Hansard: NA: Unrevised hansard
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 17 Oct 2007
No summary available.
WEDNESDAY, 17 OCTOBER 2007
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
The House met at 14:04.
The House Chairperson, Mr G Q M Doidge, took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.
ANNOUNCEMENTS, TABLINGS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS – see col 000.
NOTICE OF MOTION
Mnr A C NEL: Voorsitter, ek gee hiermee kennis van die volgende voorstel:
Dat die Huis ’n debat voer oor die voorgestelde klassifisering van grondeienaarskap volgens ras, soos vervat in die Gutto-verslag oor grondeienaarskap deur buitelanders.
(Translation of Afrikaans notice of motion follows.)
[Mr A C NEL: Chairperson, I hereby give notice of the following motion:
That the House debates the proposed classification of land ownership according to race, as contained in the Gutto report on land ownership by foreigners.
SOUTH AFRICAN EXPRESS BILL
(Second Reading debate)
There was no debate.
Declarations of vote:
Dr S M VAN DYK: Hon Chairperson, South African Express was established in 1994 as a regional feeder airline to SA Airways. Some of Transnet’s subsidiaries and business divisions that are strategic to the objectives of government have been transferred to become stand-alone entities, as was the case with SAA.
Needless to say, whereas SAA is still struggling to survive independently, South African Express can be considered to be a successful, profitable regional airline.
In 2004, the Minister for Public Enterprises approved Transnet’s four-point turnaround strategy to focus on core freight services, namely the provision of rail, ports and pipelines, which take Transnet completely out of the aviation sector.
On 8 April 2007, Cabinet approved the separation of South African Express from Transnet to be represented by the Minister for Public Enterprises as a state-owned enterprise.
Siende dat Sax reeds op ’n winsbasis funksioneer, is die vraag hoekom dit nie geprivatiseer kan word nie. Die regering is van mening dat dit nie moontlik is dat ’n private lugredery aan die streeks- en binnelandse kleinmarkbehoeftes sal voorsien nie en dat hierdie mark dus weer afgeskeep sal word.
Sax opereer tans na sewe streekbestemmings en 11 plaaslike bestemmings met ongeveer 120 vlugte per dag. Tans het Sax net op sekere roetes mededinging met ander lugrederye. Die DA maak beswaar dat Sax as ’n skedule 3(b) in plaas van ’n skedule 2 van die Openbare Finansiële Bestuurswet geklassifiseer word, net soos in die geval met Infraco, en sal ek dit by die volgende debat bespreek.
Die DA wil dit ook duidelik stel dat Sax nie ’n tweede SAL moet word wat kort-kort bakhand staan vir geld nie en wat vir oorlewing van die belastingbetaler sal bedel nie. Indien dit nie meer aan die vereistes van openbare onderneming voldoen nie en in ’n finansiële krisis ontaard in die toekoms, moet dit gelikwideer word. Indien Sax suksesvol finansieel funksioneer en ter wille van effektiewe bestuur, moet dit geprivatiseer word ter wille van groter mededinging in die openbare mark. Ek dank u. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)
[In view of the fact that Sax, South African Express, is already operating profitably, the question is why it cannot be privatised. The government is of the opinion that it is not possible for a private airline to meet regional and domestic small market needs and that this market will therefore be neglected again.
Currently, Sax is flying to seven regional destinations and 11 local destinations, with approximately 120 flights daily. At present Sax only has competition with other airlines on certain routes. The DA objects to Sax being classified under schedule 3(b) instead of schedule 2 of the Public Finance Management Act, as is the case with Infraco, and I will discuss this in the next debate.
The DA also wants to make it clear that Sax should not become a second SAA that regularly has to beg for more money and that will need money from the taxpayer in order to survive. If it no longer complies with the requirements of a public enterprise and turns into a financial crisis in the future, it should be liquidated. If Sax is financially successful, and for the sake of effective management, it should be privatised in the interest of greater competitiveness on the open market. I thank you.]
Mr Y I CARRIM: Mr Chairperson, comrades, friends, this is so predictable and even boring. We’ve addressed this issue, really. This detains the House unduly. However, essentially, on the issue of privatisation, it’s not the answer to everything. SA Airways itself was privatised and a portion of it was sold to Swissair. Let us learn from that experience.
Secondly, if you look at the role of this airline, it’s addressing the needs, substantially, of sectors of the airline industry not catered for by the private sector. Only a state-owned airline can do that, not just in this country but in many other countries in the world.
Thirdly, look at the issue of a broader developmental state. The role of state airlines in that regard has to be taken into consideration.
Fourthly, yes, we have repeatedly said to the management, including the CEO of SA Express that they cannot expect to come back to the National Treasury every time they have difficulties. Indeed, in our report to Parliament, we have said that they will not be rescued by the national fiscus all the time.
Finally, yes, there is the possibility of the private sector playing a role but privatisation is not the only answer. There are many ways in which the private sector can indeed get involved. Yes, if it comes to it that this airline is a drain on the resources of the country and if it precludes us from providing housing and electricity – we are clear that an airline is not a basic need in the way water, food and clothing are - then we will consider privatisation. It’s not a principle.
However, let’s not be so dark and pessimistic. Dr Van Dyk says, on the one hand, that this SA Express is being managed very well. On the other hand, he’s insisting that it’s going to be a failure. What is this if it is not the typical doom and gloom of the DA?
On scheduling, we did not decide on this lightly. We’ll discuss it in the forthcoming debate. Both sides presented their cases – those who argued for Schedule 2 and those who favoured Schedule 3(b). We even said to the researcher: Present a balanced argument, which Eric Boskati did - and thank you very much, if he’s here.
Indeed the department itself gave us a very itemised presentation of the advantages and disadvantaged of both sides – Schedule 2 and schedule 3(b). Finally, we said that instead of voting on the Bill in the last week of the last quarter, we should defer the matter to give the committee, the various parties and the executive more time to decide which Schedule is more appropriate.
In fact, Mr Manie van Dyk and his party came up with nothing except to bleat: Schedule 2! Schedule 2! Schedule 2! Where’s the argument? Even on privatisation ... [Time expired.]
Bill read a second time.
BROADBAND INFRACO BILL
(Second Reading debate)
The MINISTER FOR PUBLIC ENTERPRISES: Hon Chairperson, members of the National Assembly and the people in the gallery, I’m very pleased to be able to introduce the debate on the Broadband Infraco Bill in the National Assembly.
In the modern industrial economy, the existence of high speed, high capacity telecommunications infrastructure is a major driver of economic growth and more accessible socioeconomic services such as health and education. In fact, there is little doubt that this is a strategic necessity for contemporary growth and development.
It is this understanding that led the government to decide to obtain a key fibre optic national network, developed originally by Transnet and Eskom, and put it in state hands. This will allow for a strategic investment programme to take place according to a clear timetable and with a clear intent to modernise our broadband infrastructure and lower the cost to the economy of such capacity.
This will be achieved not through some form of subsidy but by a long-term strategic investment by the state, where our pay-back periods are longer and the rate of return required, determined by a number of economic calculations rather than profit maximisation, is the prime determinant.
If these objectives of high speed, high capacity and internationally competitive telecommunications pricings are met in the medium to long-term, the state can then reconsider the need to retain total or partial ownership of such infrastructure.
The background to the decision to retain the long-range fibre optic assets of Eskom and Transnet in state hands spans some years and takes place after many complex negotiations. I think the difficulties that this presented in the processes related to consultation, licensing and scheduling in terms of the Public Finance Management Act are fairly commented on in the portfolio committee report on the Broadband Infraco Bill.
There is no doubt that everything could have been smoother. However, this is rather an unusual situation not fully envisaged in our legislation which is relatively youthful in implementation. Accordingly, I would like to thank the portfolio committee for the long hours and intense work they put into the processing of the Bill.
The fact that the Portfolio Committees on Communications and Finance were consulted on many matters and, in the case of Communications, participated actively, was additional testimony to both the complexity of the policy issues that arose and the amount of work this relatively short Bill entailed.
I would like to thank the former chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Communications for the support he gave the DPE, the Department of Public Enterprises, and the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises.
Let me deal very briefly – I’m sure members of the committee will do so in some detail - with the key issues that have arisen in the inputs to the portfolio committee hearings.
Broadband Infraco is a precise intervention in our telecommunications sector. Whilst South Africa’s telecommunications industry is well established with world-class companies, it is characterised by a limited number of incumbents who hold significant market power, and the size of our economy is likely to make this a relatively permanent feature of this economy.
This means that simply licensing additional players does not significantly alter the market structure, and global market forces may lead to an underinvestment in large-scale national infrastructure within such a compact market as ours. Accordingly, leaving such critical investment purely to market forces was too risky, given our urgent need for greater and more internationally competitive broadband capacity.
However, we are confident that the new Electronic Communications Act and licensing conditions now in progress will lead to active private sector development in the multiplicity of value-added services that utilise broadband.
It is important to note that Broadband Infraco will not enter these areas in competition with the private sector. It seeks to ensure long-range broadband capacity that will liberate such value-added services from the constraints of capacity and cost.
To this end, it will focus on intercity, national networks and undersea cables. In the latter case we will work with other players to ensure that a timely and large capacity broadband connection to the world is available. By making long-distance connectivity available to the private sector on a cost-plus basis, Infraco will commoditise long-distance infrastructure and will bring the South African telecommunications market in line with others worldwide.
There is general agreement that Broadband Infraco should be licensed as soon as is practical. Indeed, this is important if we are to achieve our objectives. Following the debate on possible options, I am certain that we should follow the processes preferred by the Department of Communications and Icasa.
From the side of the Department of Public Enterprises, we will work actively with the Department of Communications and Icasa to facilitate progress in this regard since, at the end of the day, the real strategic objective is to transform South Africa’s telecommunications sector into a highly competitive player in the interests of our economy and society.
Other strategic projects such as the SKA, the Square Kilometre Array, Sanren, the SA National Research Network and the university network, will be almost impossible to achieve without the capacity we need - and of course we will need a great deal of capacity for 2010 in the form of broadband.
Let me say that many submissions made in the portfolio committee raised what I believe were legitimate interests, but I think that at the end of the day there was very clear consensus that this intervention was useful and was an important strategic intervention.
The issue of the scheduling of the Public Finance Management Act for Broadband Infraco did bring to light many different viewpoints and I value the process adopted by the portfolio committee to inform themselves on the issues and indeed to come to some clear views on their part.
However, as the portfolio committee indicates in its report, the executive have to give the lead on the matter. This matter has now been resolved through a consultation process in the executive and Broadband Infraco will be a Schedule 2 entity with specific reporting and monitoring requirements.
The completion of this legislative process will allow for the establishment of a company that we believe is set to revolutionise the ICT sector and move us one step closer to making more affordable broadband access a reality.
I would like to thank the leadership of Neotel, Violesh Sanchar Nigam Limited, VSNL and the Tata Group for their farsightedness and support for South Africa’s long-term strategic interests in telecommunications. In doing this, they have often been prepared to accommodate us rather than insist on immediate commercial requirements. Such an approach is highly valued and we have undertaken to continue to work together to meet these strategic needs.
I have a very high regard for the work of the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises. The debates in the hearings on the Bill have been rigorous and engaging and the DPE has learnt and benefited from the vigilance and full commitment to this process on the part of the committee members.
All the stakeholders I have talked to have expressed their respect for the committee and the process. Accordingly, I would like to express my thanks and admiration to the portfolio committee for a job well done and for putting up with some of the unusual circumstances I referred to earlier.
In particular, I would like to express a special word of thanks to the outgoing portfolio committee chairperson, Yunus Carrim. We will indeed miss you but we know that you will add value wherever you’ll be. I know that I will still turn to you for advice from time to time, not only on political matters.
I would like to welcome hon Fatima Chohan-Khota as the new chairperson, and she is rapidly informing herself on the intricacies of this new challenge. The manner in which these two experienced comrades have handled the changeover has been excellent. I’m sure that this very strong portfolio committee will continue to go from strength to strength as we deal with the interesting and important challenges ahead in Asgisa. With the support of the portfolio committee, I commend this Bill to the House. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mr Y WANG: Hon Chairperson, hon Minister, members and the public, I’ve promised that I would deliver this speech in English. IT has always been my passion. So today I just want to convince you why this Broadband Infraco Bill is important by outlining the problems and challenges in our telecommunications industry.
The monopoly of infrastructure by Telkom has been there for years. It’s an example of privatisation gone wrong. Privatisation has made Telkom very efficient at exploiting our public in terms of its pricing and services. This has been confirmed by many studies and reports.
For example, while we are getting excited about getting more ADSL, in Japan and China one already gets fibre optic cables directly to one’s home. While we worry about our monthly data capturing in South Africa, for many years, we have been joined by foreigners enjoying unlimited data transfer. These are exactly some of the reasons why state intervention through Infraco is important; it’s exactly to correct this market failure.
Infraco also provides for capital investment at the expense of the public good, while improving and modernising our infrastructure. Now Infraco can act as a competition enabler to level the playing field to provide competitive broadband access both on cost and capacity. It will be a growth enabler for our economy and will particularly assist in youth development.
South African youths are both fortunate and unfortunate. They are fortunate in being able to join the global market with advanced technology. At the same time, they are unfortunate not to have the cheap resources available as well as access to information and knowledge, despite the available technology.
Now, Infraco will enable a true information highway for our youth as knowledge workers. Imagine Thapelo, from a rural town in Mpumalanga, accessing our national archive through broadband, or delivering design projects for contract work in Beijing via high-resolution video streaming.
