House of Assembly: Vol3 - TUESDAY 16 APRIL 1985
Vote No 6—“Home Affairs”, Vote No 7—“Commission for Administration” and Vote No 8—“Improvement of Conditions of Service (contd):
Mr Chairman, since I was elected to this House in 1974, every time a Select Committee on the Electoral Act has been appointed, I have served on that committee. The reason there have been so many select committees over the past couple of years was to make it as easy as possible for the voter to cast his vote. After all, the Electoral Act is the instrument on which our democratic system of having a candidate elected to this House, is based.
Today I should like to outline some serious deficiencies. The position at the moment is that no voter who lives in, or is visiting, an independent state such as Bophuthatswana, Transkei or Ciskei, is able to vote there. This means that if they do want to vote, they will have to cross the borders of that state in order to do so. What it comes down to, then, is that if such a voter wants to apply for a postal or special vote, he would have to leave Bophuthatswana or Transkei in order to do so. He would not be able to do so in that independent homeland. The same applies when the postal vote is issued to the presiding officer concerned. The presiding officer may then not enter that independent state. The voter has to leave the independent state and come to the presiding officer. He therefore has to leave that State at great cost and considerable inconvenience to be able to cast his vote.
At the general election in 1981 there were almost 3 000 White voters from Vryburg who cast special votes before a White magistrate in Mafikeng. Today there are no longer any White magistrates in Bophuthatswana. During the referendum all those voters had to leave Bophuthatswana, at considerable expense, to go to places such as Vryburg, Lichtenburg or Schweizer-Reneke to cast their votes. Some of the voters who live in Mafikeng in Bophuthatswana fall under the electoral district of Vryburg, approximately 320 km from Mafikeng. All I ask of the hon the Minister is that we look at this matter seriously. The solution is simply that we must ask the ambassador concerned in an independent homeland to act as presiding officer during a general or by-election, so that he can deal with postal votes as well as special votes.
Talking of special votes reminds me that the first time we discussed special votes in this House, the whole idea was to make it as easy as possible for voters to cast their votes, but on condition that this would happen only when the time for postal votes had expired; in other words, there should be no time left for the person to apply for a postal vote.
We now find that in the two current by-elections, in Harrismith and Newton Park, the first postal vote was issued on 10 April, while the special vote came into operation as early as 1 April. I want to put it to the hon the Minister that the deadline ought to have been just the other way round. The time for special votes must be reduced and those who have more time can cast postal votes.
The hon member says that is nonsense. I shall come to that hon member in a moment. [Interjections.]
In practice this simply means that when a party with the best tracing organization submits an application for a postal vote to the electoral officer concerned, there are vulture-parties—such as that of the hon member who said “nonsense” and also that I would get a hiding—who look at the form we introduced to see what the voter’s new residential address is. [Interjections.] As soon as the voter has a new residential address, it is the easiest thing in the world to telephone a person in the town concerned, who is a member of the party concerned, and tell him that a certain voter has applied to the NP. The voter’s application has been submitted and all the information is on the application form. Now that particular member approaches the voter. All he says to him is: “Listen, you applied for a postal vote; it is going to be issued and I shall take you to the magistrate before whom you may cast a special vote. You must also remember that your candidate’s surname is not Niemann, but Van der Merwe”. What happens then? The poor voter, in his ignorance, votes for “Van der Merwe”.
At the same time I want to say that this system lends itself to many irregularities. It is not, however, only the system of special votes that lends itself to irregularities. The postal vote system is even more susceptible to irregularities, as in the case of Newton Park at present. That hon member who has just said that I am talking nonsense and that I am going to endure a beating, must now answer the following statement: In the present by-election in Newton Park we have the position that the hon member for Walmer—unfortunately he is not present and I am very sorry about that; he is probably still busy down in Newton Park—approached two voters and had them sign applications for postal votes under totally false conditions.
Mr Chairman, on a point of order: Is the hon member entitled to say that another hon member has done something under false pretences?
Order! No, he did not say that. He said he had given the voters a false impression. The hon member may continue.
The hon member for Walmer told the two voters that they had to sign a document for reregistration because they had moved from one place to another. [Interjections.] When the PFP submitted the applications, the NP received two sworn statements and the electoral officer then rejected the two postal votes. Thereupon the chief electoral officer of the PFP asked for two other postal votes that were involved also to be rejected, but they were not.
Here, then, we have a case where an hon member of the House deliberately tried to mislead two voters. [Interjections.]
I withdraw it, Mr Chairman. The hon member led two voters up the garden path.
Mr Chairman, on a point of order: The hon member has not withdrawn the allegation.
The hon member has withdrawn the allegation.
The hon member led two voters up the garden path and persuaded them to sign applications for postal votes. After the NP had submitted sworn statements and had also taken up the matter with the police, the hon members of the PFP approached those voters once again. [Interjections.]
We in this House are supposed to play the game, so to speak. [Interjections.] When an hon member of the PFP, the CP, the NRP or the NP …
I am including the NP, too. I am making a friendly appeal to hon members of all parties in this House not to resort to misleading voters in this way.
Mr Chairman, on a point of order: The hon member said: “Hy het iemand om die bos gelei”. Is it not unparliamentary to say this?
Order! It is not unparliamentary in the sense that the hon member used the term. There was no allegation that it was done intentionally. It could have also happened because he was not aware of the facts.
Mr Chairman, is it not so that mens rea was present?
In my view mens rea is not necessarily present in the statement.
Mr Chairman, the hon member for Kimberley South raised a number of matters which, in my opinion, are important. However, since the matter at issue is the Electoral Act it would perhaps have been advisable, as in the past, to refer these matters to a select committee to gain clarity in this regard.
The hon member for Kimberley South is terribly concerned about the question of the postal vote and its abuse. Last year, when we discussed this legislation, I asked that we be content with the special vote. I suggested that we phase out the postal vote because of all the irregularities associated with it. At the time, however, the hon the Minister saw fit to simply sweep aside my proposal. Thus the argument in favour of the abolition of the postal vote, which is now giving the hon member for Kimberley South so many problems, should also be swept aside, and should not be carried any further.
Since the proposal comes from the NP, however, and not from our side, which meant that the hon the Minister could read all sorts of suggestions into it, I want to ask him to consider the proposal of the hon member for Kimberley South in connection with the question of the postal vote.
This does not mean that it will be abolished. [Interjections.]
As long as the system of postal votes exists there will be problems with it. The problems the hon member for Kimberley South is whining about today will always crop up. The only solution to this problem is to abolish the postal vote system. The special vote is less open to abuse and creates the fewest problems because it is cast in private before a magistrate.
However, I want to bring a few matters in connection with the voters’ roll to the attention of the hon the Minister, with special reference to his statement of 28 March 1985 that the voters’ roll would be compiled from the population register. I expressed the hope last year that this would give us much more reliable voters’ rolls than we have at the moment. I still trust that this will happen because we are experiencing a great many problems with voters’ rolls. This creates problems for the voters, too, particularly when they come to the polling booth on election day and find that they are not, as they thought, on the voters’ roll. This creates unpleasantness, problems and frustration.
Although the RV1—in other words, that form of registration—is being abolished, we are still going to encounter problems with changes of address. This remains the responsibility of the voter. I maintain that we are going to have just as many problems with that change of address as we have with the old RV1 because the voter is still going to neglect to furnish his change of address. Responsibility for the registration of voters will continue as in the past, to be borne by the various political parties. It is not an adequate solution to say that the various political parties will attend to this. We shall have to devise other solutions that will guarantee us voters’ rolls that are more rehable and more up-to-date, especially at by-elections and general elections.
I suggested last year that we co-operate with town councils because registrations were being carried out in respect of water and electricity accounts, etc. However the hon the Minister simply shot down that suggestion, too. I want to ask him whether he would not perhaps give consideration to this and other possibilities in order to help solve this problem which we are going to experience continually, namely to make the voters’ roll rehable. I want to emphasize that the furnishing of changes of address is going to be allowed to fall behind once again. The voters are again not going to do this and we shall be saddled with the same problem as with the old registration on the RV1 form.
Another matter that is important to me personally is the present number of voters per constituency. After furnishing a number of facts on this matter I should like to put some questions to the hon the Minister. At the end of last year we received a list of the constituencies and the number of registered voters in each province. I believe these were the latest figures. According to this voters’ roll there are 829 948 voters in the Cape, in other words 28,3%. In the OFS there are 228 200, ie 7,7%. In Natal the figure is 339 557, or 11,5%, but in the Transvaal there are 1 530 204, and that represents 52,3%. If we analyse this we find that in only seven of the 56 seats in the Cape are there more than 18 000 voters. There is only one with more than 19 000 but not one with 20 000 voters. In six of the 20 Natal constituencies there are more than 18 000 voters; in one, more than 19 000, but not one with more than 20 000. In four of the 14 Free State seats there are more than 18 000 voters, and one has more than 20 000. In the Transvaal, however, 67 of the 76 constituencies have more than 18 000 voters. Forty of those seats have more than 20 000 voters—as many as 25 000 to 26 000 voters per seat. This means that the present position is that the Cape, Natal or Free State voters’ vote is worth much more than that of the Transvaal voter. In the light of these circumstances and in view of the provisions of the Constitution of 1983, I want to ask what the hon the Minister envisages in this connection. I am referring here to the question of delimitation, because as far as the Transvaal is concerned, this situation is getting completely out of hand.
If one merely calculates the present number of voters per constituency and province, setting aside any formulas relating to loading, deloading and surface area, this means that at present the Cape ought only to have 46,9% of the seats. If we make it a round number, it is 47 instead of 56. This means that the Cape must actually give up nine seats. The Free State, with 12,7%, must have 13 seats instead of 14. Natal, with its 20 seats, will also have to give up one, and the Transvaal would have to have 86,6% of the seats. This means 87 seats instead of 76; in other words, the Transvaal will gain an extra 11. At this stage, therefore, the Cape, Natal and Free State must relinquish 11 seats to the Transvaal in order to have a proper distribution, so that each voter’s vote has the same value.
This growth-rate is increasing and I therefore want to ask: How long is this intolerable situation going to continue? In the light of the provisions of the new Constitution, when does the hon the Minister envisage having a new delimitation?
My time is almost up but I want to refer briefly to the Public Service. The hon the Minister knows that I have a lot of sympathy for Public Servants. As I have said repeatedly, the Public Service is in my opinion a very important component of our community. The Public Service is so important that everything in this country would grind to a halt if our Public Service cannot function properly and effectively. [Time expired.]
Mr Chairman, I am entering the debate at this stage in order to reply to those hon members who have participated in the debate thus far in regard to those aspects which are my direct responsibility.
I want to say that up to the present the debate has been a very quiet one. I think hon members have acted very responsibly and treated the subjects they have dealt with very seriously indeed. As this is the first occasion on which I have been able to participate in the discussion of this vote as the Deputy Minister responsible for certain functions thereunder, I was very pleasantly surprised to hear how few complaints there were on the part of hon members in respect of immigration, citizenship and alien control—those areas for which I am responsible.
There are no doubt two reasons for this. In the first instance there are the very dramatic statements made by my colleague, the hon the Minister of Home Affairs, in respect of section 16 of the Immorality Act and the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act. Secondly, I believe that this was also due to the fact that hon members are aware that this aspect of the department is run very efficiently indeed. Therefore they had very little to complain about. [Interjections.] In saying this I want immediately to thank the Director-General, the senior directors of my department and all the members of my staff for the wonderful contribution they have made towards the effective operation of these functions of government. I should also like to add that I have a deep appreciation for their expertise and for the way in which they have tackled the request of the Government to effect savings in staff and also departmental expenditure. Final figures are not yet available at this stage but I want to say that in the final reckoning it will be found that this department has made more than an average contribution towards reducing staff and therefore savings in expenditure.
I would like to thank them publicly for their contribution and the efficient manner in which they handle their responsibilities. I am sure that all other hon members who have participated so far will be thanked by the relevant Minister with the specific responsibility. However, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate my own Minister, the hon the Minister of Home Affairs, on an excellent performance on television last night, and on his statements both locally and overseas. [Interjections.] It was a tremendous performance, and anybody who had a proper insight into and knowledge of the complexities of the problem would show his appreciation.
*Mr Chairman, without taking up much time, I want to thank the hon member for Turffontein for his friendly words of welcome to me in this vote. He did not really speak about the aspects of the work that fall under me, but I should like to thank him for his friendly words of welcome. I really appreciate it.
The two hon members who were directly involved in aspects and functions which fall under me, are the hon member for Rissik and the hon member for Brentwood. I want to convey my sincere thanks to them, too, for their participation in the debate thus far.
I want to commence my speech by replying to a question put by the hon member for Rissik. One thing I can say about that hon member, is that he is consequent in his approach to the problematic nature of immigration. Speaking of the question of immigration, the hon member quite probably received his answer concerning the aspect of statistics from the hon member for Brentwood. I am sure he found the statistics very interesting.
In addition the hon member is very consequent in his questions to the hon the Minister in connection with Indians and immigration. If we look at Hansard, we shall see that last year the hon member made exactly the same statements and asked exactly the same questions, and therefore I should like to refer him to col 5777 and 5778 of Hansard of 4 May 1984, in which the hon the Minister replied to his questions. I do not want to take up the time of the House with a repetition of the questions and replies, but basically it is about the fact that the hon members of the CP want to know what would happen if an Indian member of Parliament were to become Minister of Home Affairs and the responsibility for immigration were to fall under him. [Interjections.] I should like to tell the hon member for Rissik that the answer is in Hansard, and he can go and read it himself.
