House of Assembly: Vol112 - TUESDAY 21 FEBRUARY 1984
Bill read a First Time.
Mr Speaker, I move:
Mr Speaker, yesterday evening I began my speech by referring to the visit of Sir Richard Attenborough to South Africa, and illustrated it by quoting from certain newspaper reports. I cannot give any further quotes because my time is limited. Nevertheless, I wish to draw hon members’ attention to certain facets of this visit, as these became apparent from relevant Press reports.
In the first place, approximately six weeks prior to his arrival in South Africa, Sir Richard paid a visit to Archbishop Trevor Huddleston, chairman of the Anti-apartheid Movement in London. That visit of his was in connection with the making of a film on the late Steve Biko. The possibility of a film on Steve Biko, on the same large scale as the film on Gandhi, was at that stage good news for the Anti-apartheid Movement. It would once again cause the international spotlight to fall on the security system of South Africa, and counteract any possible softening of world opinion on South Africa.
Sir Richard visited Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Swaziland, Bloemfontein and Brand-fort. He arrived in Cape Town in a veil of secrecy. Hotel bookings had been made for him from London on 27 January. He arrived in South Africa on or around 1 February. In Cape Town he stayed in a hotel under the false name of Richards, and in Bloemfontein under the false name of Hall. In Cape Town, we read, he dined with two newspaper editors and the hon the Leader of the Opposition. He told the Press that he had come to South Africa on a private and personal visit, and he furnished three reasons for his visit. In the first place, he said, he was here to visit members of the Gandhi family in South Africa. The second purpose which he gave was to visit the Waterford School in Swaziland. He is the chairman of the English Board of Trustees of that school. His third reason was to investigate the possibility of making a film on South Africa during the past 10 years. When he was questioned about this, he said that the film would be a sequel to his award-winning film, Gandhi. He sees Steve Biko in the same light as Gandhi.
It is clear, however, that Sir Richard had other objectives in mind besides the abovementioned three. He asked Mrs Winnie Mandela to furnish him with secret addresses to which documents from Britain could be sent. Furthermore, he wanted to know from Mrs Mandela whether he could trust a certain Mr Christopher Newton-Thompson, chairman of the Waterford School in Swaziland. [Interjections.] In the third place he told Mrs Mandela about a plan of action to restore the image of the ANC. This would include, inter alia, a Press conference to which people such as Bishop Tutu, Athol Fugard and a certain Van Zyl would be invited. Incidentally, it was mentioned that there was no clear indication of who this certain Van Zyl was. I shall leave it at that. [Interjections.]
Who did Sir Richard visit in South Africa? In the first place it was Mrs Biko. In the second, it was Mr Peter Jones, a lawyer who had been detained at the same time as Steve Biko. Then he also met Mrs Mandela, Dr Beyers Naudé, as well as two newspaper editors and the hon the Leader of the Opposition. Last but not least—to get her name on the roll of honour as well—he met the hon member for Houghton. [Interjections.]
It was significant that Sir Richard made no attempt to talk to the hon the Minister of Internal Affairs or any other Government leader. [Interjections.] Nor did he talk to the hon member for Durban Point or any other leader of an Opposition party in South Africa. [Interjections.] According to The Cape Times of 14 February, he said upon his return to London that he really did not know whether the South African Government would allow him to make a film on South Africa.
I find it very significant that, according to a report in The Cape Times of 11 February, the hon the Leader of the Opposition took up the cudgels for Sir Richard. According to that report, the hon the Leader of the Opposition found the “almost hysterical paranoia” surrounding the visit of Sir Richard to South Africa “unusual”. I do not think it is unfair to ask the hon the Leader of the Opposition why he found it necessary to protect this man to such an extent; to take up the cudgels for him in such harsh language. [Interjections.]
It is significant that the left-wing Press, taking their cue—possibly their instructions—from the hon the Leader of the Opposition, followed his example on 14 and 15 February. In their editorials they made mention of a vendetta against Sir Richard. They spoke of “an unprecedented display of pugnacious journalism” by the SABC. On the same date these newspapers also, with reference to a recent court case against Mr Harvey Tyson, editor of The Star, published editorials in which great emphasis was placed on the public’s right to know. In that case, therefore, the public did in fact have the right to know. Hon members can also go and have a look at today’s edition of The Cape Times. It contains an editorial under the headline: “The public’s right to know”.
In The Argus of 16 February, on the other hand, the columnist Robert Kirby referred to Sir Richard as a “scandalmonger”. He therefore adopted a censorious attitude towards him. In the editorial published in the same newspaper he was praised, and in the aforesaid column, he was condemned. One may therefore with justification ask …
Mr Speaker, may I put a question to the hon member?
No, Mr Speaker, I do not want to reply to stupid questions. [Interjections.]
One may therefore with justification ask whether the left-wing Press in South Africa is schizophrenic as well.
In conclusion, I should like to congratulate the SABC and its reporter Mr Freek Swart on his journalistic achievement surrounding the visit of Sir Richard. The South African public does indeed have the right to know.
Mr Speaker, the hon member for Pretoria East concerned himself with the recent visit by Sir Richard Attenborough. I do not want to comment on that subject at all other than to say that in some respects, I believe, Sir Richard Attenborough conducted his visit to South Africa in a foolish and silly fashion, and that the SATV behaved with the balance and dignity of a third rate paparazzi. [Interjections.]
Mr Speaker, one has the inescapable feeling that this Government is being whisked helplessly into the future clinging grimly to the cocktails of an erratic gold price. The hon the Minister is a professional economist. He is the link between the economy and the Cabinet, between the engine that produces the wealth of this country and the politicians who decide how much they are going to cream off and how they are going to dispose of it. We have the right to expect a far more positive approach to our economy than bland smiles when the price of gold goes up and helpless denials of all responsibility of our economic ills if the price of gold goes down.
When we look at the economic development programme of ten years ago we see that its architects designed it around a 5% to 6% growth rate, and for good reason. It is only by means of a growth rate of this order that we can hope to employ 270 000 new entrants to the job market each year. This has been proved by every official document issued. For Western industrialized nations a moderate growth rate is acceptable. For us, a rapid growth rate is a matter of life or death. What is our record against this background? In the 10 year period from 1973 to 1983 our average annual growth rate in real terms was 2,8%. During the 80’s it has averaged only 2,25%. Is it not time that we stopped fooling ourselves? We are deluding ourselves if we judge this Government by the living standards of a few Whites. We need growth in order to create opportunities of the Blacks who are indigent and deprived. Economists have not planned around a 5% growth rate by chance. They have done so firstly because they believe it is attainable; secondly, because they believe it is maintainable; and thirdly, because they know that if we do not achieve this order of growth rate we run the risk of dire political and social consequences. Variations in this growth rate appear so trivial—1% or 2% up or down—that people do not realize their impact. If we take the period 1977 to 1987, a growth rate of 5% will mean that at the end of that period we shall have about 1,2 million unemployed. However, if that growth rate drops by only 1,4% to 3,6% we will double that number of unemployed to 2,4 million. At the moment, our growth rate is 2,5%. It does not help to hide these statistics by sweeping them into the Black homelands. Their menace is inescapable.
I have shown that if we measure our economy by facts and not rhetoric, we find that it is ailing. Its strength and sophistication is the one thing that sets South Africa apart from other African nations. Only a vigorous economy will ensure that we have the muscle to retain our equilibrium during a period of traumatic transition and convince all South Africans that our political economy gives them something that communism cannot. Therefore we cannot afford to see it stagnate through the irresponsible meddling of politicians who have only the foggiest of ideas where the wealth that they spend is created. If a company is ailing, it is not made healthy by financial measures alone. It requires a whole package of measures. The position is exactly the same in regard to a country whose economy is ailing, and ours is such a country. The parallel between the political economy of a country and the economy of a commercial business is not far-fetched, and there are lessons that this Government can learn from it. Both are dealing with finite resources of material, labour, capital and enterprise and both have to survive in a competitive world. They both depend on the goodwill of their trading partners for their prosperity.
Here are some of the symptoms of a country or a business that is failing to keep up with the competition. They both fail to grow economically. I have dealt with our dismal record in this regard. They cannot offer their workers opportunities. Our unemployment figure, the correct one, is almost certainly well over 20% for Blacks. Both find it increasingly difficult and expensive to borrow. We have had to allow our interest rates to rise to unheard of heights in order to protect our balance of payments. Both lose their highly skilled staff. We have a steady drain of some of our most valuable young people to other countries. Their product becomes uncompetitive. Our manufactured goods are not competitive on world markets. The Government must bear a large degree of responsibility for that. Our natural markets in Africa have been largely closed to us because of the apartheid policy of the Government. A web of discriminatory legislation is completely distorting our economy.
Companies which are failing to keep up with the competition attempt to maintain turnover by cutting prices, but what do countries do? They allow the value of their currency to erode and this is exactly what we have done. In 1970 the rand was worth 139 US cents; in 1975,135 US cents; in 1980,128 US cents; in 1982, 115 US cents and today, barely 80 US cents. Where are we going to get the money from to finance our next boom when we shall have to import capital goods? Companies in difficulties are unable to replace outdated plant and keep up with modern developments. As a country, are we keeping up with modern technology? Kleu does not think so.
At this point, events take a different course for a country that is failing to make the grade compared with a company which is failing. A company goes insolvent when it cannot pay its debts, but what does a country do? It devalues its money and it borrows the money it requires for capital goods at penal rates of interest. It has become a bad credit risk and governments and banks consequently wish to be compensated accordingly.
This is a compelling parallel between a business and a country and its highlights one thing: We need a period when economic considerations override ideological considerations. All I ask is that the Government has the humility to glance over its shoulder, learn the lessons from the past and make future decisions based on fact and not wishful thinking, but my fear is that as it tiptoes away from the past, it uses the language of reform but it does everything it can to keep the structure of apartheid intact.
Nobody on this side of the House belittles the problems which face us. We need growth to employ something like 300 000 new adherents to the job market per year. We need it to create a rising quality of life for those for whom life is brutish and short. We need it more than excessive expenditure on defence and more than foreign adventures as a safeguard against communism. Only a growing economy can lead the passion for reform down peaceful ways.
Our legendary mineral wealth is our strong card, but today that is a very competitive field and erratic. Our agricultural production is wrung from a grudging environment at high cost and frequently exported at a loss. The Kleu Report identifies the capability to export manufactured products as the key element in achieving growth.
What should the Government’s strategy be in these circumstances? Obviously step one should be to remove every artificial impediment in the way of the efficient operation of industry, but what do we do? We embark upon an industrial decentralization policy of mind shattering dimensions for ideological purposes without ever undertaking any cost benefit study at all to see whether it is worthwhile. We offer industrialist incentives to move from the metropolitan areas, and the more unsuitable the area is to which they are invited to move, the higher the incentive. This brings about a gross distortion of the market mechanism, and this in turn can only have one result, and that is that industries are establishing themselves where every economic consideration says they least should be. Surely this is no way in which to make ourselves competitive. Entrepreneurs can be compensated by incentives, but who is going to compensate South Africa? For ideological policies of this nature we will pay in the form of higher taxes and continued inflation. There is no magic formula to make our industry more competitive, to control inflation or to make our economy strong. To grow we must weigh the economic consequences of every decision we make. Like any company we are in the business of fixing priorities for the allocation of scarce resources between a host of clamouring needs. The greater the necessity to grow, the less margin there is for waste or error.
I have sympathy for the hon the Minister of Finance. People look to him to bridle inflation; they look to him to protect our balance of payments and they look to him to keep taxes low. Yet he is powerless to promote growth as long as ideological considerations dictate the allocation of resources. An induced recession has caused our inflation rate to drop to somewhere near 11%. But what will keep it there when the first upturn in the economy comes? Or what will reduce it further? 11% is after all not a figure that is acceptable. The hon the Minister knows as well as I do that it will not be possible to reduce it further unless we systematically clear from our business and social environment those obstacles which prevent the efficient operation of the free enterprise system.
The Government must now put its courage where its mouth is. It says that it is moving away from discrimination on the grounds of race. Well for goodness’ sake, let it do so. Let it get rid of the Group Areas Act and let it open trading areas and jobs to people of all ethnic groups. Let it abolish all restrictions on the ownership of property and let it restore citizenship rights to the Blacks. Unless it does these things it will never be able to create a motivated work-force. It should stop wasting scarce money in pursuit of crazy, ideological goals and start managing its business, get it under control and start moving again.
Mr Speaker, the hon member for Walmer always tends to discuss economic matters, which is of course appropriate in this debate. But while one is listening to him, one sometimes has to shake one’s head to make sure that one is still in South Africa, in this fine and progressive country, in this country with its growth and progress and development. Obviously the hon member has a very negative outlook. Surely, as a businessman, he has experienced the prosperity of this country. To tell the truth, his bank account probably testifies to this. Yet he stands up in Parliament and makes a speech in which he runs down this country, implying that it is not looking after its people. He said, for example, that the Government was not displaying a positive approach to the economy.
I want to state without fear of contradiction here this afternoon that it is in fact this Government, this Minister of Finance, who dealt with the economy of this country in a positive way. Economic recession has occurred throughout the world. Surely we had to feel its effects in South Africa as well. But the economic recession did not plunge South Africa into chaos. We are still surviving and we still have growth. There are still job opportunities for our people. There is a job opportunity for any person in this country who wants to work, in spite of the fact that there were many other setbacks, for example drought in the agricultural sector, which drew very heavily indeed on the financial resources of the country.
The hon member for Walmer began to make calculations and said that we should now maintain a growth rate in order to create job opportunities. But surely that is precisely what we are intent on doing with our policy of decentralization. Surely we are trying to create those job opportunities with our regional development. Surely this Government is aware of the depopulation of the rural areas. It is aware of the fact that there is a lack of job opportunities in some regions. The problem which the hon member had was, as he said, that this Government was allegedly allowing its ideological considerations to prevail over its economic considerations. I want to tell the hon member that those two cannot be separated. Economic development and constitutional aspects and constitutional development cannot be separated.
The hon member condemned the policy of the Government in its entirety. This hon member again linked the policy of the Government to apartheid. He said that we should move away from all discrimination and I infer …
Do you agree?
I agree with some of the arguments. I shall come to that in a moment. Just give me a chance. However, the hon member gave me the impression—and I do not agree with this—that one should open everything up now, should throw open all the doors, take away all the laws, and one would then have a utopia. Then a miracle will occur in South Africa, rands and cents will rain down from the sky, the coffers will be filled and everything will be just fine. No, I do not think we can follow such a policy. I want to tell the hon member for Walmer that if we should adopt the policy he wants, we would be creating a second Zimbabwe in this beautiful South Africa of ours—and we do not want that.
Mr Speaker, yesterday the hon member for Langlaagte made quite an attack on us in the Western Cape and on the Transvaal Ministers—as if they were lacking in courage—because we did not allows 99-year leasehold in the Western Cape, and because we maintained a Coloured labour preference policy here. I want to tell the hon member of Langlaagte that the hon member for Kuruman was a very strong advocate of this policy. I think he is still a very strong advocate of the policy. I also want to put this question to the hon member for Langlaagte: Your policy is, after all, that of a homeland for the Coloureds. You want a homeland for the Coloureds and you refer to this area where the Coloureds are now living, here where we are at the moment. We want to protect this area—their traditional home—for the Coloureds by means of a labour preference policy. But you say no, that policy must go. On the one hand you talk about a homeland for the Coloureds here, but when we say “Very well, we are protecting the Coloureds here in their traditional home”, then you say our policy is quite wrong and that the Transvaal Ministers do not have the courage to oppose it.
They do not.
I want to tell the hon member for Langlaagte that he should at least be a little more consistent. Mr Speaker, he must know that if one rises to speak here, one should not merely make jokes, one should also talk sense and take the realities of this country into account. And then one must also realize that the party of which one is a member has a policy, a policy which one has to convey. I now want to ask you: Please be more consistent in respect of the Coloureds, because if they fall into your hands they will not know whether they are coming or going. I want to tell them that this afternoon.
Worry about the Whites in this country for a change.
I worry about the Whites all the time, and I do a great deal for the Whites. I just want to tell you that I never enriched myself at the expense of my fellow-Whites. [Interjections.] I satisfied their spiritual needs. I was willing to work for a small salary. Can the hon member say the same?
I never worked for a small salary because I had some sense. [Interjections.]
Yes, the hon member has some sense, but his problem is that his sense forsakes him whenever he rises to speak.
I believe that everyone will agree with me that the task of a Parliament is to look after the interests of a country and its inhabitants in a responsible way. For various reasons a greater responsibility in this connection may possibly rest on the South African Parliament than on other Parliaments. The first consideration is that in South Africa we are concerned with a relations problem among various population groups, in contrast with other countries which are possibly concerned only with an economic policy, and where that economic policy proves to be the decisive factor in an election. In South Africa, on the other hand, we are constantly concerned with a relations problem in all spheres of society, and it is our task to establish a sound relationship among the various population groups, and in particular to find a political solution.
There is another reason why it is difficult to govern in South Africa, and that is because we have to govern between two extreme poles in this country. In this country we have a First World, but also a Third World. Between these two poles we find demands, needs and too frequently a lack of understanding, and it is the task of the South African Parliament and the South African Government to move between these two poles and maintain orderly and effective government.
