Hansard: NA: Unrevised hansard
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 16 Nov 2006
No summary available.
THURSDAY, 16 NOVEMBER 2006
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
The House met at 14:02.
The Deputy Speaker took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.
ANNOUNCEMENTS, TABLINGS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS – see col 000.
NOTICE OF MOTION
Ms D KOHLER-BARNARD: Deputy Speaker, I hereby give notice that I shall move:
That the House considers the means of establishing, as approved by the hon President during oral question time yesterday, a multiparty commission to drive the revival of our Police Service, our courts and our prisons as a means of ensuring the safety of South Africans across the length and breadth of this country, safety they do not currently enjoy.
INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR TOLERANCE
The DEPUTY CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Deputy Speaker, I move without notice:
That the House —
(1) notes that —
(a) today, 16 November, is International Day for Tolerance, focusing the attention of the global community on tolerance as an essential condition for peace, democracy and sustainable development; and
(b) tolerance entails respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world’s and society’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human;
(2) acknowledges that —
(a) the principles of coexistence and tolerance are important as bases for building mutually acceptable relationships between diverse communities within the larger society; and
(b) it is people’s character rather than their skin colour which must be judged, and that we as South Africans should lead the way in ensuring that we celebrate our unity in diversity;
(3) believes that the current rise in acts of intolerance, violence, terrorism, xenophobia, aggressive nationalism, racism, anti-Semitism, exclusion, marginalisation and discrimination directed against national, ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, refugees, migrant workers, immigrants and vulnerable groups within societies threaten our efforts towards building peaceful and democratic societies and are obstacles to development; and
(4) calls on all countries and peoples to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours to unite their strength to maintain international peace and security.
TRAFFIC SAFETY DURING FESTIVE SEASON
The DEPUTY CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Deputy Speaker, we move without notice:
That the House —
(1) notes that —
(a) the next few weeks will mark the beginning of the festive season, when people will spend quality time with families and friends; and
(b) it is the same period that brings about joy and happiness amongst our people, whilst it also brings pain to other families;
(2) observes that the pain is caused in the majority of instances by driver negligence and disregard for road regulations, resulting in road fatalities, and that abuse of alcohol contributes significantly to accidents; and
(3) calls on all our road users to observe speed limits, not to drink and drive and to take regular rests along the road, and calls on pedestrians to wear visible clothes.
ISSUES PERTAINING TO PAROLE AND VIOLATION OF PAROLE
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon members, I wish to bring to the attention of the House that I have approved a request by the Minister of Correctional Services to make a statement on issues pertaining to parole.
The MINISTER OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES: Deputy Chairperson, thank you very much ...
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: It’s still Deputy Speaker!
The MINISTER OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES: Deputy Speaker! [Laughter.] I will not forget that, Deputy Speaker.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: OK, please don’t.
The MINISTER OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES: Thank you very much. Honourable Deputy Speaker, baie dankie [thank you very much]. [Laughter.]
Honourable Deputy Speaker and hon members, as I said during the ministerial responses on Tuesday, about 80 to 90 offenders during the past week benefited from the implementation of section 44 of the Correctional Services Act and departmental regulations, chapter 5(3)(f) and (4)(dd) to (ee). These offenders’ date for placement under correctional supervision has been determined by the independent correctional supervision and parole boards.
In terms of this legislation and regulations, a qualifying offender gets released at 11h00 on Friday morning under conditions determined by the area commissioner as an operational matter, and returns to the centre at 15h00 on Sunday.
These concessions are implemented only twice during the last six months of an offender’s incarceration, with a minimum of three months in between the two weekend passes, so any offender who benefited from a weekend pass this past weekend will not benefit for at least three months. Generally, hundreds of offenders benefit from these concessions each year.
Given that offender Tony Yengeni had served one sixth of his sentence, and therefore qualifies for placement under correctional supervision after 13 January 2007 in line with section 276(1) of the Criminal Procedures Act, there will be no other weekend pass for him. He has already appeared before the correctional supervision and parole board on 20 October, which confirmed the recommendations of the case management committee for correctional supervision.
I’ve taken serious note of the allegations of the violation of the weekend pass or parole conditions by offender Tony Yengeni and subsequently wish to announce in this House that in view of the allegations that offender Tony Yengeni violated his parole conditions during the past weekend parole, we have, as the department, instituted the following interim measures: one, that, pending the investigation of these allegations, Tony Yengeni will forfeit all privileges related to visitations by his spouse, children and any other close associates for a period of two weeks whilst the investigation is continuing; two, that he will also forfeit the privilege of using the telephone to communicate with family, friends and colleagues for the same duration as stated or alluded to above.
Hon members, it should be noted that this is not a punitive measure, but conditions that will ensure the investigation is not hindered. After the finalisation of the investigation the recommendations made from the probe will be considered and appropriate steps or action will be implemented.
The department deplores and condemns any breach of parole conditions by any offender, and would ensure that parole conditions are respected and observed at all times by every offender and by every family member. There is one policy regarding the conduct and treatment of all offenders in this department, and this has to be enforced and respected, and its integrity protected at all times. These are measures that the ANC government has put in place as a way of moving away from a punitive system to this new rehabilitative and corrective system.
I therefore appeal once again to members of this House and the public at large to respect these remedial and interim measures. We shall not tolerate any deviation from or breach of these conditions at any given stage. Let us therefore allow the due processes to be followed with regard to this matter and let offender Yengeni serve the last months of his sentence without any more public pressure exerted on him or any of my officials.
I’m appealing to relatives and family members of offenders, as well as close friends and associates, to assist offenders inside and outside our facilities to adhere to all regulations stipulated by the Department of Correctional Services. Madam hon Deputy Speaker, I thank you for this opportunity. [Applause.]
Mr J SELFE: Speaker, we are obviously glad that the Minister made this statement, and about the assurances that he has given to the House this afternoon.
The real pity is that he had to make this statement at all. There is a perception that the government is not serious about fighting crime and about punishing criminals. That perception is fuelled by the fact that inmates who are rich or well connected tend to have a better and more comfortable stay in prison than the average inmate.
It is a fact that bribery is rife in the department, and that inmates can obtain special privileges by paying officials. This is not only my own observation, but has recently been confirmed by the findings of the Jali Commission.
In Mr Yengeni’s case, there is another dynamic at work. Because the ANC has blurred the distinction between party and state, many officials in the Department of Correctional Services are redeployed ANC cadres. Thus, the outgoing national commissioner and his deputy, Jenny Schreiner, are both former ANC MPs, as is the regional commissioner from KwaZulu-Natal, Nathi Nhleko, who was one of Mr Yengeni’s successors as the ANC’s Chief Whip.
Mr Yengeni was carried into prison, shoulder high, by, amongst others, correctional officers. He was treated to a send-off attended by the ANC’s high and mighty, including the Speaker of the National Assembly. It is small wonder then that Mr Yengeni believed that he was untouchable and above the law. His former colleagues run the department, and many hon members here don’t believe that he did anything particularly wrong.
We will only break the cycle when we take to heart the statement that there is, before the law, no rich, no poor, no high, no low, no black, no white, but one law that applies equally to everyone.
The Minister’s statement was also instructive for what it did not say. A morning newspaper reports at length about how contracts were improperly awarded, and the links that exist between the company they were awarded to and the outgoing national commissioner. If even remotely true, this is a scandalous situation that must be fully and comprehensively investigated if the integrity of the tender process is to be restored. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: Madam Deputy Speaker, I agree with most of what Mr Selfe has said, and I think there is a lot for the Department of Correctional Services and the Minister, in particular, to consider with regard to rectifying the perception that exists in respect of prisoners.
The manner in which Mr Yengeni went on weekend leave, shoulder high, taken away by a waiting crowd, and all that was published in the newspapers makes a laughing stock of him being in prison. No matter what the Minister says, the perception remains that the rules are being bent for senior ANC persons, and that perception is not rebutted.
A much deeper investigation is needed to put this matter to rest. [Applause.]
Mr A HARDING: Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker.
Ek het so pas met gevangene nommer 95151291 gepraat en hy het my gevra om ’n boodskap aan u oor te dra. Hy was vir agt jaar in Helderstroom-gevangenis. Hy was ’n modelgevangene en was selfs ’n monitor. Wat hierdie gevangene sê, is: wat u aan die nasie sê, is verleidelik maar dis nie doelgerig nie. U word ’n klomp leuens deur u amptenary gevoer. Die skending van menseregte by Helderstroom is aan die orde van die dag, ten spyte van die teenwoordigheid van regter Erasmus se mense.
In sy dag des lewens is mnr Yengeni die eerste gevangene wat so gou op ’n naweekpas gegaan het. As ’n monitor het hy self honderde van hierdie aansoeke ingevul en almal is afgekeur. Daar was selfs gevalle waar gevangenes gevra het om net vir een dag uit te kom om ’n begrafnis by te woon en selfs dit is afgekeur. Hy vra dat u sy lêer trek om die feite vas te stel. Dankie. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)
[I have just spoken to prisoner number 95151291 and he asked me to convey the following message to you. He was in Helderstroom prison for eight years. He was a model prisoner and was even a monitor. What this prisoner is saying, is: What you are telling the nation is appealing, but not purposeful. You are being fed a pack of lies by your officials. The violation of human rights at Helderstroom is the order of the day despite the presence of Justice Erasmus’s people.
In his lifetime Mr Yengeni is the first prisoner to be granted a weekend pass so quickly. As a monitor he has filled in hundreds of applications himself and all were turned down. There have even been cases where prisoners have requested to be allowed out for one day to attend a funeral and even that has been turned down. He asked that you retrieve his file to determine the facts. Thank you.]
Mr S N SWART: Madam Deputy Speaker, hon Minister, the ACDP shared the concerns regarding the perception that Mr Yengeni was receiving preferential treatment, particularly following his hero’s send-off.
We therefore welcome your announcement today, Minister, that you have taken serious note of the allegations of parole violations, and that privileges have been withdrawn as an interim measure, pending the finalisation of the investigation.
It is very important that all citizens are considered equal before and subject to the same law, and that all offenders are subject to the same parole regulations. If one breaches those conditions, sanctions must follow, no matter who is involved, to protect, as you pointed out, the integrity of the parole policy.
We must at all times be careful of sending out the wrong message that if you’re politically connected, you enjoy special privileges, and are better treated than other offenders. I thank you.
Mnr P J GROENEWALD: Agb Adjunkspeaker, die agb Minister doen ’n beroep op die media en vra dat hulle tog nou die gevangene met rus moet laat en bietjie respek toon, sodat hy ook sy privaatheid in die gevangenis kan geniet. Die vraag is: as die media nie aan die hele aangeleentheid rondom Toni Yengeni soveel aandag gegee het nie, sou u as Minister dan nog opgetree het? Sou daar opgetree gewees het, as dit nie in die media bekend geword het dat hy sy paroolvoorwaardes oortree het nie? U doen skadebeheer op hierdie stadium.
Met hierdie aangeleentheid oor Toni Yengeni is die boodskap na buite en die sein wat die regering uitstuur dat as jy ’n ANC-lidmaatskapkaartjie het, sal jy bevoorregting en bevoordeling kry as jy in die gevangenis is. Toni Yengeni het nog nie eens tyd gehad om aan te pas in die gevangenis nie, toe moet hy alweer uitgaan om by die burgerlike lewe aan te pas. Dit is onaanvaarbaar. Dankie. [Applous.] (Translation of Afrikaans speech follows.)
[Mr P J GROENEWALD: Hon Deputy Speaker, the hon Minister is appealing to the media and asking them to please leave the prisoner in peace and to show a modicum of respect, so that he can also enjoy his privacy in prison. The question is: If the media had not paid so much attention to the whole matter concerning Toni Yengeni, would you - as the Minister - still have acted. Would steps have been taken if the contravention of his parole regulations had not been known in the media? You are doing damage control at this stage.
With this matter concerning Toni Yengeni the message and signal being sent out there by government is that if you have an ANC membership card you will receive preferential and favourable treatment if you are in prison. Toni Yengeni did not even have time to acclimatise to life in prison before he had to leave again to adjust to civilian life. It is unacceptable. Thank you. [Applause.]]
Mr I S MFUNDISI: Madam Deputy Speaker and hon members, we note with interest that, in keeping with international best practice in terms of prisons, the prisons in South Africa also make room for people to visit their families over a period of time. We have also noted what the Minister said, namely that the prisoner concerned would forfeit some of the privileges offered to him.
It is equally important to note that, yes, there is the perception out there that once you belong either to the ANC or to some other party, there is a feeling of entitlement, that people feel that they are entitled to some of these rights, whether this is the case or not. This has to be looked into and set right.
Another important thing is that it is also incumbent upon the offender himself to get out of the mode of denying that there is some wrong in what he has done. Until he has come to accept that, it will always be very difficult for him to know that he doesn’t have the freedom that he supposedly deserves. I thank you.
Ms S RAJBALLY: Madam Deputy Speaker, the MF wants to make it clear that, when a crime is committed, punishment needs to be served to restore the balance to society.
This punishment cannot be picked and chosen, but needs to be enforced in respect of the crime committed. While it is correct that circumstances may influence such judgments, it should not prejudice justice from being served.
We stand here today saying that all criminals need to receive the same treatment, and that no special treatment be awarded according to status.
We are, however, pleased that the department assures us that out of the 243 prisons in South Africa, “a prison is a prison”.
We need to assure the public that the criminal justice system in South Africa is being maintained in a most effective manner to ensure the rehabilitation of offenders and to deter crimes.
To the Minister, I want to say: We thank you for your proactive action. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
Mr S SIMMONS: Deputy Speaker, the UPSA again calls for the hon Minister to resign. [Interjections.] The hon Minister has been occupying all his time doing damage control after ill-disciplined officials messed up.
The South African public has to hear constantly of one crisis after another in the department. This is a clear indication that the hon Minister is not hands-on and proactive. The PR exercises of the Minister that have now become an institution in this department, like this statement made here today, will no longer suffice. This lack of a hands-on approach by the hon Minister is supported by his apparent ignorance of matters surrounding offender Tony Yengeni and the suspicious tender procedures involving the outgoing commissioner, Linda Mti.
There is now an urgent need for a drastic cleanup in the management of this Ministry and its department. The first step is for the hon Minister to resign. I thank you. [Interjections.] [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Mr D V BLOEM: Deputy Speaker, let me first start by saying that I am aligning myself with what the Minister has said. [Interjections.] We have a charter and it is the Freedom Charter. The Freedom Charter states that all shall be equal before the law, and no one - no one - is above the law. [Interjections.] That is exactly what the Minister is saying here today. He has been guided by the Freedom Charter and not by anything else, not by an agenda or by any other thing.
Minister, we as a portfolio committee, as a study group, will support you in that. [Interjections.] [Applause.] You see, when we say that nobody is above the law, we mean it. We are saying that if Tony Yengeni has contravened his parole regulations and privileges, he must be punished. That is what we are saying, and not what you are saying.
The Minister is saying that he is going to wait for a report - we are not judges here – to say yes or no as to whether he is guilty. We are saying, “Let us wait for the parole board to finish their work.” Mr Selfe was part and parcel of appointing ...
An HON MEMBER: Honourable Selfe.
Mr D V BLOEM: “Honourable” ... independent parole board chairpersons. Those chairpersons are not part and parcel of Correctional Services; they are civilians. We trust what they are going to do. We trust them. I don’t have any reason to doubt them.
I can say here and now that the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services will follow this whole thing of what has happened, but I must tell you that we can’t stand here and say that he is already guilty of an offence. It would be wrong of us. It would be totally wrong of us. We will wait, and I hope that the Minister will give us the outcome of the investigation by the regional commissioner or area commissioner and the parole board.
Minister, we are fully behind your decision that if a person, no matter ... They are saying... Mr Mfundisi was saying, “When you are well connected to the ANC ... ” and whatever else. [Interjections.] That is not the truth! The ANC ...
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, hon members! Please, let’s give the hon member an opportunity to address us.
Mr D V BLOEM: The ANC is the only, only honest party in this country. [Interjections.] [Applause.] The ANC Minister comes here ...
Mr M J ELLIS: On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker: I suspect that the hon member is telling a lie, and I wonder if that is parliamentary. He said that the ANC is the only honest party.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Actually your language is unparliamentary; an hon member is never ...
Mr M J ELLIS: I’m unparliamentary?
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Yes.
Mr M J ELLIS: I know I am, but I had to try to keep him quiet, Madam Deputy Speaker.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: So, you did that deliberately? Take your seat.
Mr M J ELLIS: Well ... certainly.
Mr D V BLOEM: You see, we are busy with a very serious issue here, and they are making jokes out of it.
Mnr P J GROENEWALD: Agb Adjunkspeaker, is die agb lid bereid om ’n vraag te beantwoord?
Mnr D V BLOEM: Jy kan maar vra, agb lid.
Mnr P J GROENEWALD: Agb Adjunkspeaker, ek wil net vir die agb lid vra: Is hy regtig eerlik as hy sê die ANC is die enigste eerlike party? [Tussenwerpsels.] (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)
[Mr P J GROENEWALD: Hon Deputy Speaker, is the hon member prepared to take a question?
Mr D V BLOEM: You may ask, hon member.
Mr P J GROENEWALD: Hon Deputy Speaker, I just want to ask the hon member: Is he really being honest when he says that the ANC is the only honest party? [Interjections.]]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon member, please answer the question.
Mnr D V BLOEM: Die rede waarom ek so sê, is dat daar altyd dinge vir ons weggesteek was. [Tussenwerpsels.] Hier kom ’n Minister van die ANC met ’n senior lid van die ANC – Tony Yengeni is ’n senior lid van die ANC – en die Minister sê: Ek neem hierdie en hierdie weg van jou.
Waar sal jy ooit eerlikheid soos dit kry? [Tussenwerpsels.] Waar gaan jy eerlikheid kry? Hy steek dit nie weg nie. [Applous.] Die Minister steek dit nie weg nie. Hy sê dat ons ’n ondersoek gaan doen. Ek sê dat niemand ... Die ANC steek dit nie weg nie! (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)
[Mr D V BLOEM: My reason for saying this is is that things were always hidden from us. [Interjections.] Here we have a Minister from the ANC with a senior member of the ANC – Toni Yengeni is a senior member of the ANC - and the Minister says: “I am taking this and that away from you.
Where are you ever going to find this kind of honesty? [Interjections.] Where are you going to find honesty? He does not hide it. [Applause.] The Minister does not hide it. He says that we are going to conduct an investigation. I am saying that no one ... The ANC is not hiding it!]
We will never defend any corruption. We will never defend anyone within prison. [Interjections.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, hon member! Hon members, please rise on a point of order and stop screaming. Anyone who wants to address us, rise on a point of order and let’s get that addressed, please.
Mr D V BLOEM: Deputy Speaker, they don’t have people in prison. They don’t know what is going on in prison. [Interjections.] That’s why they can howl like this. I am saying that I respect what Minister Balfour has done today. It shows that Minister Balfour is serious about rooting out this perception. I am saying “this perception”. Minister Balfour shows you today that, no, we are not going to defend anybody - anybody who has committed a crime and who is in prison. That is the message that Minister Balfour is giving all of us here today.
I don’t know why you are howling and howling. Are you not satisfied with what the Minister has done today? [Interjections.] You are not, because you don’t know what the rules and regulations are of our country. The Minister is following exactly that, to say that Mr Yengeni has done “one, two, three, four, five” and that, in the interim, “I am going to do: one, two, three.” Minister, thank you very much and congratulations on your stand. Thank you. [Applause.]
UNIVERSAL CHILDREN’S DAY
Mr B M SOLO (ANC): Madam Deputy Speaker, we have entered a period in which we are reminded daily that our children are under siege. They are victims of phantom criminals, of family violence and sexual abuse. It is a matter of urgency that we share the collective responsibility of ensuring that their right to be protected is fiercely guarded.
Unicef reports that there are 246 million children engaged in exploitative child labour; 140 million children who have never been to school; 300 000 soldiers - some child soldiers as young as eight years old. [Interjections.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! I think it is very clear that there are people who are committed to disrupting the sitting this afternoon. Just be warned that we are not going to allow that. Even if we remain with very few people who are committed to the proceedings, we will do so.
We are not going to be derailed by anyone who has an agenda that this House should not continue with its business. You have Rules, hon members, and I really beg you to use them. If you feel that a hon member is out of order, you should rise on a point of order and refer us to a specific Rule and we will then take it from there.
But, we are not going to allow people to just scream at speakers who are making statements here. Sometimes, before a person has even completed a statement, people already start howling. We are not going to allow that. We have a very, very long day ahead of us, hon members, and we want to be with people who are committed to this day.
Those who would like to take an early holiday, if they do not want to leave on their own, they will be made to leave. I hope that is clear, hon members. Mr Solo, I missed everything that you said from the beginning, so would you please start that statement again?
Mr H P CHAUKE: Madam Deputy Speaker ...
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: You are rising on what point, Mr Chauke?
Mr H P CHAUKE: Last time I raised a point on the closing of the bar in that area.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: You are out of order. Please sit down. [Laughter.] He actually refers to a bar of advocates. [Laughter.]
Mr B M SOLO: Madam Deputy Speaker, once more we have entered a period in which we are reminded daily that our children are under siege. They are victims of phantom criminals, of family violence and sexual abuse. It is a matter of urgency that we share the collective responsibility of ensuring that their right to be protected is fiercely guarded.
Unicef reports that there are 246 million children engaged in exploitative child labour; 140 million children who have never been to school; 300 000 soldiers, and some child soldiers are as young as eight years old. Since 1994, the ANC-led government has made significant progress in realising children’s rights. These include the ratification of numerous international instruments dealing with the protection of children’s rights.
The ANC takes a rights-based approach to children, which implies the acknowledgment and honouring of the full scope of their rights, namely political, social and economic. That must be promoted and protected to achieve the wellbeing of all children.
We believe it is only by locating children firmly within the national, social and economic development framework that we can address children’s concerns in a comprehensive and holistic way. The ANC calls on all South Africans to take responsibility for providing a supportive environment in which children can fully enjoy their rights. Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. [Time expired.]
Hon Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I just want to know whether it is parliamentary that when you have served in Parliament for 30 years you have the authority to put on a hat. [Laughter.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Yes, it is and it has nothing to do with how long you have served. [Laughter.] If an hon member is as handsome as Mr Van der Merwe, and so well dressed, we should say so. [Laughter.] [Applause.]
POLICE COMMISSIONER’S RELATIONSHIP WITH GLEN AGLIOTTI
Ms D KOHLER-BARNARD (DA): Madam Deputy Speaker, according to news reports, Glen Agliotti has just been identified as the man arrested today in connection with the murder of Brett Kebble. Mr Agliotti is a close friend of Police Commissioner Selebi, and as such the commissioner must now either step down or be suspended pending an investigation into the links he has with the man. Glen Agliotti was arrested by the Scorpions and will appear in court this afternoon.
Commissioner Selebi has admitted that Agliotti is a friend of his and there have been claims that Agliotti telephoned Selebi immediately after the murder. The cloud hanging over the commissioner is now so big that there is no option but to remove him should he not step down voluntarily, and to begin a full investigation into the nature of their relationship.
The commissioner, despite earlier attempts by the President to clear his name on this front, is closely connected with someone who has been arrested in connection with a felony. Surely, the man tasked with leading the fight against crime should be above reproach when it comes to the people he associates with.
The question has to be asked whether an objective investigation can be undertaken, if the SAPS is run by Selebi in the driving seat. My answer to that is: No! Immediate action must be taken to investigate the nature of Commissioner Selebi’s relationship with Glen... [Interjections.]
Prof A K ASMAL: Madam Deputy Speaker, I do not wish to interrupt the hon member, but I would like you to rule, not necessarily now, but to impute particular criminality to a senior officer is to interfere with a prosecution before the courts. [Interjections.] No, no, don’t bray like donkeys, it is a serious matter. [Laughter.] [Interjections.] I would like you to rule, please, as to whether or not the hone member’s statement is an interference with justice and contempt of court in a case which is sub judice. I would like you to rule in future, not necessarily today.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Would you please complete your statement, hon member?
Mrs S V KALYAN: Madam Deputy Speaker, on a point of order, may I address you? You just referred a little earlier to the fact that we should try to maintain the decorum in the House and the hon Kader Asmal refers to persons who are heckling as donkeys. A little earlier other members were shouting at us to shut up. May I ask that you rule on that and it is unparliamentary?
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: No, you are actually right. Hon Asmal, please withdraw the last part of your statement.
Prof A K ASMAL: I withdraw any asinine allusions to members of this House. [Laughter.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon member, I did not understand that. What did you say?
Prof A K ASMAL: I withdraw any imputations about asinine behaviour by members of this House.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: No, hon member, I would like you to withdraw the words referring to hon members as donkeys. Full stop!
Prof A K ASMAL: I withdraw the word “asinine”, which is related to donkeys.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: No, no!
