Hansard: NA: Unrevised hansard
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 16 Sep 2010
No summary available.
THURSDAY, 16 SEPTEMBER 2010
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
The House met at 14:04.
The Speaker took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.
ANNOUNCEMENTS, TABLINGS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS – see col 000
REMARKS MADE BY MRS D A SCHÄFER
The SPEAKER: Hon members, immediately after the debate on the International Day of Democracy yesterday, the hon Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Mr A C Nel, rose on a point of order.
He contended that the hon Mrs D A Schäfer had transgressed Rule 66 by stating that the National Director of Public Prosecutions, Adv Menzi Simelane, was unfit for office. Having now had an opportunity to study the unrevised Hansard, I wish to rule as follows:
According to the Hansard transcript, hon Schäfer said:
The ousting of Vusi Pikoli as the National Director of Prosecutions in favour of a man who has proven himself unfit in every respect, other than having the distinguished qualification of being a supporter of Jacob Zuma, goes to show how far the President will go to protect himself and his cronies from criminal charges.
Hon members, the purpose of Rule 66, a rule made by this House, is to protect the integrity and independence of judges and to prevent unwarranted and unsubstantiated attacks on the honour and confidence of public office bearers, whose removal from office is dependent on a decision of this House.
If there are grounds for an investigation into the conduct of such office bearers, this House has available the mechanism of a substantive motion.
Though the Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development only mentioned the National Director of Public Prosecutions in his point of order, Rule 66 also applies to the President of the Republic; both of them were maligned by hon member Mrs Schäfer when she referred to the National Director of Public Prosecutions’ competence and impugned the motives of the President as being criminal.
These remarks are unacceptable, regrettable and should be withdrawn. Hon member Schäfer, will you please withdraw the offensive remark.
Mrs D A SCHÄFER: Mr Speaker, I withdraw.
The SPEAKER: Thank you. We will now come to notices of motion. Does any member ... [Interjections.]
Mr M S SHILOWA: Hon Speaker, I am not very good at numbers. I was very bad in both Maths and Arithmetic. I just wanted to check whether or not you think we have sufficient numbers for a quorum in order to be able to proceed. I would want us to proceed.
The attention of Mr Speaker having been called to the absence of a quorum, the bells were rung.
A quorum being present, business resumed.
NOTICES OF MOTION
Adv H C SCHMIDT: Speaker, I hereby give notice that at the next sitting of the House I shall move on behalf of the DA:
That the House debates the rehabilitation of the abandoned and ownerless mines, as well as the budget allocated to the Department of Mineral Resources to address this issue.
Ms L N MOSS: Speaker, I hereby give notice that at the next sitting of the House I shall move:
That the House debates our efforts to escalate our commitment to the realisation of a greater contribution of alternative renewable sources.
Mr G G BOINAMO: Mr Speaker, I hereby give notice that at the next sitting of the House I shall move on behalf of the DA:
That the House debates the lessons learnt from the way government handled the recent public sector strike and come up with recommendations of how government can better handle such strikes the next time they occur.
Mr M B GOQWANA: Speaker, I hereby give notice that at the next sitting of the House I shall move on behalf of the ANC:
That the House debates creating awareness about organ donation.
Mrs A STEYN: Speaker, I hereby give notice that at the next sitting of the House I shall move on behalf of the DA:
That this House debates the impact of stock theft on the rural economy and come up with possible solutions to reduce the problem.
Mr M W RABOTAPI: Speaker, I hereby give notice that at the next sitting of the House I shall move on behalf of the DA:
That the House –
(1) Debates whether municipalities are efficiently and appropriately using funds to create work opportunities from the Extended Public Works Programme;
(2) and comes up with recommendations on how this sphere of government can improve the situation in this regard.
Mr M S SHILOWA: Speaker, I hereby give notice that at the next sitting of the House I shall move on behalf of Cope:
That the House debates the economic policy proposals of Cosatu, especially their potential impact or influence on economic growth, poverty reduction, job creation and underdevelopment.
Mr H P MALULEKA: Speaker, I hereby give notice that at the next sitting of the House I shall move on behalf of the ANC:
That the House debates the promotion and protection of indigenous languages.
Mr A P VAN DER WESTHUIZEN: Hon Speaker, I hereby give notice that at the next sitting of the House I shall move on behalf of the DA:
That the House debates the future of public and private FET Colleges, the programmes offered and the possibilities of increasing their enrolment figures and throughput rates.
Mrs J D KILIAN: Speaker, I hereby give notice that at the next sitting of the House I shall move on behalf of Cope:
That the House debates the abuse of public funds for profiling party political leaders in all spheres of government in the print and electronic media.
Mr J SMALLE: Speaker, I hereby give notice that at the next sitting day of the House I shall move on behalf of the DA:
That the House debates the appropriate involvement of the state in the mining sector and what steps can be taken to improve regulation and create certainty in the sector.
Dr P J RABIE: Speaker, I hereby give notice that at the next sitting of the House I shall move on behalf of the DA:
That the House debates what progress the Department of Economic Development has made since its establishment in 2009 and its role in relation to other departments in the economics cluster.
The SPEAKER: Does any other member wish to give notice of a motion? No? In which case we move on to motions without notice. [Interjections.]
Mrs C DUDLEY: Speaker, I am sorry for interrupting you. We are sitting here at the back.
The SPEAKER: We have moved from notices of motion. Are you now on motions without notice?
Mrs C DUDLEY: No, I just thought you took a while to notice me, that’s all.
The SPEAKER: I didn’t take a while, but you can go ahead. [Laughter.]
Mrs C DUDLEY: Speaker, I hereby give notice that at the next sitting of the House I shall move on behalf of the ACDP:
That the House debates the urgent need for the full-scale mobilisation of resources to address the circumstances that are resulting in the staggering statistics on child mortality.
The SPEAKER: Does any other member wish to give notice of a motion?
Mr M J ELLIS: Mr Speaker, I just wanted to say nobody else wants to. [Laughter.]
The SPEAKER: Thank you very much, hon member. If you are satisfied, we are satisfied too.
WORLD’S SHARKS FACING EXTINCTION
Mr N SINGH: Speaker, on behalf of the IFP I move without notice:
That the House –
(1) notes that –
(a) according to scientists 30 per cent of the world’s sharks are facing extinction ...
... and these are not the land sharks; those should have been extinguished a long time ago!
... and that if this extinction does happen, the oceans ecosystems would be disturbed, leading to the loss of other fish stocks;
(b) notes that the biggest threat to sharks is shark finning and every year approximately 73 million sharks are killed for their fins;
(c) further notes that Pew Environment Group is running a Global Shark Conservation campaign to highlight the plight of sharks; and
(2) calls upon South Africans to get involved in various shark conservation campaigns to help reduce and ultimately eliminate unsustainable activities that threaten the survival of sharks.
ALBINISM AWARENESS MONTH
Mr M J ELLIS: Mr Speaker, I move without notice:
That the House –
- notes that the month of September is Albinism Awareness Month which is dedicated to highlighting the plight of persons living with the genetic condition of Albinism, who as a result of this condition, are often the victims of muti-related violence and are the targets of discrimination, violence and neglect in parts of Eastern and Southern Africa;
- recognises that it is essential that more is done within this country to educate society about this condition, and in so doing finally dispel the popular myths and misconceptions about albinism which perpetuates discrimination and intolerance, thus undermining the values and rights enshrined within our Constitution;
- condemns the recent spate of violent and senseless attacks against persons living with this condition and also violence in all its forms; and
- calls upon the leaders of this country to seize the opportunity which Albinism Awareness Month presents to actively engage with and educate the general populace about this condition in order to create an integrated and harmonious society which reflects the values contained in the Constitution.
WOMEN’S MONTH AND HERITAGE MONTH
Mr H P MALULEKA: Speaker, I move without notice:
That the House -
- notes the positive initiative of the Government, through the Department of Arts and Culture, in putting into prominence certain key activities that were part and parcel of Women’s Month and Heritage Month in 2010;
- further notes that the culmination of these activities has been, amongst others, the following:
- the Dulcie September Memorial Lecture at the University of the Western Cape on 19 August 2010 in honour of the gallant martyr;
- the commemoration of three outstanding women struggle heroes, Charlot Maxeke, Lillian Ngoyi and Helen Joseph, whose resting places have been declared national monuments in recognition of their decisive role in the women’s movement and the struggle for the liberation of South Africa;
- the erection of the Sarah Baartman Centre of Remembrance Architectural Concept Design in Hankey in the Eastern Cape;
- the Tribute to Women Concert that was held at the State Theatre on 29 August 2010, honouring legendary women musicians, actresses, writers, dancers, women in the film industry, craft sector and visual arts, which was a resounding success; and
- the 2010 Heritage Day celebrations that will take place on 24 September 2010 in Durban; and
- recognises the importance of South Africans of all races to attend national events in order to build social cohesion and further recognises the importance of celebrating South Africa’s living treasures and also honouring those that have departed, as a way of preserving South Africa’s heritage; and
- supports the need to encourage the youth of our country to learn about the history and contributions of our heroes and heroines and the drive by the ANC-led government to ensure that future generations learn from the past, as the wise African saying teaches us: ``Inyathi ibuzwa Kwabaphambili’’.
REPEAL OF THE BLACK ADMINISTRATION ACT AND AMENDMENT OF CERTAIN LAWS ACT 28 OF 2005
Mr C T FROLICK: Mr Speaker, I hereby move without notice:
That the House –
- notes that –
- section 1(3) of the Repeal of the Black Administration Act and Amendment of Certain Laws Act, No 28 of 2005, provides for certain provisions of the Black Administration Act, No 38 of 1927, to remain in force until 30 December 2010; and
- the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development is proposing to introduce an amending Bill that will extend the date of application of these provisions to 30 December 2012 for the purposes of obtaining greater public input and consensus on contentious issues and allowing traditional courts to continue functioning legally;
- therefore –
- instructs the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development to publish the full particulars of its legislative proposal in the Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports forthwith; and
- notwithstanding the provisions of Rule 238(1), grants the committee permission to proceed with the proposed legislation.
SUSPENSION OF RULE 253(1)
Mr C T FROLICK: Hon Speaker, on behalf of the Chief Whip of the Majority Party, I move without notice:
That the House suspends Rule 253(1), which provides inter alia that the debate on the Second Reading of a Bill may not commence before at least three working days have elapsed since the committee’s report was tabled, for the purposes of conducting the Second Reading debate today on the following Bills:
- Higher Education Laws Amendment Bill [B 24B – 2010](National Assembly - sec 75);
- Skills Development Levies Amendment Bill [B 25 – 2010](National Assembly - sec 75);
- Higher Education and Training Laws Amendment Bill [B 26B - 2010](National Assembly - sec 76);
- South African Citizenship Amendment Bill [B 17B – 2010](National Assembly - sec 75);
- Births and Deaths Registration Amendment Bill [B 18B – 2010](National Assembly - sec 75); and
- Magistrates’ Courts Amendment Bill [B 23B – 2010] (National Assembly - sec 75).
SUSPENSION OF JOINT RULE 220(2)
Mr C T FROLICK: Mr Speaker, on behalf of the Chief Whip of the Majority Party, I move without notice:
That the House, subject to the concurrence of the National Council of Provinces, for the purposes of conducting the Second Reading debate today on the Bills mentioned below, suspends Joint Rule 220(2), which requires that a translation of a Bill’s official text must be received by Parliament at least three days before the formal consideration of the Bill by the House in which it was introduced:
- Higher Education Laws Amendment Bill [B 24B – 2010](National Assembly - sec 75);
- Skills Development Levies Amendment Bill [B 25 – 2010](National Assembly - sec 75);
- Higher Education and Training Laws Amendment Bill [B 26B – 2010](National Assembly - sec 76); and
- Births and Deaths Registration Amendment Bill [B 18B – 2010] (National Assembly - sec 75).
DEMOCRATIC ALLIANCE PAYS FOR MEDIA COVERAGE
Mr L T LANDERS (ANC): Mister Speaker, Premier Helen Zille and the DA have always projected themselves as being beyond reproach. The DA often preaches how well they are governing the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape province. Of late the DA has also made loud and strident noises about media freedom.
However, the DA’s hypocrisy has been exposed. For the second time this year, the DA has demonstrated how taxpayer’s money should be wasted. Last week, shortly after the DA had slammed the SABC for offering the Western Cape Provincial Government a paid opportunity to showcase itself on its Interface programme, Premier Helen Zille admitted to squandering taxpayer’s money ... [Interjections.] ...
The SPEAKER: Order, hon members, order!
Mr L T LANDERS (ANC): ... on her monthly hour-long slot on Heart 104.9FM radio. Premier Zille and Mayor Dan Plato signed a three-year contract with the radio station. The bill for this radio deal is split between the City and the Province of the Western Cape. What this means is that the taxpayer’s money is being used for DA branding and advertising.
Premier Zille has tried to justify this by saying that a tender process was followed to pay for this overpriced hour-long DA advertisement, but allegations persist that proper tender procurement procedures were not followed. Moreover, Premier Zille has failed to explain why she saw it fit to keep this radio deal a secret.
Earlier this year ... [Time expired.] [Applause.]
FIGHTING CORRUPTION IN THE WESTERN CAPE
Ms A M DREYER (DA): Mr Speaker, in the Western Cape, DA leader and Premier Helen Zille tackled corruption head-on ... [Interjections.]
... and placed open and clean government at the very heart of her administration.
We saw the results, namely a full, clean sweep audit for the provincial government - a first nationally. In sharp contrast to this, the Zuma administration keeps pledging to root out corruption, but what happens in reality? The Special Investigating Unit identified 96 000 civil servants who stole welfare money from the poor.
Fifteen thousand civil servants were found guilty of fraud. Has the government dismissed them? No! Has the government discharged one of the 900 policemen convicted of fraud? No!
At the level of local government, the situation is the same. In the Kungwini Local Municipality, the ex-municipal manager, Joe Gomba, was found guilty of fraud and suspended. The KPMG forensic report recommended that he be charged. Guess what? Two years later, no charges have been laid. He is still on full pay and the municipality is bankrupt. The message of the collapsing ANC government is clear: Cadres, you may steal the people’s money, nothing will happen to you.
The ANC’s alliance partner, Cosatu, agrees, saying that in the past three years, the ANC has not lifted a finger to fight corruption in government. Corruption is getting out of control. A powerful, predatory elite is draining South Africa. The ANC ... [Time expired.] [Applause.]
The SPEAKER: Order, order hon members, order!
Mr J B SIBANYONI: On a point of order, Speaker: I object to the hon member saying Gomba is still the municipal manager of Kungwini. It is my constituency; he is no longer a member of that municipality.
The SPEAKER: That’s not a point of order; it might be a point of information.
INSTITUTIONALISATION OF CORRUPTION IN GOVERNMENT
Mr D A KGANARE (Cope): Mr Speaker, in this country corruption has now become institutionalised; we are being bombarded daily ... [Interjections.]
Ms F I CHOHAN: Mr Speaker, the hon Sibanyoni has pointed out that the House is being misled on a critical fact and I really urge that you perhaps consider asking the hon member who made that statement to withdraw it.
The SPEAKER: Hon member, that was not a point of order!
Mr D A KGANARE (Cope): Mr Speaker, as I was saying, in this country today, corruption has become institutionalised under the ANC. We are being bombarded with information about premiers, Ministers, mayors, government officials and even the police being involved in corruption daily, and nobody is prepared to do anything about it.
The President and other Ministers keep telling us about their stand against corruption, but nothing happens. We are now being made to understand that the Minister of Communications is trying to micro-manage the SABC Board, which has clearly decided to make Morning Live the propaganda machinery of the ANC.
Today, President Zuma is in Kroonstad, where a doctor at the Boitumelo Hospital has been awarded a tender for R4,6 million, without going through tender procedures, to examine 500 patients for eye problems during weekends. This doctor brings three nurses from Sebokeng to examine these patients every weekend.
In the same province, when people ask about this they are told that it is a political directive. In the same province, the MEC for co-
operative governance and human settlements gets a report about investigations with conclusive evidence that petrol cards for cars that are not running are being used for dubious transactions in the Ngwathe Municipality. This involves Parys, Koppies and Edenville.
Despite this report having been received by the MEC in August 2009, nothing has happened. Instead, the policeman who was involved in the investigation and about to make arrests in respect of this matter was removed from the case and immediately transferred elsewhere. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
ZIMBABWEANS IN SOUTH AFRICA TO APPLY FOR PERMITS
Ms P MADUNA (ANC): Speaker, the ANC welcomes the announcement made by Home Affairs about issuing Zimbabweans with relevant South African permits for business, study and work. The process will commence on 20 September and the permits will be issued through all Home Affairs offices in all nine provinces.
Furthermore, the permits that will be issued to all qualifying Zimbabwean nationals will be available free of charge.
This comes after the department announced that all Zimbabwean immigrants have to apply for relevant documents and register their status in the country as the special dispensation-allowing Zimbabweans crossing into South Africa the right to live, work, attend education facilities and access basic health care for a period of six months-was coming to an end. The special dispensation will come to an end on 21 December. About 213 officials will be deployed at headquarters and in provinces, where dedicated queues have been established to facilitate the process.
A track-and-trace system will also be put in place to ensure that applicants are informed of the status of their applications via SMSs. The department also plans to introduce a call centre.
We urge all Zimbabwean nationals to take full advantage of the opportunity to regulate their stay and to comply with South Africa’s immigration laws. Thank you.
Mr B M KOMPHELA: Speaker, it is not true that the President is in Kroonstad. So if ... [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: Hon member, please take you seat. [Interjections.] Order, hon members!
CONGRATULATIONS TO SADESMO ON ITS SUCCESS IN SRC ELECTIONS AT UNIVERSITY OF THE FREE STATE
Mr A M MPONTSHANE (IFP): Speaker, for three consecutive days I have noted that, each time I rise to speak, there is a point of order!
The IFP would like to congratulate the South African Democratic Students’ Movement, Sadesmo, on their success in the SRC elections at the University of the Free State. With the final results in, Sadesmo received 837 votes, winning over 45% of the total votes, and obtaining 5 seats on the SRC structure.
The IFP wishes these young leaders well, and hopes they become instruments of change and improvement within the University of the Free State’s SRC structure by flying the IFP flag high and leading by example.
This, once again, debunks the myth that the youth of the IFP is dead and nonexistent on campuses or nationally. Thank you.
CONDEMNATION OF DISRUPTION OF MATRIC EXAMINATIONS BY STRIKERS
Mr S Z NTAPANE (UDM): Speaker, the UDM condemns in the strongest possible terms the current disruption of matric examinations across the country. It must be noted that these illegal, irresponsible and violent disruptions are orchestrated by an organisation that is aligned to the ruling party.
Once more we have ANC alliance partners disrupting a school programme that has suffered this year from a protracted violent strike by teachers. It is especially frustrating that the nonsensical and unreasonable demands are supposedly being made out of a concern for this year’s matrics, whereas, in actual fact, these hypocrites are further undermining learners who are already at a disadvantage.
The ANC’s inability to keep its alliance partners from trashing the country makes a mockery of the so-called mass democratic movement. There is nothing democratic or constitutional about the violence ...
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS: Speaker, on a point of order: The Congress of South African Students, Cosas, is not an ally of the ANC.
The SPEAKER: Hon member, please take your seat. [Laughter.] Hon members, order! Hon members, I want to say this and I don’t want to repeat it again: The Chair does not get involved in points of information or points of debate.
If members want to disagree or agree, they may use their time slot or the time slot of their party to do so, but they should not use the floor to make points of no consequence. Continue, hon member. [Interjections.] Hon members, order!
Mr S Z NTAPANE (UDM): Thank you, Speaker. There is nothing democratic or constitutional about the violence and coercion that accompanies this tripartite alliance-fuelled protests. The person who styles himself or herself as a leader, but then goes into a school and prevents a matric learner from writing an exam, is nothing but a criminal and a thug.
Whenever we have debates in this House about the youth, everybody, including the ANC, professes great concern for the youth. But where is the state now to protect the youth from these criminals and thugs who are stealing their education? Thank you.
SALGA SEMINAR ON HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT
Mr S L TSENOLI (ANC): Speaker, the ANC congratulates the South African Local Government Association, Salga, for properly convening a three-day seminar on human resources management early last week.
In the oversight work that we do, this is the one area that needs the most attention if municipalities are to focus successfully on meeting their constitutional obligation, namely to provide democratic and accountable government for local communities; to ensure the provision of services to communities in a sustainable manner; to promote social and economic development and a safe and healthy environment; and to encourage the involvement of communities and community organisations in the affairs of local government.