Another reason why it is difficult to govern in this country is that tremendous demands are being made on the economic resources of this country. The hon member for Walmer lost sight of this fact completely. I do not think there is another country in the world which has to deal with demands on its economic resources of the kind South Africa has to deal with.
In this connection I can refer to education in the light of the tremendous population growth in this country. Not only must we provide school accommodation for every child, but we must afford everyone an opportunity to receive instruction. This requires enormous expenditure.
Then, too, there are welfare measures which make a heavy demand on our economic and financial resources, precisely because we are also dealing with a Third World and with people among whom the level of education is defective and who cannot occupy positions which will provide them with the necessary income.
There is another reason as well why it is difficult to govern this country. It is the tremendous external pressure which is being exerted on this country. One need only think of the attempts to isolate us. There is not another country in the world which is as isolated as South Africa. There is not another country in the world whose sportsmen and women are as isolated as those of South Africa. Just think of the restrictions to which South Africans are exposed when it comes to the issuing of visas, and visits to other countries. Just think of the boycotts, for example, a total arms embargo, which are being applied against us. Moreover there are sanctions and threats of sanctions. Acts of terror are being committed against this country and, what is more, this country is engaged in a war. Some of our young men have alreadydied on the borders and these deaths are continuing.
In other words, we find ourselves in an extremely difficult position in which the South African Parliament has to operate and in which the South African Parliament has to discharge its obligations and the government of the day has to lead the country.
I believe that we have a choice in this Parliament. We can keep on trying to score political points. We can keep on trying to outmanoeuvre one another politically. I accept that this is part of the political game. We are all probably guilty of this, because we are all participating in it. However, I believe that if we constantly occupy ourselves simply with scoring points against one another, of simply outmanoeuvring one another politically, we should guard against becoming a stumbling block and against the realities of South Africa passing the South African Parliament and us as its elected representatives by. To me this is an extremely grave matter. When one takes into careful consideration the conditions in which South Africa finds itself and when one sometimes has to listen to political speeches in which emotions run high, in which people are incited and in which people are disparaged …
Do you still remember the Oudtshoorn speech?
That hon member can go and read all my speeches. I was acting in a responsible way throughout. In the light of what I have just said, we must all guard against becoming a stumbling block and allowing reality to pass us by.
There is another choice which this Parliament and we as politicians can make. We can set realistic ideals or realistic objects or aims, if I may put it like that, for South Africa, which we as the various White political parties wish to achieve in co-operation with other population groups. I am not so naïve that I do not realize that every political party has its own policy. Once again, however, we run the risk of exaggerating this to such an extent that we do not perceive the ideals, the objects and the aims of South Africa at all. That is why I believe it is the task of the South African Parliament to state these realistic objects and to pursue them for South Africa, because our first concern should be South Africa. We must do this as a White population group, in co-operation with the other population groups that also have to live in this country.
There are certain aims which we set ourselves, and I want to enumerate them. The first is the peaceful continued existence of all population groups, with full opportunities for everyone in all spheres. What I want to emphasize this afternoon, is that we as Parliament and as Government should act in such a way that there will be an opportunity for all population groups to ensure its continued existence; what is more, that there should be full opportunities for each population group to be able to develop and that there will be full opportunities for every individual in this country to attain the highest rung in this country. That should be our aim. If we do not make this our aim, if we make this our aim for one population group only, if we demand this only for ourselves, if we claim this continued existence and this development for ourselves only, then we in South Africa are heading for disaster.
I want to state a second aim which we should pursue. This is the aim of the retention of stability in all spheres, but political and economic stability in particular. If South Africa loses it political stability, the hon member for Walmer can talk about the economy and make calculations, but we shall then at the same time be losing our economic stability as well, and then there will be no hope of survival, progress and development whatsoever for anyone in this country.
There is a third aim we must set ourselves, and that is the preservation of law and order so that we can progress towards civilized standards and norms. We possess many things in South Africa. We possess financial resources, economic resources and human material, but one of the greatest assets South Africa has is its civilized standards and norms and the preservation of moral norms. We still have law and order in this country and it must remain one of the aims of Parliament and of the Government to continue to uphold these norms.
Once we have set ourselves these aims and we are aware of the difficult circumstances in which we find ourselves, what requirements should we then set for ourselves?
Change the Government.
No, we must not change the Government. South Africa has had a very good Government for all of 36 years, and on 2 November the White voters reaffirmed this. They will say the same at the next general election.
The requirements which we as Parliament cannot escape from, which we as elected representatives cannot escape from and which no South African citizen can escape from, are twofold. In the first place there must be internal peace in South Africa. This is indispensable, without it we cannot develop, and we cannot have progress in this country. In order to have internal peace, the people of South Africa must be motivated to strive for this, and we as politicians probably have the greatest and most important task of motivating people, not for our own ends, not in order to vote for us or our party in the first place, but for the sake of South Africa. We cannot do this by instilling fear in people. We cannot do this by trying to make people believe that they will perish if any changes are made. We cannot motivate people for South Africa if we continue to violate their human dignity. That is why I want to tell the hon member for Pinelands that there is discrimination we should move away from because we cannot keep violating the human dignity of people and then expect them to be motivated to fight for South Africa, to step into the breach for South Africa and to look after South Africa’s interests. We cannot motivate people for South Africa by acting in a superior way. We cannot motivate people for South Africa by expecting them to sacrifice what is theirs. I want to emphasize this. If we continue to adopt the course that everyone has the right to control his own affairs, that everyone has the right to possess what is his own, if we continue to afford everyone full opportunities, then we can maintain internal peace.
If we are not going to do this, however, if we should continue to violate people’s human dignity and hurt them in the process, if we continue to act as if other people do not exist, if we continue to speak in this House as if no other population group had any rights in this country, then we are heading for utter chaos in this country, and we shall not have internal peace.
To be able to achieve these aims we must create a constitutional dispensation in which people are able to realize themselves in the political sphere. We can no longer incarcerate people politically in this country. We can no longer have people in this country who do not have the franchise, and then expect them to display patriotism and to be motivated South Africans. No South African can expect a fellow South African who does not have the franchise to be motivated for South Africa.
Consequently I believe that the White voters emphasized this requirement very strongly during the referendum, and we in this House may not disregard this. If we were to disregard the verdict of 2 November, we are underestimating the voters of South Africa. What did they tell us on 2 November? They told us in plain language: Go ahead with the creation of a constitutional dispensation so that there can be political elbow room and political fulfilment for everyone in this country.
On 2 November the White voters had a message for the South African Parliament, and we must listen to this message. If we do not receive and implement the message, we shall be doing our country a disservice. On 2 November, however, the White voters also had a message for the Coloured and Asian communities, and that message was an invitation to co-operation. Never before in the history of South Africa has such a message gone out from the White community to these two communities. Over the years half-hearted representation was given to these people. There were occasions when some of them were on the common voters’ roll. There were occasions when they were represented in this Parliament by Whites, but that was not full-fledged representation. At one stage we had the Coloured Persons’ Representative Council which simply met and dealt with one motion after the other and was in fact simply a platform for grievances. Now, however, there is an invitation from the entire White community to these two communities to act in conjunction with the Whites in the constitutional and political spheres. The outcome of the referendum on 2 November indicated a clear course for these two population groups as well.
Tell us about that course. Where is it leading to?
Sir, I appreciate the invitation which the hon member for Rissik directed at me; I like discussing matters with him. I say that we issued an invitation to these people, and the hon member for Rissik worked on it with us for many years. He then got cold feet, however, and ran away. Nevertheless I have great respect for the hon member because he admitted that he had always been an advocate of a homeland. What I hold against him, however, is that he sat in the NP for 16 years and on no occasion did he advance that standpoint. [Interjections.] I have said here on occasion that in the process I have considered all these things but I did not fall behind and I did not run away from the realities of South Africa. I am at peace in my heart, and I can go to sleep tonight with an honest conscience. I can go to sleep with a clear conscience because I participated in the efforts to map out this course and I make no apology to anyone for doing so. This course is an invitation to co-operate in a South African Parliament which will consist of three chambers and in which everyone will have the right to decide his own affairs.
In 1977 we said that we accepted this joint responsibility in regard to matters of common concern. I have never run away from that, and that is why I can look those hon members in the face today with a smile.
Mr Speaker, does the hon the Deputy Minister agree with the hon member for Randburg when he says that the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act should be abolished? [Interjections.]
Mr Speaker, I think you will rule that this matter is at present sub judice. I want to assure the hon member for Jeppe that we are at present investigating this matter. In this regard he can consult the hon member next to him who serves on the same select committee in which this matter is under discussion. [Interjections.]
Finally I should like to make an appeal this afternoon, specifically to the Coloured community and to the Asian community, to produce leaders from among their own ranks; leaders who will be able to serve in the South African Parliament, in their own chamber, so that—and I am saying this to the hon member for Rissik in particular—we can take South Africa along with us on a happy road to a wonderful and prosperous future.
Mr Speaker, I want to associate myself with the appeal with which the hon the Deputy Minister concluded his speech. I must add, however, that I made a similar appeal to Coloured and Indian leaders long ago. Just like the hon the Deputy Minister, I hope that they will put forward some of their best people to participate in the new dispensation.
I had intended congratulating the hon the Deputy Minister on one of the very few positive attempts on the part of hon members in the governing party to make a real contribution to this debate over the past two days. Unfortunately, even he could not resist the temptation to stir up the fraternal fued again. However, I agree with much of what the hon the Deputy Minister said, especially his statement that even though people may differ, they can nevertheless co-operate in the interests of South Africa. Of course, this was also the basis on which we participated in the referendum. The NRP and the NP each recorded its approach and policy quite clearly. We did not support each other as parties or with regard to policy. We did support the objective, the new dispensation, the process of constitutional reform. That was as far as our support went.
Since then, however, we have had two by-elections, and the NP’s reaction to these has been their typical reaction, of course. Instead of moving ahead with determination, hon members of the NP, including the hon the Deputy Minister who spoke just before me, have been on the defensive in their speeches in this House. How many times have we had to listen in this House to long stories about the NP’s 1981 manifesto? Hansard is full of them. In this debate, too, we have had to listen to these arguments on two or three occasions—the old, old politics. It sounds like an old gramophone record when the needle has got stuck in one groove. Every now and then it jumps out of that groove and then one does hear a new sound. Immediately afterwards, however, the needle jumps back into the old, worn-out groove, and then we have to listen to the same old song again. Too much of this debate has been conducted in a totally unrealistic atmosphere. On the part of the CP this is understandable. They are living in an old and unrealistic era, and they are practising old-style politics, which is unrealistic in itself. What the NP has proved, however, especially in this debate, is that it, too, has not yet come of age in the new style of politics. [Interjections.]
In the NP, an underlying insecurity is discernible, an insecurity which is stronger than its own determination. The tragic proof of the lack of conviction on the part of the NP lies in the fact, which is apparent here in Parliament too, that the Government has obviously not understood the message of the recent referendum. Every speaker on the Government side, one after another, simply found himself back in the feud with the CP. The voters have already decided on the new constitutional dispensation by way of a referendum. The new constitution has already been passed and approved. Why must we have a repetition of the referendum campaign in this House hour after hour and why must the old arguments of last year be repeated?
†Mr Speaker, this debate deals with the voting of an interim sum of money for the running of the country against a bleak background for the ficus and for South Africa. There are two bright spots in this respect to which I wish to refer. The one is in the diplomatic sphere where we have the possibility—perhaps even the surety—of a peace treaty with Mozambique which I welcome on behalf of my party. In regard to this I want to say that we will give the fullest support possible to any effort that will develop this initiative to bring about stability and peace between ourselves and our neighbours in both Mozambique and Angola.
The second bright spot is the expectations that have been raised in regard to the new constitution that is to be implemented later this year. I shall return to this matter later in more detail and will also deal with the speech of the hon the Deputy Minister in that context.
Apart from these two exceptions, however, the problem areas in South Africa present a tremendous challenge. At this particular stage where we are being called upon to vote this interim amount for the running of the country, we face even greater problems than normally. I do not wish to deal with them in detail because they have already been dealt with during the debate. We have had described to us the bleak background of disasters that we have to face, the drought, the floods, the suffering that will affect many people and many places for many years to come. Rain is not summarily going to put things right in the affected areas, and the floods that have been experienced are not going to undo the damage already been caused when they dry up. However, this is a long term problem that we are facing. Then there was the boom that did not. This was the boom which the hon the Minister anticipated and which is now being postponed quarter after quarter. There is also the desperate plight of people struggling to survive against the ravages of inflation. These are real problems facing us. There is also the problem of housing that we debated last Friday.
However, perhaps the greatest long term problem is the one to which the hon the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs referred namely the problem of the population explosion in South Africa. In this regard I charge the Government with failing to recognize and, despite a report by the President’s Council in this regard and despite the fact that the facts are there for all to see, to respond to that challenge as it should. I want to give notice now that this party will raise the matter and debate it in detail at a later stage during the session. However, the population explosion is something that we ignore at our peril because if we do not take realistic steps to combat it, no budget is going to be able to meet the demands of this country in five or 10 years’ time.
I want to come back now to the present debate. We are five months away from Coloured and Indian elections and I want to ask the Government what message it has sent out to justify the call the hon the Deputy Minister made upon those population groups to produce real leadership for the new constitution. What is the message of this debat which this Parliament this year has sent out? Assurances, yes, assurances that the Government will go on with reform and that it will implement the new deal but those assurances are given too defensively, sometimes almost defiantly. The Government should be sending out a message to inspire confidence in the new deal, not to apologize, not to defend themselves against the attacks from the right wing. They should be engendering enthusiasm, hope and certainty of a stable and secure future, but instead, what are they doing? They are refighting Soutpansberg and the referendum all over again in the futility of barren “broedertwis”.
In contrast our commitment has not been shaken by Pinetown. Our commitment to reform remains totally unshaken. Our commitment to our philosophy, our aims and our principles is strengthened and maintained. Our belief in the new South Africa which has to emerge remains unshaken. We have not run away from anything because we failed to win a by-election. Let me say in passing that no party has ever had so many enthusiastic undertakers waiting for the death rattle to be heard and for so long. They are waiting like frustrated vultures for the death rattle of this party. Many of them have been doing it for six, seven years and thus have lots of experience. They ought to know by now that they have been disappointed time and time again. We have disappointed them before and we shall disappoint them again, including the hon member for Maitland to whom I want to refer in a moment.
The NRP will leave its stamp on the shape of the new Republic which is coming at the end of this year, the new Republic that we have fought for since our formation, and we have no intention of giving up on the very doorstep of the new deal, the new constitution nor are we going to drown ourselves in a flood of our own tears to satisfy those who are impatient to bury us because others want us dead.
The political guru of the NP, Ouboet, wrote this Sunday that there are three political streams now in South Africa after the by-elections—three political streams between which South Africa must choose. There is the stream of integration of the PFP, and they will not deny that their direction is one of an open society, an integrated society. There is the stream of segregation, of apartheid as it used to be, of the CP. Then there is a stream which he calls “association”. I do not question the identification of the other two—integration and segregation are two streams—but I do question the third.
The hon member for Maitland said that this party must choose, it must make up its mind. This party has chosen. We have made up our minds. We have rejected integration and we have rejected segregation or apartheid, and we have also chosen the stream which we ourselves visualize as the road leading to the future; not some vague, evasive, undefined word like “association” which is used like “constellation” was used—as a camouflage of NP thinking to avoid using the term “confederation”. That third stream, Mr Speaker, is the accommodation of pluralism in a firmly-structured corporate federation, a federation of communities or groups, each with its own political power base and each participating equally in joint decision-making. The essence of this, Mr Speaker, and all the implications that go with it, is included in the new constitution.
It is not us, Mr Speaker, who have to make up our minds and choose; we have already done so. We have rejected the two streams and we have chosen the stream we want to follow. It is the NP that that hon member should be advising to make up its mind. That party must take its back foot out of the stream of segregation, of apartheid, and put both feet into the new stream that they are talking about. They should face the implications and reality of standing with both feet in that stream. As long as they have one foot anchored in the stream of segregation, with a defensive action such as we have seen in this debate, so long will there be no third stream by mean of which they can move forward into the future. What does their third stream mean—this “association” stream? Does it mean freedom of association? Does it mean free and equal access to the economy? Does it mean equal and open central business districts, where all can share in the economy? Does it mean the community government of which the hon the Minister of Constitutional Development spoke, with devolution of power to the lowest levels and with the right for each community to determine the character of its own residential neighbourhood? Does it mean open-ended and not conditional, negotiation with Blacks?
On all these questions the NRP has made up its mind. Its answer to each of these questions is “yes”. To us the new stream of politics means these things. It is the Government party which now has to make a choice. It has got to say “yes” or “no”. Unless it says “yes” to these questions which I have named, unless it says its third stream means these things, it will not have embarked on the road to the future all of us in this party want to see in South Africa. Despite the vultures that hang about in the trees, flapping their ugly wings, despite all that has happened, these are realities of the real new constitution; these are the things we have to face if the constitution is going to fulfil the expectations of the people of South Africa. Then we can go to the Coloured and Indian people; then we can negotiate with the Black people, and we can do it with enthusiasm and confidence because we will not have to defend ourselves against the attacks of those still rooted in the philosophy of an era that has long passed. The NRP is already long past that point. It has made its choice and it knows what it wants to see in South Africa. For that we are going to fight on. What we want to know now is what the Government is going to go on fighting for.
