Hansard: NA: Unrevised hansard
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 23 Jun 2011
No summary available.
THURSDAY, 23 JUNE 2011
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
The House met at 14:09.
The Speaker took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.
ANNOUNCEMENTS, TABLINGS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS – see col 000.
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr M M SWATHE: Speaker, I hereby give notice that on the next sitting day of the House I shall move on behalf of the DA:
That the House debates the state of roads and low provision of bridges in the rural areas.
Ms M C MABUZA: Hon Speaker, I hereby give notice that on the next sitting day of the House I shall move on behalf of the ANC:
That the House debates the acceleration and expansion investments in public infrastructure development to reduce infrastructure backlogs.
Ms D R TSOTETSI: Speaker, I hereby give notice that on the next sitting day of the House I shall move on behalf of the ANC:
That the House debates how to integrate climate change considerations with sustainable development strategies.
Mr G R KRUMBOCK: Speaker, I hereby give notice that on the next sitting day of the House I shall move on behalf of the DA:
That the House debates the challenges faced in many sectors of the tourism industry despite the increase in tourist arrivals, and the possible reasons for this anomalous state of affairs.
Mr N E GCWABAZA: Hon Speaker, I hereby give notice that on the next sitting day of the House I shall move on behalf of the ANC:
That the House debates the support for local procurement as a means to boost local economy and job creation.
Mr S MOKGALAPA: Hon Speaker, I hereby give notice that on the next sitting day of the House I shall move on behalf of the DA:
That the House debates the challenges facing SADC region and their impact on the integration process, with particular reference to the Swaziland political and economic crisis.
Mr M A MNCWANGO: Hon Speaker, I hereby give notice that on the next sitting day of the House I shall move on behalf of the IFP:
That the House debates the poor level of police investigative skill, the ill-discipline of police officers and the steps which must be taken immediately to curb these trends from gaining momentum.
Ms T B SUNDUZA: Speaker, I hereby give notice that on the next sitting day of the House I shall move on behalf of the ANC:
That the House debates the revitalisation of indigenous languages.
Mr S J MASANGO: Speaker, I hereby give notice that on the next sitting day of the House I shall move on behalf of the DA:
That the House debates the protocols governing arms sales to other countries, and measures to improve oversight of these sales.
Mrs D F BOSHIGO: Speaker, I hereby give notice that on the next sitting day of the House I shall move on behalf of the ANC:
That the House debates the improvement of supply chain management systems to eliminate possibilities of fraud and corruption.
HIGH-LEVEL UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY MEETING ON AIDS
Mrs S V KALYAN: Speaker, I move without notice:
That the House -
(1) notes that from 8 to 10 June 2011 the United Nations General Assembly High Level Meeting on Aids took place in New York City;
(2) further notes that this meeting provided an opportunity to take stock of the progress and challenges of the last thirty years and took place ten years after the historic 2001 United Nations Special Session on HIV/Aids;
(3) acknowledges that it follows the 2006 signing of the Political Declaration where UN member states committed to moving towards universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support;
(4) further acknowledges the presence of many national delegates, which included more than thirty heads of state, government and vice presidents as well as many leading experts, academia and interest groups;
(5) recognises that this meeting follows the success of the South African HIV/Aids programme which made ground breaking progress with the treatment, testing, antiretroviral prices, tuberculosis and the re-engineering of the primary health care system; and
(6) applauds the effort of all involved in the global fight against HIV/Aids.
MOTION OF CONDOLENCE
(The late Prof Kader Asmal)
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Hon Speaker, hon Deputy President, Mrs Asmal, children, friends and hon members of this House, I move:
That the House —
(1) notes with great sadness the death of Professor Kader Asmal yesterday, 22 June 2011, at the age of 76, after suffering a heart attack;
(2) remembers that Prof Asmal was born on 8 October 1934 in Stanger, KwaZulu-Natal, and while still a school-boy met Chief Albert Luthuli who inspired him towards human rights and in 1959 he qualified as a teacher and moved to London where he enrolled at the London School of Economics and Political Science and while in London he started the British Anti-Apartheid Movement and when he joined the Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, as a teacher of human rights, labour law and international law he started the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement;
(3) further remembers that Professor Asmal qualified as a barrister in both the London and Dublin Bars and received degrees from both the London School of Economics (LLM (Lond)) and Trinity College, Dublin,(MA (Dubl)) and was a law professor at Trinity College for 27 years, specializing in human rights, labour and international law and in 1983 he was awarded the Prix Unesco for his involvement in the international inquiries into human rights violations and served on the African National Congress' constitutional committee from 1986;
(4) recalls that in 1990 Prof Asmal returned to South Africa and shortly afterwards was elected to the African National Congress's national executive committee and in 1993 he served as a member of the negotiating team of the African National Congress at the Multiparty Negotiating Forum and shortly afterwards was elected to the Forum, and in May 1994 he was elected to the National Assembly and joined the Cabinet as Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry;
(5) further recalls that in 1996 the World Wide Fund for Nature-South Africa awarded Asmal their Gold Medal for his conservation work and during his tenure he supported the Global Water Partnership (GWP)and as Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry he spearheaded the recognition of the concept of “the environment as a prime water user” and also served as the chairman of the World Commission on Dams from 1997 to 2001;
(6) acknowledges that in 1999, after the South African general elections, he became Minister of Education and among his initiatives as Minister of Education was the launching in 2001 of the South African History Project “to promote and enhance the conditions and status of the learning and teaching of history in the South African schooling system, with the goal of restoring its material position and intellectual purchase in the classroom”;
(7) further acknowledges that Prof Asmal retired from active politics in 2008;
(8) appreciates his sterling contribution to the struggle for liberation and the attainment of freedom and democracy; and
(9) extends its heartfelt condolences to the family of Prof Asmal, friends and comrades in the ANC and the Alliance.
The SPEAKER: Hon members, before we proceed I wish to acknowledge the presence in the Speaker’s bay of the family of Prof Kader Asmal: his son Adam, granddaughter Zoë, sister Fawzia and nephew Farouk. Prof Kader Asmal’s family from KwaZulu-Natal, welcome to the National Assembly. [Applause.]
Ms M SMUTS: Mr Speaker, I smuggled Kader Asmal into this Parliament in my little car for his very first visit at some point after his return from Ireland, to an institution which we would soon thereafter, with the two constitutions, change beyond recognition to the open, public, participatory place that it now is. He just could not wait to see the place, I think, firstly because of his great love for democracy and the law, and secondly from sheer excitement, because we were on the threshold of making history. We would make new law for South Africa in these same hallowed halls where the old laws were made, which both he and we in the then DP opposed.
As his friend, the hon Wilmot James, notes, Kader Asmal saw our country as a theatre of promise at a moment in time when, as his friend the Nobel Laureate and poet Seamus Heaney put it, “hope and history rhyme”. It is a sad, sad thing that someone who thrived on enthusiasm and was propelled by optimism was disillusioned with many trends at the end. His spirit did not fail, however.
I celebrate the fact that his last blast on a public platform, on Youth Day, was about the rights to free speech and access to information, which come into contention in the secrecy Bill. I just wish that I had let Kader know that progress was in fact being made in the ad hoc committee. We are still here, doing what we have always done, after all, especially for free speech.
Sir, let me mention as an aside that we had in common a commitment to and a passion for the fundamental human rights and a particular devotion to free speech, and that the hate speech provision of the right to free expression in the 1996 Constitution was effectively negotiated and settled between us. It was always a pleasure to negotiate with a real gentleman.
Kader truly cared for constitutionalism. He loved and lived for the great legal and political principles which we all share. We all share them, because they are now built into our founding document. If it was always a pleasure to negotiate with him, it was later also - well, usually - fun to work with him. As the hon James notes, he had a special ability to get many people of talent to work for him and do so in the spirit of public service. He notes that such people ranged from Antjie Krog and Gcina Hlophe to Edward Said and clearly to Dr Wilmot James himself. He says:
[We] ... made our contribution because we admired his intellect, passion and stubborn determination to make our country work. If the truth be told, we did it because we adored him for his mix of intelligence, an utter self-confidence that bordered at times on arrogance, his powerful sense of purpose, his unwavering sense of public morality ...
Sir, those of us who worked with Kader on parliamentary projects, such as the Chapter 9 Review, will agree, but wrily, that he had a special ability to get many people to work for him. The MPs who produced the Chapter 9 Review included myself and the ANC’s Carol Johnson, but what was the report called? Why, it was called the Asmal Report. [Laughter.]
Kader, above all, had a gift for communication and, yes, publicity, but he truly devoted that gift to advancing the great values, even if a little limelight did come his way, and we did love him for that. The public, via the press, loved him. They felt that they knew him and that is how a public representative should be.
I, on behalf of the DA, extend my dearest condolences to Louise — this is such a shock — and also to the children and mesdames et messieurs from KwaZulu-Natal. [Applause.]
Mr M G P LEKOTA: Mr Speaker, members of the House, a very special generation of South Africans is passing into history. It is a generation of men and women who were born into apartheid, who took part in the struggle to terminate that system and who became part of the constructors of the new order of democracy that we are now living under in our country. One of those outstanding South Africans was Prof Asmal.
I recall so well how some of the senior comrades spoke of him as a young activist in this country who was called Tiekie. Those who remember sterling will know that a “tiekie” was one of the smallest coins when we grew up. But although he was called Tiekie, he was a very big person. I often thought of him as a diminutive giant, because in spite of his stature, he did enormous work, at home, in England, in Ireland, where I briefly experienced his work and the people he worked with. Wherever we went in Ireland, fundraising in preparation for the first elections, his name was literally everywhere. In every hall, people spoke about Prof Asmal as the representative of the people of South Africa.
I got to know him for the very first time when he arrived in South Africa as we worked together in the ANC. He was informal, but he was very organised and systematic. He knew what he was about. I think those of us who were part of the team, of the ANC by the way ... [Laughter.] ... benefited tremendously from Prof Asmal. He was educative, he guided us, he was well researched. There was simply not anything that was lacking about him.
I think those of us who worked with him, both in the structures of the ANC and in this House, will remember how energetic he was in everything he did. In Cabinet, one of the comrades recalled, he read each and every memo of every department, and he debated it as if it was his own memo when it came before Cabinet. I think that example, set by an individual who had already advanced in years to that extent, was an inspiration and showed us the spirit of those who really shouldered the struggle over the years that brought us to democracy. So today I think we must again stop and reflect on the quality of the men and women who prepared the places we occupy now and think how we can make up for what they showed us.
I think that the very best we can do for Prof Asmal at this time is to remember the passion he had, the insistence he had on issues of national democracy and human rights in this country, and of sticking to the provisions of the Constitution. I think that passion he continued to display even after he had retired calls us to duty to the very end of our days.
I say on behalf of all of us: May his soul rest in peace.
Prince M G BUTHELEZI: Hon Speaker, Xhamela, his Excellency our Deputy President, hon Ministers and hon members, the death of former Minister and freedom fighter Kader Asmal has weakened our democracy and impoverished our Republic. One of our greatest independent thinkers has left us.
I had the pleasure of serving in Cabinet with Prof Asmal for 10 years. Despite his being the Minister of Water Affairs, he soon acquired the nickname “Minister of All Portfolios”, because he dutifully read all Cabinet memoranda and provided his contribution. He set the standard of hard work, competence and efficiency at Cabinet level. He was an indefatigable worker, who believed in the dignity and necessity of work, and he worked until the very end. Just last Monday, he presided over a meeting of the Parliamentary Institute of South Africa, a brainchild of his, which will soon be launched to enrich our democracy. The institute will be his legacy amongst us in this Parliament.
Last week, Prof Asmal was labouring over his important contribution to protect the Republic and its democracy from the threats inherent in the proposed secrecy legislation. With his death, the Republic has lost one of the most vigilant custodians of our freedom and constitutional order. He never feared to speak up on matters of principle. He will remain an example of a courageous life inspired by the highest values, a democrat and a man of principle you can aspire to.
Prof Asmal was dedicated to the struggle for democracy within the liberal tradition of tolerance and the pursuit of maximum freedom and liberty. He inspired the ANC liberalists. One hopes that his liberal spirit will continue to inspire us all. I can only hope that the ANC will honour his example, by teaching the values which forged our generation so that they may also shape our younger generation.
It is up to us to decide whether Prof Kader Asmal will continue to live in spirit, by upholding all that this Republic of ours stands for. We can choose therefore to continue to live by the legacy of our spoken, uncompromising and unwavering democratic vigilance, which Kader Asmal taught us, or we can yield, of course, to the weakness of closing our eyes to the ongoing democratic degeneration, keeping silent while what we built slowly disintegrates.
If we do the latter, we ourselves shall cause the death of Kader Asmal more than any physical ailment. But if we do the former, we shall ensure that whenever we speak in this House to defend democracy, the spirit and legacy of Kader Asmal shall continue.
I offer my and my party’s condolences to the Asmal family and to the leadership of the ANC who have lost such a great comrade, and I am also saddened by the fact that I have lost a great homeboy from KwaZulu-Natal. [Applause.]
Mr M H HOOSEN: Hon Speaker, the sudden loss of struggle stalwart Prof Kader Asmal has come as a huge shock to all of us in the entire country. The 76-year-old professor was a fearless fighter for freedom and human rights, and even up until the very last weeks of his life he had been fighting for the rights of South Africans without any aim of self-enrichment. Just a few days ago, he encouraged South Africans to stand firm against the proposed Protection of Information Bill, and his independent voice will be sorely missed.
He served the people of South Africa and his nation without wavering from the foundations and goals of our democracy. He added substance and value to each and every task afforded to him and stood firm on his beliefs, even at times when his views were unpopular.
The nation will continue to benefit for many decades from the vital role he played during the anti-apartheid struggle. He was an irreplaceable entity in the Mandela and Mbeki Cabinets in which he served. Prof Asmal will be missed by the thousands of students, both locally and abroad, whom he has inspired over the years with his enthusiasm.
On behalf of the ID, we extend our deepest, heartfelt condolences to the friends, family and colleagues of the late freedom struggle icon, Prof Kader Asmal. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mr N M KGANYAGO: Speaker, the UDM would like to extend its condolences to the family, friends, the ANC and colleagues of hon Prof Kader Asmal, who passed away yesterday afternoon. Our hearts go out to you in your time of sorrow.
Once again, South Africa has lost yet another struggle icon who dedicated his life to our struggle for liberation. As a Cabinet Minister of first Water Affairs and Forestry and then Education, Prof Asmal showed an impeccable work ethic. He worked hard to transform the department for the benefit of all South Africans.
The untimely death of Prof Asmal has robbed us of a true intellectual, a fearless fighter for human rights and social justice, who served our country with distinction. Our words seem inadequate to express the sadness we feel. As a nation, we must hold tight to the values and principles which national heroes and heroines like the late hon Prof Asmal resolutely defended. His life was a life of service to others.
Ka Sepedi re re robala ka khutšo monna wa banna, senatla sa dinatla, mogale wa bagale.
Ke a leboga. [Legofsi.] (Translation of Sepedi paragraphs follows.)
[In Sepedi we say, may his soul rest in peace. He was a great man, a hero, a brave and strong man.
Thank you. [Applause.]]
Dr C P MULDER: Hon Speaker, hon Deputy President, it is a privilege for me to convey the condolences of the FF Plus to the family of the late Prof Kader Asmal, as well as to his party.
Prof Asmal was ’n lid van hierdie Parlement sedert 1994 en het in daardie opsig ’n reuse bydrae gelewer tot die grondwetskrywende proses van die Grondwetskrywende Vergadering, en ook tot die debatte wat daarna plaasgevind het. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraph follows.)
[Prof Asmal had been a member of this Parliament since 1994 and has, in this capacity, made a huge contribution to the constitution-writing process of the Constitutional Assembly and also to the debates that took place thereafter.]
I would like to share one incident that happened in this very House in which Prof Asmal was involved at the end of his career. After he left the executive, he was a senior member of the ANC, a front bencher, and also for a while served as chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Defence. My colleague the hon Groenewald is a member of that committee. So one day Mr Groenewald went to sit next to the chairperson, Prof Asmal, to speak to him about something. Before the discussion started, the hon Asmal said to Mr Groenewald: “I have a problem and I want to talk to you about this. The hon Groenewald is causing a lot of problems for me.” He was complaining to the hon Groenwald about the hon Groenewald, being under the impression that he was speaking to the leader of the party. [Laughter.] Mr Groenewald did not think it was necessary to indicate to him that he was talking to the wrong person.
Prof Asmal het vir ons ook ’n voorbeeld gestel in hierdie Parlement in terme van debatvoering. [In this Parliament Prof Asmal was also an example to us when it comes to debating.]
He was never afraid to go into real debate and to debate argument against argument. I think we can all learn from that reality. That is the way to do things in terms of putting argument against argument.
Ek wil graag ons medelye aan die familie van prof Asmal betuig. U gaan agterbly met mooi herinneringe van hom en sy lewe. Aan die ANC, as ’n party, u het ’n sterk staatmaker van die party verloor. Ons innige simpatie. Baie dankie. [Applause.] (Translation of Afrikaans paragraph follows.)
[I would like to convey my condolences to the family of Prof Asmal. You are going to be left with beautiful memories of him and his life. To the ANC, as a party you have lost a powerful stalwart. Our heartfelt condolences to you. Thank you. [Applause.]]
Rev K R J MESHOE: Speaker, the ACDP received the news of the death of Prof Kader Asmal with shock and sadness. He was a fighter for freedom and justice to the very end.
When Prof Asmal retired from parliamentary politics in 2008, the ACDP honoured him for being a truly authentic person, courageous when it came to his convictions, a risk taker and certainly controversial. The ACDP appreciates the contribution he made towards the realisation of a South Africa that is free of many of the injustices of the past, and for this we are grateful.
Prof Asmal’s willingness to speak out and tell the truth as he perceived it, regardless of the consequences, placed him head and shoulders above many in this arena. He did not mince his words and he did not even hesitate to break ANC tradition by raising his concerns outside party structures.
This fearless fighter for human rights and guardian of democratic principles even urged South Africans to reject the controversial Protection of Information Bill and warned his own political party not to rush the Bill through Parliament.
We are grateful to him for speaking out and caring for his fellow Africans on the continent. We thank him, too, for speaking out on behalf of refugees and immigrants in South Africa who face great hardship. His courage was touching and inspirational.
The ACDP extends our sincere condolences to his wife, Louise, his sons and grandchildren, his family and friends, his colleagues in the ANC, and the communities he served. Our nation has lost a man of great intellect, principle and personal conviction, whose contribution to our constitutional democracy will be cherished forever. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mrs I C DITSHETELO: The UCDP would like to convey its sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Prof Kader Asmal. It is sad that the country continues to lose quality stalwarts whose values enhanced this country and whom there’ll be no shame in regarding as role models.
Prof Kader will always be remembered for his passion that translated into hard work in the field of human rights. He made such an immense contribution to the democracy we all enjoy.
May his soul rest in peace and may his family find comfort in the legacy he left for the nation. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr L M MPHAHLELE: Hon Speaker, hon Deputy President, hon members and guests, the Pan African Congress of Azania is deeply saddened by the untimely death of Comrade Kader Asmal. We send our condolences to the family of Comrade Asmal, the ANC and the government of South Africa.
Mokgapa o mogolo o wele. Ga re lle sehlodimare, re lla sa makgonthe sello. Mogale wa bagale o fulere. O re šiile le lefa la tokologo. [We are mourning the death of a great man. We have lost a great hero. He left us freedom as our inheritance.]
In a political environment contaminated with patronage and cronyism, Comrade Asmal towered above petty political agendas and never exchanged principles for personal favours. He was courage personified. As we bid this daring freedom fighter a heroic farewell, let’s remember that it is not yet uhuru as far as ownership of the land is concerned. Let us redouble our efforts to achieve a genuine economic liberation. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr K J DIKOBO: Mr Speaker, hon Deputy President, hon Ministers and Deputy Ministers, hon members and the family of the late Prof Asmal, we were saddened by the news of the untimely death of Prof Kader Asmal. In the late Prof Asmal South Africa has lost a teacher, a leader, a lawyer and an intellectual par excellence.
I had an opportunity to interact with him during his time as Minister of Education - at that time I was a teacher and union leader. He appointed me, at the recommendation of the National Council of Trade Unions, as a member of the National Board for Further Education and Training. We therefore worked with him during the change in the further education and training landscape.
I also interacted with him during discussions on the National Plan for Higher Education that led to the merger of universities and then technikons. He had come with the then director-general, Thami Mseleku, to make a presentation to the National Economic, Development and Labour Council’s Development Chamber. The meeting was very hot and he disagreed with the Development Chamber on a number of issues.
Prof Asmal was a forthright and outspoken person. He was not one to pull any punches, and with him you always knew where you stood. He was always passionate and full of energy, and pursued his ideas without fear. He will be sorely missed.
On behalf of Azapo, I say nxabe [condolences] to his family and to his political party, the ANC. May his soul rest in peace. Thank you.
Mr N T GODI: Mr Speaker, comrades, Deputy President and hon members, it was with shock and sadness that we learnt of the passing away of Comrade Kader Asmal. On behalf of the APC and indeed on my own behalf I wish to pass on our heartfelt condolences and solidarity to his family and his party, the ANC.
Comrade Asmal, as we all know, dedicated the better part of his life to the struggle for freedom, and he served his country in that struggle with distinction. After 1994, as we all know, he became a Member of Parliament, and member of Cabinet, wherein he contributed to the transformation of our country, the consolidation of our democracy and the fight against inequality and poverty.
He was a man of great intellect who did not suffer fools gladly. He was a man who always came across as highly principled. Whether you agreed with him or not, he was a man to be admired and respected. May his soul rest in peace.
The MINISTER IN THE PRESIDENCY: NATIONAL PLANNING COMMISSION: Mr Speaker, hon members, Adam and Zoë, Fawzia and Farouk, dear friends, thank you for the opportunity to share with you in paying homage to Kader Asmal, one who was truly distinguished among us by the quality of his service as a member of this House. I also want to thank you, Mr Speaker, and all the members of the Programming Committee for the prompt convening of this occasion.
May I also take the liberty, on behalf of the Asmal family and the ANC, to express sincere appreciation for the wonderful tributes by speakers from all parties who spoke on this motion this afternoon.
We celebrate the life of a comrade and friend whose adult life was marked by the pursuit of knowledge and a commitment to lifelong learning, supported by evidence and in order to persuade. Kader’s learning was not occasioned by the learning for examinations – he was long past that. And the evidence he sought was not required to win a court case, and the persuasion he indulged in was in order to convince.
Kader lived for politics, in the best sense of the concept – not the “I am bigger than you”, or the “we outnumber you, so your ideas don’t matter” style of politics, but politics writ large, where nonagreement required the opponent to be convinced of his or her own ideas, even where they were wrong. Kader’s adult life was steered by ideas and he lived for the dialectic, the opportunity to have opposing views argued on the strength of their merits. It is these attributes that made Kader into a great parliamentarian and a formidable ally.
It is clear that in his life he shaped and was shaped by the people and circumstances around him. Thus, when he was awarded the Légion D’Honneur by the French government, he said, and I quote:
I am the product of our struggle for freedom. Like my political movement, we have drawn inspiration from the intellectual and political pathway of humanity, which has shaped the contours of our Constitution.
I want to repeat. He said:
We have drawn inspiration from the intellectual and political pathway of humanity.
It is important that we understand that this was not some passive search for pathways already trodden that, having been identified, were then pursued. Our history is quite different from such passivity. One of the oft-quoted elements of the moral high ground that anti-apartheid struggle occupied was that the United Nations declared apartheid a crime against humanity. This did not just happen – in fact, the first attempt by the ANC for UN recognition was rebuffed.
It was Kader Asmal who ensured that the ANC used international law as it had never been used before to bring down apartheid. As head of the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement he worked closely with the Special Committee against Apartheid to get the UN to recognise the principle of self-determination as a rule of international law, and that therefore resistance to colonial, racist and alien regimes was legitimate.