I also want to remind the hon member that he still owes the hon the Minister a reply to a question put to him by the hon the Minister. This question was whether, if the CP were to come into power and create an own area with self-determination for the Indians, they would allow Indians to immigrate freely from overseas countries to South Africa. We know the hon member said he would interfere in that decision-making process, but then one must ask yourself, how independent will they be? I am sure, however, that the hon member will be satisfied if he goes back to Hansard and reads the hon Minister’s reply. The hon the Minister of Home Affairs will himself reply to other aspects raised by the hon member for Rissik.
I should like to come to the hon member for Brentwood’s contribution. I want to congratulate him on a well-researched and well argued speech. Truly, I find it a great comfort to see that someone has taken so much trouble to study the annual report and make a well-prepared speech on a very important aspect of our responsibility, namely immigration and the assimilation of immigrants in this country. I want to congratulate him on his contribution.
I want to reply briefly to the contribution made by the hon member for Brentwood by saying that I agree entirely with the hon member that we can do more as far as the process of social adaptation and the assimilation of immigrants is concerned. He quite rightly pointed out that the department has naturalized more or less 23% of immigrants in the last year for which statistics are available. I want to point out to the hon member, however, that there are two voluntary organizations that also do this, as the hon member himself said. I think the hon member will appreciate the fact that many of the immigrants who have obtained the right to permanent residence in South Africa, were temporary workers before they obtained that right to permanent residence. They had already been naturalized, therefore, by the time they obtained their permanent right to residence. I quite agree with the hon member, however, when he contends that more should be done, that the private sector should be involved on a larger scale in the process of the naturalization of immigrants. We have great appreciation for the representations made by him here in the House. I just want to point out to him that we intend to hold conferences with business leaders later this year, in co-operation with the “Maatskappy vir Europese Immigrasie” and the Memorial Settlers’ Association, 1820, and to undertake planning in connection with the whole question of the assimilation of new immigrants and the private sector’s interest in this regard. We shall discuss it with them in depth, and I am sure the hon member will take cognisance of what is discussed there. He will also receive feed-back from us in this connection.
In addition I want to point out to hon members that the HSRC, by the good offices of the Department of Education and Culture, is in the process of investigating the problems concerning the integration of immigrants. It is aimed in particular at the problem referred to by the hon member for Brentwood in connection with the enrollment of immigrant children in our schools.
In the last instance I want to point out to the hon member that we have great appreciation for the fact that a considerable saving is being effected for the country, when a skilled worker is admitted as an immigrant. We know it costs the Government approximately R10 000 per year merely to create a position for an ordinary unskilled worker in the industrial or business sector. The saving that this entails for the country, is considerable, therefore, as the hon member quite rightly pointed out.
I thank all members for their participation, as well as for their great appreciation of the importance of this aspect. We set great store by it.
Mr Chairman, the hon the Deputy Minister has addressed us in his usually eloquent style and has told us—in his modest fashion, I must say—that owing to obvious efficiency, particularly his own, there is little for us to complain about as far as this particular department is concerned. [Interjections.] I should advise him not to allow himself to be kidded by that. It is not a matter of hon members on this side of the House having little to complain about. He knows well that our problem actually lies in the lack of time in which to lodge our complaints. [Interjections.] If we had all the time in the world, I can assure him we would debone him quite efficiently. [Interjections.]
Mr Chairman, I want to correct something I said yesterday. In the closing moments of my speech yesterday I said I hoped the hon the Minister would see to it that the Immorality and Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Amendment Bill went before the standing committee as a matter of urgency. It has been pointed out to me since that this Bill does not go before the standing committee in terms of Joint Rule 22(2)(b)(ii). The Bill comes before Parliament at the next Joint Sitting, and I am grateful to the officials for pointing this out to me. Today’s Order Paper in fact shows that it is the first item on the agenda for the next joint sitting at a time and date still to be determined. I trust that it will remain the first item on the agenda. I also trust that that time and date will not be in the too distant future.
I want now to turn my attention to electoral matters, and I want to follow on much of what has been said by the hon member for Koedoespoort. There has been speculation for many years now regarding the question of which specific system should apply in the formulation and compilation of voters’ rolls. How could this be best accomplished? Obviously we have had to move away from the antiquated system of the old RV 1 form because that involves the political parties and the Department in many thousands of manhours tediously and laboriously checking the cards, and those cards have had to be physically retained in electoral offices throughout the Republic.
Equally obviously the population register has always been identified as the logical source of all electoral information. This has of course been so because of the fact that the population register is computerized. After all, we live in this wonderful new age of the computer.
On 28 March we had a ministerial announcement advising us that this had indeed now come into effect, and that rolls had been issued to all political parties for each and every constituency in the Republic. I want to say to each and every hon member of this House that a cursory examination of the voters’ roll will show him in no time at all that that roll is already hopelessly out of date, and I am not suggesting that this is through any fault of the department. However, I suggest it is out of date because our electorate is not trained and properly informed in respect of the need to notify the department of a change of address by simply using the documents contained in these little books. This identity document is the little book with which we had some fun at question time earlier today. It is like the one the State President could not quite pull out of his pocket during a television interview. He went for it, as they say, but he never really got it. I have mine; hands up everybody who has his! [Interjections.]
However, in the back of this book are the B1 3 and the B1 4 forms which are to be completed—and it should be compulsory that they be completed—when a person changes address. There has been the suggestion that political parties should be active in this area. I have no argument with that; I think political parties should be active. However, I believe sincerely that the hon the Minister and his department must bear the full responsibility for ensuring that every voter is made aware of the requirements under the new system. That is exactly where the problem lies because the voter does not understand the requirements under the new system. In order to improve this situation I want to make a few—I hope—positive suggestions because really and truly I will warrant that 80% of the voters do not even know what these documents in the back of their identity documents mean.
I would suggest that as a matter of urgency cards bearing a return address thus making it possible to send them back postage-free to the department, should be sent out to every voter address on the new voters’ rolls that have just been issued, with the request that the information be verified and that the card be returned. The card should be returned with either the information verified in respect of the people living at that address or any information that can be given by others who may have moved into that particular address. Secondly, I believe there should be a follow-up on the procedure I have outlined some three to six months later. There should be a check and then a follow-up in order to try to reach people and try to encourage them to give further information where they can obviously do so.
Furthermore, I believe, as the hon member for Koedoespoort has said, that local government bodies, provincial bodies or Government agencies should be requested to check address details when calling for identity documents. Such bodies often have reason to do this—how often in the post office is one not called upon to produce some form of identification—and I think they should be asked by the hon the Minister or by the department to check address details when doing so. This can be done to great effect if the procedure is strictly adhered to. If an official can check the address details in the identity document and get the person to rectify the situation immediately if necessary, there will be a greater degree of efficiency and an awareness of a programme for the need to do just this.
I think the banks and building societies should also be asked for their co-operation and assistance in this regard, and organized commerce and industry should be called upon to play their part. Finally, an effective and easily understood campaign should be launched through all the media in order to make the public aware of the importance of having these records updated at all times. Serious consideration must also be given to the scrapping of the postal vote system because we can do without it. I believe too that a warning should be directed to the public that they could find themselves in a position of not being able to exercise their votes, should they not co-operate with the requirements of registering properly and of notifying the department of changes of address.
I firmly believe that our voters generally—perhaps I should sit down while the hon the Minister has his little conversation—are one of the most pampered voters’ corps in the world, and I think it is time that every citizen is called upon to accept the full measure of his or her responsibility in respect of voter registration.
I should like to call upon the hon the Minister as a matter of urgency to address himself to all these issues in order that when we come to the next general election, whenever that may be, we shall be able to come to it with voters’ rolls which bear some relationship to the true state of affairs in every constituency. I think the by-elections taking place at present in Harrismith and Newton Park—we are not concerned in those by-elections but I gather this from the remarks passed by the hon member for Kimberley South—are already demonstrating how hopelessly inadequate the rolls are in respect of each of those constituencies. What the position is in the rest of the country, heaven alone knows. We must ensure that the rolls are updated.
Mr Chairman, I should like to mention a couple of ideas on the Population Registration Act. There has recently been further sharp criticism of the Population Registration Act. This criticism was apparently based on the premise that it is part of the evidence of the racist approach of the present Government to the political problems of this country.
Further criticism of this Act stems from some unfortunate incidents. I am thinking specifically here of the Sandra Lang episode in previous years in the sense of the classification of a person taking place and this classification then not being accepted by the community in which he finds himself.
Nevertheless, I should like to convey to the hon the Minister that I think the fact that no or few such incidents have been reported in the Press or other news media recently, is proof of the judiciousness and the compassion with which officials do the reclassifications. We find it significant, too, that over the past few years as little as R94 000 has been spent on this campaign and, moreover, by only five officials.
A third reason for criticism comes from the Official Opposition which sees the Population Registration Act as the foundation upon which the approach of the NP rests, a group approach to the solution of our political problems. It is, in their opinion, the basis on which we build our policy.
I should like the hon the Minister to use this opportunity to react in more detail to the statement made by the hon the Leader of the Official Opposition during the no-confidence debate. I quote from Hansard, 1985, col 36:
I should like the hon the Minister to measure this statement against the policy of the PFP itself.
In the no-confidence debate the hon the Leader of the Official Opposition, as everyone knows, proposed, as an alternative to the policy of the NP, a national convention which was to be based on a couple of premises. The premises are, briefly, as follows:
Later in his speech he said: “You can determine who your leaders are under conditions of voluntary association.” This means, therefore, the same rights of citizenship; not equal rights, as the NP says, but in all respects the same. Secondly, this embodies the basis of free association and, thirdly, participation in South African politics without domination.
If we look at the 14-point plan which is the basis of the PFP’s policy, we find a summary given by the hon member for Sea Point, and it appears here under point (c):
If we return to what the hon the Leader of the Official Opposition said, namely that it is absolute ideological nonsense for the Government to involve itself with racial and ethnic classification, I want to ask the hon the Minister how the PFP will be able to bring into being their constitutional dispensation and ensure that there is no domination of one race by another. [Interjections.] I think the lack of logic in that party’s approach is also clearly reflected, on the one hand in what their leader says and on the other, in what is written in their policy.
Mr Chairman, since we have now reached the end of the discussion of matters relating to the Department of Home affairs and will in a moment proceed to the discussion of other facets of the Votes that have been put, I should like to thank all the hon members who have participated in this debate.
I want to address a special word of thanks to the two hon Deputy Ministers who assist in respect of Home Affairs. One of these hon Deputy Ministers had the opportunity this afternoon to reply to the hon member for Rissik, with regard to immigration in particular, and to the hon member for Brentwood. Owing to the time taken up by the discussion of the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act, the other hon Deputy Minister decided to confine himself to participating in the debate on the National Education Vote so that more hon members could have the opportunity to discuss this other important matter. Both of these hon gentlemen furnish top quality assistance in the department. They considerably facilitate my task as Minister and render outstanding service. In this committee I should like to convey my sincere thanks to them for their contribution in this regard.
I should like to react to all the hon members with reference to the various subjects touched on. I shall begin with the minor subjects that were discussed by fewer hon members. In the first instance the hon member for Rissik referred to reclassification figures and asked why there had been an increase. That is an odd statement on his part because he himself quoted the fact that in the year 1982-83, 462 Cape Coloureds were reclassified White. The figure for the subsequent year was 325, and that in itself does not represent an increase. It is interesting to go back to the previous year, 1981-82, when the figure was 722. Therefore the figures for the past three years are 722 for three years ago, 462 for two years ago and 325 for the year after that.
He turned the graph upside down.
The hon member for Rissik speaks of an increase. I do not know whether he turned the graph upside down, as an hon member has just suggested here. We know that he looks at many things from underneath. [Interjections.] Let me say at once to the hon member—because he may argue with me again next year—that next year’s figure may be more. This is something that varies on the basis of the applications received. The department deals with the applications as they are received, and it is very difficult to determine exactly what influences the fluctuation in the number of applications. I want to give him the assurance that there is no change in the policy and that we are still applying the policy in the same way. As he can see the figures in fact prove the opposite of what he tried to say.
I now turn to the question of elections, to which several hon members referred. The hon member for Koedoespoort asked that we consider the possibility of re-allocating the number of seats. Strictly speaking this is a matter regulated in terms of the Constitution and therefore I do not wish to elaborate on it at great length. Since it is evident that I, too, have a very direct interest in the matter, since the department is involved in all elections, I want to say to you that it is clear that a re-allocation is appropriate when population growth has taken place and there is a shift in population. However, one should see to it that such a re-allocation takes place at the right time. In the first place, in terms of legislation passed by Parliament it is not possible to do this at once. An actual start will be made after the end of the year when the period is past. Secondly, as far as timing is concerned, it is important to do it shortly before a general election to prevent a voter having the unsettled feeling of knowing that he is going to fall into a different constituency but that he has a different MP who still represents him. All parties’ managements are disrupted when one has a situation of this nature for too long a period. People already fall within a new constituency but are still serving in the management of the old constituency. Therefore timing is very important, but it is clear to me that it would be appropriate at the moment, and the time for doing so will soon be ripe. The hon member for Kimberley South asked why we could not consider the ambassadors for certain tasks. I do not know whether ambassadors always have the time or whether their work permits of this, but in terms of an amendment of the Electoral Act last year, officials in embassies may indeed be appointed to deal with special votes. This may depend, for example, on whether the location of an embassy at a specific place is appropriate. The convenience of the voter must be taken into account, as must the degree of serviceability and effectiveness that can be achieved. However, the hon member may rest assured that we shall consider this matter.