First lift your foot from the banana peel; then you can go on.
Mr Speaker, this hon Minister is the Minister who does nothing about the population explosion. He is a man with a responsibility, but he does nothing about it. All he does is to make jokes. I tell you, Mr Speaker, that the banana peel will be the thing South Africa will slip on unless that hon Minister wakes up and unless his party takes the decision that the new constitution means these things I have listed as essential to the future of South Africa.
Mr Speaker, I support the amendment moved by the hon member for Amanzimtoti.
Mr Speaker, I listened attentively to the hon member for Durban Point. [Interjections.] I must say that I agree with some of the things he said. I agree that the population explosion is a very important factor in this country of ours, since in certain respects it is causing an imbalance in the population composition of our country. I agree with him that it could have many other consequences which could cause further problems. When the hon the Minister of Health subsequently made a witty interjection it made me think that if one should strip all this political veneer from these speeches and one should go to the public at large and ask them what the policies of the various parties, as represented in this House, stand for, one would receive the following reply: The NRP have a strong policy, but it is just that the voters cannot hear them; the CP are absolutely right, but they are simply 400 years too late; no-one understands the PFP’s policy; the NP is wrong, but the voters believe and prefer it and vote Nationalist. Having said that, I should like to ask the hon member for Durban Point whether, despite his party, which he exposed here, a party that has made a choice and is standing by that choice, he has also taken into account that there are certain times in one’s life when every individual and every leader, particularly a leader of a party, must ask himself a personal question. One must ask oneself whether one is leading one’s party along the right road and guiding one’s followers, both here and outside, towards the rightful place they should be occupying in South African politics. [Interjections.] I do not want to give him the answer, but he must not be hasty and reply before he has listened to me—and I ask him to listen to me for just a moment longer. I want to tell him he has fine followers and fine people sitting there behind him. He represents fine people and they could be an important element in South African politics. That is why one should ask oneself—and he in particular should do so—whether one is still giving the right guidance and whether one is not standing in the way of some of these people who are sitting here beside one, who could make greater and more positive contributions in politics, if they were to switch their allegiance and if they were to throw their full weight into South African politics. [Interjections.]
I should like to come back to what one or two of the hon members, the hon member for Yeoville and the hon member for Walmer in particular, spoke about. Today I wish to state that, from the point of view of the global debate, I have found that the one striking feature during the past seven years in which I have been privileged to serve in this House, has become more striking each year. Firstly, it has always been interesting to see the hon the Minister and the hon member for Yeoville crossing swords. After the most vehement attacks from the hon member for Yeoville, I have noticed that the Minister is always praised extremely highly, internationally and locally, for being one of the best Ministers of Finance in the world. [Interjections.] Let us proceed. The second point which always struck me was a few of the things the hon member for Yeoville did; sometimes he used constructive arguments. He is an intelligent man and a good debater and consequently, in certain instances, when he had a poor case, he succeeded in making good points when he reasoned and argued in a responsible manner. A characteristic of his, however, is that when he becomes irresponsible he makes all his good points weak. I want to explain what I mean by that, since I want to say the same thing to the hon member for Walmer at a later stage. It struck me that the hon member for Yeoville attacked either the Land Bank, or the wheat farmers, or some section of the agricultural sector or another. If one goes and reads all his speeches over the past seven years, one can draw no other inference but that he is a true “boerehater” [Interjections.] I want to warn him. He can protest as much as he likes, but it is time that he examines himself and gets rid of that psychosis in his speeches. He has better arguments; he need not use those. It is the same in the case of gold. If the gold price is high, he wants to know from the hon the Minister why he does not spend it. Why is he so conservative? Why does he not do something about it? The hon the Minister subsequently told the hon member: “You cannot have it both ways”. He has to choose. One gets the same attitude from the Opposition.
Today we listened to the hon member for Walmer once again. I want to show hon members what an irresponsible statement the hon member made here today. He disguised a matter that had nothing to do with apartheid and politics and tried to give it a political colour. He said that the Government was spending a great deal of money on decentralization and that this is what it was wasting money on. Surely he knows that this is incorrect and that this is one of the characteristics of developing countries. The whole of South America is wrestling with the problem of the unbalanced concentration of power. In Chili 84% of the population lives in one city, and the rest of the country is barren, bare and undeveloped. One finds this in the rest of South America as well. It is one of the biggest economic problems those people are experiencing. This is being experienced in Africa today, too. It causes an imbalance in the economy, as well as in the power structures.
Apart from all this, if this were to be permitted to continue, the man in the street is not given a chance to prosper. This is what happens with decentralization, however, and it is a part of the pattern of this Government’s policy. Through decentralization the man in the street is given an opportunity to get into the power base in the economic and financial spheres and is distributed over a wider field—which is what this country needs.
It has been stated in this debate that the hon the Minister of Finance and the Government have not succeeded with their actions, that inflation is running wild, and that the Government’s financial planning is meaningless in this country. I want to place it on record that I congratulate the hon the Minister of Finance and the Government on the fact that they are in the process of winning the battle against inflation. I want to motivate this by telling hon members that it is crystal clear that South Africa is one of the few countries that has succeeded in getting inflation to drop by more than 5% in less than a year. That takes some doing, in any kind of language. Despite droughts, flood damage and the low gold price, we in this country still have a relatively realistic population who is accustomed to balance and a high standard of living.
What is inflation in reality? Can one say that merely because prices increase, that is inflation? Surely that is not true. Inflation occurs when prices increase faster than income. I want to refer to what the situation was in the RSA in 1960, and to what it was in 1982. Amongst other things, South Africa is described as being the land of milk and honey, a country where people want to take more out of the economy than they put back into it. It is like the Opposition who always want to criticize but who never make positive contributions. Between 1977 and 1981 the average increase in the salary scales of all population groups was at least 17% per annum. My source is a survey done by the Bureau for Economic Research in September 1982. During this period the inflation rate was approximately 13%. That means that there was a real increase of approximately 4% above the inflation rate in the salary structure.
I also want to refer to calculations made by Dr De Kock with regard to working and labour time, in other words, how much working time has to be sacrificed in order to purchase certain goods in comparison with the working time sacrificed in order to obtain certain products a number of years ago. I am referring to the years 1960 and 1980. I want to refer to a “basketful” of these factors, since the hon member for Yeoville always speaks about a basket. I now want to refer to a loaf of white bread, a leg of mutton, cigarettes, matches, petrol, a dress and a suit of clothing. In 1960 it took Whites 4 785,8 minutes to purchase such a basketful and in March 1982 it took them 1 627,3 minutes. In 1960 it took Coloureds 14 708,5 minutes and in March 1982 it took them 5 135,9 minutes. It took Asians 15 042,7 minutes, as opposed to 4 722 minutes in March 1982. It took Black people 26 474,7 minutes, as opposed to 6 573 minutes in March 1982.
We could also look at the increase in the standard of living since 1960. In the case of Whites it was 66%, in the case of Coloureds, 65,1%, in the case of Asians, 68,6% and in the case of Blacks, 75,2%. One could expand on this. In 1960 a White factory worker worked for 6,4 minutes to be able to afford a loaf of white bread and in March 1982 he had to work for 4,2 minutes. In 1960 he had to work for 49,2 minutes to afford a leg of mutton, as opposed to 46,1 minutes in March 1982. I could go on quoting these statistics indefinitely.
I now come to a problem, however. The question is: How long can we continue in this way? The real problem the hon the Minister has is this: By how much can salary scales increase in order to keep abreast of inflation? If one looks at the public sector it is alarming to see that some of the people in that sector have had an increase of 158% over the past two years. It is not that I deny anyone that. My question is simply: Where will it end, and when is the bubble going to burst?
Yesterday the hon member for Edenvale said in his speech that companies paid too little tax. That is an interesting statement. I just want to indicate once again on the basis of statistics how one can argue in similar cases. Let us begin with an old, stereotyped question which has also been put to the hon the Deputy Minister of Finance: Joint taxation for husband and wife, yes or no? In this regard I have discovered the best argument I have ever heard in favour of the separate taxation of husband and wife. I am referring to an article written by Sue Grant which appeared on 10 November 1983. She wrote:
To me, that is a very strong argument.
Now things become confused, however. Magriet Human states in Volkshandel of August 1983:
She then goes on to furnish figures and arrives at the conclusion that regardless of whether a person is married or single, there is an improvement in the situation only when it comes to an income of R15 000, whilst thereafter, there is really a loss.
On 20 November Jack van Wyk, former senior assistant general manager of Sanlam, wrote in Rapport that companies pay too much tax. He went on to say that when both parties work for remuneration, the married couple have taken that decision rationally and have no reason to complain about the money they earn. In the article there is also a table which indicates that with an income of R10 000, the single person pays 46,5% and the married couple pays 51,9%. From an income of R15 000 up to R500 000 the single person pays more than the married couple. He therefore says that this crowd must be taxed a little heavier, since it is the companies that pay too much tax.
However, one could look at the effective tax paid by companies, according to Barry Sergeant. The headline of his article in the Sunday Times is “Tax Allowance Abuse”. He writes:
He goes on to mention the names of the various companies—many of them are large companies—but I do not wish to mention their names here. They have been published. The effective tax rate which some of these companies paid, is 34,4%, 36,3%, 18,5%, 30% and 0,06%. The rate of a very large company which always offers very good prices is 0,04%. The lowest rate he mentions, is 0,0004% in respect of a group of companies and 14,66% in respect of a single company.
I am quoting these statistics, firstly, to indicate that it is possible to play around with statistics. As was explained above, Magnet Human indicates that the married couple loses every time. In contrast, Jack van Wyk says that a married couple only loses in the case of an income of R10 000 and that there is a profit in the other categories. Yesterday the hon member for Edenvale also quoted figures in this regard. The figures I quoted above are available to everyone. Since there are so many divergent schools of thought in South Africa—I know that the hon the Minister of Finance is continually looking at the system of taxation and at tax scales and structures—I want to ask him today whether this is not an opportune time for us to appoint a Drury committee, like the one in America, and to request a detailed report on the matter to see whether, instead of the present system, which was accepted in principle as far back as 1914, we cannot come up with a completely new system in this regard.
Finally, I wish to quote from a newspaper report under the headline “Blacks in Disastrous State”. I quote:
Fortunately, this report is not referring to the situation in South Africa, but to them in America. South Africa is doing better.
Mr Speaker, the hon member for Vasco made a very interesting speech this afternoon in which, if I understood him correctly, he asked for the appointment of another commission of inquiry. It may well be necessary, but it reminds me of years ago when Dr Malan held his last meeting in the Pretoria City Hall before the 1948 election. On that occasion he told us about all the commissions of inquiry the then UP Government had instituted. He concluded by saying:
In the words of the hon the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, I was productively absent from the House for a while. If you would permit me, Sir, I should like to report on that, since yesterday a debate was conducted on the result in Soutpansberg. We were reproached, by the hon the Minister of Internal Affairs in particular, for conducting politics of hatred, scandal-mongering and fear. I shall come back to that shortly.
By way of commencement I want to address the hon the Minister of Internal Affairs. I have with me a voters’ list which was valid in Soutpansberg. There were only two by-elections in that constituency which exerted pressure on the hon the Minister’s department to give us a proper voters’ list. This afternoon I want to state that the relatively low percentage poll in Soutpansberg is not only due to the fact that many people did not vote, but also to the fact that many names of people who have never lived near that constituency appear on the voters’ list. I did a sample test on the basis of one or two pages. Voter No 3895, for example, lives in Calitzdorp; number 3911, 3912, 3929 and 3930 all live in Ventersdorp; No 3934 lives in Calitzdorp; No 3935 lives in Naboomspruit and the registered address of voter No 3956 is in Potgietersrus. However, the real gem I came across is in the case of a young lady—I think her surname is Smit—whose voters’ number is 3519. According to the voters’ list her residential address—I have it here; the hon the Minister can have a look at it—is “Address unknown—Pretoria”. [Interjections.] Apart from that, there were numerous voters in Soutpansberg on Wednesday who had received written confirmation from the hon the Minister’s department that their names had been recorded on the voters’ list for Soutpansberg. That acknowledgement was dated 3 September 1983, but on Wednesday their names were not on the voters’ list and they could not vote. In my opinion, we should not tolerate such a situation. There were senior officials of the hon the Minister’s department in Louis Trichardt and I spoke to them about this aspect.
Relatively distasteful mention has been made in this debate of the CP’s “henchmen”, the CP’s “bedmates”, and so on. However, we were not only fighting the NP in Soutpansberg; there was a leftist coalition. For example, we read the following in Beeld a few days before the election:
[Interjections.] According to Beeld Mr Kruger said that that was why he felt free to ask the voters to vote for the NP. [Interjections.] Sir, can you believe that the candidate of the mighty NP said in Soutpansberg that he felt free to ask the voters of Soutpansberg, and the English-speaking voters in particular, to vote for him because he had gained the support of both the NRP and the PFP in the Transvaal Provincial Council? He did not ask the voters of Soutpansberg to vote for him on the basis of the NP’s policy, but told them: “Vote for me because the Progs and the NRP are also going to vote for me.” The Progs and the supporters of the NRP did, in fact, vote for the NP in Soutpansberg on Wednesday. There was a grand alliance but that alliance was given a hiding. [Interjections.]
We are accused of conducting a political campaign of fear in Soutpansberg. However, let us examine the NP, and what the hon member for Benoni advocated there in particular. Here is the latest pamphlet the NP distributed there. We are talking about the politics of fear now, and look at what they have to say. They say “English-speakers beware”, and then they make the following flagrant allegation:
And now they are being careful:
[Interjections.] The article goes on to say:
That is an outrageous lie! I ask anyone on the NP side to bring us proof of where the leader of the CP has ever said such a thing. It is an infamous, outrageous he. Because a large, even substantial, percentage of English-speaking people were present, they were scared by all kinds of talk in which they were warned to beware of the CP because it would supposedly take their language rights away from them.
Of course, what is even worse, is the strange “Black point” campaign we experienced in Soutpansberg. It was an odd “Black point” campaign; I think it was a unique one in our history. The people of Tzaneen and Louis Trichardt were told that they must be careful because if the CP should win the Soutpansberg seat, the Blacks would rebel. “You are sitting here between Lebowa and Gazankulu”, they were warned. “The Black people are living on your doorstep. How can you vote for the CP? The Blacks will rebel.” What reprehensible behaviour! [Interjections.] Not only now, but in May last year, the good farmers, who are trying to make a living there under difficult circumstances, were told: “Remember, you have an Agricultural Credit Loan. You must therefore be careful what you do”. I now want to know from the Government, and from the hon the Minister of Finance in particular …
Do not suck things out of your thumb now. [Interjections.]
I am not sucking it out of my thumb. [Interjections.]
Bring us proof!
I shall bring proof. [Interjections.] Nevertheless, I want to know from the hon the Minister of Finance whether a man’s Agricultural Credit Loan is influenced by his political affiliations nowadays. [Interjections.] Of course, what is even worse, Mr Speaker, is that this same NP told the good people of Louis Trichardt that if the CP won the Soutpansberg seat, the State would suspend all further development in Louis Trichardt. [Interjections.] Of course, this was not said in public. The NP did not hold public meetings in Louis Trichardt and elsewhere in that district. They held little meetings around corners.
Yes, by invitation. Meetings were only held on the invitation of certain people. We were told that we were guilty of conducting scandal-mongering politics. [Interjections.] Is it scandal-mongering when we tell the voters of Soutpansberg that in terms of NP policy Coloureds and Indians are going to sit in the Cabinet? Is that scandal-mongering politics?
Or is it the truth?
Is it perhaps the truth? And I am putting this question to the hon member for Virginia in particular, who is making such a noise now.
What was your question?
Is it true that in terms of NP policy Coloureds and Indians are going to serve in the joint Cabinet?
In any case, you people gossip so much that one can hardly get a word in edgeways. [Interjections.]
Please just answer this simple question. [Interjections.] When representatives of the NP visit the conservative people in their homes behind the Soutpansberg, they say that this story about the Coloureds and Indians serving in the Cabinet, is merely CP gossip. [Interjections.] Surely this is the fact of the matter, Mr Speaker. When, from our point of view, we spell out to those people in an objective way the implication of the new constitutional dispensation the usual old reply from the NP side is that it is scandal-mongering politics on the part of the CP. [Interjections.]
Mr Speaker, I listened attentively to the speech by the hon the Minister of Internal Affairs yesterday.
In so far as hon members around you permitted.
No, I listened well.
Despite the noise around you. [Interjections.]
What I find interesting, Mr Speaker, is that it would appear that some hon Ministers said things at certain congresses in the past which they repudiate today. I have in my possession the text of a speech the hon the Minister of Internal Affairs made at a ASB congress.
