Hansard: NA: Mini-Plenary 3
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 14 Sep 2023
No summary available.
MINI PLENARY 3 - NATIONAL ASSEMBLY (VIRTUAL) THURSDAY, 14 SEPTEMBER 2023
PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY CHAMBER MINI PLENARY 3
Watch video here: Mini-Plenary 3
Members of the mini-plenary session met on the virtual platform at 14:02.
The Acting Chairperson Ms R M M Lesoma took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayer or meditation.
The Acting Chairperson announced that the virtual mini-plenary sitting constituted a meeting of the National Assembly.
ASSESSING PROGRESS IN STRENGTHENING THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CRIME AND CORRUPTION
(Subject for Discussion)
Ms A K RAMOLOBENG: House Chair, can I kindly request to mute my video to close my video I'm going through lightly.
The ACTING HOUSE CHAIPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Permission granted, hon member.
Ms A K RAMOLOBENG: Thank you, House Chair. House Chair, members of the executive present on the platform, members of the House, fellow South Africans, the rule of law has two fundamental aspects. The first aspect is that the law must rule the people, and the people must obey the law. The second aspect is that the law must be capable of being obeyed and guiding people whose behaviour.
Both these aspects are indispensable for a well-functioning society. The first aspect prevents legalism where citizens become slaves to the law for getting the spirit behind it. the second aspect avoids presumptions that one can break the law without consequences.
House Chair, the rule of law defended by independent judiciary has a crucial function in ensuring that civil and political rights and liberties are safe. It also ensures that the equality and dignity of citizens is secure. Rule of law is closely linked to the ideals of democracy. A democratic state is one where citizens elect their leaders, and the government is bound by the law.
Today, with debate under the same House Chair, assessing the progress and strengthening the criminal justice system in the fight against crime and corruption, as the sixth administration draws near its end, it is important to reflect on some of the progress that has been made.
House Chair, since coming into office in 2018, President Ramaphosa committed to fighting crime and corruption. As leader of the ANC-led government, he has taken steps to deliver on his promises. Notably, the President, appointed new heads for the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, DPCI, National Prosecuting Authority, NPA, and the South African Revenue Service, Sars.
We have witnessed strengthening of the Special Investigating Unit, the establishment of the Investigating Directorate in the NPA and the appointment of the National Security Council, as well as the National Security Advisor. Up in this administration, we witnessed the relocation of the State Security Agency to the Presidency. This is in line with international best practices, where the most advanced intelligence agencies report directly to the head of state.
House Chair, this year we witnessed over 600 law graduates completing their training in the National Prosecuting Authority’s flagship programme, the Aspirant Prosecutor Programme, which formed a bigger recruitment strategy for the prosecution service.
Our country is grappling with the scourge of corruption and gender-based violence. It relies on the NPA as the prosecutorial component within the criminal justice system to vigorously prosecute those most responsible for these crimes.
Notwithstanding the challenges of budget cuts, the programme is a vehicle that allows and enables competent candidates to be appointed to entry level prosecutorial positions in the NPA. The programme has helped ensure that qualified prosecutors provided additional prosecutorial capacity in the lower courts. We hope to see the programme being revived again.
House Chair, the SIU achieved an unqualified audit opinion for the sixth consecutive year, this year, and vastly overachieving all the targets, partly because of their investigations into the PPE corruption. The SIU reported that it has done lifestyle audits and the government has noticed
that these audits are one of the tools that it can use to minimise corruption. Lifestyle audits are useful for identifying outliers in areas where officials have to explain. And, failure to explain becomes a red flag.
It has been reported that there is a process at the JCPS level, where the lifestyle audits would be considered in detail and an appropriate framework would be put in place in various institutions and departments. Lifestyle audits have been implemented, such as in the Department of Public Service and Administration. There is a need for a wider government framework that will ensure that lifestyle audits are done across the ward.
The SIU has been instrumental in taking profit out of crime. It has proven to be a critical pillar in the law enforcement arena, as it is the only organisation authorised to recover public money lost through acts of corruption in state institutions. The establishment and subsequent operation of the special tribunal in 2008 by the Department of Justice has made it possible for the SIU to expedite recovery of state monies and state assets lost through negligent and corrupt means.
The NPA is working collaboratively with SIU and the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation to ensure that perpetrators of acts of fraud and corruption are brought to book speeding early. House Chair, as we set out our priorities in the ANC 2019 Election Manifesto, we listed fighting crime and corruption as one of them.
To this end, the outcomes and recommendations of the Zondo Commission on State Capture are being welcomed and are in the process of being implemented. Law enforcement agencies have been legally empowered to use the commission report to institute criminal proceedings against those who looted public resources, including Eskom, Transnet, Prasa, National Lotteries Commission and more.
The ANC government has taken steps by amending sections of the Companies Act, in order to require the identity of shareholders of companies and addresses concerns about tax avoidance and illicit financial flaws. These steps include, actions taken against illegal imports and illicit cigarette sales. Up to 4 billion of stolen money from corruption has been recovered. How?
Chair, the ANC as an organisation has instituted step aside measures against those prosecuted for being involved in corruption related and other serious charges. Other reforms are being developed in the public sector, including SOEs, based on recommendations of the State Capture Commission.
Compared to other jurisdictions, our democracy is still relatively young. Nevertheless, we must pride ourselves in the democratic gains for which we have fought very hard and won.
Among them, is the existence of an independent and impartial judiciary - our judiciary!
House Chair, as one of the three arms of the state derives its mandate and authority from our Constitution, all South Africans have the constitutional duty to respect the role of the judiciary in our society and ensure that it is protected from unwarranted attacks in the exercise of its judicial authority.
As the ANC we reaffirm our commitment to the doctrine of the separation of powers and to the constitutional directive to assist and protect the courts to ensure their independence, their impartiality, dignity, accessibility and effectiveness. After all, it is us.
House Chair, in the Nineteen eighty-nine Harare Declaration even argued for a new legal system which would guarantee quality of all before the law and that South Africa would have an independent and nonracial judicial system. The Constitution, House Chair, guarantees freedom of expression and opinion.
However, we should be mindful that in the exercise of our freedoms we do not undermine the constitutional order as this may lead to the erosion of trust in the judiciary. Section 1 six five, subsection 3 of the Constitution states No person or organ of state may interfere with the functioning of the courts. House Chair, our courts have from time and time again shown us that they are acting independently impartially, without fear or favour, and that should be maintained.
House Chair, indeed, the outcomes of the courts are not always favourable to all parties. Our laws provide recourse for grievances on court's decisions, appeal and review processes are available for grievances regarding the conduct of a judge, as the case of hon Malema that has been roaming around the TikTok, the Judicial Service Commission as available and the Magistrates Commission in the case of magistrate is equally available.
House Chair, Cabinet released a statement and commended the ramping up of operation and bring back to identify and recover illegally occupied state buildings. As part of this initiative, the national government is providing support to municipalities to ensure the enforcement of bylaws use to eradicate hijacking of buildings as seen in Greater Johannesburg region. There is effective management and utilisation, and ability to account for the utilisation of government’s immovable assets. I thank you, House Chair. [Applause.]
