Hansard: NA: Unrevised Hansard
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 08 Mar 2023
No summary available.
WEDNESDAY, 8 MARCH 2023
PROCEEDINGS OF HYBRID NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
Watch video here: Plenary (Hybrid)
The House met at 15:00.
The SPEAKER: The Speaker took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayer or meditation.
APPOINTMENT OF DEPUTY PRESIDENT AS LEADER OF GOVERNMENT BUSINESS
The SPEAKER: Order. Order hon member, Order! Hon members, please take your seats. Are there members who have no seats? Hon Mangcu, sit where you usually sit.
Hayi ke, ndiyaqala ukuyibona isenzeka le.
Whips, you have not done your job of orientating members. How can a member from this side sit this side? People, sit properly. Wait! Hon member, please.
Hon members, before we proceed with today’s business, I wish to make the following announcement. The President has informed me that he has appointed the hon Chipokosa Paul Mashatile, the Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa as the Leader of the of Government Business. Welcome hon Mashatile, I hope that the office of the speaker will work well with you. Thank you very much.
UNANSWERED PARLIAMENTARY QUESTIONS
The SPEAKER: Hon members, before we start, I want to take this opportunity to make a statement and register my great concern regarding parliamentary questions that remain unanswered and consequently lapsed in terms of the National Assembly Rule 135 at the end of the fourth term in 2022.
Since the National Assembly adopted on the 2nd of September 2021 a system to monitor and report on questions that have
been endorsed as unanswered on the Question Paper, letters have been directed to affected members of Cabinet on a quarterly basis requesting their reasons for unanswered questions.
This is coupled with regular reports to the Deputy President in his capacity as the Leader of Government Business. However, an unacceptably high number of unanswered questions lapsed at the end of the term and these were for the following Ministers. Hon members, can you please take your seats.
Shortage of chairs? Oh you see now. Hon Papo says it is because people have not confirmed that they are coming today so members do not know where to sit. Please take your seat hon members. I am about to ... hon ... order!
I am about to reprimand members who have not responded to questions raised in Parliament. Please take your seats and just for a minute respect that.
I said the number of questions that have not been responded to are very high. I have since written letters to the Leader of Government Business and I have also written to individual members of Cabinet. I now read the following, so please note and check if your department is listed.
Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, you have 12 outstanding questions. Minister of Defence Military Veterans, you have 27 outstanding questions. Minister of Health you have six outstanding questions. Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, you have one outstanding question. Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, you have five outstanding questions. Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, you have one outstanding question. Minister in the Presidency, you have one outstanding question. Minister of Small Business Development, you have three outstanding questions. Minister of Tourism, nine outstanding questions. Minister of Transport, you have 18 outstanding questions.
The National Assembly Rule 1455 provides that members of the Cabinet must reply to a written parliamentary question within ten working days. Where more time is required to reply to a
written parliamentary question, provision is made for member of the Cabinet to request extension from the Speaker for an additional ten working days on good course shown.
It causes concern therefore, when the rules that provide for the timeline between which replies must be provided are ignored and questions remain unanswered. For instance, one of the questions that remain unanswered and subsequently lapsed appeared for the first time on the Question Paper on the 11th March 2022. This is totally unacceptable.
Section 923 of the Constitution states categorically that members of the executive must ... it does not give us options comrades, it says must. Members must act in accordance with the Constitution and provide Parliament with full and regular reports concerning matters under their control.
The National Assembly on the other hand has the responsibility to represent the people and ensure government by the people under the Constitution. It does this by scrutinizing and overseeing executive action in terms of Section 42(3) of the Constitution, non-compliance by members of Cabinet with the specified rules of the National Assembly presents itself as a
huge setback to the responsibility of the National Assembly to ensure a government of the people.
As members would be aware, step 4 of the system of the monitoring of replies provides for the Speaker to consider a reprimand event of continuous non-compliance or lack of improvement. This step has not been invoked since the introduction of the system. Should there be no improvement with regard to appearance to the rules applicable to replies, I will be obliged to invoke step 4 of the system and reprimand the responsible Cabinet members.
Order! Hon members, as we all know that there have been changes to Cabinet, we will continue to bring these matters to the attention to the Leader of Government Business. I therefore appeal to the members of the executive including the Minister who recently joined Cabinet to take note of the statement. I thank you hon members.
Hon Chief Whip, I request that the sitting matter be sorted out as quickly as possible. I know that people will use that to say they need to have full physical meetings. There is no reason for that. The point is that the manner in which people
are seated is not appropriate. People are on their feet and it is disorderly in the House.
The DEPUTY CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Thank you very
much hon Speaker. We will attend to this issue. Unfortunately, we were not alerted on time that some of the members will be coming. We usually have a list of those who will be coming but we will attend to it. We apologise for the mess. Thank you.
The SPEAKER: Thank you very much Chief Whip. The first item on today’ order paper is questions addressed to Ministers in Cluster 2, Social services. There four supplementary question on each question. parties have given an indication of which questions their members wish to pose a supplementary question on.
Adequate notice was given to parties for this purpose. This was done to facilitate participation of members who are connecting to the sitting through the virtual platform. The members who pose supplementary questions will be recognised by the presiding officer.
In allocating opportunities for supplementary questions, the principle of fairness amongst others have been applied If a member who is supposed to ask a supplementary question through the virtual platform ... order man! Order! Order chairperson. My chair, order!
Jonga phambili, uhlale kakuhle.
Hon Zwane? Hon Zwane? I said order. Can you please maintain the decorum of the House? Hon Skwatsha, sit down hon member.
Hon Mcweyi, sit down. You guys are rowdy. You may not realise it but you are rowdy.
Ms E N NTLANGWINI: On a point of order Speaker?
The SPEAKER: Wait with your point of order. I am busy with an order now and the order is putting people to order.
Nksk E N NTLANGWINI: Hayi musa ukunditshika, Somlomo. Uyanditshika.
The SPEAKER: Hon Mcweyi, take a seat!
Kulungile noba uhleli apho, hlala phantsi.
No hon members. To be honest ... Chief Whips, please sort out the sitting arrangements. I think there is a problem. Of course it is a very positive step on our side but we have a House full today. But I think it is unacceptable if people are going to be disorderly. I think we need to do something at the back about more seats for members. Thank you very much hon members. You have a point of order yes, hon member.
Ms E N NTLANGWINI: Madam Speaker, calm down.
The SPEAKER: Yes, I am down.
Ms E N NTLANGWINI: Please, just calm down.
The SPEAKER: I am down my dear.
Ms E N NTLANGWINI: Please. I feel the ANC needs to get their house into order because they are disorganising the entire House. Firstly, you had to deal with Ministers who do not answer questions, that is an ANC issue yet again. Secondly, you had to deal with the sitting arrangements, that is ANC issue again, letting the House go into 15 minutes just for sitting arrangements. They must get their house in order or fire the Whips.
The SPEAKER: Thank you hon member. Yes hon Papo?
Mr A H M PAPO: I think today’s issue is caused by the confirmation system. I think it was mentioned by the Deputy Chief Whip. But also, there were physical Cabinet sub- committee meetings happening today. So because of this, we are asking Ministers and Deputy Ministers to attend. It will not
happen again. I do not know what the howlers are talking about. If it is an ANC matter why are they coming in?
The SPEAKER: I have noted that. Hon members, will you please lower your hands? Thank you. Shall we then proceed? When all supplementary questions have been answered by the executive, we will proceed to the next question on the Question Paper.
The first question has been asked by the hon T Malatji to the Minister of Human Settlements. Hon Gwarube?
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITION PARTY: On a point of order Speaker, I rise on Rule 138 on questions to the Ministers. Speaker, the last question session here last week, there was an issue with the Minister of Defence who did not answer questions that were posed to her and her Deputy was unable to answer those questions as well.
The Chair at the time, Chairperson Frolick indicated that those questions will be scheduled an extra 30 minutes. I would like to understand what the procedure is for those questions to be dealt with.
The SPEAKER: Thank you very much hon member. I know that this is a matter which we discussed just before we came in here together with Mr Qaso and tomorrow at the National Assembly Programming Committee, NAPC, we will receive a report which will indicate when those questions will be put in the programme.
So the programming Committee, we expect that honn Lesoma will provide us with the dates of when those questions will be responded to. I said the first question is asked by the hon T Malatji to the Minister of Human Settlements.
Mr A M SHAIK EMAM: Sorry hon Speaker?
The SPEAKER: Yes, there is a question.
Mr A M SHAIK EMAM: Thank you hon Speaker. I am not sure if there is some confusion but we have been advised that the Minister of Health will first answer questions because he needs to leave. So we will prioritise all questions to the Minister of Health first. Thank you hon Speaker.
The SPEAKER: Thank you hon Member. I know the Chief Whip consulted with other Whips on the matter. After the first question, the hon Minister of Health will be granted an opportunity to come in. Thank you.
QUESTIONS FOR ORAL REPLY SOCIAL SERVICES
The MINISTER OF HUMAN SETTLEMENTS: Thank you very much, hon Speaker, hon members and thank you, hon Malatji for the question. In response, we have put six priorities in terms of our work for the 2022-23 financial year. The first one is around the eradication of mud houses, eradication of asbestos and digitalisation amongst others. In terms of the progress around the eradication of mud houses, we are working in collaboration with provinces, and we have been able to eradicate 4 295 mud houses so far, in the current financial year, and we are continuing.
Furthermore, the national department is partnering with the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development
to assist it with enumeration of mud houses across the country, so that we can be able to conclude them. Going forward, provinces have also put together their requisite delivery plans, and have ring-fenced the accompanying budget to eradicate almost 8 806 mud houses in the financial year 2023-24.
On the issues of the eradication of asbestos roof, in the financial year 2022-23, 1 500 asbestos are being eradicated in Seshego, in Limpopo. The work is also underway in Free State in terms of 23 000 asbestos roofs, also in KaNyamazane in Mpumalanga, where almost 1 200 asbestos roofs are being eradicated. We are currently doing feasibility assessment across the country, to ensure that we determine the number of the asbestos roofs, and also the methods of disposal.
We have been alerted that not any contractor can be able to remove the asbestos. We are also ensuring that we keep record, so that we can be able to have a database of those who are suitable to be assisted by us, to fast-track this work. On the digitalisation of housing beneficiary list, the department has been working together with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, CSIR, and State Information Technology
agency, Sita, to be able to start the process of ensuring that we can digitise our system. Work has been underway.
Therefore, we will be able to provide the update by the financial year, where we are expecting that we would have finished the system, and then, in the new financial year, we
will start working in terms of the implementation. The intention here, hon Speaker and hon members, is to ensure that our system, in terms of the beneficiary list and what we are doing as human settlements, is actually digitised.
Furthermore, it also allows for transparency and accountability. This will ensure that the people do not manipulate the beneficiary list, and also, those who are intended to benefit, we can be able to verify them in terms of those who are in the houses and those that we have. More importantly as well, we will be able to work with the provinces and the municipalities to fast-track the issuing of title deeds as part of our work.
This is amongst others ... [Interjections.] ... as human settlements. Thank you very much.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr C T Frolick): Thank you, Minister. May I ask the ICT to disconnect that member, and ask the Whip of the EFF to communicate with their member and tell her that her microphone went on. Now, switch it off, please. Hon members, I have been informed that, - yes, hon member.
Ms E N NTLANGWINI: Will she be able to reconnect, Chair, because ... [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr C T Frolick): Yes, absolutely, but we can’t allow this sitting to be disturbed with the microphone that is on.
Ms E N NTLANGWINI: It’s fine. That’s fair. Thank you.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr C T Frolick): Hon members, I have been informed that hon Semenya will take charge of the first supplementary question in terms of Rule 137 Subrule 10 Paragraph A. Over to you, hon Semenya.
Ms M R SEMENYA: Thank you very much, hon Chair. Greetings to the Deputy President and the Cabinet members that are here and the hon members. Minister, we welcome your response, and as
Parliament, we welcome the continuous funding of the project which improves the living conditions of the poor people, such as eradicating of the asbestos, which has health impact and also the mud houses, which exposes people to harm and disasters.
Hon Minister, how many beneficiaries will be impacted by the roll-out of this programme, and to what benefit will the digitalisation of the housing beneficiary need list? Thank you.
The MINISTER OF HUMAN SETTLEMENTS: Thank you very much, House Chairperson, and thank you, hon Semenya for your question.
Firstly, let me start with the issue of digitalisation. Part of the issues that have been raised to us by the communities around the is beneficiary list is that, for an example, when you have elections in the local government, you will find out that, because the ward councillors have been given the responsibility of collecting information, they tend to reprioritise the people on the list. Therefore, as it is captured, we find out that it has changed.
Secondly, over time, the people who are linked to houses are on the beneficiary list because it is not that transparent system. You will also find out that, it allows for manipulation by the officials sometimes. Furthermore, in terms of record keeping, you find out that some people take Breaking New Ground, BNG, houses, and sell them. Now, you are not being able to be verified immediately as you walk into the house because it is not digitised.
So, the benefit for that is, to be able to deal with transparency as I have said, to ensure that there is no corruption that happens. Secondly, is to ensure that, the rightful owners are in the right houses. Thirdly, it will allow for transparency and also to build confidence because, as an individual, if you have registered as the beneficiary of the house and you have qualified, we will be able to check on the system with your ID number to say that, I am Mmamoloko with this ID number, when am I getting a house?
The system will then be able to tell you, because it is transparent and it has been digitised. You will be able to see, on what date you will be getting your house, because you are already approved on the system. So, that is what we are
working on and trying to ensure that we improve in terms of housing beneficiary list. We do believe that, this will really eradicate lot of complains and unhappiness from a lot of societies and members of the communities.
In terms of beneficiaries as I have said, I have given the figures, for an example, the eradication of the asbestos. In the Free State alone, we have noted that this has been a sore point. When we visited there the first time, I was with the former Premier, and people were asking us to deal with the issue because they are still sitting with the sores. So,
23 000 have been identified, and these are households, in terms of 23 000. In KaNyamazane ... [Interjections.] [Time expired.] Thank you very much.
Dr N V KHUMALO: Thank you, Chairperson. We note the response of the Minister. The asbestos has been banned since 2008 in South Africa, yet there continues to be over a million houses with asbestos accompanied by an underestimation of about 200 cases of mesothelioma in South Africa. Asbestosis is irreversible, yet citizens of this country have been left behind, as they continue to battle house challenges and loss of life as a result of nonperformance.
Considering the above, can the Minister give details pertaining to the criteria for prioritising eradicating asbestos roof across the country, considering that areas like Diepkloof and Shawela in Johannesburg have not had any progress to address this matter? When will the department remember these communities that have been left behind, including those living in mud houses as a result of nonperformance such as the communities of Alfred Nzo District Municipality? Thank you, Chair.
The MINISTER OF HUMAN SETTLEMENTS: Thank you very much. I think that we should start with the issue around Soweto. In terms of Soweto in the work that we are doing, firstly, you would note that, because of the resources and the work that we do, we are dealing with back yard-dwelling in Soweto as a priority for human settlements. This is what the citizens of Soweto are saying, that it is a priority for them. As you look at services in Soweto, that is my hometown, so I can speak with authority on that one, hon member.
They said that they have got quite a number of the community members who are living in back yards. Therefore, they have asked that, before I prioritise anything, I should prioritise
the issue of back yards. That is the work that we are doing, and that’s why you see the work we are doing in terms of Lufhereng and the Extension of Lufhereng. We are fast-tracking the implementation of Lufhereng as a project. This should yield almost 30 000 houses in that area.
Now, we have also spoken about the issue of the communities. For an example, in the Eastern Cape, in terms of prioritisation, maybe just to say, what we put as the priority as the national government, we urge - because it is a concurrent function. For an example, I have a problem with the Western Cape because, they are refusing to prioritise for the asbestos removal in the province.
There has been zero prioritisation in this province because, they do not consider it as a priority for them. Therefore, we continue to engage with them because it is a concurrent function. I can’t push them. We can only find a way of working together. Where it is possible for me as the Minister and when there is available resources, we are able to ring-fence them into those communities. So, we are able to intervene and they are not left behind.
What I can say is that, we do take notice of the issues, and the impact to life and health in terms of the asbestos roof, and that’s why I have put, since I have been in this portfolio, to say that, we will prioritise and push it into the forefront. Also, that’s why you have seen the figures that we are talking about and going forward. We’ve got three years that we have put for ourselves to be able to deal with that.
Thank you very much.
Ms M MAKESINI: Thank you, Chairperson. The municipalities are returning money to the National Treasury because they do not have the capacity to build business cases of accessing the grant, actually to implement this project until houses. Will it not be practically possible for the National Department of Human Settlements to have its state-owned construction company that will hire its own engineers, town planners, so that they can be able to build houses to ensure that the entire value chain is dealt with, and also to deal with the issue of the tenders that are not progressive?
Since the problem is the issue of the tenders, don’t you think it is high time to have your own construction company so that they can build houses without giving tenders to people?
The MINISTER OF HUMAN SETTLEMENTS: Thank you very much, hon Makesini, I hope that I am pronouncing your surname correctly. Concerning the first issue around the municipalities, it is not correct that the municipalities cannot develop their business plans. As the national department, we work together with the municipalities, but it is only the metros that we work directly with. So, what we do is that, every year we have the metros that develops their business plans.
We look at them and we evaluate them, and we have a team that assesses them and guide the municipalities. The Minister then comes in, in conservation with the municipality leadership, the tricksters, but mostly, it becomes the member of the mayoral committee, MMC, responsible, or the Chairperson and the Mayor. We then look at that in terms of priorities and ensure that we do assist. Where there is capacity issues, we do support the municipalities.
For an example, in the other provinces and the municipalities, we have been able to send technical capacity, whether it is in terms of engineers or town planners. We are able to second them by asking them to go and assist. We are doing the same in Mangaung, for an example. We have also sent a team in the
Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality to go and assist, so that they can be able to put together the correct plans and be able to implement them.
So, the issue of spending is not necessarily the problem of planning in terms of business. The issue around planning is because, the council takes long to approve plans, and as the Minister, I cannot take that away. I have got to allow the council meeting, which is, councillors to meet. With the coalition government, every day they are changing. So, sometimes it takes long for them to approve plans and it is also taking long for them to approve budgets.
The last point you have raised is around state capacity in terms of a company. We have the Housing Development Agency. It is a company that we are utilising as an implementing agent, but again, while we have it, the state can’t do everything.
We’ve got to be able to understand that, there is a role for the state, and there is a role for the private sector. For the economy to grow, it needs both to operate.
So, the private sector companies do have a role to play. For an example, if we talk about transformation, we will utilise
those companies to be able to grow the economy to find jobs and to create the entrepreneurs in the townships. So, if we take everything as the state and want to run it like that, then we will never have entrepreneurs in the country. The state becomes an organ or agent to drive transformation. ...
[Interjections.] ... Thank you.
Ms S A BUTHELEZI: Thank you, Chairperson. Hon Minister, the last Chair at this time said that, the total number of block projects as provided by the provinces by 20 February 2022 was 533, while the total of block projects with no expenditure since 1 April 2019 was said by the Acting Director-General to be 3 522. It was communicated that the National Department of
Human Settlements is developing a National Unblocking Programme Plan, NUPP, which comprises a series of steps
Analysis on Housing Subsidy System, HSS, confirmation, Provincial Action Plan, support intervention, final evaluation and exit strategy. Considering this, I would like to know whether you can still provide an update on the NUPP as well as the examples of when it has been implemented, and what the
impact of the programme has been. If not, why not, if so, what are the relevant details? Thank you, Chairperson.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr C T Frolick): Hon members, let me remind you again that, the supplementary question only consists of one question and not multiple questions. Over to you, hon Minister.
The MINISTER OF HUMAN SETTLEMENTS: Thank you very much, House Chair and thank you, hon Buthelezi, In terms of the block projects across the country, we have given ourselves three years for that, starting with 2022-23 financial year. We are looking at 1,9 million units that have been sitting as unfinished. We have started to put them in our business plans across the country in terms of the provinces.
The majority, which we are seeing, for an example, are in the North West, where we have got a lot of projects. The member of executive council, MEC, Mr Maloi, has started to deal with that because he has quite a number of them. He has met with the service providers to check what has happened. As the national department, we have said that, where there are brought projects, firstly, we would want accountability if
money has been spent. We can’t allocate money without having an accountability. That’s what is required by the Public Finance Management Act.