Prof A K ASMAL: I withdraw the word “donkeys”.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you.
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: Madam Deputy Speaker, may we know what the word “asinine” means?
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: No, because the hon member decided not to use that word after all because I also did not understand it. So, for the benefit of the House, I made sure that he doesn’t use it, and he didn’t. Are you now satisfied? I shouldn’t have praised you so much because I am going to get trouble from you. [Applause.]
Ms D KOHLER-BARNARD: Madam Deputy Speaker, my final sentence, if I may complete it, is that immediate action must be taken to investigate the nature of commissioner Selebi’s relationship with Glen Agliotti. May I suggest that the members read the newspapers and listen to the radio. [Applause.] [Interjections.]
ACCESS TO BASIC FACILITIES
Mr M B SKOSANA (IFP): Madam Deputy Speaker, the IFP has noted the report of the UNDP of 2006, which states that our country has made important strides in providing basic services to our people; for instance access to safe water. Likewise, President Mbeki expressed a positive acceptance of the report and its assessment of South Africa.
However, the report also states that these advances have been negated by backward steps in some of the critical areas. At least 16 million South Africans are still without access to basic sanitation and we therefore need to reappraise some of our national policies to meet these challenges.
The report also emphasises the formidable challenges of HIV/Aids for South Africa and the African region. The standard life expectancy pattern between men and women has been reversed. Women are more likely to be infected and are more likely to die of Aids earlier than men.
The IFP therefore calls on the government to create and implement a clear national plan with well-defined targets, a strong regulatory framework with devolution of relevant powers to local authorities and constant monitoring of progress as recommended by the UN. I thank you.
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
Mr P A C HENDRICKSE (ANC): Madam Deputy Speaker, the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is observed by the UN and the international community on 29 November each year. The date of 29 November was chosen because of its significance to the Palestinian people as it was on this day, some 59 years ago, that UN General Assembly Resolution 181 was adopted that provided for the establishment in Palestine of a Jewish state and an Arab state. Of the two states to be created under this resolution, only one, Israel, has so far come into being.
The International Day of Solidarity has traditionally provided an opportunity for the international community to highlight the fact that the question of Palestine is still unresolved.
As South Africans, we have endured and experienced the atrocities of apartheid and we therefore understand the plight of the Palestinian people. We support the Palestinian people in their fight to attain their inalienable rights as defined by the UN General Assembly, namely the right to self-determination without external interference and the right to national independence and sovereignty.
We call on the Israeli government to create conditions for the implementation of the Hebron and Oslo accords. [Applause.]
EXTREME DRUG-RESISTANT TUBERCULOSIS OUTBREAK IN EASTERN CAPE
Ms S N SIGCAU (UDM): Madam Deputy Speaker, the UDM notes that extreme drug-resistant tuberculosis has now been confirmed in the Eastern Cape as well and that a dozen potential cases are also under investigation in the Western Cape. What this means is that this deadly disease has now been confirmed in nearly every province.
We appeal to the Department of Health to heed the dire warnings that medical experts are making with regard to XDR-TB.
The President of the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society says that hospital clinics are among the best places to catch TB because of the long queues and limited air circulation. It is important to remember that the HIV/Aids patients who visit hospitals and clinics for ARVs and other treatments are highly susceptible to TB. It is for this reason that prior to the appearance of XDR-TB South Africa already had one of the highest TB infection and mortality rates in the world.
This new outbreak has already claimed the lives of 52 of the 53 people infected in Tugela Ferry, KwaZulu-Natal. All of them died within 25 days of contracting this disease. I thank you, Deputy Speaker.
ROAD SAFETY OVER THE HOLIDAY SEASON
Dr C P MULDER (VF Plus): Mevrou die Adjunkspeaker, navorsing en padveiligheidstatistiek bevestig dat die meeste ernstige motorongelukke tussen 18h00 en 06h00 in die nag plaasvind. Terselfdertyd word padveiligheidswetstoepassing in die meeste provinsies nie na 18h00 in die aand gedoen nie. Die groot aantal onpadwaardige voertuie, motors, taxi’s en vragmotors wat in die nag sonder ligte ry of net met een lig ry, bevestig die totale gebrek aan wetstoepassing na sonsondergang.
Die VF Plus doen ’n beroep op die betrokke Minister en op die provinsiale owerhede om in die lig van die vakansieseisoen en jaarlikse hoë sterftesyfer toe te sien dat padveiligheidswetstoepassing op ’n gelyke basis, 24 uur per dag toegepas sal word in die tyd wat voorlê. Dankie. (Translation of Afrikaans member’s statement follows.)
[Dr C P MULDER (FF PLUS): Madam Deputy Speaker, research and road safety statistics confirm that the most serious motor vehicle accidents happen between 18h00 at night and 06h00 in the morning. At the same time road safety law enforcement is not applied in most provinces after 18h00 in the evening. The large number of unroadworthy vehicles, cars, taxis and trucks that drive around at night without lights or with only one light, confirms the total lack of law enforcement after sundown.
The FF Plus is appealing to the relevant Minister and the provincial authorities, in the light of the holiday season and the high annual death-toll, to see to it that road safety law enforcement is applied on an equal basis, 24 hours per day during the time that lies ahead. Thank you.]
CALL TO END BLOCKADE AGAINST CUBA
Ms D M RAMODIBE (ANC): Madam Deputy Speaker, for over four decades the Cuban people have been subjected to a cruel, unjust and inhuman blockade that has cost countless human and material losses.
The blockade on Cuba is an act of economic war for which there is no legal justification other than an expression of the United States’ hostile and aggressive policies towards the Cuban people.
Since 1992, the UN General Assembly has approved a resolution that demands the end of the blockade imposed on Cuba, with 183 countries voting that year in favour of the resolution. The South African government supports the UN resolution and has worked actively to strengthen bilateral relations with Cuba, including co-operation in the economic, commercial and financial spheres.
The ANC has consistently called for the blockade to be lifted, and in its 1994 conference resolutions, which have been reaffirmed in subsequent ANC conferences, the ANC described the blockade as a gross violation of the right of the Cuban people to choose their own social system. We do so not only in defence of the rights of the Cuban people but also in defence of the rights of the people of the international community. [Applause.]
Mr L M GREEN (FD): Madam Deputy Speaker, the South African Cape Corps has had a long, proud and illustrious history of active combat in both the First and Second World Wars. Members of the Cape Corps proved themselves in battles like Square Hill, the Battle of El Alamein and Tobruk.
Many Cape Corps members left Cape Town for El Alamein as truck drivers, medical assistants and stretcher-bearers but returned to Cape Town after the war as experienced fighters. However, on their return they were not recognized by the government of the day. They were demobilised, given medals for their bravery and bicycles for transport, but they were left largely unemployed and unrecognised.
The Cape Corps is the only regiment of the City of Cape Town which has never received the official recognition due to it despite service of valour on the African continent and overseas during the two world wars. They received no vote, no employment, no land and no social welfare.
Today there are many former members of the Cape Corps who feel disillusioned with the present integration process. They feel marginalised and excluded. Those who have been included in the SANDF are also dissatisfied with their treatment. Many of them feel that members of the liberation forces like MK, Apla and others have been more than adequately compensated and accommodated while members of the Cape Corps are being sidelined for being part of the former SADF. They are often overlooked when promotions are handed out and are repeatedly marginalised. Every year there is one group or another of the Cape Corps that marches to Parliament to demonstrate their unhappiness.
I therefore call upon the Minister of Defence, hon Lekota, to meet and consult with senior members of the former Cape Corps to provide an opportunity for them to air their grievances. Thank you, Madam Speaker. [Time expired.]
MINISTER OF HOUSING AS BUILDER
Mr A C STEYN (DA): Deputy Speaker, in a statement by an ANC member on Tuesday, this House was wrongly led to believe that the Minister of Housing single-handedly built six houses in Delft last week. The hon Minister in her response tried to correct the member by giving acknowledgement to a group of ANC members from the portfolio committee, who accompanied her to the building site last Thursday.
What the Minister failed to do, however, was to acknowledge that the project was initiated and driven by Cape Talk Radio and that the Minister and her entourage abused this initiative for their own political purposes. What she also failed to say was that other members of the committee were only informed of this impromptu visit to the site on Wednesday afternoon, knowing very well that political parties have caucus meetings on a Thursday morning.
What the Minister further failed to say was that some of the ANC members who did visit the site last Thursday returned to attend the afternoon session of Parliament. Therefore, if the Minister and a handful of members did indeed complete six houses in barely two days, I respectfully suggest that the Minister be relieved of her Ministerial duties and that she be permanently deployed to construct all future RDP houses.
Ironically, to date the Minister has chosen not to acknowledge the fact that the Gauteng MPs and MPLs, together with DA councillors from the Johannesburg Metro, financed and built a house through Habitat for Humanity last year. Instead, the Minister plays politics and challenges the hon Tony Leon to go out and build houses. Could this possibly be an unconscious acknowledgement by the Minister that she and her department have failed to carry out their mandate to house the people? [Applause.]
Mrs T L P NWAMITWA-SHILUBANA (ANC): Madam Deputy Speaker, on Saturday 11 November 2006 the Letsitele Police received information from the community at Nkambako village at Nwamitwa that a lady was alleging that her two-year-old daughter had gone missing on Monday 6 November 2006.
After the report was received, members of the SAPS proceeded to the village where they interviewed a young lady, Pinky Malatji, who is 19 years old. During the interview, the young lady admitted to the police that she had strangled her two-year-old daughter on Monday 6 November 2006 and buried her, still alive, in a shallow grave at the Shilovola River near the Nkambako village. The lady then accompanied the police to the alleged scene of the crime where the body was found in a decomposed stage. The young mother, Pinky Malatji, was arrested for murder and will appear in the Ritavi Magistrate’s Court on 13 November 2006.
This indeed is a sad occurrence. It should never have happened. It highlights the difficult choices many of our young mothers face. It speaks of the need to disseminate the message that the ANC government cares and is prepared to assist our people and has programmes in this regard. For our poor people there are support grants. [Time expired.]
ABALONE POACHING IN SOUTH AFRICAN WATERS
Ms C N Z ZIKALALA (IFP): Madam Deputy Speaker, the poaching of abalone as well as our other natural resources is a very serious problem that we are faced with. If we do not put a stop to this unscrupulous practice and bring the perpetrators of these crimes to book, including the syndicates that purchase these illegal gains from the poachers, then we will be faced with a situation in which our natural resources will get depleted at a very fast pace.
We were very encouraged by the arrest of two men earlier this week in Bruma, Johannesburg, for smuggling abalone worth R1,2 million. We do understand that there are many obstacles and hurdles that the environmental as well as other authorities have to overcome in their fight against poaching, including limited resources. We therefore congratulate them for the progress and the arrests that they have made thus far and for theie dedication to stop poaching. We do, however, believe that efforts to put a stop to this illegal practice have to be stepped up and additional resources need to be allocated to the fight against poaching, if we are to save our natural resources. I thank you.
CRITICISM OF SANDF IN THE MEDIA
Dr G W KOORNHOF (ANC): Madam Deputy Speaker, the ANC has noted that the SANDF has recently been subjected to attacks by certain sections of the media. Some of these attacks, especially on the role played by the SANDF in promoting peace and security on the African continent, were totally unsubstantiated and based on speculation. Unfortunately, some political parties represented in this House saw fit to jump on the same bandwagon, with uncalled-for attacks on the SANDF, its leadership cadre and our soldiers. The result of such attacks is that it may have a demoralising effect on the SANDF and its men and women in uniform.
When the SANDF is deployed in a foreign country for peace support operations, it is not met with a ready-made situation. It is often faced with challenging conditions in the host country. This places a massive strain on the capabilities of our soldiers, our equipment and our logistical systems.
Due to the vast areas in which our soldiers are deployed, and which stretch over thousands of kilometres, discrepancies in logistical systems are bound to be experienced. Internationally, the role played by the SANDF to promote peace and security in Africa is widely acclaimed. This achievement and other successes are not reported in the media and are often ignored by the opposition parties.
The ANC is proud of the SANDF and its men and women in uniform and their efforts to bring peace, security and progress on our continent. The ANC salutes the SANDF for the fabulous job that they perform. I thank you. [Applause.]
PUBLICATION OF PETROSA DOCUMENTS ON DA WEBSITE
Adv H C SCHMIDT (DA): Madam Deputy Speaker, the DA has uploaded onto its website all the documents handed to us by PetroSA, in response to the DA’s application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act. The documents can be found by logging onto the DA’s website, www.da.org.za.
The purpose of the DA’s application was to bring into the public domain information about the manner in which public money was being misspent and to hold PetroSA to account for its actions. By making these documents public, we believe that we are fulfilling this commitment. We invite the public and the media to read the documents and scrutinise the contents.
PetroSA fought us for the information for more than a year, but in the end common sense and justice prevailed. It remains to be seen, though, to what extent PetroSA actually complied with the court’s order. I thank you. [Applause.]
FIGHT AGAINST CRIME
Mr S MAHOTE (ANC): Thank you, Deputy Speaker. The ANC is committed to intensifying the campaign at all levels to reduce crime, especially the proliferation of illegal weapons and drugs, corruption and fraudulent activities, the abuse of women, children and the elderly and family violence.
Yesterday morning the SA Institute of Race Relations released a report on crime in the country. The report indicates serious crimes have declined by 10% since the advent of democracy in 1994. The murder rate has declined by 42% over the past 12 years. The rate of aggravated robbery has also declined by 11% over the same period. The findings are in many respects consistent with the official crime statistics recently released by the Minister of Safety and Security.
The ANC calls on the people, civil society and the business community to work hand in hand with the police to eradicate the curse of crime that continues to afflict our society. I thank you.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
Ms Z N NAWA (ANC): Madam Deputy Speaker, the ANC echoes that violence against women is unacceptable in any society and must not be tolerated. It is one of the most widespread violations of human rights, with one in three women being subjected to some form of violence in their lifetime.
On 25 November 2006, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, we should say with one voice that enough is enough. Women who seek redress for abuse sometimes do not receive adequate support from the institutions that are supposed to assist them.
Government’s initiatives to eradicate the scourge of violence against women and children are encouraging. There have been initiatives to reform the criminal justice system and improve the state’s response to violence against women, including a specialised sexual offences court and rape reporting centres in some local police stations.
The rights of women to equality, freedom and security of person and other freedoms contained in the Bill of Rights need to be asserted and defended. I thank you. [Applause.]
NEW EMBLEM FOR PARLIAMENT
The DEPUTY CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Madam Deputy Speaker, on behalf of the Chief Whip of the Majority Party, I move the draft resolution printed in his name on the Order Paper, as follows:
That the House—
- notes that—
- the Joint Rules Committee in November 2006 approved a particular Emblem for Parliament, while identifying a need for a slight adjustment;
- a public involvement process and full consultation with parties have taken place in the development of this emblem;
- the Parliament Oversight Authority had considered the proposal and suggested further refinement; and
- the launch of the new emblem is planned for early 2007; and
- authorises the Presiding Officers to approve the emblem, after consultation with parties, and to formally present it to the Houses in early 2007.
CRIMINAL LAW (SEXUAL OFFENCES AND RELATED MATTERS) BILL
(Consideration of Report)
There was no debate.
The Deputy Chief Whip of the Majority Party moved: That the Report be noted.
Motion agreed to.
Report accordingly noted.
CRIMINAL LAW (SEXUAL OFFENCES AND RELATED MATTERS) AMENDMENT BILL
(Second Reading debate)
The MINISTER FOR JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Madam Speaker, indeed, for many a democrat in our country, for all in my party, all those who work for the wellbeing of our people in general, our women, our children, for the promotion and protection of their rights, I am here to lead in the debate around the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Bill - a very important piece of legislation for the promotion of the human rights of all our people, women and children in particular, the most vulnerable.
This legislation has been in the making for many years now. I had, earlier on in the day, during the media briefings of the JCPS cluster by my colleague the Deputy Minister, indicated that it has been in the making for 12 years. I would like to say, as a follow-up on that very remark, it may well be not exactly 12 years, that over the past years a lot of work has been done at tertiary institutions by my party, by NGOs and CBOs interested in the promotion of human rights, and in particular in the protection of women and children against violence. A body of knowledge has therefore been gathered and developed over this period of time, and it is submissions bearing this kind of detail relating to the safety of such persons that have been presented as submissions before the Portfolio Committee on Justice.
This Bill is informed by a lot of contributions from the parties that are participating in the portfolio committee or have participated over the years, CBOs and NGOs and other experts who made their submissions to the portfolio committee. The assumption one has to draw is that it is therefore as comprehensive as a Bill of this nature can be.
If one looks at the explanatory notes of the Bill, one realises the broad spectrum of coverage by the Bill from institutional arrangements to determining penalties related to sexual offences. It even includes new, modern notions such as having a national register for sex offenders, and also deals with issues related to post-exposure prophylaxis in cases where one is infected with HIV/Aids. It is therefore very wide.
My task today is twofold. As I introduce this legislation, I would firstly want to use the occasion to commend all those who have been involved over the years. Most importantly, I want to commend the Deputy Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development, my colleague adv De Lange, who was involved in the steering of the drafting of this Bill over many years until the current Chairperson, Fatima Chohan-Khota, took over and, of course, led very efficiently the process of consultation and drafting of this Bill. I, then in the same spirit, have to acknowledge the role played by my predecessors, both the late Dullah Omar and Penuel Maduna. In the time left I want to thank members of the department for the work that they have done.
The second part of my task is an undertaking that, as the Bill comes to pass, I should then use this occasion today to say that we will do our best to implement or lead in the implementation of this Bill. In parts, the Bill requires the setting up of very intricate and complex institutional arrangements and, obviously and correctly so, requires that there be a very close collaboration between interlinked departments.
Without much ado, I would like to make that commitment, that we will do our best, but then to say laws can only be enabling. If we are to eradicate violence in our society, we really need to do more. We must address those cultural practices in our society that lead to or exacerbate or cause the abuse of women. In other words, we must enjoin all those who fight for the promotion and advancement of women’s human rights. We must also work hard towards the protection of our children. We must even work equally hard for stable family units, because, dear friends, as you may know, it is in the area of contact crime that we record higher levels of criminality and thus we must work towards strengthened and strong family units.
We have a lot to do, so whilst we do have enabling legislation, which prescribes punitive measures as well, we have to take the struggle to the streets, to our people. We have to enjoin all our people to be part of the fight against criminality in general and against the abuse of women and children in particular.
It is indeed opportune for us to advocate for elements of this Bill at this particular time, because, as we all know, we recognise in this month in particular, moving into December, the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children. The President always says this is a 365-day campaign and so perhaps we will pick on elements of this Bill to further educate our people on the advancement of the security of women and children and indeed all vulnerable persons in our country. Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for the opportunity to address the House. [Applause.]
Ms F I CHOHAN-KHOTA: Hon members, I dedicate this speech this afternoon to all mothers who teach their sons to treasure girls, to all the wonderful South African men, fathers and husbands who love and protect their wives and daughters, and to rape victims everywhere who, having been violated in the most demeaning way, show amazing resilience to us all and who choose to live in dignity, thereby giving us all hope; hope for the boundlessness of the human spirit and hope for a world without violence. [Applause.]
While we do what we can in the legislation before us, there is, as the Minister says, a limitation to what legislation can achieve. By itself the Bill is not going to completely halt the high incidence of sexual violence reported every day at our police stations. If we hope to prevent sexual violence, we will have to look very deeply within ourselves, within our communities, and trace our historic path to this space in time.
Given our previous intimate relationship with violence, we might have failed to teach our children healthy alternatives to violence. Perhaps we have underestimated the devastating role played by alcohol and drugs, and we might even have misunderstood the effect of the permissive influences of images, films and advertisements so glaring in our daily lives. How else, members, do we explain the rape of an 18-month-old baby by a 15-year-old boy a few days ago in Limpopo province? How else do we explain the rape and setting alight of a seven-year-old not 20 kilometres away from this House?
These are amongst the issues that, I think, need serious and committed thought from all of us. [Inaudible.] ... it really is very disturbing. Madam Deputy Speaker, I can’t hear myself.
It is time, perhaps, that we became more vigilant as to the kinds of things that we feed into our children’s minds, and in order for us to rescue our souls it is important that we try to find some time, perhaps, in this House to focus our thoughts more keenly in this regard.
The Bill before us aims in a single piece of legislation to deal with the law on sexual offences and related matters. Having said that, it is important to note that parts of the old Sexual Offences Act of 1957 that criminalised prostitution still remain, although it bears noting that the SA Law Commission is reviewing the legal aspects relating to adult prostitution and its implications in our new democracy.
We therefore, in this Bill, do not deal with adult prostitution, except as it pertains to the decision of the Constitutional Court in the Jordan case in which the hiring of the sexual services of prostitutes was found to be as much a crime as the crime of prostitution itself.
The Sexual Offences Act of 1957 is silent on the matter of the clients of prostitutes, and a grave inequality exists in how the criminal justice system treats the crime of prostitution. Currently in our country only prostitutes, who are mostly women, and not their clients, who are mostly men, are arrested, charged and prosecuted.
In a constitutional democracy it is an affront to treat women who are prostitutes as criminals, but not their clients as well. These clients in any case, for all intents and purposes, seem to go on blissfully with their otherwise model lives, completely unaffected.
The last prosecution in this country of a person who hired the services of a prostitute was in 1987 - gender bias in its most blatant form, I would say. Unless and until there is a comprehensive review of the law on prostitution and while such unequal practices exist, we in this House are compelled to act in a manner that accords with what is just and what is proper, and in accordance with the decision of the Constitutional Court.
The Bill is further divided into seven chapters, the first of which sets out certain definitions which relate to our attempt to modernise the law on sexual offences. The definition of sexual penetration, in particular, is a departure from the current common law definition and extends penetration to include oral and anal penetration. Consequently, the crime of rape, which is essentially the unlawful and intentional act of sexual penetration, is broadened significantly. Rape will now cover forced oral sex and the situation in which a man is sexually penetrated against his will or when an object such as a gun is used to penetrate a victim.
New crimes of compelled rape and compelled sexual assault are created to specifically deal with an instigator of the crime who compels, through the use of force or some other means, someone else to commit rape or sexual assault. This new crime is not to be confused with aiding, abetting or accomplice crimes.
A victim may also be compelled to engage in acts of self-penetration or acts of sexual self-degradation. The instigator will henceforth face a charge of compelled sexual self-assault. Compelling a husband to watch his wife or daughter being raped will henceforth require the perpetrators to be charged with both rape as well as the crime of compelling a person to witness a sexual offence. There are a host of other crimes in the chapter relating to adult persons flashing, exposure of child pornography, incest, bestiality and the crime of committing a sexual act with a corpse.
Crimes against children are dealt with specifically in recognition of the fact that children are vulnerable. Statutory rape and sexual assault are two crimes that have been preserved in this law to provide further protection to children between 12 and 16.
The Bill regards children under 12 as incapable of consenting to any sexual act. This means, of course, that children above 12 can factually consent. However, if the child is between the ages of 12 and 16 and the consent of the child has been established, any person found to have engaged in a sexual act with such a child will nonetheless be guilty of statutory rape or statutory sexual assault.
A very compelling case was made for the extension of this provision to children under the age of 18, and we did consider this. However, given the diversity of our society and the prevalence of sexual activity amongst children in the category between 16 and 18, it was felt that extending statutory rape and sexual assault in this way would have the unintended consequence of criminalising 16-year-olds to 18-year-olds engaging in sexual behaviour.
Statutory rape, we hope, will no longer apply to the proverbial teenage boy who, having been intimate with his teenage girlfriend, finds himself hauled to the police station by the girlfriend’s irate father. Indeed, if prosecution is to follow in this kind of circumstance, both the young man as well as the young lady would have committed a crime, and both are now required to be charged. More and more, we hope the crime of statutory rape will be used to convict adults who entice and seduce young children into sexual behaviour.
Children and persons who are mentally disabled are the two categories which have been dealt with specifically in recognition of their inherent vulnerability. Persons who are mentally disabled are defined as those who are affected by any disorder or disability of the mind to the extent that they, at the time of the alleged commission of the offence, were unable to appreciate the nature and reasonably foreseeable consequences of a sexual act, unable to act in accordance with such appreciation, and unable to resist or communicate their unwillingness to participate in such an act.
Specific crimes created for both these vulnerable categories include sexual grooming, prostitution, benefiting or living off the proceeds of such prostitution, creating pornography using children or persons who are mentally disabled and benefiting financially from such pornography. Exposing children and persons who are mentally disabled to pornography and harmful material is now also criminalised. Both these vulnerable groups are further protected by the introduction of the register of sex offenders. This register will, hopefully, be in operation within six months of the Act being enacted.
The register will contain names of sex offenders who offend against children and persons with mental disabilities. The register will be established specifically to enable employers to screen potential employees who work with or have excess to children prior to employing them. The law provides that such employers must screen potential employees. Existing employees are enjoined to disclose any conviction, failing which they are liable to be criminally convicted and also lose their jobs.