This knowledge empowerment is what we have yet to realise. Currently, Thapelo is limited to the local library with its limited resources and limited archives. Should he attempt to make telephonic contact with his clients in Beijing, they probably would not be able to understand him because Thapelo would try to minimise the cost of the international call by speaking 10 times faster than usual.
So, hon members, we ask you to support this Bill and mark our first step towards a healthier telecommunications industry in South African.
Lastly, on behalf of the committee, I would like to thank our former chairperson, the hon Yunus Carrim, for the leadership and guidance he provided during the processing of this particular Bill. Thank you.
Dr S M VAN DYK: Chairperson, Transnet and Eskom’s telecommunication assets, which were originally promised to second fixed-line operator Neotel, have been transferred to Infraco. Infraco will now, under contract, sell bandwidth wholesale to Neotel, which in turn will make capacity available to other telecommunications players who were formerly dependent on Telkom.
The government wrote the Electronic Communications Act specifically to deregulate the industry. Now, however, the state is becoming more involved at all levels of the industry. The Minister needs to tell Parliament why Infraco will now be 100% state-owned when, according to the way it was presented to your own Cabinet, it would only be 72% state-owned. Was this a further attempt to crowd out private sector investment?
Proposed changes to the Electronic Communications Act will give the government the power to create a second Telkom monopoly, with consequences that are potentially catastrophic. Why does the state want to own broadband infrastructure communication facilities? Infraco now also wants to lay a cable along the east coast of Africa as well as two other cables along the west coast of Africa. This can be done by the private sector.
Secondly, the state also wants to take up 50% ownership of the two cables, SEACOM and EASSY, that are to be laid along the east coast of Africa. These two cables were already initiated by the private sector in 2000. The private sector has long been denied opportunities in this market because of red tape, rules, regulations and policies that are hostile to private investment in this sector.
New entrants to the telecommunications market have to wait up to three years for licences from Icasa. To expedite the licensing of Infraco, though, the state initiated an amendment to the Electronic Communications Act.
The Minister must inform Parliament about the following: Has Infraco paid Eskom for the infrastructure it acquired from the state power utility? Secondly, what has happened to the R627 million of taxpayers’ money that was awarded to Infraco for the 2006-07 financial year, and why has Parliament not been informed of this yet?
Hon Carrim, please listen for a change. The Minister, and you as well, must also explain to Parliament why, in terms of the Public Finance Management Act, Infraco is being listed as a Schedule 2 instead of a Schedule 3(b) entity. Being listed as a Schedule 3(b) entity means that Treasury does not have to be consulted should Infraco want to obtain finance on the open market.
Furthermore, it also means that no Minister will have any control over how much private finance Infraco may obtain. As we have seen, the result is often that when public enterprises get into financial trouble, they come to the taxpayer for help.
A Schedule 2 listing will also allow Infraco to determine the salaries it pays to its management and board members. In other words, we may soon read of yet another public entity that pays its management and board members huge, so-called “performance bonuses” and “payment packages”. Furthermore, Treasury must have a say in the agreement between Infraco and Neotel.
In accordance with the Municipal Systems Act, municipalities are forced to make available, for public comment, agreements entered into with private service providers. Why does there have to be a difference between the first and third tiers of government?
Finally, Parliament has the right to force the executive – in this case, the Minister – to make public the details of the agreement between his department and Neotel. This will allow Parliament to decide whether it is in the best interest of the public and whether it is a worthy manner in which to spend public funds.
The DA supports the Bill. Thank you.
Prof E S CHANG: Chairperson, Minister and colleagues, the 21st century is the speed competition area and if we South Africans are not able to speed up our activities to compete with other countries then we will be out of the race. Schedule 2 of the Public Finance Management Act will swiftly and flexibly give Infraco access to financial support. This is very important for today’s business entities.
Broadband costs in South Africa are extremely high. The IFP expects that Infraco, with the government’s backing, will be the platform to support all industries across the board in our country to compete internationally through lower broadband costs.
The IFP further hopes that Infraco will be successful and be an example of how state-owned enterprises, with the proper support from government, can contribute to other industries to compete on the world stage. The IFP supports the Bill.
I would like to use my ten seconds to quote what Madiba once said: ‘our common humanity is more important than our differences’. On behalf of my party, I would like to thank the former chairperson, hon Yunus Carrim. I thank him for his sterling work in the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises, not forgetting his jokes and embarrassing me in a polite way. We know you will do justice to Justice. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr S N SWART: Chairperson, the aim of this Bill is to expand the availability and affordability of access to electronic communications. The ACDP welcomes this expansion to the people, particularly in underdeveloped and underserviced areas of our nation, and we are pleased to note that this will also increase the affordability of these services.
Whilst we appreciate the concerns of certain people in the private sector, in view of the urgent need for low-cost broadband access, the ACDP will support this Bill.
May I also wish the hon Chohan-Khota well as she leaves to chair the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises. We will miss your gracious chairing of the Portfolio Committee on Justice but we welcome her successor, Mr Yunus Carrim, who is obviously not as good-looking as her but we do welcome him. Thank you very much. [Laughter.]
Mr S E KHOLWANE: Sihlalo, malunga lahloniphekile, Ndvuna kanye netivakashi tetfu ... [Chairperson, hon members, Minister and our guests ...]
... indeed across the political spectrum we all are in agreement that the cost of telecommunication services in our country is too high. The President has said many times that we need to do something about these costs as they become a hindrance to our economic development.
We therefore welcome the initiative and the intervention by the Department of Public Enterprises to ensure that you come in, intervene and act where the market has failed to do so. In my understanding, you don’t crowd out the private sector where they are failing to do what they are supposed to do. We, therefore, as a portfolio committee, are fully behind and in support of that intervention.
We have received a number of submissions during the public hearings. Some of those were from the Department of Communications and also from the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa. We have tried to address their concerns.
One of the concerns which was raised by Icasa was the manner in which the Bill suggested that Infraco should be licensed. We acceded, as a portfolio committee, after considering quite a number of factors, that indeed Infraco should be licensed through the normal processes of the Electronic Communications Act.
However, we noted that this process would take time and this might delay the intervention which the state requires. We then said that we must exempt Infraco and deal with the amendments to the Electronic Communications Act to ensure that the licensing of Infraco is done in a speedy way rather than following the normal processes.
As a committee, we thought that both the Ministry of Communications and the Ministry of Public Enterprises need to ensure that they come up with policy directives to ensure that we don’t have a duplication of functions between Sentech and Infraco. We think that is going to assist so that we don’t duplicate state resources because, indeed, they might take a decision in terms of business interests where they decide to use broadband or to follow the other line and so on.
On behalf of the committee, I would like to wish the outgoing chairperson well. We thank you for your leadership and stewardship. Indeed, for the first time in the committee I was given a chance to co-chair a public hearing and that was a wonderful experience. [Applause.] As the ANC we support the Bill. Thank you. [Applause.]
Ms S RAJBALLY: Chairperson, as a new democracy trying to rejuvenate, mobilise and enhance its economy, we need to open pathways of opportunity for our people. However, as poverty tends to be our greatest challenge and the growth of small and medium enterprises is slow, the state has to constantly come up with ways to overcome the challenges and push us forward as a competitive global entity rich in potential as a country for investment.
However, one avenue that we cannot slow down is the fast advancement of technological development. Broadband has become a common means for the operation of businesses but it is well known that Telkom’s exorbitant charges impede growth.
We believe that broadband is a major advancement for the operation of business and a necessity in this era. With respect to our determination to advance our economy we are supportive of this Bill that serves to make broadband more accessible and legally operative.
We believe that many remain ignorant of broadband facilities and that education on broadband would really facilitate effective and efficient business running. The MF supports the Infraco Bill.
To hon Carrim, thank you very much for being in the chair and we wish you well, sir. Thank you.
Mr L M GREEN: Chairperson, broadband infrastructure that creates seamless connectivity and especially affordable and speedy Internet access is a much-needed resource in a modern South African society and the FD commends the Minister on the introduction of this Bill.
One of the aims of this Bill is to make broadband services available to underdeveloped areas and to do so, the state intends to acquire broadband Infraco and its electronic communications network to provide this service.
South Africa’s fixed-line and cellular costs are among the highest in the world and Telkom and the cellular network companies do not offer competitive pricing infrastructure that increases meaningful public access to a wide range of communication services. Although millions may own a cell phone, they interact with one another mainly through the short message service which can hardly pass as an affordable communication service.
The government identified a gap for affordable broadband services and will, through Infraco, attain a huge stake in the electronic communications network services. Private enterprises should be more robust when it comes to competing in their market of choice. They should create an environment that makes it nonviable for the state to interfere in market processes but as this Bill proves, the role of government has necessitated a speedier response to an increased demand for cost-saving communication services.
We will support this Bill as a transitional strategy of the state towards achieving access and affordability for the benefit of all the citizens of this country and in light of the fact that we are still a developing nation with specific challenges.
Finally, the FD would like to wish the outgoing chairperson, Mr Carrim, well in his future endeavours and we want to commend him on his hard work while he was the chairperson of this committee. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mr Y I CARRIM: Chairperson, friends, whatever reservations we express in our report about aspects of the processing of this Bill by the department, we must be utterly clear: The committee welcomes the formation of Broadband Infraco and congratulates the Minister and the department on this novel and far-sighted intervention in the telecommunications sector.
The Minister has just presented a clear, lucid case for Infraco – though I must say that it fell on deaf ears when it comes to Manie van Dyk, but the Minister will speak for himself. It would certainly help if what the Minister said was communicated to the widest possible range of stakeholders so that the role of Infraco would be better understood and its considerable potential appreciated.
The committee’s report on the Bill is carried in today’s ATCs - if it is not, it will be in tomorrow’s ATCs - and previous speakers have already dealt with some of the issues. I will just focus on a few aspects.
Obviously, finding the right balance between the role of the state and the market in economic growth and development is never easy and, of course, this relationship between market and state changes over time. Through our deliberations on this Bill, two key issues emerged.
Firstly, as far as possible, we should keep open in the Bills that we adopt in Parliament the option of the state being involved in key sectors of the economy, even if that option is not to be exercised at the time the Bill is finalised. For example, with hindsight – I notice the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Communications and the Deputy Minister in the House - it is clear to us, at least, that the Electronic Communications Act of 2005 has a lacuna. It did not consider the possibility that a new state-owned entity might be created in the telecommunications sector.
Secondly, regarding SOEs that serve the national interest, we believe, as a committee, that they are entitled to rights over and above those granted to private sector role-players in the same industry. And this can be provided for in a way that is consistent with a mixed economy. It is certainly a characteristic of social democratic societies and it can be done without driving the private sector away. In fact, properly managed, the private sector can also benefit from state involvement.
In the submissions we received from private sector role-players on this Bill we didn’t get a sense of this vision. We felt that most of these role-players felt unduly threatened by Infraco and we think the Ministry and the department might, at an appropriate stage, want to respond further to this even if what has emerged is much greater consensus, as he rightly said a moment ago, in respect of the role that Infraco could play. We know that much work has been done in this regard, but perhaps a bit more might be necessary.
In respect of the department’s processing of the Bill before it was brought to Parliament, our report refers to certain inadequacies. But we accept there were certain unique circumstances that applied to this particular Bill. We are aware, too, that the department put in a lot of work and the comments in our report are not directed at any particular individual or indeed ultimately at the Department of Public Enterprises.
Let me refer to the salient part in our report which reads:
Our experience of this Bill raises a more general issue that parliamentary committees have referred to every now and again. The need for the executive ...
The executive generally, mind you –
... to consult effectively ...
Where am I? I am lost!
... to consult effectively with relevant stakeholders before a Bill is brought to Parliament ...
[Interjections.] I am only human - unlike the DA! [Interjections.] The report goes on to say:
What, after all, is the point of the executive gazetting Bills for public comment? It cannot just be a nominal process. Effective and widespread consultation can certainly contribute to improving the quality of a Bill and creating greater support for it even before it reaches Parliament. This will serve to ease the burden on committees which simply do not have the technical resources available that the executive has.
I would like, as I reluctantly leave this committee, to express my sincerest appreciation to all those who co-operated so helpfully with me and made it such a pleasure to chair this committee. Mostly, I want to thank the lively, engaging activistic ANC study group of this committee which found, I think, the right balance between taking our work seriously and also having a sense of fun.
In particular, I want to thank Comrade Ncumisa Kondlo, the senior chief whip of our study group, and Comrade Peter Hendrickse, the senior backbencher, as we teasingly refer to them, but all the members of the study group really.
I also express appreciation to members of the opposition parties for their constructive contribution, particularly Martin Stephens, Pierre Rabie and Eugenia Chang - and in the case of the latter, for holding her ground but seeking, in her unique way, friendships across the political and ideological divides.
I express appreciation to our committee secretary, Vhonani Ramaano, not just for his commitment but for his very pleasant manner as well, and to our two researchers including Eric Boskati.
I also want to thank Minister Alec Erwin. Of course, he’s a tough Minister in his own way but he is also very accessible and amenable. It may be an odd thing for the chairperson of a portfolio committee that takes its oversight role seriously to say but it’s true.
The Minister has, with his considerable understanding and experience of the economy, played a unique educational role for many of us in the committee and we express our sincere appreciation for this. He has commended the committee, but the committee has been able to be effective partly because he takes us so seriously and I thank him for that.
As I’ve said before, you are a very young and exciting department, lead by Portia Molefe, and I think it has enormous potential and will cope with the many tasks that it has.
