your parent’s bank balance still determines whether you will finish school alive. And if you do finish school alive, you will continue to live in poverty with no prospects for generations to come, and you may become successful, which many times is very rare.
We can say that without a shadow of a doubt that this government continues to perpetuate inequality with inadequate funding and budget cuts, which means that in township schools change and better prospects will always remain just a dream. What is also disappointing is that the President paid no attention to school violence in both his state of the nation address speeches this year,
which means that the ANC government shows no interest in the safety of our learners and does not believe it is a crisis.
We need pre-emptive and preventive measures. As the DA, we come here to also give insights in what could actually work. We are saying that we need Safe Schools’ Call Centres in all provinces, because that is what we have in the Western Cape - and it works and the learners are utilising it. We need support for after-school programmes to keep learners occupied, safe and socially engaged, as we are doing with the Western Cape, what we call Game Changer Initiative. We need serious collaboration across departments. The departments of Justice, Health, Social Development and the SAPS must come on board.
Mr M N PAULSEN: House Chairperson, our children are under siege, because we are under siege as a society from the upsurge of violent crimes that have normalised in society. The proliferation of drugs, the normalisation of sex from a very young age, the breakdown of family structures, and the socioeconomic violence generally unleashed on the majority of our people are the necessary enablers for violent crimes.
If we are honest human beings, we must ask ourselves why it is that most of the violent incidences at our schools happen predominantly in township and rural schools, “Moruti” [Reverend]. What is it about the nature of those schools that make violence, drugs and sexual abuse almost inevitable? It is because these schools cater for the dejected people of our country, for those considered surplus people in our land, for those criminalised just for existing by this anti- black and anti-poor system of governance that we have. So, Reverend, I can’t understand how you can even think that you can “moer” [hit] the problem away with the cane. [Interjections.]
It is not because poor African and Coloured learners at these schools lack moral standards, it is because society has bastardised them. It is because wherever they look, they are surrounded by despair and hopelessness. They have no parents to raise them because their parents leave them before sunrise and come back after sunset, and because they have to go and earn a living by raising white children and tending gardens in white-owned homes.
Every day they witness their mothers getting raped and physically abused by their equally psychologically abused fathers. They witness their uncles drinking, abusing drugs, stealing and killing people because this antiblack system has reduced the entire existence of
black people to existing in a zone of nonbeing, a zone of nothingness - black people that have been reduced into beasts by a system and when they act like beasts because of the conditions they have been subjected to, those managing the system do not want to take responsibility; they want to punish them as if they created that antiblack system themselves.
The children who do drugs at schools, who are violent towards other children and to the teachers, who sexually assault other children and female teachers are products of a society we have been breeding while in this country. There isn’t a cane big enough to fix that, Reverend. [Interjections.] We cannot have normal schooling in an abnormal society. We cannot have children going to school on empty stomachs and then sit back and think that they will behave the same way as children going to schools not having to worry about their next meals, or where they will sleep.
The violence we see at schools is an indictment of the society we have been building; it is an indictment of our inability to transform our society from the mess we inherited from apartheid. It is an indictment on our lack of empathy and care for the most marginalised in society. So, there is a word that the ANC government like to use, especially since “Cupcake” came into power. We need a
new social compact in this country. A compact that will bind all of us to some universal principles through which we need to raise our children.
No child should have to grow up in rat-infested shacks and flea- ridden shacks. No child should have to go to school on a hungry stomach. No child should have to study under trees or in leaking classrooms’ roofs because government officials have decided to steal the money that was meant to improve their conditions. We are expecting our already overworked teachers to carry on the responsibility of parenting and of the state. We want to give them a cane and we want to tell them to fix the problem by beating up children. [Interjections.]
We must force the state to have psychologists in each and every school because what we are dealing with here is a psychological problem - it is a symptom of a very depressed system. Children need care, and not hardcore policing. Our children need love, not judgement, not punishment! More importantly, our children need to be raised in a society that appreciates them, that feeds them, that clothes them, that provides a roof over their heads. Reverend, without dealing with the root cause of the problems, we will never solve the violence at our schools. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): May I ask the Whip of the majority party ... hon Radebe, can you please ask the members of your party to come closer to this side and not sit there at the back.
Mr M N PAULSEN: Chairperson, they all want to be closer to the door so that they can run away.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): I didn’t ask you, sit down. [Laughter.]. Hon Ngcobo, you are welcome to the podium.
Mr S L NGCOBO: Hon House Chairperson ... [Interjections.] ... violence, drug and sexual abuse in our schools has become the new normal, it’s no longer an exception. In the past, there were isolated incidents and now it is the mainstream thing. It is happening at almost every school in some form or another.
The question we must ask ourselves is: Where did we collectively as a nation, government, and as mothers and fathers go wrong? Almost daily, we hear of violent attacks, sexual assault, psychological abuse, bullying, and gender aggression at our schools. These are only the incidents that are reported. I am sure that the actual statistics are far worse.
As a former teacher and principal, I continually ask myself a question; what went wrong, what are the reasons for today’s horrific situations at many of our schools in South Africa, and how do we ... as legislators and as parents ... repair this situation? Firstly, I am firm believer in the stability of the family unit. If the home environment is peaceful and stable, children respond in a positive and harmonious manner. Where the home environment itself is a war zone, we will see such behaviour being emulated by the children at school.
Secondly, it is the issue of parents no longer ensuring that their children follow some form of religion and it doesn’t matter which religion they follow. For all, teach the basic principles of normality, peace and goodwill to thy neighbour. These are the first two principles I believe are essential and foundational to the development of a well-balanced child.
Thirdly ... this is in response to drug abuse at schools ... we must ensure that learners engage in physical sporting activities after school when lessons are over for the day. It is failure on the part of this government not to ensure that all schools have the same sporting codes.
Lastly, we must look at the education system itself, which include teachers and ask ourselves in this regard as to whether our teachers or our learners are failing?
In conclusion, we must get the fundamental foundational prescripts correct. If we do this together, with the provisions of quality education, we will have done our children a great service that will ensure that they all have a bright future and grow up to be well- balanced and accomplished adults. I thank you. [Applause.]
Dr W J BOSHOFF: Hon House Chairperson, due to the absence of interpreting services, I will use the language of the oppressor for today’s speech. The problem with education and with violence in education is not in the first place the environment and the poverty in the environment but the degree to which the community is involved in the school, the degree to which the school is an extension of the parental house and of the community itself.
