Hansard: NCOP: Unrevised hansard
House: National Council of Provinces
Date of Meeting: 26 Aug 2021
No summary available.
NATIONAL COUNCIL OF PROVINCES
THURSDAY, 26 AUGUST 2021
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF PROVINCES
Watch video here: PLENARY (HYBRID)
The Council met at 14:01.
The Chairperson took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.
The Chairperson announced that the virtual sitting constituted a Sitting of the National Council of Provinces.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Hon Chairperson, greetings to yourself and hon members of the NCOP. I am very happy to be amongst you today.
Hon Chairperson, as government we strongly condemn public violence and any accompanying acts of criminality such as the looting of businesses and destruction of property that took place in the country last month. No amount of grievance should
lead us on a path of destruction and not upholding the rule of law.
The provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng were adversely affected by the riots that resulted to the disruption of delivery of basic services and stoppages to economic activities. Most municipalities including the eThekwini Metro and Johannesburg had to cease rendering some of the basic services including bus transport, waste collection, construction work in the interest of protecting their workers, commuters and assets during this volatile period.
As a measure to stimulate economic recovery, government has availed R2,3 billion Rands to support businesses that were affected by ongoing restrictions as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and further exacerbated by the looting and destruction of logistics infrastructure during last month’s unrests. This amount is made up of reprioritisation of
R700 million by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition and R300 million by the Department of Small Business Development.
This government support is directed at critical infrastructure refurbishment to support bulk infrastructure development in
the affected economic areas such as industrial parks, shopping centres and factories. Industrial Loan Facility to support manufacturing companies affected by looting and Covid-19 with specific focus at rebuilding of the infrastructure, fittings for the premises, restocking and working capital. Retail recovery support fund, which will provide interest free loan to companies that have been affected by the unrest towards funding for the rebuilding of the infrastructure, with fittings for the premises, stock and working capital. Business Survival Support Programme to assist affected small enterprises with working capital including stock, machinery and equipment, revolving credit facilities, payment moratorium of up to 12 months and the repayment period up to 84 months.
There has been an additional R1,3 billion allocated to the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition for the funding of uninsured businesses that were affected by the riots.
Our immediate priority is to accelerate the implementation of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan to revive all destroyed businesses, create and protect existing employment, and drive inclusive growth. Further to this, government is working with social partners to implement social and economic
relief packages that will support poor households and provide assistance to affected businesses and employees.
In addition, the Unemployment Insurance Fund has set aside R5,3 billion for the extension of the Covid-TERS coverage. This will mainly cover those who have lost their jobs due to the lockdown, and the recent looting and destruction of businesses.
With regard to KwaZulu-Natal province, the Office of the Premier has advised us that over 3 000 businesses including public facilities were looted, vandalised and burnt, resulting in more than R15 billion of damage to property and equipment. This affected a number of small towns and other economic corridors that are dependent on grants for the revitalisation of the local economy and business retention.
The province has developed a plan to renovate, and support vandalised township shopping malls, and shopping centres that are based in rural areas. We commend the work that has been done by Premiers of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal in engaging and taking into confidence investors whose businesses have been affected by looting and public violence to continue with their business operations.
We also remain committed to our efforts of economic reconstruction and recovery of the economy, which should be our watch word in trying to empower our people and forge a sustainable development, especially on women and young people. Thank you, hon Chairperson.
Mr E M MTHETHWA: Chairperson, thank you to the Deputy President for this comprehensive response. We accept the response as an honest and particularly to the extent that you have appreciated. This was palatable and it has caused untold devastation to the economy of our country.
Deputy President, can you please give the people of South Africa assurance that the law enforcement institutions are looking into these matters and that the perpetrators of these hyena’s pride will be brought to book, in particular KwaZulu- Natal in Phoenix and the other areas? I thank you, Deputy President.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Hon Chairperson, the member is correct. This incident will not escape the attention of government. We are currently trying by all means to ... [Inaudible.] ... strengthen our law enforcement so that they stand ready for future disruptions. We are also working with all formations
within communities and societies at large. We also want to encourage them to work together with our structures so that together we bring long lasting peace. But we want to assure our people that government will up its game in trying to protect its citizens, businesses and life. In future we are going to stand ready for such occurrences. Thank you, hon Chair.
Mr T J BRAUTESETH: Hon Chairperson, to the hon Deputy President ...
?????? ???? (Dobry den’) [Good day]. ?????? (Privet) [Hello.]
I hope you are strong like mother Russia today. By the way, happy birthday for yesterday, I believe it was your birthday yesterday.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you.
Mr T J BRAUTESETH: Hon Deputy President, the plans that you laid out today relating to financial assistance to small businesses will all come to nothing if they are not
implemented speedily. Will you, today, commit to ensuring that the assistance is provided regardless of BBBEE status, and will you commit to a definitive timeline within which these small businesses will receive the financial assistance they so desperately need? I thank you.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Hon Chairperson, of course the hon member is correct. The sooner we attend to the destruction to all the businesses that have stopped working the better for our economy, the better for our country and the better for those who are unemployed and have lost their jobs.
I must say that it will basically depend on the availability of resources. The resources that we have made available are not enough to deal with all the problems that have been created. But I must assure South Africans that our South African special risk insurance company which is within the fold of the state is also currently making an assessment of all the looted and burnt businesses with a view of proving support. I am sure that they might give support of more or less R10 billion depending on the assessments. But they will be working together with government.
As government we have not waited. That is why we have reprioritised the funds that we have so that we can start working with the two provinces and start to rebuild, try and recover employment that has been lost due to this incident. Thank you very much.
Ms S A LUTHULI: Chairperson, greetings to everyone. Deputy President, the unrests had followed the incarceration of former President Jacob Zuma became more than just about his imprisonment. The unrest was the eruption of the frustration of the people who have, for a very long time, felt excluded and unheard. What this unfortunately showed us was that there is no central authority in government with Ministers contradicting each other and the President. Do you agree with the President’s characterisation of the unrests as ethic mobilisation and instigation or do you share the view of the poor people that are tired of being excluded? If you do, what short and medium term plans are in place to address the exclusion of the majority from the economic life of this country? Thank you.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Hon Chairperson, on the face value of things we can simply agree with the hon member that these riots and unrests were sparked by the arrest of the former
president. But we do not want to take things at face value, we want to thoroughly investigate the cause and probably the plan so that we come up with a very conclusive and correct report about what happened. I think as a country we must accept that we could have done better as the security cluster in trying to avoid this kind of occurrences. That is why we have committed ourselves that we will step up our gain and strengthen these law enforcement institutions and our security clusters so that we set ourselves some prior warnings. Before such incidents can occur I think as government we should be knowing.
Therefore, we are preparing our self, we are strengthening our self and we want to assure our society that this will not happen again. We will be ready the next time around. Thank you very much.
Mnu X NGWEZI: Nyambose omkhulu, ngiyabingelela kuSekela Mengameli, sithokoza kakhulu ngempendulo oyinikezile.