From there it was a small step for the UN to extend the protection of the Geneva Conventions to national liberation movements and their members. Once this edifice was in place, it became simple to add on sanctions, boycotts and embargoes. At his suggestion, the ANC agreed to go a step further, to have the Geneva Conventions of 1977 extended to cover wars of national liberation. This, Kader knew, would open the way for states subject to wars of liberation to similarly observe the Geneva Conventions when it came to the treatment of liberation fighters.
Prof Asmal truly treasured our Constitution. In one of the last photographs published of him, just last week, he has a dog-eared copy of the Constitution in his hand. I remember asking myself why he needed a copy, because he was entirely au fait with every line and every verse of that document, whose contours had been shaped by, as he said, the political pathway of humanity — unless of course, as was his wont, he needed a prop in hand. He knew and loved the Constitution because of his intimate involvement in its genesis and negotiations. Retired Judge Albie Sachs writes of the process of constitution-making in South Africa as follows, and I quote:
It was a grey, drizzly day in Dublin — nothing unusual about that. It was in Kader and Louise Asmal’s house — nothing special about that. Kader didn’t smoke indoors the whole weekend — that was unusual. On Friday evening, the whole of Saturday, Saturday evening and most of Sunday, Kader and I worked on the first draft of the Bill of Rights for a democratic South Africa to be proposed by the Constitutional Committee of the African National Congress — that was unique. It was on a kitchen table in a Dublin suburb that that draft was written. I wish I could say it was because of the great tradition of Irish freedom that we felt there was no other place in the world it could be done. The reality was that the Constitutional Committee had nominated Kader and me to do it and we had to come together either in London or Dublin, and because Kader couldn’t get away, I came to Dublin. We were aware at the time of the momentous nature of what we were doing.
We divided the work. As I recollect, Kader did the first draft of some areas of special interest to him — the enforcement mechanisms and how the Bill of Rights would fit into the African constitutional structure. I dealt with the broad basic principles of a Bill of Rights. I can recall deliberately sitting down with a blank sheet of paper — no universal declaration, no international conventions, no constitution from any country — on the basis that a Bill of Rights should speak out from the soul of the fundamental rights that belong to every human being and shouldn’t be a list of items gleaned from an encyclopaedia or legal dictionary or textbook.
The constitutional principles that Judge Albie Sachs refers to, that were drafted on that kitchen table in 1987, were done for the ANC and they appear almost verbatim as the Preamble to our own Constitution, 1996. So, it was never an alien document, forced down our throats, but a document born truly of the “political pathway of humanity, which has shaped the contours of our Constitution”.
Thomas Paine wrote, and I quote: “My country is the world and my religion is to do good.” This was what Kader was about. The bequest from him is primarily a bequest of the values of humanity. Whether this was in the quest for water, education, information or just plain justice for all, Kader’s views were unequivocally strong and grounded in the best intellectual traditions. This was, after all, his foundation for service.
Kader Asmal was tireless in the pursuit of justice and for human rights. In everything he did he had a very strong pillar in his life, his wife and life partner, Louise. She was consulted on everything and, as I said from this podium on the day of his retirement from Parliament, she fed us and kept us in a style that we should never have become accustomed to when we lived together.
Not even during his illness last week did he pause for breath. Sometimes it was very tough being his friend! He continued arguing then against the government of which I am part, albeit on issues that he considered fundamental. But such has been our comradeship, premised on values that are far greater and bonds much stronger than the tactical issues about which we need to differ from time to time.
Tributes have poured in from many quarters. President Zuma said last night, and I quote:
He will be remembered for his energy, forthrightness, efficiency and commitment to making the country a better place each day. He will also be remembered for his passion for human rights for all.
Former President Thabo Mbeki wrote:
All of us who knew and worked with him, whether as a leader of the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement, as part of the leadership of the ANC, or as a Minister in our democratic governments, could always depend on him as a steadfast fighter for the liberation and advancement of the interests of all South Africans.
We want to thank the many people across the world who join with us in celebration of the life of a true freedom fighter – one who had the courage to stand up against the apartheid regime and, as a disciplined cadre of the ANC, stand up against those within the movement who would appear to try and cut a path other than “the intellectual pathway of humanity”.
As Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, and I quote:
... to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Go well, true soldier. You have taught us much. You have set a wonderful example. You have given a lifetime of true service to the people. Hamba kakuhle! Qhawe lamaqhawe! [Goodbye, hero of heroes.]. I thank you. [Applause.]
The SPEAKER: The condolences of the House will be conveyed to Prof Kader Asmal’s family.
Motion agreed to, all members standing.
EXTENSION OF DEADLINE BY WHICH AD HOC COMMITTEE ON PROTECTION OF INFORMATION BILL MUST REPORT
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Speaker, hon Deputy President, I move:
That the House, notwithstanding the resolution it adopted on 17 March 2011, extends the deadline by which the Ad Hoc Committee on Protection of Information Bill has to report, to 23 September 2011.
EXTENSION OF TERM OF OFFICE OF CHIEF JUSTICE OF RSA
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Speaker, hon Deputy President, I move:
That the House supports, in principle, the extension of the term of office of Justice S S Ngcobo as Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa.
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: Mr Speaker, I raise an objection.
The SPEAKER: Thank you, hon member. We will note the objection of the IFP. We will then proceed to the first Order of the day.
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: Speaker, do I infer from what you have just said that the motion has now been passed?
The SPEAKER: Yes, the motion has been agreed to.
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: No, Speaker, I objected to it and, in terms of Rule 98(3) ...
The SPEAKER: Well, we will then continue as follows: I put the motion. Those in favour will say aye.
HON MEMBERS: Aye!
The SPEAKER: I think the ayes have it. [Laughter.]
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: Mr Speaker, may I address you?
The SPEAKER: Please do, sir.
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: Speaker, Rule 98(3) deals with Notices of Motion. It says:
Except with the unanimous concurrence of all the members present, no motion shall be moved on the day on which notice is given.
So, there are members objecting, which means that you do not have unanimous concurrence. The motion cannot be passed.
The SPEAKER: Thank you, hon member. I have been informed that this motion was on the Order Paper. What the Chief Whip is moving is “as amended”. He has added one word. This was on the Order Paper.
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: Mr Speaker, with respect, it does not matter what he added. We still object.
The SPEAKER: We will note the objection.
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: But, Mr Speaker, the motion cannot be passed, because there is not unanimous concurrence.
The SPEAKER: Hon member, I am loathe to repeat what I have said, but the ayes have it, and the objection will be noted.
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: Mr Speaker, if you read Rule 98(3), it is very clear that if you don’t have unanimous concurrence – which you don’t have – then the motion shall not be moved. It cannot be passed because there is an objection.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Speaker, hon Van der Merwe has been a Whip for many years, if not decades, in this House. He knows that the Rule that he is quoting relates to motions without notice. This is a motion that is on the Order Paper. That Rule has no applicability whatsoever to this scenario. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: Mr Speaker, if you read further – and maybe the hon Deputy Minister should, once again, read the Rules, then he will understand – what it says is that they should have given notice before 12 yesterday. They did not do so. You cannot pass the motion as there is an objection. It is as simple as that. [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: Hon member, the motion was on the Order Paper more than 12 hours ago.
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: With great respect, Speaker, that is not true. [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: Hon members, I really want us to proceed. Do you want us to call for a division, hon member?
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: No, Speaker. [Interjections.] It is very clear that there is nothing to vote on.
The SPEAKER: I agree, but you want to call for a division where there is nothing to vote on?
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: No, Speaker, you don’t have to call for a division, because you don’t have unanimous concurrence. We object, so there is no unanimous concurrence.
The SPEAKER: Hon member, we have noted your objection. I want us to proceed. I have made a ruling and we are proceeding.
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: Speaker, you may proceed but, with respect, I think you are wrong.
The SPEAKER: I accept your wisdom, hon member. We are continuing. [Laughter.] [Applause.] Order, hon members!
Agreed to (Inkatha Freedom Party dissenting).
CONSIDERATION OF REPORT OF AD HOC COMMITTEE ON COMMISSION FOR GENDER EQUALITY: FORENSIC INVESTIGATIONS
Mrs D M RAMODIBE: Hon Speaker, hon Deputy President, hon Ministers and Deputy Ministers, hon members, today we are tabling the following report to the National Assembly for consideration: The Report of the Ad hoc Committee on Commission for Gender Equality Forensic Investigations, dated 19 April 2011.
The Ad Hoc Committee on Commission for Gender Equality Forensic Investigation was established by the Acting Speaker on 19 October 2010 and ratified by the National Assembly on 26 October 2010. Its mandate was to consider and report to the National Assembly on the Auditor-General of South Africa’s report to Parliament on an investigation at the Commission for Gender Equality, GCE, on allegations of financial impropriety, maladministration and improper conduct at the GCE and the report of the Public Protector on an investigation into complaints relating to misconduct and maladministration in connection with the affairs of the CGE. The committee was expected to report by 26 November 2010. But, due to time limitations, the deadline was extended to 31 March 2011.
The CGE is established in terms of the Constitution’s Chapter 9 institutions supporting democracy and under its own legislation. Its mandate is defined in section 187(1) of the Constitution, which is, among others, “to promote respect for gender equality and the protection, development and attainment of gender equality”. As is the case with other Chapter 9 institutions, the CGE is independent but accountable to the National Assembly. It must report on its activities and the performance of its functions to the National Assembly at least once a year.
This is a summary of the ad hoc committee’s observations. The committee received reports from all the relevant stakeholders and interacted with them for inputs and clarifications. These stakeholders include the CGE, Auditor-General, National Treasury and the Public Protector. Following due consideration of the report’s findings, recommendations of the Auditor-General and the Public Protector the following were observed, among others:
The CGE has many challenges to overcome on matters of corporate governance and leadership. Many of its problems are not unique but are similar to those affecting all other Chapter 9 institutions. Its establishment legislation is outdated. There is no clarity in role functions between commissioners and the secretariat. It has capacity problems resulting in the continuous floating of and noncompliance with a Public Finance Management Act of 1999. The required number of commissioners had not been appointed at the time.
Regarding the committee’s recommendations, based on the assessments, findings and observations of the relevant reports, as mandated, the committee recommends that the National Assembly considers the report and recommendations as outlined. The following are among the recommendations included in the report that would require urgent consideration by the National Assembly:
The Commission on Gender Equality Act, Act 39 of 1996 is revised expeditiously to be in line with the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, and the Public Finance Management Act, Act 1 of 1999. The National Assembly urgently facilitates the process of filling the vacancies within the commission, and that has to be done in line with the revised Commission on Gender Equality Act, Act 39 of 1996.
The National Assembly considers the report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Review of Chapter 9 and Associated Institutions to the National Assembly, dated 31 July 2007. A policy guiding relations between commissioners and the CGE secretariat is clarified within three months of this report being considered and the policy is submitted to the National Assembly. All other recommendations are outlined in details in the report. Thank you.
There was no debate.
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Speaker, I move:
That the Report be adopted subject to the omission of Recommendation 10.8, namely: “That the Public Protector affords Ms Gasa another opportunity to be heard, and thereafter reports to the National Assembly.”
Motion agreed to.
Report, as amended, accordingly adopted.
CONSIDERATION OF REQUEST FOR RECOMMENDATION OF CANDIDATES FOR APPOINTMENT TO PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION
Mrs J C MOLOI-MOROPA: Speaker, Ministers and hon members, Parliament is obliged, in terms of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa of 1996 and the Public Service Commission Act, Act 46 of 1997, to recommend candidates for appointment as national Public Service Commissioners. The request from the Presidency to fill two vacancies of the national Public Service Commission was referred on 18 March 2011 to the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration for consideration and report, and it was done by the Speaker.
Subsequently, a request to fill an additional vacancy was sent to the committee on 8 April 2011. In total, three vacancies were to be filled. The portfolio committee appointed a multiparty subcommittee to conduct the shortlisting and the interviews of applicants. The subcommittee consisted of the following members from their respective parties: Mrs J C Moloi-Moropa, hon L Suka, hon Mohale and hon Gaum from the ANC; hon Van Schalkwyk from the DA; and, lastly, hon C T Msimang from the IFP.
The applications of 227 applicants were received, 12 candidates were shortlisted, only one candidate withdrew and 11 candidates went through the interviews. I must indicate that those who were shortlisted were highly capable candidates. I will not take the House through those people who were shortlisted, but I need to indicate that due consideration was given to candidates with local government experience, qualifications, gender, age, knowledge of the public service and the Public Service Commission itself.
The subcommittee reported back to the portfolio committee on the outcomes of the interviews on 15 June 2011. After the consideration of the subcommittee’s report, the portfolio committee recommended the following candidates for nomination as commissioners on the national Public Service Commission to this House, Adv R K Sizani, Mrs C Nzimande and Mrs R Issel. In the event that these candidates are not available to serve on the national Public Service Commission, the committee recommended that Mrs L Sizani and Mr G Mokate be considered for appointment.
I want to take this opportunity to appreciate and thank all those who were part of the subcommittee. They worked very hard and diligently, without complaining, to make sure that we proceed and do the best for this Parliament, in terms of appointing commissioners to the Public Service Commissioners. Thank you.
There was no debate.
Question put: That the House approves the nomination of Adv R K Sizani, Ms C Nzimande and Mrs R Issel to fill the positions of commissioners on the Public Service Commission and the approval of Mrs L Sizani and Mr G Mokate as supplementary nominations.
Question agreed to.
The SPEAKER: Hon members, in terms of section 196(8)(a) of the Constitution, the persons nominated for appointment to serve on the Public Service Commission must be approved by the majority members of the National Assembly. Although a division has not been demanded, members are required to record their support for the motion. The bells will be rung for the whole five minutes.
Hon members, the electronic voting system is out of order. I propose that in the interest of time we go to the next order. We will come back to this one once the system has been fixed.
TAX ADMINISTRATION BILL
(First Reading debate)
The SPEAKER: I wish to remind members that there is no speaker’s list for the First Reading debate. After the introductory speech by the Minister, members who wish to participate in the debate must press the to-talk button — hopefully, it will be working — on their desk and, when recognised by the presiding officers, may speak from the floor microphones. Members may speak for not more than three minutes each and can speak only once. I also want to indicate that the total time for the debate is one hour. That includes the reply by the Minister, should he so wish.
The MINISTER OF FINANCE: Hon speaker, Deputy President and hon members, let me also join all of us in bidding farewell to the great patriot and democrat, Prof Asmal, and extend my condolences to Mrs Asmal and the family.
Tax legislation comprises of two different aspects. The first relates to the establishment of the tax liability, in other words, how much tax you owe, while the second relates to the administration of the tax. In constitutional terms, the first aspect is the money Bill aspect, while the second can be thought of as the administrative Bill aspect. Both aspects are essential to the success of an effective tax system and it is the administrative aspect that we are dealing with today.
The Tax Administration Bill, that we table today, takes the administrative aspects of several different tax Acts - for example, the Income Tax Act, the VAT Act and other similar legislation administered by the SA Revenue Service, Sars - brings these administrative elements together, rationalises them, makes them common, if you like, and updates them.
The aim of the Bill is to promote certainty, simplicity and coherence in the administrative aspects of the South African tax system to the benefit of taxpayers and Sars alike. This aim is reflected in the Bill’s very structure. It follows the life cycle of a taxpayer, starting with registration and running through to the supply of returns and other information, assessment of tax, resolution of disputes that may arise and the collection or refund of amounts that are due.
The Bill will enable business sustainability by improving consistency in administration of tax laws and cutting down on red tape. Equally, it will protect the fiscus and compliant taxpayers from the corrosive effects of noncompliance by dishonest taxpayers.
Taxpayers will, we believe, welcome a broad range of measures that will underpin efforts to simplify their interactions with Sars even further. Greater access to third-party data will enable the further pre-population of returns. The basis for a phased move to a single registration number across all tax types has been put in place, as has the basis for modernising and transforming Sars’s accounting systems. Taxpayers at the moment will have a VAT number, a PAYE number, an income tax number, and so on. In the near future they will have one number for all of these tax obligations and interactions that they have.
The Bill seeks to strike a balance between Sars’s powers and duties and taxpayers’ rights and obligations. Thus, while Sars’s information gathering powers are extended, the requirement is introduced that requests for information be reasonably specific and that requests to third parties be limited to information that they would reasonably be expected to maintain. Taxpayers who are the subject of an audit will be entitled to regular reports on its progress and the findings of its conclusion if an adjustment to their tax liability is proposed.
Taxpayers who discover that they are noncompliant and wish to correct the situation before being detected will be able to make use of a permanent voluntary disclosure programme. Those taking advantage of the programme will find their understatement penalties reduced substantially and Sars will not pursue criminal prosecution. I should note that this programme is not as generous as the existing voluntary disclosure programme that is scheduled to close on 31 October 2011. The temporary programme allows for the complete waiver of understatement penalties and of interest due on late payment. Those who are noncompliant and are considering their options would be well advised to come forward under the temporary programme while they still can.
This Bill largely carries over the dispute resolution system for substantive tax disputes that was introduced in 2003. The Bill does, however, propose a significant change when it comes to service, procedural or administrative matters. This is the creation of a Tax Ombud, who will be able to review and mediate taxpayer difficulties relating to tax matters. The Ombud is not intended to usurp the role of Sars’s existing internal mechanisms, the Public Protector or the courts. The Ombud is an additional low-cost avenue to resolve the difficulties, located between Sars’s internal mechanisms and the external mechanisms that are already available, such as the courts. The proposal for the Ombud’s office is based on this approach and draws on comparable institutions in Canada and the United Kingdom, among others.
This Bill has benefited from an extended public consultation process. The process started with a closed workshop with tax practitioners and organisations in May 2009. It was continued with the release of a first draft Bill for public comment that year, followed by workshops with commentators and other stakeholders in 2010, the release of a second draft Bill for public comment in 2010 and further workshops in 2011.
The Bill has further benefited from a constitutional review by external senior counsel, as well as a constitutional and technical review by the state law adviser. An informal briefing on the second draft Bill to the Standing Committee on Finance late last year provided additional feedback.
The Bill is the first instalment in a set of rewrite legislation that we intend to bring before Parliament. The Customs Duty Bill and Customs Control Bill, which were first released in draft form for public comment in 2009, are currently with the state law adviser for review. I anticipate that they will be introduced later this year. The Income Tax Act of 1962 will lose approximately 25% of its volume once the Tax Administration Bill has been passed by Parliament. So it is the next Act to be redrafted. A consolidation of the Act is planned for 2012.
To close, the Tax Administration Bill, 2011, before us today represents the outcome of several years of intensive work. It has involved a range of people from Sars staff to international experts in the field in its drafting and a wide range of stakeholders in its two-year-long consultative process. I thank all those who have been involved in this process to date, and I hope that this Bill will get the support of all the parties concerned. I hereby introduce the Tax Administration Bill, 2011, for the Assembly’s consideration. [Applause.]
The SPEAKER: I thank the hon Minister for his introduction. I now wish to indicate that I have the following names on my screen and the list is closed. I have the honourable members B Ntuli, J J van der Linde, G L Mahlangu-Nkabinde, Mdaka, D T George, N J J Koornhof, Mufamadi and Swart. The list is closed. Please resist the temptation to keep pressing the talk button. The list is now closed.
The Minister will not be speaking or replying. Okay, there are people who want to be scratched off the list. Are there any other volunteers?
The hon Mrs Mahlangu is off the list. Are there any other volunteers? No? Okay.
The MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS (Ms G L Mahlangu-Nkabinde): Hon Speaker, may I please be taken off that list?
The SPEAKER: I will, with pleasure, hon Minister. The hon J J van der Linde has also been scratched off the list. Mrs Ntuli, please speak from the mike where you are seated.
Mrs B M NTULI: Hon Speaker, may I be removed from that list, please? [Laughter.]
THE SPEAKER: With pleasure. Also, hon Mdaka has volunteered to be removed from the list. Okay, I recognise the hon D T George.
Dr D T GEORGE: Thank you, Speaker. Minister, I thank you for your introduction of the Tax Administration Bill. The DA welcomes this Bill that, we hope, will address the often confusing relationship between taxpayers and the tax authorities, as currently demonstrated by the so-called suspension of section 45 of the Income Tax Act. The DA believes that our tax laws have become extremely complex and complicated and that a consolidation and simplification process is necessary.
We welcome the Minister’s commitment to this process and to making the laws easier for taxpayers to understand. Although we have not yet studied the Bill in detail or received the inputs that are due from the public participation process, we welcome the appointment of a Tax Ombud and the clarification of the rights and obligations of taxpayers.
We are particularly concerned about provisions for Sars officials to search premises not identified in a warrant and to search without a warrant, especially in the light of a recent Constitutional Court ruling that warrants must be crafted in a way that enables the person on the receiving end to know why his or her rights have to be interfered with in the manner authorised by the warrant. This is impossible without a warrant at all. However, this is a debate for the Standing Committee on Finance to conduct and the DA will be an enthusiastic participant.
Mr N J J KOORNHOF: Mr Speaker, Cope welcomes the start of this process as the first step to rewriting the Income Tax Act. In the memorandum to the Bill, it is stated that international experience has demonstrated that if taxpayers perceive and experience the tax system as fair and equitable, they will be more inclined to fully and voluntarily comply with it. Add to that that they trust government to spend it wisely and you have a happy taxpaying family, if something like that is possible.
In 1776, Adam Smith said that one of the fundamental principles of taxation was certainty, meaning that the amount of tax which each individual is bound to pay must be certain, and not arbitrary. We, as the Finance Committee, had a nasty experience with the recently tabled Taxation Laws Amendment Bill, when the National Treasury and Sars clearly overreacted in the way they have suspended section 45 of the Act without notice, leaving a scar and a slight mistrust among committee members. So, be warned, we shall closely watch the contents of this new Bill. Although the memorandum to the Bill puts a high value on equity and fairness, certainty and simplicity, time will tell whether this Bill ultimately achieves this.
We welcome the introduction of the Office of the Tax Ombud and we further welcome the extended powers to deal more effectively with tax invaders who demonstrate certain behaviour. We look forward to a more efficient tax-law era in South Africa and shall play our part to achieve it. I thank you.
Mr T A MUFAMADI: Hon Speaker, from the preliminary engagement we have had with the South African Revenue Service officials, it is quite clear that optimum revenue collection is not an imperative but is essential to underpin government programmes to meet the socioeconomic priorities as outlined in the state of the nation address and the budget proposals we are about to conclude later today.
We must appreciate, at all times, the leadership of this institution, under the guidance of the National Treasury, for introducing and making sure that our budget focus remains consistent, reliable and brings about certainty and transparency in our country. Of course, to achieve all these objectives, Sars must at all times secure the most efficient, effective and widest possible enforcement of national tax and customs legislation.
As we know, our economy is an integral part of the globe. Therefore we require taxation laws that are adoptable and consistent with the fast and developing world economies. The harmonisation of these various generic administrative provisions in different tax Acts will go a long way in making sure that Sars continues to execute its responsibilities in a consistent manner. On the side of the ANC and the committee, we therefore welcome the introduction of this Bill and we’re really looking forward to engaging the public on these particular issues.
With regard to section 45, which hon members from the other side have spoken about, I must say that we must not jump the gun and pre-empt the discussions. The process is ongoing, the committee will have an interaction with the public and National Treasury will come back to the committee to report on the outcome of such a process. There is no crisis in so far as that particular legislation is concerned. [Applause.]
Mr S N SWART: Speaker, the ACDP welcomes the introduction of this Bill. Effective revenue collection is essential for any government to meet its socioeconomic priorities such as health care, education, infrastructure, employment and growth. This Bill deals only with matters related to tax administration and, as pointed out by the Minister, balances the powers and duties of Sars with the rights and obligations of the taxpayer and thereby enhances equity and fairness of tax administration. Nobody likes paying tax, but we all undoubtedly derive the benefits from revenue collection and it will be a preliminary step to the rewriting of the Income Tax Act.