I also want to acknowledge the parliamentary liaison officer, Reneva Fourie, and thank her – she is quite the best in her job that I’ve dealt with until now. She’s not just efficient but easy to work with.
I also wish the new chairperson of the portfolio committee, Fatima Chohan-Khota all the best in her new role.
Finally, I want to stress that this Infraco project is too big and too important not to succeed. As a portfolio committee, we very much want it to work. The committee will monitor developments closely and offer whatever support it can, consistent with its oversight role. But for Infraco to succeed, all role-players have to play their full part and co-operate effectively. We urge that they do so. We will certainly play our full part.
In conclusion, I appreciate the many words of appreciation by members who have never actually come to the committee, but I do appreciate it nevertheless. What I want to say to the members, and I want to urge this House to understand, is: I am not dying, I am not moving. They ask: “Where are you going?” I say: “Just down the road.” So, actually, I will very much be part of this House and very much a part of another committee but I will certainly be here and I will speak as long as I normally do. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
The MINISTER FOR PUBLIC ENTERPRISES: Thank you very much, Chairperson and the hon Yunus Carrim. Let me just briefly deal with some of the specific issues that have been raised. The hon Van Dyk asked about the change in shareholding. This was brought about by some very specific aspects of the agreements between VSNL and its other shareholders and we were obliged to change our approach to that. However, it would be the intention for us to seek the same component of shareholding in another form as we move forward.
Secondly, with regard to cables, what the hon Van Dyk said about our being involved in cables all over the place is not correct. The specific proposals are the following: We would take responsibility to lead the process for a west coast cable. This would be a very large capacity cable and quite certainly bigger than the private sector itself would be prepared to invest in.
The reasons for this are as I indicated. We need a very large capacity for the Square Kilometre Array project and we are increasing our capacity for science and research in this country, which is, as the hon Chris Wang said, very important. So this is the kind of investment that is very unlikely to be made by the private sector.
On the east coast, the Minister of Communications has made it clear that we don’t have principle objections to private sector participation but the precise role the state plays in those processes is very important and in line with the rest of the world. These are always strategic assets in which the state plays a role.
Let me just say that the comments made about the Public Finance Management Act - hon Van Dyk, you do know better - are absolutely wrong. Just read the Public Finance Management Act. The Act is very clear on what is required of a Schedule 2 project. It has to put forward a business plan and a borrowing plan to the Treasury. Section 54 of the Act requires you to take certain actions. I will give you a lesson one day, because you are clearly abysmally ignorant about this matter.
On the question of Infraco and Sentech, the two departments are very clear on the role these two institutions will play. Hon Kholwane, I think it is correct. Maybe we will clarify that more in public but definitely these are complementary processes. They are in no way competing. And the point you made, that you don’t want to get drift across these two areas, is an important point as it is also important that Infraco itself should not drift into the value-added services that are the domain of the private sector.
Hon Green indicates that we do need to explain the position on Infraco. We will continue to do that and I think our experience has been that as we have interacted with the major players and explained to them exactly what Infraco has been doing, there is a great deal of support for it. It is the kind of intervention that I think is, as you have indicated, the classic realm of public good type intervention and infrastructure.
But, as I indicated in my opening address, if our objectives are fully met in the foreseeable future, at some point, obviously, we have no particular requirement that this would automatically always stay in public hands but the objectives of getting affordable price-competitive broadband must be met and retained at all costs.
I thank members for their support and despite some of the critical remarks, I am very pleased indeed that all parties have supported this Bill. I think it is an important step forward for telecommunications in South Africa. I thank you. [Applause.]
Bill read a second time.
Business suspended at 14:45 and resumed at 15:03.
QUESTIONS FOR ORAL REPLY
PEACE AND SECURITY
Condition of South African members of the African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur with regard to injuries, deaths and equipment to defend themselves
357. Mr V B Ndlovu (IFP) asked the Minister of Defence:
(1) Whether any South African members of the African Union peacekeeping force deployed in Darfur, Sudan, have been (a) injured or (b) killed in the line of duty in the past year; if so,
(2) whether any of the injuries or deaths were related to combat operations; if so, what are the relevant details;
- whether South African forces deployed in Darfur are properly equipped to defend themselves against attack; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENCE: You see, what happened is that this man took my seat and therefore disorganised me. [Laughter.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr G Q M Doidge): Is that the correct response, hon Deputy Minister?
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENCE: What is the number of the question?
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr G Q M Doidge): It is number 357 and was asked by the hon V B Ndlovu.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENCE: That is the right question. Mr Chairperson, you must make rules that hon members should not take other people’s seats.
The answer to the first question by Mr Ndlovu is: No. The answer to the second question is also no and the answer to the third question is yes. The SA National Defence Force contingent has been provided with the following weaponry and equipment in addition to their R4 assault rifles and 9mm pistols.
Unfortunately, hon Ndlovu, we will not give details because it is not in the interest of our security to give those details, especially since we are talking about people who are in a war situation.
We have Mamba MK3 mine-resistant armoured personnel carriers, 7,62mm light machine guns, 60mm patrol mortars, 60mm conventional mortars for base protection, 40mm MGL grenade launchers and RPG7 rocket-propelled grenade launchers. Thank you very much, Mr Chairperson.
Mr V B NDLOVU: Thank you, Chairperson. Thank you very much for the answer, Deputy Minister, and for saying that nobody was killed and injured. I just want to carry on and ask my follow-up question. They are really at war and they are trying to keep the peace. Do they have to enforce it? If so, what should they do? That is my first question. The second question concerns their welfare. Is their welfare looked after properly, including that of their families they left behind?
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENCE: Mr Chairperson, the welfare of soldiers deployed either inside or outside the country is looked after through methods and systems that ensure that they are properly looked after. In fact, when you deploy soldiers, you don’t just deploy fighting soldiers but there is also what is called the support staff which includes psychologists, engineers, doctors, etc. So, when you deploy soldiers, you also provide them with support mechanisms. Of course, you cannot visit their families every day but they are kept informed through mechanisms that are put in place to help them communicate with their families. Thank you.
Mr F BHENGU: Thank you, Chairperson. Could you, sir, with the information at your disposal, share with this House as to how soon the force of the United Nations is likely to be deployed to reinforce the African mission in Sudan in an attempt to stabilise and normalise the unabated war environment in that country?
We are concerned that further delays will result in further attacks, ambushes and unnecessary suffering which will cost more human life, ...
... ukuba ungandiphendula, Tshangisa. [... could you please answer me, Tshangisa.]
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENCE: Thank you very much, Mr Chairperson. Thank you very much, Mr Bhengu. Whilst we share your concern, it needs to be pointed out that what is needed in Darfur is a political solution. The problem is that as soon as the fighting stops, a peace agreement has to be put in place for the United Nations force to have any effect.
So, the most important thing in Darfur at the moment is to make sure that there is a peaceful political solution. We can send the military force to Darfur if the need arises but it is important that there is a political solution. For that to happen, all parties involved must talk to each other, because military force does not solve problems, especially political problems. I thank you.
Mr V B NDLOVU: Deputy Minister, I think there is a problem here. If you say, hon Minister, that a political solution has not been reached in Darfur, are you saying that you have sent our people there to enforce peace but there is no political agreement? Are we not putting ourselves in danger by trying to solve the problem with guns instead of negotiations? I think that is the problem now.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENCE: Mr Ndlovu, what I’m saying is that there are attempts by the African Union and the United Nations to solve the problem politically. In fact, the forces that are deployed there are deployed for peacekeeping purposes, not for peace enforcement.
What I’m trying to say is that what is more important than military deployments is a political solution which the people of Darfur, unfortunately, must be able to understand.
If the people who are in conflict do not recognise the importance of a political solution, there would still be fighting because the United Nations and the AU can only facilitate a temporary solution, which is what has been happening in Darfur. That is the reason I’m saying we must, as South Africans, Africans and the whole world, impress upon the people of Darfur that the solution to their problems can only be achieved by talking amongst themselves – a political solution.
Vacancy rate in Human Resources Unit of department, and plans to fill vacancies
348. Mr L T Landers (ANC) asked the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development:
(a) What is the current vacancy rate in the Human Resources Unit of her department and (b) what plans are under way to address vacancies in the various components of her department, including in court services? NO2338E
The MINISTER FOR JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Chairperson, there are 200 funded posts in the Human Resources Unit of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. The vacancy rate is 12%.
In answering the second part of the question, let me make the statement that the existence of vacancies in government departments is a challenge that government is rigorously addressing. In part the problem relates to the very process for filling a vacant post, which takes a long time. The Department of the Public Service and Administration is assisting departments in this regard.
Before I speak about the strategies we are employing to deal with this vacancy challenge, hon members, let me provide you with statistics on the post establishment in my department. There are 16 174 approved posts and of these, 13 654 posts are filled. The vacancy rate in my department is 12%. We have advertised 1 013 posts and we will soon be advertising the remaining 913.
For our part, we have identified particular weaknesses in our system which we are addressing. In our current strategy to deal with the issue of vacant posts, we have done away with the cumbersome structure of business units. Our department was divided into business units. We have reverted to the ordinary form of having subdirectorates.
We have capacitated our HR unit and, as a result, we are seeing improvements in filling posts - whereas in the past we would take six months, we now take three months. We have also decentralised the recruitment process to the regional offices. Initially recruitment was conducted by the HR unit located at the national office and, of course, we have sought specialist advice so as to find an innovative way of dealing with the challenges of filling vacant posts. Thank you.
Mr L T LANDERS: Chairperson, we welcome the progress announced by the hon Minister. Arising from her response and given the relatively large vacancy rate, particularly in the prosecutorial component, which impacts on the efficiency rates of our courts; given the large increases of R4,7 billion to R8,9 billion announced in the department’s budget last year; and finally given that the largest part of this increase goes towards increasing personnel capacity and providing services, will the hon Minister give this House the assurance that the department will provide Parliament with clear progress reports on the objectives and goals attained in increasing personnel capacity within the department?
The MINISTER FOR JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Chairperson, yes, indeed, I do give that assurance. In fact, plans are under way. The National Prosecuting Authority itself gave a report to the extended executive committee, in which they gave us their initial plans for attending to the problem of filling vacancies. We will do so. We will submit reports as required by the portfolio committee.
Mr L K JOUBERT: Thank you, Chairperson. Minister, you did not specifically refer to the position in the NPA. According to their annual report the vacancy for advocates is 33,2%, for interpreters 75%, and for prosecutors 22,1%. This has an adverse effect on the administration of justice, as can be seen from the lower conviction rates. In special courts, it has decreased from 70% to 65%.
My question is: To solve a problem, one has to know why it exists. What is being done to find out why we have these vacancies? You mentioned in your whole department 12% but in the NPA it is up to 75% in certain cases. Thank you.
The MINISTER FOR JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Chairperson, there are structural problems in the sense that it took them some time to get a chief financial officer but, as I say, we do have a CFO now and, in fact, there are plans on the table. Unfortunately, hon member, I do not have the plans here as I speak to you but I do promise that I will make them available to the House.
Compensation of Reserve Force members deployed during Operation BATA
366. Mr P J Groenewald (FF Plus) asked the Minister of Defence:
(1) Whether any members of the Reserve Force who were deployed from 1 June 2007 to 5 July 2007 during Operation BATA have received compensation; if not, (a) why not and (b) when does he envisage their receiving compensation; if so, (i) how many members were compensated and (ii) when;
(2) whether he will make a statement on the matter? NO2363E
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENCE: Chairperson, the reply is: No. Four reserve force members will be compensated as soon as the payment schedule order has been corrected. This process is currently under way. This problem arose because the respective units providing the forces did not process the payment schedule in time. Thank you.
Mnr P J GROENEWALD: Voorsitter, ek wil vir die agb Adjunkminister vra wat gaan dan aan in die weermag? Daar word van mense verwag om diens te doen tydens ’n noodsituasie. Daar is bevelvoerders wat agtuur die aand mense opgeroep het om sesuur die oggend noodsaaklike dienste te gaan verrig, veral in hospitale.
Natuurlik is die probleem dat die agb Minister-hulle die kommando’s afgestel het, want dan sou hy meer mense gehad het, maar die feit van die saak is dié mense het alles opgeoffer. Hulle lewer ’n diens en nou wil u vir my kom sê u vat vier maande om die dokumentasie reg te kry sodat die mense hulle salarisse kan ontvang.
Ek wil ’n voorstel maak dat die agb Adjunkminister en die Minister nie hulle salarisse kry voordat hierdie lede nie hulle salarisse gekry het nie, want baie van daardie lede ... (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)
[Mr P J GROENEWALD: Chairperson, I want to ask the hon Deputy Minister what is happening in the army. It is expected of people to perform services during an emergency. There are commanding officers who have called people up at eight o’clock in the evening to instruct them to perform essential services at six o’clock the next morning, especially at hospitals.
Of course, the problem is that the hon Minister and his colleagues did away with the commando system, otherwise he would have had more people, but the fact of the matter is that these people have sacrificed everything. They have rendered a service and now you are telling me that you need four months in order to prepare the documentation so that these people can receive their salaries.
I want to suggest that the hon Deputy Minister and the Minister not receive their salaries until these members have received theirs because many of these members ...]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr G Q M Doidge): Hon member, what is your question?
Mnr P J GROENEWALD: Die opvolg is: Wat gaan die agb Adjunkminister doen om hierdie proses baie vinnig te bespoedig en te verseker dat die mense hulle geld kry? Hulle het waardevolle diens vir Suid-Afrika gelewer. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraph follows.)