Kuyasithokozisa nokuzwa ukuthi uhulumeni neMinyango basohlelweni lokuba kufakwe imali ezokwazi ukuthi iphinde yenze umnotho wethu ukwazi ukuthi uqhubekele phambili. Kodwa ke ngifisa ukukwazi Sekela Mengameli, ngoba abantu abaningi abasebenza kulezi zindawo ekwaphangwa kuzo, ezinye zazo
zinikezela ngokudla ezindaweni zamakhosi. Ezinye zazo zinikezela ngamathuba emisebenzi kubantu bamakhosi ukuthi, ngakuwe luhambe kangakanani uhlelo lokubonisana namakhosi ikakhulukazi ezindaweni zamakhosi ngalolu hlelo eneza nalo lokufukula umnotho walesi sifundazwe sakithi KwaZulu-Natali? Ngiyathokoza, Nyambose.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Chairperson, I must also say greetings to the hon member and I am happy to see him again. Chair, I must say that the work that has been done by the two Houses, the National Council of provinces and the National Assembly, after the advent of these unrests and disruptions by sending out teams and portfolio committees and select committees to go and investigate the extent of the damage and how people have been affected.
I have been listening over the past two days’ debates in the National Assembly when we were debating these reports and they were telling us exactly what happened to agriculture and how agricultural businesses have been affected, how communities have been affected. We are going to utilise those reports going forward in terms of responding to some of the challenges.
We will allow some of these institutions that are busy currently making their own assessments before they put the funding. In this case I mean South African Special Risk Insurance Association, SASRIA, which is an insurance company under the fold of the state which is going to contribute considerable funding under these circumstances. So, all of us are geared towards assisting those businesses that have been disrupted so that those who have lost employment can once again regain their employment. Thank you very much.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Chairperson, at a meeting that we held with Eskom on 13 August, we were briefed on the extent of the damage that took place at Medupi Power Stations’ Unit 4. We were advised that the generator failure incidents that occurred on 8 August 2021, has been classified as a very major event. It is anticipated that the affected unit is likely to be offline for a considerable time period. That is why an investigative team comprising of Eskom, experts and the original equipment manufacturer that has been appointed by Eskom to determine the root cause and the full extent of the damage caused. The people contributory aspect of the generator failure is part of the investigation scope. For now, it is too early in the investigation to address remedial actions.
Having said that, Eskom has in the meantime placed employees who were responsible for the management and execution of the generator purging activity on precautionary suspension pending the outcome of the investigation. Upon completion of the investigation, we expect that the leadership of Eskom will take appropriate remedial action. Thank you very much, hon Chairperson.
Ms H S BOSHOFF: Chair, good afternoon Deputy President and welcome back to sunny South Africa, depending on where you are. Hon Deputy President, the question that begs to be answered is whether that explosion was caused due to shortcuts being taken to ensure that the country’s energy capacity is not compromised.
Hon Deputy President, I personally do not think it is right for this country to be told that the reparations will take considerable times. What this country needs to hear from you is, the exact timeframes for these reparation and what the costs would be to the taxpayers who at the end of the day will be held responsible for this expenditure? I thank you, Chair.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: We are equally concerned about this incident at Eskom. However, it is best to respond to an
outcome of an investigation so that we are appropriate and proper in our response. I understand the frustration that as a country we are facing in terms of energy shortages and load shedding. We have been through a very rough journey but we should not really take shortcuts because that would hamper our movement forward.
I want to appeal to hon members to allow this investigation to be completed. We are going to urge Eskom that we complete this investigation a bit sooner so that we can start with the repairs of this unit and bring it back into generation. So, I request hon members to allow Eskom a bit of time to do the investigation, and we are going to report back to this House in terms of the outcomes. Already people who were working on that day were placed on precautionary suspension pending the outcome of the investigation. We are really going to take actions if this incident is as a result of a human error, but if not, I am sure the leadership of the utility will decide and give us a way forward. But for now, let’s allow them space to do their work. Thank you very much.
Mr T B MATIBE: Chairperson, greetings to you and Deputy President, the unfortunate explosion that happened in Medupi is a serious setback to the progress which has been registered
by the power station in particular and as Eskom as the utility in general. Deputy President, it is however, encouraging to note the progress that has been there in stabilising Eskom and as per the Eskom 2020 results showing improvements in governance structures, financial and operational performance.
However, we want to check whether this explosion will not reverse the gains that we have already made in terms of stabilising the utility? Also get an assurance that as soon as the investigation report is available it will be available to the House as well as the relevant committees of Parliament.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Chairperson, I concur with the hon member that this is a major setback on our efforts to stabilise our energy generation. We have over the past few months recorded good progress in terms of stabilising our generation, stabilising load shedding, which we must commend the Eskom leadership for all those good efforts. Yes, I agree, this is one step back. However, we are fortunate that the entire plant, that is the power station has been saved. One unit exploded out of the six units, which we can still repair and allow the one units to proceed giving us generation. So, we still have our power station, and we will repair this one
unit so that the entire Power station is back into power again.
This hon House will be favoured with the investigation reports and the remedial actions because it is in the interest of the country to know what happens and what is the extent of the damages and how much it will cost us. Thank you very much.
Mr M A P DE BRUYN: Hon Chairperson, it is the FF Plus not the EFF, but nevertheless ... [Interjections.] ...
Ms M O MOKAUSE: We don’t want you in the EFF anyway.
Mr M A P DE BRUYN: ... hon Deputy President, on the subject of inexperienced and incompetent staff and contractors, seeing that there are more suspensions pending investigations, it is safe to assume that human error played a role in ... [Inaudible.] ... in the entire plant which begs the question, what is the criteria being used to hiring staff at Eskom especially at Medupi Power Plant? Are employees employed based on skills and experienced or is it affirmative action and BEE once again the deciding factor instead of merit, skills and experience?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Chairperson, I think within Eskom’s human resource capability, we are fairly fair in terms of skills. They are doing on-going trainings so that we have people that can look after these facilities. I don’t want to pre-empt the report. I cannot not rule out a human element because these power stations are meant by human beings. So, if anything happens those who are on duty at that time would be in a position to explain what happened. But for correctness sake, let’s allow these investigations to happen.
I am happy to convey this message to the House that Eskom is gradually closing its skills gap, closing it with the required skills that needed by the utility. Remember that we are coming from a period where we have lost some of the skills over a period. But now the current leadership is trying to rebuild and everything seems to be stabilising. All we must do is just to give this leadership the necessary support. We will definitely pull through. Thank you.
Mr S ZANDAMELA: Chairperson, Deputy President, you previously characterised sheer incompetence at Eskom as sabotage by Eskom insiders who are intent on crippling the power utility. Is there any evidence of sabotage at Eskom? Do you not consider that the real sabotage at Eskom that is by senior leadership
of Eskom in order to collapse the entity and hand over power production and distribution to private companies? If not, are you not of the view that the recent actions of the Eskom CEO who publicly gone out in support of opening up of competition to Eskom for power generation and said its detrimental to the stability of Eskom?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Chairperson, I welcome the question from the hon member. I want to assure the House and the hon member that there is no intention of the government that is led by President Cyril Ramaphosa to privatise the generation of energy. We have harped on this point many times and I am sure some people in our society are very sceptical that finally we want to hand over this utility to private hands. That will never happen and the President has assured us many times. The only thing that we spoke about was the unbundling of Eskom into transmission, generation and distribution, which is on course.
Like I said, I don’t want to pre-empt the report, - whether there is deliberate efforts to undermine all our efforts so that we can finally give up in terms of holding this assert. That I don’t know. But we are not going to be deterred. And we are not going to step back, we are going to forge ahead in
trying to address all the problems that are affecting this power utility.
