Hansard: NA: Unrevised hansard
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 20 Sep 2011
No summary available.
20 SEPTEMBER 2011
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
The House met at 10:01.
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
Dr S M VAN DYK: Agb Speaker, ek gee hiermee kennis dat ek op die volgende sittingsdag van die Huis namens die DA sal voorstel:
Dat die Huis ’n debat voer oor munisipaliteite se onvermoë om hul infrastruktuur ten opsigte van die elektrisiteitsnetwerk in stand te hou.
(Translation of Afrikaans notice of motion follows.)
[Dr S M VAN DYK: 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 municipalities’ inability to maintain their electricity network infrastructure.
Ms H N MAKHUBA: Hon Speaker, I hereby give notice on that on the next sitting day of the House I shall move behalf of the IFP:
That the House debates the treatment of asylum seekers by officials of the Marabastad Home Affairs office.
Ms D E DLAKUDE: 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 ways to address challenges related to migration, including intergroup conflict, economic marginalisation and the inability to access suitable services.
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: Mr 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 issue of struggle songs.
Mrs C DUDLEY: Hon Speaker, I hereby give notice that on the next sitting day of the House I shall move on behalf of the ACDP:
That the House debates the need for political party funding legislation to be reviewed and reformed to ensure transparency.
Ms A M DREYER: Mr 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 extent to which President Zuma’s declaration in the state of the nation address, that 2011 would be the year of job creation is being realised, and recommendations to improve the situation.
Ms M C DUBE: 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 integrated approach to address substance and alcohol abuse in our society.
Mr C D KEKANA: Mr 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 investing in research and development programmes in information communication technology.
Mrs J D KILIAN: Hon Speaker, I hereby give notice that on the next sitting day of the House I shall move on behalf of Cope:
That the House debates cable theft in the Eastern Cape which left government departments in the Lusikisiki district without access to telephones for months.
BONGIWE MSOMI WINS GOLD MEDAL FOR NETBALL AND BEST PLAYER AWARD AT WORLD NETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Hon Speaker, I move without notice:
That the House –
(1) notes that 23-year-old sports management student Bongiwe Msomi has just returned to South Africa with a gold medal after representing the country in the World Netball Championships in Singapore;
(2) further notes that she was named the best player of the tournament and the only KwaZulu-Natal player selected to represent Durban University of Technology and the country at the international event;
(3) recalls that Bongiwe began playing netball at Hammarsdale Luthayi High School in 2004 and her competitive nature and confidence stood her in good stead in the national netball team;
(4) further recalls that she previously participated in tournaments in New Zealand and the Cook Islands, where she also collected accolades; and
(5) congratulates Bongiwe on receiving the Best Player of the Tournament Award, as well as flying the South African flag high.
AWARENESS OF SEVENTH WORLD ORGAN DONATION AND TRANSPLANTATION DAY
Mrs S V KALYAN: Speaker, I move without notice:
That the House —
(1) notes that the 7th World Organ Donation and Transplantation Day is scheduled to take place in South Africa on 24 September;
(2) further notes that this day aims to increase awareness of the positive values of organ donation and transplantation;
(3) acknowledges that worldwide thousands of people suffer or die waiting for an organ;
(4) further acknowledges that, while the majority of the population favours organ donation and transplantation, for a variety of reasons the potential of organ donation is still underexploited; and
(5) urges all South Africans to raise public awareness and to support organ donation.
NATIONAL ROLLING TRANSPORT ENFORCEMENT PLAN
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Hon Speaker, I move without notice:
That the House —
(1) notes that one year after the announcement of the new National Rolling Enforcement Plan by Transport Minister, Mr Sibusiso Ndebele, on 10 September 2010, more than 18 000 drunk drivers have been arrested and 50 000 unroadworthy vehicles have been impounded;
(2) further notes that during this “Decade of Action for Road Safety from 2011 to 2020”, traffic law enforcement will be intensified without compromise; and
(3) urges all South Africans to obey the rules of the road and to help bring to an end the carnage on our roads.
SOUTH AFRICA BIDS TO HOST THE SQUARE KILOMETRE ARRAY PROJECT
Mrs S V KALYAN: Speaker, I move without notice:
That the House —
(1) notes that on 15 September 2011, South Africa, in partnership with eight other African countries, submitted its bid to host the Square Kilometre Array, SKA, project;
(2) acknowledges South Africa’s advancement in the sphere of astronomy and science, most recently with the launch of our own project, the MeerKAT or Karoo Array Telescope;
(3) further acknowledges the positive outcomes this bid will have on the advancement of Africa and South Africa in particular, in the fields of astronomy, science and technology, which is truly another building block on our past achievements;
(4) further notes the opportunities the SKA project will have for our economy, especially igniting interest in science and technology amongst our youth, the creation of jobs, economic development and advancement of our manufacturing industries;
(5) commends the Department of Science and Technology, our country partners and all those who have worked on this bid; and
(6) wishes the bid committee good luck as they endeavour to bring the SKA project to South Africa.
HELLE THORNING-SCHMIDT BECOMES DENMARK’S FIRST FEMALE PRIME MINISTER
Mrs J D KILIAN: Speaker, I move without notice:
That the House —
(1) notes that the Danish Social Democrats leader, Ms Helle Thorning-Schmidt, was elected as Denmark’s first female Prime Minister;
(2) further notes that the centre-left coalition will have a majority of five members in the 179-seat Danish parliament; and
(3) congratulates Ms Helle Thorning-Schmidt for becoming the first female Prime Minister in Denmark and wishes her coalition all the success for the future.
RURAL COMMUNITIES AND CENSUS 2011
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Hon Speaker, I move without
That the House —
(1) notes that the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa met with Statistician-General, Mr Pali Lehohla, to discuss ways of making the forthcoming census, from 10 to 31 October 2011, accessible to rural communities;
(2) acknowledges that, by allowing Census 2011 to venture into the most remote rural areas, the development of those areas will be possible;
(3) further acknowledges that the census will help in sourcing funding and establishing social development projects in rural communities; and
(4) urges all those living in the rural areas to welcome the census enumerators as we all stand to benefit.
WORLD RHINO DAY AND RHINO POACHING
Mrs S V KALYAN: Speaker, I move without notice:
That the House —
(1) notes that 22 September 2011 marks World Rhino Day and that this is the second time that this day is being commemorated;
(2) further notes, with shock and concern, that approximately 300 rhinos have been killed by poachers to date in 2011;
(3) condemns the cowardly act of rhino poaching;
(4) commends the work of all South Africans, both in civil society and in government, who are involved in efforts to protect our rhino population from poachers;
(5) recognises that poaching is often conducted by well-armed international criminal syndicates, which makes the work of the brave men and women who defend our rhino populations in the field even more commendable;
(6) urges all South Africans who understand the plight of rhinos to share this information with people who are not yet aware of rhino poaching;
(7) further urges all South Africans to join the fight against rhino poaching and to report any suspicious activity to their local law enforcement and conservation authorities; and
(8) further urges all South Africans to visit both our public and private game reserves.
125-YEAR CELEBRATION OF THE EXISTENCE OF CITY OF JOHANNESBURG
Mrs S V KALYAN: Speaker, I move without notice:
That the House -
(1) notes that 20 September 2011 marks the 125th year since the founding of the City of Johannesburg in 1886;
(2) further notes the achievements of the City of Johannesburg from its early beginnings as a tent town to the bustling metropolis and economic powerhouse that it is today;
(3) recognises that the City of Johannesburg is not only the economic powerhouse of South Africa but also of the African continent as a whole;
(4) further notes the challenges that are being faced by the City of Johannesburg in keeping track with the city’s expansion and with the growing trend of urbanisation;
(5) extends its congratulations to the people and the City of Johannesburg; and
(6) calls upon all South Africans to recognise the achievements of the city.
N’WAMITWA DAY CELEBRATION
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Hon Speaker, I move without notice:
That the House —
(1) notes that N’wamitwa Day, a yearly celebration dedicated to the promotion and protection of indigenous knowledge, particularly of the Tsonga-Shangaan culture, was celebrated on 27 August 2011;
(2) further notes that the whole Tzaneen area was in a visibly celebratory mood, with women dressed in micheka and tinguvo in the beautiful attractive colours that characterise the Tsonga-Shangaan tradition and people were entertained with traditional musical instruments like timbila and women’s dance groups;
(3) commends the organisers for organising such a beautiful day; and
(4) wishes that this annual N’wamitwa celebration continues to occur as it advances the Tsonga-Shangaan culture and culture in general.
DONATION BY SUNPOWER FOUNDATION
Mrs J D KILIAN: Speaker, I move without notice:
That the House —
(1) notes the SunPower Foundation’s donation of four high-efficiency SunPower PV solar panels to Greenpeace Africa;
(2) further notes that these panels will be installed by 30 local South African youths during a two-weeks solar training course in Durban;
(3) acknowledges that the donation will educate these youths about renewable energy technologies; and
(4) congratulates the SunPower Foundation for their focus on empowering and motivating a new generation of solar leaders in global communities.
THE PRESIDENT’S REMUNERATION PACKAGE
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Hon Speaker, I move the draft resolution printed in my name on the Order Paper, as follows:
That the House —
(1) in terms of section 2(1) of the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers Act, Act 20 of 1998 (the Act), and having due regard to the criteria listed in that subsection, determines that the salary payable to the President of the Republic of South Africa shall be R2 485 839 with effect from 1 April 2011; and
(2) in terms of section 2(2) of the Act, further determines the amount of R120 000 per annum as that portion of the remuneration of the President to which section 8(1)(d) of the Income Tax Act, Act 58 of 1962, shall apply.
RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING PENSION AND OTHER PENSION BENEFITS OF FORMER PRESIDENT, MR K P MOTLANTHE
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Hon Speaker, I move the draft resolution printed in my name on the Order Paper, as follows:
That the House —
(1) notes the recommendations contained in the report of the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers of 11 November 2010 on the pension and other pension benefits of the former President, Mr K P Motlanthe;
(2) recognises that the time of retirement of a President is when the term of office of a President ends upon a vacancy occurring or when the person next elected President by the National Assembly assumes office;
(3) further recognises that the resolution which the House adopted on 26 September 2008, in respect of pension and other pension benefits of Presidents and former Presidents, applies to all retired Presidents including former President Motlanthe; and
(4) therefore resolves that —
(a) the current Deputy President shall receive the pension benefits as determined by the resolution of the National Assembly on 26 September 2008;
(b) the current Deputy President shall receive no salary for his services as Deputy President, except those benefits and privileges which are necessary to enable the Deputy President to carry out his functions; and
(c) this resolution shall be effective from 9 May 2009.
MR J B SIBANYONI REPLACES MR C V BURGESS ON JUDICIAL SERVICE COMMISSION
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Hon Speaker, I move the draft resolution printed in my name on the Order Paper, as follows:
That the House designates Mr J B Sibanyoni to replace Mr C V Burgess as member of the Judicial Service Commission.
PROGRAMME TO NAME AND SHAME CHILD MAINTENANCE DEFAULTERS
Mr J B SIBANYONI (ANC): Mr Speaker, the ANC regards the latest national programme by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development on releasing the names of maintenance defaulters as a step in the right direction in ensuring that parental responsibilities are fulfilled.
Launched in the Western Cape, the purpose of the programme is not to arrest, but to identify the whereabouts of defaulters and beneficiaries and ensure that their children are paid the maintenance due to them. The department has an initial list of 890 defaulters who owe R2,7 million in maintenance and they are determined to track down these people. The names of defaulters will be published at all courts and police stations and in the media.
Parents have a demonstrated ability to meet their financial responsibilities to their children, and these defaulters have consistently refused to provide the support they owe. The goal of this naming and shaming programme is to help ensure that children receive the financial support that they need and deserve. This national programme is being rolled out in the Western Cape, and government departments will communicate in order to track down defaulters effectively. The programme will also work to locate beneficiaries.
The ANC government will continue to ensure that we work towards creating a better, safer life for all our children and will not hesitate to use the full force of the law on children's behalf.
POSTPONEMENT OF PROTECTION OF INFORMATION BILL
The LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Hon Speaker, the decision to delay the debate on the Protection of Information Bill is a victory for democracy.
The majority party’s Chief Whip yesterday described the Bill as the product of “a truly democratic process”. However democratic this process may be perceived to be, it has nonetheless produced a Bill that stands opposed to the basic tenets of our democracy.
The DA’s representatives on the ad hoc committee have worked exceptionally hard on this Bill, and with the greatest integrity and commitment. We hope that in the deliberations that will follow, the ANC will reconsider important proposals made by the DA that it has thus far turned down — in particular the public interest defence.
The delaying of this Bill has presented us all with a vital window of opportunity to consider the implications that passing it in its current form will have for our democracy.
We know that this Bill has generated opposition not only from opposition parties, civil society and the public, but from within the tripartite alliance and the ANC’s parliamentary caucus.
As MPs, the elected representatives of our country’s people, we need to use this window of opportunity to put political considerations aside and craft a Bill that will protect citizens’ rights and enhance, not undermine, our democracy.
WASTAGE OF TAXPAYERS’ MONEY BY PROVINCIAL DEPARTMENTS OF HEALTH AND EDUCATION
Mr D A KGANARE (Cope): Hon Speaker, Cope is appalled by the wasting of more than R2 billion of taxpayers’ money by the provincial departments of health and education, as was revealed by the Auditor-General, Mr Terence Nombembe. The Auditor-General’s report, with startling findings, after an extensive performance audit of the delivery of infrastructure by the provincial departments of health and education across all nine provinces, was presented to Parliament last week.
The provincial departments did this by awarding tenders to shoddy contractors who could not deliver quality work on time. Most of the contracts were terminated by the departments and handed over to other contractors, which had to be paid more to fix the shoddy workmanship and complete the projects.
The Auditor-General audited 247 projects with a combined value of more than R6,6 billion. The lack of proper planning and ineffective communication processes in both departments have been lambasted in the report. In one case, a school was built on the site of the Mbombela Soccer Stadium. On 19 January 2006, 89% of the contract value had already been paid to the contractor. However, construction was suspended and the school was demolished after it was discovered that it had been built on the stadium site.
Cope calls on the Ministers of Basic Education and of Health to fulfil their constitutional mandates more effectively and to stop the awarding of tenders to cronies and party hacks who lack the capacity to deliver quality infrastructure.
COMMITMENT TO BUILDING MORE SCIENCE CENTRES
Mr E N N NGCOBO (ANC): Hon Speaker, the ANC welcomes the commitment made by the Minister of Science and Technology, hon Naledi Pandor, that the department will increase the number of science centres in the country in a bid to help the youth reach their full potential in the learning environment.
Science centres are one of the most effective means available to help our youth reach their full potential in an informal learning environment. There is no doubt that a network of science centres would unleash the potential of millions of young African people and promote science awareness on a continent that is rapidly embracing the digital age.
South Africa currently has 26 science centres in 8 provinces and the plan is to up that figure. Not only will these centres assist learners, but they will also play a significant role in teacher empowerment and in mathematics, science and technology training.
ANC’S FRACTURED LEADERSHIP HARMING THE COUNTRY
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE (IFP): Mr Speaker, it is becoming clearer by the day that the ANC is torn into at least two belligerent factions and that the ANC leadership has become incapable of leading. The ANC’s fractured leadership appears to be totally paralysed in dealing with its youth league. [Interjections.]
Mr Malema and his supporters openly make a mockery of the ANC leadership. They misbehave. Some of them act like hooligans. They openly defy the rule of law. They arrogantly commit contempt of court. They ridicule the ANC leadership. They scare off international investors by threatening nationalisation. They insult white South Africans as “thieves” and they act as if they themselves rule South Africa. [Interjections.]
Worst of all is that the ANC’s fractured leadership has become powerless. That raises the question: Who is the real boss in South Africa, Malema or Zuma? [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: Order, hon members, order!
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE (IFP): What is really bad news is that South Africans at large are at the receiving end of all this. [Interjections.] The ANC’s leadership paralysis is harming our economy. It allows our international image to be tarnished. It allows the judiciary to be ridiculed. It allows white citizens to be insulted and it allows for a dangerous culture of disrespect and ill-discipline to grow in our land.
It is time for decisive action, for strong leadership — which, unfortunately, the ANC does not have any longer. As the late Kader Asmal said ... [Interjections.] [Time expired.]
FF PLUS WELCOMES RULING IN JULIUS MALEMA HATE SPEECH TRIAL
Mnr P J GROENEWALD (VF Plus): Agb Speaker, die VF Plus verwelkom regter Colin Lamont se uitspraak dat die woorde “skiet die boer”, soos deur Malema gesing is, haatspraak is en nou verbied word. [Tussenwerpsels.]
Die VF Plus hoop dat hierdie die eerste tree is in die rigting om Suid-Afrika uit die moeras van haatspraak en rassisme, wat die afgelope jaar al dieper geword het, te lig. [Tussenwerpsels.] (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)
[Mr P J GROENEWALD (FF Plus): Hon Speaker, the FF Plus welcomes the finding by Judge Colin Lamont that the words “skiet die boer” [shoot the farmer], as sung by Malema, amount to hate speech and are now forbidden. [Interjections.]
The FF Plus hopes that this will be the first step towards lifting South Africa from the quagmire of hate speech and racism, which has become deeper this past year. [Interjections.]]
The SPEAKER: Order, hon members, order!
Mnr P J GROENEWALD (FF PLUS): Die kontras tussen die Mandela-benadering ná 1994 en agb lede hier aan my linkerkant en die Malema-benadering die afgelope jaar het vir ’n regstelling geskree. Hopelik is hierdie uitspraak ’n eerste tree van baie wat nog gegee moet word na die herstel van balans en die bevordering van goeie verhoudinge tussen alle groepe in Suid-Afrika. [Tussenwerpsels.]
In hierdie opsig is die regter se uitspraak ’n ernstige aanklag teen die ANC, wat toegelaat het dat hierdie saak handuit ruk en so ver gevorder het voordat daar ’n regstelling van buite die ANC gekom het. Dit is ook betreurenswaardig dat die DA sê dat die regter se uitspraak verkeerd is en vryheid van spraak aantas en dat die sing van die lied toegelaat behoort te word. [Tussenwerpsels.] Net so jammerlik is dit dat die ANC hulle nou op die Grondwet wil beroep. [Tussenwerpsels.] In dié opsig skaar die DA hulle aan die kant van die ANC en Julius Malema. [Tussenwerpsels.]
U moet maar kennis neem: dit is presies wat ek nou vir die agb lid vra wat dit gesê het. [Tussenwerpsels.] U luister nie wat sê hy nie! [Tussenwerpsels.]
Ons verwelkom ook die regter se verwysing na minderhede wat uitgelewer is aan die meerderheid ... [Tussenwerpsels.] ... en geen keuse het as om hulle op die hof te beroep vir die regstelling van so ’n onreg en diskriminasie teen hulle nie. [Tussenwerpsels.] Julle moet jul verklarings lees! [Tussenwerpsels.] (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)
[Mr P J GROENEWALD (FF PLUS): The contrast between the Mandela approach after 1994 and hon members here to my left and the Malema approach the past year was crying out for rectification. Hopefully this judgment will be the first step of many towards regaining balance and the promotion of good relations between all groups in South Africa. [Interjections.]
In this regard the judge’s finding constitutes a serious indictment against the ANC, which allowed this case to escalate so far out of control before a rectification came from outside the ANC. It is also deplorable that the DA claims that the judge’s finding is incorrect and infringes upon freedom of speech, and that the singing of the song should be allowed. [Interjections.] Just as lamentable is the fact that the ANC now wants to appeal to the Constitution. [Interjections.] In this regard the DA is on the side of the ANC and Julius Malema. [Interjections.]
You must just take note: That is exactly what I asked of the hon member who had that to say. [Interjections.] You are not listening to what he is saying! [Interjections.]
We also welcome the judge’s reference to minority groups who are at the mercy of the majority ... [Interjections.] ... and have no other choice than to go to court for the rectification of such an injustice and discrimination against them. [Interjections.] You must read your statements! [Interjections.]]
The SPEAKER: Order! Order! Order!
DEPARTMENT READY FOR 2011 NATIONAL SENIOR CERTIFICATE EXAMINATIONS
Mrs H H MALGAS (ANC): Mr Speaker, the national senior certificate, NSC, or Grade 12 examination, will formally start on 17 October 2011 with practical subjects, while the examination for other learners will start on 24 October 2011. The ANC is pleased to note that the new system of NSC examination is maturing and stabilising, with a few aspects that are being improved annually. It is all systems go and the department has reported a clean state of readiness, with a few areas of concern.
There are 512 029 full-time and 108 237 part-time candidates registered. The number has gone down by 21 735 learners from the 2010 enrolments. To us as the ANC, this is a concern and it will have to be addressed in the near future.
In total, 325 question papers have been set, 65 000 invigilators and 35 000 markers have been appointed, and 127 marking centres have been approved. High-quality question papers have been set, with comments from the 2010 review process having been incorporated into the 2011 setting process. The ANC values this. The printing, packing and distribution processes of question papers and the collection of scripts have been afforded the security and confidentiality required.
DA CALLS FOR MINISTERIAL INTERVENTION ON BEHALF OF TRANSNET PENSIONERS
Dr S M VAN DYK (DA): Agb Speaker, een van die grootste pensioenfondse in Suid-Afrika, die Transnet-pensioenfonds, maak voorsiening vir net 2% groei per jaar in die pensioene. Hierdie pensionarisse kry baie swaar en leef in armoede.
Op 2 November 2010 het ’n taakspan, waarop ek en drie ANC-LP’s gedien het, ’n aanbeveling via die komitee aan die Parlement gedoen om die voordele van hierdie pensioenfonds te verbeter. Die Parlement het hierdie verslag op 18 November 2010 eenparig aanvaar. Die parlementêre verslag het bepaal dat R1,9 miljard aan die fonds oorbetaal moet word om voorsiening te maak vir ’n ex gratia betaling gelykstaande aan vyf maande se pensioen aan elke pensionaris; dat die pensioenbasis met 3,2% moet verhoog; en dat pensioene dan jaarliks met 75% van die verbruikersprysindeks op die verhoogde basis moet groei.
Die Minister van Finansies het op 24 Augustus 2011 in antwoord op ’n mondelinge vraag hier in die Parlement aangekondig, en ek haal hom aan:
The Minister of Finance has met with the Minister of Public Enterprises and reached agreement that Transnet will be responsible for providing all of the funding.
Met ander woorde, Transnet sou die volle R1,9 miljard aan die fonds oorbetaal. Maar op 13 September 2011, ’n paar dae gelede, het Transnet se hoofuitvoerende beampte die Komitee vir Openbare Ondernemings in die Parlement ingelig dat hierdie Parlement nie vir Transnet sal voorskryf wat om te doen nie. Dit, ten spyte daarvan dat Transnet ’n openbare korporasie is en dat die staat die aandeelhouer is. Die hoofuitvoerende beampte van Transnet se mening is niks anders as minagting van die Parlement nie, en ons vra dat die Minister dringend ingryp. [Applous.]
AGB LEDE: Hoor! Hoor! (Translation of Afrikaans member’s statement follows.)
[Dr S M VAN DYK (DA): Hon Speaker, one of the biggest pension funds in South Africa, the Transnet Pension Fund, makes provision for only 2% growth per annum in pensions. These pensioners are struggling and living in poverty.
On 2 November 2010, a task team, on which three ANC MPs and I served, made a recommendation to Parliament via the committee to improve the benefits of this pension fund. Parliament approved this report unanimously on 18 November 2010. The parliamentary report determined that R1,9 billion should be paid over to the fund to make provision for an ex gratia payment, equal to five months’ pension, to every pensioner; that the pension base should be increased by 3,2%; and that pensions should then have to grow annually by 75% of the consumer price index on the increased base.
On 24 August 2011, in reply to an oral question here in Parliament, the Minister of Finance responded, and I quote:
The Minister of Finance has met with the Minister of Public Enterprises and reached agreement that Transnet will be responsible for providing all of the funding.
In other words, Transnet would pay over the full amount of R1,9 billion to the fund. But on 13 September 2011, a couple of days ago, Transnet’s chief executive officer informed the Committee on Public Enterprises in Parliament that this Parliament will not prescribe to Transnet what to do. This, despite the fact that Transnet is a public corporation, and the state is the shareholder. The view expressed by Transnet’s chief executive officer amounts to nothing less than contempt of Parliament, and we ask the Minister to intervene urgently. [Applause.]
HON MEMBERS: Hear! Hear!]
CONGRATULATIONS TO SAPS ON LOWER CRIME STATISTICS
Ms M A MOLEBATSI (ANC): Hon Speaker, the ANC has done the country proud and we salute them for the good work. For the first time in the history of the release of crime statistics by the South African Police Service, SAPS, the murder figure, which has been inconsistent, fell below the 16 000 mark. For the first time in five years, the figure for the “trio of crimes” has decreased.
These statistics validate the ANC’s determination to actively combat serious and violent crimes by being tougher on criminals and organised syndicates. In this respect, the ANC has committed huge resources to increasing the capacity of the SAPS through strategic recruitment; rigorous training; better remuneration; and equipping and increasing the capacity of the detective service, forensics, prosecution, judicial service and crime intelligence.
However, we note with sadness the increase in crimes against women and children. We call on our communities to strengthen their role in crime prevention. Neighbours should expose criminals in their neighbourhood and community members should refrain from buying stolen goods. The experience of every criminal should validate the maxim that crime does not pay. To the men and women in blue we say: Tau di senang seboka, di siiwa ke none e tlhotsa. Ke a leboga. [Unity is strength. I thank you.]
PERSECUTION OF BLACK PEOPLE ON SUSPICION OF MERCENARY ACTIVITY IN LIBYA
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana) (IFP): Hon Speaker, one of man’s higher purposes is to liberate himself or herself from physical, spiritual and psychological bondage. It must therefore have been in that spirit and for the same cause that the people of Libya rebelled against what they felt was unjust authoritarian rule under Colonel Gaddafi.
Equally, this House, together with His Excellency, President Jacob Zuma, and the hon Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, must be appalled by the reports and ugly visuals of the relentless pursuit, torture and barbaric lynching of many black Africans in Libya suspected of being pro-Gaddafi mercenaries by the anti-Gaddafi rebel forces. Unfortunately, sir, their black pigmentation is instantly associated with mercenary activity, without any concrete evidence. This is reminiscent of the evil psycho-historical fantasies so frequently used to consign the darker nations to the fields of inhuman treatment.
This House should therefore urge President Zuma to raise this form of persecution of black Africans in Libya with the African Union, AU, and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, UN, Mr Ban Ki-moon, at the UN meeting this week and ask for an immediate halt to the unlawful executions, which feed on racial prejudice.
SUCCESS OF UNDER-12 SOCCER TEAM FROM BARKERVILLE JUNIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL
Mr M A NHANHA (Cope): Cope notes the Daily Dispatch report about the excellent performance of the under-12 soccer team from Barkerville Junior Secondary School in the Mount Frere area of rural Transkei. Its performance is worth praising because the team will be representing South Africa in an under-12 soccer tournament to be held in October in Madrid, Spain. The team first won the provincial championships and then went on to beat Kgwathele Primary School in the national championships. We congratulate the players and the educators for the success of the team and the sponsors, Clover Danone, for supporting the competition.
34TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF STEVE BIKO
Mr K A MOLOTO (ANC): The 34th anniversary of the death of Steve Biko at the hands of the brutal apartheid regime was marked on 11 September 2011. No one has been held responsible for his death, but the circumstances surrounding it brought international outrage, highlighting the cruelty of the apartheid state and the fact that dozens of blacks had died in South African prisons under similar circumstances. Biko preached black solidarity to break the chains of oppression. His messages, which were spoken loudly and proudly, are as relevant today as they were in the 1970s.
