House of Assembly: Vol2 - TUESDAY 5 MARCH 1985
laid upon the Table:
To be referred to the appropriate Standing Committee, unless the House decides otherwise within three sitting days.
as Chairman, presented the Fifth Report of the Standing Select Committee on Communications and Public Works, relative to the Post Office Appropriation Bill [No 57—85 (GA)], as follows:
C J VAN R BOTHA,
Committee Rooms Parliament 5 March 1985.
as Chairman, presented the Ninth Report of the Standing Select Committee on Trade and Industry, relative to the Trade Practices Amendment Bill [No 44—85 (GA)], as follows:
J H HEYNS,
28 February 1985.
I thank you for the opportunity you are giving me to make the following statement. Identical statements made in the other two Houses on my behalf by colleagues of mine.
†Yesterday in this House I stated that certain decisions would be announced regarding the further curtailment of public expenditure. The investigations and consultations which preceded these decisions have now been completed. After all other control measures had been put into operation it was necessary to cut down on personnel expenditure. It was not only a difficult but also a very delicate task.
These are essential services which must continue, and the harsh reality of maintaining South Africa as an orderly, stable and developing country was taken into account. At the same time personnel expenditure had to be curtailed in such a way that the least disruption and personal injustice would be involved. In recent times considerable pressure has been brought to bear upon the Government drastically to curtail the corps of officials. It would be grossly irresponsible to accede to this. The personnel corps is by and large dedicated and competent, and officials are already working very hard.
During 1984 more than 8 million hours organized, unpaid overtime service was rendered. If the millions of hours overtime which many officials have rendered of their own accord, without any extra remuneration, are added to this, then most of the criticism levelled at a so-called overstaffed Public Service is totally unfounded. For this reason the initial savings goal was linked mainly to a programme aimed at increasing productivity.
Unfortunately, and despite the efforts by departments of State, an increase in productivity alone will in the short term not attain the desired savings on personnel expenditure for the 1985-86 financial year.
As a result the curtailment of conditions of service had to be reviewed with great caution. Such a task is naturally an unpleasant one for the State, and certain guidelines were used as a basis.
Firstly, the retrenchment of good and productive personnel had to be avoided, and the competitiveness between the remuneration packages of the private and public sectors had to be disturbed as little as possible.
Secondly, a reduction in salaries had to be avoided. Measures preferably had to be of a short-term nature, and the position of the lower income group should not further weaken.
*After wide consultation the following measures have therefore been decided upon:
- 1. Measures to increase productivity, which will result in a saving of approximately R231 million on the initial allocations in respect of personnel expenditure.
- 2. A curtailment of the service bonuses, often referred to as the 13th cheque, payable in the 1985-86 financial year. This curtailment entails a reduction of the bonus which consists of 8,3% of the annual salary to 5,5%, that is, a saving of 2,8%, but with a concession in respect of the lower salaried staff—those on a salary notch of R6 000 per annum or less—to whom it will not apply. An expected saving of R255 million will be achieved in this way.
- 3. The abolition of an average of 50% of existing vacancies. This means that in some departments more and in others less than 50% of all vacant posts will be abolished.
- 4. Payment by officials for arranged official transport between homes and places of work. The complete set of measures in this regard will be clarified in consultation with the Departments.
- 5. The immediate freezing of all establishment increases, except where Ministers or Administrators personally approve essential expansions.
- 6. The expenditure involved in the present bases of achievement awards, which provide for a maximum of 25%, is to be reduced to the equivalent of a maximum of 10% of the officials.
The latter steps will effect a saving of a further R35 million. All of these measures will be put into operation with effect from 1 April 1985.
All institutions receiving funds for personnel expenditure from the Revenue Fund are subject to these saving measures. This also includes the Provincial Administrations and a variety of boards, councils and other institutions. In respect of the national states, the necessary consultations are also being held to achieve these savings. Since the country as a whole is experiencing difficult times, it is essential that all public institutions decrease their expenditure and resultant direct or indirect claims upon the money of the public.
As regards the South African Transport Services, I wish to mention that a programme to reduce expenditure drastically was launched two years ago. Up to now and with the co-operation of the trade organizations concerned, a multiplicity of labour-saving measures have been introduced. The number of personnel has been cut by nearly 45 000, or 16%, which brought about a relative saving in labour costs of more than 10%. Productivity has increased accordingly. Paid overtime hours have been reduced by 40%. Expenditure for the acquisition of materials has been restricted and real capital investment was cut back by almost 50%. The SATS is continuing to do its utmost to reduce expenditure even further.
The Post Office, too, has been effecting savings and applying strict financial discipline in respect of personnel for some time. Fourteen years ago the office hours of Post Office officials were, with the support of the staff associations, extended by two hours to forty-two hours per week, as a contribution to increasing productivity. This means that approximately 20 million additional man-hours have already been gained, resulting in the personnel provision being approximately 9 000 less than would otherwise have been the case.
Since last year the creation of posts have been frozen except in exceptional cases, where it would have resulted in the restriction of essential services. By means of voluntary, unpaid overtime the filling of a great number of vacant posts is being prevented.
The Government, however, has decided that as regards the personnel of the Transport Services and the Post Office, a reduction of the service bonuses with effect from April 1985 must, as in the case of the Public Service and other government sectors, be effected. The pensions of employees will not, however, influenced by this reduction.
It is apparent that productivity will have to receive further attention in coming years as part of a continuous programme of increased productivity. The State has a responsibility to ensure that tax payers’ money is spent as cost-effectively as possible.
These decision by the Government were not taken lightly. The officials can be assured that the Government was compelled to take these steps in the national interest. It is also fully appreciated that the income of officials will be affected.
I trust that the sacrifices which the officials are now being required to make, will be properly appreciated by the public in general. Furthermore I wish to convey my personal appreciation and the sincere thanks of the Government to all of the officials in the public sector as a whole for their dedicated service. There are people of quality in both the highest and lowest levels of our services who always render exceptional service.
South Africans have in the past proved their ability to stand together in difficult times in the interests of their country. Let us do so again, now, in the interests of South Africa.
Business suspended at 14h57 and resumed at 15h10.
Schedules agreed to.
Mr Chairman, I would like to claim the privilege of the half-hour.
We have just had a 10 minute recess of this House and it struck me that the probable reason for that 10 minute recess was that the hon the Minister was unable to get here for the beginning of the Committee Stage. I do not blame the hon the Minister for that in the slightest. However, I think that it is an indication that the system we are currently using, namely that of three Houses and separate debates for budgets, is a very unwieldy system, and a system that is very badly in need of overhaul.
Order! I am not going to allow a constitutional debate at all.
Mr Chairman, may I nevertheless ask where the hon the Minister was when we were ready to begin the debate 10 minutes ago? May I ask him whether he was in another House?
I was in the House of Delegates.
He was with the Delegates; he was in another House. With reference to this very debate, may I suggest that it would make a lot more sense if, in the future, we jointly debated this particular Budget, and in fact, all budgets.
The second matter I wish to comment on, is the recent announcement by the State President in connection with cuts in salary, because that is what it boils down to. The transport workers’ salaries are being cut by 3% by this Government. I have great sympathy for many of these transport workers, particularly the lower paid ones. Because of the inflation rate, which is the responsibility of this Government, their salaries automatically decrease every month anyway. With an inflation rate of 12%, salaries come down by 3% every three months effectively because of the increase in prices. On top of this Sir, we are now taking away 3% from the lower-paid employees who have had overtime taken away from them anyway, and are in any case doing more work because the SATS have reduced staff by 44 000 people. Moreover, according to the hon the Minister, they are giving us 10% more productivity, but what is the response of this Government? The response of this Government to that extra productivity is to chop these people’s salaries by approximately 3%. I do not think that is fair at all. I do not think it is going to encourage anyone. There are many areas in which this Government can stop spending money, but to decrease the salaries of the lower-paid echelons in our society is appalling.
Lastly, I want to come to a statement that was apparently made, according to Die Burger, in the House of Representatives yesterday, when the hon the Minister seemed to have accused Mr De La Cruz, the Leader of the Official Opposition there, and myself, of some type of collusion in regard to the debate on the SATS. I want to tell the hon the Minister that until this morning when Mr De La Cruz drew my attention to this, I had not spoken to him or addressed any correspondence to him. [Interjections.] I want to ask the hon the Minister whether the hon members of his party can say the same thing about influencing members of the House of Representatives. We know very well that there is collusion the whole time between members of the hon the Minister’s party and members of other Houses in regard to legislation, debates, and every other single thing. We do not necessarily think there is anything wrong with that.
To come now to what is very close to my heart at the moment, I should like to address myself to the situation of Port Elizabeth and the things which the SATS can or cannot do in regard to that city. The first point I want to make is that a world-famous train, the Apple Express, appears to be in some sort of danger. The reason is of course that it is apparently an uneconomic line—that Apple Express line down to the fruit areas of the Langkloof. That situation is being made worse by the fact that in future fruit is apparently going to be transported in refrigerated trucks, by road rather than by rail. I wonder whether there is not anything that can be done by the SATS in an effort to retain that rail transport. I do not know what would be necessary in order to accomplish that; perhaps refrigerated rail-trucks or something of that nature. Can nothing be done in order to retain that rail transport?
Secondly, Sir, cannot we do something to retain the Apple Express? Port Elizabeth would be devastated if it were to lose this tremendous tourist attraction. I believe we should try to reach some sort of compromise somewhere because of the potential tourism value of that train. We all know the hon the Minister was kind enough to invite us for a trip on that train a few months ago. Is it not possible to keep that train running, perhaps on a weekend basis, and perhaps also during summer holidays? Could one not use retired staff—retired engine drivers, for instance— who would be only too glad to obtain a weekend job driving that train from time to time? These retired people could also perhaps operate at the stations on the route of that little train. Is it not possible to do something of this nature with retired staff?
Furthermore, would it not be possible to hand it straight over to private enterprise, if it is the intention of the SATS to dispense with it? I do not know whether it is but I should like the hon the Minister to comment. Many years ago I was part of a group of people in Port Elizabeth who started the little train on the beachfront of Port Elizabeth. We collected the money for it and we got it going. It is a tiny little circuit on the beachfront. Is it not possible to use, for instance, organizations such as Round Table or other charitable organizations to assist— as part of the public good in Port Elizabeth; as part perhaps of a charity programme—in keeping the Apple Express going? I ask this because it is very important for Port Elizabeth, and at this stage we certainly do not want to take anything which it currently has away from Port Elizabeth.
A further matter on which I should like the hon the Minister to comment is the area of King’s Beach up to the McArthur Pool. I understand that the Port Elizabeth City Council wish to acquire this stretch of land. They are prepared to pay for it. They want to use it for tourist development, and this once again could be of great advantage to Port Elizabeth, particularly as an aid towards developing of its tourist potential.
I understand too that negotiations have been going on for something like two years in this regard. From a tourist point of view the area is highly desirable. It could definitely bring more money to Port Elizabeth, and such additional money is badly needed. I should like to ask the hon the Minister what is happening, if anything, about the request the Port Elizabeth City Council has made to the SATS in respect of that specific area. Will he please do something about it in order to try to expedite a final answer in this regard? it certainly does not appear as though the SATS will ever need that area for any purposes of its own. If they are not going to need it, then surely, Sir, it would be logical to let the municipality of Port Elizabeth have it.
The third item I wish to raise in regard to Port Elizabeth relates to the renovation of the main railway station of Port Elizabeth. We are grateful to see that the station is being renovated rather than totally rebuilt. It is an old Victorian building. It has a lot of charm of its own, and I believe it is going to look magnificent when it is ultimately completed.
Despite the fact that it is a Victorian building, trains appear to be running to Port Elizabeth according to a Victorian time-table too. In the middle of last year I asked a question here in the House about how long it takes to get from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth by train. It takes 33 hours and 50 minutes if one is a White, and 36 hours and 35 minutes if one is a Black. This journey takes eight hours by car. I do believe that we can do something to try to speed up this timetable to give Port Elizabeth a better express service. I understand that there is an express service that has recently been instituted but it still takes an awfully long time to make this journey.
I should like to get back to the question of the building. I should like to know when the building is going to be completed and when we are actually going to be able to utilize that facility fully. I know that the rail-using passenger traffic has put up with quite a lot of inconvenience over the past year or two, which is perfectly understandable and which I do not complain about, but my question is when this is going to end. When is this building going to be completed?
Finally, I want to refer to the Port Elizabeth Airport. Recently in Port Elizabeth we have been seeing headlines such as “Diversions: Pilots blame Port Elizabeth facilities” and “PE heads the list for diverted SAA flights”. As a result of that I tabled a question and I found that in 1984 no fewer than 19 flights were delayed or diverted as a result of adverse weather conditions. I am fully aware of the fact that this is as a result of there being ILS, Instrument Landing System, in one direction only. I am fully aware also of the fact that the ILS is the responsibility of the Department of Transport and not of the SATS. However, we know that this hon the Minister can wield a very big stick and so can the SATS. I believe that the SATS, which falls under the hon the Minister of Transport Affairs, should be pressing the Department of Transport for additional ILS facilities on the runway, so that when the weather closes in from the south-east, which is the problem, we can still use the Port Elizabeth Airport.
I want now to come to items of more general interest. I want to discuss the situation regarding the Sishen/Saldanha line. This line was started in the ’seventies at very great expense. Port Elizabeth was the alternative that was suggested at that time and, in fact, the old United Party which was then the Official Opposition, strongly recommended that the Port Elizabeth option should be the one that we went for. However, this Government, of which the hon the Minister was a member at that time, would not listen. They decided to go ahead with the Sishen/Saldanha scheme. As a result of this decision we have today what I believe is South Africa’s costliest white elephant.
I also asked a question with regard to the figures for this scheme. It was designed to carry 24 million tons per annum but last year, in 1983-84, it carried only 9,2 million tons, in the previous year only 9,1 million tons and in 1981-82 it carried 14,3 million tons per annum. Patently this is incredibly underutilized. Some R800 million was spent on developing the infrastructure for this scheme. However, the Government has now decided that the SATS will not have to pay interest on this money, with the result that this is a direct cost to the taxpayer because if the Government does not get the interest on this amount—I am not sure, but it might be of the order of R80 million a year—it will have to obtain that R80 million from another source. When one adds to that the fact that the SATS last year lost R175 million in running costs on this scheme and that they also received a grant from the Government in respect of losses capitalized in previous years amounting to R139,5 million, one realizes the cost of this scheme to the South African taxpayer. It was basically a bad decision of the Government which is now costing the already hard-hit taxpayer millions. The taxpayer is carrying the whole weight of the Government on his shoulders. However, we are stuck with it and therefore the question is, what to do?