The hon member and the hon member for Umhlanga referred to the issue of postal votes. I think that there are differing opinions on this in every party, without its being a matter of principle. Some people believe in postal votes while others do not like them. Personally I think that we must move in the direction of using postal votes for people who are unable to get to a special ballot box or to a ballot box on election day. Here I am referring to genuine invalids, really sick people to whom the vote must be taken. The present system slightly benefits the person who casts a postal vote because he can vote at home, whereas everyone else has to go to the polling booths on election day. Therefore I give the assurance that we are looking at our electoral system with a view to reform—and this brings me to the rest of the discussions we conducted about elections.
The hon member Mr Schoeman, the hon member for Koedoespoort and the hon member for Umhlanga all referred to deficiencies relating to the voters’ roll. It is true that the mere fact that we are now compiling voters’ rolls from the population register means that no-one can be deprived of his vote any longer. Anyone with an identity document is on a voters’ roll somewhere and it is no longer possible for anyone to lose the right to vote. It is due to this very fact that the number of departed voters on our voter’s rolls has increased. There is only one solution for this and that is to improve our change of address system and the participation of the voting public so that we have fresher addresses on the population register.
†Some of the suggestions made by the hon member for Umhlanga and other hon members are included in those which are receiving consideration right at this point in time by the department and myself.
*However, there is one flaw in what the hon member for Umhlanga said, viz his plea that we should extend the address collection network, since our experience is specifically that at present, the network is too extensive and is giving rise to confusion among voters. Where the network works well, a voter is asked for the information at too many places. For example, he is asked for the information when he pays his water and lights deposit and then, when he goes somewhere else, he is again asked the same thing. Moreover, the present system also has the flaw contact is only made with the person who, say, pays his water and lights deposit; this system does not cover his wife, son or daughter. Accordingly this still does not work well. We shall have to have a system along the lines of compulsory submission of changes of address at fewer places. We are thinking along those lines.
One final idea about changes of address. I should like to give the hon member for Bezuidenhout credit for being the first to draw my attention to the fact that in America it is customary to have a “registration month”. We are beginning to think in terms of launching a campaign on television, radio and the Press in specific months, say September and March, in which we say: “This month is registration month, everyone please go and register at such and such a place,” etc. In this way we can motivate our people to submit their addresses on a regular basis. Personally I think that we shall then have to go still further and in some way, linked to some action in which all people must in any event participate, make compulsory the handing in, on an annual basis, of a comprehensive form containing all statistics and facts about oneself and one’s family. The only way to bring our voters’ rolls up to date is to do the changes of address on a regular basis.
I think that I have now disposed of most of the important matters raised with regard to elections. I am sorry that we have not made more progress in this regard. Already last year I indicated that we were thinking about some of these things, but in the mean time the Indian and Coloured elections took place and this made tremendous demands on the department. I hope that next year we may even be able to talk about legislation in this regard.
I should now like to turn to the issue of publications control. The hon member for Turffontein touched on two very important matters in this regard. In the first place there is the provocative attitude of the publishers of the so-called “girlie magazines”; they are being absolutely defiant. They came up with the example he mentioned, the publication Basic Nude Photography. They began marketing the book just before the Easter weekend and said that they were doing this so that the book could only be considered after they had in fact sold their biggest printing of the book. The hon member is also correct to say that the relevant publication, under its present name, is nothing but a continuation of the Squire Guide to Glamour Photography, all future editions of which have already been forbidden within the system. There are people in our country who will explore every possible channel to circumvent the law for financial gain, irrespective of morals and moral values. Just for the information of hon members, the relevant publication in regard to which the publisher acted in this fashion was investigated on 10 April by a publications committee—this was done on merit; not because of how they had acted but on the basis of the content of the publication—and was found to be undesirable. The committee also ruled that all future editions be prohibited in terms of section 91 of the Act.
The hon member also referred to videos. It is probably true that an improvement is noticeable in some instances, but the standard of the video industry in South Africa really gives rise to grave concern. It is of the utmost importance that earlier plans to draw up a code of conduct for video distributors must now be completed. The Appeal Board itself has expressed its strongest disapproval of the subjection of the public to vulgar material. The chief culprits are those who, in cases where cuts have been ordered and restrictions imposed, do not effect the cuts or impose the restrictions. I support the Appeal Board in its call to the video industry to draw up a code of conduct as a matter of urgency and impose that code by way of its own disciplinary body; but we hope to introduce legislation in this session which will also improve the State’s power to take more effective action in regard to improved control in this regard.
A very important matter which I wish to bring to the attention of hon members is that with regard to both publications and videos, this legislation will introduce a new principle which will probably elicit a long debate. In this legislation which I intend introducing it will be possible for certain senior law agents to seize obviously undesirable material temporarily—for up to 96 hours—before distribution to give a publications control committee the opportunity to investigate it and therefore to impose an embargo on it with the specific aim of preventing prohibitions from being imposed long after everyone has already obtained undesirable material. On the other hand, restrictions will also be incorporated to prevent abuse of this power, because the power being requested is a drastic one.
†I want now to react to a few aspects with regard to the discussions we have had on the proposed repeal of the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act and section 16 of the Immorality Act. Firstly, I want to assure the hon member for Umhlanga that we will proceed with this legislation as soon as possible. We have no intention of dragging our heels and he need not have any fears in that regard.
*The hon member for Koedoespoort asked: If such a marriage takes place, who becomes what? The answer is that everyone remains what he or she is, unless application is made for reclassification. It has always been possible for anyone to apply for reclassification and as in the past, such applications will be considered with great circumspection and full attention and assessed inter alia on the basis of the test of acceptability in a specific community.
A related question is the general one asked by many White voters and many members relating to where a married couple will live if one of the spouses is White. The answer to this is that the Group Areas Act makes clear provision for this. In simple terms, what it amounts to is that such a couple can only settle in a White residential area if they have applied for a permit and it is granted. In this regard, too, it has always been possible for a coloured couple both of whom are, say, Coloured, to apply for a permit to reside in a White residential area. Therefore this is nothing new and, as always, these applications, too, will be dealt with great circumspection, and not only with circumspection but also taking into full account the interests of the relevant community and of the relevant applicants and after extensive consultation with all interested parties.
This brings me to the hon member for Rissik. He asks what we understand by the concept “own community life”. Although I suspect that he is not really seeking information, I should nevertheless like to reply to him. By “own community life” the NP means own schools and own residential areas but, what is more, the right to eg own cultural organizations, own welfare organizations, own community facilities, etc. The fact that certain facilities are indeed accessible to all population groups does not mean that there should not also be own facilities for a specific population group. As regards schools and residential areas the State has a prescriptive role. With regard to other facets of community life the State creates an atmosphere enabling communities to conduct, enrich and extend their community life.
†Sir, in the two minutes left to me, I want to come to the hon members for Pinelands and Green Point. They argued that each and every law differentiating on a group basis must go. The Government’s rejection of this viewpoint is well-known. I explained once again yesterday that, yes, discrimination must go, but certain fundamental measures of differentiation must remain, those measures which make group security possible and which prevent group domination.
Let us test, for instance, the hon member for Green Point on this. I would like to ask him whether it is so that the PFP would like to be the majority party in a federal Parliament elected on the basis of one man, one vote? That is their policy. [Interjections.] They believe in a federal system and in mixed voters’ rolls, and they would like to be the majority party. I am sure of that.
If that is so, the following question comes to the fore: Can the PFP become the majority party in such a Parliament? They will then have to become a party dominated by Black members and Black MPs. [Interjections.] With a mixed voters’ roll, they have no hope of ever becoming a majority party unless they have a Black majority in their own ranks. [Interjections.] It is so simple.
*The conclusion—and with this I must unfortunately conclude—is that when they say that everything must go, the PFP is really only paying lip service. They, too, stand for group identity in a certain sense, and this is also my reply to the hon member for Fauresmith. They, too, serve a specific corps of voters that support them. They, too, want to make provision—although they do not do so effectively—for a group veto. One cannot sit on two stools as far as this matter is concerned. Either one is in favour of one man, one vote in one state, or else one stands for a form of differentiation.
Mr Chairman, may I put a question to the hon the Minister?
The hon member may ask his question later. We can speak about the “how” in a moment. As I said it must be a form of differentiation which will nevertheless ensure group security and ensure that there is no group domination. Therefore one cannot abolish all forms of differentiation, because then the objective that the hon member for Sea Point advocates could not be achieved.
Is the hon Minister prepared to answer a question now?
Yes, if the hon member wants to put his question.
I just want to ask the hon the Minister whether he is therefore intimating—by way of the question he put to me—that the NP can only stay in power by virtue of a constitutional situation in which it keeps the ultimate power in White hands. Is that what he is intimating to us?
No. That is not what I say and that is not what the NP advocates. What the NP advocates is that within each identifiable entity—the Whites, Coloureds, Indians and also the various Black groups and other Black entities—a majority party must come to the fore which will have the maximum say in respect of the lot, manner of living and the weal and woe of that particular group. The leaders of this group will in addition be able to co-operate within structures with the leaders of the other groups in respect of matters of common interest. That is what the NP stands for. [Interjections.]
Mr Chairman, I want to deal with the Commission for Administration.
The annual report of the Commission for Administration for 1984-85 is very well compiled and I must thank the officials who were responsible for drawing it up.
With the passing in 1984 of the Commission for Administration Act, the role of the commission in regard to the Public Service and other public institutions has been redefined in that the commission’s responsibilities extend beyond the Public Service into its two fields of responsibility, namely Government organization and public personnel administration.
The Commission’s involvement with the groups concerned varies from direct statutory intervention to the informal exercising of a degree of influence. For instance, it has direct statutory intervention in respect of the Public Service; services such as those rendered by the Police and the Defence Force; provincial administrations; statutory bodies and other central government bodies and national states and universities. It also has indirect intervention in respect of the SATS, the Department of Posts and Telecommunications, agricultural control boards, local authorities and public corporations. One must exclude public corporations because, by statute, they do not fall under the control of Parliament or the provincial councils through the aegis of the Auditor-General or the provincial auditors.
Excluding public corporations, the number of such employees in these organizations totals more than 1,5 million, according to my calculations.
One can only deal with a particular facet in this debate and I have chosen to concentrate on housing aid to officials. In the annual report we read the following in regard to housing:
During last year I received a number of communications, both verbal and written, about housing aid to officials which perturbed me. In order to test, within the limits of a legislator, the implications of the allegations, I felt that as the spokesman of the Official Opposition on the Commission for Administration, it was necessary for me to do some investigations.
I wish to inform the hon the Minister that the officials of his department and of the Commission for Administration at their headquarters in Pretoria were most informative and helpful. They answered all my questions, and I wish to thank them for their cooperation. On the other hand, I must state that I did not receive the same courtesy from certain other departments. The Ministers concerned will know what I am referring to.
Cursory as my investigations may have been, I believe it is unfair for the Cabinet to ask the commission to investigate any scheme in which the members of the commission and their staffs are participants. In law they should have recused themselves.
In 1985-86, the tab of R102 million for housing aid to officials appeared under Programme 3 of Public Works and Land Affairs. There is a curt footnote: “Payable by each department as from 1 April 1985”, and this makes me rather suspicious.
The Post Office, SATS, municipalities and others have schemes based on the Public Service, as well as schemes tied to pension schemes and housing loan funds. If 9% of all public personnel are involved, it means that at least 150 000 houses are at present being subsidized at an annual cost of between R500 million and R1 000 million. These organizations obtain their funds either through rates or taxes or levies imposed on administered prices. Moreover, pension funds obtain a lower rate of interest than on the money market.
I therefore ask the hon the Minister to appoint a commission of inquiry from outside any organization falling directly or indirectly under the aegis of the Commission for Administration, to investigate the housing aid to officials in all its details. I feel this is particularly necessary in view of the introduction of the perks tax, and I shall tell the hon Minister why I say this.
I should like to quote disturbing comments from some of the letters I have received. The writer of one of these letters said:
Another one said:
Another comment was:
Another writer said:
A further comment was:
I have two studies done by a chartered accountant, and I shall let the hon the Minister have a copy.
I am now going to give some examples: A public servant who earns a salary that entitles him to the maximum subsidy, gets a loan of R30 000. The building society interest is say 18,75% and the term of the loan is 20 years. The monthly repayment to the building society is R480. The full subsidy is R350, therefore the official has to pay R130. Thus the subsidy is almost three times the monthly repayment.
Let us examine the real situation at the end of 20 years. The total payments to the building society would be 240 x R480 which comes to R115 200. The subsidies to be paid would be 240 x R351 which comes to R84 240. That leaves a difference of R30 960 which minus the loan of R30 000 leaves R960. Therefore the public servant is merely repaying the total of his loan while the State pays through the nose. We must work out what the real effective interest rate is which the public servant has to pay after 20 years. That comes to 0,16%.
If one considers that he is entitled to an additional subsidy of R6,60 on every R10 that he pays, with a maximum of R175, then, in order to get R175 per month, he has to add an additional R260. That means that he has to pay his normal monthly repayment of R480 and his voluntary excess of R260, which makes a total of R740; his subsidies come to R526, and therefore he has to pay R214 per month. However, by paying this R740, only 65 instalments will be required instead of 240 instalments. That is some 5 years as against 20 years. The total payments made will be R48 100 and the subsidy received will be R34 190. So, all that the official has paid is R13 910. Therefore, an employee, by paying R13 910 over 5½ years, can redeem a loan of R30 000 by having R16 090 of his capital subsidized. That is what happens in effect.
There is another example of a man who receives a loan of R50 000. The interest charged is higher viz 19,25%. He has to make a minimum monthly repayment of R820. The normal subsidy payable is R598. The total payments of 240 x R820 amount to R196 800. The total subsidies paid are R143 520. Therefore he pays R53 280. So in effect all he pays over and above the loan is R3 280. That is an effective rate of interest of 0,8%.
