House of Assembly: Vol2 - THURSDAY 14 MARCH 1985
Mr Chairman, I move the motion printed in my name on the Order Paper, as follows:
- (a) Select Committee be appointed to form part of a Joint Committee to inquire into and report upon the subjects of the Family Court Bill, 1985, and the Divorce Amendment Bill, 1985, which contain proposals for the implementation of recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into the Structure and Functioning of the Courts with regard to the adjudication of divorce and other family matters, with specific reference to—
- (i) the procedure in the adjudication of—
- (aa) divorce actions in the Supreme court and the proposed family court; and
- (bb) all other family matters in the proposed family court;
- (ii) the place of the proposed family court in the hierarchy of courts;
- (iii) the availability, co-ordination and rendering of social services with a view to the supporting social auxiliary services in divorce actions in the Supreme Court and all family matters, including divorce actions in the proposed family court; and especially the question which services, if any, should, in addition to those of social workers, be rendered at the social component of the family court; and
- (iv) the feasibility of, and the manner of implementing, the proposed measures, with due regard to the costs of implementation, the recommendation of the Commission that the proposed family court may be launched by means of pilot projects and any other matter which should, in the opinion of the Joint Committee, be taken into account; and
- (i) the procedure in the adjudication of—
- (b) the Joint Committee be given the power to take evidence and call for papers.
With the introduction of the Family Court Bill, 1985, and the Divorce Amendment Bill, 1985, the Government has reaffirmed its acceptance of the principles contained in the findings and recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into the Structure and Functioning of the Courts in connection with the adjudication of divorce and other family matters. However, because the recommendations would involve such a drastic change in our administration of justice, I have moved that these Bills be referred to a Joint Committee of Parliament for investigation and report, the intention being that it should be a multi-disciplinary committee.
Mr Chairman, I welcome the motion moved by the hon the Minister and his proposal to appoint the said committee. The two Bills concerned—the Family Court Bill and the Divorce Amendment Bill—are measures which, once they are translated into statute, will have a far-reaching effect on the application of law in regard to families and in regard to the procedures relating to divorce. While the two Bills, on the face of it, have aims which are admirable and which carry the strength of the recommendation by the Hoexter Commission, there are many pitfalls which are to be found in these Bills. To name but a few, Sir, there is the question of the possible escalation of legal costs, the possibility of inordinate delays in divorce proceedings, and also the question of the availability of social workers to perform the tasks which are required in terms of, for instance, the divorce measure.
In terms of the Family Court Bill there are the very real problems of new capital expenditure and State expenditure which might be required.
Therefore I welcome the decision by the hon the Minister to appoint this Select Committee to look into these matters and to report to Parliament. Furthermore I should like to make an appeal to the judiciary, to the legal profession, to bodies that employ social workers and to all interested parties who have the expertise and the knowledge relating to these subjects to make that expertise and knowledge available to that Select Committee so as to enable us to perform a proper job in connection with these Bills and to produce legislation which will be both admirable in its aims and capable of effective execution.
I therefore support the motion moved by the hon the Minister.
Mr Chairman, we in the Conservative Party would like to endorse the words of the hon member for Sandton. When the Hoexter report was tabled, everyone felt that it was essential that some of its facets should be subjected to calm and careful scrutiny. For this reason, we appreciate the hon the Minister’s motion. We are grateful for this opportunity; also because expert evidence may be heard, with the result that it will be possible for us properly to acquaint ourselves with the subject which will be discussed on that committee which has been proposed. Accordingly, we take pleasure in supporting the motion.
Mr Chairman, we should also like to respond to the hon the Minister’s motion. As far as the question of law reform in the country is concerned, the department’s speedy reaction to many of the proposals of the commissions that have been sitting over the past few years, including the S A Law Commission’s own contribution to law reform, has made the process of law reform an ongoing one. One thinks in particular of the Matrimonial Property Bill. Over many years different proposals and different legislation was put before the committee, and we had the expert advice of the members of the Law Commission. One can see that this is going to require the same line of action and the same in-depth discussion. Advice will be required concerning the best possible legislation to be passed.
We look forward to participating in this process. We believe that the sentiments expressed by the hon member for Sandton are apt and indeed essential because the committee will need to make use of all the expertise and expert advice available. We hope, therefore, that this will not be a hurried process but that the subject will be dealt with in depth and with patience so as to bring forth legislation which is necessary and which will be able to cope with the modern society in which we live today.
Question agreed to.
Mr Chairman, I move the motion printed in my name on the Order Paper, as follows:
- (1) all orders causing individuals to be detained without trial, banned or restricted, all declarations of organizations as unlawful and all prohibitions or restrictions of gatherings should be rescinded; and
- (2) all legislation granting the power to impose the above-mentioned restrictions should be repealed.
Almost to the day 21 years ago, in March 1964, I moved an almost identical motion to the one I am moving today. I believe it is a very sad reflection on the political history of South Africa that it is necessary to move such a motion again.
There is no time for me to recount in any detail the dreary story of how civil liberties and the rule of law have gradually been eroded by this Government, from the time of the passing of the Suppression of Communism Act in 1950 which was, of course, amended over and over again. Each time it was made more drastic, until the consolidation of all those manifold laws in the Internal Security Act of 1982. Throughout the 1960s South Africa moved very swiftly down the slippery slope, away from the rule of law and towards the unfettered use by the State of powers employed in totalitarian countries. In this process it was aided and abetted by the then Official Opposition. One by one the normal freedoms enjoyed by Western democracies came under attack—as if, as Hamlet said:
Thus the freedom of association, of assembly, of speech and of the Press were curtailed by enabling Acts passed by Parliament, and today while South Africa has plenty of rule by law, it has less and less rule of law. I may add that in the process thereof the dividing line between lawful dissent and subversion has grown ever fainter in this country.
The 1982 Act encapsulates all the measures that place ministerial edicts above the courts and that run counter to the most treasured of Western values, that is, habeas corpus, as handed down over the centuries in Western democracies—that which protects the individual against the might of the State.
I want to deal in some detail with two of the provisions in the 1982 Internal Security Act. Those are the two which above all have set South Africa apart from its Western partners. I am now referring to sections 28 and 29. My colleagues who will participate later in this debate will deal with other aspects.
Section 29, as we know, replaces section 6 of the Terrorism Act, 1967, and that in turn was an extension of the first of the laws that gave the Minister the power to hold somebody in detention in prison without trial. Prior to that we had house arrest. In 1963 we had the General Law Further Amendment Act which contained the 90 day detention provision which enabled the authorities to keep people in gaol for 90 days without trial and also incorporated the notorious Sobukwe provision which allowed the Government to keep Robert Sobukwe, then the leader of the PAC, in gaol on Robben Island for six years after the expiration of the sentence imposed upon him by our courts of law for defiance of the passlaws, immediately after the Sharpeville massacre.
As we all know, the 90 day law was never restricted to 90 days. They used to let somebody out for five minutes after 90 days and then he was held for another 90 days. I know of at least one case where a person was held for more than a year. We ought to remember that in all, over 1 000 people were detained under the 90 day law during the time that it was on the Statute Book, which was for two years. I may say that 10 people died in detention under the 90 day law under some very mysterious circumstances. We had the Imam who fell down a flight of stairs. We had Timol who tumbled out of a window at John Vorster Square. We had another detainee who died after slipping on a cake of soap and we had the famous case of Mr Mdluli which was never really cleared up of a man who died after tangling with a chair while in detention.
The law was suspended in 1965, and in 1967 we had its replacement, the Terrorism Act with its notorious section 6 which provided for indefinite detention without trial in solitary confinement for purposes of interrogation. That section became section 29 of the Internal Security Act, as I have said. Under its Draconian powers something like 36 people died including Steve Biko and Neil Aggett. I want to remind the House that Biko’s ghost still haunts this Chamber and South Africa. The aftermath of his tragic death still persists via headlines throughout the world, via television films on the inquest on Biko, and more recently via a Supreme Court case which again exposed the brutal treatment to which he had been exposed during his detention by the Police, and the scandalous negligence of the doctors who attended him thereafter. Those men are at long last going to be brought before their peers in the Medical Council after an eight-year battle by concerned members of the medical profession.
Biko’s and Aggett’s deaths lead to the introduction of codes of behaviour towards detainees. We also of course had the Rabie Commission which was appointed to examine “the necessity, adequacy, fairness and efficacy of security legislation”. The commission made recommendations regarding review committees and a review board which were translated into law.
The commission failed, however, to inquire into two vital aspects of detention without trial. The one was the methods of interrogation and the other of course was why people died in detention. Why had so many people preferred to die, by suicide apparently, rather than remain in detention? The commission furthermore took no cognizance of the drastic effects of solitary confinement. I may add that the safeguards that were introduced did not prevent one or two further deaths in detention.
Section 28 is less Draconian than its ugly sister, section 29, but it still runs totally counter to the rule of law because it empowers the Minister to detain a person in prison for up to a year at a time without trial. That is “preventive detention” as it is technically known, and the Minister can order such a person to be locked up for up to one year at a time. Such detainees are not kept in solitary confinement, they may be visited, they are not interrogated and they are allowed certain creature comforts. They are locked up though and they are deprived of their livelihood and the company of their families.
I must tell hon members that some people have been locked up for far more than a year in preventive detention. The same ruse that was used in the 90-day detention namely to let them out and lock them up again five minutes later, is also used where section 28 is concerned. I know of one man, the unfortunate Mr Tatsa, who was locked up for some three years under this section. Another man, Mr Dube, was held for over two years under this section.
Last year 25 people were held in preventive detention including the six involved in the unpleasant charade at the British Consulate in Durban which resulted in such devastatingly bad publicity for South Africa abroad. Several hundred people in all have been locked up since 1976 when preventive detention was introduced under section 28.
Over the years the section on indefinite detention that is section 29, has been put to increasing use. The police have found it quite irresistible to bypass the very tedious normal processes of the law according to which a man, if arrested, has to be produced in court, habeas corpus, within 48 hours. It is much easier to take a man under section 29 in terms of which he does not have to appear in court ever at all if the Minister does not so decide, and keep him in detention for an indefinite period.
I very well remember when the indefinite detention provision was introduced in 1967, a senior police officer made a statement in which he said: “This is a mighty weapon in the hands of the Police”, and mighty indeed it has proved to be.
Since 1967—this is according to official figures which have been given to me in the House—4 700 people have been detained under section 6 which became section 29. I am giving round figures, but there are actually a few more. This section has not only been used against terrorists in the bush, as Parliament was assured would be the case at the time of its introduction. It has been used against schoolchildren and students, against trade unionists and journalists, against the clergy, and against political opponents of the Government such as the UDF.
During 1984, 339 people were detained under section 29 and, at the end of January 1985—this is the latest figure I have received from the hon the Minister—135 people were in detention under section 29, and 59 had been detained for more than three months.
It is the contention of this party that nothing can justify the existence of sections 28 and 29 on our Statute Book. Countries like Northern Ireland and Israel which have far greater security problems than we have, do not give such despotic powers to the authorities there to detain people without trial. One of my hon colleagues will deal with this in more detail. Nothing can justify laws that empower the Minister of Law and Order to condemn people to the twilight existence of being banned, cut off from society and unable to be quoted.
I must point out, ironically enough, that this grotesque law sometimes backfires, projecting its unfortunate victims into a prominence they may otherwise not have enjoyed. Thus a visit to Winnie Mandela, who is among the 11 people presently on the banned list, at her miserable little house in the dreary Black township at Brandfort, has become a “must” for all visiting journalists and other notables—a mandatory pilgrimage, so to speak. This law has therefore backfired.
In the last analysis, I believe the question to be asked is whether the steps taken by the Government have preserved law and order and ensured peace and quiet in the Republic. The answer to that question is an unequivocal “No”. What we have witnessed in South Africa over the past 35 years is a dismal chain of action and reaction, of legislation to implement apartheid, of protests against that implementation, at first non-violent and then violent—much of it institutionalized by the State—and of the increasing use of arbitrary powers by the Government.
Unrest has become endemic in South Africa—Sharpeville in the sixties, Soweto in the seventies—and during this decade, widespread school boycotts and violence therewith, Black universities closed and violence therewith, stayaways and violence and trouble at Sebokeng and in the Vaal Triangle where over 130 people were killed last year. The entire Eastern Cape is in a ferment at the moment. There is havoc everywhere one looks—Port Elizabeth, Cradock and Uitenhage. There is rioting at Kimberley, Kroonstad and Cookhouse. The most recent example is of course Crossroads where 18 people were killed and over 200 injured. All these incidents are accompanied by a mounting death-toll. What this does to South Africa abroad is anybody’s guess.
As we all know, South Africa is at present facing the most concentrated campaign abroad, particularly in the United States, for punitive measures against this country. Many cities and states in America have already passed resolutions prohibiting investment of pensions and other funds in companies doing business in or with South Africa. Twenty Bills have already been presented to Congress. They are sponsored by Republicans as well as Democrats and encompass all manner of punitive measures against South Africa. These include the banning of the sale of Krugerrands which, conservatively estimated, will cost us R1,8 billion per annum because we sell something like 3 million Krugerrands abroad each year of which about half go to America at a conservative estimate of about R600 per Krugerrand. They also include the prohibition of imports from South Africa or the export of sensitive material and technology, forbid loans and new investments, and deny landing rights to SA Airways. All these punitive measures are contained in Bills presently before Congress in the US.
I will forbear to dwell on the warnings I have issued over the past six years and my pleas to the Government to desist from provocative actions like forced removals and detentions without trial. All this has fuelled that campaign. Now that the campaign has reached tidal-wave proportions, down in the garden something stirs. The policy in the Western Cape is revised, forced removals are being reviewed and Crossroads is not to be razed to the ground. However, the Minister of Law and Order continues on his merry way and barely a day passes without headlines about people being shot by the police in the Black townships of South Africa, of people being detained under section 29 and of university students being arrested at 2 o’clock in the morning. I have said before that this Minister ought to be legally restrained. I now say that he ought to be declared a disaster area, for he is doing terrible damage to South Africa.
If MPs on that side of the House fondly imagine that the changes that have so far been announced are going to in any way dispel the present campaign, I imagine that delusion has disappeared with the passing this week of a UN resolution by the Security Council which was supported, most significantly, by the US and the UK. I trust that nobody in his right mind takes seriously the show of bravado put up by the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the House of Delegates on Tuesday. “We can beat disinvestment”, he proclaimed, and “We have faced sanctions before. With the country’s help we will once again beat this threat”.
I want to tell him that it is not the country’s help that is needed; it is fundamental change in the Government’s policy that is needed. It is the removal of institutionalized race discrimination that is needed as well as the reinstatement of the rule of law. Lack of due process sets us aside from our Western trading partners every bit as much as does statutory race discrimination. Indeed, the two are irrevocably linked together, for we should understand that the normal processes to ensure law and order suffice only when the majority of people to whom those laws apply, approve of those laws and accept those laws. That is certainly not the case in South Africa with laws like passlaws and group areas, citizenship revocation and race classification. So, over the years, the apartheid structure has had to be bolstered up by these drastic security laws. This was very well put by an erstwhile Professor of Law at Wits, the late Julius Lewin. He said:
That is what has happened in this country. Equally so, many years ago, a British MP said the following:
That means, as far as we are concerned, that if South Africa is to return to the rule of law, the fundamental cornerstones of apartheid must be removed. It is to this end that the efforts of members of this party are devoted.
Mr Chairman, I came to this House this afternoon to make a few positive comments about the hon member for Houghton. I still intend doing this but I shall hasten to carry it out because, as usual, she certainly made a strongly provocative, inflammatory speech before this House.
The positive remarks about the hon member for Houghton are, in truth, meant sincerely. In a certain sense she is a noteworthy political opponent of this Government’s. Over the years she has persevered, she has taken a consistent stand in this House, she has participated in the democratic processes of this country and has fought the Government tooth and nail. I think that is remarkable and we on this side wish to give her credit for that. What we now seek to do in this country is to bring people to the point of ceasing stone-throwing and using unparliamentary procedures and instead to participate in evolutionary procedures to regulate the affairs of this country peacably. If one were to weight the hon member for Houghton against certain persons—some are already deceased and I choose not to mention their names although they immediately spring to mind—I think I can say with justification that that hon member sets an example with her participation in these democratic processes. I think, however, that is as far as my positive remarks with regard to the hon member for Houghton go.
The hon member for Houghton proceeded to dredge up matters like a seven single or a 78-speed record. She went back to Steve Biko’s death, the Rabie Commission—with voids left by it—and the Second Reading debate of the security legislation. In that respect I do not regard the hon member’s participation today as constructive. In my opinion those affairs have already been concluded. We have already debated them and it serves no purpose in South Africa’s interests to bring them constantly and repetitively to the fore. [Interjections.] I want to make a confession here: Eleven years ago I realized that people who are at present PFP members were also shouting for the Springboks. It is pleasant to know that those people also want the Springboks to triumph when playing rugby against the British Lions. Just as I experienced that, here I am saying eleven years later the member for Houghton also plays for the democratic teams of South Africa. I think, however, that our actions should then prove this. In council chambers of this country everyone should not only by way of participation but also through mediation set an example of the democratic processes which have to triumph in this country.