[Mr P J GROENEWALD: The follow-up question is: What is the hon Deputy Minister going to do to greatly expedite this process and ensure that these people get their salaries? They have rendered a valuable service for South Africa.]
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENCE: Chairperson, as I’ve said, the process is under way. We are doing everything to ensure that those people are paid. Unfortunately, we are running a government and departments that have processes to be followed. I cannot wake up one morning because some people must be paid and say, ``okay take money from the petty cash and pay them’’. We don’t operate like that. There must be documents. We are going to pay them and we are following the necessary procedures. But seeing that Mr Groenewald is so concerned, can we ask him if we can take his salary this month and then we will refund him? Thank you.
Mr S B NTULI: Chairperson, we in the ANC welcome the department’s initiatives, particularly that of recognising the role played by the reserve force within the SANDF. We also wish to recommend that the Ministry should actually continue with this kind of initiative, because it not only promotes the event but also promotes the role that the reserve force is playing within the SANDF.
Would the Ministery consider continuing with activities of this nature to ensure that it also educates the public on the role that the reserves are playing in this country and actually invites the public - those with military skills - to enlist with the reserve force? Thank you.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENCE: Chairperson, the Defence Force is structured in such a way that we have the regular force, which must be a certain number. We also have the reserve force as part of the whole Defence Force. I agree with the last speaker that it is important that we must ensure that the reserve force is not only kept in place but is maintained.
The reserve force is playing a very important role. Just to educate Mr Groenewald, some of them were even deployed outside the country. That is the role played by the reserve force and we paid them. It is unfortunate that you just make a big issue about one small administrative mishap.
The reserve force is a very important component of the Department of Defence Force and we may want to ensure that the reserve force is not only maintained but increases in size. Thank you.
Mr V B NDLOVU: Thank you, Chairperson. Deputy Minister, administrative bungling is not needed in any department. You cannot call people to do a job and not pay them because by doing that, you are saying the department is not run professionally. How are you going to correct that perception?
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENCE: Well, like I’ve said, Baba Ndlovu, we are now in the process of rectifying and correcting that mistake. But I can assure you that we have learnt something. In future deployments, we will ensure that such a thing does not happen again.
You must also realise that we are a very big department and that sometimes we act under terrible pressures. But I assure you that we have set up mechanism to ensure that a mistake of this nature is not repeated. Thank you.
Decrease in confiscation of cannabis and increase in that of methaqualome, and the impact of this on the SAPS strategy against drugs
354. Mr S Mahote (ANC) asked the Minister of Safety and Security:
(1) To what can the decrease in the confiscation of cannabis and the increase in the confiscation of methaqualome in the financial year 2006-07 be attributed;
(2) whether this impacts on the SA Police Service’s strategy against drugs; if not, why not; if so, how? NO2347E
The MINISTER OF SAFETY AND SECURITY: Chairperson, the reply is as follows: The decrease in the confiscation of cannabis can be attributed to the successes achieved by the cannabis eradication programme of the SA Police Service which is targeting the cannabis crop in South Africa. For the 2006-07 financial year, an estimated 2 991 hectares of illicit cannabis plantations were destroyed, thus preventing an estimated 2 094 tons of cannabis from reaching the local and foreign drug markets.
The increase in the quantity of Methaqualome confiscated can be attributed to successful police work including the confiscation, during May 2006, of over 2,5 tons of Mandrax tablets smuggled into South Africa. This consignment was found hidden inside wooden doors in a container that was imported from China.
With regard to the second part of the question, the strategy followed by the SAPS is mainly directed towards reducing the supply of illicit drugs to the drug market and it can therefore be expected that the volume of cannabis found and destroyed will increase and large quantities of other drugs will be intercepted at ports of entry. Thank you.
Mr S MAHOTE: Thank you, Chairperson. Hon Minister, the SA Police Service must be congratulated on the success it has had in reducing the supply of drugs on our streets. Does it involve other departments in the social aspect of drug abusers so as to reduce the demand for illicit drugs? And what does this involvement entail?
The MINISTER OF SAFETY AND SECURITY: Thank you very much for your comment, hon member. On the matter of drugs and the distribution of illicit drugs in our country, there is what is defined as the Drugs Master Plan. That master plan is the product of collaboration between a number of departments but the lead department is the Department of Social Development.
The Drugs Master Plan therefore looks at various aspects which relate to drugs including a project to win, particularly young people, away from the abuse of drugs. In consequence of the collaboration, therefore, we have been able to do a very good work with respect to issues that relate to the abuse of drugs. Thank you.
Ms D KOHLER-BARNARD: Thank you, Chairperson. Minister, drugs, such as Tik and Sugars, are part of a plague destroying families. Parents are prostituting their 10-year old daughters to feed their habit. These drugs are killing addicts across the length and breadth of this country. And there is a move towards more sophisticated drugs such as Mandrax, to which you have referred earlier on - smuggled from China – which means there is a need for more and more sophisticated techniques on the part of our SAPS.
However, it is incredibly difficult for the police to raid a known illegal drug manufacturer‘s property as they must be in possession of a sworn affidavit before such a raid is permitted, and the person who swears such an affidavit that drugs are held or manufactured in a certain house is then in fear of his or her life.
Minister, what steps are you taking to ease this situation in dealing with the Department of Justice, to make it easier for our police in their strategic moves in this regard rather than wasting their time and ours on such frivolous moves as arresting the Mayor of Cape Town during a legal march against drugs?
The MINISTER OF SAFETY AND SECURITY: The matter of preventing the abuse of drugs as well as alcohol is a matter that all of us ought to be involved in, including the Mayor of Cape Town. That issue has to do with the fact that the police, most of the time, will be reactive in terms of those issues. But when we work together, it is possible for us to deal with that matter. It is at home where we live, where some of our children are using these drugs, that we must start.
The issue of collaboration between the various departments is one that we always discuss and there is a good relationship between Cabinet and the departments, including a relationship between the Ministry for Safety and Security and the Ministry of Justice precisely to deal with those matters.
Where there are specific issues, as the hon member has mentioned, of particular areas where there are people who have information about drug smuggling and the sale of drugs, particularly to our young people, we would appreciate it if such information was placed in the hands of the law-enforcement agencies of the country because this is a matter that we must deal with and deal with effectively so that we save our people from drug abuse. Thank you.
Mr V B NDLOVU: Thank you, Chairperson. I would like to thank the hon Minister for the answer. I would like to raise a supplementary question which will link up with the Department of Justice. Let me say, for example, there is a house where drugs are produced but the owner of the house does not live in the house, he lives somewhere else or even in Australia for that matter. What would you do in a case like this?
Secondly, let’s say that one of the investigators or one of the people who are leading the investigation of the case goes back to the drug lord and divulges to him the name of the person who reported the case. What do you do in such a case because that is how we are going to fight this thing if we want to close the loopholes?
The MINISTER OF SAFETY AND SECURITY: Hon Ndlovu, we must be told and be given information about members of the SA Police Service or any other law enforcement agencies in the country who will act in the way that you are describing because what that means is that a police officer who is investigating or has been given information about wrongdoing and then goes and divulges that information to the very people they need to investigate is committing an offence. We need to get that information so that we can deal with people of that nature because they are acting in a criminal way and therefore can be legitimately defined as criminals. We want to deal with those people but let us get the information first so that we can deal with them.
In the past there was a law which said that if you where driving a vehicle in which, for instance, the police found any type of contraband material, including drugs, that vehicle would be confiscated by the state and therefore forfeited to the state because it was a vehicle which was used in the commission of a crime. I am under the impression that there is still something like that on our Statute Book. Of course, at the appropriate time the Minister for Justice will respond to this.
It was on that understanding that I argued publicly, for instance, that the house in Jeppestown, Johannesburg, where the police were in a shooting confrontation with criminals, should be forfeited to the state, but I was advised that it was not as straightforward a matter as that. In other words, to my mind it was straight forward, there was criminal activity there and therefore the property should be confiscated. I was advised that it was not as simple as that. Thank you.
Mnr P J GROENEWALD: Voorsitter, ek wil vir die agb Minister vra ... ek sien die Minister wil net sy gehoorstukkie regkry. Kan die agb Minister my hoor? Tolk hulle darem? Ek wil vir die agb Minister vra of hy dink dit is goed as sy Nasionale Kommissaris, mnr Jackie Selebi, se beste vriend, “finish en klaar” [kant en klaar], ’n sogenaamde “drug lord” [dwelmbaas] is? (Translation of Afrikaans paragraph follows.)
[Mr P J GROENEWALD: Chairperson, I want to ask the Minister ... I see that the Minister is fixing his headpiece. Can you hear me, Minister? Are they interpreting? I want to ask the hon Minister whether he thinks it is appropriate that his National Commissioner, Mr Jackie Selebi’s best friend, “a finish and klaar”, is a so-called drug lord?]
The MINISTER OF SAFETY AND SECURITY: Well, I don’t know where that question fits in in terms of what we are dealing with. I am not prepared to answer it.
Establishment of dedicated remand detention branch
349. Bishop L J Tolo (ANC) asked the Minister of Correctional Services:
Whether, with reference to his department’s strategic plan for 2007-08 to 2011-12, his department will establish a dedicated remand detention branch with a dedicated budget programme, a regional head and appropriate remand detainee facilities with dedicated personnel in each region in the 2007-08 financial year; if not, why not; if so, what progress is being made in this regard? NO2339E
The MINISTER OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES: Chairperson, the response to Bishop Tolo’s question is: A chief directorate on remand detention systems has been established to do further work on the need for establishing a remand detention centre.
The justice, crime prevention and security cluster and the management of awaiting-trial detainees’ project team was established with the Department of Correctional Services as the lead department to develop proposals with regard to the scope of the project. Work has been done in line with the strategic plan for 2007-08 to 2011-12. Draft guidelines for minimum infrastructure have been developed. There has been consultation with the Justice Crime Prevention and Security, JCPS, departments and we are in the approval process of the department.
Appropriate remand detention facilities will be established in line with the minimum facilities requirements. Regions have identified one correctional centre per region as a dedicated remand detention facility.
The department has appointed a research team to assist with the job refinement process which in fact means the alignment of the organisational structure with the functions of the department. This process has not been finalised but it is scheduled to be concluded before the end of the current financial year.
The creation of a branch for remand detention and regional head are dependant on the outcome of the process of alignment. The costing of a remand detention system, the development of the activity structure and the budget programme proposals have not been finalised by the project team. Proposals in terms of the programme structure of the department are an agenda item in discussions with the National Treasury which has taken cognisance of the importance of finalising the budgetary requirements of the remand detention project. Thank you.
Bishop L J TOLO: Chairperson, I thank the Comrade Minister for his response. Comrade Minister, what are the benefits of establishing a separate branch for awaiting-trial detainees? Secondly, what will the responsibility be of the other criminal justice departments such as the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development with regard to awaiting-trial detainees? Thanks very much.
The MINISTER OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES: Chairperson, as we have said here this team which is led by the Department of Correctional Services has other departments of the JCPS and all of them are included in that and are working together because, remember, the awaiting-trial detainees are not only the responsibility of the Department of Correctional Services. They are also the responsibility of Justice as well as the SAPS. Together we have to look after awaiting-trial detainees.
One of the benefits of a separation of branches is to make sure that we have a dedicated budget for that, which will probably be a budget that includes the other departments in assisting us with this. I must say that I was quite happy when I picked up that the Justice Portfolio Committee would be visiting our awaiting-trial detention facility in Pollsmoor, because it is very important that they look into that together with our Correctional Services Portfolio Committee and work together in trying to resolve this problem. Thank you.
Moulana M R SAYEDALI-SHAH: Hon Minister, the average, daily awaiting-trial detainees’ population remains at approximately 50 000. This pushes up the already overcrowded or overcrowding ratios in all our correctional centres and distracts the department from its core business of correcting offending behaviour and rehabilitating offenders.
In the latest annual report the department refers to the management of the remand detention project. Minister, with due respect, there has been talk of this for ages. What new, mitigating action can the Minister report in this regard and has he given serious consideration to actually privatising this function - a practice that is being followed in many other countries? Thank you.
The MINISTER OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES: Chairperson, I will start with the last one. As regards thinking about and considering privatising it, we haven’t spoken about that yet. We haven’t thought about it because we are in it together with other departments. So, I cannot make that decision alone as a department. We need other departments also to come together. Maybe that project team - the Management of Awaiting-Trial Detainee Project Team that we have put together – will come up with those kinds of recommendations.
You are quite correct. We have seen, in other countries, how they are run and how they have been privatised. It does take a lot from us. The population of awaiting-trial detainees is really too much and the time it takes is quite long. But with the involvement of the Portfolio Committee on Justice together with that on Correctional Services and that on the SAPS, it will help us a lot when we try to move the backlogs of those who have been in detention for a long time.
Correctly, it is not our core business. Our core business is to correct and rehabilitate and it is difficult with awaiting-trial detainees because they are here today and out tomorrow and sometimes they go through spells of bail applications and it takes so much from us. But I can assure you that the team that is handling this matter is very good and we are cracking the whip to get this done.
I would like to see pilot projects actually taking off in one of the big centres like Pollsmoor, Johannesburg Prison being the second one and, thirdly, one probably which is very overcrowded is Umtata. Something will be done in those three centres and once they work then I will know that we are on the right track. Thank you.