So, that is the first programme, where we can tell you that we have been able to go back and look at the projects, to see whether money has been spent or projects have been abandoned because of capacity or other. Where there has been wrongdoing, we have gone to such due consequence management and various provinces have started that. Secondly, blocked projects are not only in terms of BNG, we have got them in terms of social housing. Now with the social housing, what we have started to do is to look at how many units are there.
We quantify them by the end of the financial year, and by the end this one, we would have done that analysis and start implementing in the new financial year. So, work, in terms of the areas of blocked projects is in various spaces in different provinces, but have been included, as we say, in the business plans, and are being responded to. Thank you.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr C T Frolick): Thank you, hon Minister. Hon members, as per agreement by the Whips, the
question posed to the hon Minister of Health will now get precedence. I will now proceed to Question 100 that has been asked by hon Wilson to the hon Minister of Health. Over to you, hon Minister.
The MINISTER OF HEALTH: Hon Chair, let me thank you and the Whips of the other parties for agreeing to give me this opportunity as the hon members will be aware that we are facing serious pressure with disruptions at various hospitals in the country which need some of us to attend to. Thank you very much.
Thanks to hon Wilson for the question relating to the load shedding as to whether all the health care facilities are exempted. The answer is that not all health facilities, and not even all hospitals are exempted from load shedding. From the Ministry and department, we have been engaging Eskom and also various electricity-supplying municipalities.
We submitted, in September last year, 213 names of hospitals which had been prioritised by provinces to be considered for exemption, 67% of that number fall under municipalities while
only 33% fall directly under Eskom direct line supply. Thus far, we made a bit of progress until just late in the year when 76 hospitals were exempted, out of which 26 are directly under Eskom, while 50 of those are under municipalities. Since then, we have not made any further progress, and the reasons have been because what they indicated was that most of our remaining hospitals, their supply lines are intertwined with local consumers, households, and also, industry and business, so they've given us the list of what needs to be done and we, we are working on how those supply lines can be separated.
Just to give an indication, out of the 76, seven are from the Eastern Cape, 14 in Free State, 18 Gauteng, 15 KwaZulu-Natal, and nine Limpopo, Mpumalanga four, North West three, Northern Cape two and the Western Cape four. Now as we appreciate that load shedding does affect our health facilities quite negatively, we endeavour to make sure that all hospitals, community centres, clinics, Emergency Medical Services, EMS, and even laboratories and mortuaries should be exempted from load shedding.
So this process is still going on. In terms of some of the steps, we are taking is to continue to look at what is it we
can do together with the municipalities and Eskom to provide these separate lines. So, just in terms of immediate intervention, we've been discussing with our Treasury to see whether we can get additional funding for fuel, diesel and oil for the servicing of the generators because they're working more than what they're supposed to do. Also looking at additional funding for these separate dedicated lines which Eskom and the municipalities have indicated. Lastly, we're looking at solar energy and battery storage which, over this year, we intend to roll out. We're working on the details of this which is about to be finalised in terms of the specs with the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research, CSIR. So that's where we are, hon member. Thank you, Chair.
Mrs E R WILSON: Thank you, Chair, and thank you, Minister, for an onerous response, no progress has been made. Well, not much. That kind of response is appreciated, but what we're saying here, and I think this is the concern, it's easy to create a Government Gazette and slap down a whole lot of regulation because the regulation states that hospitals must be exempt. Okay? Like trying to ban smoking and drinking during COVID-19, the reality on the ground is an entirely
different situation, and we know that the municipalities are intertwined and that these hospitals are in residential areas.
The fact remains though South Africans and their health need to be the priority, and very often, or not, particularly when we look at the current health situation. So what engagements have you had with the municipalities and how quickly, if they cannot exempt the hospital, how quickly are we going to put plans in place and at what cost because the lives of South Africans must come first, not an ANC-created Eskom crisis?
The MINISTER OF HEALTH: Thank you very much, hon Chair and hon member ... as I’ve said, we are hoping that under the state of disaster, together with Eskom itself, municipalities, but also with the Minister of Finance and Treasury, we will be able to find ways to make sure that this work can be expedited, including also the off-grid supply of off-grid energy to our facilities. Thank you, hon Chair.
Mr P A VAN STADEN: House Chairperson, hon Minister, on 9 February of this year you had answered me in a written reply on more or less the same question as hon member Wilson has
asked today, namely that out of a list of 213 hospitals your department has requested Eskom to exclude from load shedding, only 76 have been exempted.
Meanwhile, the Western Cape Department of Health spent an amount of R120 million on diesel for generators between April 2022 and February 2023, and the Gauteng Department of Health spent an amount of R148 million on diesel for their generators. Can you indicate to this House today, what other amounts the departments of health in the other seven provinces have spent between April 2022 and February 2023 on diesel for generators to keep the lights on in those hospitals? Thank you very much, Chairperson.
The MINISTER OF HEALTH: Hon Van Staden and Chairperson, I think it'll be quite unreasonable as hon Van Staden himself will admit, for me on the top of my head to carry all the figures of all the provinces in terms of expenditure. So I'm very happy to come back to the hon member with up-to-date information. All that I can confirm to him, as we have indicated here, is that we are aware that our hospitals and provincial budgets are overheating. That's why we're looking at additional funding while the load shedding persists, but I
can come back to him with the actual numbers of how much has been spent. Thank you.
Mr E K SIWELA: Chairperson, Minister, health care facilities are assigned to have the capacity to mitigate various risks such as electricity supply. What are the plans in place to ensure uninterrupted health services in the event of higher levels of load shedding? Thank you.
The MINISTER OF HEALTH: House Chairperson, hon member, just maybe to elaborate that up to now our facilities have managed despite stage six of load shedding. The generators, thus far, have fortunately not failed but we are making sure that our team from infrastructure and also from our finance keeps in touch ... is one of what we call non-negotiable services at every health facility, especially at hospitals which have got theatres, ICUs, and other emergency services. Once they can detect that there might be a problem, they need to make sure that the generators ... these are our, our first level defence against interruption.
Going forward, we are also looking at all these other new energy services like solar energy batteries and those are the
new initiatives which we're making sure that going forward, there must be a second line of defence in case the generators do not kick in when the power goes off, but fortunately, up to now, we have been managing and there have not been any major disasters. Thank you.
The MINISTER OF HEALTH: Thank you, hon Chairperson and hon members, and thanks to hon Gela who wanted to know about the number of South Africans young people who have been sent to Cuba to do medicine and those who have graduated. For 2022-23 Academic year because the academic year at the University in Cuba is from September to August. So for the 2022-23 academic year, 30 students have been sent to Cuba to do their first year medicine. Twenty of those are coming from the North West province, and the 10 coming from Gauteng province.
In terms of those who are graduated are now doing their internship whether they have all been placed. The answer is, yes, 738 graduates completed their studies at the end of 2022. All the 738 have been allocated by the end of December to do their internship. They have already started doing their internship in various parts of the country. They are placed
for a two-year internship period, which started in January. They will finish their first year of internship in December and then, from there they will do their second year of internship. So, there is no one who’s been left out. All of those who qualified and completed their medical studies have been placed for medical internship. Thank you, hon Chair.
Ms A GELA: Thank you, House Chair, and thank you, Minister for the response. My follow up question, there are over 4 000 people who have benefitted from the programme. From these beneficiaries, how many students from the Western Cape have benefitted from the Cuban programme, Minister?
The MINISTER OF HEALTH: Well, hon member and hon Chair, I think that is a tragedy which has befallen our young people who find themselves in the Western Cape ... [Interjections.] Because while the rest of ... [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr C T Frolick): Order! Order, hon member! Hon members, the question was asked and the Minister is responding. You can’t drown him with interjections.
Continue, hon Minister.
The MINISTER OF HEALTH: Hon Chair, the reality is that while more than 20 years young South Africans from disadvantaged communities, rural background, those who have done well who could not be admitted for various reasons in our local medical schools had an opportunity to can apply for this opportunity in Cuba. More than 3 000 from the rest of the country have taken that opportunity. The Western Cape young people have not benefitted. Because of the fact that the programme works in that way that the province submits the names. The names are processed; the applications are forwarded to Cuba. Again, it is the province which contributes to their funding. Going forward, we are looking to be in discussion with the Department of Higher Education. We are looking at a possibility of where there could be an additional funding from the Department of Higher Education’s international bursary system. So that also Western Cape young people from the disadvantaged families could also start to benefit. That is why we are working with the higher education to remedy this tragedy of the Western Cape.
Dr S S THEMBEKWAYO: Minister, Cuba is a gift to this world and this legacy of the 26th July movement led by commander Fidel Castro is to change the Western profit driven approach to
health care. It is Cuba that taught all of us that access to health care means access to preventative health care and this is largely dependent on primary health care. So, we continue to send students for training as medical officers in Cuba, and we must ensure that we build internal capacity to ensure that there are no problems of payments. This must apply to students in both Cuba and Russia. On that note, Minister, have we paid tuition fees of 2022 students we sent to Russia? And, why was such an embarrassment allowed to happen? Thank you.
The MINISTER OF HEALTH: Thank you for the hon member’s elaborate praise on the Cuban training system which is true. One of the things which from our side we acknowledge that we need to improve, is to make sure that we can take advantage of that and make sure that our graduates who come from Cuba help us to transform our own system. And for that reason, we are also looking at the Deputy Minister discussing with the counterparts in Cuba to bring some of the professors into South Africa so that they can help us to transform our own training into primary health care. Now the question about the Russian programme, unfortunately that programme was not a government to government initiated programme. So, it’s individual provinces which have got into agreement. It has got
us into some difficulty because even the verification of some of the institutions were not properly done but it’s a matter which we following up to make sure that also with the Health Profession Council we can verify and see those who are stranded because as you know Russia is part of our BRICS countries. We can resolve those matters. But I will check as to whether ... I know there were youngsters who were stranded but we will follow up if there are still those who are stranded. Through our Brics relationship, I am sure we can be able to solve the matter. Thank you, Chair.
Mrs M O CLARKE: Thank you, Chairperson, Minister students that are trained on home ground soil, not always placed, and we lose those students abroad, Minister. That’s something that we really need to look at in terms of the department. You can’t just concentrate on students that are trained in Cuba, we’ve a lot of students in this country that get good training should be placed as well and they deserve it. Given that Nelson Mandela Fidel Castro Medical Collaboration programme costs in between 41 400 US dollars and 121 000 US dollars per student. How has the department capitalised on the different skills set gained from sending medical students to Cuba and how’s the department ensures that these skills not only benefit local
medical training programmes but also the public health sector on the large scale? Thank you.
The MINISTER OF HEALTH: Thank you, hon Clarke for a change, the hon member acknowledges the positive effects of the training in Cuba. I am very grateful for the acceptance today. So, indeed, that is why I said earlier on, we do acknowledge that we have not used the maximum effect, the strength, especially of your primary health because the training in Cuba right from the first year, those students are taken into communities. They do community work; they do research to understand healthy living. In other words, staying healthy and detecting illnesses earlier, as a family and as a community rather than our individual health approach and curative approach. So, we do acknowledge and we will make sure that those issues are corrected. Also just to say that we don’t only pay attention regarding empowering our young people in the health sector in terms of the Cuban training programme, but also to work very closely with all the medical schools. We have regular engagements with all the Deans of faculty. We discuss in terms of the transformation or even the training contents to make sure that it meets the needs of our society. Thank you, Chair.
Mr A M SHAIK EMAM: Thank you, House Chairperson, Minister I agree with you, Brics is the way to go. Hon Minister, there are over a 1000 medical graduates in the country that are not being able to be placed by provincial departments because of limited funding, I would imagine. How do you envisage absorbing them, given the fact that we want to introduce NHI and we will need these additional skills or else, I think there is a danger that we might lose them? The skills are normally leaving the country. It’s a 1 000 of them graduated, but they can’t be placed in the country at this point in time.
The MINISTER OF HEALTH: I am not sure, Chair, whether I heard the hon member properly. Just in terms of graduates, we acknowledged those we have not been able to place. It will be South Africans who trained abroad, but only those who have not yet got their clearance by the Health Professions Council. But once they go through the proper accreditation by health profession, their board exams if they need to do so. Then, they are taken like all other graduates to be appointed into internship positions.
Secondly, those who are not nationals, who are not South African citizens because we prioritise South African citizens.
We know there is a pressure, people who are not citizens, but who qualify in South Africa we put them at the back of the queue. Where we have also difficulties after internship or community service because of the various budget cuts, provinces do have difficulty in terms of the compensation budgets or salaries budget. So, they end up not be able to absorb all the graduates, especially once they finished their obligatory or engagements in terms of internship and community services. That’s a matter which together with my colleague, Minister of Finance, you might have heard him during the budget speech acknowledging that this is a matter that must be addressed. He has given a clear commitment that we must work together to make sure that no qualified health professional is left without a job. It’s a matter which me, him and our teams are working on to make sure that it should be a matter of the past. Hopefully, the economy can grow and then he can collect more money and we can be able to look after all our young people. Thank you.
The MINISTER OF HEALTH: Hon House Chairperson, my colleague here is saying, I am earning my salary. That is true.
Hon House Chairperson, the question from the hon Chirwa was about the Pfizer vaccine that there were some misleading information. Now the answer to that is: We need to inform this House that from ourselves as the Ministry and department, but also from the regulator, we do not have a firm information.
This matter has been circulating in various media platforms. It also featured in British medical journal about an allegation that Pfizer do not submit to the regulators the full information. Once such allegation comes from a former employee.
One of the companies that was responsible for conducting trials of the Pfizer vaccine who that later alleged that certain information which Pfizer did not make available which had adverse information.
However, this information as far as we are aware, it is very difficult and it is still out of other including fake information because at this stage there is no clear proof that this has been submitted to the regulators, either in the other countries like the United States, US, and Europe where this Pfizer recometory vaccine has been used.
In our country, we have checked with the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority, SAHPRA. They have never received a formal complaint from any source with that firm allegation to can go back. For they depend on what has been submitted, but they also crosscheck with other regulators throughout the world before they approve any medicine including vaccines. The same thing has been done with Pfizer recometory vaccine. For until such time that we get from our own regulator and also from the regulator, I am sure o until they get a firm written information in terms of those allegations, I suspect it will be very difficult for this allegation to can be proven its substance that it is indeed true.
So, at this stage, as far as we know this remains an allegation, until those who are alleging can submit adequate proof to the regulators. Thank you.
Dr S S THEMBEKWAYO: Hon Minister, Pfizer has constantly lied about their medicines. With cases dating back from 2009, where Pfizer paid the largest health care fraud fine in the American government history. The SA Health Products Regulatory Authority alleged to not approved Sputnik and Sinopharm, initially due to the standing efficacy and safety requirements
that Pfizer has lied and misled the global community about. The SA Health Products Regulatory Authority however, whilst isolating the none Western science community for reasons that are eminent with Pfizer as well.
Why has not the response being to discontinue the Pfizer licence and approval in South Africa?
Are the people at SAHPRA taking money from Bill and Melinda Gates to keep quiet and look the other way? Thank you.
The MINISTER OF HEALTH: Hon House Chairperson and hon member, well what is true from what the hon member is saying is that there is a history in which Pfizer was found at fault in the US where they acknowledged and paid a fine. However, there is no way that on those basis when there is a new product – the company was disqualified to continue to do research and produce new medicines and vaccines. So, when the product does come through they have to comply with the requirements. Thus far despite even if the country where the hon member has correctly mentioned that there was the case, even in that country, a number of other products from Pfizer have been approved provided they submitted the information.
As I have said, SAHPRA does not simply depend on what they get as corroborative information from the other regulators. They also do their own due diligence to get various information.
However, also, just to say that the hon member is not saying that even though it delayed, but the Sinopharm was finally approved by SAHPRA. I am sure it is just that they are quite diligent in terms of seeking further information, but once the information comes through, they do acknowledge if the information is adiquate. Thank you, hon House Chairperson.
Mrs M O CLARKE: Hon House Chairperson and hon Minister, please advise if the Department of Health all Pfizers themselves announced that the covid vaccine prohibits transmission of the covid virus or was there a vaccine assessed on its efficacy and ability to prevent serious illness and possible death from covid?
There is a substantial difference between transmission and prevention of complications and if it was used as a preventative measure and given that a special platform was established to deal with the claims of harm as a result of the Pfizer vaccine: How many persons received the Pfizer vaccine and what percentage of those people vaccinated lodged claims
because of harm believed to be as a result of receiving this vaccine? Thank you.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr C T Frolick): Hon members, I want to remind you once again that one supplementary question, please. Proceed, hon Minister.
The MINISTER OF HEALTH: Hon House Chairperson, thanks a lot to the hon member for also clarifying a matter which I had not touched from the hon Chirwa’s question. For in her question, she also asked that Pfizer lied about stopping transmission.
So, the hon is spot on about the misleading information, because none of the COVID-19 vaccines were at any time promoted on the basis that they prevent infection, by a COVID-
All the vaccines were promoted on the basis that they were tested, proven to be safe, secondly to be effective in terms of reducing serious illness and especially in terms of death. More so in terms of those at high-risk, especially in terms of comorbidities and also advanced age. So, that is correct that in fact the allegation that any of not only Pfizer, but any
vaccines we used here and in various parts of the world at any stage were claimed to be preventing infection is never true.
Hon House Chairperson, in terms of the numbers again the statistics is available. We can make it available to the hon members in terms of the two vaccines we have used. We have a very good record in terms of adverse events. Again as we have never said there will never be adverse effect, but we said in comparison, the risk of adverse event as compared to the protection of the vaccines against serious illness and death is uncomparable in terms of the safety. So, those numbers are there. All that I can say at this stage is the risk of those who got adverse effects is very miniscule, but we can provide the numbers to the hon member and to the House. Thank you very much.
Mr N V XABA: Hon House Chairperson and hon Minister, thank you for the informative response that you have provided us. You are showing that you are not a person of allegations
My question to you is: What is the decision-making process regarding the authorisation of products from pharmaceutical companies administered in South Africa? Thank you.
The MINISTER OF HEALTH: Hon House Chairperson, the standard procedure is very well-established. In that either a manufacturer or a wholesaler or any pharmaceutical product needs to make an application to SAHPRA with the detailed information of the particular product in terms of its chemical and pharmaceutical makeup. You submit all the information, SAHPRA will then including various levels of clinical trials. Well not even clinical, but firstly, laboratory trials, animal trail and human trials. Once they passed all that, they must submit all the information to the regulator. The regulator looks at it and if they need any further information, they will then say to the company that it is still not enough please submit further information on a, b, c, d. That is where sometimes wholesalers and other people who are dealing with these products get very impatient, because the role of the regulator firstly, is to ensure safety first. That whatever is approved is safe.
Secondly, what is claimed by the producer or the seller of the product, is indeed effective in terms of what they claim that it can do and preventing or treating diseases. That is really the process. They are very diligent. That is why sometimes people get impatient, because they want to ensure that when
people consume anything which is claimed to be a medicine, vaccine or anything which is therapeutic it is proven to be safe and also effective. Thank you.
Ms M D HLENGWA: Hon House Chairperson and hon Minister, SAHPRA has approved Pfizer. Considering this: I would like to know the timeframe by which the generic version of Paxlovid will be registered in South Africa and how soon thereafter it will be made available in public hospitals? I thank you.
The MINISTER OF HEALTH: Hon member, indeed the product which the hon member is referring to is an oral treatment and also in the same line with the recometory injected vaccine showed to be effective especially for high risk people in terms of preventing serious illness. At this stage SAHPRA has not yet finalised as far as we know because of this very serious due diligence and notwithstanding that it is being approved in other countries. They still want to assure themselves that the product is effective and it is safe.
In terms of time frames, they are not able to predict how long it will take, because they must satisfy themselves that it is indeed it is effective. Once they have done so, we can then
make it available. Notwithstanding at this stage the cost is still a bit prohibiting. For even when it becomes available, we have to mitigate against the cost. However, the process will be completed. Thank you, hon House Chairperson.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND
INNOVATION: ... [Inaudible.] ... The students at Umfolozi Technical and Vocational Educational Training Colleges, Umfolozi TVET College, Esikhawini campus, were not protesting over the capping of accommodation as asked in the Question, but they were protesting around the lack of water in the area. The college is working with the city of to end the ... to the water to find a lasting solution to this challenge. In the interim, the college has been receiving water tankers and classes resumed on the 27 February 2023.
