House of Assembly: Vol112 - MONDAY 27 FEBRUARY 1984


The following Bills were read a First Time:

Additional Appropriation Bill. Inspection of Financial Institutions Bill. Financial Institutions (Investment of Funds) Bill.

Mr Speaker, I move:

That Order of the Day No 15 for today—Adjourned debate on motion for open central business districts—be discharged.

Agreed to.


Mr Speaker, I move:

That this House discuss the following matter, namely: The Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the South African Council of Churches [RP 74—83].

Mr Speaker, I am grateful for the opportunity you have created for a discussion of the report of the Commission of Inquiry into the SA Council of Churches. The commission was appointed by the State President on 20 November 1981, with the Hon Mr Justice C F Eloff as chairman, and I wish to convey the thanks and appreciation of the Government to him and the members of the commission, who have performed a difficult task with characteristic thoroughness. The commission was most ably assisted by Advocate K P C O von Lieres und Wilkau, SA, and other officials of the Department of Justice and the SA Police, and the efforts of all those involved have resulted in a well-considered, balanced report by the commission. The bibliography—as contained in Schedule B—as well as the list of names of those who gave evidence in person, testifies to the trouble taken by the commission to assess all relevant facts fully and objectively.

The appointment of the commission was timeous and was generally welcomed, as is apparent, inter alia, from the comment of some newspaper editors: I am referring, for example, to the remarks of the editor of The Rand Daily Mail on 28 October 1981:

Because of our human inclination to failure and disobedience the Bible clearly enjoins us to walk in the light and reminds us that we will all one day have to account for our deeds. But the SACC, too, must surely walk in the light. Its officials must be accountable for their actions, for their expenditure of donated funds.

The editor of The Star wrote as follows on 4 November 1981:

There is nothing wrong in principle in appointing judicial commissions of inquiry, when funds may have been misused or the law broken. Following new allegations over the finances of the Council of Churches, the State has acted promptly in appointing an inquiry.

On the same date, the editor of The Argus wrote as follows:

The SACC by its own ineptitude has exposed itself to a State probe. In the long run, this might prove beneficial for the church body. The council has been under a cloud of suspicion for some time now. It was slow to see that as a body professing to represent the calling and conscience of South African Christians it could not afford any taint of dubious practice. It is a private organization but it serves a public need and cannot escape public scrutiny.

Last but not least, the editor of The Evening Post wrote as follows, also on 4 November 1981:

Although there are good reasons for questioning the Government’s motives in appointing a judicial inquiry into the financial affairs of one of its main critics, the South African Council of Churches, there are also good reasons why the probe should be held at this level.

It is interesting that no one objected at the time to the composition of the commission. Because the appointment and report of the commission are described as a confrontation with the Church by Bishop Desmond Tutu, the general secretary of the SACC, I wish to emphasize that the SACC is not a church, but a church body or organization, and also that neither the SACC nor the real Church is above the authority of the State.

The commission finds that it has been clear for years that there is a deep gulf between the SACC and its member churches, and I quote:

… and that the SACC has gradually developed as a largely bureaucratic organization, kept alive by its overseas donors.

Furthermore the commission says very clearly:

… it is necessary to emphasize that neither in terms of its constitution nor in terms of its essential characteristics is the SACC a church.

Although a church, or a church organization, such as the SACC has every right in the RSA—because we recognize freedom of religion—to condemn and criticize the State’s policy and actions, this is not an unqualified right, and it is very clearly subject to the authority of the State.

Prof J A Heyns, dean of the faculty of theology at the University of Pretoria, has the following to say as an authority on this subject:

Selfs die identifikasie van die SARK met ’n kerk, waarborg dus nie die SARK sy onaantasbaarheid nie. Ook die SARK—maar selfs ’n kerk—is toetsbaar, weliswaar ten diepste aan die maatstaf van Gods Woord, maar sekerlik ook deur “sekulêre” instansies—soos die Regering wat vir die ordelike gang van sake in ’n samelewing verantwoordelik is.

In his book Die Juridiese Funksie van die Staat en Kerk, Prof J D van der Vyver emphasizes this aspect as follows:

Die kerk hou hom in hoofsaak met godsdiens besig, en die Woord van God het ook vir die Staat en ten opsigte van die politiek ’n boodskap. Die kerk het ’n plig om daardie boodskap hard en duidelik te verkondig. Maar as die kerk of kerklike beamptes met hul politieke bedrywighede die staatlike reg oortree, is die Staat geroepe en verplig om teen hulle op te tree, net soos die Staat teen enige ander oortreder moet optree. Dan mag die kerk nom nie op kerklike immuniteite beroep of die staat van godsdiensonderdrukking beskuldig nie.

The report of the commission shows very clearly how the SACC moved away from ecumenical matters over the years “and that it became an implacable and indefatigable opponent of the policies of the Government, and its activities in this regard in the course of time overshadowed all else that it did”. As a result, the commission came to the following conclusion:

Should a church body such as the SACC for whatever reason become involved in politics to the extent of propounding formulae, becoming unduly prescriptive and going over to organized action to pursue, perfect or implement any of its political objectives, it will have to accept being seen for what it is: A political activist or pressure group, with all the consequences that it entails.

I trust that all the donors of the SACC will now realize, in the light of the commission’s findings, that they are not supporting a church, but merely a leftist political activist organization, which obviously enjoys virtually no support in South Africa. Initially, the SACC confined itself to severe criticism and condemnation of the State policy, but it has increasingly begun to implement so-called strategies of resistance which have been adopted by the council. The actions of the council are aimed at enforcing the way in which and the pace at which the changes which it advocates should take place. In this, the council has not advocated an evolutionary process, but a revolutionary one, and in its planning and implementation it has increasingly identified itself with the so-called “liberation struggle” which is being conducted by several organizations with a view to bringing about radical social, political and economic change in South Africa.

The commission finds that the SACC has adopted the following strategies in order to promote its so-called liberation struggle. Firstly, a comprehensive propaganda campaign which has been described by Bishop Tutu as “massive psychological warfare” and the purpose of which is to persuade foreign governments and international organizations to bring political, economic or diplomatic pressure to bear on the Government; to develop a feeling of remorse among the Whites and to politicize the Blacks; and generally to attempt to discredit the State and its institutions, such as the Defence Force and the Police. Secondly, an extensive and dangerous promotion of civil disobedience together with non-co-operation with the State. This strategy followed on a resolution passed by the National Conference of the SACC during 1979, from which the following is an extract:

That the South African churches are under an obligation to withdraw, as far as that is possible, from co-operation with the State in all those areas in the ordering of our society where the law violates the justice of God. We call upon Christian people to examine their lives and to seek to identify the ways in which each one reinforces the policy (of separate development) and props up the system.

Bishop Tutu was asked by the BBC what this all meant:

What kind of disobedience, do you mean marching in the streets or going on strike?

This was his own reply:

Well, we would be trying to disobey those laws that really are unjust laws, like, I mean you were supposed to have got a permit for coming into Soweto because you are a White person, you should have got a permit to accompany me to church, and such laws we deem are unjust laws and should not obeyed. And from that you begin building up a process of disobeying on a massive scale and that will almost mean nearly all the laws on the statute book virtually that makes this country ungovernable.

In this connection, Dr Allan Boesak said during the discussion of the resolution concerned in 1979 that:

…the Church which had become a vehicle of expressions, of the legitimate expressions of the Black people, should initiate and support programmes of civil disobedience on a massive scale.

Therefore I do not find it surprising that Dr Boesak should now also be the mentor and leader of the United Democratic Front, which is already building up a reputation as an intimidator in the field of Coloured politics.

According to Dr Kistner, a senior official of the council, this resolution passed by the council with regard to civil disobedience has resulted, inter alia, in the following:

Special events and developments that followed the National Conference have a special bearing on the concept of obligatory resistance. The school boycott in the Coloured and Indian Communities intensified after the National Conference. A wave of strikes occurred in the Durban and Cape Town areas. In the Western Province, co-operation development between the students boycotting classes and the strikes of workers in factories. They undertook efforts to co-operate and to coordinate their actions and campaigns. There are indications of an emerging joint strategy of students and workers.

With regard to this important resolution of the council, the commission warns:

…that participation in civil disobedience is a very dangerous operation which can easily lead to incalculable harm.

Further strategies of the council include the following:

Support for the campaign against investment in the Republic; support for national service evaders; continual predictions of violence if the Government does not soon abandon “apartheid” or the policy of separate development; and sympathy and support for persons who come into confrontation with the State, such as teachers on strike and militant trade unions.

These are all dangerous strategies which could lead to serious confrontation.

The attitude of the SACC towards the ANC and the use of violence is misleading and dishonest. Officially, the council declared in a Press statement on 25 June 1980: “The SACC does not identify with the ANC or any other political movement.” Surely this is not true, because the council has a long record of contact with and support for the ANC. The council and the ANC leaders have communicated for many years and have attended conferences together at which anti-South African strategies are discussed. Some examples of these are the “Consultations” in Lusaka in 1974, Kitwe 1976, Mindola 1980 and Kitwe 1982.

When the World Council of Churches decided that Christians were entitled to use violence against injustice and to finance terrorist organizations, the SACC also had to take a stand. The council never repudiated the WCC, although it initially dissociated itself from it. Subsequently, no objection was raised to the financing of terrorist groups by the WCC. In fact, the SACC unofficially agreed with it in 1980, after it had already taken cognisance, at the Hammanskraal conference in 1974, of the ANC’s intention to intensify its onslaught on South Africa, and had on that occasion resolved, with regard to South African society, and I quote:

That this injustice and discrimination constitute the primary institutionalized violence which has provoked the counter-violence of the terrorists or freedom fighters.

This is the justification which the council finds for its attitude towards the ANC.

Bishop Tutu makes no secret of his support for the ANC and its leaders, and at the funeral of a well-known ANC member, he declared:

The victory of liberation and freedom is assured. But our liberation is going to be costly. Many more will be detained. Many more will be banned. Many more will be deported and exiled. Many more will be killed. Yes, it will be costly. But we shall be free. Nothing will stop us from becoming free—no police bullets, dogs, teargas, prison, death, no nothing will stop us because God is on our side.

Bishop Tutu also foresees that the use of violence is inevitable, and if it were to happen, it would not be wrong, and he himself would actively support it.

The commission sounds a very serious warning with regard to the council’s attitude in this connection and points out:

… that the SACC may cause considerable harm if it continues to display sympathy for terrorist organizations and perpetrators of violence, if it continues to hold the ANC up as being a respectable organization, and if it at any time and place associates with the ANC or its representatives.

Other actions of the SACC which give cause for concern are the following:

Firstly, it is very clear that Bishop Tutu and the council are in favour of an economic boycott against the Republic of South Africa, but avoid using that term because they have been advised that it may be a contravention of the law. However, there is no doubt about the intention of either the council or the Bishop with regard to disinvestment. This is a very serious matter and the coloured workers would suffer most if this idea were put into practice.

Secondly, I may refer to the old arrangement between the council and attorney Sun Chetty, in terms of the Felcsa agreement, in terms of which he was to be paid by the council to defend people who had been charged under the pass laws and then to commit so-called disruptive intervention in the courts. This means that he was supposed to keep taking legal points in order to disrupt the court proceedings. Therefore the council was prepared to obstruct the administration of justice in this way. One may well ask whether this is still being done and if so, to what extent?

Thirdly, it is clear that the SACC is an important source of finance for trials in terms of security legislation, or any other kind of offence which may arise from a riot situation. It is quite clear that there is inadequate control over these funds and that they are being wasted on an enormous scale. Attorney Sun Chetty was overpaid by R91 000, for example, and when he refused to have his accounts audited by a White, his version of the situation was simply accepted and the amount was written off. The SACC is apparently prepared to have murderers, perpetrators of violence, rapists, saboteurs, thieves and many other kinds of criminals defended in the courts at great expense, just as long as it seems that they have committed a crime because they were driven to do so by frustration resulting from the system of government in this country. There is no consistent policy in this connection. In this way, for example, bank robbers in Botswana are defended simply because they are so-called refugees. When a person gives evidence for the State, however, all aid to that person is discontinued. One gets the impression that crime is hypocritically financed as long as it has a political flavour.

The report also reveals the chaotic accounting and supervision of the councils funds, as well as showing how little support the council receives from within the RSA. Overseas donors contribute 97% of the funds, and an amount of R317 229 was contributed by an unknown source, which must not, it seems, be exposed to the light of day. Furthermore, Bishop Tutu is ashamed or frightened of admitting that he requested funds from the International University Exchange Fund. This is a fund which has financed terrorist organizations, and the Bishop consequently arranged for the money concerned to be channeled through the WCC “so that they can be represented to the South African public as being ‘church moneys’”—according to the report.

Furthermore, Bishop Tutu was aware of the fact that the Rev Mr John Rees had embezzled large amounts of money, but he failed to do anything about it. He even persuaded the executive committee to confirm that Mr Rees’s administration and accounting were in order. After Mr Rees had been convicted on 29 charges of theft involving R296-500, Bishop Tutu blamed the Whites and the Methodists as a divisive factor between Black and White, and this after the council itself had refused to lay any charge against Rees.

Mr Speaker, the contents of the report cover every relevant aspect and the finding and recommendations of the commission are clear. I shall therefore conclude with a few observations.

Firstly, the Government accepts the recommendation that the SACC should not be declared an affected organization at this stage, for the reasons mentioned in the report. However, I should like to emphasize the request of the commission, namely that the member churches of the SACC should take cognizance of the fact that if the tendency in the council to persist in its policy of confrontation continues, the State may feel compelled to take counter-measures.

In the second place, the Government takes cognizance of the recommendation concerning the creation of a specific offence called economic sabotage. I am not yet in a position to take a final decision on this, but I am closely studying existing legislation in this connection.

In the third place, the Government accepts the recommendation that the SACC be brought within the ambit of the Fundraising Act, and legislation in this connection will be prepared by the Minister of Health. This is essential, in the light of the council’s history of maladministration of collected funds, toleration of a situation in which large sums of money had been misused, and failure to have a part of the Asingeni Fund audited, as well as the magnitude of the funds concerned, in order to introduce more effective control. Up to now, the control measures have been inadequate.

I notice in the Press that the general secretary of the SACC has adopted a provocative and insulting attitude towards the findings and recommendations of the commission. He rejects the report because no theologian served on the commission and the commission consequently has no understanding of the theological and Biblical justification for the activities of the SACC. But surely this is nonsense, Sir, because a right-thinking person does not need a theological background to decide whether his country is being threatened, whether funds are being misused or whether people are lying to him. I want to sound a serious warning to him and the SACC that neither he nor the council is above the law and that I will not allow any unholy activities under the cloak of religion. The member churches of the SACC must seriously ask themselves whether they want to be members of a revolutionary political pressure group or whether they really want to be the Church of Christ. It should be clear to true Christians which course they should take.

The doors of the Government are open to any church that wishes to speak to it, and the member churches of the SACC are welcome to do so.


Mr Speaker, I shall deal directly with several of the points made by the hon the Minister during the course of what I will have to say this afternoon.

It is true to say that none of us in this House really needed this debate. It is not a debate which any of us welcome. It is a debate revolving around issues with which we could all do without. None of us wish to exacerbate or in any way to further the tensions which already exist in the somewhat strained relationship between a section of the Church in South Africa and the State. In truth, we in the PFP would not have appointed this commission in the first place. The SACC is not a Government department. It is not a Department of Information and has no links to Government at all. A Government department is responsible to Parliament and to the taxpayers, but the SACC is responsible to its own executive, to its members, and of course to those who support it financially. In this context it is interesting to note—this is particularly interesting as the hon the Minister has made an announcement relating to the Fund-raising Act—that the report discloses that more or less 97% of the SACC’s funds come from abroad and not from internal sources at all. In essence, it is a private organization dealing with private moneys. It could be compared with the Bureau of Racial Affairs or the SA Institute of Race Relations and other organizations of a completely private nature. We believe it is not the business of the Government to scrutinize the SACC’s financial affairs. That is not to say, however, that the financial administration of the council was not in a mess. Of course their finances were in a mess. The courts have dealt adequately with the relevant contraventions. Furthermore, the Government will readily admit that since the departure of the previous general secretary, those financial controls have in fact been considerably improved. The hon the Minister did state that he felt that the improvements were “onvoldoende”, but I think that the hon the Minister will, in all honesty, concede that enormous improvements have been made and that controls have been introduced.

It will not be denied—and I believe that the hon the Minister will not deny it—that the appointment of this commission was inspired by political motives. The very terms of reference of the commission illustrate this amply. There has long existed a simmering hostility between the Government and the council, an hostility regularly punctuated by public utterances and even executive action. The hierarchy in the council has held the belief that the apartheid policy and its laws are evil and immoral—this is quoted in the report—and has and continues to state this. On the other hand the Government is deeply suspicious of the council, believing that it is meddling in affairs which are not the concern of a church organization. But that is water under the bridge. That is then the background to the appointment of the commission.