Minister’s stance on suspension of a certain person
351. Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) asked the Minister of Safety and Security:
Whether he will suspend a certain person (name furnished) in view of his (a) overall performance, (b) the high crime rate and (c) relationship with a person with questionable reputation (name furnished); if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details? NO2341E
The MINISTER OF SAFETY AND SECURITY: Chairperson, there is a process that is used to asses the performance of senior managers in the Public Service. There has never been a rating of the said person from that process that has been so negative as to warrant suspension. When the person concerned assumed office in 1999, crime levels were much higher than they are now. The downward trend attests to the person’s guidance to the police service.
Lastly, there is a legal process that has started and is designed to look at issues such as the current question. I will not pre-empt that process by comments that will prejudge the matter in one way or another. Thank you.
Ms D KOHLER-BARNARD: Minister, we have seen the President move with great speed in the suspension of Advocate Pikoli on very flimsy, specious grounds, yet here we have Commissioner Selebi not being suspended. The question relates not to the cloud of suspicion hanging over the commissioner but to his competence in relation to the job. This country is suffering and ordinary citizens don’t have your bodyguards or the bodyguards used by Members of Cabinet. They are being robbed, raped and murdered at unprecedented levels. You cannot deny that.
The question is, seeing that the commissioner has failed in his overall performance; has failed in his attempt to bring crime down; has failed in the eyes of the public in that he has friends in very low places, will you suspend him or not, and if you won’t, why on earth not, and if you can’t, have you asked the President to do so?
The MINISTER OF SAFETY AND SECURITY: Deputy Chair, I’m sure the hon member did not hear my response to these questions. I’m going to repeat myself. There is a process that is used to assess the performance of senior managers in the Public Service. There has never been a rating of the said person from that process that has been so negative as to warrant suspension. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Order! Please. Order! Give the Minister a chance.
The MINISTER OF SAFETY AND SECURITY: When the person concerned assumed office in 1999, crime levels were much higher than they are now. The downward trend attests to the person’s guidance to the police service. There is a legal process that has started, designed to look at issues such as the current question. I will not pre-empt the process by comments that will prejudge the matter in one way or another.
Mnr P J GROENEWALD: Voorsitter, ek verstaan dat die Minister sê daar is ’n proses aan die gang, maar daar was ook ‘n bepaalde proses in die geval van die voormalige hoof van die Nasionale Intelligensie Agentskap, mnr Billy Masetla. Hy is aangestel deur die President maar die agb Minister van Intelligensie, mnr Ronnie Kasrils, het nie geskroom om hom te skors toe daar ’n ondersoek teen hom was nie. Nou kom die agb Minister van Veiligheid en Sekuriteit en hy sê in die geval van kommissaris Jackie Selebi is daar ’n ander proses. Dit is dieselfde proses.
Nou wil ek vir die agb Minister vra, dink hy nie dit is dubbele standaarde wat toegepas word nie, want in mnr Billy Masetla se geval is hy geskors, maar kommissaris Jackie Selebi kan maar aangaan? Dit is tog seker immers dubbele standaarde? (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)
[Mr P J GROENWALD: Chairperson, I understand that the Minister says that there is a process under way but there was also a specific process in the case of the former head of the National Intelligence Agency, Mr Billy Masetla. He was appointed by the President but the hon Minister of Intelligence, Mr Ronnie Kasrils, did not hesitate to suspend him when an investigation was launched against him. Now the hon Minister of Safety and Security says that in the case of Commissioner Jackie Selebi, there is a different process. It is the same process.
Now, I want to ask the hon Minister whether he does not think double standards are being applied because in Mr Billy Masetla’s case, he was suspended, but Commissioner Jackie Selebi can blithely carry on? Surely these are double standards?]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): I don’t know whether the Minister got the whole question?
The MINISTER OF SAFETY AND SECURITY: I did.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): You did? Thank you.
The MINISTER OF SAFETY AND SECURITY: Well, it’s easy for you to be cynical about these things but not with me because I have a responsibility arising from the functions that I have been given as part of government. You can be cynical because you want to be cynical. The fact of the matter is - I am saying - there is a process that is in place. You cannot talk to me about double standards, because I have not been guilty of any double standards. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Order! Please.
The MINISTER OF SAFETY AND SECURITY: There is a process that I respect, which is unfolding and that process will deal with these matters. If you want me to try to concoct a different answer to this, I am sorry to say I won’t do it.
Mr V B NDLOVU: Thank you, Minister. There are two things that I want to ask the Minister. Firstly, it is about politics and perceptions. How would you feel if the investigators find that the National Commissioner is supposed to be arrested, as he is the first cop in this country and we rely on him to have a plan for arresting criminals? How would you feel if he is arrested tomorrow?
Secondly ... [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (M B Skosana): Hon member, you can’t have two questions in one supplementary question.
Mr V B NDLOVU: Ngiyabonga. [Thank you.]
The MINISTER OF SAFETY AND SECURITY: If anyone, from the President right down to members of the Public Service, is guilty of a crime and there is evidence of this, that person must be arrested and charged.
Ms D KOHLER-BARNARD: Minister, please explain to this House why you feel that the decision of whether or not to do the honourable thing and step down while various investigations are taking place should be left to Commissioner Selebi himself? Surely, the fact that you have not personally taken this decision, or at least advised the President to do so, further encourages the nation to believe that he is being protected for political reasons while the Pikolis of the country simply are not. Please explain yourself.
The MINISTER OF SAFETY AND SECURITY: I don’t know why she is directing that question at me. I really don’t know but let me just say to you hon member, I am personally not going to be involved ... [Interjections.]
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Chairperson, on a point of order: I would like to appeal to the other side that this is not a free-for-all discussion. You should really respect the Minister and ask him relevant questions but you are just making it a free for all. Please respect yourself. Thank you.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): That wasn’t a point of order, sir, but I’ll let you through as an elderly person.
The MINISTER OF SAFETY AND SECURITY: Hon member, I am not going to become involved in an inquisition. I am saying and I’ll continue to say this that there is a process in place and that process is designed to do all these things that you are talking about. You want me to become involved in a situation where, in fact, we would be opening the floodgates if we do that.
Someone comes and accuses you of one thing or the other and what you are now introducing into South Africa is that when there is an allegation against you, you must immediately step down from whatever your position is. I am not going to support anything like that because there are so many allegations that are being made about so many people. And if we were to say that anyone against whom there is an allegation needs to stop the work they are doing, South Africa would grind to a halt.
Key findings and recommendations emerging from review of criminal justice system
356. Mr C V Burgess (ANC) asked the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development:
Whether the review of the criminal justice system by the task team consisting of representatives of the government and the business sector has been concluded; if not, why not; if so, (a) what are the key findings and recommendations and (b) when will they be actioned? NO2350E
The MINISTER FOR JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Deputy Chair, I wish to indicate to the hon member that there is the criminal justice review process by the state and there is also a parallel process which is very interesting. Government and big business have established working groups which include an anti-crime initiative consisting of the anti-crime leadership forum which has four working groups. The working group on the review of the criminal justice system is one of them.
The analysis and recommendations which arise from the review undertaken by the working group are the product of extensive and focused consultations including onsite visits with many and varied relevant stakeholders across the criminal justice system. A report of government and big business’s working group with recommendations on certain governance structures of the Cabinet’s justice, crime prevention and security cluster was presented to the interministerial committee in August and October.
The interministerial committee has considered the report and made recommendations to the justice, crime prevention and security Cabinet committee. We are hoping that in time, after Cabinet has considered this report, we will bring something to Parliament. Let me say that there is a simultaneous process relating to the review of the criminal justice system which is taking place and that it is intersectorial and interdepartmental. From our side, as Justice, the key driver is the director-general. This process deals with ongoing research and various interventions to improve the efficiency of the criminal justice system. That process has not been concluded.
It is necessary for the House to be informed that various short-term solutions were identified during both processes. It is within this context that the justice, crime prevention and security cluster continues to co-operate to find the best ways to deal with the challenge of crime prevention. I thank you.
Mr C V BURGESS: Thank you, Chairperson. Hon Minister, I thank you for your response. We shall await your report. However, in respect of the simultaneous process, this review being conducted by your director-general, I refer to the digital recording system known as the Direct Communication Radio Services, the DCRS, which has been installed in over 2 000 courts. Does the Minister intend to extend this to more courts? And how has the DCRS assisted service delivery of the department?
The MINISTER FOR JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Chairperson, all courts in South Africa now have the digital recording system. I must say that we are pleased to indicate that it is actually working very well. It enhances fairness and eliminates human error. I must say that there is a good reaction to having these systems in place, from the magistrates and the prosecutors.
Quarterly briefings for public and media on readiness of SA Police Service for 2010 World Cup Tournament
358. Mr V B Ndlovu (IFP) asked the Minister of Safety and Security:
Whether he will conduct quarterly briefings for the public and media on the state of the SA Police Service’s readiness for the 2010 Soccer World Cup tournament; if not, why not; if so, when will the first briefing take place? NO2352E
The MINISTER OF SAFETY AND SECURITY: Thank you. No, the security plan for the 2010 Fifa World Cup forms part of a comprehensive plan covering various areas such as accommodation, transport, health, tourism, stadiums, infrastructure and events. Regular briefings are held by government and the local organising committee on progress concerning the plan, including the security plan.
Mr V B NDLOVU: Thank you very much, sir. Minister, does the plan include Interpol and the structures that are supposed to deal with those people who are coming into the country? I am asking this question because there will be different languages and different people that will be coming into the country. Are we ready with all the languages and the involvement of Interpol?
The MINISTER OF SAFETY AND SECURITY: There is a broad plan that was adopted. In fact, if you were to go and read the bid book from when we were still trying to secure the tournament for South Africa, you would see some of the things that were suggested regarding protection of that tournament and, of course, also the people who would be coming to South Africa.
We are working together with a number of international policing agencies. You should remember that this tournament is not actually a South African tournament but that we are simply hosting it. It is a Fifa World Cup. Therefore, even from the point of view of Fifa, there are arrangements that are in place.
With regard to the southern portion of our continent, we have what is called the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Organisation, and that organisation, which is a SADC instrument, has also been meeting, where issues relating to the security of the 2010 World Cup are being discussed. So, we are comfortable in the knowledge that everything is being done to address issues that relate to safety and security during that period.
Ms D KOHLER-BARNARD: Thank you, Chairperson. Minister, in the run-up, surely the briefings should include the latest crime statistics, quarterly or even more regularly, so that visitors planning to attend the 2010 event will know what to expect when they land on our shores? If you disagree with this, what possible explanation do you have for excising the most relevant piece of information possible from such public briefings?
The MINISTER OF SAFETY AND SECURITY: Hon member, earlier on in the life of our democracy, we hosted the Rugby World Cup the finals of which are going to be played in France on Saturday, this time around. During that time in 1995, we were able to host that tournament and we were able to provide protection for that tournament and as a consequence of that, we were asked again to host another world cup tournament when, in 2003, we hosted the Cricket World Cup.
Apart from that, in 1996, again - this was earlier on in the life of our democracy - we were asked to host the African Cup of Nations. Again, we provided very good protection for that tournament.
Now, between 1995 and 2003, crime levels were higher than the situation is today, but we were able not only to give good protection to those events but, in fact, we protected the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002. The United Nations, coming as they did from Seattle – do you remember the problems of Seattle, Genoa and Melbourne – to South Africa, found that whereas in Seattle, Genoa and Melbourne there were big problems, in South Africa we were able to provide significant and effective protection. The United Nations asked us to assist in training people for the purposes of that kind of protection.
I want to say to you that we are not going to do anything new, except that this time around we are going to be assisted by the various nations of the world to protect 2010. To go around raising statistics of this, that and the other is not part of that plan. [Applause.]
Mnr P J GROENEWALD: Voorsitter, ek wil vir die agb Minister iets vra. Nasionale kommissaris Jackie Selebi het vroeër vanjaar by ’n portefeuljekomitee van Veiligheid en Sekuritiet gesê hy weet nie of hy die mense sal moet arresteer as hulle in die openbaar drink of hul skuldig maak aan prostitusie tydens die 2010-Wêreldbekerreeks nie. Nou vra ek vir die agb Minister, wat sê u, agb Minister, gaan die mense gearresteer word as hulle in die openbaar drink en as hulle hul skuldig maak aan prostitusie tydens die 2010-Wêreldbekerreeks? (Translation of Afrikaans paragraph follows.)
[Mr P J GROENEWALD: Chairperson, I want to ask the hon Minister: His National Commissioner, Commissioner Jackie Selebi, said earlier this year, at a meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Safety and Security, that he did not know whether he should arrest people if they drink in public or make themselves guilty of prostitution during the 2010 World Cup tournament. Now I want to ask the hon Minister: What do you say, hon Minister? Are the people going to be arrested if they drink in public or make themselves guilty of prostitution during the 2010 World Cup tournament?]
The MINISTER OF SAFETY AND SECURITY: Thank you very much. Hon member, anybody who breaks the law will be arrested. [Applause.]
Ms M M SOTYU: Thank you very much. Minister, at the beginning of the year, as hon Groenewald indicated, the police made their presentation to the portfolio committee on their preparedness for 2010. Among the issues raised was the issue of training. My question is: What measures are being put in place to train a larger number of SA Police Service members in crowd control with a view to the 2010 World Cup? I thank you.
The MINISTER OF SAFETY AND SECURITY: Thank you very much. Training generally for members of the SA Police Service is an ongoing project. This one that relates to larger numbers of people who are going to be deployed is also receiving attention. Mind you, we are not only dealing with the police; there is another category of people we are helping to bring up because, at the venues where the matches will be played, you will have two types of deployments. The police will work on the outer perimeter of those stadia while inside it will be security companies that take charge. This is in terms of the normal rules of Fifa.