Licensing authorities granting licences to businesses which provide supervision or care services to either of the vulnerable categories will be required to apply for a clearance for applicants prior to the relevant licences being granted. Likewise, people who adopt children or foster them are also in future to be cleared by the register.
It should at this juncture be stressed that this register is not a naming and shaming tool akin to the paedophile registers that operate in other countries. There are strict confidentiality provisions that are crafted to avoid the terrible experiences of those in other countries who have been falsely tagged because of administrative errors and commonly shared names.
As this register will contain names of offenders within our borders as well as without, it is hoped that it will evolve into a sound preventative and protective mechanism for our children and persons who are mentally disabled, and that our country will no longer be seen to be a safe haven for paedophiles.
In regard to treatment, the Bill provides for a whole protocol to be developed around the administration of post-exposure prophylaxis – Pep - to victims of certain sexual offences. In future, any such victim who may potentially have been exposed to the HI virus, who presents herself within 72 hours of the offence occurring at a designated clinic or police station and who lays a charge, will be provided with the Pep treatment.
The Compulsory HIV Testing of Alleged Sexual Offenders Bill of 2003 was collapsed into this Bill due to its close relationship with the main aim and purport of this Bill.
Provision is made for a mechanism to allow victims, who may have been exposed to the bodily fluids of a perpetrator, to obtain the HIV status of such offender whose identity may be known to them. Such a mechanism will kick in upon the granting of a court order. Criticisms have, inter alia, been raised to suggest that a negative result of the perpetrator would dissuade victims from receiving the Pep treatment. This argument, I believe, is a shocking assault on the intelligence of victims of sexual offences, who are mainly women.
While this mechanism is not perfect, it is certainly worthwhile. Its advantages to rape victims are obvious. Rape victims will be given information as to whether or not they have been exposed to the HI virus, and this is an important psychological tool.
Rape victims will also be empowered thereby to make certain decisions about their lives, lifestyles and loved ones. While there is no doubt that this provision will be challenged, we are confident that our courts will see the finely balanced checks and balances provided for in this regard.
Most unusually for legislation, we provide a comprehensive national policy framework in recognition of the fact that one of the most critical challenges in the criminal justice system is the lack of interdepartmental co-ordination with regard to sensitive and efficient service delivery, particularly when it comes to sexual offences.
The establishment of an intersectoral committee, consisting of the Directors-General of Justice, Social Welfare and Health, the National Commissioners of Police and Correctional Services and the National Director of Public Prosecutions, is meant to ensure the implementation of the objects of this Act.
The objects are, inter alia, to ensure intersectoral co-ordination and enhancement of service delivery at the level of our criminal justice system. If we succeed in the attainment of synergies in the criminal justice system, I want to submit that half of the battle against crime and sexual offenders in particular would have been won.
We have introduced in this Bill some changes to the law of procedure and evidence, which I don’t have time to go into right now, but my colleague Mr J B Sibanyoni will be dealing with this at some length.
I do, however, want to deal with one further very important aspect of this legislation, which is the transitional provision that we have included relating to human trafficking. Again, in a bizarre turn of events, the inclusion of this provision has been criticised by those who claim to be fighting for the protection of women and children. The crux of the argument seems to be that trafficking should be a stand-alone crime, while we only deal with it in the context of trafficking in persons for sexual purposes.
While it is true that human trafficking may be for purposes other than sexual exploitation – and, in that sense, the provisions could be said to be narrow in their scope - there is, however, an undeniable link between trafficking and sexual exploitation, in particular the prostitution of women and children.
Countries that have legalised prostitution rank as high or very high receivers of trafficked persons in the UN report on global trafficking published this year, while our own country, where prostitution is unlawful, and countries like Sweden, which regard prostitution as violence against women and children, rank far lower as potential receiver countries for trafficked persons.
I say again: there is an undeniable link between prostitution and human trafficking. This is a very sobering thought for those of us who are policy-makers and those of us who are listening, particularly in the light of the Law Commission’s review on the matter of adult prostitution. As this is meant to be a transitional provision, it will be replaced once a comprehensive piece of law dealing with human trafficking is enacted. But, until then, these clauses that we have placed in the Bill will remain an important weapon in our efforts, alongside those of other countries, to eliminate human trafficking.
Finally, I want to take this opportunity in the last few minutes that I have left to thank, firstly, all those individuals who have made comments and who have made submissions to the portfolio committee. I believe that a lot of the good suggestions have, in fact, enhanced the quality of the Bill.
Secondly, I want to take the time to really recognise the sterling efforts of the legal drafters in the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, in particular Mr Lawrence Bassett, Mr Henk du Preez, Ms Dalene Clark and Mr Hennie Potgieter, who have really gone over and above the call of duty and have worked weekends to try to get this Bill sorted. I do thank you very, very much. [Applause.]
Thanks also go to the Deputy Minister and the Minister for their guidance and assistance, and, lastly, thanks go to all the members of the portfolio committee who, when the rest of Parliament was away, were the only ones warming the seats of this House. Thank you for putting up with me and thank you for the dedication shown.
I want to conclude by wishing everybody a happy festive season. Look after your children, and may it be a safe season for all of us. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
Mrs S M CAMERER: Thank you, Madam Chair. In the same spirit that the Chair addressed this, can I likewise wish members of the House everything of the best over the festive season and may I congratulate you, Madam Chair, on your festive headgear.
Let me assure the House right at the start that the DA supports this Bill. We do not do it holding our noses, as many of us did when we supported the messy Civil Union Bill earlier in the week. The DA regards this legislation as an important reform measure, which is long overdue. The fact that we are rushing it through the National Assembly on this last day of the year’s session, ahead of the sixteen days of activism against violence against women and children, is better than not doing it at all.
That having been said, it is certainly not a perfect piece of legislation, as the justice portfolio committee itself recognises, and that has been documented in detail in our report to the National Assembly on the agenda today.
A number of issues have been left hanging in the air. For instance, the criminalising of a person’s nondisclosure of his or her HIV status has been left out for further consideration by the department.
The issue of adult prostitution has been dealt with in a piecemeal and possibly unsatisfactory way, the Constitutional Court’s decision notwithstanding, partly because it is currently subject to a review by the SA Law Reform Commission, and the issue of rehabilitation of offenders has been left out for further study. Nevertheless, it is a vast improvement on what we had before.
An unanswered question is why we had to wait so long for the law dealing with sexual offences to be reformed. After all, the previous Sexual Offences Act dates way back to 1957. It is true that the SA Law Commission spent several years researching a new legal regime for sexual offences. I think the Minister mentioned that this Bill has been 12 years in the making.
However, the ANC government only introduced the new Bill to Parliament in 2003. This was extensively discussed and amended after 128 submissions were received on the draft Bill, and after a week of public hearings. The process, however, came to a halt in February 2004, ahead of the April general election. The Bill then failed to return to Parliament for two and a half years. Several promises by the Minister in the interim to bring the Bill back, given to me among other members during this period, failed to materialise. It appears the public outcry around the Zuma rape trial was persuasive in the Bill’s return, which occurred shortly afterwards in June this year.
The Bill before the House is now very ambitious. Its object is to completely overhaul the law relating to sexual offences, as has been outlined by the Chair. It’s far-reaching, comprehensive and a very complicated piece of legislation which breaks a lot of new ground.
Among other things, the Bill repeals the common law offence of rape and replaces it with the new expanded, nongender-specific statutory offence of rape applicable to all forms of sexual penetration. This quantum leap was necessary in terms of the Constitution and will establish South Africa’s legislation as among the most progressive on sexual offences. Sexual assault, previously indecent assault, is similarly dealt with.
The Bill also creates a host of new statutory offences criminalising certain sexual acts as well as introducing new sexual offences against children and mentally disabled persons.
Perhaps one of the most positive aspects of the Bill is that it introduces a number of provisions intended to protect children against sexual predators, paedophiles and pornography. Importantly, and in line with the Constitution, the Bill eliminates the differentiation between the age of consent for boys and girls, so that it is now 16 for both.
A troublesome aspect of this change, however, for children, boys particularly, between the ages of 16 and 18 is their vulnerability at this time to adult sexual predators, which has been pointed out in the justice committee’s report, and we say that this aspect requires further research.
The Bill introduces new dimensions to the consequences of sexual offences in that it provides that certain services must be afforded by the state to rape victims who report the rape either at a police station or at a designated state hospital - for instance, the right to receive post-exposure prophylaxis against HIV infection at designated state hospitals within 72 hours and the right to apply for the alleged perpetrator to be tested for HIV.
These are important reforms, insisted upon by the portfolio committee as a result of pressure from civil society and the input from the SA Law Reform Commission. However, they do not, in our view, go far enough. One of the DA’s main concerns is that the provisions ensuring that a rape victim or a child victim of sexual offence would be treated by the court as a vulnerable witness in the earlier version of the Bill, which served before Parliament previously, have now been removed from the Bill before us today. The DA believes these provisions are necessary to prevent secondary trauma.
It is true that the Criminal Procedure Act has been amended to include watered-down elements of the SA Law Reform Commission’s original proposals in this regard, but in our view this is not sufficient protection. It has been argued that to afford complainants in rape and sexual assault cases this status would be too costly in terms of the extra facilities and services that need to be made available, but we do not accept that this is a good reason. All our experiences of sexual offences courts make the case for the inclusion of this provision; in fact, they cry out for it. Properly equipped sexual offences courts yield double the conviction rate of other courts.
Another important issue in the Bill is the establishment of a national register for sex offenders. This is regarded as controversial in some quarters, and creates wide and possibly burdensome obligations on those working with children, but the DA agrees that the establishment and maintenance of this register is vitally important for the better protection of vulnerable children and the mentally disabled.
And, for the first time, trafficking in persons for sexual purposes has been outlawed in legislation by way of an interim provision in the Bill, pending the finalisation of proposals by the SA Law Reform Commission. The inclusion of this transitional measure was initiated by the DA, as we had already promoted legislation by way of a private member’s Bill and had made proposals to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, which had been accepted.
For all these reasons, we support the Bill. However, we have some reservations about certain aspects, particularly the late introduction of a provision criminalising the soliciting of sexual services from prostitutes, as we have indicated, and also a fairly dubious extraterritorial jurisdiction over sexual offenders, which, we believe, could possibly be contested in the Constitutional Court. But save for these problems we believe the Bill, though complicated, is satisfactory and a vast improvement on what we had before. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: Chairperson, Sheila referred to those red things in your hair, and I just want to say they make you look very attractive and beautiful, and I hope this doesn’t make me guilty of sexual harassment. [Laughter.]
The chairperson of the portfolio committee and Sheila, to some extent, have highlighted details of the Bill, and I therefore do not want to repeat what they have said. I only wish to deal with the Bill briefly and make some general comments.
With the introduction of this Bill, we’ve come to the end of a very long and difficult journey. No one worked harder during the past few years than the chairperson of the portfolio committee, who made an excellent speech today. We wish to thank you for that and also the staff who worked so hard, and even Johnny de Lange for a long period - thank you very much.
This Bill for the first time provides South Africa with a single comprehensive piece of legislation dealing with sexual offences. This is a great and historic event in the life of our criminal justice system. The point is that for decades a very large gap existed in our criminal law dealing with offences of a sexual nature. This lacuna meant for instance that the criminal offence of rape only applied to the rape of a woman by a man. This has caused considerable misery, especially where men have been raped by other men. Before today, this was not rape. Now it is, thanks to this Bill. The Bill finally closes the gap by expanding the definition of rape to include all forms of sexual penetration without consent, irrespective of gender.
We are especially grateful for the creation of the national register for sex offenders, which will fill another gap in our law, and this will hopefully in practice result in more protection for children against abuse.
In conclusion, I want to highlight one of the portfolio committee’s main recommendations on the implementation of the Bill, namely that the department should launch a project that is aimed at the promotion and facilitation of training on the legislation and its implications. The department has to submit a detailed proposal on such a project to the committee, after consultation with all the relevant stakeholders. This is, in our opinion, a vital recommendation. All too often this House passes legislation that looks very good on paper, but sometimes these laws are almost unimplementable or are so difficult to implement and to understand that their objectives are never realised or are only partially realised.
The IFP supports the recommendation and calls on the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development to present its proposals to Parliament as soon as possible. The IFP supports the Bill.
Mr G SOLOMON: Chairperson, this Bill extensively and comprehensively reviews and amends all aspects of the law and its implementation relating to sexual offences. It deals with these in a single piece of legislation, based on the values of human dignity, equality and nonsexism as stated in the Freedom Charter of our people, which today lies at the heart of our constitutional democracy.
Chapter 5 of the Bill provides for certain services to certain victims of sexual offences, including affording a victim of certain sexual offences the right to require that the alleged perpetrator be tested for his or her HIV status.
I am mindful that HIV/Aids is a heavily contested terrain in South Africa today. It is not my intention to enter this discourse, save to say that our government’s response to the challenge of HIV/Aids is not as narrow as in your medical model but a holistic and comprehensive approach, taking into consideration also the issues of underdevelopment, poverty and the status of women in particular in our society.
My purpose here is to explain, firstly, chapter 5 in a practical way so that victims might clearly understand the possible risk of HIV infection which they are exposed to in an encounter with the sexual offender and, secondly, what medical treatment and services they are entitled to as a result of such a violent encounter. Thirdly, the process provided for in this Bill to be followed affords victim the opportunity of knowing as soon as possible whether he or she might have contracted HIV. Fourthly, there are the constitutional implications of the rights to privacy, bodily and psychological integrity, and the right to access health care services and, fifthly, there is the right of every accused person, including an alleged sexual offender, in this regard to be presumed innocent until a court of law proves otherwise.
Without any doubt, the prevalence of sexual violence against persons, especially women and children, and the Aids pandemic in our country create the real possibility that sexual offenders having HIV might infect their victims with the virus when they commit sexual assaults of a penetrative nature.
Because our government is concerned about the risks which victims are exposed to, the Bill provides for a legal procedure for the compulsory testing of alleged sexual offenders. In essence, chapter 5 makes provision for medical treatment and advice for the victim, compulsory HIV testing of the alleged offender, procedures to be followed to procure such tests, the role of third parties with a material interest in this process and maintaining the confidentiality of the information.
In this regard the sexual offences Bill entitles the victim who has been exposed to risks of infection with HIV as a result of sexual assault to receive, at state expense, a post-exposure prophylaxis or Pep treatment at a health facility designated by the Minister of Health. It also entitles a victim to get free medical advice on the administering of Pep and to be supplied with a list of public health institutions which provide these services.
With regard to the application for compulsory HIV testing of the alleged offender, the victim or an interested party on behalf of the victim, may make an application to the magistrate for a court order directing that the alleged offender be tested for HIV.
If an interested party is involved, such an application must be with the written consent of the victim unless the victim is under the age of 14 years, mentally disabled, unconscious, under curatorship in terms of an order of court or a person whom the magistrate is satisfied is unable to provide the requested consent. The magistrate must consider the application in chambers as soon as possible. Moreover, a police official may, for the purposes of investigation, apply to the magistrate in whose jurisdiction the offence occurred for an order for compulsory HIV testing.
All of this may be done in the absence of the victim if the magistrate is of the opinion that there is prima facie evidence and that it is in the best interests of the victim.
The results of the test may not be communicated to any person other than, firstly, the victim or an interested person as defined in the Bill; secondly, the alleged offender; and thirdly, the investigating officer and, where applicable, a prosecutor.
The confidentiality of the results must be maintained and any test obtained with a false charge is an offence liable on conviction to a fine or imprisonment not exceeding 3 years. Disclosure of the results with malicious intent or in a grossly negligent manner is an offence, liable on conviction to a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 3 years.
Inspired by a vision to create and build a society based on the values of human dignity, freedom, equality and nonsexism, as expounded in the Freedom Charter, the ANC believes that incidents of sexual violence, particularly against women and children, undermine this vision.
Central in this regard is the right to freedom and security of the victim which includes, amongst other things, the right to bodily and psychological integrity, and the right to access health care services.
Sexual violence in the context of a serious HIV/Aids pandemic, as is the case in South Africa, severely undermines the victim’s freedom, dignity and security of his or her person. This is the context in which the right of access to the HIV status of the alleged offender should be approached and assessed.
It is important to understand that the right to determine the HIV status of the alleged offender in appropriate circumstances would empower victims to gain some control over their lives at a time when they have been violated by sexual assault. It is precisely because of this that knowledge of the HIV Status of the alleged offender by the victim should be approached and understood.
It will inform and enhance the choices that victims have to make about the rest of their lives. It must be emphasised that there are real benefits for the victim in having knowledge about the HIV status of an alleged offender.
For instance, when there is the possibility of infection, it would assist the victim in making further choices as to whether or not to continue the post-exposure prophylaxis, or Pep treatment and also how they conduct themselves with regard to matters of sexual and reproductive activities.
Our democratic Parliament would be failing in its constitutional democracy if it did not also express concern for the constitutional rights of the alleged offender. Central in this regard is section 35 of the Constitution which provides, amongst other things, that every accused person, including the alleged sexual offender, be presumed innocent until a court of law pronounces on the matter.
Therefore, taking into account the constitutional guarantees, the sexual offences Bill creates the procedural mechanisms to safeguard and protect the constitutional rights of alleged offenders as follows. The application for compulsory HIV testing must be considered by the magistrate in chambers. The magistrate must be satisfied that there is prima facie evidence that (a) a sexual offence has been committed, (b) the victim may have been exposed to the body fluids of the alleged offender, and (c) no more than 90 calendar days have lapsed since the alleged offence occurred.
The alleged offender retains his or her right to apply to the High Court for a review of the order directing compulsory testing if that order was not granted in accordance with the prescribed requirements in the Bill.
In conclusion, I believe this is an excellent and modern piece of legislation that will adequately meet the needs of our society. However, the success of it hinges on the following: adequate conscientisation, education and training of all relevant role-players including the broader society.
The GCIS can play a crucial role to facilitate the public awareness part of this process. Thank you.
Ms F BATYI: Chairperson, the amended sexual offences Bill is a step in the right direction but far more is needed to rediscover the moral fibre of our people. As with most of our crises, it is the grass-roots citizens that are the biggest victims of sexual offences.
According to police statistics, more than 55 000 rapes were reported in 2004. Clearly, this revision of our sexual offences law is a welcome part of the solution. The Bill’s protection of vulnerable groups, such as children and those with mental disabilities, and its recognition of gender equity in the criminal justice system is laudable.
This legislation binds together the diverse components within the sphere of sexual offences. At the same time it builds a wider problem-solving outlook on potential scenarios for the survivors of sexual offences.
The ID therefore supports the sexual offences Bill. However, we must not forget that legislation is only one component of this process. With the 16 Days of Activism fast approaching, the ID calls on the government and opposition to promote more than just legislation. I thank you.
Mr S N SWART: Madam Chairperson, Deputy Minister, South Africa reportedly has the highest rate of sexual offences in the world, with most rapes going unreported. The ACDP therefore welcomes and supports most of the provisions of this Bill.
There are numerous improvements as pointed out by previous speakers, which I will not repeat but which we support. However, we, together with thousands of people, churches and organisations who made similar submissions, believe that the age of consent for sexual acts should have been lifted from 16 to 18 years.
What is commonly referred to as statutory rape is a significant legal protection for vulnerable children. In most rape cases, adult predators claim that the victims consented. The victims then have to disprove consent, resulting in the secondary trauma of cross-examination in lengthy trials.
In increasing the age from 16 to 18 years, this legal protection would be extended to a broader and very vulnerable category of children who, in the event of a sexual offence, would merely have to prove that the sexual act took place to obtain a conviction. There would be no issue regarding consent.
Minors may also not enter binding contracts without parental guidance. They can only vote at the age of 18 years, and obtain drivers licenses, purchase alcohol and get married at that age. It is significant that the Tobacco Products Control Amendment Act seeks to lift the age of purchasing cigarettes from 16 to 18 years.
It must be inferred from this amendment that it is agreed that 16-year-old teenagers are less able to decide on the long-term health implications of smoking than 18-year-olds. Surely, the same argument should apply and is even more persuasive for sexual intercourse, which can result in a death sentence through HIV/Aids.
Whilst disappointed that our proposal was not accepted, we do understand counterarguments relating to the rationality test and that the whole issue of statutory rape charges could be at risk. I may agree that that risk should not be taken at that stage. We are encouraged that the portfolio committee resolved to look into this issue and that further research should be done on this issue.
In conclusion, our thanks to the Minister, Deputy Minister, Chairperson and the legal drafters for their hard work on this very important piece of legislation. Well done!
We wish to state that the ACDP will support this Bill subject to the reservations expressed. And a word of particular thanks to the Deputy Minister for considering this issue of age. I know it gave you some sleepless nights. But thank you for your kind consideration. I thank you.
Ms N M MAHLAWE: Chairperson, hon members, my heart aches, and the pain makes my senses numb whenever I hear from the media that a baby – a child - has been raped. This is a serious state of affairs and it needs the involvement of all of us to fight this scourge.
At the end of 2005 it was reported that 50 children, including infants, are raped every day, and that in the period 2004 to 2005
55 114 cases of rape were reported in this country. What is disturbing is that 90% of child victims know their attackers and assaulters, who happen to be their relatives or friends of the family or neighbours and well-known community members.
In September 2006 it was revealed that children are now the victims of almost 50% of all rapes and attempted rapes in this country and that 20% of all these reported rapes were of children under the age of 11 years.
The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development has been working hard to amend the criminal law to ensure that these matters I have referred to above change or are at least on the decrease. It is also believed that this is in line with section 28 of the Constitution of South Africa, which provides that children have a right to be protected from maltreatment, neglect, abuse and degradation, therefore closing the gaps that existed in the criminal law.
I rise, therefore, upholding these requirements and therefore wish, from the outset, to inform you guys out there that this Bill is going to put a stop to the belief that you have an entitlement to sex or to sexually violate women and children.
The Bill does not create only guilt for offences, but also provides for the establishment of a national register for sex offenders.
The sexual offences Bill codifies common law offences and creates specific offences in respect of sexual penetration, sexual violation, sexual exploitation and sexual grooming of children. It criminalises the exposing and displaying of all sexual organs and pornography to children. It also criminalises the displaying of female breasts to children. I know women like to take their children to the bathroom sometimes. I think it is time now that they have to stop that. Otherwise they are going to be in danger.
The Bill makes it an offence to compel a child to watch a sexual act by another person or other persons or masturbation or engage in an act of sexual penetration in the presence of the child, or any other acts of sexual violation.
Children should not be used for pornographic purposes. We have seen or heard of teachers who, instead of teaching the children entrusted to them, take pornographic pictures. This is an offence and has to stop.
Juxtaposed to these offences that are created by the Bill, as I have indicated, is the national register of sex offenders. The register is a reinforcement to the Bill in that it ensures that whosoever has been convicted of a sexual offence against a child will be recorded in the national register.
This applies to offenders who have committed the offence either before or after the commencement of the Bill, whether this has been done inside or outside the Republic or whether a court had found him guilty before or after the commencement of the Bill.
The highlights of the national register for sex offenders are that anyone who has been convicted of a sexual offence against a child will not be allowed to continue in his job.
Perhaps I should clarify which institutions are targeted. These are all institutions where there are children under the age of 12 - this includes crèches, day-care centres, hospitals and, most importantly, schools.
Think of how many cases have been reported of educators who sexually violate and sexually abuse children at schools. Only yesterday in the Cape Argus it was reported that 11 teachers in the Western Cape have been charged with sexually related offences against children.
The Bill provides that anyone found guilty of such an offence should have his services terminated immediately. The hon Minister of Education, Comrade Pandor - I’m sorry that she is not here – I think is being vindicated by this Bill in her attempts to clear the schools of rot.
Any employer will be required to apply for a certificate from the registrar who will be the custodian of the national register, which will show whether any potential employee is recorded in the register as having committed a sexual offence against a child. Likewise, any employee who fails to disclose that he – I don’t know whether I should say “she” as I’ve never heard about the “shes”– was convicted for a sexual offence against a child, will have their services terminated immediately. Even if an employee discovers that another employee committed a sexual offence against a child, he should terminate the services of such an employee.
If for some reasons services cannot be terminated immediately, the employee must be removed from a position where they will gain access to children.
Another highlight of the Bill is that if an employer fails to comply with any of the provisions in the register he or she is guilty of an offence, and would be liable to conviction.
In conclusion, I want to say that there is no place to hide with all the details of sexual offenders that are going to be contained in the national register. These include details of court processes, dates, and places of jurisdiction, whether local or foreign. This Bill will go a long way to deter sexual offences against children. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Ms S RAJBALLY: Madam Chair, the South African Medical Research Council has disclosed in its recent annual report that almost one fifth of South African men have raped a woman at least once in their lives. Hearing these statistics and voicing our support of South Africa’s commitment to eradicate sexual violence, we strongly support this long-awaited Bill.