Whatever challenges that are within the workforce, we are going to deal with them step by step, time after time, until we root out elements that are working against our efforts.
Thank you very much.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Hon Chairperson, as government we have recognised that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on our efforts to create jobs particularly for the youth, and people with disabilities. Since the advent of COVID-19 in 2020 the share of young people under 35 years old
in all employment levels has fallen from 56 percent before the pandemic to 50 percent today.
Notwithstanding these current conditions, government is making targeted interventions to address youth unemployment and poverty. These government-led interventions are multisectoral, and include a number of structured programmes.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy and livelihoods, the President announced in October 2020, the
employment stimulus aimed at generating employment. As of March 2021, it had supported almost 600 000 employment and self-employment opportunities. Through this programme, government has allocated a total of R13 billion in the 2020-21 financial year which prioritises young people and women across various sectors
The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure, as custodians of the Expanded Public Works Programme, has created 963 650 work opportunities for youth across all sectors.
Through the Expanded Public Works National Youth Service programme, 3 900 youths have been trained.
Government is advancing an integrated service delivery model through the Department of Co-operative Governance which is contributing towards youth employment opportunities through the Community Work Programme. During the 2020-21 financial year, 65 000 young people benefitted from the Community Work Programme by receiving an average monthly income of R880.
During the last three financial years, the Industrial Development Corporation has provided support of approximately R2,6 billion to youth-owned enterprises which contributed to
the creation or retention of over 3 800 jobs over the past three years.
By the end of March 2021, the National Empowerment Fund had already approved a total of 1 146 transactions with a value of R11,1 billion. A total of 54 transactions are youth-empowered or youth-owned, valued at R372 million. These propoor programmes are cross sectoral interventions and seek to achieve the following objectives provide relief packages to young people denied tangible participation in the economic mainstream; break down structural barriers keeping young people out of economic opportunities; build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic by targeting low-income earners worst affected by worsening inequalities; prioritise continuous training and reskilling young people with requisite skills demanded by the new world of work and knowledge economy; and support young people who live in townships and rural areas to participate in economic hubs by addressing prohibitive issues like transportation and high data costs.
Over and above these interventions, during August 2021, government has reintroduced the special COVID-19 social relief of distress grant of R350. While this grant is not specifically targeted to youth, from the previous iteration we
have noted that more than 60% of the recipients were youth and mainly male. The reintroduction of this grant will make a significant difference in reducing poverty and hunger.
Moving forward and working with our social partners, it will be important to find practical measures of incentivising further discouraged young work seekers and also scaling up our incentives to employers in both the public and private sectors to employ young people to gain a foothold with requisite experience. Among concrete measures is to ensure that there is high absorption capacity of young people and women, and set asides in sectors such as agriculture and agro-processing, mining, tourism, oceans economy and service industries.
At the recently held Fourth Human Resource Development Council Summit, we agreed on the urgent need to address the issue of young people that drop out at various points of their schooling prior to attaining their matric qualification as they add more to numbers of young people that are not in employment, education or training. We further agreed that our response should be comprehensive enough to ensure that we equip young people with skills that are relevant and will close the prevalent gap of skills required and those available in the labour market. We are optimistic that through our co-
ordination of the Human Resource Development Council we will be able to find workable long-term solutions to skills gap and youth unemployment through convergences in the deployment of resources to achieve better outcomes.
The importance of pragmatic public-private partnerships cannot be emphasised enough to empower and capacitate young people to whom economic emancipation remains a deferred dream. Thank you very much.
Ms A D MALEKA: Thank you Chairperson,
... ngibonge kuSekela Mongameli ngempendulo yakhe egculisayo.
Hon Deputy President, on Tuesday, 24 August 2021 the National Council of Provinces held plenary session with three Ministers and premiers to present their plans to deal with youth unemployment which has reached crisis levels. I say this to demonstrate and show that this House takes this matter very seriously. We note all these interventions that are proposed by our government, but often some of these interventions are slow to be implemented and or do not reach all the intended
beneficiaries in the villages and townships because of [Inaudible.], mismanagement, maladministration and corruption by some people within the public sector and even in the private sector.
Hon deputy President, how do we give hope to demoralised young people that this will not happen with all this progress? Thank you, Chairperson.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, hon Chairperson. I must say to the hon member that, yes, this matter is a matter of concern to all South Africans because our young people are loitering the streets. They are frustrated. But these are the efforts that government is putting forward and we will continue to upscale these efforts. The employment stimulus will be continued as advised by the President. It has assisted a lot. More than 600 000 people were assisted and we hope we are going to broaden this programme.
The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure will continue with the Expanded Public Works Programme which is a programme that is currently being enforced. The Depart of Co- operative Governance will continue with the Community Works Programme and enhance it so that we reach more and more
people. But most importantly, we want to commend the work that is done by the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department OF Small Business by supporting all the small businesses because there is no economy that can create the much-needed jobs that we are looking for if we are not supporting small and medium enterprises. This government is on the right track to support the small enterprises because these enterprises will automatically create the necessary jobs that we want. Some of these enterprises are run by young people. So we have invested over the past ears in our young people’s ability to run their own businesses and we will continue to support them. We welcome the proposal and the initiatives by the Department of Trade and Industry, the announcement made by the President that we are going to support, put an incentive to all employers out there who employ young people. They are going to get an incentive for employing these young people so that these young people can benefit experience. Give them a foothold that they can move forward so that they are employable, they have got the necessary experience but government is going to provide the necessary incentive.
Not forgetting our skills development. We need to put more efforts to skill our nation - to skill our young people preferably with skills that are demanded out there in our
economy. I am hopeful that the Department of Higher Education and Training, Science and Innovation is on the right track. We need to upscale these training and make it relevant to what is needed out there in the world of work. Thank you very much.
Mr X NGWEZI: Thank you very much, hon Chairperson of the NCOP. Hon Deputy President, it pains me to know that government itself has trained and paid for so many young people to do social work and to do Bachelor of Education through the Funza Lushaka Bursary, National Student Financial Aid Scheme, NSFAS, and many other financial programmes that are available yet those people today have not been employed. This problem started somewhere around 2014. I would like you to respond to me and to many other young people who are directly affected by this. For how long must young people who have been trained by government on different bursaries and like Funza Lushaka and social work bursaries, for how long should they wait for employment. The demand in the department of Social Development and many other sectors like education is there. Classrooms are full, institutions where social workers are required, are full and government seems to be not doing well in employing these people. How long should they wait because these people also contribute a percentage of unemployment rate on that one but government is not addressing it? Thank you, Chair.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, hon Chairperson and thanks to the hon member for the question. The concern by the hon member is well placed. We have trained young people, they are out there and they are unemployed. The intention right from the beginning was that these young people must be employed in the Public Service. However, the hon member is aware that over the past few months we have been grabbling with our wage bill. We want to stabilise our wage bill so that we employ people and enlist the services of people where we think service delivery is being hampered. We need to reprioritise, remodel our organisational design so that, yes, we employ more people where we think service delivery is not up to scratch.
It is quite clear that in terms of social development with all the stress that our people are going through, we need a number of social assistance, social workers. But that is going to be taken after we have made a thorough organisational design and stabilise our wage bill so that our workers in the Public Service should receive an increment at the right point. They should not be deprived of an increment because the state can’t afford. We need to corcet that and we have given ourselves time really to deal with the matter.