In 1975. What did the hon the Minister say then? The theme of this speech was: “Social and cultural contact patterns in a multinational community”. In his speech the hon the Minister asked what was meant by a multinational community. He furnished the reply himself, as follows:
Sir, can you believe that the hon the Minister can speak of a White people, a Brown people and an Indian people? That is the same hon Minister.
Now you are being semantic.
Now I am being semantic! Yesterday the same hon Minister was speaking and he said (Hansard, 20 February):
Then he himself says: “No, they are not.” He then goes further in his speech, however, and puts the following question:
The hon the Minister asks whether the Coloureds have their own striving for self-determination. What was the hon the Minister’s reply? He said:
Yesterday the hon the Minister told us that the Coloureds do not have a striving for self-determination.
Oh no. They do not have their own striving for self-determination.
Oh, they do not have their own striving. [Interjections.] This same NP who is now telling us that the Coloureds do not have their own striving for self-determination, had an amendment moved by the hon member for Mossel Bay during the discussion of the motion last Friday in which the following was stated, inter alia:
- (1) that the right of self determination of the Whites in South Africa is an important factor in ensuring the self-determination of the other peoples and population groups in South Africa;
- (2) that the self-determination of other peoples and population groups is a precondition for the maintenance of White self-determination;
We must know where we stand with the NP. The hon the Minister of Internal Affairs ways that the Coloureds do not have their own striving for self-determination.
Not separately in your little homeland. [Interjections.]
Now the hon the Minister wants to force those same Coloureds, who do not have their own striving for self-determination, into a separate House of a joint Parliament. We want an answer from the hon the Minister. [Interjections.] This is the problem I have with the hon the Minister. When the great debate was taking place between the left and right in the inner circles of the NP, he sat on the fence. The hon the Minister alighted from the fence on the left, but the hon the Minister’s heart is not in this new proposal.
Your heart is in your shoes, man.
We can see what is happening. Whom did the hon the Minister have to send to Soutpansberg to salvage what he could? He sent the actor, the best I know of in South Africa, the hon the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The same attempt was made last year in Waterberg when the hon the Minister of Foreign Affairs also had to try and salvage what he could.
Our people no longer allow themselves to be bluffed by an act. The NP is slipping, and if ever there was a result to prove this, it was the one in Soutpansberg.
May I please put a question?
No, I do not have the time. Despite a lower percentage poll—and you know, Sir, we were also hot last Wednesday, for it was extremely hot in Soutpansberg—the CP succeeded in increasing its total number of votes by almost 400, and the NP’s votes dropped by almost 800. They cannot explain that away.
What about the assistance you got from the HNP?
Really, Sir, the NP is just as well informed as we are about how minimal the support of the HNP was in Soutpansberg. They know that. The NP must not try to find an excuse for the result in that by-election now. Their organization may have been faulty, and I want to give them this advice. If one wants to win, one must not make use of the services of old, decrepit mercenaries. [Interjections.] One gets young, energetic people who are prepared to canvass for the cause. [Interjections.] Once again we saw that the youth are not longer with that party. On polling day they had to import them from Pretoria and Johannesburg, but the youth of that constituency are with the CP today.
The attempts to make the English-speaking people of this country afraid of the CP are no longer working either. Some of our keenist workers and supporters in Soutpansberg were my English-speaking fellow-citizens.
I agree with my friend and colleague, the hon member for Soutpansberg: The tide has turned; it will run from the north to the south.
Mr Speaker, the hon member for Barberton actually disrupted my whole trend of thought because he was really—I am saying this to the hon the Minister—intent on making a positive contribution to the debate. I shall also be talking to him, but I shall be doing that personally on a later occasion.
The hon member attacked the hon the Minister of Internal Affairs on the voters’ roll, whilst saying he knew the department was aware of that. He discussed the matter with the officials and knew the hon the Minister was aware that there were indeed problems with the voters’ roll.
That was the first time he himself complained to me.
There are problems involving the voters’ roll in each constituency, and we are all aware of the fact, and the hon the Minister is giving it his attention. If the hon member has already raised the matter, why make it public here?
The second point I want to focus on is that the hon member complained about a call from the NP candidate in Soutpansberg to English-speaking people in which he said that he felt himself at liberty to ask them to support him. When the hon members of the CP, however, are confronted about their bedfellows, amongst others the AWB, they say they cannot help; they ask everyone to support them, including the AWB, but then on the basis that they vote for the principles of that party. If other people, who are not necessarily party supporters, vote for the NP when having to make a choice between two candidates, what is wrong with that? Where is the logic?
The hon member for Benoni is unfortunately not here. The hon member who has just resumed his seat said that he was making public a blatant lie in connection with the passage he quoted. I am accustomed to the hon member for Benoni being able to substantiate any allegations he makes. I do not have the relevant piece at my disposal, but he shall come back to that.
The hon member for Barberton also referred to the hon the Minister of Internal Affairs. He enters into a discussion with the hon the Minister about the concept “self-determination” but again he takes, as they do all over the place—they will concede that they also do it with me and with many other hon members of the House—one little sentence and clothes it in an interpretation totally out of context with the entire theme of the hon the Minister’s speech. Surely the hon the Minister clearly flung that concept back at them, and in the terms in which they used it, ie that that idea of self-determination was in accordance with their view—mention was also made of own endeavour—of the establishment of a geographically separate area in which they could live in accordance with the idea of a people’s government. That is what the hon members propose, and the hon the Minister said that as far as that was concerned there was no indication, no token of there being any endeavour.
Are you again telling them what they said? [Interjections.]
The hon member for Barberton said he was not conducting a campaign of hate politics or scandal-mongering politics, but he referred to three persons in terms such as “mugwump”—here referring to responsible people—as “stage-actor”, and then to an ex-colleague as a “mercenary”. If that is positive politics, I want no part of it. Hon members must then think again about what they are doing.
Just one last idea. I want to tell the hon member he must not be perturbed. The Soutpansberg result was indeed a disappointment, but if he analyses all the factors, the lesson the NP must learn from it—it has lessons to learn—is a lesson that lies within the framework of the campaign itself and not in the result. The hon member would be making a great mistake in underestimating the NP. Our attitude is that Soutpansberg is now in the past tense; we start right here and move forwards again, as always, but with much greater motivation. Those hon members will realize their mistake.
I am grateful for the fact that the hon members for Waterberg and Soutpansberg are present in the House, because I want to refer to a matter that has come up for discussion here quite a few times. The hon member for Rissik stood up in this House and, amongst other things, said that the hon member for Waterberg was one of the best theologians in the country. The hon member, however, surely knows that this is not true. He need only ask the hon member for Waterberg.
Mr Speaker, on a point of order: Is it parliamentary to say that an hon member said something that he knew was untrue? [Interjections.]
Order! The hon member must withdraw that.
Mr Speaker, I withdraw it. Let met tell that hon member: He must go and test this statement of his by asking the hon member for Waterberg whether he agrees with him. The hon member for Rissik must tell us whether any theologian has ever made such a statement. Obtaining a BD degree does not make one a theologian. One has indeed studied theology, but at most that makes one a minister of religion. The hon member for Waterberg will also tell the House that he did not obtain his doctorate in theology, but rather with a subject that lies in the field of political science. What is the hon member busy doing?
On 10 October the hon member for Waterberg made a speech at Ellis Park, the theme of which was the people rent asunder—the hon member for Turffontein referred to it—and in that speech he said that a part of the people wanted to mix and another part wanted to maintain separate freedoms.
Are you quoting now?
I am summing up. The hon member must tell me if I am wrong. Does he want me to quote in full? The hon member said:
He went on, and the second statement he made was:
I am quoting it to satisfy the hon member for Rissik. The third statement he made was:
When the hon member was confronted with these statements by the hon member for Turffontein, when asked whether he had said that, he said it was the absolute truth and he would repeat it. The hon member consistently spoke of a part of the people. Since he made those statements, let me ask him from what part of the people he himself comes. To what part of the peoples does he see himself belonging? Is it that part wanting to maintain separate freedoms or is it that part that wants to intermix? He must just tell me, please, to what part of the people he sees himself belonging.
I shall reply to your speeches in this House. [Interjections.]
Mr Speaker, I make the statement that the hon member sees himself as part of the people wanting to maintain separate freedoms. Let me also put a second question to him: Does he see himself as part of that section of the people that wants to reform life in accordance with certain principles or that part that wants to adapt, even if it means dying in the process?
Make your own speech.
I am making my own speech, and if the hon member for Brakpan would keep his mouth shut, I could go on. I was not asking the hon member for Water-berg directly; at this stage I am merely making statements. [Interjections.] The hon member may correct me if I draw the wrong conclusion. What I am saying is that the hon member sees himself as part of that section of the population that wants to reform life to fit in with certain principles, to line up with certain principles. The third question is: Does he see himself as part of the people acknowledging the sovereignty of Christ, or does he see himself as part of that section of the people scorning and rejecting it? I say that he sees himself as part of the former. Since we are now asking these questions, let us also ask: In speaking of separate freedoms, with intermixing as an alternative, to what section of the people does he see the hon the Prime Minister of South Africa belonging? He clearly places him in that section that wants to intermix. The second question is whether he sees the hon the Prime Minister as part of the people wanting to reform life in accordance with certain principles, or that part that wants to adapt even if it means dying in the process. He obviously sees him, in lieu of all the propaganda, as belonging to the second part. The last question about the sovereignty of Christ is left dangling in the air, with a certain innuendo attaching to it.
I want to put a second question, as far as those hon members are concerned, a rhetorical question. The question I want to ask myself, and all other hon members except those of the CP, is the following: In referring to the one section and another section, the hon member for Waterberg—and this is how the hearer perceives it—consistently speaks of the people divided in two. Hon members must remember that the theme is unity and disruption. In the people there is thus a division into two parts, and when the hon member for Waterberg speaks of the one part and another part, the listener immediately places himself in that part to which a favourable connotation attaches, whilst placing his opponent in the other part. That is the normal interpretation, and more than 99% of those who heard it understood it as such. What I am saying is that it is normal for the reasonable listener to understand it in those terms.
Now you are being a little naïve.
The hon member must also remember that he said this during the referendum. He then gave himself away, however, in his reply to a question from the hon member for Turffontein. That hon member asked him whether he had said it, whereupon the hon member for Waterberg said: “I said it deliberately”. If the hon member said it deliberately, he certainly meant what he said, as it came across to the average listener there and elsewhere.
Do not talk nonsense.
Then I take it that was not what he meant.
Mr Speaker, may I put a question to the hon member?
I am sorry, but I do not have the time to answer questions. The hon member for Waterberg is now saying that the way it came across to me is not the way he meant it.
He did not say that.
He has just said so. The hon member for Waterberg must tell me if I heard him incorrectly.
The second alternative remains, and that is that he did not, in fact, mean it, but said it deliberately in the knowledge that that was how it would come across to the average person.
Ah, come on, man.
The hon member has never yet told us what, in fact, he meant. He gets out of it each time by saying that that was not what he meant. He says: “What came across to you was not what I meant.” He does not, however, ever say what he really meant. But he did nevertheless tell the hon member for Turffontein that he had done it deliberately. I am mentioning these things because I ask myself what he aims to achieve.
The hon member referred to a part of the people and to a part and parts of the Afrikaner people. He delivered his address at one of the festival celebrations of the Afrikaner people. The hon member is therefore passing judgment on Afrikaners, and I am not necessarily saying Afrikaners who voted “yes”. Wherever he draws his lines, he is passing judgment on Afrikaners and ascribing certain attitudes to them. I would have liked to refer to a few other points in this connection, but time will definitely not permit me to do so. I do want to tell the hon member, however, that he must very carefully weigh up what he is busy doing. The hon member says he is not prepared to take part in a discussion that is televised on a Sunday, yet he grants interviews to the reporters of Sunday newspapers which he knows will be published on Sundays. He is therefore trying to present a favourable image, when in fact he does not really mean it. He drops a cloak that he cannot really honourably wear. [Interjections.] The hon member also referred to the three sixes. He does an allegorical exegesis by taking a factual complex from the Bible and applying it to some topicality of the day.
The hon member for Rissik is making a noise about this. He is the hon member who, on Thursday, said in this debate: But Piet Cillié says the Prime Minister must send forth his people like disciples. Then they fight with the hon member for Waterberg. That is what the hon member said, by implication. His hon leader does the same as Piet Cillié is said to have done, and now he stands there denying it.
I just briefly want to touch upon a second point. I am addressing this to the hon member for Soutpansberg. In his speech in this debate he challenged the hon the Minister of Internal Affairs to give a single example of any misrepresentation by the CP in the recent by-elections. The hon the Minister then, by way of a question, referred him to the statement that children from various population groups would sit together in the same schools. He asked him whether he was aware of that. The hon member then said he knew nothing about that.
I said that such stories were doing the rounds in my constituency.
That is quite right. A little later on he said:
I am quoting from his unrevised Hansard:
Is that correct or incorrect?
That is quite correct. That is factually quite correct. We are talking, however, of misrepresentations. The hon member went on to say:
We all say: Of course it represents a level of education. A crèche cum nursery school does represent a level of education. Then the hon member asks:
What is your problem?
I shall tell the hon member what it is. The hon member for Soutpansberg can tell him …
Wynand, I do not understand you.
Sir, if the hon member for Jeppe were properly informed, he would know exactly what it is all about. The point is that the hon member for Soutpansberg is indeed well-informed. He quoted from an Administrator’s notification which he had obviously examined. He therefore knows what those regulations deal with. I shall read the heading. It reads as follows:
Cum nursery schools!
Quite right! It relates to nursery schools and crèches, but it concerns the health regulations! [Interjections.]
Mr Speaker, may I put a question to the hon member?
No, Sir, I first want to talk to the hon member. He must listen until I have completed my argument. Then he can ask a question with the greatest of pleasure. These regulations determine what health standards should apply at nursery schools. The regulations refer to White nursery schools. Omitting the word “White” means that this applies to the health standards that should be applicable to nursery schools, both White nursery schools and—I emphasize “and”—any other nursery schools.
But are there non-White nursery schools in that…
Yes, there are several such crêches in the area.
The hon member should take the trouble to go and talk to the hon member for North Rand who also represents a large part of the Randburg municipal area. He also knows what circumstances prevail there as far as schools are concerned. The hon member for North Rand will be able to attest to the fact that he approached me at the opening of Parliament and asked: “What is this story about an open school in Randburg? Surely that is nonsense.” I told him: “Of course it is nonsense”, whereupon he said: “I thought so.” [Interjections.] Yet the misconception persists and the hon member says nothing about it. I want to tell that hon member …
You have not yet replied to the question about whether there are non-White nursery schools in Randburg.
Order! The hon member for Soutpansberg must give the hon member for Randburg an opportunity to develop his argument. The hon member for Randburg may continue.
I have unfortunately run out of time. I want to conclude with one request, at one and the same time a statement and a warning. On a previous occasion in the House I told hon members on that side that they were using rhetoric that leads to trouble and incitement. On that occasion I told them that I was not ascribing any intentional motives to them. I tried to warn them. They held it against me, very much so, saying that I had accused them of being Nazi’s. The hon member for Rissik made a lot of noise about that on quite a few occasions, very scornfully mentioning certain names, something which I talked to him about in the lobby. He is aware of it. Listening now to how those hon members simply go on with what they are doing, let me say that they are indeed following that course. I am afraid that at this stage I can no longer say that I am unable to ascribe intentional motives to them. We are on a course that could lead to a great deal of trouble and resistance. Revolution is not merely the prerogative of a militant ANC. It can come from many quarters. I want to advocate that we ourselves display a little caution. Let us weigh up what we say and only stick to the truth. [Interjections.]
Mr Speaker, it is always a great pleasure to speak after the hon member for Randburg has spoken. Today the particular brand of logic he normally displays has once again very clearly come to the fore, and I should like to congratulate him on his speech. I also want to thank him for having referred to the right-wing radical party and for having dealt with them. I find it very pleasant not to have to refer to that party.
No one denies that owing to circumstances beyond its control the agricultural industry is in a sorry plight. If the truth be told, we have recently suffered a more severe drought than even the drought of 1933. If it had not been for modern, more scientific practices and the aid made available, the effect of this drought on the economy as a whole would have been worse than that of 1933. Millions of rand in additional funds had to be taken from the taxpayers’ pockets in the present year of assessment to grant drought aid and flood relief to South African agriculture. In so far as it is given to man to see into the future, it seems as if it will again be necessary for the State to spend millions of rand on emergency aid, probably in regard to special measures to be adopted. The question that arises is whether it is all worth the trouble. The judgment of both the experts and the ignorant, in and outside agriculture, is frequently that this emergency aid and other direct and indirect agricultural subsidies are merely being poured into a bottomless pit and that it achieves very little. It is undoubtedly correct, without putting the counter-argument, that by way of subsidized interest rates and direct loans the State has contributed to some farmers plunging themselves so deeply into debt that they can hardly right themselves again. It is argued that the solution lies in reduced State interference and in also moving systematically towards a free-market system, or more correctly a system of free enterprise, as far as agriculture is concerned. When a farmer wants to drown, financially speaking, do not keep his head above water. It makes the eventual process that much more painful. Let the entrepreneur himself decide whether he wants to drown or not—that is the argument some people use. In modern-day agriculture—as White agriculture in South Africa can, in fact, be described—which, apart from periodic climatic fluctuations, largely struggles with problems of over-production, we have no other choice but to allow the market forces of supply and demand to play a greater role in the determination of the prices of agricultural products and the inputs.