Last week a little seven-year-old girl was taken to a field by a trusted family friend where she was raped, stabbed and then set alight. This girl has lived to tell of the horror and a 28-year-old stands in court today to justify his actions, or rather deny them. This is but one case out of many, clearly showing how sick and evil a society we live in. We come to the podium to denounce sexual violence and to speak of educating the people against sexual violence. We talk about taking it to schools and creating awareness and both preventing and protecting against sexual violence.
The MF believes that there are far more deep-seated issues as to what forms the fabric of South African society. It is shocking that the majority of sexual offences are committed by children on children, with an estimated 130 059 child sex offences that were processed by the state between 1999 and March 2006. We need to address the root cause of the problem before we can institute preventive and protective measures.
This Bill is certainly a step closer to that. However, punishment for such a horrific crime needs to be no bail and a harsh sentence if not castration. It is certainly a step forward to extend the definition of sexual violence and realise that both men and women can be victims or perpetrators.
Education on sexual offences is crucial to the future of this pandemic in South Africa. It is punishment that shall serve as the best deterrent in addressing the core that produces this violence and that shall conquer it. Prayers are sent to all these victims of sexual offences, for those are scars that could never heal, but justice shall prevail. This Bill is key to stamping out sexual violence. The MF thanks the committee chair and the team, including the Minister and the Deputy Minister, for their hard work and supports the sexual offences amendment Bill. I thank you. [Applause.]
Ms C B JOHNSON: Madam Chair and hon members, persons with mental disabilities often from one of the most vulnerable groups in our society. Often due to the nature of their disability, they are unable to properly express themselves and they have to rely on others to protect them and to speak out on their behalf.
During our deliberations on this Bill, what we heard from NGOs and the Human Rights Commission in particular, is that the sexual abuse of persons with mental disabilities often goes unnoticed for years. Only when it manifests in either HIV or pregnancy, does the abuse come to light. It also causes problems in criminal convictions and in prosecutions because persons with mental disabilities often have great difficulty in passing the evidentiary tests in court and therefore the conviction rates are generally low.
The Bill that is before the House today goes a long way in protecting the most vulnerable of the vulnerable. Chapter 4 of the Bill specifically has been drafted to protect persons with mental disabilities. We have created special crimes in this Bill, such as the crime of sexual exploitation of persons who are mentally disabled. What this would be, for example, is if a guardian, a teacher or a caregiver at home intentionally allows or permits the commission of a sexual act with a person who is mentally disabled.
Other specific crimes that have been created in chapter 4 include sexual grooming of persons who are mentally disabled, which would be, in other words, encouraging or enabling a third party to perform a sexual act with a mentally disabled person. Other crimes include the display or exposure of pornography or other harmful materials to persons who are mentally disabled, as well as the crime of using persons who are mentally disabled for pornographic purposes.
Persons with mental disabilities face numerous challenges. It is estimated that some 6% of our population lives with some form of mental disability. What makes these people enormously vulnerable to sexual violence and abuse are factors such as an inability to consent to sex, an inability to communicate their lack of consent or a possible lack of appreciation of the nature of the sexual act itself. Furthermore, reliance on caregivers and other people often leads to even greater vulnerability. This is where the new proposed national register for sex offenders which is created in the Bill will offer substantial protection to persons with mental disabilities. How the register will work is that any person who has been convicted of a sexual offence against a person who is mentally disabled may not be employed to work with or hold any position of authority, supervision or care over persons who are mentally disabled. So, the purpose of the register would be to inform an employer, such as a hospital, a care facility or an institution if any of the employees, or potential employees’ names would appear on the register. It also places an obligation on the employees who have been convicted of such sexual offences to disclose these convictions without delay to their employer.
A society is often judged on the way in which we treat our most vulnerable groups. This Bill is an important tool in ensuring that people with mental disabilities are afforded the necessary protection in law so that they do not become victims of sexual abuse and violence. At a time when we are focusing on the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children, let us remember that legislation is but one element. What we are striving towards and what we are committed to is a criminal justice system which is sensitive to the needs of vulnerable groups and a society that treats victims of sexual violence with dignity and respect. In that, we take great pride in rising to support this Bill. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mr L M GREEN: Chairperson, the FD welcomes the amendment Bill. We particularly welcome the comprehensive and extensive review of all laws relating to sexual offences and the inclusion of all these offences in a single statute. We agree that women and children are particularly vulnerable and are more likely to become victims of sexual offences. South Africa has a relatively high incidence of sexual offences, especially against women and children. This is indicative of the moral decay in our society.
It is not only the duty of the religious leaders in churches, mosques and temples to teach against sexual sin, but parents, caregivers and teachers must all play an active role in sex education. One of the objects of this Bill, in clause 2(e)(iii), is to eradicate the relatively high incidence of sexual offences by facilitating a uniform and co-ordinated approach by relevant government departments in dealing with sexual offences.
Once this Bill has been passed and if government wants to demonstrate that it is serious about sexual offences, it must deal with sexual offences in our prisons that take place there on a daily basis, often with the knowledge of the prison warders. The report of the Jali Commission and other investigative reports have proven beyond reasonable doubt that male rape is rife in our prisons. With the passing of this Bill, a prisoner who has experienced rape in any of our prisons will be able to institute a substantial civil claim against our government if it can be proven that a government official such as a prison warder has been fully aware of the repeated sexual offences, but has taken no adequate precaution to separate offenders from their victims in prisons.
A further object of the Bill states that relevant organs of the state must give proper recognition to the needs of victims of sexual offences through timeous investigation and prosecution. The FD therefore supports this Bill. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mr J B SIBANYONI: Chairperson and hon Members of Parliament, in this debate I am focusing on evidentiary matters as contained in chapter 7 of the Bill. In this regard, the Bill provides for the following. In section 58, it talks about evidence of previous consistent statements. This section permits courts to admit evidence of previous consistent statements in sexual offences, on condition that the courts should not draw a negative inference if no previous consistent statement was made. The effect of the previous statements is to support or corroborate the evidence given by the complainant in court. Such negative inferences are currently drawn, which result in the complainant being viewed with suspicion and disbelief, just because the complainant failed to report, at the first opportunity, the sexual act to any person in whom the complainant confides. This practice originated in medieval England where the perpetrator could defend himself on the grounds that the women did not raise the so-called “hue and cry” immediately after the alleged rape.
Section 59 deals with evidence of delay in reporting. The delay in reporting a sexual offence may no longer be held against the complainant. Not even the length of the delay may militate against the complainant’s case. The Bill provides as follows, and I quote:
... the court may not draw any inference only from the length of any delay between the alleged commission of such offence and the reporting thereof.
Currently and previously, courts treated allegations of sexual misconduct with suspicion and where the complaint was reported earlier, it served to rebutt the suspicion in establishing a lack of consent. I quote section 60, which says that a court:
... may not treat the evidence of a complainant... with caution, on account of the nature of the offence.
This section creates certainty that the cautionary rule is no longer part of our law in South Africa. The section prohibits courts from treating the evidence of a complainant with caution for the reason that it relates to a sexual offence. The cautionary rule has been used in the past to test the evidence of complainants, mostly in rape cases. Whilst the rule provided a safety valve against false accusations of rape, it has been viewed as unfair to victims of rape when they are subjected to the test as to whether their complaints are genuine. It has also been regarded as discriminatory against women as most rape victims are women.
The law before 1998 was that there was a duty on the court to recognise the dangers or risk in relying on the evidence of a single witness, accomplices and witnesses in sexual offences. Courts sought some safeguard that might have the effect of reducing the risk of a wrong conviction. The effect of the cautionary rule was that magistrates or judges must be cautious when they analyse the evidence of a rape victim.
In conclusion, I want to say ...
... njengombana sibandamela emalangeni alitjhumi nasithandathu (16), weJima lokuLwisana nokuTlhoriswa kwaboMma nabeNtwana, kulitjhudu namhlanjesi sikhuluma begodu siphikisana ngomThethomlingwa lo. Umthetho lo uzakusiza ukulwisana nemiguruguru eqaliswe ebantwaneni nebantwini bengubo.
Abomma bafumana ubudisi ngekorweni yokusegela namkha ngekhotho. Ngebanga lokuqalisiswa khulu namkha lokuphenyisiswa khulu kobufakazi bukangazimbi okatiweko namkha otlhoriswe ngokomseme, abomma abanengi bayasaba ukuvela ngaphambili, babike bonyana bakatiwe.
Umphakathi esiphila kiwo uyakhethulula ngehlangothini labomma. Umthetho kufuneka ubavikele. UmThethomlingwa lo uzobakhuthaza bona bakhulume, balise ukuthula njengombana vane batjho bathi “Break the silence!” Ngamanye amezwi “Khuluma.” (Translation of isiNdebele paragraphs follows.)
[... as we are getting closer to the 16 Days of Activism, a campaign to fight against children and women abuse, it is a pleasure today to talk about and debate this Bill. This Act will help to fight against women and child abuse.
Women experience difficultly in courts regarding the way they are cross-examined and the way in which investigations with regard to sexually abused victims are conducted. Most women are scared to come forward to report a rape.
The community we live in discriminates against women. The law must protect them. This Bill will encourage them to talk, and not be silent because they sometimes say, “Break the silence!” In other words, “Speak.”]
Evidence of women complainants will no longer be viewed with suspicion.
Kafitjhazana ngifuna ukukhuluma ngekulumo eyethulwe ngumhlonitjhwa u-Sheila Camerer emalungana nokuthi senza umthetho namkha umlando omutjha eSewula Afrika wokuthengisa ngedini. Ngifuna ukutjho ukuthi silandela kwaphela nje isiqunto esathathwa yikhotho, lapho ikhotho iqala khona bonyana sesiphila esikhathini sokulingana namkha sedemokhrasi lapho kufanele ukuthi abantu namkha izelelesi zithathwe ngokulinganako, ngaphandle kokukhethulula ukuthi umuntu lo ungumma namkha umfazi.
Into leyo soke siyayivuma, kodwana siqale ikakhulukazi ukuthi Ekuphetheni, angiqalise kancani ekulumeni kamhlonitjhwa u-Steve Swart, yokuthi ukuvuma namkha ukuvikeleka kususwe eminyakeni eli-16 ukuya keli-18, abantwanaba abaphakathi kweminyaka eli-16 neli-18, bangatholakali sele bathathwa njengeenlelesi, batholakale sele banamarekhodi, ngombana siyazi ukuthi iinkhathi ziyatjhuguluka. Abantwanaba bahlakanipha msinyazana. Nabatholakala bamlandu, lokho kuzobavimbela ukuthi nasele bafuna ukusebenza, bangakwazi ukusebenza endaweni lapho basebenza khona ngabentwana.
Emaswapheleni, ngifuna ukutjho ukuthi ihlangano ye-ANC edosa phambili begodu ephila njalo, iyawusekela umThethomlingwa lo. (Translation of isiNdebele paragraphs follows.)
[Briefly, I would like to refer to the speech by hon Sheila Camerer about us making the law or making a new South African history in commercialising sex. I would like to say that we are following the decision taken by the court in which the court treats people equally or whereby people and criminals are treated equally in a democratic country, and also without discriminating against women.
We all agree on this issue. But I would like to focus on the speech by hon Steve Swart, that the age of consent be moved from 16 to 18 years. These children between the age of 16 and 18 should not be seen as criminals or as having criminal records because we know that times change. These children develop quicker. They will be prevented from getting jobs in kindergartens if found guilty.
In conclusion, I would like to say the ANC-led government supports this Bill.]
The DEPUTY MINISTER FOR JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Hon Chairperson Ms Christmas Tree - I thought I had to just put that in. [Laughter.] Hon members, ladies and gentlemen, I like the hat, Chair. I have to be polite at the end. May I just say: Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! At last, this Bill is before Parliament. And I want to say: Hallelujah! Again.
Mr M J ELLIS: Sing it for us.
The DEPUTY MINISTER FOR JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT: No, I can’t sing. I think this Bill has taken a very long and torturous, and probably a very necessary consultative route to get where we are. The mere fact that we can today in Parliament, on a rare occasion, have all the parties agree that this Bill should be the one that they will vote on, I think, shows that sometimes, although these processes are painful and torturous, they are probably necessary to get buy-in from people. We should congratulate everyone.
We should start with the political heads that have driven this Bill, the various Ministers, and particularly our present Minister Mabandla. I think we should particularly thank the portfolio committee, both from the majority party - and particularly the chairperson, who is not listening – and also other members and particularly members of the opposition, who I think have always played a very constructive role as far as this Bill is concerned. They also need a big congratulation.
To the SA Law Commission, that has done an enormous amount, but particularly to the various members of the department, Lawrence Bassett, Henk du Preez, Hennie Potgieter and then, of course, the very able Miss Dalene Clark. I really think that we should thank them. They have brought enormous research and enormous talent to bear, to be able to let us pass this Bill. [Applause.]
I want to thank everyone for the very balanced way in which they have even criticised some aspects. No Bill can be perfect. Hopefully in future we will further amend this Bill to make it better; to make sure that it provides even better protection for people. I also thank everyone on that score. All the inputs that you have made, and particularly the report with the resolutions, will be studied carefully, and where we have to come back to Parliament, we will do so.
It would be remiss of me not to talk about the cloud that is hanging over this Bill again. As we walked into this Parliament today, I heard that we are not going to vote on this Bill, because of some technicalities. I do think it is very unfortunate, because the reasons for not doing so, I think, are completely wrong. They are based on wrong legal advice, and unfortunately the legal advice we are receiving in this Parliament just seems to get worse and worse. I have seen, on four different occasions, examples of legal advice given in this Parliament. The kind of information given in these instances, to say the least, is wrong.
It is very serious that Parliament should take this matter forward and make sure that we have the necessary capacity and skills. The legal advice we receive is amateurish and is highly unprofessional. What is worse is that decisions are being based on that kind of information. The department was not asked on any occasion for its advice or what it felt about the issues around why this Bill was not to be voted on today. I think that is just absolutely wrong and it should be rectified.
The issue here is of a mixed Bill that has been raised. This issue is not new in this Parliament. We have debated it for 12 years. We have, over and over, stated that we know the Constitution does not provide for a mixed Bill. It does not provide for a procedure for a mixed Bill. We have dealt with it in the Rules in such a way that we say that when a Bill can be split up into 75 or 76, we will do so. In all the discussions that we have had, we have also acknowledged that there are some Bills that are so intertwined that you cannot split them up as mixed Bills. This is a prime example. When we come to Justice issues, quite a lot of our Bills will be mixed in nature. We have made provision that when you comply with certain requirements in the criminal justice system, then you can get PEP. This is not a PEP policy for the Department of Health, because they don’t deal with all issues of PEP. It is a very narrow mechanism that has been created that within the first 72 hours after you have been raped, that if you do comply with certain things in the criminal justice system, then you receive PEP from the Department of Health.
The advice that has been given is that this is a Health matter and should be excised from the Bill and put in a separate Bill. What people fail to see, of course, is that if you put it in a separate Bill, you are going to take all the Justice issues, which are also section 75 issues, to the other Bill. Therefore, the other Bill is not going to be passed because it will not be a section 76 Bill.
We have debated this over and over in Parliament and we have all agreed that the test, when we have done this in the Rules Committee, is the dominant purpose test. The dominant purpose in this case is clearly the criminal justice system. If you comply with certain things in the criminal justice system, then you get PEP. It is very clear that there should be no reason why this Bill should not be processed and why we shouldn’t have voted on this Bill.
The consequence of this is that the Bill will now only be voted on next year. The NCOP cannot process the Bill and we now have to wait again for a few months until they have done their hearings. I must say that it is a highly unacceptable process. We now again have to wait for a number of months for this Bill to get on the Statute Book.
I also want to finally say that, if you want to know what this Bill is all about, watch the programme on the History Channel. Last night they had a programme on this absolute maniac, Moses Sithole, the one who was a serial rapist after 1994. Just the things that he did and got away with in the justice system are very scary. This Bill is really a Bill to try to deal with that and try to minimise the damage that the Moses Sitholes have done.
I want to dedicate this Bill to all those South Africans, the majority of South Africans, who treat their partners with decency and respect and do not treat their partners as objects on whom all sexual deprivations can be imposed. To those of you amongst us ...
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: Chairperson, may I please ask a question?
The DEPUTY MINISTER FOR JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT: I will always answer a question from Koos Koek.
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: Why can’t we proceed and vote on the Bill now?
The DEPUTY MINISTER FOR JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT: No, there are apparently problems with it. I think I have said my say as far as I did. I wanted to put it on record and I think we have said so. Hopefully, there is still a possibility that Parliament will come back. We have to wait for the NCOP to do their cycle of work and maybe by then all parties can convince Parliament that we should proceed and vote on that occasion.
I really want to dedicate it to all those decent South Africans who do not get decent treatment. Those of you who do feel that you want to get involved in these things, particularly where you are preying on our children, we will deal with you mercilessly and do not expect any sympathy.
May you all have a happy festive season and thank you for supporting the Bill.
The DEPUTY CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Chairperson, we move that the Bill be referred back to the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development to consult with the Joint Tagging Mechanism in terms of Rule 249(3)(e).
Motion agreed to.
Bill accordingly referred back to the Committee.
FIREARMS CONTROL AMENDMENT BILL
(Consideration of Bill)
The DEPUTY CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Chairperson, I move:
That the Bill, as amended, be passed. Thank you.
Motion agreed to.
There was no debate.
Bill accordingly passed.
SOUTH AFRICAN INSTITUTE FOR DRUG-FREE SPORT AMENDMENT BILL
(Consideration of Bill)
The DEPUTY CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Chairperson, I move:
That the Bill, as amended, be passed.
Motion agreed to.
There was no debate.
Bill accordingly passed.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms C-S Botha): We will now take Orders No 5 to 63 together. These are the Eighty-Fifth to the One-Hundred-and-Forty-Third Reports of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.
CONSIDERATION OF EIGHTY-FIFTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - REPRESENTED POLITICAL PARTY FUNDING
CONSIDERATION OF EIGHTY-SIXTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - RURAL HOUSING LOAN FUND
CONSIDERATION OF EIGHTY-SEVENTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - SPECIAL INVESTIGATING UNIT
CONSIDERATION OF EIGHTY-EIGHTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - ACCOUNTING STANDARDS BOARD
CONSIDERATION OF EIGHTY-NINTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - BANKING SECTOR EDUCATION & TRAINING AUTHORITY (BANKSETA)
CONSIDERATION OF NINETIETH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - SOUTH AFRICAN NATIONAL BIODIVERSITY INSTITUTE
CONSIDERATION OF NINETY-FIRST REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES EDUCATION & TRAINING AUTHORITY (CHIETA)
CONSIDERATION OF NINETY-SECOND REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - CLOTHING, TEXTILES, FOOTWEAR AND LEATHER EDUCATION & TRAINING AUTHORITY (CTFL-SETA)
CONSIDERATION OF NINETY-THIRD REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - FOREST INDUSTRIES EDUCATION & TRAINING AUTHORITY (FIET)
CONSIDERATION OF NINETY-FOURTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - FINANCIAL SERVICES BOARD
CONSIDERATION OF NINETY-FIFTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - GREATER ST LUCIA WETLAND PARK
CONSIDERATION OF NINETY-SIXTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - SOUTH AFRICAN TOURISM
CONSIDERATION OF NINETY-SEVENTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY DEVELOPMENT BOARD (CIDB)
CONSIDERATION OF NINETY-EIGHTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - COMPETITION TRIBUNAL SOUTH AFRICA
CONSIDERATION OF NINETY-NINTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - COMPETITION COMMISSION
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDREDTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - COUNCIL FOR SCIENTIFIC AND INDUSTRIAL RESEARCH (CSIR)
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-FIRST REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - DEVELOPMENTAL BANK OF SOUTHERN AFRICA LIMITED
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-SECOND REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - EXPORT CREDIT INSURANCE CORPORATION OF SOUTH AFRICA LIMITED (ECIC)
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-THIRD REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - ELECTRICITY DISTRIBUTION INDUSTRY HOLDING
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-FOURTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - EDUCATION, TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT PRACTICES SECTOR (ETDP-SET)
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-FIFTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - SECTOR FOR FINANCE, ACCOUNTING, MANAGEMENT CONSULTING AND OTHER FINANCIAL SERVICES (FASSET)
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-SIXTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - FINANCIAL AND FISCAL COMMISSION
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-SEVENTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - FOOD & BEVERAGES SETA (FOODBEV)
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-EIGHTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - COUNCIL FOR GEOSCIENCE (SGE)
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-NINTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - HUMAN SCIENCES RESEARCH COUNCIL
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-TENTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION OF SOUTH AFRICA LIMITED (IDC)
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-ELEVENTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - INDEPENDENT DEVELOPMENT TRUST
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-TWELFTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - INSURANCE SETA
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-THIRTEENTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - INTERNATIONAL TRADE ADMINISTRATION COMMISSION OF SOUTH AFRICA (ITAC)
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-FOURTEENTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - KHULA ENTERPRISE FINANCE LIMITED
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-FIFTEENTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - MINING QUALIFICATION AUTHORITY (MQA)
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-SIXTEENTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - NATIONAL EMPOWERMENT FUND
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-SEVENTEENTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - NATIONAL NUCLEAR REGULATOR
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-EIGHTEENTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - PRIMARY AGRICULTURE, EDUCATION & TRAINING AUTHORITY (PAETA)
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-NINETEENTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - SOUTH AFRICAN QUALITY INSTITUTE
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-TWENTIETH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - SOUTH AFRICAN NATIONAL ACCREDITATION SYSTEM (SANAS)
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-TWENTY-FIRST REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - SOUTH AFRICAN RESERVE BANK (SARB)
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-TWENTY-SECOND REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - SOUTH AFRICAN SPECIAL RISK INSURERS ASSOCIATION (SASRIA) LIMITED
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-TWENTY-THIRD REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - SAFETY AND SECURITY (SASSETA)
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-TWENTY-FOURTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - SERVICE SECTOR EDUCATION & TRAINING AUTHORITY (SERVICE SETA)
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-TWENTY-FIFTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - AIR TRAFFIC AND NAVIGATION SERVICES
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-TWENTY-SIXTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - ARTSCAPE
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-TWENTY-SEVENTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - BLIND SOUTH AFRICA
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-TWENTY-EIGHTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - BUSINESS AND ARTS SOUTH AFRICA
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-TWENTY-NINTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - COUNCIL FOR HIGHER EDUCATION
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-THIRTIETH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - EDUCATION LABOUR RELATIONS COUNCIL
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-THIRTY-FIRST REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - INTERNATIONAL MARKETING COUNCIL (IMC)
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-THIRTY-SECOND REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - NATIONAL HOUSING FINANCE CORPORATION LTD
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-THIRTY-THIRD REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - NATIONAL MUSEUM BLOEMFONTEIN
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-THIRTY-FOURTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - NURCHA FINANCING CONSTRUCTION
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-THIRTY-FIFTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - SERVCON HOUSING SOLUTIONS
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-THIRTY-SIXTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - MARKET THEATRE
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-THIRTY-SEVENTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - THE PRESIDENCY
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-THIRTY-EIGHTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - THUBELISHA HOMES
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-THIRTY-NINTH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - TRANS-CALEDON TUNNEL AUTHORITY
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-FORTIETH REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - VOORTREKKER MUSEUM
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-FORTY-FIRST REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - WAR MUSEUMS OF THE BOER REPUBLICS
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-FORTY-SECOND REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - WATER RESEARCH COMMISSION
CONSIDERATION OF ONE-HUNDRED-AND-FORTY-THIRD REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS - UMALUSI COUNCIL FOR QUALITY ASSURANCE
Mr N T GODI: Chairperson, comrades and hon members, it is always with a sense of pride that I come to this podium to present, on behalf of Scopa, reports which are a product of commitment and dedication to the highest interest of our people. We are here to deliver on our mandate as Scopa to, on behalf of this House, exercise oversight on the financials of national departments and public entities.
We are presenting before this House the Eighty-Fifth to the One-Hundred-and-Forty-Third reports; that is, 58 reports. All of them are what we call “Category C” reports. These are reports whose financial audit outcomes are unqualified and have unsubstantive or no matters of emphasis.
These entities are living proof that it is possible to adhere fully to the letter and spirit of the Public Finance Management Act. For this, we thank and congratulate them, and we hope that their future audits will be equally clean. These reports are good examples that serial offending departments and entities can emulate.
What is worth noting is that among these reports are a number of sector education and training authorities. A lot has been said in the past about the administration and management, effectiveness and viability of Setas. While we cannot reflect on the effectiveness of the Setas that are here, we can, however, all attest to their sound financial management, which Scopa believes is the foundation for everything else. Certainly, there can be no timeous and qualitative service delivery without sound financial management.
