House of Assembly: Vol2 - MONDAY 18 MARCH 1985

MONDAY, 18 MARCH 1985 Report of Proceedings at Joint Sitting (excluding introductory speeches on Bills) Prayers—14h15. REPORTS OF STANDING COMMITTEES Mr SPEAKER:

announced that on Friday, 15 March, he had received reports from the Standing Committees on Transport Affairs and Mineral and Energy Affairs submitting the Advertising on Roads and Ribbon Development Amendment Bill [No 58—85 (GA)] and the Electricity Amendment Bill [No 60a and b—85 (GA)], respectively, which had been referred to them. The reports would be printed in the Minutes of Proceedings of each House, and he had placed the Bills concerned on the Agenda for Second Reading today, and on the Order Papers of the Houses.

The House met at 16h42.


laid upon the Table:

Universities for Blacks, Technikons (Education and Training) and Education and Training Amendment Bill [No 69—85 (GA)]—(Standing Committee on Co-operation, Development and Education).

To be referred to the appropriate Standing Committee, unless the House decides otherwise within three sitting days.


as Chairman, presented the Fourth Report of the Standing Select Committee on Transport Affairs, relative to the Advertising on Roads and Ribbon Development Amendment Bill [No 58—85 (GA)], as follows:

The Standing Committee on Transport Affairs having considered the subject of the Advertising on Roads and Ribbon Development Amendment Bill [No 58—85 (GA)], referred to it, your Committee begs to report the Bill without amendment.



Committee Rooms


15 March 1985.

Bill to be read a second time.


as Chairman, presented the Fifth Report of the Standing Select Committee on Mineral and Energy Affairs, relative to the Electricity Amendment Bill [No 60—85 (GA)], as follows:

The Standing Committee on Mineral and Energy Affairs having considered the subject of the Electricity Amendment Bill [No 60—85 (GA)], referred to it, your Committee begs to report the Bill with amendments [No 60a—85 (GA)]. Your Committee wishes to recommend that the Minister of Mineral and Energy Affairs be requested to instruct the proposed Electricity Council to investigate and report upon the advisability of making the auditing of the accounts of Escom subject to audit by the Auditor-General in terms of the Exchequer and Audit Act, 1975, (No 66 of 1975).



Committee Rooms


15 March 1985.

Bill to be read a second time.


Mr Chairman, further to the announcement made by my colleague the hon the Minister of Finance earlier this afternoon on social pensions and allowances, by your leave it is my privilege, for the first time in this capacity, to make known the following proposals, namely that with effect from 1 October 1985:

  1. (a) Social pensions, settlers’ allowances and parents’ allowances are being increased by R14 per month from R166 to R180 per month, an increase of 8,4%;
  2. (b) maintenance grants, family allowances and allowances payable in respect of the children of settlers are being increased by R3 per child per month from R51 to R54 per child per month, an increase of 5,8%;
  3. (c) maintenance allowances payable to persons kept in single care or in licensed institutions are being increased by R14 per month from R166 to R180 per month, an increase of 8,4%;
  4. (d) foster-parent allowances are being increased by R8 per month from R114 to R122 per month, an increase of 7%;
  5. (e) attendants’ allowances are being increased by R6 per month from R20 to R26 per month, an increase of 30%; and
  6. (f) the income limit of the means test is being extended by an amount of R168 per year, which will bring the limit to R2 160 per year.

It is estimated that the above concessions will involve an expenditure of R19,5 million in the coming financial year.

It has also been decided to assist further social pensioners who, because of the present economic climate, are finding it even more difficult to make ends meet, by the payment of a one-off bonus of R36 during May 1985. It is estimated that the payment of this bonus will amount to a further expenditure of R7,4 million.

The Government would have liked to do a lot more for the aged and the needy in our community but, for reasons which are well known, the funds for further concessions are simply not available.

I may point out that in accordance with the Government’s desire gradually to narrow the gap in benefits payable to the various race groups, the improvements, as announced, are the same for everyone.


Mr Chairman, by your leave, with reference to my colleague and the announcement made by the hon the Minister of Finance on social pensions and allowances earlier this afternoon, it is a pleasant privilege for me to make known the following proposals concerning Black beneficiaries, namely that with effect from 1 October 1985:

  1. (a) All social pensions, parents’ allowances and maintenance grants payable to persons kept in single care or in licensed institutions are being increased by R14 per month, which means that the maximum amount payable is being increased from R65 to R79 per month;
  2. (b) allowances payable in respect of children are being increased by R3 per child per month;
  3. (c) attendants’ allowances are being increased by R6 per month; and
  4. (d) Foster-parent grants are being increased by R8 per month.

From 1 October 1985 the income limit of the means test will also be adjusted. It is estimated that these concessions will involve an expenditure of R59,4 million in the coming financial year.

It has further been decided to assist Black social pensioners—like those of the other population groups—who are all, because of the present economic climate, finding it even more difficult to make ends meet, by the payment of a one-off bonus of R36 during May 1985. It is estimated that the payment of this bonus will amount to a further expenditure of R25 million.

Hon members will notice that the concessions to Black beneficiaries are exactly the same in monetary terms as those granted to equivalent beneficiaries of the other population groups. This step is a serious attempt, in very difficult circumstances, to narrow the gap that exists between the benefits of Black beneficiaries and the other population groups. I want, however, to repeat the warning of my colleague the hon the Minister of Finance, that an similar acceleration of the process of narrowing the gap may not be possible on every future occasion of adjustment, for fiscal reasons.


Introductory Speech delivered at Joint Sitting on 4 March


Mr Speaker, I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The new Co-operatives Act of 1981, which replaced the previous Act of 1939, has now been in operation for approximately three years. The practical implementation of the new Act during this period indicated that a few relatively minor adjustments to the provisions of the Act were essential, mainly to delete provisions which serve no practical purpose and also to obviate differences of opinion with regard to the interpretation of certain other provisions.

It has also been found necessary to propose a number of amendments in respect of matters pertaining to the internal operations of co-operatives, which may therefore be considered to be of a domestic nature. The Bill under discussion has been drafted for this purpose and I wish to refer briefly to a few of the provisions.

The requirement that places, other than branches, where a co-operative sells its products should be authorized by the relevant statute is being deleted because this has been found to be unduly restrictive and serves no real purpose.

Another requirement which serves no practical purpose is the one in terms of which applications for the incorporation of an agricultural co-operative must be accompanied by a schedule reflecting the occupations of the applicants. It is being proposed that this requirement, and also the corresponding one in terms of which the occupations of the members must be entered in the register of members of an agricultural co-operative, be deleted.

†It is also being proposed that provision be made in the Act that a co-operative shall always display its full name, and not just an abbreviation thereof, on the outside of its registered offices and other places where its business is carried out. This will also apply in respect of notices and other documents issued by co-operatives.

A proposed amendment is also contained in the Bill to make it clear that, for the purposes of calculating the extent of the non-member business of an agricultural co-operative, the members of an affiliated trading cooperative will not be regarded as affiliated members of the agricultural co-operative. Certain provisions of a domestic nature for co-operatives are also included in the Bill to better regulate the existing provisions with regard to this statutory pledge.

I may in conclusion mention that several interested groups have been afforded an opportunity to comment and make representations regarding the provisions of the Bill. The Bill in its present form has been drafted with due regard to such comments and representations.

Second Reading resumed


Mr Speaker, the Official Opposition will be supporting this measure. In doing so, however, I must say that we are pleased that clause 7 of the Bill has been amended. In its original form this clause would have extended the powers of co-operatives so as to enable them to act as agents for their members in the sale or letting of property. This provision would have infringed heavily on the activities of platteland lawyers or others who depend on the handling of such transactions for the bulk of their business.