Mr W HORN: House Chair, the period known as the state capture here and the debilitating effect it had on the criminal justice system as a whole is well described by Judge Cameron, formally a judge of the Constitutional Court, and now head of the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services who has written that, and I quote:
Nine years of criminal syndicalism and looting of state assets has sapped moral energy and institutional capacity. The crime surge in democratic South Africa was directly linked to the collapse of institutional capacity in the police - particularly, the crime detection and follow up services - and the collapse of competence in the National
Prosecuting Authority, NPA. This breakdown became sharply aggravated during the ‘Zuma years.’ Former President Zuma seemed determined to appoint as head of the NPA a loyalist who could be relied upon to protect his own interests. This led to a chaotic series of leadership bungles attributable to malign incompetence of various kinds. The result has been a catastrophic loss of focus and capacity.
This passage was sourced from an article with the topic, ‘The crisis of criminal justice in South Africa’, which Justice Cameron wrote in 2020. He ended this part of his analysis with the following paragraph, which is very relevant to this debate today, and I quote again:
Over the period preceding the Ramaphosa presidency, our government has been and unavoidably still is, plagued by criminally syndicated corruption and institutional disintegration.
Therefore, as the hon Ramolobeng has indicated, the question today is whether the Ramaphosa years is to give us any hope that the criminal justice system is being resuscitated and strengthened. Yes, on the positive side we have seen the appointment of the career prosecutor as National Director of
Prosecutions, NDP, in merely a generation. However, this has turned out to be as effective as tasking a committed person with bailing water with their hands from a boat with a massive hole in it. Specifically, as some of the other senior crew members who poked holes in the boat are still there on the deck and given the inability of their NDP to ensure successful prosecution of state capture cases.
On the positive side of the scale, we have seen small improvements in the budgetary allocation to the police and the NPA. The budget cuts to which these institutions were subjected to during the Zuma years was, however, part of a near fatal blow to the criminal justice system and it remains to be seen what effect the looming fiscal crisis will have on their budgets. The shelving again of the aspirant prosecutor program of the NPA may be a sign of things to come.
The resulted increase in the number of police officers and prosecutors could have been seen as positive. Sadly, however, this has had no real positive impact on the delivery of justice to victims. Quantity did not result in quality; lost dockets, incomplete dockets, fewer case ready dockets, ever dwindling court hours, fewer enrolled cases, fewer cases
ending in a verdict and fewer convictions are still hallmarks of our criminal justice system.
Yes, on the positive side, we had the report and recommendations of the Zondo Commission into state capture. Nearly five and a half thousand pages meticulously describing why the ANC, in the words of President Ramaphosa, is accused number one when it comes to corruption. The hon Ramolobeng has spent a big part of his speech on the successes of the Special Investigating Unit, SIU, which is not to be denied but the SIU not the part of the criminal justice system and in somewhat an ironic manner, she’s also boasted about the lifestyle audits developed by the SIU, seemingly oblivious to the ... [Inaudible.] ... session in this House that he has not made any progress with subjecting the members of his executive to lifestyle audits.
We know that the root cause of this government’s inertia and respect of the Zondo recommendations is the fact that for as long as the party in charge of proceedings is also the party that’s supposed to be in the police lineup, dragged feet and all sorts of delays and failures is to be expected. During the state of the nation address of 2021, the President announced the establishment of the National Anti-Corruption Advisory
Council to oversee the implementation of the anti-corruption strategy and the establishment of an independent statutory anti-corruption body that reports to Parliament. Now, two and a half years later, there is still no sign of this independent statutory anti-corruption body.
The Anti-Corruption Advisory Council is apparently planning or to be more accurate, hoping, to file a report about this sometime next year – surprise, surprise, just before the election - on the format and process to be followed. This means the current plan is to finalise a further plan, more or less, three years after the President said he is to deliver an anti-corruption body just in time to try and convince the electorate that there’s been action. Anyone who knows this government’s use of smoke and mirrors will be able to tell us that in all likelihood what we will have sooner rather than later is the ANC claiming to have had a light bulb moment during which it realised that to make the investigative directorate of the NPA a permanent structure, a proposal already before this House in a freshly tabled Bill, would be enough.
The one thing that the ANC is more allergic to than good service delivery is a type of loss of control and influence
which the establishment of a truly independent anti-corruption body will mean. Therefore, no one who wants a government which is truly committed to the fortification of the criminal justice system and to the fight against corruption could even, for a millisecond, consider voting for the ANC in 2024. Thank you.
Ms N CHIRWA: Chairperson, can I request to keep my video off because we are going through the sheds?
The ACTING HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Okay, you are granted.
Ms N CHIRWA: Thank you very much, Chairperson. South Africa is today held to ransom by a gang of criminals who take life and property with impunity. In the midst of all of that, the state is woefully clueless and has no idea what needs to be done to address the dangerously high rates of crime. In each and every quarter the South African Police Services, SAPS, released crime statistics report which paint a very saddening picture of our ability to fight crime in our country.
The rate of crime in this country is alarmingly high, and if we had a government that cared, extraordinary measures would
be taken to arrest the descent into complete lawlessness, a state in which none of us here would be guaranteed safety and security unless that comes from the criminals themselves.
Mr Bheki Cele, as the Minister, possesses neither the intellectual depth required to think through crime fighting strategies, nor the basic operational competency to manage and strategically guide SAPS. The National Commissioner of Police is not any better and his appointment was merely pay back for the role he played in helping Mr Cyril Ramaphosa conceal his Phala Phala crimes.
In just a three-month period between October and December 2022, 7 555 people were murdered in this country and there were 7 016 cases of attempted murder. There were over 15 000 cases of reported sexual offenders, which include 12 419 cases of rape. These are just reported cases and it has become common knowledge in this country that there are thousands more cases of sexual offences that never get reported to the police. There were over 50 000 cases of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm. Off the reported murder, 319 of them were murders of children and over 2 000 children were assaulted with the intent to do the grievous body harm. This
translates into over 82 murders every single day in this country and about 169 sexual offences per day.
This is not normal in our society. There is something inherently wrong with a state that allows the proliferation of crime and disorder the way the ruling party has allowed crime to flourish in this country. We have become a criminal society and crime is enabled implicitly and explicitly by the state, while inequality and the failure of the past 1994 neo apartheid regime to create economic opportunities for the vast majority of our people are surely to blame.
One major contributor to this chaos is the capture of the South African Police Service itself by rogue criminal elements from the top to the very bottom. Only a tiny fraction of these reported cases will ever lead to perpetrators getting charged, least of all getting convicted for their crimes. We have several rapists amongst us who torment women on a daily basis because the state simply has no capacity to investigate, prosecute and properly adjudicate on these cases. This leaves everyone vulnerable to crime, but the situation is worse for women and children who can’t protect themselves most of the time and are victims of abuse and violence from those that they share their homes with.
We call on Cyril Ramaphosa to fire Cele and the National Commissioner and immediately put measures in place to reconfigure the management of SAPS to root out corruption elements within SAPS and to have a dedicated team focusing on the phenomenon of mass shootings in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape, in particular. As is, SAPS has no capacity of any kind to fight crime because the institution itself has been corrupted beyond measure. We need to recalibrate our approach to policing and that needs capable men and women in charge of SAPS not the useless political deployees we have at the current moment. Thank you very much, Chairperson.
The ACTING HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Thank you, hon member. Hon members, please, when you refer to a member of the Cabinet, please use honourable or Mr or Ms or Mrs.
Ms H DENNER: House Chair, the subject of this debate is misleading, because to assess the progress in the strengthening of the criminal justice system implies that progress has been made and that could not be further from the truth.
The criminal justice system has failed and is failing South African citizens every day, and it will continue to fail us
under an ANC government that does not have the political will, the drive or the capability to fix it.
A criminal justice system is a series of government agencies and institutions with the goals of delivering justice to those who have been accused of committing crimes, rehabilitating offenders, preventing other crimes and providing moral support to victims.