When we speak of security matters in that respect, we are speaking of an exceptionally sensitive sphere in which the differences between us and the members of the Official Opposition run very, very deep and become emotional here and there. I do not wish to become emotional about this today but I wish to acknowledge the fact that the differences between these two parties are immensely deep-seated. On the one hand members of the PFP say there can be no security action without judicial control. I shall return to this subject and more specifically to the matter of the so-called rule of law. A second point which brings very fundamental differences between us and members of the PFP to the fore is that the Official Opposition says that security legislation and security action should now be relaxed or liberalized because we have a political process taking place. I should like to go into this in further detail too as I think we differ very basically from each other as regards these two matters.
Firstly, concerning the factual circumstances in South Africa, we believe they dictate that the S A Police and South African security services cannot fulfil their duties properly if the instruments currently on the Statute Book are not at their disposal. On this point I can call no better witness than Advocate Sydney Kentridge. He is universally known as a jurist and in no way as an apologist for this side of the House. On 18 October 1979 he said in Pennsylvania:
An authoritative jurist like this man lends recognition to the fact that factual circumstances exist in South Africa on the basis of which we may construe: Here is a threat to the safety of the State and for that reason we require exceptional security measures and action.
We on this side of the House now wish to state categorically that we must ensure the safety of the State without encroaching unnecessarily on the individual rights of people. We must strive for this and also for effectiveness and fairness. I wish to say further that in the light of facts I am bringing to the fore, it is also the standpoint of this side of the House that we will find it a joyous day when we can live in this country without security action and security legislation. But we are living in 1985. We are not living in another world; we are living with realities. This legislation is necessary to be able to effect vital political reform and to continue with it. We know that security action without an imaginative political programme is useless but we should maintain a balance between these two spheres. In speaking of State security, we are speaking of the continuance of the State in the broadest sense and not of the continuance of a government or political party. Consequently we should at all times protect, maintain and support its democratic institutions—and also the broadening of its democratic processes.
In South Africa today there exists—and I am prepared to state this categorically and to debate it in the minutest detail—a source of goodwill and rapport we dare not fail to appreciate. We should deal with it and build upon it.
Whenever hon members of the Official Opposition indicate in any way that measures at present on the Statute Book do not have the support of groups of colour, I believe that those hon members have not consulted the victims of those people who made subversive attacks on their persons and their lives. Unlawful action on the part of any individual or any power is indefensible. We on this side of the House will in no way condone or excuse it. Against this, however, we call for a measure of fairness and justice when criticism is expressed and mooted against any individual or any member of the Police Force.
As regards the structure of command of the Police Force, as an institution its members will not go along with undisciplined action. As an institution they will counter it themselves.
Now I wish to take serious action against the hon member for Houghton. If the hon member implies that this Government through the action of its security service as well as by the security legislation on the Statute Book is an important instigator of the disinvestment campaign, I find it a pity that she speaks in the same key as those propagating disinvestment against this country. I think we have a tremendously strong case of which we need not be ashamed. This is the fact that we are being exhorted by hon members in this House and by foreign observers of the political scene to bring detainees to trial. When we do this, what happens? I wish to quote what Mr Warren Clarke, the United States political counsellor, recently said in the Security Council:
In the past we were attacked for not bringing these people to trial. Now we are bringing them to court but not receiving credit from the outside world through its spokesmen before the Security Council. In addition the chief spokesman for the Official Opposition is not praising the Government because it is doing precisely what its members have been campaigning for so long. I think it unfair, unjustified criticism if one takes into account that these people will be appearing in court provided with a charge sheet. All will be aware with what they stand charged. These people are to be defended by some of the most capable and best-paid members of the legal profession in this country. State witnesses—police officers—will be cross-examined by those people in public. Advocates will argue their cases before a judge who will give his judgement in public but we do not hear a single positive sound in this respect.
My question to the Official Opposition is whether they agree with the criticism of us in this sphere expressed by our political opponents in the UN or are they going to join us in fighting the disinvestment campaign on this note, namely of telling supporters of this campaign their criticism of the South African Government is unfounded? Is the Official Opposition going to point out to them that the people in this case have been brought to court in terms of the legal processes of the Act and not by the executive power, that is by the responsible Minister’s exercising his discretion? I am afraid those hon members are leaving us badly in the lurch in this respect.
I wish to raise a further matter, however. There are organizations in this country whose policy is aimed at propagating protest and in this process a climate for revolution is created. Their strategy is not to participate until they have mustered their forces because underlying their policy is an interwoven radical standpoint, namely: We do not wish to talk of our share of power; we wish to take over power in the country. I believe these organizations are dabbling in an extremely dangerous game. I think the fact that members of the Official Opposition sit in Parliament necessitates that they contradict these people not only because of their presence here, but also because of the example their pronouncements set. But they are silent here and there in this respect.
The rule of law is held up as being the alpha and the omega of jurists and legal purists. In brief the rule of law is nothing but an instrument sometimes used and I wish to quote a few learned writers in this respect.
Jennings has said on occasion: “The rule of law is an unruly horse.” Matthews pleaded for “a bridle for the unruly horse”. Francois Venter said on occasion: “There’s a bridle hanging on the wall.” Van der Vyver said on occasion the rule of law could more accurately be compared with a chameleon and Prof Ignus Rautenbach said:
Following that he made this interesting comment:
I believe that is what our attitude should be towards these apologists for the rule of law. I believe, with the utmost respect, that the rule of law is not the pure legal concept it is professed to be but merely a useful political argument.
Mr Chairman, I am certainly privileged this afternoon to participate in this debate on the motion of the hon member for Houghton. Just like the hon member for Krugersdorp, however, I cannot withstand the temptation of speaking not only on the motion, but also about the exceptional person who proposed it. The hon member for Houghton will therefore probably forgive me if I refer to her personally now and then and also in respect of her contributions on the matter under discussion. [Interjections.]
I have always been under the impression that on listening to the hon member for Houghton, one has known exactly where the PFP was heading. At this stage I should like to reassure her that we shall not support her motion. [Interjections.] We move the following amendment:
When the Internal Security Act was discussed in this House in 1982, the hon member for Houghton said that she had already been involved for many years with the subject comprising her motion today. She let it be known, as it were, that she was an expert in this field. In fact, on occasion she has described herself as a veteran as regards police and judicial matters. We agree wholeheartedly. She is in truth a veteran in her opposition to legislation aimed at furthering internal security. She joined battle against certain aspects of legislation on internal affairs decades ago and today she is pursuing the struggle again with her motion. One can really say of her, in the words of the well-known song: “Maar die kat kom terug.”
One may also in truth address the well-known writer Jeffrey Archer’s words to her as written in one of his very well-known books on politicians, First among equals.
†Archer said that he had learned two things from a political gambler:
I really want to suggest to the hon member for Houghton rather to walk away from this deal, this request that South Africa should return to the rule of law by doing away with all the measures called for in her motion, and admit that she has reached her limit.
*I have examined the hon member’s proposal meticulously. On the one hand I was amazed that she had proposed such a motion but naturally I was not in the least surprised. I am firmly convinced that her proposals will create a dilemma for the NP—but more about that later. I was surprised that in her long parliamentary career the hon member had not yet learnt when she was beaten. It is barely a year and a half ago that this House raised the matters she again proposed today and held a full and in-depth discussion on them. It is very recently that everything she put forward here this afternoon was discussed fully in that debate and in those debates she emerged the loser. This happened when the Rabie Commission’s report on security legislation was discussed here and also when we discussed the various stages of the Internal Security Act and other related Acts in the same year. All the arguments she raised at the time she put forward again this afternoon. [Interjections.]
I have already expressed my amazement at the hon member’s chewing the same cud here. I also said, however, that I was not in the least surprised at her coming with this proposal this afternoon because with it she is pursuing the strategy the PFP has followed for many years, that of coming almost regularly every session with a private member’s motion stating her party’s standpoint on Acts passed by the NP over the years and placed on the Statute Book in execution of its policy of separate development. The PFP regularly comes with annual proposals attacking those Acts and attempting to destroy them. In this way the PFP has in the past proposed that section 16 of the Immorality Act, the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act, the Group Areas Act, the Population Registration Act, the Reservation of Separate Amenities Act and the Prohibition of Political Interference Act be deleted. [Interjections.] This has been their strategy over the years and it is therefore not surprising that they have come up with this proposal again now. In the meantime they have also proposed that all discriminating legislation be removed from the Statute Book. [Interjections.]
No one will contest my saying that the PFP has already achieved great success with this strategy of theirs. [Interjections.] Section 16 of the Immorality Act is to be deleted. The Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act is to be deleted. [Interjections.] I have no doubt whatsoever that we shall shortly be hearing from the Government that the following Acts are also to disappear from the Statute Book, namely the Reservation of Separate Amenities Act and the Group Areas Act. [Interjections.] In the same way the Population Registration Act will also soon be deleted in the Statute Book—before we have even been able to take note of this. [Interjections.]
You are fighting a losing battle, buddy!
Order! The hon member for Pinelands is also included in my call to order. The hon member Mr Theunissen may proceed.
It is truly time-consuming to have to listen again to the arguments which we previously debated in full concerning the so-called rule of law—the maintenance of the sovereignty of the law.
I believe the hon member for Houghton’s motion is just a part of the carefully planned PFP strategy. If we note how the proposal before us envisages having certain very important provisions of the Internal Security Act deleted, we see a direct relationship with the PFP accusation and charge over the years that South Africa is an unjust society. The PFP sees the South African security legislation as a fundamental cause of the so-called unjust society. It forms part of the PFP strategy to direct the attention of South Africa and the world continually to this so-called unjust society regardless of all the damage they do the people of South Africa by means of their untrue statements. [Interjections.]
The hon member for Houghton’s proposal happily coincides with the anti-South Africa climate worldwide. At the moment that climate is more favourable than ever before to have internal and external pressure exerted on South Africa to relinquish its supposedly evil policy of apartheid. [Interjections.]
We will not brook any insults.
The PFP action in proposing this motion therefore forms part of a total onslaught being launched today on the policy of separate development, especially at a time when the Government is yielding increasingly in the face of that external pressure. The PFP timing in proposing this motion coincides in a most calculating manner with the State President’s offer to Mr Nelson Mandela. It is manna from heaven to the PFP that the release of such an arch communist as Mandela can be considered—the leader of a terrorist organization which has already claimed the lives of numerous South Africans.
The hon member sees this climate as an excellent opportunity of launching a vicious attack on the country’s internal security legislation for the umpteenth time. She also wishes to use this climate as yet another opportunity of furthering her party’s political philosophy. The hon member and her party believe the security situation in South Africa is a permanent phenomenon incapable of improvement by any legislation, except by radical changes in the socio-economic and political dispensation. It is naturally her free and just right in a democratic framework as exists in South Africa to campaign enthusiastically for such change in the political dispensation that the PFP policy of one man, one vote can be realized. That is her just right. She must realize this however: All responsible persons who believe in the survival in freedom of every nation and ethnic group in South Africa will never permit the security of the State to be threatened by the irresponsible demands of some people that the Internal Security Act be changed, amended or adapted as the hon member for Houghton requests in her motion.
One really has no inclination to debate the hon member’s motion again in detail. Throughout the Rabie Report it is clear that one matter continually occupied the minds of the members of the commission and that was how the interests of the State or the community should be weighed against individual or personal interest. They did not ignore this important question. In their consideration of the matter and their recommendations they took careful account of this. The main duty of those entrusted with State security should be to weigh these two interests against each other continually. It is true that the rights of the individual should be invaded as little as possible but, when legislation is introduced to ensure State security, it is a prerequisite that such legislation of necessity be effective and fair. In 1982 we thrashed out these principles adequately and satisfactorily before the Internal Security Act, Act No 74 of 1982, was passed.
Considering all the facts, even that terrorism, sabotage, etc are planned and executed by supporters of a whole series of organizations intent upon overthrowing the existing framework by force, we cannot but take a stand in opposition to the motion of the hon member for Houghton. If one concedes her motion, we are gambling recklessly with the existence of order in South Africa. If the hon member thinks that compliance with her motion will cause the onslaught against the State to decline, decrease or cease, I wish to say to her that she is very naïve and inhabits a dream world. In terms of her demands the onslaught against South Africa will cease when the communist oppressors and their henchmen rule this country. We want to avoid that at all costs.
I should like to warn the hon the Minister. He is regarded as one of the conservative members of the Cabinet by the PFP. There have been signs recently that they want to settle accounts with him and destroy him. That is why there are perpetual attacks and onslaughts on him in the Press supporting the PFP. They are creating a climate hostile to him, also by this motion, because they know he will not support such a mindless onslaught on the Internal Security Act. That is precisely what liberals in this country desire. The hon the Minister is to be regarded as a merciless destroyer of human rights with no respect for the rule of law. We, however, support the hon the Minister when he strives for the retention of the Internal Security Act and all consequential measures.
Yet it is also incumbent upon us to request that in the application of measures in execution of essential steps to ensure national security, care should be taken that those measures be executed compassionately. The SA Police in truth often has an unenviable and thankless task in ensuring the maintenance of order and justice in our country. We therefore definitely do not wish to find ourselves in the company and in the chorus of those so often pointing an accusatory finger at the SA Police when a lack of discretion occurs here and there in the exercise of a specific task entrusted to them.
We much prefer to associate ourselves with the well-earned praise of the SA Police for fulfilling its task in countering misdeeds aimed at undermining the maintenance of internal security. The hon member for Houghton’s motion bodes ill for the furthering and maintenance of internal security in South Africa.
The hon member for Houghton is known for her daring. If she were to succeed, however, in accomplishing what she is requesting in this motion, I wish to state today that her audacity would be exceeded only by the folly of this motion.
In closing I re-emphasize the fact that we remain convinced that the hon member for Houghton’s motion holds a dilemma for the National Party. It is obvious that the PFP enjoys the heartiest co-operation and support of Members of the House of Representatives and also the House of Delegates. It is happening all too frequently that in both those Houses motions are introduced and standpoints stated which in many respects echo the motion in question of the hon member for Houghton as well as other motions of other hon members of the PFP. We may therefore expect a motion similar to this to be introduced in one or both of the other Houses soon.
And now the dilemma facing the National Party! The National Party brought the Coloureds and the Indians into this Parliament. The partners in its coalition will increasingly become the working partners of the PFP and together they will force the National Party to do precisely what the hon member for Houghton requests in her motion today. [Interjections.] Even worse! Together they will manipulate the National Party eventually into accepting Black majority rule in this country. [Interjections.]
Mr Chairman, on this auspicious occasion it is my pleasure to congratulate the hon member for Houghton on 32 years of service in this House. She was elected to this House exactly 32 years ago today—on 14 March 1953. I think it is extremely fitting that she should today be moving this motion which contains the type of political matter—very sensitive political matter—about which she has felt so strongly over so many years, and in respect of which she has fought such a tireless battle throughout the years.
She is also now the longest serving hon member of this House—I hasten to say not the oldest! I venture to say that there is not a single other hon member in this House within at least 15 years of her age who can claim to be in even remotely as good shape as she is. [Interjections.]
Do not forget, there are two other ladies in the House! [Interjections.]
Well, that is not merely owing to her being a female.
I found it quite interesting to listen to the hon member Mr Theunissen. Particularly interesting of course was his statement that the CP was not going to support the motion. He then went on to move an amendment to it. I was also somewhat amused by the hon member’s remark that the hon member for Houghton should admit defeat gracefully and not continue to fight what he regarded to be a losing battle. Why that remark amused me, Mr Chairman, was because it was made by an hon member of a party that never ceases to recall the past. In reaction to what he had to say, all I want to do in respect of the hon member’s motivation of his case is to paraphrase an old saying: With enemies like those we do not even need friends. Maybe the hon the Minister of Law and Order should contemplate the way in which he will approach that little saying. He might have to use it in its original form and if he considers the possible consequences, it might be upsetting.
The hon member for Krugersdorp also had something to say about the matter. In the course of his speech he saw fit to quote Mr Kentridge, a very well-known advocate in this country. I daresay, however, that he has taken some liberties in doing so because while in the quotation the hon member used, Mr Kentridge clearly concedes that there is a security problem in this country and that there are elements which create problems for us, there is nothing in that quotation that justifies its use by the hon member for Krugersdorp. At that time Mr Kentridge said nothing and neither has he since—to the best of my knowledge—to justify the kind of security legislation which we have on the Statute Book of this country. [Interjections.]
In this country we have what we call security legislation that gives virtually unlimited power to the Government to act against any of its citizens and other people in the country, with the aim of maintaining what they consider—I want to stress “they”—to be good order. As has been indicated before, this legislation shows very little respect for democratic principles, and virtually completely subjects the rights of individuals to the power of the State. Most of the terms employed by the legislation, now largely consolidated in the Internal Security Act of 1982, are unequal to Western democracies. However, irrespective of the theoretical difficulties we have with the terms which are employed in the legislation under discussion, I think we should ask ourselves whether it has achieved anything positive over the decades it has appeared on our Statute Book.