This is what the ANC fought for, promotes and would like to see taking shape.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST IN WORLD BANK AND AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT BANK LOANS TO SOUTH AFRICA
Mr L W GREYLING (ID): Speaker, in March of this year I wrote to the President of the World Bank asking him not to grant the loan to South Africa unless the ANC, in the form of Chancellor House, divests its shares in Hitachi Power Africa.
The World Bank tacitly recognised this massive conflict of interest, but disingenuously avoided the controversy by claiming that their loan would not be used for the controversial boiler contracts.
As I vehemently disagree with their logic, I have today written the same letter to the African Development Bank. I am doing so because their US$2 billion loan to South Africa, which was made last year will most certainly be used to fuel this conflict of interest, which is in contravention of their framework for preventing and combating fraud and corruption.
The ID will continue to use all the means at its disposal to ensure that the ANC is not allowed to swell their coffers through unethical means.
The ANC may deem my party’s actions unpatriotic, but to paraphrase a famous politician, it is not the letters I write that are unpatriotic, but rather the fact that the ruling party is determined to profit from government contracts that is patently unpatriotic.
Thank you. [Applause.]
ANC YOUTH LEAGUE PRESIDENT BREAKS PROMISE TO LEARNERS
Mr M M SWATHE (DA): Speaker, many children who are born into poverty in the peripheral rural areas of our country, find it difficult to improve their chances in life. I read in the newspaper last year that the ANC Youth League president had promised 200 pairs of shoes to learners of Makanyu Primary School, outside of Thohoyandou.
He failed to keep that promise to these children who walk to school barefooted everyday. Julius Malema was happy to use the school as a platform for his political campaigning, but did not follow through with the promises. We are grateful that there are many responsible and caring South Africans who came to the rescue of these children.
Two days ago, working with the DA, the Bobs for Good Foundation which was founded by former Springbok, Bob Skinstad, donated 284 pairs of shoes to the learners at the school. The joy on the faces of these children, when they received the shoes, was humbling. Their expectations of obtaining these shoes had been met.
Malema’s broken promises clearly show that he cannot be a role model for our youth. He is an irresponsible leader who plays on the emotions of some of the most vulnerable people, while he continues to live lavishly through dodgy tender deals. Thank you. [Applause.]
GOVERNMENT’S COMMITMENT TO IMPROVING HEALTH CARE
Mrs N F MATHIBELA (ANC): Hon Speaker, the ANC-led government is committed to improving the quality standards for both public and private health sectors. This means, amongst other things, the provision of adequate numbers of workers at all levels of the health care system, including recruitment, training and filling of vacant posts.
As such, the North West province has, between April and August this year, succeeded in employing 630 health care professionals to fill the vacant posts. The employed staff included 84 nursing assistants, 30 staff nurses, 19 medical officers, 42 medical specialists, 30 emergency care workers, 23 professional nurses, 39 emergency care assistants and 102 student nurses, as well as dieticians and pharmacists.
This resulted in the improvement in access to quality health care, and the reduction of long queues in the province’s public hospitals and clinics. I thank you.
IMPACT OF PUBLIC SERVICE STRIKE ON FINAL MATRIC EXAMS
Mr N SINGH (IFP): Hon Speaker, the Public Service strike reached its fourth week, with no resolution reached by the government and the unions. A 21-day suspension was put in place, beginning on 6 September, to give wage talks a chance.
The Minister of Basic Education, hon Angie Motshekga, said last week that it is the schools’ prerogative whether or not to cancel the September holidays, and to use it to catch up on school work. This might work.
However, if you calculate 21 days from 6 September 2010, the 21-day suspension period ends on 5 October, and the vacation period ends on 4 October. If a resolution is not reached within these 21 days, our children would be back to square one.
We cannot have another strike starting in October, when final exams would be beginning nationally in November. We need a more solid and concrete plan from the Department of Education, which will ensure safe and protected writing centres, where not even Cosas can interfere with our children’s vital final exams.
The Department of Education must produce a solid, indisputable and mutually acceptable solution before the future of our children is completely compromised. Thank you.
GOVERNMENT’S FAILURE TO CONTROL UNRULY BEHAVIOUR OF COSAS AND PREVENT DISRUPTIONS IN EDUCATION
Mr M S SHILOWA (Cope): Hon Speaker, Cope condemns, in the strongest terms possible, the unruly behaviour of Cosas in a number of provinces, as well as the paralysis displayed by the Department of Basic Education to end the protest. The threat by Cosas to make the country ungovernable if the prelims are not scrapped, is irresponsible in the extreme.
Already, one 17-year-old pupil, who was protesting, was allegedly shot by the police and has died. Many other learners have been physically assaulted, intimidated and pulled out of their exam rooms.
The demand by the protesting pupils that they be given free marks is preposterous to say the least. Our education is already in a parlous state. Acceding to the protestors’ demand would simply destroy education.
Firstly, we want to know why the Minister is not proactively engaging Cosas on the one hand, and the unions on the other. Secondly, more importantly, why did the Minister send junior officials to meet with Cosas. Lastly, we have previously pointed out that the government’s handling of the strike has been inept and at times provocative.
We therefore urge government to sit around the negotiating table with all relevant role-players and find a resolution in the interest of the quality of education. Thank you.
FIFA’S SOCCER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME
Ms S R TSEBE (ANC): Speaker, the ANC welcomes the kick-off of the second phase of the Grassroots Football programme funded by the world football governing body, Fifa. Aspirant footballers between the ages of 6 and 12 in Mangaung/Bloemfontein are set to nurture and develop their skills through a football programme funded by Fifa in the area.
The first phase of the programme was launched earlier this year in Tshwane and Mafikeng as part of the 2010 Fifa World Cup legacy. The first two phases of this programme have been a great success. Tshwane introduced 1 385 kids to football within three hours, which was a world record.
We wish this initiative well and look forward to the programme being rolled out to the rest of the country. Football development among young kids is good for the future of football in the country. I thank you. [Applause.]
PROTECTING NDUMO GAME RESERVE
Mr G R MORGAN (DA): Speaker, the destruction of the Ndumo Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal is ongoing and relentless. This reserve may not be well known to the members of this House, but it is the closest thing that we have to our own Okavango Delta, encompassing the confluence of the Usuthu and Pongola Rivers. It is certainly worth protecting.
Two local communities lodged land claims against almost 1 300 hectares of the park in the 1990s, and the claim was settled in early 2000. Title to the land was restored to the communities on condition that the land remained a protected conservation area. There were also cash payouts.
However, in 2008, the eastern boundary to the park was removed, and members of the community began to clear the bush for farming. This is undoubtedly a difficult and sensitive situation, as members of this community are poor and need to sustain themselves. As an interim response, the KwaZulu-Natal government allocated a small section of the park for farming, but since then, the area has not been demarcated and the daily destruction of the riverine forest continues.
While the KwaZulu-Natal government promises to build a new fence, its wildlife officials appear powerless to stop further incursions into Ndumo. It is time for national government to lean on the provincial government, considering that Ndumo’s problems are affecting the success of a three-nation conservation initiative that includes Mozambique and Swaziland.
The logical solution would be to establish additional farming areas outside the park with the assistance of the departments of agriculture and rural development. Whatever happens, national government needs to offer its assistance. The KwaZulu-Natal government has fiddled while Ndumo burns. I thank you. [Applause.]
PROVISION OF ELECTRICITY IN MUSINA
Mrs N M TWALA (ANC): Speaker, the ANC believes in electricity for all, and it is committed to accelerating a sustainable electrification programme. Hence, 594 out of 885 households in Extensions 9 and 10 at Sihlalangenkane in the Limpopo border town of Musina received electricity during the first phase of the project this year.
The remaining 300 homes also stand to benefit, as the second phase of the R2,1 million electrification project started on Friday, 3 September 2010. These households are expected to have their electricity by November this year.
The ANC-led government will ensure that all people have the right to access basic government services irrespective of where they live, and commends the partnership of the Musina Local Municipality and the Vhembe District Municipality for the funding to realise this project. I thank you.
DEMOCRATIC ALLIANCE PAYS FOR MEDIA COVERAGE
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF TRANSPORT: Speaker, the hon Landers was absolutely right to draw the attention of the House to the hypocrisy of the Premier of Western Cape and the Mayor of the City of Cape Town in spending ratepayers and taxpayers’ money on booking ... [Interjections.] ... programmes on radio stations.
The SPEAKER: Order, order!
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF TRANSPORT: The first hypocrisy in this was that there was no disclosure of this matter until it was revealed publicly. The fall-back position was that this was just government speaking, that the Premier, when she was a mayor, was just speaking to the public as government. But the hypocrisy of this and the thin veneer that this is hiding have been exposed once again by the DA member, because they are standing here telling us all about the wonderful service delivery by the DA here in the Western Cape and by the City of Cape Town. This pulls the carpet precisely from underneath their explanation that Premier Zille is giving that this not about party politics, but just about government delivery.
However, let us talk about government delivery. What is actually happening, for instance, in the City of Cape Town under DA leadership? One of the most pernicious things has just happened below the radar screen. The City has introduced what is called “special rates areas”. Privileged areas like Pinelands-where I live-if they agree to pay extra rates, are able to get extra services on top of what they get as normal services from the City.
In other words, what the City of Cape Town is perpetuating is massive redistribution once more in favour of the rich and privileged - and basically the whites. In the olden days, which these members like to forget about, we used to say that the majority of English-speaking whites, in particular, when they were overseas, they liked to criticise apartheid mildly. [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: Order, hon members. Order.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF TRANSPORT: When they came back home, they would vote for the predecessor of the DA, the PFP, but in their hearts they thanked God that the apartheid regime was still in place. And that spirit still prevails today. [Applause.]
FIFA’S SOCCER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME
GOVERNMENT’S FAILURE TO CONTROL UNRULY BEHAVIOUR OF COSAS
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF BASIC EDUCATION: Hon Speaker, there have been three statements in relation to Cosas and one in relation to football and the Fifa-backed initiative.
I will firstly deal with the Fifa-backed initiative and endorse the excitement that the department feels in relation to this initiative. I would also like to draw the attention of the hon Speaker and the House to the fact that one of the heritage projects from which we derived benefit, as the Department of Basic Education in collaboration with the Departments of Sport and Recreation and Arts and Culture, was the one in which more than 6 000 of our schools participated in the football initiative through a tournament that provided opportunities for the under-18s and under-16s boys and girls and for special learners in three different categories.
The level of participation meant that more than 200 000 of our learners were able to play football as part of the legacy and initiative related to the Fifa event that took place in our country.
With regard to Cosas, Cabinet pronounced very strongly that Cosas should indeed speak to the educational authorities and that it certainly has no authority or right to enter schools and disrupt examinations.
The Minister of Basic Education had been very clear and stated quite unequivocally that we were not going to postpone the preliminary examinations. She further stated that it would be preposterous or ludicrous, as hon Shilowa says, to expect free marks to be awarded to these learners. The statement by the Minister was clear in what it announced.
The hon members should also take into account that these incidents didn’t occur throughout the country, but only occurred in three provinces. The department, in collaboration with the SA Police Service, immediately responded to the challenges that we were faced with in those schools to ensure that the security of the learners was safeguarded. Furthermore, it was made clear that this delinquency would be dealt with using the full might of the law. Indeed, that is what is going to occur.
With regard to the issue of the recovery plan, this had started long before the industrial action. We, as the department were aware, that the Fifa World Cup would result in extended holidays.
Indeed, all nine provinces are taking steps to ensure that they provide for initiatives, which include Saturday classes and in some instances Saturday and Sunday classes, as well as additional tuition and resource materials for the learners. [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: Hon Deputy Minister, your time has expired.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF BASIC EDUCATION: Thank you, Speaker, I just want to draw your attention to the fact that there were actually three statements in the process. [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: Hon Deputy Minister, may I say your time has expired.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF BASIC EDUCATION: Speaker, I respect the authority of the Chair. Thank you. [Applause.]
SALGA SEMINAR ON HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF CO-OPERATIVE GOVERNANCE AND TRADITIONAL AFFAIRS: Mr Speaker, the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs wants to share entirely the sentiments expressed by hon Tsenoli. In fact, the South African Local Government Association, Salga, held a highly successful human resources management conference. It followed on after a conference held in 2003.
The main aim of the conference was to ensure that the Public Service and the local administration become professional. They drew attention to problems that are consistent with what we mentioned in the State of Local Government Report.
In particular, they are concerned about the way people are
appointed. They recognise the high turnover in municipalities in respect of senior managers. They are also concerned about ensuring that the scarcity of skills is attended to by drawing in people who are currently deployed in the national and provincial spheres as administrators and public servants.
In fact, they are also interested to see that, before this very Parliament, there is a Bill that, I understand, they identify with. This is the Municipal Systems Amendment Bill, which seeks to professionalise the Public Service at the local government administration level.
Also, of course, these decisions have been taken and strategies have been adopted. It is not for Salga alone to address these issues. All three spheres of government, not least this Parliament, need to work with them in order to implement those resolutions that they have adopted. I thank you.
INSTITUTIONALIATION OF CORRUPTION IN GOVERNMENT
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS: Speaker, hon Kganare alleges, without elaborating and without citing an instance, that I am micromanaging the SABC. [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: Order, hon members! Order!
The MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS: He does not provide a shred of evidence, and does not provide one instance of proof. He also speaks about this micromanagement in the context of corruption. I don’t know where the two link up.
I don’t know whether he has seen me once or several times at the SABC. I don’t have offices at the SABC. I go to the SABC to attend meetings that I have either called or to which I have been invited by the SABC board. In this instance, I went to the SABC because there was a problem I wanted to attend to.
Everything that I have done with the SABC was done in accordance with the law. My relations with the SABC are governed by articles of association. These articles of association define the relationship between me and the SABC.
If hon Kganare is talking about my call for the SABC board to reconsider the appointment of the Group Chief Executive Officer, it is within my ambit. I have done so in accordance with those articles. [Applause.]
I don’t know whether he wants me to step aside or fold my arms when I see anarchy descending on the SABC. I will not. As Minister, I am responsible for the SABC. This statement that he has made is really just sheer bluster - nothing more than bluster - because he is not correct. [Applause.]
ZIMBABWEANS IN SOUTH AFRICA TO APPLY FOR PERMITS
The MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS: Speaker, I just want to welcome the statement by hon Maduna on the Zimbabwean dispensation and want to stress that, like all South Africans, citizens of other countries, who live in South Africa, should be documented and registered and their stay regularised.
We should also remind the House that this was supposed to have been done between April 2009 and April 2010, but we have extended the deadline to December just to make sure that nobody misses out.
Of course, the success of this depends on the co-operation of the Zimbabweans themselves, in terms of them making sure that they get their documents and apply for the relevant permits so that they don’t miss the deadline. Thank you.
DEMOCRATIC ALLIANCE PAYS FOR MEDIA COVERAGE
ANC YOUTH LEAGUE PRESIDENT BREAKS PROMISE TO LEARNERS
GOVERNMENT’S FAILURE TO CONTROL UNRULY BEHAVIOUR OF COSAS AND PREVENT DISRUPTIONS IN EDUCATION
The MINISTER OF ARTS AND CULTURE: Speaker, I just want to agree with hon Cronin that, in fact, Premier Zille has abused millions of rands of public and taxpayers’ funds on her personal campaign to boost her image and that of the DA. I also want ...
Mr M J ELLIS: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: There have been occasions in the past when the DA has, for example, used statement time as an opportunity to have more than one statement on the same subject, and we have been ruled out of order.
Now, we are having the ANC’s Minister standing up and repeating virtually what has been said already. We have already had this input on this particular statement. [Interjections.] I call upon you, sir, to indicate that it is not proper.
The SPEAKER: Order, hon members! Order! Hon Minister Xingwana, you cannot reflect on the integrity of a Premier in this House, so I would like you to withdraw that comment. You cannot reflect on their integrity. Order, hon members!
The MINISTER OF ARTS AND CULTURE: Speaker, I don’t know if it was about the integrity, but I just wanted to highlight the fact that funds were not used properly. [Interjections.]
Mr M J ELLIS: Mr Speaker ...
The SPEAKER: Hon members, order! Hon Minister, please withdraw.
The MINISTER OF ARTS AND CULTURE: I withdraw, Speaker, but taxpayers’ funds were not used properly. I also want ... [Interjections.]
Mr M J ELLIS: Mr Speaker, on a point of order ...
The SPEAKER: Take your seat, hon Minister.
Mr M J ELLIS: Mr Speaker, I have drawn your attention to the fact that this matter has been responded to by the Minister already today. Is it proper that another Minister stands up and talks about the same point? We, as a political party, cannot do that, sir. Why should the Ministers be able to have two opportunities on the same matter?
The LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: When you’ve made a ruling in the House that a member should withdraw his or her statement, is it acceptable to withdraw the statement and then qualify the withdrawal?
The SPEAKER: The comments were withdrawn, hon member. Hon members, order! You may continue, hon Minister. We cannot prescribe the response of the Minister, except when it is out of order.
The MINISTER OF ARTS AND CULTURE: Thank you, Speaker. The president of the Youth League must be commended for actually highlighting the predicament of the learners in that school to the extent that he was able to expose their situation, and they were able to get sponsorships for those poor learners. I think we should commend him for doing that. [Applause.] Lastly, I want to say to the deputy president of the Congress of South African Students, Cosas – of Cope, sorry. [Laughter.] Well, I get confused. I no longer know who is president or deputy president! [Interjections.] I don’t know who the court has voted for. [Interjections.] I wanted to say to the president or deputy president that ...
Ms J D KILIAN: Mr Speaker, on a point of order ...
The SPEAKER: Hon Minister, take your seat. There is a point of order.
Ms J D KILIAN: Mr Speaker, I would like you to rule on the following: I am referring to Rule 105, and thereafter to responses by Ministers. The Rule states that -
At the conclusion of statements by members, a Minister present may be given an opportunity to respond, for not more than two minutes, to any statement directed to that Minister or made in respect of that Minister’s portfolio.
With respect, Speaker, I do not see any reference to Cosas in the portfolio of the Minister of Arts and Culture. Thank you. [Applause.]
The MINISTER OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Speaker, I would draw the member’s attention ... [Interjections.]
The SPEAKER: Order!
The MINISTER OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: ... draw the member’s attention again to Rule 105 and indicate that there is no qualification. A member may make a statement on any matter. There aren’t statements directed at particular portfolios, so there is a misalignment. Perhaps the hon member should lead a process of changing the Rules. The Minister can respond to any of the statements. [Applause.]
Ms J D KILIAN: Speaker, just in response to that, I beg to differ.
The SPEAKER: Hon member, I don’t want a debate on this point.
Ms J D KILIAN: I would like to have your ruling on it, sir.
The SPEAKER: I do not want a debate on this point. I would like the hon Minister to continue and conclude. [Interjections.] Order, hon members!
The MINISTER OF ARTS AND CULTURE: Speaker, I just wanted to commend the Minister of Basic Education for standing firmly on this issue.
The SPEAKER: Hon member, there is another point of order.
Mr M S SHILOWA: Speaker, may I just suggest that you consider the point raised by hon Kilian and indicate on another day what your ruling is.
The SPEAKER: Hon member, please take your seat. I will look at the Hansard and come back to that point.
The MINISTER OF ARTS AND CULTURE: I would just like to advise the deputy president of Cope that Cosas are juniors and therefore I don’t see why the Minister of Basic Education should not get juniors to deal with them, because I don’t understand why the Minister should send seniors, as he was saying, to meet with Cosas. Thank you, Speaker. [Applause.]
FUTURE OF PEBBLE BED MODULAR REACTOR (PBMR)
The MINISTER OF PUBLIC ENTERPRISES: Mr Speaker, hon members of the House, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to brief the House on a very difficult matter concerning the future of the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor, PBMR, project.
Without going into too much detail right now, after careful deliberation, analysis, review and being mindful of the fiscal constraints in these hard economic times, government has had to make a decision to no longer invest in this project. As a consequence, the scale and size of the company is being drastically reduced to a handful of people, with the focus being on the retention of its intellectual property and certain skills, and the preservation of its assets.
At the outset, let me emphasise that the decisions taken by government in this regard have not been taken lightly, neither are we unmindful of the regrettably big impact that these decisions will have on the future careers and livelihoods of PBMR employees - this has been uppermost in our minds.
We have also not lost sight of the significant investment already made by government in this project. This includes the impressive scientific advances already achieved in pioneering this particular form of nuclear technology. We have had to counterbalance these weighty considerations against the following sobering realities.
