Hansard: NCOP: Unrevised hansard
House: National Council of Provinces
Date of Meeting: 05 Oct 2000
No summary available.
THURSDAY, 5 OCTOBER 2000
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF PROVINCES
The Council met at 15:31.
The Chairperson took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.
ANNOUNCEMENTS, TABLINGS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS - see col 000.
The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: Order! I am sure hon members will be very blessed this week. They have certainly prayed and meditated repeatedly.
Mr A E VAN NIEKERK: Although very briefly!
The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: Very briefly, but repeatedly.
NOTICE OF MOTION
Mr P A MATTHEE: Chairperson, I hereby give notice that at the next sitting of the Council I shall move:
That the Council -
(1)..... notes with great concern the contempt displayed by certain Ministries towards the answering of questions within 10 working days of their appearance on the Question Papers, according to Rule 239 of the NCOP;
(2)..... further notes that some questions which appeared during April and May 2000 remain unanswered to this day, even after a huge attempt, via correspondence to the Ministries asking for their urgent replies;
(3)..... wishes to bring to the attention that a question to a Minister is specifically to obtain information relating to the public affairs with which he or she is officially connected or any matter of administration for which he or she is responsible; and
(4)..... expresses its concern that the contempt displayed by certain Ministries damages -
(a)..... the status and authority of this Council;
(b)..... the principle of transparency; and
(c)..... the right to information.
DEATH OF DEPUTY AREA COMMISSIONER FOR THE LOWVELD
IN CASH-IN-TRANSIT HEIST
Mr J L MAHLANGU: Chairperson, I move without notice:
That the Council -
(1)..... notes the tragic and untimely death of Mpumalanga's Deputy Area Commissioner for the Lowveld, Mandla Mahlangu, who was gunned down when he went to the aid of what he perceived to be an accident, but which in fact was a cash-in-transit heist;
(2)..... further notes that Mandla Mahlangu was appointed Deputy Police Commissioner in Mpumalanga's key Lowveld area last week after a string of successes he achieved while heading the region's crime prevention unit;
(3)..... offers its heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Mr Mahlangu;
(4)..... pleads with communities to co-operate with the SAPS in their investigations so as to arrest the perpetrators of this heinous act; and
(5)..... expresses the hope that the perpetrators of this and other violent crimes will be speedily arrested and made to realise that crime does not pay.
Motion agreed to in accordance with section 65 of the Constitution.
TRIBUTE TO SANDF
Mr K D S DURR: Madam Chair, I move without notice:
That the Council notes that -
(1)..... today the NCOP joined with their colleagues in the Other Place to pay fitting tribute to the SANDF in order to honour its peace-keeping and humanitarian role in our country and our region; and
(2)..... the important step in the ongoing reconciliation of its people with one another and with our vital institutions was yet another important foundation and milestone in the process of nation-building.
We salute the SANDF!
Motion agreed to in accordance with section 65 of the Constitution.
CONTRIBUTION OF NCOP TO DEBATE HONOURING SANDF
Mr A E VAN NIEKERK: Chairperson, I move without notice:
That the Council -
(1)..... recognises that members of the Council participated in the Joint Sitting of the Council and the National Assembly in a debate honouring the SANDF for its peace-keeping role;
(2)..... thanks the Chairperson and the speakers for their positive and constructive contributions during this occasion; and
(3)..... notes that it is thus emphasised that members of this Council have a major contribution to make not only in Parliament but also in South Africa and that we must do it because we can!
Motion agreed to in accordance with section 65 of the Constitution.
CONGRATULATIONS TO CAPE GRACE HOTEL ON WINNING INTERNATIONAL AWARD
Dr E A CONROY: Madam Chair, I move without notice:
That the Council congratulates a South African hotel which has contributed greatly to the placing of our country on the international tourist map, namely, the Cape Grace Hotel of Cape Town, which has been elected as the best hotel in the world for 1999.
Motion agreed to in accordance with section 65 of the Constitution.
IMPORTANT MILESTONE REACHED IN SEARCH FOR VACCINE FOR THE HI VIRUS
Dr P J C NEL: Voorsitter, ek stel sonder kennisgewing voor:
Dat die Raad daarvan kennis neem -
(1)..... dat die Nuwe NP met genoegdoening kennis geneem het van die aankondiging, gedoen deur die Voorsitter van die Mediese Navorsingsraad, dr Makgoba, dat 'n belangrike mylpaal in die stryd teen MIV/Vigs behaal is, deurdat 'n entstof teen die C-stam van die MI-virus in Suid-Afrika deur navorsers ontwikkel is, en dat reeds vroeg aanstaande jaar met toetse in Suid-Afrika begin sal word;
(2)..... dat na 'n lang tydperk van verwarring en onsekerheid oor onder andere die oorsaak van Vigs in Suid-Afrika dit werklik 'n welkome ligpunt is wat moontlik Suid-Afrika se beeld ten opsigte van hierdie aangeleentheid drasties sal verbeter en aan die wêreld toon dat Suid-Afrika se mense tog glo dat Vigs deur die virus veroorsaak word; en
(3)..... dat die Nuwe NP die hoop uitspreek dat na die geskatte tydperk van drie tot vyf jaar wat dit sal neem om hierdie tegnies ingewikkelde entstof te ontwikkel, dit tog in 'n magtige wapen sal ontwikkel om uiteindelik die oorlog teen die pandemie te wen.
(Translation of Afrikaans draft resolution follows.)
[Dr P J C NEL: Chairman, I move without notice:
That the Council notes -
(1) that the New NP has noted with satisfaction the announcement by the Chairperson of the Medical Research Council, Dr Makgoba, that an important milestone has been reached in the fight against HIV/Aids in that a vaccine against the C-base of the HI virus has been developed by researchers in South Africa and that testing will begin in South Africa early next year;
(2) that after a long period of confusion and uncertainty about, inter alia, the cause of Aids in South Africa, this is truly a welcome ray of light which could dramatically improve South Africa's image with regard to this matter and show the world that South Africa's people indeed believe that Aids is caused by the virus; and
(3) that the New NP expresses the hope that after the estimated period of three to five years which it will take to develop this technically complex vaccine it will develop into a powerful weapon to eventually win the war against the pandemic.]
The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: Order! Is there any objection to the motion?
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE COUNCIL: Chairperson, I want to move as an amendment:
That the following paragraph be added after paragraph (3):
``(4)... the support and resources made available by Government to promote this initiative by the Medical Research Council.''
The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: Order! Is there any objection to that amendment? There is no objection.
Amendment agreed to in accordance with section 65 of the Constitution.
Motion, as amended, agreed to in accordance with section 65 of the Constitution, namely:
That the Council notes -
(1)..... that the New NP has noted with satisfaction the announcement by the Chairperson of the Medical Research Council, Dr Makgoba, that an important milestone has been reached in the fight against HIV/Aids in that a vaccine against the C-base of the HI virus has been developed by researchers in South Africa and that testing will begin in South Africa early next year already.
(2)..... that after a long, period of confusion and uncertainty about, inter alia, the cause of Aids in South Africa, this is truly a welcome ray of light which could dramatically improve South Africa's image with regard to this matter and show the world that South Africa's people indeed believe that Aids is caused by the virus;
(3)..... that the New NP expresses the hope that after the estimated period of three to five years which it will take to develop this technically complex vaccine it will develop into a powerful weapon to eventually win the war against the pandemic; and
(4)..... the support and resources made available by Government to promote this initiative by the Medical Research Council.
COMPETITION SECOND AMENDMENT BILL
(Consideration of Bill and of Report thereon)
The MINISTER OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY: Chairperson, it is always an honour to speak in the House. That is why I am taking some of hon members' time, if they do not mind, despite the fact that there is no speakers' list and, I think, all parties support the amendment.
I also feel that the Competition Act is an important piece of legislation. I think it has had a marked impact on the workings of the South African economy and will continue, I think, to improve the degree of competition in our economy.
This amendment, to which the Council has made certain additions, deals with a number of issues. There are three important ones which I would like to draw the House's attention to very briefly. Firstly, this amendment does remove the legislative uncertainty that emerged over differing interpretations of the meaning of section 3(1)(d). I think this will help a great deal in the future.
Secondly, it deals with the thresholds as to the size of mergers that have to notify. The main difficulty here was that the original Act meant that these thresholds could only be adjusted by an amendment and dealt with every five years. This proved to be creating various practical problems. I do not think that any of us envisaged the number of mergers that would be notified to the Competition Commission, and, clearly, the threshold level needs to be more adaptable than was catered for in the original legislation.
Thirdly, and an important point, it allows for some interim relief in the case of a complaint against anticompetitive practices. Given the complexity of these cases there can be a delay in the consideration, although the Act does set time limits. So I think, again, that this is the result of our experience of the first year of the Act.
I would like to thank both the National Assembly and the NCOP for the work they have done on this Act, and also various stakeholders in our economy for the very considered and useful propositions they made around the experiences we had in the first year. I urge support from the House. [Applause.]
Bill, subject to proposed amendments, agreed to in accordance with section 75 of the Constitution.
CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY DEVELOPMENT BOARD BILL
(Consideration of Bill and of Report thereon)
The MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS: Chairperson, hon members, today's assembly of the National Council of Provinces is a significant landmark in the future of the construction industry. It brings to fruition five years of activity that has engaged all formations of the Government and the industry in an historic policy-making process.
The collaboration that has led to this landmark moment was set in motion by a meeting in 1995 between the Department of Public Works and the captains of the South African construction industry. That meeting addressed the role of the partnership between the industry and the Government in reconstruction and development, as well as the structural impediments to growth, development, delivery and transformation of the construction industry. It gave impetus to the development of a comprehensive policy framework, within which the industry can play a more strategic role in social development and economic growth.
The Bill before us emanates from the White Paper on Creating an Enabling Environment for Reconstruction, Growth and Development in the Construction Industry. Published last year, the White Paper sets out a comprehensive industry development strategy and proposes the establishment of a statutory construction industry development board, or CIDB, to drive this strategy in partnership with all Government delivery agencies and the private sector. This is the essential purpose of the Construction Industry Development Board Bill before this House.
The construction industry is a national asset in the challenges that face our country. It has a pivotal role to play in infrastructure delivery, to meet the needs of ordinary South Africans. It is this objective which underpins the Government's vision and its commitment to construction industry development.
We are, fortunately, able to build on an industry which is strategically developed and which provides much-needed employment and dignity to thousands of people. In the South African context and, indeed, in the context of our region, the industry's development must be geared towards rolling back the enormous legacy of an inadequate infrastructure, its inequitable distribution, and the underdevelopment of locally based physical and human resources. Unlocking the industry's potential to address this stark reality is at the core of the enabling legislation before this Council, but this potential is impeded.
Previous government policies and market forces have distorted the nature and profile of the South African construction industry, which is characterised by adversarial relationships between clients and contractors, contractors and subcontractors, and in the workforce itself. Its accessibility is a factor of volatile demand and impacts negatively on sustainable employment and human resource development. This affects performance in relation to quality, productivity, safety, health and environment. It ultimately impacts on value for money to clients and investors.
Previous legislation affecting the construction industry reinforced the fundamental intentions of apartheid and limited black participation to the domain of unskilled artisans and cheap labour. This was achieved not only through the Bantu Education Act, but also through the Native Building Workers Act of 1951. Job reservation was further reinforced by the Industrial Conciliation Act of 1956.
These instruments of policy shaped the entire industry to the benefit of white artisans, contractors, professionals and materials suppliers. Today the emerging black sector faces a range of hurdles in the way of accessing markets, training and finance which contribute to a vicious cycle that pegs the sector's growth. It is against this backdrop that the Government and the private sector embarked on a structured process of engagement to reshape the industry. It is important that I should highlight some of the significant milestones of this process that underpins the legislation before us.