When we consider the very temporary, relatively uneasy peace that exists in this country today—riots frequently occur in a number of places in the country; this has been the case for a number of weeks now and riots have erupted at regular intervals over the past few years—it is certainly true that we find ourselves in a relatively uneasy situation of peace. If we consider this to be a positive development and are satisfied with it, then we can say that the security legislation has achieved something in this country. However, I do not believe we can say anything of this nature. I do not believe that we have anything to be satisfied about at this stage of our history. In fact, I believe that the application of security legislation in this country has done more to generate and to aggravate tension and the resultant violence than most other political developments either internally or internationally. Furthermore, the more repressive this kind of legislation and the handling thereof by the Government, the more destructive the violence.
*Of course, the political obsession with power and the arrogance underlying this kind of legislation aggravate the situation endlessly. I make this statement against the background of the political reality of our country, because we may never lose sight of the fact that the political power in South Africa rests mainly in the hands of the Whites. This is as a result of the nature of our Constitution. Legislation of the kind we are discussing now, is regarded by the Black man in particular as naked oppression. It is an aspect we dare not lose sight of.
An example of this arrogance is the very approach followed at the time of the election of the House of Representatives and the House of Delegates in August last year. At that time the hon the Minister of Internal Affairs, as his portfolio was then called, made it very clear time and again that he did not regard the organizing of a stay-away vote as a legitimate political activity. It was clear that the hon the Minister of Law and Order as well as the department he controls, held that point of view. As a result of this, the appropriate action was taken.
I want to assert that despite all the complaints of extortion, intimidation and other unseemly conduct during the course of that election and what preceded it, the Government and its organs were the main perpetrators of intimidation. That is legal intimidation, but intimidation none the less.
It appears that meetings were prohibited without hesitation, that officials of the UDF and other organizations were arrested, that pamphlets and other publicity material were confiscated and that in more than one case the pamphlets advertising a meeting were confiscated by the Security Police on the grounds that some police official was of the opinion that these pamphlets contained material dangerous to the State. There was one case I know of in Mossel Bay. By the time it was evident that that man’s opinion had been totally misplaced, the meeting was over and the pamphlets were completely useless. We cannot endure this kind of situation. We have either a democracy or a police state, and I am afraid that we are tending much more towards the latter.
The entire approach of that hon Minister and the legislation is in glaring contrast with the climate of reform, also promoted more recently by the State President. While in his opening address the State President expressed his concern about the degree of mistrust in respect of the Government and Government institutions amongst the Blacks in particular, that hon Minister’s Department blithely carries on stirring up suspicion and resentment even further by their unrestrained and often undisciplined action.
It is indeed true and perhaps the hon member should make more intelligent interjections so that one can react to them.
I want to emunerate a few examples concerning this action. It is a fact that action was taken together with the South African Defence Force in arresting people for all kinds of inanities, often in the middle of a period of great political tension. The Police took action together with the Defence Force to arrest people for ridiculous things such as influx control, the running of shebeens and so on. In some cases the Police took action on a massive scale together with officials of Administration Boards to arrest people for petty contraventions such as their inability or neglect to pay their rent. In one case—I think it was in Sharpeville—2 300 people were arrested in one episode in the course of this kind of operation.
This kind of situation contributes to the creation of tension in this country, contributes to the creation of eventual violence and undermining and in a much greater degree than it can ever contribute to the settling of those situations.
An additional field I find important in this connection is the fact that in the sphere of labour, South Africa has made considerable progress during recent years in bringing about reform, in bringing about a meaningful and democratic approach in the field of labour. We have received credit for that. I want to say today, that mainly as a result of interference on the part of the Police, we have created a situation in which great disruption has been caused in that field of labour and in which the international recognition obtained by South Africa for that reform has virtually been made undone. The hon the Minister must take the blame for that, because through his interference in that area he has created great problems for us, particularly in the international sphere.
In the process the Government has helped to create a climate which has made life very difficult for individual policemen, which has created a situation for them in which they are regarded as oppressors by many of our Black people in this country, a situation whereby many of our Black policemen in particular have been subjected to attacks and have suffered losses because their houses were burnt down and even their families exposed to acts of that kind.
An aspect that I should like to deal with specifically is the prohibition placed on the convening of meetings, or the provision made for this prohibition, in Chapter V of the Internal Security Act. It is a replacement of the measures which were previously contained in the Riotous Assemblies Act.
How ridiculous the effect of this legislation can be, is shown by the definition of a “riotous assembly” according to which it may consist of as few as two persons and can therefore be prohibited.
†This provision is obviously a flagrant denial of the democratic right of people to meet and discuss matters of political interest. I believe furthermore—and it is probably much more important to get away from the theory of this issue—that these provisions relating to the banning of meetings have provoked more tension and violence than they have succeeded in avoiding. [Interjections.] One need only read the terms of these provisions to realize how wide their scope is. One has only to follow the history of this issue and read the reports in the Press to realize to what ridiculous ends these provisions have been applied.
They give the power to the Minister or to a magistrate or other official of the Government to decide whether a meeting of this nature may be held or not; in other words they can ban what is considered in most democracies to be a fundamental right. It is a decision where one is supposed to balance democratic considerations against the need to maintain order. In my view the average magistrate or the average police official has neither the training nor necessarily the background and experience to decide whether or not to deprive a person or a group of people of the fundamental democratic right to hold a meeting.
I believe the policemen who advise magistrates in this regard suffer from the same problem. This judgment should be a balance between people involved in the maintenance and operation of democracy on the one hand and those people involved in the maintenance of security on the other hand. However, because of the legislation we are discussing, this authority has been delegated to the Police and to the magistrates advised by the Police.
Let us look at some of the silly examples of the application of this law. In August last year a meeting of the UDF in the Rondebosch Town Hall was banned. Due to an urgent application to the Supreme Court in Cape Town this ban was overruled but then subsequently reinstated. The fact is, however, that meeting took place and it did not create a problem in spite of the extra tension and provocation introduced into the situation by the legislation of the hon the Minister of Law and Order as well as its application.
Meetings over mundane issues such as rent increases have been banned. I refer to one example in Kathlehong which took place on 17 February this year. What was the result? The result was violence, because two women were shot dead. In a town like Beaufort West meetings have been banned for an extended period. The result was there that 10 people were arrested for attending an illegal gathering. What a stupid activity in which to involve oneself under the pretext that one is trying to maintain order!
There was another incident on 26 November 1984 in Graaff Reinet. The local magistrate took it upon himself to decide that a particular funeral could be held—in this he was generous!—but only on certain conditions: Everybody had to be inside the church and no procession on foot was allowed from the church to the graveyard. Everybody had to go there in a vehicle. To impose conditions like that on the most poverty-stricken section of our community is crazy. It is madness. And what was the result? Because it was virtually impossible to comply with those conditions, the police moved in with batons, sjamboks and tear-gas. People were bitten by dogs and two old ladies were apparently beaten up. All this happened at a funeral. How can we conceivably serve the cause of law and order in this country if this is the way we go about it? The hon the Minister has to take responsibility for it. The application of this kind of security legislation is grossly discriminatory, because I do not believe that there is a single magistrate in this country or a Minister who would dare to intervene in the conduct of a White person’s funeral in the way they do in respect of funerals for Blacks. In itself, this is a source of tension and a source of ultimate violence brought about by the legislation and its application by this hon Minister.
Another issue I would like to deal with is the banning of organizations. Chapter II of the Internal Security Act extends the power to declare organizations to be unlawful, with a whole range of consequential prohibitions. We know that to this day any number of people are prosecuted for promoting the ends of such organizations or being members or supporters of such organizations in silly cases which clog up our courts and waste time. This sad saga of banning organizations obviously started in 1960 with the banning of the ANC and the PAC. When one considers the profound arrogance of that step, it is almost believable. What happened in fact was that a ban was imposed on virtually the entire scope of Black political organizations existing in South Africa at the time. I do not want to dwell for too long on the merits or demerits of that decision except to say that I do not believe that that decision would have been taken today. There are probably organizations in this country today that are more militant in their operations and their points of view than either the ANC or PAC was in those days. I seriously ask the hon the Minister—perhaps my request should more appropriately be addressed to the State President—to consider whether the ban on the ANC and the PAC, and in fact on all other banned organizations, could not be lifted. The mistrust the State President has referred to will not be removed in any significant way until Black political organizations in this country have the right to operate freely and democratically and to organize themselves as White political parties have the right to do.
I believe that with the new conciliatory attitude taken by the State President in particular to people like Mr Mandela, such a step to unban these organizations will add immeasurably to a new situation of conciliation in this country, and certainly merits his serious attention.
Mr Chairman, on the occasion of the anniversary of the hon member for Houghton’s 32nd year in this House, I think it behoves us to express a word of congratulation for an indefatigable, tireless and very tough career in Parliament. One has admiration for her, although one does not always agree with her entirely liberal views which she expresses so well.
Because of the extreme liberal views expressed in the motion before us, we find that we cannot agree entirely with it, particularly in respect of the unbanning of certain organizations. The unbanning of organizations which have as their avowed intention the overthrow of the Government by revolutionary means, armed struggle or by whatever means is available to them, with the assistance of whatever agencies overseas and elsewhere they can muster, is something we cannot go along with.
I therefore move as a further amendment:
- “(1) all future detention, banning and restriction orders and all future prohibitions and restrictions of gatherings should be subject to review by the judiciary within 72 hours of promulgation; and
- (2) all existing detention, banning and restriction orders and all existing prohibitions and restrictions of gatherings should be reviewed by the judiciary within 14 days.”.
That merely leaves out the question of the unbanning of certain organizations.
Unlike the remark made by the hon member for Krugersdorp, we would like to say in passing that since the introduction of the review system in the Internal Security Act of 1982, I believe there is a case here for just mentioning that there has been a considerable improvement in the reporting of unfortunate incidents and the abuse of that system. It is for that very reason that we believe that whilst that was a reformist move in itself at this very important time another look should be taken at further reform in respect of the security legislation.
I might just add that, quite out of character, the hon member for Krugersdorp made a little aside, I think probably just in humour. It is a little arrogant, though, to suggest that they had the monopoly of supporting the Springboks and that it came as a surprise that another party supported them. It is almost in line with that nasty little bit of cant that they come up with all the time about “patriotisme”, as if only they are the patriots in the country and everybody else is not. [Interjections.] So, I would just like to mention, in the interests of reform, that they did not in fact invent rugby. It was invented at a school in England. That is also a very hard one for them to swallow, I am sure!
You are kidding! In England?
Yes, by “die Britte nogal!” So that particular little note was a little bit off-key.
Do you know who introduced it to South Africa?
No, tell us.
Really? That one? I am getting off the game now. That really puts me off.
However, because of the evolutionary process of which the hon member for Krugersdorp made mention, and because we have had such obvious improvements as a result of the review system in the Internal Security Act of 1982, we on these benches believe that an effort must once again be made to get as close as possible to the rule of law; in other words, the action taken by the executive should be taken with extreme caution and very unwillingly. At this stage one can hardly say that there is evidence of the Government over the years having been unwilling to employ executive action. In fact, it would appear quite the opposite—that once they received the legislative power they were only to do so too happy to hang onto it and to use it as rigidly and in as authoritarian a way as possible. We believe that the very opposite of that is in fact the situation which should pertain—that it should be used very unwillingly. It should be a flexible action. When matters are more peaceful, efforts should be made to liberalize—for want of a better word—the measures within that legislation.
In particular, when one considers the rule of law, one has two very definite components. One relates to the rights of the individual and the other is the law and order component which I suppose represents the collective interests of society which are, of course, determined by the Government of the day. These are then usually expressed as being the interests of the State. Interestingly enough, in the Preamble to the new Constitution there are some inclusions which were not in the old Preamble, inclusions which relate more closely and specifically to the rights of the individual. I refer in particular to the following:
More of the individual rights aspect is included in this Preamble whereas the old Preamble was very heavily on the side of the law-and-order component of rule and law. If those are the national goals, I would say that it is very important that the Government should commit itself equally to both aspects of those elements of the Preamble. If that is going to be the case, very definitely one should be looking at the improvement of the individual rights aspect.
It is very interesting to note what we are faced with here today. On the one hand we have the PFP who in fact are very strong on the individual rights aspect, but not quite as strong on the law-and-order aspect. [Interjections.] The NP on the other hand emphasizes the law-and-order aspect too heavily and does not sufficiently balance it out with individual rights.
The hon member for Springs must just remember that this is 1985, not 1984. We now have a Parliament which consists of an additional two Houses. If his party were to take this motion to all the members of all the Houses and ask them for their opinion on it, the result would actually be a vote against the existing situation, against the Government, and I am jolly sure it would be spot on with the opinion of this party. They would not go for the emphasis on individual rights at the expense of law and order, definitely not. They would definitely go for an easing of the law-and-order side in favour of a greater balance.
But Hendrickse was detained himself.
We are well aware of that. He addressed us on the subject. I am saying that, if it was put to the test in a debate, one would find that they would require the maintenance of law and order and would not go overboard on individual rights at this stage in the reform process.
I want to ask the hon member for Springs whether he would perhaps like to organize with his Whips that the three Houses get together to see whether in fact we would not come up with a resolution right in line with the NRP approach. That approach is that, whatever action is taken by the Executive, it should as quickly as possible be referred to the judiciary, whatever form that would take, whether it would be a tribunal, a panel of judges or a Judge in Chambers. It should be brought back to the judicial process as soon as possible for the Government’s own good.
I should like to say finally that on the eve of negotiations with the Blacks in South Africa, it is absolutely critical that that should not run onto the rocks. Without a genuine effort to move nearer to the rule of law, I would say that the chances of participation by the Blacks are very slim. If such a genuine effort is made, however, it would enhance the possibility of participation and it would also strengthen our hand in the fight against disinvestment. It would also help to solve the other enormous problems facing the country. The Government started a veld fire in 1948 and there is only one way in which we are going to be able to put it out and that is if the whole country fights it together.
It burnt the United Party supporters to death.
No, the members of the NP are now becoming United Party supporters; that is why things are coming right now.
Mr Chairman, I do not wish to spend much time on the speech of the hon member for King William’s Town, except to say that I appreciate it, and I also find it interesting, that he is far more moderate today than he was during the second reading debate of the security legislation in 1982. At that time his party even opposed the principle of the legislation. [Interjections.]
As far as the hon member Mr Theunissen is concerned, there are certain aspects to which I should like to react but I believe that there will be occasion for that during the discussions on votes. Let me just say to him that I think he is wide off the mark to regard the hon the Minister of Law and Order as the conservative Minister in the Cabinet. As far as the Cabinet is concerned there are no differences. This is a label he hangs around the hon the Minister’s neck in an attempt to score a political point.
When one analyses the motion of the hon member for Houghton, one can draw only one conclusion and that is that she wants to abolish all legislation ensuring the security of the State. She has no feeling for the protection of the inhabitants of the State—not to speak of the protection of orderly government. The hon member is by implication— or perhaps rather consciously—in favour of the disorder that organizations such as the ANC, the South African Communist Party and even the AWB and other far-right militant organizations seek to bring about. She is a champion of these organizations because if legislation aimed at ensuring order in the Republic is done away with, that is to say, if the motion moved by the hon member were to be complied with, only chaos and disorder would prevail in the Republic.
Accordingly I move the following further amendment to the motion of the hon member for Houghton:
Whereas the hon member is aware of the terrorist danger in South Africa and South West Africa, she speaks—I refer here to Hansard: Assembly, 14 May 1982, col 7061—about “the ‘big’ Terrorism Act of 1967”. What is worse, she calls this act “the most draconian of them all”. During the discussion of the Internal Security Act in 1982 the hon member launched a violent attack on this Act but particularly on the detention clauses. Her arguments are consistently opposed to the security laws of the country. If her proposals were to be accepted, and in particular the proposal at present before the House, it would mean that those organizations which I mentioned earlier would flourish in our country. [Interjections.] Violence would be the order of the day in this country and in a short time South Africa would be under a dictatorship, as is the case in other African countries.
The question now is only: How does one reconcile these standpoints of the hon member for Houghton with the standpoints of the hon member for Yeoville? When I ask this question I want to prove my contention: During the discussion of the Law and Order vote on 2 May 1983, the hon member for Yeoville said the following in the Standing Committee: (Hansard, Vol 109 Col 74):
The hon member for Yeoville made this remark about the AWB. He regards organizations like the AWB—not, of course, excluding the ANC and other organizations that we can mention in the same breath because they all advocate violence and have in the past made statements to that effect—as organizations that do not accept the principle of democracy.
The hon member for Houghton is here interceding for all these organizations because if one does away with the existing security legislation and those measures contained therein to protect the citizens of South Africa as proposed by the hon member, then that is tantamount to interceding for these organizations. [Interjections.] They are organizations that champion violence—something that the Government is preventing at all costs by way of security legislation.
How does one reconcile her interceding for these organizations with the standpoint of the hon member for Yeoville? He himself says that something tangible must be done to deal with these organizations. He objects to people who resort to violence and who make covert reference to violence. Is that not clear evidence of the split in the ranks of the PFP? [Interjections.] After all, the crucial issue for any Government is the protection of the governmental structure and its people. In terms of this the hon member is strongly in favour of doing away with security legislation whereas the hon member for Yeoville is strongly in favour of its retention.