If we look at the history of schooling in general worldwide, one could say that the very beginning of schooling is exactly the same as education; it is just simply where children were taught by their parents what good conduct is and how to behave. It was face-based
and it was training in some kind of job related work at the same time.
With industrialisation, it became necessary to get children from the streets as their parents were engaged in salaried paid work all day and could not look after children. That’s when children were taken to schools and they were brought under some kind of control. That led to adult school experience which was lightened up but was never fundamentally reimagined even to the present day.
Nevertheless, it reduced the violence in communities because children were at school, they were productively engaged and schools were, in fact, an extension of the house and community.
In the dispensation after 1994, the Constitution of South Africa acquired religious authority in which no religious or other sorts could be viable if it would be against the Constitution and that’s why corporal punishment was abolished in schools and now even at homes.
The idea by the Chief Justice in trying to convince us is that children should be disciplined by convincing them rather than coercing them, which is a nice idea if it would work like that. I
just wonder how many parents and grandparents have the experience that there does not come a day that you need to discipline in a harsher way than just to convince the child.
If I look back at my own upbringing, we were taught the doctrine of the original sin, which means that the human condition is that one is out of oneself prone to sin but still that the image of God is living in all of us and that the art of education is ... [Interjections.] ... to work against the sin to which humans are prone to and to recreate the image of God. That is something which is done by communities but when the state gets omnipotence in education and makes all the important decisions and the decisions are taken away from the homes, houses, parents and the community, then it devolves into something that we all too well know today.
I want to finish by saying; I was not quite in a middle class high school in Pretoria. It was before 1994. It was a white school. May I say that if the teacher didn’t beat up the bullies, the bullies would beat up the rest of us.
Mr T C R WALTERS: On a point of order.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Yes, hon member!
Mr T C R WALTERS: I am addressing you on the National Assembly Rule 64, which talks to the conduct of members and also on Rule 82 and
85. Rule 82 refers to the respectful manner in which members should conduct themselves and Rule 85, which is on verbal abuse.
The speaker which just spoke on the podium started his speech by saying that he will use the language of the oppressor. I find that very offensive. It is an official language of this country and I would therefore ask you to please act accordingly in terms of three Rules that I have quoted. Thank you House Chairperson. [Applause.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Thank you very much; I will seek advice on the usage of those words. Hon Boshoff, you don’t have to respond. I will come back with a ruling to the House.
Mr M N PAULSEN: In your ruling House Chairperson, I would like you to consider that both English and Afrikaans speaking white people are oppressors. Not just the ... hon Boshoff mustn’t pass the buck.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon Paulsen, take your seat. You are now urging to what was said. When I rule, I will also rule on what you said too.
Mr T C R WALTERS: Thank you House Chairperson, if could also address the last comment in the same manner. Thank you House Chairperson. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon members, let’s take this
... even it is a mini-plenary but it is still the work of the House. So, we must do our work as we are supposed to and respect the decorum of the House.
Ms M E SUKERS: Thank you hon House Chairperson, as far as possible, I will translate my speech to English as I have prepared in Afrikaans. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): I just want to find out. Do we have ... we do have interpreters. You can ...
Jy kan maar praat. Daar is geen probleem nie. [Tussenwerpsels.]
Me M E SUKERS: Agb Voorsitter, geweld in skole is ’n refleksie van gemeenskappe waar sosiale strukture meer en meer onderdruk geplaas word deur armoede en ongelykheid. Dit bring ’n wanbalans waar oorlewing die enigste oogmerk word.
Children are left to fend for themselves without the necessary support structures that will enable them to grow up as healthy well- adjusted individuals.
Ons skole is ’n mikrokosmos van die realiteite waaronder mense in Suid-Afrika moet lewe. Daar is ’n persepsie dat misdaad ongestraf bly.
Laws are not applied or not enforced. Young people are forced to endure abuse, whether sexual or physical with no timeous intervention to prevent escalation into serious crimes, such as murder and rape. We must pay serious attention to create interventions that involve school authorities, parents and government. Here I am saying, all of us.
One cannot describe the pain parents endure at losing a child through violence. It is all the more painful when you that learn your child endured victimised or bullying for months at school. The issues we face are societal. It is therefore necessary that dialogues and interventions happen that involves government, parents
and school authorities in the communities where it happen the most - a dialogue in those communities most affected by violence that addresses the causes of violence, sexual abuse and drugs followed by programmes that are targeted.
Our children become easy targets because we are slow in implementing measures that can prevent or lower the risks such as available psychosocial support by social workers or counsellors at schools in the poorest communities that needs it the most.
Met wie moet ons kinders praat wanneer hulle emosionele spanning ervaar?
Who must they turn to? Our schools must become drug free zones. Liquor should not be sold on school premises. Taverns and shebeens should also not be operated in close proximity to schools.
Programmes that support parents, especially single parents should be made available through social development and be linked to the SA Social Security Agency, Sassa, grants.
We have many interfaith-based organisations working in communities with limited resources. Should we not encourage more partnerships between government and businesses to support such programmes?
A vulnerable child is an easy target for predators, drug bosses and bullies. We need leaders in this House to step up as mentors for children at risk and businesses and people in civil society will follow. We need the message “You never walk alone” to be demonstrated through bold and inconvenient actions because it is inconvenient to take your time to mentor a child and support a single mother but the responsibility lies with all of us. I thank you. [Applause.]
Ms J M MOFOKENG: Hon House Chair, hon members, our schools are meant to be a safe haven for both the learners and the teachers where learning and development takes place. The education of our learners is a societal issue and needs parents and communities to play a central role in instilling sense of right and wrong in our children.
The value of education was further emphasised by President Nelson Mandela when he said, I quote:
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, a son of a mine worker can become a head of a mine, a child of a farm worker can become the president of the great nation”
The view by Madiba is a dream we wish for South Africa for our future. It is what we should do today that determines whether the dream will be a reality. The incidents of violence in our schools are a matter of great concern. We know a story of a 17 year old learner in Zeerust who stabbed his educator to death. We know of a
15 year old learner in Eldorado Park who got arrested for pointing a finger at his educator. We know of an incident in Gauteng where a learner has stabbed and killed another learner with a pair of scissors. We know of a death of a learner at Forest High School in Johannesburg, they are not news in fiction movie but a reality of age; we cannot go on like this.
The Minister of Basic Education expressed shock and concern regarding these tragic incidents. She said it’s extremely concerning and very disheartening. We have a program on an ongoing basis where we are dealing with the Department of Police and the Department of Social Development. It is quite clear that we have a big problem.