In respect to the NSFAS allowances, the department and NSFAS have introduced the new allowance category, a living allowance, and has significantly increased the college accommodation allowance by 61% percent, from R33 000 in 2022 to R54 000 in 2023. Thank you.
Mr S S ZONDO: Hon Deputy Minister, thanks for your response, but... [Inaudible.] ... onto the ongoing accommodation crisis that have been put: What measures have been put in place during the engagement that the Minister had with the private residents owners and NSFAS in order to meet the standard cap of NSFAS; and does the department has plans to take for those officials colluding with the private residence owners to suck or milk NSFAS through the high rates of student residence rent? Thank you.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND
INNOVATION: House chairperson, I think in the first place, the cap was introduced so that we are able to deal with collusion and also profiteering from some of the private accommodation providers. I think it is up to the institutions themselves, if they find that there has been a collaboration between university staff and private accommodation providers, for them to deal with those particular individuals. It is not up to us.
As far as we are concerned, NSFAS has put in place regulations and guidelines in terms of hoe accommodation issues should be dealt with. Similarly, each and every institutions have got their own criteria in terms of accrediting a private
accommodation providers, and this issue is dealt with in that way. So it is not in our hands to deal with any of the collaborators, but the institutions where the crime is taking place or the collaboration is taking place.
Ms C V KING: Deputy Minister, I just thought I was going to address Minister Stella Ndabeni. Pay for rental index data indicates on average rental is R7 786 per month and the lowest of these was in the North West at R5 222 per month. Given that today, this morning, we were told that there was no criteria that was set up, I wanted to find out from you, Deputy Minister: How is it then that NSFAS could cap accommodation at R4 500 per month, without any criteria being set up. Also, Minister, keep in mind that NSFAS is doing the accreditation, no more in institutions.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND
INNOVATION: The cap is actually R45 000. So, there are guidelines that have been put in place - nationally agreed guidelines - in terms of the criteria for accommodation that needs to be provided to students at a campus level. In any way, we are not starting a new regime in terms of accommodation provision at institutions of higher learning.
Mr A M SHAIK EMAM: Thank you, Chairperson. Deputy Minister, I think the problem is bigger and you are perhaps not aware of it. My understanding in engaging with owners of these accommodation places is that student organisations are threatening them. They want kickbacks. If they don’t get those kickbacks, they will burn those buildings. Alternatively, they are saying they will not allow their students to stay there.
Could you perhaps investigate this and look at who these student bodies are that are colluding with these owners? Owners have no option but to give a kickback to these people in order to be able to fill up their buildings. Thank you.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND
INNOVATION: Yes, we have been made aware hon Emam of incidents wherein their collaboration, not only by management but also by student leaders, who: Work with private accommodation providers; identify properties; take kickbacks or bribes in exchange for those accommodations being accredited by institutions; and in return forcing institutions to give those private providers those tenders. We have been made aware of those incidents.
We really want to call on, particularly, the student leadership who are involved in this... It is not a general problem, but there are specific incidents... We really want to call on the student leadership that are involved into this, that: firstly, we are compromising the quality of learning and teaching of students that they claim to represent, because in some instances these private accommodation providers - because they have paid bribes - give students shoddy accommodation that is below par. That is why we have had incidents wherein the safety and security of students had been compromised; and also the accommodation that they have been given is not conducive for learning and teaching.
Institutions have obviously been encouraged to ensure that all forms of accommodation meet particular criteria for them to be regarded as suitable for student accommodation. As to this criminality - because it is essentially criminality - has to be dealt with it. It has to be reported to the police and institutions have got to go deeper into these issues and deal with those staff members and student leaders who are collaborating with private accommodation providers, as a way, also compromises students in those institutions.
Mr W M THRING: Hon Deputy Minister, the ACDP understands that the capping of student accommodation allowances is an attempt to deal with the unscrupulous price gouging of student accommodation. Deputy Minister, the Student Housing Infrastructure Program has an ambitious target of some 300 000 student beds by 2030, at an estimate cost of between R80 to R100 billion, but currently only 9 721 beds have been completed, leaving a balance of some 290 279 beds to be completed over the next seven years at a rate of 41 468 beds per annum.
Deputy Minister, how does your department plan to reduce the backlog while simultaneously ensuring that the necessary regulatory processes are enforced to prevent corruption in the tender procurement process of the Ship program, thereby securing the necessary accommodation for our post high school students? Thank you.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND
INNOVATION: Thank you very much. I think the hon member insinuates that there has been corruption in the tender process of the student housing infrastructure programme, Ship programme, and I think if the hon member has evidence to that
effect, he should deal with it in an appropriate manner. As far as we are concerned, this has been one of the most successful programs - the student housing infrastructure program - which has led to more beds being available. Most of these beds are owned universities and not by private providers.
This has helped in alleviating the challenge of availability of accommodation in many of our high education institutions. However, I also need to emphasise that last year, the NSFAS convened a summit which included the university and TVET- college leadership. It also included the private accommodation providers and people who are interested in property because we are convinced that as government alone, we may not be able to meet the target in terms of accommodation demand.
From that particular summit, certain objectives were agreed to in terms of what the role of government is going to be, and also what the role of the private sector is going to be. We are hoping that from the implementation of the outcomes of that summit, we will be able to meet some of the standard. The reality is that, even by 2030, we may not be able to have all
students who go to university to achieve at college being accommodated at universities.
That is why all of these alternative forms of student accommodation are being provided, including giving students allowances so that they are able to identify places where they are able to be accommodated. So, this is more of a social compact that involves all the stakeholders within the sector, to ensure that we meet the demand of accommodation at our universities and our TVET colleges. Thank you.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND
INNOVATION: A comprehensive independent impact assessment which considered socioeconomic and environmental factors was undertaken for the entire Square Kilometre Array, SKA, construction footprint through the SKA strategic environment impact assessment during the period 2014-19. The outcomes and recommendation of the socioeconomic assessment process are being implemented through the Integrated Environmental Management Plan which was published in Government Gazette 436 and Government Gazette 42323 as amended.
There is no legal requirement to undertake further impact studies prior to the compilation of the valuation reports supporting offers for compensation to secure rights on privately owned land through servitude agreements. Rights of servitude are currently being negotiated with applicable land owners of approximately 1 400 hectares of land which are located across 73 portions of privately owned land covering approximately 330 000 hectares. The required servitude footprint accounts for 0,42% of the privately owned land that is being impacted.
To determine fair compensation offers, a professional valuer with extensive experience in land related matters was appointed, and the valuation was conducted in accordance with relevant national regulatory frameworks and professional industry standard. Individual land owners were provided with a valuation for the purpose of establishing a fair and equitable compensation for the acquisition of servitude rights. Due consideration was obviously given in respect of the actual financial loss caused by the acquisition of these rights as guided by section 12 of the Expropriation Act and section 25 of the Constitution of 1996. Thank you.
Dr W J BOSHOFF: Hon House Chair, to the hon Deputy Minister, maybe first I would just like to assist on the whole question of unanswered questions by Ministers. What the Speaker read to us is that they only obliged to matters under their control.
Now, clearly many of the Ministers don’t have their portfolios under control. Apart from that I would like to ask ... [Interjections.]
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND
INNOVATION: Well this portfolio ... [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr C T Frolick): Order, order, hon members. Get to your question, hon member.
Dr W J BOSHOFF: Hon Deputy Minister, it came to my attention that there was indeed in the specifications for the valuation a requisite that a social impact of the servitudes should be assessed and be a part of the valuation and that that in fact did not happen. It is not a standard procedure of valuation but then it was part of the specification for the servitudes and that did not happen. Also, I would like to know what can farm owners do when they are not satisfied with the valuation because it seems as if the economic impact on the farms are
deemed to be far higher than the valuations recognise? Thank you.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND
INNOVATION: House Chairperson, as I indicated in my response, there is no legal requirement for us to do the socioeconomic impact assessment, firstly. Secondly, a professional valuer was appointed to do the valuation and I don’t know if there is any other further body wherein the land owners can appeal the valuation. But as far as we are concerned we would be dealing with this case on the basis of what a professional valuer has given to us. Thank you.
Ms N I TARABELLA MARCHESI: House Chair, speaking on the socioeconomic issue, Deputy Minister, during our oversight at SKA and Sutherland Observatory sites we observed that there is some level of intervention from the Department of Science and Innovation to assist local schools with Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, STEM, subjects. However, if you look at your department’s performance for the third quarter report of 2022-23 you are nowhere close to your targets of doubling the current number of STEM graduates. Given that the Basic Education pipeline is failing on this front, how are you going
to improve your output of these graduates in order for you to meet your targets? Thank you.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND
INNOVATION: House Chair, that is a new question, can we provide the hon member with a written response?
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr C T Frolick): Hon Deputy Minister, I couldn’t hear you properly.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND
INNOVATION: I was saying, House Chairperson, that is a completely new question, can we provide the hon member with a written response?
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr C T Frolick): Thank you. The next follow up question ... [Interjections.]
Ms N I TARABELLA MARCHESI: House Chair, I have an issue with that because it talks about the SKA which was part of the issue and also he is also talking about a socioeconomic issue. So, it is part of the impact within the SKA area itself.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr C T Frolick): If you look at the question closely it clearly talks about calculating the percentage of the land value as compensation. That is the crux of the question that the hon Boshoff has asked. So, your question refers to another specific socioeconomic impact, and I suggest that you rather put a new question to the hon Minister because a supplementary ... [Interjections.] ...
Order, order! ... a supplementary question in terms of Rule 142(6) states that it must arise directly from the original question, and the reply given there to in may not constitute a new question. So, that is my ruling, hon member. I will proceed to the next follow up question from the hon Chirwa and Dr Thembekwayo will take it.
Dr S S THEMBEKWAYO: I will take the question. We have been part of the Square Kilometre Array project for more than 10 years now, and having been part of a project we are told that it tests and produce software programmes, has any of this work led to localisation and manufacturing of anything in South Africa where we can show our people evidence of our participation in the programme and the number of jobs that have been created and goods that we produce? Lastly, when will the headquarters of SKA relocate to South Africa, for a
change, if we are equal participants in this programme? Thanks.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr C T Frolick): A reminder, hon members, one supplementary question. Hon Deputy Minister?
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND
INNOVATION: Again, hon House Chairperson, if we were to give the specific number of jobs that have been created as a result of SKA, the impact that it has had within that area but also within the country and all of that, we will have to find more time to give you that information. Yes, there has been an impact and I commit to give you a detailed response to your question in terms of the impact that the SKA has had and all the other related questions that you have asked. Thank you.
Mr S S ZONDO: Hon Deputy Minister, one of the key priorities for the Department of Science and Innovation is to develop and offer regulatory environment for the protection of indigenous knowledge systems. Considering this, I would like to know whether this priority is being exercised and how it should be beneficial to the communities that are nearest to the site of the development for the SKA.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND
INNOVATION: House Chairperson, the three follow-up questions are somewhat related because they have to do with the impact that we have had. Maybe just as a broad response, we talk about local skills development which has been a huge impact, creation of jobs and employment of local people, and there has been huge support to local small, medium and micro enterprise, SMMEs, contractors, local schools — because the hon member from the DA was asking for specifics in terms of STEM — but there is also a whole range of community projects and initiative which are for instance supporting local farmers in that area. So, there has been a huge socioeconomic impact.
What we strive to do with the Square Kilometre Array has been to protect whatever indigenous knowledge systems that have been existing around there and find a way within which they can be incorporated within the entire project. I think, as I have indicated to the other two members, we will provide specific details in terms of the impact that the SKA had beyond what the original question was asking us to do.
The MINISTER OF WATER AND SANITATION: Thank you very much, Chair.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr C T Frolick): Order, hon members! Order!
The MINISTER OF WATER AND SANITATION: The department runs a hydrology model which indicates the level of restrictions required to try and avoid day zero, and restrictions have been implemented as deemed necessary. Severe drought necessitated that the Algoa Bay system in Nelson Mandela Bay be placed on strict water restrictions of 40% for domestic use and 80% for agriculture ... [Interjections.] [Inaudible.] ... Now through this ... [Inaudible.] ... other investigations, the department is fully aware of the on-going drought and it’s up-to-date with the current situation ... changes regularly.
The current storage capacity of the dams at the western side of Nelson Mandela Bay as a city, sits at 12,7%, and ... of that only 6,89% is available for use, but it is also declining. There are many steps that have been taken in Nelson Mandela Bay to avoid day zero, but we have ongoing discussions with the municipal council there. And two, section 63 allows
us to intervene in situations like that one that arose there and to use it to intervene in Nelson Mandela Bay. We appointed Amatola who reports to our implementing agents and are working closely with Nelson Mandela Bay up to now. Now, they have required technical capacity to implement these interventions and actions and if necessary this will be supplemented by engineering and scientific expertise from the Department of Water and Sanitation and Amatola Water Board. Now the department provided funding to construct a ... [Interjections.] ...
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr C T Frolick): No! Hon members, those who are on the platform, please ensure that your microphones are muted. May I ask the Whip of the member who is responsible for that to communicate with that member, because it is really disrespectful to the member on the floor for interrupting them like that and also disconnect that member please. Hon Minister
The MINISTER OF WATER AND SANITATION: So this Nooitgedacht Water Treatment Plant provide the Nelson Mandela Bay with additional 70 mega litres per day from end of March last year. Now, we also conduct Algoa Bay system on a monthly basis, just
to make sure that the system is monitored and adjusted accordingly. The department provided funding for Kouga Local Municipality. This was to bring relief to the system - to Nelson Mandela Bay because they also use the same system and we wanted them to get some ground water for themselves, which has worked in terms of reducing pressure on Nelson Mandela Bay. And over and above all that, we have given them 20 water tankers for their own use. But I must add that we also have drilled, even assisted by the private sector, on a lot of boreholes in the area, and we are also helping them to apply restrictions and adjust them according to the demand. Thank you.
Mr M A TSEKI: Thank you, House Chair. Positive response indeed hon Minister, on the technical initiatives by the department. We should call the people of Gqeberha for them to ask for divine intervention. We know that many areas in our country we are receiving a lot of rain and in some areas it’s also flooded. What is the mitigating and adaptation strategy on climate change risk on drought? And, how is the department engaging the people of Gqeberha to support the usage of water sparingly? Thank you.
The MINISTER OF WATER AND SANITATION: The last part of your question, we had countless engagement sessions with the municipality there where the communities of different areas of the municipality and with the private sector formally, including with the agricultural sector. So we had extensive consultations with them. As far as climate change is concerned, Nelson Mandela Bay alone is one very dynamic area in the whole country. It rains in the city. It doesn’t rain in the mountains. Nelson Mandela Bay get supplied by dams that are a 100 kilometres or so away towards the west. You can get totally wet in the city and almost get drowned, but then it won’t make any difference on the dams until it rains on the mountains. And for the last eight years - this is year number eight - without serious rain there and that is why the dam levels are just above 12%.
With the rest of the country getting more supply of rain that they need, there is in part due to climate change. What is it that we are doing? We are doing all the kind of things that we say we are doing. We are going to be embarking on Phase 4 of Nooitgedacht. In other words, upgrade the plant there so that from stage 1, 2, 3, then we are going to be putting another water treatment plant. But we are exploring other things with
the private sector including their ... [Inaudible.] ... and all other measures. Thank you.
Mr M G E HENDRICKS: Thank you very much, House Chair. Chair, I am a members of the Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation. We went to visit Nooitgedacht and we were shocked to find out that the figure that the Minister has given us doesn’t apply. Eighty percent of water in Nooitgedacht goes to the fruit trees and 20% goes to the people, and the river supplying Nooitgedacht, there is abandoned water, but there seems to be a deliberate attempt to get more people to die of thirst in the Nelson Mandela Bay. What is the Minister going to do about ... there are interventions that he is getting, because 80% of the water on Nooitgedacht is going to the trees, and only 20% for the people? Thank you.
The MINISTER OF WATER AND SANITATION: That matter is a matter that we can only discuss with Nelson Mandela Bay. Firstly, to establish those facts. That is not our understanding necessarily. But that is where we will get the best answer.
But we will also check with our water boards. But I doubt that 80% goes to the trees. This is the first time I get to know that. Thank you.
Mr L J BASSON: Thank you, House Chairperson. Minister, to increase the capacity of the Nooitgedacht Water Scheme could cost up to R1,5 billion. Minister, is it not time to invest in a 50 to 70 mega litres sea water desalination plant in a metro to stabilise the water shortages as you have just mentioned that it’s the eighth year in a row that there is no water in the area? If situated corrected Minister, it could be connected to a pipeline within one kilometre of such a plant. This plant could be built for less than R700 million, and this could also stabilise the economy and the water supply in Nelson Mandela Bay. Your view on that, Minister?
The MINISTER OF WATER AND SANITATION: We have given due consideration amongst others ... [Inaudible.] ... But we find that the output may be a little bit expensive for the people. But of course, that doesn’t mean that we should discard the idea. We are engaging with Nelson Mandela Bay and we are hoping that in due course, those in the private sector who may be interested - because it is quite an expensive thing - even though some of the private sector pointed at ease with which they can do that. But the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality must approve because it will be theirs. That is why we are engaging with them. We can only assist and only help. But we are even
contemplating of doing this thing like they do in minerals and energy. This thing of windows, to say to the private sector company that might be interested, here is a window, you bid and if Nelson Mandela Bay is happy and other coastal cities are happy with such bids, they can then enter in the agreement, with us only facilitating. Thank you.
Mr B N HERRON: Thank you, House Chair, and thank you, Minister. Minister, the dam levels in Nelson Mandela Bay have apparently dropped below 12% in this week. In Cape Town, residents are currently urged to cut consumption or being warned of low dam levels. In Johannesburg, collapsing infrastructure, and fluctuating dam levels runs the risks of flooding the one month and not being able to run efficiently the next. So the water crisis is not confined exclusively to Nelson Mandela Bay. While much of this crisis can be attributed to drought and planet and infrastructure failure, we surely want to avoid a collapse similar to Eskom’s load shedding and avoid water shedding. So what plans does the department have to ensure water security on a national level, in a water insecure country? Thank you.
The MINISTER OF WATER AND SANITATION: South Africa is well known in the whole world. It is amongst almost the 33 countries in the world that are water scarce. You go on a campaign to give people information that we are in a water scarce country and therefore use water sparingly. But secondly, it is to build water resource for security of water for the whole country, and that is what we are doing in big schemes.
As far as I know, in terms of our projects currently, almost all the provinces, we are providing them with quite large schemes, including Gauteng Phase II of the Lesotho Highlands Water Scheme. But of course, what may seem to be what ENCA associated with a crisis in which we deny. South Africa is not in a crisis as far as water is concerned, because the dictionary meaning of crisis is extreme difficulty. In a sense that we have water available but the problem is managing and getting water services to people. Therefore, we are on to that. On the 13 we will be sitting with all the municipalities in Gauteng just to look at the deficiencies in terms of pipes and all of that. As far as load shedding is concerned, yes, it does affect our supply because it depends on pumping water for the pumps, water treatment plants and so on. And from time to
time it does interfere with the supply of water. And it would look like there are problems even though water is there but we can’t get to it. Thank you.
The MINISTER OF BASIC EDUCATION: Chair, the Deputy Minister was meant to take the question, but she had to travel to the Free State because we are both going to attend the memorial service of the late MEC.
Chair, the response is that the department does have a framework for national school safety, and we do monitor it. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr C T Frolick): Hon Minister, my apologies. Can you just mute the microphone of that hon member and disconnect that member, please? Please proceed, hon Minister.
The MINISTER OF BASIC EDUCATION: I am sorry, Chair, we are saying the Department of Basic Education does monitor the implementation of the framework for the national school safety in all the districts. It is an overall strategy that we use as
the basic education sector to ensure that our schools are safe, and are conducive environments for learning and teaching.
Through our provincial departments, we also monitor the development of the implementation codes of conduct in schools because these are done by schools with their different stakeholders. The codes of conduct contains acceptable learner behaviour standards, and all parents of a particular school have to sign a code of conduct.
The provincial departments of education also do offer psychosocial services and support to learners and teachers who have become victims of violence and trauma. In most education departments, these services are based at a district level.
There are also protocols that we have with the police, which ensures that every police station is linked to a school. As a result, specific police officers are deployed to work with schools to prevent and reduce violence. We also work very closely with the Department of Social Development to also support us with psychosocial services. Thank you very much, House Chair.