We, as the ACDP, look forward to a simplified and harmonised system which will benefit Sars and taxpayers. We are also aware that the majority of the taxpayers are tax compliant. However, there is still a minority who seek to evade tax or defraud the government. Tax evasion, as we know, undermines the morale of compliant taxpayers and places an unfair burden on compliant taxpayers if not counted effectively. Therefore we as the ACDP agree that Sars needs stricter enforcement powers to target increasingly sophisticated tax evaders. We must increase the tax net.
This Bill will also allow generally compliant taxpayers to be subjected to less stringent measures and to be given better service while tax invaders will face stricter enforcement, assessment and collection powers. The ACDP will be closely studying the provisions of this Bill.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you very much, hon member. Are there any other speakers on this topic? No? Then I call the hon Minister.
The MINISTER OF FINANCE: Deputy Speaker, let me thank the hon members for their general support on this. I think hon Swart captured the essence of this Bill and the general approach of the South African revenue system and the tax system more broadly, and that is that we want equity and fairness in our system. He says that of course nobody likes to pay tax, but let us just remind ourselves that our own salaries get paid by the tax that is collected. The majority are compliant taxpayers — hon Swart is absolutely right. We need to increasingly do what we can to make it easier for them to comply.
Two hon members raised the question of section 45. Let me clarify this for the House. Section 45 is a technical provision which allows for mergers, acquisitions and reorganisation within companies without a tax liability. This is put in place in the Income Tax Act so that these activities can be conducted for commercial purposes — that was the original purpose. What we discovered more recently is that there is a tremendous industry out there which has been engaging in what we can call “creative tax planning”, which is resulting in potentially billions of rands being lost to the South African fiscus.
There is no overreaction in what we are doing. When you see losses to the extent of a few billion rands, both the policy makers and the tax administration have a responsibility to intervene. We have a responsibility to say to those who are organising their thoughts around this kind of planning to stop it because we are living in difficult economic times. What they are asking this House and taxpayers in South Africa to do is to allow them their creative activities, which rob the fiscus of millions, if not billions of rands, and then tell us to go and borrow the money and pay interest on that money and increase the debt of this country so that they can carry on with their creative exercises. Surely the South African public will not and cannot allow that.
So, the suspension of section 45 will be for a limited period of time. What hon members should remember is that tax administrations and policy makers are generally 10 steps behind tax planners. In other words, it takes them a long time to discover what tax planners are really up to.
The second problem we are confronted with is that there is minimal disclosure by those who are involved in these schemes. We hope that you will persuade those who have been appealing to you in the committee to come forth and put all the information on the table. They must be completely transparent and engage in full disclosure of the schemes and not ask us and the tax administration to behave like eternal dentists, pulling one tooth at a time - provided you can discover where the tooth is, in this case. [Laughter.] The truth often gets mixed up in this process as well.
An HON MEMBER: And there are holes too!
The MINISTER OF FINANCE: So, hon members can be assured that section 45 will be dealt with in such a way that legitimate transactions will be processed as quickly as possible. Those who are robbing and raiding the fiscus, so to speak, must be stopped. We hope that all parties will join us in that. We look forward to the debate on the Tax Administration Bill.
Bill read a first time.
(Consideration of Report of Standing Committee on Appropriations)
There was no debate.
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Speaker I move:
That the Report be adopted.
Motion agreed to.
Report accordingly adopted.
(First Reading debate)
Mr E M SOGONI: Thank you, hon Deputy Speaker, hon Deputy President, hon members, comrades, distinguished guests – there are no guests; today’s debate marks the culmination of a long journey that started on 23 February 2011, when the Minister of Finance, hon Pravin Gordhan, tabled the Appropriation Bill, B3 of 2011.
This Bill signals the ambitious intentions of our government to create jobs. President Zuma declared 2011 the year of job creation. In the February state of the nation address, President Zuma declared:
Our goal is clear, we want to have a country where more South Africans have decent employment opportunities, which has modern infrastructure, a vibrant economy and where the quality of life is high.
We South Africans have little chance for illusions about the enormity of the task we are engaged in to reverse centuries of subjugation and deprivation. On this, the 56th anniversary of the Freedom Charter, we must rejoice in the inexhaustible resolve of our people to be free. Our organisation, the ANC, has gone from strength to strength — no wonder its prestige at home and abroad has never been so high. The Appropriation Bill we are debating today is firmly responding to all the developmental issues raised in the Freedom Charter. There is no doubt that great progress has been made by the ANC-led government since the dawn of democracy in 1994.
Of course, hon Deputy Speaker, we are the first to admit that there are still challenges to overcome, especially in our rural areas. The ANC government will work side by side with our people to confront unemployment, poverty, illiteracy, the scourge of HIV/Aids and other ills facing our country. We are at the pinnacle of the Budget Vote process and the quality of our debate today must be informed by the political enrichment and valuable inputs in all 38 Budget Votes.
We have agreed and sometimes disagreed as political parties. Essentially, as public representatives, we are faced with the duty to ensure that the Appropriation Bill responds to the hopes and aspirations of our people because it is the lifeblood to projects and programmes that will benefit them. All too often we do not remind ourselves that it is the Appropriation Bill that we look to, together with the Division of Revenue, as the vehicle to deliver on the policies and priorities that our people endorsed when they voted the ANC back into power, confirming that it is the ANC and its policies and programmes that our people were endorsing.
While we have a constitutional and legal obligation before us today, what is fundamentally important is the economic and political considerations that inform the Bill. The Constitution and the Public Finance Management Act requirements are what we are bound to follow in order that money may be withdrawn from the National Revenue Fund. The Appropriation Bill reflects political and economic choices. Pro-poor macroeconomic planning requires going beyond the usual growth and stability focus. It requires a nexus between stability, growth, sustainable development and employment creation.
The 2009 ANC election manifesto outlined this when it stated that the following was necessary: the major scaling up of industrial policy with significant resources; state investment in the productive sector, especially in manufacturing and agricultural production; reviewing developmental financial institutions to support research and development and entrepreneurships; supporting the co-ops sector and small business development; ensuring high investment in education and training; implementing a larger national youth service; focusing on rural development, land and agrarian reform, improving access to health care and the introduction of the National Health Insurance, and so forth.
These ANC commitments have since become government programmes. In our debates there have been those who have questioned whether our macroeconomic framework can sustainably afford to absorb the funding requirements for these priorities. The Financial and Fiscal Commission, in their submission on the Appropriation Bill, raised a similar point but for a different reason. There is no doubt that some of these priorities can be absorbed by the fiscus, given the commitment to savings and cutting of unnecessary expenditure. The acceleration of these demands and priorities has meant more proactive and decisive deficit-financed expansionary macroeconomic planning.
Critics of deficit-finance expansionary macroeconomic planning argue that the borrowing always results in a heavy tax burden on future generations, while some argue that deficits have no long-run impact on outputs. What many of these perspectives fail to take into account is that the opposite effect results in growth in the short run. If a government uses a deficit to invest in productive infrastructure and, to some extent, income transfers to consumers, this will have both a supply and demand side effect on growth outputs – provided the economy has not converged. The expected growth in the economy then drives consumer spending instead of consumer savings.
Secondly, the expected growth from such spending usually leads to greater employment, an increase in economically active agents and thus widening the tax base to support future repayment of debts. The error in the thesis that future generations are burdened by higher taxes if expansionary deficit financing is used, is an assumption that economic growth remains relatively stagnant and the numbers of economic agents do not increase.
The Appropriation Bill is about enabling the State to meet the needs of the people as expressed in the Constitution and through the 2009 national and provincial elections and 2011 local government elections, both of which the African National Congress won with an overwhelming majority.
Eradicating poverty and ensuring job creation is the principal task of the Appropriation Bill. The electoral mandate, which we have been given, determines the priorities of the appropriation. The ANC as an elected majority party gives a mandate to government to implement its electoral mandate. This mandate is informed historically by the plans we laid down as the ANC. High unemployment rates and relatively low wage employment are contributory factors to inequality, low levels of human development, social polarisation, poverty, high levels of crime, illnesses and other forms of social stresses the country is currently experiencing.
In the short and medium term, unemployment and low wages lead to an increase in demand for social security for the majority of the people and a low tax base, which would in turn adversely affect economic growth. It is for these reasons that the ANC government has prioritised job creation and decent work as one of the most important programmes for this financial year and in the medium-term budget plans. We must build a more inclusive society, and putting more people to work will contribute to human development, income redistribution and social cohesion.
Broadening economic participation assists in curbing dependency, countering crime and reducing poverty, illness, alienation, mental stress and social exclusion. Government has adopted the New Growth Path and this is the first Appropriation Bill since then. There is obviously an expectation that we shall be able to see the beginnings of an influence on this macroeconomic framework. The New Growth Path identifies areas where employment creation is possible on a large scale. It develops a policy package to facilitate employment creation through a comprehensive drive to enhance social equity, mobilise domestic investment around activities that can create sustainable employment and strengthens the principle of ‘together, we can do more’ through strong social dialogue, focusing on all stakeholders to work for growth through employment-creating activities.
The Appropriation Bill is about how we implement these priorities within the framework of government programmes. It is about ensuring a financial framework for the executive which can be monitored and ensure accountability for the correct usage of funds appropriated and value for money. Since the second term of 2011, we have engaged with the government on their Budget Votes. These have been debated and subjected to scrutiny in order to assess whether the money asked for and appropriated by Parliament will indeed meet the needs of the people and the State in the 2011-12 financial year.
In this process, in fact, we are carrying out a number of interlocking and important functions of oversight. When the departments come and account for how they have used the funds appropriated for the past financial year and articulate their Budget Votes for the next financial year, we are exercising an important oversight tool of accountability, assessing the extent to which the State has the capacity to effectively and efficiently spend the money it is requesting. That assessment gives Parliament the real power of dealing with public funds and, as public representatives, of acting in the best interest of the people and the nation.
This raises the critical need for monitoring and evaluation capacity here in Parliament, in order that committees can effectively carry out oversight and make a significant contribution to good governance. The realisation of this potential is dependent on the way in which the monitoring and evaluation mechanisms are designed and implemented. For the future, this will become one of the critical criteria when we apply our minds to the Votes of funds as part of the Appropriation Bill.
Appropriately, in the middle of the Budget Vote process, the Minister in the Presidency responsible for the National Planning Commission released in this House the “diagnostic overview” report. Critically, the diagnostic overview examines the vexing question of the underlying causes to the main and contradictory challenges facing the nation. Its approach is typically and correctly a research methodological approach, scientifically extrapolating the base of the contradictions and not the superstructure. It emphasises cause and effect in its approach. It deals with the essence of the contradiction and not the form. Its approach, therefore, is dialectical. Its relevance for all political parties, National Treasury and other departments is that it forces us to rethink and re-evaluate the rationale for why we are doing what we are doing when we appropriate funds.
Importantly, it states that “if South Africa is able to reach broad consensus on its principal national challenges, it would stand a better chance of coming up with achievable solutions”. We would do well to understand this statement, for it is equally applicable to the Appropriation Bill debates. As we go forward with the medium term expenditure framework, MTEF, the diagnostic overview report becomes a tool to unlock our thinking on the economy and policy and what informs each appropriation in the context of human conditions, material conditions, nation building and institutions of governance. Going forward, this is a tool that we need to apply in determining future Appropriation Bills. Our achievements so far are driven by a commitment to do better, to fix what is wrong and to deliver a better life for all.
The ANC has identified, in the short term, priorities that need urgent allocation of financial resources over the MTEF. Employment creation is our major area of focus and this has meant aligning priorities for the 2011-12 financial year through this Appropriation Bill. As we said in our January 8th statement: “To implement this goal, the ANC and its government will rally the country behind achieving meaningful economic transformation and job creation.”
The Bill had to be assessed against the priorities of the ANC in government and its funding priorities. We need to ensure that this budget is used effectively and efficiently to achieve the mandate given to us by the people to pursue economic and social transformation. In adopting this Bill, we are going to intensify our oversight role in Parliament. We will vigorously ensure consistent monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the programmes funded through the adoption of this Bill.
In conclusion, let me thank all the members of the Standing Committee on Appropriation and the staff for their contribution in the process leading up to this debate. However, I need to caution them that what lies ahead will require considerably more effort, time and resources if we are to do justice to meeting the obligations of the money Bills legislation. May I also express appreciation for the working relationship we continue to have with the Minister of Finance and the National Treasury, who continuously help us to manage the respective distinctive roles and responsibilities we have. The ANC supports the Appropriation Bill, B3 of 2011. I thank you.
Mr M SWART: Madam Deputy Speaker, hon Deputy President, the 2011-12 Budget provides for total expenditure of R889 billion, which is 9,8% more than the revised estimate for the 2010-11 financial year. The funds for distribution among the various spheres of government will increase from R808 billion to R926 billion by the end of the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF, period.
Budgets will increase every year and the Minister of Finance is obliged to raise the necessary revenue to cover the proposed expenditure. This is normally done by way of increased taxation or borrowings attracting interest. It is therefore sad to see that many government entities fail to spend the amounts allocated to them. This underexpenditure against budget runs into billions of rand each year and in effect means that the revenues raised by the Minister is overinflated and unnecessary, and that lower taxation rates could have sufficed to cover expenditure or, better still, money could have been spent in more productive areas.
The underexpenditure by government entities is normally due to bad planning, poor management, poor productivity and control efficiencies resulting from cadre deployment, where who you know is much more important than what you know. Although there are departments that perform admirably, the majority of departments unfortunately perform badly, as borne out by the Auditor-General’s reports. The question then arises whether the Appropriation Bill should be supported, thereby perpetuating the bad management, bad planning and corruption found in many government institutions. The answer is obviously, no.
Allow me to just give you a few reasons why we say no. Should we support the budget of the Department of Public Works, which spent only 59% of the R1,2 billion allocated to them during the last financial year on the Expanded Public Works Programme? This is an underexpenditure of R709 million on a programme designed to tackle the crucial priority of job creation.
An HON MEMBER: Can you believe it!
Mr M SWART: Should we support the budget of the Department of Health, which underspent by an amount of R742 million against Budget during the 2010-11 financial year? Just on transfers the department underspent by R509 million. Among others, they failed to transfer R38 million to the loveLife programme and R452 million to the crucial Hospital Revitalisation Grant. This is also the department which had to pay — listen to this — R254 million just in interest to suppliers for late payment of accounts on a single project, the Zola Hospital in Soweto. Measured against set criteria, the department calculated the cost per bed for a hospital built in Limpopo at R1,5 million per bed, whereas the same bed costs R3 million in North West province. Where did the money go in North West?
Should we support the budget of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, which cannot provide the Appropriations Committee with the monetary value of the 346 court cases pending against the department, and which cases they are likely to lose? This department also does not know the extent of likely future monetary commitments on land restitution and land reform. We estimate that the court cases will be more than the entire budget of the department. Due to bad management, the department’s liabilities in terms of contracts signed to purchase land far exceeds the value of its total budget. The department does not know by how much or won’t say. Do we support the Budget of this department, which has purchased farms for beneficiaries but failed to provide the necessary means for sustainability, thereby leading to a situation where 90% of the farms purchased are nonproductive, which in turn seriously endangers food security?
Should we support the budget of the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, which underspent their budget by R115,2 million during the past financial year on, among others, crucial projects such as the Special Purpose Vehicle, aimed at supporting weak municipalities, and the Community Work Programme, designed to assist with job creation? In the debate on the Presidency last week, we heard that this department introduced a turnaround strategy in 2009. With all due respect, the only thing we have seen turning around thus far is the aeroplane of the Minister when he returned home after visiting his girlfriend at state expense in Switzerland. [Interjections.]
Should we support the budget of the Department of Police, where R36 million of their budget is spent on a once-off social party for the police, and where the Commissioner of Police enters into highly inflated lease agreements in Pretoria and Durban for new premises of which the lease agreements were found to be irregular by the Public Protector? Yet nothing has been done about it to date. At the same time, the Minister of Public Works has no problem in confirming the agreements.
Should we support the budgets of any department when we know that 5,7 direct jobs and 5,3 indirect jobs are created for every R1 million spent on the provision of infrastructure? Yet, virtually all departments underspent on their capital budgets during the last financial year and therefore on the creation of infrastructure and jobs. Do we reward provinces with additional budget when National Treasury was obliged to withdraw infrastructure grants so crucial for job creation from eight out of nine provinces recently? Do we provide further budget to poorly performing municipalities which fail to spend the Municipal Infrastructure Grants made available to them? Do we provide municipalities with money when they fail to render even the most basic services such as road maintenance, forcing farmers in the North West, for instance, to take matters into their own hands to maintain roads with their own equipment and means?
Should we support the Budget of the Department of Women, Youth Children and People with Disabilities, which has proved to be very effective in incurring travelling expenses, but very ineffective on matters such as control over the expenditure of the National Youth Development Agency? Why the National Youth Development Agency resides under this department, nobody knows, but one can only surmise that this is one of the departments left to their own devices with neither supervision nor control.
Should we support the budget of Parliament, which more than two years after the adoption of the Money Bills Amendment Procedures and Related Matters Act has failed to establish a budget office as prescribed by the Act? The Speaker tells us that the political task team is dealing with the matter, yet the task team consists of ANC members only.
Should we support the budget in which the overall salary Bill of government has increased from R156 billion to R314 billion during the last five years without a corresponding increase in productivity and/or improved service delivery flowing therefrom? No wonder the Minister of Finance has expressed concern in this regard.
After the Polokwane happening, Mr Jacob Zuma became President and had many backers to reward. This resulted in the creation of eight new government departments, costing an additional R550 million per annum and the appointment of a whole host of Deputy Ministers. An overinflated bureaucracy was created, especially in the Presidency, with no parliamentary oversight committee. The Minister of Performance, Evaluation and Monitoring tells us that if he finds something wrong, he has no teeth to take any action.
The ANC often says, “The people shall govern.” Indeed, the people are governing and professional management has flown out of the window. The DA will not support the Appropriation Bill as tabled. [Applause.]
Mr L RAMATLAKANE: Deputy Speaker, Deputy President, Minister and hon members, following my colleagues and hon members in this debate I rise on yet another sad day. It is a sad day because we have lost another leader, one of the calibre of Kader Asmal. Receiving this terrible news last night left us with a sense of hopelessness that South Africa has suffered a loss and yet another blow.
In tabling the report earlier on, the Chairperson of the Standing Committee indicated that as a committee we have deliberated on this budget and Appropriation Bill. Our collective concern, collective findings and collective recommendations contained in this report speak volumes. In tabling the Budget in February 2011, the Minister of Finance highlighted many positives and, of course, some negatives that require skilful and level-headed management in terms of oversight moving forward. These are the negatives of underexpenditure, corruption and, of course, the bill for the public service, which continues to rise.
As Members of Parliament our task of oversight is clear cut. We have to walk the talk. We have to insist that value for money is realised by all the departments and that Ministers are held accountable in this regard. We have the task to monitor and evaluate whether government delivery programmes produce noticeable output.
Cope is worried that after 16 years the departments are not yet level 4 auditable. We are seriously concerned that level 5 and 6 audits for many departments remain a distant dream. We are very perturbed to see that performance and real measurable output remain a moving target. Without a measurable objective we cannot have an effective oversight role over the department and the executive. If we cannot increase performance from compliance to value for money, protest against poor service delivery will remain the order of the day.
We urge government to speed up their adherence to the output and audit performance and meet the outcome objectives of the budget programme across the five key priorities. The norms and standards, as the measuring stick for all departments, must be realised, finalised and implemented.
It is unacceptable that our education still fails our future generation. Whether it is about the quality of infrastructure, mud schools or putting teachers to task, the committee’s finding is telling a worrying story. The absence of teachers, with or without permission, from the classroom, leave learners with only a negative result at the end of the year. Deputy Speaker, we need to insist that the national Department of Education delivers infrastructure, electricity, water, transport and teachers for quality output now. We are gravely worried that the Department of Education’s classrooms for effective learning and teaching leave much to be desired.
We must now demand that the Department of Public Works produces and tables the asset register detailing our public assets. Billions have gone into this work, with little to show.
We now need to see the government putting the developmental state into action. It is our view that a developmental or activist state, which capacitates the people, remains a solution. The practical training of people who will essentially do the job is required as a pillar for a developmental state.
Cope wants to see a clean audit from all the departments. However, a clean audit does not mean a quality service and effective service delivery. We are very concerned about the lack of sanitation in some of the schools.
Deputy Speaker, if we do not enforce the value-for-money oversight, we will continue to see the wastage of money that has been spoken about, such as the more than R250 million that was paid just towards penalties. How much could the delivery have been improved as a result of the lack of officials in terms of delivering services?
Deputy Speaker, one wonders whether the Public Finance Management Act, PFMA, provision should not be re-invoked in order to recover this money from the officials in charge who are failing our people. As we move forward we will make sure that we intensify the oversight over the Executive to make sure that this budget that has been presented here delivers the results to our poor communities across the country. I thank you.
Mr N SINGH: Hon Deputy Speaker, hon Deputy President, Ministers and colleagues, may I at the outset express my personal condolences to the family of Professor Kader Asmal. I remember first meeting him in 1990, some 20 years ago, when he shared with a few of us his political vision for South Africa. I worked quite closely with him when I was Member of Executive Council, MEC, for Agriculture and later MEC for Education. I found him to be a very forthright gentleman who always taught us younger people what to do and the way we should do it. I am sending my heartfelt condolences to his family. May his soul rest in peace.
I rise on behalf of the IFP to support the Appropriation Bill that has been tabled, albeit that we have some concerns about some of the Votes and the manner in which some of the departments are spending, or underspending, their funds.
Colleagues who have spoken before me have highlighted some of the areas of underexpenditure and certainly it is cause for concern when 16 years into democracy and having an established public service we still find that public servants, who are entrusted with the task of ensuring that they carry out the mandate of the ruling party and the responsible Minister, do not spend the money as they should.
Areas of concern include — and I want to emphasise these — the mud schools that we still have. I think the hon Minister in the Presidency and the President himself saw many mud schools in the Eastern Cape. This is something we should not be having in 2011, if only officials applied themselves correctly and used resources where they were intended to be used.
I remember very clearly when the former Minister, Barbara Hogan, when she was chairperson of the Standing Committee on Appropriations, talked about the unspent money for the Hospital Revitalisation Grant. This was probably six or seven years ago and it is occurring even today. We know that many members of our community are exposed to very harsh conditions when they go to hospitals. I think it is a sin that money that has been assigned and appropriated, paid by the taxpayer and diligently collected by South African Revenue Services, Sars, is not spent in this crucial area.
Hon Minister of Finance, another area of concern in the appropriations will be what the hon Ramatlakane and hon Swart referred to, namely the outstanding land claim cases. Let alone the 365 outstanding land claim cases and no appropriation for what may happen or may not happen, there are a number of claims that still have not been gazetted. I think this is going to be a time bomb as we move into the future and when we see more and more claims and contestations coming up and less money being appropriated to this particular arena.
Having said that, I think we need to remind ourselves as Members of Parliament that we always talk about the role of Parliament vis-à-vis the role of the executive but sometimes we forget that the Money Bills Amendment Act, which was signed into law in 2009, allows us as Members of Parliament to propose amendments to Votes. This is contained quite clearly in subsections (4) and (5) of section 10 of the Money Bill Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act. But to date none of the portfolio committees have used this mechanism to come to the Appropriations Committee and inform the committee that they have concerns about the Votes in particular, departments, and that they would like to propose amendments and propose conditionalties.
I suppose one of the reasons for that is what we heard few days ago by the hon Speaker. He said that we still don’t have an established parliamentary budget office. When we have this independent office, that will empower us as Members of Parliament to be able to interrogate the Votes of departments more clearly.
The other thing that we don’t have is standing rules. We need to develop standing rules in terms of sections 57 or 70 of the Constitution that will lay out a plan for portfolio committees to interact with Committees on Appropriations, so that when we come to this House we can speak in this debate on consideration of the Appropriation Bill about amendments that have been proposed.
Unfortunately, the Standing Committee on Appropriations, of which I am part, only dealt with six departments and asked them about the way they are spending or not spending. I think we need to be more vigilant, we need to accelerate our role, we need to have more oversight over the executive and then we could say to the country that we have been sent here as Members of Parliament and we are carrying out our duty in terms of the prescribed laws of this land. Once again, we will support this Appropriation Bill. Thank you.