The commission, for better or worse, was appointed. It has heard evidence and has gathered a mass of information. I believe its report must be considered soberly and honestly. I do agree with the criticism of the appointment of the commission though that it was a pity that no single member of the commission was drawn from any ecclesiastical discipline, for its judgments, no doubt honestly arrived at, on religious and ecumenical issues will as a result always be subject to argument. However, one of my colleagues will deal more fully with that aspect. [Interjections.] One of my colleagues better qualified than I am on that point will deal with that aspect.

I would like to refer to some of the findings of the commission and then directly relate them to some of the aspects covered by the hon the Minister, but before doing so, I think it is necessary to state my position and that of my party on some of the matters mentioned in the report. The PFP would not and does not support the disinvestment option. We are opposed to economic sanctions being applied to our country for whatever reason. This party has, as far as I am aware, never supported a campaign of civil disobedience, nor would I countenance the encouraging of young people to evade national service. We are here as a political party because we have consciously chosen the role of parliamentary and democratic opposition to that with which we disagree.

We also cannot adjudicate in depth on the workings and results of the commission. We were not there. We heard no evidence, nor did we have any opportunity to ask any questions. We are in no position to evaluate all that was placed before the commission. However, if we have any duty in this matter, it is to acknowledge that even commissioners are human, and that whatever the findings, they are no more than the personally held views of those who sat in judgment. They are not sacrosanct views; nor are they untouchable views. It is also our bounden duty as a fair Opposition in this Parliament, in this particular debate to give true meaning to the old Latin maxim audi alteram partem.

On pages 177 and 178 of the report for instance, the commission, while not condemning the provision of legal aid, queries—as did the hon the Minister this afternoon—the selectivity and the motives of the council in concentrating virtually all its legal aid on those accused of politically inspired crimes, as also on the families and dependents of those persons. This severe criticism is reaffirmed in finding No 1.6.6 of the summary and recommendations, and this activity is seen by the commission as being part of a strategy of resistance adopted by the council. I want to refer briefly to what the hon the Minister said in this regard when he opened this debate. He said:

Die SARK is blykbaar bereid om moordenaars, geweldenaars, verkragters, saboteurs, diewe en allerlei ander soorte van misdadigers teen groot koste in die howe te laat verdedig solank dit net skyn asof hulle ’n misdaad gepleeg het omdat hulle uit frustrasie teenoor die staatsbestel daartoe gedryf is.

I respectfully differ with both the commission’s view and its findings in this regard and I respectfully differ, therefore, with what the hon the Minister had to say.

The funding of legal aid, in any circumstance, is a praiseworthy objective. After all, it is surely true that no one in our country is guilty of any crime before he is so proven. Cases of the above sort nearly always involve people who have almost no financial resources of their own. We all know that legal aid is available in South Africa through Government and certain private instances. It is available from Government sources particularly to people who have been accused of crimes, but we also know that legal aid is very seldom, if ever, afforded to persons who are accused of what are called political crimes. There is a gap in the legal aid system in South Africa, and this is perhaps a case where the gap is being filled. I go further and want to know, even if such persons are found guilty, put into prison and sentenced in the correct and proper manner, has it ever been the South African philosophy that their families must be punished as well? The money that is directed to this cause and to these cases, unpopular though this may be in the eyes of the Government, is donated for that specific purpose and would not otherwise be forthcoming. That the SA Council of Churches sees it as its duty to give financial succour to those who come into ideological conflict with the Government may not win the approval of the State, but it is an activity which is not illegal nor even, I aver, immoral.

Sir, my speaking time is severely limited and therefore I can only touch on a few issues. There is, however, enough time for me to say what I wish to say.

I wish to speak next to findings Nos 1.6.2 and 1.6.3 on page 428 of the report, findings which state that the council is guilty of orchestrating an intensive campaign of civil disobedience and non-co-operation with the State—this was mentioned also by the hon the Minister—and, further, that the council supports the disinvestment campaign. Sir, non-co-operation may be inconvenient, but it does not constitute an offence. Secondly, from what I can find in the report “an intensive campaign of civil disobedience” is not part of any SACC policy or “strategy” at all. In fact, members of the council have assured me that no resolution advocating such a ploy has ever been accepted either by the executive of the council or by any general gathering. I think that this is a case of over-dramatization of the few public utterances of some individual members of that organization.

The hon the Minister, in his statement today, said that Bishop Tutu and the council hold a certain view relating to a strategy for economic sanctions. That has not been proved in the report. That is not an avowed policy of the Council of Churches at all.

As far as disinvestment is concerned, the same applies. Here, however, I would like to pause and make a general comment. It is that the Government should realize that the disinvestment campaign orchestrated abroad by the enemies of our country is a sterile campaign, a campaign largely discredited and doomed ultimately to failure. As long as South Africa is reasonably stable, as long as we deal honestly, as we do, with overseas investors, as long as we accept the challenge of change, as long as we provide the infrastructure for economic and industrial growth for the benefit of all—so long will outsiders invest in our country. While anti-South African ideologues will wail from the sidelines, the caravan will move on. A wise and powerful government should not over-react to those individuals who hold a different view. We are strong enough to withstand utterances in this vein without taking executive action.

On page 273 of the report the commission finds that the SACC is involved in “massive psychological warfare”. In my humble view this is a patently faulty finding. It is based not upon any SACC decision, but upon a letter written to the council by a certain Miss Willms from Hamburg in West Germany in which she states that South Africa is engaged in massive psychological warfare. By that she means that the Government is engaged in massive psychological warfare. This was satisfactorily explained by Bishop Tutu in his evidence on pages 4624 to 4643 of the evidence.

The commission, I believe, made two errors. Firstly, it construed the Willms letter to be an official SACC document. This it never was and is not. The lady is not even a member of the council. The council never adopted the letter, nor its views, as its policy. Secondly, the commission understood the Willms letter to describe SACC strategy. This is incorrect. I have a copy of this letter in my possession and I am satisfied that the lady who wrote it, who is not known to me, was attempting to describe a Government strategy and not a strategy of the SACC.

Sir, I now come to the recommendations. The single most important recommendation is that the SACC be not declared “an affected organization”. The reasoning for this is simple and clear to understand. Firstly, it would achieve the cut-off of funds that the Government would desire. Secondly, such an action could arouse great hostility worldwide, which could unnecessarily harm our country. Thirdly, it could escalate an undesirable Church State confrontation. Finally, such an action would gravely disadvantage hundreds of needy persons who benefit from the numerous welfare programmes. I therefore welcome the decision of the hon the Minister and the Cabinet not to declare the SACC an affected organization and we are delighted that the Government has decided not to use an executive sledgehammer to silence an opponent. Had the contrary been done, it would have constituted a serious error.

The commission recommended—and in this regard the hon the Minister also made a statement—that consideration be given to creating a statutory offence of economic sabotage. I would urge the Government that this is a recommendation which should be treated with the greatest caution. While the disinvestment argument is one with which all of us here disagree, we must guard against precipitate action, action which could have the effect of emasculating freedom of speech. Such a new law would do more harm to South Africa than good.

On page 435 the commission recommend that statutory control be imposed on the finances of the SACC. The two Acts which were contemplated were the Fund-raising Act and the National Welfare Act. The hon the Minister has made an announcement in this regard and he will no doubt hand the matter over to the hon the Minister of Health and Welfare in due course to implement that recommendation. I would ask the Government to rethink this. I believe such an action would result in the end in laymen having to decide what was a religious function or objective and what was not. Furthermore, the SACC, which derives only a fraction of its money from South African sources and hardly at all from the public at large, should not have to apply to a Minister or to a public official for permission to receive or expend moneys. Such an imposition would place the organization basically in the power of a Government which is intrinsically hostile to it. Except for the Rees case, no criminal activities have been revealed. It is widely acknowledged that the financial administration of the council has been placed on a far beter footing. No urgency exists to take any action whatsoever. This is a report which has been noted by the Government and this Parliament and, I hope, by the SACC.

The South African public does not take kindly to religious organizations involving themselves in what some could describe as covert projects. The country is sick and tired of money scandals. The SACC is representative of many South African churches and their adherents. Its activities should be open; its finances properly administered and audited and its projects should be public knowledge. Let the next several months—and this is my plea—be a time for the Government to reflect and to exercise a tolerant patience, and let it be a time for the SACC to work hard at restoring its battered public image. That would be the wisest consequence of this report.


Mr Speaker, at the outset I want to make a few observations in reaction to the speech of the hon member for Sandton. He is very well known to all of us as a person who always puts his case in a very aggressive manner when he does have a case to put. However, the way in which he put his case today left me in no doubt whatsoever that he was treading on very dubious ground and was in a certain sense talking with his tongue in his cheek, because he himself was convinced that he did not have a good case to put to us.

On the one hand the hon member wanted to act as an apologist for the SACC, but on the other hand he was hesitant to find himself in the company of an organisation of which some of the members were propagating disinvestments and civil disobedience, while others were assisting in the evasion of national service. This is one possibility. Another possibility is that as a result of the experience he had at the federal congress of his party, the hon member is hesitant to carry on in his old style. Perhaps he wanted to reconsider his own ways; and that was the reason for his more moderate behaviour.

The standpoint adopted by the hon member in this House today, namely that commissioners were subjective when they interpreted their terms of reference and processed the facts submitted to them, was not sound because by virtue of his profession it is, after all, the task of the chairman of this commission to analyse facts. These terms of reference were nothing more than an instruction to obtain and analyse certain facts. It is not correct to allege that the audi alteram partem rule did not apply here. To the best of my knowledge, 95% of the findings were based on documentation obtained through the SACC.

The third point I want to make concerns the loose manner in which the hon member said that the PFP would not have appointed such a commission and that they would not have requested this sort of debate either. This debate and the findings of the commission do not suit the PFP; that is the reason for the hon member’s remarks. In his concluding remarks the hon member advocated an open financing system, but the commission also emphasized that principle, the all-important principle that when one raises funds from the public, the public is entitled to know how those funds are being utilized.

However, the PFP is of a transient nature, and I shall therefore not waste any more of my time on the remarks of the hon member for Sandton. I want to confine myself to the commission and its findings as such. There is no doubt that the findings of the commission are damning for the SACC. It is quite clear that to an increasing extent the SACC is choosing the way of revolution rather that the way of evolution. They associate themselves with institutions, organisations and groups that are endeavouring to discredit the SA Police and the Defence Force. There is evidence that they are acting in a covert way—I shall refer to this again in a moment—and that they are encouraging civil disobedience and have made innumerable statements about impending violence.

We associate ourselves with the findings of the commission, not because we vindictively seek confrontation with the churches of South Africa or to become embroiled in a subtle theological battle of words with them, but merely to point out that no State can allow its authority to be undermined by a body with limited internal representation which relies on overseas capital to finance its activities. We on this side of the House believe that Christ is king of all life. He also rules the State, and the State is an institution of God. That is why the Government’s door is always open for consultation with the Church. The Church has a duty to point out injustices in politics, and in that sense they are undoubtedly involved in politics. However, the Church cannot lay claim to ecclesiastical immunity when the authority of the State is being undermined. Red lights start flashing when an institution such as the SACC develops strategies for resistance and breathes a spirit of revolution into its statements. Then it becomes a political activist; a political pressure group.

On page 98 of the report it is indicated how they organized cells with a view to forming a secret resistance movement. On page 99 it is indicated how the diplomatic mailbag was used to convey documents back and forth. On page 103 we can read how the SACC participated in the activities of, and also acted as patrons for the United Democratic Front and the National Forum. On page 231 it is described how Black trade unions are used as agents of change in the so-called liberation struggle.

On page 186 we see how they flirted with the idea of civil disobedience. From this report it is, therefore, clear that they have an extremely selective basis for rendering assistance. Only 3% of their funds are used to meet the needs of the poor, the widows and the orphans, whereas 79% is destined for use by activists. On page 197 we find that they brand Black people who are serving in the SA Defence Force as traitors. The SACC is adopting a dangerous stance when it voices an opinion on the ANC and violence. Hon members need only read what the general secretary, Bishop Tutu, wrote in the summer edition of SA Leadership, 1983, vol 2, No 4. In the Sowetan of 16 February he reiterated that he associated himself with the aims of the ANC, but not with the methods of that organization.

It is, of course, interesting when we read the findings in this report, all the statements to which reference is made here, in conjunction with the report of the Rabie Commission, and with what the ANC itself says in Sesheba. From this it is clear how the SACC echoes the sentiments of the ANC. I therefore have no doubt that moral support at least is being expressed for the ANC: that along with the ANC, they are calling for diplomatic and economic pressure to be exerted on South Africa. Disparaging standpoints on the SA Defence Force are announced, and an appeal is made for the withdrawal of investments. Support is also expressed for programmes to combat racism, and attempts are also made to inform churches and members throughout the world of the racistic nature of South African society. There we also intensive efforts to involve the South African churches in the so-called liberation struggle.

I do not think it befits the general secretary and his colleagues to be so over-sensitive when the commission refers to them as an institution promoting a revolutionary climate and atmosphere. The way in which Bishop Tutu personally flirts with and associates himself with revolutionaries, proves this. Hon members can read for themselves in the report how Bishop Tutu’s right-hand man, Dr Kistner, adopts a rather unique attitude to the question of violence. He says that violent resistance to a political system such as that in South Africa should not be regarded as violence, although it is provoked violence. According to him, this provoked violence is morally preferable to institutionalized violence. The blame for this should therefore be laid at the door of the present authorities.

The struggle of the SACC is an internationalized struggle, and is not representative in any way of the South African scene. According to the official 1980 census, 37,1% of the South African population are members of churches represented on the SACC—28% Whites, 64% Coloureds, 5% Indians and 37% Blacks.

When the bishop referred to the support he had in South Africa and to the millions of people he represented, he conveniently ignored the fact, as reflected on page 258 of the report, that Inkatha was on the blacklist of this organization. He also conveniently ignored the fact that the Zion Christian Church, which during the April 1983 festivities had a total of 2 million people present at a single gathering, was not a member of the SACC. He ignored the fact (page 99) that Dr Kistner was frustrated by the fact that there were so many people in South Africa who accepted the “homeland policy”. On page 258 the bishop said:

You don’t ask ordinary people what to do in a liberation struggle. It is the leaders, the more politicized people who take the decisions.

I maintain it is not correct to suggest that we are moving towards confrontation with the SACC or the Church in general. We are also trying to submit these facts to the members of the Church to enable them to put their own house in order.

Finally I want to refer in passing to the two remarks The Star made in a report which was published on 18 February. Hon members will remember that it was The Star that advised voters not to vote during the referendum after it had been unable to reach a decision for weeks. Now it has had the courage to say that the auditors of the SACC are not weaker than the auditors of the SA Defence Force. What nonsense are they talking here, knowing full well that the Auditor-General submits a report to the Select Committee on Public Accounts and that the accounting officer of the Defence Force has to appear before that committee to give evidence in that connection.


Mr Speaker, I should like the appreciation of the CP for the work done by Mr Justice Eloff and his fellow commissioners to be placed on record. It remains very difficult for any reader to establish fully from such a report exactly how skilful the commissioners were in using the evidence given before them, whether oral or written, and how skilfully they processed their standpoints. My assessment of this report is that very good work was done and that the scientific norms were respected. The report also attests to the fact that there was an understanding of the sensitive relations problems in South Africa and that the commissioners understood the difficult international community in which South Africa has to live and work. It also attests to the fact that the commissioners understood the age-old tension, not only between the State and the Church, but also the tension between the State as one facet of the pattern of life of the people and its other facets.

In my opinion, the summaries and recommendations of the commission are reasonable and fair as based on the evidence given before the commission. I just want to refer the hon the Minister to a remark made by the commission on page 18. This is a matter he could discuss with his hon colleagues. In respect of certain memoranda or requests addressed to departments, the commission stated on page 18:

Six departments did not acknowledge receipt.

I feel this matter should be investigated to ascertain why certain departments did not react. I am sure they did not mean any harm and that they do not have any unnecessary shortcomings, but it may be that the activities of certain departments are not always what one would wish them to be.

It is quite clear to me from this report that there is not a single political party represented in this House whose programme of principles and policy would not at some stage lead to confrontation with persons or from certain bodies such as the SACC.

I want to tell the hon member for Pine-lands—he will probably participate in this debate shortly—that he will have to give us an indication whether the principles and policy of the PFP would not also at some stage or other, if the PFP were to be consistent in its principles and policy, lead to confrontation with people such as those we read about in the report. The PFP should indicate to us at what stage, when they have to form a Government in the country, they would be prepared to accept confrontation—not to seek it—with people such as those we are dealing with in the SACC. People such as those we have read about here are people who will never be satisfied until we have a left-wing party—and I mean left-wing in the international political sense of the word—in power in South Africa.