There is a correlation between high levels of criminality in the community which is transported into schools. Guns come from the communities, the knives and anger comes from the communities. We are a society that needs to sit and say what more do we need to do to support our children and the schools.
The Department of Education has developed a national school safety program whose object is to create a safety violence free and supportive learning environment to learners. The department has worked side by side with the South African Police Service to ensure school safety in our schools. The reality is that police cannot be in every school.
The issue of societies in playing a central role is ensuring safety in our communities and in our schools find itself, it’s an expression in our value system ubuntu.
What happened in our humanity, what happened to the saying that a community raises a child? Where are the role models of our children? These are common views about that we are contributing factor. This is not a matter for police alone, this is not matter for educators alone, this is not matter for the department alone, it is a matter for all of us in communities. It is a matter for all of us
regardless of political views and affiliation and regardless of our different belief system.
The debate we are having today requires that we pause for a moment and ask ourselves very difficult questions. If education becomes a societal culture from a cultured society it therefore stands to reason that we can only recreate our culture through education and that education becomes our culture. We stand here as the ANC making a clarion call to all South Africans to show serious interest in our education.
If we are to realise what Madiba spoke of about education as a weapon to change the world, we lend a hand to our children’s education. We remain convene that the Department of Education is trying its best in this. It is critical that in our endeavour to bring back safety in our schools, we involve all stakeholders. In addition to this, our children need good role models. We must provide mentorship to young learners, give them inspiration and ensure that violence does not happen.
In conclusion, the ANC believes that the success of these efforts realise largely on the collective effort of parents and communities
to work together with schools to ensure that all children are safe and realise their full potential in school.
Moreover, the success of this program depends on setting up mechanism for monitoring and evaluating the implementation of this program timeously to improve it with time.
Moruti Meshoe, le re dikerekeng batho ba tshwanetse ba rapelle bana.
We are saying to you that it takes a village to raise a child. I thank you.
Nksz T L MARAWU: Sihlalo weNdlu, ubuntu buphelile kwaye abantu bagcwele bubulwanyana, ekufuneka thina kule Ndlu sibunqande bungekanweni.
The prerogative to discipline children primarily lies with the parents or guardians of the child in question. But, it is unfortunate that South Africa now operates on a spare the rod, spoil
the child modus operandi that aims to cause even further damage in our societies.
It first started with the shunning away of corporal punishment in schools and most recently it was declared a criminal offence to physical discipline your children. We need to ask ourselves, what long term effects does this have on the community and households?
Asiyivuyeli into yokuba xa kuthethwa ngeziyobisi, ubundlobongela nolwaphulo-mthetho, umzi ontsundu nguwo okhokela phambili ngenxa yoMgaqo-siseko ongawaxhasiyo amasiko nezithethe zethu.
The first point of discussion should be the amendment of the Constitution to be afrocentric. We are Africans living in Africa surely this Eurocentric Constitution is causing harm and damage to our children. One can then argue and ask, what is the role of African talent on the 21st century? The answer would be simple, the preservation of customs, norms, traditions and methods passed on from generation to generation to ensure continuity as it stands o the African ways in the model society.
The next step would be to elevate customary law to be on par with the so called Roman-Dutch Law. It is time for decolonisation and transformation of the judiciary. The time to formally recognise customary law as a ledged made pillar of the judiciary. The road to rehabilitation of our schools to continue being a platform of learning and teaching would have resumed and assume the House the fruits will be great.
In the interim, because the situation presses for it, you must ensure that there is visible law enforcement in schools to ensure that no weapons make it passed the gates, no teacher is assaulted, no learners are violated in any way. Bring back spiritual leaders or religious periods in schools to ensure that it is guiding immoral regeneration. Deal with drug lords in the communities and ensure a complete flush out of such dealings to those substances.
Mr Z MLENZANA: Chairperson, I just want to check if the hon member is ready to take a question?
Ms T L MARAWU: Not now, I’m not ready.
HE HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (MS M G Boroto: Not now. Take your seat. Continue.
Ms T L MARAWU: Increase the riotous of shebeens, taverns and liquor stores from the schooling area; invest heavily in arts, sports and extra mural activities for all communities to actively participate in these codes. Moral regeneration is journey that means active participation from all stakeholders of the community. The future of this country depends on this. Let us on be on the forefront of making history. I thank you.
USIHLALO WENDLU (Nk M G Boroto): Mhlonishwa uNgcobo, ngicela ungisize, kunekilasi lapho, kufuneka uhlukanise uNxumalo nobaba uLanga nomama uKhawula. [Ubuwelewele.] Ngicela usisize thish’omkhulu.
Ms M S KHAWULA: Chair, on a point of order ... [Laughter.]
Hhe-e! Hhayi kulokhu akushoyo. Hhe-e, hhayi kulokhu. Hhayi, ngizoniphoxa-ke. [Ubuwelewele.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Order hon members! On what rule are you rising hon Khawula?
Ms M S KHAWULA: Rule 64. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): I will hear if Rule 64 is relevant to what you are going to say, continue.
Nk M S KHAWULA: Okheyi! Ngiyabonga Mhlonishwa, ngisholo ukuthi ngiyaxolisa, senze iphutha. Engithi umhlaka-14 namhlanje, ubefuna ukuzwa ukuthi ingenile yini imali kwi-ATM ... [Uhleko.] ngisola lokho. Ukukhokhela i-ATM.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Thank you, take your seat. That is irrelevant and that is not a point of order. Hon members, hon Ntshayisa is not here, he’s doing both debates but should he come back before number 15, he will be given an opportunity. But, should he return after number 15 it’s gone. That’s how we do it. Thank you very much. Now, I’ll go to hon Mamabolo.
Mna J B MAMABOLO: Modulasetulo Mme Boroto, ke dumediše maloko kamoka a Ntlo ye ye kgolo ye. Ntate Meshoe ...
... the first question that we must ask ourselves as parents is: What are we doing as parents? What are doing because we are part of this problem? Yes, we are part of the problem because it is us who are giving these learners or our kids too much pocket money. We giver them too much pocket money, then get to schools and the only thing they do when they get there is to buy a ‘kota’, they get full and from there they don’t what to do with the rest of the money.
They don’t know what to do with rest of the money and they resort to drugs. They go to corners. They befriend drug lords and all these nyaope boys. From there, they go back to school and kill our teachers. But, it’s fine, we are concerned as the ANC and we care as the ANC. Hence, we have initiated the signing of the memorandum of understanding between the Department of Basic Education and the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture. This memorandum of understanding is going to bring back school sport so that when our learners get to school on a Monday morning, they go to break at 10am and at 2pm after school. They only get 30-minute break. After 30- minutes break, they go to different sporting codes to play whatever is there. If you want to play rugby or if you want to play soccer, you go there and play up until 5pm in the afternoon. [Interjections.]