But for the meantime as much as we recognise that we are not going to, all of a sudden, absorb all these young people that are out there. I am happy that some of those who were trained to be teachers have been absorbed through our employment stimulus. Some of the 600 000 workers that have been employed through this stimulus package are young teachers that came into the system to assist. It is not a permanent job, but it has given our young people a bit of an experience and some of them are going to be absorbed as we fill certain posts that are available through natural attrition. Some people are taking their packages and are leaving the service. Those people are going to be employed.
Of course we need to emphasise the fact that we need to work with the private sector so that whenever we train, all those people that we train are relevant to what is needed out there in the world of work. That we are going to insist and we are going to correct. Thank you very much.
Ms B T MATHEVULA: Chairperson, 34% of South Africans are looking for jobs and they cannot find them in this country. The expanded definition of unemployment sits at over 44% unemployed. In provinces like the Eastern Cape and Limpopo, already over half the population is unemployed. Beyond the
sideshows of jobs summits that the President occasionally hosts, what it the plan? What plan does your government have to reverse this very dangerous trend of unemployment? Do you think this can be reversed through the austerity measures introduced by the National Treasury?
Ndza khensa, Mutshamaxitulu.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, hon Chairperson. We really regard the situation of unemployment in the country as a very serious concern. Government is not happy about it. Even the President is not happy about the situation. I have discussed this with him and he is thinking hard about options that we need to do as a country. But we must say to our people that we still under the restrictions. We are still under
COVID-19 restrictions. Some of the companies have already closed just because of the lock down restrictions which is a requirement to save lives. But as much as we are trying to save lives we must ensure that we save livelihoods. We need to always find the balance between the two so that we do not expose our people to dangers of finally losing their lives.
We are going to continue, like I said, with the employment stimulus. We are going to continue with all our programmes, the Community Work Programme, Extended Public Works Programme, programme of incenticing employers to employ young people so that they can get a foothold - the necessary experience. All these programmes are going to proceed. They are going to be funded by government in the meantime while we are still battling with COVID-19. I am sure that we are going to look at other programmes that would stimulate work opportunities, nut in the meantime be mindful of the restrictions that come with COVID-19. Thank you very much.
Mr M R BARA: Thank you, Chairperson. Good afternoon, Deputy President. For me I think that we are walking on a time bomb because there is quite a number of young people that are unemployed and the number keeps on growing. If you look at the beginning of this year 46% of young people were unemployed.
The rate was 9,3% amongst university graduates. Now we also have youth who form an integral part of the Social Development grant pending COVID-19. For me this is a dangerous situation that we are living in. What I want to know from you, Deputy President is, what is the government doing to accelerate economic growth particularly in lay buying intensive sectors and building the capacity of the state to fulfil its
development role to address youth unemployment? Thank you, Chairperson.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, hon Chairperson. I agree with the hon member that this is a time bomb. It is very unacceptable level of unemployment that we are facing currently. But I want to remind the hon member that we are in this situation because of a number of factors. The recent one is the upheavals and the unrests in the two provinces,
KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. There are a number of jobs that were lost in all these malls that were looted, that were burnt adding to the pool of unemployed young people. That was a very unfortunate situation in the battle against unemployment because we lost property and we lost asserts. We need to rebuild. In the process I hope young people will once again find the jobs as we rebuild those malls and we get those factories working again.
But the situation will not really come back to normal as long as we are leaving under the COVID-19 restriction. That is why as a country we are calling upon our people to vaccinate. Why vaccinate? Because somewhere as a country we must reach a herd immunity. We must get more of our people to vaccinate so that the infection rate can be reduced and we are all immunised
stronger enough to fight this virus. As long as our people are sceptical about vaccination that means we will take long in this COVID-19 environment. By vaccinating we are allowing our country to quickly recover from this situation so that our economy can recover. It is important that we insist to our people to vaccinate. As government we will be employing all strategies to try and reverse this situation. Again, we want to call our population to go and vaccinate so that we get out of the COVUD-19 environment. Thank you.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Hon Chairperson, the three municipalities that are referred here, like the number of others in the country, do have service delivery challenges. Some of these challenges relate to the capacity of such municipalities to provide reliable and efficient water and sanitation. This is a matter of grave concern.
It is for this reason that as government we have realised the need for a better co-ordinated and comprehensive approach to all interventions at municipalities through the District Development Model, for which the purposes of this question will result in communities having access to water and sanitation.
For example, in the case of Masilonyana Local Municipality we have noted, despite the considerable strides which have been made to overcome water provision challenges, concerns on the availability, quality and management of water in this municipality persists and requires attention.
The same situation of inadequate access to clean water is applicable to Mangaung and Maluti-a-Phofung Municipalities where challenges of water provision is as a result of inadequate maintenance of infrastructure and lack of inter- linkages of various schemes that are found in these municipalities respectively.
In this regard, on 26 May Cabinet resolved to establish an Inter-Ministerial Committee, IMC, on Water and Sanitation so that this IMC can provide leadership and technical assistance towards addressing and resolving challenges in the provision of water and sanitation services in the whole country.
This IMC is established under the leadership of the Deputy President as an institution co-ordinating platform that brings together players within government including Infrastructure South Africa.
The intention is the development and implementation of a multi-sectoral plan to source funding for water and sanitation infrastructure projects. This will lead to municipalities effectively delivering water services, be able to bill communities for these services, be able to collect revenue that is due to these municipalities and also be able to elevate asset management.
In addition to this intervention, the President has recently announced the separation of the Ministry of Water and Sanitation from Human Settlements to build on improving our targeted strategies of ensuring that we secure our country’s water supply services and ensure that every community has water.
We take comfort in the progress we have made in the ongoing resolution of water challenges in Maluti-a-Phofung following our oversight visits on 30 March, 21 May and 19 June.
The issue of lack of access to water in the municipality is a typical case of inadequate planning and implementation of integrated water infrastructure. For instance, we discovered that in Maluti-a-Phofung water supply is inadequate for the 100 000 households that are found in the area.
Currently, approximately 80% of Phuthaditjhaba’s 64 localities are dependent on Fika Patso scheme for potable water. This dam becomes vulnerable during periods of lower than usual rainfall and the population, which depends on this dam, struggles to get water due to this systemic problem of lack of integration of the bulk water supply infrastructure.
In the true spirit of an integrated planning by the whole of government through the District Development Model, we have developed a focused action plan as an outcome of our collaborative efforts to support Maluti-a-Phofung.
This plan is focused on fast-tracking the implementation of projects related to linking of our four schemes found in the area. We will continue to use this co-ordinated approach to address these similar challenges in other municipalities that are facing similar challenges. We will also elevate our efforts of restoring governance in municipalities across the country to prevent disruptions of services.
We are confident that through the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Water and Sanitation and a dedicated Ministry for Water and Sanitation, we will overcome the prevailing challenges of water provision in many municipalities.
We continue to call for our active citizenry that cares for facilities in their localities that do not vandalise, do not burn infrastructure, thus ensuring sustainability of all these services that they consume. Thank you very much.
Mr M A P DE BRUYN: Deputy President, I really do applaud the fact that you recognise the problems and that you undertook to do something about it.