The system of free enterprise must, however, never become a goal in itself. The aim must always be the maintenance of an agricultural industry which provides food and clothing to the population, at reasonable prices to both the consumer and the producer, without damage to the natural resources. One must, however, accept that a certain degree of Government interference in agriculture, as the primary sector of the economy, will always be essential with a view to keeping the agricultural industry fundamentally sound. As in the case of other modern economic systems in the world this is also applicable in South Africa. The reasons for this are legion, and I am only going to mention a few.
Agriculture is inherently a slow-growing industry. As evidence of this there is its reduced relative contribution to the gross national product. Agriculture as a primary industry serves as a basis for a large part of the secondary economic sector. As evidence of this there is the delayed recovery of the South African economy, largely ascribed to the influence of the recent season of drought in the agricultural industry. Agricultural products have been exposed to the problem of the limited elasticity of supply and demand. Hence the problem agriculture has in adapting rapidly and effectively to changed market situations. These inherent characteristics of the agricultural industry make it impossible for the industry, in a free market situation, to compete with other economic sectors.
The Republic, like any state in the world, has no choice but to introduce supportive measures in order to keep the agricultural industry fundamentally sound in the interests of both the farmer and the economy as a whole. Although they must continually be modernized, financial aids, the Marketing Act, the Co-operatives Act and other Acts will be kept intact by this Government. The enterprising farmer, however, must never, owing to excessive control, be smothered into mediocrity.
I think that we shall have an opportunity, later in the session, to discuss specific measures in agriculture. I am therefore not going to do so today, and I am purposefully refraining from doing so because I believe that opportunities for those debates will present themselves. [Interjections.] There is also the danger in South Africa, however, that increasingly less attention will be paid to agriculture as its relative contribution to the gross national product decreases, as urbanization decreases its voting power and the industry’s relative contribution to supplying job opportunities also decreases. We give the farmers the assurance, however, that the hon the Minister and the Deputy Minister, with the full support of the NP’s farming group in the House of Assembly, intend to have the interests of the South African farmer clearly heard by our colleagues who serve other interest groups. South Africa’s farmers do not suffer from a mendicant mentality. They are a proud group of people, with a proud record in all spheres of life, and are entitled to be effectively represented in this House.
Mr Speaker, I am glad that the hon nominated member Dr Odendaal has steered the debate away from the sterile and futile post-mortems of the battle of Soutpansberg, and I welcome the opportunity to continue to discuss the agricultural aspects of the economic debate that he has started this afternoon.
Those of us with an interest in agriculture listened intently to the speech of the hon the Minister of Finance. We hear him tell us that South African agriculture was financially in a bad way. This we already knew. We also heard him tell us that droughts and floods had played havoc with the farmers of South Africa. This is self-evident. Furthermore we heard him tell us that large sums of relief money had been made available to farmers, by way of various organizations such as the Land Bank. What we did not hear, however, the hon the Minister tell us was why the economic position of the farmers was so bad even before the drought, and why, as a consequence, so few farmers had been able to withstand the drought.
The hon the Minister also did not tell us how the Government intended strengthening the economic resilience of the farming sector. At the end of June 1983 the agricultural debt amounted to R6,4 billion, which represented an 11% increase since December 1982. This figure excluded interest and carryover debt. The agricultural sector’s annual interest bill is staggering. In 1980 it was only R323 million. By mid-1983 it stood at R865 million, and it is expected to top R1 billion by the middle of this year.
Carry-over debt has soared from R106 million in 1981 to R860 million at the end of August last year. The total agricultural debt at the end of last year stood close to R8,8 billion. It should also be remembered that this debt is being carried by a relatively small number of farmers—a farming community of something like 70 000 farmers. In other words the South African agriculture is facing a financial crisis of frightening dimensions.
We heard nothing about what the Government intended doing about identifying and solving the real economic problems which had landed the agricultural sector in this invidious position. Perhaps he is leaving that to the hon the Minister of Agriculture. Perhaps all will be revealed in the White Paper which is to be tabled later this session. We hope so.
It is this distinct reluctance to define exactly what the real problems are that has been a feature of the Government’s pronouncements on agriculture in the past. More often than not we have had an array of scapegoats trotted out before us every year with monotonous regularity. The real villains remain undisclosed.
Because the Government and its predecessors have failed to diagnose correctly, incorrect prescriptions have been advised; for example, increased centralization and control of the agricultural sector have been striven for, often with disastrous results. When there is, for example, a surplus of controlled products the prices are increased. This unorthodox response, we are told, is to pay for losses sustained in exporting. The real question we must ask is why the price tag on our surplus products is so high that we are not competitive, and must lose on exports.
When the drought is over, and when tens of millions of rand from the State coffers have been spent to bail the farmers out, they will not be one whit better off than they are now. Their position will indeed be considerably worse because they will have even higher debts to repay. This Government, by its apparent reluctance to come to grips with the basics in agricultural economy, is turning our farmers into a community of beggars, a community dependent on Government hand-outs for their continued existence. The farmers do not like it, nor do the taxpayers. We all want to see a strong, viable and independent farming community, a community able on its own two feet to withstand the vicissitudes of our climate. We do not want to run cap-in-hand to the Government for a hand-out or for a subsidy every time we are hit by adversity. It is both demeaning and demoralizing, and it is also extremely expensive for the country.
Let us look at one or two of the real problems confronting our farmers. At a very early stage in our farming history the vulnerability of our farmers to fluctuations in world and domestic prices became apparent. Not unnaturally the solution was seen to lie in protectionism. The same policy was applied to industries related to agriculture such as the production of fertilizer. This has led to high input costs and a lack of competitiveness for which the consumer has had to pay. What is interesting, Sir, is that increasingly the agricultural sector is rejecting the view that it is unable to compete effectively against foreign competition. Agriculture’s one requirement as a quid pro quo for open competition is that it should be allowed to shop in an open, international market for its inputs. This is surely a reasonable and a mature request.
The great mistake is the official deduction that the South African farmer cannot compete on the basis of world prices. The real problem is not so much the competitiveness of the South African farmer but rather the problem of reconciling an efficient farming sector with a massive array of contradictory policy constraints. The state of the maize industry illustrates this contention. The Government is bound by certain political commitments such as keeping farmers on the land, ensuring high prices for producers and low prices for consumers and, perhaps the most important of all, national self-sufficiency. This affects the price and the supply of maize to the consumer and it also affects the entire economic structure of the industry.
Because we are committed to self-sufficiency farmers are encouraged by way of guaranteed high prices to go for maximum planting. By so doing we hope that even in a bad year sufficient for our needs will be produced. This means that vast areas of marginal land and land vulnerable to drought are put under the plough. During good seasons enormous surpluses are produced that have to be sold on the international market. Because of protectionism in related industries the price of our products is seldom competitive. The danger exists that these surpluses have now to be sold at a loss. Somebody has ultimately to bear the consequences of that loss and that somebody is of course the taxpayer. The irony of the whole matter is, of course, that despite the farmers’ best efforts, we are still not self-sufficient. During drought years we still have to rely heavily on imports. Would it not be better to accept that certain political commitments will have to be reviewed and that although the ideal of self-sufficiency, for example, can be striven after, this should never be a slavish, at-all-costs policy? It seems to me to be folly of the first order to encourage farmers to plant crops on marginal land when it is known that in good years surpluses stand to be sold at taxpayers’ expense while in bad years these same marginal farmers whose activities caused a surplus, are the first to be hit by the drought, and will then have to be kept in the industry by means of handouts, again at the taxpayers’ expense.
Is not part of the answer to determine which areas are the prime crop growing areas that are least vulnerable to drought and to encourage the farmers in these areas to go for maximum production with minimum costs? If we did this we would know that in an average or good year these farmers would be able to supply our needs and would not be a burden on the taxpayer. We would also know that in bad years we would need to import our shortfall as is now the case anyway. Farmers in marginal areas would have to be encouraged to revert to a system of farming less vulnerable to drought and soil erosion and they would become less dependent on expensive handouts. It may be necessary, Sir, to encourage an orderly reduction in the number of fanning units if a move away from an intensive system of agriculture makes this necessary.
I do believe that a way can be found out of the current dilemma and that that way can be beneficial to both producer and consumer. Given the correct economic structures, the South African farmer can produce reasonably priced food while at the same time consolidating his own financial situation. I am certain of this but it will mean that certain contradictory policy commitments will have to be modified. Unless the Government is prepared to do this the agricultural industry is in very real danger of collapse in the near future.
Mr Speaker, I listened with great appreciation to what the hon member for Albany had to say. It is very clear that he has a very good understanding of what is happening in the sphere of agriculture. He put his finger on several very important points relating to problems in agriculture. He referred to farmers farming on marginal land who make a living in good years but have to leave their farms in difficult years such as these, due to the intrinsic value of the land. What I am now going to say I say with all the responsibility at my command: I think it is easier to say from an Opposition bench that a plan must be made now with regard to those farmers. I do not believe that it is for the Government to decide who should leave the farms and who should stay. The agricultural unions have had their say in this regard and it would be a very good thing if members of the PFP were to adopt a standpoint in this regard at the congresses of various provincial agricultural unions and move resolutions. However, this is still easier said than done.
What the hon member must not forget, and what the House must always take into account, is that South Africa is not an agricultural country in the sense that European countries and the USA are agricultural countries. Hon members who farm, and I who farm, know very well that in agriculture one has to contend with factors beyond one’s control. There is not one other agricultural country in the Free World that is faced with as many problems with regard to the climate, to begin with, as is South Africa. A few months ago we thought that 1984 would be an outstanding agricultural year. During the past two to three weeks we have been greatly shocked to realize that for large parts of the country, the rainy reason is past. Whereas a few weeks ago we were still self-sufficient as regards the supply of maize, we are now heading for a poorer harvest than last year. That is how variable the situation in South Africa is. What we must also bear in mind is that there are other factors, too, contributing to our dilemma in agriculture. Not only in South Africa but internationally as well we are faced with a recessionary situation. The recession elsewhere in the world has a direct impact on South Africa. We also have to contend with sanctions and boycotts imposed against us and as a result we have to take certain steps in this country, that cost us money, to establish infrastructures so that if sanctions were to be imposed against us in South Africa we should be able to provide our own motors.
Yes, that, too, is why ADE exists.
And they still cannot manufacture injector pumps.
For years now we have had to contend with the war in South West, but there is very positive development in the sense that the dove of peace is beginning to be seen everywhere in Southern Africa. We must also have a very strong infrastructure, so that when we are a threatened country we can co-exist in peace with our neighbours from a position of strength. This also has its influence on agriculture, even though in an indirect way, in the sense that we should very much have liked to do more to help the farmers and place agriculture on a better footing.
Then, too, there is the fact that to our detriment, the gold price has not risen as we should have liked to see it rise. This means that we lose millions of rands every day which could otherwise have been utilized in a crisis situation, viz the most serious drought in South Africa in human memory, to do far more for our people in agriculture and for the agricultural industry as a whole. As matters stand this simply cannot be done. The money is simply not there. Together with this recession, the gold price and the drought we have also had two cyclones, one after the other, the worst we have had in decades. On the one hand we have a drought and on the other everything is washed away. In these times the Government has paid out money that it sorely needs, to ensure that agriculture, and the people in the agricultural industry, do not go under; instead they have seen to it that they are retained there, one could almost say at any price. That is why I say to the hon member that although he has displayed insight into agriculture and the problems of agriculture, there are certainly factors that are totally beyond our control that one has to take fully into account.
However, let us also look at the positive aspect, viz what the Government is doing, what the hon the Minister of Agriculture is doing and also what the hon the Minister of Finance and his colleagues are doing. We are looking forward to the White Paper that the hon the Minister of Agriculture has envisaged as regards an agricultural strategy for South Africa. Even at this stage I anticipate that that White Paper that we shall be getting at one time or another will put South African agriculture on a far better footing than ever before.
The Jacobsz Committee, which is a permanent committee, is an outstanding input that was initiated by the hon the Minister of Agriculture to monitor agriculture on an ongoing basis and provide inputs to the department. In addition, it has to see to it, in cooperation with the SA Agricultural Union and other bodies, that when problems are identified, they are dealt with the least possible delay and at the highest level by some of the most skilled people in the country functioning at that level. Agricultural conferences are held annually and at these conferences advance estimates are made in regard to agriculture for that year. This year we had the former Minister of Agriculture of the USA as guest of honour during that conference. What he has said elsewhere as well is a feather in our cap. One must not forget that we are still struggling with the oil crisis of 1973, at which time South Africa and the Free World were almost on the brink of bankruptcy and when special measures had to be introduced to enable this country to proceed and develop in the economic and industrial spheres and in other spheres as well. These are only a few of the things I could refer to which are in fact matters beyond our control. On the other hand the Government is taking positive steps not only to monitor the position but also to plan and develop a strategy. I should have liked to indicate the positive steps the Government is taking to extend a helping hand to agriculture during one of the most difficult periods imaginable.
The occasion does not always present itself, but I should like to convey a brief message of thanks today to officials and workers of the Land Bank throughout the country in the various branches of the Land Bank and in the agricultural co-operatives. They are among the finest people in the society that I know. For example, my constituency has the largest number of farmers per constituency in the country. We have five State water schemes there, three agricultural co-operatives and then, too, the Crocodile River catchment area. Nevertheless it falls within a drought-ravaged area. I have to contend with the problems in agriculture every day, but I also have to deal every day with what the co-operative does, what the Land Bank does and what their officials do. I have only the highest praise and appreciation for these people and I should like to place on record that this side of the House wishes to say that to them today. In doing so I want to convey my sincere thanks to our hon Minister of Finance. I want to begin by referring to agricultural co-operatives because I want to refer to the hon the Minister. To me the agricultural co-operatives, like the kitchen, are one of the most important facets of the household. That is where production takes place and provisions are handed out and where the chef of the kitchen, the big boss, viz the hon the Minister of Finance, is to be found. It is he who opens his generous hand and shares out. We want to thank him today for his understanding and appreciation.
In his Second Reading speech the hon the Minister of Finance quoted figures which we on this side found disturbing, for example the R2,3 billion that will be spent up to the end of March 1984 in agriculture. On the other hand, it is cause for profound gratitude that the Government is spending so much on agriculture. However, we regard this as a symptom of the degree to which this country’s agricultural industry is in crisis. In my opinion, few people outside agriculture realize how grave this crisis was and still is. This is particularly the case now, with the two flood disasters in Natal and the eastern parts of Transvaal. Then, too, there is the on-going drought, and we can expect that in the next year things are only going to get more difficult and not easier in agriculture.
Drought aid amounting to R2,3 billion has been granted to agriculture within a period of 12 months. That is an enormous amount. The contribution of the Land Bank to the drought aid plan is R300 million. The direct long-term loan assistance granted to individual farmers by the Land Bank Board increased by R578 million from 1982 to 1983, viz from R238 million to R816 million. At the end of 1983 co-operatives were indebted to the Land Bank to the tune of R3 131 million. These figures are not concealed, but are mentioned in the annual report of the South African Agricultural Union. Figures have also been received from the department. The Land Bank introduced its drought aid plans on 1 May last year and by the end of next month they will amount to R2,3 billion. My time is limited, and accordingly I cannot go into every facet of this aid that is being granted to agriculture as such. However, I also wish to convey my thanks today to the Land Bank and the agricultural co-operatives. If one looks at the agricultural situation from their point of view, the way in which they conduct financing in agriculture—we had no idea of the risks taken by these bodies. They are not geared to making large profits, but all these things are financing risks. It is unsettling to consider the farmers’ debts that they have to handle. For example, it is not reassuring to see that total farming debts almost tripled in the 10 years from 1971 to 1981. The estimate for February 1983 was R6 000 million as against estimated capital assets of R33 300 million. This means a debt asset ratio of 18%—the highest in our history.
In addition, we have the gravest drought in our history on our hands. In large areas of our country there are farmers who have had no harvest for three successive years. If there were people in the private sector who had had no income for three successive years, how would they get by? Who is so financially strong and well supplied with capital as to survive that? Had it not been for the efficiency of the farmers and the efficiency with which they farm today, they would have had to give up far sooner. The fact of the matter is that our agricultural debts have increased. The conclusion I wish to draw today is that to an increasing extent, farmers have to seek their financing outside agriculture and the agricultural co-operatives. This s one of the tremendous problems that the hon the Minister of Finance is saddled with. If, for example, the commercial banks were to begin to call in their debts, the farmer would have no alternative but to realize his property in the form of money in order to pay his debts. In this regard we wish to support and assist the hon the Minister and his colleague, the hon the Minister of Agriculture.