Whilst we accept that there are Setas that are struggling to properly fulfil their mandate, we believe that these ones are a glimmer of hope that with sufficient will and hard work things can be turned around. We are referring here to the Bank Seta, Chemical Industry Seta, Clothing and Textile Seta, Forestry Industry Seta, Education, Training and Development Seta, the Financial Services Seta, and the Food and Beverage Seta.
On behalf of Scopa, we want to commend these reports to the House. We also want to thank the programming Whips for finding sufficient space for us to present these reports.
The debate on these reports helps us to rally together and mobilise everyone in the fight against mismanagement, maladministration and waste of public resources. It also helps us to bring to the fore the important work that Scopa does. These debates help Scopa to lay bare the indisputable connection between quality and timeous service delivery on the one hand and sound financial management and administration on the other. They help us spread our call for a heightened sense of vigilance and intolerance against corruption and mediocrity. These debates go a long way in strengthening Scopa’s hand as the defender of the public purse.
As we present these reports and as the House rises for recess, I want to pay a special tribute to my colleagues and comrades in the committee as well as the staff and the Auditor-General’s Office for their hard work and close scrutiny of issues. The sense of purpose and focus in the committee is both commendable and refreshing. With a united and focused Scopa there will be no hiding place for those who do not comply with the laws we pass in this House or National Treasury regulations.
Today, I personally wish to appreciate the opportunity I have had so far to chair this important committee. Twelve months ago, immediately in my first presentation of Scopa reports I gave an assurance that the trust shown in me would not be in vain; and that I took this responsibility with open eyes and that it was a responsibility I would discharge with neither fear nor favour, sparing neither courage nor effort in the service of our people - these being values bequeathed to us in the liberation movement.
Looking back we can say without fear of contradiction that we have lived up to these aforesaid utterances. We said then, as we say now, that corruption is about greed and not poverty. It is the well connected and well off, and not the poor who are the motive force of corruption. It is about a clique of the ideologically corrupted up against the people. It is completely inimical, in sharp pointed contradiction with the ethos and values of the liberation movement; it is against evolutional morality.
As Scopa, we appreciate the support that this House has given us, right across party-political and ideological divides, in the processing of our reports. It is this kind of support that gives us the impetus to keep on keeping on with our work.
The struggle against a lack of respect for laws, policies, regulations, and procedures in public finance management must be fought and won. It is a patriotic duty and it is politically imperative.
Before I leave, I think the last word must surely go to that Vietnamese Revolutionary, Uncle Ho Chi Minh. In discussing matters of this nature he said, and I quote – very liberally:
Embezzlement and waste stem from bureaucracy, from the fact that leading individuals or organs at all levels fail to get down to brass tacks, to supervise and educate ... They pay undue attention to form and fail to tackle the jobs in detail and in depth. They only like to convene meetings, write instructions and read reports, but control nothing thoroughly.
He further exhorts us thus:
Embezzlement, waste and bureaucracy are enemies of the people, the army and government. To oppose embezzlement, waste and bureaucracy are revolutionary acts. To oppose embezzlement, waste and bureaucracy is democracy.
I thank you. [Applause.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms C-S Botha): Hon Van der Merwe, why are you pointing your fingers like somebody who always wears a hat?
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: I was merely trying to draw the attention of Marina to look at this. That is all. I was not pointing at you, of course not at you.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms C-S Botha): Well, it is very confusing when you are up here, so rather send her a letter. Thank you very much.
Mr T R MOFOKENG: Madam Chair, I am very thankful to have this opportunity to say a few words about public accounts. The work of the public accounts committee has an impact on service delivery. There are 58 reports before us to be confirmed and adopted by this House, starting from the 85th report to the 143rd report. The following fact sheet provides an overview of some of the Scopa reports for the 2006 financial year. All of the entities highlighted in these reports received unqualified audit opinions with no significant matters of emphasis during the year 2005-06. That is very important.
I think one finds that for many years we have had so many reports that were qualified. Some of us who are not used to books of accounts become so happy when we say something is qualified and think that we have done well. In the transactions of books when we talk about qualification it means you have done badly. So most of them normally come with a disclaimer and all of that, but today there is no disclaimer. As a common procedure within the committee there is a standard resolution for all such entities. In the resolution the committee notes the receipt of the annual reports and financial statements for the year under review, and acknowledges the unqualified audit report that the entity receives.
The audit opinion, however, is made from the financial management and regularity point of view, and it is by no means an opinion of the overall performance of the entity, meaning that service delivery is included. It is in this light therefore that the committee brings its report to Parliament, and commends the entities on their performance. This also means that no further interaction with the entity concerned is warranted as they have received unqualified audit opinions with no significant matter of emphasis on issues mentioned. This applies to all 59 reports.
The work of Scopa is not merely about ensuring proper financial management in government, the department and public entities. Scopa’s oversight role is important to service delivery. Scopa seeks to ensure improved service delivery by focusing in those areas of poor financial management that are hampering the effective use of the millions of rands annually voted by Parliament to the various departments for them to provide service delivery. By reviewing more than 260 annual reports every year and by holding public hearings nearly every week that Parliament is in session, Scopa examines the financial management performance of departments and entities.
By explaining the following key elements of effective financial management we can assess the ability of the department to manage its finances and conclude whether the department is at an adequate level of financial management to provide a proper environment for effective service delivery. The elements we look at are, firstly, the element of proper controls because without proper controls funds and other assets are not protected or resources properly controlled. Without controls, there is no certainty that the programme of departmental objectives will be achieved or would be sustainable.
Nearly every report of Scopa over the last few years has made recommendations about the improvement of internal controls, and I am glad to tell you that the reports of the Auditor-General indicate that government departments have been showing steady progress in establishing proper controls.
Scopa also examines the quality of financial management information, and determines whether the availability of the management information is reliable or used by the department to get the best out of their resources. Without good management information a director-general is like a blind man. It will be very difficult to make government more businesslike if stronger management information is not well integrated into day-to-day management. Good progress has been made in this area, but Scopa will keep on monitoring it.
A last financial management focus area that Scopa examines is the strategic planning, and how it is linked to resources. In setting strategic targets or objectives and ensuring that these are achieved, and enabling departments to provide the service delivery that they are established for, Scopa has found that a higher number of strategic plans do exist, but they are not always sufficiently linked to resources. Strategic plans also go hand in hand with proper budgeting. Reporting to Parliament on performance will become more and more important as Parliament improves its oversight of service delivery performance.
The annual report promises to become the main accountability mechanism in the hands of the legislature. Scopa therefore seeks to ensure improvement of financial management systems that will enable government to provide quality services. I want to state that we would not be effective without the assistance of an independent Auditor-General, and we welcome the improved legal framework established by the Public Audit Act, which enables the AG to do his or her work even better.
As stated previously, the work of Scopa is not mainly about financial savings, but about ensuring improved service delivery. This is critical, because in the private sector bad service results in more business for competitors. In the Public Service, however, there is simply no alternative.
I am told that Scopa members have a poor reputation as senior public servants, as we are seen as being aggressive. The ANC proposed the adoption of this report. Thank you very much. [Time expired.][Applause.]
Ms A M DREYER: Madam Chair, Scopa is very similar to a rowing team. Why do I say this? Rowing is the only sport where you make progress by going backwards. Now in Scopa too we are going forward by looking backwards. Therefore I want to look at where Scopa is today, and do so by looking back to where it was two years ago.
In January 2005 when I became a member of Scopa I had heard so many stories from colleagues, and I had seen so many newspaper articles and news clips on TV about Scopa and how bad it was, that one could feel the tension when I walked into that committee room. One could almost touch the distrust and the suspicion.
Much of this came from the arms deal scandal that almost tore Scopa apart. The controversy resulted in the unfortunate replacement of a Scopa chairperson and many experienced members, and also resulted in a loss of institutional memory. Scopa was not functioning optimally and not holding the executive to account properly. But Scopa members realised their huge responsibility, and they started working.
When the previous NNP Scopa chairperson resigned and a new one had to be elected it became controversial once again. The spectre of possible turbulence in Scopa was raised, but we followed the democratic practice in Commonwealth countries that an opposition member becomes the Scopa chairperson. The new chairperson soon showed that he was committed to the call and responsibility of Scopa.
He started steering the team efficiently through the turbulent waters. A big breakthrough happened with the hearing on the controversial Imvume management in the PetroSA deal. Scopa grilled PetroSA, and unanimously adopted a strongly worded resolution, which was very critical of the Imvume management transaction. Scopa showed that it was taking its watchdog job of protecting the public purse and rooting out corruption seriously. Other hearings followed where erring departments were grilled and serial offenders were identified. Departments and entities with failing financial management were becoming aware that they would be called to account, and that they would be subjected to vigorous questioning.
People started noticing, the media took note, and Scopa started making headlines for the right reasons. The Director-General of the Treasury told Scopa members that Scopa put fear into the hearts of those who appear before it. These were sweet words to the Scopa members. Today Scopa is, once again, a strong and healthy committee. It takes seriously its responsibility of protecting the public purse. I am proud to be a member of Scopa.
However, this does not mean that there are no problems. There are indeed many challenges ahead. Of particular concern is the late submission of financial information to the Auditor-General. By August this year the Auditor-General had not received the annual reports of 19 departments, and that is 56% of all departments. This is causing a delay in the work of the AG, but more serious is that when unlawful behaviour like this takes place at government level the question is: What kind of message is government sending to ordinary citizens? Is it acceptable to break the law?
A second area of concern is that there has been a significant increase in the number of departments that receive qualified audit reports. In the previous financial year there were only seven departments with qualified audit reports, but there are 11 of them now. This is 32% of the total, which is a third of all government departments. It is of serious concern that financial mismanagement of state departments is increasing.
A third concern is the fact that the same erring departments receive negative audit opinions year after year, showing no improvement whatsoever. The worst serial offenders are Correctional Services, Defence and Health, with Home Affairs having now received negative audit reports six years in a row. These departments are facing serious financial mismanagement challenges. Why are they not learning? Why are they not improving on previous bad experiences? The AG tells us that the reason for this sorry state of affairs is that accounting officers are simply not implementing basic elements of financial management.
Who are the political bosses of these departments? They are the Ministers Lekota, Balfour, Nqakula, and Tshabalala-Msimang. It is time that the executive took responsibility for the performance of their departments. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr M J BHENGU: Chairperson, the IFP notes that all institutions listed in the reports of Scopa under discussion today received unqualified audit reports from the Auditor-General. We are particularly pleased to note that at least six Setas received unqualified audits.
The IFP therefore supports the reports of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts before this House and we wish you also to note that we support the vision and philosophy that drive the leadership of Scopa, as enunciated so well by Mr Godi, because without that kind of vision, Scopa would not do its oversight work properly. I thank you.
Ms S RAJBALLY: Chairperson, in view of all the Scopa reports in question, the MF has no objection and expresses its gratitude and support for the findings. We trust that the oversight of Scopa is adequate in ensuring the various sectors under their eye are managed efficiently and effectively with a system of checks and balances. The MF supports the reports. Thank you.
Ms L M MASHIANE: Madam Chairperson, as hon members know, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts carries out searching and rigorous assessments of financial administration in the national public sector, so that accounting authorities can be held accountable for their spending of taxpayers’ money and their stewardship over public assets.
In their rigorous assessing of the financial administration in the public sector Scopa categorises the annual reports into categories A, B and C; categories C being the reports that Scopa is generally satisfied with and for which there is no need to call the department or entity to a hearing. However, Scopa would like the House to note that it is far from satisfied with the general position regarding public sector financial management.
Scopa looks at the first three levels of financial management capacity in the public sector. A level-one situation is basically a situation in which a department is still at the start-up level and has very little to nothing in terms of policies, procedures, guidance and clarity around how they should be managing the financial affairs in their organisation.
Often you then find no accountability from the point of view that nobody has broken any rule or law because there was no rule or law to break when carrying out their duties.
A level-two financial management capacity is when an entity has fairly good policies, procedures and guidance around financial management and how to manage and run the organisation. But those policies and procedures have not been institutionalised within the organisation and proper training has not been provided to the staff.
What you find in a level-two situation is that you do have policies and procedures but the level of compliance is very low.
A level-three financial management situation refers to a situation at a higher level than level two, where you have very good policies and procedures in place. In fact, a lot of training and education has been put into those policies and procedures. Those policies and procedures have been institutionalised within the organisation to the extent that you could go to the lowest-level person and ask them: “Are you aware of this human resource policy?” They would then be able to say, “Yes, we know of that policy and the policy requires me to do a, b and c.” For example, the Auditor-General in his general report, which he tabled, raised the following area of concerned that demonstrate that most departments and entities are still struggling with financial management: 122 cases of policy frameworks that are either weak and/or not yet developed.
This situation represents a need for systems, policies and procedures to be put in place and adequate policies and skills to be made available. Seventy-eight cases are attributable to a lack of monitoring. These issues also indicate a lack of commitment and involvement by, amongst others, management in this important internal control process. The commitment and leadership from management sets the tone for internal control and the control environment within a department and contributes to the fact that issues continue to be reported.
Nineteen percent of the total national expenditure represents compensation of employees, yet the departments and entities do not address the vacancy rate at senior management level, and this leads to a lack of monitoring, as I have just explained.
With regard to late submission and resubmission of annual financial statements, as I stand here some entities have still not tabled their annual reports and this issue needs Parliament’s immediate intervention.
Asset management remains the major challenge for effective internal control. The issues range from the acquisition of those assets and their recording through to the reconciliation and evaluations. Internal audits, and audits to the committee remain other challenges. The root cause of these issues is the problem of capacity.
Having said that, I would like to call on the portfolio committees to take note of Scopa’s resolutions to follow-up and ensure that there is a linkage between the problem areas identified by Scopa and departments’ strategic planning, budgeting and performance reporting. Because if proper and effective financial management is not included as a strategic priority by departments, service delivery will always be hampered and South Africa’s scarce resources will be wasted or mismanaged.
Before I sit down, I want to thank the outgoing Auditor-General Mr Shauket Fakie for the support and dedication he has shown in supporting Scopa. It would also be a grave mistake for me not to thank our chairperson, Mr Themba Godi, for the commitment and dedication he has shown to Scopa, but to advise all members of Scopa - Mr Pierre Gerber and the lot - to please go and rest. The beginning of next year will be very tough for all of us. Thank you very much.
The DEPUTY CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Chairperson, we move that the reports be adopted.
Mr M J ELLIS: Madam Chair, I thought it would be very useful if we could go through each one of them, because I think the Table staff need some practice at reading and it would be very useful. Could we do that?
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms C-S Botha): We would then start again at Order No 5. I am not getting any response from any speaker. I think we would have to proceed. I am sorry.
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: Madam Chair, I suggest you don’t take Mr Ellis seriously.
Mr M J ELLIS: Madam Chair, I beg your pardon, after my long lecture to our caucus the other day. I would really like to support the Deputy Chief Whip, or the Chief Whip - I am not sure what he is at the moment - of the ANC in his proposal.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms C-S Botha): I am sure he is very thankful.
The DEPUTY CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Madam Chairperson, I am very thankful that I am not a member of the DA and have to endure long lectures by Mr Ellis.
The Deputy Chief Whip of the Majority Party moved: That the Reports be adopted.
Motion agreed to.
Reports accordingly adopted.
WITHHOLDING OF REMUNERATION OF MAGISTRATE M MATEREKE.
(Consideration of Report)
Ms F I CHOHAN-KHOTA: Chairperson, there is not really much to say in this matter. The House has previously suspended Magistrate Matereke and we are now merely endorsing the decision to suspend his salary, and I recommend that the House so approve.
Question put: That the recommendation of the Committee be adopted, namely that the suspension of the salary of Mr M Matereke be approved.
Question agreed to.
Suspension of salary of Mr Matereke accordingly approved.
HEARINGS ON THE IMPLICATIONS AND APPROVAL OF THE PROPOSED NEW SALARY SCALES FOR THE MAGISTRACY, IN PARTICULAR THE INTRODUCTION OF A NEW MOTOR VEHICLE ALLOWANCE FOR MAGISTRATES AND SENIOR MAGISTRATES, AS RECOMMENDED BY THE INDEPENDENT COMMISSION FOR THE REMUNERATION OF PUBLIC OFFICE BEARERS
(Consideration of Report)
The DEPUTY CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Deputy Speaker, we move that the report of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development be adopted and that the recommendations dealing with procedural matters affecting the joint business of Parliament be referred to the Joint Rules Committee for consideration.
Motion agreed to.
Report accordingly adopted.
STUDY TOUR TO SOUTH AFRICAN SOCIAL SECURITY AGENCY’S (SASSA) HEAD OFFICE, PRETORIA (GAUTENG), AND THE REGIONAL OFFICES IN THE EASTERN CAPE (EAST LONDON AND PORT ELIZABETH) AND NORTHERN CAPE (KIMBERLEY) PROVINCES
(Consideration of Report)
Mr B M SOLO: Deputy Speaker, Hon members, from 21-24 August 2006 the portfolio committee embarked on an oversight visit to the South African Social Security Agency, or Sassa, offices in three provinces, namely Gauteng, the Eastern Cape and the Northern Cape. The visit commenced at their head office in Pretoria and proceeded to the regional offices in Port Elizabeth and East London in the Eastern Cape and Kimberley in the Northern Cape.
The South African Social Security Agency was established by the state to assume responsibility for the payment and administration of social grants. Apart from the problems experienced with regard to these services, the establishment of Sassa is in line with the call to ensure a better life for all.
Members are familiar with problems that were widely published through the media with regard to administration and payments of grants, hence the establishment of Sassa.
Indeed, we were encouraged by what we saw. We found an organisation that has laid a firm foundation to ensure swift and user-friendly services right from the head office through to the regional offices. The passion, motivation and professionalism displayed by all involved provide us with the necessary resolve that today is better than yesterday and tomorrow will be better than today.
This once more is an indication of our commitment to provide quality service to the beneficiaries and ensure that minimum standards operate countrywide consistently, efficiently and predictably. It is not for this debate to recycle or duplicate the report in the form of an oral representation as members have received an approved report. However, I need to draw the attention of this House to the tremendous progress made so far. If one studies the report, one will clearly see that a major step has been taken in line with our resolution, that is fighting poverty together for a better life for all.
The report covers a whole range of administrative issues, infrastructure issues such as buildings, technology issues, human resource issues and other matters. It further shows that Sassa is managing the transitional and transformation process without compromising service delivery. It shows how Sassa has improved service delivery by introducing new initiatives for application turnaround time, enhanced payment models, an optional services infrastructure network and improved access to service in rural areas and payouts.
Sesiyathola manje ukuthi abantu abalindi izinyanga eziyisithupha ukuze bathole ulwazi lokuthi bayayithola na imali noma cha; kodwa izicelo zabo zithatha isikhathi esingangezinsuku ezintathu noma kube ilanga elilodwa. [We also learnt that people no longer wait for six months to have information on whether they will get their money or not; but their applications take at least between one and three days to be approved.]
Lo nto iyanceda ke ukuba abantu bangabe benyuka besehla, bemana bejikiswa ngento engaziwayo. Ezobugcisa ziphuculwe kangangendlela yokuba abantu bayakwazi ukuvavanywa, baxelelwe ngoko nangoko ukuba bayasifumana kusini na esi sibonelelo. Ii-ofisi zeSasa kuthiwa ngesilungu: they are user friendly. [Kulula ukuzisebenzisa.] kwaye uyambona u-‘Batho Pele’ phaya, ngoba baqashe abantu kangangoko kwiidesika zooncedo zabo. Abantu abasami emigceni emide, abangaziyo nokuba iza kuphela nini na.
Ngelinye ixesha babona sele kuvalwa iminyango kusithiwa, “Nize ngomso.” I-Sasa iyijikile ke loo nto leyo, ithi, ‘senza ngoku.’ Abantu babuzwa imibuzo efanelekileyo, abo bakwazi ukubeka iingxaki zabo bakwazi ukuvavanywa. Akusathethwa izinto eziyimfihlo esidlangalaleni njengakwaNdabazabantu phaya kudala ukuba wonke umntu azi into yokuba sele kuphelile ngawe. Kukho ubomi babucala. Iindawo ezininzi zokwamkela imali ziyaphuculwa, ingakumbi phaya emakhaya. Ngethuba besihambele kweleMpuma Koloni siye saya kwindawo ekuthiwa yiKwelerha apho bekuye kuvulwa iholo entsha, ngoba njengokuba nisazi, phaya ekhaya awekho amaholo oluntu.
Sibe nexesha elimnandi ngokwenene apho, abantu bonwabe kakhulu. Bade babonelelwa banikwa phaya kwesa sibonelelo sikarhulumente ekuthiwa xa sibizwayo yi-Social Relief of Distress Grant. Le ithi xa abantu xa sele belambe kakhulu noko urhulumente abasizele abanike esi sibonelelo. Bekukho iintsapho ezingaphezulu kwe-100 ebeziphiwa iipasile noko ezingathi zithe xaxhe, ukuze batye kude kufike ikrisimesi. Ezi ke zizinto ezingaziwayo, uSasa abone ukuba makaziveze ebantwini, ukuba uyancedisa ekubeni abantu baphume kobu buhlwempu baphila phantsi kwabo.
Bekumnandi ngokwenyani eKwelerha, sitshotsha nokutshotsha phaya, kukho laa nto ekuthiwa yi-integration, kukho nabantwana besikolo besiculela kamnandi. Nabantu bethu torhwana abangekafikeleli kwizinga lokuthi bafumane isibonelelo semali yobudala ub’ubabona ukuba bachwayitile, ngoba bafumene okuya phantsi kwempumlo kule nkgqubo eyaziwa ngokuba yi-Social Relief of Distress.
Ndiyacela ukuba amalungu afake isandla ekuthini kusetyenziswane noSasa lo, ukuze abantu bakwazi ukuncedwa ngendlela efanelekileyo, ingamkubi ngoku sele sazise iindlela ezintsha zokuziswa kweenkonzo ebantwini. Ngokungaphandle kokumosha ixesha, ngoba ndiyabona ingathi noko ilanga sele litshonile, mandithi intle le nto yenziwa nguSasa yokuthi nathi noko sizibone siphethwe njengabantu, singasamkeleli ngaphantsi kwemithi, singasami emigceni, singasalindi ukuza kukaNongqawuse xa sicela uncedo kurhulumente. Ndiyabulela. [Kwaqhwatywa.] (Translation of isiXhosa paragraphs follows.)
[This helps to avoid a situation in which people move up and down and are turned away for no apparent reason. Technological systems have been improved to such an extent that people can be tested and be informed immediately whether their applications for grants are approved or not. The Sassa offices are user-friendly and you can see the Batho Pele principle, because they have employed enough people at their help desks. People are no longer waiting in long queues not knowing when they will be attended to.
People sometimes found themselves locked out and told to come back the following day. Sassa has turned that around; it says, “Action now.” People are asked relevant questions and those who can present their cases are interviewed on the spot. Confidential issues are no longer discussed in public, as used to be the case in the past. There is now privacy and many pay points are being developed, especially those in the rural areas. During our visit to the Eastern Cape we also visited a place called Kwelerha where there was an official opening of a community hall, as you know that there are no community halls in rural areas.
We really had a good time and people were very cheerful. They were even provided with a social grant known as a social relief of distress grant. The government provides this to people living in severe poverty. More than 100 families were given food parcels that will last them until Christmas. These are things that Sassa has decided to reveal to the people, as they were not aware of them. Sassa is doing this to eradicate the poverty in which people live.
We had social integration and dancing in Kwelerha, and school pupils were singing nice songs. One could see that even people who had not yet reached the stage of getting the old age grant were happy, because the social relief of distress programme had brought them food.
I wish to make a request to members that they should work in partnership with Sassa, so that people can be served in a proper way, especially now that we have introduced new systems of service delivery to people. Without wasting much time, because I can see that we do not have enough time, let me say that Sassa is doing a good thing in that at least we are being treated like human beings; we no longer receive our grants under the trees, and wait in long queues when we apply for social grants. I thank you. [Applause.]]
Ms J A SEMPLE: Madam Deputy Speaker, I present this report on behalf of my colleague hon Mike Waters.
As of 1 April 2006, the SA Social Security Agency, Sassa, began to take over responsibility for paying social assistance grants in three provinces, namely Gauteng, the Western Cape and the Northern Cape. The target date of March 2007 was given, by which the Sassa would be managing grant payments for the remaining six provinces. I am glad to say that this target has been met and that Sassa has already taken over full responsibility for grant administration in all nine provinces. Sassa also needs to be credited for the fact that, throughout the transfer period, service delivery was never negatively affected and beneficiaries continued to receive their grants.
When one thinks that we have over 11 million beneficiaries, this is no small feat. One issue that did concern my colleague Mike Waters, however, was the fact that more than 6 000 grant administration staff members from national and provincial departments of Social Development were transferred to Sassa without the vast majority being vetted. This did raise concerns during the trip as this makes Sassa vulnerable to the same grant fraud that took place in the provinces previously, because corrupt officials may have been transferred to the new agency.