I should like to make two suggestions and I want the hon the Minister to comment on them. Is it necessary to have a completely separate system for the Sishen/Saldanha line? Is it necessary to have a regional office which is only handling this line? Could it not perhaps be decentralized—perhaps Kimberley could handle a section and Cape Town another section—which, I am sure, would result in a saving? Secondly, could we not do more to commercialize the line to attract other traffic?
The next point is the collection of ticket money. There is no question about it that the SATS is losing millions of rand every year in ticket money which is not collected. The new system at Wadeville is not working properly because I understand that the barriers are too low. People are still jumping over the barriers and thus escaping the system and getting on the trains free of charge. I wonder whether it is not time for us to consult the top authorities perhaps in the world to see what we can do to tighten up on ticket-collection by the SATS because we desperately need greater efficiency in this field.
I now wish to deal with the catering question. Catering loses millions of rand for the SATS every year—R5,8 million last year, R8,5 million this year. The time allocated to me on this particular subject has expired, but I want to make this appeal: Is it not possible to do more privatization of the catering services of the SATS? This Parliament is a very good example of that, and I cannot accept the answer of the hon the Minister that security is the reason why we cannot have the private sector. One can screen a private sector employee just as well as one can screen a SATS employee.
Mr Chairman, the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central will excuse me if I do not react to his speech in detail, because in the very short time at my disposal it is impossible for me to reply to all the points he raised. Nevertheless I should like to associate myself with one point he mentioned and that is his plea concerning the apple train to Port Elizabeth. I, too, should like to see that everything possible is done to retain that train service.
I want to speak about a completely different topic. In the few minutes accorded me, I want to focus on the SA Railways Police of the SATS. It is true that it is a section which is not always in the limelight, because it is a subsection of the SATS which performs its task without fanfare, but nevertheless it is an extremely urgent and necessary part of the whole South African transport system and not only of the SATS, but also of the whole country.
If one looks at the beautiful annual report we received this year, one will see on pages 52 and 53 that the only reference to the SA Railways Police is by way of two photographs taken on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the SA Railways Police. To my knowledge, this is the only reference to this police force in the entire annual report. In fact I think it a pity that a brochure did not appear, on this extremely unique and special occasion, describing the origin, the history, the role, the task and the achievements, the weal and woe, of the SA Railways Police over the past 50 years. I imagine that it could have been an extremely useful and beautiful piece of work if the SATS had thought of publishing something of this nature. That does not, however, detract from the important role played by this force.
For the past 13 years, we in the Republic of South Africa have been in the particularly fortunate position of being entirely free from hijackings of aeroplanes within the borders of our country, in spite of the fact that in the 1983-84 financial year, a total of more than 3,9 million air passengers were transported by the SAA and other airlines at the 11 State airports. This is truly a notable achievement, thanks to the SA Railways Police which has ensured, with the aid of X-ray and other electronic equipment, that undesirable and dangerous goods cannot be taken onto the aeroplanes as baggage.
In the same financial year, approximately 720 million passengers were transported. When we bear in mind that 980 passenger trains depart daily from Johannesburg station alone, while 754 passenger trains depart from Cape Town station and 507 passenger trains from Pretoria station, it is understandable that it is impossible for every train to have a Railways policeman on it. But if we look at the crime rate from 1 April 1984 to 31 January 1985 and compare it with the corresponding period a year ago, viz 1 April 1983 to 31 January 1984, that is a period of exactly 10 months, we see that the crime rate has decreased by no less than 21,77%. That in itself speaks volumes about the capable manner in which the Railways Police perform their task.
The Railways Police are also responsible for the protection of 52 national key points and 169 important places or buildings, all of which are of strategic importance to South Africa and the SATS. Without the successful protection of the national key points and other strategic points, not only would the SATS not operate successfully, but it would also bring about a complete disruption of our country’s transport system, as well as being extremely harmful economically.
It is an acknowledged fact that the African National Congress regards the SATS as a prime target. The reason is to spread confusion and panic. Therefore the Railways Police must continuously patrol railway lines, protect workshops, and guard pumping-stations, off-loading points and many kilometres of pipelines. Many things are necessary for this: New recruits, better and more sophisticated training, some of the best electronic aids, and above all, trained police dogs to help with the task. Even if we have all these things and many more, the SA Railways Police cannot perform their task properly if we do not make use of large numbers of Coloured and Black members in the Force.
For any police force, information is still the watchword for success. If information is not gathered efficiently, the hands of a police force are tied to a great extent. If we look at the South African scene, I wonder what would become of the country if we did not have Coloured and Black South Africans who love this fatherland just as we who sit in this House do.
I want to conclude by paying tribute to the whole of the Police Force of the SATS and especially…
You are a Negrophile.
We shall rather not mention the things that the hon member enjoys.
I want to pay special tribute to the members of the Force who have died in harness. There have been no fewer than 19 Whites and three Blacks. On this occasion we want to thank and pay tribute to them as well.
Mr Chairman, I agree with the hon member who has just spoken about the fine and good work the Railways Police does for us. I do not differ from him in that respect.
I should like to pay tribute today to the thousands of men and women in the service of the SATS, from the top—beginning with the hon the Minister, Dr Grové and his men, the regional managers and their staff— right down to the large number of station-masters and their staff throughout the country. I am thinking specifically of our own station-master in Meyerton and his staff, who are ready to be of service to the community practically day and night. I am also thinking of the most poorly paid workers on our stations, the old Black men who carry the parcels, because they, too, perform an important task. Today I want to pay tribute to all those people in the SATS.
I want to refer specifically to two small problems in my constituency. I approach the hon the Minister with the small problems, because the large ones I handle in two ways: I either avoid them or I solve them myself. In my constituency there is a siding, siding 4113, about which the town council of Meyerton has already engaged in discussions with the regional manager of the SATS in the region, Mr Venter. I should like to state that Mr Venter discussed this problem with us in a very capable, sympathetic and understanding manner. We are most satisfied with his handling of it. I want to point out to the General Manager that the time may come when the question of money may come under discussion and that perhaps Mr Venter will need a little boost from him and possibly we may then pay him a visit.
I now want to return to the many thousands of workers of the SATS. I see the SATS as the vital artery of the economy of South Africa. As every person has a circulatory system throughout his whole body which feeds him and keeps him alive, so the railway lines of the SATS comprise the circulatory system which keeps the economy of South Africa alive. When one’s circulatory system no longer functions, one soon dies. If the railway lines of the SATS were no longer there, the South African economy would also die. If the gigantic infrastructure of the SATS throughout the Republic of South Africa were to come to a standstill, the consequences would be catastrophic for all of us. We need the thousands of men and women to whom I paid tribute a moment ago to keep all this going. In this regard I have a very specific request that I want to put to the hon the Minister. He is not only the master, but also the father of these thousands of workers. At the moment they are struggling with the very high cost of living and the very high inflation rate. Therefore I want to ask the hon the Minister to see to it that the staff of the SATS are not caught in the trap which is already holding other officials captive after the State President’s announcement concerning the cutting back of salaries, so that they will not be caught up in further oppressive conditions. The inflation rate is high and the cost of living is rising and decreasing the income of those people, on top of all that, will be fatal for them. I know them and see them in my constituency. I know how they struggle to make ends meet, often unsuccessfully, because it simply is not possible for them to come out on their income. I therefore want to ask the hon the Minister to pay attention to this problem.
There is a further problem to which I want to draw the attention of the top management. Fifteen years ago there was a devastating train/bus accident in my constituency in which 24 school children were killed. It took place at an unguarded railway crossing. There is another such crossing in my constituency, which is situated on the main route from Johannesburg through Meyerton and Vereeniging to the Free State. The crossing is situated just on the other side of Redan station on the way to Vereeniging. This railway line carries very heavy rail traffic, while many cars and pedestrians make use of the crossing to get from the farms to the village and vice versa. I hope and trust that the top management will consider this matter.
I want to conclude with the following: Last week in the second reading debate vehement criticism was levelled at this fine publication, The Flying Springbok. I studied it this week-end and I should like to congratulate the editorial staff on this piece of work.
But it consists only of advertisements.
Yes, advertisements. I shall come to that. If the hon member boards an aeroplane and prefers to read a comic, he can go and buy it in a bookshop. [Interjections.] If an hon member wants to read the Landbouweekblad or a newspaper, he can buy it in a bookshop. [Interjections.]
This magazine is geared for the passengers of the Airways. I shall tell you what, amongst other things, this magazine contains. It gives the details of domestic and international flights; it points out the hotels in the various large cities—after all, that is where most passengers are travelling to; it points out the best restaurants; it also gives details about the best shows on in the various cities at specific times, and it even tells one about South Africa’s nature reserves. The magazine also contains scientific articles. Now I come to the advertisements. I want to congratulate the editorial staff of the journal on these in particular. Many publications have the problem that they are run without being profitable. The life-blood of any publication is its advertisements. [Interjections.]
That is the previous month’s magazine. Be honest! The hon member has the March edition there.
What does that matter?
He is referring to February’s magazine. Just be honest. Simply try to be honest.
You are a jittery bug!
Do not insult the Railways! Just be honest.
When did he insult the Railways? Be honest, man.
He insulted the Railways.
Man, you are fibbing!
Just try to be honest, do not talk nonsense.
You cannot be.
Order! The hon member for Rissik must withdraw that remark.
Mr Chairman, I withdraw it, but may I request the hon the Minister to behave himself?
May I just know what that hon Minister’s problem is?
You are telling tales of woe. That is his problem.
Did the hon the Minister mean that previous editions were poor?
That is what we said previously.
I just want to tell the hon the Minister that I listened to his reply in the second reading debate, and that I was hurt when I heard how he criticized his own people, who were responsible for the compilation of this magazine. I am truly sorry. [Interjections.]
I conclude with the advertisements. The fact that this magazine contains so many advertisements, is proof to me that it is one of the magazines which is being run on a profitable basis. I want to congratulate this editorial staff on it, and I hope that they will be encouraged to continue in a like manner.
Mr Chairman, at the outset I want to extend a hearty word of welcome to one of the fathers and grandfathers of the Railways in South Africa here in the House of Assembly today. Mr Ben Schoeman, we are very grateful that you can be present today at one of your loves, the Railways debate. We wish you many more good years.
The hon member for Port Elizabeth Central commenced with two statements on which I want to dwell briefly. He said that he and his party were extremely upset about the assault on the salaries and wages of the lower income group. Now I want to ask the hon member, who in this House is not concerned about it? Did the hon member not listen? The State President specifically said that those with an income of less than R6 000 per year would not be affected. That is exactly what has been spelled out. The pensions of pensioners will not be affected either. Apparently the hon member did not listen.
Do you think that somebody who earns R12 000 a year is well-off?
The hon member did not listen, and now he is trying to evade the issue with a counter-question. Next time the hon member should rather make a study of the matter before he kicks up a fuss about nothing. He says that they all know that the NP members are plotting with members of the Labour Party in the House of Representatives. I want to tell him that in the first place he is insulting the Coloureds who are members of the Labour Party. I hope that they will take cognizance of the fact. Secondly, those people are laughing at that hon member and his colleagues about the undisguised and amateurish manner in which they are carrying on with some members of the other Houses. I shall leave it at that.
I should like to congratulate the hon member for Meyerton on his speech. I want to add my congratulations to his with regard to the thousands of people who work for the SATS. I share the appreciation of them that he expressed. I want to go so far as to say that the hon member for Meyerton was an example of calmness and tranquillity to all of us today, but especially to the two Whips of his party. He was not cutting or bitter. I want to thank him for that.
I want to dwell briefly on training and labour productivity in the SATS. We all know that the SATS is the largest single employer in South Africa. It was a great comfort to all of us when the hon the Minister said that the SATS has economized by 16% by not filling posts. Between 40 000 and 50 000 have not been filled. I want to agree today with what the State President said: This is also going to be done in the other sectors of the Public Service. I want to extend a warning, however, that in the labour situation one cannot keep freezing positions or deciding not to extend them progressively.
It may sound like sweet music to the hon the Minister of Transport Affairs that this retrenchment in staff numbers can be achieved while the service is still being rendered. I am positive, however, that the hon the Minister of Manpower is not going to listen to the music as happily, because what are we faced with? We are faced with the cold fact that if 40 000 to 50 000 positions in one sector of the Public Service are not filled, more positions will simply have to be created elsewhere. I ask: Where? By whom? I think the challenge is now being levelled at the private sector, which says each day that less should be spent in the public sector. We all know that the largest outlay in the public sector comprises salaries and services. If we curtail these, it means that the staff corps is reduced. Then the private sector must show us, in this economic climate, that they are in fact able to come forward and create the essential posts. There is no getting away from one fact: The employees of tomorrow, the employees for the next 15 years, have already been born. They are already there. That is our future dilemma. We can easily try to follow the example of England or Germany, but they do not have our growth rate. They have a zero growth rate, as it were. We, however, must every day face the fact that more and more people are entering the labour market.
I should now like to give one example of where the SATS has set a wonderful example of economizing, viz in their civil engineering industry. In that sector more than 7 000 posts fell away. That means a saving of R70,5 million per annum. This is a praiseworthy example. The SATS creates another praiseworthy example in that they have become labour-conscious and have begun to react positively in respect of labour costs. The SATS has found that the time has come when one should not train and retrain only the bottom section of one’s labour hierarchy, but that one’s senior people sometimes need training more than junior staff members. That is why they established a new “BOS” (MDC). The term “BOS” has an odd history and a connotation which has not always been favourable. This one, however, stand for “Bestuursen Ontwikkelingsentrum” (Management and Development Centre or “Centres”). These people came together in 1976 and said that we had to start training our senior people; we had to equip them with modern techniques. They said there were two questions that we had to answer: Firstly, what is the focus of the people whom we want to involve; and secondly, what must we involve them with?
It was decided to move into the cadre of senior officials. In addition it was decided to teach them four new techniques or four advanced techniques. What I find important, is that the first thing to be isolated was decision-making. People in the senior hierarchy had to be taught to make decisions. Who amongst us has not heard the remark, even about senior people—I am not speaking of Ministers now—“if only the man could make a decision!” That is why it is very important for these things to be impressed upon our seniors.
A second problem to be isolated was communication and liaison; thirdly, leadership and motivation; and in the fourth place, management techniques and management guidance.
As happens in any organization, however, as soon as this guidance began to gain acceptance, there were other gaps that had to be filled. In 1983 a decision was made to take a look at the top structure, the management element. A new system was then designed, viz the “cafeteria system”. This system has nothing to do with the drinking of coffee or cooldrinks. However, it is a cafeteria system in that a menu is drawn up annually. The courses from which these managers can choose appear on this menu. Depending on each one’s unique requirement, the person can do either a certain part of a course or a full course in order to obtain a better qualification for the work he must do.