That is what we are going to do but, this time around - we did not do this in the previous tournaments, for instance - we are also going to be training those security guards that will be responsible for protection inside the stadiums. So the issue of training is
uppermost in our programme for the preparations for 2010.
Progress made in implementation of Safe Schools Programme
355. Mr M S Moatshe (ANC) asked the Minister of Safety and Security:
What progress has been made with the implementation of the Safe Schools Programme as part of the crime prevention initiatives of the SA Police Service? NO2348E
The MINISTER OF SAFETY AND SECURITY: The Safe Schools Programme is an initiative of and is led by the national and provincial departments of education. The SA Police Service plays a supporting role to the departments and school communities to ensure school safety.
Progress in respect of the implementation of the state school’s programme as a crime prevention initiative includes the following: Firstly, the identification by the national Department of Education of 584 schools in all provinces that needed particular support with regard to safety; secondly, visits to each province, focusing on one school per province, were conducted in co-operation with the SAPS to engage provincial education departments to identify specific needs and inform national planning and budgeting; thirdly, a draft strategic plan on safe schools, including the signpost for safer schools and to address violence in schools, has been compiled in consultation with the Department of Education. The strategic plan is going to be rolled out to all the provinces soon.
The programme facilitates trust among the SAPS, learners and the school community. Consequently, the learners have found it easier to report child abuse cases. The SAPS works with the Department of Social Development and the Department of Education on the national Substance Abuse Prevention Programme called Ke Moja which specifically focuses on children, the youth and schools.
On 4 August 2007 a sports event against drugs was held in Mamelodi. Schools from Mamelodi, Mamelodi East, Eersterus and Silverton participated. A drug expert addressed the children on the dangers of drugs. A reduction in crime was noted in areas where the programme was implemented. Thank you.
Mr M S MOATSHE: Chairperson, I want to thank the Minister for his comprehensive response. In the past few months we have seen disturbing incidents of violence at schools among learners. In the most severe instances learners were killed. Will the Safe Schools Programme be able to address these instances, and if so, how?
The MINISTER OF SAFETY AND SECURITY: Yes, that project is going to ensure that there is safety in our schools. I want to repeat a call that I have made on several occasions, here in Parliament, that it is not always just sending the law-enforcement agencies into situations that would help in the end but it is when all of us, including the communities and those who are in those schools, participate in that project because we require information to be able to do the things we want to do.
Secondly, some of the characteristics of the project mean that now and again the law-enforcement agencies ought to enter the school premises, among other things, to do searches and so on. There has to be an understanding, therefore, and fortunately Parliament has passed a law that relates to this, that they be allowed to do that work because in the end it is going to help to reduce some of the crime that is happening in our schools.
Mnr R J KING: Voorsitter, Minister, ek dink dit is baie meer dieperliggend as waar dispute tussen leerders op die skoolgronde tradisioneel met ’n vuisgeveg, of in die geval van jong meisies, deurmekaar in die hare te vlieg, besleg is. Dit is ’n aaklige nuwe tendens om van gevaarlike wapens – messe of selfs vuurwapens, gebruik te maak om verskille te besleg.
Ons het dit gesien in die dood van verskeie leerlinge die afgelope ruk. Wat kan u as Minister van Veiligheid en Sekuriteit vandag sê om die vrese in ouerharte te besweer dat ons kinders nou ook nie eens meer op die skoolgronde veilig is nie, asseblief? (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)
[Mr R J KING: Chairperson, Minister, I think it is much more deep-rooted than playground disputes between learners being settled with traditional fisticuffs or, in the case of young girls, with catfights. It is a dreadful new tendency to settle differences through the use of dangerous weapons – knives or even guns.
Recently we have seen this resulting in the deaths of various learners. Please, what can you, as Minister of Safety and Security, say today that will allay the fears in the hearts of parents that our children are now not even safe at school?]
The MINISTER OF SAFETY AND SECURITY: Thank you, hon member. Indeed, what you say is true. These are some of the things that do happen.
The school environment is a microcosm of our life in South Africa and the reason we have a situation where this kind of criminal behaviour happens in our schools has to do with the broader society and the things that happen within this broader society. Again my appeal is that, indeed, the law-enforcement agencies will do their work but it would be even better if we were able to mobilise the communities.
Parents who have children in these various schools should work together with the law-enforcement agencies in order for us to at least, have an early-warning signal. The early-warning signal will be of two kinds. Firstly, some of those children, as I have indicated in my initial response, will tell us if there are problems in their homes. They will tell us about problems in the environments where they live and in the schools where they are, when they have confidence that their parents are participating in a programme like the Safer Schools Programme.
I would like to make a call to the members that we should all be preaching the same thing over and over again and involve our people right through the country in measures that are designed to reduce the levels of crime in South Africa because it is only when we have that kind of response which will be a national response to the scourge of crime that, in the end, we will succeed.
Application by a certain person to attend MK Veterans Association conference at Luthuli House
359. Mr J Selfe (DA) asked the Minister of Correctional Services:
(1) Whether a certain person (name furnished) applied for permission to attend the recent MK Veterans Association three-day national conference held at Luthuli House; if not, why not; if so,
(2) whether any conditions were attached to the said person leaving the Cape Town Magisterial District in this regard; if not, why not; if so, what conditions;
(3) whether the said person was required to report to anyone; if not, why not; if so, to whom;
(4) whether the said person did indeed report to the relevant person; if not, why not;
(5) whether any other parolees attended this conference; if so, who are they? NO2354E
The MINISTER OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES: Chairperson, the response to the first part of the question is yes. A certain person recently applied to attend the recent MK Veterans Association’s three-day national conference which was held at Luthuli House. Secondly, yes, his application was approved on condition that he reports back to the head of community corrections in Cape Town on an agreed date.
The response to the third part of the question is no. He was invited to attend the MK Veterans Association conference which was in Johannesburg. The fourth part of the question is not applicable and with regard to the fifth part, I am not aware of any other parolees attending this conference. Thank you.
Moulana M R SAYEDALI-SHAH: Chairperson, obviously this question refers once again to Mr Tony Yengeni. I have noted your responses, Minister. While it is an accepted fact that parolees who travel outside the magisterial district to which they are confined will have some restrictive conditions including the need to report to designated officials, I see you have said no to whether the said person was required to report to anyone. I don’t know why he wasn’t required to report to anyone.
However, will the hon Minister be willing to furnish evidence of compliance on the part of the affected parolee concerning this matter? Will he do so to Parliament through the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services? [Interjections.]
The MINISTER OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES: Chairperson, as I said in one of the responses, after approval there was a condition that he reports back to the head of community corrections in Cape Town. I have said that, hon Shah. In terms of compliance, all parolees have to comply with their regulations. If they don’t, a report will be furnished to the Minister and only he has the power to say: Within 72 hours, haul that parolee back to prison. I haven’t had to do that to anybody at the present moment.
Key results of study of prevalence of HIV and AIDS, and steps taken to incorporate them into comprehensive HIV and AIDS programmes and services
350. Ms W Ngwenya (ANC) asked the Minister of Correctional Services:
(1) Whether the HIV and AIDS prevalence study has been completed; if not, why not; if so,
(2) whether the results are available; if not, (a) why not and (b) when will they be available; if so, what are the key results of the study;
- what steps have been taken to incorporate the results of the study to ensure improved access to comprehensive HIV and AIDS programmes and services within his department?
The MINISTER OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES: Chairperson, enkosi kuMaNgwenya ngombuzo [I would like to thank MaNgwenya for the question].
Firstly, the HIV and syphilis prevalence study was completed in February 2007 and the final report was provided to the department in May 2007. Secondly, the results have not been made available because the department had to ensure that the results were valid, reliable and in accordance with national and international standards before any announcements could be made on them. The service provider, assisted by external experts, was requested to present the results to top management in the department.
The department is in the process of preparing for the announcement of the results and it is envisaged that this will happen as part of the departmental build-up to the national World Aids Day event which will be addressed by the Deputy Minister of Correctional Services. It will be held on 30 November 2007.
Furthermore, the HIV and syphilis prevalence study was undertaken to inform the strategies and policies of the department. The department will therefore review its current policies and procedures, based on the results of the HIV and syphilis prevalence study, to improve access to comprehensive HIV and Aids programmes and services.
I must mention in the same breath that this morning one of our centres was accredited as an ARV centre and that is Brandvlei correctional centre in the Western Cape - you can reach it by going up the mountain. The Deputy Minister hosted that ceremony and did the accrediting of Brandvlei this morning.
The department has already commenced with the process to align its framework for comprehensive HIV/Aids programmes and services to the National Strategic Plan for HIV/Aids and Sexually Transmitted Infections for 2007-11. The first draft of the framework was presented at the meeting of the SA National Aids Council. We were represented by the Deputy Minister in the meeting of the council in September 2007 and that draft framework was received positively by members of Sanac. Thank you.
Nksz W NGWENYA: Ngiyabonga, Sihlalo. Ngqongqoshe Wezokuhlunyeleliswa Kwezimilo, yiziphi izinqinamba ohlangabezana nazo eMnyangweni Wezokuhlunyeleliswa Kwezimilo mayelana nokunikeza usizo olwanele eziboshweni ezinegciwane lengculaza? Ngiyabonga. (Translation of isiZulu paragraph follows.)
[Ms W NGWENYA: Thank you, Chairperson. Hon Minister of Correctional Services, what obstacles do you come across within the Department of Correctional Services in connection with the delivery of substantial services to prisoners who are living with HIV? Thank you.]
The MINISTER OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES: Thank you again for that question, MaNgwenya. We are doing everything that we can to make sure that we look after those ...
... abaneNtsholongwane kaGawulayo nabasezintolongweni zethu. Olu phando lwenziweyo lwenzelwe ukuba sikwazi ukubanika uncedo kangangoko sinako. Yiloo nto sisebenzisana kakhulu neSebe lezeMpilo. Siyalibulela kakhulu eli sebe ngokusebenzisana nathi. Lilo elinika imvume yokukhupha amachiza adodobalisa ulwamvila lukaGawulayo, ii-ARV kumaziko ethu, kwaye ikwakula maziko apho kufumaneka khona isondlo.
Kanti ke, MaNgwenya, xa bebonwe ngoogqirha kwaqatshelwa ukuba amajoni omzimba aloo mntu okanye i-CD4 count ngesilungu, sele yehle kakhulu, sinento ekuthiwa kukukhululwa kwamabanjwa ngezizathu zempilo enkenenkene, ekuthiwa yi-medical parole ngamakhumsha, eyenziwa ngoogqirha ababini nabathathu, abathi baxilonge bejonga ukuba loo mntu ukufanele kusini na ukuba agoduswe ngenxa yokuba ubomi bakhe bukwimeko embi. Eso sicelo sibuya size kuMphathiswa, ibe nguye otyikityayo. Sithetha nje, ukhona omnye okule meko oza kukhululwa agoduke aye kunyangelwa ekhaya ngezizathu zempilo ukuze abantu bangaswelekeli entolongweni zingekho izizalwane zabo. (Translation of isiXhosa paragraphs follows.)
[... who are infected with HIV/Aids in our correctional service centres. This enquiry was made in order to support them as much as possible. It is for that reason that we are working closely with the Department of Health. We express our gratitude to the department for working with us. This is the department which accredited our centres to provide ARVs which suppress HIV/Aids. Support grants are also provided in these centres.
However, MaNgwenya, when their doctors test them and discover that their CD4 counts are very low, we have what is known as medical parole, performed by two or three doctors. They test whether the person deserves to be released due to the state of his or her health. The request is then handed over to the Minister for his signature. There is an inmate, as we speak, who is in this condition and is going to be released for health reasons and be treated at home so that people do not die in correctional centres away from their relatives.]
Mrs S V KALYAN: Chairperson and Minister, there is an undisputedly higher incidence of HIV/Aids in all correctional centres than within the average general population. As a result, it’s much easier to roll out a comprehensive HIV/Aids programme to a so-called “captive audience” than to the population at large and yet despite this conducive situation, only a handful of correctional centres are accredited to administer antiretrovirals. How many correctional centres are accredited to date, and when do you anticipate that all correctional centres, country-wide, will be fully accredited?
The MINISTER OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES: Thank you very much, hon member, for that question. There are quite a number of correctional centres that have been accredited and it’s growing. If you were listening to my earlier response in isiXhosa - mhlawumbi khange undive [maybe you did not understand me] - I stated that we are working very closely with the Department of Health to make sure that we accredit centres. Surely, we are not going to be able to accredit all centres - all 243 of them in the country - but we will begin with the big ones, which is what we are doing at the present moment.
Again, I, firstly, take my hat off to the Department of Health because the process of accrediting a centre is a long one but we are getting there.
Secondly, we are rolling out the programme, as I mentioned that we are members of Sanac and therefore we have to be in line with government policy in what we are doing in the centres. We are marching at the same pace as government in terms of government policy and not in front of or behind it.
Regarding the statement where you say there is undisputedly a higher incidence of HIV/Aids infection in all correctional centres, I am not sure how many centres you have visited. However, I, who go to these centres, do not have those statistics and that is the reason we carried out this prevalence survey so that it gives us exactly the numbers that we want.
Remember, it is not easy to do that kind of survey and get the results that you think you will get. So I am not sure about your undisputed statistics and I would like to see you visit a centre with me so that we can then talk about that as we walk down the passages of our prisons.