The favoured position which co-operatives have held in the past—and still hold today, although to a slightly reduced extent—was responsible for the squeezing out of many small-town businessmen. Whether or not this was desirable or necessary, does not concern us here. However, it will be a matter for concern if such a situation is encouraged by legislation in the future.

Although we are supporting the Bill, we are not entirely uncritical of the principal Act. I would like to take this opportunity to raise a few matters pertaining to the entire co-operative movement. It is obvious that the movement has played a major role in the history and development of South African agriculture. No one would deny the importance of this role. The movement has developed into an enormously powerful force, and legislation such as we are passing today serves to consolidate the movements’ already powerful position. There are, however, fairly conspicuous signs that all is not well with the co-operatives. One can detect a growing sense of concern among the supporters of co-operatives and their affiliates in the agricultural world.

The first problem seems to be that of efficiency. There is evidence which suggests that some of our co-operatives have grown so large that they have become inefficient. It would appear that they are in danger of losing touch with their most important clients and supporters, the grassroots producer or farmer. There is concern that because of their size and power, these co-operatives can apparently no longer be held to account for their actions or policies by the small members. These members point out that very often goods are bought at co-operatives, not because they are cheaper or better but simply because all opposition has been eliminated, and the co-operative enjoys the monopoly of business in the town or area. It is claimed that because of the co-operatives’ apparently insatiable desire to use their favoured position to eliminate all competitors in the private sector, they are no longer competitive. Size alone does not guarantee efficiency. Farmers appear to welcome competition in the market as this enables them to shop around for the best deal. This is, after all, the essence of the free market system to which we are all committed.

It will doubtless be argued that if co-operatives are to be able to compete successfully against the giants in the private sector, they themselves must be large and powerful. No one would deny the validity of this argument, but I believe that there is no merit in a large, powerful co-operative which, having eliminated its competitors, is then subsequently incapable of giving its supporters or shareholders a better deal. There is no evidence to suggest that size alone can improve competitive power.

It has long been the contention of the private sector, with justification, that the co-operative movement is the favoured son of the State. I refer here to privileges such as access to subsidized finance, the competitive advantage extended through the co-operative lien, the compulsory system of single channel marketing in competition with the private system, and permission to pay bonuses out of profits.

Furthermore, it has been alleged that insufficient progress has been made in the implementation of the so-called package deal agreed to in 1979 by the private and public sector representatives at that time. As a consequence there are still many matters causing concern to the private sector.

We therefore have a situation in which there is a great deal of dissatisfaction both within and outside the movement. I believe that pressure from the private sector to eliminate provisions in the Co-operatives Act which undermine the principles of effective competition central to a market economy, will continue to grow. Unless the co-operative movement can show very effectively that it is using its privileged position to benefit the farming community, it will have difficulty in justifying both its privileges and its functions. If this becomes the case, the co-operatives may well find difficulty in justifying their existence in the future.


Mr Chairman, I should very much like to thank the hon member for Albany for supporting the legislation. He referred specifically to clause 7, and I shall come back to that later. We do not, however, have a problem as far as that is concerned, because it is the intention not to proceed with that clause.

The hon member for Albany referred inter alia to the problems that have in fact arisen in the co-operative movement, and to the points of dispute between the private sector on the one hand and the co-operative agricultural sector on the other. I agree 100% with him that the co-operative movement and co-operatives in general have in various ways played an extremely important role in South Africa, particularly in that it contributed greatly to South Africa becoming the only country in the continent of Africa which is today a net exporter of food. South Africa is the only country in Africa which is self-sufficient in respect of food production. What is more, it is one of only six countries in the world that are net exporters of food. I ascribe that to a large extent to the role the co-operatives have played in South Africa over the last 60 years.

It is actually quite interesting that the hon member for Albany referred to the problem of co-operatives which are too big and which are not always equally efficient. I want to say immediately that in my view he is right. It can so easily lead to a wrong course being followed if organizations adopt the attitude that the larger they become, the better they are able to withstand competition. I believe that one of the biggest problems of co-operatives is that they are inclined to fight and differ amongst themselves while they should much rather join forces by way of existing umbrella organizations such as the Co-operative Board. That will enable them to act in the true interests of the producer and also of the consumer, often against very large conglomerates which do not always act in the interests of the consumer.

The hon member for Albany also referred to the problem the ordinary member often experiences to have his voice heard within a co-operative. It seems to me that the hon member for Mooi River recently at the so-called tractor procession in Pietermaritzburg …


The tractor circus.


… or the tractor circus, as the hon the Deputy Minister says, also referred to …


It was not a circus of tractor drivers.


No, I want to agree with the hon member for Mooi River that on that occasion very important things were said and important decisions were taken. I want to say to the hon member for Mooi River and also to the hon member for Albany that a member of a co-operative must never allow the situation to develop that his voice cannot be heard within that cooperative. A co-operative is one of the best examples of a total democracy and, if a member of a co-operative feels that his voice is not being heard within the co-operative, in my view it is to a large extent his own fault and he must make sure that he is heard.

Speaking of problems in the sphere of cooperatives, I should very much like to make the point today that the time of cost-plus is a thing of the past for good. I think we were possibly inclined—and this fits in very well with the hon member for Albany’s remark about efficiency, because not only the efficiency of the co-operative but also that of the individual farmer is involved—to yield to the temptation, under the umbrella created by the Co-operatives Act, to use the cost-plus method too readily. Producers felt they simply had to recover their additional costs each year. This in turn led to inefficiency. In the society and economy in which we find ourselves today we can no longer be satisfied with mediocre achievements. Today only the best is good enough, also in the agricultural industry.

The hon member for Albany referred to the history of co-operatives and it is a very interesting history. Before the first Co-operative Societies Act came into being in 1922 co-operatives were completely at the mercy of the world at large. The Co-operative Societies Act of 1922 made a very big difference and resulted in hundreds of co-operatives being established. Consequently there are today more than 500 agricultural co-operatives in existence. Each of the approximately 70 000 farmers in South Africa today belongs, on average, to four co-operatives.

I do also believe, however, that, since we are today talking as co-operators, farmers and officials of co-operatives, we must admit that some co-operatives—it is no use denying it—exceed their powers. Many co-operatives have begun to undertake things for which they were not originally established. That is why one of the amendments contained in this Amendment Bill provides that the auditor must now specifically certify that the things a co-operative undertook in the preceding year are in accord with the provisions in its statute.

Over the years it was necessary to adjust the Co-operatives Act and that was therefore done in 1922, 1939 and 1981. The Act of 1981—and we were all in agreement four years ago—was a very marked improvement on the previous Act. The amendments introduced by this Bill without doubt further improve the existing Act.

The hon member for Albany also referred to the package agreement. I am aware that these days quite a lot of criticism is expressed by the private sector about the fact that the so-called watchdog committee they want established has not yet come into being. I remember well that the hon member for Barberton was still the chairman of our agricultural group when this legislation was mooted. At the time we made it very clear that it was never part of the package agreement that such a watchdog committee be established.


You were wrong, Kobus.


That voter of mine must be quiet now. From the first we said that the Registrar of Co-operatives served exactly the same purpose in the cooperative industry as they expected the watchdog committee to serve. I find this a very interesting situation. If one directs an inquiry to the Registrar of Co-operatives, one will find that no outside person has yet used that right to lodge a complaint with him. He does, however, receive complaints from the co-operative movement itself in respect of duplication, etc.

I should like to deal very briefly with the amendments to be effected by this Amendment Bill. I want to say at once that I agree with the hon member for Albany that these amendments are internal amendments. They in no way affect the position between the farmer or the co-operative and the outside world, with the possible exception of clause 7 which is now not to be proceeded with. All these amendments will be placed on the Statute Book at the request of the Co-operative Board.

