House of Assembly: Vol115 - WEDNESDAY 20 JUNE 1984
as Chairman, presented the Report of the Select Committee on the Accounts of the South African Transport Services.
Report, proceedings and evidence to be printed and considered.
The following Bills were read a First Time:
Bill read a First Time.
intimated that he had exercised the discretion conferred upon him by Standing Order No 1 (Private Bills) and had permitted the Bill, while retaining the form of a private measure, to be proceeded with as a public bill.
Clause 38 (contd):
Mr Chairman, what the issue addressed by clause 38 amounts to is the freedom of individuals to participate in the election process unhindered. In ideal circumstances it is true that one would like to give everyone the freedom to have himself elected as a representative of the people in the national assembly. In practice, however, it often that undesirable practices occur, for example when some people abuse the privilege of making themselves available. It is around this aspect that the debate on this side of the House in fact revolves.
One can probably classify the people who stand as independents in terms of the proposed section 41(4)(b)(ii) in three groups. In the first place there may be a person who enjoys wide support and prestige in a specific constituency, and for that reason makes himself available. For such a person I do not think that this provision will cause any problem, and therefore I believe that there will be no problem in this regard. On the other hand, there is the person who is in reality a political clown who is only standing for fun. I do not believe there are any hon members of this House who wishes to champion the cause of such a person. In the third place there is the kind of person to whom the hon member for Green Point specifically referred, viz the man who wants to bring a specific matter very forcefully to the attention of the voters and the Government. In this case it may happen that the privileges afforded candidates in an election area can easily be abused. For example, a candidate has the opportunity to distribute certain documents at the expense of the voters, and this puts him in a better position to bring a specific matter to the attention of the voters than would normally have been possible for him. If this were to be limited to bona fide causes that concern the government of the country, or deal very specifically with local government, one would still be able to excuse it. However, it so often happens that a person who is unable to get such easy and relatively cheap publicity in any other way, seizes this opportunity to bring a specific matter to the attention of the voters. In a case like this it is less easy to judge whether such a person is a political clown or whether he really wants to promote a serious cause. For this reason a provision such as the one embodied in the legislation is indeed essential to separate the wheat from the chaff. In a normal constituency, for example, 300 affidavits are required, and the hon the Minister has indicated that in extensive constituencies this number will drop to 150 affidavits. This in fact means that in a normal constituency a person needs to obtain at least 6 000 votes to be able to win a seat. This means that he only has to persuade one out of every 20 voters who have to vote for him to sign these affidavits. The proportion will be smaller, depending on the circumstances, in an extensive constituency. If a person cannot even persuade 300 people to sign an affidavit, he has no chance whatsoever of achieving anything in a constituency and this is clearly a case in which the privilege and the opportunity afforded by the democratic process is being abused at considerable expense to the voters. For that reason I am of the opinion that this provision is of importance and that we can no longer afford the luxury of the kind of democracy in which any political joker can stand as a candidate. I therefore take pleasure in supporting the clause.
Mr Chairman, I have not yet heard anything in the discussion of this clause to persuade me to change my standpoint in this regard in any respect. This clause is an arrogant clause. It attests to arrogance on the part of those who have already been elected and who are already members of a political party if they set ridiculous requirements of this kind for those who still have to tread that path. The hon member for Helderkruin spoke about the privileges of the candidate that may be abused. However, I prefer to regard them as rights. For example, it is a right to participate in the democratic process, and not merely a privilege.
Only responsible people.
I agree, but who is going to decide whether or not a person is responsible?
Three hundred voters.
I fear that that is not a test. Say for example a person obtains 300 signatures, and in the election he gains only 400 votes? Are we then to regard that person as having a sense of responsibility? That is simply not how it works.
There have been all kinds of descriptions of independent candidates who sometimes stand in elections. Reference has been made to “political clowns”, “cranks” and “crackpots”. Without reflecting on hon members of the Committee I should like to ask whether they do not believe that “cranks” and “crackpots” are sometimes elected in any event. Do they not believe that “cranks” and “crackpots” can sometimes be elected on behalf of political parties? It is sometimes difficult to escape that conclusion if one looks round one and listens to what is said here.
Today, in reply to a question, the hon the Minister told us what political parties were registered at present and as such could put up candidates for an election and escape this requirement. One of those parties was the Blanke Volkstaatparty. Would that little party not qualify for some of the descriptions used in this regard? It is true that there could be a number of political parties that are going to stand in future that will encounter problems with regard to the provision we have already passed. There may be candidates who want to stand in good faith and who have a good case to put in Parliament. They could have far more worthwhile views and policies than those of the party I have just mentioned. However, they are being made subject to this requirement. The hon member for Umbilo pointed out yesterday that it was no longer a question of 300 signatures only, but 300 affidavits. We are here cheapening the whole question of signing an affidavit. What will the reaction of a member of the public be if he is asked: “You must swear on the Bible that you support my candidature”? What kind of question is that to put to a member of the public? I think it is outrageous. I think it is outrageous. It is arrogant to set such a requirement and incorporate it in the legislation. I believe that this is something which ought to be excluded from our legislation. In addition, I just wish to repeat that it puts already elected members in an extremely advantageous position, because we are all commissioners of oaths. It is true that we are members of parties, but since an independent candidate can obtain the assistance of a person who is a commissioner of oaths, it is easy for him. Hon members with experience of fighting elections will know, however, that this requirement is comparable to the requirement of obtaining special votes for 300 voters. Indeed, it means that one has to transport 300 voters or get them, in some way to travel to a certain place in order to sign an affidavit.
Mr Chairman, may I ask the hon member—I just wish to be clear on this—whether he is opposed to the affidavits or to the 300 signatures?
I am opposed to both, but my opposition to its being changed to affidavits is even stronger than my opposition to the 300.
Mr Chairman, may I ask the hon member whether it would help him to know that I wish to move an amendment with regard to the question of affidavits?
If the effect of the amendment is that it will not be an affidavit that is required but merely a signature, then that will of course help. However, I want to leave hon members under no illusion about the fact that we have consistently opposed the whole idea of 300 signatures in any event. I still feel that this is not a sound requirement, but in the nature of the matter such an amendment will certainly mean an improvement on the situation as proposed in the Bill.
Mr Chairman, before we debate further, I think it would be advisable if I were to move my amendments.
To begin with, I just want to say that it has been pointed out to me—I do not know whether this could cause a misunderstanding—that in connection with the amendment I have already moved I referred incorrectly to 250 000 km2 whereas in the amendment itself the figure 25 000 km2 appears. I just want to make sure that there is no misunderstanding in this regard.
I should now like to move as amendments:
- 5. On page 41, in line 17, to omit “affidavits” and to substitute “statements”.
- 6. On page 41, in line 19, after “question”, to insert:
- (each of whose signature shall be witnessed by a competent witness, other than the candidate or his representative, in whose presence the signature was affixed and in respect of which witness the full name and residential address shall be entered in the declaration)
- 7. On page 41, in line 26, to omit “affidavits” and to substitute “statements”.
- 8. On page 41, from line 41, to omit “affidavit” and to substitute “statement”.
- 9. On page 41, in line 48, to omit “affidavit” and to substitute “statement”.
The effect of these amendments is that instead of an affidavit, every person who wants to support a candidature would still have to sign a prescribed form, but it need not be attested by a commissioner of oaths. However, it will have to be attested by an independent witness; not, therefore, the person walking around with the form—neither the candidate nor his representative who is seeking signatures. The name and address of that independent witness must be provided. This is necessary, because malpractices will occur if one deals with it as merely, say, a petition. The question of an affidavit causes problems. The reason it was inserted was, quite clearly, to indicate and ensure that there will be no malpractices.
I have listened to all the arguments, and since the adjournment last night I have consulted as widely as possible with hon members and reached the conclusion that at this stage we are prepared, as a first step, to give the system a chance. However, I wish to give notice here today that if the system as it is now being altered by my amendments is abused in any way, the Government will not hesitate to take further stringent steps, because we are not prepared to permit this matter to be handled in a haphazard way. There ought to be effective control so that malpractices do not occur in this regard.
In addition I want to say that the prescribed form will be so designed that the person who signs it will be under no misunderstanding as to exactly what he is signing and that, in addition, an effort will be made in this way to eliminate entirely the possibility of misrepresentations as to what exactly such a person is signing for. I shall also consider making provision in the prescribed form for the witness also to declare that it was signed by the signer in his presence and that the signer has declared that he is acquainted with what appears therein, or something to that effect. The fact is, simply, that we must make quite sure that a person who signs in favour of such a candidature means to sign it, apart from the other requirements that are set. Therefore, within the framework of the procedure as it is now to be amended, we shall try to ensure that it is done in this way.
Apart from the arguments—which I endorse—advanced by hon members on this side of the House as to why the signatures are necessary, I also wish to point out that an election costs the taxpayer a great deal of money. Apart from what it costs the parties and the candidates, the cost to the House of Assembly of the election is more or less R2 million per occasion. This means that the additional direct cost to the State—apart from fixed salaries; I refer to extra allowances and other expenditures by the State—amounts to an average of R12 000 per constituency. What deposit is paid by a candidate whose nomination costs R12 000 of the taxpayer’s money? He pays a deposit of R400, which is now being increased to R500. We should also consider the taxpayers’ money. I believe that this adjustment means that no one will be able to say that democracy is being harmed in any way; instead, we are introducing some order and discipline into a situation where order and discipline is needed.
Against this background I do not see my way clear to accepting the other amendments moved by the Opposition. However, I want to say to the hon member for Umbilo that the essence of the amendment he moved yesterday is embodied in this amendment I have now moved, because the wording of his amendment was not quite in order in a technical legal sense and otherwise.
Mr Chairman, to begin with I want to apologize on behalf of my colleague the hon member for Cape Town Gardens. He asked me to do so specifically because he is unable to be present due to unavoidable circumstances.
I fear that I am somewhat disappointed with the amendments moved by the hon the Minister, because I had thought that they would go further than now appears to be the case. In a certain sense this may be even more restrictive. It depends on how one interprets the word “representative”. The hon the Minister indicated that this would be the man acting on behalf of the candidate; in other words, a representative will now not necessarily be his formal agent or subagent or whatever; it could also be a person who helps him the election, or so I assume. If that is indeed the case, then this could be even more restrictive. Such an independent candidate might even manage to find a sympathetic person somewhere who is in fact a commissioner of oaths and who can then help him to witness some of the signatures and may be willing to walk around with him in order to get hold of at least some of these people. If a prohibition is imposed on the witnessing of this by the representative of such a candidate, it means that there is no possibility of this man avoiding the problem of physically taking each of those people to a commissioner of oaths. The dilemma faced by a prospective candidate and the burden imposed on him is being exacerbated. It is true that an affidavit is no longer required, but the physical problem he is faced with, viz that he has to take 300 people to a commissioner of oaths or arrange for the 300 people to go to a commissioner of oaths themselves, is in fact aggravated.
Why a commissioner of oaths?
It appears that the hon member does not understand what I mean. As the clause reads at present, there is at least a possibility that such a candidate may be able to get hold of a commissioner of oaths of some kind, or more than one, to assist him to obtain those signatures, to accompany him from house to house to witness the signatures.
Would you prefer it to be a commissioner of oaths?
No. The hon member is not listening to what I am saying. I am speaking about the physical problem the man has to convey people or to arrange for people to go to a commissioner of oaths or to some person to witness their signature, and I say that the position is now being exacerbated. The hon member should just listen. I spoke about the word “representative” which is being inserted here. Now, however, the hon the Minister’s amendment provides that signatures need not be witnessed by a commissioner of oaths, but by an independent person who must not be the candidate or a representative of the candidate. The hon the Minister himself interprets it to mean that it may not be the man who walks down the street seeking signatures for a candidate. In other words, anyone who does so on behalf of the candidate is a representative. Is that so?
Very well. In other words, it is now quite impossible to obtain those signatures by going from door to door. Therefore each of them has to be taken somewhere.
Now you are being ridiculous.
Either they all have to be telephoned individually and asked: “Will you please come to the Postmaster? I shall see you there at half past ten this morning.” or “Will you go to the police station? I shall see you there at quarter past eleven” or something of that nature.
That is ridiculous.
The hon member must tell me in what respect I am being ridiculous.
Sit down and I shall tell you.
Surely he has a neighbour …
Nevertheless, the fact of the matter is he has to take them somewhere. Whether it is to his neighbour or to the police station or to the post office, he has to take those people there or request them to go there themselves. If his neighbour is prepared to accompany him while he calls on people, to go with him and assist him to find 300 people in the town and witness their signatures, or to travel with him until such time as he has obtained 300 people to witness the signatures, does it not mean that that man is his representative? After all, he is then one of the most active and loyal workers in that election process. It is hard work to obtain 300 special votes. For one man it is a tremendous job.
No, it is not.
The hon member has not experienced it yet.
I fear that the hon the Minister’s amendment hardly helps us at all. Therefore our opposition to the clause remains and we stand by the amendment I have moved. Nevertheless I should be much obliged if the hon the Minister would react to my interpretation of the word “representative”, in the sense that if he finds one or two people who are prepared to visit voters to witness their signatures, those people will therefore have to be election workers. After all, no one would do it merely for the fun of it.
Mr Chairman, first of all I should like to say that I thank the hon the Minister for, although not accepting my amendment which he could not do in terms of a technicality, accepting the spirit of it and in fact presenting an amendment which puts into effect what I intended anyway. I thank him for his amendment.
From the very beginning I made it* clear that we in these benches do not, for, the reasons I gave earlier on, agree with the hon member for Green Point that one should not have the 300 or at least a substantial number of signatures for independents. I do not intend repeating those reasons, but we in Natal have over the years had a number of independents standing, causing other candidates an enormous amount of trouble and expense for no purpose at all. As far as I can recollect in the 25 years that I have been involved in political life in Natal, it has happened only once that an independent got into office, and that was as a result of an internal strife within a political party. I feel that it is justified that one had some stricture upon people who stand as independents. I may add that even in the United Kingdom they have had the same problem, and recently I read that they had enormously increased the deposit that was required for people who were standing for election. Frankly, under these circumstances I would far prefer to see that the candidate has to get these additional properly witnessed signatures rather than that all the candidates throughout South Africa for all the Houses have to pay a substantially increased deposit. Therefore I am quite happy to support this amendment on behalf of my party.
Mr Chairman, I should like to react to the standpoint adopted by the hon member for Green Point by relating what happened in 1981. I refer to an incident in my constituency, where there was also a candidate of a party that did not enjoy representation in the House of Assembly. What happened was that a voter of mine became involved in a court case, and that voter is still paying off legal costs today, specifically due to the problems that has arisen as a result of the present Act. Therefore I say that we must protect the voter too, in this whole process because that voter is approached with a view to his signature or without his being fully au fait with the Act. The voter simply goes ahead and signs his name.
I can mention examples of this. Because that document is available for perusal at the magistrate’s office, I went to look at it. I then personally approached a woman who had put the names of four members of her immediate family on that list without their realizing that they were breaking the law. Therefore I should like to say that I welcome the amendment moved by the hon the Minister in this connection. I appreciate the arguments advanced by the hon member for Green Point when it comes to the person who has to witness that signature, but if a candidate cannot succeed in getting a person who is not actively involved to sign as witness, then such a candidate is not worth his salt in any event, and ought not to become involved. I welcome the clause because it also serves to protect our voters. I therefore wholeheartedly support the amendment.
I really think that we have now debated this matter in depth. As far as the hon member’s last speech is concerned I think the hon member is making heavy weather of something which is really quite simple. Anyone who wishes to work for an independent candidate, or the candidate himself, can take a pile of forms, and if he knocks on a door and the wife is there but not the husband, he can leave a form there and ask the woman to fill it in with her husband as witness. After all, the husband is an independent witness, because he is not walking around working for the candidate. We do this with registrations as well. The worker returns later to fetch the forms. If, on top of that, the candidate is able to get hold of a commissioner of oaths who is willing to deal with special cases then that can be arranged. The question is whether or not a person is a representative of the candidate. That will have to be determined in terms of the circumstances surrounding each case. I cannot give a legal opinion or interpretation of that in advance. The term will have to be interpreted according to its literal meaning and within the context of given circumstances.
Order! I am unable to put amendment 4 as it is not in proper form.
Amendment 1 put and the Committee divided:
Ayes—21: Boraine, A L; Burrows, R M; Cronjé, P C; Dalling, D J; Eglin, C W; Goodall, B B; Malcomess, D J N; Moorcroft, E K; Myburgh, P A; Olivier, N J J; Savage, A; Schwarz, H H; Sive, R; Slabbert, F v Z; Soal, P G; Suzman, H; Swart, R A F; Van der Merwe, S S; Van Rensburg, HE J.
Tellers: G B D McIntosh and A B Widman.
Noes—97: Alant, T G; Badenhorst, P J; Bartlett, G S; Blanché, J P I; Botha, C J v R; Botma, M C; Breytenbach, W N; Clase, P J; Coetzer, H S; Cronjé, P; Cunningham, J H; De Jager, A M v A; De Klerk, F W; Delport, W H; De Pontes, P; Du Plessis, B J; Du Plessis, G C; Durr, K D S; Du Toit, J P; Fick, L H; Fouché, A F; Fourie, A; Geldenhuys, A; Hayward, SAS; Heine, W J; Hoon, J H; Hugo, P B B; Jordaan, A L; Kleynhans, J W; Kotzé, S F; Landman, W J; Le Roux, D E T; Le Roux F J; Le Roux, Z P; Lloyd, J J; Louw, E v d M; Louw, M H; Malan, W C; Malherbe, G J; Marais, G; Marais, P G; Maree, M D; Meiring, J W H; Mentz, J H W; Meyer, W D; Miller, R B; Munnik, L A P A; Nothnagel, A E; Odendaal, W A; Olivier, P J S; Page, B W B; Pieterse, J E; Pretorius, N J; Pretorius, P H; Rabie, J; Raw, W V; Rogers, PRC; Schoeman, H; Schoeman, J C B; Schutte, DPA; Scott, D B; Simkin, C H W; Snyman, W J; Streicher, D M; Tempel, H J; Terblanche, G P D; Thompson, A G; Treurnicht, A P; Uys, C; Van den Berg, J C; Van der Linde, G J; Van der Merwe, C J; Van der Merwe, C V; Van der Merwe, GJ; Van der Merwe, W L; Van der Walt, A T; Van Eeden, D S; Van Heerden, R F; Van Rensburg, H M J (Rosettenville); Van Staden, F A H; Van Staden, J W; Van Vuuren, L M J; Van Wyk, J A; Veldman, M H; Vermeulen, J A J; Viljoen, G v N; Volker, V A; Watterson, D W; Weeber, A; Wilkens, B H; Wright, A P.
Tellers: W T Kritzinger, C J Ligthelm, R P Meyer, J J Niemann, L van der Watt and H M J van Rensburg (Mossel Bay).
Amendment 1 negatived and amendment 2 dropped.
Amendment 3 agreed to.
Amendments 5 to 9 agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to (Official Opposition dissenting).
Mr Chairman, I move the amendment as printed in my name on the Order Paper, as follows:
This amendment seeks to define in a different way the power of the State President to exclude postal votes by proclamation for any of the three Houses. The difference between this amendment and the clause as it stands at present is that the proclamation as originally worded would have created uncertainty from by-election to by-election and from election to election, because it was linked to an election. Therefore there would have had to be proclamation for each election. The amendment as worded at present provides that a proclamation is issued, and that the position remains unchanged until such time as any existing proclamation is replaced by another one. Therefore this brings certainty in law. I can give the assurance that proclamations of this nature will of course only be issued after consultation and, secondly, that the repeal and amendment of proclamation would also take place after consultation. We think that this is necessary for the reasons that were fully debated during the Second Reading. I do not wish to elaborate on them too much now. I think that this is a significant improvement that will deal very effectively with some of the procedural objections advanced in this connection.
Mr Chairman, I do not think the hon the Minister motivated the second part of his amendment. I take it it deals with the postal vote situation. Perhaps he could just look at that.
As hon members are aware we objected to the idea that the State President should be able to provide by proclamation whether the postal vote system would form part of an election organization or not. The amendment moved by the hon the Minister perhaps represents a moderate improvement, but that still does not remove the uncertainty, because such a proclamation can be amended at any time according to law. We also have the objection in principle that matters which should preferably be embodied in legislation, particularly legislation of this nature, now have to be done by proclamation. Therefore our essential problem remains, although I concede that potentially this improves the situation somewhat.
I should like to comment on the second part of the hon the Minister’s amendment which he has not motivated but which concerns the position in respect of postal votes. The Committee will have noted that I have an amendment to clause 44 on the Order Paper which also concerns this matter. The hon the Minister’s amendment aims to achieve the same result as mine, viz that an application to vote as an absent voter can only be signed from the date on which an election was deemed to have begun. According to the Bill a general election is deemed to have begun on the date of the dissolution of Parliament or the House of Parliament in question. A by-election is deemed to have begun on the date of publication of the vacancy in the Gazette. It sometimes happens that a vacancy arises due to the death or resignation of a member and that the election procedure begins in that people begin to canvass votes and to get voters to sign applications to vote as absent voters, that a general election is subsequently announced and is then given priority. Then this date, the date of the dissolution of Parliament, is a later date. What we envisage is to prevent applications to vote as absent voters between the first and second dates, in other words, between the date of publication in the Gazette of the vacancy and the dissolution of Parliament, from being valid. Those applications must become invalid due to the prohibition. That is the effect of the amendment we shall move to clause 44, and it seems to me that this would also be the effect of the second part of the hon the Minister’s amendment to clause 42. We shall, of course, support that part of the hon the Minister’s amendment because in our opinion it certainly constitutes an improvement on the existing position. We intend moving an amendment which would extend the situation still further and allow a little more time. It sometimes happens that a general election is announced by the Prime Minister, Whereas Parliament may only adjourn a month later. However, the election process begins on the day that the Prime Minister announces the election, and we have no objection to a person applying even from that date to vote as an absent voter. It is for that reason that we are providing in a further amendment for a period of 45 days before the election has, strictly speaking according to the Bill, begun.
Mr Chairman, as far as the first part of the hon the Minister’s amendment is concerned, the CP also adopts the standpoint that it does not change the position. It still gives the State President the power to issue a proclamation to suspend that part of the Act that applies to absent voters. While the hon the Minister says that these are own affairs, he is giving the State President the power to act autocratically in this regard and we feel that this is not in accordance with normal democratic principles. The hon the Minister says that this will of course be preceded by consultation. But if it is only going to be a non-recurring proclamation, he can change the Act as such from time to time to make it apply only to special voters. Accordingly we cannot support the first part of the hon the Minister’s amendment. We have no objection to the second part.