Ms N N P MKHULUSI: Hon Deputy Speaker, Deputy President, hon Ministers and Deputy Ministers, hon members, the ANC and its government have incontrovertibly responded to our forebears call to swing wide open the doors of learning and lay a firm foundation for people’s education, for people’s power, by escalating education to the zenith of its priorities.
The ANC has always taken the view that the education question must be responded to holistically in an integrated posture to expedite socioeconomic transformation. We stand conscious of the fact that our people, in general, and the youth, in particular, require knowledge and skills for meaningful and gainful participation in the formal economy.
Our view, therefore, is that education should not only be emancipative but outcomes-based in the sense that it resonates with and responds to the demands of the New Growth Path, whose key traits is economic growth through job creation. We will, therefore, continue to endeavour for a seamless transition from one level of education to another, as well as for articulation between higher education institutions to build horizontal and vertical entry points and avert institutional red tape. We will continue to expose and combat all forms of constructive academic exclusions on the basis of class or race. In the same vein, we will continue to broaden the skills and knowledge sources through involving all education stakeholders in the empowerment of our people.
In this regard, due to the recognition of skills acquired in the course of employment and the restructuring of skills training centres and Setas, we shall not escape our scrutiny and oversight. Hon Deputy Speaker, facing us is the mammoth task of achieving universal access to uniform quality education. We keenly look at the Bill to examine how, through the current allocation, we will take further steps towards ensuring that the culture of learning and teaching service is galvanised through ensuring developmental conditions of learning and teaching.
The questions that come to mind, among others, are: Will this Bill make conditions better for the economically marginalised? Through this Bill, will those who lack economic muscle access quality education? Through this Bill will those, but for unfavourable conditions, be high quality performers? Will we be able to unleash the potential without let or hindrance?
We have noted the observations of the National Planning Commission’s diagnostic overview in relation to education. Without gainsaying the progress made in expanding access to education, ensuring a equitable schools funding and equitable supply of learning and teaching support material, the report is candid about systematic gaps along the path to high-quality education. The report concludes that the quality of education for poor black South Africans is substandard.
The conclusion of the report is based on the premise that the gross enrolment ration for the secondary phase shows that many learners drop out before completing Grade 12; that the quality of physical assets and infrastructure at school level remains highly unequal; that efforts to raise the quality of education for poor children have largely failed; and that the quality of early childhood education and care for poor black communities is inadequate and generally very poor.
The report asserts that low literacy levels among parents, poor nutrition, violence and social fragmentation are factors that explain why the performance of school children from poor communities remain low relative to their wealthier peers, of whom the majority attend the former model C schools.
In his state of the nation address, his Excellency, the President, said: “The focus in basic education this year is Triple T - teachers, textbooks and time. We will continue investing in teacher training, especially in mathematics and science.” The R2 billion allocations for Funza Lushaka bursaries must ensure skills upscaling to equip teachers to be more effective and efficient. This amount is meant to increase the number of prospective teachers receiving bursaries in subjects such as mathematics and science and the foundation phase from 10 150 in 2010 to 15 217 by 2013.
The textbook leg must be strengthened by the roll-out of nearly developed learner workbooks and teacher lesson plans that have already been provided for Grade R to Grade 6. In total, it is envisaged that more than 6,6 million learners and 125 000 teachers are to receive high-quality teaching and learning materials for the 2011 academic year.
Evidence attests to the success of the Funza Lushaka Bursary scheme and its demonstrated ability to attract high-quality applicants to teaching. The textbook leg has also shown a fair amount of success. However, there have been challenges in the actual usage of the textbooks in the classrooms - a matter we commend to the capable hands of the Department of Basic Education. It is our view, therefore, that the Triple T tactic, as pronounced by the President, has to form the basis of basic education expenses for the current financial year.
We welcome the further continuation of the National Schools Nutrition Programme, the HIV/Aids Life Skills Programme and the Technical Secondary Schools Recapitalisation Grant. It is with genuine appreciation that we note the introduction in the current financial year of the new Dinaledi schools grant, Education Infrastructure Grant and the School Infrastructure Backlog Grant.
Barring the occurrence of the unexpected, the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative, Asidi, will be instrumental in ensuring that schools operate with the basic requirements of safety that include provision of water, sanitation and electricity. However, we must express our concern regarding the efficiency of the schools infrastructure programme, and wish to urge the Department of Basic Education to expedite the replacement of the 395 mud schools.
Evidence gives credence to the fact that in terms of Grade R, the access question is easier to deal with. What is elusive is quality. The department should therefore include quality inputs in Grade R and the early years of formal schooling. It is a truth that cannot be gainsaid that performance in early grades predicts later performance. If we do not get it right in the early phase, especially in numeracy, it is very difficult to play catch up at the later phases.
Let me take the House through the Department of Higher Education in the context of the Appropriation Bill. Between 2007-08 and 2009-10, additional funding for higher education was appropriated towards higher education subsidies to cater for increases in higher education costs and enrolments. In 2010-11 and 2011-12 spending is prioritised for FET colleges and skills development. An amount of R5 million is prioritised for teacher bursaries and R22 billion is added for the FET grant and skills development.
The FET grant caters for additional funding for the FET function, which is currently being shifted from the provincial to the national department. We should mention that challenges remain with regards to student equity, graduation rates and enrolment rates in scarce skills such as science, engineering and technology. One of the challenges remaining is improving the number of students who complete their studies, graduate and get employment.
The January 8th Statement of the ANC MECs states that in line with the vision of the Freedom Charter and the resolution of our 52nd national conference, we are committed to progressively introduce free education up to undergraduate level. With effect from this year, 2011, students who are registered at a public university in their final year of study and who qualify for funding from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme will receive a loan equivalent to the full cost of study, which is a full fee and necessary living expenses. If these students graduate at the end of the year, the loan for the final year will be converted to a full bursary.
It is therefore our view that the addition of R3,6 billion to NSFAS to enhance poor students’ access to universities will enable the scheme to improve on its quality and the quantity of students it assists. Academically capable students are denied access solely on the basis of financial need. While welcoming additional funds for NSFAS, we do so with the full realisation that there are students who do not qualify for NSFAS but cannot afford to pay university fees. We need to ensure improved access to quality learning programmes, increased relevance of skills development interventions and building strong partnerships between stakeholders and social partners.
Our investment in education, training and skills development should be focused on achieving a skilled and capable workforce to support an inclusive economic growth path and social development. We need to interrogate workplace training with theoretical learning and improve the skills levels and address poor work readiness of many young people leaving formal education institutions and entering the labour market for the first time. There should be ardent promotion of the growth of the public FETC system that is responsive to sector, local, regional and national skills needs and priorities.
We should also support small enterprises, cooperatives and worker-initiated training initiatives. We need to intensify in a more concerted manner the fight against corruption and fly-by-night institutions and training initiatives and eliminate unnecessary middlemen in the provision of services in order to maximise the impact of the allocated resources.
We are the proud host of the 6th World Congress of Education International to be held on 24 July 2011, here in Cape Town, where the congress provides an opportunity for the representatives of all Education International affiliates to meet and strengthen the bonds of solidarity between teachers and education workers throughout the world.
In conclusion, as we progress towards the centenary of the ANC, we want to, once more, commit ourselves to ensuring that universal access to quality education is realised by all. We are determined to reverse the ignominious legacy created by the apartheid when its apparatchiks attacked black children and forced them to paralysing mediocrity through feeding them inferior education. The ANC supports the Bill. I thank you.
Mr S N SWART: Chairperson, Deputy President, today we are coming to the end of a lengthy budgetary process that was started with the Budget Speech in February when the Minister of Finance announced the budget projections for the financial year. In exercising our oversight functions, Members of Parliament, MPs, in the portfolio committees have checked whether the departments kept their promises of the previous year and spent taxpayers’ money wisely. We have highlighted shortcomings in departmental expenditure arising from Treasury, departmental and Auditor-General reports during these hearings, and many shortcomings have been highlighted. We will shortly be voting on each of these department’s allocations.
The ACDP believes that we have been more than gracious to many national departments. We have not yet used our powers in terms of the Money Bills Amendment Act to amend these allocations. I think it is a poor excuse to say that it is because there is not yet a budget office that we have not yet used our powers. We could still have exercised our powers. I believe that the time is fast approaching when we will make use of these powers to penalise departments that are underspending or underperforming. They need to have their budgets trimmed because the country is facing budget deficits over the short to medium term, with an increase in state net loan debt levels to reach R1,4 trillion by 2013-14.
Now, do we understand what a trillion rand is? It’s a 1 plus 12 noughts. It is a million million rand. It’s a thousand billion rand. To quantify this, let me ask you how long it would take to spend a trillion rand if you spent R1 per second. The answer is about 31 000 years. If you spend a million rand per day, it would take you more than 2 000 years to spend that amount. This is a vast sum of money! Surely, under such circumstances, departments that perform inadequately and underperform need to be penalised.
The budget deficit would also be more palatable if government was spending more on the productive side of the economy, as opposed to the consumption side. However, more and more funds are being allocated to current costs such as the public sector’s salary bill, which has doubled over the past 12 years from R156 billion to R314 billion. This constitutes 40% of noninterest expenditure, which is, surely, a cause for concern.
Earlier this week the Speaker launched the Oversight and Accountability Model which asserts our role, our oversight role, in enhancing democracy. As part of that role we need to monitor expenditure trends in an ongoing manner. Clearly, this function will be made easier when the parliamentary budget office is up and running, but nothing prevents us from already exercising our powers in terms of the Money Bills Amendment Bill. That having been said, the ACDP will support the Appropriation Bill. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mrs M N MATLADI: Madam Chairperson, this debate remains a very important aspect in a country that seeks to maintain a working democracy that still listens to the people and takes cognisance of their word. Obviously, service delivery is through state departments and therefore it is of the utmost importance that we pay attention to how the National Revenue Fund is distributed.
We have made various inputs as we debated Budget Votes for the departments. Hopefully, the issues raised will be taken seriously by the executive decision-makers because I would like to believe that this whole process is not a tick-off exercise just so that we are seen as democratic and having good governance. I would like to believe that it is a genuine process wherein the interest of the decision-makers is to listen, take responsibility and correct errors and mishaps pointed out so that at the end of the day we are all proud of the end product and receive a value-for-money service. Economic and social development depends so much on this process and a fair, reasonable distribution of funds is central.
I must point out that it is still a concern that many state departments continue to receive qualified audit reports. This is inexcusable, especially when you consider that many of such qualified reports are due to noncompliance to existing legislation that this Parliament works very hard in ensuring that it is properly consulted upon. Legislation is meant to shield individuals from making or taking personally influenced decisions, but that they align their decisions to existing procedure in legislation. Hence, I submit that nonadherence is inexcusable and it is time that we seriously look at punitive measures against such practices. We must display loyalty to principles rather than alliance to individuals.
We are concerned that the mismanagement of funds and the abuse of procurement processes more often implicate senior officials and therefore this suggests that we must look seriously at how positions are being filled. Clearly, cadre deployment is costing citizens so much in real and tangible terms. We must all know that we are having finite supply of resources and cannot continue to make such gross mistakes.
Whenever the Auditor-General reports on mismanagement of funds and irregular and wasteful expenditure, we are told that such matters are being investigated but are hardly ever told of the outcomes of such investigations. More often than not political heads are cushioned or appear to be immune from responsibility.
State-owned enterprises have been the worst performers and the individuals assigned to running them have been released with pats on the back and hefty packages, only to be redeployed somewhere else. This is a disappointing state of affairs and if we continue with this trend, the prophecies of doomsayers shall come to pass.
After many years of oppressive rule, here is a chance to prove that those who fought against it, a noble act indeed, did not only want a replacement of the skin colour of the rulers but emancipation of all people. Let such emancipation mean economic freedom for all of us. Let the decision-makers therefore not disappoint our people. With this, the UCDP supports the Appropriation Bill. [Applause.]
Mr G T SNELL: Hon Chairperson, hon Deputy President, hon members, I believe that the DA, in saying that they do not support the Appropriation Bill for the 2011-12 financial year, has just made Minister Gordhan’s job of allocating budgets in the years going forward much easier when they claimed that they do not need any more than 40% of the money that they utilised in the 2010-11 budget to run the Western Cape province.
The President of the Republic of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, addressing the National Assembly in 1999 said, and I quote:
Because the people of South Africa finally chose a profoundly legal path to their revolution, those who frame and enact the Constitution and law are in the vanguard of the fight for change. It is in the legislatures that the instruments have been fashioned to create a better life for all. It is here that oversight of government has been exercised. It is here that our society with all its formations has an opportunity to influence policy and its implementation.
According to Jeremy Heimans of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD, the Budget is the most important economic policy tool of government and provides a comprehensive statement of the nation’s priorities. He adds that, as the representatives of the people, Parliament is the appropriate place to ensure that the Budget best matches the nation’s development priorities within available resources. An active role by legislatures in budget making and budget review provides a check on the exercise of fiscal authority by the executive within the confines of the doctrine of the separation of powers. Therefore, influence and pressure from Parliament is likely to increase budget accountability and transparency from which civil society groups will also benefit.
Heeding the call by former President Nelson Mandela and taking cognisance of its role in relation to the Budget, the Standing Committee on Appropriations undertook hearings to gain stakeholder insight and perspectives on whether the Appropriation Bill was consciously aligned to government’s key priority areas. Three stakeholders made submissions. These are the Financial and Fiscal Commission, the Public Service Commission and the Human Sciences Research Council. This process culminated in the committee giving its support to the Appropriation Bill, with its findings and recommendations tabled in ATC of 20 June.
The manner in which the Budget is developed and crafted is a complex one. It is a helix of assumptions intertwined in a manner that aims to achieve a multiple number of interrelated goals. It is the considered opinion of the ANC that the 2011-12 Appropriation Bill achieves our objective of providing finance for a wide-ranging programme that has been translated into detailed, deliverable agreements and targets for national and provincial departments, agencies and municipalities. The single encompassing objective of public policy for the period ahead is employment and creation of decent work.
Economies have five main economic objectives at a macro level, namely economic growth, full employment, price stability, equitable distribution of income and wealth and the balance of payment stability. Economic policy is aimed at achieving these objectives, with one of them usually selected as the main priority. The pursuit of economic growth requires an expansion of national production and income. This is a prerequisite for job creation, improved living standards and economic development. Likewise, the incremental pursuit of full employment or the eradication of unemployment is an obvious objective of economic policy, particularly in South Africa, where unemployment remains a major socioeconomic problem.
President Zuma, in his 2011 state of the nation address, emphasised the creation of decent work and called on all sectors of government to redouble their efforts to achieve this objective. This call comes after the Cabinet approved the New Growth Path in 2010 as the overarching policy framework to deliver on the outcome of creating decent employment through inclusive growth.
The policy’s principle target is to create 5 million jobs over the next 10 years. This framework reflects government’s commitment to prioritising employment creation in all economic policies. It identifies strategies that will enable South Africa to grow in a more equitable and inclusive manner while attaining South Africa’s developmental agenda.
The New Growth Path identifies five other priority areas as part of the programme to create jobs through a series of partnerships between the state and the private sector. These include the green economy, agriculture, mining, manufacture and tourism. The New Growth Path proposes major improvements in government, with a call for slashing unnecessary red tape, improving competition in the economy and stepping up skills development.
The framework identifies the developmental package, which is a co-ordinated set of actions across a broad front. These consist of macroeconomic strategies, microeconomic measures and stakeholder commitments to drive employment and economic growth. Against this background, it is in the interest of all political parties to ensure that government succeeds in meeting its policy objectives and implementation targets.
In general, when a party wins in an election, they have a mandate from the people to address the national development interests in accordance with the manifesto put forward by the party.
Mr M J ELLIS: So why didn’t they?
Mr G T SNELL: Parliamentarians are representatives of the people and need to constantly ensure that the economic objectives as well as the national development objectives are largely in keeping with the direction promised. Accordingly, the role Parliament plays in relation to the approval of the Budget is instrumental in holding the executive to account to the people.
The 2011-12 Budget is a tool of transformation designed to realise the ANC’s objectives and policies and, by extension, the will of the people. With this in mind, the Financial and Fiscal Commission’s, FFC, submission on the Appropriation Bill will need to be seriously considered in the context of priorities over the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF.
The FFC has expressed the view that the amount spent on personnel does not yield the required outcomes. This therefore requires the Minister for the Public Service and Administration to engage with the issue and provide a solution in consultation with the relevant stakeholders. This is a very serious statement, more especially since service delivery is critical in building a developmental state.
This takes us back to performance management and the absolute necessity to have an agreement on what outcomes must be achieved when there is pressure on expenditure. The sustained funding of priorities over the MTEF period is critical to ensure the incremental realisation of the ANC’s policy position over the period. Clearly there will be new emphasis over the MTEF given that the ANC is going to its policy and national conference next year.
The strategic outlook of the ANC - strategy and tactics - is its application applied in the “continuity of change” process. This applies to policy as well as to funding of policy priorities and programmes.
We note the FFC’s concern around the impact of competing interests and the constitutionally mandated services that the ANC government must deliver on. Experience, especially in the provinces, has taught us that there must be strict application of conditional funding when it comes to addressing this. We do believe that while there has been a lapse in spending of conditional grants at a provincial level, provincial Treasury guidelines and interventions have, to a large extent, addressed this.
We do agree, however, that technical efficiency in relation to how funds are spent needs further attention. Often, there is a delay in financing projects and this has a negative impact on our ability to deliver.
In exercising its oversight role in so far as passage of the Appropriation Bill is concerned, committees and this House have a continuous responsibility to ensure that there is a link between the Budget and the policy outcomes in the Medium-Term Strategic Framework and the implementation of the delivery agreements around the 12 outcomes, as outlined by the executive.
During the hearings, the Human Sciences Research Council, HSRC, raised concerns around specific appropriations in the health and food security areas. The phased introduction of the National Health Insurance needs to be understood in the context that it is a multifaceted approach over a period of 14 years. Therefore, there will be the necessarily different perspectives on what should be allocated in a given year and, in particular, the MTEF period. The concern is that there is not enough funding allocated in the start-up years. We are, however, confident that this matter shall receive further attention.
While the Appropriation Bill is enacted annually, the realisation of outcomes takes place over a longer period and it is for this reason that we plan strategically for five years. What remains critical is the role that the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation has to ensure that there is a tool available to measure outcomes over the MTEF period which will also assist us to undertake our oversight.
In the words of the late ANC President, Oliver Tambo, “Political revolutions are about the capture of state power and its use to advance the objectives of fundamental social transformation.” In strengthening partnerships in the delivery of services, we will continue to evolve and, in so doing, strengthen the state’s ability to deliver quality services within a framework informed by the needs of the people. In doing this, we introduce the theory of direct participatory democracy, while breathing life into the noble principle of “the people shall govern”. The ANC supports the Appropriation Bill. [Applause.]
Dr P J RABIE: Madam Chair, hon Deputy President, members, the National Planning Commission, NPC, chaired by the hon Minister of Planning, released a very honest assessment of what major issues we face. The most serious challenge that we face is unemployment in the private and public sector. More than 1 million South Africans became unemployed during the last financial year. The NPC says that 60% of the unemployed have never worked and many lack the skills needed to participate in our economy. Thousands of South Africans have given up hope of attaining a sustainable job.
What is needed is for all sectors of the economy to create low-skilled employment because South Africa experienced jobless economic growth the past decade. In fact, we shed jobs at an alarming rate.
The DA agrees with the NPC that high starting-level wages inhibit labour absorption. We will have to liberate our labour regime. It is estimated that 51% of the age group 18 to 35 is at present unemployed and depend on welfare grants, while almost 13 million to 14 million South Africans depend upon grants.
Education is another challenge. Despite massive expenditure, the quality of education available to millions of South Africans is not up to accepted international standards. The National Planning Commission found that teacher performance and the quality of school leadership in 80% of our schools are poor. In a study among maths teachers of Grades 4 to 6 who wrote maths tests on the curriculum for Grades 4 to 7, only 33% of the teachers passed.
Allow me to congratulate the hon Minister of Planning who, despite the influence of trade unions, had the courage to accentuate this issue, because teacher and principal competence has been a no-go area in the past decade. This is partially why only 15% of students who wrote exams in 2010 achieved an average mark of 40%.
Other variables, such as spatial challenges, marginalise millions of South Africans. Our present public health system confronts a large burden of disease due to HIV/Aids. The National Planning Commission also accentuates corruption, which is costing this country billions of rand.
The DA conducted research regarding the total value of government corruption in South Africa and the following figures must be taken into account: the municipal audits of 2008 and 2009 show fruitless and wasteful expenditure of R128 million, which in 2009 to 2010 went up to R189 million; unauthorised expenditure of R3,3 billion in 2009, which went up to R5 billion in 2010; irregular expenditure, which went up from R2,4 billion to R4,14 billion in 2010.
The DA’s wasteful expenditure monitor investigated and found that the Zuma administration has allowed R4,91 billion to be spent on wasteful expenditure, since taking office in 2009, which is a vast amount of money. The Department of Justice is currently investigating 62 unfinished investigations into allegedly corrupt tender allocations, worth billions of rands.
According to Sars, the figure of taxes owed by tender winners is R1 billion. Perceptions about corruption, according to the Global Corruption Monitor, are very significant. It shows that 68,1% of South Africans perceived corruption to affect the business environment very significantly and 65,4% of South Africans expected corruption to increase a lot over the next three years. The results of the Country Corruption Assessment Report showed that 80% of South Africans perceive corruption to be prevalent, with 41% considering it one of the most important problems to be addressed. Sixty-two percent of respondents from the private sector perceived corruption to be a serious problem and Public Service clients believed that between 15% and 30% of public officials were corrupt. Some Public Service managers held the view that up to 75% of their own staff was corrupt.
The core function of the Appropriation Committee is to monitor state expenditure. The National Planning Commission, however, noted that an estimated 20% to 25% of state procurement, amounting to almost R30 billion a year, is wasted.
The lack of accountability of government and state-owned enterprises has contributed to a culture of poor performance and nondelivery. Our economy is basically a commodity-driven economy. Infrastructure, or the lack of modern infrastructure, remains a constraint to economic growth and jobs. Brazil and Australia, commodity-driven economies, have significantly increased the volume of their commodity exports the past decade. South Africa, however, has fared dismally due to rail and electrical constraints.
I will be doing a disfavour to 50 million South Africans if I say that our government entities are performing as expected of them. My fellow DA member gave specific examples of bad planning, mediocre management and control deficiencies in government entities. The DA is a proud pro-South African opposition. We believe in an open, equal society where merit, not race, is taken as the norm. We believe that sustained economic growth of more than 5% can only be attained if we protect the independence of the judiciary, where we separate the state and political parties. South Africa’s top priority is to create more jobs. The question is whether the ANC is doing enough to encourage investors from abroad to invest in labour-absorbing industries. Allow me to identify a number of economic constraints.
The many questions regarding bribery with regard to the arms deal is of concern and it is dissuading foreign investors to invest. The fact that the ANC Youth League threatens that the nationalisation of the mining industry is a viable foreseeable occurrence and that no compensation will be paid to shareholders demands urgent attention and condemnation from the ANC government.
The New Growth Path, announced by the hon Minister of Economic Development, stipulates 500 000 jobs per annum for the next five years. What is actually happening? Only two mega projects have been announced this year.
The China Motor Corporation announced that a project in Harrismith will create 2 500 permanent jobs. This is laudable. The Coega Development Zone, constructed by Kalagadi Manganese, will provide 400 permanent jobs. The cost in this case will be R4,2 billion. We simply do not have the means to spend more on mega projects.
My question to the House is whether we are spending and allocating money derived by means of taxation to create a small business-friendly environment with a functional public service that provide services to the public in an effective and productive manner. Our present public service is simply not doing enough. The DA therefore cannot support this Bill. [Applause.]
