House of Assembly: Vol47 - THURSDAY 14 FEBRUARY 1974
The following Bills were read a First Time:
Part Appropriation Bill.
Additional Appropriation Bill.
Occupational Diseases in Mines and Works Amendment Bill.
Mr. Speaker, the Opposition moved that this House should decline to pass the Part Appropriation Bill. This is a serious step, for if that motion were passed by this House, it would mean that the Post Office would not be able to render its service to the public in the coming months.
You must meet the conditions.
However, before starting to deal with the Opposition’s argument for such a drastic step, I wish to reply to a number of questions and requests that have come from various sides here in connection with local matters.
The hon. member for Harrismith asked that with the transfer of their own departments of posts to those Bantu homelands that are in the process of becoming independent, we should be very reasonable in making the financial arrangements. I gladly give that assurance to the hon. member, and I want to add that the reciprocal financial arrangements will definitely be made with understanding and also with realism.
†In reply to the reference of the hon. member for Berea to the provision of telephones in the non-White townships, I wish to assure him that the Post Office does not discriminate. All applications are treated on merit, as in the White areas. Regarding the entries in respect of consulates in the 1973 Durban directory, I have asked the department to go into the matter.
Is that the one which came out in 1974?
The omissions, Mr. Speaker, from the directory were unfortunately brought about by computerization but I can assure hon. members that we are doing everything we can to assist subscribers in this respect. In connection with the clearing of post boxes, I am pleased to be able to inform him that although we were forced to curtail clearances in the outlying areas in order to conserve fuel, we still maintain more frequent clearances in the central city areas. Experience has shown that this one single clearance covers about 90% of the mail matter and that is regarded as being very satisfactory.
*The hon. member for Durban Central referred inter alia to tariff increases, and it may be a good thing, Mr. Speaker, for us to note that over the past five years the Post Office has had two tariff increases amounting to 28% in total. During the same period—and it is important to note this—the consumer index rose by 35,2% and the wholesale price index for machinery and equipment by 36,2%. For that reason we certainly cannot consider the tariff increases over the same period to be unreasonable. On the contrary; I think that the tariff increases imposed by the Post Office over these past five years may be considered to be very realistic.
The hon. member for Durban Central also wanted to know from me why the bonus scheme had been abolished. This was done for purely business considerations, because it could not be controlled properly. The hon. member is an exteacher and he will also be able to appreciate how difficult it is to exercise proper control over something like that in such a large organization. We also discovered that there were various loopholes, which make effective control such a difficult task that, from a business point of view, it is really not desirable to carry on with something of that nature.
The hon. member for Kempton Park pleaded for a self-service post office service in the rapidly expanding area of Kempton Park, which is in effect expanding like a large mushroom. Whereas this self-service facility is really in the experimental stage as yet, we are actually in the position where we want to ascertain first what the reaction of the public to such an unmanned kind of post office will be. The one situated in Rondebult in the constituency of my esteemed friend the hon. member for Germiston District, got off to a very good start and has excited a great deal of public interest. The hon. member, the hon. member for Germiston, others and I were present there and we were struck by the great interest taken by the public and also by the way in which the public was making use of it. The information to date is that good use is being made of that unmanned post office. But this introduces a complete novelty in our country as a whole, in our Department of Posts—in fact, in the world, In the form in which we have it, it is a novelty in the world. Actually, such a novelty can only get into its proper stride if it also has the active interest and co-operation of the M.P. or a person of high standing, who can also chat to the people in the vicinity as well as rouse their interest in this regard.
This is certainly one of the reasons why this experiment at Rondebult got off to such a good start, namely the fact that the hon. member for Germiston District has shown a special interest in this service. As we should like to establish two more self-service post offices of this kind before being able to form a proper judgment as to whether or not this is going to meet with public approval, the plea of the hon. member of Kempton Park has really persuaded me to tell the department that the Kempton Park area should be the second of the three guinea pigs in this regard. My department will look for a suitable place in one of the surrounding areas there. The hon. member can discuss the matter with the Postmaster-General and indicate suitable places—which, for very obvious reasons, must be new developing areas—and we shall gladly establish one of these self-service post offices there, and then we may in the course of time make up our books and see whether this is something which we can implement in the country on a large scale.
Then the hon. member for Bethlehem referred to the question of postal codes which should be printed in our telephone directories. I think this is a very practical suggestion. I have asked my department to consider, with a view to a future telephone directory, whether the postal codes can be printed in the telephone directory.
Sir, before coming to the main argument of the hon. member for Orange Grove, I do want to refer briefly to the matter of petrol rationing, which was referred to by the hon. member, and give him the assurance once again that the Post Office is in a position to put this into operation within two weeks in the event of the Government’s deciding to introduce petrol rationing. Our machinery will be able to do so within two weeks. At certain places we shall have to get additional help, full-time or part-time help, which we foresee would be mainly ladies, but the Post Office does in any case see its way clear to accepting this challenge within a fortnight of the introduction of petrol rationing and after that.