In this regard, however, I want to refer to another aspect, if you will permit, Sir, because it was actually in connection with this clause that the hon member for Kimberley South made a certain allegation last Monday, an allegation which was quoted on the front page of Transvaal newspapers. It was an allegation that demonstrates to us once again how representatives of the NP act as prosecutor and as judge as well. [Interjections.] It concerns the alleged abuse of the postal vote system, and I invite the hon member to lay a charge against the person who, according to him committed an offence in this connection.
Who is the person I accused?
The hon member knows who the person is. [Interjections.] He knows it. He would do well to quote his Hansard. If he does not do so he had better go and hide in the furthest depths of his constituency.
Mr Chairman, I do not wish to repeat the whole argument, but I just want to ask one question: Did the hon member for Jeppe withdraw the appointment of his father-in-law, yes or no? That is all I want to ask.
Order! I regret that I cannot permit that matter to be discussed further. We are discussing a specific clause and accordingly I cannot permit that matter to be discussed here.
Mr Chairman, I want to tell the hon the Minister that we are supporting his amendment for one reason and one reason only, namely because it still enables the State President to say that there will be no postal votes in an election, be it a general election or a by-election. We are supporting it in the sincere hope that the State President will say so at every election. We have put our feelings in respect of the postal vote system on record. We understand that the amendment moved by the hon the Minister this afternoon certainly improves the procedure outlined in the Bill, which is sufficient reason in itself to support it. However, I say to him in sincerity that our support is purely because it enables—we hope under every condition, but we appreciate under certain conditions—the removal from our electoral system of the postal vote.
Mr Chairman, I want to thank the hon member for Umhlanga for his party’s support of this amendment. Although it is qualified support and I do not agree with the qualification, I accept it nevertheless with gratitude.
With regard to the arguments raised by the hon member for Green Point and the hon member for Brakpan I want to emphasize that we did not really have any choice but to do it in this way.
*Let me motivate my statement. This is an affair which has been identified as an affair about which each population group has to decide for itself. If we were to do this as advocated by the hon member for Brakpan, we would be binding them, and further amendments would have to be effected. All we are doing at present is to create a procedure. In this regard I want to tell the hon member for Brakpan that when the issue is an own affair—and the fact that there is a choice proves that this is an own affair—the State President is obliged to accept the advice of the Ministers’ Council. The hon member is aware of this distinction. Consequently it is not a matter of the State President poking his nose into the own affairs of a specific group. He is the instrument that will carry into effect by proclamation the wishes of the Ministers’ Council and the majority party of a particular House. If the majority party in the House of Assembly were at any time to feel as the hon member for Umhlanga does about this matter, the State President would be able to change it. I may just tell him that at this stage the NP will not change it and that he is going to have to do a lot of persuation. As a former legal practitioner and one who has great respect for the law, I believe that one should employ government by proclamation as seldom as possible. This is the motivation behind the amendment, and nothing sinister is intended here.
I readily admit that the second part of the amendment is intended to achieve the same objective as the amendment moved by the hon member for Green Point in respect of another clause. It achieves the same objective and was formulated with that in mind.
Mr Chairman, I am pleased that the hon the Minister has confirmed that the second part of the amendment does in fact achieve what we were hoping it would. Consequently we are satisfied with that part of the amendment. However, I find myself in the dilemma that this amendment consists of two parts which, in fact, deal with two quite separate matters. We agree with the one part but not with the other. Consequently I am obliged to move an amendment to the amendment of the hon the Minister, as follows:
†It means that the ability to regulate this matter by proclamation will fall away if the amendment is accepted. It means, too, that the absent vote system will form part of the election process unless it is changed by law at some future stage. We are very happy to support the second part of the hon the Minister’s amendment.
Mr Chairman, in view of the hon the Minister’s explanation in regard to the State President’s proclamation, is he not prepared to augment his amendment by inserting that the State President will only issue such a proclamation when one of the Houses asks for it? The fact that it can be an own affair and that the State President may for that reason, act when requested to do so, should not be left hanging in the air.
Mr Chairman, from the nature of the case, I am not prepared to accept the hon member for Green Point’s amendment. However, I appreciate why he formulated it in this way from a procedural point of view.
I am also not prepared to comply with the request of the hon member for Koedoespoort to take the amendment further. I have more confidence—I am saying this in a light vein—than the hon member for Koedoespoort in whoever is going to be the first State President under the new dispensation. The basic discretion of the State President to determine whether or not a matter is an own matter is allocated to him by the Constitution. Nevertheless he will have to assess the resolution of a House, for the intention could perhaps be to go further than merely to say that there will be no postal votes. It may, for example, go so far as to wish to repeal or withdraw the entire principle—and again I see this as a matter of common concern—that a person who is not able to vote on polling day should nevertheless vote. I do not want to anticipate this; I merely want to give the assurance that if all that is involved here is postal votes, which is the purpose for which it was introduced, it will be seen in that light. Nevertheless the State President will still have to assess every resolution, every request or every piece of legislation that is brought to him in the light of its actual contents, and we must do nothing to impair that discretion.
Mr Chairman, we do not understand why the hon the Minister is singling out only this aspect as one which should be dealt with by way of proclamation. He says that if our suggestion were accepted it would mean a statutory amendment. However, this legislation will have to be amended in future, as it was amended in the past. So why suspend pieces of this legislation now by way of proclamation? I am afraid the hon the Minister has not convinced us.
Mr Chairman, the fact of the matter is that this House is using postal votes now and that during the coming election the Coloureds and the Indians are not going to use postal votes. Because it has already been demonstrated that there is a question of an option here, and because there was consultation on the question of postal votes and the Coloureds and the Indians are satisfied about not using postal votes—there are also no elected leaders yet, particularly in the case of the Coloureds, who are really able to make authoritative statements on their behalf—I just want to insert the options, which are already being exercised, here. That is the only reason, and if I cannot convince the hon member of this now, then we must agree to differ.
Mr Chairman, I just want to take what I have just said further. Surely the holding of a general election, of any election, rests with the State President in terms of the Constitution. The State President had to call an election. It therefore begins as a general affair. When the State President therefore calls an election—it is in his hands to do so and it is a general affair—he may then decide that the system for absent voters will not be used for all three Houses. Therefore he need not necessarily wait until a House asks for it. He can decide about it himself. That is why I am convinced that it should be written in here that when the State President announces a general election for example, the power to issue such a proclamation should not rest with him; the position should be that he may only do so when one or two or all three Houses accordingly request him to do so.
Mr Chairman, the decision of the State President to call a general election is really not comparable with how absent voters will be dealt with in respect of such an election. These are two separate matters. I am in full agreement with the hon member that it is clear in terms of the Constitution that the decision to call a general election lies in the hands of the State President, and that it is clearly for that reason a general affair. However, it is just as clear—and it is meant to be this way—that every House has the choice of deciding whether it will use the postal vote system.
Amendment 1A negatived (Official Opposition dissenting).
Amendment 1 agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to (Conservative Party dissenting).
Mr Chairman, this clause provides for the appointment of presiding officers for absent votes. There are 12 of them and they are more commonly known in the trade as the 12 apostles. The clause makes provision for their appointment by the duly nominated candidate.
I move the amendment printed on the Order Paper in the name of the hon member for Bezuidenhout, as follows:
This amendment provides that the candidate or his official agent can handle those appointments. It is a well known fact that the agent handles many functions on behalf of the candidate during an election, which is quite acceptable in terms of the Act. We all know that candidates have many functions to perform, and it is often of great value to them to have the agent handle administrative matters on their behalf. We feel that it would be of great assistance to candidates if it were possible for the official agent to handle this matter as well.
Mr Chairman, I have given due consideration to this amendment but unfortunately I do not see my way clear to accept it. I really do not regard it as being necessary. I do not think that we should take too much away from the candidate. He can at least appoint those to be appointed to important posts, and these are important posts. I think that he must be the man to do that. Therefore, as I say, I do not see my way clear to accept the amendment. I do not think it is really material. If a candidate cannot at least do that, then I think he is a very lax candidate indeed.
Mr Chairman, I do not want to drag this out, but there are many posts that the agent does perform and the Act makes provision for an agent to be appointed for that specific reason, namely to take away from the candidate the day-to-day tasks of running an election. I would say that a candidate has to attend to the political side of the campaign and of fighting his election with an agent to attend to all administrative matters. There are many other appointments that the agent is authorized to attend to, and I cannot see that there is a principle involved here. All I am trying to do is to assist the candidates and to make their fives a bit easier for them. I do not know how it works in the hon the Minister’s party, but in our party certainly these things are always done by consultation and whenever I have been a candidate my agent and I have always discussed these matters and arranged who the appointees would be. The actual paperwork has always been attended to by the agent simply to relieve the candidate from that extra load. It is not an injunction that it has to be done. All we are saying is “or”.
Mr Chairman, the distinction that I draw is that these people stand in a particular position of trust. From a certain point of view they actually have more power. They actually act in the place of the official and impartial Government appointee, and in that sense of the word it is an extremely important post and the candidate must take personal responsibility also for their choice and their appointment.
Amendment 1 negatived (Official Opposition dissenting).
Clause agreed to.
Mr Chairman, as I have indicated before there is an amendment printed in my name on the Order Paper that would have had the same effect as the second part of the hon the Minister’s amendment to clause 42. I shall consequently not move that because I think the matter is well covered and I am very happy to have agreed to it. There is, however, an amendment printed in the name of the hon member for Cape Town Gardens which I now move, as follows:
The effect of this amendment is to create a little more time for the signing of applications for absent votes. In effect this means that a little more time is being given for the signing of these applications and political parties can therefore start canvassing people for the purpose of absent votes at an earlier stage. The reason why we feel this is important is because when the hon the Minister announces a general election, in most of the cases that I am aware of he announces that proclamation day will be on a certain date, that Parliament will dissolve on a certain date, that nomination day will be on a certain date and election day on a certain date. We feel that once such an announcement has been made, there is really no reason why people cannot sign an application to vote as an absent voter. I say this because in reality the election process in fact commences from that day. We canvassed this issue in the select committee and in fact we asked ourselves how one can actually tie such a date to the date on which an election is announced by the Prime Minister but we could not find a way by which this could be done accurately. Therefore what we had to do was to find an arbitrary date before proclamation day and to try to write that into the law. The amendment standing in the name of the hon member for Cape Town Gardens on the Order Paper is in fact the same that we moved in the select committee. The effect thereof is that applications to vote as an absent voter can be signed from a date sooner than 45 days prior to the date of the publication of the proclamation issued under section 34, and, in the case of a by-election, 45 days before the date referred to in section 128(b), the date in section 128(b) being the date on which a vacancy in the case the death or resignation of a member is in fact published. Although we concede that it is an arbitrary date, we feel that that will effectively cover the period from the date upon which a general election is announced and also if there is an undue long period between the death or the resignation of an hon member and the date upon which an election takes place. It will cover the period if there is an inordinate length of time between the date of his death or resignation and the date of proclamation. During that period political parties and candidates canvass supporters in any event and therefore there should be no reason why they cannot at the same time ask voters to apply to vote as absent voters if they need to do so.
Mr Chairman, once again, although I have considered it carefully, I do not see my way clear to accepting this amendment. If one really analyses the amendment one finds that were I to accept the amendment, the situation would be created that in the case of a general election, even before it was announced, people could sign applications to obtain a postal vote.
But that is being done at present.
No, Sir. Even in the case of a by-election a person will be able to say, even before a vacancy exists, that he will not be in the electoral division to vote on the day the election takes place. He may do this despite the fact that at that stage he still does not know on what day the election will take place.
Then it is deceit in any case.
But that is the result of the hon member’s amendment, and that is why the amendment leads to absurd consequences. Since one knows that there will still be a few remaining loopholes, even if I do not accept the amendment, it will amount to a contravention of the Electoral Act if any such loopholes are used. Consequently I do not think that special steps need be taken to eliminate them. I really cannot accept the amendment because it makes a real farce of this matter if a person, before he knows what the date of the election will be, can sign a form requestion to be allowed to vote by way of a postal vote. I really do not see my way clear to doing that.
Mr Chairman, the fact of the matter is that one cannot allow certain things in an Act while one knows that people are going to act unlawfully in any case. I readily concede that the hon the Minister is correct on that point. It means that if a person signs an application for permission to vote as an absent voter and he says that he will not be in the electoral division on the day of the election, although he does not know on what day the election will take place, he is lying in any case. He is therefore being dishonest, and he is committing an offence in any case. I am therefore afraid that that argument does not really hold water. As I have said, it must unfortunately be an arbitrary date.
But the amendment will legalize it.
Sir, with all due respect, the hon the Minister is wrong. A person cannot lawfully sign an application which has not been filled in. Not only does the Act require that there should be a signature, the Act also provides that he cannot apply. “Apply” implies that a person signs an application in which the desired information is furnished. I know that some people actually do this, but normally one applies for permission to do a specific thing. One of the statements he has to make, is that he cannot be in the electoral division on that day. If he does not know what the day is, and he says that he cannot be there, surely he is lying. Then he is being dishonest and it is a contravention.
That is why I say that the amendment does not legalize this. The person cannot make such an application before he knows when the election will take place. He may have an idea of when the election will take place because he heard a certain announcement from the hon the Prime Minister or read something about it in the newspapers, but the fact of the matter is that he cannot lawfully make such an application if he does not know what that date is. Therefore I do not think that that argument is a valid one.
One should rather legalize matters which can reasonably be done, rather than to create a situation by means of which unlawful actions are encouraged. I have heard a great deal about postal vote fraud, but I have heard of a candidate having a number of signed applications in his electoral office just in case an election takes place. [Interjections.] I would be surprised if that were the case. [Interjections.]
Order! Hon members must leave the hon member alone if he wants to make admissions.
Mr Chairman, I think the hon member is skating on thin ice with this last argument he put forward. Either it is legalized—it will be a legalization in some cases—or in a certain respect he is turning this into an absurdity. I concede that there is another category in which this could in fact work well, but I think that sufficient time is being allowed to collect postal votes, and that the amendment could give rise to malpractices. It would make the system unnecessarily complicated, and for that reason I am not prepared to accept the amendment of the hon member.
Amendment 2 negatived (Official Opposition dissenting).
Clause agreed to.
Mr Chairman, I move the two amendments as printed on the Order Paper in the name of the hon member for Cape Town Gardens, as follows:
- 1. On page 69, from line 19, to omit “municipality or within two”.
- 2. On page 69, from line 38, to omit “municipality or within two”.
These amendments have mainly a terminological effect. This issue gave rise to a lot of arguments in the select committee on this Bill. In our view these amendments correct particularly inelegant terminology. I have personally had some difficulty in the past in understanding what it is aiming at.
The select committee actually agreed to the wording used in the amendment.
Mr Chairman, I am afraid that we are dealing with a matter here in which we should let ourselves be led by the experts. My basic reaction to the wording in the Bill and as it was in the Act, is that it is inelegantly phrased. However, the fact of the matter is that we have consulted our experts on this amendment. Their conclusion is that it is not grammatically correct to refer to one municipality in the plural form, and for this reason the words “one municipality, or within two or more municipalities” are used in the clause. It is a question of what is right, and what is right is not always elegant. Therefore I cannot accept it because we must avoid being inaccurate in legislation.
Amendments 1 and 2 negatived (Official Opposition dissenting).
Clause agreed to.
Mr Chairman, I move the amendment printed in my name on the Order Paper, as follows:
Mr Chairman, there is a similar amendment on the Order Paper in the name of the hon member for Cape Town Gardens. We shall not move it, however, but support the amendment of the hon the Minister.
Mr Chairman, I cannot help but ask the question whether the two hon gentlemen who have put identical amendments on the Order Paper have done so for the same reason.
Mr Chairman, no, but this is all related to an amendment which has already been accepted. In the one case the objection was rejected, and in the other case I got what I wanted.
Amendment 2 agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Mr Chairman, we mentioned this clause during the course of the Second Reading debate. I think one would be justified in referring to this clause as the apartheid clause. Reference was also made to it in Press comment on this matter. The suggestion was made that it supported the Prohibition of Political Interference Act. Although it has nothing to do with it directly, the underlying ideology is basically the same. The clause provides that a candidate may only appoint members of the same population group as that to which he belongs as agents, subagents and in other official capacities.
Even if I were to approach the matter from the point of view of the hon the Minister or the Government, it is not of fundamental importance that these prohibitions be written into clause 9. It is not even fundamental to the operation of the new Constitution that a prohibition of this nature should be included in the Electoral Act. In my opinion it is unnecessary; actually it is petty that we should specifically prohibit a person from one population group acting in this respect in a supportive capacity for a person in another population group.
The hon the Minister is aware of the fact that it was mentioned earlier this year that certain organizations, consisting primarily of Whites, would furnish political parties consisting mainly of Coloureds with advice, counsel and so on in connection with election strategy, the holding of elections and so on. It caused such a dilemma that the hon the Minister indicated that he was going to move an amendment to the Prohibition of Improper Political Interference Act so that something of this nature could be allowed.
What is the difference in principle now? What is the qualitative difference between the fact that a person is acting from day to day as one’s adviser in an election campaign, is planning one’s advertising campaign which is today becoming increasingly important in elections, and is even doing the clerical and artistic work in that connection, but is now prohibited from being appointed to one of the positions specified in clause 90? I cannot see any difference in principle, and I therefore find it strange that this prohibition has been included in clause 90.
†I honestly feel that it is offensive and undesirable that provisions that can be described as nothing else but petty apartheid provisions should be included in an Act of this nature, particularly if, even from the Government’s point of view, they are not fundamental to their thinking, nor fundamental to the operation of the new constitutional system. I have already pointed out that, particularly as far as the Coloured and Indian population groups are concerned, this may in fact lead to some strange anomalies. Coloured people often marry Indians. There is no prohibition on marriages between these two races. But now this provision may well lead to a situation where partners in a marriage cannot even help each other. If a candidate happens to be married to a woman of a different race group, she cannot even serve as his agent, and I believe that there may well be such cases. I therefore believe that it is quite unnecessary from any point of view that we should have a provision like this written into legislation, certainly not in this day and age. In my view clause 90 is not representative of the avowed intention of the Government to eliminate petty, hurtful and unnecessary race discrimination. In fact, it is going directly in the opposite direction and seeks to introduce more petty, more unnecessary and more hurtful forms of discrimination. So we will certainly oppose this clause in the strongest terms.
Mr Chairman, of course the hon member would adopt this attitude in terms of the philosophy of his party. The basic premise of the Government in respect of this matter is that we do not deny the existence of groups and the fact that groups, within a group context, can choose their leaders, and that view is in direct conflict with that of the PFP. They advocate “one man, one vote” in one system. We say that every group must bring its own leaders to the fore in terms of its own electoral processes. We are dealing here with a group of people who are participating in the election, people such as the candidate himself. Just as the candidate can only be a candidate for a specific House if he is a member of a specific population group, so the people acting as his agents or representatives and who are therefore his official representatives appointed in terms of the Electoral Act are and must be members of the same population group as he is. The hon member has apparently forgotten, or it did not suit his argument, that this provision was included in the special amendments to the Electoral Act passed in regard to the August election. They are consequently not being inserted here because a controversy arose in this regard, but because it is a logical consequence of principles already embodied in the Constitution. Nothing petty or insulting is meant by it. All that is being envisaged here is that in the election process the representatives of a candidate, just as he does, must participate in that election within the framework of a specific population group. These people serve in what is virtually a political capacity during an election. My request to hon members is that we should not now conduct a debate on political interference or on free association. I said earlier on that I intended introducing legislation in this connection and that everything we wish to achieve would be set out substantively in this legislation. I think that we will then be able to conduct a thorough debate on this matter in a meaningful way. What we have here, is simply a repetition of what Parliamant accepted in or around February this year.
Mr Chairman, I think the hon the Minister has forgotten one very important facet which is going to change in South Africa as soon as the new Constitution comes into effect, and that is that everybody in South Africa is going to have three members of Parliamant to whom he can go to assist him, because every person will reside inside either a White, an Indian or a Coloured constituency. In other words, there is nothing to prevent a voter who might be limited to voting for a White member to go to the Indian representative for that constituency …
Order! The hon member must speak to the clause.
I am coming to that, Mr Chairman. There is nothing to prevent any voter from going to any three of those members of Parliamant when he has a problem. For the same reason there is no reason why anyone should be prevented from acting as an agent for a person of any other colour, or even only as a messenger. I think that to prevent that, would destroy the whole basis of the democratic system. It is possbile for any voter to get in touch with a member of Parliamant in the House of Delegates to go to see a Minister on his behalf. There is nothing to prevent him from doing so. I as an ordinary White person, could go to a Coloured member of Parliamant and ask him to go and see the Minister of Defence on my behalf in connection with a general affair. I can ask any member to do that and nothing can prevent me from doing that. Why then cannot a candidate in an election utilize anybody of any colour? The hon the Minister accused me of accusing him that he was trying to get in through the back door, but this is a back-door approach, because he is trying to include in this measure what he would not include in the Prohibition of Political Interference Act. I appeal to the hon the Minister to withdraw this clause.
Mr Chairman, this principle is already included in the Referendum Act and has also been included in the Bill approved by Parliament in accordance with which the first Indian and Coloured elections will take place. Now it is being included in this Bill because we regard it as forming part and parcel of the recognition of group existence and group procedures.
*Of course this matter has a bearing on section 2(b) of the Prohibition of Political Interference Act in this sense that it deals with the same subject. However, section 2 (b) covers a far wider field than this provision. It is a reaffirmation of the principle in section 2(b) but it is limited to a far smaller field and to a specific facet of political procedure, namely the election itself. In that sense there is a connection.
We can discuss the general concept when we come to the repeal or otherwise of section 2(b), or whenever we do anything about it. If the hon member can convince me at that stage, we can discuss the matter again, but I do not think that he has much hope of convincing us in respect of this facet. The hon member says that a voter may approach a member of any of the three Houses if he has a problem which has to be dealt with. That is probably true in theory. The hon member would probably approach Chief Buthelezi if he has a problem, instead of approaching his leader. In this way one does have a choice as to who one wants to ask to help one with something. Normally, however, a voter approaches his representative, it is really quite doubtful whether I will be able to do much for an Indian or a Coloured living in Vereeniging in regard to his education, etcetera, because I am going to have nothing more to say about it
We believe that the natural result of the new system will be that because each population group has its own platform and its own channels for causing its voice to be heard and influencing decisions, we are going to have a natural and peaceful pattern whereby the own elected leaders of the various population groups discuss matters of common concern in interaction with one another. This is our essential objective with the new dispensation. Although we now have fundamental conflicts because our main premises differ, I do not think that we should expand this debate on a specific clause into a general political and philosophical debate.