So, with that as backdrop, let’s assess the progress of the South African criminal justice system under the ANC government, with regard to delivering justice to those who have been accused of committing crimes. Crime in South Africa is rampant with an increase in the murders of women and children over the past quarter, compared to the same quarter of the previous year, according to the latest crime stats as one example. Incidences of rape, GBV and femicide keep increasing, despite additional resources, apparently allocated by the president himself to this problem. Sexual offences courts are not properly capacitated and there aren’t nearly enough of them.
A recent report on the prosecution of murders and attacks on farm workers and farmers in rural areas confirmed that only 5%
of these perpetrators have been successfully prosecuted. Court rolls are so behind that those accused of crimes often wait years on end to be prosecuted, leaving their victims unable to move on with their lives, without any form of justice being done.
This problem is exacerbated by the ever-present load shedding, a shortage of translators, a shortage of presiding officers and other necessary resource shortages, to successfully prosecute the crimes perpetrated against South Africans.
And then I haven’t even gotten started on the deplorable conditions of our court buildings. The Department of Public Works should hang their heads in shame.
Die Spesiale Ondersoekeenheid, hoewel nie deel van die strafregstelsel nie, doen wonderlike werk met dit wat hulle tot hulle beskikking het, maar met uitstaande skuld van staatsdepartemente en munisipaliteite wat nie hulle rekeninge, van sowat R600 miljoen aan die eenheid betaal nie, kan geen eenheid behoorlik funksioneer nie. Dit beteken dat ekstra ondersoekers nie aangestel kan word nie, dat die huidige ondersoekers se hande nie versterk kan word nie en dit ry
hierdie eenheid se werk in die wiele. En ons almal weet dat hierdie eenheid, weens ANC-bedrog en korrupsie, meer werk het as wat hulle ooit sal kan verrig.
Recently, we saw a stunningly elaborate scheme, with the likes of the state capture saga ironically, in the form of the former President Zuma’s special remission of his prison sentence. Now, we heard all the excuses of over populated prisons and how this programme would reduce the pressure on correctional service institutions, etc. And that’s wonderful, but with a recidivism rate of more than 90%, we should not be letting anyone out before they’ve at least served their time.
It’s clear that the criminal justice system is in shambles. It doesn’t serve anyone, except the ANC when it comes to it. We can no longer afford a government that allows such an important system to deteriorate to where it is today. There will be no progress in strengthening the criminal justice system in the fight against crime and corruption, while the criminal and corrupt are in charge of that system. Thank you.
Mna B MAMABOLO: Aowa, ke re di hwile tieuwe. Ke bahu.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Hon Mamabolo, you are not recognised.
The MINISTER OF JUSTICE AND CORRECTIONAL SERVICES:
Chairperson, I’m here, I was struggling to unmute due to you calling me coincided with load shedding. Chairperson, I will request that in case my video disappears, it would be because of load shedding here.
The ACTING CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): I will request that you switch off your video, hon Minister. And you may then proceed.
The MINISTER OF JUSTICE AND CORRECTIONAL SERVICES: Thank you,
Hon House Chairperson, for the debate that has been ably opened by hon Ramolobeng, the progress that she has noted is the progress that we have also noted in the criminal justice system. The statistics that she has revealed do show that the criminal justice system is working regarding its relay effect from the date of arrest up until the date when the criminals are convicted, and that is shown in several cases that go through our courts on a day-to-day basis where criminals are convicted and the level of overcrowding in our system. The
question that the House will ask itself is: Because the system does work, what are the challenges that we still have as the criminals continue to commit crime? The answer is the fact that we must fix the system so that criminals know that if they commit a crime, they will be arrested and the first time they do commit a crime, they will be prosecuted, and they will be found guilty. In terms of research, it has been proven all over the world that that is the biggest deterrent to crime, and that is what we need to fix in the criminal justice system. It is unfortunate that none of the speakers are speaking to the core of this challenge. I can reveal to you, hon Chairperson, some days ago, the Hawks arrested 611 suspects and seized various items, including precious metals, diamonds, endangered species, vehicles, cash, firearms, ammunition, counterfeit goods, explosives, and electronic devices worth about R6 million. In addition, the police have also arrested Zamazama kingpins and were granted preservation orders against their assets that includes luxury vehicles such as Lamborghinis, precious metals, and cash to the value of
R34 million. There has also been a clear fight to prevent a heist in Limpopo province, in Makhado, where several criminals were found before they could commit a crime. This is the work of law enforcement agencies and some of them go through the criminal justice system until they are convicted.
We had, as I speak, 36 813 reported cases in the last financial year related to rape and gender-based violence, with a national conviction rate of 77,1%. One thousand one hundred and forty-two of 1 484 cases were finalized, 257 of the accused received life imprisonment sentences, and 26 of them were serial rapists. This shows that the system does work.
In addition, 501 accused receive long-term sentences of between 10 to 25 years imprisonment. What I do think that as a nation and as this House, we need to also focus on ... the reality is that the system does work, but we need to deal with the aspect that people become repeat offenders before they get dealt with by the system.
Again, we need to deal with the social ills that affect our society, unemployment, the broken family structures, and the community role in fighting crime. It is not only the criminal justice system, hon Chair, that will enable our nation to fight and succeed in the fight against crime. And it is therefore disappointing when you hear all political parties putting all their efforts and blame on the criminal justice system. Whilst we do acknowledge that there are challenges - which I have already pointed out - I do think that we need to work as a collective and as a nation to deal with the family
structure, and to deal with our societal structure because criminals live within and with us, they buy and sell to the customers within the society, and these are the issues that we need to deal with.
We have continued to work to ensure that we restore confidence in the criminal justice system, and the President has done so when he appointed the current National Director of Public Prosecutions, NDPP. He appointed her through a transparent process. The President also made a proclamation in establishing the Investigating Directorate, ID, which is now dealing with several matters emanating from the state capture inquiry. And there has also been several proclamations that hon Ramolobeng spoke about that related to several matters that we now have money that has been paid back into the fiscus, about R1,1 billion ... McKinsey, R150 million ...
Trillian ... and R150 million ... Deloitte ... and about R600 million ... Trillian. The Investigative Directorate reached a settlement agreement for R2,5 billion in punitive reparations related to serious crimes committed during the state capture period, R2,5 billion is now in the Criminal Assets Recovery Account, CARA. Also, the Asset Forfeiture Unit, AFU, obtained recoveries of about R2,83 billion. So,
there is work that is happening. There are preservation orders
to the amount of R5,4 billion. I am shocked by hon Horn stating that there has not been any work even in the ID there is work that you can touch. Thirty-four cases are in the court process, and about 205 accused persons emanating from the state capture matters are in the court roll. The Special Commercial Crimes Unit and the Director of Public Prosecutions in the regions have enrolled 78 cases involving 363 accused from the Anticorruption Task Team and these are related to ... [Inaudible.] ... priority case matters. So, it does work, hon Chair, and the intention to make it permanent is well intentioned by the President, it is a demonstration of the political will of the President and the governing party, the ANC, to fight corruption and to provide security of tenure to those that are working dedicatedly at the ID to deal with the matters that are emanating from state capture. Those who are saying it should only be a Chapter 9 institution, are saying so because they want to delay the work that must be done to make the ID permanent. And now with all the Members of Parliament, we can all collectively ensure that the ID becomes permanent. For a system to work, hon Chair - as I have said - it is a relay effect.