So, as a prelude whites must be made to realise that they are only human, not superior. Same with blacks. They must be made to realise that they are also human, not inferior.
His belief that South Africa will one day have a human face may have materialised. However, the remnants of apartheid still linger; the wealth of this country still resides in the hands of a few.
We have traversed a long path towards reconciliation, but we need to acknowledge that much still needs to be done. In her 1978 book, entitled No 46 — Steve Biko, Hilda Bernstein wrote:
Through him and his fate, a whole spectrum of South African reality is exposed ... What was confusing is clarified. What was obscure is revealed. In the fate of Steve Biko is encapsulated the truth about South Africa today ...
TERMS OF REFERENCE OF PROPOSED COMMISSION OF INQUIRY INTO ARMS DEAL
Mr D J MAYNIER (DA): Speaker, the DA welcomes President Jacob Zuma’s decision to appoint a commission of inquiry to investigate allegations of wrongdoing in respect of the Arms Deal. The Arms Deal is possibly the biggest corruption scandal in the history of South Africa. There is therefore a distinct danger that the commission of inquiry will be controlled and contained to reduce the fallout for the ANC. It is therefore imperative that the commission is given real teeth and the resources to get to the bottom of what really happened in the arms deal.
The commission must therefore have wide-ranging terms of reference. It should investigate whether there was corruption in all aspects of the Arms Deal, including the acquisition and the offsets. It should investigate whether there was any attempt to cover up and prevent a proper investigation into the Arms Deal. It should have powers to subpoena witnesses and documentation and it should be sufficiently resourced to properly evaluate and investigate the mountain of arms-deal-related material.
The commission of inquiry must investigate not just the alleged corruption, but also the alleged cover-up. The devil will ultimately be in the details and the DA therefore calls on the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development to announce the terms of reference and the composition of that commission of inquiry as soon as possible.
ANC YOUTH LEAGUE’S 67TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION
Mrs M T KUBAYI (ANC): Speaker, the ANC Youth League celebrated its 67th anniversary on 10 September 2011 in Schwetla Informal Settlement in Alexandra, Gauteng.
The ANC Youth League was founded in 1944 as an organisation of the youth, committed to the ideals of democracy, freedom and peace. It is governed by and adheres to the policies and programmes of the ANC, and its existence derives from the constitution of the ANC.
The ANC Youth League had and has, as its main tenets, the rallying of all the youth of our country to play an active part in the struggle of the community and the building and defending of our democracy. The youth has been at the forefront during our struggle for liberation, making a valuable contribution and championing the cause for freedom and equality. Its proud struggle history has not diminished in the ensuing years and the voice of the youth in sustaining our democracy and revolutionary morality must endure.
In support of and to reinforce the ANC in the attainment of the goals of the national democratic revolution, the youth of our country needs to support and unite behind the ANC Youth League and actively participate in the struggle to create a nonracial, nonsexist, united, democratic and prosperous society.
10TH ANNIVERSARY OF SANTACO AND LAUNCH OF THEIR AIRLINE
Ms N R BHENGU (ANC): Speaker, on 16 September 2011 a new page was written in the economic transformation programme when the taxi industry entered the aviation space as Santaco Airline. A Boeing 737 Classic took to the skies from Lanseria to Bisho Airport, prompting us on board to sing Shosholoza with pride and joy.
At the launch of Santaco Airline, President Jacob Zuma said:
This is real broad-based black economic empowerment — an airline owned by the historically poor black people, providing an affordable, world-class service to the poor communities who had no access to the aviation mode of transport.
The ANC congratulates Santaco on their 10th anniversary, celebrated in Durban today. The taxi industry, with the ANC government’s support, has all it needs to participate in the field of road, aviation, rail and maritime transport, and has its own bank. They have survived the most difficult conditions of the apartheid era and captured 65% of the market in public transport. They provide more than 250 000 jobs and command an annual turnover in excess of R35 billion.
Santaco Airline will reduce traffic congestion, road accidents and travelling time for poor rural communities. It will use underutilised regional airports. The eagle has landed. South Africa will never be the same again.
ANC’S FRACTURED LEADERSHIP HARMING THE COUNTRY FF PLUS WELCOMES
RULING IN JULIUS MALEMA HATE SPEECH TRIAL
DEPARTMENT READY FOR 2011 NATIONAL SENIOR CERTIFICATE EXAMINATIONS
The MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING: Speaker, I would like to respond to hon Van der Merwe of the IFP first. I want to plead with him to please focus on his own IFP problems and leave the ANC alone. [Laughter.]
NgesiZulu, musani ukuhamba ningena izindaba zabantu nibe ninezinkinga zenu endlini. [Ubuwelewele.] [In isiZulu, you are told to refrain from meddling in other people’s business while you have your own problems in your own house. [Interjections.]]
I want to say that we need to respect internal ANC processes. We don’t go around poking our noses into the IFP’s internal problems, which are very serious indeed. [Interjections.] Secondly, with regard to the unfortunate incidents that happened outside Luthuli House the other day, I would just like to remind this House that the ANC, together with all its alliance partners, unequivocally condemned that behaviour, and that must go on record.
Lastly, I would like to say to the hon Van der Merwe that when political parties are dying, they must please not try to drag the ANC down with them. [Applause.]
Zifeleni nodwa, ningafuni ukusidonsa siyongena nani ethuneni. [Uhleko.] [You must die alone; don’t drag us along with you into the grave. [Laughter.]]
So, do not project your own internal problems onto the ANC.
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: Speaker, on a point of order: If the Minister criticises me again, I will report him to his mother. [Laughter.]
The SPEAKER: That’s a point of information, not a point of order. Continue, Minister. [Laughter.]
The MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING: My mother will agree with me. She’s a wonderful lady.
Speaker, also allow me to comment on two other statements, so that I don’t have to come back to them later. The second one is a response to the hon member from the FF Plus. I think that we need to deal with matters of our own history much more sensitively. As the ANC has said, we will appeal this judgment because, first of all, we do not believe that it is the role of the courts to be the arbiters of our own history. We need to have different processes ...
The SPEAKER: Hon Minister, your time has expired. [Interjections.]
The MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING: No, no, but this is my second two minutes, Speaker.
The SPEAKER: The second one? Okay.
The MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING: I think we would like to make it clear in this House that while we, as the ANC, are committed to national reconciliation and building national unity, we will not allow our history to be rewritten and the heroic struggles of our people to be rubbished. We must also say that we are particularly offended when the people who are at the forefront of this issue are people who were at the forefront as combatants for the criminal apartheid regime. [Applause.]
I think that we all have a responsibility. The generosity of the majority of black people who suffered under apartheid must not be taken for granted. We all have a responsibility to make sure that, in building national unity, we respect the history of our country and then engage on how that history needs to be written. But for that history to be wiped out is completely unacceptable to us. That is why we have said that we are going to appeal this judgment — not out of disrespect for the courts, but to say the courts should not be the arbiters of our own heroic struggles against apartheid. [Applause.]
Hon Speaker, also allow me, then, to make my final response to the statement by hon Malgas and thank her for her comments on our state of readiness as government for the matric exams ...
Mrs J D KILIAN: Speaker, on a point of order: I do believe the member’s two minutes have elapsed by now. [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: Conclude, hon Minister.
The MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING: Nesabani ukuthi sikhulume? Kwenzenjani? [Uhleko.] [Why are you scared to engage with us? What is happening? [Laughter.]]
I would like to thank hon Malgas for her statement and join her in wishing our class of 2011 well in their forthcoming exams. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
TERMS OF REFERENCE OF PROPOSED COMMISSION OF INQUIRY INTO ARMS DEAL
The MINISTER IN THE PRESIDENCY - NATIONAL PLANNING COMMISSION: Speaker, I would like to respond to the statement by the hon Maynier. Let me advise him that he can contest an election again. He can ask his party to appoint him President, and when he becomes President, he can set up commissions in terms of the Commissions Act. That is the advice to him in the context of a democracy. Until he gets there, he should allow the President to appoint the commission as per the Commissions Act. Don’t patronise the President and don’t patronise us in the ANC. [Applause.]
WASTAGE OF TAXPAYERS’ MONEY BY THE PROVINCIAL DEPARTMENTS OF HEALTH AND EDUCATION
The MINISTER IN THE PRESIDENCY - PERFORMANCE MONITORING AND EVALUATION AS WELL AS ADMINISTRATION: Speaker, I wish to comment on the statement made by Cope about unspent money with regard to infrastructure. I would like to inform the hon member that, while he is still preparing to come back to the ANC, this is what is happening in dealing with the problems he had raised even before they were raised by the Auditor-General.
One problem that we have taken steps to deal with is infrastructure provision, not only with regard to economic infrastructure, but also with regard to social infrastructure, to increase the spending levels and ensure that quality of work is improved. We have instructed that the Construction Industry Development Board Act be implemented, strictly and in its entirety, and that all the projects which are available from the public spend by anybody else will have to be registered so that they can be monitored.
Secondly, we are integrating the monitoring systems, from the financial monitoring in National Treasury to monitoring by the Construction Industry Development Board, CIDB, so that we can ensure that money spent on public infrastructure can be accounted for and that we will get value for money. So, while he is preparing to come back to the ANC, this is what we are doing. He can cross the floor now. [Applause.]
POSTPONEMENT OF PROTECTION OF INFORMATION BILL
FF PLUS WELCOMES RULING IN JULIUS MALEMA HATE SPEECH TRIAL
The MINISTER OF RURAL DEVELOPMENT AND LAND REFORM: Speaker, I would like to respond to two matters. To the hon member who raised the question of the Protection of Information Bill, I would just like to say that the DA leader has correctly pointed out that South Africans from all walks of life and ideological persuasions took up the matter within the democracy that we as the ANC have created. Now, the hon member goes further to appropriate the outcome to the DA. I think there is a moral political challenge to that. The DA must actually look at that.
The second matter is the hate speech judgment. I just want to say, in addition to what the hon Nzimande has said, in any democracy like ours, Parliament and the judiciary are very powerful. The challenge is always that if these two were to make futile decisions and judgments, that could throw the country into chaos. We think this is one of them. [Applause.]
CONGRATULATIONS TO SAPS ON LOWER CRIME STATISTICS
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF POLICE: Speaker, thank you very much to the hon Molebatsi from the ANC for the statement on crime statistics. Indeed, credit must go to all South Africans for working with the men and women in blue to help eradicate crime in our country. As the leadership of the police, we commit ourselves further to reducing crimes against women, in particular rape. Of course, we can only do so if we work in partnership with communities, as we have done with other types of crime in South Africa. [Applause.]
Mrs J D KILIAN: Mr Speaker, on a point of order ...
The SPEAKER: Actually, that was the last response from Ministers. Hon member, what is your point of order?
Mrs J D KILIAN: Speaker, I just wanted to raise the issue of the maximum of five minutes.
The SPEAKER: Yes, hon member, that was the last speaker.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF JUSTICE: Speaker, I find it regrettable that Cope does not want to hear about maintenance matters. [Laughter.]
Mrs J D KILIAN: Speaker, on a point of order: Cope respects the Rules of the House, and I wish the ANC would do the same. [Applause.]
GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES PENSION LAW AMENDMENT BILL
(Second Reading debate)
Ms N N SIBHIDA: The Government Employees Pension Law Amendment Bill seeks to amend the Government Employees Pension Law, GEPL, of 1996, in order to achieve the following objectives: firstly, to provide for the insertion of a new definition, which is “pension interest” as outlined in the Pension Funds Amendment Act of 2007; and to amend the current definition of “employer” to address matters relating to the application of the revised nonstatutory forces, NSF, special dispensation, which was adopted by the Cabinet in 2009 and 2010.
Secondly, it seeks to provide for the payment of pension interest to a former spouse of a member upon a divorce or the dissolution of a customary marriage. The Bill also seeks to amend the powers of the board to make rules and amend the provision providing for the recognition of pensionable service of a former member of the NSF.
These amendments are trying to bring the GEPL in line with the Pension Funds Act. The amendments, among other things, will amend the GEPL to provide for the implementation of the “clean break” principle. The “clean break” principle, as outlined in the Pension Funds Amendment Act of 2007, means that the pension share must be included in the divorce claim by a valid court order and must be paid to a nonmember spouse at the date of divorce, and not when the member exits the fund.
Currently, the Government Employees Pension Fund, GEPF, does not allow the former spouse of a member to claim a portion of a member’s pension interest in terms of a divorce order, or an order for the dissolution of customary marriage, soon after the divorce order is granted. The former spouse can only receive a portion of the member’s interest after the exit of the member from the GEPF.
Lesi sichibiyelo sokufaka umgomo wokuhlukanisa ngokupheleleyo obizwa nge-“clean break principle” ngolwasemzini, kulo mthetho ochitshiyelwayo uzosiza kakhulu ukushintsha izimpilo zabantu bakithi, ikakhulukazi abantu besifazane.
Uma ulandela umlando wethu kuleli lizwe, ububha nomuntu omnyama kubukeka kuyinsakavukela umchilo wesidwaba, okuyinto ebonakala ingeke ihlukane naye. Abantu besifazane bona bathinteka kakhulu, uma sikhuluma ngobubha. Imibiko yezinhlangano ezizimele kuleli lizwe nasemhlabeni wonke iyakufakazela lokhu.
Uma ukhuluma ngabantu abasencindezini ngokungafakwa kwalesi sichibiyelo ukhuluma ngomama, ikakhulukazi labo ababeshade nabasebenzi bakahulumeni abahlukaniswa ngezimo ezaziwa yibo. Lawa makhosikazi awakwazi ukuthola amalungelo awo ukuze akwazi ukuqhubeka nempilo. Ngikhuluma ngalabo ikakhulukazi abaqhamuka esizweni esimnyama.
Iningi labo alisebenzi liphoqeleke ukuthi londle abantwana babo ngokuthi bahambe becela iminikelo komakhelwane nasemindenini yabo. Lokho-ke sikubona kwehlisa kakhulu isithunzi somuntu wesifazane kuleli lizwe.
Sithi lokhu bekungafanele ukuthi kuyenzeka ngoba laba bantu besifazane banelungelo lokuthola ingxenye empeshenini yalabo ababe ngabakhwenyana babo. Ikakhulukazi ngemuva kokuchibiyela uMthetho weSikhwama seMpesheni.
Lesi sichibiyelo ngeke sishintshe kuphela izimpilo zabesifazane kuleli lizwe, kodwa nabantwana ikakhulukazi labo abahlala nonina. Iningi lalezi zingane uthola ukuthi azikwazi noma azikwazanga ukuqhubeka nemfundo yazo ngenxa yokuthi omama abanaw o amandla okuqinisekisa ukuthi abantwana babo bathola imfundo ngendlela okufanele bayithole ngayo. (Translation of isiZulu paragraphs follows.)
[This amendment to include the principle of full separation, called the “clean break” principle, will help a lot to improve people’s lives, especially those of women.
If you look at the history of this country, poverty amongst black people is very common, the two seem to be inseparable. Women are more affected by poverty. Reports of local independent organisations and global ones support this.
Women, especially those who were married to public servants, who got divorced for reasons known only to them, are the ones most affected by the noninclusion of this amendment. These women are not able to enjoy their rights so that they can continue with life. I am referring more to those who are black.
Most of these women are not employed and are forced to raise their children by asking for assistance from neighbours and their families. This is very degrading to the image of the women in this country.
We are saying that this should not have been happening because these women have a right to get a portion from the pensions of their former husbands, especially after the amendment of the Pension Funds Act.
This amendment will change not only the lives of this country’s women, but also the lives of the children in their care. You will find that most of these children cannot or could not continue with their education because their mothers are or were poverty-stricken and can’t ensure they get the type of education they deserve.]
Iphinde ke ibe yingxaki kakhulu kwabo bangootata baba bantwana, nanjengoko imitshato ingapheli kamnandi. Uye athi utata akuhlukana nenkosikazi yakhe abaleke angafuni nokusondela kulowo wayengumfazi wakhe. Loo nto ke iye ikhathaze abantwana kuba uye utata alibale ukuba unoxanduva lokondla abantwana, ukuqinisekisa ukuba baphila impilo entle. Lo mthwalo uphela uiba ngumthwalo woomama ngokungathi bona basela amarhewu kwavela abantwana.
Ngoko ke, siyasincoma isigqibo seNgxowa-mali yoMhlalaphantsi wabaomSebenzi bakaRhulumente sokulungisa lo mthetho, ngokuba zininzi iimpilo eziza kutshintsheka ngenxa yolu lungiso lo mthetho. Kungoku nje iNgxowa-mali yoMhlalaphantsi wabaSebenzi bakaRhulumente ihleli nezicelo ezingaphezu kwama-5000 zabantu abangoomama abohlukana namadoda abo angamalungu eNgxowa-mali yoMhlalaphantsi wabaSebenzi bakaRhulumente. Ngoko ke ukuba le Ndlu ipasisa lo mthetho, iza kuba ihamba nkqo ngemigaqo kaKhongolose yokwakha impilo ephucukileyo kuye wonke umntu.
Sizifumene izikhalazo singamaLungu ePalamente, iinkundla zaseMzantsi Afrika zizifumene izikhalazo ezisuka koomama zibuza ukuba kutheni oomama abatshate namalungu eNgxowa-mali yoMhlalaphantsi wabaSebenzi bakaRhulumente bexhatshazwa bangakwazi ukufumana am alungelo abo xa bahlukene nabayeni babo. Oku kulungiswa komthetho kuphendula zonke izikhalazo kunye nesigqibo senkundla esasiphendula oomama sokuba kulungiswe umthetho ukuze bakwazi ukufumana izinto ezingamalungelo abo.
Enye into ekufuneka ukuba siyicacise koku kulungiswa komthetho kukuba akufikanga kule Ndlu ngenxa yesigqibo senkundla, inkundla ithathe isigqibo emva kokuba iNgxowa-mali yoMhlalaphantsi wabaSebenzi bakaRhulumente ibisele iqalile ngenkqubo yayo yokuzisa isilungiso apha kule Ndlu yamalungu ahloniphekileyo.
Okuhle ke emasikuthethe singuKhongolose, phambi kokuba siphelelwe lixesha, kukuthi siyakuxhasa ukulungiswa kwalo mthetho kuba kuza kutshintsha impilo yoomama kunye nempilo yabantwana eabeabengakwazi ukufumana imfundo ukuze baphile impilo ephucukileyo. Siwuxhasa kakhulu ngokuba kukulungiswa komthetho, kwaye sihamba ngqo nomgaqo-nkqubo kaKhongolose wokwakha impilo ephucukileyo kuye wonke umntu. Sithemba ukuba le Ndlu iza kuwuxhasa lo mthetho. Siyabulela. [Kwaqhwatywa.] (Translation of isiXhosa paragraphs follows.)
[Again, this becomes a problem, especially to the men who are fathers of these children, because the marriages do not come to an end amicably. When a man divorces his wife, he wants to stay as far away from her as possible. This has an adverse effect on the children, because the father forgets that he has the responsibility to provide for his children and to ensure that they lead quality lives. This eventually becomes a burden on women, as if they conceived the children through magic.
We therefore recommend the decision taken by the Government Employees Pension Fund to amend the Act, because it will make a difference in many lives. As it is, the Government Employees Pension Fund has received more than 5 000 applications from women whose ex-husbands are members of this fund. Now, if this House passes this Act, it will be following the policy of the ANC, which is to create a better life for all.
We have received complaints as Members of Parliament. The South African courts have also received complaints from women who are asking why women who have been married to members of the Government Employees Pension Fund are taken advantage of and why they can’t receive their rightful benefits when they divorce their husbands. This amendment responds to all those complaints and the court decision, which was also a response to the women that the Act be amended so that they can get their rightful benefits.
One other thing we need to explain is that this amendment did not come to the House because of a court decision, but the court took the decision after the Government Employees Pension Fund had already started with its process to ask this House for an amendment of the Act.
As the ANC, we must say, before our time expires, that we support the amendment of the Act, because it will change the lives of women and children who could not access education in order to live a better life. We support it because it is an amendment, and it is in line with the policy of the ANC, which is to create a better life for all. We hope that the House will support the amendment. Thank you. [Applause.]]
Dr D T GEORGE: Deputy Speaker, the Government Employees Pension Fund is a defined benefit arrangement where the pension payable on retirement is calculated according to the number of years’ service and final pensionable salary. The state is the sponsoring employer, and if a shortfall arises between the assets held in the fund and its liability to pay benefits to its members, the state acts as its underwriter. The people of South Africa thus pay for any top-ups to fill any financial holes that may arise in the fund.
The Bill proposes two key amendments to the fund. The first relates to the so-called “clean break” principle on divorce. Before the Pension Funds Act was amended in September 2007, a divorced couple was not able to separate completely at the time of divorce if one of the spouses received a portion of the other’s pension fund as part of the divorce settlement. The fund’s administration was informed of the amount awarded to the former spouse of a member and this benefit was retained in the fund until an exit event occurred on the withdrawal, retirement or death of a member. This prevented a clean break for the divorced couple and often led to administrative errors and payment delays.
The Government Employees Pension Fund is not subject to the Pension Funds Act and was therefore not amended to provide for the clean break. This amendment resolves the problem and permits access to the benefit by the former spouse at the time of divorce. Unlike the Pension Funds Act, the tax position is not clarified and would require an amendment to the Income Tax Act that has not been included in the Taxation Laws Amendment Bill for 2011. The committee was informed that this would be included in 2012, but there is no reason why it cannot be done in 2011, given that amendments to it have not yet passed through this House.
The Government Employees Pension Fund needs to be more closely aligned with, if not subject to, the Pension Funds Act, particularly given that it does not permit members to access the Pension Funds Adjudicator or benefit from precedents from the adjudicator. The DA supports the “clean break” principle and this part of the amendment.
The second part of the amendment seeks to enable the revised nonstatutory forces pension dispensation that abolishes the need for former nonstatutory force members to contribute to the funding of the recognition of their past service and to recognise the full period of nonstatutory force service. This increases the benefit payable at retirement and the fund’s liabilities.
In 2008, the Special Pensions Amendment Act was passed to extend special pension provisions enacted in 1996 to younger recipients. The intention of the special pension was to compensate for the gap in pension provision that arose when freedom fighters were in the field instead of in employment and contributing towards their provision for retirement. Means testing was not included and this has resulted in the unintended consequence that it is paid to many who do not require it to supplement their pension provision. Fraud and corruption, including fabricated biographies, were rife and 4 976 applications remain in backlog.
In response to our concern over cost implications, the fund actuary estimated that the additional liability owed to the fund by respective departments and institutions is R4,735 billion as at 31 December 2010. However, R1,644 billion has already been paid by employers and R1,011 billion is held in reserve for past discriminatory practices. The total liability is therefore R7,390 billion. An immediate cash injection of R1,378 billion is required to maintain the fund’s funding requirement. This is in respect of members who have already exited the fund. So, the liability has already been incurred.
These numbers are based on details provided by the Government Pensions Administration Agency and, according to the National Treasury, may change in the future as more members who qualify for nonstatutory force service come forward or if the records are not correct. The National Treasury would need to conduct an actual diligence exercise to verify the costs and, we are told, this will be concluded by December 2011. Before the National Treasury can reimburse the fund for the additional liability, Parliament will need to appropriate funds for this purpose.
The amendment before us has therefore not been conclusively costed, nor are we certain that funds would be appropriated for this purpose. The amendment commits spending on an uncertain number with uncertain funds. This is irresponsible lawmaking. Although the final verification has not been completed, it appears that the calculated liability does not include provision for accelerating salary increases that escalate the total defined benefit payment.
We agree that redress is required, but the method proposed is a very blunt instrument and caters for groups rather than individuals. To resolve this, a lump sum payment to the benefit of deserving individual recipients against an appropriate means test can be implemented. In the proposed format, Parliament is signing a blank cheque that the people of South Africa must pay the price of basic service delivery to the poorest members of our society.
There is no reason why an amendment to provide for a clean break cannot be enacted on its own. If it were, the DA would support it. However, we cannot support the entire amendment as it currently stands. [Applause.]
Mr N J J KOORNHOF: Deputy Speaker, Cope will support, with some hesitation, the amendment to the Government Employees Pension Laws Amendment Bill, dealing specifically with nonstatutory services members. It is important for National Treasury to conduct an appropriate actuarial and thorough diligence exercise as soon as possible to verify the records supplied and the costs of all nonstatutory services.
Hon Deputy Minister, this process must be a thorough one. Otherwise, a too-high cost may cripple the process. This would not only affect the budget but, if the pension fund is not properly funded, it may harm government employees in general. We cannot allow this. So, the verifying process by the National Treasury becomes a very important tool and Cope will closely watch the department on this issue. The monies that were mentioned by the hon George are large amounts and we look for your guidance to make sure that this money is well spent.
The “clean break” principle did not exist previously and it was unfair that, while members’ benefits increased after the divorce order was granted, this was only payable when the member retired. This increase did not apply to the portion allocated to the nonmember spouse. Our only concern is that the nonmember portion, when paid out, becomes cash and there is no requirement for the lump sum to be preserved as a future pension. This is wrong, and it could lead to divorces of convenience just to pay the family debt. We urge the department to amend the Pension Funds Act as soon as possible to allow for this. It would have been better to wait for such an amendment, but we understand the predicament of many nonmember spouses and will support this amendment.
Mr N SINGH: Deputy Speaker and hon members, I have always wanted to say “and people in the gallery” and today I can say that, because there are some in the gallery. I’ve noticed some colleagues come here and talk about people in the gallery while there is nobody in the gallery. However, coming back to the business of the day, the IFP will support the amendments contained in this Bill. However, we are also concerned about the cost implications, which hon George has indicated and where there will be an additional liability of R4,735 billion to National Treasury. I hope that an in-principle decision has been taken by the Ministers’ Committee on the Budget, MinComBud, to provide this additional funding in 2012, otherwise this Bill cannot be enacted in the form that we think it will be.
I would also like to say we support the “clean break” principle. I understand that this already applies to the Political Office Bearers Pension Scheme, where this principle is in effect. But the question is: Is there such a thing as a clean break? What if people who are divorced today find in a year’s time that they want to get back together? What happens then?
Furthermore, I am aware — and colleagues might be aware — of divorce arrangements that take place for convenience; people live together all their lives, but legally they are divorced. They do that for various reasons, some being business reasons, tax avoidance and so forth. I do hope that this enactment here does not allow these loopholes to be exploited, where people would see a cash cow in the pension fund and decide to divorce, take half the money and continue living together. These are some of the things that will have to be monitored very closely by the pension fund board itself over time.
In essence, though, we support the principles that are contained in this pension law amending Bill.
Mr S N SWART: Madam Deputy Speaker, the ACDP will support this Bill. In particular we support the “clean break” principle, which allows the nonmember spouse to claim and receive a portion of the member’s interest that is assigned in terms of the divorce order. Clearly, however, we share the concerns about divorces of convenience because that could impact vulnerable women at a later stage. We are also concerned about the issue of taxation, particularly for vulnerable women, and those aspects need to be clarified in later legislation.
We believe, however, that with the “clean break” principle, the benefits outweigh the detriments, particularly when it comes to vulnerable women who stay at home to raise children and will now, upon divorce, be able to obtain their share without delay.
The second aspect related to the proposed amendment of the revision of the nonstatutory forces, which entails the pensionable service of former members of those forces, is that that will now be recognised. We fully appreciate and support that, but we do believe the costing needs to be closely looked at for the cost implications. However, the ACDP will support this Bill.
Mr D D VAN ROOYEN: Thank you, hon Speaker, hon Ministers, Deputy Ministers and hon MPs, in their work to determine the essence of the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of former combatants, authors Spears and Carvalho both concurred that if the government of the day doesn’t ensure that former combatants find a livelihood and submitted to the laws and norms that govern civilians, it runs the risk of having combatants that may have difficulty in finding a productive position in the legal civilian economy. They may also develop an oppositional stance towards society and government.