After all it is only possible to take action against organizations if legislation exists in terms of which this may be done. Democracy can only be protected if legislation exists whereby it may be protected. What is also indisputably clear and unquestionable is the fact that a democratic system such as the one in South Africa can only be protected if there is security legislation, as is at present the case. After all, the hon member is aware of the terrorist onslaughts within South Africa. The wisest and best solution is to withdraw the element of terror, the terrorist, from the community and by so doing protect the community and the individual. Anyone who endangers the community or whose conduct and statements make it clear that he is a danger to the community, must be removed.
This brings me to the question of detention. No one likes detention without trial. However, the question is whether we need it. Whether or not a man is guilty, is something that must be determined in practice. Since we are dealing with subversion and terrorism in South Africa we must be able to take steps. After all, the circumstances of the country determine what legislation should be created for the country which will be just and reasonable; not only just and reasonable towards the offender, as the hon member for Houghton advocates, but also just and reasonable towards the community, for example the utilization of the powers of detention. Another example is the fact that certain members of the UDF were recently brought directly before the court.
That there is unrest in South Africa cannot be disputed by any hon member in this House. Indeed, South Africa is threatened by communism. There is a major socio-economic difference between Whites and Blacks in South Africa. Politics, too, play a part and this is an important factor. Moreover there is no doubt that the Government is actively engaged in solving the problem in the political sphere.
As far as the ANC is concerned there is no doubt that this organization regards its actions in South Africa as warfare. In spite of that we combat it in the same way as one combats ordinary crime. These people are brought before the court and the normal procedures of the court apply. Moreover, in such instances a case must be proved beyond reasonable doubt before the court finds a person guilty. However, when we are dealing with the security of the State, the Government must take preventive action. After all the criterion is to prevent the harm that could be caused everyone by such action. The Government only requires limited powers to prevent a situation of emergency occurring. Hon members will agree with me that if the Government were to declare a state of emergency it would do tremendous damage in the economic sphere because investors would not wish to invest in South Africa. Or does the hon member for Houghton want the Government to announce a state of emergency so that she can contribute her share to the disinvestment campaign against South Africa? Indeed, it is in the interest of all the people of South Africa not to announce a state of emergency, and that includes the Black people and even those who the hon member for Houghton so badly wants to protect. Surely South Africa has learnt from the practical experience of other countries which were hit earlier and harder than we were by urban terrorism. After all, it is undoubtedly true that ANC terrorism is an example of organized revolution, and apart from that the revolutionary ANC terrorist is a criminal because the South African laws identify his plots and actions as criminal offences. One of the goals of urban terrorism is to compel the general public to accept the terrorist goals or at least to induce them to be prepared to enter into a compromise with them. That the government will not allow.
I now wish to know from hon members of the PFP whether they are prepared to enter into such a compromise. Will they yield to the pressure to achieve this particular aim of the ANC, and there is an hon member of the PFP that will have to react to this.
With reference to the Pretoria bomb, the editor of The Guardian wrote on 24 May 1983:
The President of the ANC, Mr Oliver Tambo said in the same edition:
Therefore it is clear that urban terrorism is a vehicle of unconstitutional opposition to any given political system. According to the UN the security forces in South Africa must be criticized for two reasons in particular, viz that South Africa itself does not have the right to self defence or national security, on grounds that South Africa is allegedly an undemocratic society in which Black people do not have political rights. Therefore the terrorist onslaughts of the ANC are justified. I want to know whether the PFP agrees with this statement. Secondly, the UN argues that South Africa rejects democracy on the grounds of the special powers which are, for example, vested in the security branch of the SA Police in terms of the security laws of the country. I do not believe that the PFP agrees with these standpoints. If they agree with them they must make express statements in this regard.
It is true after all, that the security forces regard it as their duty not only to prevent politically motivated violence, but also to prevent the psychological advantage that may be gained thereby. If the Communist Party and the ANC were to be victorious, it would simply mean the establishment of a satellite state of Soviet Russia, like Angola and others.
Personally, I believe that the forces of law and order in our country will continue to combat this phenomenon of urban terrorism and will be victorious. Accordingly I wish to appeal in all seriousness to the hon member for Houghton and her colleagues not to repeat these meaningless attacks and motions. In these times when we need one another so much, let us stand together and fight the evil of terror. Let us refrain from playing into the hands of our enemies for the sake of petty political gain. This can only succeed if we also take political steps, as is evident from the State President’s opening address. After all, the Republic of South Africa is a country for all South Africans. Let us help the Government to maintain order and to achieve success with the reform iniatives.
Mr Chairman, the hon member for Losberg really made a few outrageous statements about the PFP’s attitude to security legislation. He alleged, for example, that the hon member for Houghton was by implication in favour of the disorder advocated by the ANC, the SA Communist Party and others. Surely that is an absurd statement. Surely one cannot take it seriously, react to it and debate it with the hon member. He went on to say that the PFP, or the hon member for Houghton, was in favour of the abolition of all legislation that ensured State security. Surely that, too, is an absurd statement. Firstly there is the common law and secondly the statutory law which most countries have and in terms of which violence can be dealt with and those who advocate and practise violence can be brought to justice. When one hears such statements from hon members on that side of the House, it is surely impossible to discuss them and try to place security legislation in its correct perspective.
The hon member for Krugersdorp did make a few interesting statements to which one could in fact react, yet he also made quite a number of contradictory statements. For example, he said that our State security institutions had to ensure that no inroads were made upon the rights of the individual. I agree with that. In the same breath, however, he supported our present security legislation. Of course these two do not go together, for under the present security legislation it is impossible to protect the rights of the individual. They are not being protected; they are being violated.
At the end of his speech he referred to the rule of law, and he referred to various writers who had expressed opinions on this concept. It is true that it is difficult to define the rule of law, but I think the hon member for Krugersdorp knows what the essence of the rule of law is. He knows that so-called due process is a fundamental ingredient of the rule of law. He knows that. He quoted Prof van der Vyver who said that the rule of law was like a chameleon. But Professor van der Vyver did express a very strong opinion about what we are doing to the due process of law in our system. He said for example:
The principle of due process of law, which is part of the rule of law, is being violated. We must perceive this before we can argue about what we can do about it.
The hon member correctly indicated that there was a difference between the attitude of the PFP and that of the NP Government to security legislation. He mentioned two examples, and I agree with him. He said in the first place for example that our attitude was that no security action ought to be taken without judicial control. That is our standpoint.
Secondly he said our attitude was that security legislation ought to be relaxed or liberalized during the period in which changes were taking place. The word “relaxed” is a rather negative expression to use, but we do in fact believe that one should at this juncture liberalize the security legislation if one wanted to promote communication between the various population groups.
Mr Chairman, may I ask the hon member to explain to me what he meant by his last sentence in reply to the speech made by the hon member for Krugersdorp? [Interjections.]
I shall gladly try to explain what I meant. [Interjections.] In Ireland, since the twenties, there has been legislation which in many respects corresponded to that of ours, in the sense that there were bannings and people were imprisoned without trial. In time that legislation was adjusted and amended. There were various investigations to establish how violence in Northern Ireland could be counteracted and dealt with. I have forgotten the name of the commission for the moment…
The Bennett Commission.
That is correct, yes. It was the Bennett Commission. The Bennett Commission suggested that the drastic security legislation in that country should be liberalized. He might not have used the same word, but the recommendation was that the drastic, the draconian aspects of that legislation—for example detention without trial—should perhaps eliminated in order to ascertain what the effect would be. In fact it was the opinion of the Bennett Commission that it might be possible in this way to reduce the violence in Ireland.
In 1975 this did in fact happen. Preventive detention was abolished. That is what I consider to be the liberalization of security legislation. What was the result? In 1975 it was abolished. All that remained was a maximum period of 7 days’ pre-trial detention. Five days of that period of detention had to be approved by the Home Secretary. What was the result of that liberalization of the security legislation in Northern Ireland, a country in which problems existed, and in fact still exist today? In 1976, the first year after the amendment of the security legislation there were 245 cases of violent civilian deaths. In the same year 2 162 bomb explosions occurred. In 1983—seven years later— the figures had dropped to 44 civilian deaths and 266 bomb explosions.
Surely that was not caused by legislation.
Mr Chairman, it is a clear …
Under Louis’ laws Adam Tas would still have been sitting in the Castle dungeon! [Interjections.]
It is a clear demonstration that when the drastic aspects of security legislation are liberalized, one is counteracting violence.
Oh, nonsense! [Interjections.]
Here we have the proof of that. I want to ask the hon Minister what he has to say about these figures. This was the experience in Ireland in connection with the problem there. The hon the Minister knows that more or less the same tendency occurred in Israel. In 1979 the courts were instructed to subject security legislation to a close scruting. Surely the hon the Minister knows that that is a form of liberalization.
Of course, we are not doing that. Our courts are not allowed to decide on merit or to test the decisions of the Minister to see whether they are valid or not. Here in our country the courts may only be approached on the basis of possible or alleged mala fides. But that should not be the issue. In Israel the law courts have the right to test the decision of a Minister on merit. In fact it has always been our standpoint—and will always continue to be—that the courts ought to be able to test the decisions of the Minister on merit to establish whether or not they are justified.
Tell us about the court case instead, Peter!
Mr Chairman, the hon member for Krugersdorp is referring to the UDF court case which, we hope, will be held soon. We hope the case does not become too long and protracted. Now I want to know from the hon member for Krugersdorp how he can justify those people being detained at present without their being able to bring an application for bail before the court on merit. How can we justify an official of the State issuing an order that those awaiting-trial detainees may not be released on bail? I want to know how the hon member can justify that?
Mr Chairman, is the hon member aware that those members of the UDF previously squatted in a Consulate? [Interjections.]
Mr Chairman, I do not want to go into those incidents now. In any event, it is associated with one of the greatest blunders ever committed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and by the security people of the Department of Law and Order. [Interjections.] Of course one cannot condone the alleged or so-called squatting in the British Consulate building in Durban. However, we still do not know what is going to appear on that charge sheet.
What we find strange of course, even incomprehensible, is the fact that on the one hand we hear the State President making conciliatory statements in connection with more communication and negotiation, in connection with new forums for negotiation and the need for our people to really communicate with one another—the idea is apparently to create a climate of tranquillity— and yet at the same time we hear that 16 leaders of important groups in our country— please note, they are real leaders—have simply been arrested overnight and imprisoned. They are not even being released on bail. Their application for bail is not even being assessed on merit. How can one justify that? That is the kind of problem we are faced with. This same problem is also being debated at the UN. [Interjections.]
The hon member also said that a feeling of goodwill and right-mindedness still existed in South Africa. I agree with him. It is true. In my view, however, it is also true that the longer we persist with this existing kind of security legislation—just as happened in Ireland—the less chance we have that that nucleus of people of goodwill will have respect for the law, for the courts and for the authorities. One can already see what is happening in our suburbs. The unrest in the Black residential areas speaks for itself. To me it is a very clear sign that respect for the law, for the courts, for the police and for the Government is diminishing. All these things are the result of the drastic security legislation which still exists. How can one have respect for a law which causes one to be locked up without access to the courts, to an attorney or to anyone? It is against the Blacks—far more than against the Whites—that this kind of legislation is being used. The Blacks see it as a law specifically aimed at imprisoning them. This nucleus of goodwill and right-mindedness is rapidly crumbling because we are persisting with this kind of security legislation.
The appeal which the hon member for Houghton made, namely to return to the rule of law, must be given serious consideration. A few months ago I saw an article by Professor Matthews on the hon the Minister’s desk. This article appeared in SA Leadership. In it Professor Matthews wrote about Ireland and Israel, expressing his opinion in that connection. The impression created by the editor of that publication was that the hon the Minister had taken Professor Matthews’ article very seriously. However, I should like to ascertain for myself what the hon the Minister’s reaction to that article is, in which the renowned professor also asks for the drastic aspects of the security legislation to be alleviated. [Interjections.] He did not use the words “liberalized”. What is the hon the Minister’s reaction to that article, which was written by a greater expert in this field than anyone in this House? The tone adopted by the article was a serious one, and I hope the hon the Minister will give us an indication of his views in this connection.
†Prof Matthews states clearly that our society is a plural society consisting not only of different class divisions but also of different ethnic, religious and language groups. He maintains in that article that in such a society, violence and unrest will inevitably be present. He puts it as follows:
*He admits that we have a problem. Furthermore he admits that if one goes through this period of reform, there will be friction and tension. Nevertheless he arrives at the conclusion that one is acting in a counterproductive way when the existing kind of security legislation is implemented.
†In a period of transition—like the one we are in now—one will inevitably find those people who try to maintain the status quo. There are the ones who have inflated expectations of what can be achieved if changes are successful. There are also those people who, in view of their own political and strategic goals, want to prevent any process of change from taking place. Tremendous tensions are let loose.
The question is as follows: During that sort of period when these tensions come to the fore, does one facilitate a more relaxed climate in which communication and negotiation can take place through strict security measures and strict coercive measures or is it more likely that one achieves communication in a more relaxed climate if there is an indication from the authorities that they are prepared to remove the harsher aspects of our security laws?
The hon members for Houghton and Green Point correctly indicated that security legislation and detentions without trial had not managed in any way whatsoever to reduce the violence. Ever since the introduction of those laws there has been an escalating scene of violence. The political aspect of resolving those tensions in the country must be backed up by more sensible security legislation.
I want to deal with one aspect of our security legislation to which the other hon members have not referred, and that is the banning provision, the restriction of individuals like Beyers Naudé and Winnie Mandela. There are eleven at the moment. I refer of course to section 19 of the Internal Security Act. How can the hon member for Krugersdorp for example—he is a lawyer—justify section 19 which provides that a person can be restricted on the decision of the Minister and that such a person will not have recourse to the law?
Why did you not put that question to the Rabie Commission?
The Rabie Commission looked into that aspect and maintained that it was the type of measure which has been used throughout history, and interestingly enough, it came up with only one example where it had been used. The commission found that in the days of King Solomon he had a measure which prevented a specific king from leaving Jerusalem.
And one saw what happened to him, too.
In the days of King Solomon completely different norms existed. King Solomon, I believe, had 700 wives and 300 concubines. [Interjections.]
The Rabie Commission could produce only this one example, this one precedent of King Solomon where banning orders were used. There is no other country that I am aware of that has this type of banning order because it is not justifiable. It is a measure which the State uses to restrict its political opponents. Beyers Naudé was a political opponent and was banned for a number of years. Winnie Mandela is a political opponent of the NP Government and she is restricted. If those individuals were in any way involved with violence or subversion, surely there are numerous other provisions in terms of which the hon the Minister could have dealt with them.
Any person who is banned is seen by all reasonable people as someone who, because of his political opposition, has to suffer under that section. How can we justify that? I agree and admit that fewer people are under restriction at the moment than for a long time, and one is pleased about that, but is it necessary? As the hon member for Houghton has indicated, those people became far better known throughout the world once that section is applied whether it be Beyers Naudé, Winnie Mandela or any other. It is a counterproductive as most of the other provisions of the security legislation. Legislation which is coercive is counterproductive.
I support the motion of the hon member. I believe that the hon the Minister must react to the article of Prof Matthews and give us his views as to how he sees the role of the security legislation at present.
Mr Chairman, it appears the people on the other side are today laying claim to time allocated to our speeches as well. In consequence I wish to curtail my discussion drastically.
The hon member for Durban Central who has just resumed his seat referred to reasonableness and everything utopian. If he follows the news appearing in our media daily, I think he will deduce that all countries, just like South Africa, are involved in daily struggle with those unnatural, unreasonable and those wishing to overthrow the stability of a society. That is why legislation is required.
The hon member for Durban Central, on the basis that the hon member for Houghton’s motion merely asks that legislation be repealed, attempted to evade certain implications but they are not going to be permitted to get away from them. I fully concede that in spite of all the legislation applicable to security, there is still the common law. This motion, however, also requests the rescission of all legislation capable of declaring organizations as unlawful.
I do not have time to refer to more than one organization as an example. Let us take an organization like the ANC. Would the hon member for Durban Central wish that organization which openly propagates violence not to be countered in any way? Does that party—the hon member for Houghton can tell us—approve the ANC motivation of violence?
What about Swapo in South West Africa?
No! If they commit violence the common law will have them put into prison.
Does the hon member subscribe to those sentiments or not?
Good, the hon member does not agree with them. [Interjections.]
There is something else I wish to hear from the hon member. It is very interesting that this motion now before the House sounds practically the same as the discussion that took place in the Security Council of the UN. [Interjections.] I wonder whether the hon member adopted the case from them. Do the hon members of the PFP subscribe to the motion agreed to in the UN? [Interjections.]
With quite a lot of it.
Is that motion acceptable to the hon members? In other words the PFP accepts and supports the motion agreed to in the UN.
Mr Chairman, may I put a question to the hon member?
No, as my time has expired.
Mr Chairman, the hon member for Houghton has just made a very interesting remark in reply to a question asked by the hon member for Roodepoort as to whether she agrees—and to what extent she agrees— with the motion that came before the UN. The hon member said “Yes, with quite a lot of it”.
†It will be interesting to learn later in this session with which portion of that motion the hon member and her party agree. [Interjections.]