Ms M S KHAWULA: Point of order Sihlalo!
Mr J B MAMABOLO: What do you want Mama Khawula?
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon Mamabolo, ...
... ema gannyane.
Yes, hon Khawula!
Nk M S KHAWULA: Ngale kokudlala nokwenzani, mina ngihlala ekomidini nabantu besifazane nentsha, ayikho into ebuhlungu njengokuthi umhlonishwa athi “nyaope boy” ngoba uyabona lento eyenzeka la eNingizimu Afrika ayilungile, akasho ngenye indlela futhi uwuHulumeni, ibona abenza le-nyaope laba. Ifike ne-ANC i-nyaope. [Ubuwelewele.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon Khawula, sit down. That’s not a point of order. [Interjections.] Order! Hon members, a point of order is different from a debate. Mama Khawula is debating with
the member on the podium, and that is not a point of order. Can you continue, hon member?
Mr J B MAMABOLO: Hon Chairperson, if we get our learners to go school at 7am in the morning, as I have indicated, the school goes out at 2pm. From there we get them to go to different sporting codes. When they get home, they are tired, they eat dinner and from there they sleep. The following day is the same routine, from Monday to Friday. On Saturdays, maybe we let them to go and play at their different teams. [Interjections.] Maybe, on a Saturday ... [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Order! Hon members, there is a speaker on the podium. [Interjections.] Continue!
Mr J B MAMABOLO: Hon Chairperson, from there on a Saturday, we get them to go and play their respective sporting fields. On a Sunday they go to church, they come back and they are tired. [Interjections.] They will be no need or time for them to engage themselves in substance abuse and drug abuse. Hon Chairperson ... [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon Mamabolo, wait! Hon members, I don’t deny you heckling, but you cant make such loud noise. You are shouting and you are drowning the speaker here on the podium. Please! [Interjections.] Hon Paulsen, if you are not missing anything, the door is open. Continue!
Mr J B MAMABOLO: Hon Chairperson, during our meeting last week with the Department of ... [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon members, do you want to go out and do your talk? Please, I am not going to allow that. You cannot drown the speaker like that. If you are not interested, you can always go out. Continue.
Mr J B MAMABOLO: Hon Chairperson, during our meeting with the Moral Regeneration Movement last week, they suggested that we should add social values in the curriculum of schools so that we can be able to bring about values, ethics and morals from a childhood level – so that our children grow up knowing values, morals and ethics.
This is so that our children do not dance to songs such as:
Labantwana bawrongo, labantwana ama-Uber, bayifaka emakhaleni, bayithatha, bayi’user
These are some of the songs that are destructing our children in schools. [Interjections.] These are some of the songs that must be banned because they are not relevant for the development of this country. [Interjections.]
Hon Chairperson, we met with SA Football Association on the 1 November 2019 ... [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Order! Order, hon members. This is not ... Hon Paulsen! Hon Paulsen, will you please leave this House for your noise. If you are not going to keep quiet, I am not going to say that again, you are going to leave the House. [Interjections.] Hon member, order! There is one Presiding Officer. Hon members! Hon members! Just wait. Order! Order! I am going to ask the Serjeant-at-arms to come near because I realise that there are
people who want to go out. Hon Nkomo, please! Continue, hon Mamabolo.
Mr J B MAMABOLO: Hon Chairperson, we met with SA Football Association, last week, on 1 November 2019, and we told them that they should look into the issue of bringing back local leagues. When we grew up we used to play in the Under 12s Chappies Little League, the Under 14s Nike tournament, the Under 17s Coca-Cola tournament, the Under 20s Caltex tournament and so on. These kinds of activities took us away from the streets. They made sure that we do not participate or abuse these substances, like drugs, so that we can be able to build a winning nation.
All these professional players that you see on TV, the likes of Siya Kolisi and Bongiwe Msomi, started playing at schools. Hence, we are saying the bringing back of school sport is very important. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon Paulsen! Hon Mamabolo! Hon Paulsen, I said if I have to talk to you again, you will have to walk out. Please, it is too much now. Remember, hon members, this is not the usual Chamber. This Chamber is small. So, if you talk, we
can hear what you are saying wherever you are. So please, let us respect this House. Thank you.
Mr J B MAMABOLO: Hon Chairperson, we must campaigns such as: Ke Moja
- thank you I’m fine with drugs; Yolo- you only live once; Zazi - for young girls; and the Boys Assemblies, so that the boys can be able to learn from these programmes at a very young age. This matter of this country is a very serious matter and it needs all of us unified.
Hence, at some stage, we must be able to have tournaments at our constituencies – tournaments being named after ourselves. A tournament like Rosina Semenya; a tournament like Dineo Makhura; a tournament may be of Mama Khawula; a tournament may be of Mama Tlhaule, and so on.
These kinds of tournaments will be able to bring our kids together, to remove them from the streets and to remove them from substance abuse and drug abuse.
Ntate Meshoe, ke na le wena tabeng ena.
We are together. We are a caring nation.
The ANC cares about this issue. I thank you. [Applause.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Thank you. Order, hon members! Order! Let’s come back to the plenary. Hon members! Hon Ntshayisa, you are lucky you back at this time. Take the podium.
Mr L M NTSHAYISA: Hon Chairperson, the incidents of crime, sexual assault and gangsterism in our schools have been increasing of late. We must be brutally honest, hon Chairperson, that these incidences are a microcosm of the ills ravaging our society. School children are no longer trading their pockets of excellence in the classrooms. They have bent a leap backward, harassing the very educators that are responsible for their education.
We have partly lost this battle because trade unions have become a shadow of their former themselves. No tighter rules, in the last
decade, have been sponsored by SA Democratic teacher’s Union, Sadtu, to deal with leaner delinquency in schools. The politicising of the school governing bodies, SGBs, has fested the wound. Parents whose children are delinquent are no longer held accountable.
Hon members, we can no longer watch as our children continue to kill one another, meaning this learner on learner violence. Necessary reforms in both public and private schools must begin now. We have to inculcate a culture of discipline, of continuous learning and development into our children. The police service has to work with the SGBs and the communities to stem out learner delinquency. We can turn the tide around. It is never too late. So, we cannot just leave the country in the hands of children who cannot control it when we have died.