The Green Paper published in 1997 invited public comment on the draft policy to enable thorough planning and consultation with all stakeholders towards the establishment of the CIDB. The Minister of Public Works appointed an interministerial task team which started its work in 1998. The task team established an industry-wide reference group to ensure the inclusive input of public and private sector stakeholders.
It further set up a number of focus groups for industry specialists to refine key outputs identified in the Green Paper, such as the register of contractors, which is an important function of the CIDB. This partnership redefined Government policy as embodied in the White Paper of 1999.
In November 1991 a two-day industry summit workshop to debate the first draft legislation was convened. In December, the amended draft legislation for public comment was published. In July 2000, taking cognisance of public comment, the draft Bill was further amended and, ultimately, certified. In August 2000, together with provincial MECs we convened public sector workshops in all nine provinces. Since then the legislation has been refined by the NCOP Select Committee on Public Services.
To ensure a further opportunity for public comment, the select committee invited submissions, which it has considered in the final amendment. I am pleased to note that these submissions confirm the support of all key stakeholders.
Under the capable leadership of the acting chairperson, the hon Mokoena, the select committee has effected significant improvements to the legislation. The NCOP process has ensured the structured input of all provincial legislatures. This is particularly significant, in view of the binding nature of the Bill on all organs of state.
I now want to deal with the essence of the legislation. Recognising the dispersed nature of the industry, and its many role-players, including clients and service providers, the Construction Industry Development Board will constitute a national competence for industry development. It will provide strategic leadership to realise the Government's vision of a construction industry policy and strategy that promotes stability, fosters economic growth and international competitiveness, creates sustainable employment and addresses historical imbalances as it generates a new industry capacity. That comes from the White Paper.
The core objectives of the CIDB are to establish and promote appropriate and uniform best practice standards and guidelines that promote improved industry stability and performance, as well as social and economic objectives; to ensure the uniform application of policy throughout all spheres of Government and provide uniform and ethical standards throughout the industry; to promote the sustainable growth of the construction economy, and to improve the investment environment and the participation of the emerging sector in the mainstream economy.
The board will drive best practice through programmes and instruments that include the establishment of a register of contractors, a register of projects and a code of conduct. It is important that the board itself should comprise outstanding practitioners with a broad development perspective and a commitment that looks beyond the narrow interests of individual stakeholders. The appointment of the board must also take account of the need to reflect the race, gender and geographic composition of our land.
The responsibility conferred on the board is immense. The board will therefore continuously require the support and input of stakeholders. This will be accomplished through the establishment of the stakeholder forum. This forum will enable the representation of all stakeholders including government departments, provinces and local authorities. It will also include representation of employer bodies, the professions, organised labour, the emerging sector and others. To enable policy co-ordination and the identification of national priorities, the legislation appropriately requires the Minister of Public Works to consult with relevant Ministers and provincial MECs.
In conclusion, the CIDB must be a catalyst for change. It must ensure sustainable growth, regional and global competitiveness and the continuous inclusion of historical marginalised sectors of our society. It must promote investment and value for money to clients.
Finally, I would like to thank the task team, as well as the department's drafting team and all the stakeholders, for the hard work that has been put into the legislation before us. In particular I wish to thank the members of the select committee and the provincial legislatures for their immense effort to ensure that the legislation was finalised in time for consideration at today's assembly of the NCOP.
I regard it as critically important that the legislation now reflects the concerns of the provinces. Today, as I have said, is indeed an historic day. The passage of the Bill before this House will put the construction industry firmly on the national agenda in the interests of all South Africans. As we move forward to implement this enabling legislation, we will continue to rely on the commitment of all role-players to the growth, development and transformation of the construction industry. [Applause.]
Chief M L MOKOENA: Chairperson, good leaders listen when their people speak. The construction industry was and still is undeniably in tatters; the industry is terribly fragmented. We are witnessing a shockingly massive mushrooming of contractors, especially noticeable when there are projects to be embarked upon by departments. As a government we either use that old law about an eye for an eye, which unfortunately leaves everybody blind ... [Laughter.] ... or put measures in place to correct this anomaly.
Someone has to come up with those corrective measures, someone who is prepared to confront this situation head-on. This person happens to be the hon the Minister of Public Works. I want to thank the hon the Minister for the efforts that she has made to ensure that our lives get better by the day. I want to thank her for having a great mind and a feeling for our people. As she is aware, minds are like parachutes; they only function when opened. [Laughter.] Once again, thanks, Mama Africa.
Again it is a fact that unless one enters the tiger's den, one cannot take the cubs. Good leaders listen when their people speak. We are now going to have this independent board appointed by the Minister. What kind of people are we looking at here? How is the Minister going to identify them? We are so glad to have a Minister who is not selfish. The Minister will not randomly pick and choose people. The public is given a chance to nominate individuals who, in their opinion, can serve as board members. I can hear some people saying the Minister is too generous. Yes, this is the kind of leadership we have in the ANC, leaders who will not do anything without consulting the very people whom we are supposed to serve.
The board will consist of people with vast experience in their own right, people who are prepared to move and not be moved, because the Minister is aware that a ship that stays in the same harbour never encounters danger, but also never gets anywhere. Yes, it is true that good leaders listen when their people speak. The main tasks of this board will be to provide strategic leadership, to promote and implement policies and programmes aimed at supporting emerging entrepreneur sectors, to improve labour relations and human resource development and to promote best practices to again guard against those greedy professional looters. The best preparation for good work tomorrow is to do good work today. The board will be expected to make sure that this legislation assists the people who are meant to benefit from it. As hon members know, what one thinks and does shapes one's future.
One other good thing about this Bill is the fact that all contractors will, from now on, have to be registered. This is being done to deal with some of the selfish, unsympathetic, greedy and corrupt contractors who are looting our government coffers, people who want to succeed while doing nothing. All I can do is remind them that the only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.
I am saying all this because it was possible for one person, using different names, to be given five tenders. This is why, when I hear some people sigh, ``life is hard,'' I am always tempted to ask ```compared to what?'' Contractors should register for us to know the owners thereof and their entire board of directors. It is not the hours one puts in that count, but what one puts into those hours. It will now be an offence for unregistered contractors to embark on any project without obtaining a formal authorisation. Yes, it used to happen, and they were even paid for it.
After the passage of this Bill some of these unholy practices will be a thing of the past. Yes, if it comes to the push, we are ready to milk the bull. [Laughter.] We cannot allow this situation to continue unchecked. We cannot fail. Failure does not mean one is a failure; it just means one has not succeeded yet.
All stakeholders will monitor whatever happens in the construction industry. There will be a forum of stakeholders, who are also expected to advise the Minister.
These are the people who are affected directly. This is a clear indication that the Minister has taken everybody on board. As to who must be accommodating, it is not the hon the Minister. It is now up to these stakeholders to effectively make use of this opportunity. Hence, the saying that opportunity follows those who walk the extra mile. At the same time, I would like to request the Minister to guard against some of those members of the board who might, instead of empowering our people, indirectly push them out of the system. They may even make it difficult for our emerging contractors to get tenders, only giving tenders to their blue-eyed boys and blue-eyed girls. Troubles are a lot like people, they grow bigger if one nurses them.
The people who will serve on this board should be people who will not easily forget or deliberately forget where we come from. I know that when we utter such statements some people say things are going to be bad, and that it means that such a person stands a better chance of being a prophet. [Time expired.]
The DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP (Mr M L Mushwana): Order! Thank you on that note, hon member. I did promise yesterday that I would allow you grace time, but only for yesterday. [Laughter.]
I take this opportunity to welcome our special delegates from the provinces, and hope that we will be enriched by their presence. We sincerely recognise and appreciate their participation. The next person to open his parachute is special delegate Mr Metele. Mr Metele, please leave the harbour.
Mr A T METELE (Eastern Cape): Chairperson, let me greet you all this afternoon in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. This Bill provides for the establishment of the Construction Industry Development Board to implement an integrated strategy for the reconstruction, growth and development of the construction industry, and to provide for matters connected therewith.
Whilst formulating our mandate, the standing committee considered the scope of consultation on the Bill, the importance of the subject matter to the citizens of the province, the constitutional mandate of participatory democracy, and public participation and transparency, and resolved that this piece of legislation should be considered for public hearing to empower the nation.
The structures implemented by this Bill will address issues affecting the workers. The national, social and economic objectives of the Bill include the growth of the emerging sector, labour absorption in the construction industry, improved labour relations and positive safety, and health and environmental outcomes which impact on the provinces.
The Bill includes emerging construction development and addresses the injustices of the past in this sector. The establishment of the board ensures that there is accountability and that all projects are registered. This ultimately ensures that there will be a transparent process in which structures are managed. The Eastern Cape undoubtedly supports the Bill in accordance with our mandate. [Applause.]
Mrs R A NDZANGA: Mr Chair, hon Minister, as part of its contribution to the national project of reconstruction, growth and development, the Department of Public Works has engaged the entire industry in a structured process of consultation which resulted in the launch of the White Paper, in order to create an enabling environment for reconstruction, growth and development in the construction industry.
This White Paper is like a mirror that reflects the soul of the Department of Public Works. It identifies the ideals and aspirations of the nation. The White Paper articulates the building values of the construction industry which impact directly on the communities and the public at large. The construction industry's improved efficiency and effectiveness will enhance quality, productivity, health, safety, environmental outcomes, and value for money for our country.
The Construction Industry Development Board Bill seeks to establish a statutory authority to be the specialist agency to co-ordinate the national endeavour through promoting our vision as set out in the White Paper. Owing to the nature of duties the board will have to discharge as part of Government's blueprint, we have given the board a justic personality as it will have an indispensable role in the South African economy in providing the physical infrastructure which is fundamental to the country's development.
This Bill also regulates general powers of the board, such as the establishment of committees to assist the board in the performance of its functions. This Bill requires that a balance must be achieved in the appointment of members of the board with regard to the field of expertise required, and the board should reflect the race, gender and geographical composition of our country. It is an explicit requirement of this Bill that a member of the board may not be a political office bearer and must be a South African citizen.
The board is required, within a reasonable period of time, to introduce a best practice project assessment scheme, that is linked to the register of projects, and which will promote best practice client performance within the public and private sectors.
The Construction Industry Development Board must establish appropriate and uniform best practice standards and guidelines that promote improved industry stability; performance-improved industry and efficiency; and national and economic objectives, including growth of the emerging sector, labour absorption and skills training. The board must also promote uniform application of policy with regard to the construction industry throughout all spheres of government.
The Bill also requires that only the contractors and subcontractors who are registered with the Construction Industry Development Board in an appropriate category of registration will be permitted to practice in public-sector construction contracts. The establishment of a register of contractors and subcontractors must not constitute a barrier to access by emerging sectors. The register of contractors will categorise contractors in a manner that facilitates public-sector procurement and promotes contractor development as a primary. The register of contractors must reduce the risk relating to the selection of contractors, serve to promote minimum and best practice standards, regulate the behaviour and actions of contractors in relation to procurement and business practices, and reduce tendering costs and the administrative burden associated with awarding contracts. Lastly, the register must promote the development of emerging contractors by establishing their track records. This will mean the end of fly-by-night contractors. [Applause.]
Mr N M RAJU: Hon Chair, hon Minister, hon special delegates and dear colleagues in the House, the Construction Industry Development Board Bill seeks to establish a statutory authority which is envisaged to co-ordinate nationally the transformation and development of the industry.
To quote the White Paper:
The CIDB will exercise leadership and foster the co-operation of industry stakeholders to pursue development objectives, improved industry practices and procedures - which will enhance delivery, performance and value for money, profitability, and the industry's long-term survival in an increasingly global arena.
There is no doubt that the need for creating an enabling environment, which the hon the Minister has referred to, for reconstruction, growth and development in the construction industry is being adequately addressed by the Construction Industry Development Board Bill.
Towards this end, the Construction Industry Development Board is to be established as a juristic person and given powers, functions and duties in line with its objectives. The CIDB will be the custodian and driver of the national vision and strategy for construction industry development.