Mr A M SHAIK EMAM: Hon Minister, many schools have been employing what we call safety ambassadors to identify learners that are coming from dysfunctional families or unruly learners
- so as to nip it in the bud - to prevent these learners from becoming criminals at a later stage. I know you said there is engagement with the SA Police Service and Social Development. To what extent is Social Development and SA Police Service coming together once these learners have been identified, follow up with the community social workers in those communities so that we can create a better society preventing these learners from recruitment by criminal syndicates? I thank you.
The MINISTER OF BASIC EDUCATION: Thank you very much, Emam, we use a district model system as a sector, where every district we have ... we have psychosocial teams which interact with schools, but in every school, we have a teacher who has been trained and dedicated to be even a mentor or life orientation teacher, who refers learners to these districts model.
At a district level, that’s where you have social work departments and social workers employed by the department, who also then work with the police and nongovernmental
organizations, NGOs, that work with children and everybody else. So, we do have structures in every district which are dedicated to deal with that, but at a school level, there is always a champion that works with that.
Through the Progressive Youth Alliance, PYA, we were able to have young people to interact deeper as young people in the sports field, but it is a privilege that we had with the PYA, They are not part of our structure, and therefore not part of our budget. But our district model does serve the purpose of ensuring that we do exactly what you are proposing, Emam.
Ms M E SUKERS: Hon Minister, poor behaviour in schools can only be addressed through a functioning and an effective system of discipline in schools - principles of the Children and Child Justice Act. If the Minister does not know, will the department conduct an audit? As the current Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill does not incorporate principles from the Children and Child Justice Act into the South African Schools Act, especially with regard to discipline in schools, is the Minister willing to see the Bill amended to do so?
The MINISTER OF BASIC EDUCATION: I think Mme Sukers will agree with me that children’s behaviour is not even a school’s issue, it is a societal issue. We experience different social behaviours depending on the environment within which the children come from. If children find themselves in an area where there are lots of gangsters, those social behaviours will come to school. Therefore school by school - from our experience about how social behaviours manifests themselves - we deal with them. Most of them come from home, and that it is children who have difficult backgrounds. That’s why at a school level, you already have a teacher who works with other colleagues to help identify children who have social problems and try to get to the root of where the problem is coming from, and refer those to the district where there are skills, that’s if they can’t deal with the problem at a school level where they can interact with parents. The Basic Education Amendment Bill is an amendment of the existing education Bill, and is dealing with specific issues that have been brought to our attention. The question of student behaviour is an everyday thing that we are dealing with and which is not necessarily being dealt with by the Basic Education Amendment Bill because it was not meant to deal with it. There is a framework that I have referred to, and that’s what we are
using. We don’t need to use the Act for everything else. If the safety framework that we are using is inadequate, then members have to raise it, but the Act is not supposed to deal with everything in the school yard. Thank you very much, House Chair.
Mr B S YABO: Minister, changing the behaviour of children and learners requires multiple role-players, from families, communities, religious institutions, and social culture. The department can only play its role in schools. What developmental programmes and mechanisms does the department have to support learners to improve their behaviour? Thank you very much, House Chair.
The MINISTER OF BASIC EDUCATION: It is very correct that the social behaviours of children is a societal issue. That’s why as a sector, we partner with NGOs that deal with different things, for example, sports, and all other activities that we know do help children. We deal with religious institutions, school governing bodies, and parents because it is a multisectoral as the member is saying. Therefore, working with those partners, we then attend to specific problems, and individual problems, and support those children who find
themselves in a difficult situation. As Emam has said, sometimes it is the very victims themselves who become villains. Depending on a case by case, at a school level, we find ways of supporting those learners. So, the member is right that it is a multifaceted issue, and therefore the approaches are very diverse depending on what the issues are on the ground or in a specific case. We do support learners as much as possible. Thank you very much, House Chair.
Mr N S MATIASE: I will ask the question on behalf of hon Mashabela. Minister conceding that the problems of unacceptable behaviour is a societal problem, and admitting that the nature of these problems is psychosocial, and that there are about 10 000 social workers who are home unemployed, do you consider an urgent need to employ these social workers and place them at different schools and ensure that this problem find some practical solution than to shift goal posts and blame society on something which you need to address as a Minister of Basic Education?
The MINISTER OF BASIC EDUCATION: I thought I explained how we deal with the matter. We know that if you can’t discipline learners, you can’t teach them. So, it is a priority for us.
That’s why we have systems in place ... [Inaudible.] ... district team, which is multiskilled, that helps us to deal with this problem. We are not shifting posts, we are taking responsibility ... [Inaudible.] ... and manage discipline, so we can’t manage our schools. So, it is a priority for us and there is no shifting of posts. The framework does confirm that we are dealing with the issue. The fact that we have district teams, which have social workers – I said we have social workers in our employ – working at district level with teams. Those social workers are the ones that ... we don’t need to employ others because we have the social workers that we need in schools in those district teams. We work with NGOs who also have specialised skills in other areas, because you can’t find one social worker who is able to deal with all the challenges that are there. So, we go for specialist social workers if the problems are deep, and sometimes not even societal, are personal, and are individual to the kids. So, NGOs help us.
The point I am making is that we are not shifting posts but dealing with the problem because it is very important for us to deal with. Thank you very much, House Chair.
The MINISTER OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: House Chairperson, may I start by congratulating the women in the House. Today is International Women’s Day, I’m wishing the women the best in their struggle for women emancipation and also thanking the Deputy President who is now in the House and congratulate him.
In answering the question hon House Chair, I wish to start from the point of our constitutional prerogative and our constitutional obligation which speaks to social security and social security being acknowledged as a fundamental human right and is enshrined in the Constitution.
And section 27(12) of the Constitution of South Africa, clearly stipulates clearly that everyone has the right to access to:
1. Health care services, including the reproductive health care.
2. Sufficient food and water and,
3. Social security including, if they are unable to support themselves and their dependents, appropriate social assistance.
And that is what we have to fulfil as the government of South Africa. But also being specific to the question, because I’m raising this issue of the Constitution House Chairperson, because there’s got be an appreciation of our dealing with such issues as the basic income grant. And why we want the basic income grant to be considered and to be adopted as another means of social protection for our people.
And therefore the basic income grant has been a topic of debate in South Africa for a long time. And I don’t wanna go back to the historical perspective but simple to say that the idea of course was muted during the Taylor Committee on Social Security for South Africa. But with the advent of COVID-19 and its devastating socio-economic impact on the poor.
The Department of Social Development in answering the question which one asked them; what is going to happen once the R350 Social Relief of Distress, SRD, Grant is over. It was then that the department pulled the document and policy proposals on the basic income grant. And what was also interesting, was that key sector of our society responded positively towards it, including many members who are in the House today.
So, in this light the Department of Social Development, DSD, Portfolio joins hands with partners and independent research institutions to access economic modelling and appropriate policy option to our consideration.
Key among these was the appointment of an expert panel on Basic Income Grant Support in 2021, which assess the appropriateness of a system of Basic Income Grant Support for South Africa and to advice on complimentary policy options, such as labour activation, linkages to economic participation and policy reforms towards the comprehensive social protection system as envisaged in the National Development Plan.
House Chairperson and hon members, the panel use model techniques to test 14 different scenarios, including universal and means test option to provide the basic income support. The panel concluded that current COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant should be used as a starting point, since it was set at an affordable level that would not present a very high fiscal risk for government.
However, the panel cautioned that such an approach would take longer to achieve a significant positive impact on poverty
alleviation, depending on how quickly and by how much the value of the grant was in place over time.
Then, there was the second expert panel which comprises of specialist in micro simulation modelling in the field of social protection, computable generally economic modelling and public finance was appointed in 2022. And the panel conducted costing analysis of further options, focusing only on the short and medium term addressing the following.
COVID-19 SRD Grant as presently implemented. Comparison of finance options between personal income tax and value added tax. Assessment of equity and poverty impacts of the grant versus a wage subsidy or a combination of the two. The economic implication at provincial and national level including household consumption and sectoral output changes.
Therefore, the panel concluded that depending on its finance model, the Basic Income Support can be introduced as a fiscally and economically support sustainable manner, while at the same time having a material impact on poverty income inequality if implemented.
And yes we have a commissioned a rapid assessment on the utilisation and implementation of social COVID-19 grant. Thank you.
Ms N Q MVANA: House Chairperson, thank you very Minister by responding to my question, but I would like to know that since social development is about empowering the people for
self-liberation, and income support is a safety net to comfort the poor. What development linkages has the department facilitated and create transition support beneficiaries to sustainable work and education opportunities? Thank you.
The MINISTER OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: House Chairperson, I would like to take the hon member back to the historical perspective of the fact that the democratic government of South Africa under the leadership of the ANC has implemented numerous poverty alleviation measures, with social protection being at the centre.
All these are done to ensure a better life for all. And as a result of campaigns aimed at promoting the right of access to social protection. The number of social grant beneficiaries has increased significantly. And in particular the child
support and disability grant. While on the one hand the increase of beneficiaries’ number represented success of the mitigation of poverty and even hunger on the part of historically disadvantaged people on the other hand.
This has given rise to questions about sustainability or South Africa social protection system. And, it is for this reason House Chairperson, that as a department we are looking at a much broader comprehensive social assistance.
And we have a document which has already been done by the department, which will be presented both to the portfolio committee at some point and of course hopefully to Cabinet itself. Because we believe House Chairperson, that the overall responsibility of social assistance is not just the responsibility of the Department of Social Development alone. It is a broader perspective that we need to look at broadly, hence our social security systems need an overhaul.
When we talk about an overhaul, it is one thing that would also include our proposals in as far as addressing the very issue that the member is speaking to. In terms of ensuring that people are able to sustain themselves, they are able to
find jobs where there are jobs. That’s why we believe that when more jobs are created, there’s less people who are going to be depended on social grant, especially the younger generation. Because when you look at the people who we spending money on, in the main we are spending social grant particularly on child support grant.
And so we agree with the member, that this comprehensive social security net that is needed, it does need an overhaul and we’ve already started that process. Thank you very much House Chairperson.
Ms B S MASANGO: House Chairperson, hon Minister while the high percentage of people in South Africa is unemployed, the cost of living is at all-time high, the introduction of the basic income support will be more than welcome. However, hon Minister you only ever mentioned this much needed support, every time there would be an election. This therefore confirms that the hon Minister is using the basic income support for electioneering. Otherwise, why is there not one cent for this support in the Finance Minister’s recent budget? Thank you.
The MINISTER OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: House Chairperson, thank you very much for that follow up question. In fact, we brought back the basic income grant to on the basis that this government of the ANC had introduced the R350 only for a year.
It was only at that point, that I personally had to ask the question to the department. When the R350 is done and the people are still struggling and suffering from COVID-19 and all other challenges of unemployment and inequality, what are we going to do thereafter?
The department pulled out a document which had been developed a long time ago by the Taylor Committee, that really was saying to South Africa we need the basic income grant. And therefore, I put that document back because I looked at it not only from the point of view of the COVID-19 and its impact. I looked at it as a document that was going to help us, lift our people back.
And hon Masango, the ANC has got many, many other means of campaigning for elections. If you recall yourself, this document was brought to the portfolio committee on the basis that we were trying to see, what else can we do once SRD is
over. And therefore we pulled some document that should have been on table. That should have been adopted in as far as I am concern a long time ago.
So, we bringing it back not because of elections, we bringing it back because the need of the people on the ground, when it comes to poverty, unemployment and inequality need us, the ANC to step up and may I venture to say, it needs all of us, the private sector, civil society including yourself hon Masango. You need to be there to support us on this because it will make the change necessary for the poor people of South Africa. Thank you.
Ms L L VAN DER MERWE: House Chairperson, hon Minister while the IFP would welcome the rollout of the basic income grant it is not clear how it would be funded as our country faces deep and distressing economic challenges.
That being said as I’ve pointed out before Minister, South African Social Security Agency, SASSA is in deep trouble. Its land lines don’t work, emails go unanswered, SASSA is notorious for its long ques and its systems being in offline. The elderly often sleeps in the rain outside offices or stand
on the heat for days on the end. SASSA now also routinely makes late payments due to technical glitches and the Postbank running out of money.
To make matter worse, SASSA has lost over 10 billion due to fraud and corruption over the past 10 years. Minister, you spoke about an overhaul, but it’s clear SASSA needs to be fixed before you consider rolling out a big. Do you agree and if so what interventions do you have in place or you will be rolling out, in order to fix all of the challenges at SASSA? I thank you.
The MINISTER OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: House Chairperson, thank you very much hon Van Merwe, yes I agree that in some instances where SASSA is supposed to deliver we still have some challenges there. And yes, I have said over and over again we have to take responsibility in those areas. And it is for this reason hon Van der Merwe, that I am saying to SASSA, long before we can even think about the role out of the basic income grant when the time comes for us to do that, let us fix the systems and I’m sure you will also agree with me that since I started in this department. You have seen the
difference; you have seen the change albeit not as fast as it is supposed to be.
Because, I am of the view that SASSA needs to really transform better into using technology to service our people in terms of the social grants. Because in today’s and with today’s technology there’s no longer a need for people to be standing in the ques this long.
But also there’s an issue of assisting our own communities to understand, that when the money is in their account, it’s in their account and many a times they don’t necessarily have to go and que in long ques.
But when it comes to the post office and the Postbank, I agree with you, we have some challenges there. But as it is, as even of yesterday, the department together with the post office and the Postbank were having meetings where they need find solutions. We will get there, hon member, we are very conscious of the challenges that we face on the ground. And we understand the pain that is faced by our people.
I am doing my best to really drive SASSA towards removing and reducing the challenges that they have and they are promising and I can see the improvement. And I am hoping that in this financial year in particular, a lot of the changes must be seen in the beginning of the new financial year, by the 1st of April 2023. Thank you.
Mr B N HERRON: House Chair, and thank you Minister. Minister as you indicated the access to social security, is a right not a gift and we would add that this does not mean we give up on an economy that creates jobs. There had been enough feasibility studies on the need for this social security and the impact that would have on our economy and on poverty.
And as you indicated, the implementation of the Basic Income Grant is also ANC policy – confirmed at your 55th Conference, when you resolved that the ANC supports the introduction of the Basic Income Grant as a means to address the challenges of poverty and inequality and further directs government to speedily work on the policy option and parameters that are acceptable.
The ANC also resolved that it should be linked to the food poverty line which is about R660 per month. So Minister we are surprised that the SRD Grant was not increased in the budget that was tabled last month. And that the budget review continues to regard the SRD Grant as a temporary grant and as a fiscal risk. But Minister, when do you expect to implement the ANC policy resolution on the implementation of the Basic Income Grant? Thank you.
The MINISTER OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: House Chairperson, thank you very much hon Herron. And I fully agree with that we must not give up on the economy. As I indicated earlier on that the best for the people of South Africa is when the economy is growing, when there are more jobs that are being created, when people can wake up in the morning and be able to find the jobs and work for themselves.
But, however as far as the slow pace of that is concerned, it remains our constitutional responsibility to take care of our people. And I agree with you, the SRD Grant was only extended until the next year, which is 2024. I can tell you, my department together with SASSA, together with those that really want to see this happening, we are working much closer
with the Department of Finance, that is Treasury and I am working quite closely also with the Minister of Finance, to look at how can we ensure that firstly the R350 itself is increased as it is seen as the stepping stone towards the basic income grant.
But at the same time, hon Herron we are very conscious of the fiscal challenges that South Africa has but we are also saying while that fiscal challenge is there, we must not lose sight of the fact that people are poor, people have got absolutely nothing.
It will be better for us to have the Basic Income Grant where people can have something to rely on and the money goes back to the economy in any case. So the struggle continues in as far as convincing my colleagues and the Department of Finance to look positively towards the R350 and its extension and increase when possible, as well as the introduction of the Basic Income Grant. I thank you House Chair and I thank you, hon Herron for your question.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M L D Ntombela): The next question is Question 113 by the hon Masango to the Minister of Social Development. The hon Minister! Apparently the Minister is gone.
Mhlawumbe uzobuye abuye futhi.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M L D Ntombela): Hon Minister of Social Development!
The MINISTER OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: Hello, Chairperson?
USIHLALO WENDLU (Mnu M L D Ntombela): Buya lungu elihloniphekile Mageba.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M L D Ntombela): The hon Masango has posed Question 113 to you.
The MINISTER OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: My apology Chairperson. I could not hear you at all. I’m back now. Thank you, hon Masango for that question. The 2017 contract between the South
African Social Security Agency, SASSA, and the South African Post Office, SAPO, for payments of social grants was terminated in September 2022, because SAPO ceded the contract and all its rights and obligations to the Postbank. As a result, Postbank started dispersing the social grants from October 2022.
The master service agreement, MSA, is currently under review. It will be concluded by the next month. As I indicated earlier when I was answering the other question, that I’m aware that the Department of Social Development, SASSA, post office and Postbank had their meeting yesterday. I’m hoping on my return that I will get a better report to this.
Because the agreement is between two government agencies, it does not have an end date. But an 18-month termination notice period. This is to ensure that should any of the two parties withdraw from the agreement, sufficient time is available to contact another service provider.
SASSA has a calendar for payments of social grants with the first three days dedicated to payments of older persons, persons with disabilities and children’s grants respectively,
through the national payment system, NPS. Thereafter, the disbursement of social grants continues at cash pay-points.
This question is always asked by some people as to why we have so few cash-points. I want to also indicate here, as I have pointed out that the cash points are quite expensive for the department. And there’s less people now who go to get their money through the cash pay-points. And again, I go back to the fact that we want to be able to use new technologies. We want to be able to use new means, which are closer to our people in the payments.
The beneficiaries have a choice to either receive their social grant payments directly into their personal bank accounts or to use the method identified by SASSA, which is to open a bank account with Postbank. This enables clients to access cash at different access channels throughout the payment cycle. In this way, if one channel fails, beneficiaries have the option to use the channels available to them. SASSA is engaging with various role players in the NPS, to encourage further expansion of the payment options in order to give beneficiaries maximum choice, access and convenience.
Chairperson, let me take this opportunity to remind all beneficiaries whose cards are expiring at the end of this month, to visit their nearest Postbank to replace those cards. There has been communication and I’m not saying it now because I’m answering questions. There has been communication by the Postbank and SASSA to this effect. I thank you, Chair.
Nk B S MASANGO: Ngiyabonga Sihlalo, ...
Thank you, hon Minister for your response. When SAPO was brought on board, it was largely due to its footprint. We all know that SAPO now has no foot, let alone the print. The agreement has now been ceded over to Postbank, who also has no footprint and struggling to keep its doors open. This while the SASSA Act No 3(a) states, and I would like to quote:
The objects of the agency are to act eventually as the sole agent that will ensure the efficient and effective management, administration, and payment of social assistance.
And 16-years later, SASSA, has still not implemented these provisions of the law in full. Why has SASSA refused to institutionalize the payment of grants and stop outsourcing its mandate to the detriment of millions of South Africans and loss of millions of rands?
The MINISTER OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: Thank you very much, Chairperson. SASSA has not really refused. May I also make the member aware of the fact that the entire process of payments of social grants and all is not something that can be done... well, you are counting 16-years. Yes, I agree with you. But when you consider the fact that we always have to look for the best way and the best options of paying and using less money to pay. Right now, I fully agree with you, SASSA is spending a lot of money even in the payment of the R350,00. We have had to pay a lot of money to the banks or anyone else who is supposed to assist us with the payment.
It’s an ongoing work. It’s work in progress in improving our systems. But I can assure you that SASSA has not necessarily refused, it is doing its best. Maybe its best is not good enough at the moment. But I can assure you that we will continue looking for the best options to make sure that our
social grand recipients get their money with less pain. Thank you, Chair.
Mr P A VAN STADEN: Hon Minister, between March 2018 and December 2019 criminals stole around R56 million from Postbank accounts. In October 2021, the Postbank suffered a loss of at least R90 million in cybercrime attacks. In August 2022, they lost R5.8 million in a cyber attack. In October 2022, the system suffered another cybercrime attack and lost R9-million. This past December it was further noted that over a three- month period more than R18-million was lost to cyber attacks.
Hon Minister, what will your department do to ensure that incidents such as this are not continually repeated, and beneficiaries of social grants suffer due to the mismanagement and inefficiencies at the Postbank, with no solution offered by them?
The MINISTER OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: Thank you very much, hon member for the question. Yes, it is something that we need to appreciate and understand it from a broader perspective, that cybercrime is something that the whole world is suffering from. And therefore, the need and importance for South Africa
as a government overall... of course, working with the private sector, because it doesn’t only just affect government, it also affects the private sector.