One can do the same sum including the additional subsidy. One then gets the position that the monthly payments to the building society total 64 x R1 260, while the monthly subsidy paid totals R57 000.
Mr Chairman, it is not clear to us on this side of the House whether the hon member for Bezuidenhout, who always does his homework well, is angry about the subsidy officials are receiving, or happy that this is one of their conditions of service. We on this side of the House are aware that housing is a particular privilege and a particularly large financial stimulus for public servants, and we who know officialdom and the Public Service well know that it is necessary to pay those people well who do their bit. I do not want to comment further, however, on the general salary package.
We on this side of the House would sincerely like to thank the Commission for Administration, whose affairs are being discussed today, for the good work that has been done over the past years. Mr Wessel Meyer as the new Secretary has been appointed to the rank of Director-General, and we should like to congratulate him. To Dr De Beer, the Chairman, to Dr Du Plessis, the other member of the commission, and to Mr Robson, Mr Louis Kok, Mr Louis Kluever and Mr Roelf du Preez, we say thank you very much for the good work they have done and also for the good annual report that we as members of this House received.
For someone who reads this report very carefully, it is a very positive sign that matters which have been discussed for many years in this House and in public have been brought strongly to the fore. This concerns aspects such as managerial self-sufficiency in departments and the commission’s involvement with the privatization of certain Public Service activities. We should like to tell the commission that the fact that greater managerial self-sufficiency has been achieved in departments and, as the commission put it in the report, that its hands have been freed so that it can look at broader, orientational aspects of policy, is a very positive development. I think the Commission for Administration is developing in an increasingly evolutionary manner into a body which will—as they are doing now—lay down more and more guidelines for the Government and give advice on management. Departments will look more and more to the everyday physical administration.
I think, too, that this aspect of personnel management in departments which still falls under the control of the commission is a very important component of the establishment, although it covers only a small percentage of the total establishment. I think that in the future the commission will be released from management aspects so that they can deal with wider issues in the interest of South Africa.
The debate in South Africa at the moment on the role of the Public Service and the Government sector, and on the privatization stimulated by the Government, unfortunately also has negative aspects, namely that the Public Service sometimes gets it in the neck from the private sector and that the leaders in the private sector sometimes take the opportunity to pick quarrels with the Public Service as a whole. I want to ask today that we not regard the Public Service in South Africa as being a component in opposition to the private sector. As I see it, this division between the Public Service on the one side and the private sector on the other only creates unnecessary tension in the long run. On those occasions one hears very negative comments on the Public Service. Negative generalizations are made. Expressions such as “ineffectiveness”, “bureaucracy” and “poor image” are used as well as comparisons by the private sector between productivity in the private sector and in the Public Service. Even the competence of people in the Public Service is called into question.
I think that we as members of this House owe it to officials of the Public Service not to cast reflections in this debate—which ought in fact to deal with principles and wider viewpoints—on those who keep the machinery of State going.
Man for man we in South Africa have the most capable, most qualified and most reliable people in the Public Service. We should like to give them credit for this and not see them disparaged.
I should like to thank the commission for the role it has played in co-operating with the hon the Minister regarding the improvement of the salary packages of officials. I honestly believe that even in difficult times, when people said it ought not to be done, the feeling was that officials ought to be rewarded for the important contributions they make. We therefore thank the people for that decision.
I unfortunately have only a few minutes left. In my opinion privatization embodies a great many positive and exciting opportunities for officials. I want to make a plea to the hon the Minister today that we should not let this debate degenerate to such an extent that facets of the national economy—specific departments, smaller sections of departments, and especially the officials—perceive the situation in a negative light and feel that they will be deprived of security in the future and that we shall be turning them over to the private sector. We should rather embue the entire core of officials with the idea, and let it take hold, as the Commission for Administration has indeed tried to do, that the country as a whole will benefit tremendously from privatization.
In actual fact it does not necessarily mean that those facets of the machinery of State that are privatized need prejudice the officials. In several other countries, such as the USA and Britain, officials working in the sections or departments of an organization that has been privatized, and which is therefore no longer in the State’s hands, were able to continue doing the same work in the organization concerned.
I think that many people in our machinery of State who would perhaps wonder today whether this would not be a very dangerous step are actually going to be pleasantly surprised.
For this reason, in accordance with the Government’s generally announced standpoint of privatization, I should like to argue seriously here today that the hon the Minister and the Commission for Administration, in their own competent manner, should bring home the concept of the privatization of our entire machinery of State so that officials do not feel threatened by it, but are so positively disposed towards the possible significance of privatization for the country’s development in general that they participate actively in expediting the process.
I should like to conclude with a single thought. There is tremendous potential in the large-scale stimulation of the small business sector. This could be done if, in the future, we privatized many of the functions today being performed by the Public Service. I do not have the time now to go into this in detail. In this respect I am thinking, for example, of the enormous amount of printing and photocopying that has to be done. There is a whole series of things of this nature that can be done very easily by the private sector. Moreover, these are functions that are eminently suited to the small business man in the various centres in the country. Part of the money appropriated by the State for this purpose could then accrue to those people.
Obviously, the false impression does exist that the State can do things more cheaply than the private sector. Of course I do not want to comment on people’s capabilities. I merely want to state that the man in the private sector pays tax on the money he himself generates, and he is the one on whom pressure is exerted, in many respects, to produce as much as possible.
Mr Chairman, today I want to charge the hon the Minister, and the Government as such, with having neglected their duty with regard to employing Black people, Coloureds and Indians in the Public Service. I am uttering this accusation against the background of my own conviction, although it is possible that not everyone shares this conviction of mine. However, I am doing so against the background of my conviction that the Public Service ought to be as representative as possible of the total population of this country.
Of course I understand that the merits of a person’s training, his experience and his expertise—whether it be administrative, technical or whatever—ought to be given priority when he is considered for employment in the Public Service, as is the case elsewhere as well. In reality, the Public Service is a large employer, which offers possibilities for in-service training and experience, and which could therefore pursue a much more comprehensive employment policy. I am saying this because I believe that the Public Service—like other large employers in the private sector—could contribute a great deal to affording staff the opportunity for adjustment, training and experience, which smaller organizations and smaller employers are unable to offer. Therefore, what I mean is that the Public Service can afford to be a little more comprehensive in its employment policy, for example, by initially affording people the opportunity of in-service training and afterwards, at a later stage, deciding whether or not it wants to keep them in its employ.
Let us just have a brief look at what the position is at present. During the last two sessions I have put questions with regard to the number of people of the various population groups in the service of the State. I must say I was surprised to ascertain that apparently no up-to-date statistics are kept with regard to the number of Black, Coloured and Indian members of staff in the various departments. Apparently they are all regarded as one group, whilst only Whites are counted as a separate race group. In reply to a question last year, it was indicated that a new system was envisaged later in 1984, in terms of which statistics would in fact be kept up to date with regard to those people as separate groups. In reply to a similar question I put earlier this year, it was indicated that the position is still precisely as it was at the beginning of 1984. Therefore, statistics are still only being kept up to date with regard to two groups of people.
I put questions here in this House specifically with regard to those categories of staff in the Public Service who are employees of the Public Service in the narrower sense of the word. I was therefore excluding teachers, police officials, nurses and so on, as well as employees at the lowest levels in the Public Service—those who work with picks and shovels, and so on. What it therefore concerned, was the so-called white-collar workers in the Public Service. In that regard, the situation in 1985 is still that for every seven White officials there is only one official who is either Black, Coloured or Indian. Furthermore, I took five categories respectively in which representation varies from …
You are juggling with figures. [Interjections.]
Then the hon the Deputy Minister must please react to my speech and tell me where my facts are wrong.
Representation varies from 25:1 in the highest category, and at the other extreme the ratio is 3,5:1. It is therefore clear that there is a big difference. I want to say that unfortunately the Public Service is far behind the private sector in this respect.
The information I want to divulge now will throw further light on the situation. This is information I obtained last year, also by way of a question, and it deals with how many Coloureds could be appointed as returning officers during the Coloured election in August 1984, and how many Indians could be appointed as returning officers for the Indian election. I assume that the Government would probably refer to appoint people from those particular population groups if their services were available. In both cases, only two people could be found to act as returning officers, and when I asked the hon the Deputy Minister, who has just reacted to my speech, about that, he said that there were not enough people who were able to perform that task. A day later, he corrected his reply somewhat by saying that there were not enough people with the necessary experience. In any case, this is in fact a reflection on the point I am trying to make, viz that thus far there has been insufficient opportunity for those people to gain experience.
Furthermore, I understand that as a result of the report of the Public Service Commission—this information was also obtained from a reply given by the hon the Minister to a question I put—a Cabinet decision was taken on this matter in 1984 which apparently effects certain changes, and which insists to a certain extent that more cognisance must be taken of the representation of other people in the Public Service. Perhaps I am not reading the guidelines set out here correctly, but that is the impression I gain, and I certainly hope that that is the position. However, I want to say that the situation at this stage is untenable, and that there is still a very long way to go.
Finally, I also put a question regarding the number of schools the Public Service visited during its employment campaign, or recruitment campaign, during the course of 1984. The White schools that were visited numbered 662, but not a single Black, Coloured or Indian school was visited. Those visits, during which matric pupils were informed about the possible careers they could pursue in the Public Service, were therefore not made in respect of other races. I certainly hope that the hon the Minister will take up this matter in earnest, and that it will be rectified as soon as possible.
Mr Chairman, the hon member for Green Point will pardon me for not reacting to his speech. From my own experience I have a great deal of appreciation for the work of our public servants. The State would be an empty shell without the security services and public servants. With a purposeful, dedicated and competent corps of officials, the State is a vital force in ensuring civilized standards, orderly development and prosperity in a country. The times in which we are living are making greater demands on the State and its employees than ever before. Linked to this, is the process of implementing the new constitutional dispensation. Without an effective Public Service it is not possible to serve and extend our ideal of security, prosperity and freedom for our fatherland.
South Africa owes a great deal of gratitude to its officials who, from 1910 until today, have helped to develop this country and who have assisted in making South Africa an example of growth and development in so many fields. I think that if there has been, and is, one outstanding characteristic of South Africa’s officials that deserves special mention, it is that they have served successive governments with loyalty. There have been exceptions, and there will probably be exceptions in the future, but the primary loyalty of the large majority of officials has been, and is, service in the spirit of dedication.
Of course, being normal people, officials have their own political convictions and views, but during office hours they serve the government of the day, and carry out the policy of the government.
Against the background of the remarks I have just made, I realize that society expects increasingly more and better services from the State. Nevertheless, the resources of the State are limited, and this can only become worse as the country and all its people develop. The Government, as well as its State departments must therefore continually take priorities and the utilization of resources in this regard into account.
The most important requirements are that in a threatened country the nation must apply and retain discipline, hard work and faith at all times. In this regard, the citizens look up to their political leaders and government officials as examples.
The needs and security of the State and its officials are difficult to separate. Of course, officials have needs that have to be satisfied. A proper relationship between the labour costs to the State and a happy corps of officials should therefore be striven for.
The Public Service is aimed at service to society. It is therefore essential that each population group should be given the opportunity to contribute its share. One group cannot be expected to carry the other groups in the long-term.
Regarding the rights and privileges of the public servant, without going into detail, I just want to say that they compare favourably with those of other sectors. When things were going well in the private sector, many of the State officials were lured there. Today the position is different, and public servants are viewed with a little jealousy, since security also plays a very important role.
I therefore find it regrettable that the following remark appears in an article written by Dr Wassenaar—I am merely quoting one passage from a Press report in which the following is stated:
I find a remark of that nature regrettable, since when the public servant’s remuneration package compared less favourably with that in the private sector, we heard nothing from these people.
The protection of officials against inconsistent treatment and unfair action and the right of admission to a higher level is acknowledged and ensured. It is simply true that in life there are no rights without obligations. It is not a person’s privilege that brings the greatest pleasure; on the contrary, carrying out his duties efficiently, and what he achieves, gives the greatest pleasure. Service is life, and life is service. Consequently, the priority is the duty to maintain high standards of behaviour and conduct.
The official has a code of conduct which precribes thoroughness, balance and integrity, as well as efficiency. Loyalty and dedication form an important part of that code of conduct. It is a source of great satisfaction to know that there are many public servants in South Africa who work long hours of overtime voluntarily and without payment. They are an example to the entire country. South Africans must realize that there is no substitute for hard work and higher productivity in order to achieve success. The Government, as well as its officials, have a tremendous responsibility to convey the correct image of the public servant to the outside world.
This afternoon I appeal to every hon member of this Parliament to acknowledge our officials and show them the necessary appreciation.
I want to ask the hon the Minister seriously to consider giving special recognition to the women in the Public Service in some way—they constitute 40% of the total number of officials in the Public Service—for the loyal service they are rendering South Africa.
Mr Chairman, since we have now reached the end of the discussion of the Votes that have been put, I also wish to convey my cordial thanks to the hon members who participated in the latter part of the debate on these Votes.
I want to say to the hon members for Innesdal and Witbank that I associate myself with their call concerning the image of our Public Service and our officials. Later in my speech I, too, shall express a few ideas in this connection.
I think that it is excellent that hon members of this House should stand up and support this important and sensitive issue in South Africa’s make-up, instead of undermining it as the hon member for Pinelands, among others, did the other day in the course of debate when he referred so disparagingly and contemptuously to “petty democracy”. It gave one cold shivers down one’s back to listen to the hon member’s sharp and destructive condemnation of the people who see to it that he sleeps safely at night and who see to it that the wheels of this country keep turning efficiently. They do in fact turn with as much efficiency as the wheels of the most advanced countries in the rest of the world.