Clause 4, for instance, specifically refers to the promotion of appropriate research, the implementation of Government policy with regard to the construction industry, the providing of advice to the Minister, the provision of consultancy services, establishment of committees, etc, for optimum performance.
Clause 6 of the Bill provides for the composition of the Board, which must consist of at least nine, but not more than 13, members appointed by the Minister. Members must be South African citizens and no political office bearer may be a member. These appointments must not only be sensitive to gender and reflect the demographic balance, they should also be consonant with the geographical composition of the country.
Clauses 16 to 21 provide for the establishment of a register of contractors, which is pivotal to the development of the construction industry. Previous speakers have referred to this fact and I welcome the inclusion of this very important clause.
The size and distribution of contractors operating in the construction industry must be known. Furthermore the volume, nature and performance of contractors must be indicated. Matters such as the registration and deregistration of a contractor are dealt with, as well as the duration and renewal of registration.
As far as the financial implications for the state are concerned, it is foreseen that the CIDB will initially rely on state funding until such time that the register of contractors and the register of projects are established, whereupon the cost will be partially funded from the operation of these services to the industry stakeholders.
The state plays a role as regulator, facilitator and client. Of course, as the single largest client for the construction sector, the Government is well placed to influence the development.
The total annual budget for the CIDB is estimated at approximately R11,5 million. The CIDB will be funded by the Department of Public Works from within the MTEF budget allocation.
Finally, there is no doubt that the CIDB is a step in the right direction to restore clear guidelines for the efficient functioning of the all-important construction industry in the Republic of South Africa. [Applause.]
Dr P J C NEL: Mnr die Voorsitter, heel aan die begin wil ek graag my dank uitspreek teenoor die amptenare van die Departement van Openbare Werke vir die bekwame wyse waarop hulle hierdie wetsontwerp aan die lede van die komitee en die gemeenskap bekendgestel het.
[Dr P J C NEL: Mr Chairperson, right at the outset I would like to express my gratitude to the officials of the Department of Public Works for the skilful way in which they introduced this Bill to the members of the committee and the community.]
This is an important piece of legislation because effective, well-maintained infrastructure forms the very basic foundation for providing an acceptable quality of life for all and sustainable growth in a successful country.
As the hon the Minister has already mentioned, the construction industry plays a pivotal role in this respect. Since the mid-1980s, South Africa has experienced a constant decline in the construction industry. The turnover in most instances has more than halved and the industry lost more than 50% of its employees.
In this regard I would like to quote from a submission made to the committee by the SA Association of Consulting Engineers:
There is no doubt that the construction industry is presently in crisis, and has been in a serious decline for a number of years, and if this country is to become a successful nation in the global sense, there is no doubt that a healthy and vital industry is a key factor in achieving this goal.
The construction industry is one of the most effective employment-creating sectors in the economy. The four constituent members of the Construction Industries Confederation alone represent more than 12 000 companies and employ 330 000 people. This figure could, according to these people, be doubled with the implementation of appropriate policies.
Currently South Africa has no recognised vehicle to drive the implementation of a common strategy and to systematically promote the best practice of public and private sector role-players in an integrated manner.
Hopefully the establishment of the Construction Industry Development Board and the implementation of the board will facilitate the recovery of this sector. The recovery of this sector can play an important role in making South Africa an attractive investment destination for local and international investment.
The members of the board need to be selected very carefully because the expertise of the actual people on the board, particularly that of the CEO and the chairperson, is of crucial importance and will determine its efficiency and effectiveness.
The New NP supports the initiatives as spelled out in the Bill, since the construction industry and the professions are under severe economic pressure. Their problems need to be addressed without delay. We can only hope and pray that the objectives and principles as set out in the Bill will be achieved sooner rather than later. [Applause.]
Mr O G MADODA (North West): Chairperson, hon Minister, members, this Bill is a timeous intervention in the long-standing problems of instability, poor performance, slow and sometimes discordant transformation efforts and a general situation of a lack of strategic direction in the construction industry.
The very existence of this Bill expresses both an acknowledgement of and a desire to solve these problems. This is the basis on which the North West would like to support this Bill.
We believe that this Bill, as presented, will save the industry from a situation of near collapse. It will create a stable, growing, sustainable and viable national asset. Yet it is worth applauding the fact that the Bill seeks to bring about more rapid transformation in the industry.
It is firmly rooted in the reconstruction and development agenda of our country. In this respect, whatever new animal we have will contribute substantially to our national economic development vision, empower the emerging sector, create meaningful jobs, as well as add to the workforce for a skilled, safe, healthy and environmentally sustainable country. These are not easy objectives. They are a major challenge for the envisaged board.
What we also find encouraging is the fact that the process, up to this point, has taken every interest group on board, and not only that, virtually every stakeholder is looking forward to the promulgation of this Bill into law. With such a lot of goodwill, how could we fail?
Regarding co-ordination and participation, it is worth noting that this will not be a national board of provinces on which provinces come as provinces, as in the NCOP. It will be a national board empowered to co-ordinate various state agencies, as well as spheres of government. To strengthen this there shall be stakeholder forums created throughout provinces.
However, we, as the North West, feel that much more attention will have to be paid to the functional interface between the spheres of government. Provinces and the local sphere run budgets of hundreds of millions of rand, and daily take decisions on construction matters, and therefore, we are worried that to reduce them to no more than stakeholders can create a situation in which the board lacks both presence and influence where it needs it most.
If our hope is the envisaged forums, perhaps a much clearer definition of the status, role and functions of the so-called forums and their relationship to these spheres of government, could assist in this regard. Indeed, the objectives and functions of the board will have to be the mandate of the provinces and the local sphere. If there is one area of our operation in which we need co-operative means to achieve our objective, it is here.
It is often argued that our inability to deliver, at times, is not due to financial and budgetary impediments, which we all acknowledge, but due to the performance and the capacity of the institutions that we have put in place. If one looks at the noble intentions of this Bill, and the huge responsibility it places on the envisaged board, one is bound to ask if the board will have the necessary capacity, willpower and vigilance. This is where much of the difference will be made. The continual review and evaluation of the board will come in handy in this regard.
With a committed, dynamic and focused team, this Bill will yield the results that we expect. We believe that the board will consist of people of impeccable qualities who will not be consumed by the culture of corruption.
In conclusion, the North West wishes to congratulate all who were involved in the production of this Bill. We especially congratulate the Ministry on this vision. We support the Bill and will work to see its objectives succeed. [Applause.]
Mr M V NGEMA (KwaZulu-Natal): Chairperson, hon Minister, officials of the Department of Public Works, and fellow delegates, thank you for the opportunity to make the following comments in this debate which will go down in the history of the NCOP as pioneering work.
We highly appreciate the spirit of co-operation which prevailed among the NCOP delegates in the process of negotiations with the department. Our province, KwaZulu-Natal, proposed 13 amendments to the Bill. Two of these were improved upon during the negotiations, one was explained to our satisfaction, and 10 formed part of the improvements that the hon the Minister thanked the NCOP for contributing. We also appreciate the willingness, on the part of the department, to look into the contributions from provinces with a positive attitude.
The pioneering nature of the Bill lies not only in the fact that it ushers in a new era in the history of the construction industry, but also in the fact that this is the first Bill from this committee, that I am aware of, in the history of our democratic Parliament and the NCOP, that was introduced in the NCOP before it went to the National Assembly.
We in KwaZulu-Natal will always support innovation and pioneering, because we take these characteristics as signs of progressive individuals, societies and institutions. It is true that innovation comes with teething problems, resulting from the venturing into unknown terrain by those who dare introduce new ideas.
Similarly, the introduction of this Bill in the NCOP presented us, as provinces, with a number of problems. One is that we did not have sufficient time to canvass public opinion, as the Constitution of the country entitles us to do. Certain procedural problems were encountered. For instance, two of the provinces had to request an extension of time to enable their committees to meet the deadlines imposed by the NCOP programme. If provinces are to give the best of their support to the NCOP, the NCOP programme should empower them to do so.
These challenges, however, should not prevent us from constantly looking for new ways of improving our work, and should motivate us to look positively for solutions so that with these new ideas higher levels of efficiency can be achieved. This is in the idiom of the late Nkosi Albert Luthuli who warned black people in the cause of their struggle to, ``let their courage rise with danger.''
New ways and innovations should not be allowed to undermine the overall objective of our parliamentary system, as set out in the Constitution. We hope that the hon the Minister will find ways of improving on the omissions experienced in the process by, for example, allowing the board to have provincial structures which will make its benefits more accessible to the poorest actors within the construction industry.
The North West has made a similar plea. We are looking forward to all the positive benefits for the nation that are contained in the Bill. We are happy to support the Bill as amended. [Applause.]
The DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP (Mr M L Mushwana): Order! Thank you. From the Chair I can confirm that an application for an extension of time was indeed received, and it was granted. I just want to place on record that we did receive such a request and that we did grant an extension.
Mnr J P GELDERBLOM (Wes-Kaap): Mnr die Voorsitter, ek wil ook net heel aan die begin sê, namens die Wes-Kaap wil ons die amptenare, wat 'n voorlegging aan die staande komitee kom doen het, baie hartlik bedank. Baie van die bekommernisse wat ons gehad het, is tydens sodanige sessie opgeklaar.
Die konstruksiebedryf is en bly vir die inwoners van die Wes-Kaap van kardinale belang. Die rede hiervoor is dat die konstruksiebedryf in die Wes-Kaap 'n belangrike bron van werkskepping vir ons mense is. Die Wes-Kaap ervaar oor die afgelope paar jaar 'n redelike goeie tyd in die konstruksiebedryf. As ons dink dat ons 'n 17%-werkloosheidsyfer het in vergelyking met ander dele van die land waar dit 34% is, is ons redelik dankbaar, alhoewel die situasie nog nie na wense is nie en ons graag verdere groei in die ekonomie sal wil bespeur.
Veral noudat die voorkeurverkrygingsmodel in werking getree het, is dit baie duidelik dat die voorheen benadeelde gedeeltes van ons bevolking reeds baie voordeel trek uit die konstruksiebedryf. Baie belangrik vir die Wes-Kaap is dat die puntestelsel nou só gestruktureer is dat voorheen benadeelde kontrakteurs, en veral vroue, bo en behalwe vir prys alleen, ook addisionele punte kry. Daaroor is ons diep dankbaar.
Dit is interessant, en ek wil dit hier laat boekstaaf, dat in die Provinsie Wes-Kaap se werkedepartement alle kontrakte van onder R2 miljoen nou toegeken word aan sogenaamde regstellende sake-entrepreneurs en voorheen persoonlik-benadeelde individue.
By die eerste tertafellegging van hierdie wetsontwerp was daar sekere vrae. Ons het gewonder of dit nie alweer net wetgewing is wat sentralisties ingestel is nie. Aanvanklik was ons vermoede dat ons hier miskien weer te doen het met sentralisering. Kortom, ons was bekommerd dat dit ook die outonomiteit van die provinsie sou aantas. 'n Verdere bekommernis was dat die nasionale Minister en die te stigte raad ingevolge hierdie wetgewing magte bekom wat hulle toelaat om openbare sektorkontrakte na eie goeddunke goed te keur en toe te ken.
Die positiewe is egter, en dit wil ons aan die Minister oordra, dat wanneer 'n mens tussen die reëls lees en deeglik na die wetsontwerp kyk, kom jy agter dat hierdie wetgewing dit ten doel het om die proses te koördineer en die konstruksiebedryf uit te bou en te bevorder. Voorgenoemde is vir ons belangrik, want beproefde ondervinding en finansiële vermoë is vir ons belangrik vir voornemende kliënte. Die Wes-Kaap is van mening dat beproefde ondervinding en finansiële vermoë baie belangrik en 'n edele doel is.