But having said that, I still need to ask: Since your last visit to Maluti-a-Phofung together with the Minister of Water and Sanitation earlier this year, the promises were made to spend about R220 million in the short-term and R2,1 billion in the long-term on infrastructure and so forth, to bring relief to the water crises, has been done so far and how much was spent to date, as the citizens of Maluti-a-Phofung are still complaining in this regard?
Regarding the Mangaung Metro Municipality, some would argue that there no or few water crises, but most feel ... to keep in mind the rural towns of Dewetsdorp, Wepener and Van Stadensrus, which also form part of the metro after joining the metro in 2016, only for political gain. As we speak today, Dewetsdorp is without water for about a week now. And in the last four years the citizens cast themselves lucky to have water for two hours in the mornings and two hours in the afternoons. This, after the issue had been raised with the municipality numerous times since 2018, only to fall on deaf ears.
What are you, Mr Deputy President, going to do, in terms of oversight role, to help the people of Dewetsdorp to enjoy the basic human right to have access to clean water? Thank you.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Hon Chair, thanks to the member for the question. We must say that as we were dealing with the challenge of electricity in Maluti-a-Phofung we got to know about the challenges of water in the entire district and we were made aware of the challenges of water in Mangaung, made aware of the challenges of water at eMfuleni Local Municipality and the sanitation problems going with these water challenges.
We have since investigated exactly what is happening, what is the problem. The first problem is that there were disruptions in the delivery of electricity due to the fact that these municipalities are not paying on time and they had continuous fight with Eskom, taking each other to court, disruptions and
we have finally intervened. And the court has ruled to say: no, Eskom must take over the supply of electricity in those areas. And we have agreed with the court’s ruling and we are now working on a service level agreement that must be signed by Eskom and the municipalities. That will also help in the provision of water because some of the water infrastructure and pumps need electricity so that they can pump water to the required destinations.
That is one problem. But we have also discovered that there are a number of projects that have been started to try and join all the skills that are there that are not speaking to one another. So, these projects are now on our radar screen and we want to ensure their completion because if one scheme has a problem, the other scheme can augment so that communities under that scheme should not be without water.
That means all the schemes must be speaking to another because they are within a district. The same happens with Mangaung, the same approach with eMfuleni; eMfuleni we are dealing with the sanitation problem and we are making progress.
Now that we have a dedicated Ministry of Water and Sanitation, I think movement forward is going to be faster. Thank you very much.
Mr C F B SMIT: Deputy President, I’m sure you would understand this specific phrase as you’ve been spending a lot of time in Russia: dobro pozhalovat’ obratno iz rossii [Russian], which translates to ‘welcome back from Russia’.
Hon Chair, my colleague from the FF-Plus states that these municipalities have been battling with water problems for more than four years. We forgive him as he’s new. But the DA already obtained a Human Rights Commission report against Masilonyana Local Municipality in 2008 and Joe Slovo Park in Brandfort, still has no water, 13 years later.
Your Minister of Co-operative Governance and traditional Affairs, CoGTA, wasn’t even aware of this report when we submitted written questions.
All three municipalities were under administration from the province more than once over the past decade. Why did you not address the water issue in 2006, 2009, 2011, 2014 or 2016 or 2019 when the ANC was elected to deliver these services? Thank you, Chair.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Hon Chairperson, as much as I’m
accepting the challenge that is before us that we must resolve
it because we are responsible currently; we are the government.
Of course for the past years in 2006, 2007, I was not at this position where I am but I take full responsibility of what has happened and commit ourselves to fixing these problems.
So, I’ll come back to the House with a clear plan, indicate all the challenges and the work that we are doing there so that you can follow exactly step-by-step what we are doing.
I must admit that in certain cases we have been failed by officials in these municipalities, at times we are not capable, we are not skilled enough to deal with the problems and at times we’ve been failed by the political leadership in these municipalities for not really rising above their own challenges so that they can face the challenges that are faced by the people.
But these problems, we are not lamenting about them, we are going to face them and we are going to address this water challenge, this electricity problem, the money that are owed to Eskom, the money that are owed to all the water boards in these different municipalities.
We will come back to this House to give a progress report. Thank you very much.
Mr M S MOLETSANE: Deputy President, the problems faced by the three municipalities in the Free State are the same problems faced by the majority of municipalities in this country. There is a rampant corruption and no consequences for those who steal from the poor. There is no overwhelming strategic development role that has been defined for the municipalities. You know this, we all know this. The Auditor-General’s reports report about these problems every year.
Why have senior leaders of government ignored the findings and recommendations by the Auditor-General regarding municipalities every year? Thank you, Chairperson.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Hon Chairperson, the Minister of Co- operative Governance and Traditional Affairs is currently dealing with all the Auditor-General’s outcomes that are very specific to what must be done. So, the Minister is trying to help, support municipalities in order to address the issues raised by the Auditor-General. That work is in progress.
If possible, hon Chairperson, we would want to appraise the House about the progress that has been made so far to address the concerns raised by the Auditor-General; very important because it should not just be a compliance matter that the Auditor-General every year, year in year out will raise the same problem and nothing is done. So, we’ll want to come back and say, this is what has been done, this is outstanding.
But, of course, we are working very hard to strengthen our law enforcement agencies so that we are able to deal with corruption at the level of municipalities. More and more effort is going to be put in trying to investigate and arrest people who are alleged to have stolen some monies from these municipalities.
We are improving our capacity to deal with mismanagement and maladministration in those municipalities. That report by the Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs will indicate the efforts that we are putting in dealing with these challenges that are faced by municipalities.
I cannot agree more with the member about the observations that all municipalities in the country, in the main, are faced by more or less the same problems of maladministration,
mismanagement and corruption; at times internal conflicts at the leadership level.
All those issues, we committed to address them and from time to time we’ll be able to give progress report. Thank you very much.
Mr S J MOHAI: Hon Deputy President, the necessity to improve governance and strengthen planning across municipalities cannot be overemphasised. It may be true that some of these municipalities struggle with revenue collection, which makes provision of services impossible; but this is precisely the reason why we need to strengthen planning in order to circumvent some of these challenges.
To what extend is shortage of requisite skills is a contributory factor in the collapse of these municipalities? And are we confident that we have a plan to address this situation?
And lastly, I want to say, we are encouraged, Deputy President, when you say that government will ensure that there’s improved governance characterised primarily by consequence management in cases of malfeasance. Thank you, hon
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Hon Chairperson, let’s welcome the question from our Chief Whip. We are quite aware of these challenges that are faced by municipalities. Correctly speaking, you are right when you raise the element of skills. There’s skills mismatch in our municipalities, people that are not engineers are deployed in areas where engineers are required. Hence the failure of municipalities to deliver services that are appropriate.
So, we are working on that as raised by the Auditor-General; key issues that we need to attend to. So, we are going to attend to the question of skills mismatch; we are going to attend to the governance failures, mismanagement, maladministration and corruption.
Going forward, we are going to strengthen our hand. We are going to arrest people; we are going to convict people. Those that are mismanaging the affairs of these municipalities will be expelled from these municipalities; those that are behind maladministration will be expelled.