On a positive note, the committee was fortunate enough to visit a pilot project in the Eastern Cape where the processing time for grant applications is between one and three days, unlike the current 90 days it takes in some provinces and longer in others. This is extremely encouraging as it is giving effect to the Batho Pele principle in making people feel that they are actually valued. Sassa has a huge mountain to climb and the initial results indicate they are doing it at record speed. We can only wish them well and we know they will succeed. Thank you. [Applause.]
Ms S RAJBALLY: Madam Deputy Speaker, the MF takes this opportunity to applaud the SA Social Security Agency, Sassa, for its efforts to transfer the social assistance grant from the Department of Social Development effectively and efficiently. In view of the recommendation, we are certain that if Sassa reports to us on its pilot project to speedily assess, verify and approve grant applications then we may be able to close the loopholes that existed previously in grant management.
We further express a shared interest in the Department of Social Development’s oversight of Sassa, the accessibility of disability grants and antiretroviral treatment. The recommendations made in respect of this oversight visit, we believe, are crucial to the effective management of the grant system in South Africa. However, fraudulent activities are still found and we are steadfast in our resolve that all forms of corruption need to be stamped out. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mrs M M GUMEDE: Madam Deputy Speaker, hon members and colleagues, it is yet again a privilege for me to be at this podium today, mandated by the Department of Social Development to, maybe, release the report of its newborn baby, Sassa, which is the South African Social Security Agency, born on 1 April 2006. The ANC-led government took over on 27 April 1994 and much has been done to transform the apartheid legacy in this department, where social help was only meant for the white minority and aimed at their choices.
The Freedom Charter clearly states that all shall share in the wealth of this country. Social assistance was extended to all as stated in section 27(1)(c) of the Constitution, and the CRSS, Committee for the Restructuring of Social Security, was appointed to conduct research and their recommendations led to 14 departments administering different societies. Later, CRSS felt that there were still remnants of discrimination and therefore the CICSS, or Committee of Inquiry into a Comprehensive System of Social Security, was established and its recommendations led to the Presidential Jobs Summit in 1998.
In 2002 the Taylor Committee’s report demonstrated political will and a review was conducted on social security. In his state of the nation address in 2002 President Thabo Mbeki announced a campaign to register all who were eligible for social grants in 2003 and all who took part were thanked. In 2004 the social grants were extended from the age of seven to 14. However, there were still remnants of apartheid in-between. A 10-year progress review in the first decade and microsocial trends in South Africa in 2006 all highlighted that there are still a lot of vulnerable people, especially in the rural areas, who are unable to access social grants. Sassa was then established to improve service delivery by improving turn around times for applications and appeals, and cutting down on corruption in the system, as well as providing quality service at pay points, informed by the principles of Batho Pele.
Sassa is responsible for the management and delivery of social grants. Its strategic intent is to facilitate improvement in the quality of services provided to beneficiaries and ensure that the minimum standards operate countrywide for consistent and predictable service delivery. It took over this function in the provinces from 1 April 2006. As has already been said, this is the summary of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development’s report on an oversight visit to the South African Social Security Agency from 21 to 24 August 2006.
The purpose of the oversight visit was to obtain first-hand information on the progress that had been made with the establishment of this very new agency. The following offices were visited. We started at the Sassa head office in Pretoria. Sassa has made significant progress in assuming the full social assistance administration functions since 1 April. The organisational structures at its head office and regional offices have been stabilised and key appointments have been made, especially in the area of financial management.
The process of installing the essential information technology, human resource and physical infrastructure networks has also unfolded fairly smoothly without any reported disruptions to the mechanism and system of grant payments. Sassa has also assumed full control and inherited accountability for operation of the Scopen system while the funds flow process for the payment of grants between the national Department of Social Development, Sassa and the provinces has been finalised. A communication strategy has been developed and is in the process of being rolled out.
Sassa further reported that they are in the process of procuring about 40 mobile service units equipped with essential material to complement efforts to enhance levels of service delivery in the deep rural areas. A tender has been issued for the procurement of mobile unit, with the evaluation and implementation of the tender only expected during the 2006-07 financial year.
Sassa also pointed out a number of challenges it still experiences, including fraud prevention, litigation, equity plans for employing disabled persons and service delivery improvements.
The agency is vigorously dealing with inherited short-term problems such as illegitimate beneficiaries by looking at things that lead to corruption of the database. It has a fully fledged fraud unit complemented by, among others, a fraud hotline through which fraud linked to grant administration and payments can be reported. Frauds tip-offs received are handed over to the Special Investigating Unit, SIU, for in-depth investigation.
What we saw in the Eastern Cape region is that the Eastern Cape regional office is fully established and operational. As from 1 April 2006 a national tender for seven district offices, independent from the Department of Social Development, was to have been approved and was due to be advertised at the time of the visit.
In terms of human capital, the Eastern Cape region reported that
1 400 social security personnel were transferred to Sassa in the region as from that very date. Nine hundred of these staff members are on short-term contracts. Of the 57 critical posts advertised to date, 52 have been filled by women, who thus constitute 90% of these posts.
The region indicated that it was compliant with the requirements for financial management and reporting as set out by the head office. However, challenges were reported in respect of commitments carried over from the 2005-06 fiscal year. One challenge is the fact that the region still needed to make use of the Department of Social Development’s bank account for the transfer of payments, as well as the actual division of ring-fenced assets and liabilities. A further challenge for the region is to obtain clarity on who, between Sassa and the Department of Social Development, is responsible for litigation cases that were filed before and after 1 April 2006.
The roll-out of the enhanced management information system will contribute significantly to reducing the region’s turnaround time in grant applications and thus improve levels of customer satisfaction. The system is a computerised resource mechanism that hosts grant application files and is able to track movements of files and eradicate the possibility of missing files, which has been the source of many litigation actions.
The regional office has an established and functional Medical Asset Unit, which is credited with improving the quality of disability and care dependency grant assessments. The unit has 15 doctors, two for each district, who conduct quality control of disability applications, focusing on technical issues.
The issue of poor infrastructure and poor office and road conditions in outlying areas continues to be a hindering challenge for the region. The reliance on other stakeholders such as the Department of Home Affairs and the Departments of Health for medical assessments and Justice for foster care matters was also reported to be a challenge. The fact that there is currently no clear policy on appeals was also cited as a challenge in the region’s efforts to improve grant administration. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
The Deputy Chief Whip of the Majority Party moved: That the Report be adopted.
Motion agreed to.
Report accordingly adopted.
CONSIDERATION OF REPORT OF PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT - STUDY TOUR TO AUSTRALIA
There was no debate.
The Deputy Chief Whip of the Majority Party moved: That the Report be noted and that the recommendation be referred to the Speaker for consideration.
Motion agreed to.
Report accordingly noted.
CONSIDERATION OF FIRST REPORT OF JOINT RULES COMMITTEE
There was no debate.
The Deputy Chief Whip of the Majority Party moved: That the Report be adopted.
Motion agreed to.
Report accordingly adopted.
CONSIDERATION OF REPORT OF CONSTITUTIONAL REVIEW COMMITTEE - ANNUAL CONSTITUTIONAL REVIEW REPORT, 2006
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I now recognise the Deputy Chief Whip of the Majority Party. I was told that the chairperson of the committee would introduce the report, but ... I see the Deputy Chief Whip who is out of order. Chairperson, come and introduce the report. [Interjections.]
Adv A H GAUM: Thank you, Deputy Speaker. I am acting on behalf of the chairperson, who cannot be here today.
In keeping with the constitutional imperative that the Joint Constitutional Review Committee must review the Constitution at least annually, the committee invited the public earlier this year to make submissions. The public was specifically encouraged to make submissions on the equality clause in the Bill of Rights and on the institutions supporting constitutional democracy. Eleven submissions were received from the public, and we would like to thank members of the public for their contribution to strengthening our constitutional democracy. We also received submissions from the National Assembly Rules Committee and the Free State legislature.
In dealing with these submissions, the committee realised once again that our Constitution and the values underpinning it may and should be the focus of continued public discussion and debate. In this way, all South Africans will be able to make the contents of the Constitution their own, turning it into a living document with real meaning for everyone. It is only when all South Africans accept ownership of the Constitution that they will come to protect and defend it even when it may not necessarily suit them.
As has become the norm under the able chairmanship of the hon Manie Schoeman, this year’s review exercise was comprehensive and thorough. We were also once again fortunate to have had the excellent legal assistance of people like Advocates Adhikari, Vassen and Jenkins and Mr Hendricks, enabling us to really apply our minds to all the submissions.
The submissions once again included the so-called hardy animals such as the request for a referendum on the death penalty. As usual, a number of submissions did not deal with proposed constitutional amendments, and it should therefore be emphasised once more that while we want to encourage submissions, we cannot entertain those that have no bearing on the Constitution or require amendments to ordinary legislation instead of amendments to the Constitution.
The Rules Committee requested us to consider the appropriateness of the recognition by the Constitution of the leader of the largest opposition party in the National Assembly as the Leader of the Opposition. This matter originated from the view of opposition parties other than the DA that “the use of the title `Leader of the Opposition’ creates the impression with the electorate that this person makes statements and takes a stand on issues on behalf of all opposition parties”.
Counterarguments were advanced on behalf the DA, inter alia, that the title of the Leader of the Opposition has been maintained in a country like Britain even though a new reality of three strong parties instead of the traditional two has emerged there in recent years, and that this title has been included in the Constitution to give special recognition to the opposition.
The committee acknowledged that the particular title has given rise to dissatisfaction amongst smaller opposition parties. We said that amendments to the Constitution should be done after proper deliberation and with due circumspection, and we suggested that all political parties internally debate the matter with a view to finding consensus. This decision was communicated to the Joint Rules Committee for further consideration.
The Free State legislature submitted that the Constitution be amended so as to increase the size of the respective legislatures to, inter alia, allow them to conduct more efficient oversight and ensure public participation.
We felt that all provinces should be involved to advise us, and we have therefore written to the provincial legislatures, inviting them to express their views at a meeting to be convened in the first term of 2007.
While all of the submissions pertaining to institutions supporting constitutional democracy did not propose amendments to the Constitution, a number of these submissions did make important recommendations with regard to the functioning of these institutions. For example, it was submitted that these institutions should be more accessible to the public, especially to the uneducated and the poor.
We were of the view that while there was merit in these submissions, they could be more comprehensively dealt with by the recently established Ad Hoc Committee on the Review of State Institutions Supporting Constitutional Democracy under the able chairmanship of the hon Kader Asmal.
There were also certain misconceptions with regard to these institutions. One member of the public has so much confidence in the Public Protector that he suggested that the Public Protector be empowered to review court decisions. For obvious reasons, the committee opted to protect the notion of the separation of powers implied in our Constitution and the impartiality of our courts.
In another submission, the role of the SA Human Rights Commission and that of our courts were confused as it was submitted that the commission should impose heavier sentences on convicted offenders.
The floor-crossing matter also crossed our table. The committee is aware that this matter is currently receiving the attention of the Standing Committee on Private Members’ Legislative Proposals and Special Petitions. We refrained from engaging in a parallel process while being mindful that we may have to deal with the matter at a later stage.
Then there was also an apparent attempt to influence the presidential succession matter. It was submitted that the Constitution be amended so that President could be directly elected by the people rather than the National Assembly. I don’t know; it seems the people don’t have that much confidence in us.
The committee diplomatically decided that the desirability of amending the electoral system was a far-reaching policy consideration that would require more research and discussion before the committee could consider the matter.
All in all, we had a most interesting and rewarding constitutional review exercise this year. Once again, it was a privilege to engage in matters dealing with our internationally acclaimed and respected Constitution. We should never stop educating one another on the values enshrined in this larger-than-life contract of and between our people, the contract of a people who believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.
It is indeed an honour to support the 2006 report of the Joint Constitutional Review Committee as tabled. Thank you. [Applause.]
Dr J T DELPORT: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The report was presented as if the committee was unanimous on all aspects. It is quite clear to the hon colleague and everyone present that, on that issue, the words or the phrase in the title ``Leader of the Opposition’’ creates confusion.
I made it quite clear that the DA was against that phrase and doesn’t agree and, in fact, I said that the only confusion that can be could be amongst people who do not understand English properly.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon member, obviously that is not a point of order; it is a matter for debate. Hon Gumede, the House still has a lot of business to deal with, but if the hon members need a convenient break, I am sure we might consider that.
I now recognise the Deputy Chief Whip of the Majority Party.
The DEPUTY CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Deputy Speaker, we move that the report be adopted.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The motion is that the report be adopted. Are there any objections?
Mr M J ELLIS: Yes, it is a pity that we have to stand up on this particular point because my colleague, the hon ...
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The question is just on whether there are any objections. I think based on what he said earlier on, it is OK that you object.
Mr M J ELLIS: Well, I would like to object to that particular point, but the rest of the report we will support.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I beg your pardon?
Mr M J ELLIS: I want to have the objection of the DA noted on the one particular point that my colleague has raised, but we don’t have any problem with the rest of the report. I mean if the hon Gaum had just put the matter properly in the first instance, we wouldn’t be in this difficult situation now.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: OK. I just wanted to say that what we are looking at now is the motion that the report be adopted, and you say that you have objections. Because there are objections, we have to follow what we usually follow when we have objections. You have to put the question. Do you want to object or do you want to be recorded in Hansard or what do you want?
Mr M J ELLIS: I certainly don’t intend calling for a division, Madam Deputy Speaker, but I would like our objection to be noted.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: That’s fine.
We still have a lot of business. We will now record it properly that Mr Ellis is not objecting to the report, so the report is not objected to. [Interjections.] What is the problem now?
Mr M J ELLIS: Madam Deputy Speaker, as I see it, we have no option but to object to the report. If we can’t object to one aspect of it, then we have to object to the report as a whole.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: So you object to the report?
Mr M J ELLIS: Yes.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: All right. Now I really have to put the question if you are objecting to the report.
The DEPUTY CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Deputy Speaker, Mr Delport rose and he took umbrage at the way Mr Gaum phrased his introduction to the report. I didn’t hear the hon member Delport object to anything in the report itself and maybe he can clarify that, but certainly it will be quite distinct what is in the report and what any member might have said about the report. In any case, I mean Mr Gaum assured us that perhaps Mr Delport didn’t hear him quite correctly. But, in any case, be that as it may, the matter before the House is what is in the report, not what anyone said here about that report.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: What are you actually saying? [Laughter.]
The DEPUTY CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: I am saying that Dr Delport should tell us what exactly he is objecting to – whether he is objecting to what Mr Gaum said or whether he is objecting to anything that is in the report.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: But the DA says they object. Of course, it is the DA’s democratic right to object. So, I wanted to put the question, but I am told that there is no need. Your objection will be noted.
Mr M J ELLIS: Madam Deputy Speaker, if the hon Deputy Chief Whip of the ANC wants us to call a division, we will do so with pleasure.
Dr C P MULDER: Yes, Chairperson. It seems to me that the report is correct because, while we are noting things, I think we should also note that on this matter that deals with the opposition, there is only one party that has a problem with it. [Applause.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I think I have always been taught that the right thing to do is to do things correctly, and I think we need to put the question. Those in favour say ``Aye’’.
HON MEMBERS: Aye.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Those against, say ``No’’.
HON MEMBERS: No.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I think the Ayes have it.
Mr M J ELLIS: Madam Deputy Speaker, the DA would like its objection to be recorded. Thank you.
Motion agreed to (Democratic Alliance dissenting).
Report accordingly adopted.
Consideration of request for approval by Parliament in terms section 231(2) of the constitution - Free trade AGREEMENT (FTA) BETWEEN THE SOUTHERN AFRICAN CUSTOMS UNION (SACU) AND THE EUROPEAN FREE TRADE ASSOCIATION (EFTA)
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon members! Dr Delport and Mr Gaum, please leave the House for some time. Go and attend to your business outside. The speed with which you passed here really scared me. [Laughter.]
Mr B A D MARTINS: Madam Deputy Speaker, esteemed hon members, I rise to ask you to ratify the Free Trade Agreement between the Southern African Customs Union, Sacu, of which South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland are members, and the European Free Trade Association, Efta, that includes Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Iceland.
The agreement is historic because it is the first full free trade agreement that Sacu has negotiated as a single entity. This agreement bears testimony to the ability of Sacu member states to co-ordinate their negotiating positions, overcome differences, and pursue a common set of negotiating objectives.
Under the terms of the agreement, the European Free Trade Association will grant the Southern African Customs Union full and immediate duty-free and quota-free access for industrial products on entry into force of the agreement.
The agreement further offers firm predictability and security that can be a positive inducement for investment decisions in Sacu. Also, with regard to basic agricultural products, Efta has offered Sacu limited but improved market access in several important product lines. This opens opportunities in agricultural trade, which is particularly important for Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland. Sacu also reached an agreement with Efta to co-operate on the so-called new generation trade issues, that is trade in services, intellectual property, investment, competition and government procurement.
The Sacu-Efta agreement will establish a legal and institutional framework to conduct and manage trade relations between the parties. The agreement, containing the main text, a series of bilateral agricultural texts and several technical annexes, is currently subject to ratification procedures in all nine of the signatory countries with a view to its implementation on 1 January 2007. The agreement will thereafter be phased in over a period of up to nine years. Once fully implemented, substantially all trade between the parties will be duty-free.
Finally, and with respect, I request the National Assembly’s support for the ratification of the Sacu-Efta agreement. I thank you. [Applause.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Are there any objections to the approval of the agreement? No objections.
Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) approved.
Consideration of Request for Approval by Parliament IN TERMS OF SECTION 231(2) OF THE CONSTITUTION - CONVENTION ON THE PROTECTION AND PROMOTION OF THE DIVERSITY OF CULTURAL EXPRESSIONS
Mr M R SONTO: Madam Deputy Speaker, the Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture requests Parliament in terms of section 231(2) of the Constitution to approve the ultimate ratification of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.
This convention was adopted by a majority vote at a Unesco general conference held in France on 20 October 2005. This convention invites us to enact a meaningful development of cultural capacity, a creative industry and a better balanced practice of global trade in cultural goods and services. This practice will see continuously sustained South African domestic production.
South Africa played a critical role in placing the convention on the Unesco agenda. The international co-operation section of the convention is the section that will determine the benefits that developing countries will derive from the ratification of this convention.
Article 8, and the whole convention for that matter, must be read in the spirit of understanding culture as not something imposed by governments, as some UN member states insinuate, and have thus refused to approve it, but a means by which member states can protect and defend our endangered heritage that has been plundered, historically, by colonialists.
You will understand that the states that refused to approve this convention were led by America, because America is opposed to shared resources. I must say, America would have led the pack in approving the convention had it been on human destruction.
Nearly everywhere indigenous languages are falling into disuse, traditions are being forgotten, and vulnerable cultures are being wiped out. Arts and culture the world over is seen as the banqueting arm of government. Because of that, and to save this situation, the Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture requests this House to approve ratification of the convention so that South Africa can deposit its instrument of ratification with the depository. I thank you. [Applause.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Are there any objections to the approval of the convention as it appears on the Order Paper? No objections.
Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions approved.
CONSIDERATION OF REQUEST FOR APPROVAL BY PARLIAMENT IN TERMS OF SECTION 231(2) OF THE CONSTITUTION - AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE REPUBLIC OF BOTSWANA, THE REPUBLIC OF MOZAMBIQUE, THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA AND THE REPUBLIC OF ZIMBABWE ON THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE LIMPOPO WATERCOURSE COMMISSION
Ms C C SEPTEMBER: Madam Deputy Speaker, as has been said, this House is being asked this evening to ratify a very important international agreement between South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mozambique, to establish what is called the Limpopo Watercourse Agreement.
It is a very important agreement, in our view, because for the first time one of the issues that is being raised here is to allow all the parties to use, now in an equitable manner, water around the Limpopo River. We are quite sure that by agreeing to this agreement, we will indeed bring about peace around the Limpopo River.
We are asking you, as part of adopting this agreement this afternoon, to ensure the establishment of infrastructure, major investment and, of course, dams. Equally, this agreement will enable co-operation, strengthen relationships and assist to share benefits among these four countries. This agreement will also enable stakeholder participation in decision-making within the basin.
The Mozambican government has offered to host at least the secretariat of this commission, and we are very delighted about that. Therefore we are asking this House to ratify the agreement and allow freedom along the Limpopo River. [Applause.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Are there any objections to the approval of the agreement as it appears on the Order Paper? No objections.
Agreement between the Republic of Botswana, the Republic of Mozambique, the Republic of South Africa and the Republic of Zimbabwe on the Establishment of the Limpopo Watercourse Commission approved.
PRECEDENCE GIVEN TO ORDER NO 1 UNDER FURTHER BUSINESS
The DEPUTY CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Madam Deputy Speaker, I move:
That the House now considers Order No 1 under Further Business.
CONSIDERATION OF REPORT OF PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON FINANCE – PROGRESS REPORT FROM SPECIAL PENSIONS BOARD ON IMPLEMENTATION OF SPECIAL PENSIONS AMENDMENT ACT, NO 28 OF 2005 (ACT 69 OF 1996, AS AMENDED)
There was no debate.
The DEPUTY CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Madam Deputy Speaker, we move that the Report be adopted.
Motion agreed to.
Report accordingly adopted.
Mr M J ELLIS: Thank you very much, Madam Deputy Speaker. I want to say that when one makes a farewell or says goodbye to people there is usually somebody to say goodbye to, but the House is so empty this afternoon it all seems a little bit hollow.
I want to say right upfront how strange it is to say farewell to an almost empty House, but it really has been the most fascinating year. It started off with the local government elections, and the pace did not seem to subside after that at all. All of a sudden we are here at the end of the year, saying farewell, and I must say the prospect of some well-earned leave is in sight.
It has been a fascinating year. It is difficult to even remember the beginning of the year, with those local government elections hanging over us. One other thing is that there has been a great deal of work during the course of the year. The local elections played havoc with the parliamentary programme and we certainly had to play catch-up to a large extent.
There are a number of other things that have happened during this year as well. For example, we have had the trial of a senior party office bearer of a particular party on rape charges, the imprisonment of prominent members of a particular political party on fraud and corruption charges, the unwillingness of a certain political party - in fact two political parties - to accept defeat in the local government elections and their extraordinary attempt to regain power at all costs.
All of these and many other matters have actually influenced and affected the political landscape during the course of the year, but here in Parliament there have been other matters as well, not least of all the ongoing saga of Travelgate with all its ramifications; the Oilgate issue and all that is happening around that now; the Civil Union Bill, with special mention of the extraordinary manner in which it was handled and then, of course, the extraordinary motion of censure of the DA Chief Whip, brought about by the ANC Chief Whip. I am sure we will all accept that there is a particular lesson to be learned from this incident. We are aware that we have an absent friend here today in the form of the same ANC Chief Whip, who seems to have mysteriously disappeared from the scene. Lots of rumours persist, of course. Most of the year he has been present in the Chamber, which at times has taken on the appearance more of a lynch mob than the highest debating Chamber in the land.
But I would say that the important lesson to be learned is this: Be careful who you injure on the way up because you never know when and how you might need them on the way down.
Indeed, it has been a fascinating year. But quite frankly, the fighting is over for a while and it is time now to contemplate a well-earned rest. In doing so, however, we must again bear in mind that when we return next year we will not have the steadying, highly professional hand of Kasper Hahndiek to guide us and again we wish him well in his retirement and thank him for all he has done over the 36 years he has spent in Parliament.
It is also appropriate now to say thank you to other people who have played an important role in Parliament this year.
I want to begin by thanking the ANC very sincerely indeed. This year they have given us so many opportunities to attack them and it has been absolutely wonderful. We have enjoyed every one of them. Thank you for a job truly well done. We look forward to next year, which we are sure will be more of the same. You really do have some big issues to resolve and we look forward to watching you do so. To the ANC, you have made our job most enjoyable, thank you very much indeed.
I want to thank the staff of the National Assembly for their hard work. They are a close-knit and professional team. Thank you all for your assistance at all times. While we will miss Mr Hahndiek, we know that you will do the job superbly after he has gone and you will continue his fine tradition. Of course, I do say to the Table staff that a little bit more bias towards opposition parties will be very much appreciated.
I also want to thank the presiding officers and the House Chairs for their role. I am sure that they may have noticed that the DA does not always agree with all their rulings or, certainly, all their decisions but we do acknowledge and accept that they wield the authority and we respect that and consequently toe the line. A lot of important things have happened this year, apart from Mr Van der Merwe’s cake and, quite honestly, I want to say to the House - because a great deal of interest has been shown in this particular cake - that it looked a lot better than it tasted and I do have to stress again to the hon Koos that the quality of the candle was totally inappropriate. To bring a candle of such poor quality into this House, I believe, was shocking, but a great deal of this was initiated by Madam Speaker and Madam Deputy Speaker during the course of the year.