Wat die raad betref wat ingestel gaan word, is dit vir ons belangrik dat daar geografiese verteenwoordiging moet wees, soos ook vroeër hier deur 'n kollega van die DP genoem is. Sodanige byhou van die beoogde register sal ook verseker dat kontrakteurs wat oor bewese ondervinding en finansiële vermoë beskik op ordelike wyse geregistreer sal word. Die Wes-Kaap steun hierdie wetsontwerp.
Ons is van mening dat hierdie wetgewing tot voordeel van almal in die Wes-Kaapse sal wees, dat dit in 'n groot mate die konstruksiebedryf sal orden en dat dit daarop gemik is om bestaande geleenthede te konsolideer in 'n enkele wet. Sodoende het dit dan ook ten doel om pertinente nasionale standaarde in die bedryf te vestig. Ons is van mening dat die steun wat ons hieraan verleen verder sal lei tot ekonomiese groei en die uitbou van die ordening van hierdie bedryf. (Translation of Afrikaans speech follows.)
[Mr J P GELDERBLOM (Western Cape): Mr Chairman, I would like, at the very outset, to convey on behalf of the Western Cape a heartfelt word of thanks to the officials who made a presentation to the standing committee. Many of our concerns were resolved during that session.
The construction industry is and remains of cardinal importance to the inhabitants of the Western Cape. The reason for this is that in the Western Cape the construction industry is an important source of job creation for our people. The construction industry in the Western Cape has been having a reasonably good time in the past few years. When we think that we have a 17% unemployment figure in comparison with 34% in other parts of the country we are fairly grateful, although the situation is not as one would wish and we would like to see further growth in the economy.
Especially now that the preferential procurement model has come into operation it is very clear that the previously disadvantaged sections of our population are already benefiting greatly from the construction industry. What is very important to the Western Cape is that the points system has now been structured in such a way that previously disadvantaged contractors, and especially women, also receive additional points over and above price. We are deeply grateful for that.
It is interesting, and I want to put this on record here, that the contracts of less than R2 million of the works department of the Western Cape Province are now allocated to so-called affirmative business entrepreneurs and previously personally disadvantaged individuals.
At the first tabling of this Bill there were certain questions. We wondered whether this was just once again legislation that was centrally motivated. Initially our surmise was that perhaps we were dealing with centralisation. Briefly, we were concerned that it would also affect the autonomy of the province. A further concern was that the national Minister and the proposed council would, in terms of this legislation, acquire powers that would allow them to approve and allocate public sector contracts as they individually see fit.
What is positive, however, and we want to convey this to the Minister, is that when one reads between the lines and takes an in-depth look at the Bill, one realises that the objective of this legislation is to co-ordinate the process and to expand and promote the construction industry. The aforementioned is important to us, because proven experience and financial capability is important to us as far as prospective clients are concerned. The Western Cape is of the view that proven experience and financial capability are very important and noble objectives.
Concerning the council that is going to be put into operation, it is important to us that there should be geographical representation, as has been mentioned here earlier by a colleague of the DP. Such updating of the envisaged register will also ensure that contractors who have proven experience and financial capability will be registered in an orderly manner. The Western Cape supports this Bill.
We are of the view that this legislation would be to the benefit of everyone in the Western Cape, that it would order the construction industry to a large degree and that it is aimed at consolidating existing opportunities in a single Act. In so doing it also has as objective to establish pertinent national standards in the industry. We believe that the support we lend to this will lead to further economic growth and the expansion of order in this industry.]
Mr R M NYAKANE: Chairperson, the UDM supports this Bill primarily because this statutory body at national level in the form of a juristic person will exercise an oversight function with regard to the co-ordination of all construction industry activities throughout the country.
The balanced nature of the board's composition, which takes into account gender, race and geographical composition, will ensure an element of inclusivity. This exercise will undoubtedly enhance consistency and maintenance of standards, and create a platform for the exchange of ideas.
Clause 13 provides for the board to establish a construction industry stakeholders' forum, to keep the board abreast of matters that affect the construction industry. This input is commended because a pool of expertise, such as civil engineers, surveyors and draughtsmen will, for the first time, be afforded the opportunity to share expert knowledge with one another. Medical practitioners have been practising this approach. Extensive discussions are held, in which an exchange of expert knowledge takes place, before they undertake major operations in theatre. After all, unity is strength and divided we fall.
Clause 14 of the Bill calls for the reviewing of the board's activities every five years - which I think is rather too long - by an evaluating team that will comprise members of the public and private sectors. This is one away, amongst others, of ensuring that the findings are free from bias - that they are objective, reliable and valid.
Members will recall that lives were lost in Mpumalanga, near Bushbuckridge, during the construction of the Nwaretje bridge on the road to Graskop. This Bill is aimed, among other things, at preventing accidents of that nature.
Lastly, the UDM commends the provisions of this Bill when it comes to the daunting problem of unemployment we encounter in this country, particularly in the Northern Province. The establishment of the office of the registrar of contractors means that a number of people will be employed to serve as complementary staff or personnel. The same applies to the board itself. My congratulations go to those fortunate enough to secure these posts.
Let me conclude by congratulating in anticipation those that will serve on the board, the stakeholders' forum and the review committee, and wish them good luck. [Applause.]
The DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP (Mr M L Mushwana): Order! Hon member K D S Durr, I see you have been given an extra minute. You now have three minutes.
Mr K D S DURR: I thank the Whip for his generosity, Mr Chairman.
Chairperson, I do hope that the high hopes which the Minister has indicated to us here in her opening speech will be realised. It is absolutely vital for all of us that that should be. We have many statutory bodies, informal associations and professional bodies operating in this field already, and I do hope that we do not create further duplication with double or multiple jurisdiction. We have common cause that it is vital for us to free our construction industry to play its locomotive role in our society.
So much was said by the Minister about tourism. People always talk about tourism and the jobs it creates. Well, the construction industry is just as vital and just as promising, or more promising, an industry. It has a multiplier effect on the economy; it is labour-intensive; it does not generate imports or put a strain on the balance of payments; profits got are not transfer-priced out of the country; and raw materials are home-grown. The industry is ready, willing and able to deliver.
It is depressing to think that in a country such as ours, with our pressing housing problems, with our Rolls-Royce construction industry, large numbers of budgeted funds still go unspent, leaving people unhoused.
We in the Western Cape are one of only two provinces that have spent their entire housing budget. Other provinces have underspent by R400 million, in spite of the massive housing backlogs, and yet our building industry in the Cape faces further serious budgetary cuts. This year we were cut, and we will be cut again to R238 million in the year 2004.
The fact is that the greatest single asset that any nation has is its built environment: the existing stock of houses, the existing stock of public buildings, schools and hospitals, the existing roads and the existing physical infrastructure.
Also here we are falling behind. It will be a challenge to the board to see what we can do to meet these massive shortfalls for maintenance - maintenance that will become far more expensive later if we leave it too long. I can say to the Minister that we in the Western Cape also feel the impact of the fact that new housing starts in South Africa generally are 25% down on a year ago, and in the Western Cape we now have the worst situation since World War II, so for us it is a serious situation indeed.
Therefore, we support the measure. We support this effort on the Minister's part to try and arrest the situation and focus everybody on a common goal, hopefully a common national goal, with all of the elements of our society working together to the greater good, providing not only housing, but the whole plethora of what constitutes the built environment.
With that, we support the Bill and we wish the Minister well. We hope she will choose wisely and that she will choose people who will not only come here to represent their disciplines and be spokesmen for their interest groups, but also share her vision. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Ms B THOMSON: Chairperson, hon Minister, special delegates and hon members, as legislators we carry an enormous burden on our shoulders. We have a duty to ensure that all laws that pass through Parliament fundamentally transform the quality of life of all South Africans. The Construction Industry Development Board Bill being dealt with today is no different.
The economic struggle in South Africa is a challenging one. Enormous challenges confront the Department of Public Works in this regard. Poverty is rife and the progress of emerging contractors remains static. It is in this context that we see the formation of the Construction Industry Development Board. The board seeks to address the inadequacies of the current construction industry as envisaged in the White Paper on Creating an Enabling Environment for Reconstruction, Growth and Development in the Construction Industry.
Though the task ahead is enormous and huge, the Department of Public Works will have to tackle the bull by the horns. On the one hand we have big wealthy construction industries, whilst on the other hand there are poor, struggling, emerging black contractors. Within our communities there is a proportion of contractors who are promising in the construction industry, but have not been given the opportunity. The opportunity now arises; it is none other than the CIDB. The CIDB is to function as a permanent vehicle to drive the strategy in partnership with all government delivery agencies and the private sector.
The construction industry is part of the backbone of our economy. The hon Minister Sigcau refers to it as a national asset. The board will attempt to take emerging contractors on board as these have experienced numerous historical and economic constraints, that have hindered the full participation of smaller companies in the economy. The White Paper on Creating an Enabling Environment for Reconstruction, Growth and Development in the Construction Industry states that -
Government believes that emerging construction-related SMEs can contribute significantly to the realisation of key economic and redistribution objectives for a number of reasons.
They can be powerful generators of income and employment opportunities since they generally use less capital investment per unit of output than larger enterprises.
SMEs can be more competitive than larger firms on certain types of small, disparate and geographically dispersed projects because they generally have relatively lower overheads.
The relatively low entry barriers in terms of skills and capital requirements make SME contracting an important entry point for historically disadvantaged person into the construction industry.
Lastly, the ANC supports the initiative of the department as this may go a long way in easing labour unrest in the construction industry. [Applause.]
The DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP (Mr M L Mushwana): Order! It would appear that the bull is becoming popular in this House. Maybe I need to ask the hon the Minister to respond.
The MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS: Chairperson, first of all I would like to thank the hon members for their support for the Bill, and also for pointing out those areas in which they want us to be extra vigilant. It was interesting to note that some amakhosi can still wax lyrical. The first speaker was really good, and it reminded me of the days when I was part of Contralesa. [Laughter.]
I want to assure this House that, as Public Works, we actually want to ensure that the construction industry does become regarded as one of the assets of Government. We also want to believe that it is the type of industry that, if well organised, will be able, as much as any other industry within Government, to form relationships and ties even across our borders, if it is well managed. I do want to believe that the board that we are talking about today is something that, as members have also acknowledged, could be just the right institution to make sure that the aspirations of the people within the industry are met.
I want to assure members that in the choice of whoever serves on the board, some of their concerns will have to be addressed. The very fact that we have said that it is going to be geographic shows clearly that we are mindful of the fact that there are provinces out there and that the people have got their own aspirations. We are also putting the whole issue of ethics at the forefront. We want to believe that if there is no code of conduct, if people are not registered, the issues around accountability become very difficult.
In the year that I have been in Public Works, one of the disturbing features has been the manner in which at times, as Government, we are taken for a ride, in the sense that one gets a contractor quoting how much will be spent on a particular job, but, when one actually looks at the product, which might have been passed as the right product by officials from our department, one just says to oneself, ``Goodness me! Only a quarter of what was budgeted has been used on this.'' Hence one gets sad stories like that of the classroom which fell on children. Hence one gets stories like those about what I sometimes fondly call ``winter roads'', which get washed away in summer.
I do want to believe that this will be part of what this board has to be vigilant about, so that we really maintain good standards. If this industry is to be an industry to be reckoned with, if it is to be highly competitive, it really has to uphold the highest standards.
I must say to hon members that I have been whispering in corridors and in my office that we have to blacklist some of the people who really give us shoddy work. Someone said there was a mushrooming of the number of contractors, and I have noticed that, especially when I deal with the Community-Based Public Works Programme. One just wonders. One day a group of young people - I happen to know one of them - came into my office. They were coming straight from their Std 10 classroom and told me that they were already forming a consortium. I just could not believe what was not happening.
When I asked who was backing them, I discovered that there was not so much by way of backing as they already had a contract to build a road. My question to them was: Who, at that committee, deals with tenders? So one of the things we are paying particular attention to is the whole issue of capacity-building, because it is highly critical. The area in which people believe that Government has not delivered is always around issues to do with capacity-building.