In our response to this reality, as the ANC-led government, we started by establishing an inclusive South African National Defence Force. The SANDF, as it is commonly known, was formed through the integration of seven former forces in April 1994. Five of these forces were statutory forces, while the other two, namely the glorious uMkhonto weSizwe, MK, and the Azanian People’s Liberation Army, Apla, were nonstatutory forces, NSF.
The principle of eradicating the imbalances of the past has been the linchpin of our integration process. Guided by this noble principle, we dealt with a special pension provision and it took the following trajectory.
Before the integration of the forces, the statutory force members were contributing to the Government Employees Pension Fund, GEPF, and stood to receive pension benefits on termination of their service. The former NSF members, on the other hand, did not have the opportunity to contribute to any pension fund. This created a disparity between the former NSF members and the former statutory force members in as far as pension benefits were concerned.
At its meeting of 24 November 2010, the Cabinet approved the tabling of the report of the Interim National Defence Force Service Commission. This report follows Cabinet’s decision to create a new service dispensation for the Defence Force.
Following that decision, the interim National Defence Force Service Commission was established, among other things, to advise and make recommendations on a unique service dispensation outside the ambit of the Public Service. The report covers challenges faced by the SANDF since 1994, the root causes of the problems and proposed short-term and long-term solutions.
Cabinet approved the extension of the revised NSF pension dispensation to cover all former NSF members who entered into an employment contract with other government departments and institutions that contribute to the Government Employees Pension Fund. The Cabinet furthermore approved the alignment of the current Special Pensions Act and Government Employees Pension Law to enable recognition of the NSF service of affected current and past employees.
The intention of the NSF pension dispensation is therefore to address disparities in the fairest manner possible. In other words, the intention is to put the former NSF members who joined the Public Service in the same position as former statutory force members for pension purposes, as far as possible.
The Local Government Employees Pension Law Amendment Bill, the one we are currently dealing with, seeks to amend certain aspects of the Government Employees Pension Fund. The object of this Bill is, inter alia, to amend the provisions for the recognition of pensionable service of former members of nonstatutory forces or service.
One of the established areas, which became extremely visible with hindsight but was not so before, is that the current provision states that former members of the statutory forces or services must, in accordance with the rules, apply for the fund to have their services as members of statutory forces recognised as pensionable service. The effect of this is that the services rendered by members of the NSF may either be recognised or not, their assessment being based, of course, on the rules of the current fund.
This Bill seeks to enable the implementation of the revised NSF pension dispensation because in 2010 Cabinet once more approved the revision of this particular dispensation. According to the revised approval, it firstly provided for the abolishment of the need for former NSF members to contribute to the funding in recognition of their NSF service by the GEPF.
Secondly, it provided for the recognition of the full period of NSF service by all former NSF members who were subsequently employed by government departments and institutions that contributed to the fund. It also provided that special pension benefits paid to qualifying members who are still in the service should cease at exit and that members should receive their full benefits in accordance with the fund’s rules.
To realise these objectives the Bill amends section 30(a)(2) of the principal Act. The amendment indicates that the benefits payable to members of the NSF shall not be reduced by the amount of any benefit received in terms of the Special Pensions Act and that members’ eligibility to receive any benefit in terms of the Special Pensions Act shall cease on exit from the fund.
In conclusion, it is our submission as the ANC that the provisions of this Bill will enable us to fast-track the improvement of the welfare of our ex-combatants. This Bill concurs with the clarion call made by gallant fighters of uMkhonto weSizwe to mazilunge izinto zamakhomanda [let the matters of the commanders be addressed]. As the ANC we think that this will definitely ensure that this particular aspect is addressed.
Before I conclude, cognisant of the fact that I still have time left, I think I must take this opportunity to urge various ex-combatant formations to take a keen interest in ensuring that all their members take advantage of these new provisions. They must also assist to ensure that. One of the problems that is currently faced by the administrators of the fund is incomplete applications and the fund members are struggling to trace some of the applicants. We are urging ex-combatant formations to assist in this regard. This will help a lot in terms of dealing with the problem that has been identified by the fund itself.
On the issue of liability, I obviously expect the Minister to deal with the details of the sustainability of this particular provision for NSF members. On a lighter note, one might argue that the recently proposed so-called Tutu tax, a recommendation of the TRC, must be considered to deal with aspects of liability, as raised by my former colleagues. I really think that the impression that has been created throughout the presentations and engagements on this matter is that our financial depth is quite adequate to cater for such a provision.
As members of the standing committee, and as correctly cited by one of the speakers, our responsibility is to ensure that we oversee how this particular process will be sustained going forward. As the ANC, we support the Bill and call for its expeditious implementation.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF FINANCE: Deputy Speaker, I would like to thank the committee for the work they have done in processing this Bill to the point that we are here today, considering it in the House. As all members have correctly pointed out, it primarily seeks to provide for the implementation of the “clean break” principle on divorce and pensions, which is currently not provided for, as well as for the implementation of the revised nonstatutory forces pension dispensation, as was approved by Cabinet.
The main issue raised by other parties seems to be the financial implications. Let me start by saying that the matter before the House today is but one of those matters that seek to address and redress the disparities of our past. Therefore the issue of financial implications has actually been looked at and, as National Treasury, we have undertaken to proceed with actuarial due diligence, as even hon George has indicated.
But I don’t think it is fair to say that this is an irresponsible way of processing legislation. We did indicate that, as we proceed with the uptake — as in all pension matters — it won’t place undue pressure on our fiscus. This is not the first pension matter that we have processed, and we have done so in the past.
I want to say that our former combatants paid a price that cannot be equalled by the amounts that we are talking about today, be it R7 billion or R4,7 billion. Whatever the figure, which is still to be verified, our combatants paid with their lives to bring about the liberation that we enjoy today. [Applause.]
I therefore think this House will take to heart that this is the time to bring about equity and fairness and to make sure that our former combatants are not left out there, while the people who served the system have been taken care of. [Interjections.]
Some concern was also expressed about the fact that the cost implications had to be appropriated by Parliament. Indeed, no appropriation will be carried out without coming through to this House. So, it is Parliament that will deal with this. We also indicated that it will be National Treasury’s Budget Programme 7 that will carry the costs, and not the respective departments, as has been misrepresented here.
I do not want to bore you with the figures, because at the end of the day they will also still have to come to Parliament. But we would like to take this opportunity to thank the committee for having processed this legislation and Parliament for considering it today and for appreciating its urgency and importance in addressing these issues.
Regarding the “clean break” aspect, we have a court case, as you might know, which also necessitated that this matter be dealt with expeditiously.
Question put: That the Bill be read a second time.
Bill read a second time (Democratic Alliance dissenting).
CONSIDERATION OF REQUEST FOR APPROVAL BY PARLIAMENT IN TERMS OF SECTION 231(2) OF CONSTITUTION OF EXTRADITION TREATY BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA AND THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN AND OF REPORT OF PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT THEREON
CONSIDERATION OF REQUEST FOR APPROVAL BY PARLIAMENT IN TERMS OF SECTION 213(2) OF CONSTITUTION OF AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA AND THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN ON MUTUAL LEGAL ASSISTANCE IN CRIMINAL MATTERS AND OF REPORT OF PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT THEREON
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon members, requests for declarations of vote have been received and I will now allow one member of each political party wishing to make a declaration the opportunity to do so for up to three minutes. Before we do that, and while hon members are raising their hands, can I please point out that the level of noise is too high. I can’t hear what the speakers at the podium are saying.
There was no debate.
Declarations of vote:
Mrs D A SCHÄFER: Madam Deputy Speaker, concerns have previously been raised about the lack of input that Parliament has in the agreements it is expected to ratify. This treaty with the Islamic Republic of Iran that is before us today shows why.
Apart from the rather embarrassing fact that this treaty was signed in 2004 and is only coming to this House today for ratification, there are some fundamental concerns that we have regarding some of its provisions. The treaty provides that either country may refuse extradition if they have substantial grounds to believe that the probable sentence for the offence in the other country is qualitatively different from the probable sentence given on the same offence in the courts of their country. We would have preferred the treaty to say that South Africa shall refuse to extradite under such circumstances. There are other instances in the treaty where the word “shall” is used, for example, with reference to political offences. Why is there this distinction?
While we have been assured by the state legal advisers that we would not have to extradite people where the death penalty will be applicable – given the Constitutional Court ruling in the Mohamed case – it is a source of concern to us, that during the deliberation on this treaty in our committee, the representative addressing us on the issue advised that Iran had specifically requested that reference to the death penalty be removed from the treaty ... [Interjections.] I beg your protection, Madam Deputy Speaker.
One has to wonder why. The treaty goes on to provide that either country may refuse extradition, unless the other gives a suitable undertaking or assurance that is considered sufficient by the other country that the person to be extradited will not be detained without trial, tortured in any way, or treated in a cruel, inhuman or degrading way.
Our concern is, firstly, that there is no mechanism to monitor a person once they have been extradited. There is no provision for South Africa to send monitors there, for example, to ensure that they are complying with any undertaking given. There is also no definition of what constitutes cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. It is a legitimate concern, given the human rights record of Iran, to think that they may have somewhat different ideas as to what constitutes cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment from what we do.
It is, in our view, irresponsible not to have specified clearly what we are referring to and in terms of what standards. It leaves the matter open to interpretation. Once an event has occurred that we regard as inappropriate, it may be too late.
We trust that our government will ensure that, if there are any extraditions to Iran, guarantees and agreements will be elicited regarding regular monitoring and the standards we expect to be adhered to.
We would have far preferred these standards to be included in the treaty for the sake of certainty and, because they have not, we cannot vote in favour of this treaty. [Applause.]
Mr L T LANDERS: Deputy Speaker, many years have passed since these treaties were signed in 2003 and the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development finds this delay most undesirable.
The LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: [Inaudible.]
Mr L T LANDERS: Well, the hon Athol Trollip is complaining about the delay in finalising the Protection of State Information Bill. Now, he obviously wants us to rush the Bill. So, when the ad hoc committee meets, we will take hon Athol Trollip’s position to the ad hoc committee and we will push it through with the necessary speed. [Laughter.]
The committee asks that the Ministry look into the reasons for the delay to ensure that this is an isolated occurrence. Our further concern with regard to these two treaties is that Parliament’s involvement takes place after an agreement is negotiated and signed, and is mostly limited to either approving or not approving. The committee believes that consideration needs to be given to the development of a mechanism that will allow parliamentary committees to become involved in discussions, even at an informal level, at a much earlier stage.
The committee, as has already been stated from this podium, is concerned about extradition to the Islamic Republic of Iran, where the death penalty and other corporal punishments may be imposed. We acknowledge that the treaty does allow a requested state to refuse an extradition request. We acknowledge also that extradition can be refused unless the requesting state undertakes or gives sufficient assurance that the person sought will not be detained without trial, tortured or treated or punished in a cruel, inhuman or degrading manner. However, assurance is not necessarily a guarantee, and this is part of the committee’s concern.
The committee is also of the view that the Department of International Relations and Co-operation should investigate putting a mechanism in place to monitor the treatment of those extradited. This is over and above the normal consular services and oversight. With these concerns put on record, and notwithstanding these concerns, we recommend these treaties for ratification by this House. [Applause.]
Report of Portfolio Committee adopted and Extradition Treaty between the Government of the Republic of South Africa and the Islamic Republic of Iran approved (Democratic Alliance and African Christian Democratic Party dissenting).
Report of Portfolio Committee adopted and Agreement between the Government of the Republic of South Africa and the Islamic Republic of Iran on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters approved.
CONSIDERATION OF REQUEST FOR APPROVAL OF LEGAL AID GUIDE 2011 (12th EDITION), INCLUDING PROPOSED AMENDMENTS APPROVED BY BOARD OF LEGAL AID SOUTH AFRICA, TABLED IN TERMS OF SECTION 3A(2) OF LEGAL AID ACT, ACT 22 OF 1969, DATED 8 SEPTEMBER 2011 AND OF REPORT OF PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT THEREON
There was no debate.
Report of Portfolio Committee adopted and Legal Aid Guide 2011 (12th edition), including proposed amendments approved by Board of Legal Aid South Africa, tabled in terms of section 3A(2) of Legal Aid Act, Act 22 of 1969, dated 8 September 2011, approved.
CONSIDERATION OF REQUEST FOR APPROVAL OF DRAFT NOTICE AND SCHEDULE DETERMINING THE RATE AT WHICH SALARIES ARE PAYABLE TO CONSTITUTIONAL COURT JUDGES AND JUDGES ANNUALLY, WITH EFFECT FROM 1 APRIL 2011
CONSIDERATION OF REQUEST FOR APPROVAL BY PARLIAMENT OF DRAFT NOTICE AND SCHEDULE DETERMINING THE RATE AT WHICH SALARIES ARE PAYABLE TO MAGISTRATES ANNUALLY, WITH EFFECT FROM 1 APRIL 2011
There was no debate.
Draft Notice and Schedule determining the rate at which salaries are payable to Constitutional Court judges and judges annually approved.
Draft Notice and Schedule determining the rate at which salaries are payable to magistrates annually approved.
Business suspended at 11:42 and resumed at 14:04.
COUNTDOWN TO CENSUS 2011
The MINISTER IN THE PRESIDENCY — NATIONAL PLANNING COMMISSION: Mr Speaker, distinguished colleagues, hon members, ladies and gentlemen, may I just say that I see only the hon Singh being bold enough to match my tie today! [Laughter.]
Census 2011, that now-once-in-a-decade event, is upon us. The countdown has begun in earnest — Census 2011 is a mere 20 days away. Statistics SA has made all the necessary preparations. Some 156 000 enumerators, co-ordinators and supervisors have been recruited and trained. These fieldworkers have gone out, armed with clipboards, to list every dwelling in the country. Questionnaires have been prepared, printed and distributed along with other census materials. One hundred and thirty offices have been rented and equipped and 6 000 vehicles hired. Advertisements have been placed and pilots and dress rehearsals have been conducted.
The preparations already completed speak to the scale of the operation – the largest deployment of people in peacetime in our country; bigger than any election ever convened.
Yet, as we enter these final days, there remains a foreboding sense that swirls around the question: What risks remain? Perhaps the greatest risk is that people do not voluntarily participate in being counted – that they shut the doors, let the dogs out and turn the lights out when the enumerators approach. Actually, the only reason people might respond in this manner is that we haven’t taken the time to allay their fears and to explain to them that participation in the census, apart from being a statutory obligation, is directly and unashamedly in their own best interests.
The “we” who need to do the explaining and who haven’t yet made the time for the face-to-face contact are the 400 hon members of this House, the 90 hon members of the NCOP, the 430 members of the nine provincial legislatures and the 10 055 councillors who sit in the 243 municipalities across the length of our country. The “we” includes all of us as public representatives, regardless of the political parties we are part of. Census 2011 will only succeed if we communicate it as a national, all-inclusive endeavour.
As public representatives, we have the most to benefit from a census that is successfully run because the data obtained from the census are the vital tools we need to be proper public representatives. As we gather, the tools at our disposal are fairly blunt now. The last census was conducted in 2001 and, in the intervening period, Statistics SA has conducted a myriad surveys. Granted, some of these have been large, like the community survey, which was conducted in October 2007 and involved 345 170 households across the country.
The information gained from these surveys is important, but none of these can ever replace the trove of information that we will uncover in a full-on census that takes in every single household. Good workers, such as we aim to be in the service of our people, need the best and sharpest tools, and there is simply no other way to acquire this than through conducting a detailed census.
We have estimated that there are 14,5 million households, but have printed 20 million questionnaires, just in case. Each questionnaire is 14 pages long and contains 75 questions.
As we progress with our democracy, the need for evidence-based decision-making grows, and this evidence-based decision-making requires very high levels of detail. It is required at the national level, including the Financial and Fiscal Commission, FFC, analysis of provincial populations and levels of income. Provinces are responsible for providing the first level of pro-poor services such as basic education, health, social services and human settlements, and they need to have this level of detailed information.
Municipalities need this information. In light of the report by the Treasury last week on local government budgets and expenditure, it is important that we understand our responsibility to enable municipalities to fulfil their constitutional mandate. This information is vital for municipalities to improve on the quality of the services that they render.
Democracy anywhere needs census results; democracy in South Africa definitely needs a successful census to produce results that will make a difference.
Let me share with you a few observations about the constituency that I serve in Mitchells Plain. It is a large area which, in the 2001 census, had 398 650 people living in it. We approximate that, currently, we have about 512 000 people there, but we need an accurate number. A population of 512 000 is larger than that of many small island states. It is a large number of people and requires accuracy in decision-making.
The area has been divided into 395 enumerator areas by Statistics SA, each comprising about 120 to 150 households. Statistics SA has recruited 395 enumerators from Mitchells Plain to visit the households. This is an important step because these enumerators know the area, speak the same languages as the people in the area, and should be trusted. If there are any queries, residents should check the enumerator’s Statistics SA census ID card and call the toll-free number 0800 110 248 to confirm that the person knocking at their door is indeed an enumerator from Statistics SA. In addition, Statistics SA has hired the services in that area of 101 supervisors, including people such as Mrs Faith Benjamin, Mr Daniel Muller and Ms Sheena Arendse, to ensure the success of the count.
As the Member of Parliament for that area, my interest in the census lies in knowing that we have information to evaluate around whether the community is adequately serviced. How many people actually reside there? What is the age and gender distribution of the population? Is there an adequate number of schools? What percentage of people work? To what extent is youth unemployment a problem? I can then establish whether additional libraries might be required, or whether there is a legitimate demand for an FET college that I can badger Minister Nzimande about. I can establish the adequacy of health facilities.
Information about the consumption of water and electricity will be important. Does the municipality meet the legal requirements to provide free basic services? The municipality needs to use the same data to establish whether it adequately provides for sport and recreation or for those services we do not like to discuss, such as refuse and sewage disposal. This is the kind of information I need to move me from guesswork to facts, so that I can be a better representative of the community I serve.
And I daresay that each one of us — whether in Houghton or Moletjie, in Cofimvaba or in Kloof, in Manenberg or in Mahikeng – needs the same detail of information about the constituency we serve. The only way to secure that level of detail is to know that the risks have been attended to. We need the involvement of every public representative in the process of Census 2011. And by involvement, we are not asking MPs to undertake the counting — heaven forbid that, Mr Speaker; we battle to count a quorum in this House on some days! — but we need the involvement of MPs to give assurance to residents, to give encouragement to the enumerators, and to help problem-solve in hard-to-count areas such as gated communities and densely packed informal settlements.
It is also very, very important that public representatives can give assurances to constituents who may have fears because they speak languages other than our 11 official languages, or because they may be undocumented. The purpose of the census is to count everybody, and because the census details are covered by confidentiality provisions, the information obtained may not be given to another government department such as Home Affairs, the SA Police Service or the SA Revenue Service. The information is exclusively for the purpose of compiling the census.
Mister Speaker, we are calling on all public representatives to be ambassadors for Census 2011. I repeat the request I made when we discussed the budget of Statistics SA on 19 April 2011. Apart from the tasks of assurance and problem-solving, there is much advocacy to be done. Public representatives can do much to speak to organised formations — faith-based community organisations, civic organisations, trade union locals, sports clubs, schools, formations representing immigrant communities. Every conceivable organisation should be reached by public representatives. We make this appeal to our public representatives because you are best placed to know and understand the communities and constituencies that you represent.
While Statistics SA may be able to plan for possible contingencies, they cannot know the level of detail that a public representative would know about a particular area. We know details like where there are backyard dwellers; we know where there are farmers who may not want to disclose the number of farmworkers on their farms; and we know of households where, in reality, there may be three families in a single dwelling. These are things that, despite extensive preparation, we may miss because participants may not want us to know about them. This is where your assistance as a public representative will be invaluable. It bears reiteration that it is in your best interests that we know exactly what the structure of your constituency is.
Because your role in making this a success is so crucial, we want to arm you with adequate backup. Information packs have been made available to all hon members before the House convened this afternoon. Please join us in making Census 2011 a resounding success. We are very dependent on the efforts of public representatives to spread the word.
Unfortunately, the media, which have been outstanding at running countdowns to the football and Rugby World Cups, are less enthusiastic about running the clocks to the morning of 10 October 2011. I want to say to those fellows on the public radio – Mandla and the others who, every morning, give you a countdown on rugby – that, from tomorrow morning, they should start announcing 19 days to Census 2011. So, let us make it happen!
Ukubalwa komphakathi lokhu indaba yakho. Ngiyabonga kakhulu. [The census is your responsibility. Thank you very much.]
The LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Hon Speaker, hon Minister, the crucial information gleaned from this census — in your words, the “largest deployment of people in peacetime” — will not only be critical to the effective governance of our country, it will serve as a control to compare against the findings of your National Planning Commission diagnostic report and shape the compilation of our national plan.
The mechanics, logistics and collation of the sought-after information are as critical as the appropriate use of the outcomes. The DA supports unreservedly this herculean effort and the fact that the Minister referred to the “we”. We, as the Democratic Alliance, pledge the support of every public representative at all three spheres of representation, without any reservation. The census ambassadors who have been selected are also key to the success of the census, and thus, having popular sportsmen and women and other high-profile figures on board, is very significant. We, as DA representatives, will augment this public outreach in every way possible.
The quality and veracity of the census information have profound consequences regarding the allocation of equitable-share funding. Our population’s residential patterns are some of the most dynamic in the world and the global recession has compounded this migration phenomenon. There are two provinces that are the most sought-after migration destinations, namely Gauteng and the Western Cape. The populations of these provinces grow on a weekly basis far more than any other, due to this pattern of migration in search of opportunities and a better life. It is therefore of cardinal importance that every so often we get accurate and reliable population figures.
In the absence of this, these provinces are expected to provide service delivery miracles without the necessary financial means to do so. Others that still exist largely as labour reserves are left with more resources than are needed and they, coincidentally, are the provinces that perform worst against the national service delivery indicators and those of the Millennium Development Goals, such as the province that I come from, the Eastern Cape.
Minister, my appeal today is that the training of enumerators will be suitably comprehensive so that they will be able to competently acquit themselves of their important task; that they will be adequately resourced to gain access to every residence, from difficult-to-access cluster complexes and blocks of flats to far-flung rural villages and farms.
The most difficult aspect of access to our homes, however, is the environment of fear and deep suspicion that our population has for strangers. We will collectively have to take responsibility for encouraging citizens to make themselves available to these identifiable enumerators in their yellow bibs. Unfortunately, though, these bibs are easily transferable from legitimate enumerators to criminal impostors, either by design or by criminal intent.
The accessibility of the census toll-free number is of the utmost importance and its integrity and rapid response will most certainly have to outperform, for an example, the Presidential Hotline. If it is to serve the intended purposes of allaying the fears of a suspicious citizenry, this hotline will have to be able to respond immediately to queries. It must be fully staffed with competent people at all times during the census, and the South African Police Service will also have to be placed on high alert during the census period.
The Democratic Alliance supports the census and recognises the myriad reasons for conducting this important exercise, and we wish the Minister and Statistics SA the very best success in this regard.
Mr N J J KOORNHOF: Mr Speaker, like all other political parties, Cope supports Census 2011. It is of vital importance that we do not fail this census. We owe it to each other to be successful. We owe it to the generations that follow us, and for us to be in the business of combating poverty, this census must be a world-class event.
Harold Macmillan, the famous Prime Minister who made the “Winds of Change” speech not far from here, in the House of Assembly dining room, was asked by a journalist, “What can most easily derail government from its course?” And he replied, “Events, my son, events.”
This Census 2011 is a big event. It shows only government is on course. My question today is: Where is business South Africa? Have they been thrown off course, Macmillan style? In their advertising campaigns they always piggyback on major events, but so far they have been silent. I want to ask them today to use this event as an ingredient of their advertising campaigns.
Let’s roll out - let’s see the MTNs, Vodacoms, South African Breweries, ABSAs, FNBs and other big spenders popularise Census 2011. They will also benefit if this is successful. They owe it to South Africa to do what they did in the World Cup 2010 for soccer and what they are doing for World Cup rugby in New Zealand now.
The SPEAKER: I now wish to invite the hon Singh and, in the spirit of Census 2011, I am going to increase your speaking time by exactly 100%. You have two minutes! [Applause.]
Mr N SINGH: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker! I knew this would have some positive effect, but I hope Cope does not mistake me for a Cope member! [Laughter.] Although I feel like a fish out of water standing here, luckily, I do not have my blue shoes on. [Laughter.] Some of you who watched the adverts will know about the blue shoes and the yellow coat.
I am here to proclaim the IFP’s unequivocal support for and co-operation with Census 2011. I have a few points that I want to raise. Firstly, there were reports that the Minister still did not have enough enumerators. Some were interviewed, but have taken up other occupations since then. So, can we just know if you have enough enumerators? Another concern would be the safety of enumerators. We know there are many volatile areas where there have been service delivery protests and other kinds of protests and I do hope that Statistics SA have carefully considered the safety of these enumerators when they go out.
I think the hon Trollip has mentioned foreigners in the country. I think it is a matter of concern that a number of them come across our borders. He mentioned two provinces, namely the Western Cape and Gauteng, but I think in KwaZulu-Natal you also get them coming across the borders from Mozambique. We know that a census is a wonderful tool to assist government in planning the distribution of resources; not only financial resources, but infrastructural resources as well.
We know full well that any number of clinics and schools are overloaded because of the numbers of people that come into the area through rapid urbanisation, and Census 2011 would provide a mechanism for government to know exactly where to place these resources.
Mr Minister, in 1890 someone said, “There are lies, damned lies and statistics”. With Census 2011 we hope that this is not the case after the whole exercise has been done. We fully support it and we say, “Viva Census 2011, viva!”
Dr P W A MULDER: Agb Speaker, die VF Plus verwelkom die sensus ná 2001, want ons besef die noodsaaklikheid daarvan. Een van die regeringsaksies wat ons tans opgewonde maak, is die beplanningskommissie van Minister Manuel, wat lyk of hy realisties na die toekoms kyk. Ons besef sonder werklike syfers en sensussyfers kan ‘n mens nie 20 jaar vorentoe beplan nie.
Ons wil ook die Minister bedank. In die vorige rondte moes ons hof toe gaan om al die tale te kry. Ons verstaan al die tale gaan geakkommodeer word. Navorsing aan die Universiteit van Kaapstad toon dat net 44% van Suid-Afrikaners werklik Engels goed genoeg verstaan om op ’n sekere vlak te kommunikeer. Dit beteken die meerderheid moet verkieslik in hul eie taal hanteer word. Dit is moontlik in Suid-Afrika en ons hoop dit sal in ag geneem word.
Ek dink die Minister is bewus van die groot probleem wat misdaad veroorsaak het. Mense is regtig so wantrouig dat as jy my begin vra oor my yskas en my televisie en so meer, is ek nie seker of die doel is dat jy dit die volgende aand gaan kom “haal” en of dit ernstig is nie. Ek dink hierdie wantroue sal mens moet verdra.
Hulle sê Jannie het vir sy pa gevra hoekom ons ’n sensus nodig het, of eintlik, hoekom die mense getel moet word. Sy pa het geantwoord dat hy dink daar is iemand weg. [Gelag.] Daar ís mense weg en daar het nuwe mense bygekom, en ek dink ons moet die boodskap uitdra dat die sensus nodig is om Suid-Afrika ’n beter plek te maak. Kom ons hoop dis ’n goeie en professionele sensus. (Translation of Afrikaans speech follows.)
[Dr P W A MULDER: Hon Speaker, die FF Plus welcomes the census after 2001, because we realise why it is necessary. One of the actions of government that excites us right now is the National Planning Commission of Minister Manuel, who appears to be looking at the future realistically. We realise that without actual numbers and census statistics one cannot plan ahead for the next 20 years.