The conduct of the hon member for Green Point, too, was negative and derogatory. I think the time has come for us as hon member of this House to look one another in the eye with regard to this matter and to discuss this point—which really need not be politicized—in a more constructive way.
I thank the two hon members once again. The hon member for Innesdal showed that he had made a thorough study of the Public Service and in particular of the annual report. His whole analysis of the position that the hands of the CFA are now freer to advise the Cabinet on wider and more general managerial issues attests to this. I want to extend to him my cordial thanks.
As regards the appeal for privatization made by the hon member for Innesdal I want to say that we are working on a specific programme of privatization. The basic test we shall have to apply universally in this connection is that the national interest must be placed foremost. Nor is this something we are doing on our own. We are involving a panel of advisers from the private sector in this regard. It is one of the top priorities in our discussions with them that we should obtain inputs from the private sector as well as to how this important matter should be approached. At the same time I want to reply to the idea of the hon member for Innesdal by saying that we shall deal with it in such a way that the officials need not feel threatened by this in any way. We have their cooperation in improving inter alia the image of the Public Service and ensuring the highest possible efficiency and productivity.
The hon member for Witbank made a plea on behalf of the women in the Public Service. To an increasing extent they are making an invaluable contribution to the effective operation of the Public Service, and he may rest assured that within the framework of our resources and our policy of doing away with discrimination between men and women, we shall continue to do our best to look after their interests effectively.
†The hon member for Bezuidenhout has also made a very intensive study of the affairs of the Public Service. That is clear from his contribution. I am aware of the inquiries he made and he is obviously making it his task to have the facts in this regard at his fingertips. However, I want to take him to task to a certain extent for the long list of calculations with which he has furnished me. What does he intend to prove by this? One may as well have taken an employee from the banking, building society or the insurance sector because when one adds all of them up one finds that one also has a very large number of people. If one then says that they only pay 2%, 3% or 4% interest on their loans and are therefore also being subsidized by 14%, the calculation will work out exactly the same. All the policyholders and clients of those institutions contribute to and subsidize exactly the same figure. With calculations of this nature one can show that with any subsidy scheme, where a fair percentage of the interest rate is subsidized, especially at this point in time when interest rates are so high, quite large amounts are involved. That is all the hon member succeeded in proving. However, this is also true in the private sector. Is the hon member asking us to abolish the housing subsidy system? Is he, therefore, asking us to reduce the remuneration package of public servants? Is that the policy of his party? [Interjections.] He wants us to take away or to drastically reduce something enjoyed by 9% of the employees of the Public Service on a selective basis.
What is this scheme aimed at? It is aimed at improving the position of those people so that they can become owners of their own houses. Almost half of them can be classified in the lower or lower middle income group. What he fails to highlight, is that the maximum loan somebody in the Public Service can obtain is R50 000 which when compared to the prices of houses nowadays is a very conservative amount. The hon member makes a number of calculations and creates the impression that public servants are differentially in a much better position as regards housing than people not working for the Public Service, and that is just not true.
*Let me deal with a few matters. There is a great deal of misunderstanding about this matter. I do not say that the hon member shares in the misunderstanding. As far as housing benefits are concerned, the State does not provide any loans to officials. Like any member of the public, officials must apply to a building society or other approved financial institution for a loan. Subject to certain conditions the State gives a guarantee for that part of a purchase or building transaction which an official would otherwise have to contribute himself. In practice Government funds are not used for this purpose. This is financed in other ways, in so far as financing is involved, but it is a paper guarantee. With that as the background, hon members can use their own judgment with regard to a story dished up recently in the Sunday Star.
The story is told of a person who joined the Public Service and was immediately offered a loan of R72 000 at 4% interest which he then used to buy a holiday house. This is simply not possible. In the first place we do not give direct loans. In the second place there is a maximum ceiling of R50 000 if we subsidize a loan. In the third place, if he used it to buy a holiday house he has committed fraud, and very drastic action can be taken against him. However this is how the public is being misled. A negative image of the Public Service is being created, and meanwhile the allegations are devoid of all truth. An official who complies with the requirements set can only receive R50 000 maximum and then only if he and his dependents live in the dwelling permanently. If he cheats with regard to the utilization of the funds he will have committed a serious wrong and disciplinary action will be taken against him. Accordingly I call upon the media to acquaint themselves with the true facts before beginning to create an image with regard to matters of this nature.
†The hon member for Bezuidenhout also inferred that the Commission for Administration was not the proper body to advise the Cabinet on conditions of service because its members are also recipients of benefits such as housing subsidies. [Interjections.] Only with regard to themselves, or only with regard to housing subsidies?
Only with regard to housing subsidies.
Only with regard to housing subsidies, but they may advise the Cabinet on salaries and on other facets where they are also recipients? There is no logic in the hon member’s criticism. If his objection in this regard has any foundation, then one must say that the Commission for Administration does not have a function and should not be there because every member of its staff, of its administration, receives a salary, annual leave and other service benefits which, in some cases, or rather in most cases, include housing subsidies. There is no reason for the hon member’s doubts, if he has any, about the integrity or the objectivity of the Commission.
I now come to the hon member for Green Point. I shall shortly react in more general terms to the main theme he addressed but at this point I just want to make a few specific points.
*In the first place I want to say to him that as regards statistics relating to the staff of the various population groups we are now very close to refining our data base to such an extent that in future it will be possible to provide separate figures for each population group. We are at present close to being able to do that. This is a deficiency that we are rectifying.
If I heard correctly, he advocates the system of representation of population groups, a kind of quota system. That is not in line with the basic principles applied in the Public Service, viz merit and efficiency. I want to give him the assurance that there is ample opportunity for members of all population groups to serve the country and its people. After all, we must know that certain priorities also enjoy attention in the course of development. When the hon member quotes figures he omits to indicate what dramatic progress has been made in the field of education. Those people, too, receive their money from the State and they, too, serve the country. How many more teachers are from those population groups? Are their numbers not growing every year? He quoted a few figures relating to the Public Service in the narrow sense, and then creates the impression that we are not experiencing a process whereby we are increasingly, and in relatively large numbers, adding to the establishment of the State in the broader sense from among those population groups.
Mr Chairman, may I ask the hon the Minister a question?
I am going to deal with the whole issue in general in a moment. If the hon member subsequently still wants to ask a question, he is welcome to do so.
At a time when the Public Service is often being exposed to vehement and wide-ranging criticism I think it is necessary for us to try to provide some perspective with regard to certain matters by reference to facts. The success with which the new constitutional dispensation was set in operation at the administrative level has been due to the officials’ desire to make it succeed, and it is in the light of this positive approach by the officials throughout the Public Service that I find it so strange that there has been a flood of criticism of the Public service in recent times. It is principle of public administration that by virtue of the fact that it has to use the taxpayers’ money to provide services, it must be possible to call the Public Service to account. However, what we have been having recently is not well-considered criticism relating to the extent and quality of the service rendered, but rather attacks on the public service and particularly on the supposedly generous remuneration and other conditions of service of its officials.
One of the most popular statements nowadays is that public servants are overpaid; in other words, that they receive higher pay than they in fact earn, and that this is chiefly to be ascribed to the policy of occupational differentiation. It seems to me that there is still ignorance about this in certain circles and for that reason I should like to discuss the matter briefly. If we in this country want to satisfy the demands of the future it is necessary for the Public Service to obtain and retain its rightful share of the work force, with regard not only to quantity but also to quality.
You have more than your fair share.
Only in this way can effective service to the country—including the private sector—be ensured. The hon member at the back there said that we have more than our fair share. Could he briefly mention to me three services that he wants withdrawn?
It is not a question of my wanting services withdrawn. I am speaking of the number of people involved.
You see, Sir, once again this is ill-considered criticism: “There are too many”. I am going to deal with the “too many”. [Interjections.] Only if we obtain and retain our rightful share of the work force can effective service to the country be ensured. The State is one of the many employers seeking personnel on the same labour market, and occupational differentiation is a logical answer in the competitive situation because it ensures that just enough—not too much and not too little—is offered to obtain and retain people of the right calibre.
A second point I want to make is that in contrast to what is often suggested, the occu pational structure of the Public Service is only moderately market-related. Thirdly, it is important to realize that occupational differentiation is not tackled in a random fashion. When the dispensation in the Public Service is determined, market rates for occupational classes are determined from authoritative salary surveys by two private consultants, from HSRC surveys, from analysis of media advertisements and from discussions with other employers who are prepared to furnish relevant information. In determining the remuneration, market rates are then scaled down by between 5 and 15%, except in certain exceptional cases, specifically in order to make provision for factors such as the greater security of employment one does have within the Public Service. We therefore penalise officials salarywise in order to discount those other factors.
Ignorance also prevails with regard to the issue of security of employment. It is a misconception that it is virtually impossible to get rid of an official. A full list of circumstances and reasons for discharge are contained in the Public Service Act of 1984, and these are implemented. I should like to give notice that I intend submitting legislation during this session which will streamline the procedure of dismissal to a greater extent.
As regards to the competitiveness of salaries there is a misconception in certain circles that the salaries of officials should be even less favourable than those of comparable employees in small business enterprises. To people who say this I want to ask: Why should the Public Service, with its highly-trained and well-qualified staff, not enjoy the recognition it is entitled to? I wish to emphasize that occupational differentiation does not only concern the improvement of remuneration but also standards of qualification and performance that public servants have to comply with. It is also a matter of upgrading the capacity of the Public Service in order to provide an effective service.
The initial creation of dispensation packages—because we were far behind—did of course entail salary improvements of different orders. We had to catch up on backlogs of several years within a reasonable time. In future it ought not to be so much.
What about productivity?
I am coming to that. I have spent a reasonable amount of time on the subjects I have dealt with thus far. However, I am sure hon members will agree with me that it is necessary to put these matters into perspective. As long as the public is bombarded with negative reporting—and sometimes even with untruths—in this regard, we run the risk that the image of the Public Service can be impaired. This would be contrary to the country’s best interests, and so I really want to reiterate that we must stand together to prevent such denigration of an important institution like the Public Service.
I come now to the employment policy in the Public Service. Since the previous debate and after the implementation of the new dispensation, revised policy guidelines were laid down regarding the employment and utilization of members of the various population groups in the Public Service. In accordance with this new constitutional dispensation which provides for own and general affairs, the employment policy differs in respect of the administrations for own affairs and the general departments.
Regarding own affairs, the staff of the own administrations will, in accordance with Government policy, as far as possible be drawn from the relevant population groups. This policy will be actively fostered with the clear understanding, however, that principles of merit and efficiency will prevail and that no lowering of standards will take place.
Until such time as the investigation into the reassignment of functions at provincial level has been finalized, services which are provided at that level and which are clearly undertaken in the interests of a specific population group should also, as far as is practicable, be rendered by members of that particular population group.
The position relating to the departments for general affairs is as follows: The staffing of these departments will be done from the ranks of Whites, Coloureds and Indians and, under certain circumstances, also Blacks. The same approach will be valid at provincial level in respect of services which are not clearly aimed at a particular group. Members of the three population groups will henceforth be able to lay claim to appointment and promotion on an equal footing in these departments. Decisions on personnel matters will once again be guided throughout by the principles of merit and efficiency.
As hon members are aware, the Government is attending on a continuous basis to the constitutional position of Blacks. Since Black affairs have been identified under the Constitution as matters of general interest and concern, Blacks may obviously be employed in departments for general affairs if the particular service and manpower situation so dictate. I must, however, emphasize that Black people have been provided with ample career opportunities in the public services of the independent and self-governing states. Thus they can, to a certain extent, follow careers in their own public services, and will be encouraged to do so.
With regard to the departments of the central Government rendering services to Blacks in particular, special care will be taken in regard to the advancement of Blacks so that they can serve their own people up to the highest possible level.
If the hon member for Green Point wants to ask a question on this aspect, he should do so now because I want to turn to another aspect.
I wish to put this question to the hon the Minister because he is very much on the defensive with regard to what I have said. All I want to ask him—we all realize that everything cannot be changed overnight—is whether he does not believe or accept that it is an undesirable state of affairs that as part of the recruitment campaign more than 600 White schools, but none of the schools of the other groups, were visited. I am now speaking about matric pupils that are at issue here. Does he not regard that as undesirable?
To the best of my knowledge members of the Commission for Administration do not visit schools themselves.
That is according to the answer to a question.
The members of the Commission for Administration themselves?
I believe that there may have been a misunderstanding. However we shall obtain clarification in regard to this matter and I shall give the hon member the facts.
The fact is that with regard to their objectives that I have just mentioned, even if it is only so that they can serve their own people, we need increasing numbers of well qualified people to enter the Public Service and the teaching professions. The training facilities in this regard ought to be extended and specific arrangements will be made. It is essential that we have larger numbers of trained people, particularly in order to serve their own people. This will also achieve an improved balance in the manpower situation of South Africa.
†In conclusion I wish briefly to discuss the promotion of productivity in the Government sector. The Government regards the curbing of personnel expenditure and the promotion of productivity as matters calling for priority attention, and has committed itself wholeheartedly to these goals. By enhanced productivity is meant quality service to the public with the same or fewer personnel. An extended programme in this regard has recently been launched by the Commission for Administration in co-operation with the Treasury. This programme includes all institutions whose personnel expenditures are financed wholly or in part from the State Revenue Fund.