It is important and pleasing that Government is putting the whole issue of human resource development at the forefront. Members might not have noticed, but there is a lot of work going on in the partnership that Public Works now has with the Department of Labour in ensuring that there is some kind of training so that we end up showing areas of excellence, because this is an industry we are proud of.
The issue of maintenance was also mentioned. One of the downfalls and one of the areas in which we find ourselves having to pay the price of neglect is over some of the Government buildings that we have. Hence, as a department, we were happy when Cabinet agreed that with every new building that we put up in future we must, right from the outset, set aside 1,3% to see to the future maintenance of that particular building.
I thank the hon members, and I think the manner in which they have handled this Bill really makes me feel encouraged that the step we have taken as Public Works is appreciated, and if there is such encouragement, we dare not fail. [Applause.]
Bill agreed to in accordance with section 65 of the Constitution.
NATIONAL HEALTH LABORATORY SERVICE BILL
(Consideration of Bill and of Report thereon)
The DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP (Mr M L Mushwana): Order! Hon members, you are alerted to the fact that there is a printing error in the Bill's number on the Order Paper, the second B having been omitted. The Secretary has corrected it by referring to the Bill as B52B. I would like members to take note of that. I would like to take this opportunity to welcome the hon the Minister of Health and call upon her to address this House.
The MINISTER OF HEALTH: Chairperson, hon members, I am indeed delighted that the second reading debate on the National Health Laboratory Service Bill heralds the final stage of a long process in the restructuring of laboratory services in South Africa.
Members will recall that in 1994 my predecessor, Dr Nkosazana Zuma, established several committees which were to advise her on how to restructure the health services. Many of these committees laid the foundations for the present health services, which are designed to improve access to quality health services.
Among the committees which were established was a committee on the restructuring of health laboratory services which was chaired by Prof Jan van den Ende. This committee noted that public health laboratory services were fragmented, partly due to the historical policy of separate development. Laboratory services were often duplicated in urban areas and lack of co-ordination resulted in wastage of resources. Many laboratories were involved in research which had no direct impact on improving service delivery. [Interjections.]
The DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP (Mr M L Mushwana): Order! I am sorry to interrupt you, hon Minister. I think the information on the screen is misleading, and if the screen is not functioning properly I ask that it be switched off. Thank you. Continue, hon Minister. You were being referred to as Tshivhase.
The MINISTER OF HEALTH: No, I am Dr Tshabalala-Msimang. [Laughter.]
This was not the beginning of the debate on the restructuring of laboratory services. This need was identified even by the old regime as early as 1973. The then South African government established the Meiring-Naudé commission of inquiry into laboratory services. The commission of inquiry recommended the establishment of a single nationally controlled and co-ordinated laboratory service. It also recommended that laboratory research be better co-ordinated to support the national health system. It is, however, regrettable that the previous regime did not have the courage and political will to implement the recommendations of the commission of inquiry, because, frankly speaking, those recommendations are as relevant today as they were 27 years ago.
After considering many options on the restructuring of laboratory services, the Health Minmec opted for the establishment of a public entity as a vehicle for amalgamating all health laboratory services under a single umbrella. Thus, in 1998, the Ministry of Health established a task team on the restructuring of laboratory services, chaired by Prof Kallichurum, to advise Government on the implementation of these recommendations. The Health Minmec accepted the report of Prof Kallichurum and appointed Dr Nicholas Crisp as the project manager to implement the recommendations of the task team.
There are approximately 6 000 health workers employed in public health laboratory services in South Africa. They are mainly pathologists, medical technologists and technicians, research scientists, professional nurses, administration staff and general assistants.
The SA Institute for Medical Research was established in 1917 by the government, in partnership with the Chamber of Mines, primarily to conduct medical research into diseases which were common on the mines. This institute now employs over 2 000 people and provides almost 50% of all laboratory services in the public health sector, the rest being provided by the provincially owned health laboratory services.
The Department of Health opened negotiations with the Chamber of Mines with a view to integrating all laboratory services into a public entity. When the Chamber of Mines withdrew unconditionally from the SA Institute for Medical Research, as of 1 January 1999, this paved the way for the comprehensive restructuring of all publicly owned laboratories into a new public entity.
I would like to thank the Chamber of Mines for its commitment to medical research, which they have demonstrated throughout the years through their participation in the SA Institute for Medical Research as joint partners with Government.
The intention of this Bill, therefore, is to establish a new national health laboratory service to support the national health system. The new organisation will be formed by disestablishing the SA Institute for Medical Research, the National Institute for Virology, the National Centre for Occupational Health and the forensic chemical laboratories, and amalgamating these institutions with the provincial health laboratory services under a new public entity. The aim of this entity will be to provide integrated, co-ordinated, affordable, accessible and equitable health laboratory services, primarily to the public health sector.
This consolidation of health care resources will promote the harmonisation of laboratories, standards and quality assurance, efficiency, cost-effectiveness and the rational use of resources, amongst other things, through benefits from economies of scale. It will also promote access to new and appropriate technologies.
South Africa also has a firm academic background of research and development to improve service delivery. An important component of the National Health Laboratory Service will be the possible creation within it of a national institute for communicable diseases, which will be formed from the National Institute for Virology together with the public health microbiology laboratory at the SA Institute for Medical Research and an epidemiology unit.
This new institute will play a crucial role in the surveillance of communicable diseases not only for South Africa, but also for the SADC region. The National Institute for Virology, which came into being in April 1976 when the laboratories of the Poliomyelitis Research Foundation were transferred to the Department of Health, currently serves as the national reference laboratory for South Africa and the region for viral diseases of medical importance. The institute is also a World Health Organisation reference laboratory for viral haemorrhagic fevers and for vaccine-preventable viral diseases such as poliomyelitis. Scientists from the institute have played a key role in diagnosing and assisting in the control of viral haemorrhagic fevers in Africa and the Middle East.
The institute is also a key laboratory in the global network of the WHO involved in the global polio eradication campaign. It carries out research in support of the South African Aids vaccine initiative, popularly known as SAAVI, which many hon members may have read about after the press briefing by the president of the Medical Research Council yesterday. May I add that we fully support this initiative and that we have contributed large amounts of resources for the work they do.
I am outlining all these details for everyone to appreciate that what we are doing is to consolidate these national scientific resources to enhance South Africa's competitive advantage and to harness scientific expertise in support of our health system and of the region.
It is therefore my vision that, through the National Health Laboratory Service, we will establish a truly competent organisation to support Government in its efforts to provide quality care to its citizens. Through this organisation we will be able to monitor new and re-emerging diseases through a robust and integrated national disease surveillance system.
We should develop this organisation into a centre of excellence where we will train our young scientists, especially those who come from historically disadvantaged backgrounds, to take up their rightful place in science. The aim is to raise others as we rise. The benefits of amalgamating our health laboratory services will be felt throughout the region. This Bill provides for the National Health Laboratory Service to provide services beyond our borders. We will have a vehicle to harmonise laboratory standards throughout the SADC region and support those neighbours on the continent who do indeed need our support.
The National Health Laboratory Service also provides a mechanism for harnessing the energy and resources of all the provinces, as the Health Minmec will become the supreme policy-making body whose policies will be implemented through a board. This will allow the National Health Laboratory Service greater flexibility to manage the organisation on sound business principles, whilst also attending to the values of access to quality and equitable health care services.
The process of amalgamating the various laboratory services into a single public entity is clearly spelled out in the Bill. Our Government is committed to implementing progressive labour relations legislation to ensure that the transition and transfer of personnel to the new public entity will be as smooth as possible.
The Bill makes provision for proper transitional arrangements. We also conducted an in-depth audit of all the assets which will be transferred to the new entity in order to ensure that the transition will be as smooth as possible. To avoid chaos in the implementation process, the Bill allows for different dates for the commencement of different provisions of the Act.
I would like to thank the Select Committee on Social Services for carefully considering this Bill. I was regularly informed by officials from my department about progress in the discussions with the select committee and was able to give guidance whenever needed. I have studied some of the submissions from the various provinces and stakeholders. The level of debate and comments which were reflected in those submissions did indeed impress me. I am sure that many members were almost becoming experts on many technical matters relating to laboratory medicine.
In a special way I would like to thank the chairperson of the select committee and her staff for piloting the Bill up to this stage. I sincerely hope that the NCOP will pass the Bill and refer it to the portfolio committee in the National Assembly for its perusal and ratification. This is an important piece of legislation. It is one of the final pillars of the transformation of service delivery in our country. I am sure that everyone will agree that, in the light of dwindling resources for basic services, we need to consolidate our basic health care resources to ensure better co-ordination, efficiency and effectiveness, and this is the primary objective of this Bill. [Applause.]
Ms L JACOBUS: Chairperson, hon Minister, special delegates and members, the National Health Laboratory Service Bill before us today, as the Minister has already indicated, represents the culmination of a long process of discussions and consultations which started as early as 1998, and is another step towards the transformation of the health sector.
The purpose of this Bill, as stated in its preamble, is, firstly, the establishment of a single national public entity that will provide laboratory services in the country; secondly, the restructuring and transformation of the public health sector laboratory services; and thirdly, the development of policies that will enable this entity to provide health laboratory services as the preferred service provider for the public health sector.
Government's programme of transforming the state demands that we develop efficient, user-friendly and accountable governance structures, recognise the Public Service to more effectively meet the priorities of social delivery, and support the ongoing transformation of public institutions to ensure that their resources and skills contribute to accelerated change.
State-owned laboratories, dotted all over the country and duplicating services, definitely did not live up to the objectives outlined above. Rather, the practice currently in place lends itself to huge amounts of wastage and poor management of both financial and human resources.
It is commonly believed that the so-called urban provinces have generally better access to specialised services. Gauteng has 57 laboratories, 23 of which are state-owned, whereas the Northern Cape has zero state laboratories and only three belonging to the SAIMR. The statistics confirm that state-owned laboratories, especially in rural areas, are inequitably spread across the nine provinces. The Bill before us is intended to redress this inequity. The Bill is also intended to ensure that the norms and standards are maintained across all laboratories in the country.
It is recognised that the amalgamation of the various laboratory services into a single parastatal unit will be a complex one, and will present many challenges to those participating in the process. Some of these challenges and concerns articulated through our provinces are concerns about job security, redeployment or transfers, future relations between unions and employers in the new entity, and so on.
These insecurities are very valid and understandable, particularly when a number of organisations or bodies are merged into one. What we always have to keep in mind are the principles that underpin any human resource transition process. Regarding the first principle - professionalism, we should always ensure that staff of a national parastatal consist of persons of the highest professional standard and competency to ensure quality service delivery.
The second is accountability. Each and every new employee within this new entity should be made aware of their responsibility to both the state and the public, as the ultimate beneficiary of the services. Thirdly, there should be transparency. If decisions are taken without proper consultation, the fears and concerns that I mentioned earlier will continually arise, and the provision of a secure and professional environment will not be realised.
Fourthly, this process should be inclusive. It is important that all persons and groupings that will be affected by this process are properly consulted on issues that will affect them.
It is evident, throughout the Bill before us today, that these principles will be, and would continue to be, adhered to. Over a period of time workshops were held with all stakeholders in eight of the nine provinces, and there were four common positive outcomes identified that will arise out of this amalgamation process.
Firstly, there would be a better service to clients; secondly, there would be standardisation, or a common management structure; thirdly, there would be improved access to career opportunities and training, and lastly, there would be standardised benefits and conditions of employment, amongst other things.
By highlighting these positives, I am by no means diminishing or negating the serious concerns articulated around possible retrenchments and transfers that I mentioned earlier on. These are concerns that were not only raised by the current employees and their various representatives, but also by the respective provinces, as the Minister pointed out. After intense engagement around this matter, we were assured by the department, and the leader of the task team, that these concerns were given serious consideration, that job losses, if these were to occur at all, would be very minimal, and that alternatives, such as reskilling and retraining, were being considered. This is one of the matters that is currently on the table of the Interim Negotiating Forum for discussion.