I am convinced that by means of these initiatives which have been generated from within the SATS itself, it is going to set an example to many of the other departments in the Civil Service.
Mr Chairman, in the short time available to me, I would like to talk to the hon the Minister about his “snob” train. He gave the Blue Train that name, not I; and I think he probably already regrets having used that term.
However, the Blue Train is the pride of the SATS. Indeed, the Blue Train is justifiably the pride of South Africa. When visitors come from overseas, particularly the visitors we want most at this time—the visitors from the United States—they come here mainly with the intention of doing three things in the following order: First of all, they want to travel on the Blue Train; the second thing they want to do is go to Mala-Mala; and the third thing they want to do is go down a goldmine. [Interjections.] Those are the three things that are highlights of their stay here. [Interjections.] I think it would be a good idea, sometimes, to first put the hon the Minister down the goldmine, and then do the other things.
Where is Mala-Mala?
The hon the Minister knows where Mala-Mala is and every visitor to South Africa knows where Mala-Mala is. It is a privately owned game reserve that enjoys a tremendous international reputation. The hon the Minister should take a leaf out of Mala-Mala’s book as regards advertising. This way he could elicit the same kind of response to the Blue Train as Mala-Mala enjoys—even in the current economic climate.
I want to say to the hon the Minister that the Blue Train is, whichever way one looks at it—and this is tragic at this time—either half-empty or half-full. I know half-full sounds better than half-empty, so for the sake of the record we will say it is only half-full. Recently, I asked a question about the number of passengers carried—both ways— on each of the Cape Town-Johannesburg runs, and on the Pretoria-Johannesburg-Cape Town runs during the months, December-January. I got a very good answer; it is a comprehensive and a clever one. I asked what the total number of passengers are that can be accommodated and they suddenly tell me the train can accommodate only 92 passengers although provision is also made for 15 additional sleeping berths for children accompanying adults. The advertising brochure on the Blue Train indicates that they carry 106. For the purposes of the exercise therefore we will therefore take the figure at 107 and will not cut it down to 92. It turns out that during December the passenger complement of the Blue Train averaged out at 49,28% and during the month of January it averaged out at 55,75%. That is a sorry picture indeed. I am sorry that I do not have time to analyse these figures in depth, but I suggest that the hon the Minister examines them and analyses them himself.
However, we have to fill the Blue Train and in order to do so we have two options. The one option is that we have to change our attitude towards the way in which we accept reservations in the overseas market for the Blue Train. That is the first option. The hon the Minister himself gave the game away the other day in his speech when he said:
That is the most narrow minded way of looking at things. It is actually a way of trying to blackmail people if one says to them: If you travel SAA, we will give you a seat on the Blue Train. The hon the Minister can shake his head until it falls off his shoulders, but I want to tell him that I personally travelled on his “snob” train early in January, and there were two American couples on that train who were complaining bitterly about the fact that they could not get onto the train until the last minute when they were told that accommodation was available. That train carried only 45 passengers. This is the story that the figures confirm for us.
Subsequent to that occasion I have met with other Americans. As recently as two weeks ago I met an American couple who travelled on the Blue Train. They said that they only got their tickets confirmed when they arrived in South Africa. They were told in New York that they could not confirm earlier.
The hon member for Durban Point is to be honoured this month with the highest decoration in our land. His sister wants to come out for the occasion.
What about the hon member for Houghton getting the decoration? [Interjections.]
The hon member for Durban Point’s sister wants to come out from Atlanta in America. She is, however, having extreme difficulty, and he has had to intervene in order to get her onto the Blue Train. The story does not end there. I want to tell the hon the Minister that there is also resentment on the part of top businessmen in South Africa who cannot get on the Blue Train themselves because when they try to book, they are told that the train is fully booked. I do not consider myself a top businessman but I had that experience myself. When I tried to reserve a seat on the Blue Train I had to wait three weeks before receiving confirmation of booking, and then I found myself in the company of 44 passengers on a train that can carry 107.
The second option is to reduce the fare and to fill the train with people from the local market who would love to travel on their own pride and joy. That is the second option.
I submit to the hon the Minister that he would do well to give very, very serious consideration to a compromise between the two, namely bringing the fare down to a more realistic level. It costs R422 for a ticket to travel overnight from Johannesburg to Cape Town, and that is without any of the luxuries. That only gives one a chocolate on one’s pillow at night and does not include a private shower or bathroom or toilet accommodation. R422 is a lot of money, although I admit that one travels quite a distance.
I think that if the hon the Minister were to reduce the fare it would assist towards filling that train, but most important of all, I submit that he must have an investigation made into the methodology that is employed in the reservations made for the Blue Train, particularly in respect of the agencies in America, because I am deeply suspicious of the fact that people are being turned away in droves and told: Sorry, there is no accommodation. In the meantime block bookings are made that are not being taken up, and we are losing a lot of money.
Mr Chairman, I am not going to react to the hon member for Umhlanga. I am sure the hon the Minister will. At the outset I should just like to extend my thanks to the public relations department of the SATS. Somebody very close to me had a slight problem, and I telephoned them and within a very short time they sorted out the problem. I will say that for two days their shares were at rock bottom, but after the problem had been sorted out, their shares were right at the top again. I should like to say to them: Thank you very much indeed.
The hon the Minister will no doubt recall that over the last three years I have persistently raised the subject, and, in fact, asked for a review, of the pensions position of certain former staff members on the SATS. To be more specific, I am referring to those few people who between 1965 and 1981 were discharged from the service for reasons other than theft or fraud. The people I am referring to all had more than 20 years unbroken pensionable service in the department. In one case the length of service was 27 years. These unfortunate people, it must be emphasized, were not only discharged but, believe it or not, were only paid back their pension contributions excluding any interest accrued during those years in which they made contributions. One might almost say that the punishment for their misdemeanours was, in fact, twofold or double punishment. I wish to repeat that: Not only were they discharged from the employ of the SATS but, over and above that, they lost the interest that accrued on their pension contributions, interest which I believe was legitimately theirs.
One must explain by saying that interest was received by the Pension Fund on the moneys paid in by these persons. That interest was kept by the Pension Fund and was, in fact, completely legal and above board at the time. Needless to say, it is not surprising to find that there are some of these same pensioners who are now social old age pensioners. Whatever the reason for a decision being reached to deny any person his or her interest on pension payments, to my way of thinking it is grossly unfair. In fact, it is an indictment of the system of yesteryear.
I say that because since 1981 pension regulations have been altered and amended to remove this anomaly. I commend the SATS for correcting an injustice, but this does not help the people I am referring to at the present moment. The mere fact that an amendment was made to the regulations confirms that an anomaly existed. That anomaly was not in keeping with the fair play one has always expected from the SATS in respect of pensions and pension payments.
A further point was that in all these cases no consideration was given to calling for a welfare report. This, I believe, was a serious omission by the management of the day. It may have been an oversight but I am convinced that, had a welfare report been called for in these cases, a different decision would have been reached in the majority of these cases. It is interesting to note that the estimated interest earned in these particular cases on pension contributions was in excess of R250 000.
I put it to the hon the Minister: Is it fair to all concerned to leave the position as it is? I think not. Knowing the hon the Minister as a fair-minded person, I am sure he agrees with me. Having said that, however, it is interesting to note that one of these cases was actually referred to a Parliamentary Select Committee on Pensions. I should like to quote from the Minutes of Proceedings of the House of Assembly of 6 June 1969:
Item 26 reads:
Regretfully the Minister of the day turned his back on the recommendations of that select committee. I make the very important point that a precedent has been created by the fact that one of these cases was referred to a select committee. I therefore respectfully request the hon the Minister, in view of the precedent, to allow these cases which I have been discussing, select committee consideration. That will give the affected people a hearing by members of this House who will then be in a position to come to a fair and just decision in respect of each of the cases concerned. For justice to be done, it must be seen to be done. Under the circumstances I appeal to the hon the Minister to agree to, what I think, is a very reasonable request.
I now come to the composition of the committee on pensions for members of the SATS. To the best of my knowledge it has fairly wide representation, including, inter alia, officials of the department, staff associations and other staff organizations, but excluding direct pensioner associations. This committee plays a very important role and ensures that decisions are taken that will protect the many members’ interests who are contributing the fund concerned.
To give one some idea of the size of this fund it is interesting to note that last year the interest alone was in excess of R20 million. I think it is fair to say that it is generally conceded that the committee does a good job and that most people are satisfied with their performance. However, some degree of concern has been expressed by some pensioners’ associations. It has been pointed out respectfully that there are some pensioners who feel that their interests are not always given the attention that they believe should be given to them. What I would like to suggest, therefore, is that some consideration be given to the possibility of increasing the composition of this committee; that is, making it possible to include direct representation from the pensioners’ committees concerned. This is a thought that the hon the Minister may consider to be of interest, and for the committee to consider. I believe it will also placate the pensioners’ associations.
The third point I wish to raise is the physical position of the railhead at Port Shepstone. In this regard there are still some organizations who are agitating for the removal of this rail complex, that is, from its present site to a site inland from Port Shepstone. When one looks at the economics of such a suggestion, plain facts militate against its removal. However, uncertainty still prevails in this regard, and I would suggest to the authorities that a categorical statement in this regard be made. For once and for all it must be stated in clear and unambiguous terms whether the railhead is going to stay in its present position or whether consideration is being given to moving it to some other site. If my anticipation is correct, may I then further ask the SATS to indicate what their future planning requirements will be on the present site. I should also like to know if it is envisaged incorporating the present South Wharf marshalling yards and private sidings in the main complex. This particular aspect is important to the borough of Port Shepstone. They also wish to do future planning but cannot do so until the SATS indicate what they have in mind for this particular area.
I raise the question of South Wharf for good reasons. This is an area which is adjacent to the Umzimkulu River and is, by and large, magnificently situated for development as a recreational area. To have a marshalling yard there is a sacrilege as far as the use of the land is concerned. If it is the intention of the SATS to move from South Wharf, I would urge the department to consider seriously leasing the South Wharf site to the local authority at a peppercorn rental. The local authority could then develop this area to its full potential as an outstanding recreational area.
Mr Chairman, the hon member for South Coast has dealt rather fully with pensions, and I do not intend going on with that aspect.
I would like to deal with the stimulation of revenue for the SATS. When one looks at pages 12 and 13 of the memorandum, one sees the goods, coal, livestock and free traffic carried over the years from 1979 to 1984. Although mineral products declined from 66,7 million tons to 49,4 million tons during that period, revenue due to higher tariffs increased from R614 million to R836 million.
Coal too has decreased by 5 million tons in local use but export coal has increased by 5 million tons per year. Revenue from coal, however, went up from R295 million to about R600 million In 1984.
It would seem to me that if the SATS are to keep their tariffs in trim it is in this traffic that increases will have to be sought. It should not be beyond the bounds of the management of the SATS to get up a joint marketing team with the mines in order to stimulate sales of these two items in foreign countries to their mutual benefit. I should recommend that a joint marketing team of the SATS and the mining industry be set up to investigate the whole world situation through to the turn of the century because the future of the SATS is at stake.
The SATS too must learn to forget about South Africa’s dependence on gold for foreign exchange. The SATS and South Africa must realize that South Africa must export or die.
A further matter to which I should like to refer is the question of compensation for commuters. I asked the hon the Minister of Finance to be present here this afternoon but he has not arrived yet.
In the Rand Daily Mail Business Day of 1 March 1985 there appeared a report of a speech made at a function in Johannesburg, where the Junior Afrikaans Businessman/ woman of the Year was named. I quote a statement made at that function by the hon the Minister of Finance, as it was reported in the newspaper I have just named. The report states as follows:
Mr Chairman, never in the history of this House has an hon Minister of Finance posed such a diabolical, such an unintelligent, a more naïve question. No one knows better than the hon the Minister of Finance that there are no economic reasons why widow Pienaar should pay because there are no economic reasons whatsoever for the past policy of apartheid, as propagated by this National Party Government since its coming to power in 1948. It was the various apartheid Acts of Parliament—purely political Acts of racial discrimination—that have forced the least viable sections of our population to live furthest away from their places of work, causing them to be compelled now to use commuter transport, which they cannot afford.
Many still remember the widow Pienaar, who, as a young girl, was a prominent member of the National Party Jeugbond at Pofadder. She was privileged to vote because she was White. She, in full knowledge, supported the National Party because she was in favour of the policy of apartheid.
You can leave the widows well alone. I shall look after them! [Interjections.]
That widow now votes for the CP. [Interjections.]
How do you know that, Jan? [Interjections.]
Living in Namaqualand, she wanted the Coloured people removed from the common voters’ roll. She was never asked to assess the economic costs of the consequences of apartheid, which she one day might be called upon to bear. She rejoiced when the Black township of Sophiatown, in Johannesburg, whose inhabitants were within walking distance or within a short distance by tram for their places of work, were removed to Soweto.
The widow Pienaar was delighted when, at an election meeting at Pofadder, the National party MP for Namaqualand said that the last Coloured person who had lived in Cape Town’s District Six had been removed to Mitchell’s Plain. The MP for Namaqualand, however, made no mention of the fact that this Coloured John Citizen used to walk to work in Cape Town, neither did he mention that he now had to journey over an hour by train to his place of work, and that he could not afford the fare.
The widow Pienaar is now being called upon to pay, not for economic reasons but for purely political and emotional reasons, for supporting a policy which caused Coloured and Black communities, Coloured and Black John Citizens, to be placed far away from their places of work and to be thus compelled to use transport to cover a distance which they did not determine and at a price they could not afford because their wages were far below the household subsistence levels, over which they also had no control.
It is not the SATS that created apartheid. The SATS is a State-controlled business organization which carries these commuters, which has to carry these commuters who happen to be a consequence of the policy of apartheid. Why should the users of the various branches of the SATS have to cross-subsidize the losses that occur owing to the apartheid measures introduced by this House? The dream of apartheid has turned into an economic nightmare for which the taxpayer must bear the burden.
Let me say the following to the widow Pienaar: With your old-age pension you will only have to pay GST on the things you purchase.
The real tragedy is that if she had known the costs of apartheid and fought them when she was a young girl, her old age pension would now have been much higher. How sad is it that the party she supported did not have better economists and worse-off politicians, and that it conjured up impossible dreams for her when she was such a nice, young, innocent girl, the belle of Pofadder. [Interjections.]
I now want to deal with another statement that appeared in the annual report concerning Malev Hungarian Airlines.
Why do you not start with the snakes in Johannesburg?
All I can say to the widow Pienaar is that if she votes for the CP, she will really be in trouble.