The programme will contain four important facets. Firstly, there is the financial aspect that will be aimed at curtailing personnel expenditures without affecting the quality of essential services to the public. In the second instance it is planned to bring about and to develop a well-defined productivity awareness by means of publicity campaigns and training, particularly at management level. The third facet of the programme involves the encouragement of departments to set and to attain clear productivity goals on a year to year basis. Lastly, the measures for rewarding achievement will be revised and amended. Greater emphasis will be placed on productivity, and appropriate rewards, also on the more senior levels, will be investigated.
*However, it must also be noted that all these steps to which I have just referred, cannot show immediate and tangible results. Progress will have to be monitored constantly and where necessary adjustments to the programme will be effected. The assessment of results is handicapped by the fact that many of the functions of the State do not lend themselves to quantification.
The Government profoundly appreciates the exceptional contribution made by the officials in difficult circumstances. At the same time the country’s interest requires that productivity be boosted to still higher levels. I believe that the officials will succeed in this regard and that they are already motivated to do so.
I wish to convey my sincere thanks to all the officials who have accepted the economy and productivity programme which was recently announced and which has hurt them in a certain sense, and who are helping to make a success of it. The Government has never doubted that the Republic of South Africa can at all times rely fully on their loyal support.
I shall deal more fully with the issue of visits and guidance to schools under the Education Vote. Moreover there will be an opportunity to discuss the matter then.
Votes agreed to.
Vote No 9—“National Education”:
Mr Chairman, our spokesman on National Education, the hon member for Bryanston, will only be entering this debate tomorrow. Being the first speaker for our party, it therefore falls to me to congratulate Dr Roux Venter on his appointment as Director-General of this department. We wish him well in his new task. We are sure that he will perform his duties in this post with distinction.
My duty under this Vote relates to sporting issues. This afternoon I should like to touch briefly on two issues. The first one is the declaration of the Sports Policy Committee which came out last month, and then I want to make some very brief comments on the forthcoming All-Black tour to South Africa.
Starting with the declaration of the Sports Policy Committee, I consider this to be a very significant event, not necessarily because anything new was said but because, for the first time, it represented a combined statement of intent by all the various sporting bodies in South Africa. It is worthwhile noting that the Sports Policy Committee was backed by the SA National Olympic Committee and the SA Sports Federation which between them represent some 90 sporting bodies. Not only did they come out with a specific statement of intent but also laid down specific guidelines whereby each sporting body would report to its parent body on progress which had been made towards implementing the principles as laid out.
To date I have seen no official reaction from the hon the Minister on this, and I believe that in the course of this debate he should take the opportunity to identify the Government with the principles which were laid down by the Sports Policy Committee. I think it is worthwhile that, for the benefit of the House, we go through these principles this afternoon, and I should also like to address a few requests to the hon the Minister in this regard.
The first principle they laid down was that there should be no apartheid or racial discrimination in sport and related issues. Is the Minister prepared to commit himself to that principle and use whatever influence he has to ensure, for example, that all sporting facilities are open to all races? I mention here the example of Loftus Versveld in Pretoria which I believe is not.
The second principle relates to equal opportunities irrespective of race.
The third one relates to the upliftment of all communities so that everyone can compete on an equitable basis in all forms of sport.
What is your opinion on the autonomy of sport?
I am fully in favour of the autonomy of sport, and sportsmen have declared themselves in favour of these principles. The Government is in a position to make it easier for them, and that is the theme of my address this afternoon.
The fourth principle relates to the provision of coaches and administrators to encourage sport at grassroots level in all communities.
The three latter principles obviously involve finance, and it is true to say that up to now sport has unfortunately been relegated to a very low position when it has come to the determining of priorities. It is time that the Government realized that sport can play a very important role in promoting better relations in South Africa and can also play a role in providing outlets for people who live under rather tedious township conditions. I think it will be useful if in the course of this debate the hon the Minister can make a general commitment that the State will provide more funds for sporting bodies in the country.
The fifth principle set out, relates to non-racial competition in sport from school to international level. This is one of the few problem areas left in sport in South Africa, even identified as such by Mr Rudolph Opperman, the Chairman of the South African National Olympic Committee. Surely the time has come to allow schools, at the very least, to decide for themselves on whom they are going to play against. Education is becoming more and more centralized under the Minister and I believe that it will shortly lie or already lies within his power to allow this.
A series of pledges was also made by the various sporting bodies in order to achieve the above-mentioned principles. My time is very short, but I should like to deal with one or two of them very quickly.
The first one is the creation of sports complexes which should be made available to all sportsmen and women. Will the hon the Minister give an undertaking that where State money is involved, he will ensure that these complexes are open to sportsmen of all races?
Finally, I would like to make a brief statement on the All Black tour. We in this party look forward to it as much as, I am sure, the hon the Minister does. Tomorrow morning we will know whether it is taking place. Obviously, we are in favour of sport taking place at all levels. We are also in favour of promoting overseas tours, because we think that sport can be used as a vehicle to promote reform and to promote contact among groups in the country.
As I pointed out earlier, I think that the hon the Minister can make a contribution towards depoliticizing sport and also make it easier in the future for our sporting friends overseas to tour South Africa and to justify such a tour. I hope he will do so during the course of this debate.
Mr Chairman, I am not going to react now to what the hon member for Pietermaritzburg South had to say. He started the debate on sport. I understand what his problem is in the sense that he is unable to be here tomorrow, but I do not wish to react to that now.
I should rather like to commence with the topic under discussion at present, viz national education in general. I do just want to tell that hon member that it is clear that he has very big problems at this stage. I am not quite sure whether he could risk going near a rugby field this year. I am not going to react to that any further, however. The hon member for Newcastle will react on the subject of sport tomorrow. [Interjections.]
Firstly, at the commencement of this debate on national education, I should like to congratulate the hon the Minister on the addition of this portfolio to his activities in the Cabinet. The hon the Minister was appointed to this post since we last discussed this subject in the House of Assembly. I should like to congratulate him and wish him everything of the very best. Indeed, I think we can feel privileged that this hon Minister, who, to a large extent, was a co-architect in establishing the various structures dealing with education as a whole, is also the Minister responsible for National Education. We can be very grateful that he is the one in charge. We wish him everything of the best.
From this side of the House, I should also like to congratulate the Director-General, Dr Roux Venter, on his appointment as the new Director-General of the Department of National Education. He is an experienced educationist, he has been in the department for a long time, and we are all looking forward with confidence to his handling the work of Director-General in the department. We also wish him and his staff everything of the very best and good luck for that task.
Another remark I want to make at the commencement of this debate is that on Friday we took note of the reference of the hon the Minister of Finance in his reply to the Budget debate to the fact that this year we passed the R5 000 million mark in respect of the total education budget for the first time. It is the first time that we have passed the R5 000 million mark. On that occasion on Friday the hon the Minister said that that was an indication of a responsible Government and of the confidence a responsible Government has in the future of this country. I should like to add to that by saying that it is quite significant that it could be organized that this amount of R5 000 million be surpassed this year, Youth Year. I think this is a significant indication not only of the confidence the Government has in the future of this country, but of the urgent attention education in general is receiving. It is important to take note of this, since in this discussion we are concentrating on education in general and the affairs of this department. Therefore, from this side of the House, I want to thank the hon the Minister of Finance and the Government most sincerely for allocating this large portion of funds to education as a whole in South Africa.
The Ministry and the Department of National Education are a new ministry and a new department. I therefore believe that it is necessary, by way of commencement, to discuss the affairs of the Department of National Education—taking its new form into account—and to have a brief look at what has been established now.
Firstly, I wish to state that the Department of National Education is not a super-education department. However, for the first time we do have a department that determines general education policy for everyone. This will ensure that a policy for achieving the goal of equal education opportunities and equal quality of education can be formulated, which will apply to everyone. Moreover, this can be done without restricting the autonomy of the various State education departments.
I think it is significant for us also to take note of what the Government’s premise is with regard to education in general, and how this premise comes into its own in this department.
In this regard I should like to refer to the White Paper on the provision of education. In particular, I want to point to the premise the Government stated in that White Paper in 1983. That is that the main objective of the Government is to ensure the greatest measure of spiritual and material welfare for all the citizens of the country as far as education is concerned. This also means that the Government regards it as its task to fulfil that main objective and to implement it by firstly establishing systems of providing education by establishing education organizations and institutions and determining their goals, by defining their spheres of work, and by establishing organizational structures. Secondly, the Government wishes to implement this by making the necessary resources available to the systems of education so that those systems can function properly.
Furthermore, the Government said in the White Paper that it did not regard it as being its duty—especially from a central perspective—fully to administer these systems providing education by itself. This is the task being given to the executive education departments and autonomous education institutions. I believe that the best proof we have of this standpoint is to be found in an analysis of the budget for education in general. For example, it has already been mentioned that the total amount that is going to be spent on education this year comes to R5 000 million altogether. The budget of the Department of National Education amounts to only R107 million. This therefore clearly shows that as far as administering and carrying out this function as a whole are concerned, the emphasis is being placed on the separate executive education departments. This is in accordance with the objective of the devolution of power, as well as the accompanying decentralization of administrative functions. Apart from the fact that it does justice to the educational need of a say at the local and intermediary levels, it also does justice to the need for efficient administration because it can be done better on a decentralized basis, of course.
Because it is of the utmost importance that equal standards in education be striven for, the Government indicated in the White Paper that it is necessary for the State to make provision for structures for consultation, negotiation and advice. Since we are discussing the matters affecting this department I should just like to indicate by way of summary—this was discussed earlier—that important bodies have already been established for this purpose. For example, I refer in this regard to certain interested bodies such as the Committee of Technikon Principals and the Committee of University Principals, and advisory bodies such as the Universities and Technikons Advisory Council and the SA Teachers’ Council, and many other committees. Unfortunately, I do not have sufficient time now to mention them all here.
There are also existing specialist bodies, for example, the Joint Matriculation Board. Then there are prospective bodies, such as the Central Statutory Certification Council, which will possibly be established in the near future. These are bodies that are being established in order to ensure the maximum co-ordination of education requirements possible.
I think it is important also to point out what the functions of the various departments entail. The hon the Minister of National Education has a policy-making and executive function with regard to general education affairs, as determined in Schedule 1 to the Constitution, and defined in the National Policy for General Education Affairs Act, 1984. These matters are defined very clearly in the first Schedule to the Constitution, as well as in the above-mentioned Act, and include the norms and standards for the financing of running and capital costs of education, the salaries and conditions of employment of staff, the professional registration of teachers, norms and standards for syllabuses and examination, and certification of qualifications. These are the matters pertaining to education which belong under this department. On the other hand, we have the Ministers of Education and Culture and the Minister of Education and Training, who deal with the policy-making and executive function with regard to own education of the various groups.
Since a new department is about to be established, it is important to say that the path envisaged with regard to the White Paper on the provision of education, and which followed the earlier HSRC report, has been given substance. We are therefore already able to say with certainty today that we have a fine structure with which to serve the educational need in South Africa as a whole. I am referring to the need for a central body which has to look after the general educational need, but also the need for own education departments for each group. [Time expired.]
Mr Chairman, I want to join the Official Opposition in congratulating Dr Roux Venter on his appointment to the very important post he is now occupying. I want to say that the last few times I attended the meetings of the standing committees, I saw the Director-General participate in proceedings there, and I believe he was a good choice, and that he participated with great dignity and in a splendid manner. It is probably not always the easiest thing in the world to be in the Public Service, particularly in today’s political climate, and to assume the responsibility and implement the policy of the Government so calmly as an official, and what is more to have the critical eyes of members of the Opposition party fixed on one too. I should like to tell the hon the Minister that I am of the opinion that his officials are a loyal group.
I should also like to congratulate the hon the Minister on this particular appointment of his. I should also like to congratulate the hon the Deputy Minister, the member for Port Natal. As far as I am able to say so as an opponent, I am of the opinion that they are both hon gentlemen who will look into the relevant matters to the best of their ability. I want to tell the hon the Minister that I made my maiden speech at a time when his late father was the hon Minister of National Education, and I always had the greatest respect for him too. As a person who is interested in genealogy, I must say that it is always a wonderful achievement when a son in many respects not only follows his father into a specific place, but can also occupy that position with dignity. I want to tell the hon the Minister now that when I look at him very often he will not take it amiss of me that I very often see in him the ghostly image of ex-Senator De Klerk here.
But having said those few words I want to point out that this hon Minister has a very difficult task as a Minister who is responsible for a large province in politics, and as a Minister who tries to convey the impression in public of a person who wants to stand by the old values of our people, and of the White civilization we have built here. I believe the hon the Minister is trying to do these things to the best of his ability, although in my opinion he does not always succeed. As we develop this trucameral parliamentary system, and as the development in respect of urban Blacks also takes place, the hon the Minister as far as education is concerned is going to find himself with a portfolio which is going to cause many problems.
When I read the other day that the hon Minister Rajbansi had stated positively that he wanted to resign over the mere issue of a road, I wondered what was going to happen in future, particularly as far as education was concerned. I also want to tell the hon the Minister that in my opinion his chairman in the standing committee, the hon member for Innesdal, is doing his best to advance the consensus ideas of the Government, but while one is sitting there one realizes that one is dealing with absolutely fundamental cultural differences as far as the Whites and the Indians are concerned. I think the same applies with regard to the Whites and the Coloureds. It is a very difficult task.
I want to remind the hon the Minister that we said at the outset that this cliché, expression or concession which the NP gave the voters, namely so-called own affairs and general affairs, and that education is an own affair of the Whites, the Coloureds and the Indians, will very clearly appear to be invalid as we proceed with the discussions of these Votes. The so-called education which is an own affair is subordinate. It is also stated in the department’s annual report that it is subordinate to certain fundamental aspects of general education.