Some of the significant amendments that we agreed upon will be elaborated upon by my colleagues who will speak after me, and some of these have already been touched on by the hon the Minister. I must say that we were all of one mind that this Bill, with the amendments as proposed, goes a long way in the creation of quality service delivery and in making accessible a highly specialised service to not only our fellow South Africans in the most remote areas of our country, but also to the Southern African region, and indeed the continent.
In concluding, I want to also thank the Minister and her department for assisting us throughout the Bill. It was definitely a painstaking exercise that we went through. I also want to thank the task team that was with us throughout the process, and the members of the committee and their respective provinces.
In conclusion, I want to present the committee report, as tabled in the ATC, for adoption by this House. I must add that all provinces but one, the Western Cape, voted in favour of the Bill as amended: B52-2000. [Applause.]
Mr T MHLAHLO (Eastern Cape): Chairperson, hon members, recognising that Act 108 of 1996 provides for the right to health care services and requires the state to take legislative and other measures to achieve the progressive realisation of that right, this Bill then is clearly a step towards meeting that basic requirement, and, further, shows determination by Government and the Minister of Health to ensure that it is adhered to.
We believe, as a province, that this Bill is a step in the right direction as it further seeks to provide for the establishment of professional boards, and to facilitate accountability and democratisation of the council. This is quite an important piece of legislation that the nation enjoys. It can be associated with the transformation process of the laboratory services sector. In fact, the Bill purports to unify laboratory services in the country, and it also constitutes part of the rationalisation process of integrating former TBVC states' laboratory services.
As the province of the Eastern Cape, we were honoured to be part of the process involved in considering this piece of legislation, and we have done that successfully.
We wish to thank key stakeholders in our province for their input when developing our views around this piece of legislation. Whilst we, as a province, are faced with many challenges with reference to health care facilities, it is noted that the main objectives of this Bill outline positive solutions which will be implemented to combat the challenges we confront today.
We further note, and welcome, the inclusive nature of the council. Stakeholders will be part of the process of decision-making and direct the processes of this new council. The labour movement in this country has also been reflected in the proposed Bill, in that it will be part of the decision-making process, and we welcome that.
The health sector is the most critical area which we need to give priority into this country, as it seeks to establish academic standards and criteria for registration, and the right to practice in the profession. We want to congratulate the Minister and the Government on taking that direction. The South African community will participate in the council, and this development represent the realisation of our constitutional mandate as a province.
We salute the Minister of Health for the role she plays towards the realisation of this health need in our country. We also note the fact that currently South Africa, particularly its health sector, is confronting critical challenges, and we believe, as a province, that we need to provide the necessary support so that we can realise our basic interventions in the life of the country.
We also, in conclusion, want to accept the intervention in order to make sure that there are no duplications of services in South Africa. We have experienced this kind of exercise, precisely because we were constituted by two former homelands, and the Cape provincial administration, which provided these services separately. We also wish to make sure that we cannot proceed alone in isolation from Africa.
We note the fact that this service will not only provide for South African citizens, but will be a service for the entire region. We believe this is within the context of realisation of the African renaissance as a Government programme. Therefore, we believe, this Bill is very progressive and we support it as a province. [Applause.]
Ms S N NTLABATI: Chairperson, for many years we searched for a solution in order to unite the fragmented services of our laboratories. We did that because we had promised people a better life, and a better life for all, now. We had promised our people accessibility to services now, not tomorrow.
This Bill shows that the transformation agenda is on track, that it is on course. Transformation never makes for popular talk. Why? Because it mostly brings fears and uncertainties, and has done so, even during the years of discussion about this Bill.
The Free State supports this Bill. We support it because it is going to be cost-effective. It is going to integrate fragmented services.
Just to give hon members a picture of how things were in the Free State, all the hospitals and clinics in the eastern and northern Free State were using the SA Institute for Medical Research, while other services in the southern Free State, in the same province and the same department, were using provincial laboratories. Also, in the big municipalities such as Bloemfontein, they had their small laboratories. This is how fragmented the service was.
I am happy to say that in the Free State all stakeholders were involved, for quite a long time, in trying to alleviate this uncertainty. Hence I am pleading with the Minister for speedy implementation to allay these fears. Yes, we never promised that there would not be one or two who might fall by the wayside, but we said that almost everybody would be accommodated.
My other plea to the Minister is for her please to assist the institutions of higher training in recruiting students, black female students in particular, in the fields of technology, medical technology and haematology, with the aim of creating gender balance. In reality this field is still dominated by males.
My other plea to the Minister and the department relates to the field of epidemiology. One has to be a doctor in order to be able to study epidemiology. We do not dispute that. But because we are talking transformation and are talking about empowering people, it is possible for other sectors in the health field to be taught extensively about epidemiology without lowering any standards.
I congratulate the Minister and the department on the good work done so far. [Applause.]
Mrs T E MILLIN (KwaZulu-Natal): Chairperson, hon members of this House, at the outset may I state that the IFP and KwaZulu-Natal support the Bill in question, bearing in mind the letter and spirit of co-operative governance.
We in KwaZulu-Natal have a unique situation, a government of coalition. Whereas our respective parties do share some similarities, chief of which might be that we both derive a considerable majority of our support from a large black power base, as well as some common aims and objectives with regard to uplifting, empowering and enriching that hitherto oppressed majority, the IFP and KwaZulu-Natal, in coalition with the ANC, and in the GNU at national level, is nevertheless a party with its own policies and goals, by which we seek to facilitate, uplift and empower our oppressed people. This we do by assisting people to help themselves to succeed, while facilitating an enabling environment for an investor-friendly, yet equitable labour market, conducive to a sophisticated, market-driven, free-enterprise economy, by decentralising, by privatising wherever practicable and by devolving maximum powers to the lower levels of government.
Thus, in view of the above, some concerns are noted with regard to the nationalising and centralising of the various institutions in terms of this Bill, particularly at a time when our Government has extensively embarked on a programme of privatisation. Similar moves to centralise continue apace in other spheres of Government policy.
Concerns have also been expressed by my party and others in KwaZulu-Natal, as well as other provincial members in the ruling party and national Government during the NCOP process, regarding the frenetic rate at which some Bills, such as the one before us, are being fast-tracked through the NCOP. The term ``fast-track'' derives primarily from railway transport, whereby various stations on route are eliminated to speed up passage from point A to point Z. In applying that principle to the fast-tracking of Bills, one could contend that a bypassing or curtailment of the democratic consultative process, as a consequence of fast-tracking, might well lead, in the likely event of this Bill becoming law once passed in the National Assembly, to certain constitutional challenges and concomitant amendments. Labour legislation is a current case in point.
May one ask whether or why it is necessary to centralise under one umbrella the bodies contemplated in this Bill? Is this not a case of attempting to fix something that ain't broke in the first place? And, do the unions not have valid concerns, in that many unionised workers would be retrenched when too many jobs are already being shed?
The time does not permit further comment, save to say that notwithstanding the concerns raised on behalf of my party, the majority coalition partner in KwaZulu-Natal, as stated earlier, in a spirit of co-operative governance, we give our support herewith to the Bill before this House. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Mrs L JOHNSON (KwaZulu-Natal): Madam Chair, thank you for affording me the opportunity to participate in this debate. KwaZulu-Natal welcomes and supports the National Health Laboratory Service Bill as amended. I want to place on record that as we were deliberating on this Bill in our portfolio committee we never had serious concerns. We went through the Bill until it came to the NCOP and we were briefed on the Bill.
I would like to quote section 27 of our Constitution:
(1)..... Everyone has the right to have access to -
(a)..... health care services, including reproductive health care;
(b)..... sufficient food and water; and
(c)..... social security, including, if they are unable to support themselves and their dependants, appropriate social assistance.
(2)..... The state must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources, to achieve the progressive realisation of each of these rights.
We come from a history of fragmentation, duplication and maldistribution of health services in this country, which were not accessible to the majority of our people, in particular those residing in rural areas. The National Health Laboratory Service Bill seeks to establish a single, national public entity to provide public health laboratory services in the country. The object of the service, among others, is to provide cost-effective and efficient health laboratory services to all public-sector health care providers.
The Bill will ensure that laboratory services are not urban-biased, but can be made available to rural areas as well. As was mentioned earlier by speakers before me, there are other provinces that do not have the service, and we hope that the provinces will, for the first time, have access to the laboratory services.
The Bill will also empower the Minister to accelerate the restructuring and transformation of the public health sector laboratory services in order to make them part of a single, national public entity.
We also appreciate the work done over the years by the SA Institute for Medical Research, the National Institute for Virology, the National Centre for Occupational Health and all provincial health laboratory services that have been providing this service.
Once more, we wish to congratulate the department and the Minister on bringing this Bill before us, and we are looking forward to its addressing the inequalities of the past. [Applause.]
Mr J HORNE: Chairperson, hon Minister, special delegates and members of this House, the Northern Cape is now fully aware of the huge task which the Minister, her Department of Health and provincial MECs set themselves when they embarked on the process to establish the National Health Laboratory Service in 1998. It is truly a mammoth task.
The proposed organogram which details the structures envisaged for this new service is comprehensive and indicative of the hard work that is still waiting for the service once this legislation is passed. This organogram shows how the previous, historically fragmented service of the public health laboratory service will be accommodated under one umbrella body.
We see this Bill as achieving the goal of merging the fragmented laboratory service into a comprehensive service that will be cost-effective to the Public Service sector, which is still the primary user of this service. We also see this Bill as achieving the intention of providing co-ordinated and efficient lab services in all the provinces. The Northern Cape is also aware of the thorough consultation process undertaken by the department and project task team. Part of this consultation was the communication of the process of transformation for the new laboratory service to all provinces.
It became clear that in almost all provinces and in the various areas of voluntary service there were overlapping areas of concern about this new entity. Northern Cape employees were particularly concerned about retrenchments, changing service conditions and salary structure, redeployment and the future of lab technicians. The Northern Cape believes that this Bill comprehensively addresses most of the concerns of the various stakeholders. We are satisfied that our amendments, which include organised labour on the board of the National Health Laboratory Service and in the transition phase, will assist in the process of transformation in the laboratory service envisaged by this Bill.
We were also concerned that the functions, powers and duties of the service would give way to unilateral decision-making, but we are convinced that the amendment which instructs the service to exercise its responsibility in accordance with the national health policy will ensure that these powers are not ad hoc or for personal enrichment. We want to congratulate the department and the task team on the sterling work they have put into setting up such a complex entity as the National Health Laboratory Service Bill. We in the Northern Cape have fully deliberated all aspects of this Bill and we support the Bill with all its amendments. [Applause.]
Mr M I MAKOELA: Chairperson, hon Minister and hon members, transformation has never been an easy process to undertake and successfully accomplish. That fact notwithstanding, and no matter how slow, painful or complicated the task may be, the continuation along the path of the improvement of the delivery of services to the benefit of all the people of this country must be sustained. The provision of cost-effective and efficient health services is part of the Government's programme to realise that goal.
At this point one needs to point out that this particular Bill was not fast-tracked, but rather has the distinction of having had two meetings for dealing with initial negotiating mandates, after provinces were given an extra week during which to further consider the Bill. The National Health Laboratory Service Bill seeks to put in place enabling mechanisms and processes for the purpose of realising the objective of creating a single unified laboratory service out of the fragmented state and state-funded laboratory services which exist at present, some as a result of historical developments and past policies of separation.
It can be expected that restructuring the laboratory services will have unavoidable casualties and opponents, just as in any other exercise. However, in this process the positives outweigh the negatives because it will result in an improved quality of service to clients, brought about by, among other things, a centralised one-management structure at national level. That will provide better co-ordination and an improvement in the capacity to manage delivery.