I do want to say sincerely that for me one of the highlights of the year was working on the committee established by Madam Speaker on the Moseneke Commission and chaired by the hon Geoff Doidge. It was a great experience. But I would like to say that I hope that committee’s work will bear much fruit in the new year.
I also want to thank all my fellow Whips, both from my own party and from other parties. We have worked well together this year and as it is the end of the year and therefore in the spirit of Christmas, I would like to thank hon Sam Louw, who is not in the House at present. Okay, I do recognise him now. Sam, thank you very much for making programming meetings particularly interesting. I also want to thank hon John Jeffery just for being what he is. Certainly, these two gentlemen have helped to make some meetings very interesting, and of course the hon John Jeffery has also helped to make some meetings very boring, but that is another matter all together. And of course I do want to thank hon Margaret Rajbally for just being Margaret.
To the service officers, to the staff, to the security services and everyone associated with Parliament - even Public Works, believe it or not - thank you for what you have done this year and have a good break.
But especially to all of us, Members of Parliament, the DA wishes you all well and a safe and very happy festive season.
Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: Madam Deputy Speaker, I wish to pay tribute to all these tired members who have waited until 18:00 to adjourn for the year. I am very hesitant to refer to candles and cakes in view of who is in the Chair at the moment. May I say this: If you people really want something to work, bring a cake into the House, because I have been notified that I will surely see President Mbeki.
Yet another year is over, Madam Deputy Speaker - a hard year in which we worked hard. I want to contribute by saying we want to go home. I am not going to use all my five minutes. I am dedicating three minutes to you and I am only going to speak for two minutes.
I believe that these end-of-the-year speeches close the door on any conflict or unpleasantness that we have experienced. I believe it is a golden opportunity for Members of Parliament to be just human beings for a while and forget about our political differences, our conflicts and our criticisms against one another. This is the opportunity to just be colleagues. We have worked hard and we are going on leave.
Therefore, we in the IFP wish to thank all our colleagues and the parliamentary staff for a year of excellent co-operation, a very successful year. I agree with everything that the hon Mike has said. I am not going to repeat all those thanks.
We wish all our colleagues and the staff a merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year. May you all rest well and return next year, ready to address the challenge of securing a better life for all South Africans, which is the duty of each and every one of us.
Be careful on the roads, we want to see you all back next year. Go well, until next time.
Ms N C NKABINDE: Madam Deputy Speaker and hon members, it is that time of the year when we bid farewell to each other before departing for our constituencies and homes. As always, we can look back upon the year and note that many important decisions and laws were made by Parliament. Once again we must thank each and every hon member, irrespective of political ideology, who participated in the parliamentary process and ensured that vibrant, participatory democracy occurred.
It is also apt that we remember and pay tribute to the many members of staff who support our efforts and keep the wheels of this institution oiled and turning.
When we take the year in review we must also note that we have bid farewell to a number of hon members and staff who passed away. Our thoughts are with their families and friends as they approach this festive season, when the absence of deceased loved ones is often felt most keenly.
This has been a particularly sad year for the many prominent people who passed away, especially in the music industry, where we have lost many of our leading talents.
It is appropriate that as we approach this festive period we take note of the many lives that our roads claim; not only the famous and talented, but more than 10 000 South Africans from every walk of life die on our roads every year. Countless more are maimed and injured. We appeal to all hon members and staff to take special care during this festive season, to travel safely and encourage everyone they meet to follow suit. The carnage must stop.
To our Christian brothers and sisters, we hope that the Christmas celebration will deepen your faith, and to everyone, we hope that the holidays will reinvigorate you and bless you with the company of family and friends. God willing, we will meet in the new year to proceed enthusiastically with the second half of this parliamentary term. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mr S N SWART: Madam Deputy Speaker, on behalf of the ACDP I would like to associate ourselves with the sentiments already expressed. Our sincere thanks to the presiding officers - you, Madam Deputy Speaker, and the House Chairpersons – and Table staff for your kindness and graciousness. Also to the Secretary of Parliament, and all committee, administrative, library, service, security, catering and cleaning staff, a heartfelt word of thanks.
I also wish to thank the media for their ongoing and in-depth coverage of Parliament. It is much appreciated and we trust that they too will have a good rest.
We’ve had a long and challenging year. We’ve dealt with hugely controversial issues, not least of which was the Civil Union Bill, which might see us returning before Christmas. At all times we in the ACDP have prayed for wisdom and believe we have contributed to robust and hearty debate. At the end of the day we all have the best interests of our nation and our people at heart.
The ACDP wishes you all a very blessed and peaceful Christmas filled with the love of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our prayer for all parliamentarians is: The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace. I thank you. [Applause.]
Dr C P MULDER: Madam Deputy Speaker, we have come to the end of a very long and exhausting year in terms of our parliamentary agenda. I’m of the view that on this occasion with farewell speeches we must realise that it’s not the time for parties to blame one another, but rather to reflect as individuals on what each one of us has done in the past year with regard to fulfilling our obligations as a representative of our people and as a Member of Parliament.
Ek dink ons moet besef dat die werklikheid ook is dat daar dinge gebeur het in ons parlementêre stelsel wat miskien vraagtekens plaas oor die geloofwaardigheid van ons Parlement as instelling. Ek dink nie ons moet illusies daaroor hê dat daar by die publiek sekere persepsies mag bestaan wat nie noodwendig altyd positief is oor wat ons doen en wat ons hier verrig nie. Mag dit vir ons elkeen ’n uitdaging wees wanneer ons volgende jaar terugkom om juis daaraan te werk dat ons die werklike beeld van die Parlement voorhou as ’n instelling waarop elke Suid-Afrikaner kan trots wees. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraph follows.)
[I think we must realise that it is also a reality that things have occurred in our parliamentary system which perhaps raise questions about the credibility of our Parliament as an institution. I do not think we must have any illusions concerning certain perceptions that may exist among the public which are not necessarily always positive about what we do or what we accomplish here. Let it be a challenge to us all when we return next year to work on presenting the true image of Parliament as an institution of which each South African can be proud.]
I would also like to use the opportunity to thank my colleagues in the caucus of what has become known as the “caucus for the smaller parties”. Those are all the smaller parties, with the exception of the DA and the IFP, which meet on a regular basis once a week to discuss issues. I know it’s a laden term, which may be dangerous to use, but we just may become what could be known as the “third force,” but in a positive sense. [Laughter.] We are working on that!
Ek wil ook dankie sê vir die dienste van die Parlement. [I also want to say thank you to the services of Parliament.]
These include the protection services, the SA Police Service, the service officers, the cleaners, the catering staff, each and every member of Parliament’s staff who work tirelessly to make our stay here as Members of Parliament pleasant. Thank you very much. Sometimes you may think that we do not see that, but we do.
Aan almal ’n Geseënde Kersfees en ’n voorspoedige Nuwejaar. Die geveg gaan volgende jaar voort, dan gaan ons weer vorentoe. Baie dankie. [Applous.] [To everyone a merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year. The struggle continues next year, and then we move forward again. Thank you. [Applause.]]
Mr I S MFUNDISI: Deputy Speaker and hon members, as we come to the end of yet another year it is important that we exchange greetings as we head for the season of joy, peace and giving. Surely, this has been a good year, thanks to the talent and effort of the team. One would ask who the members of the team are.
They are the hon members in this House, the presiding officers – all five of them – the Whips, the chairpersons of committees, and employees of Parliament, from the Secretary to the least of all, the junior members of staff. It is this joint effort of all the above that has made this a good year.
We thank the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker for the leadership they have given. The three House Chairpersons have eased the yoke of the Speaker, and in the process they have enhanced the function of this institution. In gratitude we must, of course, applaud the Speaker for having seen fit to ensure that at her discretion she invited members of smaller parties when she undertook some of her overseas visits.
The Chief Whips’ Forum has functioned like a properly lubricated machine despite its size and the varying political philosophies it has to contend with. It has been putting the interests of the country above all. Hopefully hon Louw and his committee will consider granting more time to the other parties in the interests of the country.
Parliament has gone through a gruelling period, taking into account the matter of the Travelgate scandal that still has to be resolved, but we know that no hurdle is insurmountable. We need to note that those who live in glass houses should refrain from throwing stones. Changes that have been brought into being tended to tempt one to feel that, surely, today is better than yesterday and hopefully tomorrow will supersede the rest in brightness.
Thanks to the Table staff, the service officers and the orderlies without whom this House would not function at all. We call on all to ensure that during the festive season we hasten slowly to arrive alive. We in the UCDP wish you all a fine festive season and as we part we say:
God be with you till we meet again;
Neath his wings securely hide you,
Daily manna still provide you;
God be with you till we meet again.
I thank you. [Applause.]
Ms S RAJBALLY: Madam Deputy Speaker, we have concluded another year that has driven us even closer to the true democracy that we so crave. It has been a challenging, eventful, fruitful and promising 2006. We look forward to 2007 and to being as effective and determined in turning our wheels of democracy to transform the nation and deliver to the people.
I take this opportunity on behalf of the MF to thank Madam Speaker, the Deputy Speaker and all the House Chairpersons for an auspicious 2006. Our gratitude and applause are extended to the entire House, the NA Table, all parliamentary staff, security and support staff for their fabulous contribution making our ends worthwhile, attainable and successful.
This year we have laid many of our dear members to rest and I once again offer our prayers and condolences to all the bereaved families and loved ones of the deceased.
I once again take this opportunity to thank Mr Hahndiek for his great contribution to the House and wish him well on his retirement. We also welcome Mr Mansura to the House as our new Secretary to the National Assembly, and we look forward to steering our ship in the new year with him.
We wish all a merry Christmas, an Eid Mubarak to our Muslim community and a prosperous New Year. May the season be restful and celebrated wisely and safely in the company of friends and loved ones. We wish all our matrics the best of success and a bright road ahead with great ambitions.
May we return to this podium in 2007 with determination and enthusiasm for the challenges and mission that will await us. May we return to our constituencies carrying our progress for 2006 and return in 2007 with desires, needs and wants so that this democracy may be a true representation of the people.
To all our political parties: Dear colleagues, go out there and remember to give to those who don’t have, and make a difference to the have-nots this festive season. To the hon Mike Ellis I want to say thank you very much for your thoughts and I bless you. [Applause.]
Mr L M GREEN: Deputy Speaker and hon members, on behalf of the FD, I wish to bid you and all presiding officers farewell until 2007. I would also like to thank you, Deputy Speaker, and all presiding officers without exception for the manner in which the National Assembly meetings were conducted. Meetings were often very lively and vibrant, as an earlier debate today illustrated, and in response presiding officers were challenged to take a firm stand to maintain the decorum of the House.
If there is one member who must get an award for the most graphic and original speech, it has to be the hon Koos van der Merwe, who takes the cake with icing, and candle, included, of course!
Allow me to thank all party-political leaders, presiding officers, Chief Whips and all parliamentary staff for a job well done. A special vote of thanks goes to Mr Kasper Hahndiek for over 30 years of work well done at Parliament.
We have come to the end of a very busy year and the time has come for us to return to our constituencies to complete our constituency work. We must never forget that we are here because of them. Our lives as MPs would be empty and futile if we could not have a positive impact on the lives of our constituents.
As we enter this festive season and have our huge meals, we must be mindful that there are still millions of people without proper housing, without electricity and water, or basic services. Our job is not done until we ensure that all the laws we have passed and all the reports we have accepted, when implemented, will significantly improve the quality of life for all our people.
May God bless you and your families as you take a well-deserved rest, and may all those who celebrate Christmas have a blessed Christmas and a happy New Year. I thank you.
The DEPUTY CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Deputy Speaker, this is not the opportunity to do annual reports, but just very briefly I’d like to say that during the course of this year, which was quite a momentous and tumultuous year, we did succeed in advancing the vision of a People’s Parliament that works for the creation of a better life for all.
Even though this is not the opportunity to do an evaluation of the year, I think there are certain landmarks that we should remind ourselves of, for example the fact that we, as a nation, went to the polls again in local government elections and further consolidated our democracy; the fact that we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Women’s March; there was the centenary of the Bambatha Rebellion; and there was the 30th anniversary of the June 16th uprising.
At a parliamentary level there was also the People’s Assembly that we held that, I think, stands out. On the international front there was our hosting of the SADC PF and our participation in the DRC elections. Of course, there was also the election of South Africa to the UN Security Council.
As a Parliament we continued to pass transformative legislation. I can mention the Further Education and Training Colleges Bill and the Civil Union Bill, and we came so close to passing the sexual offences Bill but, hopefully, will do so in the near future.
I think we also continued to strengthen our oversight role. We ensured that greater resources were allocated for constituency work. We engaged in a very thorough debate around a parliamentary oversight model and, I think, all of these things are taking us forward as a Parliament.
I think we need to also pay tribute to those of our colleagues who walked with us, but are not seeing the end of the year with us. We think in particular of the late hon Stella Sigcau, the hon Vincent Mabuyakhulu and the hon James Kati. We pay tribute to them.
We would like to thank the presiding officers, the Secretary and the staff of the parliamentary service; in short, everyone who contributes to making Parliament work in the way that it does. In particular, we would like to thank the Whips of all parties with whom we work so closely in the Chief Whips’ Forum. Despite many appearances of animosity, we actually are very united in serving the best interests of Parliament and our people. We would also like to thank the people of South Africa who have sent us here with the mandate that we have.
Lastly, I just want to say to everyone we hope that somewhere in the next couple of weeks you will have some rest, you will reintroduce yourselves to your families and you will just generally have a good festive season. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you, Deputy Chief Whip. Order, hon members! I would also like to take this opportunity, on behalf of the Speaker and the House Chairpersons, to wish all members a fruitful constituency period and a restful and peaceful recess. May you and your families enjoy the festive period.
The year has been difficult and the hard work of members and staff has not gone unnoticed. We have passed 26 Bills - some of them very, very complicated – during this year and we have done much oversight work. We successfully hosted the Youth Parliament, the Women’s Parliament and the People’s Assembly. We processed many appointments in respect of institutions that support democracy. We considered international agreements and reports of the numerous organs of state.
So, dear members, I know that as you move back to your constituency offices, much more work awaits you, but the holiday period will soon bring some relief. Although there is a slim chance that we may have to return to consider the Civil Union Bill should the NCOP propose amendments, let us think positively and hope that this is our last day in Parliament for this year.
I wish you and your families well. God bless and goodbye.
The House adjourned at 18:21.
ANNOUNCEMENTS, TABLINGS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS
National Assembly and National Council of Provinces
The Speaker and the Chairperson
1. Bills passed by Houses—to be submitted to President for assent
(1) Bills passed by National Assembly on 16 November 2006:
(a) Firearms Control Amendment Bill [B 12D—2006] (National Assembly—sec 75)
(b) South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport Amendment Bill [B 7D—2006] (National Assembly—sec 75).
(2) Bills passed by National Council of Provinces on 15 November 2006:
(a) Postal Services Amendment Bill [B 22B—2006] (National Assembly—sec 75)
(b) Measurement Units and Measurement Standards Bill [B 21B—2006] (National Assembly—sec 75)
(c) Accreditation for Conformity Assessment, Calibration and Good Practice Bill [B 29B—2006] (National Assembly—sec 75).
(3) Bills passed by National Council of Provinces on 16 November 2006:
(a) Carriage by Air Amendment Bill [B 18—2006] (National Assembly—sec 75)
(b) Adjustments Appropriation Bill [B 32—2006] (National Assembly—sec 77)
(c) Revenue Laws Amendment Bill [B 33—2006] (National Assembly— sec 77)
(d) Revenue Laws Second Amendment Bill [B 34—2006] (NationalAssembly—sec 75)
(e) Further Education and Training Colleges Bill [B 23D—2006](National Council of Provinces—sec 76).
1. Membership of Committee
The following members have been appointed to serve on the Disciplinary Committee, chaired by the Deputy Speaker, viz:
African National Congress
Gumede, D M;Ramodibe D M (designated by the Speaker in terms of Rule 191(1)(c))
Delport, J T
Inkatha Freedom Party
Van der Merwe, J H
United Democratic Movement
African Christian Democratic Party
Freedom Front Plus
Mulder, C P
United Christian Democratic Party
Mfundisi, I S
Rajbally, S (designated by the Speaker in terms of Rule 191(1)(c))
United Independent Front
Mdaka, N M (designated by the Speaker in terms of Rule 191(1)(c))
National Assembly and National Council of Provinces
1. Report of the Joint Monitoring Committee on Improvement of Quality of Life and Status of Women on Special Report from the South African Women Entrepreneurs – A burgeoning force in our economy for 2005, dated 14 November 2006:
The Joint Monitoring Committee on Improvement of Quality of Life and Status of Women, having considered the Special Report from the South African Women Entrepreneurs- A burgeoning force in our economy for 2005, referred to it, reports that it has concluded its deliberations thereon.
2. Report of the Joint Monitoring Committee on Improvement of Quality of Life and Status of Women on Report and Financial Statements of the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) for 2004-2005, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements for 2004-2005 [RP 120-2005], dated 14 November 2006:
The Joint Monitoring Committee on Improvement of Quality of Life and Status of Women, having considered the Report and Financial Statements of the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) for 2004-2005, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements for 2004-2005 [RP 120-2005], referred to it, reports that it has concluded its deliberations thereon.
1. Report of the Portfolio Committee on Provincial and Local
Government on an Oversight visit to Oudtshoorn, dated 7 November 2006:
The Portfolio Committee on Provincial and Local Government, having undertaken an oversight visit to Oudtshoorn, reports as follows:
1. During the Peoples Assembly 2006 held in Oudtshoorn from 14 – 15 September 2006, Committees were requested to do oversight visits with relevant bodies. A delegation from the Portfolio Committee on Provincial and Local Government, the Select Committee on Local Government and Administration and the Select Committee on Finance undertook an oversight visit to the Oudtshoorn Local Municipality on Thursday, 14 September 2006.
The aim of the oversight visit was to interact with the Mayor, Deputy Mayor,Municipal Manager, Councillors and Senior Managers of the municipality and interact with the Women’s Empowerment Project in Oudtshoorn.
2. The People’s Assembly 2006 took place under the theme “All Shall Have Equal Rights.” Issues addressed by the People’s Assembly 2006 included:
• Rural Women’s participation in the economy.
• The impact of legislation dealing with unlawful discrimination against people with disabilities: How far have we come?
• The rights of the child: Child labour with a specific focus of children on farms.
The main objective of the People’s Assembly 2006 was:
• To mark the tenth anniversary of the Constitution.
• To take stock of Parliament’s constitutional role of passing laws that seeks to address and redress issues of inequalities.
• To provide a vehicle for peoples’ voices to be heard on issues affecting them.
3. However, for the Committee, the main focus of the interaction was to understand the functioning of the municipality in respect of all relevant legislation, the functioning of the ward committees and impact of the projects on the community, resource utilization and assistance from the municipality and the private sector.
4. The delegation from the Portfolio Committee on Provincial and Local Government comprised of Mr S Mshudulu, Mr I Mogase, Mrs M Gumede, Mr G Phadagi, Mr W Doman and Mr M Swathe. Mr S Shiceka and Mr E Sogoni represented the Select Committee on Local Government and Administration and the Select Committee on Finance respectively.
B. Interaction with the Oudtshoorn Local Municipality
1. The meeting was convened in the Municipal Chambers of the Oudtshoorn Local Municipality and was attended by the delegation and Deputy-Minister N Hangana.
Members of the Oudtshoorn Local Municipality - Mr J Swartbooi: Executive Mayor, Mr J Swiggelaar: Deputy Executive Mayor, Mr M May: Municipal Manager, Mr C Van Der Mescht: Housing, Mr G Juthe, Councillor B Blaauw, Councillor A Lekay.
2. The Deputy Minister thanked the Mayor for hosting the meeting and explained that the delegation was there to interact with officials from the Oudtshoorn Municipality – to understand the difficulties and challenges being faced by the municipality and how the committees could be of assistance.
3. The Municipal Manager gave the Committee a broad overview of the municipality, a profile of all wards, the challenges in respect of unemployment, poverty alleviation, training, the impact of ostrich farming in the area and the budget. The Municipal Manager also touched on the various initiatives being undertaken by the municipality. The housing project was well underway and about 600 units had already been completed. He explained the long delay in obtaining the Environmental Impact Assessment Report for the country estate and golf course development and appealed to the Committee for assistance in this regard. The country estate would give the community a boost in terms of job creation and other positive spin-offs. He also indicated that the recent flooding had put a heavy strain on the municipal infrastructure and the area was declared a disaster area. The municipality desperately needed more funds to address this issue. The municipality had its audit committee and necessary procurement policies in place.
4. Members questions centred on the following:
• service delivery i.r.o water and sanitation
• debt collection
• the impact of ostrich farming in the community
• training and empowerment
• staff appointments, demographics and performance contracts
• valuation of properties i.r.o the Property Rates Act
• the status of the housing challenges in Dyseldorp
5. The Municipal Manager explained that they had completed a capacity questionnaire to assess capacity of municipalities. They worked closely with the District Municipality and received valuable support from the district. All documentation was electronic with an electronic filing system also in place.
The restructuring process in the municipality was completed with issues relating to women, youth and disabled being addressed by the social directorate. Mention was made of the Aids Rehabilitation Centre being managed by an NGO on behalf of the municipality. A document was in place to deal with the indigent and the issue of powers and functions. A water tariff structure was also in place with special focus on the indigent. The revenue collection rate currently stood at 92% for the municipality. The municipality had received money from the provincial department of housing to address the housing problems in Dyseldorp and the councils had secured money in their budgets to alleviate the ablution problem. The new valuation role was to be implemented in July 2008 and a transport plan had been adopted by the District Municipality for implementation. There were many old bylaws that needed to be addressed.
C. Interaction with Community Members/Women’s Empowerment Group Members
- The delegation held a community meeting at the Bridgeton Community Hall with members of the community and members of the Women’s Empowerment Group of Oudtshoorn. These members were given a chance to highlight problems and challenges they were facing with the municipality and councillors of the area. Most of the issues centred on the following:
- irregularities and the perceived discrimination in the awarding of contracts and the tender process
- policies in respect of women, youth and persons with disabilities
- monies made available for projects was taking too long to reach the intended beneficiaries
- policies in respect of the indigent
- inaccessibility of councilors
- the language policy of the municipality
- nepotism with appointments to vacant posts
- housing problems in Dysselsdorp and filthiness of townships
- poverty and unemployment
2. A member of the delegation explained that they were informed that all was well and functioning and challenges were being addressed by the municipality. After hearing from the community - this did not seem to be the case. The delegation promised the community that they would secure an urgent meeting with the Mayor’s Office immediately to seek answers on the issues raised. The delegation thanked the community for their time and effort.
D. Follow-up Interaction with the Oudtshoorn Local Municipality
1. Present at the meeting was the delegation and members of the Oudtshoorn Local Municipality which included Mr J Swartbooi: Executive Mayor, Mr J Swiggelaar: Deputy Executive Mayor, Mr P Nel: Speaker, Councillor Ms R Le Kay, Councillor C Stemmet, Councillor G April, Councillor E Fortune,Councillor J Coetzee, Councillor D De Jager, Councillor N Gunguluza, Councillor M May, Councillor B Pannas, Councillor G Phillips, Councillor K Witon, Councillor J Harmse, Councillor N Soman, Councillor B Blaauw, Councillor E Ngalo, Councillor S Billy, Councillor C Ngalo, Councillor L Lamprecht, Councillor J Olivier, Councillor S Biljohn, Mr B Vermaak, Mr K Lubbe, Ms E September, Mr C Ceaser, Mr R Jullies and Mr N Oosthuizen.
2. The reason for the meeting was to give the council some feedback on the meeting held with the community earlier in the day. It was mentioned that there was a host of concerns raised at the community meeting and Members felt it important to share these with the council with a view of trying to resolve some of the issues raised.
3. The Chairperson proposed that the Committee work through the list of concerns raised and find a way forward in dealing with them.
4. Language Policy of the Municipality:
It was brought to the attention of the Committee that all correspondence from the municipality was only in Afrikaans. This resulted in communication problems for those councilors who did not understand Afrikaans or who preferred correspondence in at least one other language, preferably English. It was mentioned by a councilor that the translation facilities of the District Municipality had been offered to the municipality but was not acted on. The Speaker and some councilors claimed there was no problems i.r.o language policies while others insisted that the problem did exist.
The Chairperson was of the view that the municipality may have a language policy, but that it was not being implemented. To resolve the issue, the Chairperson ruled that they be supplied with the evidence that the municipal hansard, notices and other correspondence did, in fact, cater for other language groups. If not, the Chairperson requested that correspondence be communicated in English as well.
5. It was agreed that the Committee would arrange a structured follow-up meeting with the Oudtshoorn Municipality in the near future. It may be necessary to invite the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and the Department of Provincial and Local Government (DPLG) to this meeting.