As far as the CP is concerned, we as a party are prepared to accept confrontation when certain principles of law and decency in this country are being attacked.

We in South Africa have to take cognizance of the fact that people such as those the report warns us against, also have fellowtravellers and forerunners, people who sympathize withtheir activities. One finds them in the White community in particular. It is surprising how many Whites have in recent years, for some or other reason, sought an alliance with or found themselves within the organizational set-up of this sort of organization. People like Dr Wolfram Kistner, Dr Margaret Nash, John Rees and many others are examples of Whites who possibly owing to psychological deviations are involved with Black organizations in this country. I also think it is important that we should, from this House, warn Black people against such Whites who become involved with them. We find examples of such Whites throughout the history of South Africa.

People frequently have the impression that Blacks, in this case as well, are saints, that they never make mistakes, that in their organizations, as they say, “all is above board”. We have seen very clearly here that Bishop Ngowena, Ntije and Mr Rees are people whose conduct in certain respects cannot bear the light of day.

It is important to consider the methods employed by these people. These people mislead gullible people, they mislead uninformed people not only abroad but in this country as well. On one occasion I travelled through various cities in the Netherlands and walked into the offices of certain of these organizations and struck up a conversation with the people there. What is astounding is, on the one hand, the ignorance of people abroad who allow themselves to be misused by these people and, on the other hand, the type and calibre of the people in overseas countries who want to support such activities here in South Africa. There are also many gullible and uninformed people in South Africa who, for various reasons, easily allow themselves to be taken in tow.

One can consider paragraph 1.6 on page 428 of the report, in which the strategy used by these people is discussed. Whether we are leaders or not, we can learn from this that in every case we should be thoroughly aware of the kind of strategy these people want to use as far as we are concerned.

I listened attentively to the speech of the hon the Minister. It was a good speech. I think his grasp of the situation was reasonably correct and accurate. I believe I can tell the hon the Minister this report proves to us quite clearly that the people who seek to undermine South Africa make use of many methods; that they want to attack every facet of our pattern of life, including the economy.

I now want to point out to the hon the Minister that one of his partners in the coalition awaiting us under the new dispensation, the Rev Hendrickse, replied as follows last year to the question: “Is the Labour Party still wedded to the idea of economic sanctions against South Africa?”:

Yes, we have said that in our struggle in terms of social change in South Africa there is no one common strategy, and we have pleaded, in spite of condemnations, for a complementary struggle.

I therefore want to say to the hon the Minister—as a matter of fact, it is my duty as a member of this House to do so—that even in the new dispensation we are now entering we have to consider who our partners are.

We on this side of the House stand by the principles of democracy and we stand by the highest principles of civilization as set forth in the constitution. In this regard we shall adopt a very strong standpoint against people who want to bring about a change of government in South Africa in an undemocratic way. We are not in favour of revolution; we shall never approve of it, but neither are we in favour of an evolution which will eventually lead to the downfall of our people.

In conclusion I want to point out that the relationship between the Church and the State is a very sensitive one, and as such it needs to be handled very carefully, particularly when, within Christendom, within the Christian churches themselves, one encounters different opinions on what the solution to the population problems in South Africa should be.

As far as we are concerned, the State has a clear directive on the one hand, and so does the Church on the other. I want to tell the hon member for Randburg that one need not have a doctorate in a specific field to know what one is talking about. That hon member’s leader does not have a doctorate in political science, and yet he is Prime Minister. The hon member even considers him to be the best Prime Minister we have ever had. The hon member should take a look at what the leader of the CP has written over the past few decades on the relationship between the State and the Church. I do not have a doctorate in theology, but I am able to say that the formulation of the relationship between the Church and the State made by the hon member for Waterberg has never been bettered in South Africa.


Mr Speaker, it is regrettable that towards the end of his speech the hon member for Rissik spoilt to some extent what was an otherwise constructive speech by playing cheap politics. For the rest I am able to say—something which in the normal course of events does not happen often these days—that one can agree with what he had to say about the report of this commission. It will also be interesting to hear the answers to the questions he put to the official Opposition.

†Mr Speaker, the fact that the State has concerned itself with certain actions of the SACC, notably by appointing the Eloff Commission, has been portrayed in certain circles as being a confrontation between Church and State, with the State being the perpetrator. This charge is a serious one. It has far-reaching implications, especially in view of the explicit acknowledgement of the sovereignty and guidance of God in our constitution. Whether such a charge is substantiated by the facts therefore warrants close investigation.

In the first instance it must be emphasized, as was done by the hon the Minister in his speech, that neither in terms of its constitution nor in terms of its essential characteristics is the SACC a church. It is in fact a corporate body created by its member churches to give effect to the policy and direction as formulated by its members. It is staffed by appointed officers with the essential aim to unify, co-ordinate and extend the work of its member churches in Southern Africa.

In the second place the SACC as such enjoys limited support from South African churches, a number of the major churches—both White and Black—not being members of the SACC. It has, according to its own admission, very little grassroot support. Although theoretically it is subject to the direction in policy of its members, a serious gap developed and exists between the council and its member churches. This is a fact which Dr Kistner, its director of the division Justice and Reconciliation, found to be one of the main obstacles in the council’s work. This division is clearly borne out by the fact that in February 1983 only 16 out of 32 member churches had paid their affiliation fees during the years 1979, 1980 and 1981. Of the funds received during the years 1975 to 1981, only a little more than 1% came from local sources whilst the balance emanated from overseas countries. By its own admission, the council has very little grass-root support. Virtually all its motions at national conferences were initiated by its staff and not its members.

The third point in trying to ascertain whether we are dealing with a State/Church confrontation is that, stemming from this widening gap between it and its members, the council gradually developed into a bureaucratic organization kept alive by overseas’ donors. This bureaucracy centred around the office of the general secretary, grew in independence to a self-centred and often arrogant group to such an extent that it was accused by some of its member churches of a lack of communication. For example, the following is stated in the minutes of the financial committee of the council:

Mr Matterson reported that at this meeting there had been a feeling that there is a lack of communication between the SACC and the churches. He reported that the churches felt that the SACC has constituted itself as a church in its own right, and that it is paddling its own canoe. It was felt that the SACC is a handicap to its member churches because of the generosity of its friends and partners abroad.

This bureaucracy was characterized by a number of aspects and I want to refer to only a few. Firstly, the council regarded itself as the only authoritative interpreter of God’s will and as such not answerable for its actions to its members or subject to state decree.

Secondly, it became secretive in its actions, resorting to covert operations, supporting, as I will enlarge on shortly and as has been mentioned already, such organizations and individuals the common denominator of which was their confrontation with the existing establishment and the Government. The general attitude that prevailed is possibly best summarised in the words of Bishop Tutu, the present general secretary in their publication Ecu News Bulletin of 1978 as follows:

We see ourselves as God’s instrument of justice, peace and reconciliation. God is on our side, not because Blacks are better morally than Whites; he is on our side because that is the kind of God he is. He always sides with the oppressed.

Thirdly, this attitude prevailed also in respect of control over its finances, where it claimed sole authority to the exclusion of its members and donors, and also of those people it was purportedly assisting. In the words once again of Bishop Tutu as quoted in the Rand Daily Mail of 22 December 1977:

But you never go around in a liberation struggle asking the so-called ordinary people what to do. It is the leaders, the more politicized people, who take the decisions.

This independence took on such measure that when its appointed ombudsman, Mr Eugene Roelofse, exposed serious maladministration and misappropriation of funds, it would not act out of its own accord against those concerned, but in fact rather got rid of Mr Roelofse. The bureaucracy went so far as issuing a misleading public statement in respect of the state of its finances by misrepresenting and selectively quoting from the findings of an accountant it had appointed to investigate the position. Another telling example mentioned by the hon the Minister, is that of Mr John Rees where, despite full knowledge that he had misappropriated and mismanaged funds, the bureaucracy refused, other than as alleged by the hon member for Sandton, to do anything about it, and it was only at the instigation of the Eloff Commission that he was brought to trial and convicted. Furthermore, despite his full knowledge, the general secretary convinced the other members of the SACC to give Mr Rees a laudatory testimonial.

This bureaucracy also regarded itself as not being answerable to the State. For instance the Educational Opportunities Council inter alia allocated funds and provided assistance to Blacks to obtain education, thus clearly falling within the ambit of the Fund-raising Act, 1978. It refused to comply with the conditions of the Act, claiming, on the question whether it was exempt from the Fund-raising Act:

… that it was not, that it had exempted itself on the grounds that it was not answerable to any secular authority.

A last aspect which requires scrutiny is the specific action of the council to which I referred earlier and which was also highlighted by other speakers. Time does not allow a full exposition of this. However, as set out in the report, the following can be seen as the gist of these actions. Firstly, the bureaucracy branded Government policy to be the cardinal sin and found it to be evil and immoral. It then saw itself as the central instrument for destroying the existing order and as the forerunner in the so-called liberation struggle. As such it has aligned itself both in word and in deed with activist organizations and individuals who oppose the Government, including those that do so by force. An analysis of the funding by the council shows that although it continued with general church and missionary work, the main thrust was for these activist programmes. For the period 1975 to 1981, for instance, only 2,2% of its income was spent for church and mission work whilst more than 62% was expended in this other sphere.

Secondly, it actively perpetrated, with all the means and all the media available to it, a psychological war aimed at supporting the liberation struggle, as it chose to call its actions. In this it made common cause with international organizations, such as the United Nations Trust Fund against Apartheid and others, which have, as the very reason for their existence, the overthrow of the South African Government.

Thirdly, this bureaucracy steadfastly refused to comply with State laws—amongst others the Fund-raising Act and the National Welfare Act—by refusing to register itself or any of its agencies in terms of these Acts or to comply with them in any way.

I submit that the evidence is overwhelming, and that far from being a State Church confrontation, we are dealing with an arrogant and a self-righteous bureaucracy within the SACC that openly taunts the State’s authority and then takes refuge behind the Church when they are called to task for their actions. The factual findings to this effect by the Eloff Commission stand incontrovertible, and in view of this the commission’s findings must be accepted in broad and the commission lauded for an objective and thorough investigation. The implementation of these recommendations should also receive serious consideration.

I wish to conclude in this regard by welcoming the hon the Minster’s acceptance of the commission’s recommendation that the funds of the council be brought under statutory control. The council deals with moneys obtained publicly and it operates in the public sphere. It should therefore be accountable to the public. Many of its actions clearly fall within the ambit of the Fund-raising Act and the National Welfare Act and, as in the case of other organizations, it must be made to comply with these Acts. As pointed out by the commission, this is a principle accepted in most Western countries. The commission gives examples of such statutes in Britain, Canada and Australia where organizations operating within the community sphere and doing welfare work, are publicly accountable and therefore subject to State control and supervision. Several churches in the Republic, where they operate in this spehere, have complied with the provisions of these statutes and have not found them to be an interference with those churches’ sovereignty or a hindrance to their work. It should in fact be welcomed by the council, as it will help to safeguard it against misappropriation and maladministration by its officials and place its administration above reproach. Failure to do so and the continuation by the bureacracy in the council with its secretive and often self-righteous administration will only cause the council’s credibility to be further seriously affected. The SACC owes it to its members and the South African society it purports to serve to be beyond reproach and it can only achieve this by full public exposure of its actions.


Mr Speaker, I should like to commend the hon member for East London City for bringing forward some very interesting points in his address to the House this afternoon. Of particular interest, and gratification, I may say, is the fact that the gap between the member churches and the SACC is a considerable one and that they are not in fact being taken in by this organization. That is good news because without any shadow of doubt the SACC has misused its position with respect to its member churches. I think people have got to the stage where they are now thoroughly browned off with this organization. As a result of the commission’s report, they now have a much greater insight into the activities, the thinking and the attitudes of the council on which they can base their decision relating to future participation.

I should like to suggest that the member churches in fact have a very great responsibility towards this organization. I think they have one of two courses open to them. One would be to make certain that the current hierarchy and leadership is replaced by responsible people who in fact can continue the work of an organization which was not originally established for the purpose of spending its time and money on the liberation process, but rather for the purpose of sharing those aspects of the Gospel which could be shared by different churches and of extending the social work of the different churches into various fields on an organized and well-liaised basis. The member churches themselves have a very great responsibility towards this body and their actions in the future will be watched in the light of information which is now available to them. The other alternative, of course, would be for more of the member churches to withdraw from this organization and so hasten its demise or indicate to it that, unless it ceases with its irreligious activities, it will not get support from the member churches in this country.

That, of course, does not solve the matter entirely because, as we have heard here this afternoon and as is patently obvious from the report, nearly all the financial support for the Council of Churches comes from overseas. When an organization such as this has so much to do with the World Council of Churches, which makes no bones at all about its attitude towards violence as a means of solving problems in Africa and justifies violence for that purpose, I feel that in fact the State is placed in a position where, in the interests of security and stability in the country, it has no option but to make very certain that it knows who is supporting the Council of Churches, where the funds come from and exactly how they are used. On that score I should like to say to the hon the Minister that we in these benches commend the Government for its decision not to declare this body an affected organization. That was a wise and mature decision in the light of a Church-State confrontation possibility. At the same time we agree entirely with the concept of this body falling under the Welfare Act for auditing purposes.

The hon member for Sandton indicated that perhaps the Government should give a little more time and thought to this matter, to allow things to settle down and for that body to show its bona fides. He said it would then perhaps not be necessary to place it under the Welfare Act. I would say there is the other side of the coin as well. If that body wishes to show its bona fides and indicate that it has nothing to hide, then it would be perfectly in order for it to come forward voluntarily in order that its funds can be audited to expose the overseas sources and the usage of the funds in order to allay any suspicion. It is an organization of churches which bears a responsibility.

From the information that emerges from the report this organization is tainted. Of that there is no question whatsoever. It is not only its inability to handle money, but its attitude when discrepancies were discovered. What is worrying is that churchmen can have that attitude. I think it should be placed on record that if it was not for the ombudsman, Mr Eugene Roelofse, who, through his tenacity and strength of purpose, insisted on an audit being done, a lot of this might never have come to light. In this particular case there is the very clear instance of the highest rank in the organization, a bishop and also the secretary-general, having a very confused idea of exactly what theft involves and of exactly what was right or wrong in this situation. I think this gentleman, Eugene Roelofse, is to be commended for taking a very strong line in that regard.

The other recommendation that the hon the Minister touched on was the question of economic sabotage. That is a very murky minefield. We in these benches have given it considerable thought and have discussed it for a great deal of time. We believe we will be entering into a very difficult field if we were to consider any legislation in this respect. By doing that we may end up by doing ourselves more harm and getting so involved that it really would not be worth the effort. We believe that knowing where the funds come from and how they are spent will be sufficient to monitor on an on-going basis an organization which has shown itself to be untrustworthy. Further action can be taken after that If necessary.

This organization literally teetered on the brink of revolution and it did so hiding behind the sanctimonious cloak of religion. It has done a great disservice to its member churches. It, and it alone, has introduced an atmosphere of suspicion and distrust between it and the Government. The blame for that can be laid entirely at its door. For the secretary-general now to turn round and say that the commission had no local standing because it was no secular matter that was under investigation really is quite laughable. With the record as it has emerged in this report, it needs very little more than an adolescent, or perhaps even someone younger, to realize exactly what has gone on. In regard to secular matters, that body has shown how ineffective it has been in handling such matters.

We on these benches have no doubt that this organization, with its support of a liberation theology and a more revolutionary approach to changing the South African society, has been one of the dangers facing this country and that it has very seriously politicized the churches. We sincerely hope that, as a result of the findings of this commission, as a result of this debate where opinions have been aired and with the accompanying media and Press coverage, the people of South Africa will have their eyes opened as to what is going on, and will in future be more wise in resolving on matters relating to their participation in and membership of the organization. We also trust that they will show a greater degree of wisdom in dealing with matters between Church and State.


Mr Speaker, I wish to associate myself with what the hon member for King William’s Town has just said. He made a positive contribution. Inter alia, he said that there is not a great deal the parties in this House disagree on concerning the role this organization has played in the past. I also wish to associate myself with the hon the Minister’s words of praise for the members and the staff of the commission. It is an excellent report and it is particularly illuminating.

As indicated by previous speakers on the Government side it is clear that the findings of the commission that the SACC gradually developed into an independent, bureaucratic body and that the staff of the SACC played the dominant role, are fully justified and based on facts. In this regard I refer to paragraph 1.8 of the commission’s conclusions on page 429.

The question which arises at the outset is: Who is the tail wagging the dog? The commission also makes a pronouncement regarding this question in paragraph 1.9 on page 429, and I quote:

In the past few years the members of the SACC staff whose contributions were the most significant, were its General Secretary, Bishop D Tutu, and the Director of its Division of Justice and Reconciliation, Dr W Kistner. The former was conspicuous for his efforts to conduct propaganda mainly by his speeches and other public pronouncements. The latter was responsible for the planning of many of the “strategies of resistance” of the SACC.