The PBMR has still not been able to secure an anchor customer or another investment partner. Further investment in the project could well be in excess of an additional R30 billion.
The project has been consistently missing deadlines, with the construction of the first demonstration model delayed further and further into the future.
The opportunity afforded to PBMR to participate in the USA’s Next Generation Nuclear Plant, NGNP, programme as part of the Westinghouse consortium, was lost in May this year when Westinghouse withdrew from that consortium.
Should South Africa embark on a nuclear build programme in the near future, it will not be using Pebble Bed technology, which is a Generation IV technology, that is, a technology that is still primarily in the research and design phase, but would have to consider options in Generations II and III.
Finally, the severity of the current economic downturn and the strain that it has placed on the fiscus, as well as the nature and scale of government’s current developmental priorities, has forced government to reprioritise its spending obligations and therefore, of necessity, to make certain tough decisions - this being one of them.
With these considerations in mind, government commissioned an independent, high-level review of the project. An interdepartmental task team was set up under the direction of an interministerial committee. It was to carefully consider and evaluate various options available, and to solicit the requisite professional advice and opinion as and when it was deemed necessary.
Government made an initial decision to downsize the company by 75%, based on these extensive deliberations. This would have still allowed it to operate for up to three years. It would continue to service its commitments to the Westinghouse NGNP consortium in the event that the NGNP bid was successful.
The company then embarked on a section 189 process, which prescribes in the Labour Relations Act that if any company is considering downsizing, they have to immediately inform employees and embark on a section 189 process. The company then embarked on such a process and approximately 600 employees have already left the employ of the company in terms of these prescribed procedures.
In May this year, a further blow was dealt to the project when Westinghouse withdrew participation in the NGNP programme, and Cabinet has now approved the following further recommendations that were placed before it.
The PBMR will be placed in a care and maintenance mode to protect its intellectual property and assets.
Several employees will be identified and retained to undertake this work unless the results of a capability audit, to be performed by the Department of Science and Technology, recommends otherwise.
There will be ongoing retrenchment of the remaining staff, and this process is taking place as we are sitting here in the House.
The Fuel Development Laboratory, FDL, on the SA Nuclear Energy Corporation, Necsa, premises - one of the important assets built by this programme - will be decommissioned under the auspices of Necsa. The Helium Test Facility, HTF, also on the Necsa premises will be mothballed.
This will be done according to the strict requirements for decommissioning nuclear capability. The HTF facility at North-West University will only be mothballed should the university not wish to continue with it.
A key nuclear skills development and retention programme will be established and funding will be provided subject to a skills evaluation process by the Department of Science and Technology.
Let me say that the conditions under which we are operating, where no funding was made available to the PBMR in this year’s budget, have meant that we’ve had to work under very tight constrains. It would have been wonderful if we had been able to retain every single nuclear scientist that worked on this project.
These skills, however, are highly mobile, and many of these people have been absorbed elsewhere. Eskom, Sasol and a number of private and international companies have recruited these people. But, we do know that should government take the final decision to embark on a nuclear programme, these people will be absorbed at that stage.
What we are focusing on is a number of young, trained nuclear scientists who would still require further upgrading and training. These are the ones who for have been identified for inclusion in a further nuclear skills development programme. The Departments of Higher Education Training, and Energy will seek to ensure that the nuclear graduate programmes at universities, such as the North-West University, are maintained and supported.
What is important is that Cabinet has decided that a retrospective review of the PBMR project, which will most likely include an audit, will be done. This will also assist us in capturing the lessons learnt from such an undertaking on what might have gone wrong, and what might have gone right. We still need to identify any outstanding cause of action that should be undertaken, with a particular focus on the corporate governance aspects of this project.
It is important that a number of observations be made with regard to the project. A total of R9,244 billion has been invested over the last decade, with the South African government having contributed an amount of approximately R7 billion or 80,3% of that amount. Eskom contributed 8,8%, but then withdrew from that project, with Westinghouse and the Industrial Development Corporation, IDC, accounting for 4,9% each.
Major work on the project started with a detailed feasibility study in the year 2000, and a significant milestone in the project was reached in 2003 with the National Nuclear Regulator, NNR, reporting a positive view on the possibility of the licensing of that project.
Around 2005, the PBMR’s focus shifted to work needed for the licensing of a demonstration power plant and the detailed design work required for manufacturing long-lead items of the plant for the PBMR.
At about the same time, government identified the potential of a successful PBMR programme to enable an advanced manufacturing industry based on home-grown intellectual property that would be globally competitive. It approved a significant amount of funding for that project. Government’s funding was intended to ensure the continuation of the project, whilst providing a firm foundation for the acquisition of additional private sector investment into the project and an anchor customer.
It was originally envisaged that Eskom would be the PBMR’s anchor customer, with a possible purchase of a further 24 reactors, as part of the country’s expansion of its electricity generation capacity. This would meet the increasing electricity demand with the first demonstration PBMR to be constructed on the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station site.
Let me say that the PBMR is a baby reactor, and can at the most yield 400 megawatts of power. If you look at something like Kusile, which provides 4 600 megawatts, these reactors can be efficiently placed across the country. These are tiny reactors; that was the attraction of such a programme.
Furthermore, the technology associated with the PBMR is very inviting because it is said that the PBMR can never go into meltdown. Because of the small scale of the reactor, plus the notion that it is very safe technology, government then embarked on this.
However, between 2005 and 2009, it became increasingly clear that based on the direct-cycle electricity design, the PBMR’s potential investor and customer market was severely restricted; and it was unable to acquire either. Thus government has been constrained to make decisions about the future of the project.
It is absolutely clear from all the high-level reviews that have been undertaken that there is no doubt about the validity of the technology itself. The main feature of the PBMR, as I have said, is that its safety features are inherent in the physics of the design. This is as opposed to the add-on engineered safety features, as are found in current light water reactor nuclear plants.
In the original PBMR design, the system is a so-called direct-cycle system where the reactor coolant, which is helium in our case, passes through the turbo generator plant without an intermediate system such as a boiler. This arrangement promised greater thermal efficiency and safety, hence its attractiveness as a future nuclear generation technology.
Both the United States and China are actively engaged in further developing this technology, with South Africa earning a reputation as being at the cutting edge of these developments. Indeed, China made several visits to this country to engage with our scientists. This is a remarkable achievement for a developing country and something of which we can be justifiably proud.
Through this programme, we were able to retain and consolidate the existing nuclear skills and capabilities that had been developed during the apartheid era. Most importantly, we sponsored the training of a new generation of nuclear scientists and technicians.
Some of our universities have definitely benefited from this investment and are able to offer courses related to nuclear research and training that would not have been possible without such an investment. This has been achieved in an era where the trend internationally was not to invest in developing nuclear skills.
This trend has now been reversed with the advent of the commitments made to reduce carbon emissions and many countries are now reviewing their nuclear policies. Because South Africa has been steadily investing in nuclear capability over the last decade, we are well positioned to embark on a nuclear build should that be required.
Obviously, in closing down the PBMR project, there has been a leakage of skills, which is regrettable but unavoidable, but we do envisage the further up-skilling and training of a younger generation of scientists and technicians who have benefitted from our investments in the PBMR.
Let us say that, when we are estimating whether government is making the correct decision, we do need to take into consideration what will happen if we do not close down the project.
The decision on the future of the PBMR has been a difficult one to make. It’s been a complex process, and especially because it affects the livelihood of so many people and so many of our young scientists who were really learning from this project. Had there been any other viable options, we would have certainly considered them.
May I thank everyone who had to embark on this long and difficult journey, including my fellow Ministers, the board, and other participants in this process, and the trade unions, for all the hard work and support that has gone into this initiative. It is much appreciated, and I thank you. [Applause.]
Mr P VAN DALEN: Madam Chair, the Minister of Public Enterprises has today announced the downscaling or the effective closure of this controversial money-guzzling enterprise, which, after 10 years, has not yielded any significant breakthrough and for all intents and purposes was an exercise in futility. To say the least, this can be regarded as fruitless and wasteful expenditure.
The Pebble Bed Modular Reactor, PBMR, was established in 1999, and Parliament was told that for an investment of R2 billion, the PBMR had the intention to develop, market and build a high-temperature reactor that would produce 400mW of power. We were also told that about four reactors would be needed to generate the equivalent of the power that Koeberg generates.
This plan was changed, and we were then told that it would now only produce 165mW, and we would need 10 reactors to generate the same power as Koeberg, at a cost of about R30 billion each. You can do the math it would be R300 billion for all 10 reactors. Compare this to a coal-fired power station that can generate 4 600mW and costs R125 billion a fraction of the cost.
For many years, the DA has been calling for its closure. The R10 billion it has cost the taxpayer would have been better spent on building 200 000 much-needed RDP houses, which would have gone a long way in addressing the housing shortage that currently exists.
The Minister tells us that the intellectual property is secured for South Africa and the future. This is not altogether true, as the knowledge that has been developed is worth little, if anything, if the critical mass of scientists to interpret it does not exist.
I am told that the critical mass of informed scientists working for the PBMR company has already resigned and opted for more lucrative positions overseas. Nothing stops them from applying there what they have learned here for the benefit of whomever is their new employer.
The investment of Westinghouse, a US-based company, must be recognised. The questions that will arise is: What will this mean in terms of the intellectual property rights? Is government going to buy their share, as they would surely have as much claim to the intellectual property that they co-funded?
Dit is dus met ’n hartseer gevoel dat ek hier staan en moet vra: Was die kool die sous werd of is dit net goed en nog ’n voorbeeld van hoe die staat geld mors en dan maar net weer verwag van die belastingbetaler om sy gordel stywer te trek en meer belasting vir sy gemors te betaal?
Dit is waarom die gewone man in die straat wat vir ’n salaris werk en belasting betaal, glo dat die regering baie geld het en dat die koevert nog lank nie leeg is nie. Daar is nie tekens van te min geld as dit by die leiers van ons land kom nie en as Ministers glo dat hulle net met duur motors die arm mense kan bedien.
Selfs die werkers in die Parlement is in opstand aangesien hulle eerstehands sien hoe daar deur die leiers met die geld gemors word. Die DA is van mening dat openbare ondernemings wat nie hul mandaat vervul nie, uitgefaseer moet word om die las op die belastingbetaler te verlig. Ek dank u. [Applous.] (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)
[It is thus with a feeling of sadness that I have to ask: Was the game worth the candle, or is it just stuff and another example of how government is wasting money and then simply expecting the taxpayer to once again tighten the belt and pay more tax for its mess?
This is why the man in the street, who works for a salary and pays tax, believes that government has a lot of money and the envelope is far from empty. There are no signs of a shortage of money when it comes to the leaders of our country and when Ministers believe that they can only serve the poor when they drive expensive cars.
Even the workers in Parliament are in rebellion as they have first-hand experience of how money is wasted by the leaders. The DA is of the opinion that public enterprises that are not fulfilling their mandates should be phased out in order to relieve the burden on the taxpayer. Thank you. [Applause.]]
Mr M A NHANHA: Chairperson, members of the executive and hon members of the fourth democratic Parliament, when Cope first came into this House, we took a conscious decision to say that we shall be a patriotic opposition, and I promise to be exactly that.
Hon Minister, ngesiXhosa undiqhokr’ amadolwana. [... in isiXhosa one would say you’ve taken the words out of my mouth.] You have actually been able to read what I wanted to say, and you have responded to some of the issues that Cope wanted to raise. Thank you very much.
Colleagues, can I say that as Cope, we welcome the announcement by the Minister that the curtain has finally fallen on the PBMR and that the show is over. In this House, I have on numerous occasions heard members calling for alternative energy, and reference has been made to nuclear in this regard. The decision to terminate the nuclear weapons programme in the early 1990s, was met with much applause by the rest of the world, and now the PBMR leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.
With hindsight, I cannot help but to think about the scientists and experts in the various fields of nuclear who have been lost in the past and will continue to be lost going forward.
The fact that no other country has successfully used the technology should have made us pause rather than leap in as we did. In trying to be at the forefront of nuclear technology, we now have to put ourselves at the back.
China, of course, is in a different financial league to us, but the Chinese are attempting to create a prototype called HTR-10. For these reasons, the PBMR team should interact with the Tsinghua University in Beijing so that some of the scientists can continue to interrogate this technology for future use. I thank you. [Time expired.]
Mr E J LUCAS: Chairperson, I am pleased that the Minister has taken into account the human capital invested in this programme and the amount of unemployment that will be created by the project’s sudden termination. At its inception, it was projected that 57 000 people would be employed.
The Ministry of Energy, the state and the country, for that matter, can ill afford such turnarounds in policy decisions, especially when we are already so far down the road. Besides the unemployment that is going to be created by this decision, the loss of money – taxpayers’ money – is going to be enormous.
As recently as October 2007, the then Minister of Finance, hon Trevor Manuel, brought before this House a special Adjustments Appropriation Bill, which was approved, wherein an additional amount of R1,8 billion was transferred to the PBMR project for operational expenses, bringing the total transfer that was being spent on this project by government since 1999 to R8,8 billion.
Notwithstanding these calamities, we are further burdened by the prospect of having no direction now in terms of our future energy sources.
We urge the Minister and her department to be absolutely certain before they commit to the next energy route that this country is going to follow. I thank you. [Time expired.]
Mr L W GREYLING: All I can say today is vindication, vindication, and vindication! For six years in this House, I have been objecting every year to the absurd amounts of money that the government has seen fit to throw away on the PBMR.
An amount of R9 billion of taxpayers’ money has been thrown at this project, even though it was clear from the international panel of economists way back in 1999 that this project would never be economically viable.
I was ridiculed for my stance from that side of the House, but today it is clear that this was a momentous waste of government’s resources. That money could have been far better used to position South Africa as a leader in solar energy.
The ID therefore calls for a complete and independent forensic audit so that we can know the full extent of wastage that occurred on this misguided project. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mrs C DUDLEY: House Chairperson, the confirmation that the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor, PMBR, will be downsized and its operations will be reduced to a level that allows for the active preservation of its intellectual property and assets was expected, in view of reports that 75% of the project staff had already been dismissed.
We are sad to hear that no measures are in place to ensure the skills of those who are retrenched are not lost to our economy.
The ACDP would not like to see a further R30 billion spent on this failed project, but a staggering R10 billion has been spent with nothing substantial to show for it – a waste. Much still needs to be explained: things like conflicts of interests; accounting for taxpayers’ money spent; and the rehabilitation of PBMR staff. We hope this will not be swept under the carpet in the downsizing of this project.
Hon Minister, where to after 2013? What is the plan? A lot of money has been and continues to be spent. What do the people have to show for it? Are you attempting in this instance to justify the original decision for the excessive spending or are we about to investigate why the decision was taken in the first place? Thank you. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Mr M R SONTO: Chairperson, the ANC supports the decision by government to downsize the PBMR. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M N Oliphant): Order, please!
Mr M R SONTO: We acknowledge the fact that this was by no means an easy decision to make; yet we should equally recognise that a decision to the contrary would have been worse for the entity, its employees and the country as a whole.
It’s a fact that large investments have been injected into this project but with the good intentions that it would secure additional investments and a customer for the product. Even though it has not yielded any of the two, we must acknowledge the fact that because of this initiative, South Africa was noticed in the world of the nuclear fraternity.
The ANC understands how painful it is to shed jobs, especially in the current economic climate. We find ourselves in that climate and we are not happy that workers should be losing jobs. We are confident, however, that government has considered all available options and has settled on the best possible outcome.
We believe that it is good for government to continue pioneering innovative and technologically sound projects, with due diligence as a precursor. In areas where an audit is required, be it financial or technical, we think that government should provide the necessary guidance too.
As the ANC we want to acknowledge the fact that parties have welcomed the decision by the Minister. One would realise that other opposition parties would oppose for the sake of opposition, but we want to thank those who play their opposition role as parties that are part of governance. The ANC supports government’s decision, once again, to rationalise or downsize this PBMR. I thank you. [Applause.]
HIGHER EDUCATION LAWS AMENDMENT BILL
SKILLS DEVELOPMENT LEVIES AMENDMENT BILL
HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING LAWS AMENDMENT BILL
(Second Reading debate)
The MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING: Chairperson, hon members and comrades, it gives me great pleasure to introduce the Higher Education Laws Amendment Bill, the Skills Development Levies Amendment Bill and the Higher Education and Training Laws Amendment Bill to this honourable House.
These legislative amendments further enable the transfer of functions vested previously with the former Department of Education, and with the Departments of Labour and Basic Education, to the Department of Higher Education and Training.
In the past 16 months, since the establishment of the Department of Higher Education and Training, we have made great strides in laying the foundation for a truly comprehensive and differentiated post-school system, conjoining the education and training sectors.
In 1994, we inherited the outcomes of a deliberate policy aimed at the underdevelopment of our people. Education performance still replicates patterns of poverty and privilege. The patterns of unequal educational outcomes are endlessly repeated through occupational inequalities from one generation to another.
Nevertheless, this ANC led-government of 16 years has made great efforts in denting many of these problems. This must be seen as another step in building upon some of those achievements and seeking to overcome bottlenecks.
In the coming months, we need to make far-reaching changes to improve the provision of postschool opportunities for the youth in particular but for adults too. We also intend to accelerate our efforts in dealing with some of the fundamental challenges in the system including skills bottlenecks, especially in respect of priority and scarce skills; low participation rates; distortions in shape, size and distribution of access to postschool education and training; and quality and inefficiency challenges.
To address these and other impediments to our economic and social goals, we require significant policy and legislative changes and improvements.
Therefore, this amended legislation before the House will remove some of the difficulties and hurdles in the way of policy development.
The transformation and expansion of the Higher Education and Training landscape will have a direct bearing on government’s overall mission for economic growth and development, especially for the benefit of the workers and the poor of our country.
My performance agreement with the President based on Outcome 5 of Government’s Programme of Action, “A skilled and capable workforce to support an inclusive growth path”, sets the agenda for the work of my department. Hon members, this outcome requires a major redesign of how government and its partners have been operating in the area of human resources development.
To guide our work, the human resources development strategy, which is in its final draft, will soon be launched by the Deputy President. Regarding the work of my department specifically, we have begun the process of drafting a Green Paper on Higher Education and Training, which will require a broader, long-term view of the post-schooling system we wish to create.
The year 2010 has been momentous for my department in respect of the regimen of stakeholder partnerships we have created. In April, we held a landmark Stakeholder Summit on Higher Education Transformation, which brought together a spectrum of the higher education community in order to confront the challenges in the university sector.
Earlier this month, we held two extremely successful dialogues: the Further Education and Training, FET, College Summit and the National Skills Summit. The FET College Summit was a thorough engagement among stakeholders on how to stabilise the sector and make colleges pillars of the skills development revolution in our country.
We set a process in place for action in the immediate, medium and long-term to support FET colleges to function as high-quality institutions that can respond to national education and training challenges.
Last week’s National Skills Summit saw government and our social partners in organised labour, business, representative community structures, professional bodies, research, education and training institutions, and skills development intermediaries resolving to work together to effect a skills revolution in our country.
The discussions and final declaration set out a detailed map to tackle the skills challenges, from second-chance learning and adult education to high-level research and innovation. Chairperson, today, I table a copy of the declaration for the information of members.
The outcomes of all the three summits will form the basis of the Green Paper that is aimed at surveying the postschool education and training landscape, and setting out the policy and legislative changes needed to support our strategic objectives.
I wish to thank the chairperson, Comrade Marius Fransman, and all the members of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training for the sterling work they have done in holding public hearings and also interrogating these Bills. We will continue to work with them in relation to the extensive work required to create an articulated system, which is able to embrace those who are unable to access learning and skills opportunities, as well as to bridge the divides between institutions of learning and the workplace.
Kafushane nje le mithetho eyisichibiyelo esiyenzayo lapha, eyokwenza ukuthi sakhe isisekelo esiqinile ukuthi izingane zakithi zikwazi ukuthola imfundo yokuqhubekela phambili emva kwesikole. Siyabonga kakhulu. [In short, these laws that we are amending here are to ensure that we lay a strong foundation so that our children will be able to get postschool education. We thank you very much.]
Even though hon Mike Ellis was busy in conversation throughout my input here this afternoon, Chairperson, I thank you very much. [Applause.]
Mr M L FRANSMAN: Hon Chairperson, hon members, Ministers, Deputy Ministers, ladies and gentlemen, the portfolio committee welcomes the introduction of these three Bills which we are discussing as one in this debate and, obviously, proposing their adoption in this Assembly of our people.