Ms R M MASHIGO: Madam Chairperson, hon Deputy President, hon Ministers and Deputy Ministers, and members, we in the Standing Committee on Appropriations all sit as members from different parties and look at how we can improve service delivery through the monitoring of expenditure. We discuss all the issues in our committee - except that after we have held our meeting, it has become clear today, the DA holds its own meeting. [Interjections.]
They have their own hearings after our hearings because they talk about research institutions which they should have recommended to the committee. We are a democratic committee, but they talk about researchers. Recommend your research institutions so that they join the Human Sciences Research Council and others that we invite, so that we all deliberate on their findings as a committee. We knew that you were going to reject the Budget, and we knew that you were going to have your own recommendations from your own separate meetings. [Interjections.]
Hon members, since its birth in 1912, the ANC has recognised our common identity and citizenship and refused to set one group against another. South Africa has entered its second decade of freedom with the strengthening of democracy and acceleration of the programme to improve the quality of life of all the people. The Appropriation Bill, in its allocations, pronounced Health, Rural Development and Land Reform as key priorities of the ANC-led government.
We are from different constituencies faced by poverty, unemployment and inequality. We are expected by our constituencies to direct the resources to strategic tasks according to the national government priorities. If the progress we have made since 1994 constitute only the beginning of the protracted process of change, what is our aim? What kind of a society do we want to create?
The Minister of Finance stated in his 2011 speech that all South Africans aspire to the following freedoms: freedom from poverty; freedom from need; freedom to exercise our talents and thrive as individuals; freedom to work together as communities, as organised social formations, as business enterprises, and as a proud and forward-looking nation. Freedom goes with rights as enshrined in Chapter 2 of the Constitution of South Africa. The role of Parliament in this debate is to ensure that all South Africans achieve these freedoms. Parliament should ensure that real opportunities do exist towards these achievements, and that the government departments are fully functioning, well resourced and skilful.
Amartya Sen, who is a Nobel Laureate, explains freedom as the enhancement of human capabilities which involves processes of decision-making, as well as opportunities to achieve valued outcomes. He states: “The main purpose of development is to spread freedom and its ‘thousand charms’ to the unfree citizens.”
As hon members all know, health is one of the main priorities of government and should be accessible to all South Africans. It is Outcome No 2, which says: “A long and healthy life for all South Africans”. Income inequalities have an effect on the health of a nation. Markets do not reach the poor, who have little income to afford health insurance or proper nutrition. The Freedom Charter states that “a preventive health scheme shall be run by the State”. It further states that free medical care and hospitalisation shall be provided for all, with special care for mothers and children.
The approach to health issues adopted by the Minister is a true response of activism and within a short period of his leadership in this Ministry, he has turned the Department of Health around. We were all in the same hearing as the hon Swart, when we all appreciated all the efforts that were made in this department, and that there are already norms and standards in place.
We also noted that transferred funds needed to be spent for those purposes and be monitored by the department to avoid underexpenditure in this economic classification.
Conditional grants are for a specific purpose. As a result, there is no need for underexpenditure. Monitoring of spending of these receiving entities and NGOs should be intensified as the lives of the people depend on the performance of these institutions.
We are not going to stand here and criticise what was happening. We are looking forward with this department, which is revolutionising health for the benefit of all South Africans.
Rural development and land reform is considered by the ANC as a central pillar in the struggle against unemployment, poverty and inequality. People living in rural areas face the harshest conditions of poverty, food insecurity and a lack of access to services almost on a daily basis, like the rural people who live here in the Western Cape. Outcome No 7 states: “Vibrant, equitable and sustainable rural communities with food security for all”. During his speech, Minister Gordhan stated:
Government’s land and agricultural development programmes are focused on rural job creation and poverty reduction, while expanding agricultural production and improving food security.
The difference between rural and urban development is vast and we all know that the problem is historical. The ANC-led government has taken note and started redressing the problem through several programmes. It should, however, be noted that proper development needs proper physical and social infrastructure. Infrastructure needs to be designed, built, maintained and operated properly. People need to be trained to do the job.
As Parliament we appreciate that a lot of money has already been wasted on poor infrastructure. Rural areas must attract people and investments through good-quality infrastructure. Rural development has the Comprehensive Rural Development Programmes that support rural communities and land-reform beneficiaries. Despite all these efforts and programmes, there is still visible poverty, unemployment and inequality in rural areas. As a result, in most cases people are forced to leave their homes and arid land, to go and look for work in urban areas. The question is whether they would have left the rural areas if there was economic development. The same is applying in the rural areas around Western Cape, where poor people are ignored and forgotten when the Metro City is the one that is receiving awards. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mrs F Hajaig): Hon Mashigo, will you just take a seat for a moment, please? Thank you. I would appreciate it if you would stop heckling. When your member was speaking, this side didn’t shout him down. So, I would expect a little bit of ... [Interjections.] You are showing your true colours. Will you kindly keep your voices down, so I can hear the speaker? Thank you. Please carry on.
Ms R M MASHIGO: The use of technology is unlimited and can be used by anybody, even in rural areas. If the poor in these areas can be empowered with technologies, there would be a rise in productivity, based on their local resources, enterprise and innovation.
The aim of the Budget is also to break generational poverty in rural areas. Attending to youth empowerment will break this circle, like funding to enable 5 000 recruits into the National Rural Youth Service Corps. The intention is that graduates of the Youth Corps will work in their communities to provide services in local socio-economic development.
The R19 billion that will be spent on rural development and agriculture in the provinces will also include youth programmes. According to the South African Institute of Race Relations, unemployment among the young people of 15 to 24 years old is 51%, which is more than the national unemployment rate of South Africa.
The current problem facing rural development is land restitution and reform. During the hearings with the department it was mentioned that for this financial year the Budget for restitution claims will only cover backlogs of 360 out of 800. It was mentioned by other speakers that there are still outstanding court cases. As we can see, the land is going to get expensive and the budget is still not going to cover everything.
As long as we are stuck in the notion of “willing buyer, willing seller”, we are going to stand here, spend our budget and beg the National Treasury to increase the budget on land claims. That is because the values are purposely overexaggerated and inflated by the people who own the land, when they actually know that it is not their land. [Applause.] You should be giving that land away. We want service delivery. [Interjections.] We want to eliminate poverty here in South Africa. Stop selling land to foreigners because we want to eliminate poverty. [Interjections.]
The Freedom Charter states that the land shall belong to those who work it, and that “the state shall help the peasants with implements, seeds, tractors and dams to save the soil and to assist the tillers”. The Land Reform Programme has good objectives, but a clear plan on how the budget will be spent will be needed. People in these areas want self-respect and independence, support of infant industries and small businesses which, surveys have shown, fail within five or less years. The sector, including the agrarian one, adds value to the domestic market through job creation and skills development.
Major improvements have been registered at the turn of the second decade of freedom in terms of the economy’s rate of labour absorption and generation of self-employment, but we have not matched the needs of society. At the same time, while the achievement of macroeconomic balances has released huge resources for social and economic expenditure by government, this has not translated into rates and quality of investment needed to deal with the legacy of apartheid, which we know better.
South Africa commands huge health-care resources as compared with many middle-income countries yet the bulk of these resources are in the private sector which serves a minority of the population, thereby undermining the country’s ability to produce quality care and improve health care outcomes. [Interjections.] The ANC is determined to end the huge inequalities that exist in the public and private sectors by making sure that these sectors work together. [Interjections.]
In conclusion, South Africans are aware that the majority of the people still depend on government for social assistance and social economic development. It is therefore important for all citizens of South Africa to identify with beneficiaries of government programmes so that they know what their taxes are paying for.
It is also very important for those who own a lot of land and tractors that are just standing there, to open their hearts to those poor people who are working on their land and give them instruments to till their land, so that there should be a better life for all in South Africa. [Interjections.] Please open your hearts! Open your hearts! Deep down in your hearts you know that what you are doing is wrong. Deep down in your hearts you know that this Appropriation is right. This Appropriation is for equity, but because you are hurt, you don’t want any change. [Interjections.] You will keep on saying that you don’t support the Appropriation. The ANC supports this Bill. I thank you. [Applause.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mrs F Hajaig): Order! I would like to address this side of the House. I think your screaming is getting louder and louder, and ... [Interjections.] ... No! No, Mrs Kalyan, I’m not talking to you. I would appreciate a little bit of decorum in the House. [Interjections.] I know that it is late and everyone is tired, but let’s have some decorum in the House. Thank you.
The MINISTER OF FINANCE: Hon Chairperson, the DA has promised to keep quiet now. Hon members, let me first thank the hon Sogoni and the Appropriations Committee for, once again, a job well done, very careful analysis and sound leadership provided in terms of analysing the budget, which is a massive piece of work, and for collecting their thoughts in the way he actually presented them.
The Appropriation Bill and the processes of examining the budget, interacting with departments and Ministers, and explaining to the public where the taxpayer’s money is going, is central to a working democracy. Parliament is a key instrument of democracy and the Money Bills Amendment Act and the provisions in there for Parliament’s role are absolutely crucial. Each year over the past few years we’ve seen this role expand and the kind of analysis and contributions provided from Parliament improving. We look forward to the next few years, when you will continue to do that.
The Appropriation Bill and this process is about how we will spend taxpayers’ money and the impact that spending is going to have. Let’s remind ourselves that the R889 billion that Mr Swart referred to is money largely, apart from the borrowing, that comes from the taxpayers of South Africa. When we talk about allocating that money for whatever purpose, to whatever department and, indeed, to whatever province, we are talking about how do we spend the public’s money, improve the public’s life, and ensure that year by year, post-1994, we improve the conditions in which our people actually live.
There is no doubt, as several speakers have pointed out, that what the budget is doing is indeed living up to the expectation — and that is a key policy tool of the ruling party — that it is here to address its priorities of jobs, health, education and training, rural development and, indeed, crime as well.
Mr Sogoni has raised several questions about the affordability of this budget. As the National Treasury together with the Cabinet as a whole, we have made sure that what we are pursuing and will continue to pursue is a sound fiscal path that ensures that over the next few years we undertake responsible fiscal consolidation. We continue to do what we can to expand the economy and the revenue base, minimise our reliance on the deficit and borrowing, and ensure that even if we reach the point, as the other Mr Swart pointed out, of a R1,4 trillion of debt in the next few years, we can afford and pay that debt and our creditors can rely upon ... [Interjections.]
Ms A M DREYER: Madam Chairperson, I would like to know whether the Minister would be prepared to tell us if he supports the expropriation of land.
The MINISTER OF FINANCE: Madam Chairperson, that’s a question not relevant to this debate and, really, I would expect the DA to come up with something a little more creative than that. [Interjections.] Let’s come back to the fiscal soundness of what we do.
We can give the assurance to Mr Sogoni, as he has given to the public, that we run a reliable ship that ensures that we have stability and certainty within our environment. He’s also absolutely correct that unemployment is a crucial issue in South Africa and that the balance we need to get right over the next five years or so years, if not more, is the balance between what we do for social security purposes and what we do to ensure that people have jobs in this country and the dignity that goes with jobs.
We thank Mr Sogoni and his committee’s commitment to oversight, monitoring and evaluation, although there is a lot more room for us to do better, to examine a lot more carefully where exactly the public and taxpayers’ money is being spent and whether our bureaucracy of about one million people are committed to ensuring value for money, which all sides of the House want and are committed to.
The hon Ramatlakane also emphasised the “value for money” issue. Again, it’s the ANC that has provided leadership in this regard, particularly after the recession hit us. We must all ensure that committees in Parliament do not compromise on the issue of value for money; that Parliament in fact acquires the appropriate capability, skill, energy and perhaps even the sense of urgency that is required to ensure that money is in fact being spent on what we expect it to be spent on. More importantly, all departments must ensure that we do get reliable outputs and the value for money that we want. Mr Ramatlakane, the developmental state is built, it is developing itself and it is, I can assure you, in action.
There is no doubt that all of us around this room will agree that this state can do better. There is no doubt that we can improve performance in a number of areas. But to suggest, as hon Swart does, that we are on the precipice and about to face an apocalypse in this country is not quite in keeping with the character I know the hon Swart to be. I know him as a glass half-full guy and not as a glass half-empty guy, but I can understand that the party line is important and has to be taken and projected. So, he finds and gives us 15 reasons as to why, regrettably, the DA can’t agree on a budget of R889 billion.
When we go through the numbers, what we have is a set of numbers that gives us at most R5 billion. Where is the other R884 billion that is, I think, reasonably well spent? Even if we say R20 billion is not well spent in the state, there is still over R800 billion that we are spending every day, paying public servants — some of whom must definitely do better than they are doing — delivering services to people — because our schools and hospitals work, although they don’t work adequately. Yes, we want better quality but we’ve certainly over the last 10 to 12 years improved access to all of the public services that we offer the South African public.
So, Mr Swart, I trust that you’ll be able to bring some influence to bear on your party. Get them to forget their party line by the end of this process and concur with us that the Appropriation Bill takes South Africa in the right direction. Our spending, broadly, is moving in the right way. Let’s look for reasons to support rather than reject the Appropriation Bill. But what we have is the opposite process. We’ve tried to look for all the reasons why we can’t support. Any fair reading of the arguments that have been put forward certainly doesn’t bear out the conclusion that you’ve come to.
Hon Singh, thank you very much for your support of the Bill. We would agree with you that the establishment of the Budget Office is something that will certainly assist Parliament. We would think that that resource should be well equipped both in terms of personnel and other technical resources. We believe that that would enrich the process of interrogating the budget, getting better accountability to Parliament and getting parliamentarians more involved in this process as well.
We agree that there are areas of concern, which you share with the hon Swart as well, around mud schools, money not being spent and outstanding land claims. We agree with you on all of those issues as well, but the problem is not to just point a finger in that direction. We should rather ask ourselves how we can collectively work together to solve these problems, rather than merely pointing them out.
My colleague the hon Mkhulusi from the ANC has clearly done extensive work in the education area and the concern she raises is a valid one which all of us share. Having emphasised access over the last 10 years to both education and health and, in her case, education, can we now for the next five years focus on quality? Minister Motshekga, among other colleagues on the government side, is fully committed to ensuring that the focus on quality is what we will receive over the next few years.
Yes, we have all the diagnostics right about what doesn’t work in education but repeating the diagnostics doesn’t really help. Let’s focus on what we are going to do, what each of us is going to deliver and how do we, in the shortest possible time and with the greatest sense of urgency, address the concerns that all of us have in rebuilding an education system that can do justice to the millions of learners that we need to serve, but more importantly, improve the skills of our teachers so that they can deliver education more effectively.
The hon Swart from the ACDP raises a valid question. Are we getting the balance right between productive investment and expenditure on consumption? This is something, an imbalance, that has entered our system not because of our doing. It’s because of the recession that came in from the United States and government wants to ensure over the next few years that we get consumption or, if you like, the productive investment balance absolutely right and to move more in the direction of investing in productive infrastructure, issues and projects that will give us more jobs. We would fully agree with you in this regard as well.
The hon Matladi raises questions about the mismanagement of funds, procurement and qualified audit reports. Again, we agree with all of these issues. I’m not sure whether your diagnosis is entirely correct — that we can blame everything on officials. Procurement often goes wrong not because of what officials do but also because of what business does, wherever that business comes from. For a long time we’ve been saying that we want the right partnership between the business sector and the public sector so that we can cure the improper procurement practises that we face in this country.
The hon Mashigo has focused on education, health and rural development. One can only agree with her appeal to open your hearts, share your resources and focus on the real concerns that will make South Africa a much better country for all of us to live in. If we do so, then we can actually ensure that even in the next three years of this Parliament we can show more results to our people about how we’ve improved their lives.
Finally, the Appropriation Bill should receive the support of even the DA because this is about a Bill which says that we are supplying resources to all parts of the country, including the Western Cape. You can’t have this situation where on the one hand you support the Division of Revenue Bill, which allocates the equitable share to the provinces, but we don’t support the Appropriation Bill which has conditional grants that will go to the Western Cape as well. I hope that this schizophrenia ends at some stage and we cordially invite the DA to join us in supporting this Bill. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
Mr M J ELLIS: I wonder if you did record the objection of DA, Madam Chair?
The CHAIRPERSON (Mrs F Hajaig): The objection of the DA is noted.
Bill read a first time (Democratic Alliance dissenting).
VOTING ON RECOMMENDATIONS FOR APPOINTMENT TO PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Due to the fault with the electronic voting system earlier on, we will now vote on the second order of the day. The question before the House is: The approval of recommendation for appointment of Adv Sizani, Mrs C Nzimande and Mrs R Issel to serve on the Public Service Commission. Are all members in their allocated seats? The process of recording support will now commence. [Interjections.]
The system is still not working. We will have to go to manual voting. Contrary to when we vote electronically, the names of members will not appear on the minutes of proceedings of the House. Only the total number of members for or against the question will be recorded.
Order, hon members! The question before the House is: The Approval of the Recommendation for Appointment of Adv R K Sizani, Mrs C Nzimande and Mrs R Issel to serve on the Public Service Commission? The process of manual voting can now commence.
Order! The result of the manual vote is: we are 201 in the House. There are no “no” votes and no abstentions. Therefore the recommendations are agreed to in terms of section 196(8)(a) of the Constitution.
Dr C P MULDER: Hon Deputy Speaker, may I address you on a point of order: I know we are not voting electronically, but there is no way that there are only 201 members in the House. It’s impossible.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: This is the result I have been given - that there are 201 members present.
Mr M J ELLIS: Madam Deputy Speaker, I think we should ask the hon Minister of Finance to do the counting because quite clearly the Whips on that side can’t count. We are far more than 201 in this House.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I can’t believe that there are so many people who can’t count.
Mr M J ELLIS: Madam Deputy Speaker, my Whips have offered to go and do the ANC’s counting for them because clearly they don’t know how to count. Ours do, theirs don’t. Would you like our Whips to go and count for the ANC?
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, hon members! I am sure you will be happy to know that it’s the calculator here at the table that counted wrongly, not the Whips. There are in fact 302 members present. [Applause.]
Those in favour will say Aye:
HON MEMBERS: Aye!
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Those against wil say No!
HON MEMBERS: No!
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Ayes have it.
Question agreed to.
Nominations accordingly agreed to in accordance with section 196(8)(a) of the Constitution.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I hope the technicians will fix the system because we are coming to the schedules now.
Mr M J ELLIS: Madam Deputy Speaker, this evening has the potential of becoming an absolute circus, I wonder if you could perhaps organise some sawdust, some elephants, some tigers and some lions so that we can make it a real circus. [Laughter.] [Interjections.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I hope we will prevent it from becoming a real circus.
The DEPUTY MINISTER FOR PUBLIC SERVICE AND ADMINISTRATION: Hon Deputy Speaker, will the hon Ellis be the circus clown? [Laughter.]
An HON MEMBER: He is already!
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon members, I am told that the technicians are working on the system, so instead of taking a break, let’s try to continue or we will be here till midnight. Before we go further, there is a point of order.
The MINISTER IN THE PRESIDENCY — PERFORMANCE MONITORING AND EVALUATION AS WELL AS ADMINISTRATION: Deputy Speaker, on a point of order: When we postponed voting on this item earlier, the Speaker had read a set of names plus an additional set of names. The understanding was that we were going to vote on all of them because, in case one or two of the above candidates did not accept their appointment, then the others would immediately follow on. If we leave that, we might be faced with a problem. Perhaps we are supposed to attend to that?
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon Chabane, you are correct. This happened because the new guide omitted the paragraph containing the second set of names. I take it that members have agreed. Can we have an understanding that we were voting for the paragraph that gives those two sets of names?
Dr C P MULDER: No, hon Deputy Speaker. I would like to help you. Technically, we did not put all those names before the House when we voted just now. Technically, we haven’t done so and it could create a constitutional problem if one of those candidates is not available and somebody from the second list, which we now presume to have supported, is then appointed. I would like to help you but technically we can’t do that.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Can we find a way of including that set of names because I think, as a House, we agreed earlier, before we voted, that we were voting for those names included. Let’s find a way of including them. The alternative is to vote manually again – it’s as easy as that.
Dr C P MULDER: Hon Deputy Speaker, may I suggest that we just put those names and ask if there are any objections. If not, then it is agreed.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you very much. Order, hon members! Can I include the paragraph that was omitted earlier that in the event of the three candidates we have just voted for not being available to serve on the Public Service Commission, the following candidates should be considered for appointment in the order they appear: Mrs L Sizani, Mr G Mokate. Are there any objections?
HON MEMBERS: No!
Motion agreed to.
(Decision of Question on Votes and Schedule)
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, hon members. I wish to thank parties for advising the staff on which Vote they will make declarations, record their objections, or request divisions. This information will greatly assist and speed up the process this afternoon. As agreed at the NA’s portfolio committee this morning, declarations will be limited to two minutes. The bells will be rung for five minutes for the first division on a Vote, but for only one minute on subsequent divisions.
Vote No 1 — The Presidency — put.
Declarations of vote:
The LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Madam Deputy Speaker, the Presidency should set an example to the rest of government. However, instead of offering a clear vision for our country, rolling out initiatives that seek to improve the lives of all South Africans and embracing the values of our Constitution, the Presidency has become a bloated mechanism to reward political patronage with little regard for accountability and transparency.
The DA cannot support the Presidency’s budget. It cannot support a budget for a department whose budget grows like an aggressive tumour and is not being subjected to any dedicated parliamentary scrutiny. It is a disgrace to this House and Parliament’s constitutionally mandated responsibility to oversee the executive that the ANC’s Chief Whip announced yesterday that he wished to make it “abundantly clear that Parliament’s oversight role relates to other government departments, not the Presidency”. Hon Motshekga’s comments speak to this administration’s belief that high-ranking members of this government, who should embody the values on which our democracy is built, are exempt from upholding these values.
The outcome of the debate regarding oversight of the Presidency will, like the current debate surrounding the Protection of Information Bill, indicate which road this administration intends to follow: the path of secrecy, cronyism and delivery for a few, or the path of democracy, accountability and delivery for all. The DA will not stand down until the Presidency is subjected to the same degree of oversight as every other government department and will use every use every available mechanism to assist in this regard.
The Presidency approved hundreds of millions of rands worth of wasteful expenditure for the National Youth Development Agency’s, NYDA, World Festival of Youth and Students and to the repetitive renovation of five official residences. It has dedicated R24 million to a state-owned enterprise review committee, ostensibly to examine ways to improve their efficiency while, at same time, purging the boards of Eskom, Denel and Transnet, no doubt to reconstitute them with loyal ANC cadres.
It has overseen the creation of a new department — supposedly to oversee government performance — the great irony being that until this administration ...
USEKELA-SOMLOMO: Liphelile ixesha lakho Mnumzana.
INKOKHELI YEQELA ELIPHIKISAYO: Enkosi. (Translation of isiXhosa paragraphs follows.)
[The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Your time has expired, sir.
The LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thank you.]
Rev K R J MESHOE: When President Zuma introduced Budget Vote No 1 last week, he said government is promoting the agenda of Africa and the south. Speaking about the bombing of Libya, the President said: “We strongly believe that Resolution 1973 is being abused for regime change, political assassinations and foreign military occupation.”
Even though the Presidency knew that some Western powers were pursuing regime change and foreign military occupation, his government still gave legitimacy to an illegal regime change in Côte d’Ivoire by attending Alassane Ouattara’s inauguration, after a coup d’état by the French special forces and the United Nations, UN. [Interjections.] The majority of African states chose to boycott the event, yet our Deputy President attended on behalf of South Africa, endorsing the illegitimate government.
The Presidency should have condemned the injustices in that country, rather than endorse an agenda that is not going to help the continent of Africa. I believe it would be incorrect to support this Budget Vote because what the President has said is contradicted by what the Presidency is doing. [Interjections.]
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Deputy Speaker, the Constitution of the Republic requires that all spheres of government work together and participate in the development of programmes to redress poverty, underdevelopment, marginalisation of people and communities, and the legacies of apartheid and discrimination. The implementation of the strategic agenda of government and national priorities require an effective national government, as well as a smooth functioning and careful synchronisation of the three spheres of government.