May I be so bold as to say that apart from Bishop Tutu and Dr Kistner the other single most important person amongst the staff during the past 15 years was Mr J C Rees. It is indicated on page 70 of the report that he saw his main tasks as being the re-organization of the SACC and to obtain more funds. His major contribution in this regard was the establishment of the Radio Voice of the Gospel and of a new Division of Church and Society, which served as a forerunner of the Division of Justice and Reconciliation and which saw its field of labour as being, inter alia, violence or non-violence as a concept, conscientious objection, and which was also linked to the Hammanskraal resolutions of, 1974. In addition, there were other matters such as labour and investment, women’s work, international affairs and education. Then there was also the Division of Theological Training, which they regarded as a church militant. In this regard I refer to page 76 of the report where, amongst other things, we can read the following, and I quote:

…we, being the church militant, must raise our heads above the levels of moral-isms. Our Christian challenge stretches far beyond the realm of certain ethical issues, chiefly morals related to sexuality and good humanly-defined behaviour, to making God and His Kingdom relevant to all men.

After the appointment of Mr Rees, there was undoubtedly an intensification in the radicalism of the SACC. However, the commission justifiably found that through Dr Kistner, after his appointment as director of the Division of Justice and Reconciliation in 1976, the whole position of the Church became radicalized and the whole of society became involved in this regard as well. I am referring to page 76 of the report. Right from the outset he openly advocated the “social Gospel”, to which reference is made on page 91 of the report. If we follow the footsteps of Dr Kistner, we find that, amongst other things, he initiated a number of original ideas in this organization. One of these was the establishment of the SACC’s Asingeni Relief Fund to support the class boycotts after the unrest in 1976, as well as to provide legal aid to people who came into conflict with the authority of the State. These are some of the immediate contributions he made in this regard.

I should also like to refer in this regard to the SACC’s pronouncement that it would focus its attention on conscientious objection and the problem of non-violence in bringing about constitutional change. Furthermore, the SACC had no hesitation in giving assistance to various organizations which, as the hon member for King William’s Town rightly pointed out, continually found themselves on the brink of violence.

Then there is the question of the 1976 conference; the so-called Liberation Conference. This was also a brainchild of Dr Kistner. Then followed the programme with regard to civil disobedience against institutional and other forms of violence as he put it. In this regard I am referring to pages 97, 114, 181 and 184 of the report.

He also advocated underground activities, such as those indicated on page 98 of the report. The work of small groups who were prepared to take risks, as well as the use of diplomatic mailbags for transporting documents were propagated by him, as indicated on page 105 of the report. It is therefore no wonder that this organization is by no means able to withstand scrutiny. Furthermore, he also initiated the pronouncements regarding the status confessionis in the ranks of the SACC, which amounts to nothing but a theological declaration of war against secular authority. In this regard I refer to pages 99, 119, 127 et seq of the report.

I also refer to the SACC’s report of 1977 concerning foreign investments and disinvestment. This, too, is one of the programmes initiated solely by the gentleman mentioned. He also had a hand in the use of the Black labour force to stir up labour unrest and to exert pressure on political and economic structures in this country. He went on to initiate the so-called workshop to make workers aware of their rights. This aspect is referred to on page 209 of the report. This is a clear demonstration of this hon gentleman’s whole way of thinking. There was also his support of liberation movements with a specific aversion for violence. Therefore there was a slight shift in his ideology in this regard.

A ninth aspect he initiated, was the identification of seven areas of confrontation which are set out on page 185 of the report. To save time, I shall not quote in full the seven aspects he identified as being aspects of confrontation. He also accepts certain of these products of events, support, and so on, as products and fruits of the SACC’s decisions as indicated on page 185 of the report. He was also associated with, and took the initiative in respect of the concept of, world church government, as indicated on page 90 of the report. He also canvassed for financial support, particularly in Germany, to ensure information monopolies in respect of visitors from Germany to the Republic of South Africa and to establish a visitors’ office. This is also a result of his work. He also took the initiative in exposing resettlement activities at all costs, both locally and overseas, and in promoting the distribution of information on Crossroads, inter alia. Groups, churches and the media were also mobilized against resettlement undertaken by the State. Acquiring prior information on this aspect was also one of the steps he took to make things very difficult for the State.

It is interesting that since Mr Rees resigned, apparently to make way for a Black person to take over the important post of General Secretary of the SACC, Bishop Tutu took over the post on 1 March 1978. Apparently Bishop Tutu was relatively sensitive about the merits of his appointment, since he himself made the following remark, and in this regard I quote from page 388 of the report:

I couldn’t alter an arrangement that had been operating for 3 years (since 1976) without being exposed to a damaging suggestion of being a token appointment with control in the hands of Whites. And only those who visited Europe and the United States will know the seriousness of this matter and such an accusation.

In view of the above exposition of the role of Dr Kistner, the question arises as to whether Bishop Tutu’s remark is not a valid remark and observation. The hon Bishop appears to be a propagandist and an exponent of all the themes identified by Dr Kistner and which are apparent from chapter 11 of the report. I would even go one step further. It is noteworthy that Mr Rees is still serving as an honorary life president of the SACC despite having been convicted. The question which arises now is: Is it not perhaps true that the Bishop is merely a front for Dr Kistner and Mr Rees and that in that respect he is simply being manipulated?


Mr Speaker, the hon member who has just taken his seat has spent almost all his time in seeking to add even more to the very long commission report concerning three individuals. It is a great pity that he found it necessary to spend so much time on Mr John Rees who after all is no longer employed by the council, and who had a trial and was found guilty. We all know what the judge said. To suggest for a moment that he now is the man still in the background and that Bishop Tutu is merely a front, is an insult to both Mr Rees and Bishop Tutu.

It is interesting that Bishop Tutu should be regarded as such a monster by so many hon members on that side of the House. I notice that The Citizen, a newspaper which is hardly a supporter of this side of the House, reported on page 8 of its Saturday issue as follows:

The Minister of Education and Training, Mr Barend du Plessis, has praised the contributions made by Bishop Desmond Tutu to politically and emotionally defuse the Atteridgeville school boycott.

That is very interesting. On the one hand we have been told all afternoon that the Bishop must keep out, he must not interfere. [Interjections.] Please let me make my point. I did not interrupt that hon member when he was speaking but, of course, he said nothing. I am saying something and I hope he will keep quiet. [Interjections.]

We have had a character vilification here second to none. The main reason for it is because he is a Bishop, he is in the church and in the council and he must keep his nose out of political, social and economic issues. [Interjections.] That was the conclusion in the report and that has been supported throughout and not surprisingly by hon colleagues on my left as well. Yet a most recent statement made in the newspaper by a Minister of that Cabinet is to the effect that he thanks Bishop Tutu for the contribution he has made to politically—not spiritually or religiously—and emotionally defusing the Atteridgeville schools boycott. I submit, Sir, that hon members opposite have been refuted by the words of one of their own colleagues.

The hon the Minister of Law and Order who introduced this debate is an old adversary of the SACC. One only has to look at past debates to discover that the hon the Minister could outdo any commission. He does not even need a commission because almost every single charge that he has made against the SACC in this House was made long before this commission was appointed.


Has he not been vindicated?


It is not a question of vindication.


I was proved correct in every respect.


Yes, Sir. I thought the hon the Minister would say that, except of course that the charges made by the hon the Minister have one after the other been strongly refuted orally and in writing by leading personages within the member churches.


Not one word of this before.


There was a report by Desmond Tutu himself and, in particular, the report of Peter Storey who was then the president of the SACC.

I want to say immediately that I think that the hon the Minister has reacted fairly reasonably to the report of the commission and I am personally very glad that he has seen fit to accept the commission’s recommendation regarding the SACC being an affected organization. One point that has been overlooked in the debate thus far is that one of the main reasons why the commission refused to recommend that the SACC be declared an affected organization was because of the support that it would have from the member churches. Of course, we have been told that the SACC has no support, that it is just a small, bureaucratic gang that runs the show. However, the commission found that one of the reasons why it would be wrong or unwise to recommend that it be declared an affected organization was simply because it would have the support of the member churches which in turn would simply take over what the SACC was doing. This is a very interesting point and I submit that it is an oversimplification to suggest for one moment that there is a small cabal of people living in Johannesburg directing the affairs of the SACC. The fact of the matter is that throughout South Africa, in many, many remote areas in South Africa, there is an enormous amount of self-sacrificial work that is taking place. This was a further reason advanced by the commission—that people who are suffereing now would suffer more if the SACC could not do its work. That is the kind of thing that one overlooks very often. That is why I take the strongest objection to the hon the Minister in his appeal to member churches saying that he hopes that they will discover that the council is only a left-wing political activist organization. That hon Minister knows more about the SACC than hon members in this House with one or two exceptions. He knows that they are far more than a left-wing political activist organization. Why then must he say that in his appeal? He want to divide and rule once again. He wants to say to the member churches: Come away from the SACC. Move over so that it can stop being the association that it is.

Many hon members have participated in the debate so far. I want to say to the hon member for King William’s Town that he must be very careful that he does not confuse certain terms. For example, when he uses the world “liberation”, it is not something which is of recent coinage. The first use of this word stems from Moses in urging Pharaoh, “Let my people go”. It means taking people out of slavery, out of bondage, into the promised land. That is where the whole concept of liberation theology began. This is in the Old Testament and it has worked its way right through the New Testament and until this very time. One must be very careful not to smear an organization by the use of a particular term.


That is not what it means in South Africa.


Of course it means exactly that in South Africa. The SACC has not thrown away the Old Testament, you see. They still believe in the New Testament. They believe that people have to be taken out of slavery into freedom. You may not think so, but they believe that. That is one of the reasons that prompts their actions. They do not believe in slavery and oppression. They believe that people should be free, and I support that wholeheartedly.

Dr H M J VAN RENSBURG (Mossel Bay):

What is your interpretation of freedom?


Freedom and responsibility go hand in hand. Is that good enough for the hon member? I will define freedom for the hon member but I wonder if he will agree with me. Freedom at the least means that you are a citizen in the land of your birth. That means that Blacks ought to be citizens in South Africa. Does the hon member agree?

Dr H M J VAN RENSBURG (Mossel Bay):

Yes, and they are.


But they are not. They are denied one of the basic freedoms, namely citizenship. The hon member knows that but is playing games.

The hon member for King William’s Town stressed that we must be absolutely sure who the overseas donors are, because they will influence the way the money should be spent. However, the commission finds that there was no influence brought to bear whatsoever—the hon the Minister must tell me if I am wrong—on how the money should be spent in South Africa. One should be aware of this fact. One must not just read selected excerpts from the commission’s report.

At the heart of the dispute between the State and the SACC is the profoundly different interpretations of what constitutes obedience to the demands of the Judaeo-Christian faith. That the SACC has a particular understanding of it, there can be no doubt. That the State has a different understanding, can also be of no doubt. Let me say immediately that I accept that the State has no objection to churches, including the SACC, fulfilling their “religious” task, with emphasis on worship, prayer and even good works. I do not think that the hon the Minister would quarrel for a moment with that assertion. What the Government cannot abide is that the Church should have the audacity to actually attempt to practise what it preaches. The SACC on the other hand believes that the only test of Christian commitment is by deeds rather than words. When we take into account these two diametrically opposed attitudes, it is inevitable that there will be confrontation, and there has been a great deal of confrontation between Church and State from time immemorial. After considerable sparring, we now have a full scale confrontation based on the report of the Eloff Commission.

It is common cause between this side of the House and that, that the financial controls of the SACC, particularly in recent years, left a great deal to be desired and that the trial of John Rees gave the Government the opportunity it was looking for. The members of the Eloff Commission, if you read the concluding remarks of Mr Oosthuizen, it is clear to me that whilst they had no theological standing, they certainly are very good supporters of the National Party. That is quite clear. The way that this Mr Oosthuizen outlines the good Nat policy is quite remarkable. He gives it word for word: the reason why the Blacks are left out of the constitution; the reason why they should be happy in homelands—all that is there for us to read. It is not based on a theological understanding of the nature of the Church or its task, but on the basis of National Party policy, and it should not be subjected to any scrutiny, particularly a theological scrutiny. It must be obeyed.

If the main charge of the Eloff Commission is that the SACC was involved in, and I quote from the report of the commission: "… political, social and economic issues”, then I must agree that the SACC must plead guilty as charged.

It is in fact my judgment that if they are not guilty of this charge, they would be found guilty in a higher court. In other words, the essence of the SACC’s defence is that they must “obey God rather than man”. In this stance, they are faithfully reflecting the central message of both the Old and the New Testaments. And they are not alone in this. I want to quote from another statement:

The aim of the Church is to bring about social justice. Justice must be done to the poor and oppressed and if the present system does not serve this purpose, the public conscience must be roused to demand another. If the Church does not exert itself for justice in society and together with the help she can offer also be prepared to serve as the champion for the cause of the poor, others will do it. The poor have the right to say: I do not ask for your charity, but I ask to be given an opportunity to live a life of human dignity.

Who said that? It was said by the Rev C D Brink at the Volkskongres of the Dutch Reformed Church.

Dr H M J VAN RENSBURG (Mossel Bay):

There is nothing wrong with that.


It is therefore not merely the SACC which has a strong view. There is certainly nothing wrong with that. It is strong language. If this system does not make it possible, we must have another system. It is like Bishop Tutu says: “We want change and we want it now”. He is then declared a revolutionary but he is yet to be found guilty in a court of law. If he really was a revolutionary, why have we not brought him to court and put him in gaol? Of course we cannot do it, because he is not a revolutionary, and we all know it. But it pleases us to use all these words about him.

Dr H M J VAN RENSBURG (Mossel Bay):

Depending on your interpretation of the term “revolutionary”.


No. Of course one can say there is a revolutionary change in the education system of South Africa. However, immediately anybody else says that, he is opting for revolution because he wants change now. [Interjections.]

The fact that the SACC has increasingly laid more and more emphasis on these political, social and economic issues is not because they have certain interests in these areas, but because of the demands of the Gospel in the South African context. I will make my point by giving a single example. The SACC has just published a book called Relocations: The Church’s report on forced removals. I challenge every hon member in this House to read it and look at the pictures in it. Of course, they will then say the SACC is guilty of incitement. I want to quote from a statement of one of the people who were removed, Maria Zotswana who says:

Everybody has died. My man has gone and died as have my daughters. They took my land away. The Lord has also gone. Yes, I suppose He has also gone.

I want to say without arrogance that the SACC with all its imperfections is present in a situation so that the Maria Zotswanas in South Africa and thousands of people like her will know that the Lord has not gone, however imperfect they may represent that. That is what the Church is all about, to be there in human form. The majority of churches in South Africa have pronounced apartheid to be a heresy, a false gospel. If this pronouncement has substance, then it is inevitable that the church must reveal this false gospel for what it is and do everything it can to uphold the Gospel in its entirety and as it is revealed in scripture.

Those religions whose major aim is to lose all awareness of the earthly and material have some excuse for opting out of political concerns. There can be no excuse, however, for Jew or Christian to perpetuate the unfortunate division between sacred and secular. This is the reason for the misunderstanding that grows between State and church.

In the Old Testament the community of Israel was called into being not to come apart from the world, but to accept responsibility for the world; not to isolate themselves in some nice convenient spiritual cocoon, but to actually be involved where men and women experience pain and suffering. Against intolerable situations of slavery, imprisonment and exile, the Jew firmly believed that, in seeking to redress these, he was acting on the command of God and received divine help in order to fulfil it.

It is here that the deepest source of conflict arose between prophet and priest. When Israel restricted her worship of God to the performing of rituals, and denied the qualities of justice and mercy in the market place—here I quote directly from the Old Testament—in wage agreements, in house construction, in agriculture, then Amos, Hosea and many other prophets charged them with apostasy because of the contradiction between what was happening when they worshipped and the way they lived.

In the same way in the New Testament, when Mary responds to the news that she is to give birth to the Saviour of the World, there is no sentimental poetry. What does she say:

He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts; He has put down the mighty from their seats and exalted them of low degree. He has filled the hungry with good things and the rich He has sent empty away.

Those are very disturbing words, but they are the words from scripture on which the churches seek to base their life and their mission. The proud are scattered, the mighty are put down from their thrones, and this is done by God. Is it any wonder that Jesus himself soon found himself in trouble? He was a marked man from the very beginning and was put to death for crimes against the State and religion. There is a 2 000 year old precedent, I believe, for a church to go beyond good words to good deeds, and even beyond good deeds to a direct challenge of both religious and secular authorities when it becomes necessary.

Consider the early disciples, what was said of them and of what they were charged. We have heard similar accusations today. They were called distrubers of the peace, middlers in business and politics and law-breakers. They were beaten by mobs, arrested, thrown in gaol, detained and sometimes put to death.