The first amendment concerns the lien of co-operatives’. In that connection the original section 173 is now being amended by clause 20. Under the present Act the position is, unfortunately, that only the co-operative of which the person concerned has been a member the longest holds a lien over that person’s harvest or whatever. That is now being amended to provide that all the co-operatives of which that person is a member and from which he obtained production credit will hold a lien over his harvest. That is a vital and effective amendment.

A second important amendment is related to the control of the business of non-members. Trading co-operatives and consumers’ co-operatives can now become members of agricultural co-operatives, and the danger existed that the member of a consumers’ cooperative would be under the impression that he was indirectly a member of the agricultural co-operative and in that way could do business. An end is now being put to that.

Those are two of the most important amendments in this new Amendment Bill. It gives me pleasure to support the legislation.

*Mr C UYS:

Mr Chairman, we listened attentively to the short but pithy and very interesting debate on this piece of legislation on the co-operative movement as such. I, too, should like to say something in this connection. The hon member for Albany referred, if I understood him correctly, to the say or the possible control an ordinary member of a co-operative will have in the workings of a co-operative. He sees this as a flaw. This may be so, but in that respect the ordinary agricultural co-operative is in exactly the same position as the ordinary shareholder of innumerable public companies. Nowadays he also has to read in the Press what the board of directors has decided.

The danger does exist that some co-operatives may perhaps grow too large and become empires. Perhaps the time has come for us to take a serious look at that. The fact remains, however, that no one who is involved in agriculture in South Africa today can or wants to shut his mind to the co-operative movement in South Africa. Indeed, I cannot imagine how agriculture in South Africa today could survive without the cooperative institutions. In the past a vast number of small co-operatives were established and because of financial considerations—perhaps also because of a lack of management skills—many of them did not survive, and the service they provided to the farming community was not as effective as it ought to have been. Thus in the past we had a situation in which several of the small cooperatives were absorbed into larger co-operatives. I believe, however—and I do not want to spend much time on this—that perhaps the time has now come for the co-operative movement, of its own accord, to begin a process of self-examination. The co-operative movement must ask itself the question—and also try to answer that question itself—whether it still fulfils the demands that constituted its original aims when it was established as a co-operative. Is it, as a cooperative, still the instrument that, by means of collective bargaining on behalf of its members, offers its members, as farmers, cheaper inputs into agriculture; yes or no?

The hon member for Paarl said one of the problems he perceived was the fact that our co-operatives sometimes tended to compete with one another instead of co-operating. This could possibly be the case. There is now, however, another problem that we encounter in the world of the profit motive. This is that the moment competition is ruled out, it no longer contributes to the promotion of efficiency.

Mr Chairman, I happen to find myself in a industry in which several co-operatives existed. I refer to the wool industry. At one time we thought it a good idea to propose that the co-operatives in the wool industry amalgamate to form one mighty wool co-operative. At that time, of course, we had our misgivings about the question of what would really in fact be in our interests. Would that larger co-operative promote greater efficiency; yes or no?

One thing, however, did indeed happen. Perhaps I am being unnecessarily critical now. The fact that competition was ruled out, definitely meant that the quality of service provided by the wool co-operatives to which many of us had belonged was no longer what it had been in the past, when there had indeed been competition.


Hear, hear!

*Mr C UYS:

This is in fact the case. Indeed, I say this with the little responsibility at my disposal.

If I may further react briefly to what the hon member for Paarl said in connection with the fact that compensation of cost-plus for farmers is a thing of the past, I want to ask whether we could argue about this on some other occasion. I do, however, want to ask just one question in this connection. Has the time not come to examine the remuneration of agricultural suppliers who, regardless of efficiency, determine their own remuneration on the basis of cost-plus? I am now referring in particular to the fertilizer industry, as well as to one or two other industries.

Mr Chairman, we are happy to support the present legislation. If, however, we want to have a proper and worthwhile debate on the role and the aim of co-operatives and their activities in our country, I believe that perhaps next year or so we should request the hon member for Paarl to move a private member’s motion. Then we shall be able to do more justice to this topic.

In conclusion, I should just like to mention the following. I, too, attended the so-called circus in Pietermaritzburg—that is how it is referred to in certain circles. I, of course, do not believe it was a circus. I had never in my life seen such a large group of concerned and responsible farmers gathered together as I saw on that day in Pietermaritzburg.


Mr Chairman, right at the outset I should just like to refer briefly to the work done by the standing committee which considered this Bill beforehand. In this regard I should like to extend a word of thanks to the officials who assisted us there and also to the members of the standing committee in person. If I may be so bold, I should also like to refer specifically to the hon member for Barberton who, I believe, can make a substantial contribution in the standing committee. In the course of time the hon member for Barberton will possibly come to agree with us that it is a system that can work very well. I believe it can also to an extent influence his political views. However, I say that in lighter vein. I am also glad to be the next speaker after the hon member for Barberton. In my opinion he made a substantial contribution. The same goes for the hon member for Albany. I wonder if it is not true to say that, in respect of all the parties in the House, the agricultural groups of those parties are perhaps the best groups. Judging by the debate here today, it seems to me that that may be the case.

As regards the Bill under discussion, it is noteworthy that a considerable number of the clauses are specifically aimed at the application of greater discipline within the cooperative movement itself. It is, furthermore, a fact that these clauses have been inserted in the amending Bill with the concurrence and the approval of the co-operative movement. I want to refer specifically to clauses 8, 11, 12 and 13, and also to clause 21 which is a penalty clause. All these clauses have been incorporated in the Bill with the agreement of the co-operative movement. That is indicative of a responsible approach.

It is true that the co-operative movement plays a very important role in the whole farming set-up in South Africa. The hon member for Paarl referred, I believe, to the fact that upwards of 70 000 of South Africa’s farmers belong to agricultural co-operatives. Many of them even belong to more than one co-operative. It is also a fact that there are a few hundred agricultural co-operatives in operation in the agricultural industry. As far as I could determine, their turnover amounts to more than R5 000 million annually. Having regard to that, one appreciates the tremendous proportions the co-operative movement have assumed in the agricultural industry. One then also realizes that, if the co-operative movement is not kept intrinsically sound, the South African farmer will be the first to suffer.

It is therefore necessary to look briefly at why the co-operative movement came into being. What was the reason for its inception? We must then concede that co-operatives came into being firstly to provide a service the private sector was not prepared to provide, because they had to operate in certain fields in which the private sector could not make a sufficiently large profit. It is also a fact that only by means of the system of co-operatives was it possible to make certain facilities—particularly storage facilities—available to the farming industry. That too could not be undertaken profitably enough by the private sector.

To be able to provide all these services, which had to be operated on a less profitable basis, it was necessary that the co-operative movement should enjoy certain statutory advantages. These advantages, previously provided for in law, also however entailed certain obligations that were placed on the cooperatives. The advantages, however, gave rise to certain fears in the private sector. I think other hon members have already referred in passing to the fear that existed in the private sector that its members could have certain of their business activities usurped. I want to refer specifically to one of these fears, as it also came to the fore in the previous debate we had on the co-operative movement in 1981, a fear that in the field of financing the co-operative movement would encroach on the private sector. There was the fear that the private sector’s role in the field of financing would be usurped.

It is interesting to see what the Steenkamp Commission had to say about this matter in its time. I refer in this regard to paragraph 837 of the commission’s report. It reads:

Objections to the automatic hen in favour of the co-operatives were raised by the other types of business, in particular by … manufacturing industry as well as by diverse financial institutions. The objections are, first, that the existence of the lien restricts the granting of credit to the farmers by businesses other than the cooperatives and, secondly, that it constitutes unfair discrimination in favour of the co-operatives.