I have to thank various institutions and structures that were part of this process, which did not necessarily only start when the portfolio committee dealt with it. The process began during the transition from the Department of Labour to the Department of Higher Education and Training via the Department of Education.
There, the Basic Education portfolio committee had to deal with and engage on certain issues concerning the Higher Education and Training committee. So, we want to thank all those institutions and structures of Parliament that had a preliminary engagement on these respective processes.
The portfolio committee has engaged on this particular matter since August this year. At the beginning of the debate, we really had a tussle between how deep we should go and the fact that this is a technical piece of legislation. We had to decide between working on it more substantially or dealing with the technicalities only.
There was also another question that the portfolio committee had to deal with, and that was with regard to public hearings. Currently, there is a convention that if the changes are extremely technical, one does not really require a public hearing process in an expanded way. However, we deliberated on this matter and the portfolio committee agreed that it is important to give input to the public on this issue.
Die voorleggings wat ons gekry het, was grotendeels te doen met ondersteuning vir hierdie drie wetsontwerpe. Ons het een of twee voorleggings gekry wat basies aangedui het dat hulle voel kwessies moet baie meer in diepte aangespreek word. In ondersteuning van wat die Minister nou ook gesê het, het ons besluit dat daar ’n Groenskrif-proses sal wees. Ons sal daardie voorleggings binne daardie proses akkommodeer, waar daar baie meer deeglike gesprekvoering oor die kwessie moet wees. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraph follows.)
[The submissions we received mostly had to do with support for these three Bills. We received one or two submissions in which it was indicated that they believe issues should be addressed more thoroughly. In support of what the Minister has also just said, we have decided to follow a Green Paper process. We shall accommodate those submissions within that process, where there has to be more in-depth discussion about the issue.]
I want to thank all the political parties that participated in the portfolio committee process, and all the parties that have confirmed these amendments. I would also like to thank hon James, who has now moved from Higher Education and Training to another portfolio committee, for his input and engagement in our committee. I wish him well.
Essentially, the mandate to change this legislative process came from the January 8 Statement, and I would like to read from that. Page 15 in the January 8 Statement of 2010 reads as follows:
The process of creating a single postschool and training system for the youth and adults is now under way. Through such a system, the ANC government aims to respond to the requirements of the economy, rural development challenges, the need to develop an informed and critical citizenry, and maximum co-operation amongst the components of the learning delivery system at colleges, universities, workplaces and work training centres.
The January 8 Statement continues by saying:
Through such an integrated system, the ANC government will significantly increase access to postschool education and training. In addition, there shall be an effective co-ordination between the Seta system and education and training institutions, particularly FET colleges and universities of technology.
So what we are seeing, hon members, is that that which the January 8 Statement calls an “underway process” – which is based on our Polokwane resolutions – has been transformed, and has gone to the state. We are now seeing the implementation of that initial “underway process” speaking to legislative changes.
In terms of the respective Bills, therefore, essentially, we had to look at definitional changes in the Higher Education Laws Amendment Bill. We also had to address critical aspects that caused confusion in the Higher Education and Training system as a result of the transfer of the Skills Development Act.
So Parliament and the Department of Higher Education and Training would go out either on oversight visits or to the summits that the Minister has spoken about. There would be times when people would not be clear on matters, because they are looking at the law and still seeing definitions that are not relevant in their current context. Therefore we had to bring this before Parliament.
The amendments also seek to avoid confusion in respect of qualifications offered by private institutions, and to confirm their qualifications on the National Qualifications Framework, the NQF.
The Higher Education and Training Laws Amendment Bill seeks to amend certain definitions of the Adult Basic Education and Training Act, Act 52 of 2000, and to make provision for the employment and employers of educators at public centres by inserting provisions in the said Act. So, we had to look at those things and at the process and powers, functions, and the monitoring and evaluation of adult education and training.
Regarding the issue of international private providers, there was one submission that we found within the context of the public hearings, where the private providers felt very strongly that the insertion of certain wording will, in fact, make it a very bureaucratic process. From their point of view, it can delay quality education with regard to the registration of their qualifications.
We debated this matter, because they also indicated, hon Minister, that if they were not to get their way, they would even consider taking the matter to court. We looked at the matter, and it is quite clear to us that it is, indeed, a separate issue. The insertion of the wording within the draft legislation will not necessarily affect it.
We must have registration at our South African Qualifications Authority as well as the National Qualifications Framework. We must have those issues presented there otherwise we would not know what types of qualifications are, at times, being offered to our citizens. And then we could find faulty qualifications or inferior presentations towards qualifications. So, that was a very real issue.
Another issue that the committee debated and had to deal with was that some of the members were concerned about the removal of the word “basic” from the title “basic education and training” resulting in the term “adult education and training”. This could lead to adults who want a very basic education feeling that they would not be given the support they need.
However, it was clarified with the department that basic education for adults is addressed by the Kha Ri Gude Mass Literacy campaign, which is a function of the Basic Education Department. Therefore there is a co-operative environment between basic education and adults in the context of basic education, in addition to what the Minister has termed postliteracy education, which, to a larger degree, addresses the issue of skilling processes.
So, those were some of the issues that we had to deal with and debate. Generally, the process was followed properly. We also had a divergence of opinions, but through the portfolio and public hearing processes we were able to make certain amendments that strengthen the definitional changes, and not necessarily just pass it as is.
So, with that, we, as the portfolio committee, obviously want to present these three respective Bills for adoption by the Assembly. Thank you. [Applause.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M N Oliphant): I just want to appeal to the members in that corner on my far left, they are still talking.
Xa sihleka asihleki ngathi sisemfuleni. [When we laugh, we shouldn’t laugh anyhow.]
This is the National Assembly! You may continue, hon member.
Dr W G JAMES: House Chair, hon members, the legislative proposals before this House must be considered against the bigger picture of education and skills development in our country.
South African businesses say that they can’t grow faster because job seekers lack the necessary skills. Their educational backgrounds are weak, and the private sector struggles to find the talent they need just to survive.
In a globally competitive environment, our education system makes it impossible for industries to thrive and prosper. We face an education crisis that has produced a comprehensive skills shortage, especially of intermediate and high-end skills.
In response to this, the government has created a system of 23 Sector Education and Training Authorities, called Setas, which are supposed to do the following things: to develop and implement a skills development plan for its sectors; to cater for the training of new entrants to the labour market; to be responsible for quality control; to pay out development grants; and, finally, to report to the Minister.
Supported by a 1% National Skills Development Levy on businesses earning more than R500 000 per year, Setas enjoy an annual operating budget of about R8,5 billion. But, after 10 years of the Seta system, we have an even less skilled workforce than when we started the system. So, the question is: What is the problem?
First of all, Setas rely on bureaucrats, rather than employers to identify the skills that businesses need, resulting in training structures that are unresponsive to the ever-changing environment of the market.
Secondly, many Setas are wasteful, inefficient bureaucracies that work better at dispensing patronage than encouraging skills.
Thirdly, many are characterised by spectacular financial mismanagement, as budgets are routinely underspent or siphoned off in irregular expenditures.
Fourthly, small businesses find the required paperwork onerous, and therefore opt out of the system because it wastes their time.
Most importantly, Setas fail to empower learners, as many do not complete their training courses. They require remedial education that the training does not always address. As a result, businesses have to retrain employees anyway.
So, what is the answer to our skills shortage? We propose that we scrap most of the Setas, save for some very good performers, and rather focus on our neglected Further Education and Training colleges, the FET colleges. By connecting them with learners and private industries, these institutions can respond meaningfully to employers and to the needs of learners.
Currently, South Africa’s 50 FET colleges enrol an estimated 125 000 students, and I must point out that there is no agreement on the number of students, because there is no mathematical formula developed yet to arrive at a notion of a full-time equivalent student. So this means 125 000 students out of an eligible 2,8 million unemployed young people, between the ages of 18 and 24!
And I want to say that we get stuck on the numbers, but the magnitude of wastage is captured in this notion of 2,8 million unemployed, breathing South Africans who are struggling to find purpose in life by virtue of the system. So, what we need is about 1,5 million of these young people attending FET colleges – and we agree across all parties that it must be so – so that they can enhance their otherwise weak educational legacies.
These institutions, FET colleges, serve three purposes – very important ones: to give students a second chance to complete matric – particularly those referred to as “dropouts”, which I don’t think is a very good word to use; to give theoretical training to students who need to complete apprenticeships required by employers; and, thirdly, to offer postschool qualifications, certification and training through specialised courses.
This year, our government has committed R3,7 billion for FET colleges, but as we know, it is not nearly enough. We need to triple the amount and direct more of our unskilled young people to them. If FET colleges received the same commitment such as Setas and the underspent National Skills Fund, they could deliver mass skills training in a much more substantial way than our current system does.
One reason why FET colleges have thus far had spotty records as training institutions is because they are accountable to Setas, rather than to the industry. By working with industries directly, they could make sure that their training measures are suitable for the outcomes that learners and businesses require.
Businesses are best positioned to understand industry trends. By working hand in glove with FET colleges, they can achieve their goals more effectively.
In cases where FET colleges do not offer appropriate training, businesses should be incentivised to develop in-house or industry-wide training programmes. They could do this alone, or in conjunction with other industry actors, at a common training facility.
The government’s role is to act as a facilitator, not the controlling agent. We should establish an independent national human resource development commission to advise us on best practices and policies. Beyond that, we need to do our part in creating outstanding FET colleges so that learners and businesses can benefit from them.
With this in mind, the DA supports the Skills Development Levies Amendment Bill, for it simply transfers the responsibility for skills development from the Labour Minister to the Higher Education and Training Minister. And please note this is a departure for the DA to support the skills levy.
Secondly, we support the Higher Education Laws Amendment Bill with the comment, which I would like to put across very strongly, that unless greater efficiencies are introduced in the speed with which the SA Qualifications Authority, SAQA, and the National Qualifications Framework operate, the Higher Education Laws Amendment Bill would be unenforceable.
Thirdly, after due consideration, the DA, however, does not support the Higher Education and Training Laws Amendment Bill, because it was never published in the Government Gazette for comment. Most of the important players in the Further Education and Training sector have not seen it.
Furthermore, the Bill creates management structures that make the provinces still responsible for the colleges, but where the Minister simply reserves the authority to direct these, prior to having the necessary changes made to Schedule 4 of the Constitution and to the Further Education and Training Colleges Act. We believe that this is a sleight of hand and should, as such, be opposed. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
Ms N Y VUKUZA-LINDA: Madam Speaker, hon Ministers, hon members, the three Bills before the House today are the product of submissions by the Department of Higher Education and Training. They are the product of robust interactions with relevant stakeholders and those concerned. They are the product of rigorous engagement and negotiations amongst us, as the members of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training.
As Cope, it is our understanding that the amendments proposed today are of a technical nature, whose primary purpose is to align the existing legislation to the new education dispensation that came about as a result of the former Department of Education splitting into the Departments of Basic Education, and Higher Education and Training, respectively.
We further understand the value of such amendments to be that of a facilitative and an enabling nature, so that the department can get down to doing its work. It is after such value has been unlocked through the passing of these amendments that we will demand accountability. That will be the point at which we’ll go into more in-depth discussions.
I must admit, however, Minister, that the amendments do carry within them temptations and inferences of a policy nature. This is something that I will resist to engage right now, in the light of my understanding of what today is about. Suffice it to say that we, as Cope, are looking forward to that time when you, Minister, realise a more integrated postschooling system, established through a similar process with policies.
The amendment of these Acts seems an opportune time to create space for such a process to occur. Cope therefore supports the Bills. Thank you. [Applause.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M N Oliphant): Thank you, hon Member. Hon G S Radebe. I am informed that the hon member is making his maiden speech. [Applause.]
Mr G S RADEBE: Chairperson, hon Ministers, Deputy Ministers, hon members, distinguished guests, we say thanks for all the submission made by the different institutions, organisations and individuals. They show a commitment to education and the developmental state.
Chairperson, we are fortunate to be debating this very important legislation today in a month where we honour one of the revolutionaries, Comrade Steve Biko. He was clear about the importance of education and its role in liberating the minds of the oppressed. I have no doubt that if he was still alive he would be in the forefront of pushing for this legislation to advance the interests of the young people of South Africa.
Sihlalo, ngitsandza kutsi ngiphakamise tibongo ngalendzima lengaka leseyentiwe Litiko Letemfundvo Lephakeme Nekuceceshwa kwemakhono. Loku kusikhombisa kutsi sinendzima lenkhulu lekumele siyidlale kulommango wakitsi. Sihalalisela Nendvuna Nzimande ngemsebenti wakhe lawentile ekuphatseni lelitiko. Phela kusungula litiko ulisuse phansi ngumsebenti lomkhulu kakhulu lekumele natsi simsekele kuze akwati kuphumelela.
Ngiko nje sibonga nakuMengameli Zuma ngekutsi ehlukanise lamatiko abe mabili. Kuyabonakala kutsi loku abekwentela kutsi engete emandla Etindvuna kuze tikwati kubeka temfundvo embili. (Translation of Siswati paragraphs follows.)
[Chairperson, I would like to express a word of gratitude to the Department of Higher Education and Training for the role it has played. This serves as an indication that we have a greater role to play in our community. We also congratulate Minister Nzimande for his work in heading this department. To establish a department from scratch, is an enormous task that requires from us to support him in order for him to succeed.
That is the reason why we also want to thank President Zuma for dividing this department into two. It is obvious that he did this in order to empower Ministers to prioritise education.]
The technical legislative amendment proves that the Department of Higher Education and Training is really taking a step forward as a new department.
Chairperson, considering the public hearing, we still have a long way to go in interacting with our community to ensure that communities are more engaged around the issues of higher education.
As we received the submissions, we found that other institutions provide relevant educational services, but were not aligning their services with the South African Qualifications Authority. Other institutions feel excluded as they have tried many times to register with the South African Qualification Authority and could not meet the minimum requirement standards.
This shows that it is highly important that all institutions should align themselves with the Department of Higher Education and Training policies as there will be no special amendment for one individual, or any other private provider. The Department of Higher Education and Training, however, should create an environment that will suit everybody who meets the minimum requirements.
The suggestion that the amendment to the Act may have the effect of isolating South African higher education from the rest of the world, and that the amendments unreasonably impact on the relationships between local and international providers of higher education to the detriment of South Africans, cannot be correct and shows the bias of certain individuals who have got their self–interest in mind.
We cannot make Bills that will suit certain individuals, private providers or international institutions. We must provide Bills that would be able to respond to our economical needs. All those who want to participate must do so within the terms and conditions of the Department of Higher Education and Training. We cannot allow colonisers to continue colonising us in our own freedom. We are free and not “dom”! [Applause.]
Hon Chairperson, it is true that unregistered institutions under the Companies Act, Act 61 of 1973, are problematic. The Department of Higher Education and Training should strengthen its monitoring tools to avoid corrupt activities.
Phela bafundzi, Ndvuna, betama ngawo onkhe emandla kutsi etikhatsini letinyenti bahambe bayewubhalisa etikhungweni letiphakeme. Kodvwa inkinga labahlangana nayo ngulokutsi batfola tikhungo letingakabhaliswa ngalokusemtsetfweni. Loko kwenta kutsi bafundzi batikhandze sebalahlekelwe timali tabo kanye nesikhatsi sabo. Ngiko nje siphakamisa lendlela yekutsi litiko lakho kufanele libuke indlela lencono yekutsi kubukelwe bafundzi kuze bangatikhandzi sebasetinkingeni. (Translation of Siswati paragraph follows.)
[Indeed, Minister, learners try by all means to go and register at institutions of higher learning most of the times. However, the problem that they encounter at these institutions is that such institutions are not legally registered. This causes learners to loose their money and time. That is the reason we propose that your department finds a better way to cater for the learners in order for them not to find themselves in such problems.]
The submission by the Independent Institute of Education, IIE; Adult Learning Network, ALN; and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, Tesol, confirms our understanding that the amendments are indeed long overdue. Umalusi even emphasised the importance of the effort to create coherence in the Adult and Further Education and Training systems.
It is that understanding that made Umalusi anticipate that this newly created stability will reflect in the adult education success rate in future. We hope that the Green Paper will also reflect on these matters and be able to respond to your promises, Minister.
It is because of that understanding that the ANC, as the ruling party, decided to prioritise education as the key to transforming economic growth in our country.
We must also take note that all that is happening now is the result of the apartheid regime that continued to emphasise that we must have Bantu Education, which oppressed us. The ANC is prepared and is going to ensure that it addresses the imbalances of the past. It is very important that hon James must understand that Setas are the answer to the skills shortages in our country. [Interjections.]
Again, it is very important that people should be able to use their conscience in using public funds. I would have liked hon Zille to have diverted R2 million to improving the shortage of skills and promoting skills development within our country.
It is very unfortunate that the opposition, like the DA, could come here today pretending not to support the Higher Education Laws Amendment Bill, whereas when we were at the hearing they gave the view that they supported all these Bills. Today they pretend to have a platform from which to speak lies. It is very much unfortunate that they supported all these Bills, but today they come and differ with all these Bills. [Interjection.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M N Oliphant): Order! Hon member, there is a point of order.
Mr M J ELLIS: Chairperson, on a point of order, the hon member at the podium said that the DA speaks lies and that certainly is unparliamentary.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M N Oliphant): Hon member, can you withdraw the word “lies”. It is unparliamentary.
Mr G S RADEBE: I withdraw, Chairperson.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M N Oliphant): Thank you. [Interjections.] You can sit down, hon member.
Mr M J ELLIS: Madam Chairperson, on another point of order: I think that the hon member should understand that when he makes his maiden speech, it should not be provocative. [Interjections.] In fact, it should be quite nice. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M N Oliphant): Order! Hon Ellis, please take your seat.
The MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING: Chairperson, on a point of order, is it parliamentary for a member who has a habit of calling others liars to then protest when this thing is returned to him?
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M N Oliphant): Hon Minister, the member withdrew that yesterday, and also the hon member who was requested to withdraw has done so. Continue, hon member.
Mr B TUROK: Chairperson, on a point of order, does the Rule not limit the number of points of order that a member can make?
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M N Oliphant): Hon Turok, in fact, you are out of order. [Laughter.] Continue, hon member.
Mr G S RADEBE: Chairperson, I just want to state that the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education made all the support possible to ensure that the system of education becomes a success in this country. We should not come here and take a political stance by claiming that we don’t support anything and yet we do support it. It is very important to make it clear that the skills summit also made sure that it is going to address some of the imbalances of the past.
Hon Minister, as the portfolio committee we want to guarantee that we will support you in ensuring that you prioritise the issues of education. On that note, Chairperson, thank you very much. [Applause.]
Mr A M MPONTSHANE: Sihlalo ohloniphekileyo. [Hon Chairperson.]
I just want to give the hon Minister the assurance that the IFP does support these three pieces of legislation. [Applause.] The functions that you are expected to perform are old and well known. They are skills development, FET colleges, and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, NSFAS.
Yet, in the tradition of Charles Dickens, we have great expectations. On the basis of those great expectations, the IFP will request the hon Minister to look at the following issues.
Firstly, we would like the hon Minister to reduce the gap between legislation and implementation – in other words, between theory and practice. Our legislation is top drawer, but our implementation thereof leaves a great deal to be desired. In other words, we must go beyond the dialogues and the summits to which the Minister has referred.
Secondly, we would like the Minister to look at the problem of the FET colleges. We believe that the programmes of FET colleges are just not providing the types of skills our economy requires. There also seems to be a mindset attached to FET colleges that such institutions are inferior to universities. This must be addressed because it is not doing our programme or our learners any good.
Thirdly, we request the Minister to conduct an audit of the teaching staff at FET colleges and centres, because we believe that certain FET training centres have either unqualified educators or badly qualified educators. This is more serious as it hinders the delivery of quality education to FET learners and detracts from the country’s skills base.
Fourthly – and we would like to raise this point for future policy considerations even though it is not directly linked to this debate - we would like to have a more concise definition of the term “educator”. In fact, the IFP wants to be consistent here because, during the debate on the principal Act, we did object to this wide and unlimited definition of the term “educator” to include everybody and anybody.
Ngiyabonga dadewethu. [Thank you, Madam.] [Time expired.]
Mrs C DUDLEY: Madam Chairperson, the ACDP has understood the purpose of the amendments as being primarily to align existing legislation with the new education dispensation that came about when the former department of education was split into the Departments of Basic Education and Higher Education and Training. We welcome efforts to create coherence in the Adult Education and FET systems and hope that amendments addressing the appointment of educators will facilitate greater stability and that this will impact positively on the adult education success rate in future.