When are you going to deal with the report? You are exploiting Christianity.


No. The point I am trying to make is that the central confrontation between church and State will always be there until we understand the nature and the mission of the church. Because this State has refused to come to terms, the church dares to stand and say: This is what the Lord says.

What I am saying is that the Council of Churches has tried to resolve the age-old dichotomy between the gospel of personal conversion and the gospel of social responsibility. Christian pietism and responsible social action go hand in hand. Therefore, when the commission sits in judgment and makes a recommendation such as its first recommendation that the Council of Churches has moved into the fields of politics, economics and social matters, that should not be seen as a condemnation. The church has a right and an obligation to be involved in those fields. When a church exceeds that and dares to defy the State, then that church must take the consequences.

I close with a single example. I ask the hon the Minister to recall the famous “Verwoerd clause” which threatened that a permit would be required for anyone of a different colour to worship in a church. What did the church say at that time? The Archbishop said: “I will refuse to obey the law”. On what grounds would he refuse? He said he would refuse on the grounds that he must first obey God rather than man. As long as the Council of Churches does that, it has a role to play in South Africa.


Mr Speaker, I must inevitably make the inference that the hon member for Pinelands was probably a brilliant preacher in his time. From his support, by implication, of the theology of liberation, which is very closely linked to the theology of revolution, I must say that he reminded me somewhat of Jehonadab the Rechabite. Jehonadab the Rechabite was a fanatical church leader who on occasion climbed onto Jehu’s revolutionary wagon to sanction Jehu’s revolution against the royal house of Ahab. One must be careful of this kind of thing. One must be careful of church leaders who very easily climb onto the proverbial present-day revolutionary band-wagon. Because the hon member reminds me of Jehonadab the Rechabite, I want to point out to him what happened to Joab, David’s military commander. He once killed people left, right and centre—by saying this I am not insinuating that the hon member for Pinelands kills people—but when it was his turn and Benaiah went after him with a sword, he hid behind the altar in the tabernacle because he thought he would be unassailable there. The point was made here this afternoon that no church leader who breaks a law must think that he will be immune afterwards. Joab breathed his last at the altar in the tabernacle.

There are a few points the hon member for Pinelands raised to which I should like to react briefly. He said that thus far the debate has practically been a smear campaign against Bishop Tutu. He quoted from a newspaper report in which recognition is given from ministerial quarters to the positive role Bishop Tutu played in defusing a situation at a school. Of course we on this side of the House have the greatest appreciation for that kind of action by Bishop Tutu. Why? Because he was acting within the democratic system, within the system. He did not sabotage the system and he has our greatest appreciation for this. The criticism levelled at the Bishop and the SACC, is because, by implication, they are really intent on sabotaging the system.

The hon member for Pinelands mentioned that it is being said here that there is a gap between the upper echelons of the SACC and the member churches. He also mentioned that it is being said that member churches will rebel if the SACC is declared an affected organization. From the evidence of the financial committee of the SACC, it is clearly indicated—on page 136—that that gap does, in fact, exist. Perhaps I should read it. I quote:

Mr Matterson reported that at this meeting, there had been a feeling that there is a lack of communication between the SACC and the churches. He reported that the churches felt that the SACC has constituted itself as a church in its own right and that it is paddling its own canoe.

In other words, this supports the allegation made here that there is a gap between the SACC as a bureaucratic upper echelon and the member churches.

I wish to associate myself with the standpoint of the English-language morning newspaper that the appearance of the commission’s report unfortunately did not receive the publicity it deserves. I want to go further and say that if we are going to put away this report after a debate of 2½ hours without ever taking notice of it again, we are going to be making an error of judgment which will cost us dearly in South Africa. In my opinion, this report does not only address the SACC, but also the Church in all its facets. I am also of the opinion that by implication this report addresses the State and the political set-up in South Africa. Therefore, by implication, the report addresses the SACC and all the churches in South Africa. I just want to illustrate a few points in this regard.

Firstly, the commission makes a very important finding when it states that the SACC has occupied itself with political, economic and social issues over the past few years and that it did not get around to spreading the Gospel. There is sufficient evidence to support this finding, and I shall therefore not elaborate on it. If this is true, however, the SACC has renounced its primary function. I am not saying that the Church, like the priest and the Levite in the parable of the good Samaritan, must walk past and look the other way when it comes to political, economic or social injustice. Of course, the Church also has a responsibility regarding the here and now; the hon member for Pine-lands put that very well. Of course, the Gospel also has consequences for politics, the economy and social order. When politics, the economy and social matters become the main point or the only point on a church’s agenda, however, I think that church is missing its initial calling. The question every church must ask itself, in my opinion, is whether it is still fulfilling its primary responsibility, viz preaching the Gospel.

A second point I wish to single out and which, in my opinion, is very important, is the reason the SACC has become the subject of an investigation. It is clear to me that the SACC has become the subject of an investigation because by implication it is a supporter and advocator of the theology of revolution. The hon member for Pinelands is shaking his head, but nowhere does this come to the fore more strongly, in my opinion, than in the whole question of proclaiming a confessional situation, or status confessionis. During the SACC’s National Conference in 1980 a covert attempt was made to impose a status confessionis on member churches. There is even talk of manipulation. I do not want to quote this verbatim, but the modus operandi is set out as follows on page 127: The agenda for the National Conference of the SACC would be shelved. A confessional resolution would then become the subject for discussion, and that status confessionis would be imposed on member churches. Mercifully, and I mean mercifully, this was rejected by two votes, for when a status confessionis is proclaimed, it is a serious matter. The hon member for Roodepoort also referred to this. When a status confessionis is proclaimed in respect of the South African situation, as well in respect of the total strategy being followed to bring about political reform in South Africa, a strategy which does not make provision for “one man, one vote”; when a status confessionis is proclaimed against the status quo or against that kind of political reform, it is, in fact—the hon member for Roodepoort said this as well—a declaration of war against the South African situation as it is at present. For what does it mean? It means that if the member churches were to follow the SACC ip this respect, every member would, in fact, be placed in a state of readiness for revolution against the State. This ability to impose a status confessionis is nothing but an attempt to lend Biblical support to revolution, and it would have been the only Biblical support revolution in South Africa would have had if this status confessionis had succeeded. This status confessionis was imposed on the initiative of a number of members of the SACC, and if this does not smack of manipulation, I do not know what does. Nevertheless, the SACC says that it functions “openly and transparently”. I do not think that is true.

I want to single out a few other facets as well, although reference has already been made to some of these this afternoon. I think the SACC must be careful about whom it chooses to be its fellow-travellers. It is true that Bishop Tutu stated unequivocally on 25 June 1980 that he does not associate himself with the ANC, yet once again there is sufficient evidence in the report which points to a very close link.

I could go on pointing to the close link between the ANC and the SA Communist party till late this evening. I believe that when a person associates himself with the aims of the ANC, by implication he also associates himself with the aims of the SA Communist Party. I think it is unheard of that an organization claiming to be a church, at the same time by implication becomes a fellow-traveller of the aims of the SA Communist Party. In this respect the Church is in danger of travelling the same path as the Church in Latin America. In this regard the Minister of Cultural Affairs of Nicaragua writes as follows:

The role of the Church today in Latin America is to preach communism. Communism according to Marx is the society in which there will be no selfishness or injustice of any kind, and this is the same as we Christians understand the Kingdom of God on earth to be.

One must be very careful of things of this nature, and every church in South Africa must guard against this.

I believe that the time has come for churches in South Africa to discuss with one another the Biblical interpretation of the South African situation. It is untenable that one church wants to break down a particular institution by force because it regards that institution as being in conflict with the Bible, whilst on the other hand another church wants to maintain the same institution because it regards that institution as being in accordance with the Bible. This is an untenable situation, and I believe the churches should discuss this with one another.

As I have already said, this report also addresses the State. In fact, I believe it is the responsibility of every political party to work towards political reform in South Africa, since when there are deficiencies, there is always a potential basis for revolution. In conclusion, I believe that what we need in South Africa is not a theology of revolution, but a theology of peace, as Ferdinand Deist put it in his book Verandering Sonder Geweld. If we all become advocates of a theology of peace in the Church and in the State, we will go a long way in this country.

*Mr C UYS:

Mr Speaker, it has become very difficult at this stage not to repeat arguments that have already been used. I trust that you will nevertheless permit me, too, to say a few words.

It is true, after all, that we were supposed to discuss the report of the Eloff Commission on the SACC this afternoon. What is more, we were looking forward to it, particularly the contributions by hon members of the official Opposition. The first PFP speaker, the hon member for Sandton, made a half-hearted effort to differ with one finding of the commission. I must say that he did it very half-heartedly.

The hon member for Pinelands, with respect, never got so far as to discuss the report of the Eloff Commission. He gave us a long lecture about the phrophetic calling, as he sees it, of the Church. He also had a lot to say about the fearless action of the SACC, particularly in this regard. Now, I just wish to point out briefly to the hon member that there was an occasion, mentioned in the report, when the SACC wanted to take a certain decision on the disinvestment of money from overseas in South Africa. Fearless people that they are, people who champion only the truth, they obtained legal advice; not legal advice as to whether their decision was correct in accordance with their holy convictions, but legal advice as to whether they would be breaking the laws of the land if they were to take that specific decision. The lawyer concerned then warned them that they should take care, because if they took that decision, they could be breaking the laws of the land. What course did these holy people follow then; these holy people who are supposedly the fearless prophets in our country? They hesitated to take the decision which they had initially intended taking. I do not wish to say any more about their so-called fearlessness.

One cannot consider in isolation the proceedings and the findings of the Eloff Commission concerning every facet of the actions of the SACC. However, when one considers their actions and their planned action—and I say it was planned, Mr Speaker—with regard to foreign investments in South Africa, with regard to evasion of national service, with regard to civil disobedience, and their interference in the trade union movement of the country etc, and when one considers all things together, one has no alternative but to conclude what the Eloff Commission concluded, viz that under the cloak of their prophetic calling, the SACC were in fact engaged in revolutionary political activities. One cannot interpret it in any other way. Let the official Opposition tell us now—we asked them this right at the start of the debate—whether they, as the official Opposition, seek to intimate that their view of the political future of this country corresponds with that of the SACC. Put differently, does the official Opposition agree with the actions and views of the political priests of the SACC?

The hon member for Pinelands made a fuss about the fact that a man like Bishop Tutu speaks as a clergyman. There was an occasion after the coal incident when Bishop Tutu, speaking in Denmark, advocated that they should not purchase any more coal from our country, when the SACC had to express an opinion on the capacity in which Bishop Tutu was speaking when making such remarks. They themselves said at that time:

There is an intolerable situation in the Black community and especially for Black leaders like Bishop Tutu who are required to articulate the views of the Black community.

Here the SACC itself is identifying Bishop Tutu in his actions as a member of the SACC, not as a clergyman, but as a so-called Black leader speaking on behalf of the Black community. No-one in this country seeks to deny White or Black or Coloured or Indian the right to uphold his own political convictions. What I do doubt, however, is whether one has the political right to abuse that concession under the cloak of the Church or the prophetic calling that the Church has in an effort to further party-political ends.

What I find somewhat disturbing—and I believe the necessary bodies will take cognisance of this—is the fact that Mr Justice Eloff made not very flattering remarks and findings about the actions of certain professional persons. I refer in particular to the role played by certain professional persons in the effort to cover up the Chetty incident. I sincerely hope that the relevant professional associations of our country will take full cognisance of this and take action in that regard.

I want to conclude by saying that for our part we support the findings of the commission and the acceptance by the hon the Minister of some of the recommendations of the commission. As far as the question of the economic sabotaging of our country is concerned, must this be made a specific crime or not? Are we fully aware of the thorns on the path? However, I am pleased that the hon the Minister assured us that he and his department have not decided finally on the matter but that they will investigate the matter quietly and calmly to see what can be done in this regard. Simply to argue that one may encounter problems in taking steps against these people is in my opinion not enough. Although on paper it is not at present a crime to commit economic sabotage against one’s country, it is in fact a crime. If it should become necessary, then any Government with the interests of the country at heart—as any Government ought to have—would have no choice but to take steps, even if they were drastic steps.

As regards the finding of the commission that the SACC be not declared an affected organisation, I agree, with reservations, but I do wish to agree with the hon the Minister that the matter will have to be watched very closely, to argue that one cannot tackle this offender in its unholy actions because, if one tackled it, someone else would simply carry on with its work, is not an argument I find entirely convincing. Therefore I think it is necessary for the hon the Minister to watch the matter carefully and if necessary, to take the necessary steps.


Mr Speaker, I am grateful for the interest shown by all the different hon members who took part in the debate. It is as well that the matter has been discussed and I am also grateful for the trouble taken by the various hon members.

I should like to say to the hon member for Barberton that my standpoint is that one should not be too hasty as regards the aspect of economic boycotts. There are many aspects of the matter. Moreover, there are many facets that have to be carefully investigated. Then, too, there is the question of what may and may not be counter-productive. That is why it is the standpoint of the Government that that matter will be given due consideration and that we shall make a decision about the matter in future. I originally uttered the warning in my speech on affected organizations to which the hon member referred.

I should like to say to the hon member for Sandton that I must differ with him on two points. I was not referring to legal aid as such. He emphasized the aspect of legal aid, but the issue here is not the principle of legal aid. One probably cannot find much fault with the principle of legal aid as the hon member expounded it. My standpoint is that this is not a case of legal aid granted in that sense of the word; in this instance aid is being provided selectively to people who merely create the impression that they are trying, out of frustration, to take action against the existing system in a situation of unrest. That is what is at issue, and there is a big difference between such a situation and the principle of legal aid as such.

There is the reference to massive psychological warfare in the report with regard to the South African Council of Churches. In this regard, too, the hon member did not evaluate his source entirely correctly. It is true that reference is made to the document to which the hon member referred, but there is also the confirmation of the commission—the references are all here, but my time is limited—that Bishop Tutu confirmed the contents of that document as his standpoint, too, and that he says that we in South Africa are engaged in massive psychological warfare. That is quite correct. However, what is also quite clear from the report is that the SACC prepares itself for and has equipped itself to become involved in that massive psychological warfare, and it is to that standpoint of the SACC that reference is ultimately made in the commission’s summary. Therefore there is a difference in nuance which the hon member did not bring out in the same context as that in which it appears in the report.

I should like to know from the hon member for Pinelands what he was doing here this afternoon. That hon member made two extremely dangerous statements this afternoon, and he preached them very sanctimoniously here this afternoon as a message to be conveyed from this House. In his speech the hon member encouraged people to oppose the State “as long as they obey the laws of God; obey God rather than man”. [Interjections.] The hon Chief Whip of the Opposition denies this, but I have in my possession a copy of the notes of the hon member’s speech which, I take it, were made available, because a member of my staff sent them to me.


Where did you get that from?


They were sent to me by a member of my staff. I take it that they are available in public.


For the Press.


I am quite open with the hon member. What the hon member said appears in this.


Do you have spies in the Press gallery? [Interjections.]


I am not imputing anything to the hon member. This afternoon my staff had the decency to make a copy of my notes available to the other parties. There is nothing wrong with that. The point I want to make is that there must be no misunderstanding as to what the hon member said. What I understood him to say is what he put on paper. What this amounts to is that he is hereby encouraging people “to obey God rather than man”. Does the hon member deny … [Interjections.]


Do you not do that yourself?


Sir, if that noisy member behind the hon member for Pinelands would just be quiet, I should appreciate it. We are dealing with something he knows nothing about. Does the hon member for Pinelands recognize the authority of the State as the highest authority, as long as that State is a Christian State?


There is no such thing as a Christian State.


The church to which the hon member belongs recognizes this principle. Does the hon member want to tell me that the State in South Africa and the form of government in South Africa is not that of a Christian State?


Of course it is not.


If the hon member maintains that, then he is making an extremely dangerous statement. He is then saying to people that they need not recognize the authority of the State because it is not a Christian State.


That is not what I am saying.


That is exactly what the hon member is saying. This is an extremely dangerous statement, which must be fully exposed to public contempt. [Interjections.] The hon member goes on to say that because, 2000 years ago, Christ was entitled to adopt that standpoint, a priest and a clergyman are entitled to adopt the same standpoint towards the State today as well. Where is it stated that Christ did not recognize the authority of a Christian State? The hon member for Pinelands is not the only member here who knows something about the Bible. Where does it say in the Bible that the Christian State is not recognized as the highest authority? [Interjections.]


Order! Hon members must now afford the hon the Minister the opportunity to complete his speech.


I say that the hon member for Pinelands—and this was most unfortunate—encouraged people this afternoon to continue adopting a provocative and invalid standpoint with regard to this matter. This can only lead to serious confrontation, and if it happens then the hon member must be called to account.

Mr Speaker, I realize that the time for the debate has expired and in the circumstances I withdraw my motion.