The government’s strategic agenda is derived from the electoral mandate of the ruling party. It is the implementation and achievement of this strategic agenda which then forms the substance and focus of the Presidency. The Presidency has to ensure that the President is able to exercise both his executive and head of state authority and plays a key role in the achievement of the above. This equally informs the President’s mandate.
The Presidency exists to “ensure that the President is able to execute his or her constitutional obligation to promote unity and to do that which will enhance the Republic”. The President’s state of the nation address of 2010 adopted 12 strategic outcomes and measurable outputs. This marked a milestone in the process to improve government performance and a focus on delivery. The ANC believes that the Presidency has delivered on its mandate and therefore supports Budget Vote No 1: The Presidency.
But, with due respect, hon Meshoe, you said that even the Côte d’Ivoire situation was resolved. So you are telling the public about preconceived ideas that you are not able to change, even if facts are placed before you. [Interjections.] Hon Trollip is criticising the Presidency, but he is using the wrong motivation. So it’s as if he has not said anything on the matter under discussion. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Mr M G P LEKOTA: Madam Deputy Speaker, repeating the points we have made does not necessarily strengthen an argument. However, the Presidency is the head of the South African government, and this is one Vote that we have to be particularly firm about. We should not compromise on this Vote because the direction our country is taking will be and is guided by the Presidency.
The constitutional responsibilities, especially those that relate to internal developments in the country, are vital if the country is to move in the right direction. We indicated the failures that we observed in the earlier discussions and debate on this Vote. We would like to reiterate that we had raised such sensitive issues that we cannot compromise on them. We have to say that unless the Presidency is seen to take seriously the obligations placed on itself by the principal law of the country, the Constitution, we will not support this Vote. Thank you. [Interjections.]
The House divided:
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon members, we will try the electronic voting system one last time. If it doesn’t work now, we will have to roll out manually.
The question before the House is that Vote No 1 be agreed to. Voting will now commence. Is the system still not working? Hon members, it is clear that we need to go back to manual counting.
The MINISTER IN THE PRESIDENCY — PERFORMANCE MONITORING AND EVALUATION AS WELL AS ADMINISTRATION: Hon Deputy Speaker, even the manual one has a problem. People do it differently! Which one is the correct one? [Laughter.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon members, I appeal to members to lift their hands in a manner that their organisation will recognise. [Interjections.] Did you want to say something, hon member?
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY AND FISHERIES: Hon Deputy Speaker, in a lighter vein, I can see that the ANC is trying to double its votes. That is not allowed. [Laughter.] I have one problem - when we are going to be counting the votes, are we only going to count the total number of “yes, in favour” or “against”? That will not give us what the positions of different parties are. We will not have the names or the party positions on this. I would like to request the different party Whips to indicate the position of their parties so that that could also be recorded.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I thought that the declarations were going to be indicating that, but you are right. Can we start voting? Let us start by those who are in favour of Vote No 1. Can we do it like that?
HON MEMBERS: Yes!
Mrs M T KUBAYI: Hon Deputy Speaker, on a point of order, the hon Mazibuko is busy taking photos. Why is she doing that? Can that camera be taken, please? [Interjections.]
Ms L D MAZIBUKO: Madam Deputy Speaker, like many of my colleagues, I am an avid user of social media and I wanted to tweet a picture of our broken-down systems, so that the public can share in the proceedings of this House. [Interjections.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon member, you are not allowed to take pictures in the House. [Laughter.] [Interjections.]
Ms L D MAZIBUKO: I will refrain from taking pictures. I apologise.
Dr C P MULDER: Hon Deputy Speaker, it seems to me that she is the second leader within the DA who has a problem with social networking. [Laughter.]
Ms L D MAZIBUKO: Deputy Speaker, that is because we actually have supporters.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon Mazibuko, I hope you are not going to use the pictures you took in the House. Order, hon members! The question that was put to the House was agreed to by 222 “yes” votes and 78 “no” votes. [Applause.] Therefore, the Vote is agreed to. Are there any Whips that would like to make declarations?
Dr C P MULDER: Hon Deputy Speaker, I would like to assist you. I don’t think that it is necessary to make declarations. The Whips could just indicate to the table and then we can proceed.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: That is okay.
Mrs S V KALYAN: Deputy Speaker, can we just make sure that that becomes part of the Minutes of the Proceedings? Thank you.
The MINISTER IN THE PRESIDENCY — PERFORMANCE MONITORING AND EVALUATION AS WELL AS ADMINISTRATION: Deputy Speaker, are we sure that those pictures will not go to the wrong address? [Laughter.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: They will be deleted. They won’t be sent anywhere.
An HON MEMBER: How do you know this?
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The directive was that the photographs should be deleted. Therefore, we won’t see them anywhere.
AYES – 224 (ANC – 213; IFP – 7; UCDP – 2; PAC – 1; APC – 1).
NOES – 78 (DA – 56; COPE – 15; ACDP – 3; FF PLUS – 3; ID – 1).
Vote accordingly agreed to.
Vote No 2 – Parliament – put.
Declarations of vote
Mr M J ELLIS: Madam Deputy Speaker, I have a suspicion that the failure of the voting system this evening is a pretty good reflection of what happens in Parliament generally and the way Parliament is operating.
The DA opposes this Vote. It is the first time that we have actually ever opposed the Parliamentary Budget Vote, but we do so today to express our serious concerns about the way that this institution is being run. In the first instance, we pass Rules affecting this Parliament which are never implemented and of course the best, or perhaps worst, example of this is the nonimplementation of the Financial Management of Parliament Act, which would effectively create oversight over ourselves in Parliament. This Act was passed for good reasons and its nonimplementation is certainly a sorry reflection of this Parliament.
Secondly, we as the DA are not satisfied that Parliament performs its oversight roles properly or fully. While much is said and written about oversight, the mechanisms for performing this essential part of our duties as MPs are underplayed and underperformed in Parliament. Certainly, even an important aspect such as question time, designed to allow MPs to really question members of the executive, is undermined by the executive itself, many of whom make a mockery of the process by either not answering questions at all or by answering them in such a way that, as I say, it makes a mockery of the system.
Finally, we are not convinced that there is a genuine desire on the part of the ANC to accept anything other than mediocrity in terms of how this Parliament is run. Parliament requires a very urgent shake-up and reorganisation but regrettably there is no sign that this is happening at the present time and therefore we cannot support this Budget Vote. [Applause.]
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Hon Deputy Speaker, the Speaker of this House has consulted fully with all the parties on the policy imperatives of this Parliament. In his speech, he was honest about the implementations of those unanimously agreed-upon policy imperatives. Criticism against, for instance, the building project was well explained and it exposed the fact that those who where criticising the building project had not done their homework and were shooting somewhere in the dark. We hope that by the end of today this will be clarified and there will be no basis not to support the budget.
What the hon Ellis is saying is just a bare rejection without a sound foundation. We are really disappointed that a man of your stature can do that. I hope it’s just because you are tired, seeing that it is late in the afternoon. I think that the Speaker has provided a very good basis.
With regard to the other issues that you are raising, the Speaker has indicated to this House that they are enjoying attention. In the two years that we have worked together in the multiparty Chief Whips’ Forum, you never raised those issues. You are raising them now for the first time and this is really disturbing. [Interjections.] I hope that you will find an occasion just to evaluate what has happened on this question because what you are saying is not reflective of the truth; it is not reflective of what happened. Thank you.
Vote agreed to (Democratic Alliance and Independent Democrats dissenting).
Vote No 3 - Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs – put.
Declarations of vote:
Mr J R B LORIMER: Madam Deputy Speaker, supporting this budget would require us to make a leap of faith which we are not prepared to make. We would have to believe that the local government turnaround strategy is working when all the evidence that we have shows that it is not, and it will not.
Officials deployed by the department to dysfunctional municipalities are incapable of putting things right, either because they are not able to perform or because they receive inadequate support. In some ways a talk is being talked. There is more money being spent on oversight and control, but in the face of continued rampant misspending by municipalities we are not sure if this money is not just being wasted.
How strongly will any message of financial probity and prudence be received by municipalities when the chief sales person of such prudence, Minister Shiceka, is spending money in the way that he has? I am referring here only to the spending that he has admitted to. This case has been kicked for touch with the Public Protector rather than being dealt with swiftly by the President or by Parliament. So, we are forced to then ask how much of this budget we are asked to approve will be spent on rooms at top hotels for spiritual advisors.
If we would support this budget, it would be because we believed that the turnaround measures were being vigorously implemented. It is clear from the length of time it has taken to sign the Municipal Systems Amendment Bill that vigour is not in the vocabulary of this department or of this government. Accordingly, the DA will not support this budget. [Applause.]
Mr S L TSENOLI: Madam Deputy Speaker, we will definitely support this budget. The budget, as presented to us, is explicitly designed to build local government further. We have just come out of an election. We now have space to see the implementation of the local government turnaround strategy, which emerged just before the elections. What leap of faith are we told about? There is no leap of faith here! [Interjections.]
Concretely, the elections are over. We must talk about the new councillors receiving support from the induction of councillors we have come from this morning, and from the budget proposals that are in place to assist with service delivery across the board. There is explicit co-operation that we are receiving from this department. From the beginning of the year the leadership inside the internal audit committee has been appointed. We are receiving absolute interaction in the committee with the department about sorting out any irregular expenditure that may have been there before. The department receives strong recommendations from the Auditor-General. We are experiencing absolute collaboration and nothing else with this department.
The challenges that local government faces are too important for grand-standing opposition to the Budget Vote. It goes to service those municipalities and other departments that work with municipalities to provide the services that we would like to have. The Budget Vote that we support here today is going to go a long way to implementing the local government turnaround strategy they are saying they have not seen its light of day. How would that happen without this support? [Applause.]
Vote agreed to (Democratic Alliance, Freedom Front Plus, Independent Democrats and African Christian Democratic Party dissenting).
Vote No 4 — Home Affairs — put and agreed to.
Vote No 5 — International Relations and Co-operation — put.
Vote agreed to (Democratic Alliance and Independent Democrats dissenting).
Vote No 6 — Performance monitoring and Evaluation — put.
Vote agreed to (Democratic Alliance, Independent Democrats and Congress of the People dissenting).
Vote No 7 — Public Works — put.
Declarations of vote:
Mr M W RABOTAPI: Madam Deputy Speaker, the Department of Public Works is not the type of department that should be attracting headlines but it does. The credibility and internal governance measures of this department have large question marks hanging over them.
The DA cannot in good conscience support a budget for this department when we know the Public Protector’s report, whether it is finalised or not, is critical of Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde, Police Commissioner Bheki Cele and businessman Roux Shabangu. [Interjections.] The report deals with irregular leases for the police in Pretoria and Durban. The DG has stated in the report that he feared for his safety and was pressurised into approving the two police deals, apparently worth R1,6 billion.
The public deserves value for money, but the Department of Public Works is not securing the best deals for properties that are to be used by government departments. The Minister herself said recently that we need to clean our houses and give South Africa a better service. The DA agrees and we are waiting for the results. The department is facing large amounts of litigation, which is costing a lot of taxpayers’ money. This is money that should rather be spent on service delivery. If this department can fix itself and root out corruption, the DA will support this budget next year.
Mrs N T NOVEMBER: Deputy Speaker, the ANC will support this Budget Vote. Firstly, I want to say that hon Rabotapi is not being honest with this House. In the portfolio committee we took a decision that we are going to deal with these reports – the Durban and the Pretoria reports – simultaneously. We have not started discussing those reports. So he is not being honest with this House.
Deputy Speaker, the Portfolio Committee on Public Works, having considered Vote 7 of the Department of Public Works, assents to the passing of the budget for the 2011-12 financial year. The intention is to ensure that more jobs are created ...
Mr M J ELLIS: Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order: The hon member said that hon Winston Rabotapi was not honest with this House. I don’t believe that that is parliamentary. [Interjections.]
Mrs N T NOVEMBER: Hon Deputy Speaker, we took the decision, and all of us agreed to the decision, that we were not going to tamper with this issue. We will attend to it immediately when the second report is sent to the Speaker of the House, and the Speaker directs it to the portfolio committee. That was the agreement. That is why I said that he was not honest with this House.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Please continue with what you said earlier, hon member.
Mrs N T NOVEMBER: The Expanded Public Works Programme is especially aimed at providing job opportunities to assist the large numbers of poor, unemployed and marginalised communities in South Africa.
Vote 7 also plans to assist in addressing the backlog in maintenance of government’s immovable assets, which intends to provide additional work opportunities, especially for the youth. The continued emphasis on job creation and skills development is a priority of government, one which Vote 7 aims to address in the 2011-12 financial year. The ANC supports this Budget Vote. Thank you.
The House divided:
AYES — 212 (ANC — 201; IFP — 7; UCDP — 2; PAC — 1; APC — 1).
NOES — 73 (DA — 55; Cope — 14; ID — 1; FF Plus — 1; ACDP — 2).
Vote accordingly agreed to.
Mr M J ELLIS: Madam Deputy Speaker, I suspect that the ayes would actually be 211 because the Minister of Finance did not vote. I think he’s too busy tweeting. So, if he does not vote, if he does not put his hand up, this Vote cannot be counted. I suspect that it’s 211, and I think the hon Minister should be told to stop tweeting. [Laughter.]
Prof B TUROK: Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order: I think there is a limit to the number of foolish remarks that could be made in this House. I think he should stay down.
The MINISTER OF FINANCE: Deputy Speaker, this not being a foolish remark, I will make it. The hon Ellis has a desperate need to demonstrate that he understands modern technology at his age. I am not a Member of Parliament and therefore not required to vote. [Laughter.]
An HON MEMBER: Deputy Speaker, as the person who is counting here, I know that the Minister does not have to vote, so I never counted him.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: So, do you understand, hon Ellis?
Mr M J ELLIS: Deputy Speaker, may I say to the hon gentleman over there who stood up and said something that I apologise profusely for annoying him. I really do. I’m very sorry, Ben. [Laughter.]
Prof B TUROK: That remark requires a deep apology to the whole House.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon members, I know this is a very long session and unfortunately we are not going to take a break, so I don’t mind if you keep this House very friendly so that you are not bored by the length of the session. However, that friendliness must have limits.
Vote No 8 — Women, Children and People with Disability — put.
Declarations of vote:
Mrs C DUDLEY: Deputy Speaker, people working with children see this Ministry as diverting attention on children’s matters away from relevant Ministries. Departments like Health, Education and Social Development have the primary responsibility for children as well as the mandate and the money, yet children’s matters are increasingly been drawn to a Ministry that can do nothing.
The consensus is that this budget should be urgently redirected into budgets where the Children’s Act and the Child Justice Act, both grossly underfunded, can be managed and implemented. No disrespect, hon Minister, but the funds at present going to providing capacity, offices, cars and salaries in this Ministry have no direct impact on improving the lives of children and could be better used elsewhere.
The ACDP cannot support this budget while its ability to improve the lives of women, children and people with disabilities is in question.
Mrs D M RAMODIBE: Deputy Speaker, I am not sure what the member is referring to because she is hardly in the committee. [Interjections.] I want to tell this House that we do understand the mandate of this committee, which cuts across all the committees. So, the Minister has consistently been informing us in the committee about her interaction with other departments in the signing of the memorandum, so that they can work together. As we all know, this department is not a service delivery department, but a co-ordination, monitoring and evaluating department, which cuts across all the departments.
I am not sure what the problem is with the member that side. If she can perhaps attend one portfolio committee meeting, she will understand better. The portfolio committee does support this budget, with all that the member is saying. They are saying that the committee and the department are not performing, but there were achievements, which the Minister tabled in the portfolio committee, including the Children’s Act. Therefore, the portfolio committee supports this budget.
Vote agreed to (Democratic Alliance, African Christian Democratic Party and Independent Democrats dissenting).
Vote No 9 — Government Communication and Information System — put.
Declaration of vote:
Mrs J D KILIAN: Deputy Speaker, the Congress of the People cannot support this Budget Vote because we cannot support the use of public funds for government propaganda. [Interjections.] By doing so we are aligning ourselves with the struggle to defend the values and spirit of a free and open constitutional democracy.
The Government Communication Information Systems, GCIS, has a fundamental duty to manage communication and the flow of information on government service delivery that affect the lives of our people in a responsible, nonpartisan manner. What the country needs is open and transparent government communication telling the good news, the not so good news and, yes, also the really bad news and how government will correct what went wrong.
In a constitutional democracy, a free and independent media is an indisputable key stakeholder and partner in that process. However, under the leadership of the new director-general of this department this partnership has been contaminated, in particularly lately, when Mr Manyi dangled a R1 billion advertising budget in front of journalists, informing them that their newspapers could share in the advertising budget that we vote for today in proportion to the amount of government propaganda they publish.
Policies to centralise government communication is nothing less than consolidating a propaganda machine with totalitarian control of what goes out and what stays under cover. That is backed up with draconian censorship, hidden in the secrecy Bill which, although bogged down in the process at present, is still very much alive in the ANC. Add to that a cadre-laden media tribunal and South Africans will soon hear only what the ruling party wants them to hear. That is not what constitutional democracy is all about because ... [Time expired.]
Vote agreed to (Democratic Alliance, Congress of the People, Freedom Front Plus, African Christian Democratic Party and Independent Democrats dissenting).
Vote No 10 – National Treasury – put.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I put Vote No 10 - National Treasury, are there any objections? Hon Ambriosi? [Laughter.]
Declaration of vote:
Mr M G ORIANI-AMBROSINI: Madam Deputy Speaker, it is still Ambrosini. [Laughter.] During the budget debate the hon Minister challenged my statement that South Africa has one of the highest combined corporate, personal and indirect taxations, and it is listed as one of the difficulties that I have with the ANC in general. This is not correct.
He asked me to disclose the information and I would like to ask him publicly to give me space on his website to make that information available to him, to his department and to the whole of the country.
Secondly, we have information that a study has been conducted within the Treasury where the choice was placed between extracting more from the present tax base or trying to expand the tax base and incurring the costs of doing so. A strategic choice was made because it was in fact cheaper to extract more from the present tax base.
We have about 2,5 million taxpayers and about 16 million registered credit users. It is obvious that there is an amount of people receiving income and not paying taxes. There is an issue of fairness in respect of those who are paying taxes. We have enormous difficulties with the budget of a department which is not pursuing fairness in distributing the tax burden — trying to do the easy thing, rather than doing the hard but right thing to do, which is that of broadening the tax base.
Mr T A MUFAMADI: Hon Deputy Speaker, I just wanted to indicate that perhaps one of the things that we should consider in this honourable House is to have some training in terms of language proficiency, because we do struggle to understand hon Ambrosini from time to time.
Part of that problem is now exacerbated in the sense that in the committee, where we discuss these issues, he also seems not to understand us. [Laughter.] What I am trying to say is that on the issue pertaining to the tax base, the Minister has just tabled a Bill which seeks to deal with tax administration.
We will address those issues in that process. I hope that the hon Ambrosini will be able to read and interpret that legislation properly, so that he can be able to enrich the discussion in the committee. He should not only come when the Minister comes. [Interjections.]
In terms of the Budget Vote No 10, I want to say that we have looked into it. It underpins every aspect of the strategic objective of that particular department. As the ANC, we are quite comfortable to say that it should be supported. An opposition should not be an opposition for the sake of being symbolic about opposing a budget or a particular motion in this House. [Applause.]
Vote agreed to.
Vote No 11 — Public Enterprises — put and agreed to.
Vote No 12 — Public Service and Administration — put.
Vote agreed to (Democratic Alliance and Independent Democrats dissenting).
Vote No 13 — Statistics South Africa — put and agreed to.
Vote No 14 — Arts and Culture — put and agreed to.
Vote No 15 — Basic Education — put.
Declarations of vote:
Mr A T FRITZ: Madam Deputy Speaker, I wish to say to Minister Motshekga that we admire her caring and devotion to the cause of educating our nation. I want to make it very clear that our position to her budget is despite her stature. It is based on a rational response to the fact that there has been an accretion of “special issue” items to the Minister’s budget since 1994. Her budget is made up of provincial submissions to which you add your policy-making and special project budget.
With this as the background, the budget is not focused on her core business, which must be to pay teachers better and introduce the incentive scheme passed early in 2009. It must also be to render smaller classes and to make sure that there are more textbooks and better information technology in our classrooms. It is also important, hon Minister, to make sure that proper management and training in our schools do happen.
Hon Minister, the department must drive the changes they want to have on the ground in order to have quality education in schools through principals and teachers, not by putting more expensive officials in large offices. It is also important, hon Minister, that you understand and make sure not to outsource projects that ought to be run by officials in your department.
In conclusion, it is important to make sure that no double funding takes place on projects because it is a waste of money, which we cannot afford. [Applause.]
Mrs C DUDLEY: More and more people are concluding that without a requirement on unions to be reasonable and to acknowledge that their rights do not automatically overwrite the rights of learners and parents, progress in the education sector will continue to hit roadblocks. We will never have the teachers and managers needed if a union’s stronghold is allowed to prevent a culture of dedication and hard work. The ACDP calls for a review of existing legislation to allow for reasonable protection of learners’ rights. What is best for learners, which includes what is best for teachers, must be our primary concern.
Early childhood development is not yet available in all schools and in all areas, despite legislation requiring provinces to prioritise spending on this in poor areas. As the world strives to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals, early childhood development is a growing focus area for achieving equity goals.
The importance of early childhood development to the future calibre of our matric students and the nation’s next generation of adults is critical. Insufficient resources have been made available for human capacity for early childhood development support at all levels of government and in the NGO sector. The ACDP is concerned that the departmental budget allocations are presently inadequate for scaling up early childhood development relative to the target population.
Funding for the early childhood development through equitable share is also problematic as provincial Treasuries continue to divert funds to other programmes, ignoring legislation requiring them to prioritise spending on early childhood development, especially in poorer areas. So, the ACDP calls for the prioritising of funding for early childhood development. We will, however, be supporting this budget.
Mr N SINGH: The IFP will be supporting this Budget Vote, but my colleague, hon Mpontshane, who serves in this committee, has asked me to express the concern of the IFP regarding the 4 320 unqualified teachers in KwaZulu-Natal. His question is: How do we hope to achieve the goal of providing quality education to all of our learners if this situation exists? He believes that the budget reallocation does not come near in addressing this very important matter of providing the system with adequately qualified educators.
May I also advise the House that the United Nations has declared today, 23 June — they had declared this in 1990 — Africa Public Service Day to “recognise the value and values of service to the committee”. I am saying this in the light of the concern of my colleague. Lastly, would the hon Minister of Finance or the Treasury consider an additional allocation to Parliament so that they can get these devices working next time!
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY (Mrs E THABETHE): The ANC would like to support this Budget Vote based on the following: The Minister and the portfolio committee have discussed some of the issues that have been raised by parties that have just stood up now. The Minister and the department have admitted to some of the problems that have been raised here and there are plans to deal with them.
Firstly, with regard to the issue of the backlogs in infrastructure, we are glad this was raised because it is the very reason we are supporting this Budget Vote: We are now talking of the Accelerated Service Infrastructure Delivery Initiative, Asidi, which is going to see to it that we eradicate all the mud structures that there are. At the same time, when we talk of quality teaching and learning, we are proud to say yes, the department is coming up with a plan to train teachers. There is an agreement between Basic Education and Higher Education to make sure that we get well-qualified educators and that quality education is being delivered in schools. We see the strides and progress that have been made in those areas.
Secondly, with regard to the issue of early childhood development practitioners, we are proud to say yes, indeed, progress has been made. About 10 000 early childhood development practitioners have been trained during the year of 2010 and we are still projecting, even in 2011, to train the same number so that we make sure that our learners get the necessary background for them to achieve more when they continue with their education.
Considering these steps, this budget is a step in the right direction to support the vision of the department and the ruling party. Therefore, as the ANC, we support this Budget Vote. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
The House divided:
AYES – 230 (ANC - 204; COPE – 14; IFP – 7; UCDP – 2; ACDP – 2; PAC – 1).
NOES – 56 (DA – 54; ID – 1; FF Plus - 1).
Vote accordingly agreed to.