Concerns do however remain with regard to clauses which could have the effect of isolating South African higher education from the rest of the world, and of unreasonably impacting on the relationship between local and international providers of higher education, to the detriment of South Africans.
The ACDP fully supports the department’s commitment to protecting South African students from questionable providers, substandard qualifications, and misleading practices. However, in our opinion, this can be addressed successfully using existing laws and does not require further restrictions.
The rigorous process in place for overseas higher education providers who wish to provide higher education in this country does limit the activities of low quality or unscrupulous providers, both local and foreign, but it also discourages the presence of high-quality providers.
The ACDP will support these Bills, but appeals to the Minister to closely monitor and consider possible amendments to make sure we are not preventing good quality, legitimate providers from operating within our country.
We also wish this department every success in the challenging days and years ahead. Thank you.
USIHLALO WENDLU (Nkk M N Oliphant): Malungu ahloniphekile sengizonibiza ngamagama ngoba anivumi ukuthula futhi lowo engizombiza ngegama uzoma ngomlenze owodwa kuze kuphume le Ndlu. [Uhleko.] (Translation of isiZulu paragraph follows.)
[The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M N Oliphant): Hon members, I will be forced to call you by your names now because you do not want to keep quiet and the one whose name I will call out should stand on one foot until the House adjourns. [Laughter.]]
Ms N GINA: Chairperson, hon Ministers and Deputy Ministers, hon Members of Parliament, I greet you all. Firstly, let me comment on the technical amendments that have been proposed by the Minister and the Department of Higher Education and Training. As the portfolio committee, we have discussed the amendments and we have all agreed on them.
Ngqongqoshe angiphinde ngibonge ukuthi uhulumeni okhona oholwa nguKhongolose lapha eNingizimu Afrika, ubone kufanele ukuthi ama-Setas noma konke okuphathelene nokuthuthukiswa kwamakhono akubuyise phansi koMnyango wakho weMfundo ePhakeme kanye nokuQeqesha. Njengoba ezeMfundo sezibekwe phambili zaba ngezinye zezinto thina njengeNingizimu Afrika okufanele ukuthi sizibeke phambili sazi ukuthi ziphezulu eqhulwini. Ngalokho-ke siyazi futhi siyabona ukuthi eMnyangweni wakho indaba yama-Seta ithathelwa phezulu; sivela engqungutheleni lapho sibonile umhlahlandlela wokuthi ama-Seta azosebenza kahle kangakani ukuze akwazi ukubhekana nemibuzo esibhekene nayo njengesizwe mayelana nokuswelakala kwamakhono eNingizimu Afrika. (Translation of isiZulu paragraph follows.)
[Hon Minister, let me thank the current South African ANC-led government again for putting the Setas or everything that has to do with skills development under your department, the Department of Higher Education and Training, as education is one of the key priorities which we, as South Africans, need to deal with seriously. In that way, we realise that in your department, the issue of the Setas is taken seriously as we just returned from a conference where we have seen Setas’ guidelines that are an indication of the manner in which Setas will operate to address the skills shortage, which is our main concern as South Africans.]
Really, we need to commend our ANC-led government for that. When we were debating the issues concerning the technical amendments that had been made, in our portfolio committee meeting, one of the hottest debates that we had was around the whole issue of an educator. We debated on how to define an educator. Who do we call an educator? Can anybody just stand in front of learners, impart knowledge and be called an educator? Will we then be proud to say that that person is an educator?
That was a hot debate and we felt that, as the ANC – since we have prioritised education – we need to explain the kind of educator we envisage for this country. Minister, through your Department, we need to ensure that educator training is intensified. As the portfolio committee, we have agreed that it is vital to have, in all the public sectors, appropriately qualified educators that will perform their duties as expected.
However, before we can understand exactly what an educator is, it is important for us, as a country, to understand what kind of education we need. If we don’t understand what kind of education we need as a country, it will be difficult for us to define an educator.
Firstly, we must be able to understand the roles of an educator. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, Unesco, defines education as a means to empower children and adults alike to become active participants in the transformation of their societies.
It further says that learning should focus on the values, attitudes, and behaviours that enable individuals to learn to live together in a world characterised by diversity and pluralism. Again, education is defined as preparing children and adults for what lies ahead in their lives: a society characterised by development, economic prosperity, political justice, and stability.
The ANC-led government fully agrees with this definition, and we know that when we talk about education, we talk about a life-long process and not merely academic success. Therefore, we as the ANC prioritise education and we want to ensure that we fulfil such definitions in respect of the kind of education system the country envisages.
Once again, it is very important to explain what kind of educator we envisage for this country. The term “educator” can be defined as all those persons who teach or educate other persons, or who provide professional services at any public school, Further Education and Training, FET, institution or departmental office.
The term is open and broad and this is what the ANC envisages in order to ensure that we get quality education through the right kind of people and education system.
Minister, we will support you and ensure that educator training is prioritised in this country. We believe once the educator training is relevant and provides the necessary skills to educators, the national question of skills shortages on any level or in a sector will be addressed in this country.
Ngiyakholwa kakhulu Ngqongqoshe ukuthi iphepha leli esililindele ukuthi liphume, i-Green Paper, uyokwazi ngazo zonke izindlela ukuthi kulona kukwazi ukuphenduleka zonke lezi zinto esesizibalile ngaphezulu. Njengokuthi imfundo yethu lapha eNingizmu Afrika sifisa ime kanjani ukuze wonke umuntu okhiqizwa yimfundo yethu yalapha eMzansi izwe lethu lithuthuke ngaye. Ngaphambi kwakho konke futhi siyafisa ukuthi kwenzeke ukuthi lolu shintsho olungaka olwenzekile engazathi kungaba nendlela yokuthi lufinyelele kubo bonke abantu ababambe iqhaza kwezemfundo, ukuze sikwazi ukubona impumelelo nakho konke okuhlosile ngoshinstho olwenzekile sazi nokuthi kuyaphumelela.
UNGQONGQOSHE WEMFUNDO EPHAKEME KANYE NOKUQEQESHA: Ngiyabonga Sihlalo. Ngicela ukuqale ngibonge kuwo wonke amalungu ngokweseka lezi zichibiyelo esizenza namhlanje kanye nakuwo wonke amaqembu aseka lokhu esikwenzayo. (Translation of isiZulu paragraphs follows.)
[I really believe that the much anticipated paper – the Green Paper on educator training - will be out soon and that it will be able to address all the concerns that we have already stated above. The above concerns include what we wish our education structure here in South Africa to look like, in order for it to enable everyone who is its product to contribute to the development of this country. And above all, we also wish to see everyone, who is involved in education, accessing this change in order for us to see progress in everything you were aiming to achieve because we also need to know if it is a success.
The MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING: Thank you, Chairperson. Firstly, I would like to thank all the members for supporting the amendments that we were debating today and all the parties that supported what we were doing today.]
I want to take this opportunity to thank the department for all the work that they have put into these amendments. However, my Marxism tells me that a party like the DA is striving to be the class representative of the propertied classes. If that is what it is trying to do, it is a very bad class representative. I don’t understand for a moment how the DA can support ... [Interjections.]
Mr M WATERS: How’s the BMW?
The MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING: I will give you a lift. [Laughter.] I don’t understand how the DA, through their representative, could support these three Bills in the portfolio committee this very week, but today somebody else, who represents the DA, is saying that they don’t support one of the Bills.
Secondly, through the Chair to hon Ellis, that is why other vanguard parties that represent other classes are better vanguard classes. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M N Oliphant): Hon Mike Ellis, on Wednesday you promised in the Chief Whips forum that you will ensure that your members are quiet; otherwise you will be disqualified, as you know. [Laughter.]
Mr M J ELLIS: Madam Chair, it is not really a point of order. I just want to say that we will behave ourselves as long as the hon Minister behaves himself. When he provokes us, it is very difficult for us not to respond.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M N Oliphant): The Minister is responding to the issues that we have raised during the debate. Could we give him an ear, please?
The MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING: Chairperson, I am not misbehaving. I am merely stating facts. Here is another fact: We had an FET summit with the presence of, amongst others, employers. We had a skills summit, again with the presence of the employers, and we all agreed on the necessity for Sector Education and Training Authorities, Setas. Everyone agreed. We said that if we are to improve the functionality of the FET colleges, we need to get the Setas to facilitate the placement of college students and graduates in the workplace and that the Setas are important. The declaration that I have submitted here today, contains exactly that.
None of the employers said that they don’t want the Setas. None of the other stakeholders said that, so who are you speaking for? That is the question because they are the stakeholders. You pay the price for not taking the opportunity when we invite you to engage with us. You don’t come and therefore you don’t understand what is happening out there.
Because we are an activist government that is on the ground, we are able to understand better than you what the people are saying. Also, I am worried that there is complete confusion here in understanding not only the relationship, but also the distinction between the Setas and FET colleges. You cannot close down the Setas and assume FET colleges must do that. They perform two different functions.
Setas are intermediaries and FET colleges deliver programmes. To actually have the link that the DA claims it wants between a college and a workplace, the Setas are important. If Setas have problems, you don’t cut them off; you deal with the problems as we are dealing with the problems of the Setas in this Department. We have identified what the problems are and we have a plan in place - not in theory – to deal with this.
We accept the challenge that has been put before us. I must say that I don’t understand the opposition to this one Bill or the problem that it was not published in the gazette. All three Bills were not published in the gazette.
Why do you only pick up on one; for a wrong reason? The three of them were not published because they are dealing with technical changes. It, therefore, means that it is a continuation of grandstanding. Even though you are an opposition party, you must be principled in your opposition, rather than being opportunistic. [Applause.]
I understand that the opposition will try everything to discredit government. I suppose that is all they are paid to do, but at least they should be principled about it. Don’t have this kind of opportunism that doesn’t take us anywhere.
Bab’ uMpontshane noMam’ uVukuza ... [Hon Mpontshane and hon Vukuza ...]
... thank you for your proposals. We will take the issues you are raising seriously. We will continue the debate on the difference between a teacher and an educator.
Kodwa-ke kukhona amanye amagama angasemnandi kahle, asuke asikhumbuze izinsuku ezimbi njengokuthi ungumhloli nje uyabona. Asikhumbuza leziya zinsuku ezindala ababefika kungafanele ... [But there are some titles that are no longer pleasant these days, because they remind us of the bad old days – titles like school inspectors. These titles remind us of the past where these inspectors would just come unannounced ...]
Mr M J ELLIS: Madam Chair, on a point of order: This must be the longest three minutes in the recorded history of this Parliament. I suspect that the hon Minister’s time has expired.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M N Oliphant): Hon Ellis, there were three minutes that were added and I am looking at the watch and the Minister still has twenty-eight seconds to finish. Even if there was no time allocation, there were 10 minutes and five seconds left for this debate. As the Chairperson, I have the discretion to add minutes as and when I like. [Applause.]
Njengoba eshilo-ke amanye amalungu, siyabonga ukuthi sizosebenzisana kule ndima engelula kodwa ngokubambisana sizokwazi ukwenza zonke izinto esizifunayo. [As the other members have already said, I am grateful that we are going to work together on this task which is not so easy though, but with co-operation we will be able to do all the things that we want to do.]
The MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING: Hon Ellis, I feel sorry for you because you are feeling ... [Interjections.] I don’t even know what words to use. Let me liberate you for now until next time. Thank you. [Applause.]
Higher Education Laws Amendment Bill read a second time.
Skills Development Levies Amendment Bill read a second time.
Higher Education and Training Laws Amendment Bill read a second time (Democratic Alliance dissenting)
SOUTH AFRICAN CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT BILL
(Second Reading debate)
The MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS: Chairperson, hon Ministers and members, it is befitting that we introduce the South African Citizenship Amendment Bill against the background of the country’s national heritage celebration of all her people, black and white.
The Constitution of the Republic states that there is a common South African citizenship; that all citizens are equally entitled to the rights, privileges and benefits of citizenship; are equally subject to the duties and responsibilities of citizenship; and that national legislation must provide for the acquisition, loss and restoration of citizenship.
The main objective of the Citizenship Amendment Bill is to amend provisions of the South African Citizenship Act. In this regard, the Bill will, among other things, ensure that a child born to a South African parent inside or outside the country is a South African by birth, as long as the child is registered according to the South African law. A child born of non-South African parents but adopted by South African parents is a citizen by descent.
A child born of non-South African parents in South Africa and who lives in South Africa until the age of 18 years, may apply for naturalisation. Whilst that child is a minor, it should retain the citizenship of its parents.
A child born in the Republic of South Africa that has no claim to any other citizenship will be given South African citizenship in accordance with international law and practice.
Another important amendment is the requirement that foreign nationals who have acquired the status of permanent residents and who wish to obtain a certificate of naturalisation must have been resident in the country for five years instead of four years.
In terms of dual citizenship, a foreign national who wants to acquire South African citizenship and whose country of origin does not permit dual citizenship, would have to renounce their original citizenship before they get South African citizenship. This is a principle of reciprocity because it is not tenable for you to be a dual citizen of countries where one country does not allow dual citizenship. That is the situation we have now and we want to correct that.
The Bill also provides for the withdrawal of citizenship; with the exception of citizenship by birth because if you’re a citizen by birth, it is your birthright and nobody can take it away. So withdrawal of citizenship refers to citizenship by naturalisation. In the case where a citizen participates in a war under another country’s flag whilst the South Africa law has stated that it is against that war, such person will lose his or her their citizenship. [Applause.]
The Bill also makes provision for stiffer penalties against those who are implicated in the fraudulent acquisition of South African citizenship and identity theft. This is important because at the moment the courts take identity theft very lightly. Nobody goes to jail for identity theft and yet it causes so much grief and harm, both to individuals and the country.
I would like to thank the portfolio committee and its chair, hon Ben Martins, for dealing with this amending Bill expeditiously and efficiently. I hope that the House will give its full support to this Amending Bill as part of reclaiming and protecting our common heritage. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mrs D MATHEBE: Hon Speaker, hon members, in general, this Amending Bill must be commended for its progressiveness, humaneness, and simplification of the law as well as for being relevant and in line with current developments.
It is progressive because, among other things, it cures the notion of secondary citizenship that was implicitly created by citizenship by descent as provided for by the principal Act.
As black South Africans we know how cruel and undignified it is to be regarded as a secondary citizen in one’s own country. The less I talk about apartheid and its consequences for South Africans, and black South Africans in particular, the better, so this progressiveness must indeed be commended.
The Bill is also humane because it recognises that the reference to human beings as aliens is unnecessary and derogatory. An alien is something that is indescribable as it is something which does not belong to this world. This can be likened to the Sesotho word “kgokgo”, and this “kgokgo” is often referred to when we want to frighten children. It is really scary.
A typical example of the Bill’s simplification is contained in the new section 5(1)(c). Before this amendment, section 5(1)(c) in the principal Act read, as follows:
The Minister may, upon application in the prescribed form, grant a certificate of naturalisation as a South African citizen to any alien who satisfies the Minister that he or she is ordinarily resident in the Republic and that he or she has been so resident for a continuous period of not less than one year immediately preceding the date of his or her application, and that he or she has, in addition, been resident in the Republic for a further period of not less than four years during the eight years immediately preceding the date of his or her application.
Speaker, I am sure you’ll agree with me that this subsection is long enough to cause confusion. But that is not all. The different timeframes stipulated therein add to this confusion. Firstly, there is a reference to one year. Then there are references to four years and also eight years.
The interpretation of these timeframes has, in many instances, led to miscalculations of the period and ultimately granting citizenship by naturalisation too early.
Now, the amendment talks of only one timeframe - five years. It is as simple as that. This will make the calculations as easy as it can be.
These plausible developments are in line with the ANC’s aim of making the lives of our people better and it does not get better than in the form of citizenship.
The moral vision contained in the 1923 ANC Bill of Rights says that the right to be a full human being in South Africa includes the right to full and equal citizenship without discrimination on the basis of race, class or creed; and the right to full and equitable participation in the economic growth and development of the country.
Citizenship also goes with the infinite feeling and advantage of belonging; it attaches a high emotional value to being a citizen. It is not easy to get a sense of belonging to a country unless one is a citizen thereof, whether by birth or adoption.
Citizenship was equated by Virginia Leary, a distinguished American human rights lawyer and activist, with connoting —
... a bundle of rights which involve, primarily, political participation in the life of the community, the right to vote, and the right to receive certain protection from the community, as well as obligations.
Citizenship status, therefore, carries with it both rights and responsibilities. That is why the right to citizenship is entrenched in our Bill of Rights in the Constitution. Section 20 of the Constitution provides that “no citizen may be deprived of citizenship.” However, one must note the use of the word “may”. This presupposes meeting some requirements in the Republic, otherwise one can lose his or her citizenship.
Therefore matters of citizenship should not be treated lightly. That is why the declaration of allegiance is required from a foreign national who applies for and is granted South African citizenship. That is why there must be clear and unambiguous laws that regulate all aspects of citizenship.
All these are catered for by the language used in this Bill. In addition to the deletion of the word alien, Latin terms like mutatis mutandis are also removed in section 10. This is a progressive move since Latin phrases like this are difficult to comprehend, especially if one is not a lawyer. This reminds me of one court interpreter who had difficulty in interpreting this term and ended up saying mutatis mutandis means ...
... ma uthanda noma ungathandi. [Uhleko.][... whether you like it or not. [Laughter.]]
We already have enough difficulty with English; we don’t need to compound the difficulty by using Latin phrases as well. So this move must really be commended. However, I realised that, in section 17 of the principal Act, the phrase prima facie still appears. As such, I will recommend that it be dealt with the same way as mutatis mutandis.
Having said this, I however have a small concern that I would like to raise. This is under the definitions of the word marriage. Marriage is defined to include civil marriage, customary marriage as well as civil union. I would have liked this definition to be extended to include the phrase “married shall have a corresponding meaning”, just for good or near accurate measure.
This is more so because the civil union, in terms of the Civil Union Act, Act 17 of 2006, is not necessarily a marriage. The Act allows such a union to be solemnised either as a marriage or civil partnership. I would therefore suggest that section 1(a)(3)(a) of the amendment include the words “civil union” between the words “customary marriage” and “a marriage concluded in terms of the laws of a foreign country”. This, again, is for good or near accurate measure.
However, these concerns are not a train smash as the objectives of the Bill could and will still be realised, regardless.
Ke rata gape go leboga mma wa rena, Mma Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, ka go šoma le rena gabotse sehlopheng sa rena sa go ithuta. Re re a re tšweleng pele ka lenaneo la dipoelo leo o re filego lona. [I would also like to thank our mother, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, for co-operating with us in our learning team. We have to continue with the outcomes programme that you gave to us.]
The ANC therefore supports this amending Bill. [Applause.]
Mr M MNQASELA: Chairperson, hon Minister, Deputy Minister and members, the Bill has brought about some significant changes which we supported so keenly in the committee. Its intentions are good; it is purpose driven. However, there are serious concerns that make this Bill unattractive. The DA has made profound contributions and some positive changes, which were ignored by the committee and the department.
Submissions by the public, for example, the Lawyers for Human Rights, the Law Society of South Africa and others, were ignored during the process of public hearings. This would have advised them to try to mitigate some of the challenges that make this Bill a very unconstitutional one. These include, but are not limited to, the provision that any child born of a parent or parents, who are not South Africans, cannot become a legitimate citizen until he or she is 18 years old - I will explain this hon Minister. This is in complete contradiction to the Constitution of the country.
We have proposed the qualifying threshold to either be 17 or 16 years of age, otherwise this becomes discriminatory. A child born in South Africa, whether it’s a foreigner or a local, automatically becomes part of the society. Those children who are born by foreigners become friends with locals. They go to the same preschool, primary school and, eventually, to the same secondary or high school.
Why must this child be treated differently from other children? This does not assist our endeavour to integrate our communities. This Bill is in contempt of section 10, 11 and 20 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, and that is Act 108 of 1996.
Ukukhumbuza wena ke, mhlekazi, ngemvume yakho Sihlalo, sinoMgaqo-siseko ekufuneka ukhusele wonke umntu okweli lizwe. [To remind you Sir, through you Chair, we have a Constitution that is supposed to protect everyone who is in this country.]
This clause is also in conflict with sections 20, 28 and 29 of the Constitution of the Republic. It is also in conflict with the Births and Deaths Registration Act and the Children’s Act. [Interjections.]
The most problematic of them all is the proposal that any South African citizen shall cease to be a South African citizen if he or she engages in a war under the flag of a country that the government of the Republic does not support.