Action taken against Accounting Officer, Director-General and members of audit committee in light of qualified audit by Auditor-General
360. Moulana M R Sayedali-Shah (DA) asked the Minister of Defence:
(1) Whether, in light of the qualified audit given to his department by the Auditor-General for the 2006-07 financial year (details furnished), any action has been taken against (a) the Accounting Officer, (b) the Director-General (name furnished) and (c) the members of the audit committee of his department (names furnished); if not, why not; if so, what action;
(2) whether, with reference to his reply to Question 988 on 7 September 2006, any action had been taken against members of his department in respect of the qualified audit report for the 2004-05 financial year; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details? NO2355E
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENCE: Deputy Chairperson, the reply to question number one is that specific action has not been taken to replace the director-general or what we call the Secretary for Defence in the Department of Defence and members of the audit committee. Replacing the director-general or the Secretary for Defence and audit committee members may not resolve all the qualifications that the department faces between audit cycles. What would probably happen if we were to take the advice of the Auditor-General is that we might have to replace almost everybody every financial year.
Given the fact that the root causes of the qualifications relate to the constraints and challenges which require medium and long-term solutions, a structured approach to deal with these qualifications has been put in place. The accounting officer of the department, who is the Secretary for Defence, has committed himself to the project called Operation Clean Audit. He will hold all divisional chiefs and service chiefs to account on those areas where the department has received negative audit findings through the accountability management committee meetings of which he would be the chairperson.
The answer to question number two is that no disciplinary action has been taken against any member of the Department of Defence regarding the qualifications contained in the 2004-05 audit report, as the three qualifications relate to ineffective internal control systems. The managers of the Department of Defence who are responsible for the internal control systems that had caused the three audit qualifications were called in by the accounting officer to account on this matter at the monthly AMC meetings. They were instructed to submit detailed action plans with target dates to effectively address the adverse findings.
These action plans and target dates are closely monitored by him and discussed at the AMC meetings by the audit committee on a quarterly basis. These are, however, complex issues that require systems enhancements, policy and procedural changes as well as structural changes. They will not be solved within one financial year but, rather, over a number of years. I thank you.
Moulana M R SAYEDALI-SHAH: Thank you, Chairperson. Deputy Minister, in order to explain the discrepancies and the lack of financial accounting in the Department of Defence, the members continue to hide behind the fact that your department inherited an outdated financial management system which, admittedly, may have had a direct effect on the ability of the Department of Defence to address some of the system’s related qualifications or emphasis of the matter by the Auditor-General.
However, hon Deputy Minister, not everything can be blamed on or attributed to the old system. The Auditor-General has also indicated that many of the problems that are related to the Auditor-General’s qualified report are direct consequences of noncompliance with the established internal accounting policies and procedures including lack of internal control, checks and balances.
Moreover, the asset registers that should accompany claims for expenditure are not maintained. For example, a total of R463,4 million for travel and subsistence claims was submitted without relevant supporting documents. An amount of R170 million in salary increases was not disclosed as well as another R959 000 for fruitless and wasteful expenditure which has been noted. Honestly, this is unacceptable and inexcusable. Action is certainly required.
You said that no action was taken against any member. So these issues are going to recur. You will see them in all annual reports - they will come again and again. People must be held accountable, Minister. That is what is expected of you, sir. What do you intend doing to bring those who are responsible to book? They must be held accountable. This can’t go on. Thank you.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENCE: Deputy Chair, as I said, we are in the process of establishing internal control systems because that is our problem. I agree with you but I am not sure whether it would help us to fire people if we have no proper internal control systems and we are rectifying that. If we are going to fire people, who are we going to fire and who are we going to leave behind? If there are no proper internal control systems - and we have rectified this - then we might as well fire everybody. [Interjections.]
Your question is in fact linked to the next question but I am saying this again that we have established internal control systems to address the problems that we are facing as a department. It is a fact that we have inherited a bad system but I also agree with you when you say that we could have done this earlier. Thank you.
Dr G W KOORNHOF: Deputy Minister, maybe you should answer the next question in another language so that the interpreters may give a different interpretation so that the DA can understand. I think we need to congratulate the department, firstly, for putting project Operation Clean Audit into place; and secondly, for the internal control systems that they have initiated amongst the commanders and the chiefs in the department.
Mr Chairperson, the Department of Defence informed the Portfolio Committee on Defence of the steps that have been put in place to address the shortcomings identified by the Auditor-General only yesterday. They did not only do that but they also informed the portfolio committee on the steps they have put in place regarding the shortcomings that the audit committee of the department has identified in the annual report. More than that, the Department of Defence will also interact with Scopa regarding the annual report, and more specifically regarding the shortcomings identified by the Auditor-General.
My question is: Do you agree that we should allow the parliamentary process regarding the Auditor-General’s qualifications to be completed? If that process is then complete, will Parliament come with recommendations to this House as well as to the Department of Defence on what steps should be taken? That is a parliamentary and a democratic process that should be allowed and it should not be in the manner that the DA is proposing. Thank you.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENCE: Thank you very much, Chairperson. Like he says, that is the extensive report that we gave to the committee. That is exactly what we are trying to do and are going to do – to allow this whole process – the interaction with Scopa and the interaction with the portfolio committee. On the basis of the recommendations that will come, we will definitely make sure that all problems that exist, in terms of accounting in the department, will be rectified.
We are honest with you about the problems that we have with accounting in our department. We would be lying to you if we were to say that tomorrow we are just going to spin a coin and the problems will be solved. The problems need a systematic approach and that is exactly what we are doing.
Mr E W TRENT: Chairperson, I hear what the hon Deputy Minister is saying. I have been here for almost four years now, serving on Scopa, and the Defence Force has performed poorly in all of that time. There have been resolutions of Scopa - the hon Koornhof said that we must let the process go forward. My question is: Why have you not reacted earlier to the recommendations of Scopa - which are actually recommendations of this House and are adopted by it? Can you tell us what sort of timeframes we can expect before you finally get to a point where we can get a clean report? It is of no use saying that it is a process. There has to be an end to the process at some stage or other.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENCE: Deputy Chairperson, what I was saying was that there is a process that we have started together - that is with the portfolio committee and Scopa. That process will definitely have timeframes. It is not advisable for me to just come and stand here and say that this is the time that it will take for the process to be completed.
I must also say that it is not correct to say that we have done nothing. There have been corrective measures taken. One of the key things which was not happening before was that there was a process where all chiefs of services were involved but they were not accounting to the Chief of the National Defence Force. They all now account to the Chief of the National Defence Force and he in turn works with the committee. So, there are some steps that have already been taken. But I assure you that, like you are saying, you will be part of the committee. You will come with the timeframes and we will make sure that those timeframes are met. Thank you.
Steps taken to determine who was responsible for unverifiable travel and subsistence claims
362. Adv H C Schmidt (DA) asked the Minister of Defence:
(1) Whether, in light of his department having received a qualified audit report from the Auditor-General for the 2006-07 financial year, the amount of R463,4 million for unverifiable travel and subsistence claims includes the trip taken by the Deputy President, Ms Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, to the United Kingdom at the end of 2006; if not, in what section of his department’s annual report is the expenditure for this trip reported;
(2) whether his department has taken any steps to determine who was responsible for these claims; if not, why not; if so, (a) what steps and (b) who was responsible;
(3) whether any action has been taken against those responsible; if not, why not; if so, what action? NO2358E
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENCE: Deputy Chairperson, no! The Department of Defence only paid for the aircraft to transport the Deputy President on the trip in question. A Subsistence and Travel allowance is issued by the President. Whenever we issue or give an aircraft to members of the Executive or to the Presidency, we only provide them with the aircraft. We don’t pay their Subsistence and Travel allowance and we don’t pay for any other additional expenses.
The answer to paragraph 2 is no. The R463,4 million is not a case of human error but of two financial systems in the Department of Defence that are not integrated. As a result, the Auditor-General cannot trace the transactions back to the source documents. The answer to paragraph 3 is that the Department of Defence is currently in the process of finding a solution to the problem by combining the information of the two systems in an information management centre. As a result, the Department of Defence has developed plans to implement the integrated financial management system which should be in line with the National Treasury’s expectations. I thank you.
Mnr R J KING: Voorsitter, Adjunkminister, die snelle optrede teenoor die Adjunkminister van Gesondheid, agb Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, ten einde ongemagtigde uitgawes ten opsigte van reiskostes te verhaal, staan in skerpe kontras met u en u departement se reaksie ten opsigte van die ondersoeke en optredes in die geval van die Adjunkpresident en ander gevalle, soos gereflekteer in die Ouditeur-generaal se verslag. Wat is die redes hiervoor? (Translation of Afrikaans paragraph follows.)
[Mr R J KING: Chairperson, Deputy Minister, the rapid response towards the Deputy Minister of Health, the hon Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, in order to recoup unauthorised travelling expenses is in shrill contrast with you and your department’s reaction with respect to the investigations and behaviour in the case of the Deputy President and other cases as reflected in the Auditor-General’s report. What are the reasons for this?]
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENCE: Well, the hon member is asking me about my feelings. If I were to talk about my feelings I might talk the whole day. But I did not come here to talk about my feelings. I came here to account to Parliament and to answer questions that are relevant. What I have said is that the trip of the Deputy President was authorised, that’s number one.
Number two is that we only provided the Deputy President with an aircraft. As to the Subsistence and Travel allowance costs and others, they are not incurred by the Department of Defence; they are incurred by the Presidency as with any other Executive member. If we provide an Executive member with an aircraft, we do not provide for other costs. The costs are taken care of by the department concerned.
If we give an aircraft to the Minister of Safety and Security to go to Burundi, we only provide the Minister with the aircraft, pilots and flight attendants, and the rest of the costs in terms of the Subsistence and Travel allowance are paid by the department. Thank you very much.
Ms A VAN WYK: Chairperson, Minister can you assure the House that all air travel expenses by members of the Department of Defence, members of the Executive and whoever else might use air travel by the department will be properly accounted for in future financial statements of the department? [Interjections.]
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENCE: Thank you very much, Ms Van Wyk. Definitely! The reason why we are engaged in this integrated system is to make sure that we account for every amount of money that is voted by this Parliament. It is the responsibility of any department and we cannot be an exception. We commit ourselves that any money spent by the department will be accounted for. I thank you.
Moulana M R SAYEDALI-SHAH: Chairperson, in spite of the promises by the Deputy Minister that this and that will happen, the fact of the matter is that we understand that you have had this old financial accounting system. Now you have this new project that you are talking about, the new Integrated Financial Management, the IFM system, which is soon to be implemented. I don’t know what the delay is but hopefully that will resolve the problem.
However, what would explain the fact that you don’t even keep proper asset registers? I am repeating this again because you made a promise in response to the hon member that this would not happen again but you have made these promises before and this matter is still left unresolved. There is no change, so why should we believe that things will improve?
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENCE: Deputy Chairperson, we are in the process of restructuring our asset management and that report is already being tabled in the defence staff council. It is going to be tabled in the Portfolio Committee on Defence so that it can be finalised. I am saying that’s what we are doing, but unfortunately, I cannot make you, Mr Shah, believe me.
If you don’t want to believe me, I can only tell you what is happening and plead with you that ... [Interjections.] I don’t want to convince you but the only reason why I’m pleading with you is that, Mr Shah, surely, come the end of the financial year, you will have an opportunity to check whether what I am saying is true or not.
So, let’s not engage ourselves in whether you believe me or not because that is not the issue. You will have a chance. Once we have finalised the project we will surely come here to Parliament and, in any case, even if we don’t, after the financial year we will be bound to come and account to Parliament and you will be able to check whether what we are saying is true or not. So let’s leave it at that. Thank you very much.
Mr V B NDLOVU: Deputy Chairperson, Deputy Minister, I just wanted to find out; I think you said that the Auditor-General couldn’t trace a person to verify which person is responsible. What does that mean? Does it mean that the department doesn’t know or the Auditor-General doesn’t know and therefore there is nobody who will be disciplined at the end of the day, because if you are saying that, that is a problem because somebody has to be responsible at the end of the day and that somebody has to be fired. If the Auditor-General and the department can’t identify that person, then what will happen?
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENCE: Deputy Chairperson, I think Mr Ndlovu misunderstood or probably he didn’t understand me. What I said was not that persons could not be traced. I was referring to the source documents which are very important for any decision-making. It is the source documents which could not be traced – not the individuals, but the source documents.
And I have given the reason why that situation has arisen where we were using two systems in an information management centre and that is exactly where the problem is and this is what we have resolved by creating one financial management system. Thank you.
Minister’s stance on warrant issued and action to be taken against a certain person
352. Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) asked the Minister of Safety and Security:
(1) Whether he was informed of a warrant that was issued for the arrest of a certain person (name furnished); if not, why not; if so, what are the charges stipulated in the warrant;
(2) whether the said person will be suspended from all public duties until the matter is resolved; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details;
(3) whether he (a) has received any briefing from the President regarding this matter and (b) will reveal the circumstances surrounding the issue of the warrant for the arrest of the said person; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details? NO2342E
The MINISTER OF SAFETY AND SECURITY: Chairperson, I was not informed of such a warrant. No arrangement is in place yet that I should be informed of such matters. Therefore, I do not know which charges are reflected in the warrant. The person will not be suspended. I’ve already said that. The President briefed me. The circumstances relating to the warrant are unknown to me. Thank you.
Ms D KOHLER-BARNARD: Thank you, Chairperson. Minister, I would like to know if you really believe that anyone in this country would be likely to have any incriminating documentation still lying about as hard copy or on computer after the existence of a warrant or warrants that were leaked to the press and made public; some cancelled, some not; followed then by some sort of investigation launched by the ANC into the matter.