In paragraph 838 the commission continues:

It may very well be that the lien has a restrictive effect upon the granting of credits to the farmers by other businesses, but the “disastrous” effects feared by the 1934 commission have not materialized. Indeed, no proof whatsoever was adduced in the evidence to show that it has reduced the extension of credit from that side.

It is also interesting to see that private financing institutions in this field have not been detrimentally affected whatsoever and that this fear on the part of private initiative over the years has really not been substantiated.

I want to indicate to the House what the percentage contributions to agriculture were of the various financing firms, and then I should like to draw comparisons between the position in 1970 and the position in 1983. Let me quote some figures. The percentage of farming debt with general dealers, input suppliers, garages, doctors and others stood at 2,6% in 1970, and was virtually the same in 1983, namely 2,4%. The percentage of farming debt with other financial institutions stood at 19,1% in 1970, but the figure decreased slightly to 13,3% in 1983. It is interesting to note that the contribution of commercial banks to financing farming debt in the period from 1970 to 1983 rose from 23% to 30,2%.

That proves that, despite the fear that often exists in the private sector that the cooperative movement could usurp them in this field of the industry, that is not always borne out by what happens in practice. I have already cited a few examples.

Finally I want to refer to the package agreement, something to which the hon member for Albany also referred. Since he referred to it, I should also like to say something about it. It is true that the co-operative movement secured certain advantages by way of the package agreement. The advantages included participation in all activities related to production and handling. They have the advantage of the automatic lien. Nevertheless, I think we should look once again at what the Steenkamp Commission has to say about these advantages. I read from paragraph 841:

But the argument in favour of the lien can, in the view of the commission, be more forcefully stated. It is that by far the greater portion of the funds the co-operatives pass on as credit to the farmers comes from a Government institution which partly uses taxpayers’ money, charges a relatively low rate of interest for these funds and shows considerable leniency in times of difficulty.

It is true that the co-operatives also receive decentralization aid, but if we are base our argument on the viewpoint of the private sector, we must remember that these people have for a long time already enjoyed the decentralization benefits provided by the Industrial Development Corporation and also the Small Business Development Corporation. There is also the advantage that cooperatives pay out bonuses to their members.

There are also disadvantages attached to this. Undistributed profits would be taxable, and that has been the case since 1977. Then there are quite a number of disadvantages attached to the package agreement, but I do not want to discuss that in detail now. I think we can agree to say that the spirit of the package agreement is being honoured both by the co-operative movement and by private initiative.

It is fitting on such an occasion to quote from the telex received from the SA Federated Chamber of Industries. This specifically concerns this Amendment Bill. I quote from it:

There has been excellent consultation between the private sector and the Registrar of Co-operatives over this draft. The amendments seem to be in line with these decisions.

That is indicative of the good co-operation and understanding that exists between these two very important sectors of our economy. I have pleasure in supporting the Amendment Bill.


Mr Chairman, I would like to refer very briefly to some of the comments made by my friend the hon member for Paarl. I am very glad that he raised the question of the protest meeting that was held in Pietermaritzburg recently. I want to make it very clear to this House that it must not in any way underestimate the significance of that particular farmers’ gathering. For those of us who attended it—the hon member for Barberton, the hon member Mr Schutte and the hon member for Pietermaritzburg South—it was an unforgettable experience. I can assure the House that the feeling expressed at that meeting was something that none of the four of us will ever forget. The meeting carried a very distinct message, and I do want to make an appeal to the hon Minister that it should not in any way be underestimated or not fully appreciated.

I want to touch very briefly on my attitude in regard to the co-operative movement and to the legislation before us.

Having been involved for, many years in the agricultural sector, one acquires a certain knowledge of what has taken place in this particular sphere of the agricultural sector. When one studies the reasons for the co-operative movement having been brought into being in the first place, one must remember that it happened at a time when farmers were being ruthlessly exploited by processors, distributors and marketers of agricultural products.

The basis on which these co-operatives were originally formed was to market and sell the product of the farmer. The co-operatives were to be used also as a channel for the purchasing of agricultural commodities.

In the initial stages there were many small co-operatives and one must not overlook the significant contribution these small co-operatives made in the development of many rural communities. The infrastructure in and progress of a number of rural districts improved as a result of the co-operative movement coming into a rural area.

I am very concerned that, with the passage of time and the increase in the demands of the members of co-operatives, small co-operatives have tended to become absorbed by larger co-operatives. In fact, at one stage there was distinct competition among the larger co-operatives for the acquisition of smaller co-operatives. The stage has been reached, as the hon member for Albany has said, when a monopolistic tag is being attached to quite a few of the larger co-operatives in this country. One would question whether this is in the best interests of the agricultural sector and whether the attacks, that have been levelled at the monopolistic inroads co-operatives are making in the business sphere are not unjustified. There is no doubt that certain co-operatives have overreached themselves. On the other hand I do not wish in any way to minimize the success of many co-operatives in this country. I think the management of the majority of cooperatives in this country has been of a very high standard and that co-operatives themselves have benefited very considerably therefrom.

I agree with the hon member for Paarl in regard to the comments he made relating to a member’s point of view being made known to a co-operative. He says that it is the member’s fault if his voice is not heard in the cooperative. To a certain degree that is right, but I can assure him that in the larger co-operative this is almost an impossible achievement. However, I do think that we must remember one thing, namely that the members own the co-operative and nobody else.

Aspects that give cause for concern in the agricultural sector relate to the question of the central buying co-operative organizations which do not pass on its a sufficient percentage of the discount they receive from manufacturers or wholesalers to their members. I received a report about a co-operative which agreed to finance the installation of irrigation equipment amounting to R100 000, and by the time the farmer had to pay for the final installation of that plant, he was called upon to pay something like R140 000. There are cases too where discounts on production loans have been as high as 30% and yet only 5% has been passed on to the member. What I think is particularly worrying, is the fact that certain co-operatives are indulging in attempts to obtain exclusive franchise rights. This is contrary to the free enterprise spirit and in the long term is a highly undesirable practice to embark upon.

Dealing briefly with the Bill itself, may I refer particularly to the one aspect which I think is worthy of comment in regard to clause 7(a). Provision is now being made here for smaller co-operatives to gain access to the utilization of certain equipment such as computer equipment, belonging to the larger co-operatives, without having to involve themselves in the expenditure this would normally entail. I am also very much aware of the tightening up of restrictions placed on co-operatives doing business with non-members. This has also been referred to in the Steenkamp Commission Report.

The most important clause is perhaps clause 20 in terms of which the restriction in respect of an 18 month period of repayment for production loans is now being extended. One appreciates the fact that provision is now also being made for the spreading of the risk factor in relation to production loans to other co-operatives on a proportional basis to the debts incurred.

Finally I would like to commend the officials of the department strongly for the excellent documentary presentation that they made available to the standing committee which dealt with this legislation.


Mr Chairman, I firstly wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to hon members of both sides of the House for the support they have given this legislation. At the same time, they also expressed very interesting criticism of the co-operative movement in South Africa.

The hon member for Albany is concerned about the question of co-operatives that are too large—as he put it: “They cannot keep in touch with all the farmers.” This could perhaps contain a degree of valid criticism, but I think that before one looks at this aspect very critically, one must first look at the general historical development of the co-operative movement in South Africa.

I want to tell you at the outset that if cooperatives had remained as small as they were in the past, I do not think the co-operative movement in South Africa would have occupied the position it occupies today, since it is true that more conglomerates and more take-overs have begun to emerge in the business world. If co-operatives had not begun to move in this direction as well, in the sense that larger co-operatives have taken over smaller co-operatives, or that smaller co-operatives have decided to amalgamate of their own accord, thereby obtaining greater bargaining power in the commercial world, the co-operative movement in South Africa would have suffered and had no noteworthy influence in the commercial world, particularly in respect of agricultural aspects. Consequently, I do not think we should take that criticism too far.