I want to clarify one thing here, Minister. You said that South Africans will not be affected, but those who obtain their citizenship through naturalisation would be affected. In fact, section 6(1) of this Bill speaks to all people. It is only on the appeals that those who are South African can appeal, but those who are naturalised lose their citizenship completely. That must be corrected.
Does the South African government officially support any wars? Do we have a list of wars that we support or not? At what stage is the support or otherwise proclaimed? How will the general public know that such wars are being supported or not by the Republic? Chefs, nurses, doctors, security personnel, who work anywhere else in the world, are in danger if this Parliament passes this Bill.
I do not know why this Act should belong to Home Affairs in any case. This matter could be addressed by the Prohibition of Mercenary Activities and Regulation of Certain Activities in Country of Armed Conflict Act, Act 27 of 2006.
If this Bill goes through as is, it will render citizens stateless because some have renounced their citizenship of the countries where they come from by choice, because they want to be South Africans. Why should we continue to suppress and penalise them for choosing this country? [Interjections.]
We have sought some legal opinion and it has advised that this Bill is unconstitutional. [Interjections.] This negates the good work that Home Affairs does, and further entrenches the laws of the dark days of apartheid. To mitigate such a notion, the Minister must take my advice and withdraw clause 6 of the proposed Amending Bill. Clause 6 of the principal Act should rather take precedence so that ...
... singalungisi lo mhlathi, uhlale ulola hlobo ululo ... ndiyakucenga, Mphathiswa. [Kwaphela ixesha.] [Kwaqhwatywa.] [... we do not amend this clause and leave it as it is. I appeal to you, Minister.] [Time expired.] [Applause.]]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Before I call the next speaker, hon members, I understand the fatigue, but the way you drown speakers is not really fair, please. I do understand that we all want to get out of here.
Mr G P D MACKENZIE: Chairperson, at the outset of the Second Reading debate, Cope would like to express its serious concern about the constitutionality of section 6 of the South African Citizen Amendment Bill.
It would appear that section 6 is in conflict with section 20 of the Constitution which stipulates that, and I quote:
No citizen may be deprived of citizenship.
This makes citizenship an inalienable right, therefore, Cope calls on the President to meet his constitutional responsibility and use section 79, Assent to Bills, of the Constitution of South Africa to send it back to the National Assembly for correction or to the Constitutional Court for a decision.
He should not assent to it and sign the Bill until he has such a decision. Should the President fail to do this, then Cope will have no option but to abstain from voting.
However, the remainder of the Bill addresses issues such as husband, wife and spouse. Couples married by customary or foreign laws are now recognised. Defining a major as one who is 18 years old and not 21 years old will mean that younger people will have to take up adult responsibility much earlier than before.
The Bill also addresses the issue of people giving birth in transit on a ship or plane. The place of birth of such a child will be determined by where in the world the carrier is registered. A woman giving birth, for example, to a child on her way to Cuba in a Russian aeroplane would register the child as having been born in Russia.
Foreigners who receive exemption from visa requirements and who are granted the unconditional right to entry for an unspecified period in terms of 10 (a) of the Immigration Act and section 31(3) (a) or (c) of the same Act, will be able to take up permanent residency in South Africa because they would have been determined to have been lawfully admitted to the Republic.
As such, children born to a married couple where at least one parent had been lawfully admitted to South Africa will be regarded as South African citizens. The converse will also apply.
The Bill gives powers to the Minister to recognise both customary marriages as well as marriages concluded in terms of the laws of a foreign country, provided that the Minister is satisfied with the information documented by both partners. Where the Minister is not satisfied she can call for further information.
The issue of naturalisation is also dealt with in detail. Under exceptional circumstances the Minister may grant a certificate of naturalisation to an applicant who does not comply with subsection 1 (c) relating to residence in South Africa. We will have to keep a watchful eye on this.
A bit of tightening of the principal Act occurs in section 7 of the Bill. Persons deprived of citizenship under this section or section 9, will have to surrender their certificates or face possible imprisonment for up to five years and possibly a fine.
However, corrupt officials will always find ways of using these provisions in ways not intended by Parliament. [Time expired.] The Minister should be alert to these challenges and should set monitoring systems in place to guard against fraud. I thank you.
Mr A M MPONTSHANE: Chairperson, hon Minister, I must admit that my caucus has been disadvantaged in the sense that our member who serves on the committee is out of the country; he is in Kenya.
This morning, while compiling the speech for this debate, we were under the impression that the withdrawal of citizenship applies to all categories of citizens. In that sense we were going to object.
After your explanation, hon Minister, that this withdrawal of citizenship only applies to those who got their citizenship through naturalisation, I think that’s a fair argument. [Applause.]
Standing where I am, I want to differentiate between what we say in ...
... abomsinsi wokuzimilela nalaba bokufika.[... regard to the citizens and the foreigners.]
In the old adage you cannot really bite the hand that feeds you or that has fed you. For this reason, I had to quickly consult my seniors to ask what stand we are going to take as I will be standing at the podium. We are not going to oppose this Bill. I thank you. [Applause.]
Ms P MADUNA: Chairperson, hon Ministers, Deputy Ministers and hon members, sometimes I get so disappointed to hear a DA member pretending he is not one of the committee members and also that he is not a citizen of this country. The DA members at times behave as if they are refugees. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Order, please!
Ms P MADUNA: All we are asking is that you bring solutions instead of arguments and that you do not speak as if you are not on the committee.
The Strategy and Tactics of the ANC states that South Africa has entered its second decade of freedom with the strengthening of democracy and acceleration of the programme to improve the quality of life of all the people. Steadily, the dark night of white minority political domination is receding into a distant memory. Yet we are only at the beginning of a long journey to a truly united, democratic and prosperous South Africa in which the value of all citizens is measured by their humanity, without regard to race, gender and social status.
The Freedom Charter’s assertion that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, came out of a conscious realisation that the apartheid oligarchy was gradually depriving the majority of the people of their citizenship rights. The effect of the now abolished Group Areas Act, and similar draconian laws, was to push Africans to 13% of the land according to their ethnic groups.
In essence, this meant that African people had the status of foreigners in 87% of the land; and to ensure monitoring of their movements, Africans had to carry the “dompas” everywhere they went. Failure to carry the “dompas” and special work permit resulted in imprisonment, flogging, or labour indenture.
As the ANC, we do not take the right to South African citizenship lightly. In it, we behold the gushing blood of the victims of the Sharpeville massacre. In the right to South African citizenship, we behold Comrade Charlotte Maxeke, who led a women’s march against the carrying of oppressive pseudo-identity documents in our motherland.
Hon members, the new democratic dispensation does not seek to limit access to citizenship for legitimate and patriotic South African people, but to regulate how citizenship is acquired, kept and lost. Citizenship comes with rights, responsibilities and obligations. In this regard, it is expected of every citizen that he or she complies with the laws of our country.
However, some people can obstinately engage at an international level in activities that compromise the Republic, like wars which the Republic does not support. The Republic has been compromised in recent times by citizens who engage in wars not supported by the Republic and, in extreme cases, by mercenary activities. [Interjections.]
Just shut up and listen!
Chairperson, our Constitution provides that no right is absolute ... [Interjections.]
Ms A M DREYER: On a point of order, Chairperson.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): What’s the point of order?
Ms A M DREYER: Is it parliamentary for the member to say that we must shut up? [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Hon members, please let’s be civil about some of the things. I don’t have to say it’s unparliamentary, but let’s be civil about how we address each other. Continue, hon member.
Ms P MADUNA: Thank you, Chairperson. Our Constitution provides that no right is absolute and thus every right is subject to limitations in an open society based on human rights, equality and freedom - if it is reasonable and justifiable to do so.
In this regard, it can be argued that those who are on the international stage engaging in wars that are not in the interest of the Republic and thus not supported by it, do not deserve to keep their citizenship, whether it is citizenship by birth, descent or naturalisation.
This is even more so with citizenship by naturalisation, as the person would have first been a foreigner, but through complying with the requisite prescriptions, was accorded citizenship by naturalisation. Such a person would, on a balance of probabilities, be a security risk and the state cannot be bound to rewarding him or her with the status of citizenship by naturalisation.
The principal Act requires, among other things, that the applicant for naturalisation should have been a resident of the Republic; be of good character; have adequate knowledge of the responsibilities and privileges of South African citizenship; be a husband or widower of a South African citizen, or a wife or widow of a South African citizen; and make a declaration of allegiance.
Hon members, the Bill further adds that the applicant should be a citizen of the country that allows dual citizenship and where dual citizenship is not allowed, the applicant should renounce the citizenship of that country.
Immediately before the 1994 and the demise of apartheid, there was an exodus of a number of South African citizens to other parts of the world. Some of them have returned to South Africa whilst keeping their passports and extending their citizenship of the countries they had emigrated from.
This situation tends to be dubious in terms of the allegiance of such people to the South African flag. It is important that those who desire citizenship in different parts of the globe be tested for allegiance. To subject dual citizens to the acid test of the requirement to renounce citizenship, where dual citizenship is not permissible, is bound to reveal the true allegiance of the dual citizen.
The Bill creates a new category of citizenship by naturalisation by providing that a child born in the Republic of parents who are not South African citizens, or who have not been admitted into the Republic for permanent residence, qualifies to apply for South African citizenship upon becoming a major if he or she has lived in the Republic from the date of his or her birth to the date of becoming a major.
In keeping with the imperative to treat the interests of a child as being of paramount importance, children falling within this category shall, even if their parents have not been admitted into South African citizenship, have an opportunity to become naturalised South African citizens, provided that their births have been registered in accordance with the Births and Deaths Registration Amendment Act, Act 1 of 2002.
A child whose parents’ nationality is known and is born in South Africa, is different from a foundling whose parents are not known and who could not have adduced evidence to prove that he or she was born in the Republic. It would be erroneous to naturalise foundlings with the presumption that they were born in South Africa. This would open government up to acts of human trafficking with the view to naturalising children in order to gain access to the South African social security system through them.
It could also happen that some non-nationals, who are already in South Africa illegally, would manipulate the system to ensure a better future for their children, whom they brought with from their countries, by helping them to apply for citizenship through naturalisation as if they were foundlings.
Given the socioeconomic instability obtaining in most of our neighbouring countries, how they have pushed the immigration envelope, and how the Children’s Act defines “child”, it is not unthinkable to imagine that many would come to South Africa at a relatively mature age and apply for citizenship by naturalisation. This would mean that in the next five years our population would have grown drastically not because of organic processes, but because children from other countries would have reached the age of majority and as citizens would be eligible to compete for scarce resources with citizens who in fact were born in South Africa.
A burden would be put on our fiscus, and we would be unable to meet the obligations we have to our people because the more services are rendered, the more the demand would increase. The more houses we build, the more we would have to build; and even if we demolish informal settlements constantly, they would invariably mushroom.
Hon members, the ANC’s manifesto identifies income, inequality, and extreme poverty as challenges that face our nation in the current conjuncture. In this regard, many of our people continue to live in abject poverty and the income gap between the highest and the lowest paid continues to widen unabated ... [Interjections.]
Ms A M DREYER: On a point of order, Chairperson.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Hon member, just wait a bit.
Ms A M DREYER: Chairperson, on a point of order: Can I draw your attention to paragraph 62 in the Rules of Parliament that states that a member shall as far as possible refrain from reading his or her speech ... [Interjections.]
But he or she may refresh his or her memory by referring to notes. The member has been reading her speech throughout.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Hon member, that is not a point of order really. I am aware of that Rule, but there has been a convention in this House that members will read speeches and we haven’t ruled that out. It’s a convention, and I am aware of it. Continue, hon member.
Ms P MADUNA: The ANC has always prosecuted the struggle for national and economic emancipation and it is even at this time, more so than ever before, that our people still look to the ANC for leadership, guidance and support. That is exactly that we are doing.
Therefore, it is a fundamental imperative that South African citizenship be guarded with extreme caution and eyes like a hawk, so as to enable our government, in general, and the Planning Commission, in particular, to successfully plan our collective development to catapult us into the future our people yearn for. It should, however, not be inferred that we do not recognise the contribution that legitimate immigrants have made and continue to make in the interests of our beloved country and our people, united in our diversity.
We continue in our role as a disciplined force of the left to promote progressive internationalism and to ensure that peace and friendship abound. I am convinced that together we can definitely do more. I thank you. [Applause.]
The MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS: Chairperson, I’d like to thank the ANC for supporting the Bill. I also just want to emphasise that, indeed, it is important to pay attention to language, including references to gender, and also not to call people “aliens” as the law presently does. There are all the other things they’ve said, but I won’t go into that.
I just want to clarify a few things, particularly for the DA, and maybe for Cope too. First of all, I don’t understand when hon Mnqasela says that they don’t support the part that says that a child who is born in South Africa and lives in South Africa until he reaches his majority has an option of becoming a South African citizen. Because at the moment there’s nowhere we say unless it is 14 years or 16 years of age that we won’t support it.
Why is it 18 years old? Eighteen years is the legal age of majority in this country. There must be logic in what we say. That’s the reason why we chose 18 years, but that is not there in our law at the moment, so we are enabling those children to have that choice.
The second thing is that the Department of Home Affairs is the custodian of citizenship laws in the country. That is why it is under Home Affairs - I don’t know what he wants it to be under. Let me just explain: If you get naturalisation and you then go to war and fight under a different flag, when this country has said, for whatever reasons, that it is against that war, it would mean you have made a choice. So why should we not take away your citizenship? I don’t understand that argument.
We wrote the Constitution and I don’t understand why it is unconstitutional, but if it has to be tested, really, we are not talking about your birthright, we are talking about somebody who is naturalised, who makes a choice and goes and carries a gun under the flag of another country. That’s what we are talking about and that must be made very clear because we mustn’t cause confusion.
I just want to clarify this for the DA because I don’t want any misunderstandings. Today you’ve been a bit destructive. I thought you were the DA, Democratic Alliance not “destructive agency”. Thank you. [Applause.] [Laughter.]
The DEPUTY CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Chairperson, I propose that the question stands over.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): I didn’t hear, hon member.
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Chairperson, I move that the question stand over.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Hon Deputy Chief Whip, may you explain please?
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Chairperson, in terms of the Rules, 201 members are needed in order to pass a Bill.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): The reason is the quorum? Hon members, please bear with us. In terms of Rule 76, Decision of Questions Postponed, the Chair can use his own discretion to allow the question to be postponed. I so do. [Applause.]. Thank you, hon Ellis, for understanding.
Decision of Question postponed.
BIRTHS AND DEATHS REGISTRATION AMENDMENT BILL
(Second Reading debate)
The MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS: Chairperson and hon members, I am indeed privileged to introduce the Births and Deaths Registration Amendment Bill for the consideration of this House. Let me again thank the portfolio committee and its chair for their hard work and co-operation.
It is only correct that we recognise that births and deaths are cardinal stages in the life cycle of any human being. Birth is indeed an embodiment of all that is new, developing and representing the future. Therefore, it is important that we take care of our children as the late Oliver Reginald Tambo once said that a nation that does not care for its children has no future.
It became necessary for us as a department to make these amendments as they identified some gaps and weaknesses in the legislation. I just want to quickly spell them out. The Bill seeks to streamline the procedures relating to the following.
Who should register the birth of a child other than the parents? This includes the next of kin or a legal guardian, but not a paid agent. At the moment, we have lots of paid agents going around registering children and causing some problems. The amendment also streamlines the issue of by whom and how orphans and abandoned children should be registered, because there are lots of problems around that. We want to simplify that process.
When a child or an adult’s surname is changed, which procedures should be followed? This is especially important in our culture, where some children are born in an environment wherein their mothers are not married, and they end up using their mothers’ surnames, and later on they want to change it. We want to make sure that it is not as difficult as it is now.
We have noticed a trend and would like to correct it, where parents register a child and later come back to inform us that the father was not the real one and they want to register the second one as the real father. As the department, we are saying that we will take your word when you come to us for the first time; but the second time round, you have to proof paternity if you are going to change the surname. We think that is fair enough because we can’t tell who the real father is.
The birth registration has to be done within 30 days. When you come after 30 days, it would then be considered as a late registration of birth. We would like to just streamline the processes that govern that. There are sensitivities around the registration of adopted children. We would like to make sure that the children and the parents who are adopting them are protected.
We also want to amend and outline procedures for persons who want to change their sex status at a later stage; when they were born as one sex, registered as that, and later want to change to the opposite sex. We want to make sure that there are procedures for doing that.
We also want to register all undertakers, because they register deaths. Sometimes there are problems and you find that the undertaker was not registered and they cannot be found anywhere. We want to make sure that they are registered and that they are able to register deaths. That does not take away the rights of the parents or relatives also to register a death.
Lastly, we are changing the penalties in the Bill. Otherwise, I hope the members will support the Bill. I thank you. [Applause.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Hon Minister, you are correct, that was your Bill.
Mr M MNQASELA: House Chairperson, hon Ministers, Deputy Ministers, and members, the Bill deals precisely with issues which have been identified as creating blockages in recognition of the rights of the greater posterity of our citizenry. However, I suggested some significant changes in the portfolio committee without success. The department ignored the process of public submissions on the Bill, which could have been of assistance.
House Chair, if I could look at the whole process here, this kind of situation paints a quintessentially middle-class picture, and it is simply not how the majority of South Africans live.
Children often live with relatives, their fathers are often absent, and their mothers are often sick. The scourge of HIV and Aids has led to a plethora of unconventional family settings in South Africa. These families are equally worthy of respect and a chance to provide the best life for the children in their care.
The process of legislating to suit the middle class, by setting requirements that only the middle class is likely to meet, will amount to failure on the part of the government. Our legislation must serve and protect our people, not the other way around. Our people should not be oppressed by our legislation.
Hon members, in practice, as your own constituents will undoubtedly tell you, there are countless adults who have never had Identity Documents, and who have many children who were never registered at birth. Therefore, to use a parent’s appearance on the Population Register and/or ID as a requirement for registering a child, blatantly ignores the reality in our country, especially in villages in our native land.
Clause 4(a) and (b) and clause 6 are wholly unsuitable for the majority of people in the South African society. These clauses arrogantly presume that all South African children are born into conventional family units, where no one is sick; the child’s primary caregivers are his or her biological mother and father; the mother and father are married; and that the mother, father and child are living together.
Inyaniso yile yokuba akunjalo ke, ngoba nangoku kule Ndlu, baninzi abazali abahlala bodwa engekho amaqabane abo. [The truth is that it is not like that, because even in this House, there are many parents who stay alone without their spouses.]
Speaker, this picture is far removed from the reality on the ground. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989 is an agreement by the governments of the world stating what rights children should have. It covers rights on just about everything and applies to everyone under the age of 18 years.
Bearing in mind that 1989 marked the 30th Anniversary of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and the 10th Anniversary of the International Year of a Child, article 2 says:
States Parties shall respect and ensure the rights set forth in the present convention to each child within their jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child or his or her parents or legal guardian’s race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or . . . other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status.
Article 6 says:
States Parties recognize that every child has the inherent right to life.
Therefore, that is an inalienable right. I recently helped the 36-year-old ...
... uMama uNokwanda waseQonce, ongazange abenasazisi nesatifiketi sokuzalwa oko wazalwa. Mna ndizodibana naye apha e-Crossroads, kula ngingqi yam yovoto, mna ke, njengamntu usebenzayo. Ndithe xa ndifika ndancedwa ngamagosa phaya njengokuba sasincedisana, Sihlalo. Siye sahamba-hamba ke sizama ukulungisa loo nto, ngelingeni saphumelela ke kuba kukho mna. (Translation of isiXhosa paragraph follows.)
[... Mrs Nokwanda from King William’s Town, who never had an Identity Document and a birth certificate ever since she was born. I, as a person who does her job, met her in Crossroads, in my constituency. Chairperson, when I arrived there, I worked with the officials as we normally do. We went around trying to solve this and at last we succeeded because of my presence.]
She has never seen the door of a classroom. Her three children are subjected to the same treatment. This Bill paints a melancholy picture of this Parliament albeit the prudent principle that it has set out to serve - you are saying that you are an activist Parliament.
Sections 28 and 29 of the Constitution recognise the rights of children to life, shelter, name, nationality and the right to education. To allow only the social workers to administer the birth information of a displaced or orphaned child, places a burden on the already squeezed resources, because the country is reeling under a shortage of more than 40 000 social workers, as we speak. You must accredit those organisations that are currently working with children.
Ndithetha ngoomama abahlala begade abantwana phaya kwezaa ndawo sihlala kuzo, ezilokishini nasezilalini kwenzeka loo nto yabantu abakhulisa abantwana abangengobabo. Thina sinokuncedisa bona ke, ngoba kaloku bahleli begade aba bantwana. Thina singabalawula, sibanike iziqinisekiso kulo msebenzi bawenzayo. Enkosi. [Ixesha liphelile.] (Translation of isiXhosa paragraph follows.)