The integration of the disadvantaged laboratory services will also benefit provinces through, among other things, the standardisation of services through national norms and standards, as well as improved financial viability through better business practices that reduce the duplication of services. Contrary to fears in some quarters, the one-management structure that will result from the integration process will not disadvantage provinces in any way. Instead the system will enhance, through the pooling of resources and expertise, the provinces' ability to receive quality service through the numerous branch areas that will be established, taking into consideration provincial and regional boundaries, thereby establishing service points where previously none existed. The Northern Province supports the Bill as amended. [Applause.]
Rev P MOATSHE: Chairperson and hon members, our laboratory services have always been world-renowned. We have successfully won the battle against polio through our comprehensive immunisation drive, spearheaded by the efforts of our laboratories. In recent weeks, especially in those provinces that were at the receiving end of the devastating floods earlier this year, we have seen an increase in malaria cases. Through our laboratory services we were once again able to establish that the DDT could be used to prevent an outbreak of malaria by spraying the homes of people most at risk from the malaria-carrying mosquitoes. I am talking about these two success stories because I believe that our success can benefit not only South Africa, but also our brothers and sisters in the region.
In the case of the polio vaccine, we are already sharing the fruits of our expertise with our neighbours. This Bill, in terms of clause 16, allows us formally and in a structured manner to render laboratory services to foreign countries. South Africa this year ratified the protocol on health in the Southern African Development Community. Almost all the articles of this protocol refer to how we in the region can better co-operate with one another to offer a full range of cost-effective and quality integrated health services.
This Bill brings into sharp focus how, through our new National Health Laboratory Service, we can assist ourselves and our neighbours in health systems research and civilian communicable disease control, and also in the control of HIV/Aids and sexually transmitted diseases, malaria and many other diseases. This Bill allows us to share our technical skills with our neighbours on the continent and throughout the world, and for them to share their skills, so that together we can better combat the old and the new diseases which confront our society every day.
The North West takes very seriously the responsibilities we have to the rest of Africa. We believe, like our President, that Africa's time has come to emerge from the scourge of disease that thas ravaged our continent for far too long. We believe that this Bill will assist South Africa's endeavours to make Africa disease-free. This newly structured National Health Laboratory Service will provide us with the tools to assist us in our own fight to overcome some of the worst diseases known to mankind. To a large extent we have succeeded in the urban areas, but our rural areas need an efficient lab service which will match the standards and quality of those in the most sophisticated urban areas. We know that this Bill provides the framework to bring about the standardisation and quality control needed in our country. The North West therefore supports this Bill with all its amendments, Madam Speaker. [Applause.]
The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: Order! I do not think the Constitution has been changed, so I remain Chairperson of the NCOP. [Laughter.]
Mr E ISAACS (Western Province): Madam Chair, hon members, I thank you for the opportunity to raise the Western Cape's concern and objections to this National Health Laboratory Service Bill. The department of health in the Western Cape has raised concerns around the establishment of the NHLS on numerous occasions. We hope that after the Minister has heard our arguments she will agree with us that the fast-tracking of this Bill will certainly not be in the interests of the people it intends to serve.
We strongly object to the preferred provider status of the NHLS. One of the main motivations of the creation of the NHLS outside the Public Service is a rationalised, efficient and cost-effective service. The NHLS, as a precondition for stimulating efficiency, must open itself to competition, especially in terms of the tariffs it charges and the quality of service it provides. The Western Cape objects to clause 15(1) in terms of which public health sector providers are bound to purchasing their laboratory services from the NHLS. Surely, the word ``must'' should be substituted by the word ``may''.
Regarding provisional management autonomy, the NHLS Bill only makes reference to the national board and the executive management committee. No reference is made to the provincial management structures, powers and functions. This could infringe upon the province's functional or institutional integrity as protected in section 41(1)(g) of the Constitution.
About the transfer of assets to the NHLS, item 7 of the transitional provisions in the schedule to the Bill makes provision for the automatic transfer of movable and immovable assets from the province to the NHLS. It could be argued that these provisions also infringe upon the functional and institutional integrity of the province, as contained in section 41(1)(g) of the Constitution. We feel that legal opinion needs to be sought on the implications, mechanisms and constraints of the transfer of assets from a province to the NHLS.
Furthermore, concerns have been raised about the transfer of designated staff from the province to the NHLS, because negotiations around conditions of service have not been finalised. The interim negotiating forum was suspended before agreement could be reached. The transfer of employees from a province to the NHLS must not commence until there is a properly constituted bargaining chamber, there is agreement and all conditions of service have been defined. The bargaining chamber needs to have all the labour unions represented that will represent the staff of the NHLS.
The range of complexity of these issues cannot be overemphasised. Many of the provisions need to be agreed upon before they can be included in the Bill. The following should be added to item 3 of the schedule of transitional provisions regarding persons transferred from the service of departments: The transfer of employees to the NHLS from provincial and state laboratories must be in terms of section 41 of the Public Service Act of 1994 and section 197 of the Labour Relations Act. The consequences of staff not wanting to be transferred needs to be investigated. This could have serious cost implications because of having to pay the remaining staff within provinces and being forced to buy services from the NHLS.
The Western Cape is concerned about the contravention of the Competition Act, No 89 of 1998. The creation of the NHLS, as the preferred provider of laboratory services to the public sector and as an organisation available to provide services to the private sector, may also contravene the Competition Act. A legal opinion will need to be sought in this regard.
Concerning local government as stakeholder, minimal reference is made to local government as a stakeholder. As far as we are aware there has been minimal, if any, consultation with local government structures. However, they are an important user of laboratory services and will become more so with the proposed primary health care devolution of to local government in most provinces.
With reference to clause 18 and funding for the NHLS, any moneys referred to in this clause must not refer to a shift of budgeted funds from the provincial health departments to the NHLS, irrespective of whether these funds are part of the equitable share or conditional grant.
We are aware of the discussions between universities and the NHLS project team around a hybrid model, etc, but want to emphasise the important implications the outcome of these discussions will have on provinces and the existing joint agreements. Therefore, provinces should be included in the discussions. The universities in this province and the NHLS project team have reached a working agreement acceptable to both parties to date.
The above-listed concerns are but some of the major concerns with regard to this NHLS Bill which the NCOP intends to rushing through. We cannot appreciate the national Health Department's ignoring our concerns. Why the haste? This Bill should, in fact, be referred back to the drawing boards. [Interjections.] The Western Cape therefore strongly questions the desirability of this Bill.
The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: Order! I would like to welcome the leader of the Free State delegation, Premier Direko. Welcome to the NCOP. [Laughter.]
Dr P J C NEL: Mevrou die Voorsitter, dit is vir die Nuwe NP in beginsel onmoontlik om hierdie wetsontwerp te steun, en wel om die volgende redes.
Teenstrydig met die privatiseringsbeleid van die Regering, beoog hierdie wetgewing om laboratoriumdienste te nasionaliseer en te monopoliseer. Dit sal 'n kwade dag wees vir gesondheidsdienste as mediese dienste nie meer op 'n kompeterende basis gelewer kan word nie. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)
[Dr P J C NEL: Madam Chairperson, in principle it is impossible for the New NP to support this Bill, for the following reasons.
In contrast to the policy of privatisation of the Government, this legislation envisages nationalising and monopolising laboratory services. It will be a bad day for health services when medical services can no longer be rendered on a competitive basis.]
Clause 15(1) reads as follows, ``Public health sector service providers must purchase laboratory services from the Service'' - the NHLS. The New NP is of the opinion that a more cost-effective and quicker service can be provided by the private sector in certain instances, and it should not be excluded as an option for the public sector service provider. The New NP is concerned about a possible decline in the standards of services owing to the amalgamation of 110 branches of the SA Insitute for Medical Research, the National Institute for Virology and eight provincial health laboratory services. The centralisation of the service could create endless transport problems, causing a delay in receiving of results from tests by doctors in hospitals.
In the Free State we are extremely concerned about the closing of the provincial laboratory service.
Tans is die oorgrote meerderheid van die laboratoriumpersoneel sowel as die akademiese komponent op die diensstaat van die provinsie. Met die sluiting van die provinsiale laboratorium beteken dit dat die totale personeelkomponent nou op die universiteit se betaalstaat sal wees. Dit word beraam dat dit die Universiteit van die Vrystaat ongeveer R30 miljoen per jaar gaan kos, wat hulle net eenvoudig nie het nie.
Die mediese natuurwetenskaplikes is hoogs gekwalifiseerde mense en het te doen met die opleiding van nagraadse mediese studente sowel as navorsing. Hulle is tans besig met baie belangrike navorsingsprojekte waarmee hulle reeds internasionale bekendheid verwerf het. Met die sentralisering van laboratoriumdienste loop mediese fakulteite die risiko om gemarginaliseer te word ten opsigte van basiese navorsing wat dan hoofsaaklik deur die twee groot sentra gedoen sal word, en wat sal beteken dat die fakulteite net 'n doodgewone laboratoriumdiens sal lewer.
Ek het gister met ontsteltenis verneem dat die taakspan van die departement nog geen ooreenkomste gesluit het met enige van die agt universiteite nie. Intussen hang die toekoms van al hierdie werknemers in die lug. Ek het rede om te glo dat die betrokke vakbonde ook ontsteld is oor hierdie aangeleentheid. Dit wil vir my lyk asof hierdie stuk wetgewing meer probleme gaan skep as wat dit gaan oplos. [Applous.] (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)
[Currently the vast majority of the laboratory staff as well as the academic component are on the payroll of the province. The closing of the provincial laboratory means that the entire staff component will now be on the university's payroll. It is estimated that this will cost the University of the Free State approximately R30 million per year, which they simply do not have.
The medical scientists are highly qualified people and deal with the training of postgraduate medical students, as well as research. They are currently busy with very important research projects which have already earned them international renown. With the centralisation of laboratory services the medical faculties run the risk of being marginalised with regard to basic research, which will then primarily be done by the two big centra, and which will mean that the faculties will render just a normal laboratory service.
I learnt with concern yesterday that the task team of the department has not reached agreements with any of the eight universities. In the meantime the future of all these employees hangs in the balance. I have reason to believe that the relevant trade unions are also upset about this matter. It seems to me that this piece of legislation is going to create more problems than it is going to solve. [Applause.]]
Me E M C GOUWS: Mevrou die Voorsitter, agb Minister en lede, die DP is al dikwels in hierdie Huis daarvan beskuldig dat ons ondemokraties en teen hervorming en nuwe wetgewing gekant is.
Die regerende party noem gerieflikheidshalwe nie die feit dat ons die oorgrote meerderheid wetgewing heelhartig steun nie. Ek sou sê dit is 'n blatante poging om ons af te maak as 'n party vasgevang in rigiede reëls en dat ons eintlik die vyand van demokrasie is. Hoekom kan die DP nie hierdie wetgewing steun nie? (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)
[Ms E C GOUWS: Madam Chairperson, hon Minister and hon members, the DP has often been accused in this House of being undemocratic and opposed to reform and new legislation.
The governing party neglects to mention the fact that we wholeheartedly support the overwhelming majority of legislation. I would say this is a blatant attempt to laugh us off as a party that is caught up in rigid rules and that is, in fact, the enemy of democracy. Why can the DP not support this legislation?]
Because we must put our money where our mouths are. Creating new jobs must be the priority of the Government. That is what they make the people believe they are trying to do. How on earth does this work if one closes down 110 SA Institute for Medical Research laboratories, the National Institute for Virology, the National Centre for Occupational Health, provincial health laboratory services and three forensic laboratories?
Furthermore, they are limiting the role of research at our universities. We thought that the Government was looking at privatising most parastatals, but now we see they are creating one. The DP submit that, while there may be some justification for the rationalisation of all public-sector laboratory services into a single national laboratory service, such service should not have the monopoly over the provision of laboratory services to public-health-sector providers. It should be impelled to provide a service competitive with that provided by the private sector. In the absence of such competition, there will be no guarantee that the NHLS will feel impelled to provide a cost-effective, efficient service to public sector service providers.