I have marked them off on my copy.
It will be very interesting. [Interjections.]
The hon member for Houghton was congratulated today on having been in this House for 32 years. I had certainly not intended beginning to reply to the hon member’s motion on such a positive note but I should like to associate myself with other hon members in congratulating the hon member. I do want to say to her, though, that it is hard on a man to endure it all these years, but we shall nevertheless persist. [Interjections.]
I shall refer to the hon member for Houghton again later but to begin with I want to refer to certain other hon members. I thank the hon members on this side of the House for the amendment moved and for their contribution. I also thank the hon member Mr Louis Theunissen for that part of his speech in which he supported the Government, but only for that part, because there is a part of his speech I cannot agree with.
I am sure that the hon member for King William’s Town did not himself know what he wanted to tell us today. He should go and read his Hansard and then ask himself what he really wanted to say. He will not take it amiss of me if I say that towards the end of his speech I said to myself that it was a typical United Party speech from earlier times which was neither here nor there. It was quite a nostalgic experience to listen to a speech like that again.
The hon member for Green Point said several things concerning which I shall not have the time to reply to him. I have very little time at my disposal. In fact, I almost gained the impression that I was not going to have the opportunity to speak at all. He put a very important question to me, viz that the ban on the ANC be lifted. He asked specifically that I reply to that. I wish to tell him bluntly that the ban imposed on the ANC will not be lifted by the Government as long as the ANC advocates violence, as long as the ANC resorts to violence, as long as the ANC is engaged in its campaign of violence against the Republic of South Africa, and even if it were to state that it was abandoning that, the ANC would also have to give evidence that its actions within South Africa did not pose a danger or a problem as regards the maintenance of internal security. If we reach that stage, consideration can be given to discussions with the ANC. However it is very clear from the standpoint of the ANC that there is still a very long way to go before we get to that point one day. I hope that the Government’s standpoint is now clear to the hon member.
The hon member for Durban Central spoke about the liberalization of the law in respect of the matters we are debating today. His example of what he meant by liberalization was in my opinion rather “poohpooh”. He tells us that the English appointed commissions to investigate their legislation from time to time. He referred to the Bennett Commission, but there were three other commissions as well. Surely we have done the same. After all, the Government appointed the Rabie Commission to investigate all security legislation in this country and to advise the Government in that regard. The Government did take full cognizance of the report of the Rabie Commission, accepted it as a whole and submitted legislation to Parliament as proposed by the Commission. Moreover the legislation was considered in great depth by Parliament. If that is the attitude the hon member wants of us, then the Government is doing it already. Moreover I want to give the hon member the assurance that in implementing the security legislation we are at all times concerned to effect improvements or implement the legislation better in practice. At present I am giving serious attention to the question of the degree to which relations can be improved by establishing improved communication.
The hon member will excuse me if I do not take the matter further now. I am referring to a very serious matter. I am giving my serious attention to improving relations in the country by creating better communication in terms of the provisions of the security legislation.
What about making the review board applicable to section 29?
The hon member for Houghton really said nothing new to us in her speech this afternoon. She did not advance a single new argument here today. What is important is that by way of her speech she proved once again today that there is no better evidence of the right of criticism in South Africa than the speeches that she makes within and outside this House. That is really all I can say this afternoon about the hon member’s contribution in support of her motion. All she did was advance a lot of cooked-up arguments.
Before dealing with more general matters I should like to emphasize two important points of departure of the Government. The Government is just as concerned about the fundamental human dignities, liberties and rights of people as any other state in the world. It is not only the hon member and her party who are concerned about that. The Government strives to achieve the same ideals because it values them highly. If it had been at all possible the Government would have preferred not to infringe the rights of its subjects in any way. However, it is always necessary to take reality into account. That is what the hon member does not wish to do. Reality must always be taken into account when dealing with matters such as these. To make the arbitrary proposal that established laws, particularly laws of the kind we are discussing now, should be repealed, in the absence of any well-founded motivation, cannot be to anyone’s benefit.
A second aspect I should like to emphasize is that in the discussion of this motion we must also bear in mind that the most important and fundamental aspect of the South African state administration is the supreme legislative authority of Parliament. The legislative sovereignty of Parliament cannot be limited by all kinds of principles. Nor can it be limited by the things proposed by the hon member. The practical administration of the State is conducted simply in terms of the demands and needs of the time and circumstances, and not always within the framework of theories about good rule of law principles of protection of rights of citizens etc. The popularity of such principles merely offers a formula to be utilized when the written statutory law contains no express provisions in regard to the way in which the borderline between individual and community interests must be drawn. In this regard I should like to refer hon members to one of the works of Prof Wiechers. Referring to this principle he states the following:
That is the fundamental right of the State. He goes on to say the following:
He goes on to say:
I just wish to refer the hon member to these two fundamental issues before going on to refer to other matters.
If we wish to consider these matters we must answer the following serious question: Does the situation in our country justify legislation of this nature? Surely the hon member cannot tell me that it does not justify it.
It leads to that situation.
Surely the hon member cannot say that it does not justify it. I am sorry that I have such limited time in which to reply to her but I refer the hon member to page 87 and part of page 88 of the report of the Rabie Commission. I refer her to what her own friends say in that report. They are the editor of the Rand Daily Mail and two successive editors of the Rand Daily Mail. She would do well to go and read what they say because I do not have the time to do it for her at this point. I just want to refer to one extract on page 88 of the report of the Rabie Commission. It also appeared in Rapport a few years ago. The situation we have today is precisely identified there. All the authority quoted by the Rabie Commission to motivate its own standpoints sketches very clearly a situation identical to the one we have today. It is emphasized that it is essential that certain legislation should be on the Statute Book. This is emphasized.
What has our position been since then? Let us take it since 1980. In 1980 we had 19 instances of terror or sabotage, in 1981 the figure was 55, in 1982 39, in 1983 56 and in 1984, 44. In 1985, too, we have already had several examples. In this process 185 terrorists have been caught—I am not speaking about other people now—and 64 killed. Is this a situation which has changed to such an extent that we shall have to consider the liberalization of the law, that we have to comply with this motion by the hon member?
What is the latest situation on the border of the North Western Transvaal? For a few years before August 1984 the border of the North Western Transvaal was not activated by the ANC, the PAC or the Communist Party except for a few movements. From August 1984 to the present there have been at least 15 cases in that region of which we and the Bophuthatswana police are aware. They are incidents of terror and sabotage in a region extending from the Kotfontein border post in the north to Kuruman, Vryburg, Rustenburg, Soweto, Alexandria and other places in the Western Transvaal. At least 48 terrorists who have been identified as such by us were involved in these 15 incidents. I want to qualify that by saying that an investigation is still in progress as far as three of them are concerned. Therefore 45 have been identified. Some of these people were killed in these actions, some were arrested and others fled back into Botswana.
We have information in our possession which has been acquired as a result of, inter alia, the statutory provisions which afford us the opportunity to do our work, that these people had to sabotage railway lines, railway bridges, petrol storage places, police stations and power stations over a broad area in the Western Transvaal and the Northern Cape. Others were to infiltrate the Pretoria/Witwatersrand area. Six of them were trained PAC terrorists arrested by us. We have taken possession of a considerable number of weapons, hand granades, limpet mines, RPG launching tubes, AK rifles and other small arms from these people or in these incidents. We have conveyed this information to the Botswana government and the Botswana government has taken serious cognizance of it. They convinced us of their own concern about the factual situation that we brought to their attention. We accepted their bona fides in this regard and our Minister of Foreign Affairs has indicated this.
Yesterday afternoon the latest incident took place in the Western Transvaal at Swartruggens, when a Mr and Mrs Joubert who were shot down and murdered in cold blood, their shop partly plundered and burnt down, their house robbed and their light van stolen. AK47 caps were picked up on the scene.
You can arrest them.
The hon member must give me a chance.
†She must not say to me I could have arrested them. She must please not be childish.
She must just be quiet for a while.
*We picked up AK47 caps at the scene where this couple was murdered yesterday. There is only one group of people in South Africa that uses AK47 rifles and they are ANC terrorists. I have no further evidence. I am merely saying that AK47 caps were picked up on the scene. Three Black people fled in Mr Joubert’s light van in the direction of Botswana, in the direction of the Derdepoort border post. Later that light van was found approximately 30 km from the Derdepoort border post. From there the footprints, as far as we were able to follow them, also headed in the direction of the Derdepoort border post. I have not yet received a report on what occurred since.
That is the situation we have been experiencing up to yesterday. Certainly there is no one who is not disturbed about circumstances of this nature, but those are the developments that are taking place. Now the hon member asks us to do away with the legislation that helps us to do our work in this regard. On 8 March this year 130 people were detained in terms of section 29, and 29 people in terms of section 31. These people are witnesses detained by order of the Attorney General in order to give evidence in cases of this nature in terms of security legislation.
As far as the nature of the complaints is concerned, there are 19 court cases in which several of these people are involved and which have already been brought before the courts by the Attorneys General. The nature of the charges is: high treason, four; terrorism, seven plus one for attempted murder; subversion, three; furthering the aims of prohibited organizations, one; possession of prohibited publications, two; and public violence, 19. Therefore there is a total of 61 accused. [Interjections.] This legislation makes it possible for us to investigate these matters.
I am speaking about serious charges such as attempted murder, high treason and terrorism, and the hon member says “Oh!”. It seems to me that what we have here is a Sunday school picnic. That is the standpoint of the Official Opposition: That what we have here is a Sunday school picnic.
What did they do in Northern Ireland, where they have much more terrorism?
We are now in South Africa, and if the hon member does not realize that, then I say to her: “Go to Northern Ireland and be happy in your Northern Ireland! Just do not waste our time about Northern Ireland, that is all! Go to Northern Ireland if you think you will be happy there. We will give you an exit permit if you want it.” [Interjections.]
I want to tell the hon member for Houghton that several of these accused are trained ANC terrorists, trained PAC terrorists, trainee terrorists, collaborators, couriers and so on. They are all people whom we were able to identify because we have these statutory powers. [Interjections.] These statutory powers enable us to obtain the information, identify the crimes and submit a dossier to the Attorney General enabling him to go to court. [Interjections.]
I want to tell the Official Opposition in this House, with reference to the circumstances certain aspects of which I wish to touch on very briefly this afternoon, that it is not a matter of sufficient seriousness for them to say in this Parliament: “We specifically want you to have the powers to protect our country with regard to its internal security. We want to put you in a position to be able to do your work.” [Interjections.] The Official Opposition is not prepared to do that. There the whole lot of them sit! The only one who looks as if he does regard the matter in a serious light is the hon member for Sea Point. [Interjections.] He realizes that what I am saying in this House this afternoon is correct. He realizes that we are dealing with serious matters which do not justify the repeal of this legislation. [Interjections.] I want to ask the Official Opposition whether they differ with Mr Justice Rabie’s following statement:
[Interjections.] Let us consider the Rabie Commission’s report as it stands—we accept the contents—and analyse the situation in South Africa since 1980, when the Rabie Commission’s report was placed at our disposal. Let us analyse the situation in South Africa, the situation as it is today in all its facets, including the events that have occurred over the past few months. Up to the present more than 150 people have been killed in a situation of unrest and riots in our country. [Interjections.] Up till today hundreds, literally hundreds of people have been seriously wounded and maimed as a result of riot situations, riot situations created by those very organizations against which we have been able to act in terms of the enabling legislation passed by this Parliament.
I now ask: Is there a single hon member of the Official Opposition who wishes to intimate in this Parliament, notwithstanding the factors I have mentioned, that we are not justified in following Mr Justice Rabie’s advice when he tells us: “People, this is what you need”? [Interjections.] The legislation which he proposed and which was passed by Parliament does not provide that these provisions should be abolished. Mr Justice Rabie does not say that all the means he suggests, should be abolished. He specifically states: “Ek bied vir julle hierdie hulpmiddels aan omdat dit volgens my mening geregverdig is na aanleiding van die situasie binne die grense van ons land.” However, the Official Opposition states that the judge is wrong; the situation in our country does not justify it. We must rather relax all controls; we must allow chaos to develop in the country. We must sanctimoniously stand back and allow it. [Interjections.] Why is that their standpoint? Because there are members in that party—and when I say that I do not include the Chief Whip—who, in advocating certain things in this motion, specifically hope that it will benefit some of their friends. That, of course, is what is at issue. Indeed, that is why the hon member for Houghton moved this motion. [Interjections.] I am now speaking to the hon the Chief Whip.
No, I specifically excluded the hon Chief Whip from my argument. I said that there were some members in his party, some hon members in the Official Opposition who, by moving this motion had in mind to be of assistance to some of their friends. [Interjections.]
Who are they?
I shall repeat it in Afrikaans. I say that there are hon members in that party, under the leadership of the hon member for Houghton, who moved this motion, who support this motion today with the aim of benefiting some of their friends. [Interjections.]
Order! [Interjections.] The hon member for Houghton is included in my call for order. The hon the Minister may proceed.
Thank you, Mr Chairman. I hope that point is now clear to the hon Chief Whip. [Interjections.]
You do not have the courage to say who it is. [Interjections.]
You do not have any guts.
I do not have the what?
You do not have the guts to be specific. [Interjections.]
I do not allow that to be said about me. The hon member for Green Point is one of them. [Interjections.]
Order! The hon member for Green Point need not like what the hon the Minister says, but he must afford him the opportunity, in conformity with the Rules of the House, to say what he wishes. The hon the Minister may proceed. [Interjections.]
Business interrupted in accordance with Standing Order No 30 and motion and amendments lapsed.
Mr Chairman, I regret I could not be here the other day and am grateful the hon the Minister accepted my apology.
In the first place I wish to thank the department for the good service provided by the post office at Algoa. It contributed to the fact that a city council election could be held there yesterday in which the CP received 700 votes and the NP 261. [Interjections.] The votes cast represented 72% for the CP and 28% for the NP, of which a considerable number were postal votes.
The hon Minister said inter alia that we had not prepared for the debate but that we were merely out to attract votes. He also said our proposed amendment made no difference. If the hon the Minister were to suggest that speeches made in this House be televized, I would support him 100%. [Interjections.]
The hon the Minister also referred to what the hon member for Hercules said and on which we particularly hammered, namely that a third of the officials’ thirteenth cheques now falls away. According to the hon the Minister the hon member for Hercules expressed this matter very well in saying that the thirteenth cheque was a “thank you” for services rendered. [Interjections.] The hon the Minister said that the hon member for Hercules had expressed it very well as a “thank you”.
The hon the Minister said it was a “thank you” for service— they had not worked for it. The officials should therefore now take note that their work has been so poor and incompetent that the hon the Minister has taken away a third of that “thank you”.
People work for a salary.
No, if that is a “thank you”, why is the hon the Minister taking it away? Officials have worked hard, productively and positively and rendered such good service over the years that the hon the Minister could come and boast here with a very good budget.
What was our amendment? We requested the hon the Minister to undertake to carry out certain things before we approved the budget. The hon the Minister is not prepared, however, to stop the integration process in his department as far as it lies within his power. He and the NP, the coalition cabinet, are not prepared to stop the integration process. We also requested him to see to it that the White staff of the department suffered no financial losses as a result of the Cabinet steps to reduce the income of officials. If we insist that officials receive this “thank you” money—as the hon member for Hercules expressed it so well according to the hon the Minister—are we being negative or are we harping on something which is wrong? The hon the Minister knows that there is tremendous unrest among the workers of this country because they have to sacrifice part of their bonus. We are now asking ourselves what the officials and the public at large are saying. In Die Burger of 7 March we find a report of a meeting which inter alia runs as follows:
In Bloemfontein and Johannesburg a vast mass of people gathered who adopted a motion of no confidence in the Government without a single dissenting vote. Never before has it happened in South Africa that when such a matter has arisen a motion of no confidence in the Government has been adopted.
The hon the Minister is now left with the hot potato of being a member of the mixed Cabinet and mixed Government. It was a motion of no confidence in the Minister as a member of the Government and not as the head of the Post Office. That is why I say to the hon the Minister: Resign from that party and come home. [Interjections.] For years the hon the Minister and I spoke the same language—that of separate development.
An appeal was also made to the Minister and I wish to quote from Die Burger of 8 March:
I should like to ask the hon the Minister whether he agreed they had a case and is going to accommodate them or whether he supports the Government which says a part of the bonus is to be taken away? Will the hon the Minister tell us what stand he adopted there? We were very honest and said frankly that the upper strata of our people earning huge salaries should be asked to sacrifice.
That is difficult to say. The hon the Minister should determine that. [Interjections.] The hon the Minister knows that the Government distributed a large amount among the people before the referendum to attract their votes but now they are being punished.
Mr Chairman, I am not going to use up a great deal of time in replying to the hon member for Sunnyside. [Interjections.] It seems to me it has become necessary on conclusion of my speech and reply at the Second Reading stage and when I have dealt with their amendments for hon members of the CP and the PFP to use the Committee stage in their turn to reply to what I have already said in my reply. Surely that is not sound debating. [Interjections.]