[I am talking about women who are guardians in our communities, in townships and villages, and this is what is happening where you find people who are taking care of children who are not even theirs. We can assist them, because they are looking after these children. We can monitor, and give them guardianship certificates for what they are doing. Thank you. [Time expired.]]
Mr G P D MACKENZIE: Chairperson, this Bill is long overdue. Children in particular are experiencing serious problems without the provisions we are now making. Firstly, we are very pleased that the term “biometrics” now enters into the definition section. This opens up a variety of technological ways of identifying an individual.
Clause 2 amends section 7 of the principal Act. The Director-General is now authorised to supplement as well as rectify particulars incorrectly reflected in documents. This has to happen in consultation with the affected individuals.
In the case of any child born alive, parents or prescribed persons must register the child within 30 days. Officials should ask traditional authorities, midwives, clinics and those staffing maternity wards to help meet this requirement.
A very positive aspect of this Bill appears in clause 1 which amends section 11 of the principal Act. This Bill allows parents who conceived a child out of wedlock to amend the registration if they marry at any future point while the child is still a minor. This will have such a beneficial impact on the child. While it is a small measure, it has the potential to build families.
The Bill is also very progressive in another regard. The Director-General can register abandoned or orphaned children. If and when the parents of an abandoned child are found, the Director-General can amend the registration.
Individuals who lack a forename or a surname can now apply to correct that. Often parents give children forenames that bring misery on them. Now such an individual, either through his parents, or if he is of age, can remedy this and ask for an alteration of his or her forename.
The alteration of a surname is a little more complicated. The individual has to have a particularly good motivation to do so.
I have a word of caution, however, for the department. It may come under enormous pressure to rectify a mountain of changing particulars. I sincerely trust that the department will have the personnel and the technical capacity to process alterations swiftly and efficiently. A careful process of auditing must exist to protect the integrity of the system.
In life we have births and deaths, and funeral undertakers see death as business. Some, therefore, tend not to comply with legal requirements. Now any funeral undertaker who wants to register deaths can apply for registration and a designation number. Such an undertaker will have to comply with a number of legal requirements. The department has to monitor this rigorously right from the start.
Remoteness of location denies rural communities access to a variety of government services. For this very reason, many children are not born in hospitals because people live too far from them. This makes the registration process even more difficult. These are important concerns that we need to deal with urgently. Cope supports this Bill. [Applause.]
Mr A M MPONTSHANE: Chairperson, once again I am the carbon copy of my colleague who is absent. During our caucus this morning, we ran through the clauses of this Bill and I have very strict instructions from my caucus to read the last two lines of what my colleague had prepared, and it reads:
This amending Bill constitutes a comprehensive revision of the Act and is fully supported by the IFP.
Thank you. [Applause.]
Mrs M M MAUNYE: Ke a leboha, Modula Setulo. [Thank you, Chairperson.] Hon Ministers, Deputy Ministers, comrades, and hon members, the late former president of the ANC, Comrade Oliver Reginald Tambo, once said, and I quote:
A country, a movement, a person that does not value its youth, does not deserve its future.
In so saying he was reflecting on the caring spirit that has characterised the ANC throughout the years, and has been carried through to date as it creates a caring, national democratic society.
The Strategy and Tactics documents of the ANC further say, and I quote:
Among the most vulnerable in society are children, and a national democratic society should ensure their protection and continuous advancement.
Birth registration is the official recording of a child’s birth by the state. It is a permanent and official record of a child’s existence, and is the first point of contact between a child and the state. It is the first and fundamental right in and of itself, and it is a door to other rights providing a measure of protection against age-related exploitation and abuse.
The securing of children’s right to nationality will allow them to get a passport, open a bank account, obtain credit, vote and secure employment. It helps to ensure access to basic services including immunisation, healthcare and school enrolment at the right stage.
In a recent survey conducted by government, the following obstacles to birth registration were identified, among other things: ignorance of the importance of birth registration, resulting in a failure to claim the right to an identity; lack of information and mobilisation of children and youth to claim their right to citizenship; and late registration that sometimes leads to illegal immigrants obtaining identification documents fraudulently.
Some parents do not have ID documents to register their children, partly due to access issues, lack of knowledge, their illegal status in the country, or tribal customs relating to the naming of children.
In her NCOP budget speech on 15 April 2010, the hon Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, stated, and I quote:
The National Population Register Campaign’s key objective is to protect and secure the National Population Register and the entry point to the register will be at birth. Hence, in this regard, we commit to the following: The registration of every childbirth within 30 days of delivery; the issuing of identity documents to every South African child, 16 years and above; and the eradication of the late registration of births by December 2010.
The current legislative mandate for notification and registration of births is contained in the Births and Deaths Registration Act of 1992, whose administration is vested in the Director-General of Home Affairs, who, in terms of the Act, is also the custodian of all birth records in South Africa.
In terms of the Act, a birth must be reported to the department by the parents or guardian within 30 days of the child’s date of birth. However, what is problematic about the Act is that it allows parents and guardians, in the event of being unable to register the birth themselves, to request a third person to do so on their behalf.
This provision opens the gap for agents to actively participate in birth registration, thus resulting in an inability to conduct verification processes. In some cases it also leads to false registration. The amending Bill seeks to secure the foregoing mischief by providing that the person giving notice of birth of a child must be one of the parents of the child, or any of the parents prescribed.
The Act provides for different levels of late registration, and these are: after 30 days, but before one year; after one year, but less than 15 years; and birth notified after 15 years. Despite the fact that the longer the delay of registration, the higher the requirements of documentary proof of parentage, place of birth, and age, this provision has opened the legislation to abuse. Noncitizens have used it to acquire citizenship fraudulently and citizens have used it to entitle themselves to benefits to which they are not entitled. This situation has compromised the integrity of our National Population Register, NPR.
The Bill lays the basis for the restoration of the NPR’s integrity and limits late registration of birth into one category, namely 31 days and above. It also provides for stringent requirements in the regulations.
One of the internal challenges that South Africa has suffered post-democracy is the rapid spread of HIV/Aids to pandemic levels. The scourge has hit our beloved country hard in rural and peri-urban areas. As a result, it has, in some cases, wiped out parents and guardians and left children with no parents.
A new type of household, termed “a child-headed household”, has emerged because of the intensity and extent of this phenomenon. The children living under such conditions have to depend upon each other for survival, with the elder one playing the role of parent or guardian to his or her younger siblings.
However, such children are often excluded from government social security services, like the child support grant, as their birth remains unregistered for want of parents or guardians.
In some cases, these children are exploited by rogue elements who register them as being in their foster care for the purpose of gaining access to foster care grants that they then use for their narrow, selfish ends. Such persons, like scavengers, prey on the vulnerable who cannot be protected but for timely state intervention.
The principal Act only provides for the notice of birth of an abandoned child to be made by a social worker or authorised officer, where any parent of the child cannot be traced. However, it does not provide for the registration of orphaned children and thus discriminates against parentless children.
It can thus be inferred that orphan children suffer twice. Firstly, from untimely alienation from parental protection and support, and, secondly, from being denied their constitutional right to state support through being barred from registering their birth, and consequently from receiving birth certificates and ID documents. Such socioeconomic exclusion is, to all intents and purposes, without any legitimate basis, bar being without parents.
A caring society cannot continue on a trajectory that punishes children for being born and left without parents. It is in that line that we commend this Amending Bill before this House as it provides for the registration of orphaned children, thus ensuring that child-headed families get assistance to register their births.
Passing the legislation will thus change the situation of the orphaned children, some of whom, as we sit here in Parliament today deciding their fate, are huddled in shacks and low-cost houses, wondering where their next meal will come from.
In fact, some of them stay for days without home-cooked meals. Many of these orphans depend on meals they receive once a day from school feeding schemes during school days. They arrive at schools with empty stomachs and have difficulty in concentrating on their school work.
The Bill further protects such children from being preyed upon by wolves in sheep’s clothing, by providing that a social worker should assist child-headed families with registration. The Bill undertakes to close this lacuna. Furthermore, it provides for conclusive proof of paternity in cases where an amendment of a birth registration of a child born of unmarried parents, who then marry each other after registration of his or her birth, is applied for in a prescribed manner.
Equally as important as birth registration, is death registration, which marks the termination of the legal personality of a natural person. The death certificate provides prima facie proof that a death has occurred and thus enables the estate of the deceased person to be divided according to the laws of succession.
The death certificate as prima facie evidence of death also activates insurance companies to release funeral policy funds. In the case of a marriage, it frees the spouse to enter into another marriage without being open to being accused of bigamy. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Order, order!
Mrs M M MAUNYE: It is therefore vital that the process of death registration be regulated and its integrity assured. Such a process, if not properly regulated and its integrity assured, could be open to abuse and could, in extreme cases, lead to serious social conflicts.
The Act did not have a provision for the designation of funeral undertakers for purposes of engaging in the activities relating to the registration of deaths. However, the Bill does make this provision and thus ensures that not all funeral undertakers are involved in the registration of deaths, but only those who comply with the prescribed requirements.
The Convention of the Rights of the Child, article 7, states, and I quote:
The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right, from birth, to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and, as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.
A birth record is a statement of facts concerning an individual. It is a permanent legal record. Throughout life a person uses his or her certificate to prove age, parentage and citizenship. Not to register a child is to deny that child its citizenship rights enshrined in the Constitution.
To compromise the integrity of the National Population Register, is to risk national security. To build a caring society, we need to have a reliable database to enable us to plan development and effect the necessary social interventions.
Children are our tomorrow; let us treat them like the precious treasures they are.
Bagaetsho, dilo tse dingwe di tshwana le kgomo ya mošate, o a e gapa, o molato, o a e tlogela, o molato. Ke bona e kete Molao o o tlile go thusa bana ba rona, segolo bogolo jang ba ba tlhokang ba ba tshwanetseng ba kwadisiwe jaaka re utlwile fa DA e re bana ba tshwanetse go kwadisiwa ke mongwe le mongwe, fela re a itse gore go le gontsi bonweenwee bo kana kang mo nageng e ya rona e. Fa re tlogela gore bana ba kwadisiwe ke mongwe le mongwe re tla nna le bana ba le ba kae mo Aforika Borwa ba re tla bong re sa itse gore ba tswa kae, ba kwadisitswe ke bomang le gore ke bana ba bo mang.
Molao o, o fedisa dilo tse di ntseng jalo, gore go nne le batho ba ba tla kwadisang bana ka tsela e e latelwang mo Molaong, e seng re tsee mongwe le mongwe fela gore e nne ena yo o kwadisang ngwana fa a tsholwa mo lefatsheng.
Re a itse gore bana ba rona ba sotlega go le kana kang. Tshotlego ya bana e itsiwe ke rona rotlhe. Motlotlegi Mnqasela, o ka seka wa re ruta tshotlego ya bana mo malatsing a gompieno. Re a itse gore bana ba sotlega go le kana kang. Ke ka moo re tsayang matsapa a makanakana a go siamisa Melao e, gore e thuse bana mmogo le batsadi mo nageng e ya rona. Ke a leboga. [Legofi.] (Translation of Setswana paragraphs follows.)
[Some things are difficult to deal with. It seems that this Act will be of help to our children, especially those who need to be registered – as the DA has already mentioned that these children must be registered by anyone despite the corruption that is experienced in our country. If we allow anyone to register those children, how many children will we have without knowing who their parents are.
This Act brings such things to an end; there should be appointed people who register these children in relation to the Act, not just anyone.
We all know the sufferings experienced by our children. Hon Mnqasela, you do not have to teach us about the sufferings endured by our children – we all know. This is the reason why we are taking effort to rectify these Acts so that they can help both the children and the parents in our country. I thank you. [Applause.]]
The MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS: Hon Chair, I would like to thank the ANC for the support and everything they have said. I would also like to thank the hon MacKenzie for interpreting the Bill correctly, and assure him that we are taking his cautions seriously. I would also like to thank hon Mpontshane and the IFP for their support.
Hhayi-ke umhlonishwa uMnqasela ngimuncamile. [Uhleko.] [Well, I give up on hon Mngasela. [Laughter.]]
He pretends not to understand the Bill, but he understands it. I now realise that he always says the opposite of what is the fact. [Interjections.] He says that this Bill will help the middle class.
This Bill is not for the middle class. That is why we are saying we want to streamline the registration of children who are orphans. [Interjections]. No, social workers will be involved where children are in a home. Otherwise, we will regulate how orphaned children, who are not in homes, are dealt with.
But the reality of hon Mnqasela’s input is to protect the paid agents because it’s that middle class that pays agents to register their children. [Interjections.] That is what we are doing away with, which is what he wants to maintain. That’s all, that’s all. [Interjections.]
When we say anyone can register, we know that people are paid. They go with forms this big. Our people who have used public transport and come from far are delayed because they come with these piles of forms, having been paid by middle class parents to go and register their children. That we don’t want and we are going to do away with it. [Applause.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): That concludes the debate. Are there any objections to the Births and Deaths Registration Amendment Bill being read a second time? No objections.
Mr M J ELLIS: Mr Chairman, on a point of order: I am not at all sure, sir, how we can agree to it. There may be no objections to it but there isn’t a quorum in the House to vote this afternoon, as we have already heard from the hon Deputy Chief Whip of the Majority Party, who appealed to you earlier not to take the matter further.
I believe that the same precedent has to happen this afternoon and you will have to use the same Rule and use your discretion in making sure that this stands over to another parliamentary day.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Hon member, you are correct, if we don’t have a quorum then the question stands over.
Decision of Question postponed.
MAGISTRATES’ COURTS AMENDMENT BILL
(Second Reading debate)
Mr J B SIBANYONI: Sihlalo, ngithokoze kuwo woke amalunga aHloniphekileko wePalamende. Sihlalo, ngiyabona sele iphaphela phasi nelanga seleliyokutjhinga. Ngizakuba mfitjhani khulu. [Chairperson, I would like to thank all hon Members of Parliament. Chairperson, I can see that we are running out of time. I will be very brief.]
I’m dealing here with the Magistrates’ Court Amendment Bill 23 of 2010. I’m doing this on behalf of the chairperson of the justice portfolio committee, Advocate Ngaoko Ramathlodi.
The purpose or the aim of this Bill is to amend the Magistrates’ Courts Act, Act 32 of 1944. I must point out that these clauses were part of the Judicial Matters Amendment Bill, but they were taken away or extracted from that Bill in order to process it as speedily as possible.
The reason for doing this is that there are only three amendments that are relevant. These three amendments are intended to facilitate the Jurisdiction of Regional Courts Amendment Act, Act 31 of 2008.
I must also point out that the new Act has as its intention to give civil jurisdiction to Regional Courts in the sense that the jurisdiction of the Regional Courts is now up to R300 000. It gives these courts jurisdiction to handle family-related matters such as divorce, guardianship and custody over minor children. Previously, the divorce courts were regulated by the Administration Amendment Act of 1929, which dealt with matters of black persons.
Briefly, the aim of clause 1 and 2 relates to abolishing the requirements of a person in possession of an LL B degree to be appointed as a Regional Court magistrate. There are reasons for that. Firstly, the current LL B degree is unlike the previous one, which was a postgraduate qualification.
It is now a junior degree for which people can register with a matric. Also, the Regional Court magistrates can be regarded as junior judges. [Interjection.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Hon members, please, order! Let’s converse very softly. Please!
Mr J B SIBANYONI: This Bill will give them the opportunity that when they are appointed it is done in the same way as when judges are appointed in terms of section 174 (1) of the Constitution. Currently the legislation says a person should have either an LL B degree, pass the Public Service Senior Law Examination or an examination deemed by the Minister to be equivalent to that.
Further, the second clause only deals with the list the Magistrate’s Commission should keep from which they can appoint people to be magistrates in the Regional Courts. There would be a name for such list.
Lastly, clause 4 intends to amend the Bill so that the Minister can use his discretion to appoint or authorise people who can serve court processes, summons, subpoenas and the like because there are companies which are given, by the Magistrates’ Court, an authority to serve court processes. Now the Minister will be in a position to put conditions for such people to be appointed, make a declaration, and publish it in the Government Gazette.
May I take this opportunity to thank the committee, both the ruling party as well as the opposition because there was agreement when this Bill was finalised. The report was adopted by the committee.
I would also like to thank the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development represented here by hon De Lange. I also want to thank another Mr De Lange who is one of the officials who has been working on this Bill. I must say he must pass my regards to Mr J B Skhosana, who was also working seriously with the jurisdiction of Regional Courts, which is now in full swing. I also want to take this opportunity to thank the previous chairperson when this Bill was started, hon Yunus Carrim.
The ANC supports the Bill and asks the House to adopt it. [Applause.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Thank you, hon member, there is no list of speakers. Are there any objections to the Bill being read for the second time? No objections, and I will have to go back to the question of the quorum. [Interjections.]
An HON MEMBER: Chairperson, yes. That is the issue that we want to raise. We ask for the decision to stand over.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): The question will then stand over.
Decision of Question postponed.
Mr M J ELLIS: Mr Chairman, I’m sorry, sir, on a point of order. I think one can tolerate a fair amount of jocularity, face-pulling and so on across the floor. I do want to say that there is an hon member of the ANC sitting at the back who was pulling absolutely rude faces and making very rude gestures. Sir, I believe that she does need to have the discipline instilled in this House to make sure that she doesn’t behave like this in the future.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Hon member, please continue. Hon Ellis, that is not a point of order.
Mr M J ELLIS: Mr Chairman, if it’s not a point of order, are you saying that we can gesticulate at each other the whole time and make rude signs? What would happen to this Parliament; does it become a joke?
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Could hon Ellis demonstrate to me what was ... [Laughter.]
Mr M J ELLIS: Sir, I will do so with pleasure and you can decide whether you believe this. [Laughter.] Is it right? I think it’s shocking behaviour in this House. [Laughter.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Hon members, I can only ask that we refrain from this kind of gesture, please. Even if I say withdraw the gesture, what are you going to do? Hon member, continue, please.
Mr M J ELLIS: Mr Chairman, I want to say to hon Blade Ndzimande that he must remember that I am the man with the stick at this present time. [Laughter.] If he continues to point and make funny faces at me, I will go over there and hit him with my crutch.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Well, this is the latitude we give to the senior members of this House!
AMENDMENTS TO ARTICLES VI AND XIV.A OF THE STATUTE OF THE INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY (IAEA)
(Consideration of request for approval)
Mrs E THABETHE: Chairperson, Ministers in the House, Deputy Ministers, hon members, the amendments to articles 6 and 14 of the statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, stands to benefit countries of the South, particularly, Africa. These amendments will increase Africa’s participation in the IAEA board of governors; the voice of our continent will be strengthened.
Article 6 in particular seeks to do the following: firstly, to expand the composition of the board of governors from the current composition of 35 to 43 members; secondly, to set out a list of possible criteria to be taken into account when the board designates members; and, thirdly, to provide for each member state to be included in the regional or aerial group determined by the agency.
This will result in the implementation of a carefully crafted, long-sought solution to issues associated with the representation of members of the board of governors, and contribute largely towards enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Furthermore, article 14 seeks to change the programme and budget processes to be biannual rather that annual as is currently the case.
It also seeks to ensure that the IAEA budgeting is in line with the virtually universal practice amongst United Nations organisations. This will ensure that there is only one programme budget document and one appropriate resolution covering the whole two years.
Article 14(a) also seeks to ensure better facilitation of the programme planning and increase flexibility in programme implementation. That will enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the programme delivery. As a country, we have been steadfast in supporting proportional representation of member states on the board of governors, and we believe that the expansion of the Board is in the right direction, especially for the African region consolidating its representatives and making sure that the board of governors ensures greater proportional representation of the entire region.
This amendment will also be of benefit to the region, again to make sure that the decision-making body can be enlarged and that we can then benefit. I urge the House to support this amendment based on the recommendation by the meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Energy on 7 September.
Everyone supported this because they were just straightforward. We believe that through what we have discussed earlier on, we will be able to get skills from some of the scientists in respect of the nuclear industry. I hope that the House will ratify these amendments. I thank you. [Applause.]
There was no debate.
Amendments to Articles VI and XIV.A of the Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, approved.