We would also like to thank the Minister. During the previous round we had to go to the court to include all the languages. We gather that all the languages will be included. Research at the University of Cape Town shows that only 44% of South Africans understand English well enough to be able to communicate at a certain level. This implies that the majority should preferably be addressed in their own language. This is possible in South Africa and we trust that it will be taken into account.
I think the Minister is aware of the huge problem caused by crime. People are really distrustful, to the extent that if you start questioning me about my fridge and my television and so on, I am not sure whether it is because you want to come and “fetch” it the next evening, or whether it is meant seriously. I think this distrust one will have to tolerate.
It is said that Jannie asked his dad why we need a census, or rather, why people should be counted. His father replied that he thought it was because someone had disappeared. [Laughter.] Indeed, there are people who have disappeared and new people have been added, and I think we should spread the message that the census is necessary to make South Africa a better place. Let’s hope the census is conducted in a good and professional manner.]
Mr S N SWART: Speaker, may I firstly thank the hon Minister and Statistics SA for the preparation that they have completed for, in his words, “the largest deployment of people in peacetime in our country”. The ACDP would like to express its full support for this year’s census, which will take place in 20 days’ time.
Accurate statistics as to the size of the population will enable government to allocate services and resources better, particularly in the fight against poverty and unemployment. Additionally, every survey that Statistics SA will be doing afterwards will be measured against the statistics produced in this census and this will clearly help us in our monitoring and oversight function as MPs.
Thus, the ACDP calls on all persons and households to co-operate with the fieldworkers in the run-up to and on census day. Clearly, it will be a challenge to access the myriad informal settlements, apartments and security complexes, and we need to assist in this regard.
It is important for the public to know that enumerators are sworn to secrecy, as the Minister pointed out. This, we trust, will also address underreporting, particularly of illegal immigrants, who may be afraid that if they provide information they will be deported.
It must also be borne in mind that it is a statutory obligation to participate in this census and this should also be made known to the public.
To conclude, let us, as public representatives, rise to the challenge of making this a successful census by communicating it, as the Minister says, as a national, all-inclusive endeavour. The ACDP will fully support this census.
Mr T A MUFAMADI: Hon Speaker, hon Minister in the Presidency, hon members, and Mr Pali Lehohla, Statistician-General, who is present here, let me also take this opportunity to commend the Statistician-General and his team for the professional manner in which they continue to conduct their official business for our country, because all stakeholders, be they government, business, labour or civil society in general, need statistics to plan.
Equally, it will be important to remind the Statistician-General of what he said in 2008, when he addressed the Young African Statisticians Conference in Pretoria:
There are too few South Africans who love statistics or have a passion for it. Central to the road map to overcoming these challenges is the role of Africa’s young statisticians, whose intellect and ability are key to overcoming many of the technological and measurement issues in Africa.
The Minister has just alluded to some of the key challenges for the upcoming Census 2011 – indeed, people do shut their doors, let out their dogs and turn off their lights. That is because we come from very violent times in which our communities and their individual responsibilities and privacy have been violated to a certain extent.
Let me take this opportunity to congratulate the Minister of Police and his department for their sterling work in fighting crime and corruption, as reflected in the recent crime statistics that have been released. I am certain that this will improve the situation and go a long way in ensuring that our enumerators have easy access to our homes.
Census 2011 and its outcome is more than just the counting of people. It is about national planning and resource allocation that takes into consideration local and regional integration and development beyond our borders. It is important for us as public representatives to send the message out there; to say to ...
... badudi ba Afrika-Borwa ka bophara gore ba se ke ba tšhoga selo. Bofang dimpša le buleng le mabati le dikgoro gore bommalabatho ge ba etla go lena ba se ke ba tšhošwa ke selo. Go bohlokwa gore mmušo o tsebe gore badudi ke ba ba kae mo Afrika-Borwa, bana ke ba ba kae bao ba swanetšego go ya dikolong le gore bakgekolo le bakgalabje ke ba ba kae bao ba swanetšego go gola motente, gore o kgone go dira dipeakantšho. Se se tla diragala fela ge le ka dumelela bommalabatho gore ba tsene mengwakong ya lena. (Translation of Sepedi paragraph follows.)
[... South Africans not to be afraid. You must be kind enough to welcome the enumerators from Statistics SA into your respective homes to come and do the head count. It is important for the government to have the statistics of the people in South Africa, in terms of the number of schoolgoing children and the elderly who receive old age grants, so as to make the necessary budget arrangements. This will be possible only if you can welcome them in your respective homes.]
As we all know, the key challenge for our nation-building project remains unemployment, especially among the young, whose dreams are turning into a never-ending nightmare with a future that is increasingly fading away. It is evident that government needs statistics for its planning and the setting of specific targets to address housing needs, infrastructure development, unemployment and poverty. Our nation-building project continues to be characterised by high levels of inequality because we live in a society where some eat more, even in the presence of hunger.
Census 2011 must remind us here and now that, as public representatives, we cannot afford to be indifferent or be bystanders in the coming census count. If we are to contribute towards changing the socioeconomic conditions of our people, we must be willing to be active witnesses and encourage our people to stand tall and be counted.
Census 2011 presents the South African people with one of the most clear and definite tasks of influencing government planning in a manner that will significantly improve the wellbeing of our nation. For us as parliamentarians, it is a moment of the politics of possibilities, beyond party—political lines.
Hon Speaker and hon Minister, while we agree that there will be logistical and technical challenges in accomplishing this important task, it is worth noting — and it is probably a source of encouragement for our enumerators to remember — that not very long ago, 6 million census workers in China successfully conducted their first census in a decade. They counted a population of approximately 1,3 billion people in 10 days. Surely ours should be much easier, particularly with the parliamentarians volunteering to be part of the team, communicating and emphasising the importance of people being counted, with a specific focus on gated communities, golf estates and informal settlements.
As the ANC, we are fully behind this programme. We will encourage our structures, as always, to make sure that our communities fully understand the importance of being counted. Therefore they should at all times be on the side of those who will make sure that this programme succeeds. [Applause.]
FURTHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING COLLEGES AMENDMENT BILL
(Second Reading debate)
The MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING: Hon Speaker, Cabinet colleagues, Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training, hon members, I believe that the Further Education and Training Colleges Amendment Bill before us today is an important piece of legislation towards strengthening and repositioning the further education and training, FET, college sector to be at the centre of skills development in our country, especially to absorb the millions of our youth who have finished school or have completed a certain minimum number of years at school.
This legislation must be seen within the context of many other measures being undertaken by my department to strengthen and realign institutions in the postschool education and training landscape, especially the closer alignment of FET colleges with employers, in both the public and private sectors, the sector education and training authorities, Setas, as well as the universities and trade unions.
Hon Speaker and hon members, you are well aware that the establishment of the Department of Higher Education and Training, following the proclamation by the President in 2009, necessitated the shifting of the functions of both adult education and training as well as FET colleges from the provincial education departments to our department. This shift in functions is proceeding and will go hand in hand with the implementation of the amendments to the Bill. We have also set up the appropriate transition mechanisms.
I also wish to inform you that this Bill has been preceded by expressions by all nine MECs of education of unanimous support for the presidential proclamation, as well as the signing of the memorandum of understanding between the nine MECs and me. The national FET summit held last year, representing all the key stakeholders, as well as representatives from the nine provincial governments, unanimously endorsed the shift of responsibility for FET colleges to the Department of Higher Education and Training.
The second goal of this legislation is to regularise the employment of college staff in order to provide stability and enhance retention of staff employed at FET colleges. This will be a major improvement in our work towards the development and expansion of a vibrant college sector.
To date the sector has not been able to effectively retain its skilled workforce because jobs in colleges are seen as not being secure. The exodus of experienced and qualified staff from the sector, mainly as a result of the change in their conditions of employment, has made it difficult to achieve the important goal of building a skilled workforce in the country.
The amendments to the Bill therefore provide the opportunity for the majority of staff in the college sector to be employees of the state. Their conditions of service will be regulated in terms of the Public Service Act in the same way as is provided for for other professionals working for the state.
It is worth reflecting on the dual role of the department and colleges as employers. This existed before the current legislation and it is desirable to have that status retained, enabling colleges to create additional posts and act as an employer where necessary.
However, the majority of staff in a college will now be employed by the state. Even college-employed staff cannot have unfavourable conditions of service when compared to their counterparts who are employed by the state. This Bill will also resolve the current complexity of the bargaining process and the new legislation will ensure that only the Minister may provide the mandate on issues of mutual interest.
Let me take this opportunity to thank Adv Malale, the chairperson of the portfolio committee, and the members of his committee for the good work they have done. I also want to thank the director-general and senior staff members in my department, as well as all the stakeholders who have participated with us on this journey to transform the FET college sector to respond better to our skills needs.
Ms N GINA: Hon Chairperson, Ministers, Deputy Ministers, hon members, ladies and gentlemen, I greet you. The split of the Department of Education into two Ministries necessitated the amendment of the Further Education and Training Colleges Act of 2006.
Today we are gathered here to debate, among other things, the Further Education and Training Colleges Amendment Bill, which seeks to amend the Act in order to remove all references to provincial authority and at the same time to propose certain other related amendments.
The amendments to the principal Act were both technical and substantive. As a legislative requirement, the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training invited participation through written submissions. We received responses mainly from the trade unions, universities, Higher Education South Africa, Hesa, FET councils, provincial departments of education, especially the FET directorates, and also student unions. They played a very important role in the discussions.
Public hearings were held for two weeks. Interested parties came and shared their concerns with the committee regarding some sections and expressed appreciation for and support of other sections of the Bill.
We noted the robustness and the passion of the discussions during the public hearings. It really showed that everyone was concerned about the impact the Bill will have on the stability of the FET colleges, given the fact that FET colleges have undergone a series of changes in the past, some of which were not well received and had a negative impact on the stability of the sector. We believe, however, that this Bill will bring much-awaited stability.
There were clauses that were of concern, such as clauses 11 to 13 and clause 34, which deal mainly with the appointment of staff employed by the state in terms of the Public Service Act; the appointment of staff by the college as a dual system to staff appointment by the state; and the bargaining councils, to deal with the conditions of service of the employees.
All stakeholders supported the proposed amendments but raised concerns and suggestions. Here are a few of those concerns. The first was the capacity of FET college councils to serve as employers. It was noted that they lacked capacity and it was proposed that intervention would be required to ensure that this did not jeopardise the staff in any way during the transitional period.
The second was that the dual system of staff appointment might result in disparity in conditions of service, because of employees being appointed under different categories.
Lastly, it was not clear how the Minister of Higher Education and Training would have jurisdiction over staff appointed in terms of the Public Service Act without the consent of the Minister for the Public Service and Administration.
It was then proposed that the Public Service Act would need to be amended so that it allowed the Minister of Higher Education and Training to determine conditions of service of staff appointed under the Minister of Higher Education and Training. However, we did get a guarantee from the state law advisers that there would not be any disparities in terms of the conditions of service of either category.
Though we were pressed for time to complete the Bill, all the necessary processes were followed. We did justice to the Bill and all political parties represented in the committee debated the Bill in the spirit of team work and of bringing much-needed stability to the sector.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all the members of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training for investing their time and bringing the necessary knowledge of the sector into the discussions. Your fearless participation made this document what it is today. It is a document that we will be proud of throughout our lives.
I would like to thank the state law advisers and the parliamentary legal advisers for working overtime to make sure that we complete this process in time. In particular, we would like to thank the University of Cape Town. We appreciate their making themselves available to help with the reformulation of the definition of the concept “conflict of interest” when requested by the committee to do so.
I now present the motion of desirability, which the entire committee agreed upon: It is the opinion of the committee that legislation is desirable to amend the Further Education and Training Colleges Act of 2006, so that it removes all references to provincial authority; assigns functions previously assigned to the members of the executive council to the Minister; ensures all references to “head of department” are replaced with “director-general”; regulates the conduct of the members of the council and staff of a public FET college engaging in business with the relevant public college; provides afresh for the appointment of staff and provides for the transitional arrangements; and lastly, provides for the matters connected therewith.
Lastly, I take this opportunity to thank everybody who participated in this process to make sure that the Bill is a success. As the ANC, we support the Bill and urge all the parties to support it as well.
Mr A P VAN DER WESTHUIZEN: Hon Speaker and members, I want to start off by congratulating the newly appointed Director-General of the Department of Higher Education and Training, Mr Gwebinkundla Qonde, on his recent appointment. As I hope to show in my speech, he will be faced with an enormous task as far as the FET colleges are concerned.
May I also start off by pointing out that this Bill contains clauses that are deemed to be unconstitutional. These are clauses that were to be catered for in the Constitution Eighteenth Amendment Bill, which was to serve this morning.
The DA believes that training provided at FET colleges has a significant role to play in an open-opportunity society. The Bill that is currently serving before this House will, however, transfer control to the national Minister and will close down many of the opportunities for colleges allowed for in the current legislation.
We are particularly opposed to the transfer of colleges as a concurrent function with the provinces, to a position in which the colleges will become the sole responsibility of the national Department of Higher Education and Training. As I will show later, this is putting the wolf in charge of the sheep.
The substitution of section 20 of the principal Act will, in future, see the bulk of college employees employed in posts on the organisational structure of the national Department of Higher Education and Training. Central control is in direct contradiction to an open opportunity society. It will close the opportunities for college councils to attract staff with exceptional competencies and scarce skills.
Ons besef Minister Nzimande moes iets doen om die openbare kolleges reg te ruk. Wanneer die geskiedenis van Suid-Afrika oor ’n paar dekades geskryf word, sal die verval van ons openbare kolleges in daardie geskiedenisboek beskryf word as een van die groot mislukkings van hierdie regering.
Die wetsontwerp wat ons vandag debatteer, sal hierdie hartseerverhaal van openbare kolleges net verleng. Die kern van die huidige probleme het meer met swak bestuur as swak wetgewing te doen. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)
[We realise that Minister Nzimande had to do something to straighten out public colleges. When South Africa’s history is written a couple of decades from now, the deterioration of our public colleges will be described in that history book as one of the biggest failures of this government.
The Bill that we are debating here today will only prolong this sad story about public colleges. The essence of the current problems is more an issue of poor management than of poor legislation.]
What we see today is a turnaround of a previous turnaround in legislation. We are called to turn back to a previous situation, where public colleges differed only slightly in their management model and service delivery from public schools.
In 2006, in this House, it was argued that public colleges needed the space and funding in order to attract some of the most knowledgeable technicians and artisans from the private sector. That space may be closed down today. The majority of college staff will be transferred to the Public Service, with its fixed salary scales and service conditions. Many will leave the system and, unfortunately, many of these staff members would be those who have numerous opportunities in the private sector.
Minister Pandor, in haar termyn as Minister van Onderwys, het hoë ideale vir ons land se VOO-kolleges gekoester. Sy wou graag sien dat die kolleges ware gemeenskapskolleges sou wees, wat hul programme sou aanpas by plaaslike behoeftes. Hulle sou dwarsdeur die jaar, elke dag en elke aand, vir lang ure oop wees. Deur die dag sou jong studente en werkloses kwalifikasies kon verwerf, terwyl diegene met ander verpligtinge gedurende die dag, saans en oor naweke hul kennis en vaardighede sou kon verbeter. In die proses sou ons die duur infrastruktuur van kolleges veel beter kon benut. Maar, soos in 2006 ook geredeneer is, ons Staatsdiensregulasies maak nie genoegsaam voorsiening vir die buigbaarheid wat so ’n model verg nie.
Minister Pandor wou graag ’n entrepreneuriese gees in die bestuur van hierdie kolleges aanmoedig. Sy wou graag sien dat die kolleges vinnig by die veranderende behoeftes van ’n veranderende arbeidsmark moes kon aanpas en dat hulle genoeg vryheid moes hê om hoër salarisse vir goeie opleiers met skaars vaardighede te kon betaal. Daarom het sy, kragtens die wet van 2006, juis die kern van die personeel van die staat se diens na die kollegerade se diens laat oordra.
As Minister Pandor gekritiseer moet word, sal dit wees omdat daardie wet nie ver genoeg gegaan het om kollegerade ten volle te bemagtig nie. Byvoorbeeld, ten einde steeds direkte en lynfunksiebeheer oor die kolleges te behou, het die vorige wet bepaal dat die senior personeel steeds in die staat se diens sou bly. Wat ’n fout was dit nie! Skielik was dit vir hierdie senior bestuurders van kolleges nie ’n prioriteit om pensioen- en mediese voordele vir hul personeel te beding nie.
Die rede vir die agteruitgang van die kolleges moet nie net by die hoofde en hul beskermde posisies gesoek word nie. Die nasionale Departement van Onderwys en, sedert 2009, die nasionale Departement van Hoër Onderwys en Opleiding het ’n groot aandeel in die agteruitgang van ons openbare kolleges gehad.
Dit is ’n vorige nasionale Minister wat bepaal het dat die kolleges moes amalgameer en, in die proses, die koste van kollege-onderwys veelvoudig verhoog het. Dit is die nasionale departement wat, na vyf jaar se gesloer, nog steeds nie ’n geskikte finansieringsmodel vir VOO-kolleges kon invoer nie. Dit is die nasionale departement wat steeds nie behoorlik voorsiening maak vir finansiering van onderrig op die ná-matriekvlak nie.
Dit is die nasionale Minister wat, jare gelede, by wyse van ’n afkondiging in die Staatskoerant, verklaar het dat die kolleges hul N1- tot N6-opleidingsprogramme moes uitfaseer, welwetend dat alternatiewe programme nie in hul plek ontwikkel was nie. Dit is die nasionale onderwysdepartement wat die nuwe nasionale sertifikaatprogramme vir beroepsgerigte opleiding, ook bekend as NCV, met hul uitermate hoë druipsyfers, ingevoer het.
Dit is die nasionale eksamenafdeling wat eksamenuitslae eers bekend maak nadat leerders reeds vir die hereksamens moes registreer, en wat sukkel om sertifikate binne ’n billike tyd aan leerders te verskaf.
Dit was ongelukkig die provinsies wat die vrae en woede van ouers en leerders moes hanteer. Geen wonder dus dat al die provinsiale Ministers, toe hulle die keuse gegee was, ingestem het dat die nasionale Minister dan maar die verantwoordelikheid vir die kolleges ten volle moet aanvaar.
Ons jong mense verdien beter. Suid-Afrikaners wat smag na beter opleidingsgeleenthede moet weet dat dit nie die bestaande wette is wat ons kolleges in hierdie haglike situasie laat beland het nie. Dit is die nasionale regering se swak bestuur wat hierdie bal laat val het.
Nou wil Minister Nzimande, soos dit die sekretaris-generaal van die Suid-Afrikaanse Kommunistiese Party betaam, mag oor kolleges in Pretoria sentraliseer. Sentrale beheer het in die res van die wêreld nie gewerk nie en, net soos met ander uitgediende konsepte soos uitkomsgebaseerde onderwys, wil ons weer agter uitgediende konsepte aan hardloop.
Hierdie wetsontwerp sal nuwe onsekerhede vir die kollegesektor skep en hul gesukkel verleng. Die DA kan nie hierdie wetsontwerp steun nie. [Applous.] (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)
[Minister Pandor, during her term as Minister of Education, had high hopes for our country’s FET colleges. She eagerly wanted to see that these colleges would be real community colleges, which would adapt their programmes to local needs. Every day and every night, throughout the year, they would have remained open for extended hours. During the day young students and the unemployed would have been able to study towards obtaining qualifications, while those with other obligations during the day would have been able to improve their knowledge and skills in the evenings and over weekends. In the process, we would have been able to utilise the costly infrastructure of colleges in a much better way. But, as was also argued in 2006, our Public Service regulations do not make sufficient provision for the flexibility that such a model requires.
Minister Pandor was keen to encourage an entrepreneurial spirit in the management of these colleges. She wanted to see these colleges having the capacity to adapt quickly to the changing needs of a changing labour market, and having sufficient autonomy to be able to pay higher salaries to good educators with scarce skills. That is precisely why, in terms of the 2006 Act, she had the core staff transferred from the Public Service to serve on the college councils.
If Minister Pandor has to be criticised, it would be because that Act did not go far enough to empower college councils fully. For example, in order to still retain direct and line function control over colleges, the previous Act stipulated that senior personnel would remain within the Public Service. What a mistake this has been! All of a sudden negotiating pension and medical benefits for their staff members no longer seemed to be a priority for senior managers of colleges.
The deterioration of these colleges should be attributed not only to the principals and their protected positions. The national Department of Education and, since 2009, the national Department of Higher Education and Training, played an important role in the deterioraton of our public colleges.
It was a former national Minister who determined that the colleges should be merged, which resulted in multiple increases in the cost of college education in the process. It is the national department that, after a delay of five years, still hasn’t set up a suitable funding model for FET colleges. It is the national department that is still not making adequate provision for the funding of education after matric level.
It is the national Minister who, by way of an announcement in the Government Gazette, declared years ago that the colleges should phase out their N1 to N6 training programmes, knowing full well that alternative programmes had not been developed in their stead. It is the national Department of Education that introduced the new national certificate vocational programmes, also known as NCV programmes, which have extremely high failure rates.
It is the national examination section that is making the examination results public only after learners are required to have registered for the supplementary examinations already, and that is struggling to provide certificates to learners within a reasonable period.
Unfortunately, it was the provinces that had to deal with the questions and anger of both parents and learners. No wonder, therefore, that when all the provincial Ministers were presented with a choice, they agreed that the national Minister should duly take full responsibility for the colleges.
Our young people deserve better. South Africans who are yearning for better training opportunities should be aware of the fact that it is not because of the existing legislation that our colleges have ended up in this precarious position. It is the result of poor management by national government.
Now Minister Nzimande, as befits the general secretary of the South African Communist Party, wants to centralise power over colleges in Pretoria. Centralised power did not work in the rest of the world and, as in the case of other outdated concepts such as outcomes-based education, we want to chase after outdated concepts once again.
This Bill will create new uncertainties for the college sector and will prolong their struggle. The DA cannot support this Bill. [Applause.]]
Mr P D DEXTER: I must start with the disclaimer that I am a new member of this committee. Much of what I know about this Bill has been passed on to me by my colleagues, but be that as it may, I think we can start off by saying that we do agree with the Minister that these are very important institutions. I think that is where the agreement ends, because unfortunately the position of government in this Bill is one that basically says, “to centralise is to improve — there are many instances where centralisation works”.
We are not opposed to centralisation as a principle, but the problems of these very important institutions are myriad. They require vision, sensitivity, investment and real commitment and, as my colleague from the DA has said, these are supposed to be real community institutions. They are not supposed to be appendages of the leviathan. So, with that in mind, we undertook some work to look at what has been the track record of the department in terms of its own management, given that it now wants to take control of these institutions. Unfortunately, it’s not a good one, because the Minister’s own department is a good example of what can go wrong when you put all the power in one place.
Apart from all the problems he has had with his director-general, and the removal of that particular person, the exiting of top staff in the department and the problems at the sector education and training authorities, Setas, are further examples of where the tendency to direct power to the centre has failed. The problems in the Setas have increased rather than being dealt with. A similar problem is the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, NSFAS – here, an institution that had a number of problems has gone from bad to worse as the Minister and his department appropriated power and responsibility from the board.
Our sense is that, while the intentions of government may be good and a genuine sense of wanting to make these colleges work is being verbalised, what is contained in this Bill is going to take us in exactly the opposite direction.
Another example would be the regularisation of the conditions of service of staff. We would agree with that, but why make these people employees of the state? You can make provision for the regularisation of conditions of service without making people employees of the state. What it means is that they would be taking instruction directly from Pretoria rather than from the constituency they are meant to serve. With all that in mind, we as Cope cannot support this Bill.
Mr A M MPONTSHANE: Hon Speaker, may I request those members who don’t understand isiZulu to pick up their devices?
Umbuzo okufanele sizibuze wona uma sibuka lo Mthethosivivinywa ukuthi yini eyenza ukuthi amakolishi, kuze kube manje, angawufezi umsebenzi lo okufanele awufeze wokuletha imfundo esezingeni eliphakeme nokuqeqesha intsha ngamakhono. Impendulo ithi amakolishi kuze kube manje awanabo othisha abaqeqeshwe ezingeni elanele.
Okwesibili, amakolishi lawa awanazo izinsiza kusebenza ezanele. Umbuzo olandelayo uthi-ke, lo Mthethosivivinywa njengoba uhlongozwa ukuthi othisha, uma usudlulile kuleNdlu, kufanele baqashwe uMnyango. Thina njenge-IFP siyakuvuma yini lokho na? Mangisho ukuthi siyakuvuma ukuthi othisha abaqashwe uMnyango ngoba kuze kube yimanje othisha bebeqashwa yizigungu zamakolishi, awukho umehluko owenzekileyo. Bekuthi uma sikhala ngothisha abangaqeqeshiwe, uma siya kuwo uMnyango siwubuze ukuthi kwenzenjani? UMnyango uchaye izandla uthi “akudokwe lethu lelo, yinto lena eqondene nezifundazwe”.
Yingakho-ke sithi sicela ukuthi sibone umehluko uma othisha sebeqashwa uMnyango. Nakuba sinovalo-ke mhlonishwa ukuthi uma seniqasha othisha, kungenzeki lokhu okwenzeka eMnyagweni wezeMfundo, kuqashwe abantu baqashelwe ezikhundleni ezingabafanele. Akuqashwe abantu ezikhundleni abanamakhona okuziphatha. Ngakho-ke ningasidumazi ngokweseka lo Mthethosivivinywa nisebenzisa lokhu kuqasha ngokubonelela.
Okwesithathu, okuphathwa yilo Mthethosivivinywa esikwesekelayo ukuthi izisebenzi eziqashwe uMnyango noma amakolishi zingazibandakanyi emisebenzini esuke yenziwa yikolishi. Lokho siyahambisana nakho ngoba inkohlakalo iningi lapha emnyango. Uma umuntu eqashwe ikhansela noma eyisisebenzi sekolishi abuye futhi atholakale esesesigungwini lesi esiqashayo kumbe esinikeza abantu amathenda. Lokho kwenza kube khona inkohlakalo, yingakho siweseka lo Mthethosivivinywa. Ngiyabonga Somlomo. [Ihlombe.] (Translation of isiZulu paragraphs follows.)
[The question that we must ask ourselves when we look at the Bill is why the colleges are not accomplishing their goal of ensuring a high level of training with regard to equipping the youth with some skills. The answer is that, up to now, the colleges have not had well-trained lecturers.
Secondly, these colleges do not have adequate resources. The next question is, as this Bill suggests that lecturers must be employed by the department: Do we as the IFP agree with that? Let me say that we agree that lecturers must be employed by the department because up to now lecturers were employed by the college executives and there has been no difference. When we complained to the department about untrained lecturers and asked what had gone wrong, we were told that it is not their responsibility, but that of the provinces.
That is why we request to see the difference when the lecturers are employed by the department. Even though we are nervous, hon Minister, we want to caution that when you employ lecturers you must avoid what happened at the department, where people were given positions they did not deserve. Let suitable people who will be able to cope in those positions be employed.
Thirdly, what is mentioned in this Bill, which we also support, is that people who are employed by the department should not be part of the work that is done by the college where they are employed. We support that because there’s a lot of corruption out there. If a person is employed by a councillor or is a college employee and he is part of a panel that is recruiting people or that awards tenders, that might lead to corruption and that is why we support the Bill. Thank you. [Applause.]]
Umnu G S RADEBE: Somlomo, Indvuna, emalunga lahlon, ngitsandza kutsi nangita langembili ngibeke lokwekutsi kuye kuhluphe lokutsi bantfu nabeta lapha ngembili batewunyembenya nje bangayati intfo lebayikhulumako. Umuntfu longakaze ete ekomidini afike atewukhuluma emaphosiso lapha embikwebantfu labahlonipheke kangaka, uyahlupha.