Mr Chairman, let us take the instance raised in a previous debate of a party using a particular White organization to collect funds on its behalf. The hon the Minister knows I am referring to Communitel. Let us assume that inside that organization there is a man who has given them very good advice on how to run an election because that is what he said he would do. If they actually want to utilize him in the election, why should they not do so if he is willing and consents to do so even though he may not be able to vote for the man he is helping? What is the difference? He has helped them to collect money. He has gone around to people to try to get money on their behalf. There is nothing to prevent him helping them and it is quite right that he should be entitled to do so. He can train their canvassers and others but he is not allowed to do the actual job himself. I cannot see the logic of this provision, except that it is racialistic. I cannot see how one can prevent a man of a different race group wanting to help an organization if he so wishes. It must be left entirely to the individual to decide whether he wants to be the agent for a different House in Parliament. There is nothing to prevent him from doing so. If a man so wishes, he should be free to do so. If a White person wants to go and help in the Indian elections, he should be free to do so. The same applies if a Coloured wants to help in the White elections. I have had Indians and Blacks hang up posters for me. Hon members of the NP do the same thing. If these people can do this work for me why cannot I utilize them in an official position on election day? It seems stupid to me to adopt any other attitude but that.
Mr Chairman, if one wears blue-tinted sunglasses the world one sees around one cannot take on a pink hue. [Interjections.] The hon member cannot see the logic of this because he is looking at it through tinted glasses. [Interjections.] As he is sitting there, he is so prejudiced when he tries to look for logic that he does not have the ability to find it. I agree that he does not have the ability to see the logic of this because he is resisting the basic premise of the system. That is why he cannot see the logic of it. Nor can we see the logic of his wanting to follow the road of total political integration which we think will cause chaos. However, he does not see the logic in that, and each one of us will therefore have to follow his own logical course until we come to the Prohibition of Political Interference Act when we can then conduct a substantive debate on this point, as well as the question of Communitel and whatever else he then wants to discuss.
Mr Chairman, I should just like to ask the hon the Minister one thing namely that when we come to discuss that particular legislation and it is found necessary to withdraw this provision, he will then do so.
Clause put and the Committee divided:
Ayes—97: Alant, T G; Badenhorst, P J; Bartlett, G S; Botha, C J v R; Botha, P W; Botma, M C; Breytenbach, W N; Clase, P J; Coetzer, H S; Cronjé, P; Cunningham, J H; De Jager, A M v A; De Klerk, F W; Delport, W H; De Pontes, P; Du Plessis, B J; Du Plessis, G C; Durr, K D S; Du Toit, J P; Fick, L H; Fouché, A F; Geldenhuys, A; Grobler, J P; Hardingham, R W; Hayward, SAS; Heunis, J C; Hoon, J H; Hugo, P B B; Jordaan, A L; Kleynhans, J W; Koornhof, P G J; Kotzé, G J; Landman, W J; Langley, T; Le Roux, D E T; Le Roux, F J; Le Roux, Z P; Louw, E v d M; Louw, M H; Malan, W C; Malherbe, G J; Marais, G; Marais, P G; Maree, M D; Meiring, J W H; Mentz, J H W; Meyer, W D; Miller, R B; Morrison, G de V; Nothnagel, A E; Odendaal, W A; Olivier, P J S; Page, B W B; Pieterse, J E; Pretorius, N J; Pretorius, P H; Raw, W V; Rogers, P R C; Schoeman, J C B; Schutte, DPA; Scott, D B; Simkin, C H W; Snyman, W J; Streicher, D M; Tempel, H J; Terblanche, G P D; Theunissen, L M; Thompson, A G; Treurnicht, A P; Uys, C; Van Breda, A; Van der Linde, G J; Van der Merwe, C J; Van der Merwe, G J; Van der Merwe, W L; Van der Walt, A T; Van Eeden, D S; Van Heerden, R F; Van Rensburg, H MJ (Rosettenville); Van Staden, F A H; Van Staden, J W; Van Vuuren, L M J; Van Wyk, J A; Veldman, M H; Vermeulen, J A J; Viljoen, G v N; Volker, V A; Watterson, D W; Weeber, A; Wilkens, BH; Wright, A P.
Tellers: W T Kritzinger, C J Ligthelm, R P Meyer, J J Niemann, L van der Watt and H M J van Rensburg (Mossel Bay).
Noes—19: Boraine, A L; Burrows, R M; Cronjé, P C; Dalling, D J; Goodall, B B; Malcomess, D J N; Moorcroft, E K; Myburgh, P A; Olivier, N J J; Savage, A; Schwarz, H H; Sive, R; Slabbert, F v Z; Soal, P G; Swart, R A F; Van der Merwe, S S; Van Rensburg, H E J.
Tellers: G B D McIntosh and A B Widman.
Clause agreed to.
Mr Chairman, I move the amendment printed in my name on the Order Paper, as follows:
This amendment is consequential upon clause 8 being negatived.
Amendment 1 agreed to Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Bill, as amended, reported.
Mr Speaker, I move:
The Constitution Act of 1983 was passed by this House on 3 September 1983, and on 2 November 1983 it was put to the electorate by way of a referendum and accepted by an overwhelming majority of the voters. With that, I believe hon members will agree, the Government received not only a mandate, but also a specific instruction to implement the 1983 Constitution Act.
We are now entering a phase in which the Constitution Act is not only a statute on the Statute Book of our country. It is also the new Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. Every party in this House and the public outside have repeatedly had the opportunity of formulating their standpoint on the matter.
From the nature of the case, every party has the right to propagate an amended constitution for South Africa as its policy, but on the other hand, I believe that all parties represented in this House which claim to support democratic principles have the responsibility to obey the laws of the country and to be involved in the implementation of such legislation.
Now a process has been set in motion for the implementation of the Constitution, and this process is manifesting itself on the legislative, executive and administrative levels of our country’s administration. The legislation which is now before us forms part of the process of implementation on the legislative level. Consequently the legislation should be judged in terms of its effectiveness in enabling the new Constitution to function properly.
This implies that the Bill is intended to create the framework within which the newly constituted Parliament will have to function. The need for the legislation arises from the adjustments in Parliament occasioned by the new Constitution.
Arising from the new Constitution and its commencement on 3 September, it is necessary to effect essential consequential amendments in several spheres. In particular, Parliament itself is going to change drastically in the new constitutional dispensation. This legislation does not create that dispensation; it is intended to enable it to function smoothly. In the light of this, it is necessary to examine statutory provisions applicable to Parliament as well as the procedures of Parhament in order to make the necessary adjustments.
The House takes cognizance—I say this with deep gratitude—of the great task which has already been performed by the Committee on the Standing Rules and Orders, with the help of the secretariat of Parliament and yourself, Sir in preparing new procedural rules to be used under the new dispensation.
It has also been necessary to amend the existing Powers and Privileges of Parliament Act in order to bring the measure into line with the requirements of the new dispensation. No fundamental changes are required or proposed, but since the Act is important for the status and functioning of the new Parliament, it has been deemed necessary that the Act should be in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution from the start.
†The amendment of that Act is a result of the new tricameral Parliament and of the new approach to parliamentary committees which manifests itself in the fact that in the joint rules and orders provision is being made for an elaborate, permanent committee system which will play an important part in the legislative process of our country in future.
In clause 1 the existing definitions are amended to refer to the new Constitution and the three new houses—paragraph (b); the new committee system—paragraph (a); the new tricameral Parliament—paragraph (e); and the two types of standing orders, namely the standing orders of each House and the joint rules and orders of all three Houses—paragraph (i).
In paragraph (j) the provision that no decisions may be taken in joint sittings which appears in section 67(5) of the Constitution is made applicable to the provisions of this Bill.
Clauses 2, 3, 6, 8, 9, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 27, 28 and 30 contain amendments resulting from the fact that either a House or all three Houses must perform particular functions in the new dispensation.
In clause 4 provision is made for the speaker or a committee of one or all three Houses to perform an act under this Bill on behalf of a House or the Houses, as the case may be.
In clause 6 provision is made that a member may appear in another House with the approval of the House of which he is a member or with the approval of the Speaker when that House is not in session,
In clauses 1, 5, 7, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 19, 23, 24, 26 and 27 obsolete references to the President of the Senate are deleted, as well as references to the Senate in clauses 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 16, 20, 21, 26, 27, 28, 30, 31 and 31.
Since section 58(3) (a) of the Constitution Act, 1983, provides that the Speaker shall hold office until his successor is elected, section 34 of the principal Act, which provided for the Speaker to continue in office during a dissolution of Parliament, has become redundant, and it is repealed by clause 29.
The powers of Parliament to act as a court in certain cases and the privileges of members arising from these powers do not imply any disregard for the jurisdiction of the judiciary. These are age-old fundamental rights of Parliament as the sovereign legislative authority, without which the functioning of Parliament would be impeded. In order to protect its privileges and status, therefore, Parliament must be able to punish offenders, to discipline its members and to ensure that its orders and instructions are carried out. Without these powers, the privileges of Parliament could not be enforced and its task could not be carried out.
It is in the interest of the new dispensation and of Parliament itself that the honour and dignity of Parliament should be protected at all times. In the new dispensation, the status and order of Parliament will be one of the main stabilising factors.
The Bill which is now before the House is an important element in the preservation of the rights and privileges of Parliament, and therefore of its status and dignity.
Mr Speaker, this measure is no doubt the first of a number which we will be considering in the closing days of the life of this Parliament. It is therefore perhaps appropriate that the hon the Minister started his speech on the subject by referring to the fact that we had passed a Constitution, that there had been a referendum, that the Government considered that it had a mandate and was now setting about the task of implementing the new Constitution.
It is equally appropriate that we should react to this statement because the attitude adopted by the official Opposition is that whereas we have a policy which we believe is different from the Government’s policy as regards the solution of South Africa’s problems and whereas we will continue to advocate that policy and continue to endeavor to persuade both members of Parliament as well as the public to support the policies which we believe are correct, we have made it clear that because this is now the law of the land, we will not only participate in the new Constitution, but we will do so in a constructive manner. We will not seek to obstruct the workings of the Constitution and will not create situations in which we can sit back and say that it does not work. On the contrary, we will act in a constructive and reasonable manner, and I believe our attitude to this particular legislation will illustrate this. As far as we are concerned, this legislation is necessary, and we will therefore be supporting the Second Reading, although we will move amendments during the Committee Stage which we believe will improve the legislation.
Does your whole caucus agree with you?
Yes, the whole caucus agrees with me, but I wonder whether the hon member’s whole caucus agrees with his interjection.
I believe that the powers and privileges of Parliament are ancient. They are not only contained in this particular legislation which we are now amending, but rely also upon convention and tradition and have a long and historic background. It is interesting to note that in this measure we preserve, for use in future, the powers, privileges and practices of the present Parliament, so that the future Parliament will be using our practices and conventions, in the same way as we included usages under the Union of South Africa in the Republican Parliament as before that we included the usages of Westminister. We are the proud inheritors of those privileges and which are not only those the hon the Minister has referred to, but very many others, such as, for example, freedom of speech, the most important one to us in this House. Sir, when you speak you speak for all of us in this House. Duties are imposed upon you by tradition. This heritage of yours goes back to Speakers who showed tremendous courage against the executive in past centuries. There is also the necessity to protect the legislators of a country, not only against the executive but sometimes also against the public. There are may examples of where an individual member of the public has been unhappy with the action of the legislator. Therefore the legislator needs protection. Therefore the concept behind this is something which is essential for the new Parliament, and which has to work in the new Parliament if it is going to work at all.
Whereas we have taken over the traditions of Westminster I just want to make one point in relation to the whole Westminster concept. So much is said about the fact that we are moving away from Westminster, but what we are actually doing is to move away from one aspect of the Westminster system of government, and that is the majoritarian system, the system whereby the winner takes all. Unfortunately this new Constitution is not moving away from it. This is the tragedy. I wish it were a consensus constitution in the true sense of the word. I wish it were a constitution where we could say that we have done away with majoritarian and winner-takes-all concepts. What is important is that the hon the Minister referred to the committee system and mentioned the important role which this system is going to play under the new Constitution. The reality is that to some extent the Constitution is going to be made or broken in the committee system, because if the majoritarian principles are applied in this system, if these are not going to be committees where true consensus is going to be sought and where people are going to ignore the fact that they have a majority in numbers but rather try to find each other, then this constitution will not work. Therefore the responsibility as to whether the Constitution is going to work or not to a large extent depends upon the willingness of the majority to seek consensus and to recognize that there are other opinions which may be right, and to try to evolve compromise in the circumstances. I agree with the hon the Minister when he says that the committee system is one of the fundamentals of the whole structure and that it depends on that whether the system will work or not.
When we talk about moving away from Westminster I believe that the other traditions of Westminster, the other background of parliamentary practice, of the privileges of Parliament, are things which we treasure, and we should certainly not seek to move away from those.
When we talk about Parliament there is actually a fascinating situation which exists, and that is that Parliament is now going to be defined to consist of three Houses, while the President’s Council is not part of Parliament. Yet, what is interesting is that Parliament, which makes the laws, will in the end, in respect of at least two of its Houses, find that the President’s Council may well have greater power than an individual House. In other words, the President’s Council is not part of Parliament but to some extent of Parliament. In the constitution the President’s Council is put into a different category. It is not part of the definition of Parliament, either in this Bill or in the constitution. The issue that will develop is what the relationship will be between the President’s Council and Parliament as such. Here again we have a potential for either something working very well or a potential for something not working at all. The concept of one House having particular powers as against another institution is, in fact, something that historically—particularly if we look at the history of England—has a great potential for conflict in it. To some extent Parliament in this country is the equivalent of the Commons of Britain as it was in days of old. The President’s Council is in quite a different category. I do not want to equate it with the House of Lords or with any one of the other Chambers as I think that would be wrong. It is, however, an analogy that we can draw, and the relationship between these two will also depend on how this constitution is going to work.
The hon the Minister has detailed the clauses. With very limited exceptions the Bill is virtually the same as the original Act. There is an amendment in clause 6 in order to bring it in line with what the original Bill was but I will not debate that now as an amendment is on the Order Paper. For the rest we find no fault with the provisions of the Bill.
I am prepared to accept that amendment.
Thank you, Sir. That will save a lot of debate. We therefore support the Second Reading and we hope that this Bill will go towards not only demonstrating our willingness to act in a constructive manner in The new Constitutional dispensation but will actually help to make the new Constitution work.
Mr Speaker, I should like to express my appreciation for the support the official Opposition has given to this legislation. In spite of the fact that they officially opposed the referendum, they now accept the new Constitution and the new dispensation as a fact and they have declared themselves willing to co-operate in it in a positive way. The standpoint expressed by the members of the CP that they will also cooperate actively in the new dispensation and the committee system and so on indicates that they also accept it as a fact and will cooperate in the system.
In this amending Bill, which deals with the powers and privileges of Parliament, only consequential adjustments and amendments are in fact being made to the existing measure. No new principles are being introduced. It merely implements decisions, the principles of which have already been embodied in other legislation.
The hon member for Yeoville referred to the fact that we are moving away from the Westminster system. The fact that we in South Africa have based our parliamentary structure on the Westminster conventions for 74 years, since 1910, does not mean that in our approach to the powers and privileges of members of Parliament and in our handling of matters we have not built up our own conventions over a wide spectrum of parliamentary structure. As we have provided in our constitution, we are retaining those conventions for the new Parliament. These are conventions not specifically covered by legislation, but nonetheless binding on us in cases where specific alternative arrangements have not been made.
The hon member for Yeoville also referred to the function of the President’s Council. One must of course understand that the involvement of the President’s Council in legislation does not automatically follow on any resolution which may be adopted by any one of the Houses. It depends exclusively on the resolutions of the executive committee under the chairmanship of the State President which matters will be referred to the President’s Council.
I should just like to refer briefly to another aspect to which reference is being made in the Bill and which ensues from a resolution that has already been adopted in consequence of the new Constitution. Clause 1(d) substitutes the definition of “member” so that it includes a member of a House, a Minister or a Deputy Minister who need not necessarily be a member of a House. This is in accordance with section 27 of the Constitution, in which it is provided that a Deputy Minister need not be a member of a House for a period of up to 12 months. Consequently this principle has already been incorporated in the Constitution and the Bill is merely putting this into effect.
I hope that this Bill will be passed without any opposition from any side.
Mr Speaker, in my opinion the hon the Minister used a key sentence in his Second Reading speech which I should like to repeat. He referred to the Constitution and said: “Every party has the right to propagate an amendment to it as its policy, but all parties that say they are democratic have the responsibility of participating in obeying the laws of the country. The CP is in full agreement with this statement. It is on record that the CP is at variance with the provisions of the Constitution. But it is also on record that the CP has intimated that it is going to participate in the new dispensation, and in everything that is going to follow. This does not, however, mean that the CP is not going to continue to propagate its fundamental objections to the new Constitution, and try to persuade the voters that with this Constitution South Africa has gone astray. As a matter of fact this Bill illustrates exactly what problems the Government is wrestling with as a result of the artificial dispensation it wants to create in South Africa.
As the hon the Minister has said, it is in the interests of Parliament for its privileges to be protected, and for Parliament not to be held in contempt. We have stated that the exercise the Government is engaged on cannot be successful, inter alia, because it sacrifices the sovereign right of the Whites to govern themselves and because conflict is inherent in it. This Bill illustrates anew the correctness of our argument. As the hon the Minister has also said, it ensues from the provisions of the new Constitution; it is an unavoidable consequence of it. One cannot launch a new dispensation without ensuring that the status of all three Houses is equal. By doing this, the dismantling of the White Parliament as the only sovereign legislative body is continued. I should like to illustrate what I mean.
Clause 2 inter alia empowers a House to enquire into, judge and pronounce upon a contravention. Here it is no longer a case of an own affair. Here a House is being empowered to repremand any person across the colour bar. According to clause 3 that House then sits as a court. I want to repeat: No distinction is being drawn here between own affairs and general affairs. Nor can it be otherwise because the Houses form part of this Parliament. This illustrates the absurdity of the new dispensation and the embarrassment of three governments on the same …
The new dispensation is not under discussion now.
This Bill stems from it. As the hon the Minister himself said, this is legislation which of necessity follows on Act No 110 of 1983. He said so himself in his Second Reading speech.
In addition to a further abdication of sovereignty this Bill illustrates the conflict potential of the new dispensation. Section 10 of the principal Act sets out the offences. There are 13 of them. I only want to refer to the last few:
- (k) prevarication or other misconduct as a witness before Parliament or any committee;
- (l) the publication of any false or scandalous libel on any member touching his conduct as a member; and
- (m) any contempt from time to time set forth … in any Standing Orders …
I think this has been amended to some extent. During the present session allegations were made which could be considered libellous about persons who are members of this House. Everyday allegations are being made in this House that are in conflict with the Standing Orders. If a member of one of these Houses therefore makes an allegation in respect of a member of another House or commits an offence as set out in section 10 of the principal Act, he may be summoned before the other House with the consent of the relevant House or of the Speaker if the House is not in session. As far as we are concerned, it is a conflict-creating situation if the Government party, the majority party in one House, may grant permission for a member of that House to be summoned before another House to atone for an alleged wrong he has committed. As far as we are concerned this is an untenable situation, although we concede that it is a necessary consequence of the legislation the Government is dealing with. What is more: Not only may a member of one House be summoned to appear before another House, but so may any person, irrespective of the group to which he belongs in terms of the Population Registration Act and irrespective of whether an own or a general affair is involved.
I want to refer next to another matter which has been mentioned by previous speakers in this debate, namely the matter of the committee system. It has been said—we have ourselves said this repeatedly—that if one participates in the new dispensation, it follows that one will also participate in the functioning of all the elements of the new Parliament and therefore in the committee system as well. Since we are striving for so-called consensus in the committee system we have, however, warned that if the Government thinks that after 1984 years the entire conflict situation in a parliamentary democracy will disappear like mist in the morning sunlight, and consensus will be reached on standing committees, this is completely fallacious argument, except if one is going to compromise, as the hon member for Yeoville has said, and if one is going to make one concession after another in respect of one’s principals from the outset in order to try to reach consensus. This is in fact the essence of our objection to the entire matter.
Then we come to the President’s Council. The President’s Council is being excluded from this Bill. The Government insists that the President’s Council is not part of the legislative authority in the new dispensation. I know the Government cannot say this, because the President’s Council consists of Whites, Coloureds and Indians who are not accountable to the voters. It is a mixed body and will function as the final conflict-regulating body. It is strange that one can say all the things about the members of that council which are prohibited by clause 10 but one cannot say things about another House which are prohibited by clause 10. This again proves how illogical the entire approach of the Government is in this connection.
For this reason I am sorry to have to disappoint the hon member for Klip River but I cannot imagine why he thought that we would be satisfied with this legislation. This is a Bill which stems directly from the new constitution although we admit that it is also a Bill which is essential if the new dispensation is to be successful. I cannot, however, imagine how the hon member for Klip River could have thought that we would have been able to associate ourselves with legislation of this nature. We shall not be able to vote for the Second Reading of the legislation.
Mr Speaker, I do not wish to reply to what has been said by the hon member for Brakpan. He said what I expected him to say.
I find myself on my feet this afternoon at what I think is the start of a new era in the history of our country. I think that this is indeed an historic occasion. It is, as the poet said, the moment that: “The old order changeth yielding place to new”. It is now that we are starting on a road ahead when we can glance over our shoulders with a certain measure of nostalgia at what we are leaving behind. From today we are going to start undoing many things to which we have grown accustomed over the years so as to be able to apply the new system that the electorate of this country endorsed so heartily on 2 November last year.
I listened with interest to the hon member for Yeoville who made a good contribution this afternoon. While I do not for one moment consider myself to be a person well versed in matters of this nature, the hon member for Yeoville is a legal man. I am not a legal man but, simply from a layman’s point of view, I have often wondered what we are going into while moving away from the Westminster system. We keep talking about this Westminster system that we are, as it were, discarding. However, I do not really believe that we are discarding the system entirely. I think that we will be maintaining much of Westminster in our new system, and for that I am pleased and truly grateful. What I think we are doing is that we are moving away from the Westminster system which forms part of a monarchy and moving into an adaptation of the Westminster system as it should operate under an executive State President. That is what we are doing. We are moving away from a system involving the monarchy into a system involving an executive State president.
I want to say that in moving along this road I personally have learnt a number of lessons lately. The one thing that I have learnt—and we shall probably be debating this at a later date—is that it is one thing to adopt a new constitution but another thing entirely to formulate the rules under which that constitution is to be applied. Anybody can design a sleek aircraft or a very modernistic motor car, but when it comes to giving effect to the design and actually building it, one finds that the components do not fit into the body shell that one has constructed in one’s mind. One finds that one cannot get them all in and one has quite a battle in trying to do so.
Sometimes there is not room for all the passengers.
Well said. Thank you. That is a problem that has beset us over the last few months, and I think you, Mr Speaker, are as aware of it as I am.
In conclusion I want to say that we naturally support this measure. We all know what this Bill seeks to do. I think anybody would understand what the hon the Minister told us in his introduction to the Second Reading. I am pleased that the hon the Minister has already indicated that he will accept the amendment that the hon member for Yeoville intends moving.