I accused hon members of the CP that the two speeches made on behalf of their party at the Second Reading stage were totally unprepared. Nevertheless the hon member for Nigel fared a little better than the hon member for Sunnyside. It was a long tale in an attempt to scavenge for votes among Post Office staff. I wish to say to the hon member for Sunnyside that he may as well leave the Post Office staff alone. They know who is on their side. They know who employs them. They are loyal officials. When the country calls for sacrifice, they are prepared to make it. When I questioned the hon member on this point, he said he was not as concerned about those members of staff earning a high salary. I then asked him where we should draw the line and where we should deduct a third of the bonus cheque and where not. Whereupon he said that was a difficult calculation to make. [Interjections.] Surely the hon member cannot come up with these stunts here and say that only people earning the highest salaries should sacrifice one third of their bonuses. Suddenly he does not know where to draw the line. We have, in fact, drawn the line at R6 000. No one earning R6 000 or less will lose one third of his bonus. The hon member for Hercules expressed it very well in describing the bonus as a way of saying thank you to people for work well done. That is what he said. You may look it up in Hansard. What he said is true. The hon member should refer to the Appropriation. He will see that over R900 million has been appropriated for salaries while the figure for bonuses is R58 million. If the two amounts both represented salary, why would we have two separate items in our Appropriation? Surely the hon member can use his sound common sense to work out that, while there is a thirteenth cheque, there is no thirteenth month. To calculate someone’s monthly salary one takes his basic salary and divides it by twelve. In the month in which his birthday falls, he receives an additional amount. It is regarded as a service privilege, however.
It forms part of the package.
It is regarded as a privilege of service. It is not too difficult to understand that it is something additional to the basic salary.
The hon member keeps asking what I said to Post Office staff on occasion. My negotiations and discussions with my staff and my staff associations are matters between them and me. If there is an opportunity or if it should become really necessary, I shall disclose it in this House. We understand one another, however, but I do not think the hon member realizes that we do.
†I wish to turn now to the hon member for Hillbrow. I think it is about time that we buried this South West question once and for all. I told the hon member in my Second Reading reply that he was wasting his time talking about South West Africa because we have no jurisdiction over the Post Office in South West Africa. When the hon member came to the Committee Stage, however, he took out the Post Office Act and tried to impress upon me that, according to the Post Office Act, I am the Minister, and for that particular reason, I must be the Minister in South West Africa. Again I told the hon member that he was wasting his time, because I have nothing to do with the postal service or the Post Office in South West Africa. Neither do I have anything to do with the Postmaster-General or the postmaster in Windhoek. I also have nothing to do with the security services. I give no permission for the tapping of telephones or the opening of post in South West Africa.
The Act still applies.
Yes, but wait a bit. The hon member seemed to have forgotten what I had told him because he kept arguing with me. He tried to tell me that I was the Minister and that I should explain the situation to the House. Proclamation No AG 12 of 1978 by the Administrator-General of South West Africa transferred the administration of the Department of Post and Telecommunications of the territory of South West Africa to the Administrator-General with effect from 1 April 1978. That means that for the past seven years that that hon member has been getting up in this House, he did not seem to know that South West Africa did not fall under my jurisdiction. As from that date neither the Minister of Communications in the Republic nor the Department of Post and Telecommunications of the Republic has had any jurisdiction in South West Africa.
Why does the Act apply?
For the sake of completeness, I may just mention that in terms of a general proclamation No AG 7 of 1977—I did not give the hon member that reply earlier because I wanted the actual number of the proclamation to see whether it would sink into the hon member’s head— in terms of General Proclamation No AG 7 of 1977 by the Administrator-General of South West Africa dated 15 November 1977, the Transfer Proclamation, No AG 12 of 1978 that I have referred to, had the effect from 1 April 1978, that in applying the Post Office Act of 1958 in South West Africa, any reference in that Act to the Minister of Post and Telecommunications in the Republic, was construed as a reference to the Administrator-General. I think that should be clear to the hon member. If he still does not understand it he should take legal advice on the matter. His hon benchmate is a very able barrister whose legal expertise I admire greatly. I am sure he will be able to convince the hon member that I have no jurisdiction in South West Africa.
I give no advice without charging a fee. [Interjections.]
The hon member for Hillbrow raised a few other matters too. I do not want to deal with all of them in detail. He made one very peculiar calculation, however, in connection with the costs to the country of 19 000 Post Office employees’ private telephones. He multiplied 19 000 by R75. R75 is the installation fee which has been in operation since last year. According to the hon member that brings us to the figure representing the amount we are losing.
No, the hon member referred to their telephone calls as well. He also mentioned the number of calls they make. He referred to two items, one of which was the installation of telephones. Previously, however, the installation charge was R50 and prior to that it was R30. Still earlier there was no charge at all involved in the installation of a telephone. Some of the people to whom the hon member referred have been working for us for 15, 20 or even 30 years. This particular benefit does in any case not even apply during their first five years of service. That means that employees appointed since the coming into operation of the R75 installation fee have never paid a single cent. Nevertheless the hon member makes his own peculiar calculation and then tries to impress it on the public that the Post Office is now giving away vast amounts of money to its staff. Perhaps I should ask the hon member one question, Mr Chairman. Is he prepared to forgo the 60 minutes a week free telephone time to which he is entitled as a member of Parliament? Is he prepared to forgo that privilege?
All right! The hon member can apply to me and I will arrange it. [Interjections.]
I am prepared to forgo that privilege if the hon the Minister does too. Hon members of his party must then also do the same.
The hon member should not forget, Sir, that what he says in this House in connection with the staff of the Post Office is widely publicized in the media throughout the country. Therefore I contend that the Post Office officials will now know, better than ever before, who looks after their interests and who their enemies are who want to deprive them of a very small but very important privilege they have enjoyed over many, many years.
Furthermore, the hon member for Hillbrow also made mention of the concessions to Post Office officials. I have mentioned already that since 1971 Post Office officials have been working 42 hours a week. We reduced this in 1971 to what it has been over the past 14 years. It means we have saved 9 000 posts. Now the hon member has the temerity to ask me to take away from them that small privilege of free telephone calls. During the past year we have also had an embargo on the creation of new posts. People also render unpaid overtime service. Sometimes they even work 48 hours a week. I believe the hon member should rather leave those officials to enjoy whatever small privileges they have. As I have said, however, I am quite sure they know by now who their friends really are.
*The hon member for East London North has my thanks for a very good contribution. The historical review he gave was especially interesting as well as his comments in regard to the postal conveyance service. Naturally we do our best to expedite the delivery of post to its destination. I greatly appreciate what the hon member said.
The hon member’s reference to cases in which postal workers were attacked and savaged by dogs was also of interest to me. It is unfortunately true that we have problems in this regard. Nevertheless the Post Office bears all costs attached to such episodes of attacks by dogs. The Post Office even pays for having the dog concerned destroyed.
The hon member for Germiston District is unfortunately not present at the moment. She made a truly touching plea in connection with the aged. We already make certain concessions to them. The installation fee of a telephone for use by an aged subscriber is R25 against the normal fee of R75. Unfortunately we are unable to grant them a reduction in the cost of their telephone calls as well. There are too many people who would then claim the same concession, for example the blind and many other handicapped persons. If we begin applying a differentiated tariff, we shall soon experience great problems.
The hon member furthermore referred to coin telephones on the Natal South Coast. There are 156 coin telephones there. During the holiday season we have those telephones serviced two to three times every weekday. Unfortunately those telephone lines are inevitably also enormously overloaded during that season. We hope, however, that upon completion of new telephone exchanges in that area, we shall be rid of that exceptionally great telephone problem. The new telephone exchanges should be completed within the year. We are also going to instal the new type of electronic coin telephone in that area. We hope this will contribute to solving that problem.
As regards the matter of stamp issues of which the hon member wished to know the costs attached: The costs attached to special stamp issues consist basically of the design artist’s remuneration and the cost of printing the stamps. In a recent issue of four stamps, income over expenditure provided us with an amount of approximately R500 000. Philatelic services are a source of enormous profit which this year amounted to approximately R4,5 million after deduction of all expenses like printing costs of these special stamp issues. There are 30 000 people on our books awaiting each issue with eager anticipation for the fact that this is such an exceptional type of collection.
The hon member for Umlazi once again gave a brilliant exposition of why we have to indicate replacement costs as an item in our Appropriation. The hon member for Langlaagte tendered apologies for his absence in the House this afternoon but it is a pity he could not have heard the hon member for Umlazi’s speech. Yesterday the hon member for Langlaagte expressed all manner of misgivings in his speech and I cannot let him get away scot-free merely because he is not present this afternoon. That hon member would have done well to read Rapport of a week or so ago in which it was set out why replacement costs should be included as an amount in order to be able to spend funds again on further replacements. The Franszen Commission pronounced on this and indicated we should include a certain percentage of the historic value of the equipment as replacement costs. We have already increased that percentage to 50% of historic value of such equipment. This amount will increase each year, however, but the hon member for Langlaagte obviously does not understand this. Surely our assets increase to the extent that we import new equipment but the hon member should also remember that those assets will have to be replaced at some stage. One cannot include replacement costs one year only to omit them the next. They are included consistently because they form part of our Appropriation.
†The hon member for Mooi River referred to the question of farm exchanges. I can point out to him that 94% of our exchanges are already automatic exchanges. I admit that farm lines present a problem. However, we are investigating a possible new technique which might accelerate the pace of development, so that we will reach our goal perhaps even before our target date of 1990. Unfortunately, during this time of economic stringency, some of these dates that we have fixed—some of which I have already mentioned to the hon member for Mooi River—will have to be postponed by a year or two. We have ordered the necessary equipment and I want to point out that, for instance, the latest traffic counts indicate that the trunklines to Underberg and Donnybrook are adequate, but that both Creighton and Himeville need relief. We plan to provide these two exchanges with additional trunk circuits during the second half of 1985. This may perhaps be some good news among the other pieces of bad news I have given the hon member for Mooi River.
*I wish to thank the hon member for Potgietersrus most heartily for his contribution in which, for example, he furnished comparative tariffs. Many people say, however, that one cannot compare one country with another but I think one can as the same type of service is being provided. In some cases we merely provide the service much better than other countries in cases, for instance, involving telephone calls and the delivery of letters. The hon member explained very clearly that this should be taken into account to be well informed on what is happening in other countries.
The hon member also inquired about the automation of rural exchanges and whether we could not do something at Marble Hall and Naboomspruit. I am pleased to be able to say that the decision in itself will have no effect on the automation of the two exchanges in question. The automatic exchange at Marble Hall can only become operative later than initially planned, however, in consequence of unavoidable delay in the completion of the automatic exchange accommodation concerned. If all goes according to plan, the exchange at Marble Hall will now become operative in the first half of 1987. As regards Naboomspruit, the equipment will be delivered within the coming financial year. The automatic exchange is expected to be ready for service during 1987. It has to be installed and subsequently tested. The hon member is reasonably concerned about the area.
He made another interesting contribution on toll-free telephone services. I think this type of sophisticated service can be made available more easily when the new electronic telephone exchanges have been further developed throughout the country. We shall examine the possibility, however, because we pay continued attention to the possibility of such developments.
†The hon member for Bezuidenhout raised a number of points. Firstly, there was the one about the accounting system and together with that the manner in which the Budget is set up. Over the past 18 months we have had problems with exactly what he mentioned. A committee has been appointed and they have been working very hard on this. I can assure the hon member that if nothing unforeseen happens, the estimates will look a bit different next year when we print them. They will contain better information and I think the whole system will be overhauled. I hope that will satisfy the hon member. There is no need for us to start a special section as members of the top executive are continuously aware of what goes on in our accounting section.
The hon member spoke about satellite transmissions. Intelsat services are paid for by individual administrations. In the case of Tech Electronics action was taken against the company to prevent unlawful reception of an Intelsat transmission. The equipment was dismantled by the company, and the legal aspect referred to the Attorney-General. They transgressed the law because we had a contract with Intelsat and they knew it. The worst aspect is that they knew it.
Reception of transmissions from direct broadcast satellites takes place in a number of countries that have domestic satellites for that particular purpose. South Africa does not have such a satellite, and the licensing of private individuals will serve no practical purpose. Since Intelsat transmissions are likely to be the only ones readily accessible to South Africa, the licensing of private receiving equipment will probably result in a similar type of involvement as has happened in the case of Tech Electronics. We are somewhat worried about that particular aspect at the moment.
I now come to the question of international calls. There has been a lengthening of the period during which one may speak. The tariff should have been R4,36, but we actually reduced it and kept it at R4. The practicability and the financial impact of applying lower tariffs during certain periods will need examining before a decision in that regard can be taken. I think one ought to be careful not to make too many adjustment at the same time.
Are you going to do it in some cases?
We are looking at this all the time. We cannot do it at the moment, and that is the reply I intended giving to the hon member for Johannesburg North. We still do not have the right type of billing equipment for overseas calls. We are introducing it for local calls and, in fact, we intend introducing it later on in respect of the ordinary in-town calls so that people will not be able to talk for two hours when for instance they dial a number in Cape Town and then cause all the lines to be blocked. We shall actually be charging instead of giving people an open run for 10 cents.
*The hon member for Rosettenville paid a wonderful tribute to our Postmaster-General. I am very grateful to him for that and wish to associate myself with him in saying to Mr Bester, the Postmaster-General, who is retiring shortly that his retirement will mean a great loss not only to me but to the entire country. He is someone who has served the department for 45 years and has progressed from the very bottom to the very top.
When we were touring Germany and he was shown the Morse code apparatus still in working order in the museum at Siemens, Mr Bester approached it and typed out a message in Morse code, something which completely astonished those people. He is one of the few people in postal services throughout the world who have come from Morse code to the digital electronic equipment we currently use—he has experienced the whole spectrum. I am actually afraid to think of what someone starting with electronic equipment in the Post Office now will be seeing in 45 years’ time. Rest assured, however, that I shall then no longer be the Minister who has to worry about it.
I wish to join the hon member for Rosettenville in saying that Mr Bester has not only always rendered outstanding service but has also been courteous and friendly at all times. He gives a person good, sound advice— which one believes one can act upon at once. In the case of a split decision, he has never the less carried it out, but I can honestly say, in the two and half years I have been the Minister, very few points of difference, if any, have cropped up between us. He is someone who handles the staff well.
I wish him and Mrs Bester a pleasant retirement. I do not believe it will be a period of rest but it will deviate from the usual routine and he will not have to concern himself with budgets, replies and passing notes during debates. We wish them everything of the best. I could actually congratulate Mr Ridgard now, but I shall do this at a later stage.
I wish to say to the hon member for Rosettenville that the architects have been appointed for his post office there. The line drawings are nearing completion and we hope there will be comprehensive plans by the end of 1985. If everything goes according to plan—now I have to be very careful because I have often landed myself in trouble in speaking of planning—I think we can say with reasonable certainty that we will take possession of the site in April 1985. If all goes well, we can call for tenders in 1986. I think the hon member may tell his voters with a quiet mind that our planning is of such a nature that we do not have to economize in all fields.
I have already replied to the hon member for Langlaagte and I do not believe it necessary to say much more to him. I wish to reply only to his reference to the enormous wastage of surplus telephone directories. I do not believe the hon member actually has any concept of what takes place when one has a telephone directory printed. Perskor and Nasionale Pers are the two companies doing it for us. They are contracted for 10 years and initially tendered for this. Contracts are usually for 5 or 10-year terms and I think the current contract has already run a few years. We cannot appoint new people each year to publish telephone directories.
In 1984 we published 5 800 000 telephone directories of which only 183 000—that is 3%—were not issued. The demand for telephone directories depends on so many factors that we cannot make more accurate estimates. If the hon member wishes to look it up he will see that I gave the hon member for Hillbrow the full explanation on 4 July 1984. He merely needs to look it up to see what it was.
I may mention that a countrywide computerized telephone directory system—it is know as “Diligent”—is being phased in. Under this system one may dial a central office to obtain a telephone number. Such a call is free and there is no catch involved. It is therefore unnecessary to have a telephone directory at hand for calls to distant places.
†I have already referred to some of the points made by the hon member for Johannesburg North. He mentioned the insufficient service points at counters. We shall look into that.
The hon member also asked if all the racial groups qualified for concessions. The answer is that everybody in the Post Office gets the same concessions, regardless of his colour.
The hon member asked what the annual loss in revenue was in respect of this service. It will be about 0,12% in the financial year 1985-86. The actual amount is estimated at about R2,8 million.
As far as the perks tax on telephone concessions is concerned, I shall have to ask my colleague the hon Minister of Finance. He deals with perks tax—we only give the perks.
*The hon member for Carletonville mentioned applicants waiting for a telephone service. At present 343 applicants in the central area of Carletonville are waiting, of whom 39 are business. The latter will shortly be provided with a telephone service upon completion of the cable work of a telephone service. The remaining applicants will be provided with a service after completion of the exchange extension in April or May. It is planned simultaneously to provide additional junction lines to eliminate overloading. I think that is good news. This work is in hand and should be completed soon.
My thanks to all who participated. [Interjections.] I have no reply for the hon Whip on this debate. I hope the Third Reading will not be a reply to my reply in the Committee Stage.