Die Huis het gehoor van die groot rol wat ons gaan speel ten opsigte van hulp aan lande in Suider-Afrika. Dit moet 'n bonus wees en nie as primêre motivering vir hierdie wetgewing dien nie. Ons eerste prioriteit is Suid-Afrika. Ons moet kyk na meer werkgeleenthede, na die afwenteling van mag na die private sektor en na die doeltreffendste en bekostigbaarste wyse waarop voorsiening vir medisyne vir die behandeling van ons siek mense gemaak kan word.
Hierdie wetgewing gaan nie hiertoe bydra nie. Die DP steun nie hierdie wetsontwerp nie. [Applous.] (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)
[The House has heard of the great role which we are going to play with regard to aid to countries in Southern Africa. This should be a bonus and should not serve as the primary motivation for this legislation. Our first priority is South Africa. We must look at more job opportunities, at the devolution of power to the private sector and at the most effective and affordable way in which provision can be made for medicine for the treatment of our sick people.
This legislation will not contribute to that. The DP does not support this Bill. [Applause.]]
Mr B J MKHALIPHI: Chairperson, hon Minister and hon members, Mpumalanga is very impressed with the active participation and inclusion of organised labour in the preparation of and deliberations on this Bill.
The dialogue that ensued and the suggestions made, especially by these stakeholders, signal a very good precedent for the future of the National Health Laboratory Service.
The department and all stakeholders have shown a keen interest in ensuring that the Bill is indeed inclusive of the needs of all workers who are currently employed in this very tenuous position. No one should be held in a state of limbo where his or her future is determined by a piece of legislation, thus our concession.
While it is true that some of the workers currently employed in laboratories across the country have found themselves in this very unpleasant situation for some time now, it is nevertheless imperative that we, as responsible legislators, provide a more permanent environment for those workers in the numerous laboratories across the country and for those workers who will, in future, be participating in this service.
The provinces wanted to be sure that this Bill would be conducive to personal growth and the improvement of skills and have clear career pathing for all those hoping for promotion in the future in this service.
Mpumalanga is sure that we have succeeded in this Bill as it now stands. We understood and empathised with the frustration of workers who, in one laboratory, will be overworked whilst others in another would have very little or no work to do at all. We have seen the need to level the playing field so that workers have job satisfaction in their workplace. We believe that this Bill successfully addresses this problem.
This Bill also shows further concern for the wellbeing of workers by the inclusion of comprehensive transitional provisions which deal with the complex period of transition. This foresight will ensure that workers who are currently in the employ of the various laboratories are transferred to the new service. Even those workers who are dissatisfied with the transfer will have recourse to refer their dispute to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.
Hopefully, no one will need to resort to this course of action. We are confident that all the parties involved in the National Health Laboratory Service will find the new structure a viable option for their future, except, of course, people who are used to flying kites instead of flying parachutes. They would go for the very cosy option of flying kites because there are no challenges involved. They would not get involved in deliberations and come to waste the time of this Chamber.
In addition to our concern about workers' rights, our province was very concerned that this new public entity might not be accessible to the needs of the community. We were assured, though, through our interactions and deliberations in the select committee process as well as in the other provincial committees, that although it was never the intention that laboratory services should provide direct access to the community, the community will nonetheless feel the direct benefit when their local pubic health care service uses the laboratories.
[Time expired.] [Applause.]
The MINISTER OF HEALTH: Chairperson, let me first of all quickly deal with the New NP and DP. I just want to respond to them by saying that I am surprised by the response of the Western Cape and the New NP because it was their own party which, in 1973, started this process. All that we have done is to show the courage and political will to indeed, once more, engage in extensive and robust consultations for the implementation, of course with improvements, of the recommendations that were made by the NP itself. When did they change? I do not understand.
In a way the Western Cape must begin to understand that they are not an island, not just a holiday mecca in South Africa, that they have to support and share expertise with the rest of the country. They do have expertise and we need to tap into that expertise. In fact, they should be proud that we are trying to tap into their expertise.
I hope one day they will realise that they are part of South Africa, not just on an island out there.
I thought Mr Nel understood that we live in the world of IT today. So his concerns about the delay in laboratory results are really unfounded. [Interjections.] As we indicated, these days results are transmitted electronically. So his grounds for concern are really unfounded. [Interjections.]
The DP starts off by convincing us that they have been supporting the Bills because they are interested in transformation, but they do exactly the opposite. I think the most upsetting thing they have said today is that they do not support integration. They are very concerned that the new public entity will provide services for SADC as well. Nobody has said we are going to start with SADC. I do not think one can start out there and omit one's home, but obviously, in the spirit of globalisation, we must start with regional integration. I do not know to which region those hon members belong, and yet, they are the people who support liberalisation.
Let me also just address, very briefly, my sister from KwaZulu-Natal, Mrs Millin. Let me start off by saying I really need to thank KwaZulu-Natal for having been very objective and co-operative in the process leading up to today with regard to the Bill under discussion. Mrs Millin's concerns will be accommodated in the fact that the implementation of the Bill will be staggered. We will not immediately implement all the provisions of the Bill.
Let me also dispel the notion that this has been fast-tracked. We have just heard that the process started in 1987. We came into power in 1994. We picked it up. From 1994 to date is actually six years. So hon members will agree with me that the train has indeed been very, very slow. The people, our passengers, have been able to come on board, including those who perhaps might not have wanted to get onto this train. So the train has been deliberately been slow to allow all of us to get used to the fact that the train moves on. However, from now onwards the implementation is going to be fast indeed.
Obviously, transformation, by its nature is quite threatening. It does indeed bring about uncertainties. Sometimes it brings fears and sometimes it is not easy, but transform we must. We have indeed been understood by most of the stakeholders. I do not know about the Western Cape and the DP, but most of the stakeholders, including the people who are employed in the different laboratories, have understood the direction in which we want to proceed. We have reassured them, to the best of our ability, that we will ensure that the creation of this new single national public entity will be as smooth as possible. Obviously, we seek their support and also their co-operation to ensure that indeed this transformation is as smooth as possible. [Interjections.]
As I have said, what we are trying to do, and I think we will succeed in doing this, is to ensure that we indeed create quality services, that we consolidate ...
Mr K M S DURR: Chairperson, would the hon the Minister please take a question?
The MINISTER: Chairperson, no, can I please finish.
The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: The Minister says she will not take a question. [Interjections.]
The MINISTER: Chairperson, the hon member can put the question in writing and I will come and answer it here. [Interjections.]
What we are trying to do is to consolidate all our basic health care resources so that we can ensure co-ordination, efficiency, effectiveness and quality services.
The hon member from the Northern Province referred to casualties, and I think some of those casualties are indeed, the Western Cape and the DP. However, they can be assured that this public national entity we create will provide quality diagnostic services - quality capacity for us to diagnose, to ensure that people indeed recover as speedily as possible from their injuries. [Applause.]
Bill agreed to in accordance with section 65 of the Constitution (Western Cape dissenting).
The Council adjourned at 18:07.
ANNOUNCEMENTS, TABLINGS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS
WEDNESDAY, 4 OCTOBER 2000
National Assembly and National Council of Provinces:
1...... The Speaker and the Chairperson:
(1) The Joint Tagging Mechanism (JTM) on 4 October 2000 in terms of Joint Rule 160(3), classified the following Bills as section 75 Bills:
(i) South African Reserve Bank Amendment Bill [B 62 - 2000] (National Assembly - sec 75) - (Portfolio Committee on Finance - National Assembly).
(ii) Judicial Matters Amendment Bill [B 63 - 2000] (National Assembly - sec 75) - (Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development - National Assembly).
(iii) South African Rail Commuter Corporation Limited Financial Arrangements Bill [B 64 - 2000] (National Assembly - sec 75) - (Portfolio Committee on Transport - National Assembly).
(iv) African Renaissance and International Co-operation Fund Bill [B 65 - 2000] (National Assembly - sec 75) - (Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs - National Assembly).
(2) The Joint Tagging Mechanism (JTM) on 4 October 2000 in terms of Joint Rule 160(4), classified the following Bill as a section 76 Bill:
(i) Chiropractors, Homeopaths and Allied Health Service Professions Second Amendment Bill [B 66 - 2000] (National Council of Provinces - sec 76) - (Select Committee on Social Services - National Council of Provinces).
3....... The Speaker and the Chairperson:
The following papers were tabled on 2 October 2000 and are now referred to the Portfolio Committee on Education:
(1) Government Notice No 777 published in the Government Gazette No 21444 dated 11 August 2000, The date on which TEFSA ceases its functions made in terms of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme Act, 1999 (Act No 56 of 1999).
(2) Government Notice No 789 published in the Government Gazette No 21438 dated 11 August 2000, Approval that the pilot project Travel and Tourism Standard Grade, Grade 10 - 12 becomes a fully fledged instructional offering, made in terms of the National Education Policy Act, 1996 (Act No 27 of 1996).
(3) Government Notice No R.848 published in the Government Gazette No 21501 dated 1 September 2000, Correction notice to Government Gazette No 21192 dated 18 May 2000, made in terms of the National Education Policy Act, 1996 (Act No 27 of 1996).
(4) Government Notice No 3102 published in the Government Gazette No 21539 dated 6 September 2000, Call for public comment on draft document - The National Policy Framework on Whole-school Evaluation, made in terms of the National Education Policy Act, 1996 (Act No 27 of 1996).
National Council of Provinces:
1....... The Chairperson:
Message from National Assembly to National Council of Provinces:
Bill passed by National Assembly on 4 October 2000 and transmitted for concurrence:
(a) Adjustments Appropriation Bill [B 60 - 2000] (National Assembly - sec 77) - (Select Committee on Finance - National Council of Provinces).
National Assembly and National Council of Provinces:
1....... The Minister of Trade and Industry:
Report and Financial Statements of the South African Bureau of Standards for 1999-2000, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements.
National Council of Provinces:
1. Report of the Select Committee on Social Services on the National Health Laboratory Service Bill [B 52 - 2000] (National Council of Provinces - sec 76), dated 4 October 2000:
The Select Committee on Social Services, having considered the subject of the National Health Laboratory Service Bill [B 52 - 2000] (National Council of Provinces - sec 76), referred to it and classified by the Joint Tagging Mechanism as a section 76 Bill, reports the Bill with amendments [B 52A - 2000].
2. Report of the Select Committee on Public Services on the Construction Industry Development Board Bill [B 59 - 2000] (National Council of Provinces - sec 76), dated 3 October 2000:
The Select Committee on Public Services, having considered the subject of the Construction Industry Development Board Bill [B 59 - 2000] (National Council of Provinces - sec 76), referred to it and classified by the Joint Tagging Mechanism as a section 76 Bill, reports the Bill with amendments [B 59A - 2000].
THURSDAY, 5 OCTOBER 2000
National Assembly and National Council of Provinces:
1. The Minister of Trade and Industry:
(1) Amendment Protocol on Trade in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), tabled in terms of section 231(2) of the Constitution, 1996.
(2) Explanatory Memorandum to the Amendment Protocol.
2. The Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry:
Report and Financial Statements of the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority for 1999-2000.
3. The Minister of Minerals and Energy:
Report and Financial Statements of the National Electricity Regulator for 1999-2000, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements for 1999-2000.
4. The Minister of Health:
Report of the Medical Bureau for Occupational Diseases for 1999-2000.
National Council of Provinces:
1. Report of the Select Committee on Finance on the Adjustments Appropriation Bill [B 60 - 2000] (National Assembly - sec 77), dated 5 October 2000:
The Select Committee on Finance, having considered the Adjustments Appropriation Bill [B 60 - 2000] (National Assembly - sec 77), referred to it, reports that it has concluded its deliberations thereon.