It is important that overall, government, all the structures that are supposed to deal with cybercrime, also assist us in firstly, ensuring that we strengthen and lock our systems in such a way that it becomes very difficult for criminals to get into. But secondly, SASSA is at this particular moment, doing everything it can to improve its system. To get the latest system that we can get to assist us with that. And of course, the challenge for us is that the best systems that come along, they also come at a huge cost, where we need to then be able to find the money.
With regard to mismanagement of the post office and the Postbank, I’m sure that working together with the Minister, we will have to really consistently and continuously engage in finding the best solutions. I know now that Minister Mondli Gungubele is the new Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies. We also have to work together with our Security Cluster overall to assist us in ensuring that we stop the
bleeding of money from our system due to cybercrime. Thank you Chair.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M L D Ntombela): Hon Mvana, please ask your supplementary question. I pass. The last supplementary question will be asked ... [Interjections.] ...
Ms A S HLONGO: Sorry Chair, It’s hon Hlongo, I will ask the supplementary question on behalf of hon Mvana. Minister, the SASSA, can significantly transform the financial sector and support state financial sector institutions such as the Postbank.
Umbuto utsi, ngutiphi tinhlelo netindlela i-SASSA kanye ne- Postbank lenato kukhulisa kabanti... [Kuhlaba luwimi.] ...
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M L D Ntombela): Hon members, there is a lot of noise. What is it about? Is there a point of order? Hon Radebe! Order hon members!
Ms R M M LESOMA: Thank you very much, House Chair. I rise on a point of order. It’s an ANC arrangement and they can’t interfere with it. They are out of order.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M L D Ntombela): Hon members, if I need assistance I would be humble enough to request you.
Please don’t help me when you are not invited. Hon Mvana, can your supplementary question be repeated?
Ms N Q MVANA: Minister, SASSA can significantly transform the financial sector and support state financial sector institutions such as the Postbank. What are the plans and strategies that SASSA has with the Postbank expected to create distribution capacity?
The MINISTER OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: Thank you very much, Chairperson. Hon Mvana, thank you for your supplementary question. SASSA is currently pushing money directly into an account chosen by a client or the Postbank account. We refer to that action as payment. The bigger crisis is with regards to the ability of the clients to withdraw money dependency to the national payment system, NPS, infrastructure on availability of withdrawal infrastructure and related
alternatives. On the other hand, the current budget allocated to SASSA is not for, the NPS withdrawal ecosystem or related infrastructure, because that has never been the mandate of SASSA.
As an expansion of infrastructure for Postbank, the SASSA team is sometimes unable to confirm that the Postbank is the one best suited to respond to the question on the basis of their business model as a bank. For now, we can confirm that the two entities, SASSA and Postbank are still in the negotiation room. Therefore, we are unable to predict the final outcomes as SASSA and Postbank are still engaging on the possible change for the MSA, including element relating to alternative channels to be used by clients to withdraw their money from Postbank. Thank you, Chairperson.
Ms P MARAIS: Minister, we know that there are plans to get certain banks, including the bank owned by the Ruperts, to play a greater role in the distribution of social grants, but also to make social grants buy certain financial products because they are introduced as affordable, such as funeral covers for R30,00 or R50,00 per month.
This is why they want to create a state bank out of the Postbank. That is weak and does not have a footprint in the rural areas. Because they are busy auctioning post office infrastructures for very little value. As the Minister of Social Development, do you believe that we should remove tendering and build capacity through Postbank ... [Inaudible.]
... and be the only distributors of social grants so that our people in rural areas and township can get their social grants on time?
The MINISTER OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: Thank you, Chairperson. The infrastructure in our rural areas is something that we, as the Department of Social Development together with SASSA believe needs to be improved so that our people do not necessarily have to be traveling long distances to access their social grant.
We also believe that those that have got infrastructure that is easily accessible and quickly accessible to our people either the banks or the post office and the Postbank itself. Those are the infrastructures that we want to see improving even in the rural areas. And by the way, we also would like to see not only the banks being the ones that are able to assist
our people in accessing the social grants. We also want the shops in the rural areas to be able to do that so that people don’t have to be traveling. Because the banks that you are talking about, hon member, people always have to travel to towns to access those banks. Even the bank that you are proposing I doubt that that bank will go out and open branches in far-flung areas.
Our approach as a department together with SASSA is, let us look for the new ways which are easily accessible to our people, including the fact that people can be able to access goods in particular, in the properly registered spaza shops or any other shops that can be there.
Hence, we are working with the Department of Small Business Development to make sure that we make this. And we turn this into a reality where our people don’t have to struggle and be getting into buses very early in the morning to go and access their money. Thank you, Chair.
The MINISTER OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: Chairperson, I wish to thank the hon Bilankulu for the question. On 13 February 2023
the Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs declared the National State of Disaster in terms of the Disaster Management Act, Act 57 of 2002 in order to enable an intensive co-ordinated responds to the impact of floods they are affecting Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu- Natal, Limpopo, Northern Cape and North West.
Emergency events require a co-ordinated national and regional responds to ensure that affected community’s needs are met and that recovery actions enable and empower community resilience.
As part of our role in Disaster Management the mandate of the Department of Social Development in our portfolio. I mean, the Department of Social Development, SA Social Security Agency, Sassa and National Development Agency, NDA, is to ensure protection against vulnerability by providing a comprehensive social development service and to promote wellbeing of the people.
At the national level, we contribute to the whole of government approach through the Special Intergovernmental Committee Disaster Management, which is led by Minister of Co- operative Governance and Traditional Affairs. And immediately
after the declaration of the National Sate of Disaster, we activated our disaster response protocols by conducting assessment and profiling of affected households in order to determine the immediate needs.
Chairperson, I do want to indicate that, we do not work in isolation. We make sure that when it comes to National Disasters, we sit in the necessary meetings at national level and at provincial level, which is National Nejo and provincial jog where we must make sure that there is a co-ordinated effort in responding to the needs of our people. And therefore, through a partnership approach the Department of Social Development Portfolio were collaborating with provincial departments development and donor agencies and NGOs and lead the national co-ordination of humanitarian responds with specific focus on the hardest hit areas. It is at this point, Chair, that I also do want to consistently and continuously thanks the Non-Profit Organisations, NPOs, and the Non-Governmental Organisations, NGOs, who always step up to assist us in this.
As a department, our own going intervention in affected communities’ include psychosocial support and sometimes people
take it for granted that psychosocial support is something very small but psychosocial support is what they need and our social workers always step up to it. Then the provision of Social Relief of Distress, SRD, in the form of cash, food vouchers and school uniforms, vanity pads, cook meals, blankets and mattresses. And as a government leads department in co-ordinating humanitarian responds we work with many partner organisations that we are grateful for their support. I thank you, Chair.
Ms N K BILANKULU: House Chair, happy International Women’s Day to all women in the world. Hon Minister, Disaster Management capacity is critical to ensure financing for disasters in its available local, provincial and national government have sufficiency system and capacity to respond to various disaster impact. Hon Minister, what Disaster Management system and capacity is required to enhance government’s response to natural disasters by all three spheres of government? I thank you.
The MINISTER OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: Chairperson, may I take also this opportunity in responding to the member to actually call upon our communities and to call to us all who have to
respond to the issues of Disaster Management that the best Disaster Management is that of preventing many a times when we know that there is going to be a disaster. firstly, it’s always important for us to be able to communicate with our people on time so that they can also be ready on the ground when the disaster is going to start unless it is the kind of disaster that we cannot for tell but for the disaster that we know, we must be able to assist our people.
Right now, Chairperson, one of the things that are being saying to the department in its portfolio is that every year we now know exactly where the rains are going to be heavy and we now know the impact of that disaster. And therefore, we need to be ready for that long before they happened and so our system must start with us not being reactive but our system must start with us appreciating and understanding the current type of disasters that we have and the Disaster Management Act
57 of 2002 provides for an integrated and co-ordinated Disaster Risk Management Policy that focusses on preventing or reducing the risk of disasters mitigating the severity of disasters preparedness and rapid and effective respond to the disasters.
In terms of the Act, each national organ of state must determine its role and responsibility in relation to Disaster Risk Management and accesses its capacity to adhere to the requirements of the Act.
The primary responsibility of the Department of Social Development is to ensure the provision of comprehensive social protection services against vulnerability poverty within the constitutional and legislative framework and creating enabling environment for sustainable development. Hence, for instance, the social guts, we will also be seen as contributing tords cautioning the most vulnerable. In the context of Disaster Management, the department serves to contribute to reduce the vulnerability of poor communities by providing short-term relief to the vulnerable notwithstanding the importance of short term relief. Thank you, Chair.
Ms A L A ABRAHAMS: Minister, the committee minutes’ presentation and report of the Ad Hoc joint Committee on Flood Disaster Relief and Recovery highlighted at least eight Department of Social Development intervention that could have been handled better at the time. And since the Minister acknowledged the value of social workers and cycle social
support lets focus on that one highlight in the report. The report says that there was a lack of social workers required to provide cycle social support to flood victims. For example, KwaZulu-Natal has approximately 2 000 trained but unemployed social workers, the situation as the same in other provinces. If the disaster had to happen tomorrow, Minister, have more social workers been employed to adequately deal with the valued psychosocial services to victims whose numbers can reach into the thousands during a time of the disaster? Thank you.
The MINISTER OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: Thank you, hon Abrahams, and you know that as usual that’s my pain too, the pain of ensuring that we get more money in our budget in order for us to employ more social workers. But also, I have said the responsibility of the employment of social workers’ must not be a responsibility of the Department of Social Development alone. We, actually are working, we have had conversations, very serious conversations with Treasury as well as the Minister to say what else can we do to look out into employing as many social workers as we possibly can. We are winning that battle but we are not winning it as fast as we possibly can.
And I would like to say that even though we have not been able to employ all these social workers, you are asking me a question about what would happen if a disaster was to happen. Let me tell you, one of the things that I have appreciated so much was social workers who are very conscious of their responsibility as just a social worker who have step up to say whether we are being paid or not we are going to do our best because of the challenges that we are facing at a given moment and you speak to KwaZulu-Natal. I really want to thank many of the social workers in KwaZulu-Natal who step up but they also know that we are here for them. We are here to really continue to pick up on ensuring that the department as well as all other government departments and all other institutions, including the private sector would help us in ensuring that as many social workers as possible are employed. Thank you, Chair.
Ms L H ARRIES: Hon Minister, there is something disturbing in the department of Social Development and you as the Minister you are not paying attention to it. We received report that the department is failing to pay NPOs on time and the returning back money as much as R80 million because of failing to pay NPOs. These NPOs are not there to help members of the
ruling party who appears living comfortable despite high levels of poverty and inequality. Some NPOs are forced to closed the doors. Why must we believe that this assistance you are talking about here will happen when you are failing to pay these NPOs in time and even in these flooded areas, which is the truth in any case. Thank you.
The MINISTER OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: Thank you very much, hon Arries, for that question that you are posing. Hon Arries, I have and I am on record indicating that this Department of Social Development pays R82,2 billion to NPOs and this department has consistently insisted and rightfully so as according to the NPO Act that all NPOs that need to be paid, that need to be given money must also be accountable. They must make sure that their records are in order. They must make sure that everything that the department demands of them is done. And this is one of the biggest problems that we have in South Africa where some of our NPOs are not accountable and there is no way that we as the department can be given money to NPOs who are not being accountable. And please, don’t misunderstand me to be saying that all those NPOs you are talking about maybe are not accountable. But I can tell you I have actually requested the department to say to them
department bring a report to me that indicates, which are those NPOs that have not been paid who are accounting, who are making sure their books are in order. If you have any of those NPOs, hon Arries, who you feel have not been paid but they have been accountable please send those to us. We will look into it. Thank you.
Ms L L VAN DER MERWE: Hon Minister, in order for Sassa to serve communities in distress they need to be reachable but I wish to report as follows in KwaZulu-Natal alone: Sassa’s Durban Office Pinetown the advertised number does not exist. Sassa Pietermaritzburg, the number is unavailable. Sassa Richards Bay, there is no responds. Sssa Inanda, phone number is not available on the network. Sassa Potchepston, the number does not exist. Umbumbulu, goes to voicemail. Sassa Kwamashu, there is no answer. And at the national call centre when you dial the national call centre it cut you off without selecting your option.
Minister, clearly this is not good enough. Can you please give us a detail plan as to how you plan to fix and strengthen and overhaul Sassa so that actually accessible to the people that require Sassa services? Thank you, hon Minister.
The MINISTER OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: Thank you, hon Van der Merwe, for highlighting those areas. I will follow up on the specific offices that you have referred to. I will follow up specifically with regional manager from KwaZulu-Natal and I will follow up also with regard to the call centre itself as to what the challenges are. We want at all times to ensure that our services are available to our people and when you raise such issues as you know I take them up very seriously.
The Sassa is actually going to be presenting as you are aware we are going to our new financial year and the new Annual Performance Plan, APP. One of the areas that I have requested that I would have to look deeper into is when they present their operational plans with regard to services and particular the services which are related to the services which are supposed to be delivered to our people. As the portfolio committee, I will come to the portfolio committee with a full report and I am sure you will appreciate when we bring the APP of 2020, 2023-25, you will be able to see what we plan to do in as far as making those changes and improvements are concern. Thank you.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND
INNOVATION: Thank you, House Chair. We manage the supply and demand through enrollment planning. This process is a collaborative process between universities and our department. The aim of achieving optimal admissions of students and programme development increasingly taking into consideration labor market demands demand considerations.
The enrollment planning process conducted in 2022 effectively included trilateral discussions between the Department of Higher Education, Science and Innovation and the Department of Basic Education and each public university to arrive at the agreed funded headcount and full-time equivalent student totals for the academic period up to 2025 and the financial period up to 2027-28. That covers the medium part component of the question within the context of system parameters and government priorities.
During the enrolment planning process, the priorities that were set included increasing access and participation to and in high level occupationally directed programmes that must be matched to available resources to enable the Higher Education system to deliver on its teaching mandate effectively. The
Higher Education system must contribute to the National Human Resource Development Research, I mean, the National Human Resource and Research Development and Innovation priorities in order to develop a skilled and capable workforce. The planning process culminated in the production of the Ministerial Statement on student enrollment and planning for 2020-21, 2025-26 for the university sector which sets the planning framework for institutional development within a wide array of policy initiatives and development in the post school education and training system.
Our department has been producing monitoring reports on enrollment plans annually. These reports provide an overview of the size and shape of the system, student success rates, publication units, staff-student ratios and the proportions of staff with doctor of philosophy, PhDs, in relation to the targets that were set for each institution through the enrollment planning process managed by the department. This component is very crucial if we were to expand the post school education and training systems availability of capable staff with doctor of PhDs, and all of that.
For this analysis, the projected target for 2021 as agreed in the approved Ministerial Enrollment Plan and the actual 2021 Higher Education management information system data were used for the assessment. We also used the central application clearing house to assist universities to realise their targets and students to find spaces which are still available in universities; private Higher Education institutions; Technical Vocational Education and Training, Tvet, colleges; work integrated learning opportunities like the sector education and training and apprenticeships. Thank you. That is the response, hon Chair.
Mong T W LETSIE: Ke a leboha ntate.
Thank you very much for your response, hon Deputy Minister. Before I ask my follow up question, I think it is worth noting the pattern at which the DA clap hands, I think it is safe to say that hon Marchesi will be deployed to Harvard very soon.
Hon Deputy Minister, noting the increase in the use of digital technologies in education and an increase of access and connectivity in the country, how can online education
contribute to increasing enrollment targets and the capacity of Higher Education system as a whole? Thank you very much. Harvard!
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND
INNOVATION: Thank you, House Chair. Look, we obviously see online learning as an augmentation of teaching and learning at all material times and obviously that it will not replace your traditional universities. In our current circumstances where we have challenges around data costs; issues around energy supply; issues around the cost of information technology, IT, software licenses and all of that being exorbitant, obviously, we will have to take all of those factors into consideration to expand online learning. However, most of our universities and universities of technology have been offering online learning as an option. Sometime early last year, the Minister appointed the Ministerial Task Team to look at the possibility and potential of online learning in South Africa.
So, we see this as an alternative in order for it to alleviate the burden on the system. In fact, one of the largest institution in the continent and competing with some of the biggest universities in the world, which is the University of
South Africa, is taking a huge chunk of the student component at university level. So, hon Letsie is right that online learning is just but one platform that will help us alleviate the challenge and pressure that we have in terms of the demand of post school education and training in South Africa.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M L D Ntombela): The second supplementary question is by the hon Zondo. The hon Zondo!
Uphi uMthiyane? Siza, Ndabezitha.
Mr N SINGH: Hon Chair, he should be in the House or another colleague can do it ...
An HON MEMBER: ... or he is covered ...
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M L D Ntombela): ... go ahead, hon Chief Whip. Who is taking it?
An HON MEMBER: No, they are covered.
An HON MEMBER: ... [Inaudible.] ... does come back after ... [Inaudible.] ...
Ms C V KING: I will be taking it, is hon King. Deputy Minister, we have seen that Universities South Africa, USAf, has reported to us that first time entrant applicants at the University of Cape Town, UCT, was 102 813 and UCT only had
4 039 spaces available. At Wits University applications of first time entrance was 100 000 and Wits University only at
5 552 spaces available. This, Minister, taking into account the exorbitant increase of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, NSFAS, over the years from 30 000 when it started to now over 1 million beneficiaries. Are there any plans in place to ensure that the scope of private institutions is being broadened to fill the gap by public institutions? Thank you.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND
INNOVATION: Thank you, House Chairperson. I think it is important that we make a distinction between people who apply at universities and the available spaces because we should all know if we did go to university or a Tvet college that when you apply, you don’t apply to only one institution. So, people apply to multiple institutions. The consolidated statistic
which has been used by hon members in the opposition to suggest that the demand is actually higher than the available spaces and that that gap is disproportionate it is actually false. I think we need to clarify that. Yes, students apply at UCT but the same students also may have applied at Wits University or the University of Venda. It is not about how many people applied at a particular institution it is about the available spaces.
So, in the last 10 years, hon House Chair, the system has grown, of course, significantly and partly because of our contribution. In 1994, university students were at 400,000. Today as we speak, the students who are going to university are close to 1,2 million. With the plan of expanding university participation by 2030 to 1,6 million. There are plans also to ensure that we expand the Tvet sector. You know, that growth is driven by the investment that government has done into the sector, yes, that is important.
Also, we can disaggregate those statistics in terms of gender participation and in terms of racial participation which shows how significantly the post school education and training system has significantly changed. One of the things which I
think is the key question here is: Yes, there has been a much bigger demand for post school education and training but it doesn’t mean that we are not doing our work, firstly in order to meet that demand. However, we should also be careful not to exaggerate the extent of the crisis in order to meet certain political interests. Thank you.
Mr T MOGALE: Thank you very much, Chair. We know that there is a lot of corruption happening in the institutions of Higher Education dealing with accommodation. Back we were told that in one of our institution of higher learning, Sol Plaatje University, there is an official there by the name of Shikwambana who only accredits property owners who are willing to pay bribes. Mrs Molahloe is a black woman with property business who they are refusing to accredit even though her property can accommodate students sufficiently. We maintain that the long term solution to deal with the crisis of student accommodation is to take municipal buildings in and around institutions of higher learning, renovate them and accommodate students.
However, we must also expropriate abandoned buildings that are now used for crime and hijacked buildings and turn them into
student accommodation. Deputy Minister, do you have a list of all municipal buildings around institutions of higher learning that we can convert into student accommodation?
The HOUSE CHAIRPESON (Mr M L D Ntombela): Just before the response of the Deputy Minister, I need to caution here that it is a bit not comfortable to quote names of the people that are not able to defend themselves using Parliament as a platform. As a caution, please, let us take care of that. Hon members ...
... ukuphoqoza kuthanda ukuba kuningi.
There is a lot of noise, so, it is difficult to hear what members are saying. Nevertheless, now that COVID-19 has been dealt with maybe you need to shorten the distance between yourselves as you whisper, it will help. Just shorten the distance. Hon Deputy Minister.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND
INNOVATION: Thank you, hon House Chair. I understand for the
hon member this stage may be way too big but we should forgive him because this is effectively a follow up question to a question that was asked earlier on around accommodation.