Lilunga lelihlon, Umnu. Dexter kwangatsi angetama kutsi ahlanganyele kanye natsi atekwati kutivela ngetindlebe takhe tintfo letikhulunywa kulemihlangano lesiyibambako. (Translation of Siswati paragraphs follows.)
[Mr G S RADEBE: Speaker, hon Minister, hon members, as I come before you, I want to point out that it is not good that when people are given the platform, they just criticise for the sake of criticising. A person who has never attended a committee meeting comes and tells falsehoods in front of these honourable people, which is worrying.
The hon member Mr Dexter should try to be part of us so he could hear for himself the issues that we discuss in these meetings that we attend.]
The Department of Higher Education and Training is the pillar of society, whereas the FET institution is the backbone and economic hub of the country. Why should the DA oppose the amendment of this Bill? It is intended to contribute positively to the FET colleges. Is it because they don’t want to move away from apartheid laws and keep all the benefits to themselves because they continue to oppress disadvantaged people? This will be the first time the FET colleges become a national responsibility and we believe that, as it becomes a national responsibility, Minister Nzimande will ensure that these FET colleges operate accordingly.
One of the challenges that needs strong attention in the FET sector is conflict of interest. Hon Minister, procurement processes have not been followed properly in most of the FET colleges. Minister, given that you are taking over the responsibility of overseeing the sector, please pay attention to this and tighten the bolts on procurement processes.
The experience of Lephalale FET College, where the former CEO, Mr Raath, was investigated by the ANC-led Limpopo provincial government and charged with misconduct, is a good example of where a former CEO has taken a very unfair decision. He failed to develop and implement an effective and efficient supply chain management system and financial controls. He also continued to misuse his position to support his daughter and Mr Coetzee. These are some of the reasons that the FET sector needs special attention. I could mention so many examples.
Haeba o hopola hantle, bekeng e fetileng re ne re le mane Bloemfontein, Motheo FET College, moo re neng re etsa Tekolo ya tswelopele teng. Re fumane mehlolo teng. Letona, mmoho le Molaodi Kakaretso wa hao, re kopa le shebisise hantle taba ya Kholetjhe ya Motheo FET. Le kene dipakeng ka tsela e ikgethang ... (Translation of Sesotho paragraph follows.)
[If you remember, last week we were in Bloemfontein, at Motheo FET College, where we were carrying out our oversight duties. We found some amazing things. Minister, as well as your director-general, we would like for you to look carefully into the matter concerning Motheo FET College. You must intervene in a special kind of way ...]
... so that the FET colleges can operate properly. The FET Bill, in clause 76, seeks to remove all references to provincial authorities and functions of members of executive councils and change it to Ministers and functions of the HOD and the director-general. It regulates the conduct of the council members and staff of public colleges not to engage in business with the relevant colleges.
Hon Minister, Napoleon Hill says, and I quote:
Don’t look for opportunities in the far distances of space and time but embrace them right where you are because where you are already has the perfection and the balance.
Full accessibility of colleges should not be a problem. I mean there should be flexibility at colleges so that students can access them and use them on weekends and after hours. I believe this will contribute positively to the students’ results.
Clause 14 of the Bill deals with the state’s responsibilities and giving the Minister power to allocate funds and monitor such funds according to norms and standards. The only concern the opposition has with this Bill is with subsection 3 and nothing else, as it deals with addressing the inequalities that have been experienced in this sector.
The monitoring of the proper functioning of these institutions is a responsibility that cannot be relegated anywhere else. Minister, don’t worry, victory is certain. We shall overcome. Churchill once said, “In victory we deserve it, in defeat we need it.” I think the DA will be sad when we continue to address the inequalities and they will need something to deal with it.
I have said this before, Minister: The portfolio committee will continue to support you. Continue with the sterling work that you are doing. It is very important that we understand why the opposition is doing this. It is because they know very well that they will never lead this country in their lifetime.
Mr N M KGANYAGO: Deputy Speaker, hon members, the Bill before Parliament today aims to transfer the responsibility for FET colleges from provinces to the Department of Higher Education and Training.
South Africa suffers from a skills shortage of epic proportions. We acknowledge that FET colleges have not been utilised effectively to address our country’s skills shortage. Although the UDM has serious reservations about the transfer of FET colleges from provinces to the national Department of Higher Education and Training, given the challenges centralisation always creates and the fact that FET colleges will be better served in the Department of Basic Education, we would like to give the government the benefit of the doubt.
This doubt arises from the fact that in some of the FET colleges we observed that more time was given to theory than to practical work, especially with people who wanted to be artisans. People who came through such colleges could define concepts in highfalutin English, but they could not produce what we expected them to produce. So, we want people from these colleges to come out with more saleable skills and not just with definitions of concepts. The UDM supports the Bill.
Mr K J DIKOBO: Deputy Speaker, hon members and guests, with this Bill the head of department and member of the executive council are replaced respectively by the director-general and Minister, among other things.
The change is more than technical because it effectively transfers FET colleges from provincial education departments to the Department of Higher Education and Training. Azapo supports this move, as we consider it a waste of resources to have a provincial chief directorate that is responsible for two or six FET colleges, depending on how many FET colleges each province has.
The Bill also reverses what was done by the FET Colleges Act of 2006, where college lecturers and other employees were transferred and made employees of college councils. We opposed the move then, arguing that that effectively privatised FET colleges and went against the idea of a single, seamless Public Service.
While the Bill has caused unease among teacher trade unions, with fears that the Bill might result in the FET sector disappearing into the forest that is the existing collective bargaining arrangement, Azapo is convinced that parties could use the existing Labour Relations Act and, through the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council, PSCBC, designate a new sector for the FET colleges. Azapo therefore supports the Further Education and Training Colleges Amendment Bill. [Applause.]
Mr C M MONI: Madam Deputy Speaker, hon Ministers and hon members of this Assembly, maybe we should start off by indicating that education has been declared a national priority and then indicate what the amending Bill seeks to do.
The administrative functions and powers entrusted by the Further Education and Training Colleges Act, Act 16 of 2006, were transferred to the Ministry of Higher Education and Training by Proclamation No 44 of 2009, published in the Government Gazette No 32367 of 1 July 2009. All this could not have been done if there was confusion about education in our country. This was done in terms of section 97 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. This process was driven by Parliament and to all intents and purposes further education and training, FET, colleges fell under higher Education and Training. There is no confusion in this regard. This means that further education and training colleges are an exclusively national competency instead of a concurrent competency between national and provincial education departments.
The Bill wants to remove all reference to provincial authority in the Act and insert national authority in the form of the Minister and director-general in the place of a head of department. The criticism that is being levelled at the Bill indicates a preference for the status quo to remain and therefore there is no need for the amending Bill. In a nutshell, this suggests that we must have a federal approach to FET colleges. The problem with this approach is that it says authority must be given to provinces but the Minister should be held responsible for FET colleges. The MECs account to provincial legislatures and the Minister accounts to Parliament. Simply put, Parliament cannot give authority to the Minister and hold MECs responsible.
The other area that has invited criticism is that of governance in these institutions. For instance, conflict of interest is an issue that must be dealt with in all public institutions. The opposing sentiment has it that there may be unintended consequences if these institutions are not allowed to contract their members of staff and other employees.
It is also understood by us that the opposition has a different view with regard to ministerial intervention in instances of maladministration and crippling corruption. The Bill is suggesting that the Minister must appoint an administrator in such situations. What we hear is that this is giving the Minister too much power. These institutions must have some independence and/or autonomy. Apparently this independence relates to procurement and deployment. Despite the fact that FET colleges are a national competency, procurement and deployment should be the preserve of these institutions in the name of academic independence or autonomy. It is difficult to reconcile with this sentiment.
Lastly, the amending Bill wants to deal with duality in the conditions of employment and related matters. One would imagine that collective bargaining processes would finally settle the matter and protect those who are exposed to discriminatory and exploitative practices.
Apha sithetha ngeemeko ezingamkelekanga. Kukho abantu abasebenza ishumi leminyaka nangaphezulu, abaphuma neebhatyi zabo kuphela xa bephelelwa okanye kufike ithuba lokuyeka impangelo. Lo Mthetho uYilwayo uthi: “Izibonelelo mazifane ngomsebenzi ofanayo nolinganayo. (Translation of isiXhosa paragraph follows.)
[We are talking about unacceptable conditions. There are people who work for 10 or more years, who retire without any benefits, but only take their jackets when that time comes. This Bill states that the benefits must be the identical for equal and same duties performed.]
There is an issue that I cannot ignore. The folks that have been put in charge of the ship will have to be capacitated by law to co-ordinate the sector and attract the best skills to public institutions, instead of their being attracted to the private sector, as was suggested by the official Opposition.
Secondly, all the unpalatable things that are happening in the sector currently are not happening because of these amendments to the Act, but are issues that have invited the amending Bill we are debating currently. For instance, one of my colleagues indicated that in some instances it is difficult for the Minister to act because authority lies with provinces in those cases. Now the authority is given to the Minister. If he does not act, Parliament will have to act. [Applause.]
UNGQONGQOSHE WEMFUNDO EPHAKEME KANYE NOKUQEQESHA: Ngiyabonga kakhulu Sekela Somlomo namaLungu ePhalamende ahloniphekile, ngicela ukuqala ngokubonga kuwo wonke amaqembu aseka lo Mthethosivivinywa njengonegxathu elibalulekile ekutheni sikwazi ukubhekana nodaba lokuthi ikakhulukazi intsha yakithi kanye nabantu abadala bathole amakhono, bakwazi ukuziphilisa noma bakwazi ukuzisebenza.
Ngicela ukubonga kumbutho wami uKhongolose ngokuthi weseke lo Mthethosivivinywa, ngibonge nakwi-IFP ne-Azapo namanye amaqembu asisekele. (Translation of isiZulu paragraphs follows.)
[The MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING: Thank you very much, Madam Deputy Speaker and hon Members of Parliament. I will start by thanking all the parties that support this Bill as it has an important role to play in the development of the skills of our youth as well as adults, in order for them to fend for themselves or to be self-employed.
I would like to thank my organisation for supporting this Bill, as well as the IFP, Azapo and other parties that have supported us.]
I think it is important to say this: Being in opposition must not mean being opportunistic or hypocritical. The MEC here in the Western Cape has been at all the meetings with us and fully endorsed the measures that we are taking today. Now, just because we are here in the House, in front of the media, he is taking a completely different position. That is opportunism, not opposition.
It is also not true that, in order for this Bill to become an Act and be effective, it has to be preceded by a constitutional amendment. That is not true. Laws that vest administration in a national department are allowed within the context of our Constitution.
There is no contradiction between national competence and responsiveness to local and regional needs by FET colleges. In fact, our strategy is simply that it must be a nationally driven, but locally responsive strategy. I am not surprised that hon Dexter has forgotten about this, because you can’t jump from the SACP to Cope and forget about this. [Interjections.] If properly managed, the national and local spheres can actually make a much bigger impact. For Cope to come and say that things have gone from bad to worse is not true. I am not surprised because hon Dexter, who is saying this, has not even attended a single committee meeting discussing this.
As a matter of fact, some of the interventions that we have made in the FET colleges, like the fact that poor learners who are doing national technical education, Nated, courses and national certificate vocational, NCV, courses now do not have to pay a cent, have actually increased the number of poor students who want to attend these FET colleges.
I don’t know what his problem with the sector education and training authorities, Setas, is. Again, in the main, in the Setas we are really and surely chasing away the tenderpreneurs — unless hon Dexter has a problem with that. There is already improvement and better relations between the Setas and the FET colleges. So, all that we have touched thus far has turned into gold.
The necessity for FET colleges to be a national competence is also so that we can align them with other national institutions, like the universities and Setas. Then you won’t have a disjuncture whereby national institutions can’t align properly with institutions that are a provincial responsibility, because it’s an uneven situation — a situation, by the way, that also faces the Minister of Health. That is something that we will need to address.
I think that it is also unfortunate for hon Dexter that he was a board member of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, NSFAS, at the time when this scheme was getting qualified audits. For the first time this year, over the past financial year, the NSFAS received an unqualified audit, which shows that we are making progress. [Applause.]
Bab’uMpontshane siyabonga kakhulu, ngiyayizwa yonke lento oyishoyo. Sizobambisana ekutheni senze isiqiniseko ukuthi izinto zisetshenzwa ngendlela eyiyo kulawa makolishi. Lawa makolishi abaluleke kakhulu ekusaseni lezingane zethu kanye nakwelabantu abadala.
Elungeni elihloniphekile uRadebe, udaba lwase-Motheo, eFree State siyalubheka. Sizoqhubeka futhi sizibheke izinkinga ezikuleliya kolishi. Sengathi-ke sithi kubo bonke abantu bakithi ngalo mthetho, masibambisane ikakhulukazi abasebenzi nabantu bakithi abangena lutho ukuze sikwazi ukuthi isizwe sakithi sithole amakhono afanelekile. Ngiyabonga. [Ihlombe.] (Translation of isiZulu paragraphs follows.)
[Hon Mpontshane, thank you very much, I understand everything you are saying, and we will work together in ensuring that things are done properly at these colleges. These colleges play a very important role in our children’s future, as well as that of the adults.
To hon Radebe, we are looking at the issue of Motheo FET College in the Free State. And we will continue looking into the challenges that college faces. We are, therefore, saying to all our people that, with this Bill, we need to work together with the staff and our people who are poor so that our nation can receive appropriate skills. Thank you. [Applause.]]
Bill read a second time (Democratic Alliance, Congress of the People and Freedom Front Plus dissenting).
HIGHER EDUCATION LAWS AMENDMENT BILL
(Second Reading debate)
The MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING: Sekela Somlomo, engathi kuyacaca impela ukuthi i-Cope iyasondelela lapha ku-DA - iyogcina igwinyiwe ngendlela engibona izinto zihamba ngayo. [Madam Deputy Speaker, it really looks as if Cope is getting closer to the DA – and the way I see things unfolding, it will end up being absorbed by it.]
Hon Deputy Speaker, Cabinet colleagues, Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training, members of the committee, hon members, the success of building an integrated, responsive, differentiated, but highly articulated postschool education and training system depends largely, though not exclusively, on effective and good governance across all its institutions.
To this end, good and clean governance is a critical component of a healthy higher education sector. At the heart of this is also the necessity to fight corruption wherever it occurs and to create a system where corrupt activities are prevented or, at the very least, detected before they occur.
Experience has shown that where good and effective governance is lacking, learning and teaching at our universities often suffer. I have heard of many cases where allegations have been made about some university council members, managers, union leaders and student representatives gaining, through somewhat questionable and corrupt practices, access to public resources for higher education. Government provides significant funding towards higher education and we must demand that these funds are well invested for the benefit of the academic enterprise.
Poor families sacrifice greatly to ensure that their children obtain the best quality education, and we should therefore not allow corruption to fail them. Managers must manage, lecturers must teach and research and our students must be given the best opportunity to learn.
Another related matter, not incorporated into this Bill but important to raise, is that at some universities student representatives have demanded and secured representation on university tender committees. This is unacceptable, as it has the potential to corrupt student politics and student leaders. Students go to university to study and not to be involved in decisions about tenders. We want students to come out, at the very least, as entrepreneurs and not tenderpreneurs.
I intend introducing the necessary legislative amendments next year and I call upon all student formations in the meantime to actively dissuade their student representative council leaders from being part of tender committees. [Applause.]
This Bill therefore seeks to implement some of the resolutions adopted by participants at the stakeholder summit on higher education in April 2010, committing the sector to the principles of good governance and public accountability
The Bill aims to regulate the conduct of members of the council, staff and students at universities, in relation to their supply chain management processes. In short, this means that if you are a council member sitting on a university council, you cannot afford to have a company that you either own or are a director of benefiting from those tenders without open and upfront declaration of your possible conflict of interest.
The Bill also aims to adjust the period within which an independent assessor for universities, where there are problems or matters to be investigated, as appointed by the Minister, must finalise an investigation.
Furthermore, the Bill introduces some changes in terms of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, NSFAS. It deals with improving the governance, management and functionality of the NSFAS. It aims, among other matters, to amend the National Student Financial Aid Scheme Act, Act 56 of 1999 and to empower the Minister to intervene in the case of poor or non performance or maladministration by the board, as well as setting out the procedures for dissolution of the board.
It further provides for the appointment of an administrator temporarily to take over the management, governance and administration of the board and repeals the provisions placing an obligation on the employer of a borrower to make deductions from the remuneration of the borrower.
This latter point, in the main, came from the recommendations from a report of the ministerial committee on the review of the NSFAS. That is why we welcome and agree with the recommendation of the portfolio committee that this section, which forces the employer to deduct money from an employee who owes NSFAS, without his or her consent, is unconstitutional. In so doing we are not creating a situation where those who have to pay back money to the NSFAS do not pay. That is why the department has already started work to introduce a constitutionally compliant section of the NSFAS Act to enable the NSFAS to recover loan payments directly through the taxation system, working together with Sars.
Let me take this opportunity to thank the chairperson of the portfolio committee, Adv Malale, and all members of the committee for the work they have done in piloting this piece of legislation and for the public hearings they held. Let me also again thank the director general, Mr Qonde, and senior management in my department for all the work that they have done and also for assisting the portfolio committee.
Ngiyafisa ke sengiphetha ukuyigcizelela lento Sekela Somlomo nawe bab’ uMpontshane, hhayi bakithi izingane zethu ake ziphume ekutheni esikhundleni sokuthi zifunde izincwadi ziyofunda izinto ezingalungile ngokuthatha izinqumo ukuthi ithenda ethize kufanele iye kubani. Yiyo lento edala izinkinga ezingaka kwezinye izikhungo zethu. Ngiyabonga kakhulu Sekela Somlomo. (Translation of isiZulu paragraph follows.)
[In conclusion, I want to emphasise this issue, Madam Deputy Speaker and hon Mpontshane: No, good people, our children should concentrate on studying rather than on learning inappropriate things such as taking decisions about which tender should be awarded to whom. This is the issue that causes problems at some of our institutions. Thank you very much, Madam Deputy Speaker.]
Mr M I MALALE: Hon Deputy Speaker, Ministers and members of the House, I must indicate that there are very important interventions that have been introduced by this Bill, which we processed on 13 September this year. Members of the committee across the political spectrum were in agreement with this Bill, including the DA. The only concern that was raised by Dr Kloppers-Lourens was that perhaps section 23 of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme Act should be retained. I think she will be happy to know that the NSFAS, like any other institution, is entitled to recoup any monies through the National Credit Act. So, there is no need specifically for this section to be retained as it stands, particularly in the light of very considered views of legal experts that it may not pass constitutional muster.
The Bill further amends the principal Act, particularly section 34. It does so by introducing a legal duty with regard to the employees of our public institutions of higher education, members of councils and even members of council committees — which may also include SRC members who might serve on tender boards because, I assume, those are also committees of council — which precludes them, in terms of this section, from entering into business transactions with universities to which they are attached. We believe this will ensure greater accountability in the institutions.
The little amendment which we introduced in this respect was to avert absolute prohibition and to permit only transactions in which, for instance, a professor would provide a unique product, such as a book, which may not be produced by any other person, as a sole provider. It was members of the ANC, IFP and Azapo who were radical on this aspect. The DA was very half-hearted about introducing the question of controlling conflict of interest between members of council and the institutions. I know why. It is because most of their members are actually working at these universities. So, they don’t want you to touch universities. You can talk about any other thing elsewhere. But I supported Dr Kloppers-Lourens. We were only defeated by the committee. So, the DA must support us on this Bill.
The Bill further addresses a lacuna that was found in the National Student Financial Aid Scheme Act, where the Minister was not permitted to intervene when there was dysfunctionality or malpractices in institutions. So, the hon Dexter’s argument is neither here nor there because the Minister has never, at any time, engaged in any unwarranted intrusion into the affairs of universities. In fact, it is only now that we permit the Minister, when there is corruption or ill deeds, to intervene and make sure that he gives directives to the board of the NSFAS to ensure corrective action.
In the event of recalcitrance, the Minister is empowered to dissolve the board and appoint an administrator for a period not exceeding two years and six months to address the situation that may be affecting the particular institution. The only aspect we addressed, hon Dexter, was that in terms of the little alterations we introduced, there should be no coexistence of an administrator and a board. In an instance where the Minister seeks to appoint an administrator, that must herald the dissolution of the board.
Those were the points that were addressed in terms of this small Bill. I must indicate that all of us are in agreement.
I must take this moment to thank the Ministry and the Department of Higher Education and Training, the parliamentary advisory services and the state law advisers for advising the committee throughout the process of dealing with the Bills before us. We request Parliament to approve this Bill with the amendments, as introduced by the committee. [Applause.]
Dr J C KLOPPERS-LOURENS: Madam Deputy Speaker, the DA supports the three objectives of the Bill, namely, in the first place, to regulate the conduct of members of a council and employees of a public higher education institution engaging in business with the relevant public higher education institution. This amendment will enhance transparent administration and will ensure that the functions will be performed in the best interests of the institution.
Secondly, the DA supports the adjustment of the timeframe within which an independent assessor must finalise an investigation conducted at an institution of higher education from 30 days to a period not exceeding 90 days. This will enable the assessor to complete his or her various functions without having time constraints.
Thirdly, we support the amendment of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme Act, Act 56 of 1999, referred to as the NSFAS Act, so as to empower the Minister to intervene in cases of poor or nonperformance or maladministration by the board of the NSFAS, as well as to provide for the dissolution of the NSFAS board and the appointment of an administrator temporarily to take over the management, governance and administration of the board.
The DA, however, does not support clause 4A(6), which states that the costs associated with the appointment of an administrator shall be for the account of the NSFAS. Section 5(1)(a) of the NSFAS Act states that members of the board are appointed by the Minister according to the criteria and requirements stipulated in subsections (1) to (5). It is the Minister’s responsibility to appoint a competent board.
If the Minister reaches the stage where he “must dissolve the board and appoint an administrator to take over the functions of the board”, it should be at the cost of his department, not for the account of the NSFAS. The aim of the NSFAS, according to section 2(2) of the NSFAS Act, is solely “to provide financial aid to eligible students who meet the criteria for admission to a higher education programme”. The cost of an administrator and his staff, over a maximum period of two and a half years, might be enormous.
I just want to correct hon Malale — he must have misunderstood me. The DA is in agreement with the Minister when it comes to the repeal of section 23. Let me explain: Regarding the repeal of section 23 of the NSFAS Act, the DA supports it in so far as it deals with the removal of the unconstitutional obligation of an employer regarding the recovery of loans. The unconstitutionality is contained in subsection (5), which states that “an employer who fails to make a deduction and payment in accordance with this section is guilty of an offence”. This obligation is considered to be an infringement of an employer’s right, because section 34 of the Constitution states:
Everyone has the right to have any dispute that can be resolved by the application of law decided in a fair public hearing before a court or, where appropriate, another independent and impartial tribunal or forum.
The DA therefore supports the repeal of section 23 in its current form, but we believe that an alternative procedure to recover loan payments should be considered. It should be borne in mind that the removal of the entire section 23 may reduce the effectiveness of the debtor collections of the NSFAS, as the largest portion of its debt collection is derived from payroll deductions. [Applause.]
Mr P D DEXTER: Deputy Speaker, it is unfortunate that I try to be constructive in my inputs, but when the Minister responds he resorts to some rather personal statements about me. However, it is to be expected. The Minister has always been a little reactionary in a red tie. He talks left and walks right.
The Higher Education Act of 1997 and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme Act of 1999 are being amended with a view to tightening financial controls and regulating the behaviour of board members. On the face of it, these are worthy goals. A closer reading of the Bill shows that at the same time the Bill is centralising power in the Minister’s hands and increasing his ability to interfere in and destroy the functioning of the bodies in question, rather than confining him to his essential duty of providing leadership, in the same way as the with previous Bill. I think there is a pattern that we see emerging here.
Financial mismanagement is commonplace in many government-appointed bodies and everyone is sympathetic about measures that will allow for the implementation of better controls. However, it is disconcerting that we see distinguished and highly educated South Africans, who are being called to serve the great cause of higher education, being appointed with a view to continuing to interrupt them and stop them from carrying out their fiduciary duties.
The borderline between control and interference is often indistinguishable. For instance, when the Minister says — to assert one of the objectives that this Bill seeks — that a council member will have “knowledge and experience relevant to the objects and governance of the public higher education institution concerned”, we would agree with him. In fact, we would go further. We would like to say that the person should have proven knowledge and experience. This would give a better guarantee that the new council members would conduct their duties with the confidence that comes from proven experience, but one only has to look at the current National Student Financial Aid Scheme board members to see that this is not the case.
It is unfortunate for the Minister that I know them — they are my former comrades. These people are not qualified to be on that body. Of course when you put such people there, you have to interfere with them when they do not know what they are doing. Therefore, the Minister is drafting legislation to cover up for what he has done in maladministering his department, and that is the wrong way to draft legislation. [Applause.]
Cope agrees with the provision that has to be made for the disclosure of financial interests and for all sorts of declarations and things. But what we are really objecting to is that the Minister is now allowed to interfere when people have failed to comply with any directive he gives. The problem is, if his directives are wrong and against the fiduciary duties of the board members, he should not be allowed to do that. No Minister should. That is the problem that we face here. So, we are not opposed to where he wants to go, but the road that he wants to go on, Comrade Jeremy, is not to the left, but to the right, and that is the problem.
We are talking about centralisation. We are talking about more and more power to one individual. That is neither democratic nor progressive, and it’s certainly not left. [Applause.]
Mr A M MPONTSHANE: Hon Deputy Speaker ...
... ngisakhula, ngifunda esikoleni samazinga aphansi, othisha babesimashisa. Ilungu elihloniphekile lingikhumbuza sesithi: “Left, right! Left, right! Left, right!” [Uhleko.]
Kafushane, lo Mthethosivivinywa olapha ngaphambili kwethu ukhuluma ngokubeka izinto obala [transparency]. Ukubeka izinto obala siyakholelwa thina njenge-IFP ukuthi kuyingxenye ebalulekile yokuphatha okuhle [good governance]. NgokoMthethosivivinywa umbuzo uthi: Ngobani laba okufanele babeke izinto obala?
Okokuqala, amalungu esigungu senyuvesi. UMthethosivivinywa uthi uma amalungu esigungu ... [Ubuwelewele.] (Translation of isiZulu paragraphs follows.)
[... when I grew up, when I was still in primary school, teachers used to make us march. The hon member just reminded me of when we would say: “Left, right! Left, right! Left, right! [Laughter.]
In short, this Bill before us now is talking about transparency. We as the IFP believe that transparency is the key to good governance. According to this Bill the question is: Who needs to be transparent?
Firstly, it is the members of the council of the university. The Bill says if the board members ... [Interjections.]]
I don’t know who is making tribal noises over there!
Amalungu esigungu kufanele ukuthi uma enezinkampani athola kuzo amajuphana akubeke obala lokho.
Abantu besibili okufanele babeke izinto obala, izisebenzi zenyuvesi. Nazo futhi kufanele zibeke obala - amabhizinisi ezithola kuwo amantshontsho. Yini-ke eyenza thina njenge-IFP sikweseke lokhu ukuthi laba esengibabalile babeke izinto obala. Izithuba eziningi uthola amanyuvesi esebenzisa lokhu abathi ngesilungu i-university autonomy, okwenza ukuthi kubekhona izinto eziningi ezicashileyo.
Zolo lokhu sibonile eNyuvesi yaKwaZulu kusuka umsindo omkhulu ngenxa yokuthi bekukhona ezisebenzini abanamathenda kumbe izinkampani ezingaziwa. Sibonile naseNyuvesi yaseVenda kusuka umsindo omningi ngenxa yabo njalo abantu abathola imisebenzi ezinkampanini kodwa kungazi muntu. Y ingakho sithi lo Mthethosivivinywa othi makubekwe obala zonke izinto siweseka.