I must also say that some of the larger cooperatives in South Africa have organized themselves in such a way that opportunities are in fact being created for the individual farmer to have a say from time to time. In fact, at the annual meetings of these larger co-operatives—I have experience of this, and the hon member for Barberton knows what I am talking about—the prices of large chain stores are even compared with the prices of certain goods the co-operatives are permitted to keep on their shelves. The cooperatives are therefore continually being assessed on the basis of prices elsewhere in the business world.

We are grateful to be able to say that the co-operative movement in South Africa has already established itself so well that its capital assets amounted to R3 400 million in 1980. They had increased to R6 600 million by 1984. That is an increase of 91%. Of course, this does not necessarily reflect the financial position of the co-operative movement since, as result of very difficult years, its reserves have declined from 19,5% to 17,5% over this period. Even it share capital has declined.

This is a very important aspect of the cooperative movement, since capital formation is not as easy or as simple in the co-operative industry as it is in public companies. This is something that is displeasing. Capital formation is a problem in the co-operative industry, and as a result of this problem, the present ratio between their own capital and capital from other sources in the funds of agricultural co-operatives is not at all healthy. Their profits have in fact increased during this period. They have increased from R36,4 million in 1971 to R169 million in 1984, whilst the turnover has increased much quicker than the percentage profit that could have been made. The financial position of the co-operatives is therefore not that healthy, for the very reason that there is very strict control over the members of a cooperative in respect of the profit it can make. I want to give a specific co-operative as an example. It is not a co-operative in the Eastern Transvaal, but one in the Central Transvaal, which is regarded as one of the largest primary co-operatives in the Southern hemisphere. Over the past three years its profit has fluctuated between 2% and 1,2%. It does not make huge profits—it does in fact have a large turnover because the principle is still built in to the co-operative movement that it is not really set on the profit motive. However, no business undertaking can survive without making a profit.

Another facet has also come to the fore which the hon member must take into account, viz that during the present session an amendment has been effected to the Maintenance and Promotion of Competition Act, an amendment which means that the so-called monopoly developing in the co-operative movement is being properly brought under control in the Act. In the Act provision is made for the member of the co-operative movement to sit on the Competition Board, firstly to inform the Competition Board fully about the co-operative movement and its circumstances in South Africa, but also to prevent co-operatives from becoming involved in a monopolistic situation unnecessarily, which would also be harmful to the producers in South Africa. The hon member for Albany need therefore not to be concerned that co-operatives could develop into monopolies. The Act of my colleague, the Minister of Trade and Industry, will see to that. This is being done in co-operation with the co-operative movement, which is represented on the body concerned.

Hon members also raised the question of the watchdog committee. I know that this was an issue in 1981. My predecessor, the then hon Minister, expressed himself very strongly on this standpoint. He gave the undertaking that a committee would be constituted under the chairmanship of the Registrar of Co-operatives to take up certain matters from time to time in respect of which the private sector was complaining that they were not being dealt with in terms of the package agreement. The SA Agricultural Union did not want to participate in this committee. I cannot force them to do so. Participation is completely voluntary. Nor is provision made for this in the Act. However, an arrangement was made with the Registrar of Co-operatives that if the “private sector”—the co-operative movement is in essence part of the private sector—or part of the private sector should say that the co-operative movement is not doing its duty in respect of the package agreement, talks could be held on an ad hoc basis to see whether the rules had been adhered to. I am aware of certain complaints in this regard, and they will be properly investigated in due course.

As hon members are aware, the package agreement was eventually taken up in the Act of 1981, which we are now amending to make further provision for the co-operatives to remain within the objectives of the provisions of the Act. I am referring, inter alia, to clause 8, which introduces proper restrictions with regard to membership of co-operatives so that business cannot be concluded with non-members. Hon members will see that provision is made in clause 8 that only affiliated members of primary and special farmers’ co-operatives can be served, not members of trade co-operatives who are members of primary and a special farmers’ co-operative. In this way, one is then limiting the danger of people who do not participate in agriculture actively and in good faith, making use of the services of the primary cooperative system.

The hon member for Barberton mentioned one of our central co-operatives, viz the wool co-operative, which deals mainly with the marketing of this product. We know that in the past there have been various cooperatives in this field. I want to tell the hon member at the outset that the Wool Board and the NWGA, the National Wool Growers’ Association, are keeping a close watch on the activities of this large farmers’ co-operative. It therefore has to be on its toes. I am sure that if it is unable to carry out its function properly, the farmers are free to establish an alternative co-operative in opposition. [Interjections.] Thus far I have heard nothing in that regard.

*Mr C UYS:

I was not referring to the marketing; I was referring to the field services.


Even in the sphere of field services, there are talks in progress at present.

I may just say that at the recent Co-operative Congress a report was presented which was published by the University of Potchefstroom. I think the investigation concerned the overlapping of the activities of co-operatives, inter alia, competition between co-operatives where their services overlap. The investigation was carried out under the leadership of Prof Arangies. A very interesting aspect of the investigation which becomes apparent from the questionnaires sent to producers and individual co-operatives, is the predominant standpoint that there should be a degree of competition between co-operatives. I think this is a healthy trend, since in the past there have been continuous talks between co-operatives, and particularly central co-operatives, so that they do not overlap in respect of their services.

However, I want to warn—and I shall come to the hon member for Mooi River in a moment about the procession they had in Pietermaritzburg—that it is important that the co-operative movement must be able to co-operate in certain fields, notwithstanding the fact that they could be in competition with one another in certain respects. One of the complaints of the South African farmer at present is that his bargaining power against large cartels is such that prices increase on an irregular basis. One of the hon members referred to the fertilizer industry. I think the co-operative movement represents the channel through which the South African farmer can address his requests. The farmers have the necessary bargaining power to get the large fertilizer companies around a table, through the co-operative movement and the South African Agricultural Union, which has a fertilizer liaison committee, and to argue with them about certain problems in the industry, inter alia, the distribution of fertilizer in South Africa. We know—after all, it is a fact—that the co-operative movement in South Africa does a very large percentage of the financing of fertilizer in South Africa at present. In terms of the Act, this is one of the functions of co-operatives, since fertilizer is a primary input product, after all. I think that in that respect we can use the co-operative movement as an instrument to talk to these people.

Since the abolition of price control in the fertilizer industry, it seems as though there is a price war going on. However, a price war does not last for ever; at some stage the participants in that war get together and come to an agreement. After all, one cannot impose the Maintenance and Promotion of Competition Act on these people constantly. There must therefore be negotiation, and I believe that that is the path the farmers in South Africa could pursue. In fact, I want to tell the hon member for Mooi River—I told the delegation of the Natal Agricultural Union this as well—that this is the path they should pursue. I am sure that they are going to pursue that path, and that they are going to achieve sound results in the process.

Another very important amendment to the Act is contained in clause 20. In this clause provision is made for the extension of lien, which, apart from the other amendments that are being effected, is going to have very interesting implications for the production sectors in agriculture, in my opinion. In the past, lien was concentrated mainly on agricultural products due to their short production cycle. However, the proposed amendment provides that lien on the proceeds of certain products—I am thinking specifically of sugar now—continue to exist, even if it is over a period of two, three or even seven years. It is therefore going to have a stimulating effect on the meat industry, amongst others, which did not previously have the security, and consequently could not share in this privilege.

Another advantage of this amendment is that lien can now be utilized by various cooperatives, and not only by one co-operative, as was the case previously. Since the agricultural sector is in a very difficult stage at present, it is important that we approve an amendment of this nature.