Nevertheless, I am in a good mood I will respond to that question. Firstly, we are not the landlords, we do not go around collecting information around property owners and all of that. That is the work that is done by the universities. The policy guidelines are very clear in terms of which accommodation is appropriate to accommodate students, in which areas and all of that.
I think in those cases where property owners that the hon member is representing or speaking on whose behalf - the private property owners - if they feel that they have been discriminated we can take up that issue with the university management so that they pursue it internally based on their own processes. The process should obviously be open, fair and be transparent. All property owners who qualify should be given an equal opportunity for them to participate in this. We see this not in the context of big accommodation private providers but we also see this as an intervention as it relates to the local economy.
Many small property owners have significantly benefited as a result of the allowances that are given to students specifically for accommodation and so we also see it within that context. I think it is important that if there are cases where certain property owners believe that they have been unfairly discriminated, it is a matter that we know we should be able to take it up with the university. As I said earlier on when I was responding to the first question that: If there are instances of bribery or of interfering with tendering process and approval of accommodation by either staff members or student leadership, we encourage universities to deal with all of those things because it is to the detriment of the students themselves. Thank you very much for that follow up question.
Inkosi E M BUTHELEZI: I will take that, hon Chair. Hon Deputy Minister in trying to balance the supply and demand - and you have alluded to your plans - as the department to make sure that you are able to manage that - and we trust that you do have the capacity to do that - what I want to know is that: In the short and long term, do you think your department is able to provide or deliver quality education even where there is this high demand? Thank you.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND
INNOVATION: Thank you very much. I think as I indicated as part of my response, hon member, that not only are we looking at expanding the system in terms of participation rate, building new infrastructure and all of that but also training academics. We are also training academics in master’s and PHD levels in order for us to invest in the quality of the education system in this regard. Earlier in the morning we were also briefing the portfolio committee on the work that we are doing improve the quality of education at a Tvet level.
The question of the availability of lecturers and all of that. Of course, you know that growing the system will come with its own challenges. With the growth that I have illustrated since 1994, and some of the lessons that we have learnt we have been able to invest resources, form partnerships with local institutions but also with international institutions in the training of our academics in order for us to guarantee the quality of our post school education system. Thank you.
The MINISTER OF BASIC EDUCATION: Thank you very much, House Chair, but also thank you very much for the question. In terms
of activities that we have in place to ensure that we increase a number of learners who are enrolled in science, in maths, in engineering and technology we have put in place the following programmes: One, we’ve established maths and science directorates both at provincial and national level with the necessary capacity to ensure that there’s effective co- ordination, support, monitoring and alignment of the mathematics, science and technology, MST, education activities across provinces. We also continuously review our maths and science curriculum offerings responding to the skills required for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in both the general education and training, GET, which is your senior secondary, and your further education and training, FET, which is your matric phase, which is equally critical that appropriate content and methodology is evident in the teaching of maths and science.
Thirdly, we are also cognisant that given the introduction of skills required for the 21st century in line with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, Stem, some of those include marine studies, nautical maritime, aerospace, robotics space, space sciences aviation and e-commerce and entrepreneurship, and that’s why we’re also on an ongoing
basis review our curriculum. Indeed, teacher development remains a very critical dimension of a maths education programme and needs to be based on an audit of our teachers’ competency levels and the development and approach programmes based on content and methodology. We are again providing appropriate facilities equipment and learning support to make sure that, indeed, the programmes are highly supported. And finally, our National Assessment also includes National Senior Certificate standardised and, the members will be aware, we participate in both regional and international assessments to make sure that, indeed, we can benchmark ourselves against our peers in the continent, but also internationally to see how we as a country compete at that international level. Thank you very much, House Chair.
Ms N G ADOONS: Thank you very much, House Chairperson and Minister. Minister, low uptake of science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects is also linked to the apartheid Bantu education system, which instilled a philosophy and psychology of Africans not being capable of succeeding in maths and science fields. Since the democratic government many black South Africans have entered the science, technology engineering and maths professions. Minister, how does the
department focus on the girl child and changing the false philosophy of Stem subjects being difficult does the demoralising learners? Thank you very much.
The MINISTER OF BASIC EDUCATION: Thank you very much, House Chair. Indeed, as we reported also to the portfolio committee, the progress that we’re making is not at the level that we wish to have, but the fact remains that, indeed, we are improving year-on-year the number of learners who participate in maths and also pass maths. It is not been an easy task and we’ve been looking at different ways including, especially grant from Treasury to deal with the sin of apartheid which I think the worst sin that they did was around education and denying children the right to education.
On the girl child, you’ll be surprised, member, girls are outperforming boys in maths and science. They outperform boys in terms of participation, and I think our new problem now is the boy child and see how we make sure that as much as we support the child, get the girl to participate in maths and science the boy child is not left behind. However, the last count I had it was about 54% were girls who were participating in MST, which means our girls education programme or support
or advocacy is working out, but we have to be very careful that we don’t leave the boy child too much behind. Thank you very much, House Chair.
Mr B B NODADA: Thank you so much, House Chair. Before I start, I would like to on behalf of the DA send our condolences to the family of the member of the executive council, MEC, in the Free State, Ntate Makgoe, and the colleagues in the ANC.
Minister, the reality is that six in every 10 Grade 5 children have not acquired basic maths knowledge while 59% of Grade 9 learners have not acquired basic maths. The reality is that there are not enough Stem teachers and subject advisors compared to the international counterparts South African teachers performed dismally in Stem subjects where the marks as low as 36%, many not able to pass tests in the very subjects that they teach. This contributes to the poor uptake and development of foundational literacy. And sadly, the victims of these are millions of learners who suffer in our schools. Therefore, uptake must be balanced with auditing our teachers, skills-based and ensuring that they are adequately trained to improve the quality of teaching in the classroom and not simply focusing on quantity of the uptake.
Therefore, Minister, what has the department done to audit educators competency levels followed by the successful training of these teachers, particularly in Stem subjects including innovation, and finally, how have you managed quality outcomes in the classrooms of those that are trained to improve the literacy level? I thank you.
The MINISTER OF BASIC EDUCATION: Thank you very much, House Chair. Thanks for the question, Ntate Nodada, and I will, indeed, pass a condolences of the DA to the Free State ... [Inaudible.] ... and also to the sector. The memorial service is going to be tomorrow and the funeral is on Sunday. However, I will, indeed, pass the condolences.
House Chair, member Nodada is throwing back to me statistics that he got from us. Member Nodada does not send kids to go to international assessments, we send them and report to the public. Therefore, he’s telling me what I know that the performance that teachers don’t ... he has no capacity even to assess teachers, but because we are a department we assess teachers and share information with members of the public, but also with members of the portfolio committee. Therefore, in
terms of what we do again member will know what we said that we’re doing.
Some of the plans I was raising, House Chair, are in response to the facts that, remember Nodada rightfully quotes, but unfortunately, does not acknowledge the source, and we call it plagiarism so that he must say you said, then I will answer to say that yes, indeed, I told you that, we reported that and this is what we’re doing. However, what I mentioned, so I don’t want to repeat what I said, House Chair. The response is exactly to respond to the things that member is raising and appreciate that we have a common interest to making sure that we can deal with the problems that we report and we are gladly opening ourselves up to being monitored and being called to account ... [Time expired.]
Mr N S MATIASE: Hon House Chair, I will take this question on behalf of hon Mashabela. Hon Minister, I think you need to consider that you’re presiding over a collapsing education, especially primary and high school. This crisis I don’t know why the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology is not here because clearly there is no co-ordination and synchronisation between the two layers of our education
system. There is misalignment, kids are being taught what universities cannot offer, and what universities teach our kids is not what the labour market demands.
Now, hon Minister, with his number of students who passed matric most of them have passed maths and science subjects. With the challenge of no spaces at universities and technical vocational education and training, TVET, colleges where these kids should go to? Can you please address the structural crisis you and your government have created for our kids?
The MINISTER OF BASIC EDUCATION: House Chair, the member ...
Uhlanganisa izinto ezingahlangani.
You know, if there’s no spaces at universities is not a sign of misalignment between us and higher education. There’s high alignment, we have working teams on matters which are common between us. As the Department of Basic Education on some other aspects we’re a client of higher education, like in teacher
development, in research, like all other faculties. However, in terms now of aligning university admissions to basic education, I just think the member is really mixing oil and water. These things are unrelated that the system is collapsing, I don’t know what he’s talking about.
Therefore, we’re reporting on an ongoing basis and we’re confidently and we have evidence to say with all the challenges in the system which we’re not denying it is a system on the rise. It’s a system that is making progress both internationally, if you look at our international outcomes we’re not going back. Even locally we can give evidence that we’re making progress. So, the collapse I don’t see where it is, perhaps member at some stage can show me where he saw the cracks so that we can all have a common understanding around this collapse he’s referring to. However, I’m denying the fact that we have a collapsing system, we have a growing system which is on the rise. Thank you, House Chair.
Mr M HLENGWA: Hon House Chairperson, I will take the follow-up question. Hon Minister, obviously a lot of the learning and teaching taking place in schools in so far as science and technology is concerned is dependent on the availability one
of laboratories, access to technological capabilities, which require electricity. The question then becomes what has been the impact, and what is the impact of load shedding on learning and teaching, particularly in these key areas of science, technology and engineering which, of course, an integral part of the country’s growth development and its own futuristic ambitions? Thank you, House Chair.
The MINISTER OF BASIC EDUCATION: Thank you very much, House Chair. What we can’t deny is the fact that, indeed, load shedding has a negative impact on education as in other sectors. However, what we have the lucky for as the department of education is that we teach during the day, we benefit from the natural light. Therefore, in terms of light in classrooms we don’t have a problem. Member, I’m sure he’s just not too young not to have learnt maths during his time. We didn’t need anything during the day to teach maths. We needed whatever we could. Therefore, which what we’re doing in the schools. We didn’t need electricity, and also in the school I went to there’s no electricity. We did our experiments also without that. The fact of the matter is that, indeed, load shedding has a problem, but ...
Masingabi nehaba, senze intaba ngento engekho.
... it is a problem, but let’s not exaggerate because with us we’re affected, but let’s not exaggerate the fact and then bring it to maths and science that we can’t teach maths and science because there’s load shedding. Go to our schools, we are teaching it daylight, 12:00 there’s light. Thank you, House Chair.
CONSIDERATION OF 2023 FISCAL FRAMEWORK AND REVENUE PROPOSALS AND OF REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE ON FINANCE THEREON
Mr M J MASWANGANYI: Chairperson, Deputy President, hon Ministers, Deputy Ministers, hon members, condolences to the family of our colleague the hon Mauricia Gillion. We are presenting the report of the Standing Committee on Finance on the 2023 fiscal Framewotrk and Revenue proposals. The Minister had tabled the Budget, 2023 National Budget, before Parliament on 22 February this year. As the committee we welcome the Budget tabled by the Minister as it has positive developments. Amongst others is the additional funding that has been
allocated to safety and security, address shortfalls in the compensation budgets in provincial education, retain additional health workers appointed during the pandemic, support the provision of free municipal basic services, rehabilitate damaged municipal infrastructure and address the backlog in the refurbishment of provincial roads. We welcome the Minister’s announcements on mega projects which we believe are going to trigger economic growth. We hope that South Africa will become a construction site. We also acknowledge the accelerated roll-out of telecommunication infrastructure. Significant reforms are being implemented in the SA Revenue Service, Sars, to maximise tax revenue. Lots of job opportunities were created through the Expanded Public Works Programme, EPWP.
Regardless as it may, we are presenting this report against a difficult situation globally and locally. The global economy is experiencing several challenges including the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, Nato, induced Russia-Ukraine war, a cost of living crisis caused by persistence and broadening inflation pressures and the slowdown in China which will affect its growth prospects.
Domestically, the growth outlook still faces significant downside risks and some of the downside risks include high levels of unemployment, rising fuel and food processes, electricity supply constraints and deteriorating infrastructure combined with tightening financial conditions. We also have a problem of elevated domestic inflation and the rising interest rates which exacerbate existing social inequalities and create vulnerabilities in South Africa.
Unemployment is continuing to rise. We are witnessing a situation where graduates are applying the social relief of distress grant, SRD, grant.
We are also tabling this report against the background of South Africa being grey listed which is going to have serious impact on the economy. As the committee we note that the 2023 Budget strikes a reasonable balance between growing the economy and ensuring fiscal sustainability, maintaining expenditure over the medium-term and providing tax relieve to households and the economy.
The committee recommends that the National Treasury should report on progress made in implementing structural reforms including the master plans of the Economic Reconstruction and
Recovery Plan every quarter. The committee recommends on revenue that Sars should continue to intensify revenue enhancement initiatives to collect maximum revenue due to the government to enable it to deliver on its constitutional obligations.
On expenditure issues, the committee notes the underspending on the SRD grant which is a big component of the Second Adjustment Appropriation Bill and that a review of the qualifying criteria, needs to be undertaken. We might also have to look or to review the social grant regime including the issue of the basic income grant, BIG, which was discussed earlier on.
On debts, the committee recommends that the National Treasury reports quarterly on the effectiveness of its debt management strategies that will ensure that the level of debts stabilises over the medium-term as expected, and that extra budgetary costs do not increase the debt level further.
On the state-owned enterprises, SOEs, the committee recommends that in light of the immediate risks posed to the fiscal framework, the National Treasury’s efforts to bailout SOEs
should be accompanied by strict conditions and the implementation of consequence management so that the money allocated must reflect value for money.
On grey listing, we want to indicate that this Parliament rose to the occasion by passing legislations and regulations hence the deficiencies that have been identified by the Financial Action Task Force, FATF, have nothing to do with this Parliament, but they have more to do with the law enforcement. The National Treasury should compile a comprehensive response plan or action plan on how they plan to tackle the issue of FATF grey listing and report back to Parliament through the committee.
On the Public Procurement Bill, the committee recognises the need for the National Treasury to address the legal and other challenges affecting the Public Procurement Bill and recommends that this public Bill should be brought to Parliament. Minister, in your last appearance you promised that the Bill would be tabled this March. We hope that before the end of this month you are going to table it. This Bill is very important because in the last legotla of the ANC that was held in January, there was a resolution in this respect
because it must address the issue of the broad-based black economic empowerment, BBBEE, and it reads as follows:
The black economic empowerment, BEE, and related procurement policies must be strengthened and decisively so as to contribute to inclusive economic growth and reduce barriers to entry for black businesses.
It is important that this Bill should be brought here so that we are able to strengthen the policy and the legislative framework to counter the pushback by the right wingers who are always taking government to courts to reverse the gains of this government.
On the issue of the widows’ voice, hey, George, you must come and support me here. Don’t make noise more especially on the BBBEE. Don’t come and say other things here.
The CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Hon member on the podium, please, don’t ... [Inaudible.] Hon members, don’t interrupt the speaker.
Mr M J MASWANGANYI: On the issue of the widows’ voices ...
The CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Hon Maswanganyi! Hon members, please, don’t drown the speaker. You can heckle, but don’t drown. And the speaker must not engage with the hon members. Thanks.
Mr M J MASWANGANYI: Drawing towards conclusion, there was an issue about the widows. We had an organised formation called the Widows’ Voice. As the committee we attended them and we are still going to attend to the issues that they have raised. The committee recognises that individual tax concerns cannot become public, but recommends that the National Treasury and Sars provide a comprehensive report on their previous engagement with the Widows’ Voice and progress report on this matter from the date of the publication of this report until their next quarterly briefing. Our colleagues in the NCOP are going to meet these organised formations starting with the Widows’ Voice. I think it will be in Pietermaritzburg.
The CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Hon Vuyisile, don’t do that again.
Mr M J MASWANGANYI: Lastly, as a committee we would like to acknowledge the work done by the Cabinet by declaring the
national state of disaster on electricity. We hope that the sooner this matter it is resolved is going to solve lots of problem in terms of the economy and the households which are suffering as a results of constant load shedding. Therefore, I move for the adoption of the report.
Dr D T GEORGE: Chairperson, the Fiscal Framework results from the policy choices that government makes about the people’s money. National Treasury projects economic growth of 0,9% this year, while the Reserve Bank projects 0,3%. In nine of the past 12 years, Treasury has overprojected growth and we face the real prospect of recession this year.
Under this failing government, all South Africans are getting poorer in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis. Households are battling to put enough food on their tables, unemployment levels are unsustainably high and relentless electricity blackouts are crushing opportunity. South Africa’s inclusion on the Financial Action Task Force greylist and government’s support for Russia in its war on Ukraine will have significant
negative economic consequences. Government is pro-Russia, as evidenced by the late night visit of a Russian vessel to Simon’s Town. Government won’t tell us what might have been loaded onto that ship in support of Russia’s war. Naval exercises with Russia and China are making our trading partners in Europe and North America particularly uncomfortable. It is likely that the USA will not renew their African Growth and Opportunity Act, Agoa, agreement with South Africa in 2025, unless the government in South Africa changes next year.
Major reforms are required for South Africa to thrive economically. This starts by removing government-imposed barriers to growth, such as the failed market-distorted model for black economic empowerment and cadre deployment. It is possible to create a dynamic, enterprising economy with market forces and individual freedom at the forefront that can halve unemployment by 2030. A so-called developmental state model with a dysfunctional state at the centre of our economy will never achieve this outcome.
South Africa is the lagging factor for Southern Africa’s economic growth and is making the entire region poorer.
Attracting foreign capital is crucial for promoting local economic growth. This requires market liberalisation, property rights enhancement, trade openness, regulatory streamlining and cutting red tape, private-sector development, the scrapping of exchange controls and a visa system that works.
The DA will do this when we govern.
Encouraging domestic savings for investment in the economy can be done by reducing barriers to entry, promoting competition and changing employment, crushing labour legislation. We need increased tax-free interest on savings accounts, increased limits on tax-free saving and generous tax incentives to assist small businesses and entrepreneurs. The DA will do this when we govern.
A R15 000 rebate for domestic solar panels is hopelessly inadequate and an insult to hardworking South Africans who can’t even boil a kettle for a cup of coffee after a hard day’s work because government can’t provide a basic service, yet expects taxpayers to keep reaching into their pockets to bail out state-owned enterprises to refund crony patronage networks. Tax is theft when government steals the people’s money.
The world is watching while South Africa grapples with the government-induced electricity crisis. Eskom is riddled with corruption and is representative of the failure of government. Rolling blackouts have been estimated to cost the South African economy between R1,5 billion and R4 billion per day.
Transferring Eskom’s debt to the national balance sheet without a plan merely adds interest payments, crowds out service delivery and won’t fix the problem. The orderly unbundling and restructuring of Eskom are critical requirements for achieving a well-diversified and competitive energy generation sector. Government must privatise state- owned assets and there is a way to do this without resorting to the Russian model that created the oligarchs. The Ukrainian ProZorro model is an example of what is possible. By incorporating a similar model, government land, buildings and businesses that have been neglected for years can get a chance to start anew, while the state would be able to generate funds and get rid of idol assets that deliver negative returns. The DA will do this when we govern.
To reduce rocketing food prices affecting the most vulnerable South Africans, government can very easily choose to scrap the
fuel levy and expand the zero VAT-rated food basket to include bone-in chicken, beef, tinned beans, wheat flour, margarine, peanut butter, baby food, tea, coffee and soup powder.
There is no provision for the Social Relief of Distress grant to be extended after 1 April 2024. Government talks vaguely about a revised social security package without any budget.
Vulnerable South Africans need to know what will happen to their grants next year. Widows who travelled to Cape Town to attend the public participation hearings found nobody to hear them because the committee was online after government neglect burnt down Parliament. When government makes a widow cry on the steps of Parliament, you know that you are unworthy, you have failed and your days are numbered.
South Africa is not a poor country. Our economy is on its knees because government has made the wrong policy choices and has lost the respect of its peers. Those policy choices can be changed. The DA will do this when we govern.
Despite the rolling blackouts and economic distress caused by a government in terminal decline, there is another type of electricity in the air, and that is the expectation that this
corrupt, incapable, uncaring government will be removed by the ballot box. The DA will do this. We do not support the Fiscal Framework. Thank you, Chair.
Ms E N NTLANGWINI: Chairperson, allow me to start by greeting the president and commander-in-chief of the EFF, president Julius Sello Malema, who will lead a national shutdown on
20 March to demand electricity and the immediate resignation of Mr Ramaphosa. We are not going to compromise. The man will resign. We will make everything in this country come to a complete standstill. No truck will move, no shop will open, no company will operate and we are all going to the streets. Twelve days to go until we close the country, ground forces and fighters.