If I just look at the index—I hope I do not turn two pages at once again as was the case during the previous Vote—I want to point out to the hon the Minister that things are being intertwined here. There are sections of culture and cultural relation and such a large group of matters which, as far as I am concerned, are unique to the Whites and the cultural development of the Whites in South Africa, but these are now being included in the so-called general affairs.
The hon the Minister must remember that while he and the present Cabinet are still here, some of these things may perhaps continue with little friction, but a time may come, if the CP does not become the Government of the country soon, when an Indian or a Coloured may occupy the position the hon the Minister is now occupying, which will give a totally different dimension to the handling of the post.
Cultural relations are referred to here. When I spoke about immigration during the discussion of the previous Vote, the hon the Deputy Minister—I am saying this in a very friendly manner—did not reply to my fundamental questions on the matter of immigration, the composition of the new political nation which the State President foresaw in South Africa and so on. I also talked about immigration from India, but we are dealing here with cultural relations. The NP has brought about a broadening of democracy, but what effect is this going to have on the cultural relations with India and other countries the Indians come from? At the moment we are still on honeymoon, but in future there are going to be very serious differences of opinion regarding these things.
I want to touch on tertiary education for a moment. I have looked at the programme of principles of the old NP again. If I look back now to things one took for granted at the time, it is very difficult for me nowadays to associate the NP with its programme of principles. Nevertheless, today the NP is making a pretense of reserving primary and secondary education as own affairs. These are now own affairs but the whole of tertiary education has become a general affair. The entire plan and programme of the universities and technikons is a general affair.
In this way the NP is trying to get away from the fact that the Universities of Stellenbosch, Pretoria, Potchefstroom and the Orange Free State, have their own nature, character and so on, but the NP is gradually turning the universities in South Africa in general and the Afrikaans universities in particular into so-called international universities. I say that this is being done gradually, but the principles of integration are built in. We have had long arguments on the matter of universities.
I am concerned about the way in which universities today very prominently take a political climate and background into consideration for the appointment of their chancellors and the awarding of honorary doctorates and so on.
The hon member says it is sour grapes, but I have suffered defeat in my life. My team the Tukkies have also lost, but then there come a time when one gets a chance to play again and then one can win.
Recently, when the chancellor of the University of Pretoria was elected, it was not the so-called conservatives who dragged politics into this, but the “establishment” at our universities. I want to refer to a speech made by the hon member for Virginia in which he attacked the hon member for Waterberg regarding the matter of the son of Matanzima who studied at Ikeys. That little argument in which things were wrested out of context was used as a basis, as a reason to throw open our universities for non-Whites in South Africa.
Universities—this one will find throughout the world—differ from country to country. My own opinion was—this was my standpoint throughout the years I was a member of the NP and I am reiterating it now—that we had a special task to perform, particularly as far as the Afrikaans universities in South Africa were concerned. One cannot have a broadening there and think it will not affect the life of that university.
The hon the Minister and I met many years ago in student politics. Today I want to tell him that I think that the Afrikaanse Studentebond is one of the Afrikaans organizations which is still succeeding best in keeping the Afrikaans students together in these difficult times of tension in our Afrikaner community. I respect the organization and its leaders. Many of them do not belong to the CP; some of them are NP members.
And the PFP.
Quite possibly the PFP too, but only here and there. I think there are very few of them.
I want to tell the hon the member that student politics which plays an extremely important role in society, can also be greatly influenced on the path of integration the hon the Minister is following. The previous Minister of National Education said that the non-Whites on our campuses could become members and chairmen of the student councils and would be fully assimulated. I maintain that it is greater discrimination to tell a person that he is allowed on a campus and then to differentiate between him and the other students in certain spheres. [Time expired.]
Mr Chairman, I just want to refer to the hon member for Rissik for a moment. I want to thank him for the calm manner in which he made his speech this time. I do not want to become involved in a dialogue with him today, but he said that he still stood by what he had believed in when he was a member of the NP. Now I want to ask him, and I am asking this with all due respect: When his colleague, the hon member for Lichtenburg, was still the Minister of Education and Training in the Cabinet, he admitted more people of colour to White universities—I know he did so according to the policy of the NP—than were admitted during the previous 10 years. Why did the hon member for Rissik not then also oppose this and speak out against it as vehemently as he is now doing?
If you had been in the caucus then you would have known that I did in fact state my standpoint.
No, the hon member’s great friend and colleague admitted more people of colour during that time. The hon member should have stopped him; after all he had a specific bond and relationship with him. They held meetings together in the evenings. Why did he not speak to him about this then? I do not want to debate this with the hon member and I just wanted to put this question. The hon member can reply to it on a later occasion.
I want to associate myself with all the congratulations and I just want to add one other person in this regard, namely the hon the Deputy Minister of National Education. I want to congratulate him on his new post to which he was elected after the last Cabinet reshuffle. Because he is now responsible for certain parts of National Education—I shall get back to this later in the debate—I want to wish him everything of the best in his new position.
I want to proceed and I should like to associate myself with the hon member for Johannesburg West who spoke about the new Department of National Education and its new Minister. I should like to mention that the new Department of National Education came into existence on 17 September 1984. The Ministry and the Department are fully or partially responsible for 18 Acts. If we count the Acts mentioned in the previous annual report we find that there are 18 which are administered by them.
A very important aspect—I think the hon member for Bryanston will refer to this again when he enters the debate—is the principle of own affairs and general affairs in this Department or in the education for which this Department is responsible. The CP is again saying that there are only general affairs while the Official Opposition is saying that there are too many own affairs. Because the debate is in its initial stages, I want to point out by way of summary that education as a whole is an own affairs. There are three aspects which are singled out as general affairs, and I want to mention them briefly, as follows:
- (a) norms and standards for the financing of running and capital costs of education;
- (b) salaries and conditions of employment of staff and professional registration of teachers;
- (c) norms and standards for syllabuses and examination and for certification of qualifications.
I think we must always bear these three aspects in mind when we discuss these matters. The hon member for Rissik said—I shall get back to this later—that politics is being dragged in, for example in the election of chancellors and the awarding of honorary doctorates. Now I want to ask him whether it was not the CP together with Prof Boshoff that wanted to drag it in at the last minute during an election at the University of Pretoria? He must not cry now. They threw down the gauntlet. It was taken up and their candidate was beaten in the election. It is of no avail to complain about that and they must accept it.
The hon for Koedoespoort said that politics must be dragged into education. He said so a number of times, in Primrose as well. He is entitled to say that and I have no problem with that, but then he must realize what the consequences are going to be.
I want to talk about an exhibition on the history of heraldry in South Africa, which is being held in the SA Library right next to the Company’s Garden at the moment. I think it is a very important exhibition and Die Burger of 13 April wrote an interesting leading article about it entitled “’n Man se wapen”. I want to appeal to everyone who is interested in the history of South Africa, as well as in heraldry and everything that goes with it, to take the trouble to go and look at the exhibition. I did so yesterday and can testify that it is something exceptional. In the last 100 years more heraldic coats of arms have been allocated throughout the world than during the previous 700 years. Frequently one walks past a flag or a coat of arms and one wonders why it looks like it does and what it means. After one has visited the exhibition, one will have a better insight into what it means and why coats of arms and flags look the way they do. I should like to congratulate the Department on the exhibition and ask all schools in the Western Cape within travelling distance and specifically the history classes at high schools, to take the trouble to go and look at it.
I should like to ask the hon the Minister what progress has been made with the subsidizing of private schools. I have made an enquiry or two regarding this aspect. The hon the Minister referred to this matter in reply to a question on 26 March 1985. I want to ask whether the matter has been finalized and, if so, whether he will make a statement on this because there are still approximately 200 private schools which do not receive any form of assistance from the State.
I now want to refer to the more than R5 000 million which is being spent on education and training at the moment. This proves two very important points. In the first place it reflects the confidence which the Government has in the people of the country and, in the second place, it proves the need to develop the great potential inherent in our population groups, which we will have to do if we want to continue to take our rightful place in the world.
Chairman directed to report progress and ask leave to sit again.
Progress reported and leave granted to sit again.
(Subject: The Preservation of the Natural Environment of Sandy Bay)
Mr Chairman, I move pursuant to Standing Order No 21:
In referring to Sandy Bay and the Sandy Bay area, I refer to the natural amphitheatre formed by Karbonkelberg, Sandy Bay and the western slopes of Klein Leeukoppie—that superb natural amphitheatre. While parts of that amphitheatre may fall under different ownership and while there may be attempts at piecemeal development on various pieces of land comprising that area, this natural amphitheatre has to be seen as a single entity when viewed from either an ecological, an environmental or a scenic point of view. This inclusive approach to what I call the Sandy Bay amphitheatre, the Sandy Bay area, has been reinforced by every board, committee and organization which has studied Sandy Bay as an environmental issue. So, although physically it is a number of separate components, it is a single entity from a nature conservation point of view. Sandy Bay has received a certain amount of prominence, probably also among members of the House, for quite the wrong reasons, interesting though they may have been. [Interjections.]
I have no hesitation in saying that the Sandy Bay amphitheatre is one of the most beautiful stretches of unspoilt natural mountain, shore and sea in the world. What makes it even more important is the fact that it is only 15 km from the centre of the capital city of South Africa.
The prime objective of this debate is to ensure that the Sandy Bay area is preserved in its natural state. That is what I am after in this debate this afternoon. I believe that, whatever future generations may do, we of this generation must resist every pressure and fight every attempt to have Sandy Bay developed, whether this development is tackled piecemeal or as part of an overall plan. I believe that it would be to the shame of our generation of South Africans if we should allow this piece of unspoilt natural beauty to be desecrated by housing or any other form of commercial development.
I have been concerned, as have other people, at recent events regarding Sandy Bay. I am even more appalled when I read in this morning’s Burger that one of the promoters of the scheme, an American, Dr Robert Hall—this report appears under the heading “Sandy Bay-oord Kan Sterre Lok”—tells us that this area should be seen as a playground for wealthy Americans like Frank Sinatra and Jimmy Connors, and not as a nature reserve for the citizens of South Africa. [Interjections.]
When it was proclaimed a nature area, it was made very clear what it is. The Physical Planning Act says:
That is the formal definition of a nature area.
The struggle to preserve Sandy Bay has been a long and intense one. Conservationists around South Africa see Sandy Bay not just as a place on the map, but as a symbol of a fight to ensure the dominance of nature over materialism, of long-term vision over short-term financial advantage, and of public interest over private privilege. I want to say, on behalf of the people of my constituency in which this area falls, and in particular on behalf of the people of Llandudno and Hout Bay and of Cape Town, and, I believe, of a wider group of sensitive people in South Africa, that we will go on to fight to preserve Sandy Bay and that we will oppose every move to see it desecrated and destroyed by any commercial development.
My files show the struggle going on for at least 14 years. Nine years ago there was a similar debate in this House. There have been questions in the House; there have been letters to Ministers; there have been interviews with Minister Loots, Deputy Minister Jansen, and Minister Hayward. I should like to refer particularly to Minister Hayward and say how much I appreciated his very positive approach towards the preservation of the Sandy Bay area. There has also been public protest; there have been meetings; there have been petitions; and there have been funds collected. The matter has been thrashed out at the Divisional Council and Provincial Council levels. In October 1983 the public thought the future of Sandy Bay had been secured when the whole area from Sunset Rocks through to Karbonkelberg and the Sentinel was officially proclaimed a “nature area” and, as such, was placed under the authority of the Management Committee for the Table Mountain and Southern Peninsula Mountain Chain Nature Area, a body known as the Table Mountain Board.
Why do I raise the issue now? I do so because of recent events related to a proposed property development scheme in the area and more particularly because of the response and the actions of the hon the Minister of Environment Affairs and Tourism. It is the hon the Minister’s actions which are the cause for grave disquiet for each and every one who wants to see the Sandy Bay area preserved.
This debate gives my colleague from Constantia and me an opportunity to put our points of view, but it also gives the Minister an opportunity to dispel the disquiet and the unease which have been the result of his actions. To put it crisply, I call on the hon the Minister to state his unequivocal acceptance of the unanimous view of the Table Mountain Board that the proposed Sandy Bay development scheme on the slopes of Klein Leeukoppie should be rejected. Secondly, I call on the Minister to give this House and the public the assurance that, as long as he is the Minister responsible, he will use his influence and authority to prevent Sandy Bay and its environment from being desecrated by any form of commercial development. Those are the two assurances I believe the hon the Minister should give the House and the public today.
Why are the alarm bells ringing? Why is it necessary for me to call for these assurances from the hon the Minister? Firstly, a proposal for a multi-million rand luxury housing development on the slopes of Klein Leeukoppie, which forms part of this natural amphitheatre and falls within the proclaimed nature area, was referred by the Minister to the Management Committee for its consideration. This scheme, which has not yet been presented to either the Divisional Council or the Provincial Council for their consideration, a scheme which includes 60 houses, a club-house, a swimming pool, squash courts and also gates, security control and administrative offices, was unanimously rejected by the Board when it met on 3 April.
On 12 April the Cape Times carried a report mentioning that this had happened. They also carried a statement made in response to a question put to the member for the Divisional Council for the area, Mr Len Pothier. He, in his capacity as a member of the Divisional Council, who was also appointed to the Table Mountain Board, said—and I quote from the report:
He said that, if the scheme were to be approved, the controversial multi-million rand Trust Bank scheme would also have to be approved.
Within hours of that report appearing in the Cape Times, the Minister dismissed Mr Pothier as a member of the board. What is the reason for the dismissal? There have been two conflicting reasons given by the same Minister. In the Cape Times he said:
He said he did not know which way he voted or whether there was a vote taken on the matter. In Die Burger he said:
So, on the one hand Mr Pothier wanted to bring public pressure to bear on him and on the other hand “I do not even know how Mr Pothier voted, but I got rid of him because he commented on that decision”.