AMENDMENTS TO THE CONVENTION ON PROHIBITIONS OR RESTRICTIONS ON THE USE OF CERTAIN CONVENTIONAL WEAPONS WHICH MAY BE DEEMED TO BE EXCESSIVELY INJURIOUS OR TO HAVE INDISCRIMINATE EFFECTS
(Consideration of Request for Approval)
AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITY AND ITS MEMBER STATES, OF THE ONE PART, AND THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA, OF THE OTHER PART, AMENDING THE AGREEMENT ON TRADE, DEVELOPMENT AND CO-OPERATION
(Consideration of Request for Approval)
Ms K R MAGAU: Chair, on behalf of the Portfolio Committee on International Relations, I request to place before the House, that it amends provisions or restrictions of certain conventional weapons that are deemed to be injurious or have an indiscriminate effect in terms of section 231(2) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.
The committee has unanimously agreed to these amendments and we therefore table them for approval by the House. We will, after approval of the amendments by the House, be a proud signatory to these conventions and this will further advance our efforts to ensure a peaceful world. We would like to urge countries that have not done so, to do so.
We would like to take this opportunity to also place before the House the request of the portfolio committee to do the same on the revisions in the Trade, Development and Co-operation Agreement between South Africa and the European Union.
On this one, we would like to place on record that all the parties have agreed to the set amendments. Therefore, I put the request of the committee before the House. Thank you. [Applause.]
There was no debate.
Amendments to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the use of Certain Conventional Weapons which may be deemed to be excessively injurious or to have indiscriminate effects, CCW, approved.
Agreement between the European Community and its Member States, of
the one part, and the Government of the Republic of South Africa, of
the other part, Amending the Agreement on Trade, Development and Co-
operation, TDCA, approved.
The House adjourned at 18:13.
ANNOUNCMENTS, TABLINGS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS
National Assembly and National Council of Provinces
The Speaker and the Chairperson
1. Assent by President in respect of Bills
- Social Assistance Amendment Bill [B 5B – 2010] – Act No 5 of 2010 (assented to and signed by President on 15 September 2010).
National Assembly and National Council of Provinces
1. The Minister of Finance
(a) Report and Financial Statements of the Financial Intelligence Centre for 2009-2010, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2009-2010 [RP 240-2010].
(b) Report and Financial Statements of the Accounting Standards Board for 2009-2010, including the Report of the Independent Auditors on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2009-2010 [RP 206-2010].
(c) Report and Financial Statements of the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors for 2009-2010, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2009-2010 [RP 207-2010].
2. The Minister of Health
(a) Report and Financial Statements of the National Health Laboratory Service for 2009-2010, including the Report of the Independent Auditors on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2009-2010.
3. The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development
(a) Report and Financial Statements of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development for 2009-2010, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2009-2010 [RP 219-2010].
(b) Report on Monies in Trust kept in the Guardian’s Fund for 2009-2010, including the Report of the Auditor-General on Monies in Trust kept in the Guardian’s Fund for 2009-2010 [RP 237-2010].
4. The Minister of Science and Technology
(a) Report and Financial Statements of the Africa Institute of South Africa for 2009-2010, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2009-2010.
(b) Report and Financial Statements of the South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions for 2009-2009, including the Report of the Independent Auditors on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2009-2010.
(c) Report and Financial Statements of the National Advisory Council on Innovation for 2009-2010.
5. The Minister of Tourism
(a) Agreement between the Government of the Republic of South Africa and the Government of the Republic of Kenya on Cooperation in the Field of Tourism, tabled in terms of section 231(3) of the Constitution, 1996.
(b) Explanatory Memorandum to the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of South Africa and the Government of the Republic of Kenya on Cooperation in the Field of Tourism.
(c) Agreement between the Government of the Republic of South Africa and the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt on Cooperation in the Field of Tourism, tabled in terms of section 231(3) of the Constitution, 1996.
(d) Explanatory Memorandum to the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of South Africa and the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt in the Field of Tourism.
1. The Speaker
(a) Report of the Public Service Commission (PSC) on the Implementation of the Performance Management and Development System for Senior Managers in the Limpopo Province – April 2010 [RP 85-2010].
- Report of the Portfolio Committee on Water and Environmental Affairs on Oversight Visit to Gauteng, Mpumalanga and North West, Dated 8 September 2010
The Portfolio Committee on Water and Environmental Affairs having undertaken an oversight visit to Gauteng, Mpumalanga and North West, to assess and ascertain the management of Acid Mine Drainage (AMD), on 27 – 30 July 2010 reports as follows:
1. INTRODUCTION AND TERMS OF REFERENCE
The Committee, as mandated by the Constitution and Rules of Parliament, undertook an oversight visit to the abovementioned regions.
The aim of the oversight was, amongst others:
- To ascertain (during the site visits) and receive briefings on the levels of acid mine drainage and its subsequent impact on groundwater, rivers, and dams.
- To be briefed by the Department of Water Affairs, the Water Research Commission (WRC), as well as the Federation for a Sustainable Environment on the impacts, consequences and threats of AMD to communities and water resources in South Africa.
- To assess the extent to which an integrated solution to the management of AMD and the approaches proposed at national level on the utilization of ‘new’ water generated through treatment technologies.
- To establish the technical research undertaken in the treatment of AMD, to enable cost-effective treatment of the range of AMD waters present in South Africa.
A multi party delegation undertook an oversight visit to the Gauteng, Mpumalanga and North West from 27 – 30 July 2010. The delegation comprised:
Hon MM Sotyu (ANC), Chairperson and leader of the delegation, Hon PM Mathebe (ANC), Hon JJ Skosana (ANC), Hon J Manganye (ANC), Dr Z Luyenge (ANC), Hon GR Morgan (DA), Hon AT Lovemore (DA), Hon LW Greyling (ID) and Hon HN Ndude (COPE)
The following support staff accompanied the delegation: Mr TR Maleeme (Committee Secretary), Miss T Kambule (Executive Secretary to the Chairperson).
The mining sector is one of the critical drivers of the economy in South Africa. However, mining activities are also associated with environmental contamination such as acid mine drainage (AMD). AMD is highly acidic water, usually containing high concentrations of metals, sulphides and salts as a consequence of mining activity. The major sources of AMD include drainage from underground mine shafts, runoff and discharge from open pits and mine waste dumps, tailings and one stockpile, which make up nearly 80% of all waste produced in South Africa.
Acid mine drainage is the flow, or seepage, of polluted water from old mining areas. Depending on the area, the water may contain toxic heavy metals and radioactive particles. These are dangerous for people’s health, as well as plants and animals. Acid mine drainage on the Witwatersrand has reached a crisis point. This is because some mining companies allow acid mine water to flow into streams, dams and sources of groundwater.
On the West Rand, toxic water has already severely affected, if not completely undermined the ecosystem life in the Tweelopiespruit and the Robinson Lake near Randfontein. Even some borehole water is polluted and the AMD is most likely to have a negative effect on the integrity of the Cradle of Humankind. In some areas, the water has polluted the soil, so people cannot grow vegetables, and if communities grow vegetables, the quality is affected. The water is also used by livestock.
The Tweelopiespruit is part of the Crocodile River system and the Limpopo River catchment area.
3. DAY ONE: 27 JULY 2010
- BRIEFING BY THE DEPARTMENT OF WATER AFFAIRS ON SITES TO BE VISITED
A representative from the Ekurhuleni Municipality, on behalf of the Executive Mayor, Cllr Ntombi Mekgwe, welcomed the members of the committee. The committee was briefed was the department on areas to be visited, with a specific focus on interventions undertaken by the department in respect of regulatory and enforcement cases. The purpose of the compliance, monitoring and enforcement unit is, amongst others; to:
- Ensure the protection of all water resources in the country.
- Ascertain compliance as per the National Water Act and Water Services Act.
- Ensure the enforcement where non compliance is not achieved.
The committee was informed that in Gauteng, the Grootvlei mine was under investigation in terms of Section 53 (1). A criminal case was opened against the mine for engaging in unlawful water use activities. In North West, Madibeng Municipality was also under investigation for engaging in unlawful water use activities. The charges were laid by the Department of Water Affairs.
- SITE VISIT TO GROOTVLEI MINE (EAST RAND)
3.2.1 Background and Context
Grootvlei Proprietary Mines Limited is situated in the district of Springs and falls within the Upper Vaal Water Management Area. The mine has a metallurgical operation that extracts gold from underground mined ore. The mine is at present operated by Aurora Gold East Rand. To carry out this activity, they need to pump underground water for their use as per the provisions of Section 21(f) and (j) of the National Water Act, 1998 (Act 36 of 1998). The Grootvlei Proprietary Mines Limited was, on 19 May 2009, issued Water Use Licence No. 20018320 by the Department of Water Affairs. The license authorises Grootvlei Mine to remove, treat and discharge water found underground for efficient continuation of mining and for the safety of people.
The committee was informed that Aurora Mining has taken over the management of the Grootvlei Mine. On the day of the visit, the committee was briefed by the mining management on the status of the mine before being taken to shaft 3, where the actual treatment of water occurs. The current situation in the Eastern Basin is that the mine could not keep up with the pumping and treatment of acidic mine water. Historically, Grootvlei mine pumped less than 10ML/d to gain access to its own resources. At the time of the visit, the mine was pumping water at the rate of 108 Mega litres per day (ML/d) without sufficient treatment. The water had risen to 772 meters below surface. Due to financial problems experienced by the mine, it is envisaged that should the pumping operations stop, the pump station will be flooded within 30 days.
The mine can no longer keep up with the discharge standards as per their water use licence; and this is attributed to financial problems that have overwhelmed the mine. The mine claimed it had not received the Department of Mineral Resource’s (DMR) subsidy of R5 million since October 2009; and as a result, the mine covers pumping costs out of working costs. It was brought to the attention of the committee that the mine would lose the shaft within 5 days if they stopped pumping. Furthermore, treatment has been non-continuous, for example they would treat for few days and stopped the treatment. To date, the mine has incurred over R100 million worth of water pumping costs, which could have been used for other operations.
The discharging of untreated or partially treated water is severely affecting the health of the neighbouring Ramsar wetland.
It is acknowledged that the Department of Water Affairs is pursuing a criminal charge against the mine for the discharge of partially treated water into the surrounding water course.
- SITE VISIT TO eMALAHLENI MINE WATER TREATMENT PLANT
- Background and Context
The eMalahleni Mine Water Treatment Plant was built to recover potable water from acid mine drainage from several mines in the eMalahleni (Witbank) area. The plant was commissioned in September 2007 and has been since operating successfully. It was designed to treat 25Ml/d of AMD (Acid Mine Drainage) with a recovery consistently greater than 99%, producing potable water with a guaranteed TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) of under 450mh/l. This exceptional water recovery is achieved using the Keyplan Hi recovery Precipitating Reverse Osmosis (HiPRO) process. The plant receives its feed water from four coal mines in the eMalahleni (Witbank) Area i.e. Greenside Colliery, Kleinkopje Colliery, South Witbank Colliery and Navigation Colliery.
The plant was found to be fully automatic, while human intervention was required for chemical change-over, monitoring and maintenance. The committee established that the plant is able to treat 20 – 25 Ml/day of water dependent on pH and salt concentrations. Of the 25 Ml/day, 20 Ml/day is sold to the eMalahleni Local Municipality and 5 Ml/day was reused in their operations. Strict safety interventions have been put in place which includes amongst others; visible felt leadership, golden rule implementation within and around the plant. This has led to more than 1000 days without lost time due to injury. This was a good accomplishment considering that there are over eight hazardous chemicals on site for various process functions.
Anglo Coal SA has approved building of houses for its employees through the production of gypsum (solid waste - a by-product of the Emahlakleni purification process). The committee found that the chief characteristic of the plant; was the use of Reverse Osmosis to concentrate the water and produce supersaturated brine from which the salts could be released in a simple precipitation process. The results of such a process were high recovery of water, low operating costs and minimum waste. The plant has about 35 employees, each being actively involved in maintaining the plant operability. A permanent training officer has been employed to ensure that there is no lapse in skills amongst the staff and to deal with matters of high turnover as and when such arises.
4. DAY TWO: 28 JULY 2010
4.1 SITE VISIT TO LANCASTER DAM
Lancaster Dam is a pollution control dam. All the water that flows into it is not supposed to flow out onto the other side. The main problem at the dam was radio active particles attached to the sediment.
When the committee visited the Lancaster Dam, it found an area which appeared to have been filled with slimes that had recently been mined. The dam was characterised (another word) by heavy equipment which made it possible for the acidic slimes water and fine slimes to drain into the pond and wetland below the dam. Downstream of the dam, an orange pool of settled slimes, filled with acidic mine drainage water was evident. Dry slimes were observed blowing throughout the Lancaster Dam site.
The committee was concerned about the RDP houses that had recently been established around the dam. The community drank and baptised from acidic mine water. The population groups around the area were said to be vulnerable, poor, uninformed and therefore needed to be ‘workshopped’ on a regular basis on the dangers of the acid mine water. The main pollutants are suspected to be acidic water and associated toxic metals arising from oxidation of sulphides such as iron sulphide. Two children had recently drowned in two pollution control dams and this was due to the dams not being fenced off. Enforcing the fencing of mine dams should be undertaken by the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR).
4.2 VICTORIAN GUEST HOUSE
4.2.1 Introductions and welcome
The committee was welcomed by the Executive Mayor of West Rand, Cllr Mpho Nawa. He made a plea that all parties that are involved must come on board to resolve issues that relate to acid mine drainage within the municipality.
4.2.1 Briefing and discussions on acid mine drainage
The committee was given an overview by Mr John Manrow and Mr Rex Zorab (Rand Uranium) on the situation of the Acid Mine Drainage (AMD). The situation faced by mining companies, civil society and the community at large was of concern. Mining has been in existence in this country for at least 120 years. Currently, there are large old underground workings that extend from Randfontein to Boksburg. Mining has ceased and companies responsible for the underground workings no longer exist.
The biggest challenge at present is that the workings are filling up with water, Western Basin is overflowing and Central Basin will overflow in 2012. The AMD is essentially ownerless as companies that operate today are new and, in the opinion of local mines, they cannot carry the burden. In the Western Basin, mining stopped in the 1990’s. Workings are filled with water and AMD overflowed in 2002. Temporary treatment operations were put in place early in 2010 following the most recent decant. All the emergency measures provided by DWA have been exhausted.
Rand Uranium is a 2 year old company. It has operated the water treatment operations to maximum capacity. Despite exhaustive engagement with government and proposal on possible solutions placed on the table, it felt the delay by the state in responding did not help the situation. The current system was such that the plant that they run was a temporary measure. Acid water is neutralised, but there was no optimal lime utilization due to insufficient mixing, high lime cost and there was no optimal sulphate and TDS (total dissolved solids) removal.
Rand Uranium stated that a consortium of mines had submitted a proposal to DWA on 14 July 2010 on how, in its opinion, AMD could be sustainably managed in the short to medium term. They await a response from government.
4.3 VISITS TO KRUGERSDORP GAME RESERVE HIPPO DAM
At the time of the visit, the water was decanting at 6ML/day from the neighbouring property. A sludge of radioactive and toxic metals was observed. The hippos in the Hippo Dam were coated in sludge containing heavy metals. There is anecdotal evidence that at least one of the hippos is now partially sighted due to the pollution.
4.4 MADIBENG LOCAL MUNICIPALITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS
4.4.1 Briefing on Water Provision in Madibeng
The households of about 102, 060 in Madibeng Local Municipality (MLM) receive free basic water subject to the current policy review. It estimated that more than 80% of the households have access to water services either bulk, full, intermediate, informal intermediate or basic supply. The municipality gets its water supply from Odi Water Services (SWA), a water services provider. They entered into an agreement with the provider for the provision of bulk water supply. Operations and maintenance services were terminated in July 2009. On termination, the provider has experienced difficulties in an attempt to retrieve payment from Madibeng Local Municipality. A number of efforts to retrieve the arrears were unsuccessful and the water supply to the area was restricted on 18 August 2008. The supply of water was restored after an agreement was reached on how the debt was to be serviced by the municipality.
What remains a challenge in this municipality is the rapid growth in development which has led to the demand of water exceeding supply. The sanitation system comprises of an aging infrastructure and thus poses operational and maintenance challenges. The Water Purification Plant that supplies Brits and environs also requires an expansion by an additional 40-mega litres per day and it is envisaged to be completed in phases. The municipality had requested the Department of Water Affairs to take over the implementation of the RBIG project (upgrading of WWTP). An amount of about R20 million has been made available for 2010/11 for the implementation of the project. Magalies Water was recommended to manage the project.
5. DAY THREE
5.1 SITE VISIT TO MADIBENG WWTW (Waste Water Treatment Works)
The municipality has a newly upgraded plant which processes 6Ml/day and the old one which used to process 8Ml/day. The old plant has deteriorated due to negligence and the principal consultant allegedly ill advised the Municipality. The sludge lagoons were not working to capacity, and were at the point of breaking and had not been emptied for the past 30 years. Some of the problems associated with the plant which were identified were, amongst others, non compliance to standards, staffing levels acutely inadequate, no maintenance plans and effluent monitoring needed to be increased. None of the pump stations were working, and of the average of 12Ml/day that should come to the plant, only 3Ml/day were treated and the rest (about 9Ml/day) went to the streets.
The municipality was however, committed to urgently source funding for the refurbishment of Water and Sanitation Infrastructure, recruitment of critical positions in the Water and Sanitation department.
5.2 BRIEFING: ADDRESSING THE CHALLENGES OF WWTW AS IT ADDS TO THE EUTROPHICATION OF THE HARTBEESPOORT DAM
The Hartbeespoort Dam is the most significant dam in the economic hub of the Crocodile West Marico Water Management Area for domestic, agricultural, industrial and recreational purposes. The dam is in a hyper-eutrophic state, meaning it is trapped with excessive nutrients. For many years, the Crocodile River has been pouring an increasing load of phosphorus into Hartbeespoort Dam. This had led to high levels of nutrients and eutrophication of the water.
It was brought to the attention of the committee that about 9 wastewater treatment works discharge their 620 million liters per day of purified effluent into the Crocodile River, with very high loads of waste water effluents. These intensify the occurrence of blue-green algae or cyanobacteria. There is however, a remediation programme of the Hartbeespoort Dam in place. It focuses on management of phosphate through natural uptake in a food chain and re-establishing a biological balance within the dam waters using among other things, floating islands and removal of certain fish types.
The Hartbeespoort Dam is an invaluable water resource with a major economy around recreation and tourism attractions. People and business are moving into the area, thus contributing to its economic growth.
The remediation programme has been in existence for almost 5 years but a determination of its effectiveness has not been undertaken. The project manager was able to provide outcomes achieved, but there is no analysis of how any particular outcomes are affecting the actual health of the dam.
In consultation with stakeholders from local resident organisations and environmental organisations, there was a mixed response to the success of the remediation programme. There was general appreciation that something was being done to remediate the dam. There was a dominant feeling that the managers of the remediation programme were not sufficiently including local organisations in consultations, especially considering that many organisations financially support efforts to remediate the dam themselves. It is noted that a number of people donate their skills free of charge to the remediation of the dam.
- The Department of Water Affairs (DWA) should produce a business plan on how it intends to tackle the AMD threat in the short, medium and long term. Such a plan should include timelines, budgetary projections and the plan of action.
- DWA should engage with DMR about ensuring the safety of mining dams.
- DWA should offer full cooperation with regards to any investigation by the NPA to prosecute the owners of Grootvlei mine following the criminal charge laid by the department.
- DWA should engage with DMR about ensuring the implementation of the Regional Mine Closure Strategy.
- DWA should urgently increase its response to the current decant of AMD on the West Rand, noting that due to the upcoming rainy season, it is highly likely that the decant will increase.
- DWA should issue a directive to responsible mines in the West Rand for the remediation of the Hippo Dam in the Krugersdorp Game Reserve.
- DWA should ensure that skilled staff of the department constantly monitors the remediation of the Brits WWTW. DWA should ensure strict timelines on the complete refurbishment of the plant.
- DWA should complete a financial and skills audit of the Hartbeespoort Dam remediation programme now that it has been in existence for almost 5 years to determine whether it is effective, and whether the protocols and methodologies used to measure the state of health of the dam are adequate.
- DWA should ensure that the Remediation Programme improves its efforts to engage with local stakeholders.
- DWA needs to clarify the role of Rand Water as the implementing agent of the remediation project in relation to the involvement of local officials of DWA. In addition it should be clarified who has specific signing powers for services procured.
- DWA should ensure that there is a wider system implemented to monitor the health of freshwater dams and reservoirs across South Africa.
The committee expresses its appreciation to the National Department of Water Affairs, the regional management of Gauteng and North West for their co-operation during the visit.
Report to be considered.