In so far as Integrated Justice System, IJS, is concerned, we have linked 1 080 police stations to the IJS hub. This linked
the personal identification and verification system using Home Affairs biometric data, amongst others. With the click of a button, the information can be shared between the police, the National Prosecuting Authority, and Home Affairs, and this will also be linked to Correctional Services. We believe, House Chair, this is the backbone and the engine of the criminal justice system. What we now need to ensure is that it becomes modernized, it becomes efficient, is responsive, and it enables us to deal with crime in real time. These are the efforts that this government is putting. We call upon the private sector, the NGOs, and the civil society to help us close the gap in the family unit, in society, and to deal with the socioeconomic challenges that our country is facing.
It is incorrect, Chair, to state that the remission programme was is not helpful because in most instances where it has been applied, it has reduced the level of overcrowding and the statistics of the Department of Correctional Services that shows that less than 1% of parolees recommit crime. There is no truth in the fact that most of them go back to the lives of crime. Most of them are good citizens, but unfortunately, we do admit that a few of them do commit heinous crimes and that is part of less than 1%, and that less than 1% is one too many. Hence, we are continuing to work to rehabilitate these
offenders through making them to work in our facilities so that when they leave our facilities, they can be economically active, and they can also be good citizens of our country and contribute to a positive life in our society. We call upon societies to welcome them with good hands and encourage them to leave the life of offending and be good citizens and ambassadors of Correctional Services. If we work together in the criminal justice system, all the stakeholders, the government, and civil society building the family unit and the communities, we can fight and defeat crime. This country can be a free society, free of crime, and South Africans can be able to feel free and safe. Thank you very much, hon House Chair.
Mr J ENGELBRECHT: House Chair, in a democratic dispensation the legitimacy of the criminal justice system is seated in the public’s confidence therein. South Africa, a nation grappling with rampant crime and deeply rooted corruption finds itself at a crossroads where public confidence, in the legitimacy of its criminal justice system hangs by a fragile threat. While many factors contribute to this, it is government’s actions or lack thereof that bears the brunt of responsibility for the disillusionment that has enveloped the nation. There are a few
aspects I will not dwell upon like legislative reforms where implementation has been inconsistent at best.
This lack of effective enforcement has created an environment where corrupt politicians or officials and criminals strive with impunity, eroding public trust, the police force and its inability to maintain law and order, reflecting a disregard for the rights and safety of citizens. Community policing initiatives that started as being a gap between the police and the public has proven ineffective due to systemic problems within the SA Police Service, SAPS, and the judiciary. Despite being a separate branch of government, it is not immune to public skepticism. The perception of political interference, whether real or perceived, has cast doubts on the impartiality of the judicial process.
A significant impediment to justice is the backlog of cases in South Africa’s courts. Delays in trials not only deny victims their right to timely justice, but also led to a loss of faith in the system. Overcrowded prisons underscore the adequacies of correctional systems. Government’s inability to address these issues reflect a failure to provide swift and fair justice to its citizens. The recent sentence remission is a glaring example of this. The crux of the overcrowded prisons
problem is not seated in the 12 311 sentenced individuals, but in the 52 016 remand detainees. In South Africa you are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Remand detainees have not been sentenced and are therefore in terms of the law, innocent until otherwise proven in court.
Through this remission, criminals sentenced by courts are let loose into society to make space for unsentenced individuals. The prioritisation of remand detainees over sentenced inmates undermines the correctional services system. This is an admission of incompetence. These releases are taking place without adhering to prescripts, overwhelmingly the already overwhelmed community corrections, resulting in individuals being dumped into society without proper reintegration programmes. In many cases those being released are left destitute - bound to recommit crime. This rushed approach lacks proper planning or consideration for rehabilitation and societal reintegration. It would seem that the motivation behind these releases appears to be more about legitimising the release of former President Zuma in an attempt to lift to limit factional damage in the ANC rather than implementing a carefully considered evidence-based solution to the populists the present overpopulation crisis.
This approach is short-sighted and irresponsible, ultimately further undermining the integrity of the criminal justice system. Perhaps the most concerning factor contributing to the loss of public confidence in the criminal justice system is political interference, particularly within the National Prosecuting Authority, NPA. Allegations of political meddling in high profile cases have become disturbingly common. Such accusations, whether substantiated or not, have the credibility of the NPA and by extension, the entire justice system. Under the ANC, neither Mr Zuma nor the Guptas will take ... [Interjections.] ... not interest that they ever do because the ANC ... ... [Interjections.] ...
The ACTING HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Hon member, one second. Hon Gomba, just mute yourselves, ma’am - please. You may proceed, hon Engelbrecht.
Mr J ENGELBRECHT: This lost trust requires government to take bold steps, ensuring transparency and accountability, and an unwavering commitment to the rule of law. South Africa’s citizens deserve a criminal justice system that they can have faith in, and it is government’s duty to deliver on that promise - but clearly not this government.
In conclusion, thank you hon Ramabulana, for the debate. However, an amended topic would have been more accurate if it read, “Assessing ANC interventions to prevent progress in strengthening the criminal justice system to obstruct the fight against crime and corruption”. Thank you very much.
The ACTING HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Thank you, hon member. Just for fairness and completeness of this debate, I will go back to any other hon member who might have gone to other mini-plenary sittings and who would like to be given an opportunity before I give the hon A Ramolobeng to close the debate.
Ms M M GOMBA: Hon Chair, I don’t have the facilities to raise my hand. Melina Gomba was supposed to be on the platform.
Unfortunately, at the point in time, there was load shedding. Can I please be given my 10 minutes of debate?
The ACTING HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Okay, over to you, hon Gomba. And I will just ask that by show of hands, and the front Table will assist me, if there is any other member. I now recognise the hon Gomba.
Ms M M GOMBA: Hon House Chair, as we debate today, I wish to echo words of our former President Tata [Mr] Nelson Mandela, who on the occasion of the National Day of Safety and Security said:
Every community in our country has a fundamental right to be free from fear. Each and every South African has the right to feel secure in their home, to feel safe in the cities, towns and rural areas. People should not fear the night. They must be able to travel to work, to school and other places without danger.
Hon House Chair, the National Development Plan requires amongst others that we build safer communities, promote accountability, fight corruption, strengthen judicial governance and the rule of law. A debate of this nature is important because it requires us to assess how far we have come and where we are going to.
In 2019 the people of South Africa gave the ANC the mandate to govern. They did so on amongst others, our track record in creating a better life and the promises contained in our manifesto. In 2019 the manifesto came under the theme: “Let’s grow South Africa together.” The two of our priorities were
stepping up fight against corruption throughout society and guarding the integrity of the state and ethical leadership. Number two, which is building safer communities.
The 2019 manifesto committed to strengthen policing to help rid our communities of all forms of crime, drugs, gangsterism and violence against women. We note that gender-based violence has reached crisis proportions. We acknowledge that gender- based violence and femicide, GBVF has among with high levels of crime pose a serious threat to the freedom and dignity of South Africans. We argue that causes of crime are as a result of unemployment, inequality, poverty and patriarchy.
Hon House Chair, gender-based violence has long ... [Inaudible] ... South Africa and it remains a persistent issue that has taken lives, haunted citizens and brought the entire country to a standstill on many occasions. Hence the President declared it the second pandemic. The ANC government has not been silent on the matter. Following the First Presidential Summit on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide which was held in 2018, the National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide was developed with all stakeholders and was signed into effect by the President on 31 of April 2020. The government continues to implement the plan and expanding
victim care facilities. Many other interventions, including legislative development have been put in place.