In my opinion, if there is one thing that must be done in agriculture, then it is—and I wish to advocate this—that we must create the opportunity for farmers to generate funds in agriculture. It should not be necessary for them always to approach the State to obtain funds. In this regard I associate myself with other hon members. I wish to put a friendly request to the hon the Minister to consider, for example, whether it would not be possible in times of drought and in a recession such as the present one to impose tax on revenue in agriculture in order to permit the farmers to invest tax-free in their co-operatives. The farmer’s great fear at the moment is that he will not have the money to pay the interest on his debt. Accordingly, I wish to ask whether it would not be possible to introduce subsidies in order to help the farmer carry his burden of debt, even if it were only to be until this difficult period was past. If commercial bank credit forms the greater part of the total burden of debt, then surely it is a sound argument that we should in the first place consider that situation because that is the most important factor.
Sir, my time has almost expired.
At about five in the evening one longs to be on the farm in the bushveld, and it is nice to hear the sound of a baboon from one side. [Interjections.] I want to associate myself with the hon member for Durban Point and other hon members as well and make an earnest appeal to the hon members of the CP on my right hand.
Do not spoil a good speech.
I plead guilty because the temptation is very great. For five to six years the hon member was my bench-mate, and he and I experienced many things together and had a lot of fun. Moreover, I often helped him out of trouble.
The temptation is very great to say certain things with reference to the hon member for Jeppe, but I am not going to allow myself to be misled. I do not intend to say anything negative. For the sake of the future and good order in this House and out of respect for you, Mr Speaker, and for the House I want to say: Let us tackle one another about arguments and policy, but let us stop launching personal attacks on one another in this House, because that gets one nowhere. Particularly in view of the complex situation in South Africa, its multinational situation, and the course we are adopting politically and otherwise, we should rather take one another’s hands than box one another’s ears. Sometimes certain hon members in this House are singled out and a deliberate effort is made to undermine them. Any party in this House can select a member of another party and say: Let us break that man.” Eventually, however, one digs a pit into which one falls oneself. I listened to what was said in this House this afternoon. A major effort is being made to get at the hon the Leader of the NP in the Transvaal personally. I rise here as an MP from a constituency in the north of Transvaal but also as one who has experienced what it is to be elected to the House of Assembly at a time of crisis and who, since then, has experienced many crises in this House. I wish to say today, without fear of contradiction, that as far as the Transvaal is concerned, even though we are experiencing a crisis due to the drought and possibly in other fields as well, there is one matter about which there need be no doubt whatsoever, and indeed, there is no doubt, and that is that the Transvaal has never before been as united behind its leader as we are united behind the hon leader of the NP in the Transvaal now. [Interjections.] I shall not allow myself to be misled into reacting to those interjections again. The fact of the matter is that Transvaal has been consolidated and everyone is standing together. In these drought conditions that we are faced with, we are grateful to have a young and vigorous leader who keeps his caucus and his province together so that we can enter the future with great confidence.
Mr Speaker, it is always difficult to return to finance after one has been hearing such a great deal about politics. It is interesting to notice how hon members prick up their ears when politics are discussed. Many of them started falling asleep when the hon member for Brits was discussing financial affairs, the problems of farmers and certain investments, with which I would not agree. However, the moment he started discussing Soutpansberg and the CP everyone was wide awake.
I am surprised at the hon member knowing so little about the fall of man that he does not realize that whenever something political can be exploited to gain a vote, this will in fact be done. Unfortunately this is a rule of politics. To us as a party it is strange to hear hon members of the NP pleading for fair play in politics in South Africa, something with which we all agree. When things are brought to a head in politics, however, one encounters precious little of fair play.
†The front page of The Natal Witness carried a historic photograph on Friday, under the heading “A thousand pictures tell a story”. A certain gentleman called Cornell had a poster printed for the Pietermaritzburg North provincial by-election and he spent all that money in anticipation of a victory by Mr Frank Martin in Pinetown last Wednesday. In fact, even on Tuesday he was confirmed as the candidate. Here is the photograph of the man with some of his thousand posters which he printed before the election took place. [Interjections.] Mr Speaker, the word “never” is a very long word to use. It seems to me that to count one’s chickens before they hatch in politics is a very dangerous business.
Sir, as a former member of Parliament for Pinetown—in fact, I came to this House as such at the same time that you did, in 1974—as the only public representative in Natal who declined to join the NRP when the UP dissolved, and as the MP who has Mr Frank Martin as his MPC, I have a very special interest in the Pinetown result. What has this result demonstrated? It has demonstrated in clear terms that the NRP does not have the organization, the energy, the commitment and the leadership that is needed for a White political party to survive in the present state of South African politics. No political party could have been in a better position to win Pinetown than the NRP. Perhaps the subeditor or political correspondent of The Argus captured it perfectly in the headline when he said: “The NRP snatches defeat from the jaws of victory”. Indeed, despite a well-known and popular candidate, the promised support of the NP, the support of the only Durban based daily morning paper, they proved themselves politically impotent. If there was one seat that the CP could win, it was Soutpansberg, and they did win it. The same can be said of Pinetown for the NRP, but they duffed it. The public of Natal are rightly disillusioned with the NRP and its leadership. The hon member Mr Danie Schutte was the bright spark who suggested that the Nats should withdraw from the Pinetown fight. One hopes that he has been called upon to explain himself and why he decided on these particular tactics.
However, I believe that the hon member for Durban Point set out very clearly this afternoon where he stands. He says, as does the editor of Rapport, that there are three streams in White South African politics. I do not necessarily agree with the way he puts it, but he says these three streams are a left, a right and a middle stream. Where does the NRP want to be? It wants to be in the NP middle stream. [Interjections.] The hon Leader of the House knows very well what the hon member for Durban Point was saying; he is very keen to get into the NP. [Interjections.]
The hon the Minister of Finance is unfortunately not here now.
May I ask a question? Mr Speaker, would the hon member who has so much interest in Pinetown tell the House by how many votes they won on the day in Pinetown? [Interjections.]
The point is that it is the election that is important. [Interjections.] On the day we won by approximately 120 votes, but we had the organization and the energy to put in the sweat equity which was required to win that seat, while that party of which the hon member for Durban North is the leader in Natal, had no organization. [Interjections.] On the Monday, a week before the election, The Natal Mercury had a big headline stating that only the hon member for Umhlanga was going to remain in the House because all the other hon members of the NRP were going to be working in Natal. However, on Monday morning they were all sitting comfortably in the House because they had been misinformed. [Interjections.]
That is not true.
That is what The Natal Mercury said. Does the hon member not believe the newspaper?
I hope that by now the hon the Minister of Finance is listening to the debate somewhere. He is also the leader of the NP in Natal, and I want to talk about some of the financial problems which Natal has had. One of these problems has been in regard to the weather over the past two years. We have had a traumatic two years and it seems that a return to normality is not in sight. The hon the Minister of Environment Affairs and Fisheries has taken a keen interest in Natal. I understand that one of the reasons for this is that two of his grandchildren had to have their nappies washed under water rationing conditions. Perhaps that made him more conscious of the problems we have had in Durban and Pietermaritzburg than would otherwise have been the case. However, the hon the Minister has taken a keen interest in the problems of Natal’s water supplies and we appreciate that but we need clarity from him on the long-term needs not only of the Pietermaritzburg/Durban area but also of the Newcastle/Dundee area. We should like to know what plans there are to ensure that under dry conditions water will be provided from more reliable rivers. By pulling the plans for pumping water from the Mooi River into the Midmar Dam out of the mothballs, he has alleviated what is still a serious situation.
Secondly, the hon the Minister of Finance needs to tell us whether he is considering revising the way in which moneys are earmarked from the water sales. Natal’s cheap water is exported to the Transvaal and raises just on R40 million a year according to the reply to a question in the House last year. That amount should be earmarked for the development of water and hydro-electric installations in Natal, and not be dumped into the bottomless pit of the State Revenue Fund. I believe the hon the Minister of Environment Affairs and Fisheries should also look at the price the Transvaal is paying for that water. That should be reinvested in order to provide better water supplies.
All right, I shall do that but will you be willing to pay more for electricity from the Eastern Transvaal?
Sure, and Cahora Bassa as well as the price of electricity from the pumped storage scheme which uses water from Natal to alleviate the water position in the Vaal Triangle.
You will pay for the coal from the Eastern Transvaal.
Mr Speaker, it seems to me the hon the Minister does not realize we have ample supplies of coal in Natal.
I am well aware of that.
Clearly, Mr Speaker, the point at issue is that water is a national resource, which should be handled with care. I am delighted to see the hon the Minister of Finance, who also happens to be the leader of the NP in Natal, back with us in the House. I realize he must find it hard to listen to this protracted debate, particularly since so much of what is said has no bearing on his favourite subject. [Interjections.] I should, however, like to ask one more question, which also affects the hon the Minister of Environment Affairs and Fisheries. That is a question in connection with the Pongola Poort Dam, which has been a very expensive monument to bad planning by the Department of Water Affairs. Firstly I should like to know whether the wall of the dam has moved after …
The answer to that question is a categorical “no”.
Then I should like to know why the water content of the dam has suddenly been reduced from 86% to 60%? Is that because the water of that dam has been encroaching on Swaziland territory? It seems to me quite ridiculous to have a dam …
I shall give the answer to that question in due course.
Why then is it necessary to empty that dam? The dam was just in the process of filling up to full capacity when it was emptied again to 60%.
Do you want more floods in that region?
Mr Speaker, I should like to turn now to the question of the financing of roads in Natal. We have had a statement by the hon the Minister of Transport Affairs in a Press release dated 21 February 1984. That statement relates to what I regard as a deplorable example of bad planning and of misuse of Government money in that a major arterial route linking the Vaal Triangle with its major port in Natal has become so bad owing to the incompetence of the Free State Roads Department that it has had to be closed to certain types of traffic. This is the sort of thing one should actually believe would happen, for instance, somewhere in West Africa—between Ovagadougou and Chad. Lo and behold, this is exactly what has happened on the road between Warden and Harrismith. [Interjections.] I believe the hon the Minister should seriously consider the position. This hon Minister has, however, become notorious because under his management of the country’s financial affairs the inflation rate has consistently remained at a two-figure level. One of the things that should be done in order to cause the inflation rate to drop, I believe, is the following. By reducing the price of petrol last year the Government hoped to start a process of snowballing the lowering of the inflation rate. I believe that if the hon the Minister had really thought about it, instead of lowering the price of petrol, he would simply have transferred that proposed decrease into a road fund. If he had done that we would not have had this embarrassing situation. I believe it is going to be very difficult to remedy the situation now because an increase in the price of petrol is going to be very unpopular. The price of petrol in South Africa was not so outrageously high before last year’s decrease that it would not have been possible for the hon the Minister to take this step. What is the position now? The roads of Natal, which have to carry vast volumes of traffic … [Interjections.] If the hon the Minister of Finance, who is the leader of the NP in Natal, would travel by road over the Easter weekend, he would be able to see for himself the problems caused by vehicles travelling bumper to bumper. If he was to travel at night and saw heavy trucks travelling along the highways of Natal to and from the Transvaal, he would appreciate that for those roads to fall into that state of decay really smacks of a banana republic of the worst kind. I believe that this House has a right to demand from the Free State Provincial Administration as well as from the National Transport Commission and from the hon the Minister of Finance an explanation as to how, in a modern industrialized economy, dependent on the Vaal Triangle and the port of Durban, a major arterial road can fall into such a state of decay that the hon the Minister of Transport Affairs has to say—and this is the understatement of the year—that heavy vehicles and caravans will in all probability again be permitted to use the national route N3 through the northeastern Free State during March 1984. Therefore, for five months traffic has been forbidden to use it. This report goes on to state:
This is the point:
Mr Speaker, this is going to ruin the road from Newcastle to Ladysmith or to Frere where the double highway begins because it clearly cannot be expected to carry all the traffic that should be using three other routes and certainly the route over Van Reenen’s Pass. The hon the Minister of Finance is the leader of his party in Natal and if he hopes to win any more seats in that province he had better do something about this state of affairs. I believe that he should listen to the hon the Minister of Transport Affairs in as much as money for roads is a priority. [Interjections.] If roads are going to deteriorate to the extent where they cannot even be maintained, then the position is very serious indeed.
Mr Speaker, the hon member for Pietermaritzburg North is unhappy about the fact that the water of Natal is used in Transvaal. I want to ask him whether he derives no benefit from the gold production of Transvaal. I also want to ask him whether he is aware that 80% and more of Natal’s power supply comes from Transvaal. I think the hon member ought to confine himself to matters that he knows something about.
The hon member also referred here to the Pongolapoort Dam. I think the hon member would have liked something to have happened to that dam wall, and that in fact he was sorry that that did not happen. That dam wall has not shifted a centimetre, and I think the remark he made, viz that the water was now being released because there was supposedly something wrong with the dam wall, attests to the utmost lack of responsibility on his part. Shortly after the first cyclone there was a second one, and at present there are two more on the way. What would have happened if we had not released the water and we had had more water rushing down towards this dam wall? Below the dam wall there are 80 000 Black people who could have lost their lives in this process if we had not released the water from that dam in an orderly fashion.
I do not want to waste any more of my time on the hon member. The hon member spoke about political streams. He himself belongs to a very thin stream and he entered into debate with another thin stream.
I want to speak about the cyclone Domoina that hit us during the period 30 January to 1 February 1984. It left a trail of chaos and destruction in my constituency that will be visible for many years yet. Moreover, its effect will be felt in the economy of the region for decades. The scale of the destruction and devastation is undoubtedly among the gravest and most severe we have ever experienced in the history of this country. While the cyclone was raging the people in the area were filled with fear and trembling. Along the coast there was an intense heatwave, even when the rain began falling. It was accompanied by a strong wind and darkness. People fled in fear to safety. Hundreds of millimetres of rain fell within a few hours. The rainfall in the catchment area varied between 500 and 700 millimetres. During our visit some farmers said that they had had between half a metre and 1,5 metres of rain. Some were unable to tell us what the position was because some of the rain gauges had overflowed.
Because this catchment area had been suffering from a severe drought, the catchment, the sponge, was unable to absorb this water, and this mass of water swept down the rivers to the lower-lying areas. The rivers burst their banks and in the process washed away fields, roads and bridges. Towns were cut off from the outside world in the worst storms ever experienced in that region. People’s lives were lost in the process, and our hearts go out to those who lost friends and family. Our sincere thanks go to the SA Defence Force, that saved more than 500 people from roofs, islands and tree-tops.
On behalf of the people in that area I should like to convey my wholehearted thanks on this occasion to the hon the Prime Minister for his sympathy and positive action. The fact that there was such prompt reaction meant a great deal to the morale of the people in that area. There is profound appreciation for the fact that the hon the Minister of Environment Affairs and Fisheries and the hon the Minister of Health and Welfare and their two directors-general, together with the MPs of the area, the hon members for Ermelo and Vryheid, visited the area so soon after this cyclone had caused the damage. The visit was followed up by the same hon Ministers accompanied by other members of the Cabinet, and this was very greatly appreciated by the people of Zululand, Northern Natal, Eastern Transvaal and kwaZulu. Everyone who visited the area was in a position to acquire first-hand knowledge of what happened there. It is impossible to convey it to this House; one has to see it to believe it. I think the fact that the visit was made contributed towards the Government’s decision to take specific and immediate steps.
We are sincerely grateful to the SA Defence Force for their assistance and for their provision of food and medical supplies and for the fact that they assisted in saving human lives. We thank the SA Police, too, for the outstanding service they rendered in very difficult circumstances. To the Department of Posts and Telecommunications, too, I wish to convey a message of thanks and appreciation for having restored communications in record time. All postal and telecommunications links were cut off in the entire region. Our sincere thanks go to the Natal Provincial Administration for the way they took action after the disaster had taken place. Our sincere thanks go to Escom, which did a remarkable job of restoring the electricity supply to the towns. We thank the SATS, too, that repaired the railway line to Richard’s Bay in record time. Kilometres of railway line were washed away and it was remarkable to see how they repaired the line within days so that the transportation of coal could be resumed.
The reaction of both rural and urban civil defence organizations, as well as farming associations, was remarkable. A high standard of preparedness was maintained throughout. The co-operation of authorities at all levels and other voluntary bodies and organizations was very satisfactory. Heroic deeds by people in the area will be remembered in future when the disaster is discussed.