I am unimpressed, as the public is unimpressed, by the two conflicting reasons given for the sacking of Mr Pothier. I believe that the Minister’s action was petulant, petty and contrary to the public interest, just as I believe that the Minister’s method of dealing in a secretive way with this development, which is of tremendous public interest, is not in the interests of the wider community.
What was the hon the Minister’s real reason for dismissing Mr Pothier? Was he perhaps upset because the committee unanimously rejected the proposals that he had already discussed with Dr Hall and Mr Kerzner? Was he perhaps upset or annoyed at the leading role Mr Pothier had played in securing this rejection?
I believe the public is entitled to know what the hon the Minister’s attitude is towards this proposed development. After all, whatever the board advises him, the hon the Minister is the final arbiter.
This morning there was another disclosure by Dr Hall. This was to the effect that he and Mr Kerzner called on the hon the Minister of Environment Affairs and Tourism as early as 15 January. They had discussions on this scheme. The hon the Minister has not revealed this. However, Dr Hall, having come back from overseas, revealed it. About this scheme, which now apparently includes a harbour development, Dr Hall said:
We are now going to have “’n internasionale speelplek van wêreldformaat” in what should be a nature area in South Africa—and this information comes from the promoters of the scheme.
There is a question I should like to put to the hon the Minister. I want to put it because Dr Hall’s revelations are extremely disturbing. Did the hon the Minister, as a result of the meeting that took place between him, Dr Hall and Mr Kerzner, in any way encourage them to proceed with the scheme? Did he at that stage state his personal and principled opposition to the commercial development and to the desecration of the nature area at Sandy Bay? Did he say that he opposed or supported the principle of the preservation of the Sandy Bay area? Has he had any other discussions or negotiations with these two gentlemen or with any other developers? I put those questions to the hon the Minister and ask him to think about them carefully. In addition, has he in any way made any other commitments to Dr Hall, Mr Kerzner or anyone else that could be relevant to this scheme?
We believe he should answer these questions. We believe the preservation of Sandy Bay is symbolic of our attitude towards nature and of our love of nature. [Interjections.] I know that the hon the Minister of Communications, when he was the Administrator, dragged his heels for a long time before he came to a decision. Luckily, however, wiser counsel prevailed. [Interjections.]
I believe that the public, as a result of the revelations of this week and because of the petty and petulant attitude of the hon the Minister in this regard, has a right to feel disturbed. I believe Mr Len Pothier acted, according to his lights, in the public interest. I believe that, as a divisional councillor, he did what he believed was correct. The very least that the hon the Minister should do is to reinstate Mr Pothier, because I believe Mr Pothier is not only a hardworking divisional councillor but also a campaigner for nature conservation in the Cape Peninsula and particularly in that area. If a wrong has been done, the hon the Minister should put it right and he should have the good grace to reinstate Mr Pothier.
The public is entitled to a full disclosure. It is justified in having a deep sense of unease at what has taken place. The hon the Minister has so far been too secretive. We expect him to answer the questions my colleague will put and I have put to him this afternoon; and we expect him to state unequivocally that he will use his authority to prevent any commercial development in the Sandy Bay area. We want to know if this is his attitude as a matter of principle. The public is entitled to know whether this hon Minister, who is charged with the responsibility not of property development but of nature conservation in South Africa, can be counted on to preserve this particular priceless asset of nature in South Africa.
Mr Speaker, in considering this latest Sandy Bay issue, the public will be forgiven for remembering that the hon the Minister is himself a major property developer in the Cape Peninsula. [Interjections.]
The facts are that in 1982 the hon the Minister made successful application for the subdivision into 45 smallholdings of the old Chaplin estate at Noordhoek, part of which has substantial kaolin deposits. This caused considerable controversy at that time, and it was alleged that there was a conflict of interests between the hon the Minister’s personal role and his role as Minister. As a result, the hon the Minister recused himself from all matters affecting Noordhoek.
In view of this background, I believe that three important questions in respect of Sandy Bay are now at issue. Firstly, in view of the hon the Minister’s dual role as a property developer himself and as Minister of Environment Affairs, should he not be especially sensitive to the public’s fears of a conflict of sympathies arising in this case? Secondly, is there any personal and/or business relationship or connection of any kind between the hon the Minister and Dr Robert Hall who has made this latest application to develop a part of Sandy Bay which lies full-square in the nature area? It has been put to me that there is at least a personal informal relationship between these two gentlemen. If that is so, the public must naturally expect the hon the Minister to declare such connection or interest that he may have. If there is no such connection, this is the opportunity to clear up the matter.
In the third place, what is the hon the Minister’s personal viewpoint on the preservation of Sandy Bay? Is he in sympathy with the policy of maintaining Sandy Bay as a declared unspoiled nature area? By his actions, inter alia, by referring this matter to the Table Mountain Board, the hon the Minister has already passed up one option that he had by definition of declaring his personal position and telling these gentlemen that he was not in sympathy with the proposal. He could have nipped it in the bud right there. However, his action of referring the matter to the board would seem to indicate that he may personally be in two minds on this issue. This alone gives cause for concern among environmentalists.
A further question that arises out of this whole incident is the hon the Minister’s public explanations to date for his actions against Mr Len Pothier. Why should the matter be so secretive? Were Mr Pothier and the rest of the members of the Table Mountain Advisory Board specifically sworn to secrecy on matters that came before them? Is this an undertaking that is required from people who serve on that body? Is there green paper in use on that body? I believe not. If not, why fire Mr Pothier? However, if there is such a restriction, the question must be asked: Why should there be such a restriction? This management committee is a statutory body. It manages the nature area and is quite capable of deliberating for the public record. It deals with matters that are of great concern to the public, which are in the public domain and about which the public has a right to be informed.
Far from committing an objectionable offence, I would say that Mr Pothier has acted creditably. In fact, it is the hon the Minister whose performance is open to criticism. He failed to take the public into his confidence at the time that the scheme became known to him. More than three months have elapsed since this happened, and the public is entitled to ask: Why the secretiveness? [Interjections.] Too often the public discovers these matters after it is too late.
This brings me to the final point I should like to make. If the principle of the hon the Minister being able to fire members of a statutory body like this, who are nominated by the participating councils, is to be accepted and applied, it becomes an intolerable situation for the participating councils. If they can only propose nominees who are going to be acceptable to the hon the Minister, it is going to ruin the credibility of those bodies. They will be regarded as a mere panel of the hon the Minister’s cronies or people who agree with him. Furthermore, it places the councils in an impossible position in making further nominations to these bodies.
I therefore say that in all these circumstances I support the reinstatement of Mr Pothier to his former position. Indeed, I hope the Cape Divisional Council will renominate Mr Pothier to fill the vacancy that the hon the Minister has created by his actions.
Mr Speaker, I have no difficulty whatsoever in agreeing to the motion. The very fact that the Government has reserved the Sandy Bay area as a nature area in terms of the Physical Planning Act, is testimony to the recognition of its unique natural features. Therefore, no one knowing the area could possibly disagree with the motion. Indeed, I personally am trying to include in the existing Peninsula nature area many more of the sensitive areas. I would like to see the nature area enlarged rather than made smaller. In fact, that is my policy.
In terms of section 9 of the Environment Conservation Act the Minister is authorized to establish a management committee. In 1978 an interim management committee was established to prepare guidelines and management proposals for the nature area of the Peninsula. In 1982 the actual boundaries were defined, after consultation with all people concerned—the local authorities and the private individuals—not only above the 152-metre contour, as previously suggested, but also even down to the sea in some cases.
Next there followed the proclamation of the Table Mountain and South Peninsula Mountain Nature Area in December 1982. The Cape Peninsula Management Committee was established in December 1983. I will not bore the House with the names of all the members of that committee. Local authorities and the Administrator are concerned with the approval of development plans in terms of the Town Planning Ordinance but the final decision on land usage in a nature area rests with the Minister of Environment Affairs, obviously after he has consulted the management committee that he has appointed. May I add that, if I approve plans for environmental reasons, it does not commit the divisional council and the Province to approve the same plans; their plans being of a different character.
Sir, there is no hard and fast rule that applications for the change of land usage should first go to the divisional council and the Administrator. Anyone is of course at liberty to approach me. I would indeed have thought that an approach to me and, through me, to my management committee, as the authorities that administer the nature area of the Peninsula and all other nature areas, would be the obvious procedure to follow after the Environment Conservation Act was passed a couple of years ago.
This is what happened in the present case. At the end of 1984, Dr Hall, whom I know but with whom I have no relationship whatsoever, business or otherwise, asked me if I would see him and Mr Kerzner whom I did not know at the time. I saw them in my office in the middle of January this year. They told me in broad outline of the plans for developing erven 1293 and 1294 which are between Llandudno and the Sandy Bay beach. I said that I would have a look at the property on my way into town one morning. [Interjections.] I was shown it together with Mr Otto, the Director-General, and Dr Hey, who were present at my invitation. I thereafter suggested to Dr Hall and Mr Kerzner that their consultants should prepare a general presentation which I, in turn, would submit to the management committee for the nature area, and I said to them that they should not waste their time or their money until they had done this. I was thinking in particular of the other case which had been going on for about six or seven years, viz the Costa/Ariosa case.
Of course, I am not under any commitment, to answer the hon member for Constantia, to Dr Hall, or Mr Kerzner or, for that matter, anyone else in respect of any nature area of which I am aware in the Republic. Concerning newspaper reports over the past few days, I want to say that my management committee met a short while ago and recommendations are, I understand, being prepared for submission to me. When I have had time to consider these recommendations I will have to decide on merit whether to agree to the change in land usage or to turn the scheme down as I did in the case of Costa/Ariosa at Sandy Bay. Should I consider that there is indeed merit in the application, then, naturally, the first step that I would take would be to refer it for a full environmental impact study and report.
May I say that in the future this will be my policy and, if similar cases come to my attention, I shall act in exactly the same way. I shall follow the same procedure because I believe it saves both time and expense.
Who will you fire next time?
Let us deal with Mr Pothier. I asked the divisional council, when I came to appoint people in terms of the Act, to recommend someone to me for appointment. Mr Pothier was recommended to me and I duly appointed him, not to represent Llandudno and Hout Bay but to represent the whole of the divisional council area. He has served on many committees, and he must surely know that he should not talk out of committee. Indeed, I am reliably informed by members of the committee, and more particularly by the secretary of the committee to whom I spoke in the absence of Dr Hey, that Dr Hey has frequently emphasized the fact that the proceedings of that committee are confidential. There are very good reasons for that. There are some people who have property in a nature reserve area. They may wish to find out whether proposals they have, are environmentally acceptable. If the committee finds that their proposals are not environmentally acceptable, they will not proceed any further. Why should they then be exposed to public knowledge for making an inquiry of that committee as to whether any development plans that they might have affect the environment or not?
In my opinion Mr Pothier displayed a quite amazing attitude to his role as a committee member. According to the Cape Times of Saturday he said:
In The Argus he even boasts that if, as a result of his having talked out of the committee, he has saved the sensitive nature area, then well and good; he is pleased that he has done it. By implication, Mr Pothier says that I would give a decision against the recommendations, whether they be unanimous or not, that emanate from the management committee. They have not yet reached me; I have no idea what their recommendations are. I have no idea what was discussed on that management committee, save that I referred the two applicants to the management committee and suggested that they should display their plans and discuss them with the management committee.
I cannot recall having turned down any recommendation from the management committee that came to me either as a Deputy Minister or as a Minister. Therefore, why Mr Pothier should publicly imply that I was likely to turn down the recommendations, I cannot imagine. Concerning his attitude, however, it seems to me that no matter what the right way of doing things may be in serving on the committee, no matter what loyalty he should have towards the other members of the committee, no matter the Chairman’s ruling that the deliberations of that committee are confidential, Mr Pothier wanted the management committee’s recommendations to be made public and took the necessary steps to ensure that he got publicity either for himself or for the cause he was wishing to espouse.
How can you make that statement?
The other motivation is possibly that he wished to whip up public pressure before I had even had a chance to see the recommendations and the proceedings of that committee. If that is correct, it conforms to the pattern that has developed in the Peninsula for some time now. There is a new breed of councillor in local authorities in the Peninsula, and their attitude is very different from the traditional attitudes of committee members towards themselves, their fellow-members and towards their chairman. They seek publicity for themselves and they seek to discredit others by leaking things to the Press whenever they possibly can. [Interjections.] There are many hon members opposite me over there who had experience of similar attitudes and similar actions in years not so very long ago.
You are just smearing now. [Interjections.]
Insofar as the hon member for Sea Point is concerned, I can understand his having sympathy for someone who talks out of a committee. After all, it is not unknown for the hon gentleman himself to talk out of a committee when confidential matters are being discussed. [Interjections.]
In conclusion, I come to the hon member for Constantia.
The hon member for Constantia said in the Cape Times of yesterday I think, that I had acted like a little Hitler in this matter. He employs the usual insulting language that one can expect from someone—if I may paraphrase what he said of me—who seems to act like a little Marxist. [Interjections.] He and I have different standards of behaviour, different values and different principles. Like Mr Pothier, he apparently believes that the end justifies the means. That is not my philosophy. My attitude towards serving on a committee I think I have made fairly clear in the past few days in comments to the Press. I believe that when one serves on a committee one should be loyal to one’s fellow committee members and to one’s chairman, and that if there are any statements to be made out of that committee, they should be made by the chairman. [Interjections.]
Discussion having continued for half an hour,
The House adjourned at