Through our District Development Model, which enforces all of us to work together, we are going to discover these culprits that are responsible for the downfall of our municipalities. Thank you very much.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you very much hon Chairperson, the COVID-19 pandemic has indeed had an impact on the country’s response to HIV, especially on our ability to achieve the 90- 90-90 targets by December 2020. The targets aimed to ensure that 90% of our people living with HIV know their status. They also ensure that 90% of all people diagnosed should receive sustained anti-retroviral therapy, and ensure that the 90% that are receiving therapy have viral suppression.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our health systems has not only affected South Africa but has also been evident throughout the world. Drawing on studies undertaken in various countries, the 2021 UNAIDS Global Aids Update also reported that people living with HIV appear to be at a higher risk of COVID-19 illness and death. These studies also suggest that poor COVID-19 outcomes in people living with HIV appear to be as a result of advanced HIV disease and/or the presence of chronic comorbidities such as TB, diabetes and hypertension.
This also has the potential to alter the road map towards the end of Aids.
South Africa was on course to achieve the ambitious target of 90-90-90 as per the strategy to ensure that we end the HIV/Aids epidemic by 2030. However, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in interruptions in the fight against HIV and Aids. By the end of December 2020, the country had managed to achieve 75% in terms of the number of people enrolled on our antiretroviral treatment against the target of 6,1 million.
The Department of Health, in response to COVID-19 related challenges became very innovative by integrating our services in testing and provision of antiretroviral therapy.
As a multistakeholder body, SA National AIDS Council, SANAC, remains committed to further strengthening our response towards ending the epidemics of HIV and TB, even as we respond to the novel COVID-19 pandemic – we should continue to deal with HIV and TB. This includes implementing a catch-up programme that integrates services relating to HIV, TB and COVID-19 and extending the term of our current National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB and sexually transmitted infections, STIs, 2017 to 2022, to end in 2023.
For instance, HIV and TB services are being provided at sites designated for COVID-19 screening in order to ensure that broader reach of our people is accomplished. Differentiated modes are being employed to dispense antiretroviral medicine, and these include multimonth dispensing, home-based dispensing and the Central Chronic Medicine Dispensing and Distribution system. This system couriers medicines to chronic patients so that they do not need to travel to public health facilities to collect their medicines. These differentiated modes enable people living with these diseases to have an uninterrupted supply of medication.
As we forge ahead in our fight to end Aids, let us individually and collectively stem the tide of new HIV infections. South Africans can rest assured that even under constrained fiscal environment, we are ensuring that budget reprioritisation does not negatively impact the response to HIV. We commend all the sectors of SANAC as well as our development partners for their continued collaboration with government in sustaining our national response to HIV and Aids. Thank you very much, hon Chair.
The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: Thank you Deputy President. The first supplementary question comes from the hon Christians. Hon Christians?
Ms D C CHRISTIANS: Thank you very much hon Chairperson. Hon Deputy President, thank you for your response. However, hon Deputy President, not many South Africans are in a position to travel thousands of kilometres to Russia to seek medical treatment and have to depend on our very own health system in the country. Now, in South Africa, adolescent girls and young women are at a higher risk of contracting HIV. This due to the high rate of underage of teenage pregnancies recently reported in the country as well as the scourge of rape and abuse that continues. This has a direct relation to the failures of the ANC government in public health and its inability to tackle the epidemic of rape and gender-based violence.
The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: We have lost you. Please speak into the system. We have lost you a bit but I am sure you can repeat a sentence or two.
Ms D C CHRISTIANS: Thank you, Chairperson. This has a direct relation to the failures of the ANC government in public health and its inability to tackle the epidemic of rape and
gender-based violence, lack of quality education as well as the widespread poverty and unemployment. How does our national government intend to reduce an epidemic that according to the South African National Aids Council has seen 72 000 Aids- related deaths in 2019 when these root causes of the epidemic remain rampant. Thank you, hon Chairperson.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, hon Chairperson. I am sure I have heard the question well. I must probably ensure the hon member that our public health system is a very strong system. I am proud of that system. We have weathered the storm. We are dealing with the number of the pandemics but this system remaining strong. This system is standing even today. We have been able to enrol a number of people into our antiretroviral therapy - a very huge undertaking. And our people have responded, they are taking treatment.
As much as we know that there is a big number of these people that have not been tested, but we are almost closer to reaching our target of 90-90-90. We were almost at 75%, and we should comment the system. This 75% has been introduced into antiretroviral therapy and their viral load has been suppressed. That is why a number of people living with HIV are still living today because they are being supported by the
Department of Health. So, we must give credit where credit is due, and maybe criticise where criticism is due – and criticism must be fair.
Yes, I agree with the hon member that there are serious pandemics that seeks to disrupt our social cohesion, especially gender-based violence, and especially h=the scourge of rapes. If we look at our figures, more young girls are infected. These are behavioural matters which we must call upon our society to desist. We are saying prevention of these epidemics should be our watch word. Prevention is better than cure. Our people must try and use the condoms that are available there; they must try and be faithful in their relationships; they must try and abstain if it is not time for them to enter into these serious matters of relationships so that all of us work towards prevention.
Prevention is the best way to deal with this, but it talks to our human behaviour. The same with COVID-19, it talks to our human behaviour. As much as we want to condemn the system, as the public – as society, we must work together with the system and government so that together we can achieve. Thank you very much.
The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: Thank you very much, Deputy President. The second supplementary question will come from the IFP, X Ngwezi. Hon Ngwezi?
Mnu X NGWEZI: Siyathokoza kakhulu Nyambose, Sekela Mengameli ngibuza lo mbuzo okokugcina ngci namhlanje. Uma ubheka izinhlelo ebezikhona ukuya phambili kanti ke nezimali lezo ezidliwe kakhulu umbulalazwe lo we-COVID-19, ngakube sinayo yini imali eyanele yokusifikisa lapho besihlele ukuyofika khona mayelana nohlelo lolu oluthinta isandulela-ngculazi negciwane elikhulu? Ngiyathokoza.
USEKELA MONGAMELI WERIPHABHULIKI YASENINGIZIMU AFRIKA:
Ngiyabonga Sihlalo, ngibonge nombuzo obuya kwilungu elihloniphekile, angikusho kugcwale umlomo ukuthi sithe sivelelwa yilesifo esisibiza ngokuthi yi-COVID-19, sasilethela ubunzima obuningi. Thina njengohulumeni sabhekana naso le sifo kodwa ekubhekaneni kwethu nale sifo, asizange sithathe imali eMnyangweni Wezempilo. Kodwa sithathe imali kweminye iMinyango ukusiza uMnyango Wezempilo. Kusho ukuthi uMnyango Wezempilo sonke siwuhulumeni siwesekile ukuthi ukhone ukuqhuba ngezinhlelo zawo obuqhubeka nazo ukulwa ne-HIV. Sasesifaka nemali yokuthi ukwazi ukulwa ne-COVID-19.
I can assure that the department has been favoured, it has been supported by government to ensure that it can face these pandemics of HIV, TB and COVID-19. And the department is well placed. Yes, we have seen some signs of corrupt activities here and there, and we are dealing with those corrupt elements within the system. But the department is well placed, well supported to deal with these pandemics that are before us.
Thank you very much.
The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: Thank you very much, Deputy President. The next ... [Inaudible.] supplementary question comes from the ANC, B M Bartlett. Hon Bartlett?
Ms B M BARTLETT: Thank you very much, hon Chairperson, good afternoon. Hon Deputy President, it would be a miss if we did not commend the work of government in ensuring the treatment of other diseases is provided without fail. Throughout this difficult time of COVID-19, more than anything hon Deputy President, government has done enormous work in communicating information regarding COVID-19.