You sat on the Johannesburg Town Planning …
The annual report states that an IATA Multilateral Interline Traffic Agreement, for both passengers and traffic, was concluded with the Malev Hungarian Airlines. However, it is almost impossible for any South African to obtain a visa to visit Hungary. Even when a South African tries to get a visa through the Hungarian Embassy in for example the United States or Europe, it is invariably refused on the basis that it will take some months, and only if a Hungarian relative actually contacts the Hungarian immigration authorities in Hungary, is it possible to obtain a visa to enter the country. What is the use of such agreements when the Department of Foreign Affairs does not make sure in the first instance that South Africans can obtain visas?
The next point I should like to deal with is the question of the constitution and the functions of the SA Transport Services Board. The work done by the various Commissioners between 1910 and 1985 has been highly laudatory. Without derogating from the quality of the person who have been appointed, I believe that the SATS, after 75 years, has grown to become a modern, vibrant business and that the time has arrived when the hon the Minister should give consideration to the widening of the board to include outside Commissioners, whose experience and knowledge can add to the sum total. The question which the hon the Minister should consider is what kind of a board would exist if the SATS were a public company. That is the sort of board I have in Mind.
In conclusion I should like to deal with possible foreign exchange losses as far as the SATS is concerned. If one looks at the annual report of the Post Office, one will find there a statement of loans, both local and foreign. I have been unable to find a similar statement in respect of the SATS. Through no fault of the SATS the depreciation of the rand against the dollar has been devastating and large numbers of private and parastatal organizations have sustained very heavy foreign exchange losses during the financial year 1984-85 and many more are expected to suffer during the financial year 1985-86. There is a rumour going around that the State might lose something like R6 billion to R8 billion during this year and next year.
While appreciating the financial ability of the SATS to roll over its loans in view of its high creditworthiness, nevertheless many of us are perturbed that during 1985-86 exposure to the depreciating rand could make this year a disastrous one. I believe that the hon the Minister would be well-advised to tell the country about the possibility of foreign exchange losses—which could come about through no fault of his own—well in advance, rather than that we in the Official Opposition should have to attack him, as we must needs do in the case of Escom in respect of which the hon the Minister of Mineral and Energy Affairs is having such a rough time.
Mr Chairman, the hon member for Bezuidenhout covered such a wide field on so many matters, that my entire turn to speak would be taken up if I should attempt to reply to them. However, I just want to tell him that it is really not as difficult to obtain visas for Hungary as he wants to make out. There are many more South Africans in Budapest at present than he would perhaps imagine.
I think that a matter that ought to cause a great deal more concern than visas to Hungary is the losses the SATS is incurring on its train passenger services. This afternoon I should like to take a brief look at the losses on the main line passenger services in general, and at the losses on the first class long distance passenger service in particular.
A train ticket from Cape Town to Johannesburg costs R156 at present, but according to figures the amount of R156 represents only 30% of the cost of conveying a passenger from Cape Town to Johannesburg. Only 30% of the cost of getting the passenger there is covered by the price of the train ticket.
If such a train ticket covers 40% of the cost, the loss incurred by conveying such a passenger amounts to R234. Sixty per cent of the cost is not covered by that ticket; only R156 of the cost is covered by the price of the train ticket. This brings the total cost of conveying a passenger from Cape Town to Johannesburg to approximately R390.
An air ticket from Cape Town to Johannesburg costs R190, however. The difference between the price of an air ticket and the real cost attached to conveying a passenger from Cape Town to Johannesburg amounts to R200. It therefore costs R200 more to convey a passenger from Cape Town to Johannesburg by train.
One is faced with the ensuing question as to whether the time has not come for us to try to channel our first class main line passengers to our airports.
These tremendous losses on our train passenger transport mean that we have to pay the capital costs of that equipment over and over again. I think the USA is a fine example of how we could channel our first class main line passengers to the SAA. I think we could even do this at a reduced tariff, and it would still be to the advantage of the service of the SATS as a whole, because the losses on our passenger transport would be so much less.
I do not wish to intimate that we should summarily terminate all passenger train services, but I just want the hon the Minister and the Administration to consider investigating this matter in depth. I know there are many implications attached to this, but I think we could find very suitable methods of solving the problems to the benefit of the SATS.
What about second class train services?
I do not wish to discuss the second class main line passengers today; the losses being incurred on that service are even greater.
There is one matter I should also like to mention. It will probably not be very popular. On the one hand, the travel bureaus of the SATS are doing very well and are running at a good profit. This is one service of the entire department, or a facet of it that is achieving excellent results and showing a profit. They have outstanding personnel and they render an excellent service.
Travel bureaus in the private sector, in other words, not part of the SATS, feel a little unhappy about the competition the travel bureaus of the State are giving them. I therefore want to ask the hon the Minister whether the time has not come to dispose of the travel bureaus of the SATS by tender.
Mr Chairman, I just want to deal with one or two aspects of finance before turning to another matter pertaining to the hon the Minister.
Let us look at the financing costs included in this working expenditure. This includes railways, harbours, airways, pipelines, tour buses, road transport service, rail transport service and lighthouses. This gives us a total amount of R1 544 320 000. That is 18,5% of the total working expenditure for the year, viz R8 350 million.
One of the matters we shall have to look at I have spoken about this in the past—is that a person of this generation cannot negotiate so many loans and make so much debt that his descendants have to pay for ever and always remain in debt simply as a result of financing costs. We shall come to that when we discuss the main Budget, since that is where the main fault lies.
I want to ask the hon the Minister in what respect these financing costs pertain to productive assets. The capital expenditure for the year is R1 650 million, and that is a pity. At a time of depression and a declining conjuncture, capital works have to be established and expanded, so that when the upswing comes and the economy is growing again, there are no problem areas. The necessary infrastructure must then be there to make provision for economic growth. I do not have all the necessary information—we have not gone into the matter—but I should like the hon the Minister to inform us a little more and elaborate on the matter.
I want to come back to another matter. In the memorandum of the hon the Minister of Transport Affairs we see that the revised estimates of revenue have decreased tremendously from R942 million to R746 million, a decrease of R195 million.
I think the hon the Minister is pricing the Administration out with high tariffs. If the passenger tariffs are too high, a large revenue cannot be obtained from them.
I now want to come back to yet another matter. I want to speak frankly to the hon the Minister across the floor. When the hon member for Meyerton was speaking, the hon the Minister got very hot under the collar. When we were busy with Questions the hon the Minister was not in the House. I heard him saying that he was in the House of Delegates. It is due to the new dispensation that this thing is collapsing. Even the hon the Minister’s nerves cannot take it any longer. [Interjections.] It is true, this is absurd. The House had to adjourn for 10 minutes because the hon the Minister could not be here.
You are talking nonsense.
That hon member is sitting and sleeping. He does not even know that the sitting was suspended for 10 minutes. [Interjections.]
Then the hon member for Meyerton came and said that the hon the Minister insulted the hon member for Rosettenville. I want to read the hon the Minister’s reply during the second reading. This was the hon the Minister’s reply to the hon member for Rosettenville. He said:
That was February’s.
One could also use the December or January edition as an example. The hon member said that it contained too little reading matter and that it was only full of advertisements. Were they immoral or bad advertisements or not? Does he object to advertisements? Which advertisement does he object to? I think he is insulting the advertisers. Advertisers in South Africa spend a tremendous amount of money, to such an extent that they in fact carry this publication. In this case, the hon member definitely reacted incorrectly. I am very grateful that Pro Nat does not appear in that magazine. In any case, the Prog publication is much better reading matter than that publication of the NP. I would recommend that Die Patriot appear in it, since then he would at least have some good reading matter.
Is there a crossword puzzle in Die Patriot?
We could have a crossword puzzle printed in it for the hon member.
I quote what the hon the Minister said when he referred to the hon member for Kuruman:
The hon the Minister says that he saw him driving, and I want him to confirm whether he saw this himself.
Order! I should like to remind the hon member for Sunnyside that we are discussing clause 1 of the Transport Services Appropriation Bill at present and that that matter really has nothing to do with the SATS.
Leave him to me, “oom” Jannie. I want to deal with him myself.
I shall discuss this further with the hon the Minister on another occasion. He also referred to the hon member for De Aar, as follows:
He did not say that. The hon the Minister therefore said three things that do not befit him. He must not sit here until the new dispensation has finished him off. I told him long ago that he must come home to his own people. He has done good work for the Railways. It was a tragedy when the State President announced this afternoon that the salaries of Railway officials are going to be reduced. People who earn less than R6 000 per annum are not affected by this, but what can one buy with R500 per month today in any case? Did the hon the Minister plead in the Cabinet, or wherever, that people who earn at least up to R1 000 per month should be exempted from this reduction? The cost of living has soared. As soon as a Minister rises here, he announces increased tariffs. Why do the salaries of these people have to be reduced? The Railway officials have been productive and have worked hard, and we thank them for this. They have done so to the extent that no great loss was incurred this year. Apart from the tariff increases which have resulted in more revenue, there was also greater productivity amongst the officials. I wonder whether the public knows that savings were also brought about because 44 000 posts were not filled. What must those people live on? A certain amount is also being deducted from the salaries of those who remain. I am not speaking about the senior personnel now, since they can afford it. I think that what should happen in this country, is that these people who voted “yes”, should pay 30% more tax. That is their punishment for voting “yes”. That would be right! Let them foot the bill!
I do not think it is too late. I want to ask the hon the Minister—he has done good work for the Railways until now, in all respects—not to let this go any further. Our Railway officials are already suffering, and apart from those who no longer have jobs, their overtime is being reduced as well. This low salary scale of R6 000 per annum should definitely be far higher than R6 000 per annum. One cannot do much with R6 000. I appeal to the hon the Minister please to use his influence and see to it that something is done to assist these people. People are going bankrupt every day. We want to look after these Railway officials who have done, and are still doing so much good for South Africa, and who are prepared to do more. I am not saying that one should waste. Wastage should as far as possible be eliminated. I would be the first to say that when salaries are too high, there should be a cutback. However, if one is taking the bread out of a man’s mouth and his wife and children have to do without at home, things are bad. An auctioneer told me of a case where a couple brought their lounge suite to be sold because the wife was expecting and they did not have money to pay for the confinement. This is the kind of thing we must prevent.
Our people are being impoverished by this new dispensation, they have no work and things are getting worse every day. I ask the hon the Minister to use the position he occupies to do some good.
Mr Chairman, I do not intend to react to the speech by the hon member for Sunnyside. He has spoken to the hon the Minister and asked him certain questions, which I am sure the Minister will deal with. All that I can say is that it seems to me that his speech fell to pieces when he tried to help the hon member for Kuruman and started to talk about road transport problems. I shall leave it to the hon member for East London to continue discussing that aspect with him.
The hon the Minister and officials of the SATS have already received several compliments during the course of this debate and the second reading debate. This was not without good reason. The achievements have been of such a nature that even the Opposition speakers reluctantly had to recognize them. J want to associate myself with this, but with specific reference to the Port Elizabeth/Uitenhage area. I see the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central, the main speaker for the Official Opposition, is now back in the House after a long absence. He has recently made a continuous and unfair attack on the Government as a result of the recessionary conditions in our area. He is putting all the blame on the Government. Everyone is aware that this is being done with a view to the by-election in Newton Park. Unfortunately it is being done, regardless of the long-term detrimental effects to the economy of our region. There are already signs that this transparent strategy of the Official Opposition is not working, and they will be dealt with at the polls.
The hon member who so freely accuses the Government of neglecting Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage has apparently forgotten, or neglected, to refer to the considerable expansion of facilities in that area and the further creation of infrastructure in progress there. Of course they also conveniently forget to mention the immensely stabilizing role the SATS, as a larger provider of work, is playing in the economy of that area.
†I want to support the hon member as far as his plea about the Apple Express is concerned. I think that is positive. We would all like to see that amenity and tourist attraction continued. In so far as the Kings Beach matter is concerned, I think SATS should hurry up and give a decision because that would also influence development in that particular area.
*The members of the select committee, accompanied by the hon the Minister and senior staff, visited this area at the end of last year and, inter alia, paid a very welcome visit to my own constituency. There they were able to observe the large extensions to the Cuyler Manor workshops and were also informed about forthcoming developments in that area.
Part of the electrification of the Port Elizabeth/De Aar section also included the relocation and improvement of the Uitenhage workshops. The estimated total cost of the electrification project was R117,3 million, and by December last year 70% of this project had already been completed. The expected date of completion is October of this year.
Say thank you to the Minister.
No, I shall not say thank you. This is just a fact that that hon member continually wants to ignore. He pretends that nothing is going on. It is the duty of the Government to create an infrastructure, and that is being done, but the hon member gives no credit for this. He simply complains. In doing so he is doing us a tremendous injustice.
The new Cuyler Manor workshops and the move to that area have recently started to gather a great deal of momentum. The second stage of this project is being implemented in three phases. The first phase makes provision for repair facilities for a fleet of 285 alternating current electric locomotives. This means that in 1986 repair work on steam locomotives will be suspended. The second phase makes provision for production and maintenance facilities. The intention this year is to spend R17 million on this alone. Now, quite rightly, the question arises: In view of the negative comments that we hear continually, especially from that hon member, why has this large project specifically been undertaken in Uitenhage? The SATS itself gave the answers, or some of them, to the select committee. There is an extremely stable and reliable Black and Coloured labour force there that stuck faithful to their posts even during the present unrest. The staff position there is very stable compared with other areas in our country where similar workshops are being run. There is the electrification project. Then, of course, we must add that the management of the SATS, which has to take business considerations into account, obviously has great confidence in the future progress of the area. Hence this great investment in Uitenhage.
The development of the Cuyler Manor workshops fits in easily with one of the greatest plus-factors of our area, namely the beautiful harbour in Port Elizabeth where projects amounting to R27 million for the further improvement of the facilities there are in progress at present. This includes the enlargement of the workshop for the ore equipment and the re-laying and reinforcing of lines in the harbour and the railway area. The Minister has just announced that this harbour has shown a profit of R14 million this year. Profitable sectors of the SATS will certainly have to be supported and developed further. This is simply sound economic practice. Although this harbour was initially equipped mainly for importing, it has also been used for the export of iron ore. At the moment, however, only manganese ore is being handled, as we know. Other export commodities are being handled to an ever increasing extend by this harbour, namely steel, asbestos, concentrates, ferrochrome and, most recently also coal. The rate at which it is being handled is such that at least the harbour remains busy all the time. To improve the traffic flow of this harbour storage facilities have, where possible, been created to improve the turn-around time of trucks and to reduce the waiting time of ships. It is interesting to note that there has been an acceptable increase in the tonnage of manganese ore being shipped: As against 2,2 million in 1983, 3 million was shipped in 1984. The total tonnage of freight handled by the Port Elizabeth harbour showed an increase in 1984 of 30,4% as against that of 1983, and containerization alone showed an increase of 18,7%. Port Elizabeth is one of the three container terminals where international containers are handled, and as such it is equipped with some of the most modern, expensive equipment. These facilities, together with well-trained staff, ensure that results of an international standard are achieved there. Comparative operating statistics place South African harbours in top position as far as the rate of loading on ships is concerned.