Touching on the issue of illicit trade, in the in February this year the Minister of Finance indicated that over the past three years, the SA Revenue Service has taken several steps to enhance the effectiveness in combating illicit trade particularly in the tobacco industry. SA Revenue Service, Sars has completed 2 316 seizures of cigarettes and tobacco product of R598,8 million. The Minister announced that R14 billion has been allocated for the minimum term to fight crime and corruption with SA Police Service been allocated R7,8 billion to appoint 5 000 police trainees this year.
One of the weak points which have been identified in the criminal justice is a silo approach in the fight against fraud and corruption. Notwithstanding the existing challenges, we can appreciate the levels of collaboration and co-ordination between the Investigative Directorate, Asset Forfeiture Unit, the Specialised Commercial Crime Unit, the Special Investigating Unit and the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation. We encourage the different role-players in the justice value chain to continue with working together in order
to fight crime in and make South Africa a better and a safer place to stay.
The importance of visible policing cannot be emphasised enough. It was reported that, more patrol vans and high- powered vehicles were ordered to supplement visible policing and specialised units such as highway patrols and flying squads to respond effectively to crime. Hon House Chair, the SAPS took a decision to confront crime aggressively and strategically. Intensified police operations have been mounted to prevent and combat crime with high density operations in all provinces.
Operation Shanela is the SAPS’s newly adapted crime combating high density operations. Since its inception on 08 May 2023, more than 78 suspects have been arrested for a variety of crimes including murder, rape, hijacking, and housebreaking. Through Operation Shanela, we have seen a high number of foreign nationals who were in the country illegally. It was difficult to link them to crimes in terms of their fingerprints or DNA, as there were no records of them in the country. But SAPS has intensified its focus on illegal foreign nationals here. While there is still a high number or levels of crime, we see that police are pushing back on crime. They
are fighting back on crime, especially in the violent crime areas.
A highlight of crime statistics for April to June 2003 was that SAPS had recorded a decrease of 196 which is 3,1% in the count of murder and a decrease of 2% which is 289 in sexual offences. Hon House Chair, it was the first time in many years that there has been a decline and we applaud our SAPS for the good work. It is regrettable to note that 31 police officials were killed in 91 days in the fourth quarter compared to the
18 officers killed in the previous comparable quarter. Every life matters. Yes, every life matters.
So, the attack on police being the very same people who are meant to protect us must be condemned in the very harshest terms. We welcome government’s effort in the fight against crime. The Gauteng Crime Fighting Unit also known as amaPanyaza was established. This government-led initiative is more like the same as what we used to historically call as street committees, where community members organized themselves to provide safety and security in their neighbourhoods. We continue to encourage citizens to take part in programmes such as community policing forums and government efforts to fight crime, effectively so.
During our Budget Vote debate this year, we showed appreciation for completion of the building and capacitation of the forensic science laboratory in Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape to address the DNA backlogs. The laboratory was officially opened by the President last month. With a new and enhanced capacity in the Eastern Cape, the forensic science laboratory police can expect faster turnaround times, especially with respect to the investigation of gender-based violence and femicide cases.
In a patriarchal society like ours, we must show appreciation for women who continue making strides in traditional male dominated spaces. Women are increasingly present in the National Intervention Unit, Special Task Force, the Disposal Unit, tactical response teams, search and rescue teams ...
The ACTING HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Hon Gomba,
your time is up Ma’am. Thank you very much.
Ms M M GOMBA: Thank you House Chair.
The ACTING HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): I now
recognise ... I have been advised that hon Shaik Emam is back
on the platform. Over to you hon Shaik Emam if you still want to come in.
Mr A M SHAIK EMAM: Chairperson, I was in the other debate. I appreciate that. Thank you very much. We are discussing a very important issue and that’s the criminal justice system in crime in South Africa. I think we are often the point here, Chairperson, and often we seem to accept the men and women in blue to resolve the issue of crime when indeed, it is not them who are the root cause of why the levels of crime are so high in the country.
Let’s start with what are some of the reasons why the levels of crime are so high. First of all, the high unemployment rate. That’s the first thing. Secondly and more importantly, it is a socioeconomic condition under which our people live upon.
World health organisation has just released that over
R3 million debts are caused annually all over the world as a result of alcohol and yet even though the liquor board allow you to have taverns open until 2 o’clock, the local municipalities give them 24 hours’ license and we note of challenges that we have then.
More importantly, if we look at the conditions under which our people live, last year I say again, 91 000 children gave birth to children. Let’s look at our Basic Education system. There is very little or nothing to attract and keep learners in school.
Let’s look at the Social Development, they are giving them Child Support Grants. There is no mechanism to ensure that these children are going to school that they benefitting from the Child Support Grants. There is very little. You sadly cannot fully expect police officers who gets R23 danger allowance the moment their lives are in danger, living in an informal settlement in the Kanana side where more than 30 police died in the last financial year. You are expecting them to restore this. Surely, we should be able to the holistic approach, come together and deal with the root cause, a holistic approach where all relevant departments come together.
What I find happening in this House, hon Chairperson, is that everybody appears to be attacking police officers and the question which I asked before was how many of us are willing to send our children out there for R23 danger allowance. Why not pay those abandoned buildings and convert some of them for
accommodation for our police officers, our men and women in blue? Why not deal with the high levels of crime because the root cause is alcohol.
Why not shut the travers down over the weekend to restrict the amount of alcohol? Why not deal with the issue of economic growth through job creation. Let’s people be more productive in the society. Why not attract them through sports and other activities in schools so that they could stay there. Why not deal with the absence fathers, 78% of blacks, 56% of coloureds fathers are not in the life of their children who must take responsibility. I see you are looking at me, Chairperson.
Lastly, I want to say in closing, the NFP is not of the opinion, want need to come together find solutions in the interest of the country and the people we serve. Let’s stop attacking and scoring points and making this a political football. Thank you very much.
THE ACTING CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): At least you know if I look at you, other members, they just ignore me. Thank you very much. Now I recognize, hon A K Ramolo, to close the debate. Over to you, ma’am.
Ms A K RAMOLOBENG: Chair, it’s A K Ramolobeng. I understand the difficulties in pronouncing my surname. Let’s me say thanks to, hon Shaik Emam, for emphasising the importance in that crime is a societal issue, which we all should put our energies and focus on it and not politicise it to score cheap points unnecessary. It reads everyone, our households, our kids and our families. So, therefore, it requires everyone to be on board on it.
Chair, in the 2021-22 financial year, the Special Investigating Unit reported that, R96 billion in rand value of potential cash and assets recovered, R26 billion value of potential loss prevented, R436 million in rand value of actual cash and assets recovered, R54 billion in rand value of contracts or action set aside were deemed invalid and 54 cases issued in special tribunal to the value of the contract value of R49 billion and 570 referrals made to the relevant Prosecuting Authority.
Chair, I thought I make an emphasis on this to further what the Minister would have made an emphasis on regarding hon Horn as issue or matter on this one.
Chair, patriarchy being one of the root causes of gender-based violence. In its nature promote men privilege. The attitude and expectation organise on these basis rank men above women providing a social structure that gives men uncontested authority. It is an obsession with control as a core value around which social life is organised.
President Ramaphosa, characterised gender-based violence as the second pandemic over the Six Administration. It is this Parliament that passed the three bills in the fight against gender-based violence. All political parties represented voted in favour of the legislation. Everyone understood that gender- based violence is a societal ill requiring everyone’s co- operations.