So, the land or the country must be safe for our children now, so that they can live in a better South Africa. If it happens that we die today, at least we will rest knowing that our children are safe. So, let’s come together and do things together so that we can succeed. Thank you very much.
Ms N K SHARIF: Good afternoon, hon House Chairperson, all protocol observed. Young people in South Africa remain and will continue to
remain one of the most vulnerable groups in the country. Schools are literally crumbling from its infrastructures to the quality of the character of young people that come out of those crumbling buildings.
We can debate these issues for days, but the truth is, there is no sense of urgency to tackle violence, sexual assault and substance abuse in schools, because if there was urgency and political will, we would see some form of change by now. To change a system that clearly doesn’t work, we must start with innovative ideas that look at what barriers young people face that impede on living and growing up in healthy environments.
One of these barriers and a critical one, is access to professional mental health services. The real gateway drug is trauma and therefore, we must ensure that minds are healed and supported from the onset of any and all trauma experienced. This cannot be negotiable. The high amounts of young people suffering in silence and suffering alone from mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress, to mention only a few, are too significant to ignore.
If we do not prioritise the minds of children, we will see a growing increase of suicide deaths, an increase in vulnerability to violence and substance abuse, and reduced ability to be able to function on a range of aspects. It is the future generations that will continue to suffer. The more we ignore the importance of mental health, the more we condone the serous risks to young people and those around them.
Research demonstrates that children are more susceptible than adults to addictions and to developmental effects on the brain. The evidence shows that early detection of mental health conditions does indeed increase the amount of support and treatment young people would need. When we start taking mental health seriously and focus resources on early detection and treatment, we will see a decrease in the reliance and risk to addiction and substance abuse, a decrease in interpersonal conflict stemming from traumas and experiences and a decrease in violence in schools.
In turn, this will contribute to a more balanced, productive and healthy generation. Raising awareness, educating society on symptoms and identifying indicators on those more susceptible to be at risk of development of mental health conditions, and removing the stigma attached to mental health, must be prioritised. Resources must be focused on providing access to mental health services. Focus must be
characterised by political willingness to stop turning a blind eye and pretending it doesn’t exist.
Focus means national, provincial and local government departments such as education, health and social development restrategise on programs and initiatives that work on early detection, support and treatment. Many adults, and some in this Chamber, suffer from mental health conditions or processing childhood traumas that could be managed. So if that’s the case, imagine a 15 year old teenager who may not even know that they are struggling with mental health.
How does she ask for help when she doesn’t understand what is happening to her? How do we sit here as leaders of the country and make her suffer in silence? We must be deliberate in attempts to ensure and prioritise early detection and that young people have access to mental health services on a continuous and permanent basis, and not just now and then.
Pulling yourself out of a dark mental space is one of the most difficult things anybody could do. It takes strength and takes resilience to get up every morning and face the world alone. Many young people are facing these challenges, and I don’t think many
would understand this. It’s time to take mental health seriously. I thank you. [Applause.]
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF BASIC EDUCATION: House Chair, we appreciate the topic by hon Rev Meshoe on combating increasing levels of violence, drugs and sexual abuse in schools. We would have loved to hear members focussing mostly on the combating part of it because we know the issues and we know the challenges - if maybe all could have focussed on the combating. I really appreciate hon Sharif who focussed on it, but she was only one-sided on mental health. We really appreciate and welcome the inputs that she made.
Hon Chair, regarding the issues of violence, drugs and sexual abuse we can make political grandstanding and try to be smart but these issues are caring the future of this country. When we speak about the education of our children we are speaking about the future of this country because we expect all our children to be responsible adults. Sometimes they copy from us what we are doing in this House. They think this is what is suppose to be happening. They think what we are doing as Members of Parliament in Parliament is what they are suppose to be doing even in schools. Some of the behaviour of members, the way we act when we want to put a point forward, instead of talking, instead of waiting for your time to speak, you start
fighting, you start swearing and you start doing all these things that are not good for raising our children. We are adults and it is our responsibility for all of us to raise our children.
Chair, with regard to the moral decay we cannot run away from that. We are expected to make sure that we work with moral regeneration movements in all the provinces to bring back morality in the society
- values in the society unlike what is happening. We can refuse it.
The Reverent has indicated that school violence does not mirror what happens in the communities. I turn not to agree with the Reverent although I am not allowed to do that. A school is a microcosm of the society. What happens in the community will reflect and manifest at school. If a child is raised by a single parent - especially if it is a mother - alone without a father or if the child comes from an abusive family where the family abuses the mother, the child will take those tendencies to school and abuse other children. So let’s get our things right in the societies. And let’s not play a blaming game. Let’s work together to make sure that we bring back the societal values of where we come from.
Hon Chair, yes, moral regeneration. The future of our children has nothing to do with politics and I have statistics.
Nk M S KHAWULA: Uxolo, Sihlalo! Uxolo! Uxolo! Uxolo!
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Why are you rising, hon Khawula?
An hon member: On which Rule?
Nk M S KHAWULA: Sihlalo, nginephuzu lokukhalima okuphambukayo. Bafowethu ... [Ubuwelewele.] hhe-e, uyabona uNgqongqoshe njengoba ekhuluma ngiyamlalela. Ngqongqoshe, kukhona izinto la okufuneka ... [Akuzwakali.] [Ubuwelewele.] Akekho umzali othi ingane ayenze into embi. Uhulumeni ohlulekayo. [Ubuwelewele.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon Khawula! Hon Khawula, listen. There is a difference...
... mhlonishwa Mam’Khawula wothi ngikutshele, kunomehluko phakathi kwephuzu lokukhalima okuphambukayo nenkulumo-mpikiswano. Lokhu okwenzayo mama uphikisana nesikhulumi esigunyazwe ukuthi singethula inkulumo ...
... and you are not allowed. Unfortunately...
... nizokwenza lokho ngoba ngapha akunawo umshini wokucima lemibhobho lena.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF BASIC EDUCATION: As the Department of Basic Education we are working and collaborating with the Department of Sports, Culture and Recreation, Department of Health, Department of Social Development and the SA Police Service. At the same time we work with moral regeneration movements in all nine provinces. As a department we have established the quality learning and teaching campaign, QLTC, structures in all provinces as well as in the districts. Each an every school governing body, SGB, has a school safety committee. The school safety committee work with the nearest police station.