I am convinced that these amendments can only improve the Co-operatives Act and that it will now be easier to handle administratively. I should like to thank hon members for their support.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Certified fair copy of Bill to be transmitted to the State President for his assent unless the House decides within three sitting days after the disposal thereof in all three Houses to refer the Bill to a committee.


Introductory Speech delivered at Joint Sitting on 11 March


Mr Speaker, I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The provisions of the SA Transport Services Amendment Bill entail amendments to six Acts which are applicable to Transport Services. I shall confine myself only to the important aspects of the Bill. Detailed motivations for the proposed amendments are contained in the explanatory memorandum.

The proposed amendment of section 9(22) of Act No 65 of 1981 is mainly intended to define in greater detail the powers of the South African Transport Services with regard to the acquisition and alienation of movable or immovable property. Deeds of grants in respect of immovable property which is to be alienated, are at present still being signed in terms of the State Land Disposal Act, 1961, because the SA Transport Services Act, 1981, does not make provision for this. The proposed amendment seeks to eliminate this deficiency.

The present provisions of subsection 45(8) of Act No 65 of 1981, which prohibit the publication of certain information relating to the Railway Police Force is based on the repealed section 27C of the Police Act, 1958. The latter section was deleted as a result of a recommendation of the Commission of Inquiry into Security Legislation and was also deleted in Act No 65 of 1981. A new subsection (8), which is in accordance with the provisions of section 27B of the Police Act, 1958, is being proposed.

In terms of section 2 of the Conditions of Employment (SA Transport Services) Act, 1983, the power to appoint an acting General Manager of Transport Services is vested in the State President. At times it is necessary to effect such appointments for a period of only one day. The purpose of the proposed amendment is to empower the Minister of Transport Affairs to effect such temporary appointments.

†Concerning clause 24 of the Bill, a policeman below the rank of commissioned officer who is in temporary employment, is entitled to 90 days’ notice on termination of his services on grounds other than a disciplinary infringement. The services of such a policeman are frequently terminated due to his complete unacceptability for retention in the S A Railways Police Force, often due to certain characteristics. During his period of notice such a policeman can place the Force, as well as Transport Services, in an embarrassing position, apart from claims which may arise out of his possible irresponsible action. His services cannot, for obvious reasons, always be utilized productively, which is not conducive to maintaining discipline in the S A Railways Police. The proposed reduction of the period of notice from 90 to 30 days will resolve the problem to a marked degree.

It is also proposed in the Bill that the monetary limits for which provision is made in sections 14 and 15 of the South African Transport Services Finances and Accounts Act, 1983, be increased. This step is necessary on account of the decline in money values. The powers of the General Manager of Transport Services are at the same time being brought into line with those of the Treasury and the Postmaster-General. Various other amendments are of a consequential nature.

Second Reading resumed


Mr Chairman, apart from the Budget, this is the first Bill in regard to the SATS that has been debated during this session. It is, therefore, the first amending Bill that has been placed before the Standing Committee on Transport Affairs. I wish to state at the outset that, in my view, this is a very interesting system. It does give one an opportunity of having a fuller debate on the nitty-gritty of a clause. It also gives one, I believe, more chance to bring about a worthwhile change in the legislation. The fact that this Bill went to the standing committee has, in my opinion, brought about a worthwhile change in it.

The Bill that we have in front of us today is without doubt a better Bill than was originally presented to this House. I do not believe that those changes would have been nearly as wide-ranging under the old system under which we would have debated this Bill last year. We do have a better Bill as a result but this is not to say that it could not have been improved still further. I believe this Bill could have been improved further in a number of instances.

While dealing with the standing committee, I want to say that obviously there were some problems within the Standing Committee on Transport Affairs. The first problem was having a quorum at our meetings. We did have to delay perhaps the implementation of this Bill and its passage through Parliament because we did not have a quorum on one occasion. As a result we could not meet until the following week. This Parliament is meant to be a five-day Parliament, not a four-day Parliament. Members are meant to be available for standing committee meetings on a Friday. [Interjections.] I want to ask the hon Chief Whip on the other side, who seems to think he knows more about the Standing Committee on Transport Affairs than members who serve on it, to join the debate on this Bill and give us the benefit of his great wisdom on the Standing Committee on Transport Affairs. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, he does not have his nose in that committee and I think we are all the better for it.

The quorum is one of the problems that we have and I believe this system of having to have three quorums in the Standing Committee on Transport Affairs should be dispensed with. I do not consider this a sensible system and I do not believe it should be continued. One quorum is what is necessary.

The second thing that became evident in the passage of this Bill was that the NP has a very definite strategy within standing committees. When it sees that matters in a standing committee are not going precisely as it would wish, when it finds that opposition to the Bill or to a clause of the Bill is such that things are not running along quite as smoothly as it would like and that opposition is mounting, the strategy has become quite apparent. It adjourns the standing committee. The committee then meets a week later and, when that meeting takes place a week later, a whole new atmosphere prevails in that standing committee. Quite obviously, there has been a lot of “konkeling”. [Interjections.] The alternative is that they have gone behind the scenes and used the big stick. So, at the next meeting all is sweetness and light. Everybody seems to agree very happily with the Government and the whole thing is a wonderful exercise in consensus. I would love to be a fly on the wall when that “konkeling” takes place or when that big stick is wielded. One wonders what is offered, what quid pro quo is offered to get agreement on these standing committees.

In this particular Bill and in the standing committee good as well as bad things happened. Let us first deal with the good news. The first bit of good news related to clause 15(b) in the original Bill. That clause was a bad one—there is no question about it. It suggested:

to execute harbour works in a harbour without incurring any common law liability for damage which may be caused outside the proclaimed harbour area as a result of such works.

That was fairly obviously a bad clause and the standing committee saw its way clear to dispensing with that clause altogether. I believe the legislation has been improved as a result of that clause having disappeared. It was a very bad clause, which should never have been there in the first place, and I hope we have seen the last of that type of “kragdadige” clause in this type of legislation. The Bill is the better without it.

The other bit of good news was in relation to clause 9 in the original Bill. I think most Opposition parties disapproved strongly of that clause, because what did it in fact do? Let me read it:

If a member leaves the Service …

That is the South African Transport Service:

… for any reason, the Administration shall have the right to recover from any benefit payable from the Pension Fund to such former member the amount of any loss or debt payable to the Administration by such member or former member (other than a loan referred to in section 8) as determined by the Administration.

The Administration could thus determine how much money the employee owed the SATS and they could then take that money away from that employee, money he had paid in to provide himself and his family with a pension. We believe that that was very bad legislation indeed. We moved an amendment in the standing committee to bring the situation in the SATS into line with the private sector. To this day I still do not see why the SATS should be treated differently to the transport sector in this regard. Section 19(1)(e) of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act No 3 of 1983, read as follows:

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

That is a very different thing to what the SATS wish to have in this Bill.

I moved the amendment, and it was seconded. What happened, of course, was that we once again had an adjournment. During the adjournment, the SATS came up with a compromise solution, which was a reasonable compromise. What it did was it removed clause 9 altogether; so that clause 9 which was seeking to amend the Railways and Harbours Pensions for Non-Whites Act of 1974, disappeared altogether. A new clause 9 was introduced which substituted for section 8 of the Pensions Act the original situation as had applied to the Non-Whites Pension Act. It equated everything and brought things back to a more reasonable state, but still not a state that was comparable with what happens in the private sector. One still finds that the SATS Administration have very wide powers of recovering money from the employee. They have powers that the private sector does not have. I think that this is a privilege which the SATS should not have.