In your opinion, if the ANC decides, at some future date, that an inquiry into Jackie Selebi is necessary, has the ANC not already done enough to ensure that such an inquiry would turn up absolutely nothing, as the entire country has been informed of every move of the NPA’s investigation, not the least of whom is the man who was to be investigated himself. Has this investigation not effectively been irredeemably compromised?
The MINISTER OF SAFETY AND SECURITY: Deputy Chair, I am going to supply the hon member with the contact details of the Secretary-General of the ANC so that she can raise that question with him. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Order, order, please! Order!
Seeing that there are no other supplementary questions, we ...
Ms D KOHLER-BARNARD: Minister, if you still have that position here in the House and not the secretary-general, the President stated publicly that he had not “seen the warrant or warrants”. You said, that “you are in the dark...” - it seems you might still be – “... about this issue”.
I find it incredible to believe that the Minister of Safety and Security is in the dark about what’s going on regarding his own employee. Well, I’d like to know if today you have seen the warrant or warrants, how many you have seen – I mean looked at and examined – and if you indeed were the person behind the move to quash those warrants, to wipe them out, and if it wasn’t you, kindly tell this House who it was. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Order! Order, please! Give the Minister a chance to respond.
The MINISTER OF SAFETY AND SECURITY: Well, I don’t know what she wants me to say but I seem to be understanding her to be asking if I’d seen the warrants and I’ve given a response that I had not seen the warrants because it is not my job to go around the courts of this land looking for warrants. That’s not my job. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Order, order, please! I think the hon member should take up the Minister’s promise that he will supply you with some information.
Ms D KOHLER-BARNARD: Thank you, I would be obliged but I would like another follow-up. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Hon Ndlovu, can ... I’ll come to you, ma’am. [Interjections.] Order, order, order, Mr Bloem! [Interjections.] Order, please, order! Can we give the other hon members a chance to have their say, please!
Mr V B NDLOVU: Thank you, Chairperson. Thank you, Minister.
Bengicela nje ukubuza kumhlonishwa ukuthi ngabe uke wambuza yini uKhomishane ukuthi le nto okukhulunywa ngayo iyiqiniso noma cha? [I would just like to ask the hon Minister if he has ever enquired from the commissioner whether the matter in question is true or not?]
The MINISTER OF SAFETY AND SECURITY: Of course I have. I’ve asked him if he was guilty of any crime and he has said no, he was not. [Interjections.] Unfortunately nobody has brought me evidence to show that indeed he was guilty of any crime. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Order, order, please! Order, order, order! I think we should have order here. If you want to ask questions, we should have order here.
Ms D KOHLER-BARNARD: Minister, I don’t think I’ve ever been quite so shocked as to be in this House and ... [Interjections.] Perhaps you could ask your members to be quiet so you can hear. ... to hear from a Minister that he is totally ignorant about what is going on in his own Ministry.
For you to suggest that you are a judge and jury and that you have the right to declare to the land, “Oh well, I asked him,” is worse than the President saying: “Trust me.” I’m sorry, I don’t listen to men saying trust me and I haven’t done so since I was 13 years old!
Now, Minister, I would like you to come clean to this House and tell us what on earth is going on within your Ministry. This man is not suspended. You suspend the Pikolis of the country but you do not suspend the man ... [Interjections.] ... with the biggest cloud hanging over him of any person in this entire country. He has confessed to having friends none of us should have. He is in a position ...
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): What is your question, hon member?
Ms D KOHLER-BARNARD: I’m asking him to come clean and tell this House why he is misleading the House. It is absolutely outrageous!
The MINISTER OF SAFETY AND SECURITY: Well, for starters, Deputy Chairperson, you will have to take a decision on the allegation she is making that I’m misleading the House. [Interjections.] That’s the first thing that you need to determine.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Order, please, order! Minister, we shall give a ruling on this tomorrow.
The MINISTER OF SAFETY AND SECURITY: Thank you very much. The rest of the questions she has been putting on the table ... [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Order, please! Order! [Interjections.] Order, please!
The MINISTER OF SAFETY AND SECURITY: The questions that the hon member – I’m sorry, hon member – that she has been putting on the table are nothing but an attempt on her part to use this platform to vilify all of us from the President right down the line. She has not asked a question. What question am I going to answer? She has not asked a question.
All that she wanted to do was to use the issue to criticise all of us who are in government. And, Chairperson, if that is her style, if that is what makes her happy, I say thank you very much; continue to derive happiness from what you’ve raised. [Interjections.] She has not asked a question. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Order, order, please! Order! I think, hon members, we ask questions of Ministers because we want to solicit information. I don’t think it is appropriate to behave the way we are doing now. It looks as if we’re not soliciting information but are in fact adopting a confrontational stance. Please, seeing that there are no other supplementary questions, the following question is Question No 353 by the hon ...
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITION: Mr Chairman, I had pressed my button to ask a further supplementary question.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Hon Davidson, I think we’ve had four supplementary questions, which is the maximum.
Position regarding the National Prosecuting Authority obtaining a warrant of arrest for a certain person
353. Dr J T Delport (DA) asked the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development:
(1) Whether the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has obtained a warrant for the arrest of a certain person (name furnished); if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what are the relevant details;
(2) whether she will make a statement on the matter? NO2344E
The MINISTER FOR JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT:
I see that the hon member who asked the question is not in the House. Deputy Chairperson, I am unable to speak on this matter as it may be the subject of an inquiry.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Thank you, Minister. We then move to Question 361. The hon Joubert.
Mr L K JOUBERT: Chairperson, Madam Minister, Dr Delport has had an operation and that is why he is not here. I am standing in for him. Minister, the way that I understand it, is that a warrant of arrest is issued by a court on application and that application has to be supported by prima facie evidence. We take it that in this particular case, because the person concerned is such a senior person, the commissioner of police, the court would not be likely to issue a warrant of arrest.
It has been reported that the warrant was eventually withdrawn or cancelled. The question is: If it is such an important document, why was it not immediately executed? Secondly, if it was withdrawn, what were the reasons for its withdrawal or cancellation? Thirdly, I would like you to respond as to whether you personally had anything to do this whole process?
Mr D V BLOEM: This is a point of order, Chairperson. The Minister has clearly said that this point is the subject of an investigation. The Minister has said that. That member still continues to put a question.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Hon member, that is not a point of order.
Mr D V BLOEM: No, you must rule on that, Chairperson.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Hon member, please take your seat.
Mr C M LOWE: Chairperson, on a point of order: May I just ask if it is parliamentary for the hon Bloem to make signs like this across his neck to members of this House. Ask him to withdraw, thank you.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Hon member, I don’t know about signs like that. I know that in Zulu when you say that, it means you love the person. [Laughter.] Does the Minister insist on not answering the question?
The MINISTER FOR JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Yes, absolutely, I insist. I would like to plead that we respect the law. You see, at some point, this very same matter or related matter will come to Parliament and we have to uphold the law. [Interjections.] Please stop shouting at me, Madam. Patience. What is wrong? Honestly, the hon member there is quite something. I mean, she just goes on screaming. I am saying that I am not going to respond.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M W Skhosana): Thank you, Minister. I don’t see any point in us continuing.
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITION: Mr Chairperson, could I address you on that, please?
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Can I just rule on this, please?
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITION: Before you rule on it, Mr Chairperson, I would actually like to address you on it. I think the hon Minister is conflating two things. One is the whole question of Adv Pikoli and there is an investigation going on. Quite rightly, that investigation will lead to a report before this House and this House will then have to take a decision.
This question is not about Adv Pikoli. We have just heard from the hon Minister of Safety and Security that he has spoken to the commissioner and has satisfied himself that the man is innocent. Now I want to ask the hon the Minister: What investigation is there into Mr Selebi? The hon Minister has said there is no such investigation.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Order, order! Please, I want to appeal to members that if the Minister insists that it is sub judice ... [Interjections.] Order, please! But then I also say that we will give a ruling on this matter. [Interjections.]
The MINISTER OF SAFETY AND SECURITY: Chairperson ...
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): The Minister is raising a point of order.
The MINISTER OF SAFETY AND SECURITY: Chairperson, on a point of order: You can look it up in Hansard; I did not say that I had satisfied myself that the national commissioner Jackie Selebi is innocent. I did not say that.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): We will, Minister, also look at the Hansard and see what the Minister actually said. I want us to move on now. We move on to Question 361 by the hon Shah to the Minister of Defence.
Steps taken to determine those responsible for prepayments and advancements totalling R176,5 million
361. Moulana M R Sayedali-Shah (DA) asked the Minister of Defence:
(1) Whether, in light of his department having received a qualified audit report from the Auditor-General for the 2006-07 financial year (details furnished), he or his department has taken any steps to determine who was responsible for the prepayments and advancements amounting to R176,5 million; if not, why not; if so, what steps;
(2) whether any action has been taken against those responsible; if not, why not; if so, what action? NO2356E
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENCE: The reply is as follows: All the advances for the amount of R176,5 million are only captured after the documentation has been received and correctly checked. These advances then become valid transactions that are reflected on our financial management system.
With regard to question two, the answer is no. The problem is that we have two financial systems. I’ve been saying this to Shah but I’m going to repeat until he understands me. Of course, my job, even in the church, is to preach every day, even if I‘ve preached the previous week. The two systems are not integrated and as a result the auditor is unable to trace transactions back to the source documents - I’ve already said that, Shah.
The Department of Defence is currently in the process of finding a solution to the problem by combining the information of the two systems into an Information Management Centre. As a result, the Department of Defence has developed plans to implement the integrated financial management system in line with the National Treasury’s expectations. Of course, like I said, when answering Question 360, the question is similar but it has just been put in a different language. That’s the same question I answered in Question 360.
Moulana M R SAYEDALI-SHAH: Chairperson, just as the hon Deputy Minister said that he has to repeat it again and again, I am also going to repeat it again and again. The challenges in financial services are caused by the delay in the implementation of the National Treasury’s financial management improvement programme and the integrated financial management system without which the Department of Defence will not be able to achieve an unqualified financial statement.
That is a fact, Minister, and we agree on it. The problems raised by the Auditor-General were reported in the 2004-05, 2005-06 and 2006-07 annual reports, which means they are recurring. I can understand that the old system did not allow for proper reporting. Don’t blame everything on the old finance system, you are not taking action on noncompliance in terms of the department’s own internal procedure. The question is: No action is being taken against people who do not comply with the Public Finance Management Act, the PFMA. It is the job of the Minister and the Deputy Minister to ensure compliance internally.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON: Hon member that was not a question. Deputy Minister, it is your choice.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENCE: Mr Shah, once the systems are in place and there is no compliance, I can assure you that we will definitely take action. I have said that and I must repeat that: We will definitely take action for any noncompliance once the systems are in place and this is what we are doing. We even had a meeting with the Auditor-General to help us to move forward. It is not a matter that we are just ignoring. We cannot do so because that will be irresponsible. We are talking here about the taxpayer’s money; we are doing something about it. Give us a chance. Once we’ve put the systems in place and there is no compliance, we will definitely act.
Dr G W KOORNHOF: Can I ask the hon Deputy Minister to assure the hon Shah, not the House, that yesterday the department informed the portfolio committee that both the department, as well as the National Treasury, are working on a plan to put the information systems of the department in place. It will not be this year but it will be phased in to satisfy the requirements of both the National Treasury and the department to correct this. There is no quick fix for this one but the problem is being addressed by the two departments in order to correct the situation.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENCE: Mr Koornhof, in fact this is what I’ve been trying to say and this is what I’m saying. But what I will do, I will find time tomorrow to have coffee with Mr Shah - or tea - because I know he is not the type of person who understands quickly. So, you need to take time and I’m going to repeat what I’ve been saying to him here over tea and once we have drank the first cup, I will repeat what I’ve said and we will order another cup of tea and I’ll repeat it until he understands.
Mr Shah is a very important person. He is a representative and he is here because he has been voted in to represent people in Parliament. So, I cannot ignore him because he takes time to understand. All that I need to do to save time, Deputy Chairperson, is to ask for special time with Mr Shah. I will either meet him somewhere or I’ll invite him to my office; I’ll make sure that there are two pots of coffee and two pots of tea so that I can repeat myself until he understands. Thank you.
Mr T J LOUW: I want to repeat what I have said to the hon Deputy Minister. For years now you’ve had bad audits. Every year the Auditor-General issues you with management letters explaining to you what the problems are. Why has it taken you three years to identify the problems so that you are only now taking action? That’s my question.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF DEFENCE: Chairperson, the hon member is mistaken when he thinks that it is only Mr Shah who thinks like that in this country. There are many people like Shah in the country - even in the department. Just as I will be explaining so many times to Shah, there are also people in the department whom we are sorting out. They do not listen, like Mr Shah, and that is why we are setting up a system so that we can act against them. Thank you.
See also QUESTIONS AND REPLIES.
The House adjourned at 17:06.
ANNOUNCEMENTS, TABLINGS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS
National Assembly and National Council of Provinces
The Speaker and the Chairperson
1. Translation of Bills submitted
- The Minister for Public Enterprises
- Molaokakanywa wa Broadband Infraco [M 26 – 2007] (National Assembly– sec 75).
This is the official translation into Sepedi of the Broadband Infraco Bill [B 26 – 2007] (National Assembly – sec 75).
(a) Report of the Public Service Commission (PSC) on the investigation into the Management of Public Servants in Terms of Prevailing Provisions who are elected as Municipal Councillors in the Limpopo and Western Cape Provinces – August 2007 [RP 152-2007].