Sekela Somlomo, okwesithathu sengigcina, sengihlala phansi, isigatshana lesi esiphathelene ne- National Student Financial Aid Scheme, NSFAS, siyakweseka konke lokhu okuqukethwe uMthethosivivinywa, kodwa siyacela ukuthi minyaka yonke kuvamisile ukuthi kube khona izindwadla zezimala ezibuyela emuva zingasetshenziswanga ze-NSFAS esicela ukuthi umhlonishwa akubheke ngeso eliphuthumayo lokho, ngoba kuyasikhathaza ukuthi abafundi beswele emanyuvesi, benezikweletu, abanye baze benziwe lento okuthiwa i-blacklisting, kodwa kube kukhona izimali ezibuyela emumva zingasetshenzisiwe.
Elinye iphuzu esicela ukuthi umhlonishwa alibhekisise lapha, siyazi ukuthi amanyuvesi asayinda isivumelwano nomhlonishwa uNgqongqoshe omlandelile ukuthi amanyuvesi avumele abafundi ukuthi bangene nakuba bengenayo imali ekhokhwayo uma uqala ukungena enyuvesi, kodwa amanyuvesi amaningi awakwenzi lokhu. Uthola ukuthi izingane eziningi azikwazi ukungena emanyuvesi ngoba zingenayo le mali yokuqalisa ukungena enyuvesi.
Sicela-ke mhlonishwa ukuthi uma ungangenelela ukuthi amanyuvesi akwenze lokho. Sibonile-ke, sengihlala phansi ngempela ngempela manje, ukuthi umnyango uzamile ukuthi zonke lezi zinkampani ze-credit bureau, ezenza amagama abafundi abampisholo baba-blacklist, umnyango uzamile ukuthi asulwe onke lawo macala, kodwa kukhona abasasele kulobo bumnyama lobo.
Besicela thina njenge-IFP, ngoba akusizi uku-blacklist umfundi, ngoba uma sebekwi-blacklist akabe esawuthola ngisho umsebenzi. Abanye mhlonishwa banezikweletu abanazo izitifiketi, amanyuvesi awazidedeli izitifiketi zabafundi ngoba kuthiwa bayakweleta. Ngiyabonga-ke mhlonishwa, ngicabanga ukuthi kuyoba njalo njengoba sikhuluma. [Ihlombe.] (Translation of isiZulu paragraphs follows.)
[Members of the council need to disclose whether they have companies that generate any form of income.
Secondly, the people who need to be transparent are the employees of the university. They have to disclose whether they have businesses that generate income. What makes us, as the IFP, support the disclosure of information from the above-mentioned people is that, in most cases you find the universities using what they call university autonomy, which leads to many indiscreet things happening.
Not so long ago, there was a heated argument at the University of Zululand because there were people amongst the employees who had obtained tenders or had undisclosed companies. It happened again at the University of Venda, where people had got jobs at companies and nobody knew about them. That is why we support the transparency Bill.
Deputy Speaker, in conclusion, before I leave the floor, the clause about the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, NSFAS, supports all that is in the Bill, but we would like the Minister to attend to the issue of the money that is returned to the department that is never used, because it worries us that there are poor students at the universities who are in debt, and some are even blacklisted, but there are monies that are never used.
We know that the universities signed the agreement with the former Minister that they have to admit students even if they do not have the registration fee, but most universities do not comply, so we would like the hon Minister to attend to that. You find that many students are not admitted because they do not have the registration fee.
So, we urge the Minister to intervene so that the universities can comply. We have seen that — before I take my seat, seriously now — the department has tried to get all the credit bureaus which blacklist black students to clear their names, but there are still those who are blacklisted.
As the IFP we believe that it does not help to blacklist students, because once they are blacklisted they cannot even secure jobs. Others have debt and do not have certificates — the universities do not release the certificates because the students owe them money. Thank you, hon Deputy Speaker, I think it is going to be as we are saying. [Applause.]]
Mrs W J NELSON: Deputy Speaker, Minister of Higher Education and Training, Ministers and Deputy Ministers, hon members and ladies and gentlemen, section 29(1)(a) and (b) of the Constitution states that:
Everyone has the right —
a) to a basic education, including adult basic education; and to further education:
b) which the state, through reasonable measures, must make progressively available and accessible.
The National Student Financial Aid Scheme, NSFAS, was established by a statute, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme Act, Act 56 of 1999. The role that this scheme has played in ensuring access to further and higher education and training cannot be overlooked. Since its inception, the NSFAS has ensured that the right provided for in the Constitution is progressively realised. The scheme seeks to impact on South Africa’s historically skewed students by providing a sustainable financial aid system that enables academically deserving and financially needy students to meet their own and the country’s development needs.
Hon members, before 2007, the scheme provided financial aid to students in higher education institutions only. However, in 2007 the Education Laws Amendment Act was passed. This expanded the responsibilities of NSFAS to include the granting of financial aid to students at FET colleges through what is called the further education and training colleges bursary scheme.
In debating the Higher Education Laws Amendment Bill, I will focus on the insertion of section 17A(1) in Chapter 2(A) of the Act. This section deals with the appointment of an administrator to take over the management, governance and administration of the NSFAS, as well as to perform the functions of the NSFAS, if financial or other maladministration is detected or the board requests that an administrator be appointed.
The ANC is pleased with the insertion of the above clause because, as it currently stands’ the National Student Financial Aid Scheme Act does not have any provisions that give the Minister the power to remove the board, or the power to appoint new board members. The only power the Minister had, as revealed by the findings of the ministerial committee on the review of the scheme, was to persuade individual board members to vacate their positions, and if they refused to do so, the Minister did not have any recourse. We are also pleased to see that the recommendations of the ministerial committee are being implemented to improve the efficiency of the scheme.
In order to illustrate the importance of this insertion, I would like to give the following illustration. Unfortunately, hon Dexter has left, but for his information and also for the information of the House, the scheme has, since 2008, been plagued with many problems. Therefore, I must inform hon Dexter that the problems in the NSFAS were there before the Minister was actually the Minister of Higher Education and Training.
The scheme has been plagued by the high attrition of chairpersons of the board, as well as of chief executive officers. From 2008 to February 2010 the scheme had three chief executive officers and it has been without a chief executive officer since late February this year. It was reported by the newly appointed chairperson of the board that they had to terminate the chief executive officer’s contract for undisclosed reasons and that the matter was with the courts. Similarly, the scheme has had three board chairpersons in the same number of years. From this, one is able to see that there were problems in the organisation which prevented the senior management from focusing on the core issues within the organisation.
Hon Dexter, again it is for this reason that we are saying that a situation such as this needed the Minister’s intervention in terms of what is envisaged by the insertion of section 17A(1). However, due to the lack of a provision in the Act in this regard, no serious interventions could be made. This led to a disclaimer of opinion and matters of emphasis in the 2009-10 annual report by the Auditor-General.
Matters flagged in the previous audit reports were not dealt with due to the existence of conflicts between senior managers and management. These conflicts hindered the efficient running of the scheme. Again the review committee made various findings. Among these findings were inappropriate appointments to senior management positions, the absence of a performance management system, poorly defined job descriptions, senior management vacancies, temporary appointments and poor management of the internal information flow, which all contributed to the inefficiencies within the NSFAS.
Hon members, due to the lack of provisions in the principal Act, namely giving the Minister the powers to intervene, problems persisted and compromised the ability of the scheme in executing its mandate. As the ANC, we believe that the insertion of this section and matters connected therewith will go a long way towards giving the Minister the power to remove a board and appoint an administrator whenever necessary. We have also agreed that an administrator cannot co-exist with a dysfunctional board. Therefore, for the reasons as cited, the ANC supports the insertion of this and the other sections of the Bill. [Applause.]
Mr K J DIKOBO: Hon Deputy Speaker, hon members, one of the contentious issues raised by some of the organisations that made submissions, particularly institutions of higher education, was the matter of trade restrictions placed on council members and employees of universities. Azapo believes that it is unethical for people who sit in council meetings and on other council committees to do business with those universities. They are part of the budgeting process; they know what has been allocated and for what. That they are expected to recuse themselves when their tenders are considered does not erase the fact that they have inside information and therefore have an unfair advantage over the other competitors.
Briefly stated, Azapo says: Under no circumstances should council members have business dealings with their universities. Those individuals who decide to do business with universities should decline appointment to university councils.
We have grudgingly accepted conditions under which members of staff can be allowed to do business with their universities. If we are serious in our fight against corruption and graft, we cannot allow a situation where college council members take turns allocating business to each other while arguing that they were not there when decisions to award contracts were made. Basically, what happens is that while a member has recused himself or herself, the others are made to take care of his or her interests. So, they take turns awarding business to each other.
Azapo therefore supports the Higher Education Laws Amendment Bill.
Mr Z S MAKHUBELE: Deputy Speaker, hon Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Members of Parliament and the newly appointed director-general, I greet you all this afternoon. The Higher Education Laws Amendment Bill seeks to further transform and strengthen the system of higher education. The Bill is meant to attend to technical amendments in order to conform to the changes introduced by the President in this Fourth Parliament.
Notably there were gaps in the principal Act with regard to the regulation of the conduct of members of council, members of committees of council and employees at public institutions of higher education engaging in business with the relevant or their own public institutions of higher education. This tendency presents a possible conflict of interest.
In pursuit of this objective, it was necessary to introduce this section into law for proper administration of the regulatory framework, thereby managing the conflict or possible conflict of interest that may arise.
This is to curb the potential danger that existed over the years in this regard, wherein those involved, particularly those in governance and management of such institutions and in supply chain positions, would engage in apparent corrupt practices with impunity, either, firstly, because their institutions did not have adequate measures in this regard or, secondly, because the definition of “conflict of interest” was narrow, with a lack of enforcement measures and/or an apparent neglect of rules and regulations, or there simply was interference with such rules and regulations.
This provision will therefore ensure that there is a legal perspective and basis for national interpretation. This should not be interpreted as interference with the autonomy and academic freedom of institutions of higher learning inasmuch as this is an ongoing debate. Rather, it is important that public funds allocated to these institutions are not used to enrich individuals but instead are accounted for by instituting water-tight measures and mechanisms.
We are equally interested in and concerned about the participation of students in tender committees and activities. There are serious implications in this regard. We may witness strike action based on tenders that went wrong or brought conflict to students and management. Those who intend engaging in business with the relevant institutions should have declared their interest and, if they are the sole providers of such a product, declared that their products are unique and that it is in the best interests of that particular institution. Failure to declare constitutes an offence and should be punishable.
Mfumo wa ANC wu lava ku enghenisa xandla eka ku herisa maendlelo lama ma nga na xiave lexikulu eka timhaka ta vukungundzwana etiyunivhesiti hi ku antswisa Nawumbisi lowu.
Tiyunivhesiti a ti ri na matirhelo, swinawanawana na maendlelo ya tona hi ku hambanahambana ka tona laha tikweni ra hina. A ku nga ri na nawu lowu a wu kombisa leswaku swirho swa huvo ya yunivhesiti kumbe swirho swa tikomiti ta huvo na vatirhi va yunivhesiti yoleyo va fanele ku tikhoma hi ndlela yihi loko va lava ku enghenela mabindzu na yunivhesiti leyi va tirhaka eka yona.
Mutirhi wa yunivhesiti kumbe xirho xa huvo kumbe komiti ya huvo ya yunivhesiti loyi a lavaka ku enghenela eka swa mabindzu na yunivhesiti yoleyo, u va na nkwetlembetano embilwini eka leswi swi nga lulamela yena kumbe yunivhesiti. Ku navela ka yena ni ka yunivhesiti a ku fani.
Nawu lowu wu sivela xiyimo lexi hikuva xi bihile, xi endla leswaku lava va nga ehandle ka yunivhesiti yoleyo va nga khomiwi hi mfanelo. Va tsandzekisiwa ku enghenela eka swa mabindzu na yunivhesiti yoleyo.
Loko munhu a fanele ku endla bindzu na yunivhesiti, hi tlhelo a ri un’wana wa lava vuriweke laha henhla, u fanele a tiva leswaku: bindzu ra yena a ri fani na ra munhu un’wana kumbe khamphani yin’wana, hi yena ntsena a endlaka bindzu ra muxaka wolowo, naswona hi ku endlisa sweswo swi yisa ku humelela ni ku tsakela ka yunivhesiti emahlweni.
Ehandle ka swona vanhu lava khumbekaka va fanele ku kombisa eka tikomiti leti va nga swirho eka tona, leti vona kumbe lava nga ekusuhi na vona kumbe maxaka ya vona va lavaka ku bindzula hi ku xaviselana na yunivhesiti.
Loko swo tshuka swi kumeka leswaku leswi swi vuriweke laha henhla swi humelerile ku ta va nandzu wa vugevenga hi ku ya hi Nawu lowu.
Hi na ku tshemba leswaku hinkwavo lava va nga eka swiyimo leswi hi vulavulaka hi swona va ta landzelela ni ku xixima nawu lowu hi ku hetiseka. Lava nga ta honisa nawu lowu va ta xupuriwa. (Translation of Xitsonga paragraphs follows.)
[The ANC government wants to contribute towards the eradication of processes that contribute immensely to issues of corruption in universities by amending this Act.
Universities had their own ways of operation, rules and regulations in our country. There was no rule which stipulated how members of the university council or committee members of the council and employees of that university should conduct themselves if they wanted to engage in business with the university that they are employed at.
A university employee or a member of the council or executive committee of the university who wants to engage in business with that particular university, has a conflict of interest with regard to what is good for him or the university. His interest differs from that of the university.
The Bill prevents this situation because it is bad; it causes the people who are outside that university to be treated unfairly. They are prevented from engaging in business with that university.
If a person wants to engage in business practices with the university while, on the other hand, he is one of the aforementioned, he should ensure that: his business or company is unique, that he is the only one doing that kind of business, and by so doing it is in the best interest of the university.
Apart from that, the people involved should declare to the committees that they are members of, that which they, their associates or relatives want to benefit from by engaging in business with the university.
If it is found that the aforementioned has occurred, it will be a criminal offence, according to this Bill.
We believe that all those who are in the situations that we are talking about will fully adhere to and comply with this Bill. Those who transgress will be punished.]
Hon Dexter never discussed or debated this Bill with us in the committee, and that is where the initial discussions are supposed to take place. Coming to debate that at this level may not be wrong, but you are bound to be out of context. Since the departure of Rev Dandala, Cope – both inside and outside – is out of the race. They need not be taken seriously.
Muhlonipheki Xipikara, inkomu. [Va ba mavoko.] [Hon Speaker, thank you.] [Applause.]]
The MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING: Chairperson, let me once more thank my party, the ANC, for its support, as well as all the other parties that actually supported this.
Hon Kloppers-Lourens, I think that what you are raising is a bit like splitting hairs, because if the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, NSFAS, has to be put under administration precisely because there is a threat to its optimal functioning, why not draw those monies from the NSFAS? That process is aimed at enhancing the functionality and positive impact of the NSFAS. However, I do take the point that you are making, hon Kloppers-Lourens, that we have to make sure that things do not fall through the cracks; that when we do away with the unconstitutional section, we do not open a gap for people not to pay and for us not to be able to recover monies owed. We take that point. That is why we said we have prioritised that and we are working at looking urgently at a system that will actually replace this.
It is very interesting, nevertheless, that I do not know why the DA would support these principles and then waver. If you will allow me, Chair, to talk to my benches on this side, I can say that maybe what this is reflecting is a fundamental process that is taking place within the DA. The DA is divided, essentially between two strata. [Interjections.] The one stratum is your Progressive Federal Party, PFP, type of old liberals, like my good friend who has gone, Mike Ellis, and the other is a hard-line rightist stratum that came from the National Party to come together to form the DA.
Mr M WATERS: Like Marthinus van Schalkwyk.
The MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING: Increasingly – no, Marthinus is progressive. [Laughter.] Increasingly, this rightist faction is actually taking over the DA in terms of its orientation.
The LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: On a point of order, Madam Chair: Are we debating this Bill, or we are talking about the DA, because we are supporting this Bill. Perhaps you aren’t aware of that, Chair? [Interjections.]
The MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING: I think it is important when we debate that we also analyse the behaviour of certain political entities towards the Bill and the material basis of their attitude to what we are doing.
Bab’ uMpontshane engifuna ukukusho nje kule zinto ozishoyo ngikuzwa kahle kakhulu. Azikho izimali ze-NSFAS ezibuyela emuva. Uma kukhona inyuvesi engezukuzisebenzisa siyazithatha sizise lapho zidingeka khona. Amanyuvesi asathi abafundi abahluphekayo abakhokhe imali yokubhalisa, usitshele baba uma uzwa ngawo ngoba aphula umthetho nomgomo kahulumeni. Nama-Credit Bureau siwakhiphile ngoNSFAS sisaxoxa namanyuvesi ukuthi abakhiphe labafundi ngoba abanye basasele ngoba befakwe amanyuvesi, hhayi ngoba befakwe i-National Student Financial Aid Scheme. Ngiyabonga kakhulu.
Cha ngaphambi kokuba ngihlale phansi nansi into yokugcina engifuna ukuyisho. Angizukumphendula umhlonishwa uDexter. [Kuphele isikhathi.] [Ubuwelewele.] (Translation of isiZulu paragraphs follows.)
[Mr Mpontshane, what I would like to say is that I completely understand what you are saying. No NSFAS funds are sent back. If a university does not use the funds, we take them to where they are needed. You should tell us about the universities that still insist that poor students pay the registration fee, sir, because they are contravening government policy. The credit bureaus have been removed from the NSFAS and we are in talks with the universities to remove the names of those students who were blacklisted by the universities and not by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme. Thank you very much.
Before I sit, I would like to say one last thing. I will not reply to hon Dexter. [Time expired.] [Interjections.]]
Bill read a second time.
CONSIDERATION OF REPORT ON CONSULTATIVE SEMINAR ON ROLE OF PARLIAMENT AND PROVINCIAL LEGISLATURES IN ACHIEVEMENT OF THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr C T Frolick): Hon Chairperson, Ministers, Deputy Ministers and hon members, the Millennium Development Goals, commonly referred to as MDGs, commit the international community to an expanded vision of development, one that promotes human development as the key to sustaining social and economic progress in all countries. In his speech to the United Nations in June 2010, the UN Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-moon, stated that:
The goals represent human needs and basic rights that every individual around the world should be able to enjoy — freedom from extreme poverty and hunger; quality education, productive and decent employment, good health and shelter; the right of women to give birth without risking their lives; and a world where environmental sustainability is a priority, and men and women live equally.
Countries such as our own that have committed themselves to these goals are expected to report periodically on progress made towards achieving these goals. The 2010 country report on MDGs indicates that, in some cases, South Africa has achieved its MDGs more than five years before 2015, while in others a lot more work needs to be done. The report also highlights that:
As a middle-income country, South Africa is less dependent on foreign aid, and improvements in the MDGs ...
... will depend on how well government and other stakeholders including Parliament -
... mobilise domestic resources to achieve these targets.
During the 3rd World Conference of Speakers of Parliament held in Geneva last year to discuss, among other things, the progress on MDGs, the Speakers agreed that parliaments must use their legislative and oversight powers to assist their governments in the attainment of the MDGs. The declaration adopted by the conference stated:
Our parliaments can do more to ensure that development goals are taken into account in our daily work and translated into national programmes and laws. Likewise, we encourage our parliaments, when they examine draft budgets and Bills, to assess their impact on the fulfilment of the goals. We pledge to support these efforts, monitor progress closely and do our part in meeting the targets by 2015.
In direct response to the challenge highlighted in the 2010 UN report on MDGs, our own country report and the 3rd World Conference of Speakers of Parliament held in Geneva in 2010, the South African Speakers’ Forum hosted, in March this year, an international consultative seminar for presiding officers which initiated a discussion on MDGs across the legislative sector in our country and our continent.
Subsequently, from 5 to 6 September 2011, Parliament, in partnership with the UN Development Programme, UNDP, hosted a national consultative seminar in order to mobilise all stakeholders towards the attainment of the MDGs. This seminar was attended by 225 participants, including the Members of Parliament and of the provincial legislatures, government Ministers, representatives from the SA Local Government Association, the SADC-PF, the Pan-African Parliament, the UN Development Programme, civil society organisations and institutions of higher learning.
Keynote speakers included the Minister in the Presidency, the hon Trevor Manuel, and the Minister for the Public Service and Administration, the hon Richard Baloyi, as well as Dr Zacarias, the UN resident co-ordinator and UNDP resident representative in South Africa. The objectives of this consultative seminar were to engage with external role-players and stakeholders on MDG reports that were developed by relevant committees within the legislative sector. Furthermore, they were to obtain inputs from invited participants on progress with regard to attaining the MDGs and, more importantly, to produce a comprehensive South African legislative sector MDG oversight report, with recommendations on how the South African legislative sector could improve and co-ordinate the oversight activities aimed at attaining the MDGs.
In preparation for the seminar, committees that have an important role to play in this regard were requested to exercise more explicit and regular oversight over departments and relevant entities and to report on their findings and recommendations. The same was done at the level of the provincial legislatures.
It is for Parliament to ensure that commitments to the MDGs are truly reflected in national, provincial and local government plans, policies and budgets. Each government department is required to indicate in its strategic plans, which are submitted annually, how its activities will respond to the MDGs. The departments’ annual reports also have to reflect this.
Gender equality and the empowerment of women are at the heart of the MDGs and are preconditions for overcoming hunger, poverty and diseases. The Multiparty Women’s Caucus in Parliament started looking at progress in this regard from a gender perspective and participated in a number of workshops focusing on female Members of Parliament and members of the provincial legislatures. Furthermore, the Multiparty Women’s Caucus also visited the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal to interact with our provincial colleagues.
The Millennium Development Goals speak to the basic right of every citizen to equality and human dignity, as stipulated in the Constitution of our country. It is thus a constitutional obligation for all public representatives to ask tough questions of the executive and to exercise effective oversight over departments to ensure that budgets allocated to achieve the intended objectives — to improve the lives of our people — actually achieve these objectives.
Oversight must be a proactive process aimed at detecting problems early and must work with the executive to find solutions to the challenges that confront us. During the discussions at the seminar, it became evident that the MDGs do not necessarily tell us of the quality of the services that our people receive. They also do not tell us how efficient we are in measuring our own performance and that of departments in terms of the attainment of the MDGs.
Commissions that participated in the seminar were subsequently requested to focus on the following areas: Focusing on and identifying the good practices, as well as areas for improvement and where, in the legislative sector, focus and co-ordinated oversight is indeed possible. They also had to focus on the question of what recommendations could be made for the sector to work together to achieve the MDGs within the four years that are remaining.
Based on the reports that were considered during the seminar, we also had to assess the involvement of other sectors of society, including civil society and institutions of higher learning, in the work that has been done and how this could be improved. Furthermore, we had to answer the critical question of how we can ensure, not only in Parliament but also in provincial legislatures, that we mainstream the MDGs in our daily oversight work.
Following the discussions during the plenary session, a set of resolutions was adopted and other participants in this debate will reflect on these resolutions. The reports that served before the seminar – the actual report of the seminar that we are adopting today, as well as any other recommendations emanating from this debate — will be consolidated into a final report that not only reflects on the role of Parliament, the provincial legislatures and local government with regard to the MDGs, but also comments to some extent on the status and perceived challenges in this regard. It is envisaged that Members of Parliament and the provincial legislatures would use this final report as a tool of reference when participating at regional and international forums dealing with the Millennium Development Goals.
In conclusion, as public representatives we must continuously maintain a close link with our communities to ensure that we articulate the needs of the most vulnerable in society. We must interact proactively with the executive to oversee the design and implementation of policies and interventions that are needed to eliminate the persistent inequalities between the rich and the poor; between those living in urban and those in rural areas; and for those who are disadvantaged by geographic location, sex, age, disability and ethnicity. We owe this to all our people; we dare not fail. I thank you. [Applause.]
Dr H C VAN SCHALKWYK: As legislators we must obviously acknowledge the importance of attaining the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs, and at the same time we must realise that our Constitution, in its Bill of Rights, goes much further than the MDGs in creating the kind of democracy that we strive for in South Africa. Poverty, for instance, is far more than merely the lack of income. It is also the lack of schools, the absence of health facilities and the unavailability of medicine.
In ensuring that the executive meets the MDGs, oversight should be based on actual outcomes and not simply on money spent. It is not good enough to be satisfied with the clean audit report and then not to know anything about the quality of service or the impact of resources on the lives of people, especially the poor. A performance audit is just as important as a financial audit. On oversight visits, legislators should especially engage with this kind of information, which is never reflected in the annual reports of departments.
Minister Baloyi reported that the country was on course to meet its obligation to meet the target in human development by 2015. In some instances we have even exceeded the targets.
In terms of MDG 2: Achieve universal primary education, we have met the target for enrolment ratios for primary education of 99,4%. We can just tick that box and say to ourselves “target reached, well done”. This figure does not, however, measure the quality of education being received, the number of days that teachers are in the classrooms, or the number of dropout children in five years’ time. This does not indicate why we, despite spending about 6% of the gross domestic product, GDP, on education, form part of the bottom quartile of performers on our continent.
Being guided by the MDGs is clearly not enough. As parliamentarians we should perhaps be engaging differently with these issues while we insist on oversight, be it as a member of a portfolio committee or as a head of a constituency. We should be asking, as hon Trollip said, difficult but relevant questions.
We should gather anecdotal data to enable us to form an idea of how ordinary people at ground level experience service delivery. We should visit schools, clinics, hospitals and libraries. We should regularly speak to, for example, teachers, health workers and parents. In that way we can hear first-hand what their concerns and issues are and then hold officials accountable for instances of ineffective service delivery.
Oversight, then, is a tool to ensure that the services that are delivered make a difference in the lives of people. The objective of oversight anywhere in the world is to raise the level of accountability. Parliament has a mandate to hold the executive to account. We can expect from them and demand of them to attend meetings to convey certain information we need for exercising our oversight duty in a proper fashion.
We must hold officials to account and summon them to appear before the committee whenever we find it necessary. If a director-general, in the Free State would not allow a portfolio committee to perform oversight at a Thusong centre in Kroonstad, she should be summoned to appear before the portfolio committee because officials are by law accountable to Parliament. Officials must be expected to account, to answer difficult questions concerning service delivery.
Parliament and provincial legislatures indeed have a very constructive role to play in attaining the Millennium Development Goals. Members of Parliament and MPLs should ensure that the achievement of the MDGs is only the first step in creating the type of democracy all South African citizens are entitled to. [Applause.]
Mrs M A A NJOBE: Hon Chairperson and hon members, the executive summary of the report we are considering today notes that Parliament has always had a critically important oversight role to play in monitoring the MDGs. Parliament did not always focus on reviewing these monitoring processes. Monitoring did not specifically address MDG targets and indicators, nor did it verify information submitted to Parliament. Parliament did not have a sustained and regular engagement with the departments regarding the MDGs, and civil society participation was not properly factored into the monitoring process.
This House should therefore adopt the recommendation in the report that MDG goals and targets should be mainstreamed in Parliament. This is an essential first step and we in Cope strongly suggest that this should be done. The next step is to evaluate how our country is progressing with each of the eight goals we have to meet.
The gap between the rich and the poor is widening and government seems paralysed in correcting this. We are the world’s most unequal nation. State resources are not being utilised effectively to eradicate poverty.
As a country we are not even doing enough to create green micro-economies to enable poor people to source energy cheaply, derive income therefrom or grow their own food. We have no five-year plan to help the most marginalised to climb out of this pit of poverty.