Vote No 16 – Health – put.
Declaration of vote:
Mrs C DUDLEY: Thank you, currently South African medical schools produce about 1 200 doctors annually. Since the 1990s the increase in the burden of disease, the high incidence of HIV/Aids and the loss of qualified doctors to developed countries has resulted in a critical shortage of positions. This does not help efforts to significantly reduce maternal and child mortality.
According to reports, a fifth of the physicians trained in Africa migrate to high-income countries within five years of completing their training. Our medical professionals are saying there are ways to influence highly trained professionals to stay in the country and that, apart from a living wage, providing a supportive environment for clinical work and research and supporting doctors with small-scale research would go a long way.
Security is another hot issue for both health professionals and patients, as demonstrated by protesting doctors after the fatal stabbing of Dr Senzosenkosi Mkhize in Middelburg on 7 June 2011.
The ACDP has called for a re-evaluation of legislation and the consideration of the need to establish an independent regulatory body for doctors and dentists, whose voices in the Health Professions Council of South Africa, HPCSA, are diluted. This would not only ensure greater integrity in dealing with professional misconduct and clinical negligence but will build confidence within the medical profession.
We welcome what we perceived to be a change of attitude towards serious problems emanating from the practice of abortion on demand and we look forward to working with the Minister in dealing with the many abuses. Despite concerns about underspending, the ACDP will support this Budget Vote.
Mr M I MALALE: Deputy Speaker ...
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Do you want to make a declaration? We can make declarations. I don’t mind leaving here at 12:00pm.
Mr M I MALALE: Madam Deputy Speaker, yes, I will be one minute. Unfortunately I didn’t hear the member who was talking. I would have liked to have heard what she was saying. We support this Budget Vote specifically because it addresses primary health care. I heard some talk about doctors leaving the country. I want to say to the member that what she didn’t say was that South Africa produces the very best doctors, hence they are leaving. That’s actually a good thing. Also, if we improve primary health care, it will reduce the workload in hospitals and we might not need the numbers she is talking about. That is very important.
Coming to security in relation to what happened in Mpumalanga, I think there is no way that you can have security between a doctor and a patient, because there are confidential things that they need to talk about. If you talk about security, let us talk about it in terms of it being around the hospital - and that was there at that institution where the doctor was stabbed. When the patient is inside with the doctor, there is no way that there can be somebody who stands and listens to what is going on there.
Vote agreed to.
Vote No 17 – Higher Education and Training – put.
Declarations of vote:
Mrs D ROBINSON: Madam Deputy Speaker, the DA opposes the Budget for the following reasons: Not enough money has been allocated specifically to rescue the majority of universities and FET colleges from underperforming. The DA has budgeted an extra amount of R3 billion in its alternative budget especially for the benefit of needy deserving students. Government needs to explain how free undergraduate tertiary education will be funded. It requires a very sophisticated financial model.
Government is silent on what changes will be implemented to improve the quality and quantity of trainings funded by the Sector Education and Training Authority, Seta. The DA is also concerned about the independence of the National Skills Fund and its decisions to only fund certain skills initiatives.
The money that is set aside for this portfolio should be spent more effectively and on a more appropriately designed education system rather than focusing on spending more money on the current system. [Applause.]
Mr M I MALALE: All we wanted to say was that we support this Budget. I think that Dr Lawrence Cloupas knows that we are certain of the efforts the department is undertaking to ensure expanded access to higher education. And I wish the fictional amount she mentioned was real money. [Applause.]
The House divided:
AYES – 217 (ANC – 198; COPE – 13; FF Plus 1; ACDP – 2; UCDP – 2; PAC – 1).
NOES – 51 (DA – 50; ID – 1).
Vote accordingly agreed to.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Members are reminded that the bells will only ring for one minute.
Mr I M OLLIS: But the postman rings twice!
Vote No 18 – Labour – put.
Vote agreed to (Democratic Alliance, Independent Democrats and the African Christian Democratic Party dissenting).
Vote No 19 – Social Development – put.
Declarations of vote:
Mrs S P KOPANE: Deputy Speaker, the South African Social Security Agency, Sassa, is an agency responsible for the administration of the Social Service Grant to the most poverty-stricken people in South Africa. As a result, it is not an organisation that can afford to be mismanaged. There are some serious irregularities that need to be explained.
Sassa appeared before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, Scopa, on 14 June 2011. It was very clear that Sassa lacked the capacity to maintain the R25 million grant file. The Auditor-General has found that the agency staff have effected payment without the necessary supporting documentation and could not account for R10 billion.
The Auditor-General has further identified the following: Sassa still struggles to manage the performance of employees. It lacks monitoring control over the reporting process and the financial knowledge to implement the new financial instrument. There are delays in institutional policy approval and implementation, as well as in the system preparation. Sassa is not implementing control to mitigate the risk. There are delays in reconciling accounts on time.
The employee cost of Sassa has increased from R1,3 billion in 2009 to R1,5 billion in the year under review. This includes R11,8 million for the remuneration of the key management and executive. This amount has increased by 29,6% in nominal terms from R9,1 million in 2009. Irrespective of huge salaries of the officials, the financial managers did not submit the financial statement to the Auditor-General as required. Fraud by the staff has become rife and the chief financial officer is suspended with full salary as I speak.
An amount of R2 billion is being lost on irregular grant payments every year. Why is the management of the security data and the elimination of fraud not prioritised? The major budget of Sassa does not benefit the poor and the vulnerable of South Africa. Poverty remains our deep and daunting challenge. If we fail to address poverty, we will wreck democracy. The DA will not support this Budget. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Mrs C DUDLEY: New research on government and donor funding of services required under the Children’s Act shows a serious shortfall in funding for essential childcare and protection services. There is an urgent need to increase both government and donor funding if we are to reach all children in need of care and protection.
The ACDP calls on government to ensure that the draft national policy on financing of nonprofit organisations fully acknowledges government’s obligations under the Children’s Act to provide and fund a comprehensive range of social services for children and that it is finalised in consultation with nonprofit organisations. The serious deterioration in child services, particularly for children in conflict with the law, means we are failing children and failing in our responsibility to raise adults capable of participating meaningfully in society.
As nongovernmental organisations often provide a better, less expensive service for vulnerable children than government can, these providers need more support. The ACDP welcomes the urgent court order giving the Minister and MECs until the end of 2014 to find solutions to the foster-care crisis. The current crisis is attributed to a combination of backlogs caused by a general shortage of social workers, a lack of capacity to process the extension of orders and the sheer volume of foster-care orders that need to be accommodated in the children’s courts.
The ACDP calls on the Minister to redouble efforts to increase access to social workers and to explore the possible need to amend the Children’s Act. The ACDP will support this very troubled budget.
Mrs Y R BOTHA: Deputy Speaker, the ANC is satisfied with the milestones that the department has set itself with regard to Sassa to address the matters raised in 2009-10 financial report by the Auditor-General. Vote No 19 represents the investment and the commitment of the government, led by ANC, to improving the lives of the poor, aged, youth, women and disabled in our society.
The formulation of developmental welfare policy, community development initiatives, population policy, as well as social security reform and provision are the key priorities of the Department of Social Development and Sassa.
This Vote is highly valued by all South Africans and makes working together to build better communities a reality for us all. [Applause.]
The House divided:
AYES – 227 (ANC - 201; COPE – 13; IFP – 7; FF Plus – 1; ACDP – 2; UCDP – 2; PAC – 1).
NOES – 53 (DA – 52; ID – 1).
Vote accordingly agreed to.
Vote No 20 – Sports and Recreation South Africa – put.
Vote agreed to (Democratic Alliance, Congress of the People and Independent Democrats dissenting).
Vote No 21 – Correctional Services – put and agreed to.
Vote No 22 – Defence and Military Veterans – put.
Vote agreed to (Independent Democrats and Democratic Alliance dissenting).
Vote No 23 – Independent Complaints Directorate – put and agreed to.
Vote No 24 – Justice and Constitutional Development – put.
Declarations of vote:
Dr M G ORIANI-AMBROSINI: Madam Deputy Speaker, I know it is late but we need to register our utmost concern about the functioning of this department, the core function of which is the administration of justice. Civil justice and administrative justice are just way too expensive for anyone to access. Criminal justice is not working. This is a department for which there really should be no reason for it not to work properly. It could be fixed, but it is branching out into various directions and is neglecting its core business.
There is a fundamental lack of vision. We hope that next year the Department of Justice will focus on its primary objective, which is that of making justice affordable to everyone. There are ways in which that could be done and it ought to become a priority — effectiveness, competence and efficiency.
Mr X MABASA: The hon Minister has developed a momentum in transforming our judiciary and our justice system that not only deserves our support but must also be applauded. The hon Minister has given notice to senior officials in the department of a zero-tolerance approach to qualified reports from the Auditor-General’s office.
The portfolio committee will soon be giving serious consideration to two crucial pieces of legislation, that is, the Superior Courts Bill and the Constitution Seventeenth Amendment Bill which, read together, seek to meet the requirements of Chapter 8 of our Constitution.
We recently had the privilege of witnessing the roll-out of the Audio Visual Remand, AVR, system in courts, which seeks to enhance efficiency and effectiveness of case postponements in our criminal justice system. Every day justice is served in our courts. So, we would like to know where the hon Oriani-Ambrosini witnesses the wastage that he refers to. The ANC supports this Vote. [Applause.]
Vote agreed to (Democratic Alliance and Independent Democrats dissenting).
Vote No 25 – Police – put.
Declarations of vote:
Mr M M SWATHE: This Parliament has voted increased amounts for the SA Police Service year after year. Yet it has become clear that those put in charge of the Service, and of the distribution of these funds, are simply not up to doing their job.
According to the Public Protector, the National Police Commissioner, Bheki Cele, has committed an illegal act. He is the chief accounting officer appointed by the President. He has shown a total lack of administrative ability or ability to balance a budget. He has allowed transfers from capital to pay salaries. This is in complete contravention of the Public Finance Management Act, PFMA. Under him, the SAPS suffered the humiliation of being called before the Standing Committee on Appropriations to explain themselves for the first time ever.
SAPS accounts are going unpaid. Perhaps it is because they are short of money as a result of expenditure on personal vehicles, hotel stays, houses and travel by the Minister, his Deputy and the Commissioner. In addition, the contracts awarded for the enormous, expensive national police days are under investigation as we speak. No, the DA will not support this Budget Vote.
Ms L S CHIKUNGA: The Department of Police, for ages now, has been receiving unqualified audit opinions from the Auditor-General. [Interjections.] This simply means they have systems in place that they are using to control and to manage their funds, and that is a fact.
The budget allocated to the police over the last 17 years, together with the ANC policy of fighting crime in partnership with communities, has started to have the desired effect on crime levels. This is a fact. The 2010 crime statistics are proof of what I am saying. They show that crime in South Africa is decreasing.
Political parties who continue to raise the issue of the Public Protector’s report here today are undermining the work of the Public Protector, as she herself has said. They are also undermining the work of Parliament and may, indeed, be acting unethically and unlawfully themselves. I would refer members of this House to the clause in section 7(2) of the Public Protector Act, which says:
Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in any law, no person shall disclose to any other person the contents of any document in the possession of a member of the Office of the Public Protector or the record of any evidence given before the Public Protector, a Deputy Public Protector or a person contemplated in subsection 3(b) during an investigation, unless the Public Protector determines otherwise.
While the Act allows Parliament to discuss any matter that is before or being investigated by the Public Protector, discussing the Public Protector’s findings that are unlawfully leaked to the media by faceless and unscrupulous people is unfair. The ANC will support this Budget Vote. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
The House divided:
AYES – 212 (ANC - 201; IFP – 7; UCDP – 2; PAC – 1; APC - 1).
NOES – 69 (DA – 52; COPE – 13; ID – 1; FF Plus - 1; ACDP - 2).
Vote accordingly agreed to.
Vote 26 – Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries – put.
Declarations of vote:
Mr T W COETZEE: Hon Deputy Speaker, the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries sector’s budget is totally insufficient in relation to the importance of sustained food security at affordable prices. A budget of only R4,7 billion from a total budget of R889 billion, or only 0,53%, is far too little. It leaves many institutions, such as the Agricultural Research Council, ARC, Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute and others far short of their needs to perform optimally. In terms of the department’s strategic objectives, implementation and delivery is seriously lacking. This is evident in the department’s failing and handling of the outbreaks of contagious diseases like Rift Valley Fever, foot-and-mouth disease and avian flu, costing producers millions of rands and causing the closure of our borders for the export of animals and animal products.
Die Minister se uitspraak dat kommersiële boere nie hulp na die verwoestende vloede vroeg vanjaar gaan ontvang nie, is onverantwoordelik en skokkend. Dit, nadat miljoene rande se hulp aangekondig is. Ek verwys na President Zuma, met R800 miljoen, en Minister Pravin Ghordan, met R600 miljoen. Uself het R200 miljoen aangekondig. Volgens u sou die eerste hulp reeds in April uitbetaal gewees het, en sou 10 000 tydelike werksgeleenthede geskep geword het deur die herstel van infrastruktuur. Minister, daar het niks van gekom nie. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraph follows.)
[The Minister’s announcement that commercial farmers will not be receiving any aid after the devastating floods earlier this year is irresponsible and shocking. This, after aid to the value of millions of rands was mentioned. I refer here to President Zuma, with R800 million, and Minister Pravin Ghordan, with R600 million. You yourself mentioned R200 million. According to you the first payment in aid would have been in April and 10 000 temporary job opportunities would have been created through the reconstruction of infrastructure. Minister, nothing came of this.]
There is an obvious lack of management and control of the department’s activities. The lack of understanding by the Minister and her Deputy’s inability to bring about positive change to the challenges facing the industry will cost this country dearly. It will result in severe food shortages, a drastic increase in food prices and serious job losses.
Exorbitant, wasteful expenditure adds to the problems in the department. We have now been waiting for two years for the forensic reports of Marine and Coastal Management and the Land Bank. We have questioned the wasteful expenditure on certain projects. We, the DA, therefore oppose this Budget Vote. [Time expired.]
Mr G P D MACKENZIE: Cope will not be supporting Budget Vote 26. [Interjections.] During her reply on the Budget Vote, the hon Minister declared, “Don’t bother sending me your speech.” Some of the new generation of Ministers no longer believe in being accountable to Parliament, as is required by the Constitution. Does the Minister know what the Constitution demands of her? If she did, she would have already informed Parliament about who the new owners of certain farms in the North West province are, after I raised the question.
She must also inform Parliament how the Makatini cotton gin plant, now owned by the department, is progressing, and what quantity of cotton is being grown and milled there. The hon Minister must also furnish this House with a report on the Letsitele Valley farms, the Magwa tea estate in the Eastern Cape and the Zebediela estate.
The Minister has displayed a lack of commitment to the Constitution as well as to the plight of farmers and farmworkers. Farm security and food security are more compromised than ever before. Therefore, Cope cannot in good conscience support this Vote. Thank you.
Mr M JOHNSON: My observation is that if my father was still in music, he would have seen a beautiful hymn developing out of the small, smaller and smallest DA, as represented by the liberals, Cope and the ID. [Laughter.]
The ANC wishes to further declare its support for Budget Vote No 26. We do so in view of the priorities set by our ably-led President Zuma’s government. At their apex is job creation. The chief focus remains that of promoting small-scale fisheries, farmers and forestry plantation producers, while sustaining responsible commercial sectors in the respective areas of responsibility. Part of this focus is directed at empowering, among others, the military veterans of our people, the youth and the women, alongside people living with disabilities.
We shall continue to ensure that we support a department that promotes and creates an environment conducive to having enough safe food for all in South Africa. The ANC continues to support Budget Vote No 26.
The House divided:
AYES – 219 (ANC – 206; IFP – 6; FF Plus - 1; ACDP – 2; UCDP - 2; PAC – 1; APC - 1).
NOES – 67 (DA – 52; COPE – 14; ID – 1).
Vote accordingly agreed to.
Vote No 27 – Communications – put and agreed to.
Vote No 28 - Economic Development – put.
Vote agreed to (Democratic Alliance and Independent Democrats dissenting).
Vote No 29 - Energy – put.
Declarations of vote:
Mrs C DUDLEY: Deputy Speaker, it has been reported that all five Brics countries reaffirmed their support for nuclear energy as an important element in their future energy mix, while Germany, Switzerland, Japan and Italy have now joined Austria, Spain and Denmark in withdrawing from commitments to nuclear power.
Post-Fukushima, South Africa’s continued commitment to a nuclear programme, which the Department of Trade and Industry’s Industrial Policy Action Plan estimates will cost in excess of R1 trillion, is foolhardy. Not only will this place an enormous strain on the balance of payments and result in severe consequences for the South African economy, but we are closing our eyes to other very real risks.
The ACDP calls on government to utilise the R1 trillion in the implementation of less-destructive energy-efficient measures. Hon Minister, South Africa needs your assurance that we will not be bound by short-sighted commitments to nuclear programmes and that we will not allow ourselves to be manipulated by France or Brics partners in this matter. The ACDP will not support this Vote.
Mr S J NJIKELANA: This ANC-lead government has worked out a brilliant energy strategy called Integrated Resource Plan, IRP, 2010, which also includes nuclear energy. The hon member is aware of that. More than that, nuclear energy has not been withdrawn because of Fukushima. As she also indicates, there are countries that are confidently moving ahead with nuclear energy because it is a technology that has been proven beyond any reasonable doubt that it can be safe.
Furthermore, we, as a committee, are seized in also ensuring that any programme that is being rolled out here in South Africa will integrate high levels of safety. Therefore, her alarmist approach is neither here nor there. As a result, the ANC will definitely support the Budget Vote No 29 on Energy.
Vote agreed to (African Christian Democratic Party dissenting).
Vote No 30 – Environmental Affairs – put and agreed to.
Vote No 31- Human Settlements – put.
Declarations of vote:
Mr A C STEYN: The DA has always supported the housing budget in what we now know as the misguided belief that relatively decent housing would be provided. Although I was aware of problems with corruption and the quality of workmanship, I did not think it happened on such a large scale. It will appear that money budgeted to provide adequate shelter for vulnerable people has largely, since 1994, disappeared down a black hole.
According to a report from the national Department of Human Settlements, up to 70% of houses built between 1994 and 2010 will require some form of rectification or will have to be demolished. The cost at the value today is estimated to be R64,4 billion. If this is successful – say, over the next five years, which I doubt – the final cost could very well exceed R100 billion.
The hon Minister has rather reluctantly admitted during the budget debate in April that the provision of subsidised housing in South Africa is in a crisis. Notwithstanding this, he has thus far failed to provide the portfolio committee with a credible plan to address this failure - now called the rectification programme - while still continuing to fulfil the responsibility of providing new housing for the hundreds of thousands still on the waiting list.
I therefore cannot with a clear conscience recommend to my party that we support this budget. Hence, the DA will not support Budget Vote No 31. [Applause.]
Ms B N DAMBUZA: Hon Deputy Speaker, ... asithethi ngoqashi-qashi ke thina, bathetha uqashi-qashi bona. [... we are not guessing, but, they are!]
The ANC welcomes and supports Budget Vote No 31, which includes an additional allocation of R4,9 billion for human settlements upgrading, municipal services, as well as the new Urban Settlement Development Grant of R21,8 billion over the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF, period for the provision of bulk services to the cities.
The budget is supported mostly on the basis that it is biased towards the poor majority ... asibazi ke bona ukuba bamele obani. [... we do not know who they are representing.]
It is also in line with the constitutional requirement, the strategic objectives of the department and the policy imperatives.
The budget proposes a range of measures to accelerate housing development and housing infrastructure. It is the responsibility of this government to ensure that all people are decently housed in order to bring up their families in comfort and security, as reflected in the Freedom Charter.
The ANC-led government’s most urgent priority is to ensure that settlements development and redevelopment is imbued with infrastructure within the vicinity of quality homes. The prevalence of settlements with spatial dysfunctions and inefficiencies can no longer be left unresolved.
The quality of houses or settlements is central to the social transformation that we seek to realise. That is the main reason that the Cabinet took a strategic decision to introduce the rectification programme in areas where structural problems have been observed. The purpose is to maintain humanity and restore dignity of the citizens of this country.
We all agree that government has been confronted with the challenge of substandard development. However, in response to the behaviour of unscrupulous contractors, the department, under the leadership of the Minister, has committed itself to a tough stance. The ANC supports the Budget Vote. [Applause.]
Vote agreed to (Democratic Alliance, Independent Democrats and Congress of the People dissenting).
Vote 32 – Mineral Resources – put.
Declarations of vote:
Adv H C SCHMIDT: The State Diamond Trader has caused immense harm to the local diamond cutting and polishing industry. This is due to its failure to ensure access to rock diamonds to the local market. Its main purpose is the accessibility of rock diamonds locally, which objective we support in principle.
However, diamonds are illegally exported currently without such diamonds been cut and polished locally, by those to whom rough diamonds have been sold by the STD, the State Diamond Trader, against the purpose of the State Diamond Trader.
The chairperson of the State Diamond Trader is alleged to have imported rough diamonds valued at approximately US$1 million during March this year from the Marengo region in Zimbabwe. Due to human rights abuses, the purchase of diamonds from Marengo has been prohibited by the Kimberley Process, despite what the department says. The credibility of the Kimberley Process is in danger of being irrelevant. The hon Minister is not taking any steps against the chairperson, despite having been informed during the Budget debate three weeks ago.
The hon Minister’s alleged insistence that the minutes of the SA Precious Metals and Diamond Regulator be amended to exclude the fact that the illegal importation of diamonds from Marengo raises many questions, inter alia, where those diamonds are currently located; whether the chairperson has an operational business licence; and whether there is in fact a licence to do so.
The chairperson of the State Diamond Trader’s action reveal a conflict of interest in that she has either acted illegally for her own personal account or to the benefit of the State Diamond Trader without the Act providing for the State Diamond Trader to import diamonds. On both scores it is alleged that the chairperson’s actions should be investigated.
The apparent answer for the Minister’s failure to take action against the chairperson appears to be the fact that the chairperson of the State Diamond Trader has strong political ties with the hon President Zuma, was at one stage his legal advisor, is now a member of the Jacob Zuma Children’s Fund and a co-director of the Deviate Information Technology with the President’s son, Duduzane.
The DA will therefore not support a budget where the hon Minister is seemingly not prepared to take steps against alleged illegal actions. [Applause.]
Mr M F GONA: The ANC supports Budget Vote 32 without any conditions. [Interjections.] We support this Budget Vote because it provides a possibility for a turnaround strategy within the Department of Mineral Resources.
Regarding the issues raised by the hon member, hon Adv Schmidt, firstly, he is aware that next week the portfolio committee will be addressed by the State Diamond Trader and the regulator thereof on matters pertaining to the strategy of the State Diamond Trader. Secondly, and most importantly, he is aware that the Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources is dealing with an elaborate strategy on the diamond industry as a whole.
Thirdly, the issues of relationship between the chairperson and the President should not play any role when we look at matters pertaining to the institutions that report to both the department and the Ministry. [Interjections.] Therefore on Tuesday you will have an opportunity to get clarity.
Lastly, let us say that the Kimberley Process is very clear. If there were any problems, we would have been notified at this stage. We do not have the information you have at our disposal. Therefore, we will be grateful if next week, on Tuesday, you will submit that information to the portfolio committee when we deal with the matter of the State Diamond Trader. The ANC supports Budget Vote No 32. [Applause.]
Vote agreed to (Democratic Alliance and Independent Democrats dissenting).
Vote 33 – Rural Development and Land Reform – put.
Declarations of vote:
Ms L D MAZIBUKO: The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform has consistently failed to demonstrate proper governance practices and as a result of this failure South Africa’s Land Reform Programme has effectively stalled, leaving many land claimants and land owners in a state of perpetual uncertainty.
Even as some political leaders disingenuously try to peddle fear and hatred by claiming that the Land Reform Programme’s failure can be blamed on a single race group or a clause in the Constitution, the facts speak clearly for themselves.