There were humorous moments, too, at the time of the dramatic disaster that struck this area. The morning after the cyclone was over, two farmers rode across their farm in their deep-sea boat to look for their labourers. They came to a tree in which four Black people had spent the night. The flood-water was under the tree and the four Blacks in the tree were sharing it with mambas. One farmer, Mr Murray Kirkland, threw a rope to one of the Blacks and indicated to him that he should tie it around his waist. The Black man was so pleased to get hold of the rope so that he could leave the tree that he tied the rope around his neck and immediately jumped into the water. They reeled him into the boat, loosening the rope now and again to enable him to breath. When they got him into the boat they asked him why he had tied the rope around his neck and not his waist. With some embarrassment he told them that he was unable to swim, and because the rope had been choking him, he had not swallowed water. [Interjections.] Mr Speaker, the hardest hit areas in my constituency are the Umfolozi plain near Mtubatuba, the lower Mkuze area and the area at Pongola. The Umfolozi flats comprise an area of 2 500 ha that was under sugar cane and was generally recognized as being among the best sugar land in the sugar industry. The 2 500 ha is covered with sterile sand, the depth of which varies between 0,6 metres and over 3 metres. When one stands on this 2 500 ha it looks as if one is standing in a desert. It is just sand as far as one can see. It is impossible to determine the boundaries of farms in that region. When we were there last week, the kind of sandstorms that one encounters in the desert were raging where once there were lush green sugar-cane lands. The farmers there produced on average 250 000 tons of cane per annum. The cost of removing the sand is estimated at between R6 000 and R9 500 per ha. Accordingly these 2 500 ha are irreparably harmed. The value of the land is estimated at R8 000 per ha. The value of the land in terms of the share of the farmers in the corporation pushes it up a further R4 000 per hectare. The fact that it is situated near the mill, in terms of the finding of the Rӧrich Commission, pushes it up a further R1 400 per hectare. Accordingly the amount the farmers have totally lost is R13 400 per hectare. It would cost R33,5 million to buy out these farmers. A further 6 600 ha was flooded in this area. It has not yet been determined how much of the 6 600 ha of sugar cane land has been totally destroyed. It is clear at this stage that 20% has a chance of recovery. The 4 200 ha will have to be replanted at a cost of R1 250 per hectare. This includes the seed cane and the transport thereof and the cultivation of the land. In this area there is 1 300 ha of State land that is at present leased to the sugar corporation. There was a scheme that was in the planning stage to allocate this land to farmers in the area who occupied uneconomic units. Due to the disaster that has hit this area, it has become imperative that this transaction should be expedited, because it is unfair to expect the corporation to spend any additional funds on this land that has been hit by flood damage. The harvest estimate of the Umfolozi corporation for the present financial year is 1,175 million tons of sugar cane. Due to the disaster it is now estimated at a mere 500 000 tons. The corporation mills need 900 000 tons to cover their costs. Due to the drought, production in 1982-83 was a mere 726 000 tons. Therefore they had a backlog even before the disaster struck them. Thus to place the corporation on an economic footing once again, it is important that 1 200 ha be brought into production again in this area as soon as possible. It is impossible to put an end to production in this area since an investment of R350 million has been made here and the Riverview/Mtubatuba area is dependent on the sugar farmers.
As far as the Pongolapoortdam is concerned, it was originally planned that the dam would be filled over a period of three years. This dam was filled within three days. Due to the loss of vast tracts of land in the Mtubatuba area it is important that we utilize some of the water from the Pongolapoort dam in the Railway Valley as soon as possible for irrigation purposes. The Railway Valley includes the areas Mkuze, Bayala and Hluhluwe. An irrigation board is to be formed shortly which will approach the Department of Environment Affairs and Fisheries with feasibility studies.
As far as the Umfolozi area is concerned, it was very clear that the tremendous damage we suffered there was partly a scribble to the state of the catchment area. It is alleged that if the Government had built a dam in the Umfolozi river years ago, this disaster would not have struck this region. However, if one bears in mind the millions of tons of sand that came down, no dam could have withstood this flood. It is very clear when one flies over that area, which includes large parts of kwaZulu, that the lifestyle of the people in kwaZulu will have to change. One notes that in certain areas some of the Zulu chiefs have persuaded their people to settle in towns. There is a remarkable difference between the grazing in those areas as opposed the rest of kwaZulu, by far the greater part, where the people still live spread out across the countryside. This is a very serious matter which must be given intensive attention. That catchment area must be conserved and stabilized, in their own interest. When one flies over kwaZulu it is frightening to see the erosion that has taken place there. It will take decades to repair it. In some areas, of course, the damage is irreparable. The land has been washed away and cannot be restored.
As far as the Lower Mkuze area is concerned, the farmers there have suffered losses in crops and cattle which, in the nature of the matter, cannot be made good, and they recognize that that is so. Tremendous damage has, however, been done with regard to fencing, broken dams and silted up boreholes. In the Pongola region, 650 ha of quota land has been totally washed away while 1 100 ha of sugar land will have to be reclaimed. Considerable damage was done to water works, canals and railway links in the Pongola area. For example, eight farmers lost a train bridge for which they themselves were responsible. A quotation which was called for repair of the bridge amounts to R850 000. Surveys are at present being carried out throughout the area to determine the precise amount of the damage suffered by all the farmers.
As far as personal damage is concerned, we are grateful that a disaster fund has been established by the Government, and on this occasion I want to make a friendly appeal to the inhabitants of South Africa to open their hearts and purses to people who are in trouble. I want to appeal to the people to contribute generously, as they did in the case of Laingsburg in 1981. As far as the people in that area are concerned, they have already put their shoulders to the wheel and are pushing ahead. I want to convey my sincere thanks to the Government once again for the assistance we are going to be given in that area. This disaster has shown once again how insignificant and dependent we as insignificant beings are before our Maker.
Mr Speaker, the hon member who just sat down has rightly drawn attention to the ravages of the cyclone Domoina in his constituency and Zululand in general. There can be no doubt that it has been a disaster of great magnitude. For the rich it has been a disaster and for the poor people of Zululand it has been a tragedy and a matter of life and death. I hope that the Government will in due course be able to make some sort of restitution to the people for the tremendous damages which they have sustained. I know personally what it is like to have one’s family involved in a flood. My parents’ house was flooded by the Nahoon River in East London a number of years back. In fact, they could not live in the house for a matter of six months. To see the dirt and mud covering all one’s prized possessions or to have all one’s goods washed out of one’s house and end up on the beach is an unnerving experience. I hope that the hon member will be able to obtain relief for his constituents.
It falls to me to wrap up this debate on behalf of the official Opposition. Listening to the debate so far, I believe two things have been paramount in it. The first is the new price of bread and the second the by-elections. These have been the two points of discussion. To deal with the bread price—I believe that these two things are interrelated—I want to say to the hon the Minister of Finance that, if he had increased the price of bread on 14 February instead of on 16 February, the CP would have won the Soutpansberg by-election by more than a thousand votes. Only a Minister who is nominated and not elected, I believe, could have done what the hon the Minister has done to the poor people of this country by increasing the price of bread. He has increased the price of brown bread by 16,6%. Then he brags that he has brought the rate of inflation down to 11 %! He has in fact increased the price of bread by 5% more than the current rate of inflation.
And the subsidy?
Fair enough, he is giving a subsidy, but money is taken from the public to subsidize bread. It is not the hon the Minister’s money, but it is the public’s own money. [Interjections.] How much does that hon Minister collect in GST on basic foodstuffs? Can he answer that question for me? I am prepared to bet that he collects more in GST on foodstuffs than he spends on the subsidy on bread.
I believe that, as the hon member for Yeoville said, the increase in the price of bread has been cynical in the extreme. It has been entirely unfeeling. [Interjections.] That hon Minister, the hon the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, who used to be the Minister of Health until he also made a totally unfeeling statement to the effect that the old people of this country could live on R20 per month, knows full well the effects of the increases on basic foodstuffs introduced by the hon the Minister of Finance over the last two months. To start off with, he increased GST by 14,28%. He raised it from 6% to 7% and in fact increased it by 14,28%. When he did that, I seem to recall that he said that the one good thing about it was that it did not increase the price of bread at all. He specifically told us that, but at the same time he must have known that he was going to increase the price of bread within a few short days.
The decision had not been taken at all.
The decision may not have been taken, but may I ask the hon the Minister whether he had decided to recommend it to the Cabinet?
So he had not decided to recommend it.
I did not recommend it.
He did not recommend it to the Cabinet?
If it was not in fact his decision, may I ask whose it was?
It is a Cabinet decision of course.
Surely someone must have put the proposal to the Cabinet. Did the hon the Minister not do so?
Did he approve of it?
He approved of it, obviously. Let us then not hide behind the fact that it was not he who recommended it.
Apart from the sales tax debacle, the biggest complaint was about the price of basic foodstuffs. The hon the Minister said he would investigate that. That hon the Minister is very, very fond of producing lots of statements by so-called experts about what an excellent Minister he is and what excellent decisions he has made. I should like to ask the hon the Minister whether he can produce any opinion of any value whatsoever to the effect that he and the Cabinet have done the right thing in increasing the price of bread.
Perhaps he would like to trot those out. I am not talking about his fellow travellers in the NP. Perhaps he would trot some of those out in his reply to the debate.
The hon member for Maitland who spoke earlier had the audacity to compare general sales tax in South Africa with that in Sweden, Denmark, Britain and a number of other countries.
Yes, Zimbabwe as well. I do not believe that he has given us the full story. He has given those countries, namely Sweden, Denmark and Britain, the social benefits that taxpayers receive in terms of ill-health, old age pensions and unemployment are tremendous compared to those applicable in South Africa. What about Zimbabwe? Zimbabwe is currently recovering from the ravages of 10 years of war and of the rest of the world embargoing exports to Rhodesia.
The hon member for Maitland has a remarkable capacity for self-delusion. He talked about removals and he attacked the hon member for Houghton on her speech about removals. He then had the audacity to refer to removals in Nigeria and Switzerland. These were not removals of Swiss or Nigerian citizens. These were foreigners who lived in those countries, and yet the hon member compares this with the removal of South African citizens taken from their homes.
Read my speech.
I come now to the second major point, the by-elections. We on these benches must add our congratulations to the new hon member for Soutpansberg on his win but I do not believe that his win was because of right wing fears. I think his win was a reaction to a number of years of maladministration, of people in high places proving not to be worthy of the trust that had been placed in them. There have been a number of instances of this over the past six years. It started obviously in 1978 with the Information affair. Classed with that was of course also the Salem affair. We are still waiting for answers from the hon the Minister of Mineral and Energy Affairs on what happend to the R30 million. [Interjections.] The former Minister of Manpower, Mr S P Botha, resigned for reasons which apparently are reasons that this Government is not prepared to spell out, although he confesses that he made an error of judgment. We also had the case of a Deputy Minister who recently resigned his seat in Parliament. I believe the result in Soutpansberg is the effect of clean administration having been promised and not being perceived to be the case. I do not believe the public as much voted for the CP as the fact that they voted against the NP. [Interjections.] I believe the voters of Soutpansberg are saying to the NP: “Clean your house”. I am the last person to welcome a CP win but let us make Government in this country more conscious of the need to consider the public. The smaller the NP gets, the smaller the majority of the NP, then, hand in hand with that, will go the fact that it will become less dictatorial, less autocratic, less arrogant and less spendthrift. [Interjections.] The NP will have to relearn to consider the voting public of South Africa and not just themselves.
When one looks at the figures one sees that there are more opposition members in the House today than there have been at any time since 1966. Today there are 53 Opposition members. In 1977 there were 30, in 1974 there were 48, in 1970 there were 48 and in 1966 after the election only 44. It was only in the election in 1961, when there were 55 Opposition members, that there were more Opposition members than there are in the House right now. [Interjections.] It would appear to me that the NP, as somebody else has already said in this debate, is in fact crumbling.
To turn from Soutpansberg to the Pine-town by-election, this is a very, very clear indicator for the Government. The PFP obviously gained remarkably in that by-election. When one looks at the state of the three parties in the 1981 provincial election, one finds that the PFP got 3 794 votes and the NP and the NRP between them 6 378. That was an adverse balance of 2 584 voters. I listened to the hon member for Durban North and to the hon the Deputy Minister who said that they were going hand in hand, that they were going to fight together to get rid of the PFP. However, what was the result? They turned a 2 584 majority into a deficit of 880. [Interjections.]
I believe that this in fact gives the country two clear messages. The first message is to the NRP that they must use a longer spoon next time. However, the days of the NRP control of Natal are over. The real fight from now on will be between the NP and the PFP in that province. The only thing that the voters can do now is to turn to the PFP to save Natal from the NP. They will have to make the choice between the NP and the PFP because there is no other alternative for the voters of Natal. I believe that is also true of the NRP MPC’s. There is no other road.
What do you know about Natal?
I was there. [Interjections.]
The second message that Pinetown spells out is a message to the NP, and it is clear message of reform. It shows that the large yes vote in the referendum was not a vote for the NP or the NRP but a vote for a future of reform in South Africa. If ever there was a clear message spelt out to the Government by the electorate, it was this. The yes vote was a vote for reform, a vote for more reform. I believe, therefore, that this party would be prepared to support the Government in any steps that they might take towards genuine reform. We will vote for their legislation. I think that the Pinetown by-election says to the NP: Let us get on with it and let us have some real reform in South Africa. [Interjections.]
To turn from things political back to things economical, I want to talk to the hon the Minister of Finance about the man in the street and his tax situation. A basic thought that I want to point out to the hon the Minister is that our tax authorities do insufficient by means of tax credits to encourage expenditure on worthwhile projects by the man in the street. Wonderful schemes exist in regard to industry such as export incentives and decentralization benefits and, of course, these create job opportunities for the man in the street. However, the biggest benefit ultimately goes to the investing public who are probably the top 10% in the money earning stakes in South Africa. The man in the street who earns a salary and nothing else has little or no opportunity to arrange his affairs and to limit his tax liabilities. I want to suggest two possibilities both of which happen in other countries and are therefore possible to implement. They are also practical.
Before I go on to discuss these possibilities, I realize that the immediate answer I will get will be: Where will the money come from to run the State? However, we in these benches have always said that the cost of apartheid is astronomical and, if indeed apartheid is dead as the hon the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs has said, then there is no need for many projects now on the drawing board. For instance, I believe there is a training college for Whites in Natal which was built to cater for 1 500 students. It is approximately half full. Yet the Government is spending millions building a new training college for Indians. Perhaps the most hopeful sign of a decrease which we might see is the announcement by the hon the Prime Minister of a disengagement in South West Africa. The potential money saving there is enormous.
The tax advantage I want to plead for—a tax advantage for the man in the street—is one, I believe, every man of good sense will recommend. That is that interest payable on mortgage bonds for a taxpayer’s main residence should be tax-deductible. We are standing right now at a horrific time for the struggling home owner, who struggles wishing to own his own home. The home is the very basis of family life, and the security of owning one’s own home is immeasurable. It is the best possible means of saving, and thus of accumulating wealth, that is available to the ordinary man; so much so that I tend to believe that the company which gives a free house to a member of its staff is almost doing him a disservice.
Right now mortgage rates are higher than they have ever been. The cheapest rate of building societies at the moment is 16,25% for a loan under R20 000, while the rate in respect of a loan in excess of R80 000 is 18,75%. At the lowest rate one’s interest payments after only six years have reached the capital sum of one’s bond. The home owners of South Africa need relief, and the hon the Minister is in a position to grant them that relief. Consider, Sir, that some taxpayers have to earn double the amount of interest because tax takes half of their earnings. A man with a R60 000 bond will pay interest at 17,25%, or R10 350 a year. At maximum tax rates he will have to earn more than R20 000 a year just to pay his interest. If he is to calculate that his bond repayments should be 25% of his income, he will need an income of almost R100 000 a year unless of course he gets a subsidy.
One buys a fairly ordinary home for R80 000. Thus in current circumstances the only young people who can afford to own a home are those who can get a subsidy. The basic stock of homes in a country are part of that country’s wealth. For the private individual it is the most important investment of his life. It helps him to save. It helps him to create wealth. The greater the wealth created the better off the country is, and ultimately the more tax will be paid. The better off the individual is the less likelihood there is of his being a liability on the State in his old age. Thus if the State loses certain income now the long-term benefit will be most valuable for the country.
The anomaly of course in this whole thing is that the private home owner gets no relief but the property speculator or the landlord does. They can get bonds, and they can deduct the amount of the bond interest from their income. The speculator can borrow money on bond, and buy shares and set off his bond interest against the dividends he gets on his shares. The poor home owner, however, is someone for whom the hon the Minister of Finance has to do something. Therefore I support the amendment moved by the hon member for Yeoville.
Mr Speaker, you may find it quite interesting to note that the only two unpleasant speeches in this whole debate were the very first one, that by the hon member for Yeoville, and the very last one, that by the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central. [Interjections.]
The hon member for Port Elizabeth Central had the effrontery to say the Government had to clean its own house. I challenge him to get up in this House—there will be many opportunities—and to tell us exactly what we are doing that necessitates our house being cleaned. I remind him of the fact that there is an Advocate-General and that there are also many other kinds of machinery by means of which just that can be accomplished. Just like the hon member for Yeoville, the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central resorts to wild generalizations, thinking he will get away with it. What sort of a tactic is that?
I will obviously deal with the bread price. I must, however, remind the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central, when he talks about my role in this, that if I had not provided an unprecedentedly large subsidy on bread—R275 million in one year; R112 million more than I had provided in the budget, on good advice—the bread price would have gone up by at least double the latest increase. Therefore, by providing these huge subsidies, the Government has in fact precluded the price from rising to anywhere near what it would have been had it been determined even remotely by market forces. However, the hon member pays no attention to that at all.
What about the GST on basic foods?
The GST on bread is extremely small, as the hon member knows.
*Mr Speaker, in the few minutes that I have at my disposal tonight, I should like to congratulate the hon member Dr Pieterse very cordially on his maiden speech. The hon member discussed a subject with which he is very well acquainted and he stated his case very neatly. It is very clear to me that he will be an asset to this House.