I just want to say that the success of the new constitution depends on one thing only, and that is on the measure and the quality of the contributions that each of us individually and all of us collectively are prepared to make in the interests of the country that we hold dear to our hearts. That I believe is the essence of the whole thing. I would charge that each and every one of us consider very carefully what the measure of our contribution will be because by that will we measure the success and future well-being and prosperity of our country.
Mr Speaker, I am impressed with the sincerity of the hon member for Umhlanga. Let me say immediately that I am reminded on this historic occasion of the words of a poem that I think are most applicable and appropriate today. I hope I remember them correctly:
And clowns that caper in sawdust rings
And all good folk like you and me
Are builders for eternity?
To each is given a bag of tools
A shapeless mass and a book of rules
And each must build ere time has flown
A stumbling block or a stepping stone.
*I think this is the spirit in which we should approach any new dispensation anyway. Let me say at once that I think the smallest and least important part of the process of constitutional reform has been completed, namely the formulation and acceptance of a new Constitution. However, I want to say at once, and I am deeply serious in saying this, that unless the Constitution also embodies and reflects certain attitudes, it I will not succeed. It will not be the Constitution which succeeds or fails; success or failure will depend on the actors who appear and perform in that new political theatre. I believe we can say that the subject of the legislation which we are now discussing actually provides the rules and codes of conduct for the actors in the new theatre. In all likelihood, it will place a greater responsibility on the hon members of this House than on the members of the other Houses that are to be instituted, because our exposure to and experience of the traditions, the conventions and the codes which have to be upheld in such an institution are of longer duration. Therefore it would become us to show a little more humility in talking about other people.
It is unlikely that anyone in this House really knows what the future holds for any party with any solution in our own father-land. The best proof of this statement lies in the fact that few people in few countries have been able to uphold democracy and democratic principles under comparable circumstances. Therefore the implementation of the Constitution in terms of the Standing Rules and Orders and in terms of the provisions of this legislation will be a decisive indication of whether we in this country possess that ability which other countries have not possessed. Therefore it will require us to adopt special attitudes and it will make special demands on us.
The support given to the Bill by the hon members for Yeoville and Umhlanga is appreciated in the knowledge that they would have drafted a different constitution for South Africa. The merits of what they wanted to put forward are not relevant now, I believe; that matter has been disposed of. The fact remains that they would have wanted a different constitution. However, we live in a system of our own making, and we cannot pay lip service to democracy on the one hand and then try, on the other hand, to evade the consequences of the legislation, for then our conduct and our actions would give the lie to our professions of support for a particular system.
†It is of course true that we have not rejected all the components or elements of the Westminster system. What we have in fact said to one another—on that we all are agreed—is that the Westminster system in an unadapted form cannot meet the demands of this country. How we deviate and how we adjust is a matter for the individual parties, and they differ on that.
But we do not differ as regards parliamentary practice.
Of course not, I am coming to that in a moment.
What happens in fact is that the concept of the majority having all the power is adapted and adjusted in the new system in the sense that not only one party will elect the Head of State and further that not one party alone will form the executive of this country. That is a material deviation from the Westminster system.
Mr Speaker, may I ask the hon the Minister a question?
As soon as I have completed this argument I shall allow the hon member the opportunity.
The fact that we have an executive President is an important deviation from that system. I do not intend debating these deviations again, but what we are trying to do is to retain those traditions and conventions which have served us well and therefore to use them again in the proposed new dispensation. It is also true, however, that that new dispensation will develop its own traditions and conventions so as to make it possible for the system to work effectively. Therefore even in the formulation of the Standing Rules and Orders adaptations have to be made as hon members will appreciate.
The hon members for Yeoville and Brakpan as well as other hon members referred to the committee system. I believe that one of the most important innovations in the new dispensation would be the functioning of the committee system. I believe that the role and status of members of Parliament can be greatly enhanced if we are prepared to use the system of committees effectively.
*I hope that in the new committee system which may develop, we shall be able significantly to enhance the role of the legislators who will sit in this House and in the other Houses, and in this way also to strengthen Parliament as an institution in our country. They can get involved before the commencement of sessions by means of in-depth investigations into the manifold aspects affecting our lives in this country. They can also get involved in an in-depth investigation and discussion of what the real priorities in this country are. In this connection I am not only referring to the financial priorities, but to the total priorities in our country. It is an indisputable fact, therefore, that the role of the legislature can be enhanced in the new dispensation.
The hon member also asked what the relationship would be between the President’s Council and the future Parliament. The reply to that question involves many facets. However, I want to make one point without pretending to have any prophetic gifts. I believe that this relationship will develop. However, it will depend on us whether that institution should be used for resolving conflicts or whether it should not be used for that. It will depend on us whether the final arbitration should be left to the President’s Council, for every time this happens, we shall be demonstrating an inability to co-exist in this country. My standpoint, therefore, is that this body should continue its work by conducting clinically impartial investigations into matters affecting the lives of us all.
I want to make the plea today that we should try to resolve our own differences within the provisions of this legislation. This would introduce a new maturity into politics in South Africa. I want to put it to the hon member for Brakpan that I am not suggesting that the Constitution will resolve the conflicts, but the Constitution does not create the conflicts.
Ever since this country came into being, the predominant factor in political debates has been the composition of the population, the standpoints adopted by parties and Governments on this matter. The conflict does not lie in the Constitution, but in society. The conflict in our country is deeper and more intense than in any other country I know of. The fact is that the politics of the state are based on the conflict of society. Its function is to see whether it can be resolved and regulated. Those divisions go very deep in this country, and if there are hon members who do not understand this, it makes the situation even more problematical, because if one does not even understand it, how can one contribute to resolving it?
The hon member for Brakpan said that this legislation was an inevitable consequence of the passing of the new Constitution. I want to emphasize the words “the inevitable consequence of the passing of the new Constitution”. However, the hon member says that his party will participate in the new dispensation as democrats, just like any other party. I appreciate that. What I do not understand, however, is his logic. One moment he says that he is going to participate because he is a democrat, and the next moment he says that the legislation is an inevitable consequence of the Constitution and the dispensation in which he is going to participate. If this is so, how can he vote against the rules which, by his own admission, are inevitable? I do not understand him.
I do not propose to analyze the hon member’s remarks about White sovereignty and the alleged relinquishing of self-determination. I want to tell him—this is not meant as a reproach—that he is speaking in an idiom which harks back to the political debates of the past, the only relevance of which for our time lies in the fact that such debates did indeed take place, but which have no contribution to make to the solution of the complex problems of this country in future.
The hon member alleges that it will possible in terms of the rules for one House to require a member of another House to appear before it. What the hon member conveniently omitted to say, however, is that this can only happen with the consent of the House of which such a person is a member.
I did say so. [Interjections.]
If I misunderstood him, I aplogize. So it does not only rest with the House which has called upon him to appear before it, but also with the House of which he is a member.
He is at the mercy of that majority.
Just listen to the hon member, Sir. Allow me to say quite bluntly that the hon member’s debating on this legislation has nothing to do with the question of whether the legislation creates an effective instrument or mechanism for the functioning of Parliament. The hon member’s whole argument is based on his obsession with colour, which is not relevant to a debate such as this one.
We shall all have the opportunity of making a success of the new dispensation. If our participation in the new dispensation is motivated solely by a desire to propagate our own standpoint, it will not work. I want to tell the hon member for Brakpan that it is not possible to satisfy all the expectations of all the groups in this country. The sum total of all expectations exceeds the means of the country, it exceeds the country’s financial means, it also exceeds the country’s emotional means. We must not bluff ourselves about this. After all, the emotional restriction on our country is the greatest single restriction there is. There is nothing disgraceful, therefore, about seeking agreement in joint committees, in parliament or in the Cabinet. It is the only possible way of ensuring order and stability in this country. If very group wants to take its own demands to extremes at the expense of others as the hon member’s party wants to do, then it is not the Constitution which is the cause of this, but their attitude, standpoint and conduct. [Interjections.]
Finally, I want to say that it is the right of any hon member to propagate his policy as he likes. However, it is also the responsibility of all to implement successfully that which actually exists.
Mr Speaker, the hon the Minister said in his speech, as part of the demonstration of how consensus was being sought in the new dispensation, that the executive would be made up of people from different parties. Can the hon the Minister tell us what his attitude is towards the standing committees? Will the majority party keep the chairmanship of those standing committees for for itself or will it also allow other parties to participate in the same basis?
With due respect, that has to be resolved in terms of the rules that we have discussed. Those rules will make provision for the appointment of the chairmen of the various committees. I will discuss that with the hon member when we discuss the joint rules.
Upon which the House divided.
As fewer than fifteen members (viz Messrs J H Hoon, T Langley, F J le Roux, J C B Schoeman, Dr W J Snyman, Mr L M Theunissen, Dr A P Treurnicht, Messrs C Uys, W L van der Merwe, R F van Heerden and Dr F A H van Staden) appeared on one side,
Question declared affirmed.
Bill read a Second Time.
Mr Speaker, I move:
Since this Bill deals with the extension of provincial powers and since the hon member for Paarl used to be a member of the provincial council, you will allow me to congratulate him on the fact that today is his 25th wedding anniversary, and at the same time convey my sympathies to his wife for the same reason.
I am convinced that this Bill is the only one I am going to introduce with which everyone is going to agree. As hon members are aware, the pension and gratuity benefits for members of the House of Assembly were adjusted in 1983 and came into operation with effect from 13 July 1983. These gratuity benefits that are payable to a member are administered in terms of the Parliamentary Service and Administrators’ Pensions Act, Act No 81 of 1971, and the provisions of that Act are well known to all of us. In fact, I think that everyone has already made their calculations and that this is done very carefully prior to general elections.
As a result of the improved pension benefits which were also granted to members of provincial councils, the respective provincial administrations requested that the limitations imposed in respect of gratuity benefits in the Provincial Powers Extension Act, 1980, be removed so that the improved benefits could also be paid to them. In terms of the provisions of section 1(1) of the Provincial Powers Extension Act, 1980, provincial councils are empowered to issue ordinances in terms of which pensions and gratuities may be made payable to members, widows and dependents of members of any provincial council or executive committee. Section 1(2) provides, however, that a pension or gratuity shall not exceed an amount which, if calculated over a period of 12 months, is equal to the highest amount that was payable in respect of any year during the period of office of the member concerned, to that member. In order to pay the improved gratuity benefits applicable to members of the House of Assembly to members of the provincial councils as well and to enable a draft ordinance on this matter to be submitted to the provincial councils of the provinces, it is essential for the limiting provisions in the aforesaid Act to be amended to empower provincial councils to make provision for a gratuity that exceeds the amount received over a period of 12 months to be paid to a member. The aforementioned limitation can be removed, as is being proposed in the Bill, by deleting the words “or gratuity” in subsection (2).
Mr Speaker, because this amendment merely involves enabling provincial administrations to submit a draft ordinance to their respective provincial councils in order to make the improved benefits which have already been allocated to members payable, I think that the Bill ought to receive general support in this House.
Mr Speaker, the Bill before us amends the Provincial Powers Extension Act, 1980. This is really an enabling Bill because it enables the provincial councils of South Africa to pass ordinances to provide for the payment of pensions and gratuities to members of provincial councils, members of the executive committees, their widows and dependents. The amendment to section 1(2) of the said Act merely involves the removal of the words “or gratuity”. We accept the reason advanced by the hon the Minister that, while the formula was changed for members of Parliament, the formula was not changed for members of the provincial councils and, if they want to change it to make their formula the same as ours, they need empowering legislation to pass such ordinances. I think it is right and proper that members of the provincial councils, who have had their pension and gratuity based on a certain formula, should also enjoy the formula members of Parliament enjoy, in which case the amount involved will obviously exceed the maximum to which it was restricted in that in terms of this subsection it was not to exceed “an amount which, if calculated over a period of 12 months, is equal to the highest amount that was payable in respect of any year during the period of office…”
In terms of subsection (3) of the principal Act, the Administrator of the province, with the concurrence of the Minister of Finance, may from time to time authorize an increase in pensions. I mention that for a particular reason. We have just discussed a Bill—one of many—dealing with the new constitution of South Africa, but we understand and know and I think it is on the cards that there may well be changes to the concept of provincial councils in South Africa. We have discussed this in the House before and it is possible that, while the future of the provincial councils has been guaranteed for their full five-year term ending in 1986, there may be changes after that. While gratuities are being deleted from this subsection, if provincial councils should be phased out, a very considerable golden handshake may be given to people who were on the provincial councils or who were members of executive committees …
Is that a suggestion, or a request?
No, not at all. I am just indicating that we are not here giving carte blanche for members of the provincial councils to be given a golden handshake by way of a gratuity should they be phased out. I have just referred to subsection (3) to indicate that any increases will be subject in this instance to the Minister of Finance. I do now know whether the Minister of Constitutional Development and Planning will have any say in the matter.
It has to be submitted to the President too.
Fine. In addition, I think we have to rely on the good offices of the members of the provincial councils themselves because they in turn will have to pass an ordinance including the formula for the new gratuity. So, they will not be able to do anything without discussing this publicly in the provincial councils. It will become a public document so that all the members will know exactly what they are in for in that respect. We will therefore support the amendment to provide for gratuities on that basis.
Mr Speaker, I am merely rising to pledge support for this Bill on behalf of the National Party, in order to complete the record and to let the hon the Minister at least savour the pleasure of general concurrence in this House with one of the many pieces of legislation he still has to deal with. I do not want to repeat any points that have already been raised. I associate myself with every remark made by the hon member for Hillbrow. It is indeed true that an opportunity must simply be created to implement a decision which was taken last year. The choice lies between amending subsection (3), which would actually be wrong because the proviso in that subsection merely refers to the increase in pensions, or amending subsection (2) by deleting the words “or gratuity”. This then makes it possible to implement the agreement fully. 1 take pleasure in supporting the Bill.
Mr Speaker, I want to express my agreement with this Bill on behalf of the Conservative Party. It is an equitable measure, seen in the light of what has happened. Yet I should just like to know from the hon the Minister whether this is a parting gesture to the provincial council members of South Africa.
Mr Speaker, we in the NRP will also be supporting this Bill. However, I was just wondering if for the benefit of the hon member for Welkom the hon the Minister would not like to backdate this provision three and a half years. [Interjections.]
Mr Speaker, because, as one of the hon members has said, peace has broken out in this House, I do not want to detain hon members for long.
I want to thank hon members most sincerely for their support for this legislation. I also want to tell the hon member for Umbilo that I would have liked to have made the provision applicable with retrospective effect not for three and a half years, but for 12 years.
Question agreed to.
Bill read a Second Time.
Bill not committed.
Mr Speaker, I move, subject to Standing Order No 56:
Mr Speaker, I shall only be a moment. I just want to draw the hon the Minister’s attention to section 1(1) of the principal Act, which provides for pensions and gratuities to widows. In this regard I think that Parliament has accepted the fact for the purposes of the Parliamentary Pension Scheme that there may be widowers as well. Perhaps the hon the Minister will see his way clear to bring this provision into line with the position that obtains in regard to parliamentary service as far as other spouses are concerned.
Mr Speaker, since the hon the Minister has now rectified the matter in respect of gratuities, I want to ask him whether he would consider taking into account the service of a former member of this House, if he were subsequently to be elected as members of a provincial council, for pension purposes as far as his provincial council service is concerned. We have such a person, Mr Piet Niemann, who was a member of the House of Assembly for six years and who was a member of the Transvaal Provincial Council as well. At this stage he does not qualify for a pension at all. I want to ask the Minister whether it would not be possible for him to rectify matters such as these as well.
Mr Speaker, I want to say immediately in reply to the hon member for Hillbrow that I think it only fair and just that when changes are made in the ordinances of provincial councils they should be on a par with what we have done in the case of members of Parhament. I shall certainly discuss that point with the Administrators and also with my colleague the hon the Minister of Health and Welfare.
*As regards the plea of the hon member for Kuruman, too, I want to say at once that we shall ascertain what the possibilities in this particular respect are. It seems to me that there will be no great difference in logic, if we recognize service in a higher body for pension purposes, that we should also do the opposite. I shall ascertain what can possibly be done in this regard.
Question agreed to.
Bill read a Third Time.
Mr Chairman, I move the amendment to this clause printed in my name on the Order Paper as follows:
This amendment merely rectifies an incorrect reference.
Amendment 1 agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Mr Chairman, although this Bill is a short Bill in a number of respects it is quite complicated and it took quite a lot of unravelling to get to the bottom of the meaning of various provisions. The first matter to which I should like to refer under this clause is in subsection (l)(b), which states:
The first aspect we are a bit concerned about is the use of the words “not through his own fault”. It seemed to us to be a not particularly precise legal definition and we therefore looked to see if that could be improved. There is also the question that it is the Minister’s opinion that will count and nothing else, although he can obviously consult other people. In clause 7 it states furthermore that his decision will be final. We looked at ways by which we could possibly improve this and give a wider discretion, because the Minister, whether it be this hon Minister or some subsequent Minister of any political party, is a political person and therefore his opinion may in certain marginal cases differ from one case to another.
In particular we know that the authorities in Ciskei have a very strong and hostile view towards many of the trade unions that operate in the Border and Ciskei areas. Therefore some academic who may act as an advisor or is in some way connected with a trade union might fall foul of the authorities and end up having to apply for assistance under this clause. A particular Minister might also disapprove of a particular trade union and feel therefore that it was the man’s fault. We were—and, I might say, still are—concerned about that, not particularly because of the current hon Minister, but because of the general terms in which we are putting it into the law. We looked at appeals to the Commission for Administration; we looked at appeals to the Committee of University Principals and in the end we did not feel that any of those were really suitable. Therefore we have not actually proposed an amendment. It might be that the hon the Minister or somebody else at a later date might be able to think of a slightly broader way of handling this.
I might say that in the process we looked into the Fort Hare Act itself to see what governs the staff conditions there, and reasons which are set out in that Act enable the council of the University to terminate the services of a staff member of that university. But the staff member has the right of appeal to the Minister, and this is where one of the first complications came in because, although our Minister and our Department of Education and Training administers and controls that university, it would appear that in terms of the law and the status of the independent states that the meaning of that word “Minister” now means the Minister of an equivalent department, ie some Minister of Education in the Ciskei Government and not the South African Minister. Therefore to that extent he cannot appeal to the South African Minister, which does not help him much in the circumstances that we fear. That is our view on that point.
Mr Chairman, I move the three amendments printed in my name on the Order Paper, as follows;
- 6. On page 5, in line 53, to omit “on conditions and at a salary” and to substitute “with pensionable emoluments”.
- 7. On page 5, from line 54, to omit “conditions of service and salary” and to substitute “pensionable emoluments”.
- 8. On page 7, in line 3, after “earlier” to insert:
- : Provided that if such staff member accepts the appointment in writing within the prescribed period, he shall thereafter be subject to the normal conditions of service appertaining to that post
Amendment 1 picks up a point that was made by the hon member for Durban North in the Second Reading although we are moving an amendment that is different from his because we thought his was a little too wide. I see the hon the Minister has moved one in addition to ours, an Amendment that is somewhere in between.
I think the essential problem with which one is faced here is that one is looking at treating people fairly and reasonably generously who have suffered through no fault of their own. The question is how far does one lean over backwards to help these people when in certain circumstances some of them may be a bit unreasonable as to what is fair compensation. When we drafted our amendments we had not seen the amendments of the hon the Minister, but quite honestly, from our point of view, whether the hon the Minister chooses his own amendment or ours does not really matter. I should, however, like to mention that in so far as my third amendment is concerned I want to add at the end of the clause the words:
We want to add that proviso because we are very much against the idea of having people in the South African Public Service or universities whereby the situation may arise that one has fish and fowl mixed in the same institution. Our feeling is that if a man has lost his position at a university in one of the independent states and we as a country and our taxpayers are reasonable enough to find him a job in which his salary or pensionable emoluments are the same as he had before, he is in fact quite lucky to be so well treated and he must then accept the other things which go with that job. When one starts comparing university positions and in particular if one finds that such a man received allowances for being out of South Africa and enjoyed sabbatical leave and all those sorts of things which often are peculiar to a university situation, one’s feeling is that the salary alone or the pensionable emoluments should be enough for him.
It should also be borne in mind that he is neither obliged to take the job that he is offered nor obliged to stay in that job. He has a free hand in that respect. It will see him over a transitional period and if he finds that it is not really what he wants, as soon as he can find a position for himself in the open market, he can accept that position.
On balance I would feel that our three amendments in this respect would serve that purpose best of all. I shall not comment upon the amendments contemplated by the hon the Minister and the hon member for Durban North until they have moved them, but I may say that we shall support some of them.
Mr Chairman, it will be remembered that the difficulty we had during the Second Reading debate with this clause was the fact that in between paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (1) the word “or” appeared. Our interpretation of that was that the contractual liability was wide open in perpetuity, and in order to rectify that, I prepared an amendment to delete the word “or” at the end of paragraph (a) and to substitute the word “and”. I thought that that would solve the dilemma which we had, but in subsequent discussions with the department of the hon the Minister, the law advisers indicated that there was an alternative amendment which could be moved and which would probably satisfy the conditions and make the provision clearer. I shall therefore not move the amendment which is printed in my name on the Order Paper, but I move as an amendment:
I should like to reiterate what our problem was with this. In the first instance paragraph (a) contains a precondition which applies in respect of a staff member who is discharged from Fort Hare and when the Minister wants to provide an alternative position. The precondition is that the control of the Government of South Africa over that university in accordance with an agreement is terminated or to be terminated. In other words, the benefits which flow from clause 5 are not applicable unless the transfer of control from the Government of the RSA to the Government of the Ciskei takes place.
A second precondition is that the person or persons concerned should have been discharged from the university for no fault of their own. If it is read with the word “or” in between, it means that these conditions are mutually exclusive. In other words, “either or” could apply before or after the transfer provided he was discharged for no fault of his own and he would have a claim on the South African Government. That is how I understand it and I am still of that opinion. I have therefore moved an amendment to rectify this because it is obviously not the intention of the Bill to leave this open in perpetuity for staff members to claim from the Government or the department. I believe my amendment makes it very clear that after termination of the agreements there will no longer be a claim on the hon the Minister’s department.
My second amendment listed as 5 on the Order Paper, deals with the problem which I had in respect of the conditions on which staff members are re-employed after they had been discharged and have a claim on the hon the Minister’s department. The words contained in lines 53 to 55 state very clearly:
As the hon member for Cape Town Gardens has also pointed out conditions of service include every single benefit excluding remuneration in cash which that member of staff enjoys, whether it be by way of transport concessions, housing allowances, educational facilities for his children or extended holidays. All these are covered by the words “conditions of service”. In addition to that, the question of salary can of course represent a considerable discrepancy between what is paid at the Ciskei university and at any other institution in South Africa. We believe that by retaining those words, it will make it very difficult for the Minister to find a position for such a person under those conditions and, secondly, the incumbent would have a claim on the Minister every time there is a divergence in the conditions of service and when he gets a new appointment as compared to the appointment from which he was discharged. We believe this is not the intention and it would be grossly unfair on the Minister and his department and the new institution which employs him to have the conditions contained in this clause. I therefore move amendment 5 as printed in my name on the Order Paper, as follows:
I have listened very carefully to the hon the Minister and the hon member for Cape Town Gardens and I have also read the hon the Minister’s proposed amendments in this regard very carefully. The reason why I move this amendment is not for egotistical reasons, but for specific reasons.