We agreed with this amendment. It was better than the original Bill—there is no question about that—and we approved it. What we do say, however, is that we hope that the SATS will move to a situation where their employees will be treated in the same way, as regards the recovery of money, as the employees in the private sector. I cannot see any good reason why the SATS should have these additional powers when one considers that one is dealing here with an employee who has money taken away from him. If he wants to object and go to a court of law to do that, where is he going to get the money from? For him to go to an attorney or an advocate to fight his case is not easy at all. If the boot were on the other foot, if it were the SATS who had to go to law to recover money from the employee, they would have all the trappings of the State at their command. They have their own people, they have their own advocates. They can put their own case and use the full process of law to recover their money. I do believe that staff need to be given far more protection than an employer such as the SATS needs.

One of the things that astonished me about the whole clause was that it was apparently approved by the staff associations. I cannot believe that a staff association could approve a clause of this nature which is so bad for the individual members of staff. It makes one think that the staff associations are not properly representative of the staff. If they can approve such an anti-staff measure, then they certainly are not properly representative.

Now I come to the bad news as far as this Bill is concerned. There are two things I wish to discuss, the first of which concerns the staff associations. According to this Bill, the term “staff association”, as defined, is being changed to “trade union”. The term “staff association” is being changed to “trade union”. This is mainly a change in name only. We had a full discussion about this on the standing committee because in the staff association there is no freedom of association. One of the prime principles of a trade union is freedom of association. Once again there was a certain amount of support for our viewpoint in the standing committee, but only until the meeting was adjourned. At the next meeting that support seemed to have disappeared somewhat. A colleague of mine will be speaking on this matter of trade unions and staff associations later in this debate. All I want to say, is that I found it quite extraordinary that a Labour Party— there were Labour Party members present at that meeting—should vote to call something a trade union where there was in fact no freedom of association. I really found that surprising. The clause went through with only two dissenting votes, and those were the votes of the hon member of Bezuidenhout and myself.


Of course, yes.


Of course, Sir, we are the people who stand for freedom of association in trade unions because it is one of the basic principles of the trade union movement. [Interjections.]

The other item of bad news in this Bill— which I actually regard as the worst news of all—is clause 18(c). I will refer to clause 18(c) as the police clause. It is a Draconian measure which is well-known to us because it exists in the Police Act and also in the Prisons Act. From a Government point of view it works very well. The effect of these provisions in the Police Act and in the Prisons Act has been to cause a distinct limitation in the reporting of police and prison matters throughout South Africa. When the freedom of the individual in society is involved—and here I mean his physical freedom as opposed to his incarceration—such a limitation is one that we can well do without. The Press has found that very often because of these provisions they cannot publish a story without first getting a comment from the Police or from the Department of Prisons. If there is no comment on the story, there can be no publication without grave risk. Most of the time this has meant that there has been no publication.

When I say there is grave risk, I want to refer again to clause 18(c) in this South African Transport Services Amendment Bill. This clause stipulates that if one is found guilty of an offence, on conviction one can become liable to a fine—and I quote—

… not exceeding ten thousand rand or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years or to both such fine and such imprisonment.

One can thus be fined R10 000 and be put into prison for five years, and that is a very, very heavy punishment. We believe, therefore, that this is an erosion of the freedom of the Press, an erosion which a democratic society can well do without. It does not suffice to point out that our Press is more free than the Press in Eastern Bloc countries and indeed more free than in many African countries. These are not the standards by which we wish to be judged.


Which African countries have more Press freedom? Mention one to me.


The hon the Minister of Transport Affairs usually says this to us, not vice versa. We do not wish to be judged by the standards of the African countries to the north of us. [Interjections.] Our standards are those of a free and democratic Western World, and by those standards this clause is objectionable.

We are well aware that the Railways Police—and this is all about them—are utilizing the powers they have which this hon Minister did not even give them. His colleague, the hon the Minister of Justice gave them those powers. They are using the powers they have to protect the S A Transport Services’ commercial interests. We are now not talking about criminal interests or about treasonable acts. We are now talking about commercial interests which are affected and which the Railways Police are policing. They have, for example, road blocks. It might interest hon members of this House that in 1984 in the area controlled by the Eastern Cape branch of the SATS no fewer than 388 road blocks were set up. That was in only one region, in only one year. There is no other reason for this than to protect the commercial interests of the SA Transport Services, to catch the operators who are transporting goods that the SA Transport Services would like to transport. Reporting on all this type of action …


We will deal with your lorry too. We catch all the pirates.


Is the hon the Minister suggesting that I am a pirate?




He says “yes”. Mr Chairman, is that parliamentary?


Order! No, the hon the Minister must withdraw that.


All right, you sissy, I withdraw that. [Interjections.]


Mr Chairman, do you not think this is a further case for a withdrawal?


The hon Minister must withdraw that.


I withdraw.


Let us be serious for a moment. The reporting on all this type of commercial activity of the Railways Police now becomes more difficult as a result of this clause.

It was again only the Official Opposition of this House that disapproved of and opposed this clause in the standing committee. In the standing committee we first moved that the whole clause be rejected. This only found favour with the hon member for Bezuidenhout and myself. [Interjections.] All the other parties voted against it.

Having lost that amendment that it be deleted altogether, we then moved that the provision dealing with the onus of proof should be deleted. We received a long telex in this regard from the legal adviser of Assocom in Johannesburg. I would like to read it to the House. It states:

Assocom respectfully urges that the wording in parenthesis namely “the onus of proof of which shall rest on such person” be deleted. This association has frequently expressed concern at the legislature’s increasing tendency to shift the burden of proof from the State onto the accused, contrary to the common law. Assocom believes that the burden of proof should only be shifted in very rare or exceptional circumstances and cannot see any apparent justification in this instance, notwithstanding the caveat that no prosecution shall be instituted except upon the written authority of the attorney-general concerned.

We once again moved an amendment to delete those words and the only people who voted in favour of it were the hon member for Bezuidenhout and myself.

We are still very, very opposed to that clause. The rest of the Bill in front of us finds favour with us, but we disapprove very, very strongly of clause 18(c). For this reason I move as an amendment:

To omit all the words after “That” and to substitute “this House declines to pass the Second Reading of the South African Transport Services Amendment Bill until such time as clause 18(c) has been deleted.”.

Mr Chairman, the attitude adopted here by the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central really disappointed me this afternoon. He says that this is the first legislation relating to Transport Services that has been referred to the standing committee and he says that certain genuinely good and sound improvements to the original legislation have been effected. However, the hon member goes on to say that the legislation could be further improved.

I find it strange that the hon member should get up in this House today and relate to us at length what happened in the standing committee. He even mentioned that at one stage we were not able to obtain a quorum. However, the hon member should really be fair. There was only one group that did not have sufficient members present on one afternoon. He is now creating the impression that our committee’s business was hampered because we were unable to obtain a quorum on more than one occasion. [Interjections.]

It seems to me as if the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central has a problem again today. The legislation was dealt with so well by the standing committee that the hon member has no argument. Now he has to get up and try to cast the so-called strategy that we supposedly adopted in the committee, in a poor light. The hon member is intimating that we adjourned on occasion and then went and plotted in private.

†He said: “There was a definite strategy. We adjourned from time to time, and then all of a sudden a new atmosphere prevailed.” He also wanted to know what this “big stick” was that we wielded in the background. What was the quid pro quo?

*Let me tell that hon member here and now that as chairman of that committee I did not negotiate with anyone. On the first day, when we had a debate on the new definition of “trade union”, the members of the House of Representatives made request, saying that they would like to discuss the matter in their own caucus. Those are the facts. No one told them what they had to decide. Subsequently they returned and said that they had resolved the matter and were satisfied. No big stick was wielded, nor was any pressure exerted on those people in an effort to influence them. However, that hon member’s problem is that he, of course, thought that when he spoke in the standing committee— and he makes out that he has a monopoly on wisdom—he would find that the Coloureds and Indians would accept his attitude without question. However the facts of the matter are that those people think for themselves. They reason for themselves about these things. In the standing committees they listen to what the department tells them and they listen to the advice and the information they have been given on those occasions.