Although the result was disappointing to us, of course, I nevertheless want to congratulate the hon member for Soutpansberg on his return to the House. In all friendliness I just want to tell him I hope that he will find it very difficult in this House.
†To turn to Pinetown now, I want to say that if there is one seat the NRP should never have lost, it is the Pinetown seat. However, the result was that the official Opposition won the seat and I should like to congratulate the hon member for Pinetown on his win. I think he will agree with me, Sir, that he was at a great advantage because he was rather well lectured to at one time! [Interjections.] He seems to have put that to very good use. However that may be, we hope that he will have a pleasant sojourn in this House.
What interests me, however, is that I believe more than ever that the battle lines in Natal are now drawn. As far as this party is concerned, 12 years ago the NP was the smallest party in Natal while today it is easily the largest in terms of the votes cast at elections as well as in other terms. I want to remind the official Opposition that no matter what their designs on Natal may be, we have further designs on Natal. We do not intend delaying our cherished goal any longer and that is to win Natal for the NP. I believe that the NP in Natal has a wonderful challenge to face and I believe it has all the attributes necessary to face that challenge and to win the day. As far as we from Natal are concerned, we are looking very much forward to the next election.
So are we.
That is very good indeed. I like a good fight and I hope the hon member for Berea does as well.
Mr Speaker, I shall continue with my reply tomorrow and I should like at this stage to move:
Mr Speaker, I move:
Mr Speaker, we have had a fairly extensive debate both during the Second Reading and in the Committee Stage of this Bill and it is not the intention of hon members on these benches to delay the House unduly at this Third Reading stage.
We have still not been convinced by the hon the Minister. In spite of some assurances that he has given us, he is the first to admit that he is not going to be occupying this position indefinitely. One of these days he will no longer be there and his assurances will not be binding upon his successor. Mr Speaker, we do not believe that we can pass legislation on the basis of verbal assurances given by the Minister of the day.
The first provision to which I want to refer is the power the hon the Minister and the board have always had of evicting a tenant who did not pay his rental without obtaining a court order. This is now being extended to include not only tenants but other occupiers as well. It has also been extended to go beyond just the question of rental to include other amounts. We think that that is an unnecessary power as far as the Minister is concerned. In fact, he has not really explained or given concrete examples to the House on this particular clause as to why he needs that power. He has given us court cases in respect of the next clause, but in respect of this clause he has not come with any concrete illustrations which could give us grounds to support it.
The second clause, we want to emphasize once again, takes away from an individual a common law right. There is a specific new phrase included in the clause “notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in any law or the common law”. In other words, irrespective of what any other law says or irrespective of what the common law says, the Minister is going to be able to act against those individuals. What is important is that the Minister will even be able to act against an individual who has permission to stay there, because if one reads another provision of the clause, one sees that the person has to have written permission. Nevertheless, in spite of having written permission the Minister can evict such a person who will not be able to rely on his common law rights or any other statutory law rights to protect himself. This is an invasion of the rights of an individual as declared by a court of law.
Finally there is the question of expropriation for which provision is made in clause 3. I think the hon the Minister in his reply to the debate on this clause in the Committee Stage came pretty close to conceding that my argument was a valid one. He came pretty close to conceding that there was a good case to be made for the expropriation procedure to be undertaken by the board and only when that procedure has been concluded should the property be handed over to the local authority for development. If the hon the Minister did not concede that, he came close to doing so. This would be the appropriate way. I want to ask the hon the Minister whether in respect of clause 3 he will also give us an assurance or indicate an attitude that unless it becomes absolutely necessary for the effective handling of a development scheme the expropriation will in the ordinary course be done by the board and that that responsibility will not be placed on the shoulders of the local authority.
We have had certain assurances and undertakings, but those undertakings are not adequate to persuade us that the provisions of the Bill should be supported, and in those circumstances we shall vote against the Third Reading.
Mr Speaker, after all the arguments and particularly the arguments advanced by the hon member Mr Aronson, I was really surprised today to hear the hon member for Sea Point once again repeating the arguments he advanced during the course of the Second Reading. I thought the hon member for Sea Point would have more sense and act more rationally in this House and would at least listen to logical arguments advanced to expose his lack of logic.
We are now examining the effect the legislation will have. If I may put it this way, I think the effect of clause 1 is merely to improve the legislation. The existing legislation—as the hon member for Sea Point has conceded—allows the Minister to take action against a lessee, but as the hon member Mr Aronson has already pointed out, a person with a lesser right, namely an occupier, cannot be touched by the Minister. I think this is illogical, and the fact that this is now being written into the legislation simply means that the legislation is being improved. In certain sense it may be argued that this is additional power, but it is an additional power which will enable the Minister to take action against a person with a lesser right than a lessee, namely an occupier—who may also be a mala fide occupier—but the hon member for Sea Point wants to protect him. The hon member’s argument is devoid of all logic.
I then come to clause 2. The hon member for Sea Point did not argue according to the ordinary rules of logic in respect of this clause either. The proposed section 18C(1) reads as follows:
The hon the Minister explained why written authorization was necessary. I do not want to deal with this. What I do want to deal with, is what the Minister’s powers are when that person is in illegal occupation. When a person occupies a building, and does not pay the necessary rent as a lessee or occupier, the Minister has the authority to have that person evicted.
There is also the case of the person who occupies property without permission. I think it is quite illogical to try to argue that the Minister should not also have the authority to evict a person who is occupying premises illegally, and who has a lesser right than a lessee. If the Minister did not have that power with regard to a male fide occupier, I could only describe this as defective legislation. I therefore support this Bill.
Mr Speaker, it was rather pleasant to study this Bill and then to see how it was interpreted in this House. I feel I am doing the right thing by supporting this Bill. I deduced from it to what extent the Lichtenburg case has continued to frustrate the Government in its efforts to take possession of those properties which it purchased. I do not believe one should ever make a law for a specific case. When one makes a law, it should be of such a nature that it can have a wide application and it must be possible for certain rights contained in it to be exercised elsewhere.
As I understand this Bill—the hon the Minister must correct me on this—it provides that an unauthorized occupier may be evicted. I find that gratifying. This provides that anyone occupying premises illegally, may be evicted. Now it did occur to me that things would be a lot easier for my people in Mayfair, because the Indians there are illegal occupiers. They do not have the consent of the Director General and the Minister or any written authorisation to be there. For that reason I am asking the hon the Minister, who is on such good terms with me, to apply this law there.
I do not want to say much about this Bill, because I am afraid the hon the Minister might withdraw it. [Interjections.] However, it is going to be placed on the Statute Book soon and the Government will have the right to evict them. I am therefore asking the hon the Minister and the department to take action. All they needed was this proposed legislation and it is going to be placed on the Statute Book soon.
Mr Speaker, in so far as this Bill is concerned, we will be supporting the Third Reading, but in doing so I must make it clear that we are still opposed to clause 2 in that we believe that is quite wrong to deprive a person of his rights under the common law or any other law. This is, I know, an acceptable principle under certain circumstances, but we believe that here it would be wrong. Although we will as I have said, support the Third Reading of this Bill, we are still unhappy about this particular clause.
Mr Speaker, I want to thank the hon members for Umbilo, Langlaagte and Port Elizabeth North for the support they have given this Bill. The hon member for Sea Point did not raise any new arguments I need reply to. I do not intend to repeat what I said on these matters during the Second Reading debate and the Committee Stage.
He asked me to give him an assurance as far as clause 3 was concerned. The only assurance I can give him is that, as has always been the case in the past, the department will act in the interests of the relevant community and the State. If we deem it necessary to delegate these powers, which we are being given in terms of clause 3, to a community which we believe can perform the task, we shall do so in the future. It is only under those circumstances that we shall delegate them, and I can therefore give the hon member the assurance he seeks.
Mr Speaker, while the hon member for Langlaagte was talking, it struck me that clause 2 actually states that one must have written consent to occupy premises belonging to the Department of Community Development. The clause says:
There are in other words people living there lawfully now who do not have written permission. Will this clause be applied retrospectively or will it operate as from now? Does this imply that people who are living there lawfully now can be moved tomorrow?
Mr Speaker, I understand the hon member’s question. The remark by the hon member for Langlaagte was not relevant, because the people to whom he referred are not occupying premises belonging to the department or to the board. In cases where the department has an existing legal arrangement, it will allude by it. However, in the vast majority of cases we do not have any problems with this. We do, however, have to take action against squatters, in other words, people who wilfully occupy premises. After all, I shall not take steps against decent people. I explained this in my reply to the Second Reading, and during the Committee Stage as well. The object is to take action against people who illegally occupy premises and who then want to hide behind common law to prevent us from evicting them.
Question agreed to (Official Opposition dissenting).
Bill read a Third Time.
Mr Speaker, when the House adjourned the debate on this measure a few days ago, I was in the process of stating that the attitude of members in these benches was one of general support for this Bill. It tightens up control; increases fines; improves the liaison between the central Government, the province and the various local authorities in respect of the control of the sea-shore.
I would like to use this opportunity to make one or two points about the sea-shore and to indicate areas where there may be inadequacies, either in this legislation or in regulations made under this legislation. Those of us who live in any way near the sea-shore are acutely aware that the seashore of South Africa, which is relatively short as we do not have an indented coastline, is under extreme pressure. In terms of the whole national real estate, there is perhaps no other area in South Africa which is under greater pressure than the sea-shore. This pressure comes from an increasing population, increasing development—residential, commercial and recreational development which is taking place helter-skelter along our limited coastal reserves—and also tremendous pressure from pollution. This is pollution of a variety of kinds such as industrial, commercial, human and natural pollution. The sea-shore is under tremendous pressure and it behoves the Government to see that it is in no way despoiled.
Secondly, I think the Government should be fully aware that the sea-shore of South Africa is an extremely sensitive ecological area. Perhaps nowhere else does one get the same sensitivity in the balance of nature, as here, where the marine life meets the land life. The sea-shore is important and ecologically sensitive. In the parent Act it is made clear that the sea-shore is not just the seashore as one sees it, but includes some other very sensitive areas. All reclaimed land falls under this, and reclaimed land is always reclaimed at a cost. It is tremendously important that that reclaimed land should be properly used. Secondly, it is the area between the low- and high-water marks. There is no more sensitive area for marine biology than that area between the low- and high-water marks. Thirdly, it includes all tidal lagoons and rivers. Our tidal lagoons and rivers are tremendously sensitive areas for they are the breeding and spawning grounds for our marine life. I cannot stress enough the importance from an ecological point of view of the control of the sea-shore in its widest definition.
To this extent, I want to tell the hon the Minister that I am disappointed that, while nature conservation and the departments of nature conservation at the provincial level, are referred to and while local authorities may accept some responsibility, greater recognition is not given in the Sea-shore Amendment Bill to the Department of Environment Affairs and Fisheries. I should like to see the Department of Environment Affairs and Fisheries brought into the whole control mechanism as far as the sea-shore, our marine life and the sensitive ecological areas of our sea-shores are concerned. I ask the hon the Minister to consider whether the Department of Environment Affairs and Fisheries should not play a specific and defined role in this legislation where at the moment this authority is passed on to the provinces and local authorities.
There is a further point I want to make. The seashore is being used to an increasing extent by an increasing population looking for recreational outlets. More and more people are using the seashore for bathing purposes. While the Bill makes provision for the control of the seashore and for the control of letting, it also makes provision for regulations governing bathing, etc, regulations to be made either by the central government or by local authorities. As regards the regulations to be made under this legislation, I suggest that greater attention should be paid to the safety of bathers and to lifesaving. We stress the importance of seat belts in motor-cars, but I think that life-saving is also going to become increasingly important as more and more people use the sea for recreational purposes. Many people are not accustomed to the sea, people who perhaps cannot swim or only go to the sea occasionally and do not realize its power.
I believe the central government should assume a greater responsibility than it does at present for the whole question of beach safety and life-saving. We have in South Africa an embryonic surf life-saving organization which is doing great work. I believe that that work should continue to be performed on a voluntary basis. I think it is the voluntary basis which provides the real drive to it. However, at the same time I believe that the regulations should be framed in such a way that local authorities, provincial authorities and the central government have to contribute financially to see that those people can do their work effectively. The reality is that more and more people are going to use the sea and in terms of the Bill it is going to be important that regulations are drafted laying the responsibility on the various tiers of government to see that the efforts of the volunteers in the life-saving organizations of South Africa are supplemented by ensuring that they have proper equipment so that they can do their work effectively.
While we therefore still think there are inadequacies in the Bill, to the extent that this Bill is an improvement in that it tightens up provisions and improves liaison, we in these benches have pleasure in supporting it.
Mr Speaker, we thank the hon member for Sea Point for his support for this measure. One has no argument with what the hon member said, except that yet again he has not done his homework. You see, Sir, many of the problems he raised and to which he said the Government should address itself, the Government is in fact already addressing. He said for example that the Government should be looking at the whole question of coastal management. The fact is when the Council for the Environment was formed last year one of its first and possibly highest priorities was the whole question of coastal management. They set about doing something about it. Their report has been completed. At the moment it is with the Commission for Public Administration for consideration and the whole question of coastal management is being evaluated. In the meantime the hon the Deputy Minister of the Environment and Fisheries only last week issued a statement and sent a circular to all coastal authorities and the provincial administrations calling upon them to call for impact studies whenever development takes place on the coast, until such time as our coast can be controlled by more rational management.
Nobody pretends that the Seashore Act of 1935, which is almost 50 years old, can deal with the current situation. This Act has been amended only six times, and to that extent I agree with the hon member. However, one must see the Bill in the right perspective. It is so that there is a massive conflict that takes place in the intertidal zone where one has man climaxing on the one side and marine life climaxing on the other. It is at that interface where the problems occur which of course present enormous challenges to the departments, provinces and local authorities concerned. It is true that there are currently 42 Acts, 14 provincial ordinances and many regulations of local authorities that are applied in this field. We all know there is multiple jurisdiction on our coast. That is one of the things that the Commission for Public Administration is considering at the moment.
This is a good Bill which effects distinct improvements. It means that provincial authorities, where they already have control of nature reserves up to the high water mark, will now be able to exercise control below the high water mark as well. We all know how beach buggies cause major problems by their assaults on the very fragile dune grasses and life in the very sensitive area below the high water mark.
Clause 7 is important because it does give the regulations that can be made at the moment teeth for the first time in so far as the fines have been increased considerably and in so far as the power of seizure and disposal of motor vehicles such as beach buggies etc that may be offending in those areas becomes applicable.
In conclusion, may I say this is a good measure. It is an improvement on the current situation and we look forward to a whole new dispensation in coastal management.
Mr Speaker, we on this side of the House also support this legislation. I notice that the words “House of Assembly” are being substituted for the word “Parliament”. So this is to be an own affair. The seashore is to be an own affair. If it had meant that Coloureds and Indians were also to have a say with regard to the seashore in this country, Parliament would have retained jurisdiction. Now jurisdiction will be vested in the House of Assembly alone, however, and for that reason, I feel that the Government is after all doing something for the Whites in this country, if only it would give effect to this legislation and have the Afrikaans copy of the Bill signed by the State President.
Mr Speaker, we also will be supporting this Bill because it very definitely is an improvement on the original Act. I am particularly sensitive about the Seashore Act because it was in relation to matters on the sea-shore and the provision of facilities on the sea-shore that a certain organization known as the “Wit Kommando” chose to try to blow up my house. This is why I shall always remember the Sea-shore Act.
As has been so rightly mentioned, relative to the size of our country and our population we do have a fairly small usable portion of the sea-shore for entertainment purposes. I think it is about time that the public of South Africa generally learn to use the sea-shore and not abuse it, because wherever one goes beaches are in rather a mess. Certain local authorities have been forced to introduce special legislation and has had to control seashore areas purely and simply because of abuse thereof by the general public. I believe that this legislation will assist considerably in ensuring that the local authorities have the teeth to be able to encourage the public to look after the sea-shore properly. We support the Bill.
Mr Speaker, I should like to avail myself of this opportunity of conveying my sincere thanks to hon members who have participated in the debate for their support of the legislation. It is striking that three of the hon members who have participated in the discussion happen to live near the seashore. The contributions they made were important, and I believe that one should take cognisance of what has been said.
I am grateful to the hon member for Sea Point for his support of the legislation. The hon member for Maitland has already furnished replies to certain questions asked by the hon member, but I think one may state here that as time goes by and as the population of South Africa increases, there will be greater pressure on the utilization of our coastline. This is indeed the point which the hon member for Sea Point was trying to make. Abuses on the part of people who make use of our coastline will damage that coastline, and measures will therefore have to be taken to be able to combat this. Measures will also have to be taken in order to combat the problems which may arise in future. The matter will be dealt with in this way.
The hon member for Langlaagte took one small point from this Bill and tried to extract a little political advantage from it. However, I believe that he was wide of the mark as far as this legislation is concerned. [Interjections.] When good measures are introduced, hon members should recognize their merit. Their general cause may benefit from that. However, the way in which the hon member for Langlaagte dealt with this legislation will not benefit his cause in other respects.
Question agreed to.
Bill read a Second Time.
Bill not committed.
Bill read a Third Time.
In accordance with Standing Order No 22, the House adjourned at