With leave, motion withdrawn.

WAGE AMENDMENT BILL (Second Reading resumed) *Mr W J LANDMAN:

Mr Speaker, at the outset I should like to convey my thanks to the Opposition for supporting this Bill. It is indeed a very short Bill, but I believe that it contains very effective provisions.

Looking at the three clauses in the Bill, one sees that what the provision embodied in clause 1 amounts to is that when an order for a wage determination is issued, such an order will have priority over other wage determinations because it is usually higher than the existing wage determination. In fact, it is important that it be given priority because the employee will immediately enjoy the benefit of such an order. Moreover, the Minister will give immediate attention to such an order. This is important with regard to the agreement entered into between the employer and the employee, because they usually want it disposed of as soon as possible.

In clause 2 it is provided that the Wage Board may advise the Minister to investigate the wage determinations of specific industries. The reason for this is that an investigation may be instituted into a certain industry whereas there may be a similar industry very closely linked with the one subjected to the investigation, and that the investigation may then include the other industry as well. This means that much of the red tape is eliminated and the investigation can be disposed of far more expeditiously.

Clause 3 of the Bill empowers the chairman of the Wage Board to order investigations without its being necessary for him to convene the entire board. It often happens that a team is engaged in an investigation at a certain industry with regard to the determination of wages and that there is a similar industry situated in the vicinity. The chairman can then give the matter the necessary attention by requesting the team to determine the wage there as well. Sometimes long delays are experienced by the Wage Board because not all the members are available. The board meets perhaps once a month, and to eliminate that delay the chairman of the Wage Board is being empowered to have the wage determinations of other industries investigated. This will mean that this process will now be far more streamlined and that the work can be disposed of far more quickly.

I am very grateful for this statutory amendment because it is largely in the interests of the worker and because the interests and sympathy of this side of the House are always with the worker in South Africa.


Mr Speaker, on behalf of the NRP I would like to welcome the hon the Minister to his new portfolio. May this labour of love be just that and may he labour well in this particular portfolio. The hon the Minister’s reputation has preceded him as being a thinker and a man who is always prepared to entertain constructive criticism and a man who will serve the State and the Parliament of South Africa well. We therefore welcome the hon the Minister to the Manpower portfolio.

This is probably not as hectic a portfolio as it was five years ago, but the problems are nevertheless of considerable magnitude and the potential for discontent and disruptive activity is as high as ever before. We have confidence that this hon Minister will do the best for labour and for South Africa.

The hon members for Walmer, Overvaal and Carltonville, who spoke before me, all indicated the reasons why they accept this Bill. We would like largely to concur with them, one of the most important reasons being that these amendments are a direct result of recommendations made by the National Manpower Commission. This has undoubtedly once again shown the value of continued research and investigation into our labour legislation and the fact that they will highlight and indicate where there are difficulties and problems which need to be ironed out.

I think in particular that the ambiguity which existed in the relationship between a wage determination and the Labour Relations Act has now clearly been removed by the determination of the priority which the provisions of section 51(a) will enjoy over a wage determination. I think this will iron out a lot of the problems which we had in the past and it will certainly make the matter very clear indeed.

We also believe that the fact that the Wage Board’s functions have been extended to making recommendations to the Minister regarding investigations as a result of the fact that they have obtained information from other investigations, is so simple that one wonders why it was never thought of before. This is of course the beauty of an ongoing review of what happens in practice and that which is contained in our legislation. This type of continuity of investigation is something which we should have seen before, but it does of course represent an improvement and for that we are most grateful.

The flexibility introduced by the fact that the chairman or a temporary chairman may now identify an individual or joint investigation instead of calling the whole board together is a very obvious and practical economy which is being brought about in this amending Bill. We also welcome the streamlining which has taken place in this regard.

We therefore have no hesitation in supporting the Second Reading of this amending Bill.


Mr Speaker, the Wage Act of 1957, Act 5 of 1957, is widely regarded as a model Act. The fact that it has remained on the Statute Book over the past 27 years with few amendments is evidence of that. This Act specifies the conditions and bargaining power of unorganized labour in the country and is distinct from the Industrial Conciliation Act, or the Labour Relations Act, Act 28 of 1956, as it is known at present. The Wage Act is administered by the Department of Manpower and the Wage Board is responsible for the proper implementation of the Act. Employers and employees have representation on the Wage Board and this creates the mechanism whereby to negotiate and settle wage differences and other conditions of service. In addition, the Wage Board institutes investigations from time to time, on the instructions of the Minister, into service conditions within certain enterprises, industries or professions in an area.

The Bill at present before this House amends the Wage Act—

… so as to provide that a determination shall not apply to a person in respect of any matter regulated by any order which is binding on such person in terms of the Labour Relations Act, 1956; to authorize the board to gather information in respect of any trade and to advise the Minister in relation to the exercise of the power mentioned in section 4(1); and to provide that the chairman or the temporary chairman of the board may, without the decision of the board, decide that any investigation and report … shall be carried out and made by any member of the board, either alone or in conjunction with any additional member.

Section 2 of the Wage Act, 1957, is being amended by this Bill by the insertion of the word “order” in paragraph (a) of subsection (3). In accordance with section 51A of the Labour Relations Act, Act 28 of 1956, “order” relates to the implementation of conditions of service on the basis of proposals by a group or association of employers engaged in any undertaking, industry, trade or occupation in any area in respect of which no industrial council is registered. This section provides that proposals concerning wages or conditions of service are submitted to the Minister by the group of employers and that they may request that such proposals be declared binding on all employers and employees engaged or employed in such undertaking, industry, trade or occupation and in such area.

Subsection (2) of section 51A of the Labour Relations Act provides that upon receipt of proposals and after consultation with the Wage Board, the Minister may make an order in accordance with such proposals. Subsection (3) of the same section provides that after making an order, the Minister must publish it in the Gazette and that the provisions shall be binding upon employers and employees in the undertaking in the area.

Section 3 of the principal Act, which deals with the establishment and functions of the Wage Board, is being amended by the insertion of subsection (12) which provides that the board may advise the Minister in relation to the exercise of the power referred to in section 4(1).

Section 4 of the principal Act is being amended by the deletion of the words “as the board may decide”. In this way the chairman or temporary chairman of the board may decide that an investigation and report be instituted and carried out on the basis of a request by a member of the board, as long as he is not an additional member, either alone or in conjunction with any additional member.

The amendment of the principal Act as I have explained it is essential for the implementation of the Act and for that reason I take pleasure in supporting it.


Mr Speaker, I should like to thank all hon members who took part in this debate for their participation and their contribution. I should also like to mention the very positive spirit in which the legislation was debated and the very objective way in which it was done.

As regard hon members who took part in the debate I should like to thank the hon member for Walmer for his and his party’s support of the legislation. I also thank the hon member for Koedoespoort for his support of the legislation and, in particular, for his congratulations on my appointment to this portfolio. The hon member for Overvaal also made a fine and positive contribution. I want to thank him, too, most sincerely for the flattering words he said about me. I think they were undeserved. Nevertheless, the hon member made a very good contribution to the debate. The hon member for Carltonville made it clear that an order in terms of the Labour Relations Act has a higher priority than a wage determination. I also thank the hon member for Durban North for the friendly words he said to me. In addition I wish to thank the hon member for his positive remarks concerning the important contribution made by the National Manpower Commission in this regard. The hon member for Maraisburg pointed out that the Wage Board in fact acts and may act in the interests of the unorganized labour corps in South Africa.

I wish to conclude by saying that I am very grateful that this Bill is not being opposed.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a Second Time.

Bill not committed.

Third Reading


Mr Speaker, I move, subject to Standing Order No 56:

That the Bill be now read a Third Time.

Mr Speaker, I do not intend going into the details of the Bill again. We support it because we believe it is a good measure. I do however want to rectify something, an omission, at this stage. I forgot to congratulate the hon the Minister on his appointment to his present post. It was an unintentional omission. I can only say I hope he will keep this hot seat for a very long time and that he will do the job well.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a Third Time.


Mr Speaker, I move:

That the Bill be now read a Second Time.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill is intended, among other things, to amend the definitions of “wage” and “public holiday”, to extend the proviso in respect of the giving of notice, to authorize the setting-off of debt against remuneration owed to an employee by an employer, and to make the non-payment or under-payment of wages an offence.

In terms of the existing definition of “public holiday”, read in conjunction with section 11 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, employees employed in shops and offices, excluding offices in which work in or in connection with a factory is done, are entitled to leave with full pay on the public holidays mentioned in the First Schedule to the Public Holidays Act, 1952. In terms of the proposed amendment, the employees concerned will henceforth be entitled to full pay on all days that are public holidays or are declared as such in terms of the Public Holidays Act. The practical effect of the amendment will be that when a public holiday falls on a Sunday, or when two public holidays fall on the same day and the following day is declared a public holiday, or in respect of any other day which is declared a public holiday, the employees concerned will be entitled to payment as laid down in section 11 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.

The Act requires an employer or employee to give one working day’s notice of termination of service during the first four weeks of service. Thereafter, one or two weeks notice must be given, depending on whether the employee is paid by the week or by the month, with the proviso that when a longer period of notice is prescribed in a written service contract, notice must be given over such longer period. The provision in section 14 is now being amended to provide that this proviso, ie the one in respect of the giving of notice, shall also apply to the first four weeks of service.

Section 19(e) of the Act prohibits the deduction of any amount from an employee’s wage, except where this is authorized in writing by an employee or where it is required in terms of a court order or of any law. The proposed amendment is aimed at authorizing the employer also to set off any amount owed to him by the employee against the employee’s remuneration.

The non-payment or under-payment of wages is being made an offence. For the rest, the amendments are of a textual nature. With these remarks I have described the amendments in broad outline.


Mr Speaker, I should like to start by dealing with those aspects of the Bill with which this side of the House agrees. Clause 1 deals with the redefinition of the term “wage”, and in the first place ties the amount payable to the agreement between the employer and the employee. Secondly, it provides for the situation where the employee is paid than the agreement stipulates. I believe that this is a necessary provision and we agree with it. Clauses 2 and 3 aim to tidy up matters, while clause 5 provides that notice of resignation within the first four weeks of employment must be in terms of a written contract between the worker and his employer, and this is something that we also approve of.

Clause 6 amends section 19 by the addition of a new subsection (2) which ensures that an employee gets paid in the prescribed manner. We do, however, have difficulty with the rest of clause 6. It provides for an amendment of section 19 of the principal Act. Section 19(e) states:

No employer shall—
  1. (e) deduct from an employee’s remuneration an amount except—
    1. (i) in accordance with a written authority given to him by such an employee;
    2. (ii) in accordance with an order of court or a provision of any law.
      And now:
    3. (iii) to set off an amount owed to him by the employee against the employee’s remuneration.

We intend moving an amendment in the Committee Stage in respect of his provision because one has to decide who need protection. Does the employer need protection or does the employee need protection? From the nature of things the employer is more powerful than an individual employee, and one must not forget that one is dealing with a spectrum of businesses. Big companies are operating in a spotlight where everybody knows what is happening all the time. They tend to have a structured, organized operation, while this is not so in the case of the small, informal employer.

The employee has no protection against this deduction of an alleged amount; none at all. If he is a humble, simple person and somebody alleges that he owes him some money, where does he seek his protection? The onus is left right on his shoulders to fight such a claim. Moreover, he probably has no experience of such a thing. He also may have no time. If he is dismissed from one job, he has to move in order to find himself another. Meanwhile he possibly has a family and children to support. He may also have no money. If the amount of the claim is only R100 or R200, how can he afford even to go to someone in the legal profession in order to try and get the money which his employer has offset against his wages?


You are making a mountain out of a molehill. [Interjections.]


The employer, on the other hand, is in the position in which possession is evidently nine points of the law. He has no responsibility to prove his claim against his ex-employee. There is no definition in connection with how that debt could arise. The employer can for instance say that the ex-employee damaged his motor car in the process of removing it from the garage, and that therefore he owes him money. He can then offset that money against the wages due to that employee when he dismisses him. It is of course possible that the employee has caused such damage maliciously, but it could also be a completely trumped up accusation. There is no way, however, in which many employees who are dismissed in this fashion will ever be able to remedy the situation.

The employer could of course also give himself undue preference over other people who may have a legitimate claim against the employee who owes them money. We have to try to ask ourselves why this measure was introduced. I think it was introduced because employers, frequently in order to assist employees, make certain amounts of money available to them. If they are forced to dismiss the employee this facilitates the recovery of that money. In terms of the provisions of the existing Act, when an employer lends money to an employee he can get him to sign a document authorizing him to deduct, in the event of the employee leaving his employment, these monies from wages owing. That means that the employer is completely protected. Therefore I believe that this provision is unnecessary and can indeed cause a lot of harm, unhappiness and injustice. What it is trying to safeguard can be accomplished by the employer very easily in terms of the existing legislation.


Mr Speaker, the hon member for Walmer referred to the clause in the Bill in terms of which paragraph 19(e) of the principal Act is to be amended. I feel we can discuss this in rather more detail when we reach the Committee Stage. Of course the aim of the statutory amendment under discussion is to bring about further stability between employer and employee in the labour field. Actually the proposed amendment cuts both ways. The employer is not the only one who benefits, while at the same time the employee is not the only one who benefits or loses. In both cases an attempt is being made to regulate specific aspects in terms of the proposed statutory amendment. I feel the most obvious of these are probably the matters in connection with notice given during the first four weeks of service with a new employer, the payment of wages, and the third, which is also important, viz, the defining of public holidays. Both the employer and the employee will, when it suits them, be able to turn around during the first four weeks and say: Although I have agreed that I may give you two weeks’ or one week’s notice, I am very sorry but the legislation provides that during the first four weeks I may give you one day’s notice and I am doing so. This also cuts both ways. The employer may dismiss the employee on 24 hours’ notice, but on the other hand the employee may place his employer in a difficult situation by simply telling him: I am giving you 24 hours’ notice and I am leaving tomorrow.

The second aspect which crops us here is the matter of the payment of wages. Under prevailing circumstances, the situation may arise where an employer who pays his employee by the week and finds, at the end of the week, that business has not been very good that week, can tell that employee: I am very sorry but I can only pay you by the middle of next week. It also happens in practice that the employer only pays his employee half of the wage he owes him.

In terms of the amendment now before us an employer will not in future be able to do this because it now becomes a punishable offence if that employee is not paid the wage agreed upon on the day agreed upon.

The third amendment I want to refer to concerns public holidays. In my opinion the department paid extremely careful attention to this amendment. In the past there have been a great many arguments about this between employers and employees, particularly when two public holidays fall on the same day, as to whether that employee should receive his wage for the following day if it were declared a public holiday. There was also the situation which arose when a public holiday fell on a Sunday and was then shifted to the Monday. The question arose as to whether an employee should be paid for that day. There was also dissatisfaction when the employee worked on that Monday and his employer did not always pay him the correct salary in terms of what was prescribed by law. That loophole, too, is now being closed.

Another important point which we should not simply ignore is the fact that this statutory amendment actually gives substance to service agreements in the sense that they now apply from the first day as far as dismissal or notice are concerned. Whereas in the past they only came into effect from the fourth week, now they come into effect immediately.

I have already said that these new amendments actually cut both ways, because there are advantages and disadvantages for both parties. However, if we weigh them up against each other, one can only conclude that this is a very good piece of legislation. We on this side of the House take pleasure in supporting it.


Mr Speaker, the CP also supports this legislation. The hon the Minister set out his motivation for this legislation very thoroughly and I do not think it is necessary to discuss this matter in detail. The hon member for Stilfontein elaborated on it further, but he did not actually reply to the point raised by the hon member for Walmer. I want to suggest that the point raised by the hon member for Walmer was in fact valid. The arguments advanced by the hon member in this connection were sound. It has always been the case that the employer does not simply have the right to deduct a debt owed to him by the employee from the salary of that employee. A new provision is now being introduced in terms of which the employer is being benefitted to the disadvantage of the employee, whereas there is adequate protection for the employer in the existing Act, as was indicated by the hon member for Walmer.

Unless the hon the Minister can convince us that that provision has to remain in the legislation, we shall also vote for the proposed amendment of the hon member for Walmer in the Committee Stage. With these words we support this legislation in principle.


Mr Speaker, I thank the hon member for Brakpan for his support for this Bill. I feel we should view this in the light of the fact that our labour legislation consistently protects the employee in South Africa, and this is as it should be because wages and holidays and the retention of his job are very important to the employee. We could argue about the provision in connection with the deduction of money by the employer, but we have to be careful not to go too far in protecting the employee, thereby leaving the employer out in the cold. If one wants to have a sound trade union movement, there is only one way to do it, and that is to involve both the employer and the employee. The problem in South Africa, as I see it, is that the employer has always taken too much of a back seat. We can only build up a sound trade union movement in this country if we enjoy the goodwill of both the employee and the employer.