Schedule, Clauses, and Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Mr Chairman, I move, subject to Standing Order No 52:
Mr Chairman, we now enter the third and last phase of a Budget involving some R4,2 billion. The hon the Minister said that we must not be political in our approach to the Post Office, and I would like to give the Minister the assurance that we have never tried to be politically motivated about the Post Office but that we have always tried to be as objective as possible.
The hon the Minister raised two issues which I want to dispose of immediately. The first is with regard to South West Africa. I accept what he says, and all I would like him to do now is to look at section 123 which states very clearly that the Act applies to South West Africa and the Caprivi Zipfel. Perhaps we should consider an amendment in this regard.
The second point I want to deal with, is the 19 343 telephone users who are officials of the Post Office. Let me put the matter into perspective. When I mentioned the figure in respect of installation, I said very clearly that since they were enjoying this benefit they should continue to do so. However, I did refer to two other aspects. The first was rental and, as far as this is concerned, I arrived at a figure of R2 million. With regard to the actual units, I gave a figure of R3,4 million. What we are therefore dealing with is a sum of R5,4 million. Let me put the whole thing in its proper perspective. We do not want to knock the officials because they have done a good job and we appreciate what they have done. If there had been no tariff increases this year the matter would never have been raised. What I would like the hon the Minister to understand is that the public are upset that they have to bear increases in tariffs while this perk is given amounting to R5,4 million. This is the crux of the matter. If there had been no tariff increases nobody would have complained.
The hon the Minister said that we moved an amendment and that, if it had been passed, it would have been impossible to pay the staff. All we did with the amendment was to ask for an undertaking, and if he had given that undertaking, we would not have opposed the Bill. As far as that is concerned, there is therefore no question of the Budget not being passed or our not allowing the staff to be paid. The amendment has been defeated but the problem still remains. That being so, I am unhappy, and I think the public are unhappy, that the hon the Minister has seen fit to raise tariffs. Unless he can justify to all of us that those tariff increases and the extent of those increases are justified, we cannot feel happy about them and accept them. This is where the hon the Minister and I differ in our approach.
The picture I have is very simple. When the budget was drawn up we were heading for a deficit of something like R332. The Minister then decided on a 14,8% increase, which would give him a surplus of R68 million. One must bear in mind that last year when he was heading for a deficit of R335 million he budgeted for a deficit of R131 million and finished with a surplus of R29,8 million, with a 9% increase in tariffs, which shows that that budget was R160 million better off as a result.
I will deal with that.
The hon the Minister can deal with it.
Let us look at the Budget in the light of that. What do we find? Firstly, it is common cause—and I do not blame the hon the Minister for this—that the Budget is out by R18,2 million because of an announcement made by the State President. So the R332 million has already decreased to R313 million; yet the hon the Minister has seen fit to budget for a deficit of R150 million. Taking into account that we have a surplus of R68 million, we now have a figure of R218 million. If one subtracts that from R313 million, one has a figure of R95 million which has to be provided for. Since a 14,8% increase in tariffs yields R400 million, it is fair to work out quite simply that a quarter of that would require an increase of approximately 3,7%, which on a deficit of R150 million would, I think, have been quite satisfactory. I do believe that, despite the deficit last year, the hon the Minister was able to raise funds to the tune of about R500 million, and I do not believe that it is an excuse this time.
Let me take the argument one step further. Here I have a criticism, and this is where I brought in the argument of the Franzsen Commission and the whole aspect of accounting in the Post Office as one of the bodies concerned. I want to refer specifically to the figures in respect of depreciation, which the hon member for Umlazi dealt with, and replacement costs. These figures reveal that it is the provision for depreciation, and not actual depreciation costs, that amounts to R249 million. It is the provision for, not the actual higher replacement costs, that amounts to R124 million. This gives a total of approximately R370 million. The point I am making is that this is not cash being spent by the Post Office; it is purely a book entry. There is no outflow of cash against it. However, we are raising tariffs and bringing in cash to cater for what is purely a book entry. That is my criticism of the approach. That is dealt with by the Franzsen Commission. As the hon member for Umlazi correctly said, the relevant figure, which was 30% in 1972, went up to 50% in 1975. When I say that we should revise the Franzsen Commission’s figure of 1972, let me just point out three aspects to the hon the Minister. In 1972 the price of gold was R29,55; today it is R580. That is 20 times more. The rate of inflation was 5,9% in 1972; today it is 14% going on for 17%, which is nearly 3 times as much. The rate of exchange then was 118,9 US cents for R1,00; today it is 50 US cents for R1,00. How can one possibly today go by the financial approach in 1972 without changing one’s formula and adjusting to the modern trends of the situation we have at present?
I am not alone in questioning why 50% of the depreciation must go to replacement costs. I am not against the formula for depreciation. I compared it with the income tax tables. I find that it compares favourably with what is laid down in the income tax tables. However, no income tax table, and no Receiver of Revenue, will allow one to claim replacement costs of 50% in addition to those depreciation costs. One can put it in one’s balance sheet, if one likes. It is going to be misleading, but the Receiver of Revenue is not going to allow one any deduction as far as Income Tax is concerned. My authority or corroboration for this is, in fact, submissions made by the Cape Town Chamber of Commerce. These relate to privatization of State corporations, which is what we are dealing with now. I quote:
Then they go on to say:
They actually analyse the Post Office. Unfortunately this is a couple of years old. I want to draw the hon the Minister’s attention to it.
How old is it?
Only a couple of years. It says:
Sir, looking at the real difference and taking away the figure indicated here, one finds that there is a net profit of 33%. They say that the true economic facts about them have been buried under inflation accounting procedures and that they should be treated with profound scepticism. That is my argument too. I think we should devise a new approach to the accounting system.
Let us consider the figures I have given on this basis. We were heading for a deficit of R332 million. If the R18,2 million is taken off—it is common cause that the Budget is out by that amount—and if we take off the provision for replacement costs of R124,9 million, or a total of R143,1 million, it leaves R188,9 million. Since 14,8% gives one R400 million, it means that we have to take off the R188,9 million. What this Budget then truly reflects is not a surplus of R68 million but a surplus of R211,1 million. Had we applied this type of formula—and there is no reason why we should not have done so—and the increases amounted to only 7,4%, or half of the 14,8%, there would still have been a surplus of R11 million. That is my submission and that is why I say that in the circumstances the time has come for us to revise our entire approach to the Budget and how we deal with it.
I do not want to get too acrimonious at this stage. We are reaching the end of the debate on this Budget. It was a profitable debate. I also want to comment favourably on the hon member for Umlazi as chairman of the committee. I am sorry he is not here. For the first time this year we have been able in a standing committee to discuss in detail the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure. We received the benefit of the information and expertise supplied by the officials of the Post Office. We would also like to thank the hon the Minister for coming to the standing committee and having a discussion with us and helping us to go through the Budget.
In conclusion, I should like to take this opportunity once again to say farewell to Mr Bester and to welcome Mr Ridgard and wish him the best of luck, as also the four Deputy Postmasters-General, Mr Raath, Mr Taylor, Mr De Villiers and Mr Van Rensburg. We also want to thank Mr Coleske, the Parliamentary liaison officer, for always being most helpful. We wish all of them the very best with their arduous task. I would appeal to them to watch the tariffs, to try to keep them down and to try to persuade the hon the Minister to adopt a new approach at this stage.
Speaking of the hon the Minister and the new era, this is also the first time the hon the Minister has had to pilot a Post Office Budget not only through this House but through three Houses. Quite honestly, I am beginning to feel sorry for the hon the Minister since he has to play musical chairs and run around to three Houses. I am also beginning to feel sorry for all the other Ministers who have to play musical chairs and run around to three different Houses, replying to the same debates and presenting the same arguments in each. I just wonder, with great respect, when their patience is going to wear out and how long they are going to put up with having to play musical chairs and running around to the three Houses. I wonder whether they are not going to be the first ones to instigate a change to this entire system so that more meaningful joint debates can be held to discuss matters decently.
Mr Chairman, we have reached the end of the discussion on the Post Office Appropriation. From now on it will be the responsibility of the management and the hon the Minister to keep this Appropriation within fixed parameters. Judging from the comments of the Opposition parties at the Second Reading, in the Committee Stage and now at Third Reading as well, they really did not have much criticism. We also had the privilege of being able to discuss the Budget in detail in the standing committee. Even there, with the explanations given by the officials, the Opposition could not find much to object to and only made the occasional comment on a bookkeeping entry and things like that. We therefore congratulate the hon the Minister and his department on this year’s fine budget.
We are grateful—pleased, in fact—that the hon the Minister has said in advance that there is a possibility of further tariff increases next year. It is a good thing that he is warning the country and the public in good time about this. We have to accept that with the inflation rate and the economy as they are at present, it will be necessary to increase the tariffs again next year. It is a good thing that the hon the Minister does this every year, instead of delaying the increase for a year so that he can present a popular budget, only to perhaps double it the next year. It is consequently better for the hon the Minister to give people timely warning about what could happen in the future.
I think the hon member for Potgietersrus yesterday compared our postal tariffs to those of the rest of the world. We should be grateful, particularly in regard to the dispatching of internal mail, that we are able to handle our mail at such a low tariff.
The Post Office is often referred to as a business organization, which of course, it is. It has to provide a service to the public on the one hand, and on the other it has to balance its income and expenditure. The Post Office is an independent organization within the broader framework of the Public Service that has to manage without a State subsidy. The Post Office also has to generate its own capital or borrow funds to finance itself. To enable any business undertaking to function smoothly—that is to say, to provide a service on the most economical basis—such an undertaking utilizes the necessary labour force.
If we look at the achievements of the Post Office during the past financial year and analyse the Appropriation of the new financial year, it becomes clear to us that good management techniques are being used in the Post Office. This is reflected in the composition of the Post Office Board. This not only applies to top management, but permeates through to the regional and local levels. [Interjections.] Because of the high level of Post Office management, it serves as an inspiration to the staff as well. We consequently find that the Post Office staff generally are motivated people who perform their daily duties with enthusiasm. To confirm the attitude of the Post Office staff, I want to refer to a time 14 years ago when they agreed to work two hours longer per week without a proportionate increase in salary. This gesture resulted in the Post Office staff growth since then being smaller than what would otherwise have been necessary.
Because most of the functions of the Post Office are of a technical nature, the Post Office ensures that in the technical field it is keeping pace with internal and foreign development. The Post Office consequently sees to it that its people are well-trained. Besides the training facilities it has established, the Post Office has also created the opportunity for its staff to study at a university by means of bursaries. Bursaries to the value of R510 000 have consequently been paid out in the past financial year. In the new Appropriation an amount of R3 million is provided for training.
I should like to get back to the subject of the staff. Because the staff are motivated and enthusiastic about their work, productivity had to, and did, increase. To put this to the test, the Post Office asked for an independent report from the National Productivity Institute. This institute conducted an investigation into the Post Office on a scientific basis. The first report has just been received and has indicated a praiseworthy achievement on the part of the Post Office. There has been an increase in productivity during the past four years, in spite of the negative trends in the economy generally in regard to the productive use of capital and labour. Without this improved productivity there would have been more tariff increases, an increase in staff would have been necessary and we would have had a different Appropriation to the one we have here today.
During the past four years, 1980-84, a surplus of R29 million was achieved. Of this amount, R25 million, or 83%, resulted from improved productivity.
Let us take a look at the growth of the various Post Office services during the past four years. Revenue, for example, rose by 146%; operating expenditure by 181%; capital expenditure by 232%; cash turnover by 94%; the number of telephones by 46%; telex services by 72%; data services by 303%; data modems by 47%; and the total number of trunk line circuits by 39%. The number of postal articles increased by 16% during the past four years; on the other hand, the staff increased by only 27,8%. This proves that the Post Office, as a result of increased productivity and better organization, could provide better service.
It would appear from the Budget that the Post Office had to cut back due to the unfavourable economic climate. This, however, is being done without inhibiting its efficient service. On the other hand, the Post Office is not neglecting to provide a modern communications network, because account must be taken of the fact that when the economy recovers, the Post Office will have to be ready to provide the necessary services. The Post Office dare not wait until then to begin with the improvement of its services because the introduction and development of these services take considerable time. I am privileged to be able to support the third reading of this measure.
Mr Chairman, I have already thanked Mr Bester, during the second reading debate, for the invaluable service he has rendered over the years. I should also, however, like to thank the two deputies, who are retiring with him, for the services they have rendered. They too have rendered outstanding service over the years and we hope their approaching retirement is going to be a happy one. I have also expressed my appreciation for the fact that someone like Mr Ridgard has taken Mr Bester’s place. We have known him for a long time now and know he has already rendered very good service. We hope that he, and also those who are going to assist him in his new post, will be happy. In fact, I am convinced that they will be very happy and will do a good job; there is no doubt about that.
The hon member for Hercules has already been satisfactorily dealt with and I consequently have nothing to add. The thirteenth cheque is certainly part of one’s remuneration, even if it is not exactly part of one’s salary. It is, of course, listed separately in the Appropriation, but we do know that what a person receives at the end of the year is part of the remuneration he has earned. I know of no Public Servant, excepting someone who has committed some or other offence, who has not received that bonus. The thirteenth cheque is therefore generally accepted as being part of one’s remuneration. I do not think we can have any doubt about that.
The second point of the amendment I have moved states:
The reduced thirteenth cheque does mean a reduction of income. There is no doubt about that. We can argue as much as we like. We can say it is not part of the salary. That is true, but it is part of the gross remuneration. One’s income includes all the money one has earned.
But it is also true that a cent means the most to the man who earns the smaller salary. The smaller a person’s income is, the more every cent means to him.
The hon member for Hercules also referred to the breadline. When the hon the Minister of Home Affairs and of National Education put a question to me during the second reading debate, I replied that there were, in fact people who lived below the breadline. There are also Public Servants who live below the breadline. I shall explain what I mean by saying someone is living below the breadline. I shall spell it out very clearly. If any White man earning R800 or less per month is married and has three school-going children, has to lease or pay off a house, has to pay for his electricity and water, he is, with the high cost of living today, living below the breadline. That is the simple truth of it. I witnessed poverty in my childhood, and also experienced it to a degree, and I do not regret it. It teaches one many things. Those times are approaching again.
You are a “fat cat” now.
I cannot compare myself to the hon doctor from Rustenburg who has become a “fat cat” since he started earning an extra R4 000 per year because he is the chairman of a standing committee.
My wife and I recently went to work in a constituency where we came across poverty such as I have not seen in a long time. The last time I saw such poverty was at the foot of the Massau hilltop at Schweizer Reneke. During a recent election people were ashamed to invite one into their homes because they did not have any furniture. That was in the Primrose constituency. We saw it for ourselves. We know that there are poor people in the country …
Leave Primrose out of it, man.
I am not going to take any notice of the hon member for Boksburg, because he takes no notice of the poor.
The hon member for Brits is not present, and I shall therefore leave him at that, although I would have liked to say a few words about what he said to me.
Yesterday morning we heard of the roars of laughter in one of the other Houses while the Second Reading of the Post Office Appropriation was being discussed there. This hon Minister was there, and I really do hope he clamped down a little on some of those members, because some veiled insults were directed at Whites. Since he told the hon member for Sunnyside the other day that he was not afraid of anyone, I take the hon Minister at his word. I take him at his word and I trust—I have not seen his Hansard— he rapped some of those members over the knuckles. I want to quote one passage to the hon members. For example, someone in that House said:
That technician is a highly trained person. He is someone who probably studied at a Technicon or became well-qualified by way of a correspondence course and by acquiring practical knowledge. He is also the one who has to help those people, has to provide the backup for them and possibly has to supervise at more than one place. And then contemptuous references are made about such a person. I have never seen an official of the Post Office standing with his hands in his pockets, and I also drive around a great deal; there are also quite a few activities relating to the Post Office taking place in my constituency. Another member of one of the other Houses said the following about the people in the Post Office:
That was also intended for the Whites, because in the constituency of that particular person—I have checked on this—there are mainly Whites serving in most of the post offices. We must not allow this kind of thing to happen. We will not allow the people of the Post Office to be insulted. They do not deserve it and we simply will not tolerate it.
I earnestly want to request the members of Parliament in the other two Houses to refrain from insulting the Whites. It has become customary elsewhere to insult the Whites of this country, and it has happened before that a response has been called for in this House. I have never yet heard anyone in this House of Assembly—and I say this to the credit of all the parties—say a contemptuous word about any person in one of the other Houses, excepting in countering something that was said there. Is this how consensus is supposed to work? The Post Office and the general public must take note of this. I have never heard an objection against what is being said coming from the Government benches.
As far as White labour is concerned, I want to point out that it is amongst the best one can buy in the world today. That labour is on the market. But there is one thing no person could ever buy. No one can buy the soul of the White worker, because it cannot be bought!
Mr Chairman, it is never really very pleasant to speak after the hon member for Nigel has spoken, particularly not in this kind of debate. I now want to ask that hon member, who makes such a holier-than-thou fuss about what other people say in the other Chambers, whether he has ever taken members of the CP to task about what they say about Coloureds?
Mr Chairman, may I put a question?