The importance of export for the Port Elizabeth/Uitenhage area is being realized more and more clearly. All indications are that the private sector and the Government are examining this with greater urgency. If the infrastructure, the investment, and the long-term planning of the Transport Services are properly analysed, it is clear that the great asset which this harbour is to Port Elizabeth and its environs will play an increasing role in the economy of Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage.
Mr Chairman, I would like at the outset to thank the hon member for South Coast for raising the matter which he did. I see that, although he has a new home, he has retained some good instincts. This is an issue over which the hon the Minister and I have fought over the years, as the hon the Minister knows.
However, I believe the time has now come for the hon the Minister to accede to the plea of the hon member for South Coast and review the situation of this handful of people who, I believe, have been very unfairly and unjustly treated. The hon the Minister himself has said in this House that alcoholism has been accepted as a disease; and that people who are boarded for medical reasons do not lose the interest on their contributions. The people concerned were, without reference to a welfare officer or a medical officer, simply robbed of years of interest on their contributions—in one case some R34 000 was involved. However, it is a group consisting of not more than eight or 10 people that could be affected. I believe therefore that it would be an act of justice to review the attitude towards and the decision on this little group of people who were dismissed, after many years of service, without even one cent of interest on their own money that had been paid in as pension contributions and that had lain there all those years earning interest.
I, too, want to refer to the 3% reduction in the 13th cheque, the bonus, and the effect that it is going to have on many railwaymen. I do not want to repeat the arguments of the hon member for Port Elizabeth. Nevertheless, I want to emphasize that it is not only the freezing of increments for this year, and not only the reduction of 3%, but also the cumulative effect of inflation last year and this year that must be taken into account. If all these factors are considered collectively, it becomes clear that it is not in fact a 3% but a 10% plus reduction. Whilst this may have been inevitable under the circumstances in which the country and the Government find themselves, I think we must appreciate that when we talk of 3%, we do not really mean 3% because last year’s increment—and a little more—has been gobbled up by inflation, and every three months all those employees who are affected will lose at least another 3%.
In addition, there is another group. This is a group of pensioners about whom there have been negotiations. I quote from the Salstaff Bulletin of March last year from a report on discussions by the association, Salstaff, with the hon the Minister. They refer to pensioners who were negotiating for a 13th cheque. The pensioners were told that they would be receiving an increase of 10% from January 1984:
The report then goes on to deal with the committee. I have quoted from the report: “Besprekingspunt No 3: 13de tjek vir sekere gepensioeneerdes”. Not only will that group have no increment but they also lost out last year on another R200 million adjustment. Approximately R373 million was budgeted for salary increases for Whites and Non-Whites in January 1984. The pensioners got their 10% then but during the course of the year there was another R200 million spent on grade adjustments—so I am informed— not on an annual basis but as actual expenditure, these were not salary increases but were “aanpassings” to make certain posts competitive. However, that was in effect an increase for all those who benefited by it, but the pensioners did not get one single cent out of that extra R200 million which under another name was in fact an increment for those who gained by it.
I believe that the hon the Minister should reconsider this question of the 13th cheque. Nothing can be taken away from the pensioners because they have nothing to take away from. They would, however, I am sure, willingly make their contribution out of a 13th cheque. They would be more than happy to get two thirds of that 13th cheque, but they do not get it so they have nothing to contribute. The pre-1973 pensioners—and I repeat what I said in the Second Reading debate about that second group—are people who are suffering desperately. I am going to ask a question and when I get the answer I hope the hon the Minister will have a red face. I should like to know what the actual amount is in rand that is being paid out to those pensioners who served his administration so loyally.
I do not have time to take it further as I want to deal with one or two other things. One is the question of the Sishen-Saldanha line. I am not going to go into the history of this line, what it has cost and the shocking blunders that have been made. I think I am right when I say that in the first place the hon the Minister was opposed to it; now he is left holding the baby. However, instead of just wringing their hands and saying: “Well, this is something of a disaster and we are going to get some interest-free capital”— what attention has been given, for instance, to increasing the traffic on that line; to creating sidings so that the local population in the North West Cape area can use the line? Perhaps mixed trains could be used for the transporting of a variety of goods. Even a passenger coach could perhaps be tagged on but it could certainly be used for mixed traffic.
The Saldanha line crosses the Upington-De Aar line—it goes underneath it. If those two lines were to be linked up we would have an alternative route to South West Africa. At some time, I assume, there will also be plans to connect it to the Transvaal, so that there will be another line right through from South West to the Western Transvaal. If one considers the number of people at either end of that more direct route, this could become a very busy line. I am, however, not saying that that can be done now. The link to the Transvaal is out of the question. I am talking of the possibility of that for the future, but for the present I am looking at the reality of a mixed traffic line.
That line has a whole regional office to itself and I think that is a complete waste. There is no reason why Cape Town could not have handled that single purpose line from Cape Town without creating the whole mechanism of a regional office.
In the area of Postmasburg-Sishen there is at present no facility for White passengers to travel by train or by bus to Sishen. There is also a big military camp near Sishen and I believe that it would be no problem to run a passenger coach on the Kimberley-Sishen line to transport soldiers who wish to get away for a weekend.
I do not have time to deal with other matters in that area as I want to deal with the hon the Minister’s reply to a question of mine in regard to the Airways. Firstly, I do not like being told something that is not true. I asked whether the trolley service had been changed since the introduction of the “business class”. The answer was no. Of course it has been changed. There used to be two trolleys, one starting at the back and one at the front, meeting in the middle. Now the average of 8,3 of such passengers on the downward flight from Durban to Cape Town have a cabin crew of two looking after them and there is only one trolley which always starts at the front and works towards the back … [Time expired.]
Mr Chairman, I think the hon the Minister will give his attention to the pensioners for whom the hon member for Durban Point pleaded, but I want to tell the hon the Minister that there is much gratitude in my constituency for the way in which he and his team manage the SATS. On behalf of the Railways officials who live on the site near the Boksburg East Station, I also want to thank the hon the Minister at the commencement of my speech for having their houses repaired so nicely. It has improved their environment, as well as our own.
Secondly, I want to appeal seriously to the hon the Minister to have the height of the platforms on the East Rand examined once again. We are alarmed that there is such a great difference in height between the train’s step and the platforms, and we ask whether this could perhaps be looked at, particularly with a view to the pensioners who have to make use of the train.
The third matter I should like to bring to the Committee’s attention has to do with graphite brushes. This is a matter that is also important to us in industry on the East Rand, since the propulsion engines of electric locomotives or train systems cannot work without these graphite brushes. No electrical machinery can run without these little devices. Graphite brushes to the value of approximately R60 million are used annually in South Africa and a great many are still being imported. Those products are of strategic importance, not only to our own industry, but also to the industrial growth of the rest of the world. Without graphite and copper crushes no country’s electrical train system or anything that is propelled electrically can continue to run. Since graphite and copper are available in such large quantities in South Africa, in my opinion, we should utilize our raw materials better and ultimately have them processed into final products within South Africa. This would bring about a large saving on foreign exchange, whilst it would be extending an industry in South Africa. Since the Transport Services, as well as other electrical industries use such large quantities, I think this possibility should be seriously examined.
I am making this appeal because the only reason for so many of these graphite brushes still having to be imported by South Africa is because apparently no SABS specification exists on how the various grades of brushes should be manufactured. This is where the problem lies, and perhaps this is where the SATS can be of assistance. It is easier for consumers of electrical equipment of this nature to requisition brushes used by the manufacturer of the engine. Consequently one finds that manufacturers always specify that the brush that was originally installed should be used. For this reason one finds that when this component wears out and has to be re-ordered, it is usually imported. There are only about three manufacturers in the world dominating this field, and if a small country like South Africa begins to emerge in this industry, it finds it is difficult to make any progress if there are no specifications which stipulate that its product is also good enough to be used. Since a comparative SABS specification is not available, organizations like the SATS cannot apply pressure on the supplier of electrical engines to specify a local product. The imported product is linked to the dollar, and hon members can therefore see that the price would increase by a tremendous amount. This is a component which should be sold for more or less between R5,00 and R8,00 but one often finds that when it is imported, it costs almost R20,00. I therefore plead that in the interests of the country, the SATS should exert pressure on the SABS to draw up specifications for copper and graphite brushes. I also request that the SATS carry out their own tests on these local products, with the purpose of assisting South Africa’s own graphite brush industry. By doing so, the South African manufacturer will be able to enter the world market and compete on it more quickly. I believe that the SATS can assist us in expanding this small industry that has only just begun in South Africa. I therefore address a friendly request to the hon the Minister to give instructions that that matter be investigated to see whether the SATS cannot be of assistance to us in getting this industry off the ground.
The final matter I should like to bring to the hon the Minister’s attention is the question of migrant labourers whom the SATS employs in the metropolitan areas, and consequently, out of necessity, accommodates there. Due to the progress that has been made over the past few months in respect of the urban Blacks, in my opinion, the time has come for organizations like the SATS seriously to consider replacing the kind of housing it offers its workers with family housing. There must be a rethink on the establishment of Black hostels in White towns, as is the case with the Delmore hostel in Boksburg. If one considers that a hostel bed in a new area on a new hostel site costs approximately R4 500, one finds that this is about one third of the price of a family home in a Black township. I therefore believe that we should see whether this money should not rather be channelled to the people who are already living in a metropolitan area and rather employ them and see whether we cannot provide them with a better standard of housing.
However, if nothing else can be done, and hostel labour has to be used, I want to make a serious plea that such hostels rather be built in Black townships in the vicinity of the metropolitan areas. Since hostels of this nature are not only situated on the grounds of the SATS, but also on the grounds of other large organizations, one finds additional facilities for sport, etc. If those hostels were rather to be situated in Black residential areas, the Black community would at least have the benefit of those facilities at their disposal. In my view, by looking after the families of Black workers as well, we will succeed in getting a more productive worker. We will then be able to congratulate ourselves, since we will ultimately have a more established labour force in the employ of the SATS and we would be showing the private sector the way. If Government organizations that employ Black people on a large scale break away from the hostel type of accommodation for their workers, one can necessarily put more pressure on organizations in the private sector to make their contribution in this regard.
That is all I have to say, except to ask the hon the Minister to give his attention to these few matters relating to the people on the East Rand.
Mr Chairman, I want to raise two matters with the hon the Minister when he has finished wrapping his Christmas presents. [Interjections.] I want to raise two points with the hon the Minister, on the basis that, if I keep chipping away at the hon the Minister, we are going to make some progress. Both of these points deal with planning, and as far as that is concerned, I am pleased that the hon the Minister of Constitutional Development and Planning is here, because he may just listen to some of the comments I wish to make.
The first point I wish to raise is the following. I have called in the past for a reappraisal of properties belonging to the SATS, the land and the buildings that they own, from a functional, planning and economic point of view.
I believe that the SATS today occupies immensely valuable pieces of real estate, many of which are situated in the centres of our cities or contiguous upon newly developing areas. While those areas bearing in mind their location and usage, have historical relevance, their usage today and their relationship with the particular town are probably not as relevant as was the case 30, 40 or 80 years ago, when they were first taken into use.
Secondly, Mr Chairman, in many instances the location, I believe, is actually in conflict with the development potential of the surrounding urban or city area. Therefore I believe it is important that the SATS, as a matter of policy, should investigate this. The hon the Minister, the last time I spoke about this, was sympathetic to what I had to say. I want him to tell us what has been done. I believe that there should be a formal committee—a group of experts representing the SATS, representing the private sector, representing the town-planning experts in South Africa—commissioned to undertake a systematic reappraisal of the location and the usage and the integration of SATS land into the community surrounding it. I believe lots of the land which the SATS owns today it would have to dispose of in these times if it was a private corporation. The SATS is sitting on land worth millions upon millions of rand and which is not being effectively utilized.
Cape Town is especially affected by this because of the dominant position which both railways and harbours hold in respect of future town-planning in Cape Town.
I do want to thank the hon the Minister, however, for one thing. When I spoke about this matter last year—especially about the railway station—he put me in touch with the engineer and architect of the Cape Western Areas System, with whom, I believe, I conducted a very fruitful and constructive conversation. I am impressed with some of the imaginative planning that has been done in and around the Cape Town station area with a view to future development. Fact is, however, that the economic climate does not lend itself to city-centre development right at this very moment. It is wrong at this particular moment. That same economic climate, however, does not apply to the development of the Victoria Basin, the Albert Dock and the tank farm areas of Cape Town. I believe that should be accorded absolute priority. This is recycling old buildings. This is making use of derelict land.
I believe that whatever the problems might be in connection with city-centre development, the question of the rejuvenation, of the recycling, of the revitalization of that old part of the harbour, is of critical importance; not only to the wellbeing of the SATS but to the wellbeing, I believe, of the whole of the Western Cape. We in the Western Cape have our backs to the wall to try to find employment for the growing numbers of people in this area. I believe that to revitalize those areas as tourist attractions, as recreational areas, as areas that could become the Mecca of commercial activity, is of critical importance, and I should like to know whether the SATS is an enthusiastic part of the committee which has been set up by Cape Town Mayor Sol Kreiner to see to it that that area is developed in a positive way.
The second point I want to raise is the following. I want to urge the hon the Minister to stop treating Cape Town like an airways Cinderella and to restore this city to the position it once proudly held as one of the gateways to South Africa. He should make Cape Town’s DF Malan Airport, not just in name but also in practice, a fully-fledged and properly functional international airport. The argument is that it has to be a gateway destination. We say that if that is the problem, then for heaven’s sake make it a gateway destination. I believe it is not beyond the realms of possibility for the SATS to negotiate agreements with other airlines and with other countries in order to establish at least two gateway destinations in South Africa. I want to argue that from a regional planning point of view—forget the SATS; forget what it might gain on the swings or lose on the roundabouts—it is imperative that at the southern tip of South Africa there must be a new gateway destination for SAA.
To Houston, Texas, for instance. That is closer than anywhere else. To South America. To London. To New York. Those places are all closer to us than to most other international airports. It is not just a question of R200 in terms of a fare for a holiday or a business trip. A gateway is a very symbolic factor. A gateway brings in the immigrants. That is where the immigrants come in with their energies, with the money and with the communities surrounding them. That is where one gets an infrastructure of ancillary industries, like the container business, the airfreight business and other industries. I am not just talking of Cape Town. I am talking of Cape Town, the South Western Districts and of Port Elizabeth. We now find that there is an oil strike in the Mossel Bay area. The whole petrochemical industry is likely to develop in the South Western Districts. Are we going to fly people in from Houston, which is the centre in America, to Johannesburg and then down to the South Western Districts? Obviously, Cape Town, the South Western Districts and Port Elizabeth must be given the benefits of regional development. Every time this hon the Minister raises railway tariffs he puts the Cape at a further disadvantage. Why must it also be at a disadvantage because this excess fare has to be paid?