1. The Minister for Provincial and Local Government should make available a report on the outcome of the investigation launched by the MEC for Local Government in the Western Cape – to prepare the Committee for a follow-up meeting with the Oudtshoorn Municipality.
Report to be considered.
2. Report of the Portfolio Committee on Provincial and Local Government on an Oversight visit to Provincial Disaster Management Centres, dated 7 November 2006:
The Portfolio Committee on Provincial and Local Government, having undertaken an oversight visit to Provincial Disaster Management Centres, reports as follows:
1. During the 2nd Term Programme of the Portfolio Committee on Provincial and Local Government, the Committee held hearings on the state of readiness of municipalities in respect of Disaster Management. At the end of these hearings with a range of provincial disaster management centres, the Committee resolved to visit some of these centres during the 3rd Term to gain an insight into the achievements and challenges being faced by these disaster management centres. The provincial visit took place from 9 – 12 October 2006.
2. The delegation from the Portfolio Committee on Provincial and Local Government comprised of Mr S L Tsenoli, Mr S A Mshudulu, Mrs M M Gumede, Mr M M S Lekgoro, Mr B Solo and Mr W Doman. Members of the Committee Section staff included Mr L A Brown, the Committee Secretary and Mrs B Madikane, the Committee Assistant.
The overall purpose of the oversight visit was to give a higher profile to disaster management in government. There was significant progress in respect of infrastructure – but the risk of losing this at great costs financially - and in some instances people as well – remains. The main objective of the visit was to look at the following:
- the state of readiness of disaster management in the provinces
- the challenges with regard to implementation of the relevant legislation
- issues with respect to intergovernmental relations
- to look at the joint operations centres – interact with officials from the local district
C. Provincial Disaster Management Centres
1. The provincial disaster management centres visited are in the following provinces - Western Cape, Eastern Cape, North West and Gauteng.
2. Meetings involved a range of stakeholders including local government councillors, government officials, elected and official functionaries.
D. Provincial Disaster Management Centre, Western Cape Province – Monday,9 October 2006
1. Present at the meeting were Mrs S Majiet, Head of Department: Local Government and Housing, Mr R Dyantyi, MEC: Local Government and Housing, Mr S Carstens: Disaster Management, Mrs J Pandaram: Disaster Management, Dr W Smith: Emergency Management Services, Mr J Rikhotso:
Disaster Management, Cllr D Ximbi: Safety and Security, Mr G Pillay: City of Cape Town Disaster Management Centre, Mr P Adams: Safety and Security, Mr J Minnie: City of Cape Town Disaster Management Centre and Mr G Killian: Department of Provincial and Local Government.
2. The delegation received a broad profile of the geographical area, statistics and hazards in the Western Cape by Mr S Carstens. He also gave the delegation a historic overview of disaster management in the Western Cape with a breakdown of the identified hazards and a comprehensive risk overview. On implementation of the Disaster Management Act, Mr Carstens gave the delegation a holistic picture of how the centres were progressing at national, provincial, district and local government levels and the legal requirements for the establishment of a disaster management centre in South Africa. He also made mention of the operations of the Emergency Management Centre and information technology software collaboration between the centres. Mr Carstens concluded by briefing the delegation on the areas of concern which included funding, capacity, competency and issues revolving around the hosting of the 2010 World Cup.
3. Dr W Smith gave the delegation an overview of the Emergency Management Centres and the system in place which included the Control Centre Software, In-Ambulance Software and the In-Hospital Functionality.
4. The delegation received a presentation on the recent disaster that hit the Eden District Municipal Area in August 2006 with background, intervention, estimated flood damage losses, recovery plans, lessons learned and recommendations.
5. The delegation then moved to the City of Cape Town Disaster Management Centre in Goodwood for a presentation on their Disaster Risk Management, legislative requirements and the Case Study of the N7 Bridge Informal Settlement fire incident that occurred recently.
E. Provincial Disaster Management Centre, Eastern Cape Province – Tuesday,10 October 2006
1. Input by Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality
a. In accordance with the National Disaster Management Policy Framework the first draft of the Provincial Disaster Management Framework was circulated for comment in May 2006. The Province had also developed an Integrated Disaster Risk Management Strategy that outlined the following strategic goals:
- to institutionalise and strategically direct the integrated execution of uniform Disaster Risk Management Policy and Strategy
- to institutionalise the integrated application of risk reduction planning and best practice disaster risk management methodology
- to implement and sustain a uniform disaster risk management information system
- to create and sustain appropriate disaster risk management awareness, training, education and focused research
b. The Province had assisted municipalities through the use of service providers to develop disaster management policy framework documents which are to be adopted by Councils.
c. A minimum of R 20 million annual budget was provided by the Department to address disaster management, fire and emergency services. Only an operational budget was provided for by some municipalities. The province had an immediate budget shortfall of at least R 350 million to address the state of disaster management, fire and emergency services over the MTEF period.
d. The Department had created a Directorate for Disaster Management and Emergency Services with 36 posts. Municipalities are moving with a slow pace to employ adequate staff members to service the needy communities.
e. The Province had established a functional disaster management centre on a temporary basis. Discussions were being held with the Provincial Treasury for funding to build or purchase a permanent structure. Functional district and metropolitan disaster management centres were established. Satellite centres cascading down to local municipalities were currently being established.
f. The Province communicated through the Provincial Disaster Management Advisory Forum that convened monthly with the government departments and other relevant stakeholders.
g. Successes included the co-ordination of disaster management at provincial, district, metropolitan and local levels despite the limited resources, the implementation of the pilot project on Disaster Management Information systems and the implementation of the Disaster Management Act. Another success was the district and Metropolitan Disaster Management Policy Framework.
h. The overarching challenge faced is under-funding which meant that other challenges facing the Province and municipalities could not be addressed.
2. Input by Cacadu District Municipality
a. Cacadu was one of the largest of the six districts, comprised of nine local municipalities and, four district management areas. A Policy Framework for the district was developed in line and in accordance with the National and Provincial Policy frameworks and the first draft is presently circulated for comment. The framework broadly outlines the following:
- Institutionalizing the Disaster Risk Management policy and strategies
- Risk Reduction Planning
- Integrated Disaster Management information system
- Awareness campaigns, training and education and research.
b. A risk analysis of the district as a whole was completed in July 2006 and the remainder of the Disaster Management Plan was scheduled for completion by end 2006.
c. The centre was relocated during 2005 from Greenbushes outside Port Elizabeth to Algoa House building situated in Port Elizabeth Central. The present DMC is considered to be temporary as it is envisaged that the offices of Cacadu District Municipality and the Disaster Management Centre will relocate to a new building in Jeffrey’s Bay.
d. The Disaster Management reports to the office of the Municipal Manager and has a total of 13 staff members.
e. District Advisory Forum meetings were held three times per annum. The meeting was chaired by the Municipal Manager and attended by officials, politicians, companies, state and provincial departments and other stakeholders. Local Advisory Forum meetings were held at least four times per annum at each of the nine local municipalities in the district. Presently no interdepartmental meetings were held but would be introduced after acceptance of the Policy Framework and Disaster Management Plans.
f. Projects for 2006/07 included the following:
- Compilation and implementation of Disaster Management Response Plans
- Workshop on Disaster Management Act in 4 satellite areas
- Issuing of Disaster Management equipment to volunteers
- Conduct flood awareness campaigns at 6 schools in Ndlambe, Makana and Kouga
- Conduct severe weather campaigns at 6 schools in Ndlambe, Makana and Kouga
- Provide assistance to disaster affected communities
- Purchase electronic Resource Data Base/information system.
- Developing and upgrading of two way radio communication system in Cacadu District Municipality
- Purchase capital items needed for Disaster Management
- Conduct training and education programmes
- Facilitate community awareness programmes
- Facilitate response and recovery programmes
g. Fire projects included the following:
- Establish basic fire fighting services in DMA
- Provide training to at least 10 persons in each of the identified communities
- Conduct Fire Awareness campaigns at 10 schools in Cacadu District Municipality area
- Establish fire fighting services and assist local municipalities
- Ensure sustainable fire services at local municipalities by providing operational support.
- Provide fire fighting courses to fire officers and fire fighters
- Upgrading of secure buildings to house fire vehicles and assets
h. It was indicated that emergency funding from National or Provincial Government to the district municipality was taking long to reach the affected communities. The SAAB Grid information system was also a challenge in that similar systems were available in South Africa that were already in use, compatible and with competitive pricing. The SAAB Grid offer to the district municipality included a high annual maintenance fee over a very long period of 15 years and an annualincrease.
3. Input by Alfred Nzo District Municipality
a. The municipality was the poorest compared to the other districts in the Province. Poverty index figures showed that the district stood at 49.9%. Due to demarcation the district was divided into Umzimvubu and Greater Matatiele Municipalities. The delegation was given a brief overview and background to Disaster Management and Fire Service, the establishment of the District Disaster Management and Fire Station and the Disaster Management Satellite Centres and Fire Stations.
b. Disaster Management was a sub-directorate within the Department of the Office of the Municipal Manager. There were two divisions in the sub-directorate, namely Disaster Management and Fire Services. There was currently a staff complement of 18 with the organogram still being reviewed. There was a concerted effort to build capacity of officials and communities. On the state-of-readiness, the centre was operational 24 hours through the 18 trained volunteers with personnel on standby.
c. Challenges/difficulties being faced included:
- lack of ownership of the programme by municipal entities and organs of state
- correct placement of the function
- appointment of and clear role and responsibilities of the Head of the Centre
- budgeting of the programme by municipalities
- insufficient funding for post and disaster recovery phase
- lack of appropriate disaster risk management structures
- lack of personnel and other resources
- lack of political will
- re-occurrence of disasters without intervention of the Department of Housing in terms of the Emergency Housing Scheme
4. Input by Buffalo City Municipality
a. The municipality was a large Category B Municipality with capacity to address large incidents with nineteen response plans to address most of the disasters which occur in the city. The municipality was currently investigating a service level agreement for Disaster Management to clarify the legal status for the municipality with regard to disaster management.
b. A draft Disaster Management Framework has been prepared but required the outcomes of the service level agreement before it could be submitted to Council for approval.
c. Buffalo City had a well equipped centre as well as a sub-centre in King William’s Town. A ward councillor forum had been established and the terms of reference would be submitted to Council shortly. Technical task teams to conduct planning and address prevention and mitigation would be established in 2007. Buffalo City had conducted an indicative risk assessment and was a pilot for the national implementation of the Disaster Management Framework.
d. Buffalo City Disaster Management Centre participated in the provincial and district advisory forums and had a working relationship with a number of government departments. Joint Operation Centres were established for major events in the city.
5. Input by Ukhahlamba District Municipality
a. The district disaster management centre was established and was in full operation on normal working hours. Disaster Risk Management Satellite Centres were established throughout the district in all four local municipalities. The Disaster Risk Management Unit had seven personnel. Volunteers were trained in all four local municipal areas and used in times of disaster. District and Local Disaster Risk Management Advisory Forums have been established and were continuing successfully.
b. The District also had a senior fire officer employed for all fire related matters with an office in Barkley East. Volunteers and members of the local municipality were assisting with fire fighting services in their respective municipal areas. These volunteers were multi-skilled as they were trained for both disaster risk and fire fighting. Two medium fire fighting trucks had been purchased and have been deployed at the Maletswai municipal area and one in the Elundini area. There were plans to purchase two medium fire fighting trucks in the next financialyear.
c. The Disaster Management Act was being implemented successfully in some areas, but the Centre had embarked on an awareness campaign to inform the Sector Departments, CBO’s, NGO’s, Local Municipalities and the community at large about the Act. Disaster Risk Management By-Laws were being formulated for the District.
d. The placement of the unit has always been a concern and discussions were held regarding the matter, but no response has been satisfactory. The District was in the process of establishing a District Disaster Risk Management Policy Framework and consultants have been used to assist.
e. Relations with Government Sector Departments have been established and strengthened through the Disaster Risk Management Advisory Forums. The District was facilitating the development of cross-border relations with neighbouring district municipalities and local municipalities to assist one another during emergencies.
6. Input by O R Tambo District Municipality
a. The Disaster Risk Management Centre was provisionally housed at the O R Tambo House in Myezo Park. Plans to build a new Centre were at an advanced stage but funding was a huge challenge. This new Centre was expected to encompass fire fighting services. The main Centre was staffed by nine personnel and it was envisaged that the Centre would operate on a 24-hour basis as of November 2006.
b. Seven Satellite Centres had been established but infrastructure in the form of offices was a challenge in all Satellite Centres – the exception being the Mhlontlo Satellite Centre where the municipality was very co-operative in assisting with office accommodation and the Ntabankulu Satellite Centre where the District Municipality had given support. Each of the Satellite Centres had been issued with a suitable disaster response vehicle.
c. The Centre had, through the assistance of a service provider, produced a draft risk management policy framework. Consultation with local municipalities would start at the beginning of November 2006 and it was expected that by the end of December 2006 consultation would have been finalised and adopted by Council in 2007.
d. The Disaster Risk Management Advisory Forum created a platform for enhancing intergovernmental relations as it was attended by provincial organs of state, NGO’s, CBO’s and the Provincial Disaster Risk Management Centre.
e. The main challenge remained funding, especially for commissioning scientific risk and vulnerability assessment.
7. Input by Chris Hani District Municipality
a. The first draft of the District Disaster Management Framework was available and out for comment within the institution. Policy in respect of response, relief and rehabilitation had been drafted and submitted to the policy committee. The District had embarked on an intensive education and awareness programme including schools. Volunteers had been trained in first aid, fundamentals of disaster management and fire fighting. Municipal officials and councillors have also been trained in disaster risk management planning, fundamentals of disaster risk management planning and emergency trauma response.
b. The Centre was an active member of Provincial Disaster Management Advisory Forum, Eastern Cape Emergency Services Co-ordinating Committee, Disaster Management Institute of Southern Africa and the District Disaster Management Advisory Forum. A partnership with the Department of Education, Sport and Recreation and Culture had been established.
c. The District still needed to address the following challenges:
- Availability of at least level 1 plans before the end of 2005/2006 financial year
- Availability of guidelines on education and awareness programmes
- Strengthening of existing and establishment of partnerships with role players and stakeholders
- Availability of clear cross-boundary agreements with neighbouring districts
- Funding for the programme
- Adequate personnel for the Centre
- Support/co-operation by departments internally and externally
- Funding for a reconstruction programme
F. Provincial Disaster Management Centre, North West Province – Wednesday, 11 October 2006
Present at the meeting were Mr P Siko: Department of Local Government and Housing, Mr M Mosiane: Department of Local Government and Housing, Mr G Kwena: Centre for Disaster Management, Mr M Jacobs, Mr L Williams:
Department of Provincial and Local Government, Mr T Watson-Thomas:
Department of Local Government and Housing, Mr H Bezuidenhour: Disaster
Management, Mr M Skweit: Greater Taung Local Municipality, Ms B Madumo:
Greater Taung Local Municipality, Ms B Mogakwe: Greater Taung Local Municipality, Ms A Maepe: Greater Taung Local Municipality, Councillr O Oliphant, Mr T Msimang: Department of Local Government and Housing, Mr R Lesar: Southern District Municipality, Mr P Monare: Bonjanala District Municipality and Mr P Dyonase: Department of Local Government and Housing.
1. Input by North West Province
a. The National Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002 was implemented at National and Provincial level from 1 April 2004 and at District Municipality and Local Municipality level as of the 1 July 2004. All implementers from National to Local had two years in which to fully implement the Act at their level of responsibilities.
b. The Disaster Management Centre has been established and was fairly functional and continues to improve. The head of the centre had been appointed in an acting position. Until the start-up grant from DPLG is granted to the District Municipalities there will only be progress where funds have been transferred from Province. Some municipalities, which have structures in place from the old Civil Protection, have continued to operate but only from within the old municipal boundaries due to financial constraints.
c. Southern District Municipality - Has started its Disaster Management structure and appointed a permanent member of staff to act as the disaster co-coordinator. A disaster management forum within the district municipality has been established with disaster management plans currently being developed with the “Grant in Aid” from the province.
d. Bophirima District Municipality - This District Municipality is an example of how Disaster Management structures should be operating by this time. The Municipality has over the past 4 years established all necessary structures in the way of control centers and forums on all levels. It has incorporated all the previously rural Disaster Management structures into the municipalities and have brought in all relevant role-plays on political and operational level. It is yet to expand their forum to include the line functionaries from within the District Municipality structure. It has already commenced on an intensive training programme for volunteers from the informal sector as well as farm labourers in both fire fighting and first aid.
e. Bojanala Platinum District Municipality - All structures were in place and fully operational in the district. New structures were being established in the areas not formally covered, such as Moses-Kotane and Moretele. In addition the municipalities were aligning their operations to incorporate the new boundaries.
f. Central District Municipality - This District Municipality has employed a permanent member of staff to work as the Disaster Management coordinator. Structures have not yet been established. The district council has not as yet prioritized their Disaster Management in the IDP. Disaster Management plans were not yet finalised.
g. Current challenges faced were that there were no adequate funds for Province, District and Local Municipalities for effective Disaster Management Process. There was inadequate commitment from councils and lack of prioritization of disaster management. The placement of the centre and disaster management seen as a non-core function thus perpetuating a perception that this was money down the drain.
2. Input by Greater Taung Local Municipality on Recent Flooding Disaster
a. The average yearly rainfall for the area was 418 mm, with the western part of Greater Taung Local Municipality having been in various level of flooding since 20 February 2006. The Greater Taung Local Municipality had for the period January to June 2006 received on average 1380 mm of rain. The extent of the flooding was equal to a 1 in 50 year flood and seriously affected 12 villages in Greater Taung Local Municipality. Due to the serious affect that the floods had on the population of these villages, the Greater Taung Local Municipality regarded it as its duty to intervene in the affected area. To mitigate the effect of the flooding on the population of the villages, the Municipality by means of its Disaster Management Structures started to distribute disaster relief to affected households in the form of tents, blankets and emergency food supplies.
b. The Tamasikwa Bridge was seriously damaged and will have to be rebuilt. The Moretele Bridge, Matlapaneng Bridge and Choseng Bridge and approximately 60 km of rural road needs to be rehabilitated. The Reivilo-Lykso road has been seriously damaged and will need to be reconstructed. The cost to repair the road infrastructure could be in the region of R 41 000 000.00.
c. A total of 1032 houses have, since February 2006, collapsed or have serious structural damage and will have to be rebuilt. Approximately 700 households were currently living in disaster management supplied tents. To replace these houses using the Peoples Housing Process could cost approximately R 35 000 000.00. The North West Department of housing has approved 2000 houses to replace damaged houses.
d. The 12 affected villages were cut off from clinics with clinic personnel being airlifted into the affected villages. Seriously ill and near term pregnant woman were evacuated to hospitals. Accessibility of villages by mobile clinic staff remained problematic in the Dry Harts area. The bad conditions of rural roads had serious consequences for rural households.
e. Water supply in the affected villages has been polluted - increasing the cases of diarrhea. Measures have been taken to educate the local populations on how to decontaminate their drinking water using “Jik” and boiling water. All bore holes in the areas that supplied water has been tested. Water supplies in the Vaaltyn, Tamasikwa and Letlhapong areas have been polluted by E-coli and coli forms. Sedibeng Water has introduced measures to provide safe water including putting up water tanks in the affected areas.
f. The Department of Social Services has been struggling to deliver social service payments in the affected areas due to continuous heavy flooding. Even when social grants are paid, communities have problems to reach shops to buy supplies due to the bad condition of roads.
g. The rural farming areas have been severely affected (approximately 54 horses, 43 cattle, 31 goats and 145 sheep have died). Commercial areas have lost 117 cattle, 24 horses 395 sheep and 17 goats. Animal diseases were wide spread and foot rot amongst sheep was a problem. Irrigation pivots along the Harts River had been flooded causing millions of rands worth of damage. Schools have been severely disrupted by the floods and teachers and scholars were cut of from their schools causing disruptions the last three weeks.
h. Medium Term Intervention Proposals included the following:
- Emergency repairs be done on roads and bridges to connect communities to service centers.
- Sedibeng Water implements immediate measures to provide safe water.
- The Department of Agriculture destroy dead animal carcasses and assist in preventing animal diseases.
- The Heath Department continues to provide immediate mobile health services.
- The Department of Social Services implement measures to continue providing social services in the affected area.
- Disaster relief be continued into affected areas until the situation normalised.
- An immediate assessment of housing damages is conducted to start an emergency housing project before winter.
- Sewer problems be attended to and an assessment be done of the damages done to public infrastructure.
i. The Greater Taung Local Municipality received approximately 150 tones of food that was distributed to approximately 5200 households. 373 Bags of clothing was also distributed to different communities. The final distribution of food and clothing was completed on the 27 of July 2006. Some late donations of food and clothes were still beingreceived.
j. Long Term Intervention Proposals included the following:
- Relocation of communities away from flood prone areas as identified in the Spatial framework of the GTLM.
- Proper planning for relocation of houses and reconstruction of roads and bridges and other damaged infrastructure.
- Housing scheme to replace damaged housing and that an alternative site for relocation of communities in flood plains be identified.
k. The Department of Local Government and Housing in North West had approved an emergency housing project of 2000 houses to replace damaged and destroyed houses to the value of R 82 000 000.00. The need for proper planning of infrastructure for the new housing had delayed the start of the emergency housing project. A contractor was appointed by the Department to construct the 2000 houses.
l. To repair municipal access roads, National Government had approved R 11 400 000.00 for repairs to municipal road infrastructure. This money was to be structured through the MIG grant and had to be spent by March 2007. The project managers had been appointed and tenders were allocated. Another R 14 000 000.00 was to be spent on provincial roads by the Department of Public Works.
m. The Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) had donated R 500 000.00 to help victims of the flood disaster to rebuild their houses. A total of R 1 300 000.00 received for the Greater Taung Disaster Fund was used to benefit the seriously affected areas with Local Economic Development Projects run from the office of the Mayor to address the high unemployment in the affected areas.
G. Provincial Disaster Management Centre, Ekurhuleni Disaster Centre,Gauteng – Thursday, 12 October 2006
a. The Provincial Disaster Management Forum (PDMAF) must make recommendations to the Disaster Management Centre and act in an advisory capacity with regard to matters pertaining to disaster risk management. The Forum is also required to support the programmes of the Disaster Management Centre by providing technical expertise.
b. The PDMAF should further play a role in drafting disaster risk management plans, promoting joint standards of practice, develop the information management and communication systems and advise and make recommendations on training and public awareness.
c. The structure of the Provincial Disaster Management Framework comprises four key performance areas namely:
- Institutional Capacity for Disaster Risk
- Risk Assessment
- Risk Reduction’
- Response and Recovery
- The three enablers being:
- Information Management and Communication
- Education, Training, Public Awareness and Research
d. During an incident, numerous procedures and administrative functions are required to support incident management. The actions described in the support functions are not limited to particular types of events but are overarching in nature and applicable to nearly every type of incident.
e. Emergency Support Functions (ESF) identifies ESF coordinators and the primary and support agencies pertinent to the ESF. Several ESFs incorporate multiple components, with primary agencies designated for each component to ensure integration f and transition between preparedness, prevention, response, recovery and mitigation activities.
f. Support agencies are responsible for conducting operations using their own authorities, subject matter experts, capabilities and resources. They also participate in planning for short-term and long-term incident management and recovery operations and assist in the conduct of situational assessment.
g. Risk Specific strategies pertaining to each disaster class have been developed. Priority risks have been identified and include floods, fires in informal settlements, dolomite sinkhole formation, undermining of inhabited areas, major chemical industry risk and incidence of motor vehicle accidents.
h. The Gauteng Disaster Management Centre will monitor a range of networks and services which include local authorities, Gauteng EMS, SAPS and Private Dispatch Centres.
i. The final comments on the Disaster Management Plan from all stakeholders have been completed and forwarded to the MEC for approval. Identification and implementation of Emergency Support Functions has also been completed.
j. Funds have been made available for a Disaster Management Centre for Gauteng and should be completed in 2007.
a. There is a need for the Committee to arrange a joint meeting with the Department of Provincial and Local Government and National Treasury on issues of adequate start-up grants at all levels and adequate resourcing for disaster management at all spheres of government.
b. The Department of Provincial and Local Government should ensure that councillors and public representatives across all 3 spheres must form a key part of mobilisation for training in respect of disaster management.
c. The Committee should complete its oversight visits on the implementation of the Disaster Management Act by provincial, district and local areas – and visit the remaining provinces.
a. The Department of Provincial and Local Government should ensure that Disaster Management is afforded a higher priority at all spheres of government and be reflected in the Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) as required by law.
b. The Department of Provincial and Local Government should conduct capacity building and awareness workshops across all spheres for political support for disaster management.
c. The Department of Provincial and Local Government should develop an evaluation and monitoring mechanism to gauge disaster management preparedness across all spheres.
Report to be considered.
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