That is unlike you, Ron.
In the first instance I want to put it to the hon member for Cape Town Gardens that by the very fact that he uses the words “pensionable emoluments”, it could still leave us in a position where the discrepancy in salary, which is pensionable emoluments, is greater because of the fact that individuals working at a remote university will receive a greater emolument as is the case at universities in South Africa.
It is standardized.
That may not necessarily be the case because there may be pensionable emoluments contained in the structure of the Ciskei university which is not the same as at universities in South Africa. There are allowances which can be included for pensionable emoluments. I agree with the hon member that this is a remote possibility and I would in fact have preferred not to use those terms.
As far as amendment 8, the amendment of the hon member for Cape Town Gardens is concerned, here again we would be supporting him because this is what our intention is. I talk here about the hon the Minister’s amendment too. He proposes that the discretion be left to the Minister. What we want to achieve here is to put the emphasis on the conditions of service in the new institution in which the individual is engaged. If he is taken on in a position by the SATS, the Post Office or by another university the conditions of service of that institution must apply. If not, it will be so disruptive that it will cause us more problems in those institutions than the benefits which would apply to the individual concerned. Because of that difference we disagree with the hon the Minister’s amendment and we prefer our own amendment, namely to delete the words which I read out. This means that it is entirely negotiable between the Minister and the new institution what salary and conditions of service will apply to the individual. It does not exclude the possibility that the Minister can make an appointment at a higher salary, provided it is accepted by the institution. That is the effect of my amendment. It does not exclude doing what the hon the Minister wants to do but it does imply that the institution must agree with the conditions of service which the Minister would like that individual to enjoy. That is why we have proposed the deletion of the words without substitution, in this particular case. I think the hon the Minister will agree on reflection that that is the most desirable situation to have. I am sure the hon the Minister does not want to have a situation where Prof X from Fort Hare University is employed at University B and the hon the Minister then has to impose on that university conditions of service which creates disparity within the ranks of that university. Despite the fact that the hon the Minister’s department is going to be footing the bill I do not think it is right that one should force conditions of service onto a university or any other institution which will cause problems within that institution. The amendment which I have moved does still allow the hon the Minister’s department the discretion and the facility to negotiate with the university that a particular individual will receive certain conditions of service which they agree to. That is still allowable, and quite possible in terms of the amendment which I have moved. I think the hon the Minister will agree that that is quite a good idea. I hope he will see his way clear to accept the amendment.
Mr Chairman, I should like to take the hon the Minister back to the first amendment regarding the word “or” in line 39. I want to make a statement, and ask the hon the Minister whether he does not perhaps agree with me. I am of the opinion that this “or” should not be omitted. One could intepret the clause concerned in such a way that the “or” really does not aim at offering a choice between a period prior or subsequent to, and that it is not offered as an alternative either, but that we are in fact dealing with two possibilities here. The first possibility is that nothing happens to a lecturer until the day the Government of the country concerned takes over the institution concerned itself. Until that day, the institution is under the control of the South African Department of Education and Training, and the lecturers associated with that department are therefore its responsibility, too. When that changeover takes place, the lecturers at that university have the opportunity to say that they do not wish to remain there, but that they would rather leave. That is the one occasion when the Department of Education and Training has to make provision for those lecturers to be able to leave. I assume that the existing agreement becomes null and void at that moment. This means that the government concerned is taking over that institution, and if on that day there are lecturers who wish to stay on, they have to enter into a new agreement with the government in order to be able to stay on. In a case of this nature the Department of Education and Training is no longer responsible for those lecturers. That is one possibility.
The other possibility is that before termination and transfer to the new government, there may be a lecturer who encounters a problem which is not his fault. On the basis of the fact that that person is still the responsibility of the department, however, the Minister has to make him an offer. The Minister then makes an offer and the lecturer concerned must indicate within a certain period whether he is prepared to accept it, or his period of service will be terminated. Consequently, this matter does not present a problem for me, since in this respect there are two possibilities and they are not two aspects which should be read in conjunction with one another as though the lecturer has a claim to the department in perpetuity, even after the institution has been transferred to the new government and he has entered into a new agreement with them which the present Department of Education and Training no longer has anything to do with. Consequently, I think that this clause should be retained as it is. In any case, it creates no problems for me if one understands and sets it out in this way.
Mr Chairman, I should like to convey my sincere thanks to the three hon members who took part in the discussion for their attitude, on the one hand, and on the other, for the fact that they fully understand the clause. This is a short Bill but, as the hon member for Cape Town Gardens rightly said, it is a very complex piece of legislation. Nor is it only we who think so, but the law advisers as well.
Before commenting on what hon members have said and on the amendments they have moved, I move amendments 2 and 3 printed in my name on the Order Paper, as follows:
- 2. On page 7, in line 16, to omit “subsection (1)” and to substitute “paragraph (a)”.
- 3. In the Afrikaans text, on page 6, in line 42, to omit “’n” and to substitute “daardie”.
The first amendment refers to an incorrect reference that is now being rectified, whereas the second corrects a terminological error.
The hon member for Koedoespoort is correct in his interpretation of the meanings of the word “or”. My only comment on his interpretation is that the lecturers need not wait until the day the institution is physically taken over by the other government, because the Bill clearly states “or to be terminated”. That is the only comment I wish to make on the hon member’s interpretation with which, for the rest, I entirely agree.
I believe that the problem that the hon member for Durban North initially perceived in connection with the word “or” is completely solved by the amendment he moved today. Indeed, the intention is placed beyond all doubt by the insertion of the words “prior to such termination” after “(b)” on page 5 in line 47. If we insert those words it places beyond doubt the impossibility of the clause continuing to apply for the lifetime of the person. Therefore the amendment of the hon. member for Durban North is acceptable because it confirms the interpretation of the hon member for Koedoespoort, which is correct.
†I now come to the amendments in regard to the question of salaries, emoluments, etc and I move the following amendments:
- 10. On page 5, in line 53, to omit “on conditions and”.
- 11. On page 5, from line 54, to omit “conditions of service and”.
- 12. On page 5, in line 56, after “employed” to insert:
- and on such conditions as the Minister may, with due regard to the conditions of service appertaining to such staff member at that university, deem reasonable
In this regard we have the problem that there are certain privileges appertaining to staff members at universities. There are for example certain reductions in class fees for their children, as well as other things that may be applicable to them. It may not be possible to make that same kind of allowance when a particular individual is transferred to any position inside South Africa whether it is at an university or any department in the Public Service. In order to rectify that I believe that if we omit the words “on conditions and” in line 53 and the words “conditions of service and” in lines 54 and 55 and therefore reduce the basic obligation to a salary, we will be addressing the basic problem and can eliminate possible problems in that way. However, in order to be fair to this individual it is also necessary to give some leeway and flexibility to somebody in order to evaluate whether a particular privilege was indeed part of his conditions of service and what the effect will be if such a privilege is removed. With that in mind and after very serious consideration and discussion we arrived at the other amendment I moved, namely to insert the following words after the word “employed” in line 56:
I sincerely believe that while we will in this way limit ourselves to a degree, as the hon member for Cape Town Gardens has pointed out, we will also have the necessary flexibility in order to be fair to such a person. The decision of the Minister will obviously be taken with due regard to the circumstances appertaining to the particular individual. I cannot therefore accept amendment 5 moved by the hon member for Durban North. I believe that the way I have suggested will better enable us to cope with that situation.
I want to skip amendments 6 and 7 moved by the hon member for Cape Town Gardens and discuss amendment 8. The point in this respect is that it will be extremely unfair to force the conditions of service appertaining to a particular post onto such a person. I want to give a simple example. If as the hon member proposes we transfer a professor or any staff member at the age of 55 or 56 when he is no longer eligible to join the Public Service Pension Fund, from the university where he is a member of the Pension Fund for Associated Institutions to head office, the Minister will have no option but to deny that person the opportunity of joining the Public Service Pension Fund because he is not eligible to do so. His position will, in other words, be very seriously affected. First fo all, he will only be pensionable at an age five years beyond the age at which he would have been pensionable had he stayed at that particular university. Furthermore, you deny him the option to become a member of that pension fund because the rules simply preclude such a person from joining the Public Service Pension Fund if he is over a certain age. In such a case this very harsh amendment, if I may call it that, which makes sense in many respects, would be very detrimental to such an individual. I do not think we can accept that as fair.
Therefore, we will have to build in the flexibility to handle such a person according to his particular circumstances. Let me give an example. Consider the position of a professor at a university who loses his post on account of circumstances beyond his control or that of the Minister. We will then have a certain obligation to fulfil towards him. That person may be highly qualified and it may not be possible at that particular stage to appoint him elsewhere as a professor or senior lecturer, but there may be available the position of a junior lecturer or some other position to which he could be appointed—one could thus retain his services—until such time as one can employ him properly at a level suited to his particular qualifications and experience and concerning which the conditions of employment will be satisfactory from the point of view of dealing in a fair manner with that individual.
I do appeal to the hon members of the Opposition who are in favour of amendment 8 to consider the cases I have mentioned. There are also many more such hypothetical cases one can dream up, because we are dealing here with a very fluid situation and position of each of the more than 200 staff members at a university which finds itself in a position in which this particular university is right now can differ from that of every other staff member. It is impossible to cater in an Act of Parliament for all of them. Therefore, we must have a certain flexibility to accommodate such an individual.
Therefore, although I accept amendment 9 moved by the hon member for Durban North, I cannot accept his amendment 5. If I understood the hon member for Cape Town Gardens correctly, as far as his amendments 6 and 7 are concerned, he will be agreeable to the proposed omission of certain words. I want to say, too, that I really cannot accept amendment 8.
Mr Chairman, as I indicated, if the hon the Minister prefers his wording, ie “salary” instead of “pensionable emoluments”, we are quite happy with that and therefore with the leave of the Committee I shall withdraw amendments 6 and 7. I may say that we used “pensionable emoluments” because those are the words used in the University’s Acts. That is where we took the phrase from, but it is of no consequence to us one way or the other.
As regards my amendment 8, I accept the argument put forward by the hon the Minister, particularly in relation to pensions. In looking through the Bill, I see he is correct that it would mean that an older person who is not eligible to join a pension fund could be disadvantaged quite severely in that way. So, with the leave of the Committee I shall withdraw that amendment as well.
The hon the Minister will, however, have heard what the hon member for Durban North and hon members of this party have had to say in the Second Reading debate and now in the Committee Stage, viz that there is a limit to how far one needs to lean over backwards to help such people. We must help them where we can, but there are limits, because, as has also been mentioned previously, South Africans who are going to help at universities like those in Bophuthatswana and Transkei, will realize that they are different because they are not administered by South Africa. Those people have no added security at all. In essence, those universities, or certainly the university in Bophuthatswana—the one in Transkei appears to have a bit of a problem at present—are functioning without having to have these safety-net guarantees and I think that the sooner we can get the university in Ciskei, the University of Fort Hare, into that category, the better for all concerned.
Amendments 6, 7 and 8, with leave, withdrawn.
Business suspended at 18h30 and resumed at 20h00.
Mr Chairman, when we adjourned for supper I had mentioned that we would be supporting amendments 10, 11 and 12 of the hon the Minister. As far as amendment 9 of the hon member for Durban North is concerned, we believe it to be superfluous because when one looks at clause 5(1), in relation to the definition of “university” in clause 1, one sees that this definition includes a university in which the Minister exercises powers and performs functions in terms of an agreement. Therefore, as soon as an agreement terminates such as that, for example, with the Ciskei government in relation to Fort Hare, that university ceases to be a university in terms of this Bill. The university referred to in clause 5(l)(b) of this Bill, such as Fort Hare, would then no longer be defined as a university and would therefore fall away. However, we do accept that fact that the wording of the hon member’s amendment does not change the issue but if anything makes the position clearer. Therefore, we shall be supporting amendment 9 of the hon member for Durban North.
Mr Chairman, I agree with the hon member for Cape Town Gardens that what we are seeking to do here is to put the question beyond doubt. It was in the interests of doing so that I moved my amendment so as to make it absolutely clear that once the agreement has been terminated there will only be the 90 day period of grace available to individuals who wish to change their employment and that thereafter their option will lapse. The hon the Minister—and I should like to thank him for it—understands the problem we have, and I also want to thank him for agreeing to accept the amendment.
As far as amendments 10, 11 and 12 of the hon the Minister are concerned, I should like to tell him that we have looked at these amendments very carefully and also listened very carefully to his reply. I must say that there is a considerable amount of merit in his amendment 12. Amendments 10 and 11 agree, of course, with what we have in mind, and we accept them without reservation. As the hon the Minister knows, amendment 12 is an amendment that we considered very carefully. Initially we thought we had covered all the circumstances that could prevail in regard to an individual who lost his appointment at a particular university. In today’s world one cannot be too careful. Africa is a volatile area, it is very dynamic, and events political are not always predictable. In fact, Sir, I heard just a few minutes ago that there was apparently a radio report to the effect that Mr Joshua Nkomo had been put to death in Zimbabwe. We are awaiting confirmation of that report but, if it is true, it will certainly be a tragedy in the political development of that country. We shall see whether or not that report is true.
After having listened to what the hon the Minister had to say in regard to a very special case and, in particular, the case of a member who is discharged through no fault of his own from a university and, because of an age problem, finds himself ineligible to belong to a pension fund, we should certainly not like to see those circumstances occurring. For that reason in particular I should like to say to the hon the Minister and with the permission of this Committee that I am prepared to withdraw amendment 5 and that we shall also be supporting the hon the Minister in his amendments 10, 11 and 12. We believe this will close the gap if there is any gap in respect of security for these individuals. 1 trust the hon the Minister will exercise his judgment with the greatest discretion and care in order to avoid creating a further problem in respect of the conditions of service which have prevailed in terms of the new company or organization which the particular academic would join. I am sure the hon the Minister is aware of the reservations we have and that he will exercise his judgment with the greatest care. We have pleasure in supporting the amendments of the hon the Minister.
Amendment 5, with leave, withdrawn.
Mr Chairman, I rise to move amendment 1 standing in the name of the hon member for Pietermaritzburg South on the Order Paper, as follows:
This is directly connected to the amendments that have previously been discussed regarding the possibility that certain anomalies may be created by the movement of staff into Public Service and other posts. We in the PFP have a particular problem as regards the possibility that the anomalies that may be created in the Public Service will be further extended to any of the universities in this country. Here we understand the position to be that the universities referred to can be any of the universities that we have in this country. We believe that there is a basic contradiction in subsection (5) in that it creates posts additional to the establishment at any university if the Minister deems it necessary to move a person into such a university. We believe that if a fixed establishment has been devised according to certain SAPSE formulae for the universities of this country, then that normal establishment is that which is required for that university. If one is creating a post additional to that establishment, certainly there is going to have to be some kind of justification for doing so and it certainly cannot be proved according to the formula established for posts in this country. What we would obviously wish to know is that if such a post is created, what that person will be doing. What work will he be doing if he is, for example, added on to a certain faculty or department? He is obviously then going to relieve his colleagues of a certain amount of work, and those lecturing staff at that particular university may find themselves in a slightly easier position compared with their colleagues at other universities.
Secondly, such a person on that staff would create problems. For example, will he automatically fill any substantive vacancy which subsequently comes about on the normal establishment? If he does fill such a vacancy, this certainly goes against normal recruitment policy at most universities which is to advertise such posts free of any restriction. If they do advertise this it will be an embarrassing situation if the person who is additional to establishment does not get the job. However, there is a similar embarrassment if that person does not fill the first vacancy. Will he then indefinitely occupy a post additional to establishment? I think that the anomalies that would be created in the Public Service, if such staff were moved into the Public Service, would probably be fewer than if they were to be moved into a university situation.
Thirdly, we shall end up in a situation where there may well be staff at so-called White universities, falling under the Department of National Education but paid by the Department of Education and Training, possibly in terms of subsection (6) at salaries higher than and on different conditions from those of the staff already employed there. We must then ask the hon the Minister to what extent those staff will be under the Department of National Education and to what extent they will fall under the Department of Education and Training. To what extent will they have the independence that other staff have at the universities that we have in this country? Different salary scales and the creation of anomalies at universities are a far more personal matter and create far more dissatisfaction than in the broad Public Service. Subsection (6) which provides for the possibility that the Minister may set conditions of service and a salary for the person which may differ from those applicable or payable in terms of any law to other persons in the employ of that university will, I think, create an intolerable situation at the university in which that person is placed.
Lastly the administrative problems which will be created at particular universities if staff are moved from the particular designated university being considered here, namely Fort Hare, to other universities in this country, I think will be tremendous. There will be a large number of administrative problems and they will be far-reaching and they will possibly extend further into the future than we can at the present moment foretell.
Mr Chairman, before I react to the hon member’s amendment, I just want to make sure that the wording which you have—I am referring to amendment 12—reads “en op die voorwaardes” and not “en of die voorwaardes” as is the case on the copy which I have before me.
Order! The amendment will be changed accordingly.
I want to thank the hon members for supporting these amendments. I do believe that we are creating the necessary instruments in order to handle these individual cases with the necessary discipline to begin with and secondly also with the necessary flexibility in order to accommodate the various combinations and permutations which are possible.
With reference to the hon member for Pinetown, who spoke on behalf of his colleague who cannot be present tonight, I should like to say that I agree with him that it is a difficult system to handle administratively. At this stage, however, it is impossible to simulate what will happen in so far as the accommodation of these various people is concerned because, as I said earlier on during the discussions on this clause, everyone can produce a new set of circumstances with which the Minister will have to deal. If a particular individual is to be appointed, after negotiation with the appropriate Minister and the appropriate university council and so on, at a university which does not fall under the auspices of the Minister of Education and Training, then he will enter into a world which is at this moment quite different from the one from which he comes. I say this on account of the fact that the White universities have a degree of autonomy and flexibility in determining their salaries which does not exist as yet in the Black universities where we have standardized salary scales and so forth. Obviously, if a person is appointed at one of these universities, he will, to begin with if there is no appropriate vacancy for him, be superfluous. He will therefore have to occupy an additional post to the establishment which has already been determined and implemented by that particular university. In order to accommodate him, somebody outside the university and outside the department under which that university falls will have to foot the bill. On account of the fact that we are dealing here with a particular individual’s problem and because that particular individual comes from the area which is the responsibility of the Department of Education and Training, this department will have to pay the relevant moneys over to that department. One cannot expect the Department of National Education, as we have the set-up now, or the university to foot that bill.
Once that is said—we accept that we are going to have administrative problems—then we must ask ourselves whether it will in fact, as the hon member pointed out, create an intolerable situation. I believe that in those rare cases it will or might create a certain degree of uneasiness and it will definitely create some administrative problems. However, appointing such a person there may be necessary for a variety of reasons. I said earlier that it could be quite possible to appoint such an individual to an additional post for the time being, while awaiting a vacancy. A university can for instance decide that a person should undertake a specific research project until such time as they can employ him permanently. They would rather face the resulting administrative problems by accommodating a person in that way than losing his services altogether and forcing him into a situation where his services might have to be terminated under conditions provided for elsewhere in this Bill and where additional pension years may be added to his service.
A most important alternative is that it might be advisable to appoint a person to an additional post and to then transfer him on the basis of secondment back to the same university where he came from in the first place. This is only one of many possibilities and reasons why it might be advisable to appoint such a person to a White university.
In the event of this secondment occurring—this will be the case with most persons involved—we will most probably be able to accommodate such a person on the staff of the University of Vista where the student numbers are literally exploding. In the second year of existence there are already more than 6 000 enrolments. The Vista correspondence section could for a start accommodate such a person. I therefore believe that we will be able to accommodate such a person by and large within the area of responsibility of the department. In the unlikely event of that not being possible or advisable, or in the event of such a person being suitable for one of the other institutions, one will have to look outside the department in order to accommodate him.
As the responsible person, the rector of a university will certainly see to it, once a person has been appointed at the university on the basis of an additional post, that the services of such a person is utilized productively. He will report directly to that university. It will not be the responsibility of the Department of Education and Training. Once he is appointed to a post specially created for him, he will certainly be the responsibility of the rector concerned.
It is not the intention that he will automatically fill any vacancy that occurs. If a vacancy occurs, it will be advertised in the normal way, unless the university concerned need not advertise and an appoint a person directly, should he be someone who is the most suitable for that position.
The hon member asked whether this will be the case indefinitely. I do not believe it will be indefinitely because the desire of the department, the Minister and the institution where he has been appointed, will be to terminate the abnormalities surrounding his appointment and to incorporate him in the normal establishment as soon as possible so as to give him an opportunity to further his career along established lines.
I want to emphasize that prior to the appointment of such a person, there will have to be negotiations between the Minister, the department, and the council of the university concerned. It will therefore be done on the basis of an agreement.
I cannot answer the hon member’s questions regarding the question at which university it will take place, as it is impossible for me to say. All I am trying to do is to create the necessary machinery to be able to handle any extraordinary circumstances. In conclusion—I would like to put it that as far as this particular provision is concerned, the Opposition parties certainly made a substantial contribution towards the improvement of this very intricate piece of legislation and I would like to thank them very much indeed for it.
Mr Chairman, I am afraid the hon the Minister’s reply does not help us terribly much. What he has done is to say what might happen if a particular circumstance occurred. We on this side would have no particular problem if the university that was being referred to here was Vista University, which falls under his department. The looseness which is inherent here and which allows a person, with the concurrence of a council of a university, to be placed at any university in this country, is something which we cannot accept. The problem we have in particular is that it certainly will be to the advantage of the university to continue the arrangement. If a university has a fixed establishment and it is offered an additional post that is going to be paid from outside, it would be a fool to turn it down. Such a university will certainly be a fool to terminate it. We may well then have a situation of an additional member of staff being remunerated for an indefinite period from the hon the Minister’s department. I would have no particular problem if the hon the Minister were to reward the definition of university under clause 5 to be a university falling under his department. However, to say that it can be any university, with the concurrence of the council, I am afraid is liable to allow the situation to continue for a great length of time. I take the hon the Minister’s point that the possibility of placing such a member at Vista, where the numbers are expanding and seconding him back to Fort Hare, would be an ideal situation. However, that should be in the Bill. That is why we will persist with our amendment.