We want to put it to the hon the Minister to approach the other hon Ministers and say: Yes, we will lose a little for a short while if we have to do this. However, I say that the generation of extra air transport, the generation of extra people coming into this area, combined with the healthy impact it will have on the regional development of the Western Cape, the South Western Districts and the Eastern Cape, far outweighs the other problems of this hon the Minister. While he may be experiencing some practical problems, let him talk to the hon the Minister of Constitutional Development and Planning.
Why always talk to me?
I am saying this because this hon the Minister is responsible for spatial plans, for the planning of South Africa, and one of his problems—and he knows it— is how to promote industrial and commercial development in the Cape, given its location and the disadvantages it has concerning markets in the interior. I want to say to the hon the Minister that one of the ways in which it can be done is by reopening the Cape as a gateway. If Cape Town was the gateway, or at least one of the gateways for air transportation into South Africa, resulting also from the publicity which would accompany this—I believe the media as a whole will pick this up because celebrities, politicians and other people would fly in here—the Cape will become the focal point of more and more ancillary industries. I do not raise this matter lightly with the hon the Minister. I am aware of the problems he will have in adjusting to having two gateway entries into this country. However, I believe that the time is going to come when he will have to do it. My plea is that in the interests of the healthy development of the employment facilities provided in the Cape, stop treating the Cape as an airway Cinderella and make it once again a gateway to South Africa.
Order! Before allowing the hon member for Worcester a turn to speak, I just want to tell the Committee that if hon members continue ignoring appeals for order, they will compel me to refer to individual members, mentioning their constituencies. I now call upon the hon member for Worcester to speak.
Mr Chairman, the hon member for Sea Point does not always talk nonsense; on the contrary, to a certain extent he is quite conservative, and his forbears must have had good blood in their veins. I do not know whether the hon member is aware of this, but I am now living in his constituency, and one has to be careful there. [Interjections.]
Do you swim in the swimming pool?
When the hon member is out of it, yes. [Interjections.]
We really do have a wonderful country with wonderful people, and things would also go wonderfully well for us if only we keep our heads and stop always nagging and complaining. Of course, some people take pleasure in walking around with long faces and they exude bad news. On the other hand, we have so much of which we can be proud and about which we can blow our trumpet. Few other countries can emulate us in this respect. What I am going to say now is not based on hearsay; it is as good as gospel, and I could reveal my source, too. [Interjections.] I wonder what our country would have looked like without the SATS. There are many monuments on the long road of the 75 years the SATS has been in existence. One can travel a long way in 75 years, but one can also work, and these monuments are not dead, lifeless monuments, since something that is dead is meaningless. I am speaking about real projects that have amazed the world with regard to what our country and its people can achieve.
One of these undertakings tackled by the SATS is the containerization project. We can praise the hon the Minister and his Administration for this now while they are still alive, for a dead person cannot push out his chest.
Since Central government, in co-operation with the shipping companies and the Perishable Products Export Control Board decided in March 1974—that is just 11 years ago— that the Republic of South Africa would enter the containerization era, an exceptional achievement in engineering was attained in establishing an entire containerization project within the short space of three years. What an achievement! The total investment by the SATS amounts to approximately R400 million, whilst the shipping companies contributed approximately R2 000 million.
Containerization was officially introduced in 1977, and the project was probably the most extensive ever tackled by the SATS. We have three deep-sea harbour container terminals, viz Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban. The terminals are equipped with expensive and some of the most modern equipment and most modern facilities in the world. These facilities, in conjunction with well-trained staff, ensure that results of a world-class standard are achieved. Comparative statistics for this industry place South African harbours in the top position as far as the loading rate onto ships is concerned. I am speaking about the whole world now, and that is the truth.
It is an experience to go and look at how these people go about it. They know their work. It is no wonder that record after record is set up. Have hon members ever gone to have a look at how the straddle carriers carry the things around there?
What is that?
It is a machine.
I have often wondered how the SATS could perfect such a project within three years when there are people who sit in conference rooms for years, or almost a lifetime, and who do not even know then how it works.
I do not wish to burden the Committee with statistics, but containerization is here to stay. If a I am not mistaken, all this was achieved under an NP Government. [Interjections.] I now want to quote from Transport and Traffic of March 1982. It is in English, but I understand it better:
Oh my goodness, this is a mess-up. I have lost my place. [Interjections.] No, wait, I shall find it in a minute. [Interjections.]
Hon members who do not understand this, can come to my office. [Interjections.] If our exporters want to export, the SATS is more than ready for them.
When there are such large projects, one is often inclined to forget the smaller ones. On the occasion of the previous Railways Budget, I asked for the Worcester railway station to be smartened up slightly to fit in with their MP. [Interjections.] The very next morning they telephoned me to say that the painters had already begun the previous afternoon. I want to say thank you very much.
Negotiations between the SATS and the municipality of Worcester are at present in progress concerning the use of excess railway land, and we hope that this will be finalised within the foreseeable future.
When I am on the farm and a train that rattles the window panes comes past, or when I am sitting in Sea Point and I see the container ships going past, I know that the SATS is in very good hands. I support the Appropriation Bill.
Mr Chairman, I shall not pursue what the hon member for Worcester said, but we always find that he makes a sound contribution and puts this House in a good mood. What he says is always amusing. Cognizance must be taken that he always makes a sound contribution with a smile.
Today I do not find what I have to say very pleasant. However, before I speak to the hon the Minister, I first want to come to the Prog who is not here now, the hon member for Bezuidenhout. There was a period in the history of this country like the one in 1962. At that time the Government demarcated Soweto and told the then City Council of Johannesburg that that was a residential area and that the city council should adapt its town planning scheme accordingly so that Soweto could be surrounded by an industrial and commercial area. However, the then city council ignored this and developed all industrial projects almost 40 km away. The hon member who spoke today was formerly a member of the city council.
Not of Johannesburg.
No, not in Johannesburg. We did not allow people like that there. They were in Sandton and other places.
The city council could have altered that township scheme and offered their co-operation, but they did not do so. Apartheid must please not be blamed for every poor decision that has ever been taken in this country. There is nothing wrong with apartheid.
Today I want to tell the hon the Minister that we have a great deal of appreciation for the Railways Police. Since they celebrate their 75th anniversary this year, we want to tell them that we have a great deal of appreciation for them. For all the officials of the SATS.
Someone who, unlike me, is not a representative of a constituency like Langlaagte, does not know what these people sacrifice. When I go canvassing in my constituency, I have been to one house up to 15 times and I still do not find the husband at home. That man is at work. In this country, children are growing up who see their father a quarter of the time, since these men work and give their all to be of service to the SATS, for example. I want to ask the hon the Minister: Could he tell me whether he was aware when he introduced his Budget that the bonuses of one third of these people would not be paid out to them? [Interjections.] The hon the Minister says that he was not aware of that. This is one of the reasons why I pity the hon the Minister. The Government does not plan ahead. What the State President does depends on how he feels when he wakes up that morning. The entire planning of South Africa’s economy is in chaos. The SATS is a part of the greater economic whole, but the Minister responsible is not informed when, for example, something like one third of the bonuses of its employees, which amounts to a few million rands, are taken away from them. The hon the Minister is being treated unfairly, and in my opinion, the Railway employee is being ignored completely by the rest of the Government. I am not saying that the hon the Minister is doing so, but that the Cabinet is not giving this aspect its attention. We cannot allow the country to be governed on an ad hoc basis and allow ad hoc decisions to be taken concerning the lives of our people. A person who earns R7 000 per annum, which is approximately R580 per month, can hardly make ends meet with that nowadays. Some of these people have four or five children. How can one take away their bonuses? It is nothing but robbery. [Interjections.] Hon members can laugh if they wish. I often visit homes in which a child only has the clothes he or she has to wear to school the next day. I am pointing to the facts now. These circumstances prevail in large parts of the country. If people’s bonuses are only taken away from next year, one could still argue that those people could make provision for this, but in this case people’s bonuses are being reduced from last year. They have already paid tax for the year, but nevertheless they are being denied the bonuses they have already earned. What has the State President done with Members of Parliament? He is letting them pay from now on, and not retrospectively. It is a disgrace that this is being done to the SATS employees. I am not blaming the hon the Minister, but the State President. He must be called to account for this. He is no longer able to govern the country and he should resign. He would be setting an example if he were to resign. The people who are being governed would then be given the opportunity to give an indication of whom they want to govern the country. We have been denied a say at the municipal level and at every other level of government, and then one has the treatment such as is being meted out to the Railway people. We have a great deal of appreciation for what the hon the Minister has been trying to do recently and for the financial steps he and his department have taken, since one cannot complain about that. I must honestly say that the hon the Minister has performed a tremendous task. However, the Government is not going to get away with these ad hoc decisions that are being taken with which it thinks it can throw dust in people’s eyes. It cannot continue in this vein. The Government must realize that it does not have six months left in which to remain standing. It must throw in the towel now, and let people who can make it assume the reins of government.
Mr Chairman, I do not actually want to react to the speech by the hon member for Langlaagte because the sort of argument he gave here this afternoon is only for a fictitious public audience. [Interjections.] I wish the hon member for Rissik would, once and for all, go and drown himself in the Loskop Dam so that we can be rid of him!
Mr Chairman, is it Parliamentary language to tell another hon member to go and drown himself in the Loskop Dam?
Order! The hon member for Springs must withdraw that remark.
You are a “skarminkel” (beanpole)!
Mr Chairman, I withdraw it and I want to know whether the hon member is permitted to say that I am a “skarminkel”.
Mr Chairman, I did not say the hon member was a “skarminkel”. I made no such observation. [Interjections.]
Order! The hon member for Springs may proceed.
Mr Chairman, the hon member for Langlaagte made a fuss here about the fact that they, and they alone, have the interests of workers and of the Railways at heart when it comes to the curtailment of certain benefits. They profess to be the only people in this country who look to the interests of public servants, and in this debate the interests of Railway officials, among others. But who is it who looks after officials in this country? Who improved the salaries of officials to their present level? Did they do this or did the NP Government? The NP Government will continue to govern this country in an orderly manner, as far as the economy will permit. I think that every official who is part of the administration of this country will realize that the capacity of the country must not be exhausted to the extent that everything eventually collapses, something the CP would like to see happen and which they predict will happen. The hon the Minister of Transport Affairs is part of the Cabinet that takes certain decisions. It is being said that the country is being governed by ad hoc decisions and that the State President stands up and governs the country at will. Such ridiculous comments are not worthy of an answer.
I should like to return to the debate and to refer to certain matters in my constituency. I want to refer specifically to passenger facilities. Over the past year it has not only been the transport of passengers that has been of great importance, but also the facilities at terminals. It so happens that some of the facilities created have fallen into disuse over the years, or that some of them no longer measure up to modern standards. In modern times there is a great need for integrated services at transport points and terminals. One of the most important of these, I believe, is the link-up systems where one system of transport links up with another, for example when a train terminal and a bus terminal link up with each other, and where there are also other transport facilities, such as taxis for commuters. There is a need for specialized trade and medical services near such terminals. Facilities created in the past have not only become inadequate on account of the increase in numbers and the volume that must be handled, but also as a result of the modern need for integrated services.
The situation at Springs station is a very good example of what happened there, both in regard to numbers and in regard to further needs. The springs Town Council therefore decided that these systems, where train services end and bus services begin, should be integrated with an overall service being offered to users of the transport systems. The Town Council envisages a new bus terminus, especially for Black passengers, where a wide range of facilities will be provided. This terminus will be situated close to Springs station and is being planned as a multi-modal transfer station for train, bus, taxi and other passengers. Provision is also being made for a shopping centre that will provide a range of other services. This terminus in Springs has a dual character, since it has to serve Putco services as well as the SATS, and is also a large change-over point for trains. Thousands upon thousands of travellers use this station and bus terminus to and from the homelands, especially over weekends. Since Springs is situated at the easternmost point of the Witwatersrand, it is the last assembly point of the Transport Services’ long-distance buses to the Eastern Transvaal. Passengers queueing here often have with them many large and heavy packages and all sorts of things they have bought to take with them to the homelands. Provision must be made for a convenient changeover point where they can alight from the train and catch the bus. The town council has already relocated the White bus terminus so that it can be put at the disposal of the Black commuters. The SATS is already using it.
In order to provide for this and for future needs, the council has made great strides with its planning. This planning includes integrating the old White bus terminus, the present Black bus terminus, a piece of land purchased by the council, an area on which the old town hall of Springs stands—the library has also been incorporated into this— as well as another area belonging to the SATS. However, the above-mentioned planning cannot be proceeded with before certain steps have been taken because an overhead business centre, which will be linked directly to the Springs station platforms is also being planned. Such a development will be undertaken by a private developer and he will recover his costs by leasing. There will also be protected parking for park-and-ride commuters.
All these plans sound very good. There is, however, one problem. If the town council of Springs wants to allow these plans to be implemented, the SATS has to give it specific permission. According to provisions in crown-land grants 230 of 1945 and 130 of 1953, sections of the said land are placed at the disposal of the town council, as prescribed. In order to obtain air rights in business, the SATS first has to give permission for this. The council is requesting the SATS to give specific permission for air rights as well as for the use of an adjacent piece of land belonging to the SATS. These will be needed in order to make a functional layout possible.
With this planning the council bore in mind the interests of the SATS, the passengers, and other people, too. It complies with SATS policy of involving private developers in the development of such terminals, and also complies with the appeal of the SATS to local authorities to make parking facilities available to commuters. I therefore hope the hon the Minister will consider the request of the Springs Town Council favourably in order to be able to give the users of the SATS public transport system the necessary facilities that measure up to modern standards.
Mr Chairman, it is a pity that the hon member for Springs was not listening when the hon the Minister acknowledged earlier that when he introduced his Budget a short while ago he was not aware of the bonus cuts. He would then have known that that certainly is a good example of ad hoc government. As regards the Springs station, I agree with the hon member. When we have rallies in the Springs Civic Centre, many hundreds of our supporters use the Springs station to come to the meetings. However, I want to talk about Johannesburg station.