It seems to me that the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central is disappointed because he is not the great White induna on this occasion. It is to the benefit of the entire system of standing committees that the Coloureds and Indians think for themselves and are prepared to make their own contribution so that it is not necessary for us to influence those people in order that our point of view should predominate. I hope that the hon member will not adopt that attitude when we convene again in future as a standing committee and subsequently come to this House with legislation. If he wants to cause these standing committees to fail then he must adopt that kind of attitude and arouse suspicion about the bona fides of members of that committee. In other words, he must create the impression that they can be bought, that they can be influenced, that we can tell them “Look, people, do not believe Malcomess, believe us! That is not the strategy. I wish to deny his insinuation in the strongest possible terms. I know of no one who tries to influence any member of that standing committee in an illegitimate fashion. My role as chairman of that committee is to act as fairly and as justly as possible towards every hon member, even that hon member.


That will be difficult.


Yes, it is difficult to behave towards him in that way. Nevertheless I shall do so. My reason for doing so is simple: If that hon member were also to make proper use of the common sense that the good Lord gave him, he too could make a tremendous contribution to this standing committee. [Interjections.]

Before discussing some of the clauses of the Bill I wish to say this afternoon that this standing committee co-operates extremely well—the members work well with one another and with the department. I want to say that there is a preparedness on the part of all our members to learn from the department, to learn from Transport Services, to obtain the guidance and information from the department. However I wish to add that there is a spirit of tolerance in respect of standpoints that may be different. Indeed, we know that we represent various political parties when we serve on these standing committees, but we go there specifically with the aim of listening and finding out whether another hon member does not also have a good point to make. Here I want to use the words of the hon member for Bezuidenhout, when he said in the standing committee on one occasion:

We are legislators, not managers of the SATS



Yes, administrators.

*These are outstanding words. It was particularly intelligent, particularly wise to have used those words. They indicate that when we serve on the standing committee we are aware that the department is acquainted with the background and that we must be prepared to learn. That is why I say that we find it encouraging that the officials of the SATS, too, want to play their part in promoting the idea of consensus.

The hon member gave us the example of how clause 9 had been changed. This is an example of how the department itself—and the meeting was not adjourned deliberately so that they could have an opportunity to do so—was prepared to consider the matter. They then decided to come back and delete that part of the clause which the hon member had quoted with regard to harbours. Moreover the clause relating to the recovery of the pension moneys of people who had neglected to do what they had to or had absconded, was replaced at the request of the department. Therefore I say that there is a preparedness to amend and even withdraw clauses about which profound differences may arise; in other words, the SATS itself helps to promote the idea of consensus in the standing committee and here in Parliament as well.

I shall not have the opportunity to deal with the other clauses. However, I should like to come back to one of the clauses mentioned by the hon member: It is the so-called “Police clause”. It is quite right that we received that telex from Assocom. However, what are the facts relating to this specific clause. Anyone who wishes to publish anything relating to the police force of the SATS only has to ensure—in advance—that it is the truth. Now that hon member states that this will restrict journalism.

†No, Sir, I think this is a good case for investigative journalism.

*If that man has a good case, if he thinks that there is something wrong or that the police have acted incorrectly, then he first has to make sure what the facts of the matter are. Then, too, there is the protection that action will not be taken against anyone unless the Attorney-General thinks that there is a good case to be made. In my opinion this constitutes adequate protection for anyone who may not have said the right thing. If he has in fact said the right thing then he has nothing to fear. He can say what he wants to say and the SATS and its police will be prepared to accept that criticism. This is good legislation. I support it and I am sure that the other Houses will display the good sense to support this legislation.


Mr Chairman, we in this party are going to support the Bill. I want to thank the hon member of the CP for giving me the opportunity to speak this evening because unfortunately I cannot be here tomorrow.

I must refer to some of the remarks made by the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central, because I regard this Bill as a perfect example of what was intended when we originally planned the concept of consensus in standing committees. It is exactly what I envisaged all along as to how standing committees would work. I believe that what is making the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central cross is that, when he looked for confrontation, he found the rest of the committee looking for consensus. What he does not tell this House is that, when we were looking for a compromise, it was not the Chairman who was “konkeling”, but I myself. I was quite openly looking for a compromise which would be acceptable to all of us. I had gone to the officials, who were extremely helpful, and asked them whether we really had to have a confrontation on this matter, because I agreed with the hon member’s objection to the original drafting. They replied that they thought that they could find a solution which we could support. That hon member then demanded that we vote and have a confrontation. He would not even allow an opportunity to receive and consider the compromise which we reached the next day. He was talking to the officials, I was doing so over the tea-break. He was talking to the members of the other two Houses, trying to get them to support his objection and to vote against the clauses and throw them out altogether. And what happened? We reached a compromise. All parties of all Houses found that we could support it except the PFP.


It is not true.


The hon member says it is not true. Of course it is true. He even put it to the vote that we should vote and I said that we did not need to vote. I said: Let us give it a chance; let us not have a confrontation now; let us look for a compromise. But he forced us to vote on whether we should vote then or let that clause stand over. I proposed that it should stand over. The hon member for Port Elizabeth Central, however, proposed that we should vote. Is that not true?


That was not my amendment…


Well, let us check the minutes.

Coming to the Bill itself …


Mr Chairman, on a point of order: I think the hon the Minister referred to the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central as a “skelm”. [Interjections.] It was the hon member over there.


Which hon Minister is the hon member referring to?


I am sorry, Sir: I believe it was the hon the Deputy Minister.


Which of the two hon Deputy Ministers? [Interjections.]


Mr Chairman, I made no interjection whatsoever.


The hon member may proceed.


Mr Chairman, I said that and I withdraw it. [Interjections.]


The hon member may proceed.


Did the hon member actually withdraw that?


Yes, he did. The hon member may continue.


I want to deal with the clause on which there is a dispute and if I am allowed to I should like to deal with the merits of the Bill—sometimes I think that party is not interested in the merits of a matter. The clause on the strength of which we are now asked to oppose and vote against the Second Reading, according to the hon member’s amendment, is one relating to the publication of an untruth. The option we had was to vote for a licence to lie …




Yes! [Interjections.] This clause reads as follows:

Any person who publishes any untrue matter in relation to any action by the Force … in relation to the performance of his functions … without having reasonable grounds (the onus of proof which shall rest on such person) for believing that that statement is true …

I was not prepared to vote for a licence to lie. [Interjections.] I believe that the only onus was to prove that the writer had reasonable grounds to believe that the statement was true. [Interjections.]


Order! As far as I am aware, the hon member did not mention or refer to any hon member. I do not see why certain members should get so agitated all of a sudden. The hon member may continue.


This is the only clause in dispute. I think I made the issue quite clear. The onus was only the onus to prove that he had reasonable grounds for believing what he said. Nobody else can prove what is in a man’s mind. I do not think anybody could prove what is in the minds of those members over there—that would be an impossible task.




However, they want the SATS to prove what is in the mind of a person who does something. [Interjections.] I do not believe that the SATS or anybody else, even a prosecutor, can prove what is their minds, in the mind of the hon member for Houghton, or anybody else’s.




Order! I have requested members to preserve order, and I intend that it will be preserved. That includes even very senior members of this House. The hon member may proceed.


The only person who can prove what is in his mind is the person who knows what is in his own mind.

We support the Bill. We support this clause. We welcome particularly the consensus that was reached, the total withdrawal of clause 15(b), the very satisfactory amendment of withdrawing clause 9 and substituting an alternative clause 9, and the withdrawal of clause 29. All in all, after it had gone through the committee, this is a Bill of which we can support every clause.

In accordance with Standing Order No 19, the House adjourned at 18h30.