Mr Chairman, I should just like to point out that in the Vista University Act provision is already made for the kind of circumstance that the hon member has just referred to. If a university should think that it can exploit this situation by keeping that staff member for an indefinite period of time, it is making a grave mistake. Our budget restrictions are such that we will certainly look at the best possible utilization of every rand that we have. I make bold to say that our department is certainly the growth department as far as tertiary education is concerned. I think in most of these cases we will be able to accommodate these people ourselves.
Amendment 1 negatived (Official Opposition dissenting).
Amendments 2, 3 and 9 to 12 agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
New clause to follow clause 8:
Mr Chairman, I move:
The effect of this clause is that the Minister shall annually submit to this House a report on the number of persons involved in, and the financial implications of, assistance rendered in terms of clauses 5 and 6 during the preceding year. I think the hon the Minister and hon members will agree that the provisions contained in this Bill are rather unusual because of the slightly unusual circumstances that we are dealing with here. All the parties have supported the hon the Minister in regard to this Bill but I do believe that Parliament should monitor on a regular basis what is happening in this regard and in particular how much it is costing the taxpayer to implement the provisions of the Bill.
Mr Chairman, I believe that the new clause moved by the hon member for Cape Town Gardens has a considerable amount of merit in as much as we agreed earlier to give the hon the Minister the discretion to decide to a large extent the conditions of service of these employees. At the same time, however, there is the proble,—and I am sure that this is not what was intended by the hon member for Cape Town Gardens—that it could cause an embarrassment to these people themselves by having details of their salaries published in such a way that one can in fact identify them. The hon member has, I believe, deliberately used the words that in the report only the number of persons involved and the financial implications should be reported and not the specific conditions under which each individual is being employed. In that sense we believe that it is only fair. The hon the Minister has been given very wide discretionary powers in terms of clauses 5 as amended. He should therefore take the House into his confidence and advise us in a report what the financial implications and the dimensions of the problem have been. I may point out to the hon the Minister that this will probably not be a very onerous task because in all probability in practice it is going to be a once off report only. I believe that at the time that the control of the universities changes from the RSA Government to the other Governments concerned, the majority of the people who want to opt out and who will benefit from the provisions of this clause will do so in the initial period. We have made it absolutely clear that thereafter they have no claim on the Minister’s department, and therefore I believe that this report will probably only be necessary for a year or two at the most. I trust that the hon the Minister will seriously give consideration to the new clause that the hon member has proposed as we will certainly be giving it our full support.
Mr Chairman, I do not have any problem with the principle of reporting the circumstances to the House. My legal advice on this is, however, that there is no way in which the Minister of Education and Training can hide these details from the House or from anybody else. In the normal course of events this kind of information can be obtained by means of a question. Furthermore, the Minister is answerable during the discussion of his Vote. The legal advice that I have is that the amendment is superfluous from that point of view. It will not force the particular Minister to divulge more to the House than he otherwise would in the event of his being asked a question or if the issue is raised during the discussion of his Vote. From the point of view of neat legislation it is therefore not necessary but if hon members feel strongly about it and if they feel that it should be contained in the Bill itself, I am quite prepared to accept it. I have, however, gone out of my way to obtain the best possible advice on this issue. It must be clearly understood that there is no way in which the details, financial or otherwise, can be withheld from the House. I should like to hear the response of hon members in this regard.
Mr Chairman, I accept the hon the Minister’s point that it is not a question of trying to get information which we could not get otherwise by way of questions or that he could legally withhold the information, but this sort of precedent in terms of which a Minister has very wide discretion to disburse what in effect amounts almost to charity to people who have through no fault of their own ended up in a difficult situation is a fairly abnormal one. One hopes that it will not be long before this whole Bill we are discussing can be removed from the Statute Book altogether. Until that happens though, I do not think it is unreasonable that without having to be prompted by questions at any time, the House be informed of what happened during the previous year in very brief terms. I think the hon the Minister will agree that the information that is going to be required in that report is very limited and that it will therefore not be an enormous amount of work for someone to prepare such a report. I want to remind the hon the Minister that for each individual case requiring abnormal assistance in relation to pensions and similar relief a motion is brought before this House that somebody be assisted in a certain way. That gives an indication of the importance that Parliament attaches to discretionary disbursement of pension-type moneys to individuals. In that sense, while the intention was never to get something from the hon the Minister that we thought he was going to try to hide, it makes for good legislation and in fact for good monitoring of expenditure for this information to be presented to Parliament on a regular basis.
Mr Chairman, like the hon member for Cape Town Gardens, our intention in saying that we would support the amendment was not in any way to impute that the hon the Minister or his department would hide any information. It is merely to facilitate the identification of information very clearly in relation to this Bill that we feel that the hon the Minister and his department should lay upon the Table of the House a report specifically on the financial and quantitative implications of this Bill. However, there is an alternative which we would be prepared to consider, not by way of an amendment but certainly by way of acceptance thereof by the hon the Minister. He has indicated that he appreciates the degree of sincerity we have in respect of this amendment. He said that if we felt it really was necessary he would consider it. I think there is an alternative which I would like the hon member for Cape Town Gardens to consider as well. If the hon the Minister would see his way clear to give us an undertaking that in his annual report which he lays on the Table of the House he would specifically and under a heading of its own identify the topic and give us the information, we would be happy to accept that assurance from the hon the Minister. I think the hon member for Cape Town Gardens would agree that that would also serve the purpose which he had in mind with this amendment.
Mr Chairman, I believe that the suggestion of the hon member for Durban North is a very valuable one, namely to include this information in a standard paragraph in the annual report which has to be tabled in Parliament anyway. I am quite prepared to accept that alternative and I would like to hear the response of the hon member for Cape Town Gardens to it.
Mr Chairman, I think that is probably a reasonable compromise. The hon the Minister has given the undertaking that there will be specific mention in the annual report. However, I would like to ask that the financial implications be spelt out in monetary terms in that paragraph and not merely in general descriptive terms. That being so, with the permission of the Committee I would like to withdraw my amendment.
Mr Chairman, I can give hon members the assurance that, without divulging the identity of the individuals involved, the particulars of the overall financial implications as well as of the number of people involved and other relevant information will be included in the annual report of the department.
New Clause, with leave, withdrawn.
Bill, as amended, reported.
Mr Speaker, I move, subject to Standing Order No 56:
Mr Speaker, I do not plan to delay the House for long.
If I had half the money to throw a party such as the hon the Minister did for his toll road, I would have been gone long ago.
There are just a few points I want to make. The first is merely to repeat that, when one thinks of the effects of this Bill, we hope it will have the desirable effect of the best possible people at the University of Fort Hare staying on there and providing the best possible education to the students there in the circumstances. Secondly, I want to mention, again briefly, that it is in our view sad that it has been necessary at all to introduce a Bill like this, although we accept that fact as our support of the Bill indicates. I think it is a sad reflection on the way certain policies of the Government in relation to separate education as well as in relation to independent homelands have developed.
A third point I would like to make is that, in the light of what we accepted in clause 5, it is in my view fairly likely that, if and when our agreement with Ciskei to administer Fort Hare is terminated by either party and in particular if it is terminated by the Government of Ciskei, especially in the near future, considerable numbers of staff from that university will avail themselves of the provisions of this Bill and request the Minister to help them in one way or another. That could, of course, have a rather crippling effect on the university in the short term and I do hope that, if and when such termination comes about, all the parties involved will be brought into the discussions and negotiations so that as smooth a transition as possible is brought about with the least possible harm being done.
Mr Speaker, with the passing of this Bill we are now faced with the situation that satisfactory provision is being made for the fulfilment of a very old promise—if I may put it that way—to the staff of the university concerned. I am convinced that the security the passing of this Bill will bring about for the members of staff at the university concerned will reassure them and give them the necessary guarantees that whatever circumstances beyond their control may occur, they will have continuity of employment and pension. They can therefore feel reassured and continue performing their work there with the degree of responsibility with which they are doing so.
We on this side of the House are pleased that we were able to assist in solving this problem and we trust that the department is satisfied with what they have achieved.
Mr Speaker, I just want to tell the hon the Minister that this legislation is going to place a tremendous responsibility on his shoulders, not only as regards the discretion he has to exercise in terms of this legislation, but also as regards the precedents that will be created in solving the unique problem we are going to encounter in South Africa in the future. We trust that the hon the Minister will carry out that responsibility in such a way that it will not cause him more headaches than solutions as regards these institutions.
Of course, we have a great deal of confidence in the hon the Minister and in his views that he will, in fact, be able to carry out that responsibility in a way which will not only be to the benefit of everyone at that specific university, but also to the other institutions where the people concerned will be employed.
We also realize that the hon the Minister’s department wrestled with a specific problem and that they had to find a unique solution to that problem. I think that to that extent we have succeeded in our objective with this legislation. To a large extent this legislation will also reassure the people involved in this matter—in this specific case, at the University of Fort Hare—in that they will have this additional reassurance as regards continuity in their work at the university. That feeling of security is very important to everyone working at this university.
In conclusion, I also want to say that this legislation has in fact proved to us in practice that consensus is possible between parties who differ radically from one another as regards their philosophies. We identified a problem and we refined and honed the solution offered by the hon the Minister to the extent that it will in fact be successful. We also have a great deal of appreciation for the attitude of the hon the Minister himself in regard to the problems we experienced with this legislation, and we want to thank him for this. We also want to thank the hon member for Pinetown and the hon member for Cape Town Gardens, since I was really pleased to see how reasonable they can be when specific problems have to be solved. We support the Third Reading of this legislation.
Mr Speaker, I want to thank hon members who have concluded the debate and rounded off the legislation in this way. It is true that this is a particularly difficult problem and that in terms of this legislation, a promise is being kept which was actually made years ago to the staff of this particular university. It must be a source of great reassurance and satisfaction to them tonight that their security of employment has now been statutorily guaranteed. It is also true that they may now have greater peace of mind as far as their service at that university is concerned.
†As far as the remarks of the hon member for Cape Town Gardens are concerned, I think that the package that we now have in the form of this particular Bill as well as the relevant sections in the Vista University Act certainly provides for some measure of employment security for those particular staff members that will enable them, from now on anyway, to occupy their posts with a greater feeling of security than ever before and to go about their duties in a way which, I am sure, will not result in large numbers of them terminating their services. It is possible now for any person who feels uneasy to obtain the necessary security by being appointed at a different university and to continue his services at that particular university on the basis of secondment, which I believe is of great importance for them. We shall now, after having dealt with this Bill, go ahead and inform these staff members properly of the various possibilities that are open to them so that they can understand the position fully.
*I should like to convey my sincere thanks to the hon member for Durban North for the confidence he expressed with regard to the handling of this responsibility. I can assure him that it is not only greatly appreciated, but that it also increases the responsibility, because any person would be very anxious to justify the confidence which we have achieved on the basis of consensus in this House with regard to this sensitive matter. I thank him for that. With the necessary preparation and the necessary goodwill, it is possible to talk about certain matters even though they are controversial. To me personally, it has been an enriching experience. I convey my very sincere thanks to the hon members, and also to the hon members on this side of the House, who contributed their share with regard to this difficult piece of legislation. I appreciate it.
Question agreed to.
Bill read a Third Time.
Mr Speaker, I move:
The object of this Bill is essentially twofold. Firstly the aim is to establish specific statutory linkage structures to co-ordinate and grant advice at the tertiary level. Secondly the aim is thus to transfer greater powers to the universities. As the long title of the Bill indicates, the aim is also to bring about uniformity in regard to certain provisions in the respective university laws; to replace certain obsolete designations; to effect certain terminological improvements and to further regulate the constitution of certain councils and senates of certain universities.
At present there are five universities and one technikon in regard to which the Minister of Education and Training exercises certain powers and performs certain functions and which can, at this stage, rightly be described as developing institutions, for the first dentists and veterinarians have still to complete their studies at the medical university of Southern Africa and Vista university still has to furnish its first graduands. The other universities and the Mabopane East technikon still lack quite a few fields of study in which there is a need, in South African society, for trained Black people.
Tertiary institutions for Blacks are institutions with an individual character and unique problems that cannot simply be evaluated in terms of the criteria applicable to other tertiary institutions in South Africa or in Western countries. Tertiary institutions serve the community, and it is a fact that the demands of society do not always keep pace with the demands of a modern, rapidly developing economy. So in regard to society itself there is still, to a certain extent, an educational function to perform. Apart from that, there is an obvious, clear need for individual statutory coordinating and advisory structures for educational institutions for Black people.
Tertiary institutions are cost-intensive undertakings, and to ensure the optimum systematic employment of resources that are in scant supply, it is essential for the activities of these institutions continually to be evaluated by a college of specialists and for the Minister, when being advised, should be provided with balanced judgments.
The hon member for Cape Town Gardens agreed earlier this year, on 11 May, during the discussion of the department’s vote, that the question of proper communication between all interested parties in education was of decisive importance. That hon member also rightly mentioned that in the new constitution education for Blacks would be a general affair. He thereupon made the statement, however, that in the case of education for Black people it would be possible to exert pressure similar to that which it would be possible to exert in the case of the Coloureds and the Indians, in order to have the quality of their education improved at the same rate as that of the Coloureds and the Indians. Let me refer to Hansard, col 6294. The hon member also asked me to give him the assurance that the same norms and standards laid down for Whites, Coloureds and Indians would apply to the educational fields for Blacks. Here I refer to col 6295.
By making provision for the envisaged coordinating and advisory structures, recognition is firstly being granted to already existing essential linkage structures, tried-and-tested structures which function systematically and which, as it is, are serving an indispensable function. Secondly it provides a communicational and coordinating forum on an equal level to that of other autonomous tertiary institutions, a forum whereby systematic and balanced development, based on equal norms and standards, can take place. These provisions ought to satisfy the hon member’s wishes.
The statutory recognition of coordinating and advisory structures to promote matters of common concern, and investigating and evaluating matters involving development, is a reflection of the collective autonomy of the universities arising out of the degree of autonomy that each individual university already has.
Sir, I trust that my private secretary has remembered to give each of the three chief spokesmen a copy of the speech. It seems to me he has not done so, and I therefore ask him to do so immediately.
The aim is also, in consituting these coordinating and advisory structures, to arrange for interaction and liaison with the co-ordinating and advisory bodies of the other autonomous universities. More will be said about this at a later stage.
Clause 2 makes provision for the establishment, constitution and appointment of a secretary of the Committee of University Rectors. This commitee already has a long and fruitful history.
Since the establishment of university colleges for Blacks in 1960, the department has repeatedly been faced with the problem of these institutions’ respective councils, rectors and senate committees not always holding the same views on matters of common concern. As a result decisions, recommendations and the action to be taken by these bodies on matters of common concern frequently even went so far as to be irreconcilable, and this greatly complicated decision-making on the part of the department and the Minister. Although it was maintained throughout, as a basic point of departure, that university institutions should each be granted the freedom and the opportunity to develop an individual character, it was nevertheless thought desirable that in regard to matters and problems of common concern the aim should be uniformity, or at least mutual consultation.
With due regard to the necessity for co-ordination, during 1961 the then responsible Minister granted approval for the establishment of a committee of principals of university colleges for Blacks. This committee was known as the Committee of Rectors. In 1972 the Committee of University Rectors of non-White universities was established. Apart from the rectors of the universities for Blacks, the rectors of the University of Durban-Westville and the University of the Western Cape were also represented on that committee. This committee functioned as the counterpart of the Committee of University Principals. Special attention was paid to logistic and operational matters so as to regulate the administration of the universities on a systematic and meaningful basis. During 1983 this committee was reconstituted and only the rectors of the universities for Blacks were represented on the committee. The principal of the Mabopane East Technikon had the status of an assessor member of the committee.
Throughout the years this committee has performed a very valuable coordinating function. From as far back as 1973 strong pressure has been exerted to have the Committee of University Rectors given legal status. Owing to several considerations, for example the control of these universities possibly being taken over by the independent states, and the fact that these universities do not have the same degree of autonomy as the other universities, at the time the recognition of this committee as a statutory body was taken no further. The position has now been reached, however, with the envisaged granting of greater autonomy to the universities for Blacks, where statutory recognition of the Committee of University Rectors has become both feasible and very desirable.
Statutory recognition specifically makes it easier to regulate mutual liaison between bodies of the same kind, or bodies performing a function in which tertiary education has an interest. The Joint Matriculation Board and the various other professional boards are a few examples.
In the constitution of the Committee of University Rectors, provision is being made for the rector of each university, in regard to which the Minister of Education and Training performs a function, to be a member. Provision is also being made for the Committee of University Principals to nominate a member from its ranks to serve on the committee. This arrangement relates to the promotion of mutual liaison, and it is desirable, by way of further informal arrangements between the relevant Ministers, to have at least one other person serving on both the CUP and the CUR. There is a similar provision in the constitution of the CUP to regulate the nomination of a member by the CUR. It deserves to be emphasized here that this arrangement cannot, in any way, encroach upon the autonomy of any university. In fact, it is not the CUR’s objective to make any inroads into the autonomy of any university—in that connection I refer to clause 3(2). This arrangement can, at most, promote greater uniformity in the administration of universities. Because rectors really cannot keep fully abreast of all problems involving the control and administration of universities, provision is made for a number of additional members of each university to serve on the committee. These additional members are appointed from the registrars of the respective universities. Provision is also being made for a number of assessor members, singled out and appointed by the committee. Included in these there is the principal of the Mabopane East Technikon and a few officers of the Department of Education and Training who are involved with the handling of university and technikon matters. Because it is a question of the promotion of common interests, the arrangement is for only the rectors to have a vote.
In the constitution of the CUR, as compared with that of the CUP, provision has therefore already been made for a specific uniqueness. Because the CUR, like the CUP, must have its own staff, ie a fulltime secretary and other persons to assist him, the aim is to make provision for the salary scales, salaries, allowances and other conditions of service of such persons. Although the committee itself is empowered to decide on these matters, the expenditure involved, and also that involved in its other functions, is defrayed from moneys made available by the respective universities in a manner provided for by the Minister in consultation with the committee. At its next meeting in July 1984 the committee will come to a decision about its establishment and conditions of service and also formulate a policy on which to base its financing. For the present the secretarial functions of the committee are being dealt with by officers of the department. As an interim measure, provision is being made for this arrangement to continue until such time as the committee appoints its own staff.
In order to regulate the performance of its functions, provision is also being made for the procedures at meetings, for a quorum, for the term of office of certain members and for other matters concerning the proper performance of the functions of the committee. Decisions on these matters are to be taken by the committee itself.
Clause 3 regulates the functions of the CUR. It is important to note that this body merely acts in an advisory capacity. On the one hand it is the Minister who is advised, upon request, or upon request of the Director-General, or on the other hand off its own bat by the committee. Provision is also specifically being made for the CUR not to encroach upon the powers, rights and privileges of universities.
Clause 4 up to and including clause 9 regulate matters affecting the Council for University and Technikon Affairs (Education and Training). This council is, in essence, a follow-up or replacement body for the existing Advisory Council for State Universities and Technikons, which has already had a long history and been through several stages of development.
For the systematic planning of the extension of the erstwhile university colleges, in 1965 the department established a Planning Committee for the Extension of University Colleges. Apart from officers of the department, the advisory consultants of the respective university colleges also served on the committee. The committees functions were chiefly advisory and related to the planning and provision of tangible facilities. During 1977 the then Minister instructed that an ad hoc planning committee be constituted to act in an advisory capacity in the sphere of the general planning and development of the universities. That committee recommended that an advisory committee be appointed, its function being, amongst other things, to advise the Minister on an on-going basis on the co-ordinated development of the universities, the establishment of new fields of study and related matters. The department realized that in handling applications, specifically those for the establishment of new faculties, departments and courses, future development could not continue on a fragmentary basis. Extensions do, for the most part, have far-reaching financial implications, and the determination of priorities in the apportionment of moneys is of the utmost importance. The existence of an advisory body which can, on an ordered basis and in accordance with a fixed work pattern and certain guidelines, evaluate academic and physical development, is of decisive importance.
In 1978 substance was given to an advisory council which was reconstituted during 1983 on a similar basis to the AUT. This body is known, as has already been said, as the Advisory Council for State Universities and Technikons.
As a general affair in the new constitutional dispensation, the existence of individual advisory structures at all levels of education for Blacks is a necessity. The Education and Training Act, 1979, and the Technikons Act (Education and Training), 1981, already make provision for certain statutory advisory structures. Owing to the nature, character, location, the community that is served and individual needs and the approach to development, individual advisory bodies for university and technikon education are a definite requirement. The problems involved in the development of these institutions are unique. Vista University and the Medical University of Southern Africa, for example, are two unique universities in the university set-up in South Africa. The Medical University of Southern Africa has the task, as its name implies, of training professional staff for the medical and paramedical professions for Southern Africa, including the national and independent states. Vista University is a completely new university concept. This university has an administrative seat in Pretoria and provides instruction at five decentralized campuses. In contrast to the other universities, this university is geared, on a contract basis, to providing for the needs of the urban Black man in the RSA for university instruction. Amongst the universities for Blacks there are also, mutually, very fundamental ties of common responsibility as far as the training needs of Black people are concerned.
†Clause 4 provides for the establishment and constitution of the Council for the University and Technikon Affairs (Education and Training). The only difference between the intended constitution of the council and that of the existing advisory council is that the Committee of University Rectors will henceforth nominate two members on the council instead of one. This provision is intended for purely practical reasons. The term of office of the chairman of the Committee of University Rectors is two years, and he is usually succeeded by the vice-chairman. The term of office of the council, however, is four years. Nomination of two members by the CUR would ensure greater continuity of representation of the CUR on the council.
The constitution of the council aims at creating a highly professional and expert body. Six members are appointed on account of their expertise and experience. It was proved possible, when the present advisory council was constituted, to bring together in one body some of the most able and experienced specialists and experts in various fields of public life. As already stated during the debate on the Education and Training Vote, Dr L P McCrystal is at present chairman of the advisory council. Provision is also being made for the appointment, in addition to the six member mentioned, of other persons as decided upon by the Minister. This clause enables the Minister to carry out his intention of appointing to this council members of the Universities and Technikons Advisory Council. Similar provision has been made to appoint members of this council on the Universities and Technikons Advisory Council. The advantages of reciprocal appointment on these two bodies are obvious, especially since the Universities and Technikons Advisory Council has the functions of advising the Minister of Education and Training on specific matters. In this manner uniformity in approach is promoted. It is also envisaged that such an approach will facilitate the formulation of a national strategy for developing higher education in South Africa, in which uniform norms and standards are essential.
Clauses 4(3) and (4) provide for the term of office of a member and for the termination of membership of members.
Clause 5 is intended to determine the functions of the council. These functions correspond with those now being carried out by the current Advisory Council for State Universities and Technikons and cover the entire field of activity of universities and technikons. It is worthy to note that the Minister in considering advice from council should also take into consideration advice brought out by the Universities and Technikons Advisory Council when those matters on which the latter body is obliged to advise him are at issue. The Minister therefore has at his disposal the advantage of a wider range of perspectives in making rational decisions.