With regard to primary education, here again there is no five-year plan substantially to improve literacy and numeracy to an acceptable standard. Vocabulary deficits still continue to be the single largest obstacle to personal growth and advancement. If these vocabulary deficits are not remedied, our education will lag behind that of most countries.
Gender-based violence is still a scar on our young democracy. The high incidence of rape and other forms of violence against women needs to be vigorously tackled, not only by the police but by society in general. Programmes to empower women economically must be escalated.
Child mortality is another area in which we as a country are doing very poorly. The problem needs to be tackled through the thorough education of young women regarding sexual health, pregnancy, HIV/Aids, breastfeeding, immunisation, nutrition and child care. State-sponsored community-based support should occur on a wider scale. Help for childhood diseases should be brought closer to communities. Hospitals and clinics should also be challenged to improve their record in respect of child mortality.
Regarding maternal health, once again our democratic government has not been able to bring down the maternal mortality ratio in any significant way. In a country where radio is easily accessible — to a large extent, television also — not enough is being done to help women acquire greater knowledge of pregnancy and childbearing, yet knowledge is the best means of improving maternal health.
With regard to HIV/Aids, malaria and other diseases, if a million people in South Africa fully understood what retroviruses were and how they compromised the body’s immune system, such knowledge would filter through to the ground.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mrs F Hajaig): Hon Njobe, your time has expired.
Mrs M A A NJOBE: But I have seven more seconds ... [Laughter.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mrs F Hajaig): Mine says minus eleven.
Mrs C N Z ZIKALALA: Hon Chairperson, the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs, are a declaration of intent and a veritable commitment to action by the 193 United Nations, member countries, seeking to address the reduction and eradication of many of the socioeconomic ills that plague humanity today. Goals have been set and agreed to and the deadline of 2015 accepted.
We are already 11 years into the 15-year term set for the achievement of these goals, and there is still a great deal of work to be done. Our role as Parliament must therefore be one of diligent and proactive oversight of the executive in order to ensure that everything that can be done is being done by both the executive and ourselves in the realisation of these goals for the benefit of our people.
It is vital that the status quo regarding the MDGs is assessed and corrective action taken, to ensure that the goals are met by the deadline of 2015. In this regard, the consultative seminar hosted recently by Parliament, as well as our periodic reports to the UN, are vital in ensuring that our cause is maintained and the goals are timeously accomplished.
The consultative seminar focused on methods that would facilitate oversight, standardise monitoring formats and enhance communication by all relevant stakeholders. Emphasis was laid on the use of information and communication technology as a form of communication between all stakeholders, not only because of its speed and ease of use, but also for its minimal impact upon resources and the environment. Minimum prescribed meetings by a monitoring committee were agreed upon and a yearly seminar scheduled in order to ascertain progress herein.
In conclusion, reports and input by legislatures will now be included in country reports and used as a basis for interaction between provincial and national spheres. [Applause.]
Mr N M KGANYAGO: Chairperson, since the start of our democratic dispensation in 1994, we have battled to root out poverty and reduce the growing levels of inequality. Though we have managed to create opportunities, not enough has been done to broaden access to those opportunities for as many people as we possibly can. While efforts have been made to eradicate extreme poverty, and achieve universal primary education and other noble MDGs, not enough has been done to ensure that in areas such as education and health our people receive quality services.
We must, however, hasten to point out that we are pleased by the new approach, which seeks to map out how better co-ordination and relations between the three spheres of government, academic institutions and civil society organisations could improve oversight over the MDGs. We can only achieve the MDGs and thus improve the plight of the poor if we communicate regular feedback on the progress we make and areas of improvement. Ke a leboga. [Thank you.]
Ms B N DAMBUZA: Chairperson and hon members, among others, the objectives of the seminar were, firstly, to develop a comprehensive understanding of the state of affairs regarding the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs, at local, provincial and national government levels, through the work of the committees of Parliament.
The second objective was to determine the contribution of the legislative sector – which is Parliament and provincial legislatures, as well as local councils – to the achievement of the MDGs. The role of Parliament and parliamentarians in ensuring progress towards the achievement of MDG targets cannot be overemphasised. It has been recognised globally and serves as an impetus for accelerating improvement of the lives of the citizens.
In terms of the Republic of South Africa’s Constitution, Parliament, as the legislative arm of the state, has an obligation to conduct oversight over the action of the executive and has a critical role to play in ensuring the attainment of these goals by 2015. The Interparliamentary Union, IPU, asserted that more focused work needed to be undertaken by legislatures to monitor progress towards the attainment of the MDGs.
Through extensive interaction, deliberations on presentations and periodic reports presented by the delegates to the seminar, it transpired that, as much as the MDGs are important, the Freedom Charter and the Constitution are ultimately the key pledges to advance equality and human dignity and uproot poverty.
The long-term benefits of parliamentary engagement with the MDGs are manifold and can, among other things, result in enhanced consensus on MDG-related policy issues; increased national ownership of the MDGs; and the creation of a higher profile for the MDGs in the country. Parliamentary engagement with the MDGs can also offer governments a national platform to share policies aimed at achieving the MDGs; afford civil society organisations and nonmajority groups an opportunity to voice their opinions on MDG-related policies, as well as on the progress made towards their achievement; and create an open and transparent mechanism for countries to monitor progress towards achieving those MDG targets.
The following are observations that were made by the delegates.
Le ndlela yangoku yokulandelela nokubeka esweni ayihambi ngokwamagunya amasebe. Oko kuthetha ukuba ulwazi olufunyanwa yiPalamente kwimithombo eyahlukileyo efana noMphicothi-zincwadi jikelele, amasebe karhulumente, njalo njalo alwanelanga ukuba kungabhaqwa kulinganiswe ukuba izimali ezabiweyo zisetyenziswe ngendlela efanelekileyo na.
Ukufak’ingxelo ngempumelelo ngokusebenzisa inkqubo kaphawula ibhokisi, laa nto ke esithi sifika sijonge, simana sibuza ukuba into ethile iyenzeka, sihambe. Lo nto ayibonakalisi umngangatho weenkonzo ezinikezelweyo, kuquka nokukhawulelana nomba kamakulinganwe kunye nokusebenza ngokuvakalayo kwemigaqo-nkqubo nemithetho epasisisweyo.
Ingcaciso enganelanga nokuqondakala kwemisebenzi yangoku kusenokuba negalelo ekuphazamiseni inkqubela-phambili karhulumente yokuphumeza izibhambathiso zeeMGD. (Translation of isiXhosa paragraphs follows.)
[The manner in which supervision and monitoring take place nowadays does not go according to departmental mandate. This means that the information gathered by Parliament from different sources such as the Auditor-General, government departments and so on, is not sufficient to measure and find out whether the allocated funds were utilised appropriately.
To give a report regarding success based on ticking a box, which is what we usually do when we monitor — we ask a few questions regarding how a particular issue is handled and thereafter we leave — does not reflect the standard of service delivery, including equity and the effective implementation of policies and Acts that have been promulgated.
Insufficient explanation and understanding of today’s fields of employment can contribute towards disrupting government’s progress towards achieving the objectives of the MDGs.]
Some of the barriers to the provision of quality education include poor management, poor levels of teaching and inadequately skilled teachers to teach the current curriculum. The inability to provide quality education is also compounded by the lack of well-resourced science laboratories, especially in rural and township schools.
As a result of poor financial management, schools are unable to develop and maintain existing infrastructure. There is also a nonalignment of strategic plans and budgets to meet the targets on the MDGs. Currently, the MDGs are not adequately incorporated into targets and indicators of government plans and programmes. Oversight planning and activities by legislatures also do not incorporate the MDG programme. The departmental budgets and plans lack development programmes for women, the youth and co-operatives.
There is a lack of impact assessments and evaluation of policies and legislation passed in relation to the MDGs. There is a lack of implementation and enforcement measures to enforce policies, for example, to reduce carbon emissions that result in air pollution and to conserve the wetlands. A lack of capacity in monitoring and evaluation was cited as a factor that contributed towards hindering progress.
There is also a lack of research capacity in legislatures and a lack of systems to monitor and combat fraud and corruption practices in some of the departments. Municipalities lack capacity to monitor and enforce bylaws to protect the environment and deal with the management of medical waste. There is also no comprehensive communication strategy to promote and enhance the active participation of various stakeholders in the endeavour to meet the MDGs.
The lack of cost recovery mechanisms therefore poses a real possibility for unfunded mandates, and the reality remains that any authority remains provisional. There is a lack of clarity on how to fund municipalities for the operating costs associated with the provision of services related to concurrent functions. Lastly, a lack of integrated and collaborative oversight between legislatures and local governments was identified.
Xa ndiyivala, kangangokuba le ngxoxo ibalulekile, ikwazile ukuvelela zonke iinkalo, umzekelo ... [In conclusion, to show how important this debate is, it has managed to highlight all perspectives, for example ...]
... the seminar finally agreed that South Africa’s challenge is not that of funding, but merely the lack of effective and quality service delivery, including the lack of monitoring mechanisms.
Loo nto ke ithetha ukuba iPalamente kufunekadingeka ukuba isebenzise yonke imithombo enayo ukuqinisekisa ukuba kuyaqinisekiswa ukongamela. Okunye okufanelekileyo ukukuba imithombo esetyenzisiweyoi yenze le nto ifanelekileyo ukuze kuphume iziphumo ezilindelekileyo. Okunye kokokuba ... (Translation of isiXhosa paragraph follows.)
[That means Parliament needs to utilise all resources at its disposal to ensure that proper monitoring takes place. In addition to that, it needs to ensure that resources utilised perform according to what is expected of them and those are expectations of producing the expected results. Furthermore ...]
... the constituencies should be empowered to understand issues around the MDGs.
Loo nto ithetha ukuthi ii-ofisi zePalamente zengingqi zamalungu kufuneka zisetyenziswe ukuze abantu bafundiswe ngeeMDG, bakwazi nokuzisa ingxelo ePalamente ngeengxaki abadibana nazo, neendawo ekufuneka bancediswe kakhulu kuzo. Loo nto ke, ifuna ukuba iPalamente mayiqinise kangangoko inakho. Ndiyabulelaonga. (Translation of isiXhosa paragraph follows.)
[That means the regional constituency offices must be utilised to educate the people about the MDGs, so that they can forward reports concerning their challenges to Parliament, as well as issues that may need parliamentary assistance. That, therefore, means Parliament must be thorough in its monitoring and evaluation. Thank you.]
The ANC supports the report. [Applause.]
Mrs C DUDLEY: Chair, focused engagement with the executive and civil society is going to be important for MPs in order for South Africa to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs.
A total of 58 000 infants under the age of five died in South Africa last year, according to the United Nations report released last week. The 2011 report shows South Africa, along with several other countries in Africa, to be making little or no progress in curbing infant mortality, with the average annual rate of reduction being less than 1% over the past 10 years.
This contrasts with international rates, which dropped by more than one third. Madagascar, Malawi and Tanzania, however, are among six of the 14 best-performing countries in the world, with under-five mortality reduced by over 50% in the past 20 years. Neonatal mortality rates have remained the same in South Africa. While HIV/Aids is largely responsible, research shows that educating mothers in ways of improving home hygiene could save the lives of many.
Behavioural attitudes in men are also thought to be key. A research paper by the South African Institute of Race Relations shows widowed men to be less likely to care for their children than widows. This directly impacts on the survival of young children, who are four times more likely to die the year following a mother’s death than if the father alone had died. Siblings who are also less likely to be enrolled in school will complete fewer years of education and have less money spent on their education than children whose widowed mothers are still alive.
Behavioural changes in men are said to have impacted significantly on Zimbabwe’s HIV statistics, which have almost halved in the past several years. This is attributed to a unique combination of men having less disposable income to maintain sexual relations outside marriage, widespread education, a fear of exposure to Aids deaths and the heeding of messages promoting faithful marriage. The ACDP calls on all men in South Africa to take up the challenge and prove the current research wrong.
As I said, the role of Parliament includes engagement with the executive and civil society ... [Time expired.]
Dr L L BOSMAN: Madam Chair, of the 852 million people worldwide suffering from hunger, 796 million live in countries of the developing world and 315 million of those — that is 37% — live in sub-Saharan Africa. Worldwide, half of all people suffering from hunger live in rural areas. This means that the greatest effort to end hunger and poverty should be in the rural areas.
The adoption of the Millennium Development Goals by many governments of developing and developed countries is enough evidence of the common agreement on the urgency to end world poverty and hunger. At the global level, there have been policy declarations and policy initiatives towards this.
The key to solving this crisis lies in unlocking the full potential of rural economies. Many countries have initiated plans to do just that. Some of these plans include poverty reduction strategies, initiatives on HIV/Aids and rural development plans. The private sector and NGOs have also contributed to overcoming this challenge.
But more still needs to be done to improve the lives of poor people in rural areas. Difficulties in the agricultural sector across the world have compounded this crisis. Agriculture has experienced a number of damaging shocks in recent years, such as record high oil prices, commodity price spikes, challenging trade restrictions and, of course, the global economic downturn. Although the world produces more than enough food to feed its population, many people still cannot gain access to food markets or afford to buy food. The questions are: What are the implications for South Africa? Is our government able and willing to take note of the situation?
According to us, we need to drive expansion in our agricultural sector for the benefit of all our people. By developing our rural economies, we can create new jobs and spread wealth more equitably.
Successful land reform has certainly been one of the largest challenges in agricultural development. We need to have a successful land reform policy. We need to focus on two objectives in this regard, namely equity and productivity, and we need to balance these two objectives responsibly. It is not enough just to transfer land. We need to make sure that those farmers have the support, knowledge and capital necessary to be successful.
The challenge to be met is therefore to arrange land and agricultural matters in such a way that both equity and productivity are improved. This will contribute to real redress in rural areas, redistribution, improving living standards and, importantly, food security and economic growth. We need to do the following to balance equity and productivity: Firstly, we must have a clear policy framework to induce confidence and enhance investment in the sector — and threats to nationalise land and limit farm sizes destroy the needed confidence.
Secondly, the admitted failure of the restitution programme to maintain production needs a new approach. We must overhaul our land reform programme to ensure that emerging farmers have adequate support. We need to identify people with an interest in farming and have proper partnership agreements between experienced and new farmers.
Thirdly, new farm owners should have freehold title ownership to unlock the economic potential of their assets. Also, the implementation of a disaster risk management system with adequate funding to manage droughts, floods and fire damages is now long overdue.
There is a need for more resources to be allocated to research and infrastructure development, and that will assist in agricultural development.
Lastly, the high crime rate in rural areas needs to be addressed. Farmers and their workers remain soft targets and millions of rands are lost annually through theft.
In conclusion, affordable food is of vital importance to reduce hunger in South Africa. The expertise of our commercial sector provides a platform for viable development. We should harness the expertise, as well as our natural resources and the ingenuity of all our people to reach our Millennium Development Goals. [Applause.]
Mrs J C MOLOI-MOROPA: Chairperson, obviously all this challenges us in terms of our oversight role. As leaders of South Africa and indeed the leaders of the world, when we adopted the Millennium Development Goals in the year 2000 we fundamentally committed ourselves to making the world a better place. Eleven years later, despite the great misfortunes we have to contend with as global citizens, we remain convinced that the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs, represent the pivotal global vision of our times.
There is an author by the name of John C Maxwell who talks about this vision. He says:
The vision begins with one person, but it is only accomplished by many people.
I therefore believe that our presence here today epitomises yet another collective effort towards further championing this global vision, not only in thought but also in action. During our consultative seminar on the MDGs last month it became very clear that together we can certainly do more to further advance the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
Today we present to Parliament the report of the consultative seminar on the Millennium Development Goals that took place on 5 and 6 September 2011. This report represents yet another major achievement as we seek to find ways and means of achieving the MDGs within the legislative sector’s context.
There is no doubt that the consultative seminar gave us yet another opportunity for reflection on the path we have travelled in seeking to achieve the MDGs. In the process, and as recorded in South Africa’s 2010 country report on the Millennium Development Goals, we have noted with pride the progress achieved thus far regarding the implementation of the MDGs. We have also noted with a sense of duty that challenges still lie ahead as we head towards the 2015 reporting process.
We believe that meaningful oversight work regarding the implementation of the MDGs is imperative in ensuring that our government is able to deliver on its global commitments for the benefit of our local communities. In the context of our respective mandates as partners for social change, Parliament, and the provincial legislatures too, have a formidable role to play in the achievement of the eight MDGs. We therefore applaud the collective efforts of the National Assembly and the NCOP in ensuring that the entire legislative sector collaborates in contributing towards the achievement of the MDGs within the context of effective oversight.
The Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration has recently been talking a lot about the collaboration of institutions as it conducts its oversight on major strategic and political tasks. The buzz words “collaboration of institutions” become critical because it is only when more institutions come together that you can realise a greater impact in terms of our role of oversight. We believe that such a task will make us work better and smarter as we seek to achieve our major objective: holding government accountable in fulfilling its global commitment for the benefit of the local communities. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mrs F Hajaig): Members, please keep the noise level down. Please continue, hon member.
Mrs J C MOLOI-MOROPA: Section 195 of Chapter 10 of the Constitution, which addresses public administration, requires that the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration, on behalf of this Parliament, has the task of overseeing the entire Public Service. This means that this committee has the responsibility to oversee entire clusters of government, which include governance and administration, peace and stability, social development and transformation and the economic sector and employment. And the portfolio committee did as it was required to do.
In the context of the MDGs, the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration has a keen interest in determining the extent to which the implementation of the MDGs has filtered through to the intended beneficiaries. It was a privilege to oversee all the clusters, as it provided an overarching insight into the work of government in its entirety.
It is pleasing to realise that as a country we are making progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals in a number of important areas. As recorded in the 2010 country report, notable progress has been made in relation to MDG 1, which focuses on the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, and MDG 3, which focuses on the promotion of gender equality and the empowering of women. These are largely located within the governance and administration cluster.
In this context, these two goals have received much attention in terms of their implementation through government departments that fall within the governance and administration cluster. Among other things, gender parity in the political sphere of our country is being progressively addressed. According to the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, South African report, more than 40% of the 400 seats in Parliament are held by women. The report also shows that this progressive trend in women’s representation has been achieved in the provincial legislatures too. Since 1994, women’s representation in the provincial legislatures has increased from 25,4% to 42,4%. Globally, South Africa is rated 3rd in the world with regard to countries with the highest number of women MPs. In terms of gender parity, therefore, the country is closer to achieving its 50% target with regard to representation in the political sphere.
The overall assessment of the country’s progress against MDG 3, which focuses on gender equality and empowerment of women, is that there have been significant achievements, mainly from our government. These include the establishment of a Ministry for Women, Children and People with Disabilities; an Office on the Status of Women in all provinces in the premiers’ offices; a Joint Monitoring Committee on Improvement of Quality of Life and Status of Women; the existence of the Commission for Gender Equality; the enactment of the Employment Equity Act of 1998; and the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act of 2000.
We are also happy that the following initiatives have occurred to ensure that gender parity and the empowerment of women actually happen while we are still alive, not later, when we are dead. Our youth will say, “It happened in our lifetime.” These include the establishment of the parliamentary Multiparty Gender Caucus; that South African female parliamentarians actively participate in the UN programmes that promote gender equality and seek to assist in the achievement of the MDGs; and the adoption of a 50% target for the employment of women in senior management positions in the Public Service, with 36,6% having been recorded so far in 2010.
There is no doubt that progress has been made towards the achievement of MDG 3. During the oversight activities that we embarked upon, we also recorded progress regarding MDG 1, which is eradicating extreme poverty and hunger. This has been possible through government’s many interventions, which include the focus on achieving full and productive employment and decent work for all, including for women and young people. The oversight visits undertaken by the committee to Thusong centres in Gauteng and the Northern Cape and, just last Monday, to two more centres in the Free State, determined that these centres do indeed contribute positively towards job creation.
In spite of some of the achievements articulated here, our country report indicates that more still needs to be done towards achieving the 2015 deadline. In the context of our constitutional mandate, Parliament and the provincial legislatures have to play a formidable role in the achievement of the eight MDGs. This means that Parliament has a more enhanced role in overseeing the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
We are happy that the report on the consultative seminar on the MDGs has captured very important recommendations made by various commissions in relation to the role of Parliament and legislatures in the achievement of the MDGs. In terms of some of the recommendations, it seems necessary to change our current model of portfolio committees and put the emphasis on co-ordination and integration with regard to overseeing the implementation of the MDGs. The committees of Parliament would have to be empowered to take charge of crosscutting oversight roles over transversal programmes such as the MDGs and the values articulated in section 195 of the Constitution.
This therefore means that we would have to encourage the cluster formation because the government that we are overseeing has already organised itself in the form of clusters. That will make our work much easier and more reasonable and will avoid repetition, duplication and the crisscrossing of various committees. It will make sense if things are done that way.
As we consider the report on the consultative seminar focusing on the role of Parliament and provincial legislatures in the achievement of the MDGs, it is critical that Parliament looks at adopting an implementation strategy and a plan of action regarding the recommendations that are articulated in the report. Since today is a long day I won’t take hon members through all the recommendations — they do appear in the report. This would ensure that Parliament and its committees derived maximum value from the consultative seminar on MDGs and that parliamentarians were able to play their “enhanced role” in overseeing the attainment of the MDGs.
It is important to indicate that what becomes important is the separation of powers. As you know, government will have its role of oversight, Parliament will have its role of oversight, and the judiciary should do its work. We need to understand that. We also need to watch out carefully that we don’t have one institution playing a role that seems to threaten or topple our democracy. “Constitutional experts” who connive to co-govern with the ANC are problematic because there seems to be a leg that wants to topple the democracy that the ANC has achieved, because the history of the ANC is written in blood. It is important for us, in terms of the separation of roles, that no one leg wants to see itself emerging and asserting a certain kind of democracy that we don’t understand.
We need to discuss the clear separation of roles, especially when it comes to MDGs. We must discuss who is supposed to do what. We know that the report has come from the civil service and government. We now realise that the crisscrossing of roles in terms of the separation of powers is a problem. There are areas where we see that democracy might be toppled. Perhaps, Chairperson, I need to leave it at that.
The DEPUTY CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Chairperson, I move:
That the report be adopted.
Motion agreed to.
Report accordingly adopted.
The House adjourned at 17:08.
ANNOUNCEMENTS, TABLINGS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS
THURSDAY, 15 SEPTEMBER 2011
National Assembly and National Council of Provinces
1. The Minister of Finance
(a) Agreement between the Government of the Republic of South Africa and the Government of the Republic of San Marino for the exchange of information relating to tax matters, tabled in terms of Section 231(2) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996.
(b) Explanatory Memorandum on the agreement for exchange of information between the Republic of South Africa and the Republic of San Marino for the exchange of information relating to tax matters.
Correction: The above entries replace items 2(c) and (d) under Tablings in the Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports of 30 August 2011, in the name of the Minister of Finance, on page 2746.
2. The Minister of Health
(a) Report and Financial Statements of the Council for Medical Schemes for 2010-2011, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2010-2011 [RP 52-2011].
(b) Report and Financial Statements of the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) for 2010-2011, including the Report of the Independent Auditors on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2010-2011.
3. The Minister in The Presidency: Performance Monitoring and Evaluation as well as Administration
(a) Report and Financial Statements of the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) for 2010-2011, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2010-2011.
4. The Minister of Tourism
(a) Report and Financial Statements of Vote 34 – Department of Tourism for 2010-2011, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information of Vote 34 for 2010-2011 [RP 215-2011].
5. The Minister of Transport
(a) Reports and Financial Statements of the Cross-Border Road Transport Agency (C-BRTA) for 2010-2011, including the Reports of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2010-2011 [RP 240-2011].
(b) Report and Financial Statements of the Railway Safety Regulator for 2010-2011, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2010-2011 [RP 244-2011].
(c) Report and Financial Statements of the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) for 2010-2011, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2010-2011 [RP 241-2011].
(d) Report and Financial Statements of the South African Maritime Safety Authority (including the Maritime Fund) for 2010-2010, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2010-2011 [RP 238-2011].
(a) Report on the Consultative Seminar on the role of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures in the achievement of the Millenium Development Goals:
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THIS REPORT REPLACES THE REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT ON THE EXTRADITION TREATY BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA AND THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN, DATED 7 SEPTEMBER 2011, PUBLISHED IN THE ANNOUNCEMENTS, TABLINGS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS DATED TUESDAY, 13 SEPTEMBER 2011; P2837
1. Report of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development on the Extradition Treaty between the Government of the Republic of South Africa and the Islamic Republic of Iran, dated 7 September 2011:
The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development, having considered the request that Parliament approves the ratification of the Extradition Treaty between the Republic of South Africa and the Islamic Republic of Iran, recommends that the House approves the Treaty in terms of section 231(2) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996.
The Committee reports further as follows:
1. Many years have passed since this Treaty was signed in 2003 and its introduction to Parliament for approval in April this year. Although an explanation was given, the Committee finds the delay most undesirable: Much could have changed in the situation or circumstances of the parties in the intervening years. The time elapsed has also meant that those responsible for concluding the agreement were unable to be present to advise the Committee on the contents. The Committee asks that the Ministry look into the reasons for the delay to ensure that this is an isolated occurrence. The Committee also requests that, in future, those who are responsible for drafting an agreement are present when the Committee considers it.
2. Although the Executive negotiates and signs international agreements, treaties are only binding once Parliament approves them. Parliament’s involvement takes place after an agreement is negotiated and signed and is, mostly limited to either approving or not approving. The Committee believes that consideration needs to be given to the development of a mechanism that will allow parliamentary committees to become involved in discussions, even at an informal level, at a much earlier stage.
3. The Committee is concerned that the Islamic Republic of Iran may impose the death penalty or other corporal punishments on persons convicted of crimes in that country. The Treaty does allow a Requested State to refuse an extradition request if it ‘has substantial grounds to believe that the probable sentence of the offence in the Requesting State is qualitatively different from the probable sentence given on the same offence in the courts of the Requested State’ and may also refuse extradition unless the Requesting State undertakes or gives sufficient assurance that the person sought will not be detained without trial, tortured or treated or punished in a cruel, inhuman or degrading way. Although these provisions appear adequate, the Committee would have preferred that the Treaty explicitly exclude the possibility of extradition where the death penalty is a competent sentence unless the necessary assurances are made.
4. The Committee is also of the view that the Department of International Relations and Co-operation should investigate putting a mechanism in place to monitor the treatment of those extradited.
Report to be considered
2. Report of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development on the Notice on Remuneration of Magistrates, dated 15 September 2011:
The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development, having considered the request for approval by Parliament of the Draft Notice and Schedule submitted in terms of section 12(3) of the Magistrates’ Act, 1993 (Act No 90 of 1993), determining the rate at which salaries are payable to magistrates annually, with effect from 1 April 2011, tabled on 14 September 2011 and referred to it, recommends that the House, in terms of section 12(3) of the Magistrates Act (No 90 0f 1993), approves the Notice.
Report to be considered
3. Report of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development on the Notice on Remuneration of Constitutional Court Judges and Judges, dated 15 September 2011:
The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development, having considered the request for approval by Parliament of the Draft Notice and Schedule submitted in terms of section 2(4) of the Judges Remuneration and Conditions of Employment Act, 2001 (Act No 47 of 2001), determining the rate at which salaries are payable to Constitutional Court Judges and Judges annually, with effect from 1 April 2011, recommends that the House, in terms of section 2(4) of the Judges’ Remuneration and Conditions of Employment Act, 2001 (Act No 47 of 2001), approves the Notice.
Report to be considered
FRIDAY, 16 SEPTEMBER 2011
National Assembly and National Council of Provinces
1. The Minister in The Presidency: Performance Monitoring and Evaluation as well as Administration
(a) Report and Financial Statements of the International Marketing Council (IMC) for 2010-2011, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2010-2011 [RP 36-2011].