Hon Deputy President, has government considered strengthening this good work done by ensuring that all other chronic
diseases are treated, which will undoubtedly assist in the fight against COVID-19, given that people with comorbidities are the worst affected by this disease? I thank you, hon Chairperson. [Interjections.]
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, hon Chairperson. I am sure I am audible. Yes, we are considering a number of options because the advent of COVID-19 has called upon government to find new and innovative ways of delivering services. We are faced with a very huge undertaking of vaccinating the nation and we are employing technology in the process to try and deliver our services faster and quicker.
So, we are really looking at ways and means of improving the delivery of services in the Health department.
We are not only looking at the delivery of services; we are looking at improving our facilities because you might have realised that along the way we have built temporary so that we can accommodate people along the way. That is an indication of a mere shortage of some of the facilities that we must increase. We must also increase our professionals within the system – doctors and nurses. But I can say that South Africa is on the right track. It has a very strong health system that the country can be proud of. Thank you very much.
The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: Thank you very much, Deputy President. The next supplementary question - which is the fourth one, comes from the EFF - hon Mmabatho Mokause.
Ms M O MOKAUSE: Thank you Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces. Deputy President, as a leader of government business and also as you play a role in the SA National Aids Council, Sanac, you will also observe and agree with us that COVID-19 has displaced focus on many illnesses – not only HIV, tuberculosis and diabetes, but even on cancer, with other provinces, without oncology services. Deputy President, it is shown that South Africa has a very dysfunctional health care service. We disagree with you – it is not a system, it is a health care service that you are providing, Deputy President.
A system was supposed to speak to other departments like Social Development that provide grants through the SA Social Security Agency, Sassa, and many other departments. So, you are providing a health care service. It is a death trap for millions who depends on public health care. They are not fortunate like your who can pay for health care abroad, and those who put you to power, Deputy President, depend on the service. What lessons relating to the shortcoming of public health care has your government learnt from the experience of
the past year and half of the COVID-19 pandemic. What specific actions in the next five years are you going to put in place to improve health care service in this country – not only in hospitals, but throughout health care facilities and elsewhere? Thank you, Chairperson.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, hon Chairperson. Well, I would accept criticism where criticism is due, but I want to differ with the hon member in terms of our health care system. The health care that we provide as a country is good. Of course, we will encounter challenges along the way, but we have basic health care that is given in our clinics and in our hospitals. We have health professionals, doctors, nurses, and that is why we have been able to battle with this pandemic. Of course, in the process, yes, we have lost people.
Again, in the process, some of the people were assisted by our health system. Yes, we have learnt one or two lessons in this period. One lesson is that we need to expand our infrastructure. It is quite clear that in the process we were running short of beds to accommodate people because people were coming in numbers. We must in one way or another find a way of increasing our infrastructure. But we must find a way of increasing our human resource – our professionals, our
doctors and our nurses and ensure that the environment under which they work is very conducive.
By and large, our health care system has managed up to so far to deal with this pandemic. I agree with you that some of the ailments like HIV and Aids were affected, that is why we have to extend some of our plans. Our strategic plan which was supposed to end in 2022, has now been extended to 2023 because we realise that we have been disrupted - we were all scared, we ran around until we found our footing to deal with COVID-
19. But I am sure now we have successfully been able to integrate our work – HIV and Aids, TB together with COVID-19, testing is now happening concurrently. We have been able to integrate our programme. As much as we don’t have enough resources, we could do a lot – but the resources available will be enough to take us forward. Thank you very much.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you, hon Chairperson, as alluded to earlier, the recent unrests in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng will go down in history as a major setback towards efforts of nation-building and social cohesion. The ugly face of racism, lawlessness and vigilantism brought to bear the permeating fault lines in our society that suggest a long road ahead in
fulfilling the hopes and dreams we had at the dawn of our democracy. The rampant acts of criminality that were beamed the world over, and the brutal killings of black Africans in Phoenix and surrounding areas left a very dark stain in our democracy.
The socio-economic conditions of poverty, unemployment and inequality that exist in our country are known by all of us and are the critical challenges of the moment. However, no amount of despair should have led to the violence and destruction of property that we have experienced and witnessed over the past few weeks.
The unfortunate events significantly reversed the progress we have made against racism. They challenge all of us to rethink the project of nation-building and inclusive economic growth to be fully reflective of the aspirations contained in our Constitution. For as long as the majority is feeling excluded from economic opportunities and shared growth, the journey towards a cohesive society will be steeper and harder to climb.
It is therefore incumbent upon all of us, working across political lines to lead and address decisively the root causes
of these unrests and find shared sustainable solutions to ensure this dark period in our history is never repeated.
For its part, the Moral Regeneration Movement and the Social Cohesion Advocates have done considerable work in dispelling racial tensions, especially in KwaZulu-Natal. Various organizations and civil society have also been on the ground right from the beginning of the social unrest, visiting and engaging communities in affected areas like Phoenix, Chatsworth, Verulam, uMlazi, etc.
It is encouraging to note the work that has been led by the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal in showing solidarity with the affected families, and communities in the province who lost their loved ones during the unrests.
The KwaZulu-Natal provincial government in partnership with the SA Police Service has facilitated engagements with the affected communities, and community leaders through the establishment of the District Rapid Response Task Teams.
Further, the teams have developed interventions for all districts which are monitored on a weekly basis at a provincial level.
To further strengthen the work of the Moral Regeneration Movement in the province, the premier has established a Social Cohesion and a Moral Regeneration Council to co-ordinate interventions, and provide meaningful support to affected families and communities within the province.
We are advised that the work of this council will also include the establishment of peace committee forums whose main objective will be to maintain peace and work towards reconciliation by involving community leaders from areas such as Bhambayi, Zwelisha, Amaoti, Inanda and Phoenix.
The Minister of Police together with the KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Safety and Community Liaison, and the KwaZulu-Natal provincial Commissioner have, on a number of occasions, visited Phoenix and the surrounding areas to engage communities and identify culprits who were involved in perpetrating violence, which resulted in the death of people.
We are also pleased to report to date that over 35 suspects have been arrested, and the police are working with the community to improve safety and security which proves that as a nation we are a resilient people, who are open to deep societal introspection in order to find healing.
As we committed in the preamble of our Constitution, we must decisively deal with the scourge of racism which is not in our collective interest because South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity. That is why we are encouraged by the swift intervention of the Commission of Religious and Linguistic Rights, which is conducting hearings in the affected areas of KwaZulu-Natal. This contributes a great deal in facilitating a resolution to the friction and conflict within cultural, religious, and linguistic communities in our country thus promoting peace, tolerance and national unity.
All these initiatives can only succeed if we stay united as a people and find sustainable solutions to challenges of economic exclusion and inequality in our country. Thank you very much.
Ms W NGWENYA: Thanks very much, hon Chairperson ...
... sibonge nakuSekela Mongameli ngempendulo ezwakalayo, Sekela Mongameli ohloniphekile, njengabantu abazibophezele ekwakheni umphakathi obumbene, wentando yeningi, ongacwasi ngobuhlanga, ongacwasi nangobulili futhi onempumelelo, kumele
sigxeke ngokuqinile noma yiluphi uhlobo lokuqapha ukuthathwa komthetho ngezandla nokuqanjwa ngobuhlanga okusolakala ukuthi kwenzeke e-Phoenix.