Clause 6 provides for the introduction of committees of the council. In addition to an executive committee, the advisory council carries out its functions with the assistance of three committees, namely the academic planning committee, the financial committee and the physical planning committee. These committees consist of members of the advisory council and render valuable services by way of their investigations and evaluations. The nature of the functions of these committees is highly specialized and scientifically orientated. The continued existence of the committees within the council is envisaged. Where necessary it is contemplated to augment these committees by appointing, as required, knowledgeable persons who are not members of the council.
Clause 8 provides that the Minister can appoint an officer of the department as secretary of the council. This arrangement is in operation at present.
In order to carry out its functions effectively, it is necessary to make provision that the secretary of the council be assisted by other officers of the department. The Director-General will determine the establishment and the scope of assistance to be rendered through the appointment of additional departmental officers.
Secondly this Bill makes provision for greater autonomy of the Universities of the North, Zululand, Vista and the Medical University of Southern Africa. In effect, these universities already enjoy greater autonomy as from 1 April 1984.
I now wish to refer to certain specific clauses.
Clauses 11, 26, 41 and 55 make provision for the definition of “lecturer” or formulate existing definitions more clearly.
Clauses 12, 27, 42 and 56 provide that greater responsibility be assigned to university councils regarding the control and administration of moneys or property which have been received as donations or bequests. It further provides that certain universities may enter into agreements with other bodies in connection with the continuation of the activities of the university.
Clauses 13, 28 and 43 contain consequential amendments.
Clauses 14 and 29 provide that the principal of a university may designate any person on the establishment of the university to assist him in performing certain functions and duties regarding committees.
Clauses 15, 30, 44 and 57 provide that the composition of university councils be amended in order to include persons who are donors of those universities.
Clauses 16, 31, 45 and 58 grant greater powers to university councils regarding matters related to the senates of universities. The constitution of senates is also being changed to facilitate more sufficient functioning.
Clauses 18, 19, 33, 34, 47, 48, 60 and 62 make provision for the transfer of greater powers to university councils. The same applies to clauses 20, 35, 49 and 61.
Clauses 21, 36 and 50 make further provision for the admission of persons as students, and the power to limit the number of persons who may be permitted to register for certain courses is transferred to university councils.
Clauses 22, 37, 51 and 63 provide that councils may determine the fees payable by students without the intervention of the Minister or the Minister of Finance.
Clauses 23, 38 and 52 make provision for the transfer of greater responsibilities to universities as far as the conduct of examinations is concerned.
Clauses 24, 39 and 53 provide that subsidies may be granted out of moneys appropriated by Parliament to universities for the fulfilment of their functions.
Clauses 25, 40, 54 and 64 provide that universities may appoint private public accountants and auditors.
Clause 65 contains the short title.
I am afraid that this Bill is somewhat dry matter for a happy occasion such as a Wednesday evening after dinner, but these universities must operate and we therefore must pass these laws in Parliament regardless of the time and occasion.
Mr Speaker, for a choice audience such as this, comprising hon members of this House, I do not think that university matters, as the hon the Minister remarked, are a “dry” subject. I believe, on the contrary, that there is so great a degree of interest in university matters that we certainly do not need to excuse ourselves for wanting to deal with it on a Wednesday evening.
As the hon the Minister has indicated, the Bill is chiefly concerned with three fundamental matters, ie the establishment of a Committee of University Rectors, the establishment of a Council for University and Technikon Affairs (Education and Training) and amendments to the existing legislation relating to the University of the North, the University of Zululand, the Medical University of Southern Africa and the Vista University. Firstly I want to concentrate my attention on the third matter and shall be returning, at a later stage, to the first two matters.
In regard to the third aspect, which concerns the four university institutions I mentioned, the Bill actually embodies similar provisions, as the hon the Minister has indicated. The essence of the amendments lies in the granting of greater autonomy to these four institutions. The greater autonomy now being granted in the Bill are set out in provisions in the Bill. Firstly the four institutions can now, with the approval of the Minister, receive money or property by way of donations, bequests or in trust, as is apparent from clauses 12, 27, 42 and 56. Secondly the council of each of these institutions can now decide for itself, ie without the approval of the Minister and the Minister of Finance, about the allowances of the chairman and the members of the council or the committee of the council, as is apparent from clauses 12, 30, 44, 57 and 58. Thirdly the appointment of professors of other universities to the senate of a university, without the approval of the Minister, is a further important principle underlying autonomy, as is apparent from clauses 16, 31 and 45. Fourthly there is the right of the council of a university to determine its own establishment and to decide for itself about the appointment, discharge and promotion of the staff, without the approval of the Minister, as is apparent from clauses 18, 33, 47 and 60. Fifthly there is the right of the council to decide for itself about the conditions of service of the staff, as is apparent from clauses 19, 34, 48 and 62. In the sixth place the council can now decide for itself about the secondment of its staff members, as is apparent from clauses 20, 35, 49 and 61. In the seventh place the council is now competent, without the approval of the Minister, to decide on the admission of students and the fees payable by students, as is apparent from clauses 21, 22, 36, 37, 50, 51 and 63. In the eighth place the council can now decide for itself whether, and to what extent, it wants to make use of external examiners, as is apparent from clause 23, 38 and 52. In the ninth place, confirmation is given of the autonomy of university councils when it comes to the auditing of the universities ’ books and accounts, as is apparent from clause 25, 40, etc.
What we therefore have in this Bill is formal legal recognition of the autonomous character of these four university institutions. I just want to say that we welcome these amendments. We regard them as not only great improvments, but also as essential ones. The hon the Minister must please excuse me if I say—and I am not saying this with any sense of malicious joy—that when the original Bills were before the House we asked for autonomy to be granted to each of the four of them. The hon member for Virginia, who is now sitting there pointing his finger at me, and the hon member for Durban North, were the people who repeatedly said that owing to the fact that these universities were financed by the State, autonomy could not be granted to them. I now just want to say that I am very glad that in spite of the fact that the financing basis has not changed fundamentally, the hon the Minister and the Government have seen their way clear to granting that measure of autonomy to these universities. The hon member for Virginia will know how, time and again, we fruitlessly argued this matter. We on this side are therefore truly thankful that we have now come to the point where sound common sense and logic have triumphed as far as these four universities are concerned. The hon member for Kimberley North knows very well what I am talking about. We on this side are therefore grateful for the fact that the things we have consistently advocated are now eventually being accepted by the Government and being implemented by way of legislation.
I am grateful to the hon the Minister for having sketched, in his speech, the background to the two aspects I have mentioned, ie the establishment of a Committee of University Rectors and a Council for University and Technikon Affairs (Education and Training). We pointed out the necessity of the institutions and the value of, and the need for, co-ordinating sturctures. It goes without saying that we welcome the fact that provision is now being made, by way of legislation, for these instruments of co-ordination.
I am sure the hon the Minister will not hold it against me if I say that in spite of the historical background, and in spite of what the hon the Minister has said, we remain unconvinced about the necessity for parallel bodies for the universities for Whites, Coloureds and Indians on the one hand and for the universities for Blacks on the other. I know that this is a matter of policy, and I am quite sure that in accordance with the present Government policy the hon the Minister will, at this stage, come along with the same kind of convincing arguments used earlier by Government members, such as the hon member for Virginia, about why autonomy could not be granted to the universities. I do believe, however, that the majority of the present members of the House will still be here when we reach the point of creating a few umbrella bodies for all the tertiary institutions in South Africa and get away from the principle of differentiation and separation and from the stigma of separateness, etc.
Another natural development.
Yes, it will then be a natural development.
I want to state very clearly that even if one were to accept the principle of the necessity for the existence of separate institutions, for whatever reason, and even if one were to accept that there was a need for separate institutions for Whites, Coloureds and Indians, the creation of a few umbrella bodies would not encroach upon that principle in any way. I therefore want to put it to the hon the Minister that the fundamental principle of the separate existence of those institutions is not endangered by the creation of a single umbrella body for the universities. The sober fact of the matter is that the common factors binding the universities in South Africa together, their common problems and their common demands—regardless of whether they are universities for Whites, Coloureds, Indians or Blacks—and the common ends they serve and the functions they perform, far outweigh any differences between them. I am not saying that there may not be different needs. I am only saying that the interests the institutions have in common far outweigh those aspects that separate or distinguish them.
To tell the truth, the hon the Minister himself concedes as much. In his Second Reading Speech he made the following statement with which I fully want to associate myself:
What this essentially means is that the desirability of a few umbrella bodies is being accepted in principle. If we were to create a few umbrella bodies—without any loss of identity taking place—it would probably be possible to remove any stigma attaching to forced separateness more effectively than by any means we are now employing.
With this mania we have for the creation of parallel bodies we even have to create terms that must essentially appear to be of some significance. In the case of the universities for Whites, Coloureds and Indians, for example, we speak of a Committee of University Principals. In the case of Black universities we speak of the Committee of University Rectors. The whole matter is becoming ridiculous. In the case of the Advisory Council for White universities and technikons we speak of the Universities and Technikons Advisory Council, but in the case of the Black universities and technikons we must speak of the Advisory Council for University and Technikon Affairs (Education and Training). Really, this whole matter is becoming foolish and ridiculous. Why go to these lengths for the sake of maintaining separation at a level where it is unnecessary? If there were a functional or essential need for separate bodies, one could understand it, but in this specific field I am convinced the time has come, as far as the question of umbrella bodies is concerned, for us to move away from this idea of the existence of separate bodies. [Interjections.]
In our general constitutional dispensation we have already created a situation in which the Whites, Coloureds and Indians are grouped together on one side, to the exclusion of the Blacks. It could possibly be said—for reasons possibly clear to the Government but not to me—that it is essential for that distinction to be made, but then I also want to say that it is completely senseless to carry that distinction to other spheres. It is therefore senseless, where it is unnecessary …
According to your judgment.
Not only according to my judgment, but also according to that of my colleagues. Let me tell the hon member for Virginia that one of these days it is even going to be his judgment too. [Interjections.] Let me say again that where it is unnecessary, it is surely senseless to create that contradistinction. [Interjections.] Let that hon Deputy Minister create the contradistinction where he deems it necessary, but what we are saying is that we should not do it in fields where it is not essential. Those Black people are citizens of this country, and the hon member for Virginia will concede that wherever possible we should acknowledge that fact.
It is very clear that as far as this legislation is concerned, I cannot come along with amendments or proposals for the creation of a single umbrella body, because I would not be permitted to do so within the ambit of this Bill. We must therefore accept the situation, and in the light of that fact I therefore welcome the provision in clause 2 that the Committee of University Principals be represented in the Committee of University Rectors, affording the necessary cross-pollination. As the hon the Minister has indicated, the obverse is also true, i.e. that the Black universities will also be represented in the Committee of University Principals.
We also welcome the provision that the Black technikon will also be represented on the Committee of Technikon Principals, albeit without a vote, and as hon members know, we opposed that. In this connection, however, we also welcome the cross-pollination as a result of representation in the Council for University and Technikon Affairs.
There are also a few other matters to which I want to draw the attention of the hon the Minister. The first of these is that one welcomes the fact that donors will now also be represented on the councils of these universities. That is an important step, and I hope that this will pave the way for a greater degree of financial donations to these universities. There are also quite few ancilliary points in this legislation. As far as representation on the Advisory Council is concerned, it is to be welcomed that specific mention is made of the representation of people who have a knowledge of technikons, etc. I would have preferred, as I said during the discussion of the other Bill, to have had the Black technikons given a full say when it comes to representation on that council. I am nevertheless glad that provision is at least being made, by way of this provision in the Bill, for one of the persons appointed by the hon the Minister to have a knowledge of technikon affairs, in particular. We felt, as the hon Minister for National Education will recall, that thought should also be given to manpower needs and that someone who was an authority at that level should serve on that body. I am therefore grateful to the hon the Minister for specifically making provision for the fact that some of the people to be appointed are going to be experts in the field of manpower.
There are quite a few other points I could raise and there are quite a few amendments I have on the Order Paper. I just want to give the hon the Minister the assurance that the motive behind our amendments was actually the positive improvement of the Bill, as far as we could possibly do so. In other words, our approach to this Bill is a positive one, and our amendments were drawn up in that spirit. I hope the hon the Minister will also approach the matter in that spirit. At this stage it is a pleasure for me to indicate that we support the Bill.
Mr Speaker, in the first place I wish to thank the hon member Prof Olivier for the support which that side of the House will be giving to this important Bill. The hon the Minister explained the contents of the Bill so clearly and comprehensively that I do not think there are many hon members in this House who listened without knowing exactly what appears in the Bill. Apart from that, the hon member Prof Olivier also discussed the finer details and contents of the Bill. Therefore I do not intend dealing further with the contents of the Bill.
They say that the most dangerous thing that can happen in this House is when we all agree on legislation. It takes us hours to tell one another about it. I want to refrain from doing so, except merely to point out by way of summary that it is indeed true that what we now have here are two bodies that existed in the past and did very important work by furnishing advice to the hon the Minister of Education and Training, and which are now being given statutory effect. Moreover, it is indeed true that in the final clauses of the Bill greater autonomy is being given to these four universities.
The hon member Prof Olivier was gratified that the time for common sense and logic had arrived. While discussing the previous piece of legislation I said to the hon member that I did not begrudge him his pleasure at this. However, what the hon member is unable to understand is that there is a time for everything. There was also a time when White education in the Republic of South Africa was very much in a developing stage, when specific methods were adopted in respect of the administration of White education. The hon member will agree with me. As it grew, however, the method of administering tertiary education for the Whites, if one wants to call it that, also changed. The position was the same with regard to Black education, Coloured education and Indian education. It is certainly true that there are specific times when one has to adopt a specific strategy to benefit a specific university. As that university, be it for Whites or for people of colour, develops and becomes more skilled in administration, one will obviously reach a point when one will be able to tell these people that they can now obtain greater autonomy. This is clearly the present state of affairs. The problem with that side of the House, the problem with the hon member Prof Olivier, is that they regard this matter purely and simply from the angle of their particular policy. I do not take it amiss of the hon member for doing so.
Autonomy has nothing to do with this.
Just give me a chance to complete my argument. I say that I do not take it amiss of the hon member for regarding the position from the angle of his basic policy and political philosophy. On that basis the hon member at once argues that apart from autonomy, there must be one umbrella body. In the meantime—the hon member concedes this—provision is already being made in the legislation for, as he calls it cross-pollination. The first body, viz the Committee of University Rectors, is therefore a committee on which the various rectors of the various Black universities have the opportunity to serve because these Black universities, as Black universities, share a common character. However we are also providing the opportunity for representation of those universities in the CUP, so that both sides can already derive benefit from cross-pollination in respect of that which the Black universities and the White universities have in common. That is true, but that is not to say that one is now dealing purely and simply with a single umbrella body. I shall shortly be dealing with the arguments advanced in this regard.
Now we understand it. After all, one cannot have cross-pollination if one only has one body.
I do not know whether the hon member for Bryanston knows much about cross-pollination. He may know more about other crosses. Therfore he must not tempt me into elaborating on the crosses on which he is an authority. I doubt whether the hon member knows about the kind of cross-pollination that we are dealing with here.
Therefore I want to emphasize that the Committee of University Rectors is the committee that is being established to discuss the character shared by the Black universities and in that way to achieve what is best for those different universities within the context of Black universities, and I shall come back to this later.
In contrast we have the second body, which is also a very important body, viz the so-called Council for University and Technikon Affairs. What is important in this connection—this will probably also be pointed out later, if not by the official Opposition, then by the CP—is that there is a difference. In the first place there is the first committee that is wholly autonomous, whereas on the other hand there is the Council for University and Technikon Affairs in regard to which the Minister has the full say in respect of the appointment of the Chairman, the appointment of the members and a certain number of matters. Therefore the situation as regards this council is in total contrast to the situation with regard to the Committee of University Rectors.
The question immediately arises as to why this should be so. Because I know that this argument will also be advanced by that side of the House, I want to anticipate it and say that it is so for the simple reason that as far as the Committee of University Rectors is concerned, one has reciprocal aid and discussion in respect of what goes on in the universities themselves, but in the Council for University and Technikon Affairs one has an advisory council which was specifically established to advice the Minister with regard, too, to the development within university affairs in particular. Because this is so, and because that body will specifically also be made up of experts due to the nature of its composition, that body will be under the control of the Minister so that the Minister has the privilege—since it is his council which is to advise him—to appoint the members of the council and so on. Therefore the Minister exercises control in that regard.
I now come to the question of the separate universities, concerning which the hon member Prof Olivier waxed verbose. I contend on behalf of this side of the House that at this juncture there is most certainly a difference between the universities for the Blacks, the Coloureds and the Asians on the one hand and the White universities on the other. There is a difference in their degree of development. There is a difference in the character of the various universities. There is a difference at various levels. Because there is a difference between the various universities it is to the benefit of the population groups in question that each should have its own council. This is a basic point of departure, but now the hon the member Prof Olivier argues that although this is the basis of the Government’s policy in the constitution, it is ridiculous to extend it to the universities, because, so the hon member argues, that is unnecessary. I said to the hon member by way of an interjection that according to his judgment it is unnecessary, and he is entitled to his opinion, but in the opinion of this side of the House it is most certainly necessary that we have various universities. I want to mention only a few of the reasons. If I ask myself: Why an advisory body purely for Black tertiary education? I should say that this institution has certain distinctive characteristics that necessitate different arrangements in respect of its administration and management. That is true.
Moreover, these institutions have their own educational, cultural, social and economic factors that they have to take into account in determining the need for highlevel manpower in their own field.
Hennie Smit explained it far better. He said the thought processes of Black people were slower.
I shall not fall into that trap.
Mr Speaker, may I ask the hon member a question?
The hon member can ask me questions later.
These universities have their own aims and political viewpoints, and it is important that this be taken into account with regard to the national states as well as the independent states, since they serve students from these two areas. This is in contrast to the Whites. As far as I am concerned, the Black communities—I do not say this in a derogatory way—are in a stage of development, and therefore it is a requirement that educational structures for them should be more flexible and adaptable. I want to refer to one last factor in this regard. There is a difference between the approach of the universities in the White community on the one hand and that of universities in the Black community on the other. Therefore as far as we are concerned there is a clear and perceptible difference. That is the basis for the different structures for tertiary education we encounter among the Whites, the Blacks, the Coloureds and the Indians. This makes optimum achievement possible.
Sir, will the hon member concede that exactly the same argument was used in regard to White universities as against Coloured and Indian universities, but that in spite of that an umbrella body has now been created for White, Coloured and Indian universities? If that has happened in spite of all the arguments in the past, will the hon member not concede that this could just as well happen in respect of Black universities?
Where is the umbrella body to which the hon member refers? There is no one umbrella body controlling Coloured, Indian and White universities. It is true that there are separate bodies for White, Coloured and Indian universities.
I take it amiss of the hon member for using the term “stigma”. He levels the accusation at us that a stigma supposedly attaches to tertiary education of Blacks, Coloureds and Indians. If I understood the hon member correctly, I believe that it is members in his own party who created that stigma, because that is not the standpoint of this side of the House. We want to give those universities the very best.
I mentioned where the stigma lay.
I want to leave the argument at that. We shall probably argue the matter further during the Committee Stage.
It is a pleasure for me to support this legislation on behalf of this side of the House because I believe it is a step in the right direction and is moreover in the interests of the universities in question. I believe that the autonomy they are now acquiring represents an exceptional advance and that the two councils that are to be established can be of considerable assistance in the promotion of tertiary education.
Mr Speaker, I listened attentively to the reaction of the hon member for Virginia to the speech of the hon member Prof Olivier. I have some sympathy for him. When one wishes to move away from separate development one has the problem of not going too far and putting one’s foot in it. I want to say to the hon member for Virginia that he must not anticipate too much what the CP will say about specific legislation because now and again his anticipation is not accurate. Then the embarrassment is not ours, but his. [Interjections.]
To begin with, I want to thank the hon the Minister for his typed Second Reading speech, which I have now received, a little late.
I am sorry about that.
However, I tried to follow the hon the Minister when he made his speech. Now and again he went a little fast, particularly as far as the detail is concerned. Therefore one had to concentrate somewhat to keep up. However, I believe that I succeeded in keeping up to a reasonable extent.
I actually want to divide this Bill into four categories. The first relates to certain definitions that have to be adjusted. I do not wish to say a great deal more about that now. The second category—this also covers the greater part of the Bill—relates to autonomy that is being given to the four universities involved here, viz the University of Zululand, the University of the North, the Medical University of Southern Africa and Vista University. We on this side of the House have no difficulties with the fact that this autonomy is being granted to these universities. We believe that this is a process of development for these universities that were established for the specific population groups. We believe that they have passed through a phase of development and that they have now reached a stage at which greater autonomy can be granted them to deal with certain matters internally. The councils of those universities are now being given the power to deal with certain matters themselves, without constantly having to ask the Minister’s permission to do so.
In this regard I just wish to point out that this autonomy that is being granted to them covers quite a wide spectrum. For example, it covers the handling of the own establishment—in other words, staff appointments and decisions about staff appointments—as well as agreements that may be entered into. I believe that this, too, is an important matter. It deals, too, with the admission of students to those specific universities. Moreover, the rectors of those universities are acquiring powers of delegation, and in my opinion this, too, is important. In a previous debate I pointed out that to the extent such a university grows and the rector’s duties increase, it is obvious that he will not be able to attend every committee meeting, and that it is therefore necessary for him to be given powers of delegation in order that affairs may be successfully administered.
Moreover, concessions are being made in respect of the acceptance of donations and so on. I said in a previous debate that I welcomed the fact that it was being provided in the legislation that the donor had to abide by the objectives of the tertiary institution in question and could not set conditions in respect of his donation which were not consistent with the aims of the university. I believe that this is a very good remedy that is being embodied in the legislation to prevent a donor from exercising his authority over a university, from gaining a hold on it and imposing his will. Donations are made on conditions set by him, but they must at all times be consistent with the aims of the university in question. I think that this is a very important measure that is being embodied in the legislation in this regard. We on this side of the House have no difficulties as regards the fact that a committee of university rectors is to be established in terms of this legislation. Nor do we have any difficulties about the fact that the functions of the committee are spelt out in detail as is the procedure in respect of its activities.
We have encountered a problem in respect of other legislation with the fact that some of the other race groups are able to sit in a Committee of University Principals for Whites. We therefore object to clause 2(2)(a)(ii) in terms of which provision is made for a member of the Committee of University Principals established by section 6 of the Universities Act, 1955, to be nominated to this committee.