We have witnessed the development of the online work portal for applications for domestic violence, protection orders and a user-friendly dashboard, which enables to identify systemic issues within national laws and policies across all state departments.
The integrated electronic repertory or protection orders and a national strategy on domestic violence will be developed in
the 2023 financial year to give full effect to the Domestic Violence Amendment Bill.
Chair, in November 2022, Cabinet approved the publishing of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Bill of 2022 regarding the discriminalisation of sex work for public comment. One of the salient changes introduced by the Amendment Act is the recognition of nonverbal communications as oral evidence.
A witness under the age of 18 years or any witness who suffers from a physical, psychological, mental or emotional condition, which inhibits the ability to give oral evidence may use demonstrations, gestures or any nonverbal expression, including the use of communication device when testifying.
One of the provisions in the Judicial Matters Amendment Bill currently before Parliament amend section 55(a) of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act to enable the designation of specific regional court places of citing as Sexual Offences Court. A total of 145 disability-centric court has been established nationwide in the previous two financial years and this financial year plans
are in place to upgrade an additional 65 lower courts to offer this reasonable accommodation.
The National Prosecuting Authority has seen significant improvement in the expansion of its Thuthuzela Care Centres whilst maintaining high sexual offences convictions rates with a current conviction rate of 76%. To date, there are 63 operational Thuthuzela Care Centres located in rural, urban and pery-urban communities nationally. This number is up from 55.
Chair, 1 023 out of 1 158 functional police stations reported that they had dedicated victim friendly rules during the reporting period. The remaining 135 functional police stations will be ... [Inaudible.] ... 2026.
The prevention of crime is the responsibility of everyone in the country, not only the police. Crime prevention requires collaboration, and so it is important that there should be continuous collaboration between criminal justice system departments and other departments responsible for different types of policing and interdepartmental corporation amongst departments responsible for local government, education and Social Service. This goes to what, hon Chirwa, was raising. We
must applaud the Gauteng government led by the Premier, Panyaza, through the identification of amapanyapanya, which hon Melina Gomba would have alluded to, Chair, to make sure that, we try to combat crime in our communities, in our corners of our areas.
South Africans prosperity depends on the rule of law, trust between police, prosecutors and the public and a criminal justice system that treat all people fairly. When the people feel safe, the economy will thrive and investor confidence will be boosted.
While we have a long way to go and face many challenges, the successes of the ANC government exist and are noteworthy. We applaud the work that has been done and encourage government to continue creating a better and safer life for all, Chair. We also welcome the arrest of nine officials in the Northern Cape in the Department of Health for the personal protective equipment, PPE, corruptions, which are suspected of accused of fraud, corruption and money laundering. Chair, I thank you.
CONSTITUTION NINETEENTH AMENDMENT BILL
(First Reading debate)
The ACTING CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Hon members, we shall now proceed to the last order of the day which is the First Reading debate of the Constitution Nineteenth Amendment Bill.
Hon members, before we proceed and recognise the hon Chief Whip of the Opposition, I would like to explain the Rules relevant for the First Reading debate. In terms of Rule 285(3) the person in charge of the debate is allocated 15 minutes to make an introductory speech and to reply to the debate. The Rule stipulates that a list for members and the allocated time for other speakers will follow. For now hon members, I will now recognize the Chief Whip of the Opposition to introduce the debate. Over to you, hon Gwarube.
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITON: Hon Chairperson, as the Sixth Parliament wines down its business, we should take a long and hard look at the work that we have done to improve the lives of South Africans that we represent in this House. We should ask ourselves the question: How we sufficiently asked the executive to account? Have we championed the issues facing South Africans? Have we passed legislation that seeks to solve
the problems of our people and have we retained our independence as an institution and remained faithful to those who elected us?
Unfortunately hon members the answer to all of these questions is a resounding no. We have not flexed our legislative muscle enough and lived up to our aught of office. Instead this House has been relegated to being a lapdog of the government of the day and not a watch dog for the people.
The statistics speaks for themselves. In the last two terms of Parliament only two Private Members’ Bills have been passed.
This is despite the fact that our core business in Parliament is to pass laws on behalf of the people.
There has been an over-reliance on the executive to pass legislation a job that is not theirs.
Chairperson, we are the lawmakers. So, it is in this context that I table before this House the Constitution Nineteenth Amendment Bill.
Simply put this Bill seeks to raise the bar when Parliament or the legislature considers a motion of no confidence in a
President or in a premier. If passed, it will limit the frequency and introduce constitutional grounds upon which a motion of no confidence can be heard in the legislature or Parliament. This is designed to stabilise government’s national coalition or a provincial coalition government.
Chairperson, it will be catastrophic to see the instability of a provincial or a national government in the same way that we have seen in the local government. This legislation would also not take away the right of members to be able to hold premiers or a President to account as it is envisioned in section 102 of the Constitution.
There is a legislative caviar which is an important one because motions of no confidence are an important accountability tool. So while a motion of no confidence will be limited to once a year, provision would be made for the removal of the President or a premier if the following conditions are met.
Firstly, a serious violation of the Constitution.
Mong W T LETSIE: Marangrang ha a batle o polotike ka dintho tsa bohlokwa. E ya o kgaola.
Give it to another one of the DA.
No, they do not have the notes. It is only her and hon Steenhuisen.
The ACTING CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Hon members we are still on the platform.
The front table will advise me what to do. Let us wait. I am just seeking an advice of what we do in these instances.
Mr Ngaleka are you able just to advice in terms of the Rules if such a thing happens?
Alright, you are calling the hon member. Alright.
Hon members just bear with us.
Mr M S MALATSI: Chairperson, I had my hand up, she is trying to connect. She is trying to connect back she experienced load shedding now.
The ACTING CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Alright. However, also be on standby with your notes as well, so that you can chip in.
Mr W T LETSIE: I there was no load shedding in Cape Town.
Kapa DA ha e jwetse batho ba rona nnete?
Mof C N NDABA: Ba tlwaetse ho se bue nnete.
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITON:
The ACTING CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Mr Ngaleka, how long should we wait?
Hon Gwarube, are you in now?
Mr Ngaleka, in terms of the Rules how many because I know they are silent, but there should be a precedence on this. Or probably moving forward we must look at it on how we manage such instances.
Mr W T LETSIE: Let us go to the next speaker, Chair.
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITION: Chairperson.
The ACTING CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Hon member are you back.
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITION. Yes, unfortunately I got hit by load shedding, but I am back.
The ACTING CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Hon member, please do not show your video so that your connection is stable and on a safer space. You may proceed.
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITION. Alright. Thank you very much, hon Chairperson. I am not starting from scratch.
So, why is this Bill important, hon members for South Africa? Well one of the problems that is haunting our people is the
instability of the local councils in our key metros. Johannesburg, Ekuruleni, Nelson Mandela Bay and to a lesser extent Tshwane, have been victims of political musical chairs. We have seen a revolving door of political parties taking on of the executive office because of gentleman’s agreements done behind closed doors. What has happened in some of these metros has undermined the will of the people and completely basterdised the sacredness of the Vote. This has a direct impact on the quality of services delivered to citizens in these areas. So, with every mayor, every motion of no confidence, with every removal of the mayoral team we have seen a glaring neglect of the people who look to government for services. Rubbish is not collected, traffic lights do not work crime has exceeded to unprecedented levels. Budgets that are passed by previous administration are shoved at and new priorities are identified.
This is why we have seen an explosion and a complete collapse of places like the City of Johannesburg. While in recent years, motions of no confidence, Chairperson, have been abused for political reasons. We have seen people removed from office due to checkbook politics and not on the basis of concrete constitutional grounds which is what this Bill seeks to do.