The EFF rejects the proposed austerity Budget tabled by the Minister of Finance, which is just a continuation of budget cuts and a mutation of state institutions. Even when there is evidence that these budget cuts are not solving problems but are making it worse, you continue with the budget cuts.
Ms P MARAIS: Chairperson, I have a point of order.
The CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Yes?
Ms P MARAIS: Can you please ask your House ... the ANC to keep quiet because they are drowning out the speaker. Thank you.
The CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Thank you, hon member. Order, hon members! Order! Hon members, we can heckle but don’t drown out the speaker.
Ms E N NTLANGWINI: Even when there is evidence that these budget cuts are not solving the problems but are making it worse, you continue with the budget cuts. All countries that have gone down this route do not recover quickly but they take a very long time, with severe damage to livelihoods and to the lives of workers, particularly the lives of women and children.
The Budget proposed by the ANC cuts expenditure for poor and low-income households and gives it to the few rich through tax relief, who in the majority are white. This is a betrayal of black people. You take from the poorest 80% and give it to the richest 20%. This is the madness of Mr Cyril Ramaphosa and his
Minister of Finance, who is loved by the World Bank ... [Inaudible.]
The CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): There’s a point of order, hon member. Hon Ntlangwini, there’s a point of order. Just hold on. You may take your seat. Hon Radebe? Let’s hear the point of order, hon members. Hon Ntlangwini, can you take your seat, ma’am?
Mr B A RADEBE: I’m rising on Rule 84.
The CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): No, no, hon members. Hon members? Hon members? Hon member Khawula, can you assist please? You can do better. Thank you.
Mr B A RADEBE: I’m rising on Rule 84 — the use of unparliamentary language against the President of the Republic
— the people’s President. The speaker on the podium said that the President ... [Inaudible.] We cannot agree with that.
Ms E N NTLANGWINI: [Inaudible.] I said this is ... [Inaudible.] You are not listening.
The CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): I will come back with a ruling. Hon Ntlangwini, just stick to your script and avoid unparliamentary language.
Ms E N NTLANGWINI: This is the madness of Mr Cyril Ramaphosa and the Minister of Finance who is loved by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, IMF, and is happy while following their instructions. If you think this is not true, in the next three years ... [Inaudible.] ... proposed Fiscal Framework will spend R162 billion less on water ...
The CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Hon Ntlangwini, there’s a point of order. Hon Ntlangwini, can we take a point of order please? Hon Radebe?
Mr B A RADEBE: I’m rising on Rule 84 — the use of unparliamentary language. The member on the podium has referred to the President of the Republic and the Minister of Finance as mad. That is unparliamentary.
The CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Hon Ntlangwini? Hon members? Hon Ntlangwini? Hon members, can I talk to the speaker on the podium please?
Ms E N NTLANGWINI: Yes, please.
The CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): You know very well that you can’t say any member of this House is mad, or madness. Please withdraw.
Ms E N NTLANGWINI: I never said any ... I said this is madness. I never said the President is mad. I said this situation is madness. This is madness.
The CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Hon members? Hon Ntlangwini, I request you to withdraw.
Ms H O MKHALIPHI: Withdraw what? Order, Chair.
Ms E N NTLANGWINI: What do you want me to withdraw? What do you want me to withdraw, ma’am?
The CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Hon Ntlangwini? Hon members?
An HON MEMBER: A point of order.
Ms E N NTLANGWINI: What do you want me to withdraw?
The CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): You said the President is madness; he’s mad.
Ms H O MKHALIPHI: Chairperson, order. Chairperson, I’m calling an order.
The CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Just hold on, hon member. Just hold on. We will check Hansard and then we’ll come back with that but for now I’m ... [Interjections.] No, no, no, we can’t engage. We can’t engage. I’ve just made a ruling that I’ll come back. For now, the member can proceed.
Ms E N NTLANGWINI: If you think this is not true ... [Inaudible.] ...
The CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): No, one second. No, hon Matiase. Hon Matiase.
Mr N S MATIASE: Hon Chair, I’m rising on a point of order. Can you grant me permission to speak please?
The CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Okay.
Ms H O MKHALIPHI: I called an order as well. We are also here in the House.
Mr N S MATIASE: [Inaudible.] ... uneducated fellow such as this who cannot understand English. Please protect our member
... [Inaudible.] [Interjections.]
The CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): No, hon member! Order, hon members!
An HON MEMBER: Clever black.
The CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Hon members, order! Hon members? Hon Matiase? Hon members, order! Hon members? Hon Radebe and hon ma Khawula? Hon Matiase, I have heard you. I will check Hansard and come back but the member can continue. Can I please preside over this meeting, hon members?
Otherwise, if you don’t want to be part of this meeting, please leave the room. No, no, I will make you leave the room, hon member. If you engage I will. I will make you leave the
room. Thank you, hon member. Just mind your words, hon member. Please proceed.
Ms E N NTLANGWINI: If you think this is not true, in the next three years the ANC government, through the proposed Fiscal Framework, will spend R162 billion less of the allocation that has increased in line with inflation on water, education, health care and other services.
As the budget on Health is increasing below inflation, it is actually a decrease of R74 billion. As the budget of Basic Education is increasing below inflation, it is actually a decrease of R39 billion. Public Service decreased by
R12 billion, industrialisation decreased by R5 billion and job creation decreased by R1 billion. This is happening when the Minister is happy to tell the rich and wealthy that they will pay R15 000 installation costs when they install solar electricity systems. The Minister is happy to increase certain tax benefits that benefit the rich and wealthy.
This is the reality that we must all face. Actually, the ANC is actively taking from the people that they claim to represent and giving it to the white, rich people because they
control their President, the President who is a puppet of white monopoly capital. The Budget does not take ... [Inaudible.] ... job creation ... [Inaudible.]
The CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Hon Ntlangwini, there is a point of order. Hon Ntlangwini, there is a point of order.
An HON MEMBER: Order, order, order, Chairperson. Order!
The CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): I can’t hear the point of order because you are drowning him out.
Mr B A RADEBE: I’m rising on Rule 84. The member on the podium said the President is a puppet. It’s unparliamentary language.
Mr H O MKHALIPHI: [Inaudible.] ... German cut.
The CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Hob Ntlangwini, I heard you on that one. Please withdraw it.
Ms E N NTLANGWINI: I withdraw the word puppet. The Budget does not talk about meaningful job creation. Even the so-called Presidential Employment Stimulus does not have an allocation.
The Budget does not talk about infrastructure. The only thing that it includes in the Budget is the promotion of private- sector infrastructure through the so-called blended finance. There is no blended finance and the private sector infrastructure that will build water, sanitation and roads ... unless you want to privatise basic services, hon Radebe. The Budget does not talk about any meaningful industrialisation.
Lastly, we reject the so-called debt review of R254 billion to Eskom that will not solve the current load shedding. There is no money for new generation and there is no money for maintenance, even when the breakdowns that we are facing in terms of load shedding is mechanical. Hon Radebe, what we are doing here is taking the debt of Eskom and giving it to the rest of us as taxpayers, so that when we sell Eskom to our friends, Eskom will be debt free. That is what your President is currently doing.
There is no two ways about it. On 20 March, Mr Ramaphosa will go. We are happy that many organisations, like the SA Federation of Trade Unions, Saftu, the taxi industry and the trucking industry have indicated that they are joining us on
20 March. We said the same with regard to Zuma. Zuma left. We
ensured that he resigned. Mr Cyril Ramaphosa must pack his bags so long. Mr Paul Mashatile will have the shortest term as President of the country because come 2024, the EFF will be taking over government and we will foster president Julius Sello Malema into the Union Buildings. The 20th of March.
Twelve days. Amandla to the ground fighters!
The CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Thank you, hon members. Order, hon members. Hon members ...
... hayi bo!
I now recognise Inkosi E M Buthelezi.
Inkosi E M BUTHELEZI: Hon Chairperson, the Minister tried to strike some balance in this budget under the circumstance. We welcome the forecast that was given on infrastructure, both the new infrastructure and the maintenance of the existing one, also the allocation to law enforcement agencies to deal with crime and corruption.
However, I don’t want to dwell much on the positive things that the Minister said, as this will be similar to praising the fish for swimming. Our biggest problem is that no allocation by the Treasury was successfully achieved that we, the citizens of this country, need. The departments entrusted to carry out the actual service delivery are failing dismally. Departments raked up large sums of money in wasteful, irregular and fruitless expenditure, while failing to achieve their targets.
Another perennial headache is the dysfunctional and total collapse of municipalities, which is a serious cause for concern. Everything that the ANC-led government has tried, do not yield any positive results, instead it is collapsing the country. This is evident in the failure of all our SOEs, which have received large sums of money to bail them out of the rut they are in. Instead, they find themselves in deeper holes.
Even the plausible work done by Sars to collect more than what we estimated in taxes, we cannot hope this will change the people’s lives for the better, because the more money collected into the purse, the more the thieves in the ruling party are celebrating, to loot it.
As I said before, our country deserves better. That will not come from the ANC. What our people need is a party, an attitude and leaders who are similar to one member of this hon House, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, whom, through his action, demonstrated and lives by his word, which is articulated well in our Constitution that we accept, and I quote: “Government and its institutions are instituted and maintained to promote and protect human dignity, personal growth and fulfilment and individual pursuit of happiness.”
This is the kind of a party and leaders that our country deserves – a party that understands this and strive every day for it. This is something that the ANC has abandoned in the same way it has done with its founding values, and opted to focus on using state resources to advance self-enrichment and political agendas.
The ANC no longer cares about the poor, instead, it continues to pull wool over the people’s eyes, as we have seen in the introduction of sensationalised solar panels tax incentives. How does a government expect poor people to take advantage of this incentive? How does a caring government expect poor people to buy solar with money they don’t have? It is typical
of an arrogant government. Our country needs to be released from the shackles of the ANC and its inaptitude. This must be done as a matter of urgency.
While we support the budget, we take note that it spoke less of economic development, especially local economy, yet our debt is estimated to grow beyond R5 trillion. We continue to borrow money on the other hand. This is failure of the ruling party. So, the IFP supports the report. However, while in support of the report, we understand the compelling needs of our people.
Ngifuna ukusho lokhu okulandelayo kuNgqongqoshe ohloniphekile...
... ndiyakunqwenelela Mphathiswa ukuba ube lilanga kube kanye, ukuze usitshise sonke kunye kwaye ngaxesha nye. Ndiyabulela.
Mr W W WESSELS: Hon Chairperson, an indecisive, disorganised, comical, laughable tragic. The ANC government, I think, sometimes think that they are producing a tragic comedy,
instead of governing a country. This afternoon’s question session proved it. We have a Minister of Water and Sanitation who says there is no water crisis. I want him to go and tell that to the millions of people who do not have adequate water supply daily. Go and tell it to them. We have a Minister of Education who says that load shedding is no challenge to education. The children must do their school work in natural light. It has no effect. It is absolutely ridiculous!
This fiscal framework is flawed, because of uncertainty on policy issues, which causes improper fiscal planning and thus, budgeting. Year after year, budget after budget, there is a consistent breach of expenditure ceilings, which renders the budget incredible. That is due to a lack of fiscal discipline by the ANC government.
The reality is that the ANC government cannot and is unable to implement its own policies. The government’s debt is out of control. Because of underestimates of expenditure contained in the budget, including the public wage bill, inaccurate forecast of GDP growth and overestimation of revenue, the budget deficit will be more than estimated.
State-owned entities are beyond the point of no return. Local government is in total collapse. An amount of 169 municipalities are currently in financial distress. People are suffering. While this is happening, the President makes his Cabinet bigger, which will cost taxpayers billions of rands.
While the people are suffering, the ANC does not contain unnecessary costs, they inflate it, so that ANC cadres can inflate their stomachs.
Wat dit nog meer belaglik maak, is dat die President selfs mafiabase en leiers van die kartel in sy Kabinet toelaat, willens en wetens.
The ANC government was warned in 2007 about the looming energy crisis, but they ignored it. They completely ignored it. They ignored the warning signs and once again, now, they are being warned about a water crisis that is even going to be worse than the electricity crisis. What does the Minister do this afternoon? He ignores it. He denies it. We are the 29th driest country in the world and 56% of water treatment works are
dysfunctional, 40% of water goes to loss due to burst pipes and failing infrastructure. We have a backlog on infrastructure maintenance and refurbishment of R36 billion and a funding gap of R333 billion. The Minister might be correct. It is not a crisis; it is a disaster.
As most tragic comedies, this one will however also have a happy ending, as 2024 provides hope.
Is dit moontlik om van hierdie korrupte ANC-regering ontslae te raak? Ja, dit is!
Mr S N SWART: Hon House Chair, with your permission, may I speak without the camera? I have connection problems. The fiscal framework and revenue proposals must be considered against recent GDP figures, which show that, after rallying in the third quarter of 2022, GDP declined by 1,3% in the fourth quarter.
We in the ACDP finds this alarming, as it is far higher than the 0,4% expected by economists. The third quarter, as we know, was marked by mere permanent load shedding between
stages two and six, which was in effect from September 2022, impacting finance, trade, mining, agriculture, manufacturing and general government services. This does not bode well for subsequent quarters, with the distinct possibility of a technical recession, should similar negative economic be recorded for the first quarter of this year.
This, every single day, has featured load shedding, but with higher levels. Now, the SA Reserve Bank cut its growth projection to 0,3% on the presumption of only 200 days of load shedding. With 66 days of load shedding already, this may be surpassed.
National Treasury’s economic growth projection of 0,9% determines the fiscal framework and revenue projections. The ACDP shares the Finance Committee’s concerns about escalating debt levels, as set out in the report. National Treasury expects to achieve a primary surplus in 2023 and a consolidated deficit is expected, according to National Treasury to narrow at a faster rate than previously estimated.
However, and this is the big however, should GDP figures come in lower than projected, and in line with the Reserve Bank’s
0,3%, then it would impact negatively on these estimates and figures.
Gross loan debt is now expected to stabilize three years later and at a higher level than projected in last October’s MTBPS, at a staggering R5,8 trillion. The debt levels remain unacceptably high and threatens not only the sovereignty of the country, but also future generations. Debt service costs will rise from R307,2 billion to R397 billion in 2025-26. As we know, rapidly rise in debt service costs crowd out much needed social expenditure and delivery of services.
The higher borrowing costs, in contingent liabilities of SOEs, particularly, Eskom, also pose significant risks to the fiscal framework. The rapidly rising public sector wage bill is also a matter of concern. Should the negotiations not result in a wage agreement, in line with Treasury’s projections, state expenditure and a fiscal framework will be out, which will affect the fiscal consolidation ... [Time expired.] I thank you.
Mr B N HERRON: House Chair, when the Minister tabled the budget we said that our country’s budget needs a fundamental reconfiguration and that the budget was a budget for the rich.
We said that the budget is reasonably good for the haves in society, with no tax hikes and rebates for solar panels, but contained slim pickings for the have nots, with no increase in the R350 poverty grant and no advance on the basic income grant, and no assistance to escape Eskom non-performance.
We agree with many of the stakeholders’ views reflected in this report that the current macro-economic framework is not consistent with the constitutional obligations of government to protect and advance human rights.
In particular, we agree with the stakeholders who implored government to increase the current Social Relief of Distress Grant. It was introduced three years ago, and despite rampant costs of living increases that even middle-income families struggling to survive, it is not being increased from the poultry R350 per month.
Extend the grant beyond 2024 ...
The CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Hon Herron, one minute.
Hon Ndabezitha, your voice, I can hear it from here! Thank you.
Mr B N HERRON: Extend the grant beyond 2024. We don’t know who’s unable to face reality, but it takes someone so far out of touch with the suffering of millions of South Africans to think that this grant can ever be withdrawn from those who’ve received the small amount for the last three years. Implement a basic income grant or basic income guarantee.
We acknowledge the report’s recommendation that National Treasury and government should consider a big ... after consultation with relevant stakeholders. But we call for greater urgency than simply considering this.
We agree with Treasury that comprehensive reform of social security should be done, and we urge government to stop flirting with the basic income support and do the work to get it implemented.
We also share the committee’s concerns about the tax relief on solar panels and support the call for rigorous consultation.
If National Treasury did proper consultation they will learn that the tax incentive capped at R15 000 per household will have little impact on turning our roofs into sources of solar energy.
As the report says, the majority of South African households and low income informal businesses were not eligible to benefit due to high levels of poverty, inequality and unemployment. In fact, it’s only the rich that will benefit from this rebate because the majority of us will not be able to afford the upfront costs of implementing solar energy systems, which cost over R100 000.
It would have been far better and less of a tax burden to incentivise a mass rollout of solar energy if Treasury had instituted a financing programme like the property assess clean energy model, which partners government with financing houses and links repayments over 20 years to municipal bills. Thank you.
Mr A M SHAIK EMAM: House Chairperson, allow me at the very outset to welcome our brand spanking new Deputy President. Welcome sir! Indeed, your contribution at the Standing Committee on Appropriations, when your chaired it, speaks volumes of what we can expect as a Deputy President.
But you know, I just want to quote the saying where it says that “People that live in glass houses should not throw stones.” And I find that we are so inconsistent here and ... particularly to ... I want to ask this question to the Freedom Front, to the ACDP, also to the DA, my colleagues here, okay: How is it that nobody on this side criticises how the IFP governs in KwaZulu-Natal?
Let me tell you ... [Interjections.] ... what is happening in
... [Interjections.] ... let’s talk about the corruption currently ... [Interjections.] ... let’s talk about the corruption currently in Abaqulusi Municipality ...
The CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Hon Emam Shaik, one minute. Hon members, don’t drown the speaker.
You may proceed!
Mr A M SHAIK EMAM: Right now Nongoma Municipality can’t even pay the medical aid, it has been suspended.
Let us talk about Zululand District Municipality, which is in a crisis, advertising 18 positions today, only to employ cadres belonging to the IFP.
Let us not forget about what has happened for the last four months in Phongola. Why are we not raising this?
Other than the DA, which raised the problem in Abaqulusi, I think it is, nobody else is raising this, why? ...
The CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Hon Emam Shaik, one minute. We’ll save your time.
Prince E M BUTHELEZI: Hon Chair, may I kindly ask if the hon member can take a question? Because ... [Interjections.] ... no, no, no, wait. Because, hon Chair, the same member, I wanted to know if he has returned to the staff members ... [Interjections.] [Inaudible.] ... that he stole from the IFP?
The CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Hon Buthelezi, you have asked to ask ... hon Emam Shaik, are you able to take a question?
Mr A M SHAIK EMAM: If I have time ... [Inaudible.]
The CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Okay. You may proceed. You are not taking any question.
Mr A M SHAIK EMAM: So, the problem we have is that some of you are so obsessed with the ANC that you want to spend all your time and effort.
Now, what I would love to hear, which we don’t hear, this country has 62 million people, but I never ever hear you giving a solution to the problems that exist, other than attacking and attacking and attacking. So, before you attack someone else, first look back that whenever you point one finger there’s four pointing back at you. So, look at that.
Let me also say this, whilst I have limited time. Minister of Finance, I believe that the relief that you are giving, particularly to solar energy, I think given the fact that a
household, in my estimation, is going to cost about R250 000 to R300 000 for proper solar energy. I think at some stage we need to increase that relief that we want to give.
On the issue of the budget deficit, I think at some stage we must start working on a more balanced budget so that we owe less, which creates greater trust and confidence in those that want to invest in the country. I think we should look at that very seriously because additional monies that you pay in terms of debt service cost could actually go to providing more services, and which is what we are actually using.
I see my time is ... but the NFP supports the financial ... [Inaudible.]
Ms M D MABILETSA: Hon House Chair, Deputy President, hon members,
... le badudi kamoka kua gae, ke a le dumediia.
Before I say anything, I just want to respond from the hon member of the ACDP about the Public Wage Bill. You can stop worrying because as we are speaking the Public Service Co- ordinating Bargaining Council, PSCBC has called all the parties back to the table today. We believe the best route is to negotiate a settlement over the items that respects the important role of the human resource component of the state within what the Constitution refers to as the available means of the state. You can just stop worrying.
Again, this one of the DA of the Russia and Ukraine peace. It is so hard for us to want peace because this is a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, Nato induced war in which South Africa takes a nonaligned position. I think if we can listen, they we will understand. The chairperson spoke about it repeatedly and I know it will be spoken about it. So, let us just talk and listen that what we need is peace. There are people who will sit around the table and negotiate and ours is to just continue and do the business of South Africa and make sure that the people out there at home are being served.