A great deal has been said this evening about cross-pollination, but I just to warn that one must not go so far with cross-pollination that eventually nothing original remains. I am convinced that the Black universities which are now achieving autonomy in terms of this have a need to liaise with one another. I also believe that they have a need to co-operate with one another in certain respects, and therefore the rectors of those universities can establish a committee in which they have a seat, can liaise with one another and discuss matters of joint importance to them. However, we object to the presence of Whites on that committee. I do not want to repeat all the reasons for our objection to this, since I have already done so. I shall therefore confine myself to saying that we object to it.
The hon the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications can relax a little. He does not always know what a discussion is about, but as soon as one says something which even smells like separate development, he objects. He is already so integrated that he can no longer see the difference. [Interjections.]
Therefore hon members can see what problem is being created for us here. Provision is being made in this legislation for the presence of a White on the Committee of University Principals, and the PFP with their policy and ideology immediately seizes upon this and reproaches the Government for not going far enough. They argue that the Government should establish one umbrella body for all the race groups. This is the difficulty, viz that as soon as one plants the seed of this thing, it grows and is encouraged by the PFP, and that little plant grows faster and faster, and one has to keep making consessions. [Interjections.]
We on this side of the House do not object to the fact that a Council for University and Technikon Affairs is being established to advise the Minister. We believe that it is essential that a Minister be advised in this connection. Nor do we object to the Minister appointing the chairman, etc, because we believe that this is part of the development phase.
However, we object to the fact that the Minister, while being advised by his own council, is now compelled by legislation first to listen to the advice he obtains from the White board before accepting this advice. I believe that that is superfluous. If the Minister needs an advisory council to advise him on those universities and technikons for which he is responsible, he ought not to need advice from another board which was established for the other population groups. I believe that the advisory council that the Minister is going to establish for himself will include experts who will give him all the advice he requires to perform his function in respect of these academic institutions which are his responsibility.
We on this side of the House are prepared to vote for the Second Reading of the Bill, however. We shall not oppose it. However, we shall take our objections further during the Committee Stage and vote against clause 2, not because we are opposed to a Committee of University Principals but because Whites will have a seat on it. Unfortunately this is part of the same clause, and if it had been separated we should have voted for a clause providing that Black universities may create a Committee of University Rectors, because we have no objection to that. As a result we are compelled to vote against the clause, and in the nature of the matter we shall also have to vote against clause 5. [Interjections.] The hon the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications had better relax, because he is going to encounter considerable difficulties when he comes to this House with legislation. I am waiting for him, because we are going to make matters as difficult for him as possible.
With these few thoughts, I reiterate that we shall vote in favour of the Second Reading, with the proviso that when we get to clauses 2 and 5 during the Committee Stage we shall record our objections to them.
Mr Speaker, I am pleased to hear that the CP supports the Second Reading of the Bill. I do not wish to become involved in the polemics about the isolation or integration aspects of the legislation because I see in this merely an effort to create an organization whereby mutual consultation can take place.
The measure at present before the House provides in clause 2 for the establishment of a Committee of University Rectors, consisting of the rector of each university, a member nominated by the Committee of University Principals and other members who will serve in an advisory capacity. Clause 3 describes the functions of the committee and in clause 4, the constitution of the Council for University and Technikon Affairs (Education and Training) is specified. This council will consist of a chairman and nine members appointed by the Minister. The Minister may terminate the period of office of a member at any time and on the expiry of his period of office a member may be reappointed. The functions of the council are defined in clause 5 and it will advise the Minister on various matters. The council is also authorized to investigate specific matters and report on them to the Minister. In terms of clause 6 the council may establish committees, and persons who are not members of the council may be appointed members of such committees. The provisions relating to the meetings and procedures of the council are embodied in clause 7. Clause 8 provides that the Minister may designate an official of the department as Secretary of the council, while clause 9 regulates the allowances and remuneration and the members of the committees. In terms of clause 10 the Minister may delegate specific powers to the Director-General. Moreover, subject to certain provisos the Director-General may delegate his powers to an officer in his department. Clauses 11 to 25 amend certain Acts in order to give greater autonomy to the University of Zululand. Clauses 26 to 40 contain statutory amendments giving greater autonomy to the University of the North. Clause 41 to 54 amend certain Acts, thereby affording the Medical University of Southern Africa greater autonomy. Clauses 55 to 64 contain statutory amendments giving the Vista University greater autonomy, whereas provision is also made for various dates on which the measure relating to the various provisions comes into effect.
I take pleasure in supporting the Bill.
Mr Speaker, we listened with great interest to what the hon member for Maraisburg had to say. To a very large extent he confirmed for us, perhaps in greater detail than the hon the Minister, what the main provisions of this Bill are. May I say immediately that certain of the elements and provisions contained in this Bill represent a development situation which we in the NRP welcome. Tertiary education is the lifeblood of, and the guarantee that there will be a future in, a highly industrialized society such as South Africa is in its metropoles. We have a society which is certainly representative of a wide kaleidoscopic spectrum of diversity as regards the different levels of civilization.
That is the gravamen.
Yes, that is the gravamen of it, as the hon member for Greytown says. That is the best interjection he has made this year. If one goes out to the Kalahari Gemsbok Park in the north-western part of the Cape, one will still find in that vicinity Bushmen living according to their original culture with their nomadic family life. Then, as one works one’s way around South Africa, one will find different stages and degrees of development away from traditional society culminating in what one can only term nuclear-age man. In fact, we have some of the finest nuclear scientists in the world. We have generated and developed our own system of refining uranium, which is in fact the envy of our partners in Europe and North America, simply because we were able to extend our technological frontiers further than the mature industrialized societies of the world. We also have a number of firsts in the medical field and in certain respects we are very honored to have a member of the pioneering heart transplant team with us as a member of the House. We also achieved a number of other firsts at, I believe, both the technological and infrastructural levels. I believe that the Accord of Nkomati has also been a milestone in the process of developing accord between the divergent nations on the southern tip of the African continent.
What clause are you on?
At the moment I am on the long title of the Bill. The accord we have established in fact indicates that we in South Africa are capable of finding solutions which have escaped the finest brains in the rest of the world.
I mention all this to illustrate the necessity for tertiary education for all population groups in South Africa. Without tertiary education it is not possible to move the frontiers of knowledge and science further and further for the benefit of mankind. It is well known that in the last 25 years man has accumulated more scientific knowledge than in the whole of his previous history, which goes back a million years. That has come about because we as homo sapiens have the capability of transferring experience and learning from one individual to another. The hon member for Parktown will be the first to confirm that in medicine it is what one learns from one’s predecessors that makes the difference in terms of longevity and our cure rate in the medical field. If we were incapable of learning from those who came before us, we would of course stagnate and go round in circles, perhaps ever-decreasing circles, without ever finding solutions.
Now we come to the point where we have a Bill before the House which deals, to a certain extent, with the emancipation, if I may call it that, of four specific universities in South Africa, one of which is again an all time first in the history of the development of tertiary education on the continent of Africa. Perhaps to a very large extent it is also a unique institution when compared with the institutions in other mature Western cultures. I refer here to Vista University which was established by an Act of this Parliament some two years ago. It is a very unique concept in the provision of tertiary education and it is meant for the very people who are going to benefit most from it, namely the Blacks of South Africa. The Bill also deals specifically with the advancement of the autonomy of the University of Zululand, the Medical University of Southern Africa and the University of the North. To the extent that it provides for a step forward in the emancipation and maturation process of these universities, we agree with the hon the Minister that this Bill is absolutely essential.
I should like to dwell briefly on the back-drop to this Bill as my party perceives it in order to give the hon the Minister an insight into our feelings regarding this Bill. I should also like to take a step backwards and in this regard I am motivating very specifically our attitude in this regard. We have to look at the total fabric of society in order to judge whether the improvements represented in this Bill are adequate and acceptable or not. My party’s stand is well known. We believe that tertiary education represents a stage in the development of education which must be seen in a different light to the other stages of education in our society. We fully agree with the De Lange Committee’s recommendation that pre-primary, primary and secondary education should take place within the framework of the culture itself. As that committee so eloquently pointed out the cultural and home environments represents 50% of the education of the child in the early stages of education. For that reason alone it is vitally important for us to differentiate between education at tertiary level and at non-tertiary level, particularly the early stages of education. It is necessary to have culture-bound education in the early stages. Then, as the individual moves up the scale of education into secondary education, it obviously becomes possible to move further and further away from that function of education that is provided by the home environment. This is particularly the case with Blacks whose home environment is so different to that of the other, advantaged population groups. It becomes almost impossible for the home environment to play a complementary role in providing education in the case of the Blacks. In fact, one of the difficulties experienced by our Black citizens is the fact that the home environment is often so disruptive of and counterproductive to study that they find it very difficult indeed to study in that environment. In fact, the hon the Minister himself is on record as having told this House earlier this year that they are trying a unique experiment with the particular group of students to see whether they cannot provide an environment separate from the home environment for these students in order to give them a fair chance to further their education.
When one looks at tertiary education that is represented primarily by universities and technikons, one sees that by the time that stage is reached it is impossible for the culturally or home oriented student actually to benefit from education outside the institution as such. I am not referring here to the practical part of his training but rather specifically to the contribution that can be made by the non-academic, if I may put it that way.
We welcome the provisions of the majority of the clauses in this Bill in the sense that this legislation is now going to establish an infrastructure which will ensure a greater degree of control over the functions of universities themselves through the devolution of power from the hon the Minister and his department to officers at these various universities. We believe this to be absolutely essential and we welcome these provisions.
Speaking about the backdrop to the Bill itself, I should just like to point out to the hon the Minister that we differentiate in regard to three factors in our society. In the first instance we differentiate in regard to what is known as values represented for instances by the democratic process and private free enterprise—the value system of a society. The second level of differentiation is in regard to the norms of society namely those things incorporated in the laws of the country which are obligatory and binding upon all the citizens, because the norms of society in fact regulate the relationships among people. The third level of differentiation is in regard to customs and traits. These customs and traits are not often enforced by law but are merely adopted as one becomes acculturized in one’s own society. A norm of society would be, for instance, that one may not steal while a custom would be to open a door for a lady so that she can go ahead of one or whatever the case may be. I am referring here to the non-liberated women, of course! [Interjections.] Customs and traits are what one learns from one’s environment. They are not enforceable by law but purely by custom. The reason why I am going to all this trouble is to demonstrate to the hon the Minister that there is a difference in relation to the level of cultural development that we are dealing with in interpreting our stand on this matter. Tertiary education occurs within the framework of the value system; in other words, within the system of industrialization, technological development, private enterprise, capitalism, democracy and the fine arts as well. Secondary education deals with the fundamentals of coping with our society and its norms, while primary and pre-primary education is to a large extent the learning of customs rather than an academic input. This makes a considerable difference. The point I am making to the hon the Minister is that when one gets to tertiary education one wants to involve all the citizens of South Africa in the value system of the country. There is only one way that a citizen can learn and that is from another citizen. One of the accusations and weaknesses that we have in our society in South Africa today is that Blacks have been excluded from private enterprise for so long that recent surveys done by the University of Cape Town have indicated a resistance factor to the capitalist free enterprise system on the part of Blacks, because they perceive the capitalist free enterprise system as being part of the obstacles in the ways of development of the Blacks. Therefore, and the Government has recognized this, it has become vital and essential that we propagate the benefit of private enterprise to our Black citizens. Where is that adaptation to and adoption of our value system going to occur within the educational infrastructure? It is not going to occur at pre-primary level; it is not going to occur at primary level and it is not going to occur at secondary level. It can only occur at tertiary level, there were one learn one’s profession, where one learn one’s trade and where one learns one’s higher skills. That is where one gets an affinity with a value system. We believe that ethnic universities should be an option open to everybody, but at the same time we believe there should be a voluntary association between student and universities or even technikons. The hon the Minister will know that the policy of my party has always been that at tertiary level academic freedom is expressed to a dlarge extent in the freedom of choice of the student as to which institution he will attend and the freedom of choice of the institution to decide whom it will admit and whom it will not. Just to say that there is going to be cross-pollination I believe is not sufficient. We have to rub shoulders with other cultural groups at tertiary educational level.
Therefore, despite the fact that we welcome a number of the provisions in this Bill and that we regard it as a step forward in the devolution of power, we nevertheless find ourselves in the position that we will not be able to support the Second Reading of this Bill. I shall be proposing a reasoned amendment for the consideration of the hon the Minister and particularly of members of the official Opposition. I should like them to listen very carefully to the reasoned amendment and then I hope that they will have sufficient feeling and sympathy for it to actually vote with us in this respect. I accordingly move as an amendment:
This expresses in a nutshell our attitude and philosophy to tertiary education. For reasons that I have already given to the hon the Minister we regard tertiary education as the level of education at which one’s value system is passed on, adopted and supported by the individual citizen as well as the level at which one acquires professional and technical skills. It is a vital function of tertiary education that the pupil must be exposed also to the value system. Without that fundamental link we in this plural society of South Africa are going to find confrontation between the different ethnic groups’ value systems. Let me say immediately that we are fully appreciative of the fact that there are differences, as the hon member for Virginia said, between the levels of development of the different universities. We are fully appreciative of the practical problems which people have when they transfer from one university to the other, but that is not sufficient reason to avoid our responsibility as the highest forum in this country to ensure that we bring about tertiary education which will be of benefit to all the members and citizens of this society because tertiary education is the common area for all groups.
In conclusion I want to point out that the hon the Minister himself has admitted in his introductory speech that tertiary education is a general affair, that it is something which is available to all members of all population groups, and we notice from the new constitution which is proposed for South Africa that Black education in particular is going to be a general affair. Therein lies an admission that Black education and in particular tertiary education is a component part of the general affairs of this country. We feel that in the interest of that tertiary education it is necessary for us to establish common councils and committees for the co-ordination of standards among these different tertiary education systems. For that reason we regret that we shall be unable to support the Second Reading of the Bill.
Mr Speaker, it is very interesting to us to hear the hon member for Durban North and the motivation of his amendment. Obviously this is one of the cases where one has a Bill which does a number of things, some of which one likes and some of which one does not like. One is then faced with a choice of either saying that on the whole we are going to refuse to support the Bill until the things we do not like have been changed or saying that we are going to support the Bill and that we hope that by way of pressure or possibly by way of amendments during the Committee Stage we shall succeed to bring about immediate or not too distant future improvements.
We obviously agree with the sentiment of the need for a single committee of heads of universities and a single council for tertiary education as the hon member Prof Olivier said earlier on. We studied the Bill closely and I think the number of amendments which the hon member Prof Olivier has already put on the Order Paper indicates exactly how closely and how thoroughly we have gone into the Bill.
It is our view, however, that the provisions contained in the Bill and which deal with autonomy of the universities are a substantial step forward. Those provisions bring Black universities very close indeed to the situation of White universities as far as autonomy is concerned and as the provisions increase the status of those universities and their worth as universities, we consider then of great importance. The fact that the Government has decided to continue to have separate committees for university principals and separate councils for tertiary education is not really suprising although it is terribly disappointing.
Then you should support our amendment.
Sir, the hon member for Umhlanga is always far more interested in tricks than in the substance of what is before the House. Long before the hon members of that party ever though about that, this party had emphasized the importance of a single education system and of removing discrimination and all forms of segregation in education at all levels. One day that party will move down from the tertiary aspect of education and into the 20th century with us right down to all levels. [Interjections.] When I say “all levels” I also have in mind adolescence, and then the hon member for Umhlanga will feel fully involved at that stage as well.
You can do better than that, my boy.
Sir, I am certainly not the boy of the hon member for Umhlanga, which is something for which I thank God frequently. I have quite readily acknowledged that in this Bill, as with any other Bill, one looks at the good and the bad and then decides what to support and what to oppose. Our view is that the autonomy provisions for all the Black universities in this country are of such importance that we should support this Bill. We will continue, as we have for many years, and I have no doubt it will be with considerable success, in getting the Committee of Heads of Universities as well as the Council for Tertiary Education open to all universities and technikons in this country and not racially segregated.
Mr Speaker, in the first place I want to refer to the remarks of the hon member Prof Olivier.
The fact that by virtue of this measure further progress is being made with regard to the autonomy of tertiary institutions falling under the jurisdiction of this department is, in the nature of the matter, the result of sound evolutionary development. We shall prefer to carry on at a reasonable pace and, when the time is ripe, still further steps will be taken in the direction of greater autonomy. We do not wish to act over-hastily. Whereas the hon member differs from us fundamentally—and we must recognize that we differ in our views of South Africa and its various educational institutions—I nevertheless want to thank the hon member and his party for their support of this Bill.
The truth about this Bill is that it is in fact a sound department and what is more it is greatly improved by the amendments that the hon member is to move.
I want to refer to his remarks concerning the so-called “stigma” supposedly attaching to separateness. In this regard I want to refer in particular to Medunsa. If this university had not been reserved for Black students it would have been flooded by other students. If the criterion were purely one of the academic merit of matriculants, then the more developed communities—all three of the other communities—would have been very much in the majority at this university. I have no intention of apologizing for persisting in reserving this university for Black students because there is such a tremendous demand for Black medical practitioners, veterinarians and para-medical personnel in Black communities. In this way we want to create an opportunity for pupils who, due to certain factors and specific problems—the hon member for Durban North spelt this out very meaningfully—relating to the scholastic training of Black children, have a certain leeway to make up even though they have achieved the same matriculation standards. This backlog can be overcome at an institution which is specifically geared to create those wonderful opportunities for this community. Therefore I should prefer to live with the “stigma” of separation at Medunsa than to deny those people those opportunities. However, I appreciate the fact that the hon member spelt out the differences in principle and in point of view between us in a civilized way and, in spite of that, will still lend their support to this Bill.
It is our firm conviction that as far as the Black universities are concerned there are specific additional considerations—I want to address the hon member for Durban North, too, in this specific connection—largely functional ones at this stage, that make it essential for us on this side of the House to persist with two separate councils. However, I wish to point out to the hon members that the council that advises the hon the Minister of National Education is obliged by law also to advise the Minister of Education and Training. In that respect we have a co-ordination and uniformity of objectives which we should otherwise not be able to achieve. The fact that we are creating a separate council by way of this measure is aimed at accommodating the separate functional nature that is still to be found in Black universities at present. Moreover, there is considerable cultural diversity among the Black communities in South Africa. There are also geographic and other interests at issue, which necessarily mean that if one wants a council which, apart from its other functions, has to give really intensive attention to the special needs of the Black communities in South Africa, one will need to have an enormous council. The hon member for Durban North also referred to this. Black people have the right to ask that they be duly represented on such an advisory council. I do not know whether it is possible at this stage to bring about a marriage between the functional differences that exist and these specific additional aspects to which I have referred briefly and to which the hon member for Durban North has referred at length. Therefore I have difficulties with the standpoint he has adopted. I shall get to that in a moment.
We advocate an umbrella body.
The umbrella body has a very specific place in the future of South Africa. The hon member for Koedoespoort adopted the standpoint that it would be possible to separate advisory bodies absolutely at the tertiary level. Apparently he does not object to the presence of White lecturers at Black universities, but he does object to the presence of Whites in the advisory council for Black universities. He had better work out the logic in that for himself. I do not regard it as logical. I honestly do not regard that as a matter of principle. [Interjections.] If it were possible to give Black universities greater autonomy on the basis to which the hon member referred without the presence of Whites in such an advisory council one would eventually have an even greater need for a consultative body which afforded all the universities the opportunity to co-ordinate their activities. We have an irrevocably integrated economy in South Africa. We have a field of labour to which all these institutions have to send their products, with a view to the optimum utilization of the scarce manpower and scarce financial resources. This is an irrevocable fact. The CP can do what it likes, but from the day that Jan van Riebeeck persuaded a Hottentot, by giving him a piece of copper wire, to load a keg of water onto a boat—or even before that time—the labour scene in South Africa was irrevocably integrated. If the Black people were to disappear from our economy this evening, we should be without lights in this House tomorrow. All the farms would come to a standstill and no business could be run. I am convinced that the brick factory of the hon member for Meyerton would also come to a standstill. Surely hon members of the CP know that as far as labour is concerned, we are irrevocably dependent upon one another. [Interjections.]
The hon member for Kuruman suffers from an integration mania. He does not know the difference between co-operation, co-ordination and integration. We are sorry for him because he is unable to understand these things. Therefore we shall rather ignore him in these debates.
The hon member for Koedoespoort must bear in mind that as autonomy progresses the need for co-ordination increases.
I want to thank hon members on this side of the House most sincerely for their useful contributions. I should like to devote the short time that remains to the hon member for Durban North.
†Up to a certain point the hon member made a most valuable contribution towards a better understanding of the problems relating to the education of Black people in South Africa. However, when he tried to approach this particular Bill in the context of a certain philosophy—I found it most interesting to listen to—I am afraid something went wrong. The hon member talks about a tertiary institution as the place where a transfer of value systems must take place. I trust that I understood the hon member correctly. The question is, however, whose value systems are to be transferred to whom in the event of an absolutely free choice and a totally integrated tertiary education system. Must it be the value system of the present majority or that of the future majority at these institutions? Whose value systems are to be transferred to whom? [Interjections.] If I read the hon member correctly, the value system to which he referred not only relates to the purely academic side of the university as such. It relates to a number of other things.
It is a fact—and this is substantiated by the hon member’s previous argument—that free enterprise cannot be regarded today as the prevailing economic value system of the Black people in South Africa. Coming to the tertiary institutions where he says a transfer of value systems must take place, I once again ask, whose value system is to be transferred to whom? I must point out that if the hon member wants to take that argument further, he should certainly not do so in this particular debate and on those grounds decide to oppose this Bill at its Second Reading. The hon member will have to decide for himself how that kind of philosophy that he has propounded tonight and which for a while made for most interesting listening, can be implemented in practice when it comes to the real transfer of value systems. I do not object to the rubbing of shoulders. I support it because I believe not only that our value systems will survive such contact, but also that they will in fact be adopted by most. However, where one has the situation of an enormous majority, then I do not think that purely social contact, the rubbing of shoulders, will bring about the transfer of value systems that the hon member intends to take place at tertiary level. Therefore, with great respect, I cannot see that that particular argument, however, valuable it may be as debating material and however valid it can be in certain circumstances, can be sufficient ground for the hon members to oppose the Second Reading. In fact, I believe that that particular argument should be taken to another venue or another debate, and I am sure that if we analyse the hon member’s philosophy further, we fill find a transfer of value systems in the opposite direction to what he intended. As I said earlier, this department has growth potential as far as tertiary institutions are concerned. Should we follow the hon member’s philosophy, I doubt whether in a few years’ time we will have any university in South Africa that in terms of numbers will not be completely dominated by the Black people. In that case I seriously doubt whether the transfer of value systems from us to them can take place in terms of the hon member’s argument.
Upon which the House divided.
As fewer than fifteen members (viz Messrs G S Bartlett, R W Hardingham, R B Miller, B W B Page and D W Watterson) appeared on one side,
Question declared affirmed and amendment dropped.
Bill read a Second Time.
In accordance with Standing Order No 22, the House adjourned at