If one is acquainted with the early days of the trade union movement, one realizes that matters have improved vastly as far as the employer is concerned. Years ago the employer did not allow anyone on to his premises to talk to his employees. This was the case in the ’forties and prior to that. This situation has changed a great deal, and that is why I maintain that because our labour legislation involves both the employer and the employee, we always have to preserve the balance. I feel that the provision in connection with the deduction of money which the employee owes to the employer, is not unfair. As a matter of fact, I think it is very fair. It could be provided that the employer has to issue a receipt when he lends the money, but I believe this is quite fair. If we want to build up a sound trade union movement in our country, we have to retain the goodwill of our employers and employees and we have to see to it that they work together properly.


Mr Speaker, the hon members who spoke before me have indicated that their parties or they personally do not have any difficulty with most of the provisions contained in the amending legislation, and we shall adopt more or less the same attitude. I think with the exception of clause 6, with which I shall deal in a moment, the provisions contained in the Bill are of a noncontroversial nature and are to be welcomed by all sides.

The controversy really centres around clause 6 which amends section 19, and around the difficulty which the PFP and the CP have regarding the facility for an employer to deduct without the written agreement of the employee money outstanding and owing to the company excluding money which by law is required to be deducted. This is an important change in the relationship between employers and employees, and we have also given this a very considerable amount of thought. One should consider the fact that in many instances an employer gives to an employee safety equipment, tools, vehicles or machinery to use. The employee does not sign an acknowledgement of debt as such and in the course of his duties, due to negligence or due to other factors, he could cost the employer money. In such a case, if it is severe enough, the employee may be discharged and the employer could then pursue that in court. However, often when safety equipment is thrown away, it is too costly for an employer to take an employee to court. He has to trace the person and get him into court and then he still has to prove several things in court. It may be that the amendment we have here will facilitate that. However, the employee may find himself at a greater disadvantage than the employer to pursue an indebtedness.

We have listened very carefully to the motivation of the hon member for Walmer and we also believe that there is a certain amount of merit in what he says. Of course, one does realize that in terms of the Act the employee who is aggrieved will know that the employer may not deduct or withhold wages without committing an offence; in other words, the onus is on the employer to prove that the wages were properly withheld and not for a spurious reason. I think the employer will be very careful not to make any deductions which are not really due to him. The employee who has recourse to the Department of Manpower. He can go and complain if he thinks that his wages have been unreasonably withheld. However, on balance, this is quite a major departure. We will therefore listen to what the hon the Minister has to say, but we would certainly commend to him the prospect of accepting the amendment moved by the hon member for Walmer. Other than that, we will be supporting the legislation.


Mr Speaker, it is always a pleasure to speak after the hon member for Durban North, because there is always a great deal of logic in his arguments.

In congratulating the hon the Minister on his appointment, I am not motivated by any wish to repeat what has already been said, but simply by a heartfelt desire to do so. I and other members of our study group were privileged to attend the presentation of awards to 14 top apprentices at the Carlton Hotel in Johannesburg in January this year. I understand that this was the first official public appearance of the hon the Minister in his new capacity. It was a good start. The fact that it took place at the Carlton Hotel was not a coincidence, in my opinion. This is where the famous Carlton Conference of the hon the Prime Minister took place, as well as the launching of “Manpower 2000”.

As far as the Bill is concerned, I believe that it would be a good idea to begin by reading its preamble. This reads as follows:

To amend the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, 1983, so as to further define “public holiday” and “wage”; to provide that notice of termination of service during the first four weeks of service shall in the case of a written contract of employment be given in accordance with such contract; to make the non-payment or underpayment of wages an offence; to exclude from the prohibition on deductions from employees’ remuneration the setting-off against such remuneration of amounts owed by an employee to his employer; and to effect certain textual improvements; and to provide for incidental matters. I I

I have no fault to find with this Bill at all. In fact, I believe that the Bill is not controversial at all, especially in the view of the wide support which the measure has received in this House this afternoon.

As far as clause 1(a) is concerned, I agree that the word “wage” is being carefully defined with regard to hours of service rendered. As far as clause 1(b) is concerned, I agree that there should be full remuneration for declared public holidays. These are public holidays declared in terms of Act No 5 of 1952. Clauses 2, 3 and 4 are basically concerned with the substitution or definition of words. The term “36” is being substituted for the term “30”. Clause 5 ensures that the service contract will be observed by the employer and employee, especially when there is a written agreement. The customary mutual period of notice of one day still applies during the first month of service. After the expiry of one month, the minimum period becomes two weeks in the case of monthly employees and one week for weekly employees paid by the week.

As far as clause 6(a) is concerned, amendments will be moved which will be of benefit to employers and employees, as has already been indicated by the hon member for Stilfontein. In terms of clause 6(b), it will be an offence to pay an employee a part of his wage or to withhold remuneration. Provision is now being made for action to be taken against such offenders by the State department concerned.

I take pleasure in supporting this legislation.


Mr Speaker, I want to thank hon members once again for their contributions to this debate and particularly for the fact that the debate has been conducted at a very high level and in a very objective spirit. I particularly appreciate this because we are dealing here with the interests of employees and employers. It is important that we should regulate the relationship between employee and employer in such a way as to do justice to both parties, in the first place, and, in the second place, to retain the confidence of both employer and employee. This would be a very important contribution to industrial peace and is therefore in the national interest. That is why I appreciate the responsible way in which this matter was debated. I am always prepared to listen objectively when a positive debate is conducted and positive points are raised.

I want to refer, in the first place, to the speech made by the hon member for Walmer, who was quite responsible in his arguments, I believe. He rightly asked why it was necessary to introduce a measure such as this one in order to place an employer in a position to set off a debt against the remuneration of his employee. An argument that could be advanced in favour of it is that in certain ways it would benefit the employee. It would probably make the employer more willing to advance money to an employee, because it would be easier for him to recover that loan. I think that is the one side of the matter. [Interjections.] No, that was not what the hon member argued. I am simply replying to the question that was asked.

Several other hon members, including the hon member for Brakpan, also made the point that in their opinion, there was adequate provision in the Act to protect the interests of the employer. Having listened to hon members, I am prepared to consider an amendment in the Committee Stage.


To consider it or to accept it?


I shall consider it; I shall consider it in a positive spirit.

The hon member Mr Van Staden pointed out the importance of maintaining a healthy balance between the interests of the employer and those of the employee.

The hon member for Durban North made his customary responsible and positive contribution, for which I thank him.

I also wish to thank the hon member for Germiston for his contribution.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a Second Time.

Committee Stage

Clause 1:


Mr Chairman, clause 1 clearly seeks to eliminate the loophole which crops up when ah inquiry into payment or underpayment of wages occurs. When an employer is assessed for having underpaid an employee, his very first step is to try to have that assessment reduced. It is probably quite human that he should do so. He does so by having recourse, strictly in accordance with the present Act, to the original amount, the amount which was originally agreed upon between him and the employee, and saying: “This amount which I am now paying him is not actually the amount I should be paying him; the assessment should be based on the original amount on which we agreed.” Consequently he explains the higher amount which he has been paying the employee in the meantime as a kind of bonus which just happened to be included in the wages. He advances this as the reason for the employee receiving an amount which is a little higher. In other words, he is in fact trying to cheat the employee a little.

Now, according to this new amendment, the inspector is empowered to say that the higher amount, whether it is called a bonus or anything else for that matter, forms part of the person’s actual wage. Then the assessment is based on the actual wage which is being paid, regardless of how that amount is made up.

During the Second Reading debate I said that this legislation actually cut both ways and that what we were trying to do here was not to benefit the one at the expense of the other, but that what one was trying to do was, as far as possible, to preserve an equilibrium.

I have a problem with this clause, however, in this respect that there is a deficiency. While we are protecting the worker, we should not do so now at the expense of the employer. The new definition of “wage” as it appears in clause 1, literally means that if the employee should erroneously receive a higher amount owing to an administrative error, a computer error or for any other reason for two, three or four weeks, that new increased amount becomes his wage. The employer is therefore compelled to pay that higher wage. The only way he can evade this problem is to tell the employee: “I am going to dismiss you and then appoint you again on Monday at the correct wage.” No provision is being made in this amending Bill to rectify this kind of thing. As a result, and in order to overcome this problem, I should like to move the following amendment for consideration:

  1. 1. On page 3, in line 30, after “amount” to insert:
    , except where such higher amount was erroneously paid to the employee

Mr Chairman, I should like to apologize to the hon member for Stilfontein for having omitted to react to his speech in my reply to the Second Reading. I therefore want to thank the hon member now for his contribution. He gave a very well-reasoned opinion and pointed out that this legislation cut both ways. He pointed out that it could happen that as a result of an error, for example a computer error, an employee could receive a higher remuneration than he was entitled to. Just to make certain that the legislation remains completely impartial and cuts both ways, I shall therefore accept this amendment.

Amendment 1 agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 6:


Mr Chairman, I move the amendment standing in my name on the Order Paper as follows:

  1. 1. On page 5, from line 34, to omit paragraph (a).

I believe we have here a situation where one has to decide whether the employer is going to be prejudiced or merely inconvenienced. I believe one can establish quite clearly that he can protect himself to the degree that he is only inconvenienced and that he can never be seriously prejudiced, whereas the complete reverse applies in the case of employees. When one bears in mind the degree to which we are developing the informal sector and the small business sector and the proportion of employees that will be employed in these sectors, one realizes they will need this protection. The legal ability to prosecute an employer is almost worthless to probably 80% of all employees, who may be labourers, semi-skilled or skilled workers. They are people without much experience of the problems of making a claim, of seeing an attorney and of the whole process of establishing a claim in circumstances where they are very much in subservient positions. This is the motivation for my amendment.


Mr Chairman, before we decide about the amendment of the hon member for Walmer, there are certain aspects which must first be pointed out. Firstly, I must point out that this is no new principle in our labour set-up. It is existing practice and has occurred for years in wage determinations and industrial council agreements. Consequently it is no new principle which we are only now introducing into our labour legislation. On the contrary, the amendment which is being proposed merely follows wage determination and industrial council agreements. I would say that it works in those cases. In fact, it works very well. Section 19 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act does in fact make provision for deductions when a written agreement exists between the employer and the employee—that is true—or in the case of a court order, etc.

In this case, however, we want to make further provision to cover all eventualities. For example we are thinking here of a case where too high a wage was paid to an individual and he did not want to sign an agreement. The idea is to empower the employer in such a case to be able to recover it. There are other reasons as well which have already been mentioned by another hon member, for example where the employee purchases old material from the company or is granted an advance on his wages, or where protective clothing is sold to him for use at home, and so one. There are many such cases, and I will concede that it is possible for abuses to occur, but we could overcome this by for example inserting a provision in the clause: “As agreed to between the employer and employee”, or making provision for a maximum deduction in cases where no agreements exists. This is also a principle which already exists in our industrial council agreements, for example in the principal agreements in the steel and engineering industries in terms of which an amount up to a maximum of 15% of the employee’s wage may be deducted. I just mention this in passing.

I do not in any way doubt the good intentions of the department with these amendments; on the contrary, I believe that they are correct in their approach, namely that they will constitute more advantages than disadvantages for the employee. However, I also understand the hon member for Walmer’s objection, because I realize that it can be a problem. I realize that problems could arise with the interpretation and the implementation of this specific clause, and in view of this I am consequently certain that the hon the Minister will give thorough consideration to the amendment. Taking into account the fact that if we were to implement it, the advantages and disanvantages of the clause would be the same for both parties and that both parties would therefore be prejudiced to the same degree if we were to omit it, we on this side of the House will consider the acceptance of the amendment by the hon the Minister in a very positive light.


Mr Chairman, quite a number of substantive arguments were advanced today. It is true that section 19(e) of the Act provides that in accordance with a written authorization from the employee, an employer may deduct moneys owed to him by the employee from the employee’s wages. In view of the possibility that the proposed new section may lead to abuses, however, and to make absolutely certain that no abuses can arise, I am prepared to accept the hon member for Walmer’s amendment.

Amendment 1 agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

House Resumed:

Bill, as amended, reported.

Bill read a Third Time.


Mr Speaker, I move:

That the Bill be now read a Second Time.

The purpose of the amending Bill is, in broad terms, to make provision for the extension of compensation cover for workmen by increasing the compulsory earnings limit from R12 000 to R18 000 per annum; an objection committee and provision boards to examine and make recommendations on and hear objections lodged against decisions of the Workmen’s Compensation Commissioner; increasing the benefits payable to injured workmen; increasing existing pensions by 15% and creating uniform procedures for all workmen in regard to the lodging of claims.

In clause 8 provision is being made for an objection committee and a revision board to consider objections lodged against the Workmen’s Compensation Commissioner. At present the Workmen’s Compensation Commissioner himself is the presiding officer at the formal hearing of an objection.

The proposed amendment envisages that the objection committee should scrutinize the objections and either confirm the decisions of the Workmen’s Compensation Commissioner or make a recommendation to him. Should the Workmen’s Compensation Commissioner accept the recommendation, the workman will be informed of his new decision, and if the workman is still not satisfied, the matter will be referred to the proposed revision board for a formal hearing.

Should the Workmen’s Compensation Commissioner refuse to accept the recommendation, or if the objection committee were to reject the objection, the objector may still request that his objection be referred to a revision board for a formal hearing. Referral to the objection committee will serve as a sifting process to prevent the revision board, which will undertake the formal hearings, from being unnecessarily burdened.

The proposed revision board, of which a member of the Industrial Court will be the presiding officer, will, with a few exceptions, adopt the same procedure as is at present adopted at formal hearings.

During the 1981 Parliamentary session approval was granted for an improvement to the benefits payable to injured workmen in terms of the principal Act. Since this came into force on 1 April 1981, however, the cost of living has increased considerably, necessitating a general review of the benefits.

As a result of the increase in wages over the past three years, there is at present also a very great percentage of workmen who fall outside the ambit of the principal Act and are therefore not covered. It has therefore become necessary, at one and the same time, to increase the earnings limit for compulsory inclusion under the principal Act.

The Amendment Bill was published for general information and comment and an explanatory memorandum was tabled, but by way of further elucidation I would nevertheless like to illustrate the more important improvements that have been recommended, giving a few examples. Firstly, a workman earning R900 per month suffers an injury on duty, as a result of which he is temporarily disabled. At present his periodic monthly payments would be 75% of R400 plus 50% of his monthly earnings in excess of R400 up to R1 000; he will therefore receive R550 per month (75% × R400 + 50% × R400 R1 000 pm).

In terms of the proposed amendment his periodic monthly payments will be 75% of R600 plus 50% of his monthly earnings in excess of R600 up to R1 300, and he will consequently receive R600 per month (75% × R600 + 50% × R600 - R1 300 pm).

As has been mentioned, at present compulsory cover is applicable to all workmen receiving up to R1 000 per month. In terms of the proposed amendment such compulsory cover is being extended to workmen earning up to R1 500 per month. The maximum benefits, calculated in terms of the formula I have just mentioned, are being increased by the proposed amendment from R600 per month to R800 per month.

Secondly, pensions for workmen with a 100% permanent disablement are likewise being increased from the present R600 per month to R800 per month, calculated in the same way in which temporary disablement payments are calculated; in other words, the maximum monthly pension payable is also being increased from R600 to R800. If however, a workman earning say R1 300 per month meets with a fatal accident, leaving behind a widow and children, the maximum monthly pension for the widow and three children under the age of 18 years will also be increased from R600 to R800 per month in terms of the proposed amendments.

Thirdly, a workman with a 30% or less permanent disablement is entitled to a single lump sum. If his earnings amount to R1 000, the single lump sum is R6 000 at present. If the percentage is less than 30%, a proportional amount is allocated. The relevant amendment makes provision for the amount to be increased from R6 000 to R9 000.

Fourthly, it is also proposed that the current monthly pensions, ie pensions in regard to accidents which occurred before the commencement of the proposed amendment Bill, be increased by 15%. The effect of such an increase would mean an additional R75 per month for a pensioner who has, for example, been receiving R500 per month up to now.

As a matter of interest, let me just mention that according to the latest available figures pensions are being paid to 3 565 injured workmen and to 7 336 dependents of deceased workmen. The current annual amount paid out in pensions is R8,5 million, and the additional amount in regard to the proposed 15% increase will be approximately R1,27 million.

Those, Mr Speaker, are the amendments in broad terms. In the light of the decisions contained in the White Paper on the Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Compensation for Occupational Diseases in the Republic of South Africa, further amendments to the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1941, will have to be introduced in the foreseeable future. As soon as that has been done, it is proposed to have the principal Act, as a whole, reviewed by a technical committee and to have it updated, after which it will be consolidated.

I trust that the amending Bill will meet with the approval of the House. In order to facilitate greater security for workmen it is the intention that the amendment Act should come into force as quickly as possible.