1. Report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts on its oversight visits to Third-party Funds Centres in KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga, Limpopo; and Gauteng, dated 24 August 2011
The Standing Committee on Public Accounts (the Committee) undertook oversight visits to Umlazi Magistrate’s Court (Durban, KwaZulu Natal), Tubatse and Seshego Magistrate’s Courts (Tubatse and Seshego, Limpopo), Thulamahashe Magistrate’s Court (Mpumalanga) and the Mdantsane Magistrate’s Court (East London, Eastern Cape) on 28-30 March 2011. At a later date, the Committee visited the Johannesburg Magistrate’s and Family Courts, Protea Magistrate’s Court and the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court (all in Gauteng). The main objective of the visits was to conduct oversight on the Third-Party Funds (TPF), which are administered by various courts around the country, under the management of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.
The Committee hereby reports its findings and recommendations to the House as required by Rule 137 of the Rules of the National Assembly.
Below is the delegation that represented the Committee on these visits:
Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal
Members of the Committee: Mr R Ainslie, MP (ANC, Leader of the Delegation), Ms S Mangena, MP (ANC), Ms F Muthambi, MP (ANC), Ms G Saal, MP (ANC), Mr M Steele, MP (DA) and Ms N Balindlela (COPE)
Support Staff: Mr P Mbele (Committee Secretary), Ms G Shabalala (Committee Researcher) and Ms X Mnyute (Committee Assistant)
Limpopo and Mpumalanga
Members of the Committee: Mr T Godi, MP (APC, Leader of the Delegation), Ms T Chiloane, MP (ANC), Mr S Thobejane, MP (ANC) and Mr P Pretorius, MP (DA)
Support Staff: Mr S Nqwala (Committee Secretary), Ms N Cenge (Committee Researcher)
Members of the Committee: Mr T Godi, MP (APC, Leader of the Delegation), Mr R Ainslie, MP (ANC) Ms S Mangena, MP (ANC), Ms F Muthambi, MP (ANC), Ms G Saal, MP (ANC), Ms T Chiloane, MP (ANC), Mr M Steele, MP (DA), Mr P Pretorius, MP (DA), Ms N Balindlela (COPE), Mr N Singh (IFP),and Ms M Matladi (UCDP)
Support Staff: Mr P Mbele, Mr S Nqwala (Committee Secretaries), Ms G Shabalala and Ms N Cenge (Committee Researchers)
Office of the Auditor-General: Ms Z Kota and Mr S Saki
3.1 Third-party funds
The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development manages the TPF through a network of 600 cash halls country wide. As at 31 March 2008, 500 bank accounts existed at the four major South African banks. According to the Office of the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA), it is estimated that in excess of R2.5 billion in funds are collected and paid on behalf of other parties by the Department annually.
The Third-Party Funds (TPF) administers the following types of transactions:
* Admission of guilt - fines, mostly traffic fines, where the accused chooses not to defend the matter in court – these funds are paid over to either the local or provincial government or the National Revenue Fund at the end of each month.
* Bail - where an accused is granted bail by a judicial officer or an official duly authorised, where the funds are kept until a court authorises the return of the funds to the accused or the funds are forfeited to the state as a court fine or paid over to the National Revenue Fund when the monies remain unclaimed for a period longer than 12 months after they have been authorised to be repaid to the depositor.
* Court fines - fines imposed by a court that are paid over to the National Revenue Fund, provincial administration or local authority at the end of each month.
* Maintenance - money received from defendants as per order of court, which is then paid to beneficiaries/plaintiffs or returned to the defendant or to the National Revenue Fund if the monies remain unclaimed for a period longer than 12 months.
* State Attorney monies - money collected by the State Attorney on behalf of government institutions – the State Attorney also collects a commission on debt collections on behalf of government institutions, which is paid over to the National Revenue Fund.
* Compensatory fines - criminal court orders for a given defendant to pay compensation to a plaintiff.
* Deferred fines - fines deferred over a period as imposed by court, which are paid to the National Revenue Fund at the end of each month as court fines.
* Payments to court - civil action where an offer in settlement of a plaintiff’s claim is made – these payments may in certain cases be made without a court order, where a defendant pays an amount to court, without prejudice, as an offer in settlement of a plaintiff’s claim in a civil case, pending acceptance by the plaintiff.
* Unclassified monies - monies received that cannot immediately be classified into one of the above categories.
3.2 Audit Report of the Auditor-General of South Africa
The Auditor-General has a constitutional mandate and, as the Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) of South Africa, it exists to strengthen South Africa’s democracy by enabling oversight, accountability and governance in the public sector through auditing, thereby building public confidence.
The Committee works closely with the Office of the Auditor-General, and enjoys regular interactions with the institution. The Auditor-General briefed the Committee over the years on the audit outcomes of the TPF. Past and recent interactions between the Committee and the Office of the Auditor-General revealed serious challenges surrounding the fund, which led to undesirable audit outcomes and indicated an existence of bigger challenges, namely;
* The Fund received disclaimers on its audits for the 2006/07 and 2007/08 financial years. For the 2008/09 financial year, financial statements of the fund were not submitted to the Auditor-General for audit, and hence there was no audit outcome;
* Inadequate financial records;
* The challenges with the Justice Deposit Accounting System (JDAS); and
* The incomplete investigations – the auditors recorded that they were not given access to reports on these.
These were amongst the reasons the Committee resolved to undertake these visits.
4. Terms of Reference
During the first parliamentary term of 2010, SCOPA resolved to conduct oversight visits to selected magistrates’ courts in order to examine the procedure through which the Third Party Funds are processed and managed. The specific focus of the visits would be on;
* Method of work
* Segregation of duties
* Staff complement
* Financial Management System (FMS)
* Cash office control
* Information systems
1. The offices use the Justice Deposit Account System Version 4 (JDASV4.0).
2. Financial management at the courts is carried out in Cash Halls, and comprises of two components, the TPF and the Vote Account. There remained no career pathing in the cash halls. Administration Clerks were rotated to all the sections in the Magistrate’s Office so that they may be multi-skilled. The structure of the offices had never provided for financially trained practitioners for the cash halls.
3. There was a general weakness in the oversight and accountability by management with regards to Third Party funds.
4. There was a lack of internal control systems.
5. Officials in the current employ were not adequately trained in financial management.
6. There was a lack of sufficient middle management and Checking Officers to support the Court Managers on finance operations.
7. There were reported delays in criminal investigations
8. The centres were under-capacitated for the finalisation of internal disciplinary cases, especially those related to financial misconduct.
9. There were inadequate fraud prevention plans in the offices.
10. The courts did not have sufficient numbers of Court Sheriffs.
11. Large numbers of beneficiaries still opted for manual payments than the Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) system.
12. A number of cases of cancellation of bank accounts by beneficiaries had been reported.
13. The use of wrong reference numbers by depositors still posed challenges.
14. There were at times reported delays, and in some instances, payment schedules from payers (especially government departments) were not always available on time.
15. There were instances of inadequate office space and security.
5.2 Financial Management and Information Systems
The Justice Deposit Account System Version 4 (JDASV4.0) and the Joint Management Information System (JMIS) report on all activities in the Cash Halls.
For transactions, the Department uses JDAS. On both visits, the delegation heard and also observed that:
1. The system was not user-friendly, and some staff members did not know how to operate it well as there had been no adequate training on its use.
2. The information technology computerised system experienced slow connectivity
3. Only the EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer) Supervisor could monitor, authorise and check cancellations on JDAS, with another Supervisor responsible for the verification of payments on the system for correctness. The system required that users perform different tasks to enable proper controls. It catered for eight modules, namely, bail, compensation fines, court fines, civil matters, deferred court fines, maintenance and unclassified and general funds. All these modules allowed for receipting and payouts. Before the cash hall could make transactions on these modules, the administrative personnel and their supervisors needed to capture certain information and have it authorised to allow the finance section to do the relevant transactions.
4. The unclassified module of the system was used to keep monies that could not be classified immediately to the correct module. This required the officials to trace the depositor’s details and establish the account to which the monies must be paid.
5. There remained a number of unresolved differences on the manual records and the JDAS systems after the rollout of new systems affected balancing on JDAS reconciliations. As a result there were large volumes of unclassified funds, as well as losses.
6. The issuing of receipts, which would normally take ninety seconds, took up to three or more minutes because of the slow response of the system. The processing of payments took up to four to five minutes, which is longer than the expected two minutes. At times, it gave error messages which require the user to quit the session and log on again.
7. There were also challenges with bank reconciliations.
8. On some of the system controls, there were flaws which pointed to the absence of segregation of duties in the design of the system itself. Examples of these included:
(a) Reports – these can be drawn from the system by whoever has access, and not limited to control officers only
(b) Power of Attorney – can be added without authorisation on the system, and there is no limit on how many can be added per card
(c) Authorisations – with each transaction having to be authorised by one controller, and taking up a lot of time especially when the system is slow, backlogs are created on important daily checking; and
(d) Payments – these can be done without authorisation and there are no controls to confirm and verify signatures. Assurance cannot always be given that the correct person is collecting the payouts.
6. Submission by the Department on the Justice Deposit Account System (JDAS)
The delegation heard that:
1. The Department planned to replace JDAS with a new system that would be more effective in the management of daily operations at the courts.
2. The Department awaited approval from the National Treasury, and money had already been secured for the development of the system.
Following the oversight visits, the conclusions below are made:
1. The failure to make available the financial records of the TPF for the 2008/09 financial year pointed to a serious challenge within the Department, and the TPF in particular, of the inability to ensure sound financial practices.
2. The admission by the Department, that its staff who worked with the Fund did not always have adequate training in financial management and other necessary skills, may lead to delayed progress on the implementation of strategies needed to turn the TPF around.
3. Career pathing for the staff in the cash halls, would lead to improved service delivery to the people, as staff would be exposed to other aspects of the job with prospects of career growth.
4. There was a clear need for additional capacity in the court offices.
5. The slow response by the system server had already led to slow turnaround times in payouts.
6. The unresolved differences on the TPF manual records and JDAS, leading to increasing unclassified (‘parked’) funds, could result in subsequent undesirable audit outcomes.
7. Regional and local courts would benefit from more direct support from the Department, which would ensure improved conditions and motivated staff.
8. The installation of security cameras at the centres would improve security conditions, and ensure the prevention of incidents of crime.
9. The reported delays in criminal investigations could lead to the continuation of a culture of unabated fraudulent activities, to the detriment of the fund.
10. The provision of up-to-date information technology hardware could lead to better use of the current system whilst offices await the implementation of the new system.
11. Adequate training of staff on the new system would ensure improved service delivery.
The Committee on recommends as follows:
1. Documents should be made available to the Office of the Auditor-General to conduct audits on the TPF as required by legislation.
2. The Department should assist the Regions more directly, as a matter of urgency, by responding to their proposals on human and financial resources.
3. The human resource strategies should be re-thought, and include clear career development and support for staff.
4. Information technology systems should be realigned as necessary, and relevant training provided to staff.
5. Adequate training of staff members in the TPF offices, on the new system, should be ensured.
6. Security measures should be improved at the courts by the installation of security cameras.
7. Appropriate disciplinary measures should be taken against staff members found to have been involved in fraudulent activities.
8. The Department should ensure that there is uniformity in the administrative procedures and systems of the court offices responsible for Third Party Funds.
9. Daily and monthly reconciliations should be made, as well as the provision of staff with the skills and qualifications to perform these tasks.
10. A national plan should be developed to use the EFT system as a preferred means of payment, where possible.
11. The Department should provide more oversight on worst performing courts.
12. The department must also assist the courts to reduce the backlog of unclassified funds.
13. The improvement and monitoring of the policies on password security for any staff with access to the database should be ensured.
The Committee further recommends that the Executive Authority submits a progress report on the implementation of the above recommendations to the National Assembly within 60 days after the adoption of this report by the House.
Report to be considered.
MONDAY, 19 SEPTEMBER 2011
National Assembly and National Council of Provinces
The Speaker and the Chairperson
1. Calling of Joint Sitting
The Speaker and the Chairperson received a message, dated 13 September 2011, from the President, requesting that a Joint Sitting of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces be convened:
CALLING OF JOINT SITTING OF PARLIAMENT
In terms of section 84 (2)(d) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, read with Joint Rule 7(1)(b) of the Joint Rules of Parliament, I hereby call a joint sitting of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces on Tuesday, 1 November 2011 at 14h00, in order to bid farewell to the outgoing Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo, and to welcome the incoming Chief Justice, Mogoeng Thomas Reets Mogoeng.
MR J G ZUMA
PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA
2. Assent by President in respect of Bills
(1) Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill [B 36D – 2010 (Reprint)] – Act No 15 of 2011 (assented to and signed by President on 15 September 2011).
National Assembly and National Council of Provinces
1. The Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs
(a) Report and Financial Statements of Vote 3 – Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs for 2010-2011, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information of Vote 3 for 2010-2011 [RP 225-2011].
2. The Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs
(a) Report and Financial Statements of Vote 37 – Department of Water Affairs for 2010-2011, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information of Vote 37 for 2010-2011 [RP 214-2011].
TUESDAY, 20 SEPTEMBER 2011
National Assembly and National Council of Provinces
1. The Speaker and the Chairperson
(a) Report and Financial Statements of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) for 2010-2011, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2010-2011 [RP 128-2011].
2. The Minister of Finance
(a) Report and Financial Statements of the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) for 2010-2011, including the Report of the Independent Auditors on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2010-2011 and the Report and Financial Statements of the Development Bank of Southern Africa Development Fund for 2010-2011, including the Report of the Independent Auditors on the Financial Statements and Performance Information of the Development Fund for 2010-2011.
(b) Report and Financial Statements of the Co-operative Banks Development Agency for 2010-2011, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2010-2011.
(c) Agreement between the Government of the Republic of South Africa and the Government of Bermuda for the exchange of information relating to tax matters, tabled in terms of section 231(2) of the Constitution, 1996.
(d) Explanatory Memorandum to the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of South Africa and the Government of Bermuda for the exchange of information relating to tax matters.
3. The Minister of Mineral Resources
(a) Report of the Mine Health and Safety Inspectorate for 2010-2011 [RP 109-2011].
(b) Report and Financial Statements of the Mine Health and Safety Council (MHSC) for 2010-2011, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2010-2011 [RP 10-2011].
(c) Report and Financial Statements of the Council for Mineral Technology (Mintek) for 2010-2011, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2010-2011 [RP 16-2011].
(d) Report and Financial Statements of the State Diamond Trader for 2010-2011, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2010-2011.
(e) Report and Financial Statements of the Council for Geoscience for 2010-2011, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2010-2011 [RP 67-2011].
(f) Report and Financial Statements of the South African Diamond and Precious Metals Regulator for 2010-2011, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2010-2011 [RP 237-2011].
4. The Minister of Science and Technology
(a) Report and Financial Statements of Vote 33 – Department of Science and Technology for 2010-2011, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information of Vote 33 for 2010-2011 [RP 133-2011].
(b) Report and Financial Statements of the Academy of Science of South Africa for 2010-2011, including the Report of the Independent Auditors on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2010-2011.
5. The Minister of Police
(a) Report and Financial Statements of Vote 24 – Department of Police for 2010-2011, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information of Vote 24 for 2010-2011 [RP 194-2011].
1. Report of the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services on factors contributing to overcrowding in correctional centres, dated 14 September 2011
1.1 The Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services in most, if not all, of its oversight reports, highlights the impact overcrowding has on, amongst others, service delivery to inmates and conditions of incarceration. It consistently recommends that interventions should be made to mitigate the effects of overcrowding. The first such recommendations were made as far back as 2005, yet the reduction in the inmate population is miniscule. This report draws attention to the role the judiciary could play in reducing the inmate population.
1.2 The Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS) in its 2009/10 Annual Report, states that, although the level of incarceration has dropped to 139%, considerably lower than the 170% recorded at the end of the 2002/03 financial year, South Africa’s incarceration rate remains the highest in Africa and one of the highest in the world. Nineteen of South Africa’s 239 operational correctional centres recorded levels of overcrowding greater than 200%, and conditions of incarceration at these centres are inhumane and do not comply with constitutional requirements governing detention.
1.3 Incarceration, even when justified and under the best possible conditions, is traumatic. That conditions in South African correctional centres barely meet minimum standards of humane detention and, in the vast majority of instances, do not promote the correction of offending behaviour, is well-known and indisputable. Because everyone has the right to freedom of movement, and, given the trauma inflicted by incarceration, even under the best conditions, the Committee remains convinced that custodial sentences should only be handed down in cases that absolutely demand it, and that only those who absolutely pose a risk to the community, or a flight risk, should be remanded in detention.
1.4 The Committee wishes to bring the matters outlined below to the JCPS cluster’s attention and intends to, in the near future, invite stakeholders to submit proposals on how existing provisions may be better utilised to limit the inmate population and promote the effective implementation of the provisions of the recently passed Correctional Matters Amendment Act.
2. FACTORS CONTRIBUTING TO OVERCROWDING IN CORRECTIONAL CENTRES
2.1 Information gathered during oversight visits and through interactions with the Justice and Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster and stakeholders, reveals a number of challenges that contribute to the correctional centres’ chronic overcrowding. The two main contributing factors appear to be the minimum sentencing provisions of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, and the ever-growing remand detention population.
2.2 When the death penalty was abolished, minimum sentencing legislation was proposed to assure the public that, the abolition notwithstanding, government remained committed to reducing serious crime. It served to appease a public which had become, and remains, increasingly concerned about the high levels of crime in the country. Many agree that the legislation, which provides minimum sentences of imprisonment (ranging from 15-25 years) for a small range of serious offences, including murder, rape, robbery and serious economic crimes, is a serious contributor to the high prison population. The legislation provides for progressively harsher penalties for repeat offenders but also allows for judicial discretion: courts may impose a lesser sentence in cases in which substantial and compelling circumstances exist that justify the imposition of a lesser sentence; judges must provide their reasons for imposing a sentence below the minimum. All stakeholders interacted with are of the opinion that the amendment of this legislation would contribute to a reduction in the inmate population.
2.3 The remand population remains a major contributor to overcrowding. According to the DCS’ records, on average, 733 of those in remand spend more than three years awaiting trial. More than 230 of these detainees will spend four to five years awaiting trial, while 90 will spend more than five years in remand before they are sentenced. One such inmate is detained at Durban-Westville and has so far spent just under eight years in remand. He has reportedly appeared before the magistrate’s court nine times, and 55 times before the Pietermaritzburg High Court. In 2010/11 the JICS reported that, although the remand population had by May 2010 decreased from almost 64 000 in April 2000 to 49 030, those in remand still constituted more than 30% of the inmate population, and 52% of the population are at those centres that are critically overcrowded. The JICS registered its concern that, though remand detainees are not convicted criminals, they are subjected to the same inhumane conditions sentenced offenders are subjected to. This presents an ethical dilemma that demands serious attention.
The Committee has, in most of its oversight reports, raised its concern about the poor use of legislative provisions and other agreements that may reduce the inmate population. Some of the provisions, if used more regularly, could effect a radical reduction, not only in the remand population, but also in the sentenced inmate population. These provisions are highlighted below.
3.1 Case and court management
Approximately 3-4% of remand detainees spend more than two years in remand. The JCPS cluster suggests that the reasons for this are varied and include the complexity of some cases that have multiple accused, multiple charges and multiple witnesses; unavailability of witnesses; the withdrawal and changing of legal representation; delays in securing High Court dates; and the loss of court records. Members of Parliament serving on the Police and Correctional Services committees have reported that they receive numerous complaints of cases having to be postponed owing to prosecutors, magistrates and judges being absent from work. The Committee recommends that every effort is made to ensure that courts are run in such a manner that matters are managed efficiently and speedily, and that, in so doing, the accessibility and effectiveness of the courts, in terms of section 165(4) of the Constitution, are ensured.
Greater use should be made of plea and sentence agreements in terms of section 105A of the Criminal Procedure Act, which would result in the speedy resolution of less serious offences. Such processes are prosecutor driven, and prosecutors should be encouraged to make use of these options.
3.3 Requests to refuse remand detention
During the Committee’s most recent oversight visits, it was revealed that prosecutors often request magistrates to remand cases indefinitely. Many detainees claimed that there was no evidence against them, or that investigations were deliberately being delayed. Given the prevailing conditions in correctional centres, and given every innocent person’s right to freedom of movement, such requests should be made only when there is sufficient evidence to warrant further detention. The JICS, in its 2009/10 annual report, recommends that prosecutors should, where an accused has been in remand for an unreasonably long time, and evidence is weak, request the court to refuse further remand, subject to matters being re-opened should compelling evidence emerge at a later stage. The Committee supports this recommendation.
3.4 Unaffordable bail
On every visit to remand detention centres the Committee has come across numbers of detainees who have been granted bail of less than R1 000, but who could not afford to pay it. The JICS reported that, in the 2007/08 financial year, 8 348 remand detainees were detained simply because they could not afford to pay the bail amounts set at R1 000 or less; half had bail set at under R500. In October 2010 the JCPS cluster reported that on 31 May 2010 the number of remand detainees with bail amounts less than R1 000 stood at 4 458. This situation is unacceptable given the provisions of section 62(f) of the Criminal Procedure Act, which allows for an accused to be placed under the supervision of a probation or correctional officer, while awaiting trial. In three of the four magisterial districts of the Eastern Cape a protocol exists allowing all those with bail set at less than R1 000, to re-appear before the court if, within 14 days of the court having granted bail, they have not managed to raise the monies. Despite this, the Committee, on its recent oversight visit to St Albans and Mthatha correctional centres, found 47 juvenile and 284 adults who qualified for consideration in terms of the protocol, but who had not re-appeared. Magistrates should be encouraged to make full use of section 60(2B)(ii) of the Criminal Procedure Act, which allows them to consider the affordability of the bail amount set. At present, testing for affordability is left to magistrates’ discretion and it is often ignored. Parliament should consider amending the provision to make it compulsory.
3.5 Amendment of bail conditions
In terms of section 63A of the Criminal Procedure Act, Heads of Correctional Centres (HCC) may apply for the amendment of bail conditions on account of prevailing prison conditions including whether the centre is overcrowded. The JICS reports that this provision is grossly under-utilised. Parliament had in the past been informed that HCCs stopped making use of this provision, because courts summarily turned down applications made in terms of it. The DCS should provide the Committee with a report on the extent to which this provision has been used in the past 12 months, and how these applications were received by the courts.
3.6 Delays in decisions to grant bail
In 2010 the JCPS cluster reported that the category of inmates for whom the courts had not yet decided to grant bail stood at 37 865 at the end of May that year. This category placed enormous strain on the DCS, as it was impossible to divert them in terms of Sections 62 and 63 of the Criminal Procedure Act. Only in cases where the accused pose a threat to society, or pose a flight risk, should bail be denied
3.7 Alternatives to remand detention
In 2009/10 the number of detainees who had been granted bail but could not afford the amounts set, came to 10 089, while only 2 116 were awaiting trial in the community. The Committee supports the JICS’ recommendation that, even if remand is justified, consideration should be given to non-custodial alternatives. The community should be involved in such efforts, as such involvement promotes victim-empowerment and restorative justice.
3.8 Police investigations
Concerns about the South African Police Service’s (SAPS) apparent arrests regardless of whether evidence to do so and sustain a conviction is sufficient, are mounting. According to the JICS 2009/10 Annual Report the average period of remand detention is about three months, after which, typically, detainees are released for lack of sufficient evidence to secure a conviction. It is recommended that prosecutors and legal representatives be vigilant, and that, in cases where evidence is weak, courts be implored to refuse requests for remand detention.
3.9 Alternative sentencing
Courts should make greater use of alternative, non-custodial sentences, such as those contained in section 276(1)(h) and (i) of the Criminal Procedure Act. The DCS reports that, in 2009/10, a total of 21 782 offenders had served correctional supervision sentences. Greater use of alternative sentencing options will no doubt reduce overcrowding and will, more importantly, facilitate the speedy and smooth reintegration of offenders into society. In October 2010 the JCPS cluster reported that the continued incarceration of those serving sentences of less than six months impacts negatively on the provision of rehabilitation programmes. To date, magistrates have been reluctant to impose alternative sentences, largely owing to the DCS’ inability to track such offenders. Given that, with adequate monitoring, the benefits of alternative sentences far outweigh those of incarceration, their use, where appropriate, should be encouraged.
3.10 Electronic monitoring
The Committee recommends that, in this regard, the DCS should expedite efforts to introduce an electronic monitoring system that would make it possible to monitor and keep track of those sentenced to community corrections, parolees and those who have been granted bail. Keeping these categories of inmates to the minimum will result in a radical reduction in inmate numbers.
3.11 Offender Transfer Agreements
Foreign nationals place strain on South Africa’s already pressurised correctional system, because of the additional care they demand. There are approximately 10 000 foreign nationals in correctional centres across South Africa. A total of 8 000 of these offenders are from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) alone. South Africa has not entered into any inmate transfer agreements with other countries. With only 1 000 South Africans incarcerated in other countries, such agreements could only be beneficial. The Committee acknowledges the complexities inherent in negotiating inmate transfer agreements, but recommends that, where appropriate, and certainly at a SADC level, the State should reconsider its stance on entering into such agreements.
According to the DCS it costs the State approximately R123,37 per day to accommodate an inmate. The Committee believes this figure conservative, and not inclusive of all the costs associated with incarcerating a person. The reduction of the inmate population would generate savings that could be better spent in areas that would aid rehabilitation. The DCS reports, for instance, that in 2009/10, 12 740 offenders serving sentences of less than 24 months had no sentence plans. Stakeholders alarmingly report that, though many offenders may have sentence plans, it is unlikely that these sentence plans are implemented particularly given the DCS’ acute staffing and budgetary constraints. Rehabilitation need not be confined to correctional facilities, and may be more successfully achieved within the community. In view of this, the Committee advises that the recommendations made above receive due consideration, and that efforts to create a conducive environment for the implementation of alternatives to incarceration and remand in detention, are redoubled.
Report to be considered.
THIS REPORT REPLACES THE REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT ON THE LEGAL AID GUIDE 2011 PUBLISHED IN THE ANNOUNCEMENTS, TABLINGS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS, No 114-2011 PAGE 2820, OF FRIDAY, 9 SEPTEMBER 2011
2. Report of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development on the, Legal Aid Guide 2011 (12th Edition), including proposed amendments approved by the Board of Legal Aid South Africa, tabled in terms of section 3A(2) of the Legal Aid Act, 1969 (No 22 of 1969), dated 8 September 2011:
The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development, having considered Legal Aid Guide 2011 (12th Edition), including proposed amendments approved by the Board of Legal Aid South Africa, recommends that the National Assembly approves it.
The Committee reports further as follows:
1. Despite its role being restricted to either approving or rejecting the proposed amendments, the Committee would have liked an opportunity to apply its mind to the proposals. As mentioned in previous reports, the Committee requests that, in future, Legal Aid South Africa (LASA) make a draft of the proposed amendments available to it, so that it can do so informally.
2. In addition, the Committee wishes to raise the following concerns:
2.1. The means test is one way of determining who qualifies for financial assistance. The Committee, however, is concerned that the application of the test can result in some applicants not qualifying, despite their need for assistance. In particular, requiring an applicant to live in the house he or she owns in order to qualify could be unfair. The Committee acknowledges that there is an appeal process that takes into account a broad range of factors in addition to means but wishes to highlight the importance of ensuring that applicants, who are initially refused, are made aware of these further processes.
2.2. The Committee is concerned that there is no specific reference to the Child Justice Act in the Guide and requests LASA to rectify the omission in future amendments to the Guide. However, the Committee notes that LASA makes extensive provision for children in its existing policies and procedures: A child will never be refused representation.
Report to be considered
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