On the issue of today, the ANC frames this debate on the economic intervention that needs to accelerate the ongoing
Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan. This includes increasing infrastructure investment, improving energy and ending load shedding, security, expanding infrastructure investment to improve community access to basic services and increasing the overall efficiency and competitiveness of the economy. The country needs
The country needs to be resilient to the economic challenges we face and the choices we make must provide the people and their needs with the confidence that the quality of their lives is changing for the better. Therefore, our debate critically tackles both the political and economic factors that determine the context and fiscal framework and revenue proposals.
The fiscal framework and revenue proposals are crafted within the political context of what the ANC has defined as – listen to what we say – what the ANC has defined as the decisive action to advance the people’s interests. We are deeply conscious of the rifts to the fiscal framework which include weaker rand, projected GDP growth and higher interest rates, worsening global financial conditions with financial conditions of several state-owned companies, public service
wage agreements that exceed the rate of growth of the compensation budget and new unfunded social spending programmes.
We welcome that the deficit will continue to decline over the next three years and stabilise at 73% of the GDP in 2025-26 which incorporates Eskom debt relief programme. We wish to state that this level of deficit is relative based on the demands that government faces. Revenue proposals are progressive in that they benefit from the increase revenue of almost R94 billion, higher than the 2022 budget estimates.
This reserve in tax relief wishes to test R30 billion. This really can be seen in the proposal for the clean energy transition. The proposal to limit the impact of higher fuel prices and to provide for inflation related adjustments to personal income tax. The proposals are aligned with the broad- based tax policy of the ANC-led government, keeping taxes at the level consistent with promoting economic growth.
For the ANC, government must use fiscal policy effectively to intensify its fight against poverty and inequality.
Prioritising infrastructure maintenance and investments, advance the country’s overall industrialisation and to finance
employment’s creation objections and programmes. The increased revenue is also used to deduce the overall level of debt. Once we are still trying to emerge from the effects of the COVID-19 affected economy, load shedding has become the biggest constraints to any prospects of meaningful growth.
A 02,9% is far too little for any meaningful impact upon unemployment and poverty. It should be our collective concern phased with these challenges. The fiscal framework and revenue proposal have to respond to the concrete conditions the country faces and stick to policy priorities. With regards to some of the sentiments to certain opposition parties, let us for this debate record that the public has to say in contrast to what you have to say. At our hearings on the fiscal framework and revenue proposal, the public supported government’s policy commitment in the 2023 budget to avoid tax increases while the economy is recovering from recent shocks.
The public again supported the Fuel Levy Relief and they also supported the allocation of additional funding to SA Revenue Service, Sars to further strengthen efficient revenue collection. The public supported a tax policy that is anchored on projecting the tax based and efficiency based reforms.
With regards to Eskom, the conditions you are calling for were outlined in the budget review. Attached to the R254 billion debt relief, not a bailout. The decision to do this are incorporated with the ability of Eskom in dealing with load shedding. The unconnected manner in which certain opposition parties debate these matters demonstrate an inability to comprehend the strategy that is being applied. Solving load shedding and debt relief are interconnected. For some, if you are not talking about the privatisation of the private sector, you have not said anything. Thank you, House Chair.
Mr S M JAFTA: Hon Chair, please bear with me, I am affected by load shedding as we speak. The 2022 budget had to balance the number of conflicting and overlapping interests. With the real GDP rate projected to be averaged at 1,4% from 2023 to 2025, there is little hope that this will translate into the creation of gainful employment of our young people. While there was a higher than expected revenue due to positive growth in most tax based, we have not seen a corresponding value in the quality of life for our people who continue to be hit by load shedding, fuel price hikes, and high food inflation.
The relief bill to deal with Eskom’s debt is brought on the poor. The bill amounts to R254 billion. Hon Chair, South Africans cannot continue bailing out this failing entity. The bail out of Eskom drowns out our hard earned cash. It frustrates our ability to access quality healthcare, to clean water and electricity. While we welcome government’s efforts to inject money into social welfare services which constitutes an average of 60,2% of the total interest spending over three years, we must emphasise our attitude towards the Basic Income Grant which we believe is unavoidable.
Projections of revenue moving from R1,8 trillion into 2022-23 to R2,23 trillion in 2024-26 must translate to concrete changes in improving the lives of our people on the ground. We must narrow the budget deficit and reduce the Wage Bill which crowds out our spending in education, health and police.
Nonetheless, hon Chair, we support this report.
Mnu M NYHONTSO: Sihlalo weNdlu, ndicela unike Inkosi Buthelezi akhe abuze la mbuzo phaya kuShaik Emam, ngeli xesha lam.
Ubusinika umdla la mbuzo.
Otherwise we support the report, Chair.
The CHAIRPERSON (R M M Lesoma): Are you done?
Mr M NYHONTSO: I said we support the report, Chair.
Mr M G E HENDRICKS: Hon House Chair, it was former President Thabo Mbeki who said that we need a UN Convention on Tax Justice. I don’t agree that with the position of this fiscal policy that the tax levels and revenue generation has been drawn up to satisfy white monopoly capital, and not the people of South Africa, who have been short-changed. I’m part of a Think Tank in Africa, and we did six years of research and found that 53% of the gross domestic product, GDP on the average of African countries goes out through illicit financial flows. South Africa does better than many of the other African countries. Only 50% of our GDP gets lost through illicit financial flows.
When leaders of political parties meet Finance Ministers, we have a frank discussion and two Finance Ministers have agreed with me that, every line item in our budget ... [Inaudible]
... 30% facts. They promise us zero-based budgeting but we’ve seen those zero-based budgeting going forward. So, we are very disappointed in that a lot of money that is supposed to go to the poor, no effort is made by the portfolio committee to try and recover this money.
Now, there’s also a lot of corruption and looting and one third of line items that are budgeted are looted. We depend on the Special Investigating Unit, SIU to do investigations. But what happens? This Finance Minister doesn’t give them any money to fund their investigations. Government institutions that needs their services have to pay them and they don’t pay upfront, they pay out 30 days after the report is submitted.
So there is no SIU investigation on the corruption and looting taking place. All that money belongs to the poor.
This is not pro poor budget. This is a pro white monopoly capital budget to meet international obligations that South Africa agreed to during Convention for a Democratic South Africa, Codesa and the years that follows. It is time that we put the poor in South Africa first, and that we adopt zero- based budgeting that will stop illicit financial flows, that
we fund the SIU properly upfront so they can do the investigations.
At the moment, the government departments owe them nearly R2 billion. How can they function? So they have been set up
for failure hon House Chair. The portfolio committee has to go back to the drawing board. [Time expired.]
Mr A N SARUPEN: House Chair, the 2023-24 Fiscal Framework is built on a set of assumptions that we now know are fatally flawed after yesterday’s GDP decline announcements. Treasury initially forecast 2,5% growth last year, then revised it down to 0.9%. But now as a result of the decline in Q4, we have probably only come in at 0,3%, and I see the hon Finance Minister is looking at me very pensively.
In real terms, our economy did not grow at all in 2022, and GDP per capita has declined every year since 2007. So on average, every single South African household has gotten poorer in real terms since 2017. The economy is now expected to slow down even further with Treasury forecasting only 1,4% growth per annum over the medium term. So if 2022 is anything to go by, we are only going to get poorer, our economy is
smaller, as the Treasury’s optimistic forecasts have indicated.
Revenue increases last year were based entirely on strong tax compliance and enforcement. This is not sustainable as a source of revenue, because there is less and less opportunity to squeeze revenue from a shrinking tax base. Borrowing is also not likely to be contained in the medium term because net loan debts will grow from R4,5 trillion to R4,9 trillion in 2024, to R5,3 trillion in 2025, to R5,7 trillion in 2026.
Those are the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF projections.
Debt to GDP will not stabilise until 2026. But debt service costs will consume more and more of the budget leaving less and less space for public services. Debt service costs will cost R340 billion, the largest item in the budgets and social security funds are going to be R92 billion. That means, if you divide the two numbers up the government will spend 34 times more and government’s debts than on social grants.
The root cause of this calamity is a failure to grow the economy. A lot of this can be underpinned by policies such as
cadre deployments, where you have unqualified party hacks in every level of government, in every agency, in every entity, focusing on party politics instead of doing their jobs. The single biggest outcome of this has been load shedding, which kills productivity, destroys businesses, destroys jobs, and has been entirely foisted upon South Africa by the ANC.
So, this bleak economic outlook is a warning shot for South Africans. So allow me to paraphrase Neil Kinnock’s famous warning from 1983:
If the ANC government continues, I warn you. I warn you that you will have pain because the ANC’s National Health Insurance, NHI will destroy the health system. I warn you that you will have ignorance, because the money meant for schools will be stolen and mismanaged by ANC cadres. I warn you that you will have poverty, because the ANC government will borrow so much that they can’t afford social grants. I warn you that we will all be cold, because the ANC has destroyed Eskom and there’ll be no electricity to keep you warm in winter.
I warn you not to expect work, because the ANC will reserve jobs for its cadres while millions of South Africans remain
unemployed. And I warn you, I warn you, don’t go into the streets after dark because the ANC is too busy committing crime to solve crime. And so I conclude by saying that, I warn you that it is now time to abandon the ANC. Thank you.
Ms P N ABRAHAM: Hon House Chair, as I wish everybody in the House a very happy International Women’s Day which is 08 March, I wish to go back to yesterday’s debate where an hon member of the ACDP referred harshly to sex workers as prostitutes. I just want to caution hon members that they would rather be referred to as sex workers. As Parliament we have a duty to regulate that space, to regulate that industry, so that we ensure that there is no discrimination and abuse.
Maybe as ACDP from one Christian to the other, I can quote Isaiah 23 verse 22 where it says, the Lord only is the judge. So, we don’t have to judge others.
I wish to welcome our brand new Deputy President to the House as the Study Group of Finance in the ANC. I also wish to welcome the members that have been sworn in as Ministers and Deputy Ministers and I congratulate them. I think we need to talk a bit on what’s happening at Eskom, so that we just remind members that already there are signed agreements with
independent power producers, IPPs for 26 projects which will deliver 2,800 megawatts and an additional 1,309 plus. This is from the Southern Africa power pole and also other neighbouring countries.
There’s a lot that has been done and additionally a team of independent experts works with Eskom. We will not necessarily mention the fact that already a Minister has been deployed to deal specifically with load shedding. In terms of debt, the national debt is stabilising and it’s relative to the demands of the country. The chairperson has spoken extensively on this one.
Quickly on greylisting, we wish to submit to the House that the Financial Action Task Force, FATF has acknowledged considerable progress by the Republic of South Africa based on our action plan as a country. I think we need to note as this House that, the 67 recommended actions have now been required down to eight strategic deficiencies. The chairperson did speak to the fact that what FATF is raising has to do with the Social Security Cluster and nothing to do with the Fiscal Framework. And in the words of FATF, there is significant and positive progress.
I will not speak on the issue of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Nato induced war in Iraq and Ukraine. However, I wish to state categorically that the widows that have been mentioned here by members have been met by the joint committees of finance and urgently, members in the National Council of Provinces went to KwaZulu-Natal in a meeting where hon George was, and spoke to the widows. However, we have also said that, National Treasury and SA Revenue Service, Sars should sit down with the widows because their issues are mainly on tax. They should sit down with them so that they iron out and report back to the committee.
The ANC anchors this debate on whether the Fiscal Framework and revenue proposals advance people’s interests. This in a way that the ANC has defined as one of decisive action to meet people’s interests.
Lo mbutho we-ANC ulawulayo, kwinkomfa yawo kazwelonke uthathe izigqibo athe uMongameli wathetha phezu kwazo waza uMphathiswa wezeziMali wacaphula kwingxelo kaMongameli, ngxelo leyo esuka kubantu bamasebe aseMzantsi Afrika.
Le ngxelo yezezimali ilande ukhomba-ndlela kuMongameli weli lizwe. Ezi ke zizinto ezingumdla ebantwini. Eyokuqala yile yombane, kufanelekile ukuba kukhawulezwe kusonjululwe umcimbi wezamandla, kupheliswe ucimi-cimi wombane. Okwesibini, i-ANC iyayixhasa into yokuba kuthethwe kwaye kulungiswe umcimbi wezezimali ukuze kudalwe amathuba emisebenzi.
Okwesithathu, kuhle ukuba sizame ukutsala umdla wenkxaso ngokwezimali ukuze kuvele amathuba emisebenzi nabantu batyale imali eMzantsi Afrika. Kubekelwe bucala imali ukuze kugcinwe kakuhle izakhiwo eziyintsika yoqoqosho nakweliphi na ilizwe. Kufuneka nokuba kuphuculwe izinga lokuziswa kweenkonzo ebantwini. I-ANC yiyo ethetha ngokuvezwa kwemisebenzi kwaye olwenza njalo olu hlahlolwabiwo-mali. Lubonisa amacebo okuvezwa kwemisebenzi. Lubonisa nokulwa intluphheko kunye nokupheliswa kokungalingani. Kuziswa izicwangciso zokulwa nezi ngxaki.
Ndiyafuna ke ukutsho ukuba kolu xanduva lwe-ANC, siyacela ukuba sonke sibambisane kuba sonke siyafuna ukuyiphelisa indlala, siyakufuna ukudalwa kwemisebenzi nokudala umakulingwane kwilizwe lethu. Ngoko ke simele ukuba siyixhase.
On the revenue proposals, the positives for the people are that no new tax rates increases are proposed for 2023. This is as a result of the higher than expected revenue income from personal and corporate tax income. In addressing load shedding, two tax measures are introduced to encourage businesses and individuals to invest in renewable energy and increase electricity generation. We want to emphasise as the ANC that small, medium and micro-sized enterprises, SMMEs can claim through the 12B incentive, a 1% to 5% cost deduction.
The same applies for sole proprietors, individuals who work as businesses, an amount that can be deducted from trade and income.
There will be no threshold to the size of projects to qualify, and the incentive will be available for two years.
Sihlalo weNdlu, sixhasa ukudakancwa kwecebo lokukhulisa uqoqosho, futhi sisitsho sisthi, ngenxa yokuba kulungiswa intswelo koomama nolutsha, i-ANC ithi, xa kuphuculwa iindlela zonxibelelwano, kwaye kwakhiwe iziseko zophuhliso, i-ANC iyawuxhasa umbono omhle kangaka. Enkosi.
The MINISTER OF FINANCE: Hon House Chair, I join colleagues who have expressed condolences to the family of Mr Tate Makgoe. I also join colleagues who have welcomed our brand new Deputy President, Comrade Paul Mashatile. I also join colleagues who have welcomed new Members of Parliament, including me.
Hon House Chair, when we tabled the budget, we were under no illusion that we are tabling this Budget under difficult conditions – conditions not of our choice. That’s what Marx said ... [Inaudible.] ... – there is no doubt about that, but it is mischievous and misleading to attribute it to cadre deployment. There is no doubt that there is a correlation between the electricity crisis and growth – no doubt about that. You will see that the outages started in 2008 and since then, our economy has not performed well. In my view there is a correlation between those.
The second point I want to raise is that we made a specific focus. We also said that if there is a potential for a downward risk in that focus, we are clear that in the event that the economy has not performed as we predicted, there is going to be a downward risk.
But let me just wan of one thing. South Africa is a constitutional state where a head of state or a government is changed through the ballot box. If we lose through the ballot box, we will humble ourselves and sit in these opposite benches. But to think that you will remove a head of state through unconstitutional means, you are inviting the full might of the law. And people will say that they were doing a peaceful protest when the intention is to undermine and overthrow existing government. That won’t be tolerated.
Let me come to my third point. I have warned hon members on several occasions here that we must not think that it is easy to cut spending and not identify sources of revenue. It doesn’t work that way. Every member said that we must cut spending but no one has said how are you going to finance the remaining commitments. And I have also said that the UK government collapsed in 48 days precisely because of those populist tendencies of saying we are going to cut revenues without cutting spending. The markets punished them. In 48 days a government collapsed. We are not going to allow the ANC government to collapse on those basis – on the basis of populists’ proposition.
Let me deal with the issue of the electricity interventions which in my view there seem to be a lot of misunderstanding. That is why people don’t understand where the poor fit into the equation. The four interventions that are being proposed in the Budget Speech. What is the first proposition? The first proposition is for businesses – big and small – a tax incentive for them. It’s businesses, both big and small.
The second one is for me and you who are taxpayers. These are temporary interventions in order to release pressure on the grid. They are not permanent interventions. What is the third element of this is to take into account that small and medium enterprises may not have the resources hence we are providing the facility via the bounceback screen. What is the fourth element of this? The fourth element of this relate to those of us who are in Currently the government provides about ... [Inaudible.] ... for electricity in relation to that. We are saying it lasted and we are also reviewing that so that we can upgrade it. And that is not a permanent feature.
The indigent policy continues for the poor. In addition to that, a possibility exists, provided people meet the same conditions we are going to lay down, that the debt relief will
be extended to them – that’s to the poor. So, there is a mistaken belief which suggests that we are only focussing on the rich, which in my view is inaccurate characterisation of our intervention. We needed to clarify that.
A fourth point I want to deal with is the big social relief of distress, SRD, grant debate. We are under no illusion again that we can simply drop the SRD grant without a fundamental replacement, hence we are discussing a comprehensive social security system. What are the elements of that? The elements of that is social assistance, social insurance and active labour market policies. But for that to happen, we need to think about the trade-offs. As things stands, there is a baggage of interventions we are making for the poor. The entire indigent is 70 billion in this current financial year. If we are going to consolidate all of these amount of about R200 billion, we can talk about that. Those are going to be trade-offs we need to be talking about.
Regarding infrastructure, there are people who are saying that we must disaggregate the infrastructure. If we disaggregate that infrastructure in one financial year, the one we have concluded this year, it is R247 billion – that R68 billion for
municipalities, R63 billion for provinces and the remainder is split between state-owned enterprises, SOEs, and national government. So, that is what we are projecting over the
Medium-Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF, to about
R202 billion. That budget is making an attempt, accept that.
The expenditure on SOEs over the past few years has undermined social departments. The budget over the past two years is beginning to arrest that downward spiral. That must be acknowledged. On ... [Inaudible.] ... we undertake to provide regular report what goes to government and to Parliament on that progress.
In terms of municipalities, I think we have to bury all of these things and concentrate on how to make sustainable municipalities instead of this transactional coalitions that are messing up the stability in municipalities. What that demonstrate is that at a national level, even ... [Inaudible.]
... is undergoing difficult circumstances. That demonstrate that it will be suicidal to think that we can have this coalitions. God forbid! Because none of the political parties in this room other than the ANC can run this country on a national basis ...
The CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Order, hon members. Order. Order!
The MINISTER OF FINANCE: I repeat. It’s all very well in the context of electioneering. It’s all very well in the context of electioneering for all of you to say what you are saying.
The CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Hon members, don’t drown the speaker.
The MINISTER OF FINANCE: You can’t run this country nationally on a sustainable basis – not a chance. So, the budget was tabled ... House Chair, it is a progressive budget which talks to the challenges that are facing this country. I thank you.
The CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Thank you, hon ... Order, hon members.
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Chairperson, I move that the report be adopted.
Motion agreed to (with Democratic Alliance, Economic Freedom Front, Freedom Front Plus and African Christian Democratic Party dissenting).
The CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Hon members, I made a promise that I will come back on the matter of the hon Ntlangwini. [Interjections.] Hon members, order. We have listened to Hansard. She didn’t refer to the President. She said ... [Inaudible.]. So, there is no point of order on that. Order, Ntlangwini and the team. Hon members! Hon members, the second point is that on my left- and right-hand side there are chairs. So, anyone who comes from the floor must know that the waiting chairs are here and I urge that both sides use those chairs instead of coming from that side. This is for that purpose and you must use that one accordingly. Hon members ...
Ms E N NTLANGWINI: May I rise on a point of order, House Chair
- a point of order, House Chair.
The CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Hon members! What the point of order? Hon members, order! Order! Hon members. Hon members. Hon members! Okay, hon Ntlangwini, what’s the point of order?
Ms E N NTLANGWINI: I think the hon Radebe must read the Rules again or he owes me an apology.
The CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): No, that’s not a point of order. Hon members, that’s concludes the business of the day. And you know what you do. You should wait for the presiding officer, then you may leave. Thank you.
The House adjourned at 19:55.