As the Department of Basic Education we believe that schools need to be a safe place for our children and they need to be secured when
they are at school. In this regard we have developed a handbook titled Speak Out. Youth Report Sexual Abuse for learners on how to prevent sexual abuse in public schools. The purpose of this handbook is to equip learners with knowledge and understanding of sexual harassment and sexual violence and its implication to protect themselves from perpetrators and where to report. The handbook also provides very useful contact details of national and provincial organisations that can assist. We have also published the protocols on the managements and reporting of sexual abuse and harassment in public schools. Therefore, we are committed to making sure that all our young people are under such nurturing school environment so that they too can become active citizens in a thriving nation at peace with itself.
But the reality is that we live in a violent society therefore the violence seen at schools accentuates the dictum that schools are in fact the microcosm of a society. In this regard we convened a second school safety summit in October last year. We have since strengthened the implementation of the national school framework.
This framework serves as a management tool for provincial and district officials responsible for school safety in our schools. It delineates the roles for the principal, senior management teams, SGB
members, teachers and learners so that all are able to identify and manage risks and threats of violence in and around schools.
We have also signed a protocol with the SA Police Service whereby every police station would adopt a school to deal speedily with incidences of violence and criminality within premises. What we must understand is that in a policing area we have more than 100 schools or 50 – it varies. And in the police station we don’t have the number of police officers equal to the number of schools in those areas. Sometimes when there is a delay we understand as the Department of Basic Education. That’s why we call upon all communities that let us work together to combat this scourge in our schools. We want to produce responsible citizens of this country, South Africa. May God bless you all! [Applause.]
Rev K R J MESHOE: House Chairperson, I want to thank all members who participated in this debate for their valuable inputs. There are a few highlights I want to make. I cannot respond to what everybody has said because of the few minutes that I have. One thing that was said by hon Nkomo he highlighted that there is a need to restore respect for teachers, which is acceptable and we agree to that. Hon Tarabella-Machesi said that we need after school care activities.
Hon Paulsen spoke about an antiblack system that he did not explain
what he really meant by that. Hon Ngcobo said that we need stable homes and sporting activities for learners after school. Hon Sukers said that taverns and shebeens that are close to schools need to be shut down, which is true. Mr Mfuleni said that we must instil a sense of right and wrong in our children.
Hon Marawu said that we must amend the Eurocentric constitution in order to allow corporal punishment.
Ntante Mamabolo ke o kwele ...
He said that we must add social values in school curriculum. Mr Ntshayisa said that we can turn the situation around. I agree with him and I want to emphasise that the problems we are facing are not beyond redemption. We can turn the situation around. The Deputy Minister has spoken and given a mouthful. She highlighted the fact that we need to work with moral regeneration movements in order to restore morals in our societies. Societal values have to be restored, and this is what she concluded with.
I would also want to add a few proposals as solutions. Firstly, the ACDP would like to see prayer and the teaching of scriptures restored in our schools because our children need to know what is right and wrong. Secondly, our children should be taught about the value of respect for their parents, teachers and fellow students as well as respect for property. Thirdly, we believe that corporal punishment that hon Paulsen complained about should be restored in our homes and schools even if an amendment to the Constitution would be required.
In Singapore caning as a form of discipline is allowed under the education schools regulation. Singapore has best schools in the world when it comes to mathematics, science and reading. They are committed to use everything possible to make their children be very disciplined. Whenever they use corporal punishment is complemented with counselling and follow-up guidance. Thank you all and the Lord bless you. [Applause.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon members, earlier on hon Hunsinger raised a point of order on the use of the expression “I will use the language of the oppressor”. The Constitution gives equality to all official languages in the country. To denigrate by for example referring to any of them as a language of the oppressor is to imply that the speakers of that language are themselves oppressors. This language is divisive and cannot be tolerated in a constitutional dispensation. I Rule that the expression is unparliamentary and I would like to ask hon Boshoff to stand. Hon Boshoff, you can have your microphone on. Will you, please, withdraw?
Dr W J BOSHOFF: I withdraw.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Thank you very much. You may take your seat. Hon Paulsen, I want you to stand. Hon Paulsen, what I have just said also has to do with what you said at the end. I will not repeat but just to ask you to withdraw. Hon Paulsen, you may leave the House if you will not apologise. Hon Paulsen, please, leave the House. Please, leave the House. Please, leave the House! Thank you. We continue, hon members. Order, hon members! As we continue I will ask the ... Order! I’m going to ask the Secretary to read the First and the Second Orders together.
The member, having disregarded the authority of the Chair, was ordered to withdraw from the Chamber for the remainder of the day’s sitting.
The member thereupon withdrew from the Chamber.
CONSIDERATION OF REPORT OF PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON COMMUNICATIONS ON 2019-20 1ST QUARTER PERFORMANCE AND EXPENDITURE REPORT OF DEPARTMENT OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND POSTAL SERVICES
CONSIDERATION OF REPORT OF PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON COMMUNICATIONS ON 2019-20 1ST QUARTER PERFORMANCE AND EXPENDITURE REPORT OF DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNICATIONS
Mr B M MANELI: Thank you, House Chair. Fellow South Africans, I rise to introduce the committee Report submitted for consideration to this House. The first quarter Report of the Department of Communications and the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services, were considered in October, the month of O R Tambo, the longest serving President of the African National Congress. This giant of our national liberation movement distinguished himself as a truthful man almost to a fault.
Speaking that the Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College, in Tanzania, in 1994, Tambo said and I quote: “Let's tell the truth to ourselves, even if the truth coincides with what the enemy is saying.” Our observations and recommendations, indeed, are about loyalty to the truth with the acknowledgement that political grandstanding by opposing views is not enough to confront the practical challenges that our people are faced with.
The committee considered the first term Report and welcomed the reconfiguration of Cabinet and the ongoing mergers of departments including the communications and telecommunications. The reconfiguration of the departments must include the reconfiguration of all entities reporting to it for efficiency. Having so many boards and executives, it is not sustainable in these hard economic conditions. The committee welcomed the key plans for the department to commit to digitisation of government and driving the necessary transformation in the sector.
It is a historical fact that all South Africans must face that any technological advancement brings the fear of job losses. Therefore, the discussion we must have as a nation is not whether for industrial revolution, IR, will lead to job losses or not, but what are we doing as a nation to respond from a skills revolution point,
hence our support for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, 4IR, Commission established by our President, Cyril Ramaphosa. The committee welcomed the decision by government to issue the spectrum policy directive. The release of the high demand spectrum must help to drive down the costs to communicate and data prices.