A short while ago the Minister, in reply to a question of mine, said that for the convenience and the effective flow of passengers, especially during peak hours, entrances and exits were marked “White” and “non-White” where appropriate at the Johannesburg station. That was the answer he gave me. I wonder whether he is aware of documents that are distributed by the Department of Foreign Affairs in various languages with regard to apartheid. The documents are called South Africa A to Z. The English document claims that the SATS have been desegregated in concourses and public facilities at airports and railway stations. That is in contradiction to the answer he gave me last month. The French version, which I had translated for me, reads:
Which answer is the correct one? The one in Afrikaans, the one in English, or the one in French? Perhaps he could consult the hon the Minister of Foreign Affairs so that they may decide which of the stories we are sending out into the outside world is the correct one. [Interjections.]
The other point about Johannesburg station that I would like to mention concerns the building itself. The building is one of the gateways to the largest city in South Africa and the second largest city on the continent of Africa. Thousands of commuters who enter the city daily, and thousands of visitors and tourists gain their first impressions of the Golden City by looking at that building. I wonder whether the hon the Minister has recently had a good look at the building itself and asked when it was last given a coat of paint.
Next year, 1986, is the Centenary year for Johannesburg, and I would like to suggest to the hon the Minister that the SATS should make a contribution to the centenary celebrations by sprucing up the station. The concourse is in poor condition and the platforms are like grotty caves. Someone with imagination and flair could surely improve the layout of the concourse and, with a minimum of expense, the platforms can be made more attractive.
The centenary programme is being organized by a Mr David Lewis who is a fine citizen of Johannesburg. I suggest that the hon the Minister or someone in his department should contact Mr Lewis with a view to making a contribution to the celebrations. I have no doubt that the citizens of Johannesburg will be most appreciative.
The second matter I wish to raise concerns the question of transport facilities between Pretoria and Winterveld. I visited Winterveld towards the end of last year and I was asked by certain of the residents to raise the matter with the hon the Minister. Winterveld, or Soshanguve as it is known, is about 30 kilometres from Pretoria and was established about ten years ago after development in nearby Atteridgeville and Mamelodi was frozen. Most of the residents work in Pretoria and were, for years, well served by a direct bus service which dropped commuters fairly close to the city centre and at a point where feeder services to the suburbs were available.
The SATS then constructed a railway line from Pretoria to the township Mabopane. However, they did not use Pretoria station, but a special Black station, Belle Ombré, which had been constructed some distance from the centre of the town. The train service was apparently not convenient and enjoyed little support. Using it entailed catching a bus in Winterveld to the station, waiting for a train, travelling to Pretoria, and then walking a few kilometres to work or to the feeder bus stop. The rail link was obviously very costly, so the SATS decided in April last year to stop the bus and taxi services thus forcing commuters to use the trains. The hon the Minister is looking more and more like President Lennox Sebe in this regard.
I was told that this step had caused a great deal of dissatisfaction among the residents of Winterveld, not only because of the greater inconvenience, but also because train delays, which result in workers’ arriving late at their places of employment, often cause loss of pay or even of jobs. I am advised that the matter has been taken up by a number of bodies, including the Pretoria Chamber of Commerce, which has made very strong representations to the hon the Minister. I am also advised, however, that the hon the Minister refuses to budge. Nevertheless, I hope the hon the Minister will reconsider because I recall that last year I called on him a number of times to integrate the dining-cars on the trains for people who paid the same fares, and he declined to answer.
I should like to ask the hon member whether he has ever been at Belle Ombré station. [Interjections.]
Yes. As I was saying, the hon the Minister declined last year to give me an answer about the dining-cars, but he announced later—in the recess—that the dining-cars would be open to all. He did so a little ungraciously, I must admit; but I hope that he will, in due course, do something about the residents of Winterveld.
In their representations the Chamber of Commerce pointed out that the residents of the townships had always enjoyed an origin-to-destination bus service. The chamber argued that if these services were to be withdrawn they were playing with fire because the security of the country would be threatened, and this could have serious consequences for the security forces. They mentioned further that proposals to withdraw the bus service involved additional and excessive travel time which was at best, a sore point with commuters. They said that if the strikes since January 1983 were any indication for the rest of the year, labour relations appeared to be set for a torrid time, and employers would obviously be watching for any friction points—and this is definitely a friction point. Any investigation will establish that additional travel time and inconvenience for the commuter will—not may— be involved.
At the Transvaal congress of Assocom and at the national congress of Assocom held in October 1983 and attended by more than 500 delegates from throughout South Africa, it was the unanimous view that commuters should at all times be afforded a choice of mode of transport without any coercion to use a particular mode of transport. The chamber pointed out that they had visited the townships to the north of Pretoria and that their mandate was strongly to oppose any further changes to the transport pattern as it existed during February last year, and to help to ensure that parallel systems be retained.
These are not my words. They come from the Pretoria Chamber of Commerce. They talk of the security of the country and so forth, and the hon the Minister has chosen to ignore them.
At that congress in Pretoria in October 1983, a paper was presented by Mr D W Rolt.
Do you know him?
He works for Putco.
He says that the very complex nature of passenger transport, particularly as it affects the Black community, demands very careful consideration if escalation of industrial and political unrest is to be avoided.
We believe that if the difficulties of the SATS, Black taxi associations and bus operators are carefully analysed, there is ample room for all three types of operations, and commuters will enjoy a genuine choice of mode of transport. Mr Rolt also mentioned statements made by the previous Minister of Transport, Minister Heunis, in July 1980, when he said that bus commuters would not be affected by the introduction of a train service between Mabopane and Pretoria as no direct bus services would be withdrawn from that area. Minister Heunis also said that commuters who lived or worked far from railway stations would will be able to utilize direct bus services. I hope the hon the Minister will honour the promises made by his predecessor.
The president of the chamber, Mr D G Shaw, who, I assume, has nothing to do with Putco, issued a Press statement during April least year, detailing the frustrated efforts they had made to convince the SATS of the error of their ways, all to no avail.
I have a number of Press cuttings of interviews setting out the problems and the frustrations of the residents of Soshanquve. Headlines such as “Removing buses was very unfair”, “Fear of losing jobs because of late trains”, “Angry commuters plan lawsuit” are examples of this. Sixteen thousand commuters are being inconvenienced by what can only be called arbitrary action of the hon the Minister. [Time expired.]
Mr Chairman, I should like to associate myself with the sentiments expressed by the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central in connection with the Apple Express. As usual, however, his argument was not completely correct, and I shall try to prove this later in my speech.
Last week the hon member for Sundays River broadly set out the policy of the SATS in connection with uneconomic branch lines. With the loss of R170 million in the last financial year it is certainly the duty of the management to make a responsible examination of this branch line. Since my constituency is affected by the policy, too, I should also like to comment on the matter.
I should like to record my thanks and appreciation towards the management for the way in which they handled the whole affair. Fairness, courtesy and patience are obviously their watchwords. Last year during the same debate I requested that the Port Elizabeth-Avontuur narrow-gauge line be looked at very seriously and sympathetically in order to consider measures to ensure the continued existence of the branch line. Certain steps were indeed taken to encourage the use of railway transport, but also we have now reached the point where the closure of a section of the line—and the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central should please note that it is just a section of the line and not the whole line—from Assegaaibosch to Avontuur is being considered. This represents 120 km of the total distance of 283 km.
This section of the line was, in the past, used mainly for the transport of agricultural products, namely grain and fruit, timber and other farming necessities. Under present circumstances, however, rail transport, especially for the transport of fruit, has become totally obsolete and inadequate. Therefore the SATS, in conjunction with the Deciduous Fruit Board and the farmers concerned, decided in future to cool fruit for export as well as for the local market in the production area and then to transport it by way of the road transport service to the harbours and other markets. This means—and this is the important point—that the fruit can be transported from the production area to the harbour within four hours. This is a great improvement on the old method by which fruit was transported by train and which took up to 18 hours.
Furthermore, I have been informed that if the SATS has to continue transporting this fruit, the tariff will have to be tripled in order to make it economic for them. With this arrangement the total freight of approximately 56 000 tons is being further reduced by approximately 26 000 tons to 30 000 tons. It is therefore very clear that this further reduction of the train’s freight contributes greatly to the fact that the management will have to give very serious consideration to the closure of this section of the line. It is with genuine regret that the hon member for Oudtshoorn and I, who can actually be affected by this closure, have to take note of these facts.
This little train has served this area faithfully for some 80 years. I would not have liked to see us eventually forced to close the whole section, because no longer using this train to transport fruit harms the profitability of the whole branch line up to Port Elizabeth. I therefore want to make an earnest request to the management to do everything in its power to try to increase the total freight of this branch line. However, it will not help at all if the public does not make use of the transport services. It is therefore only logical for them to examine their own consciences. This is, however, not the time to go into that. The matter will be thoroughly discussed with them in due course.
I should, however, like to make one request to the hon the Minister, namely that serious attention be given to the development of the Apple Express as a tourist attraction. Hon members have already referred to this. I believe that great possibilities for development exist on that level, for example extending the existing and popular pleasure trip to Loerie as far as the holiday resort of Jeffereys Bay, certainly one of the most popular holiday resorts in our country.
I also want to address a word of sincere gratitude to the hon the Minister for the wonderful ride on the Apple Express that the transport group had with him and the general managers in November last year. After 40 years I, who live next to the railway line, again had an opportunity to ride on this little train. The beautifully-cared for passenger coaches that date from the days before 1910, as well as the beautifully-cared for steam locomotive, the so-called class NC15 that pulls the coaches graciously along, really do stir one’s emotions. It was a wonderful experience for all of us, while the locomotive took in water, to walk over the steel bridge spanning the Van Stadens River and to reembark on the other side to travel further. That pleasure trip is really something unique, and now that fruit is no longer going to be transported by rail, attention can really be given to the development of this programme. With the right planning that little steam train can really become a world-renowned tourist attraction, and I believe that the hon the Minister and his department will treat the matter with the necessary seriousness.
Mr Chairman, the hon member for Humansdorp must please excuse me if I do not take the same line, because I should like to take another line.
I should like to tell the hon the Minister that a few thousand of the voters in my constituency, together with their families, are employees of the SATS. The hon the Minister, the Commissioners and some of their senior staff know from experience that I am intensely interested in the well-being of those people and that I have frequently, on behalf of some of them, had occasion to approach the hon the Minister. Some lovely things have been said about the SATS employees, and I want to endorse every wonderful thing that has been said about them. I know from experience that each of those employees puts absolutely all he has into furnishing the highest level of productivity possible, frequently at the cost of his own health, so that the SATS can prove to be an effective organization in this country which provides a good service. Personally I have the utmost appreciation for the work done by those people.
Those people, however, are part and parcel of South African society. They are also weighed down by present-day living costs. They have also been subject to the 10% GST levied since last year. Those employees are amongst the individuals who, as Whites, are still bringing children into the world, who are responsible for the care and schooling of their children. They also have the ideal of seeing their children progress academically and otherwise, to such an extent that they can gain for themselves a decent position in life in order to make a decent contribution to this country’s prosperity. Those people are also struggling with the burden of increasing costs. The effects of an increase of 7½% in SATS tariffs is also going to hit them eventually. The 14½% increase in Post Office rates will also affect them. When the hon the Minister of Finance delivers his budget, let me tell you they will be hit twice as hard. This accumulative burden of costs imposed upon them makes it increasingly difficult for them to exist.
I have very great sympathy for those people. They did not receive salary increases this year. They remained on their previous salaries, whilst all about them the cost of living increased. It has become more expensive for them to live, to go on existing. What I find terrible is the fact that the SATS employees must become part of that package deal to reduce people’s salaries by 3%. The hon member for Langlaagte referred to that, but I want to emphasize that those people must now relinquish their bonuses, which is much worse still.
Surely the hon the Minister heard what happened at Koedoespoort yesterday. Surely he knows about the 2 500 people who gathered there to protest about this burden now being imposed upon them because this remuneration of theirs was being taken away from them. I think the hon the Minister sympathizes with them, and I sympathize with the hon the Minister, because they are the people who work for him and who enable him to provide a very successful service. They have enabled him to cut costs and save money. They are people who have made every effort to furnish the highest possible productivity. Is that what we now offer them after all they have done for us? Must they now hear that they will probably have to relinquish 3% of their salary, that they now have to relinquish their holiday bonus? Last night those people rose up in protest because one third of their bonuses had been tampered with. Does the hon the Minister sympathize with them? [Interjections.] Does he intend to react? I am concerned about the matter escalating and people elsewhere in the country also rising in protest because they are being treated in this way. I want to say today that if the SATS is in a position to treat its people decently, the State President must not interfere when he is no longer able to govern this country properly. He ought to ensure that this country experiences and economic upsurge so that the State will be in a position to pay its people a decent wage. The State President must not force the SATS to financially deprive those individuals who give their lives and everything they possess to making a success of the SATS. I want to point out that if that service were to collapse, the whole economy of this country would collapse. I want to know, however, whether the hon the Minister is going to allow the State President to dictate to him and to the SATS—shunting them around left and right—about how he should treat his people, whilst he, the Head of State, is no longer able to govern this country and have it flourish economically. Let us now be honest and acknowledge that the situation is critical. I want to say today, in spite of what any NP member has to say in this House today, that those people who are in the employ of the SATS, who are in my constituency, have my sympathy, and I shall do everything in my power to fight for them, so that they can live a dignified life in this country. So if the hon the Minister is doing his job, whilst the State President is not doing his properly, the State President must not dictate to the hon the Minister and tell him how to do his job. I therefore want to ask the hon the Minister, who has been appointed to that portfolio, to stand up for his people and say why they are not getting salary increases. They are already burdened by the heavy costs of living. They are people with large families who are really having a hard time of it and are in no position to make the sacrifices being demanded of them.
I also want to say that those receiving high salaries, for example the State President and the Ministers, should then relinquish 10%. Even then, however, they would not feel it. If the hon the Minister were to relinquish 20% or 30% of his salary today, he would not even feel it. To relinquish 3%, however, to reliquish their bonuses, could destroy the lives of those people, and that is why I am lodging a plea with the hon the Minister— not in my own interests—for those people today. The hon the Minister should rather take 6% of my salary, or 10% if he wants to, but those people who are already having a hard time of it, and who give everything to serve this country, must please not be impoverished any further, so much so that they are no longer able to make a decent living and to educate their children properly.
How long were you a member of the NP, Frans?
I do not care how long I was a member of the NP, because when I was there, things were still going well. [Interjections.] Since we have left the party, however, it is going bankrupt, and since we left, the Director General of Finance has had to acknowledge that the State is, in effect, bankrupt. Now we find the hon the Minister having the responsibility of looking after his people. He is, however, tied to the person who appointed him to the post he occupies, but I am now asking him to show his mettle and to stand up for his own people.