This has wreaked havoc in government such as service delivery
coming to a grinding halt. Mayors, Speakers, Whips of Councils are removed for political reasons and not governance failures.
Where we have seen glaring governance failures incompetent one seat party are retained because of numbers in council’s from their unholy alliances. All this happens while the citizens are the ones who lose out the most.
So, while politicians are arguing about positions in government, people are being killed by disasters that can be avoided. Like we saw the loss of over 70 lives in the City of Johannesburg. And so, it does not matter which political party you represent or which constituency you fight for, we can all agree that this instability in our metros cannot continue.
As leaders, we cannot allow for the degeneration of governance in this manner. This is why it is important to look ahead and prepare for the eventuality of hung legislatures and a possible hung Parliament.
The DA has researched, has drafted and proposed a raft of Bills which strengthen existing legislation in order to respond to the crisis of unstable government.
We believe that our role as the official opposition is to offer solutions and to lobby for their adoption in this House.
Our democracy is maturing. It is consolidating in a way that means coalition governments are here to stay. We need to establish the rules of engagement. We need to reconnect with people who that we represent and we need to craft laws that fill the legislative gaps where they may exist. Our Constitution and our electoral system were never designed to make provision for multiparty governance. And so now they need to be updated. To meet our current reality.
So, while the crisis in local government continues, as lawmakers we must cast our eyes to the looming national and provincial elections coming up next year. We cannot be reactive. We cannot be forced by civil society once again through court action to prepare for the likely outcome of scenarios we are to see next year. We should be proactive and responsive to the shifting political sands and we should set the way on how to best deal with provincial and national hung legislatures and Parliament. That is why hon members I have brought this legislation before this House today. Making laws is not only a constitutional mandate that we have been granted, it is a responsibility that we must not take lightly.
We must interrogate the issues that are facing South Africans and legislate when necessary to solve these problems. We are not the Post Office for government’s legislation. We are the lawmakers. Let us put our party political differences aside and get to work. Thank you.
Ms H O MKHALIPHI: Chairperson, there's load shedding here but I hope that you are going to hear me. One of the cornerstones of any constitutional democracy is the power which democracies grant to ordinary people and their representatives to make decisions. The most important of these decisions is the power to elect and unelect public representatives. The drafters of our Constitution had this in mind when they made provisions for votes of no confidence in the President, premiers and executive mayors at various spheres of government in this country. Coming from a divided and violent past that had characterised this territory for centuries, the drafters of our Constitution were firm ... that South Africa is a unitary constitutional democracy.
Today, because of the failure to transform our democratic gains to tangible economic and social benefits for the majority, a whole number of opportunistic and racist groupings are trying to circumvent the democratic process for their own
gains. In the Western Cape, we have the Cape Independence movement, which has the implicit support of the DA, trying to carve up the considered ... to be in the Cape as an independent territory. This Constitution Amendment Bill by the Chief Whip of the DA is no different to this concerted effort by the racist minority to assert themselves and eclipse the powers provided to parties and people to elect and unelect public representatives.
That we are able to elect or to pass a vote of no confidence on elected public representatives is a cornerstone of democracy. Seeking to limit the frequency of votes of no confidence on elected public representatives goes against all known tenets of democracy. The Constitution Amendment Bill introduced here by the Chief Whip of the DA seeks to limit the number of times a motion of no confidence can be introduced against the President, premiers and mayors of municipalities.
According to the DA, the frequency of this motion, which is essentially a constitutional mechanism to hold the executive to account, disturbs the proper administration of the country. We reject this assertion as an incredible narrow conception of democracy. A mayor, a premier or a President is only as good as the support they have from the people they lead. They are
also only as good as they are in providing the kind of leadership and services that the people they lead are happy with. When they fail to meet these standards, they are liable to be removed from office. The more frequent these motions are, the more vibrant and healthier our democracy becomes.
Democracy is not a lack of opposition. It is in fact an affirmation of the needs of the majority, despite the presence of positions.
The Bill seeks to limit the powers of the opposition to table as many votes of no confidence as they wish on mayors, premiers and Presidents. We reject this motion because it is inherently antidemocratic and seeks to impose limits on the exercise of ... ndemocratic right to vote and to remove people from office. We reject this Bill, Chair.
Dr C P MULDER: Hon Chairperson and colleagues, the Bill in front of us proposes to make some amendments to the Constitution and it would be wonderful if one day we could have a debate where we put arguments against arguments and where everybody has read the documentation. This Bill has got nothing to do with local government, nothing at all. Local government is referred to in the explanation about the Bill because we should learn from the example that we have seen and
experienced in the last two years. This Bill does not deal with local government. It deals with government on national and provincial level and it amends the proposed articles in the Constitution that deal with motions of no confidence.
Now, it is a reality that technically we can move motions of no confidence on a very regular basis and anybody out there should try to convince us that that will bring stability in government. We have seen the reality in South Africa at local government level, and let there be no doubt that next year after the election there will be coalition governments in some of the provinces and most likely a national government will also be a coalition. Now, there are examples of how this is being done internationally. For example, in the state of Norway, once a person is elected for a term, that person cannot be defeated by a motion of no confidence because that person is given the mandate to govern in a council, for example. However, as this Bill also proposes, there are certain instances where it can be done. If there is a breach of the Constitution, if there is serious misconduct or incapacity, then a motion of no confidence can be brought.
I think it is in the interest of South Africa that we try to stabilise government because we should all understand and
realise that the electorate is not there to serve the government. It should be exactly the opposite; the other way round. So, for creating stability, it is absolutely essential that this Bill should be supported. The FF Plus will support this. I would like to hear from the ANC why they would oppose this, taking into consideration that we most likely may end up with the ANC in opposition next year. So, let's see how that plays out. The FF Plus supports the Bill, hon Chairperson.
Mr A M SHAIK EMAM: Chairperson, you know as the NFP we would like to support an initiative of this nature. However, the difficulty that I seem to have is that, given the fact that we have dysfunctional municipalities to such an extent that Gauteng or Johannesburg, which is the financial hub of Africa, seems to be experiencing great difficulty in terms of the turnaround of mayors ... Now, this Bill ... and I think hon Groenewald ... Was it hon Groenewald? ... from the FF Plus was correct. It deals with national and provincial levels and not with local government. So, I hope that the Chief Whip of the Opposition will say something about that in her final input.
The important thing to note is that the problems that we are experiencing at local government level ... and I notice that we seem to run away from the truth. The only reason that we have this dysfunctional state at these government levels, particularly local government level, is because of the access of financial resources to politicians. There is no other reason. Secondly, and importantly, it is the fact that politicians have the right to appoint and interfere with deployment, appointment and employment. That is the crux of the problem. However, I’ve noticed that political party after political party is not willing to close that gap and deal with it. Now let’s ask ourselves the following. If you close the gap and no political parties can get their hands on those financial resources, they won't be motivated to get in or pull out of these coalitions. That's a fact. If they have no right to appoint anybody and only conduct oversight and conduct their political responsibility, they won't have this problem. So why not deal with the root causes of this, otherwise if you do not take away that responsibility, which in actual fact, some may argue that there is a separation of powers but in fact in practice it is not that ... Why do you think councillors of the NFP are dying in KwaZulu-Natal? Why do you think they are being assassinated? It's all because of power
and control, but power and control because of access to financial resources.