The lowering of the cost to communicating will contribute to the industrialisation of the economy and create favourable conditions necessary for small, medium and micro enterprises, SMMEs, and co- operatives to thrive especially those in the new entry. I, therefore, submit this Report for consideration with an understanding and hope that even those that were in the committee will be loyal to the truth and that truth is that they supported without any objection in the committee. I therefore submit, hon Chair. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr C MACKENZIE: Thank you, Chair. I note that the DA do deserve a position in the committee. House Chair, one of the first things that President Ramaphosa did when taking office during the first term as he joyfully said that the departure of the thief in chief was to merge the Departments of Communications and Telecommunication and Postal Services into one. This was a good and positive move and he didn’t have to wait until the sixth term to do it because it was
obvious. It made an absolute sense and we welcomed it at the time and we still do.
In this spirit, we remember the regular attendance at our committee meetings of former Telecommunications Minister, Dr Siyabonga Cyprian Cwele, who seldom felt to miss a meeting even if he had to excuse himself and leave early. I will contrast this with the current Minister, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams. Her appearance before the committee is once or twice, that’s it. We trust she will attend more so that she could hear first hand of issues that her department and portfolio are facing, rather than from the officials whose first priority is to take care of their positions rather than to deliver accurate and reliable information to the Minister and this Parliament.
Part of this accurate and reliable information is to answer to written questions. I was assured that the Mondeor Post Office would be refurbished and upgraded by November and in not in one written question, but two, that was the answer given. My regular correspondent, a resident and Sapo customer, Mr Daseau José of Mondeor tells me that to date no one is onsite and nothing is happening. Someone is misleading Parliament and we trust that it is
the officials and not the Minister, but we will not let this matter lie. And that is an intended pun.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Order, members!
Mr C MACKENZIE: I personally visited the Wierda Park Post Office a month ago. Informal traders are occupying and selling goods from the post box section, which is unlocked and vandalised with vagrants sleeping, urinating and defecating in the area. This is where the customers collect their post. A section of the palisade fencing at the back leading to the taxi holding area has been broken, allowing unfettered access to the post box area. In the darkness one can’t begin to imagine the terror of a defenceless person dragged into an area like this. It is only a matter of time until something like this happens again. Let us not forget the tragic murder of the young woman at the Clareinch Post Office and out of respect for her family, I won’t use her name here.
The committee was assured that the SA Post Office, Sapo, was taking firm steps to address the issue of customer and staff security and securing the facilities so that this would not happen again.
However, the evidence on the ground suggests that this is not so and this is no way to build trust between the SA Post Office and its
public or between the department, the Minister and us Members of Parliament, MPs.
The first quarter report shows that Sapo has only met six of its 12 targets with an acting chief executive officer, CEO, and an acting chief financial officer, CFO. This fears to be absurd and, unfortunately, the rather exceptional Mark Barnes has left and he really started to turn things around. The proposed removal from the Postbank from the post office group will disembowel the entity and leave it broken and useless. The rationale behind this move remain shrouded in secrecy as is the appointment of a brand new board and a proposed new business model for Sapo. What is worse is that we are now told that Sapo will not be profitable as Mr Barnes had planned by 2020.
Let me say this clearly, we believe that was Sapo was on the right track and supported government’s efforts to stabilise and turn this entity around. Now, there is another game going on here and we will not be part of this. In summary, the DA will not support any further bailouts on Sapo, not one cent. The committee recommends that the separation of Sapo and the Postbank does not financially compromise the Sapo. Please follow these recommendations. If there is a high spot in this first quarter report it is the department’s activities
in the international arena where the International Telecommunications Union, ITU, World Radio Conference 2019 and the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, Brics, Ministerial meeting in South Africa proudly punches well in and above its weight. The department and its officials are to be congratulated for flying our flag so proudly here.
The welcome merge of the two departments lead to the quick policy directive from the Minister to Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, Icasa, to release the spectrum - a spectrum that should have been released almost 15 years ago. It was therefore very welcome when Icasa published its information memorandum on the spectrum release, setting out possible spectrum blocks for auction. Among these blocks are 700 and 800 megahertz bands, currently occupied by the broadcaster for analogue transmissions that were supposed to end in 2015. Yet Icasa’s latest information memorandum on spectrum offer spectrum to network operators who will open their networks to mobile network operators that have more than 51% black shareholding - that is that business model, well and good, but it doesn’t say how much they will pay for this access. Then there is also a set-aside of a very valuable spectrum for the new Huawei, a company intended to be used as a vehicle for the black economic empowerment and transformation of the sector - well and good.
The new mobile network operators that are accessing the existing networks will be competing with the new Huawei also owned as the transformation ... so, two transformation vehicles will be competing against each other. That is a smash. Clearly, this hasn’t been thought through properly and we trust the industry and stakeholders will use the time until the end of January to help Icasa craft a comprehensive, fair and effective spectrum auction process. The cost of innumerable delays in releasing spectrum is yet to be quantified, but you are moving in the right direction and for that both Icasa and the department need to be acknowledged. That said, we don’t believe this department overall is efficient, effective or even capable driving the vehicle fast enough and to meet the objectives of the Fourth Industrial Revolution that the ruling party is so fond of talking about. The DA does not support this Report. Thank you, Chair. [Applause.]
Ms O M C MAOTWE: Hon Chairperson, the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services is better placed to lead the revolutionalising of our society. Better managed, the Postal Bank can be a liberatory institution providing credit for the poor and marginalised. The department has failed to reconceptualise the role that it could play in placing not just information to the most
marginalised of society, but also providing them with economic catalysts.
The Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services is indecisive on the SABC and seems to be a communications desk of Treasury. It has failed to protect the broadcaster from Treasury’s delay to capitalise it, resulting in poor workers not being paid at the State-Owned Enterprises, SOEs, if they do get paid they get paid late. The department is failing to recognise an industry consensus that digital migration is the SABC’s lifeline. It is the only way the SOE can regain its market dominance against the corrupt Multichoice which survives through bribes.
Instead of implementing migration, the department is hiding behind plans and more plans whilst R182 million is wasted in storing unused Set-Top Boxes. On Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, Icasa, issue, since the data must fall public enquiry three years ago, the cost of data has remained unaffordable for ordinary South Africans, Icasa is failing whip service into line. Instead of the department and Icasa pressurising service providers to lower costs and free SMSs, they have allowed them to hide behind the lucrative spectrum which stands to benefit many individuals.
We endorse the roll out of the spectrum but it cannot be used as a scapegoat by greedy mobile service providers who are simply refusing to reduce the data cost. Icasa has the mandate to enforce the licence requirement for service providers to provide free internet to 5000 schools in the country. Instead of enforcing this requirement, Icasa connived with the service providers to reduce the number from 5000 to 1500 schools per service provider.