No, I am not interested in questions at the moment. I want to know from that hon member whether he has ever tried to dodge the issue when it comes to what his party propagates. [Interjections.] They are the very people who come along here and propagate separate counters and ask us why there must suddenly be only one counter in a post office. [Interjections.] Is that not specifically designed to denigrate Coloureds? Or is that hon member saying that is all part of their great programme? Whenever they come to the House with such proposals, it is specifically designed to denigrate Coloureds. The hon member for Sunnyside has, in the past, seriously advocated having more than one counter in the post office in his constituency. [Interjections.] As is now the case again, the hon member for Kuruman’s interjections are normally aimed at hurting Coloureds. That is why we have this problem with the CP. That is why one does not feel like discussing matters such as these with them in a Post Office debate.
I do, however, briefly want to come back to the hon member for Hillbrow. It would seem to me as if the hon member for Hillbrow simply cannot permit Post Office officials to have even a little something on occasion, or comprehend how this is possible. Let me ask the hon member whether he is aware of the fact that people in the private sector enjoy similar benefits? If one takes a company such as Pick ’n Pay as an example, it is surely acceptable for people working for that chain-store group to enjoy certain benefits in regard to the goods they purchase from that company. That is a generally accepted practice throughout the private sector. If one works for a car manufacturer, one can purchase one’s car at a cheaper price. If one works for a motor vehicle distributor, one can purchase a vehicle more cheaply. It is therefore the accepted practice in the private-sector. Why should the Post Office lag behind? Since the hon member is saying that the Post Office worker should not be allowed free use of his telephone, is he also going to suggest that railway workers relinquish their railway concession? [Interjections.] That is the way these people carry on. That is the reason why we cannot agree with them. What we are saying is that we have good officials working for the State and for the Post Office, and we are prepared to give them a few little perks here and there, particularly when, as the hon the Minister has said, they deserve it after a long period of service.
We on this side of the House have already confirmed, in the second reading debate, that we agree with the principle underlying the Budget. For that reason I shall not be going into any further detail at this stage. I think the hon member for Alberton covered that field beautifully.
I think that all the parties in the House agree with me that the effect of the Budget will be to enable us to expand the services of the Post Office, not to the extent that we would like, because the country finds itself in economic difficulties, but at least there will be expansion. There are, however, one or two little things I should like to say in this Third Reading debate. This is an historic hour in which we have come to the third reading of the first Post Office Appropriation to be endorsed by the three Houses of Parliament. Not only is it an historic day for the Post Office, but also for Parliament. We are grateful for having been able to prove again to all these people, such as the members of the CP who voted against endorsing the Appropriation, that this system will work and that what we have achieved here cannot but have positive results.
Seen in the light of the disinvestment campaign that has been waged in the USA, a campaign which is possibly going to be waged against South Africa, there are a few questions I should like to ask the hon Minister. I hope that he and the management team will give them their attention. I am concerned about the programmes at present being discussed in the American Congress in regard to the computer equipment and accessories that have to be supplied to South Africa in the future. I should like to know to what extent we are specifically dependent on American equipment in this regard and whether we are going to pay heed, in the future, to these possible boycotts against us. We must specifically consider that aspect in this appropriation and be careful, in future budgets, not to drive ourselves into a corner where we could find ourselves up against such boycott action.
I want to elaborate on that and link it to representations recently published in the Press. I want to ask the hon the Minister whether he and his Department would not again take a serious look at the representations at present being made by the manufacturing sector in our country, the manufacturers of data modems. I aware of the fact that he and his management team have laid down a sound policy, which is that we should try to move away from using data modems, because that apparatus will be phased out by more modern equipment within approximately five years. So one cannot continue to keep that apparatus in stock in the Post Office. I do think, however, that we should deal with this transitional phase in such a way that South African manufacturers do not feel any adverse affects. I should like to see the hon the Minister and his team come up with a plan to indicate how we could, in the next 5 years, accommodate these manufacturers who have so faithfully supplied us with equipment, since we have to import this equipment at a disadvantageous exchange rate in any event. When such equipment has to be imported, the exchange rate is never anything but disadvantageous.
In view of what we have heard in the recent debate, let me tell the hon the Minister that we are very grateful for what he and his team have accomplished. We have already expressed appreciation to the Postmaster General, Mr Bester, and those officials now leaving the service of the Post Office. I do, however, also want to congratulate the new Postmaster General, who will assume office on 1 April 1985, very sincerely on his appointment. We believe that he will, as did his predecessors, have a very prosperous career in his capacity of Postmaster-General.
I want to conclude by coming back once again to the question of the manufacturers of all the Post Office equipment I referred to. I again specifically want to refer the data modems. We must make a serious effort to expand the electronics industry in South Africa, specifically because the Post Office has, for so many years now, been showing the way. The Post Office made possible for us to expand the electronics industry in South Africa. In the light of the disinvestment campaign that is possibly going to be mounted against us, we must specifically draw closer to the industry that manufactures this equipment. At present these industries are in dire straits, because if such boycotts against South Africa were to be implemented, it would specifically be these industries that would suffer losses. It would be a great pity if industries, built up with great effort and difficulty, and with the assistance, organization and encouragement of the Post Office— those of us who have been involved with the Post Office in recent years know this—were to go under.
It is therefore very important to me that it should specifically be the Post Office that takes the lead, and that is why I am saying that future budgets should make provision for assistance to these industries to allow them to stand firm when these boycotts are possibly launched in the future. We have, in any event, had the authorities take steps to help them stand firm in the face of any possible disinvestment.
It is a privilege for me to support the Third Reading of this appropriation Bill.
Mr Chairman, the hon member for Boksburg has raised some very interesting points, particularly in regard to electronic equipment. I am sorry that limited time precludes me from discussing this particular aspect in which I am certainly very interested. I compliment the hon member on the comments he has made.
I think this coming year will be one of the most challenging ever in the history of the Post Office. In many respects it will be a difficult year for the Post Office, the staff and in particular for the incoming Postmaster-General and his team consisting of Messrs Robbie Raath, Johan van Rensburg, Jimmy Taylor and Judge de Villiers. These gentlemen are taking over their posts in a very interesting era.
At the Second Reading I spoke of the delicate balancing act that I believe everybody is involved in here. From now on this balancing act must be watched more carefully and controlled and monitored as has never been done before. There is no reason why we cannot do this because in this computer age to which the hon member for Boksburg referred we have a wonderful instrument to keep us up to date at all times. This instrument can give us the type of information we want on a weekly or almost on a daily basis.
Every cent that is spent on the provision of new services, infrastructure or capital works, must in the coming year be weighed very carefully against clearly defined needs after careful and diligent planning has been undertaken. Every need must be recognized and clearly defined. In order to do this the Post Office is of necessity going to have to consult at all times with organized commerce and industry. It will also obviously have to liaise constantly with other State departments so as to ensure that all capital requirements are judged correctly on their merits.
We talk of expenditure but it follows naturally that income levels must also be more regularly monitored in this coming year. Flowing from this monitoring and close examination, I believe that meaningful consumer resistance should be countered as soon as it is recognized. This is necessary even if it means that there must be a downward adjustment in tariffs. The name of the game is to maintain the budgeted levels of income. This is tremendously important and the Post Office will have to watch this from day to day.
I further believe that the continuation and expansion of the improvement in productivity levels coupled with the monitoring of expenditure and income that I have spoken of, could lead us to a situation where the Post Office could well find itself with a healthy surplus this time next year. This could happen. Perhaps we shall have a very jovial and smiling Minister here to present us with a good news Budget in 1986-87. Even if it is not a good news Budget, I honestly think that there is a distinct possibility that he may be able next year to keep tariff increases down to 5%. That would halve his own projection of a 10% increase which he enunciated in his Second Reading speech. If he does keep it down to 5%, I submit that every opposition party in this House is going to have extreme difficulty in opposing his Second Reading.
There will always be somebody to oppose it.
Well, possibly we all will. However, I want to quote just briefly from the hon the Minister’s Budget Speech. Near the end of his speech when he was talking about tariff increases which are envisaged for the year to come, that is 1986-87, he said that there might be an increase—and I am quoting him here:
We accept that. He talks about the various factors but he stresses the economy as a whole.
I hope that, in this brief time I have had this afternoon, I have introduced a new thought, and that is the thought of self-analysis. I believe that self-analysis can achieve much towards a good result. I ask the hon the Minister and particularly his officials please not to accept this as a criticism. They must please accept this in the spirit in which it is meant, and that is as a gentle reminder. This year is going to be a challenging one, and we on these benches shall be watching with great interest. We look forward to the results of this year’s trading. I have said before and I say again, the Post Office is a good business. It is a fortunate business because it has a captive market. Nonetheless, it has an excellent management team and an excellent team all the way down. However, the man who carries the can for it all, is the chairman of the company, and it is the chairman of the company in the form of the hon the Minister who is going to have to answer for the firm’s activities during the coming trading year. I can only say to him that I hope, all things being equal, we shall meet again at about the same time and in the same place next year to discuss the results.
Order! Before I call upon the hon the Minister to speak, I should like to draw the attention of hon members to an old practice, namely that no member may refer to a debate that has taken place in another House during the same session, except to refer to a speech made by a Minister. This rule applied prior to 1981 when the Senate still existed. The discussion in a House of something said by a private member in another House is, for obvious reasons which I think are clear to everyone, not desirable. I ask hon members to be mindful of this practice.
Mr Chairman, I find your ruling not only correct, but also very interesting. I shall now refrain from saying something I wanted to say about something that was said in one of the other Houses.
†I want to start with the hon member for Umhlanga. I just want to thank him for his special words towards the staff and towards myself. I am quite happy if we have a big surplus and the Budget looks very sound that we give Mr Ridgard, the Postmaster-General designate, all the credit. I am also quite happy to take the blame should we have a deficit. I am easy about these things because I have an excellent staff.
Some of the things that the hon member mentioned, for instance the monitoring of our expenditure, are done monthly. Everything is automated now. The hon member also mentioned self-analysis. That was the “something” that I said I could not mention because it was said in another House this afternoon—that we should always try to improve and review our shortcomings. The hon member here has said the same thing and I think it is a credit to the hon member who said it in the other House.
I receive quarterly reports of our overall situation, over which I keep a very close watch. We have regular discussions. Our Deputy Postmaster-General: Finance and Data Processing informs us from time to time of what is happening. We have instituted another deputy post in order to spread the workload and we continuously strive for higher productivity. Of course, I cannot promise a decrease in the tariffs. Putting them up is bad enough. I would hate to bring them down and then have to push them up again. [Interjections.] I thank the hon member for his very interesting contribution.
Concerning the hon member for Hillbrow, I should like to mention one point again. The hon member for Johannesburg North said that the perks which the Post Office officials get should be taken away, while the hon member for Hillbrow says that the perks should stay. So I am not quite sure what I am expected to do. In any case, this is something we can deal with again later.
There are three things …
Yes, but I do not want to go into that again, as I have explained to the hon member.
I want, however, to draw his attention to an important point. The hon member said the provision for depreciation and for higher replacement costs of assets is a book entry. That is ridiculous! Those are not book entries; they relate to actual money. We budget for a certain amount of income, and we show these two items under expenditure, namely, provision for depreciation and for higher replacement costs of assets. From there it is transferred to our capital expenditure. Does the hon member think we place our capital expenditure in a vacuum? This is actually an amount which leads to our not having to borrow so much externally. Yet the hon member talks about a book entry! It has to be included in our expenditure because it is covered by our income. I think that should be plain. The member for Hillbrow should ask the hon member for Yeoville; he will explain. I am sure he understands, even though I have stated the position in only a few words. [Interjections.]
There are no book entries in our Budget. The amount is actually some R400 million in respect of expenditure. We receive the income and then we transfer it to capital. [Interjections.] The hon member should understand that.
The surplus of last year was effected mainly because we instituted savings. We cut R100 million out of our capital expenditure because we did not want to reflect a deficit balance. There is a difference between budgeted estimates and my balance sheet. The hon member who spoke the other day did not understand this. I go to the banks with a complete balance sheet at the end of our particular financial year. It is in that balance sheet that the surplus of R29 million is reflected. However, in the estimates a deficit of R131 million is reflected. I do not show that to the banks. That is only a “guesstimate”. [Interjections.] When, however, I show them the actual balance sheet at the end of the financial year they are able to see what the actual position is. [Interjections.]
I think the hon member will concede that if we can manage this year to earn what we are hoping to earn, we will be well away in respect of our capital expenditure. This will then enable us to expand our infrastructure—to instal more telephones, lay more lines and instal more exchanges. Then we will really start generating income.
As the hon member for Umhlanga said, this is a very difficult year. Thus we had to “bite the bullet” and raise the tariffs. However, we were able to raise them with a completely clear conscience because we were intent on expanding our infrastructure. We are not going to use this money for unnecessary development. We have planned for years ahead. In fact, a lot of the equipment is already on its way and a lot of it is being manufactured. I cannot stop these operations now. If I do so, thousands of people in our electronics industry will lose their jobs. The Post Office has helped to build up the electronics industry in this country.
While I was listening to the hon member I thought about a nickname for him. The hon member for Hillbrow was juggling with my figures—he brought my surplus right down to about R211 million, then he made it even smaller, so that for a moment I thought he was going to say I did not need any money at all and thus did not need to raise tariffs this year—to such an extent that I want to call him “the juggler from Hillbrow”. The hon member will acquire the nickname of the juggler of Hillbrow because he juggles with figures and makes up his own figures in an effort to affect my Budget.
*As regards the hon member for Nigel, I admitted in my reply to the second reading debate that there were many people who were suffering hardships and that I had the utmost sympathy with these people. This does not mean however that they are living completely below the breadline. In the Post Office we are trying our best. During the past two years we have adjusted salaries and granted increases which gave our people far higher salaries than they were earning two or three years ago. When we have an upsurge in our economy again, I shall go out of my way to recompense them for the sacrifice we are now asking them to make. These people know that we will not leave them in the lurch and fail to look after them properly.
The hon member for Alberton pointed out very interesting figures to us indicating why it was so important to increase tariffs. If one considers what the hon member said and the way in which he said it, we realize why it is so important that hon members should participate in these debates and make constructive contributions like the one that hon member made.
I thank the hon member for Alberton for his contribution and I am certain that the reasons he furnished as to why we need this money were extremely important, and that is what one expects to hear at a Third Reading. I want to thank the hon member very much.
The hon member for Boksburg made a plea for our private suppliers and also issued a warning about disinvestment from America. Actually we receive a minimal quantity of computer equipment from America and many alternative sources are available. We are really not in a predicament because the Americans have been refusing for quite a number of years to supply this country with computer equipment since they are afraid this country might use it for military purposes. We kept a close watch on them, and now we in fact have many suppliers, at home and abroad, in many friendly countries, which will prevent our ever finding ourselves in a predicament as the hon member fears.
The hon member for Alberton also furnished an analysis of the growth we are experiencing and indicated it by means of figures. One cannot grow without having productivity and without having money to spend. That is all we are asking for, money to spend—not recklessly, not wastefully and not on unnecessary things—but simply to enable us to install the properly planned equipment which is necessary.
Mr Chairman, the hon member for Potgietersrus has asked quite a number of times, and I also want to ask the hon the Minister, why Marble Hall cannot get an automatic exchange this year.
I promised the hon member that such an exchange would be constructed in 1986, and would be in operation in 1987. That is the quickest we are able to do it, but we shall ensure that there are enough people with cleft sticks to run around with the messages. [Interjections.]
The hon member for Boksburg also discussed the locally manufactured modems. The installation of Diginet has to a large extent eliminated the present modems. I think it was at the insistence of the private sector that the Post Office withdrew from the modern market. The local manufacturers of modems are now at liberty to make direct purchases and to maintain the equipment without any restrictions. Consequently we have already gone a long way towards the privatization of many of these things, and we are looking at other items to which we can also apply privatization.
I have already dealt with the speeches made by the hon members for Umhlanga, Nigel, Boksburg, Alberton and Hillbrow.
I just want to say once again, as the hon member for Boksburg put it, that it is an historic moment for me to close the Third Reading debate in this House. Without saying what happened in the other Houses or what certain other members said, I can say that it was an experience to attend discussions in the three Houses. People who think these were mere nondescript discussions would do well to look at the Hansard. In all the Houses the hon members who participated at least examined the issues closely, verified their facts and obtained assistance from the officials who gave it generously. I found that the discussion, particularly during the Committee Stage in one of the other Houses, was used by hon members to talk about their local problems, constituencies, exchanges and telephones. Here and there, remarks were made which I would perhaps also have made if I had been a member there. Nevertheless I think these can be dealt with because they have an opportunity to tackle the responsible Minister himself, to talk to him and to speak up on behalf of their people. We have had that same privilege for many years in this House.
I want to point out once again that the discussions in all the Houses were of a high calibre. A good spirit prevailed. As the hon member for Hillbrow said, these debates allow one to examine many sections of the Post Office very critically. Yet I can give the House the assurance that the Post Office organization does not belong to me or to the Management, but to the country. It belongs to Parliament and the fewer random shots that are fired and the fewer derogatory remarks that are made about the Post Office as such, the better it will be for the image we are trying to convey.
I thank all the hon members for their contributions.
Question agreed to.
Bill read a Third Time.
Fair copy of Bill certified and transmitted to the State President for his assent.
Mr Chairman, I move:
The House adjourned at