It is wrong for any individual or groups of people to be punished for wrongs and crimes of other individuals. We commend the police for progress in arresting the suspects. We also commend our government for various social cohesion programmes being implemented in the area and other parts of the country.
Hon Deputy President, ...
... ake uchazele le Ndlu ukuthi ...
...How do we assure South Africa that this terrible violent incident will not be repeated and that the national programme to build a united democratic nonracial, nonsexist and prosperous country is still on track?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, hon Chairperson, and thanks to the question, yes, on the side of government, we can assure the nation that we will try by all means that this is not repeated. We can only do that by strengthening our law enforcement and security structures, and put up our early warning systems so that we can react on time. The hon member must remember that government alone cannot achieve the desired outcome. Government can only achieve what is required, peace and justice if it is working together with communities and societies.
As much as we take it upon ourselves as government to strengthen ourselves so that this is not repeated, we call upon our communities and societies to join government in this journey. Yes, we recognise the setback and we must all of us say, “this must not be repeated”. Thank you very much.
Mr A ARNOLDS: Thank you, Chairperson, Deputy President, right in the middle of the unrest, that followed the imprisonment of Mr Zuma, the President of the Republic stood on national television and thanked the vigilante groups in Phoenix and
elsewhere. These groups were made of whites and Indian people who were extremely violent to African people. We know that the Indians in Phoenix ended up killing more than 40 African people.
My question to you: Was it wise for the President to encourage vigilante groups to take the law into their own hands and in the process killed African people in their own land? If not, have you had a conversation with him about the dangers of trying to please minority groups and the expense of African people? Thank you, Chairperson.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, hon Chairperson and thanks to the hon member for the question, well, knowing the President, and all of you know him, I don’t believe that the President can stand up and support racial tensions and support one group over another group. That is not the President I know. That is not the President who fought for this freedom that we are enjoying today.
Part of his task during the period of the struggle was to facilitate unity and reconciliation. He was central in the drafting of this Constitution that is before us, and that seeks to unite all of us. So, truly speaking, it is not the
President that can stand and support racism. He will never do that.
We must, however, join hands and stop pointing fingers at each other. Racism should be erased in our vocabulary. We must treat ourselves as a united people. Diverse as we are, we belong to this country. Let us not keep on pointing fingers at the different racial groups, because that action in itself is polarising society.
As leaders in these buildings, we must be upfront in whatever we do and say to unite our people to condemn every act of racism and tribalism so that we reinforce what has been built by our forbearers of a united, democratic, nonsexist, prosperous South Africa. Thank you very much.
Ms M O MOKAUSE: Chairperson, I am rising on a point of order.
The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: What is the point of order?
Ms M O MOKAUSE: The Deputy President is extremely out of order. He is not answering the question. He is busy protecting the President of this country. Maybe, we should remind him
that whilst he was away, black people were killed in Phoenix
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE NCOP: That is not a point of order. It is an opinion of the member. Can we protect the integrity of this process, please? ... [Interjections.]
The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: Hon Mokause, that’s not a point
of order. We will therefore proceed. [Interjections.]
Mr S F DU TOIT: Thank you, hon Chair ... [Interjections.] ...
Hon Chair, may I proceed? Deputy President, I would like to start off by saying that the rate of racial tension in KwaZulu-Natal is absurd. During yesterday’s debate, Minister
Cele humbly thanked communities for protecting their lives and livelihoods, infrastructure and for assisting the police in their battle to restore order since the police were not able to maintain law and order from their side.
The communities that worked together were from all races. It is unfortunate that people died. If a racially mixed mob charged houses, businesses and endangered lives, and mostly black people succumbed, your statement could be water, but it is not the case. One might gather from your initial answer, Mr
Deputy President, that you see the incidents as one way racial events.
The residents of Phoenix, irrespective of their race, protected themselves and their properties against the violent mob within the prescripts of the law. Police investigations are ... [Interjections.] My question is: Deputy President, what are you doing to prevent politicians and the media from labelling the public violence in Phoenix as racial acts that caused further divide and that does not contribute to social cohesion? Thank you, Chair.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, hon Chairperson, that is why I commended the premier and the Minister of Police in my response for the initiative that they took to go and meet the communities. I commend all the stakeholders, the Moral Regeneration structures for their intervention in going down to talk to these communities. In the main, to ensure that whatever friction is there, is resolved, and allow these communities to vent out their unhappiness.
We must avoid finger pointing as government because that is not leadership. To help this House with information is that government has undertaken to investigate what has happened,
especially in Phoenix so that we can come out with a report that will say, yes, this was a racial tension, this was motivated by racial undertones, and therefore, the these are the recommendations of the report. Government is doing an investigation and I am sure it is at an advanced stage. We welcome all the participants that went in there to make their assessment. As government, we want to make a thorough investigation because lives have been lost. We are not using this as a point scoring event. We want to address this problem. We commend the provincial government, the Minister of Police and the Moral Regeneration Movement for trying to uphold unity in those communities and erect a bridge across them so that they are allowed to vent out their frustrations; and in a way, opening up a gate for all of us to go down and support these communities in whatever way we can. Let’s support and appreciate all efforts coming from all angles to try and resolve this problem. It is in our nature. This is how we are made of as South Africans. We are a people, we are resilient and able to take up challenges ahead of us and resolve them. We should encourage and commend those that have done so. Thank you very much.
Mr T J BRAUTESETH: Thank you very much, hon Chairperson, hon Deputy President, it is on record that the leader of the DA
was on the ground in KwaZulu-Natal and Phoenix in particular during and after the unrests. On the contrary, other senior leaders were hiding underneath the skirts of their mothers or elsewhere, like Russia. After years of being left to their own
... [Inaudible.] ... with pleas for government’s assistance to maintain the rule of law being ignored by all spheres of government, the situation was allowed to spiral out of control. Government’s lack of action over years and especially during this last incident, makes government virtually and jointly responsible.
Whilst the DA supports any investigation into unlawfulness in KwaZulu-Natal, it must be noted that out of failures of the ANC-led security services created the environment for this anarchy. Will you, Mr Deputy President, concede the simple fact and dissuade all of those in this House today, who wish to turn this failure and state capacity into a racial war? I thank you.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, hon Chairperson, yes, I want to dissuade all our colleagues in the House not to label this as a racial war, because all of you know very well as guided by the preamble of our Constitution, we are a nonracial society and all of us must work towards that, because that will keep us together. Yes, hon members in the House have got the right to blame government, to say government acted after the act has happened and government was slow in taking action. Yes, we take the blame as government because already an incident has happened and it has robbed us of lives, property and everything. We must put it in front of you to say we are going to investigate correctly what happened. Who was behind this? Who was planning this behind the scene, so that as much as we take responsibility as government, we would be able to go behind the perpetrators?
On a general sense, we must, all of us, work towards not repeating this incident. We must work towards a situation where we strengthen social cohesion and strengthen the bonds that tie us together as a nation. We should not disintegrate this time around because we are faced with a problem. We must rise above this problem and deal with the challenges of our time. Thank you very much.
The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: Hon members, we have come to the end of our sitting. I would like to thank the Deputy President for availing himself to answer questions in the NCOP and to use the platform of the National Council of Provinces to address various matters that are of interest and are critical to the development of our own nation. Thank you very much, Deputy President.
The Council adjourned at 16:23.