The department has allowed Treasury to influence the separation and selling off of assets. The selling off of assets in the SABC is unsustainable and will further disadvantage the organisation. The separation of South African Post Office and Post Bank is ill- advised. The process of amalgamating the two departments and streamlining of systems is low and tends to hold back progress. Hon Chair, we therefore request that you note the objection of the EFF.
Hon Chair, we further wish to state that both Afrikaans and English speaking people here in the country, were oppressors during apartheid and we are unapologetic about it. Thank you [Applause.]
Mr C H H HUNSINGER: Point of order hon Chair. I am again approaching you based on the remarks that were since made. I am approaching you in terms of the National Assembly Rules 64, National Assembly Rule
82 and National Assembly Rule 85. Rule 84, clearly expresses itself as to how members should conduct themselves in this House, displaying accordance and decorum to the House. Rule 82 addresses the point of being respectful and to conduct themselves in a respectful manner.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Order! I am listening hon members; take your seat hon Maotwe.
Hon Member: Ufuna ukuthini wena... what do you want to say?
Mr C H H HUNSINGER: Rule 85 deals with the issue of verbal abuse. Therefore, I would put it to you hon Chair to consider the remark that has been made, that English and Afrikaans speaking citizens of this country are indeed oppressors. [Interjections] I want you to rule on this as soon as possible. Thank you, hon Chair.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon Hunsinger, I have heard something about in the past, so I am not going to immediately rule until I get proper advice. What the hon member said talked about the past, during the time of apartheid. I will get advice. Thank you very much [Interjections.] Hon Khawula, what is the problem? No, no, we do not do that ma, hah.
Ms Z MAJOZI: Hon Chair, universe access for all citizens in South Africa is non-negotiable as we enter an age that will be dominated by information technology, access and sharing. In the execution of its mandate in the first quarter, the department achieved 50% of its planned quarterly targets. Hon Chair, our country cannot afford to achieve 50%, not when the rest of the world is making far greater advances than we are in respect of communications. This places our country at a distinct disadvantage, socially and economically.
In respect of entities that report to the department, one needs to look no further than the SABC for an example, of failed management which finds itself currently indebted to service providers for billions of rand and has applied to Treasury for a life saving bailout out of R3,2 billion. Hon Chair, it requires a complete overall as it clearly cannot rectify its substantial mismanagement. In many instances, Icasa does not have skill sets required and its inability to find experts to support the execution of some of its critical objects in engineering and technology, led to its failure to achieve a percentage of the target it had set for itself.
The film and publication still has instances of irregular expenditure and Brand South Africa still has vacant posts, though we acknowledge the progress made on the spectrum. Telecommunications
achieved 90% of its planned target for quarter one, yet Information and Communications Technology, ICT, infrastructure support failed in development of the monetary report on the provision of broadband services to 570 connected sites owing budget constraints and a failed SETA procurement process. This is unacceptable.
The SA Post Office only achieved 50% of its target, which is poor. We hope that with the new leadership they will be able to turnaround the poor targets of the SA Post Office and jobs for loyal cadres does not always translate into well managed entities, hon Chair.
South African Post Office, Sapo, and SABC should take note of other entities like National Electronic Media Institute of South Africa, Nemisa, Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa, Usasa, and Sentech that are currently achieving 100% of targets set and seek to follow their examples. The IFP supports the report. I thank you.
Ms N J KUBHEKA: Hon House Chairperson, I rise on behalf of the ANC to welcome the committee report but I want to start my input with a bit of history. At the beginning of the sixth term of Parliament we have considered the first quarter report as the Portfolio Committee on Communication. We were giving the baptismal of fire. The chief priestess in that baptismal was none other than DA shadow Minister,
the hon Van Damme. Of course, those were the great times for the DA or at least it appeared like that to an outsider.
A couple of weeks later Ms Van Damme was concerned about the right wing hawks of the DA accusing her of assaulting a racist DA supporter at an V&A Waterfront. It is no secret that the conservative wing of the DA has now consolidated and more than ever, we will represent the interest of the established businesses in the ICT industry and other sectors.
Mr C MACKENZIE: Hon House Chairperson, on a point of order: I rise in terms of relevance. The hon member is talking about hon Van Damme and the business of the DA. [Interjections.] Can’t she focus on the report in front of her? She does not have one, House Chair. I have one that she can use.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon Mackenzie that is not a point of order.
Ms N J KUBHEKA: The ANC-led government is resolute that we will work to resolve the challenges in order to strengthen the public sector that serve the majority of South Africa. The SABC is one such entity where the board and management have implemented a plan that have
saved almost R1 billion. Indeed most of us tend to focus on the special appropriation of funds to support the SABC pay its debt and remain operational. However, the real focus must be on the quality of services and inclusion of all our people.
In this regard, the ANC is following closely the process of digital migration that has been going on for a number of years with limited success. The roll-out of set top boxes to millions of households must be concluded in a cost effective manner. In the sixth term administration, government must achieve a long standing policy position particularly repositioning and modernisation of South African post offices. The committee will fast track the legislation dealing with the licensing of post bank as a state bank.
As the Chair of our committee has said the ANC supports the recommendations that the Minister should identify areas of duplication of functions and review the configuration of entities in order to achieve greater efficiency and cost containment. In these tough economic times, the phenomenon of state-owned enterprises and government entities, each one with its own board of directors and CEOs, COOs and CFOs is not sustainable. The ANC therefore calls for prudent expenditure and strengthening of the public sector.
... ngizothanda ukukhumbuza owethu-ke umhlonishwa u-Mackenzie ukuthi makakhumbule ukuthi ekomidini wuye–ke oye waphakamisa ukwamukelwa kwalo mbiko kwase mina usotswebhu ngakuxhasa lokho. Ngakhoke bengithi ngithanda ukumkhumbuza-ke ukuthi iqiniso malibe setafuleni. Ngiyabonga. [Ihlombe.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon members, we have rules in this House which we must adhere to. One of those rules is the respect for each other. I am referring to the point of order again that was raised by hon Hunsinger. To say the hon member on the podium talked about the languages in the past in the time of apartheid. It differs from the first Ruling that I made, although I must caution that we respect each other and respect all the languages of South Africa. I am not going to ask you to withdraw but just cautioning that we must respect our languages. They are our languages and we must continue in that way. Thank you, hon members.
The mini-plenary session rose at 15:52.