Mr Speaker, any discussion on workmen’s compensation is always taken very seriously in this House because we are well aware of the persons whom we are discussing. We all feel very strongly that great care should be taken and all security measures advanced wherever possible to ensure that these people are properly protected. I want to say immediately, therefore, that we shall be supporting the Second Reading of this Bill. Although there are one or two problems which we wish to put to the hon the Minister, in the main we believe that this amending Bill affects significant improvements. Bearing in mind that this is really legislation of a temporary nature and that the principle Act is going to be revised in its entirety, I want to say and to place it on record that I am grateful that the hon the Minister and his department did not wait but rather decided to bring about these charges now because I think they are very far-reaching and necessary. I shall return to them in a moment.

Coincidentally we have also received the annual report for 1983 of the Workmen’s Compensation Commissioner. Here too I think it would deserve reading by every hon member of the House. It is a very important report about which I should like to make two brief comments. First of all I should like to underline the concern which is expressed by the Commissioner himself about the number of vacant posts in that section. The number of vacant posts totaled 58 on 28 February 1983 as against 83 in the previous year. In the opinion of the Commissioner “the staff position remains critical”. He continues:

No fewer than 152 resignations were received during the year.

I think that is a serious situation. The department is obviously well aware of it—it is under their attention—but the fact that they have to work 48 000 hours overtime in order to do their work is something which cannot be tolerated too much longer.

The other point that I should like to underline is that the serious problems that were experienced in the various registry sections of the office appear to be something of the past owing to the fact that since 1981 Coloured women have been employed in those sections. The reason they advance is that White female candidates can no longer be found. I am quite sure the hon the Minister will agree with me that it should be the policy of a manpower department that the best person should do the job. I hope that the time will come when it will simply be a question of what is the nature of the work, who are the applicants and who is the person—male or female, Black or White. It is interesting to note that out of the 82 posts, 50 are now occupied by Coloured women. I think this is a suggestion of where we are moving in South Africa.


Would you say that is revolutionary change?


I would think it is fairly revolutionary, yes, but the hon member would not regard me as a terrorist for saying that, would he?


No, not in this portfolio.


Thank you.

I have mentioned that we regard the changes as significant and far-reaching and most welcome. There is an interesting change in the definition of “Black”. In recent years in legislation which has come before this House and in particular, I would say, legislation brought by the Department of Manpower, there has been a very genuine attempt by the Government to deracialize legislation, and we have always welcomed that. When I first saw the change of the definition, I wondered why it was necessary to have such a definition at all, but on looking at the situation in which we find ourselves in South Africa and on looking at it clause after clause, it became clear to me at last that for quite a long time to come this definition is necessary and even desirable. I am interested, however, to see that the definition reads:

“Black” means any person who is, or is generally accepted as, a member of any aboriginal race or tribe of Africa.

There is no reference to the Population Registration Act, and that I welcome as well. I find this an interesting point.

The significant improvements have been referred to by the hon the Minister and therefore it is not necessary for me to spend a great deal of time on them. I think the higher maximum earning is necessary and justified, and will be welcomed by all concerned. The maximum amount of compensation will also be welcomed by all. Burial expenses is always a very troublesome item for those who are left behind. Then there is also the significant improvement in pensions. I want to say to the hon the Minister that I appreciate very much the examples he gave us and the indications of just how many people are involved, as well as the number of dependents and the amounts of money. This kind of information helps very much in a debate of this kind.

As far as I am concerned perhaps the major improvement—I do not for a moment belittle the others I have mentioned—is the institution of an objection committee and a revision board to bear objections against decisions of the Workmen’s Compensation Commissioner. Clauses 4 and 8 are of particular importance in this respect. This is a very real improvement, and when one looks at the details as they are spelt out in clause 8, I would say that the law advisers and all concerned have done a quite superb job. As I went through this provision I kept on writing questions against various paragraphs only to find that in the next paragraph my question was answered for me. I think it is a very good piece of work. For example, when I looked at the proposed new section 25(2)(j) inserted by clause 8, I read:

The commissioner may after consideration of the report of the objection committee amend his decision …

Then I thought, what if he does not? However, when one reads the very next part, namely subsection (3), it tells one what happens if he does not. This is good stuff and good writing and I commend the hon the Minister, his officials, the law advisers and all concerned upon the drawing up of these provisions.

The fact that the presiding officer of the revision board will be a member of the industrial court is an excellent provision. One could not have a better person to do that. When one thinks of the assessors who will represent workmen, employers, medical assessors etc, it all speaks of very careful work. I would commend anyone who is interested in workmen’s compensation to read this Bill with care.

I have a problem with clause 25 which amends section 83 of the principal Act by deleting subsection (2). This subsection used to exempt African or Black workers from the provisions of sections 50 and 54 of the Act. In terms of those provisions White, Coloured and Asian workers are subject to a statute of limitations whereby they stand to lose the right to claim for injury or occupational diseases incurred at work if they have not filed a claim with the Workmen’s Compensation Commissioner within a period of six months of the accident that caused the injury or of the diagnosis of the occupational disease, respectively. I have no quarrel with that whatsoever but up to this point in time Black workers have been exempt from this provision. Now the Bill before us seeks to bring them into line with other workers. Once again I have no quarrel with there being one law for all workers except where one has to make certain adjustments, compromises or compensations whether one is dealing with women, children, men or race. In this instance I put it to the hon the Minister that whilst on the one hand one is seeking to deracialize laws, on the other hand I think that Black workers in particular, working at the lowest levels of our industries, would be at a singular disadvantage. I think, for example, of migrant workers, who stand to bear the brunt of this amendment. The experience of employers and of legislators and experience in general tells us that Black workers will have a pretty raw deal here. This is simply because in many instances—one need only look at the amount of unclaimed benefits—they are often diagnosed as being ill somewhere. The address is lost, the person does not know that he has a claim and sometimes the workmen’s compensation is not even sent to the commissioner concerned. They are subject to a vast array of bureaucratic delays and language difficulties, which is a very real problem. This aggravates the general lack of awareness of their rights under the Act. I ask therefore that the hon the Minister give consideration to deleting this particular provision, bearing in mind that the Act itself is to be revised entirely. If I am found to be wrong in the substance of my argument, it will be very easy for this to be re-inserted. I will argue this very strongly and certainly vote against clause 25 which amends section 83 of the principal Act by the deletion of subsection (2).

Finally, I want to refer back to clause 5. This clause also gives me cause for some concern and I would like some comment in this regard from the hon the Minister. If that is satisfactory, we will accept the clause. If not, we will need to move an amendment. Clause 5 seeks to amend section 14(2)(c) of the principal Act which reads:

  1. (c) in the prescribed manner, apply unclaimed moneys in respect of Blacks for the general welfare of the Black.

If we accept this amending clause, the paragraph will read:

  1. (c) in the prescribed manner, apply unclaimed moneys for the general welfare of workmen.

I want to put it to the hon the Minister that I do not think that that is justified or fair. If my argument is correct that in this time of our developing industrial situation many Black workers in particular are uninformed of their rights for various reasons and have difficulties with the bureaucracy which exists, sometimes with their employers, the reason for their not claiming the money is not because they are wealthy and they do not want their money but simply for the reasons which I have advanced. To take that unclaimed money and to apply it generally to all workmen where we have a particular group of workmen who are disadvantaged for the reasons which I have set out, does not make any sense to me. I am not sure of the motivation behind this clause, but…


Are you going for ethnic and group rights?


I am going for the rights of a group of people who have been disadvantaged. I think that my case is justified and I think the hon the Minister will see the force of my argument. If there is some other motivation which I do not understand, the hon the Minister will obviously correct me. However, I would like some comment on this as I believe it is not a good and fair provision. On this score I would like to know how much money is involved. What is the total sum of this unclaimed money? It must obviously be distinguishable from the unclaimed money of workers other than Black workers otherwise one would not have this provision.

I do not want to take anything away from the main thrust of the Bill which I believe is both positive and timeous. We will support this Bill at the Second Reading for those reasons but we do have those two queries and I look forward to hearing from the hon the Minister in that regard.


Mr Speaker, we are grateful to hear from the hon member for Pinelands that the official Opposition supports the legislation.


Let him have it, man!


He could never take it. It being a matter of the welfare of the workers, we agree with the hon member for Pinelands that it is the concern of each and every one of us and that it is our responsibility, as a Government, and also the responsibility of the Opposition, to ensure that the injured worker is cared for in the best possible manner. The hon member also mentioned the staff shortage and the backlog in compensation claims. It is true that in the past there has been a great backlog. The department gave the matter very serious attention, and the most recently available information is that the problem has virtually been solved. Last year there were about 240 000 claims, and this gives one an idea of the amount of work that has to be dealt with by the department.

The hon member for Pinelands also mentioned the extension of benefits. About that, of course, we are all in agreement. We are also grateful for the fact. In his Second Reading speech the hon the Minister also pointed out that amounts are being adjusted with a view to inflation. The hon member also had a problem about clause 5 where the reference to colour is being removed. He wants to put the reference to colour back into the legislation. I do not think we can agree with him about this. We have specifically, throughout the years, been removing references to colour from the legislation, and now he wants to put those references back in again. [Interjections.]

If we look at the aim of the Act when it was introduced in 1941, we see that it was to provide compensation in cases of disablement caused by accidents and occupational diseases, particularly in the case of workers on duty. Provision is made for workers who are killed and for workers who become ill. This legislation chiefly aims at making provision for people in similar circumstances, whether temporary or permanent. In the case of the death of a worker, provision is made for his family to be cared for. The fund is chiefly financed from contributions collected from both the employers and the employees. From the report of the Workmen’s Compensation Commissioner for 1982-83 it appears that during that year R93 million was collected by way of levies but that, on the other hand, R66 million was also paid out in claims.

In addition the Act is being streamlined. When a worker lodged an appeal with the board in the past, the Commissioner had to act as chairman. He was therefore his own judge. That is also unfair. That is why an objection committee and revision board are being introduced. The chief function of the objection committee will be to subject cases to a sifting process, thus reducing the number of cases. If there is still a further objection, this is referred to the revision board. If the worker is still not completely satisfied, in the final analysis he also has the right to go to the Supreme Court.

We are grateful for the increase in pensions. Increasing pensions by 15% is, in my opinion, also a wonderful contribution as far as these people are concerned.

All the provisions in this legislation are aimed at the better protection and care of the worker. That is why I think it is necessary for the legislation to be adapted with a view to changed circumstances, for example salary increases. It is also necessary, as far as claims are concerned, to make the procedure fairer and more streamlined. It is impossible to prevent all industrial accidents. Prevention is, however, the responsibility of both the employer and the employee. The employer must ensure that all machinery and relevant conditions are as safe as possible, and the employee must pay heed to the existing arrangements and measures that have been adopted. If, however, the employee finds that certain conditions on the factory floor are not as safe as they ought to be, he must bring it to the attention of the employer.

The Bill also aims to do what is fair and right by the injured worker. The new provisions therefore aim at the better protection for the injured worker and at making provision for him. Therefore we on this side of the House have pleasure in supporting the Second Reading of the Bill.


Mr Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to support the legislation on behalf of the CP. It goes without saying that legislation which aims at improving the conditions of employees, particularly employees exposed to injury, should be welcomed.

The hon the Minister referred to the various increases in the incomes of employees so as to allow them to qualify for compensation cover. He mentioned the fact that pensions, funeral fees and so on are being increased. All these increases are welcomed in the light of the circumstances in which we find ourselves. In the case of increases resulting from inflation and the increased cost of living, it should not actually be necessary to refer the matter to the House time and again for approval of the increases, since it should be possible to do this in accordance with the cost of living index. I just mention that, however, in passing.

Broadly speaking, we welcome this legislation. We welcome the fact that provision is now being made for an employee with an objection to take his problem to the objection committee in a more informal fashion, and that the procedure involving the objection committee will, to a certain extent, be a sifting process before the matter goes to the Revision Board. It seems to me as if this legizlation is, to a greater or lesser extent, moving closer to the Occupational Diseases in Mines and Works Act, where one encounters a Certification Committee. If no satisfaction is obtained when recourse is had to this Certification Committee, a matter can be taken to the review authorities. I believe that this procedure is to be welcomed, although I would like to have seen the interim procedure possibly omitted, in other words the injured worker being able to go directly from the commissioner to the review authority. I understand, however, as the hon member for Alberton mentioned, that a large number of these cases go to a higher authority and that it would therefore perhaps be necessary to interpose the objection committees. It must always be borne in mind that the injured worker cannot have recourse to the courts before he has notified the commissioner and obtained his permission. Since the procedure is now being extended, it is going to take him longer to eventually get to the courts in the event of not obtaining satisfaction from any of the other bodies.

In the course of his speech the hon the Minister also referred to the Nieuwenhuizen report. I have here not only the report, but also the White Paper. In this connection I do not want to criticize the hon the Minister as such—he has only just taken over this portfolio—but I do want to focus his attention on the fact that this Commission of Inquiry into Compensation for Occupational Diseases was appointed on 4 December 1978. It was my privilege, together with three NP colleagues, to appear before that commission and give evidence. One of those hon members is the present hon Deputy Minister of Industries, Commerce and Tourism who gave evidence on certain very important matters concerning mineworkers. The report of the Nieuwenhuizen Commission was tabled on 23 March 1982. Forty-six recommendations were made. On 10 May 1982 this report was discussed under the Vote of the then Minister of Mineral and Energy Affairs, although not in depth because it was intimated, at that stage, that further comments on the report would be awaited until 15 June 1982. Even at that stage the CP was unhappy about this very important matter being delayed for so long. The White Paper only appeared during 1983, and the only thing that was said in this connection was that the matter should be referred to the Department of Health and Welfare. On page 6, in paragraph 3.3 of the White Paper the following is stated:

It is therefore Government’s standpoint that this Act—and not the Workmen’s Compensation Act…

That is the Occupational Diseases in Mines and Works Act of 1973:

… should serve as a point of departure and basis for a uniform occupational diseases dispensation to be established by the Department of Health and Welfare. Furthermore, it has been decided that the title of this Act should be amplified and that the scope of its provisions be extended to provide for cases of occupational diseases which are presently dealt with the terms of the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1941, and that the remainder of the recommendations of the commission should summarily be considered in consultation with interested parties and where necessary be included in the adapted measure.

On page 7, paragraph 5.2, there is the following:

… that the administration of occupational diseases in terms of the provisions of the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1941 … be involved and, where possible, incorporated in the national occupational diseases dispensation under the auspices of the Minister of Health and Welfare.

In paragraph 5.4 on the same page one reads that the Government had decided that—

… an interdepartmental working committee consisting of knowledgeable personnel of the Departments of Health and Welfare, of Mineral and Energy Affairs and of Manpower be appointed by the Minister of Health and Welfare in consultation with the Ministers of Manpower and of Mineral and of Energy Affairs with the assignment to establish a statutory framework for a uniform national occupational diseases dispensation based on the principles of the Occupational Diseases in Mines and Works Act, 1973 …

The CP’s criticism against the Government in this connection is that this White Paper was tabled as far back as 1983, whilst the recommendations of the Nieuwenhuizen Commission had already been under consideration over a long period. It all revolves around the updating of the Workmen’s Compensation Act, with the Occupational Diseases in Mines and Works Act as a basis. We feel that there is an unreasonably long delay in regard to this matter, to the detriment of the interests of employees, particularly those involved in an accident. I know that to a large degree this matter does not fall within the ambit of the hon the Minister’s activities, but he is nevertheless one of the components of the organizational set-up overseeing the Workmen’s Compensation Act and the recommendations of the Nieuwenhuizen report. I therefore want to suggest that this matter be focussed upon with due speed and that a better dispensation be established for employees as a whole. The CP supports the Second Reading of the Bill.


Mr Speaker, the hon member for Brakpan intimated that his party also supported this Bill, and I think we are all grateful to him for that fact. No one, in any event, expected anything different. The hon member asked for a quicker review and updating of the Workmen’s Compensation Act and other Acts in the light of the Nieuwenhuizen report. It is indeed true that one would have liked to have seen legislation in this connection tabled more quickly, but I think one must weigh this up against the idea of the hon member for Pinelands who expressed his gratitude for the fact that the hon the Minister did not tarry with the legislation, but has in fact come forward with urgent legislation which ensures much improved benefits for employees in general. Since the hon member for Brakpan supports the legislation, I take it that he too approaches this in the same spirit.

I want to tell the hon member for Pine-lands that I almost find it ironic that he should have to get up and lodge a plea for us to go on drawing a distinction between Blacks and Whites, whilst also acknowledging that in certain cases a distinction is indeed drawn to the benefit of certain groups, and that he supports it on that basis. What is even more ironic, however, with a view to clause 3, is that he also supports the legislation on the basis of the Population Registration Act.

In accordance with Standing Order No 22, the House adjourned at 18h30.