In the last few years, the department has been beset by problems. It has outstanding lawsuits against it to the value of over R500 million. It has a backlog of post-settlement support to land claimants amounting to over R3 billion. This for a department with a total budget of R8 billion!
Since the 2004-05 financial year, it has accrued R15 million in wasteful expenditure and R164 million in irregular expenditure. It has received qualified audit after qualified audit, and the Minister still refuses to release the vital Green Paper which will outline President Zuma’s administration’s envisaged direction for land reform.
In the department’s latest annual report, the Auditor-General listed the department’s failure once again to complete an audit of all state-owned land as one of the main reasons for his qualified opinion. In addition, he listed financial irregularities, mismanagement of land subsidies and inadequate internal management as matters of serious concern.
In addition to the failure to complete the audit, the Auditor-General further noted the following worrying financial irregularities: R53 million lost to the department through fraudulent activities and irregular and wasteful expenditure. In fact, the department is now being so badly managed that it is under investigation by the Special Investigation Unit, SIU.
After six consecutive years of rampant mismanagement, failure to deliver on its own mandate and no discernable effort being made to improve on the status quo, no responsible member of this Parliament can be expected to hand this department an R8,1 billion blank cheque, knowing it will only likely deliver more of the same. The DA will not be supporting this Budget Vote. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Mr P B MNGUNI: On page 714 of the Estimates of the National Expenditure, the department indicates that it revised its 2010-13 Strategic Plan in order to create vibrant, equitable, and sustainable rural communities. The period when this goal is to be attained is deliberately left open-ended. Furthermore, there is no schedule where the department records how year-on-year an increasing number of rural communities have become “vibrant” and “sustainable”, and how state resources and expertise were being given to such communities on an equitable basis.
Each year, Parliament is given a wish list by the department, which becomes the wish list for the next year and the year after. Parliament and the nation are fed promises, not delivery. The language used is: “aimed to alleviate”; “has identified”; “is proposing”; “will be developed”; and “will propose”. When will we read: “is expanding”; “is accelerating”; and “is succeeding”?
It is about time that we see proof of vibrancy, sustainability, and equitable treatment. Cope will support this department when we are taken out and shown how the lives of the rural communities have been transformed for the better. [Interjections.] Until then, it is all pie in the sky and the surreal neglect of rural communities continues unabated.
Out of the sympathy for the unrelieved suffering of the rural communities, we will vote against what is laid on the table. The department must get its act together. [Applause.]
Mrs C DUDLEY: The impact of land reform on the livelihoods of land reform beneficiaries is of concern as most funds distributed to beneficiaries are either in distress or have collapsed. We must ensure that the recapitalisation and redevelopment of a further 387 farms will be more successful than the previous 200 farms.
The ACDP urges government to ensure that the farm distribution is done in a way that protects the interests of all parties, and that it achieves continued success. Land reform must include skills transfer and it must stimulate the local economy with value-adding business. This budget must facilitate both farming and rural infrastructure for access to markets, storage and credit facilities.
The ACDP agrees that the comprehensive Rural Development Programme, aimed at eliminating poverty and food insecurity in rural areas, has to be a key spending priority for the department. The specific needs in rural communities, like running water, sanitation, electricity, housing and development support must be urgently addressed. The ACDP will be supporting this Budget Vote.
Mr N T GODI: Deputy Speaker, I stand on behalf of the APC to support this budget. The work of this department is very important but, equally, not easy. It is important to note that in part the department is dealing with what was at the core of our subjugation as a people - the underdevelopment of the rural areas and the denial of access to land by our people. We do think that the political leadership of the department are comrades who have a clear appreciation of the challenges of the department. They are people who are willing to be engaged, despite the challenges that are there – and I do not think there is anybody who denies them.
I think it is important for us to support the work of that department, especially the Rural Youth Development Programme, which I believe can and will go a long way in providing the necessary skills to our people in the rural areas. So, as the APC, we want to support the budget and also support our cousins here on the left.
Mr P S SIZANI: Hon Deputy Speaker, I am astounded by the part-time participant from the DA. [Interjections.] She depends entirely on what she reads in newspapers and not on what takes place in the portfolio committee because she is never there. [Interjections.]
We had a series of portfolio committee meetings where we honestly dealt with the officials. We dealt with the Minister and the Deputy Minister on the issues that are challenges to the department. We collectively agreed that there is a marked improvement in the performance of that department, despite its lack of funding.
We collectively agreed that that department is improving in its capacity to deal with the information in front of it and the challenges it is facing. That is why it is very strange today that they should disagree with us when she was not even there.
The last issue is that it is very worrisome when people who represent the nation in this House come here and set the commercial farmers against communities. They stoke fires about the court cases which are lodged by the commercial farmers against the department. The real reason - they know - is that there are law firms that are scouring the countryside, looking at farmers whose farms have been declared candidates for land claims. Yet they come to this House and say those court cases are a danger to the budget of the department, when they themselves are collaborating with those law firms. [Interjections.]
The Ministry is meeting with the commercial farmers next week, on 29 June 2011, where these matters will be debated. While they in this House create enmity between the communities and those farmers, we will not be diverted by those scarecrows. We will go forward and support this Budget Vote. [Applause.]
The House divided:
AYES – 216 (ANC – 203; IFP – 7; ACDP – 2; UCDP - 2; PAC – 1; APC – 1).
NOES – 68 (DA – 52; COPE – 13; FF Plus – 1; ID – 2).
Vote accordingly agreed to.
Vote No 34 – Science and Technology – put and agreed to.
Vote No 35 – Tourism – put and agreed to.
Vote No 36 – Trade and Industry – put.
Vote agreed to (Democratic Alliance and Independent Democrats dissenting).
Vote No 37 – Transport – put.
Vote agreed to (Democratic Alliance and Independent Democrats dissenting).
Vote No 38 – Water Affairs – put.
Declarations of vote:
Mr G R MORGAN: The Department of Water and Environmental Affairs is a department which certainly has problems, but there is a new Minister in place in this particular department, and there is a turnaround strategy, which is under way. For the last two years, the DA has opposed this budget, because the turnaround strategy was never evident, but now there is one. It is important, however, to note what some of those problems are, so that we can hold the Minister to account over the next year. Indeed, we are lending support for this budget in this particular financial year.
The Water Trading Entity, with its disclaimer opinion, needs urgent attention. The Water Trading Entity cannot reliably provide information on fees collected from water users. It must be noted that for the last 23 months there has not been a permanent director-general in place in this department. Granted, the director-general was suspended and was ultimately removed from her position because of corrupt activities which she performed. For that we commend the department and the Minister, but ultimately there has been no permanent leadership in that department.
This is, however, a department with many good public servants who want to see change in this department, who want to deliver water to all the many South Africans who don’t currently have it, who want to deal with the water quality issues. Therefore we lend our support because we want them to turn the situation around over the current year. Added to that, it is important that the backlog in water use licences is dealt with. This has been going on for far too long now. Added to that, the more than 100 mines without water licences have to be dealt with as well.
We commend the Minister for the action that has been taken on acid mine drainage, at last, albeit slow. It is important that that is accelerated as well. The DA will be watching the performance of the Minister and this department keenly over the next year, and we hope that we can again support this budget next year. [Applause.]
Mrs C DUDLEY: Deputy Speaker, decisions regarding the pumping and treatment of acid mine water drainage are said to have been taken unilaterally without any public involvement or participation. The urgency of the situation is obvious but cannot be used to defend the department’s failure to consult.
Hon Minister, why is it that interested and affected parties were not given the opportunity to be heard? We hear a fair amount about acid mine water drainage, but we are less familiar with the danger posed by radioactive pollutants and the alarming levels in Krugersdorp and Randfontein. Of particular concern is the fact that reconstruction and development houses are being built on radioactive land in the Witpoortjie area in Krugersdorp. Informal settlements continue to grow on contaminated lands. It doesn’t take a lot of radiation to cause serious health problems, especially in children.
Community effluent and industrial waste also need urgent attention, and every department seems to be passing the buck. Just as alarming is the rapid spreading of the blue-green algae that creates a toxin found to be the cause of many debilitating diseases, of which deep layers have accumulated in many rivers and dams in the country.
The ACDP is concerned that this budget will not enable the department to take the necessary measures to address these problems and calls for targeted funding for specific projects. Urgent attention must also be given to the present lack of accountability. We will, however, be supporting this budget.
Adv J H DE LANGE: I rise in unconditional support of this Budget on behalf of the ANC. May I also suggest to those parties that would want to be on the wrong side of history, voting against this Budget, to think again. I would suggest that one day, when the voters ask how you voted on Water Affairs, when your children ask how you voted on Water Affairs, you should not let history catch you on the wrong side of that debate. [Interjections.] Let it not be said one day that you voted against Water Affairs. [Laughter.] The water-hungry voters of this country will not forgive such a betrayal easily, and you will see the results at the next election. [Interjections.]
May I also just echo some of the words of my colleague from the DA and say that our Minister, who was appointed towards the end of last year in this portfolio, has been very open and transparent regarding the challenges faced by this department – and there are a few very big challenges. She has also been very quick, forthcoming and innovative with possible solutions. We, the portfolio committee, as my colleague has pointed out, have been vigorously engaging on these issues and solutions to make sure that they are the right solutions and that we get permanent solutions.
To our colleague in the ACDP, it is very clear to me, my dear, that you have become a paper party. [Interjections.] The only thing you come and argue about in this House are things that you have read somewhere, but you definitely do not get that information from the committee. For the last two days, we have been having public hearings on acid mine drainage, and everything you have just said here is complete and utter nonsense. [Laughter.] You should have come to those committee meetings. We had the experts there, and they could have answered all the questions that you have raised. So, have no fear, we are dealing with the matter, and the department is dealing with the matter. Also, I want to say to all those thousands of workers in the water sector ... [Interjections.] ... I want to thank you. Sorry? Did I say anything controversial? [Laughter.] Don’t get so excited.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Except that your time has just expired. [Laughter.]
Adv J H DE LANGE: I thank you very much. Amandla! [Power!] [Applause.]
Vote agreed to.
Schedule put and agreed to (Democratic Alliance and Independent Democrats dissenting).
(Second Reading debate)
There was no debate.
Bill read a second time.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The Bill will be sent to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence.
Hon members, believe it or not, that concludes the business – no, the House is not adjourned yet! [Interjections.] You wanted to stay here, with all the divisions you requested! So, let’s just stay here and play until 12 o’clock. [Laughter.]
I want to take this opportunity to thank all the members. This is the last sitting until we come back from constituency work sometime in August, and I know that we all come from a very tiring election, successful in many ways for some parties. [Interjections.] I hope that within that constituency work, you will be able to take a week or two to remember your young days and play, so that you can come back to this House fresh. [Applause.]
The House adjourned at 20:52.
ANNOUNCEMENTS, TABLINGS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS
National Assembly and National Council of Provinces
1. The Minister of Finance
(a) Government Notice No 401 published in Government Gazette No 34264 dated 5 May 2011: Area demarcated by Municipality of eThekwini as urban development zone, in terms of the Income Tax Act, 1962 (Act No 58 of 1962).
(b) Government Notice No 421 published in Government Gazette No 34286 dated 12 May 2011: Exemption in terms of section 36, in terms of the Division of Revenue Act, 2011 (Act No 6 of 2011).
(c) Government Notice No R.406 published in Government Gazette No 34272 dated 13 May 2011: Amendment of Schedule No 5 (No 5/92), in terms of the Customs and Excise Act, 1964 (Act No 91 of 1964).
(d) Government Notice No R.436 published in Government Gazette No 34294 dated 20 May 2011: Amendment of Schedule No 4 (No 4/340), in terms of the Customs and Excise Act, 1964 (Act No 91 of 1964).
(e) Government Notice No R.437 published in Government Gazette No 34294 dated 20 May 2011: Amendment of Schedule No 6 (No 6/22), in terms of the Customs and Excise Act, 1964 (Act No 91 of 1964).
(f) Government Notice No R. 501 published in Government Gazette No 34350 dated 8 June 2011: Notice in terms of Section 1 (iii) (f), in terms of the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act, 2000 (Act No 5 of 2000).
(g) Government Notice No R. 502 published in Government Gazette No 34350 dated 8 June 2011: Preferential Procurement Regulations, 2011 , in terms of the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act, 2000 (Act No 5 of 2000).
1. The Speaker
(a) Reply from the Minister of Finance to recommendations in Report of the Portfolio Committee on Water and Environmental Affairs on Proposed Water Tariff Increases for 2010, as adopted by the House on 18 November 2010.
Referred to the Portfolio Committee on Water and Environmental Affairs.
(b) Petition calling for a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, submitted in terms of Rule 312 (Mr G R Morgan).
Referred to the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources for consideration and report.
1. Report of the Portfolio Committee on Labour on the progress made by the Department of Labour towards attaining the 2014 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), dated 21 June 2011
The Portfolio Committee on Labour, together with other affected committees, received a directive from the House Chairperson: Committees, Oversight & ICT in February 2011 to report by the end of May or the first week in June 2011 on its interactions with the Department of Labour and/or its entities on the progress made towards achieving the MDGs. This report was, therefore, compiled in response to the above-mentioned directive.
2. Briefing by the Department of Labour
The report focused on the following four areas:
(1) Key results areas of the department in relation to the MDGs;
(2) MDGs in relation to programme 2 (inspection and enforcement services) of the strategic plan of the department;
(3) MDGs in relation to programme 3 (public employment services) of the strategic plan of the department;
(4) MDGs in relation to labour policy and industrial relations.
2.1 Key result areas
On MDG 1, which is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, the department‘s target was to achieve full and productive employment and decent work and to halve the proportion of people whose income was less than 1 dollar per day. Of the 11,3% of people who were living below 1dollar per day in 2000, there had been a reduction by 5% in 2006. The poverty gap was 3,2% in 2000. This gap had since been reduced to 1,1%.
On MDG 3, which is to promote gender and equality and empower women, the department’s target was to promote equity in the labour market. On MDG 6 which dealt with combating HIV and Aids, malaria, and other diseases and on MDG 8 which aimed to develop global partnerships for development, the department’s target was to address the special needs of the least developed countries and to further develop and implement strategies for decent and productive work for youth in co-operation with developing countries.
2.2 Programme 2: Inspection and enforcement services
In relation to MDG 3, which is to promote gender and equality and empower women, the key result area under this programme was to promote equity in the labour market. The inspection and enforcement services had implemented the Employment Equity Act since its promulgation by conducting inspections. Employment road shows have been undertaken to create awareness and assist employers in reporting.
On MDG 1, the key result area was the protection of vulnerable workers. Workers in the agricultural and domestic sectors have been identified as vulnerable workers for the department’s intervention. Sectoral determinations which set minimum employment conditions and wages in these sectors have been promulgated and implemented.
On MDG 7, the key result area was to strengthen social protection. Occupational health and safety regulations were promulgated and implemented in line with the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The department was working with other government departments to ensure the protection of the environment and workers.
2.3 Programme 3: Public employment services
On MDG 1, the key result area under this programme was the contribution to employment creation. The target was to halve the proportion of people between 1990 and 2015 who suffered from hunger. As at December 2010, a total of 497 714 jobseekers were registered and placed in opportunities in different categories. A total of 401 479 jobseekers were referred for career guidance, work placement, and skills development. A total of 13 928 unemployed people were assessed for job opportunities and 1 294 were placed. Nineteen companies were assisted through the Department of Labour and the Department of Higher Education and Training with the lay-off scheme. A total of 6 351 workers benefited from the scheme. An amount of R681 000 was budgeted to address the plight of people with disabilities for the 2010–2011 financial year.
At the end December 2010:
* A total of 230 companies were assisted through workplace challenge programme.
* Eighty three companies were assisted with turnaround solutions and future forums were established.
* A total of 2 245 SMME managers were trained on management and matters related to intellectual property.
* A total of 8 226 jobs were saved through social plan interventions.
At the end December 2010, 52 853 women were assisted to access employment services. In a quest to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, 64 615 young people had been assisted to access the employment services.
The table below reflects the number of work seekers per province who were placed in employment by December 2010:
2.4 Labour policy and industrial relations
South Africa had increased the real wages of workers covered by sectoral determinations for the period 2001 to 2010, particularly the wages of domestic workers and farm workers. The employment in sectors covered by the minimum wage legislation also grew significantly over the same period. The overall employment of workers under the this legislation had grown at a rate of 2,9% per annum from nearly 3,5 million in 2001 to over 4 million in 2007. The extension of collective agreements to non–parties has yielded better outcomes. As a result of this, the average wage settlement has been 2% higher than the inflation rate. This indicated that the living standards of workers had improved. The lowest income of an unskilled worker in South Africa when compared to 1 dollar per day was 9 dollars per day. This implied that the lowest income for the lowest paid worker in the bargaining council system across all sectors was above 1 dollar per day.
On MDG 3, progress had been made in terms of the representation of women in positions with decision-making powers in two respects:
* On the top management level, women constituted 18,2% in 2008 and 19% in 2010.
* On the senior management level, women constituted 28,3% in 2008 and 29,3 % in 2010. There was no major improvement, but there was movement in the right direction.
On MDG 6, which is to combat HIV and Aids, the technical guidelines were published in 2000 and 2001 respectively.
The progress in key areas like poverty reduction, employment creation and most health-related goals remained a challenge. The department wanted to improve national capacity to monitor and report on the MDGs. This would include strengthening the national statistics system.
3. Questions by the Committee
Members of the Committee asked questions on the following matters:
* The relationship between the MDGs and the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM);
* The nature of the challenge in placing job seekers in real jobs;
* Whether the Department of Labour had been given a specific area of focus by international bodies in relation to the MDGs;
* The difference between top management and senior management;
* Clarity around the division of functions between the Department of Labour and the Department of Higher Education and Training in terms of the Skills Development Act;
* In respect of the 7 324 registered jobs, how many were permanent jobs and how many were casual jobs;
* The reason for companies to employ foreign nationals while the local people were unemployed.
4. Responses by the department
Relationship between the MDGs and the APRM
There could be a relationship between the MDGs and the APRM since they were speaking to each other. However, more work needed to be done in this regard.
Placing job seekers in real jobs
The biggest challenge was that the majority of people had lower skill levels. Some jobs required specialised skills and people who were registered did not possess such skills. The challenge was not unique to South Africa. This was due to the fact that technology advanced everyday. Few jobs were available to accommodate people with lower skill levels.
A total of 7 300 people were formally placed in permanent employment. The large number of people with skills but without matric certificates were being placed mostly on extended public works-related jobs.
Specific area of focus by the Department of Labour
The contribution of the Department of Labour towards the MDGs was a broader issue because it worked with other departments in achieving other goals. The Department of Labour contributed to a number of components at national, provincial and local levels.
Division of functions
In terms of the Skills Development Act, functions were divided among the Department of Labour and the Department of Higher Education and Training. The training function was transferred to the Department of Higher Education and Training and the employment service function remained with the Department of Labour.
Preference for foreign employees
Monitoring of and studies on the employment patterns would be required to establish reasons why companies preferred foreign workers. The Department of Labour had committed itself to study trends around this matter. There were meeting with SADC to discuss these matters because they affected international communities. Employers also worked with SADC regions to put measures in place to stop the exploitation of workers, irrespective of their nationality. International conventions had been drafted to address this challenge.
5. Concerns of the Committee
While the department was commended for a job well done regarding the sectoral determination for the protection of vulnerable workers, the Committee sought reasons why some companies in South Africa preferred foreign workers to local people. The Committee expressed concern at the fact that closing the wage gap was not yielding the results in terms of reducing poverty, that some South African companies were exploiting foreign workers and that South African workers were not benefiting from cross-border trade.
Therefore, the Committee notes that:
* Much progress has been achieved in meeting the MDGs through the Department of Labour’s programmes.
* Unemployment benefits have contributed to reducing transient poverty among the retrenched and unemployed workers.
* Public employment programmes have played a role in providing temporary employment, especially in times of economic stress.
* Labour market policies can create an environment for job creation, productivity and wage growth. As a result, job creation/wage growth raises and smooths consumption and contributes to improved health status.
* There is a need to support informal workers in the form of skills and access to markets to enhance their productivity.
* Support to organisations of workers leads to greater empowerment.
* Policies against discrimination ensure that women and the disabled have equal access to employment.
* Labour inspection is an essential part of the labour administration system in carrying out the fundamental function of labour law enforcement and effective compliance.
6. Recommendations for the Department of Labour
6.1 MDG 1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger
* In order to contribute towards this target, the Committee recommends that the Department of Labour must fast-track the review extension of social protection to certain categories of workers who are currently not covered by unemployment insurance. These include public servants, migrant workers and the youth registered for learnerships.
* Furthermore, the Department needs to amend the relevant legislation to ensure that vulnerable workers such as domestic and farm workers were covered as beneficiaries in the Compensation Fund, as they are currently not covered by the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COIDA).
6.2 MDG 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
* In light of the slow progress in meeting national targets to empower women within the workplace, the Committee recommends that the department must accelerate implementing stricter regulations as promulgated by proposed employment equity amendments.
* Subsequent to decentralisation of employment equity enforcement services to the Inspectorate Services of the department, the department must ensure that inspectors are fully equipped, through training, to oversee compliance with employment equity targets.
* The department must continuously strive to improve institutional capacity to prevent discrimination in the labour market. In doing so, it must ensure that the Inspectorate and Enforcement Services are capacitated as well.
6.3 MDG 6: Combat HIV/Aids
* The Committee recommends that the department must ensure that occupational health and safety regulations are promulgated and implemented through effective enforcement services.
* The department must consider close partnerships with the private sector and the trade unions in promoting health and safety issues, especially on HIV/Aids.
* Furthermore, the Departments of Labour and of Health should work together in advocacy activities and in sharing skills and strategies in responding to HIV/Aids in the workplace.
6.4 MDG 7: Develop Global Partnership for Development
* The Department of Labour must strengthen SADC regional partnerships, as relations within this region have a direct impact on South Africa’s development. As such, Parliament must actively participate in regional forums that would have a direct impact on the country’s labour policy development.
* South Africa, being a labour-receiving country, should deliberate on migrant labour challenges and work towards reaching progressive agreements to address challenges faced by migrant workers in the SADC region, as this has a direct impact on the country’s labour policy development.
Recommendations for Parliament
* Parliament must ensure that government delivers on decent employment in order to curb growing inequalities in society. Through oversight, Parliament should ensure that departments and entities align their programmes with the decent work agenda.
* Through oversight, Parliament must ensure the institutional capacity of the Department of Labour to prevent discrimination in the labour market.
* Although sheltered employment factories play a positive role in equipping disabled people, they have the potential to unnecessarily isolate individuals from the rest of their community. Rather than lessening obstacles to employment for persons with disabilities, this segregation actually contributes to lowered expectations and negative public attitudes. As a result, Parliament, through joint oversight by committees, should ensure that policies encouraging active participation of disabled people not only focus on sheltered employment, but also on employment in the mainstream economy.
* Parliament must ensure that the Department of Labour monitors employment trends within the informal sector. It should further ensure that policies recognise and improve conditions in the informal economy, where most poor women and men earn their livelihoods, as these policies are critical to poverty reduction.
* Through proper oversight and monitoring, Parliament must ensure that labour market policies can create an environment for job creation, productivity and wage growth. The Portfolio Committee on Labour must conduct oversight and hold joint meetings with other committees that fall under the economic transformation cluster, such as Economic Development, to ensure an alignment of employment legislation and other economic promotion strategies.
* Parliament recognises the country’s state of skills and that South Africa faces challenges of serious skills shortages in a number of critical fields. The Committee also acknowledges the work of government and other stakeholders in addressing these challenges. Furthermore, the Committee recognises that due to these challenges, certain employers actively recruit and hire foreign nationals to circumvent specific labour regulations such as minimum wages and other related regulations, as these foreign workers are desperate to accept below minimum standard employment conditions. As a result, South African citizens are regularly victims of this preference for non-citizens, which leaves them desperate for employment. As a result of this trend, the Committee intends to hold a joint meeting with the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs to address issues relating to immigration and ensure that labour policy is aligned to immigration policies.
Report to be considered.
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