So, the NFP is saying that if you want to introduce this then let's do it correctly. let's take it to all three spheres of government, if my understanding is correct. Otherwise there is no point in supporting it because then it's selective in terms of what we want to achieve. Thank you very much, Chairperson.
The ACTING CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): I get that the ANC doesn’t have a speaker as well. Hon members, since there are no speakers, I will ... [Interjections.]
Ms N H MASEKO-JELE: Chair.
The ACTING CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Hon Jele, I think you’ve got a connectivity challenge.
Ms N H MASEKO-JELE: Chairperson.
The ACTING CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): I can hear you, you may proceed.
Ms N H MASEKO-JELE: Chairperson.
The ACTING CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): I can hear you, hon member.
Ms N H MASEKO-JELE: Can you hear me?
The ACTING CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Yes, we can.
Ms N H MASEKO-JELE: My apologies, Chair, I’m on load shedding. Okay. Chairperson, members of the House and fellow citizens.
Chairperson, now, all of us as citizens of this country will know and have more importantly, is the Constitution of our country. This Constitution is the supreme law of the land. No other law may conflict with, nor may the government or anyone, including the Constitution in a constitutional democracy such as ours. The Constitution is the yardstick by which all other laws are judged.
Among others, the Constitution was adopted to improve the quality and the potential of each person. The ANC has been a liberation movement for many years and t fought for the establishment of government that will be based on the will of the people, and it also fought for the government that will be built on the foundation of constitutionality. A government that will be answerable to the people. The Constitutional
Court is South Africa’s highest court on constitutional matters, and it is the body that has a final say on the interpretation of the Constitution, Chair.
The Constitution is entrenched for a reason. The threshold for making amendments to it is set higher, because the Constitution is almost like any other ordinary legislation like ... [Interjections.] ... By design, the Constitution should outlive us, Chair. The Constitutional 19nth Amendment Bill of South Africa, so as to limit in the Cabinet or President ... [Inaudible.] ... also providing – Chairperson, I’m still here.
The ACTING CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Hon Jele, we can hear you, but if I was you, I could have requested one of my colleagues to take over your speech. However, you may proceed because it seems that you are insisting, but you are breaking. Proceed, ma’am.
Ms N H MASEKO-JELE: ... [Inaudible.] ... Chair, I would really appreciate that if I’m really not audible, but I was about to finish now. Can I continue, Chair?
The ACTING CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Yes, please. I was just saying, in future, please do that.
Ms N H MASEKO-JELE: I’m about to finish, Chair.
The ACTING CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Yes, continue.
Ms N H MASEKO-JELE: Chairperson, thank you very much. Chairperson, currently there is a process which is led by the Deputy President of the Republic, Mr Paul Mashatile, regarding coalition government and matters of this nature. Legislative processes are underway in response to FF Plus and DA. It’s true, the ANC... [Interjections.] ...
Ms C N NDABA: Chairperson.
The ACTING CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Is your hand up, ma’am?
Ms C N NDABA: Yes, hon Chair. Chair. We can’t hear hon Jele.
The ACTING CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Hon Jele.
Ms C N NDABA: Can’t she give her speech to someone else, Chair?
The ACTING CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Hon Ndaba, let’s allow her because she is left with few minutes now, and because she insisted. Hon Jele ...
Ms N H MASEKO-JELE: ... the Constitutional Amendment Bill ... [Interjections.]
The ACTING HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Your time is over, ma’am. Hon Jele, your time is over. Hon Jele, can’t you hear me? ... [Inaudible.] ... friends o the hon member, her time is over. Thank you very much. Hon Jele ... Mr Ngaleka, can you just switch off, her time is over. Thank you very much. Hon members, it will be advisable that you do take the advice of the Chair. We couldn’t hear what hon Jele was saying, but she insisted to proceed. Her time is over, and she can’t ask anyone now. Hon members, that brings us to the hon Chief Whip of the Opposition, hon Gwarube, to close the First Reading debate of the Bill. You’ve got seven minutes, hon Gwarube. Over to you.
The CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITION: Chairperson, it is a great pity that we were not able to have much of a debate about this, because I do think it’s an important debate to have for Parliament. I also want to clarify what this Bill seeks to do. The legislation before us today is a Bill that deals only with national and provincial governments. We all know that the research we are seeing shows that we are likely to have coalition governments in various provinces next year, and possibly, an opposition led national government in Parliament.
Therefore, it means that Parliament must prepare itself for an eventuality where, in a province or at a national level, we do not have necessarily one dominant party.
IPalamente yindawo apho siqulunqa khona imithetho yeli.
So, this is the best place for us to prepare ourselves for that eventuality. The Bill seeks to do two things. It seeks to say, to limit the frequency of motions of no confidence that can be passed in a premier or in a President. We argue that the instability we have seen of the removal of mayors and speakers at a local government level and the instability that
has flowed from that, and the impact of that on service delivery and the people of South Africa, cannot be replicated at a provincial level.
Imagine a scenario where a President of a country cannot finish even a year in office, cannot pass a budget or even deliver against that budget. We would be a national and international joke in South Africa. These are serious and real consequences of not future-proofing our Constitution and future-proofing Parliament, to make sure that we are prepared for the eventuality of hungry legislatures, and possibly, a hung Parliament in the next year.
What we are saying is that we will seek to limit the frequency of motions of no confidence to once a year, but, should there be constitutional grounds upon which a motion of no confidence is needed, that can then be done. Section 89 sets out three conditions upon which an impeachment motion can be moved, a serious violation of the law, serious misconduct or the inability to perform the functions. What we are arguing for is that we limit the motion of no confidence without meeting these three conditions.
However, should any of these three conditions be met, a premier or a President may be removed, because what we do not want to do, as hon Mkhalipi was arguing, we do not want to take away the right of members of the legislature or Members of Parliament to being able to hold a President or a premier accountable. Therefore, what we are saying is that the abuse of motions of no confidence would have catastrophic results for any province and more certainty, economy and deep inequalities, which any new government in 2024 would need to be concerned about and deal with.
So I do plead with members, Chair, that we were not able to have a debate today, but I plead with members as we go into next week, and as we are about to make a decision on the desirability of this Bill, that we put political differences aside, and we put aside what we may think this me or any marked valiant sort of efforts that we look ahead as lawmakers, as we have been entrusted to make laws in the country and we’ve been entrusted to make sure that we represent the people of South Africa.
So, I ask that this House makes a decision next week to take this Bill to the Justice committee, so we can panel beat it, so we can make sure that the wording is correct, and so we can
make sure that it is constitutionally sound. However, what we cannot do is we cannot simply sit back and wait for an eventuality when it is a day after the election and the election results are announced and we have no idea how to legally deal with a scenario where there is a hung legislature or a hung Parliament.
It is not good enough to the hon member in the ANC to simply say this process being led by the Deputy President. This is exactly the problem that we are seeking to highlight, that it is not the job of the executive to make laws, we are the lawmakers. Therefore, it is Members of Parliament who should be leading the process of making laws. We cannot relegate our responsibility to the executive to make laws for us. We are not an extension of the executive. We are the legislature, and it is our job to make sure we represent the people of South Africa by passing laws that will be of benefit to them.
I therefore ask that we ask ourselves, as we wind on the term, have we done enough to be the legislature that we ought to be in South Africa? Thank you.
The ACTING HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms R M M Lesoma): Hon members, in terms of the Rules, whilst no decision is taken on this
Bill at this stage, the Bill is regarded as having been read a first time. Hon members, that concludes the debate and the business of the virtual mini plenary.
The mini plenary rose at 15:50.