Mr Chairman, it was quite a pleasant change to listen to this “Hyde Park Comer” speech. I want to say that I myself also feel stirred up (opgerui) now. Perhaps towards the end I should rather be cheerful (opgeruimd) but I want to say that where the sentiments in regard to the Railway worker are at issue I cannot find fault with the hon member for Koedoespoort. I want to associate myself with what he said, because I, too, should like to discuss the older pensioner in the SATS. It is true that during a period of inflation such as the present one there is probably not a single household in South Africa the members of which are not concerned about the situation. I think that the number of people in our country who are not plagued by inflation is really very small. In the nature of the matter this inflation bug probably bites hardest those people who are on the point of retirement, and undoubtedly it really bites hardest those who are already on pension. To the man and the woman who have worked all their lives and have contributed to a pension fund, I believe that it is a frightening experience to see how the value of money dwindles every year after they have retired. This perception, and the oppressive fear these people feel, is felt by every pensioner at one time or another. Exactly the same worry also affects the Railway pensioners. It is true that pensions are being supplemented in the private sector as well, but the question is whether they are always supplemented to a sufficient extent. The question then is: What is enough?
I think the question we must try to answer is to consider what the SATS is doing in this regard and how it compares with other sectors.
The books of the private sector are, relatively speaking closed to us. Probably, therefore, we had better compare the SATS with the public sector and also look at Government pensions that are known, eg social pensions. When we do this it is evident that the pensions of the SATS compare extremely well with the others.
To prove this fact it is necessary to look at statistics. Usually this is very boring but I think it must be done for the sake of this older guard, and for the sake of the truth.
So often one hears complaints that it is precisely the older pensioner who has the thin end of the stick. Therefore I now want to take the case of a railway worker who retired before 1 December 1973. Let us take it that his basic pension is the round figure of R100. This date is chosen because improved benefits came into effect subsequently, while we choose the R100 merely to facilitate calculation and to make the percentage change clearly visible.
To begin with, let us consider what the SATS has done specially for this group. On 1 October 1967 they received, as a group, an increase of 20% with a minimum of R25. In fact, therefore, this amounts to an increase of 25%. On 1 July 1979 they obtained an additional 10% and on 1 April 1982 this older guard received an additional 18%. It must be clearly stated that all these increases were in addition to the normal adjustments in the allowances of other pensioners. I any event, every SATC pensioner receives an annual increase of 2%. Apart from these standard adjustments which, as the hon members will realize, certainly do not come anywhere near the average percentage increase in inflation over the years, additional increases have been effected. On 1 July 1974 an overall 10% was added, and a further 5% was added on 1 April 1978. On 1 April 1979 8% was added and in April 1980 and additional 10%.
This is not all as far as the special treatment is concerned. For everything and everyone in this inflationary spiral the SATS effected an adjustment of 10% in the subsequent year, viz 1981. I have already mentioned the 18% of 1982, and on 1 January 1984 a further 10% was granted. Therefore, if we look at the example of R100 as a starting pension, the gratifying news is that on 1 December 1984 that man was receiving a pension of R318,94.
When inflation really began to let us hard the SATS did its share to keep up every year. Certainly no one would contend today that our senior citizens have an easy time of it. We must admit that our hearts go out to these people, particularly when one encounters them in one’s own constituency. However, the reassurance, for them and for me, is that their former employer, the SATS, looks after them. That is the certainty and the pride of every retired SATS employee. Moreover, it is cause for pride on the part of the SATS that we give specific consideration to the pensions of the old guard.
There is more to be proud of. The SATS also looks after the widows of former employees. I do not wish to go into this, but on two occasions they have received special allowances. Therefore I can rightly say that this is a fact of which the SATS is proud and of which we, as representatives of SATS people, are also proud, ie that the SATS looks after its people, and specifically its elderly people. I am convinced that the SATS will continue to look after the old guard in the future, those people who are really having a hard time of it nowadays.
Mr Chairman, I should once again like to call the attention of the Committee to the issue of the safety of passengers and staff on the stations and trains of the SATS. Hon member will recall that in previous years, particularly last year, I requested that they consider this matter. I regard it as very serious, so serious that at the time I recommended to the hon the Minister that there should be at least one railway policeman present on every passenger train, particularly the suburban passenger trains. Moreover, there should preferably be a railway policeman present at every station where passengers are served. At that stage the hon the Minister expressed the opinion that such an arrangement would be too expensive and uneconomical, and for that reason this could not be done. One can now ask oneself whether this attitude on the part of the hon the Minister displays the correct sense of priorities. It goes without saying that we are dealing here with the physical safety of people who are the clients, the passengers, the market of the SATS. When I broached the matter at the time, statistics indicated specifically that the situation with regard to crime on stations and trains of the SATS was grave and disturbing. Hon members will recall that there was panic, among staff of the SATS as well, concerning their safety because some of them had been assaulted on stations and trains in the Cape Peninsula, and a conductor had even been shot and killed at one station. However, the one the Minister has the final say, and his decision that the matter should not be gone into further and that my request should not be complied with, stood. However, he promised to keep an eye on the matter and to see whether something could not be done about the safety situation in other ways.
On this basis I think that I am justified today in taking another look at the position with regard to the safety of people on our stations and trains. We know that suburban trains are very often overfull and that this gives rise to problems of various kinds. It leads to people feeling overcrowded and unsafe. However, let us consider the position with regard to crime. If the situation was problematical last year, today it is shocking, so much so that I can scarcely believe it.
Statistics provided by the hon the Minister the other day in reply to a question asked by me indicate that in 1984, 52 murders were reported at the police station on the Cape Town station. We must take it that these murders were committed on SATS property, because otherwise it would be a matter for the SA Police. There were 52 murders in the course of one year, whereas last year I was concerned about three murders in 1983. This is an atrocious state of affairs. Let us also look at other serious crimes. In 1983, 53 cases of robbery were reported to the police post at the Cape Town station, whereas in 1984 the figure had shot up to 215. 215 people were robbed either on trains travelling to that station or on the station itself. There were five cases of rape in 1983 and 10 in 1984. One does not even know where a crime such as rape could be committed on a station or on a train, but apparently it does happen, and is drastically on the increase, in a way which demands the most serious attention of this House, the hon the Minister and the Administration. In 1983, 28 cases of assault with intent to cause serious bodily harm were reported to this police station and in 1984 the figure was 68, whereas cases of ordinary assault had increased from 49 in 1983 to 93 in 1984. According to these figures it appears that the lowest percentage increase of serious crimes of violence reported at that police post, from 1983 to 1984, was 100%. In other cases it is 400% to 500%. This is a situation to which very serious attention must be given. It goes without saying that a station is a place that is used by the public; and in most cases the public use it, not because they want to use it, but because they have to use it. These are people who are apparently unable to afford private transport and who have to travel between the place where they work and the place where they live. There may be some of them who one going on holiday, and who are taking a pleasure trip. However, the vast majority are people who are compelled, due to their personal circumstances and the fact that they have to earn bread for their families, to make use of the services of the SATS. This, then, is the situation to which they are exposed.
When we talk of 52 murders reported in one year at one police post station, this means one murder per week. We are now reaching a situation more serious than the danger to which people are exposed even in the operational area. That many people do not die in one year as a result of hostile action in the operational area. Here is one station, the station of the Mother City of South Africa, where such situations occur. I do not wish to oversimplify the situation now— these events do not necessarily take place on Cape Town station only; they can take place in parking areas around the station; and it may also be the case that things that take place in Woodstock are also reported here. However, the fact remains that one is referring here to crime taking place on trains and on railway premises, premises that have to be used either by the staff or the passengers of the SATS.
The situation is quite simple: This is a state of affairs which cannot continue. However, what does one do about it? I think that the hon the Minister will have to consider this matter very seriously. He will probably tell us that it is uneconomical, that we cannot afford doing anything about it and that there are not enough members of the police force of the SATS. The other day the member for Port Elizabeth Central asked questions in connection with the use of the Railway Police of the SATS for the purposes of roadblocks in order to control road transportation. Evidently this is something that occurs on a large scale.
Now I ask in all honesty: What is the priority? Is it to promote the competitive position of the SATS by setting up roadblocks and stopping people who may be conveying goods illegally or without a permit? Or is it more important to see to it that the passengers who not only wish to, but have to, make use of these services, can at least be sure of their lives? We do not ask that people be looked after or that their safety be seen to when they creep away in holes or caves anywhere. These, however, are in fact public places which they have to make use of. In these places people are entitled to expect that their physical safety, at least, is looked after.
It is understandable that minor offences such as pickpocketing or the occasional minor assault may occur at any place where there are many people. However, the more serious forms of criminal violence are apparently committed in these areas on a large scale. I want to say to the hon the Minister that I repeat the appeal I made last year: There must be at least one railway policeman on every train; and on every station, during the hours that passengers are served there, there must be at least one policeman on duty—whatever that may cost! We simply cannot continue in this way.
It is interesting to see that according to the answer to a question I asked—I requested the statistics for offences reported over the course of a few years at three places within my constituency: Table Bay Harbour … [Time expired.]
Mr Chairman, I cannot react to the points made by the hon member for Green Point; in fact I want to link up with an earlier speech by the hon member for Kuruman in which he referred to the Sishen/Saldanha railway line. I had expected that this hon member would make a positive contribution and that he would request the extension of the railway line. Unfortunately, all the hon member did was to reproach the hon the Minister. He made another remark, saying that if they were to begin building the railway line it would just be finished when the CP came to power. But Sir, we do not, after all, want to build a railway line around the earth. [Interjections.] That is about as long as it would take for the CP to more or less come to power. And if they eventually came to power, half of the clients of this railway line would be in the homelands, after all, and then we should lose those people as well.
We have confidence in the priorities set by the SATS in regard to specific projects, but I do deem it necessary for us to give attention occasionally to projects which are urgently needed in specific regions.
When this railway line was built in 1976 it received the award for the most outstanding civil engineering project in that particular year. It was expected that the railway line would bring new life to the North Western Cape. It did bring new life, it is true, particularly in the early years when it was very efficient and conveyed between 12,9 million and 17,8 million tons of iron ore per annum. However, all of a sudden, in 1982-83, the quantity dwindled to 9 million tons. Since the construction of the railway line a world recession has taken place which has affected our economy as well. The demand for steel has dwindled considerably and has been replaced by a demand for lighter steel and other substitutes. Smaller cars were built, and production capacity in other countries was enlarged. This resulted in an oversupply of steel on world markets. Iscor’s volumes dwindled drastically and iron ore exports, too, became uneconomical. This resulted in the appointment of the Maree Committee which had to investigate the continued exportation of iron ore from Saldanha. However they found that the project had to carry on because it earned more than R200 million per annum in foreign exchange, because the infrastructure already existed and because in any event, the estimated revenue exceeded the operating cost.
If we wish to operate the railway line successfully in future it is essential that we expand the multi-purpose use of that railway, which is at present very limited. To be able to do this it is necessary to extend the railway line to the Witwatersrand. If it were to be lengthened, then the distance from a specific point—viz the station Kleinbegin— to…
Grootdrink is the busstop, Kleinbegin is the station. [Interjections.] It could then reduce the distance of 1 061 kilometres via De Aar to 833 kilometres, which would mean that more products could be conveyed over this shorter distance in a shorter time at a reduced cost. I refer in particular to fresh grapes, which have now become a new consumer article in our part of the world and which one could get to the Witwatersrand more quickly. Moreover cattle, which are at present being conveyed by private contractors—because the distance via De Aar is too great—could also be transported in this way. While I am speaking about cattle I wish to say to the hon the Minister that the young bull I transported at considerable expense two years ago is now ready for the market. Now my problem is, how to get it back to the Rand. If I have to transport it via De Aar I shall again have to ask that they do the slaughtering for me free of charge, or else I shall lose on that bullock as I did when it was transported from Humansdorp. [Interjections.]
It is indeed possible that passengers could be conveyed on that particular line. If the line were in fact to be extended it would be essential to create station facilities as well as places like for example, the intersection with the De Aar/Upington line, at Kleinbegin Station, and also where it crosses the Orange River in the middle of the intensive production area. We are aware of the high cost of construction, estimated at more than R400 million, but we do ask that the construction of this railway line, which has been postponed in the past, should not be postponed once again.
Mr Chairman, I should like to say to the hon member for Gordonia that I appreciate his standpoint with regard to the Sishen/Saldanha railway line and its junctions. It is possible that freight may be generated in the future, for example grapes etc. These are all things which must be investigated. However, the hon member is quite right. The economy has a problem at the moment. People are travelling in smaller cars; one no longer sees steel construction bridges, and overseas countries are making less use of steel. This is a temporary process. Even the Mercedes Benz has plastic grille in front. Less and less use is being made of steel, but the projections indicate that there may be a recovery. I just wish to point out to the hon member that that bullock to which he referred was a Jersey bull. Those you do not slaughter; you simply give them away. [Interjections.] No one in possession of all his faculties sends a Jersey bull to market or to the abattoir by train. We have too few permits for such nonsense. [Interjections.]
However, I should like to say something about what hon member have referred to, viz the cutting of the vacation bonuses by one-third. This is a very serious matter. I spelt it out very clearly in the Cabinet and I addressed the Federal Council, with all the trade unions present, here on Thursday. I told them that I appreciated the fact that the personnel strength of the SATS had been reduced by 16%, that I had had their co-operation for the past two and a half years in being 10% more productive and that during the two and a half year period they had lost almost 40% of their overtime work. I make no secret of that. I have stated this case everywhere. However, I form part of a team. I told the trade unions that it was the standpoint in the Cabinet that if one section of the Public Servants did not contribute in this country-wide effort to save several millions of rands, the other Ministers and the other departments would say that they, too, had worked longer hours. There are Government departments here that have worked longer hours, that have begun to economize of their own free will. Their contribution is more difficult to measure than that of the SATS. We are now faced with this situation. I did not oblige the trade unions to co-operate, but I am giving the hard facts that everyone must now do their share while we are going through difficult times financially. I cannot say today that I form part of a team, all the members of which realize that this country is being hard hit by various factors at the same time.
There are hon members who simply do not understand some of these things. This country should have harvested 14 million tons of maize. We harvested 4 million tons. Ten million tons of maize, at R200 per ton— that is R2 000 million—was gone last year! One can go to Lichtenburg, Volksrust, Bethal or wherever, and one will find that the pharmacist is angry; the motor dealer is angry; the tractor manufacturer is angry—there is R2 000 million out of circulation. This has a ripple effect and affects everything. I do not care who is in Government; there is no one in this Chamber who will, by the way they govern, make the gold price $320. Nor is there anyone here who will govern so as to make the Rand worth 50 cents or 60 cents. There simply is no such person! [Interjections.]
Business interrupted in accordance with Standing Order No 19.
Progress reported and leave granted to sit again.
The House adjourned at