Sir, now I come to the argument of the hon. member for Orange Grove, who is the shadow-Minister of Post and Telecommunications and led the attacks here. Sir, this is the hon. member who moved that this House should decline to pass this Budget. In that plea of his he described my Budget Speech as a “disaster”. Sir, mindful of the state of mind in which the hon. member finds himself as a result of matters totally beyond the field of activity of the Post Office, one may perhaps find it understandable that the hon. member should use such expressions, but let us see now precisely how big this “disaster” is; let us see how big the “disaster” is which this Government and the Post Office allegedly caused the country. Sir, the hon. member started off, as you will recall, by blaming me for not having given any indication of “my actual plans” for the Post Office, a remark which in fact proves to me that he arrived here with a prepared speech and paid very little attention to what I had actually said here. But concerning the charge that I furnished too few particulars in regard to this matter, I want to know since when it has been customary to give details in a Part Appropriation in regard to things being done by a department or by the State. Even in the main Budgets things are put very briefly and to the point.
Here in my hand I have the main Budget of the Post Office which was introduced last time, and the hon. member would do well to take a look at it. On page 1 an amount of R138 million is requested for telecommunications, out of an amount of R163 million for this year, and it is tabulated in one-third of a page. But now I am being blamed because, apart from what I said here, I did not furnish more information. But, Sir, yesterday and the day before we witnessed yet another interesting aspect in regard to this criticism, and this is that the financial experts on the other side, the hon. member for Orange Grove and the hon. member for Constantia, have drawn their own conclusions from the present Budget. It will be interesting just to read out exactly what these two hon. gentlemen said in this regard. The hon. member for Orange Grove said—
That was his one comment, but this was not all that was interesting in this regard. The hon. member for Constantia also gave consideration to this matter, and with reference to our operating position he said the following—
This is what the financial experts on the other side are telling us. As hon. members know, and ought to remember, I said on the occasion of the introduction of my Budget last year that we were budgeting for a deficit of R10 million. What is of importance now, in the light of the conclusions drawn by these two gentlemen, is to see how the amounts for which the Post Office budgeted did in fact meet our needs. You know, Sir, in the current financial year we budgeted for a revenue of R371,2 million, and do you know what the revenue will be according to the indications at the moment? It will be R375,9 million. In respect of operating expenditure we budgeted for R338,8 million, and, as indications are at present, it will eventually amount to R3 436 million. An amount of R163 million was budgeted for capital expenditure, and according to all indications it will eventually come to R162,9 million. Therefore, revenue and expenditure, operating expenditure, do in any case amount to approximately R5 million more than was budgeted for, while the capital expenditure has virtually remained as it is. That is why we are still anticipating, as we budgeted, a deficit of R10 million. For this truly accurate Budget I want to pay tribute today to the Postmaster-General and his staff for the work done by them in taking stock of the financial position in such a way that they enabled me to present a Budget which was so dead on target. But now I am afraid that a compliment such as the one paid by me to the Postmaster-General and the department cannot be paid by the Opposition and its financial advisers, for according to the hon. member for Orange Grove we should already have had a deficit of R11 million in the first six months, and according to the hon. member for Constantia we should really have had a surplus now of R50 million. I am afraid that if the Post Office were to manage its affairs in that way, we would land in a true “disaster”. But now the hon. member for Orange Grove made the charge that I should not really have referred to the past five years’ work in my Second Reading speech, but at the same time this is the very hon. member who moved in this House a motion which reads inter alia that the House should decline to pass this Budget because we have failed to implement the undertaking to run the Post Office on recognized business lines, which, in turn, has resulted in chronic and chaotic telecommunications services, etc. In one breath I am therefore reproached for having referred to the past five years, during which we became autonomous, and in the other this House is being asked by way of a motion of this nature to decline to vote this amount because we have not been running the Post Office on recognized business lines. Mr. Speaker, how one is to reconcile such statements is something I may as well leave to the double-talking party, but as far as we are concerned, to test the statement whether the Post Office is being run on correct and proper business lines, I think there is only one way to do so, and that is to test it against the way in which the Post Office has been fulfilling its function in its various spheres in this time during which it became autonomous. In saying this, I think there are few other ways in which we can in fact do this more effectively than by looking at our expenditure position in the various spheres in the course of time, and at what it was utilized for. You know, Sir, if we are to fulfil the function which is expected of us, it is necessary for us to have the necessary staff. One must obtain them at home and abroad. Those whom one finds at home must be properly trained in the work, for otherwise one would surely not be able to run this extensive business organization on proper business lines. As a result of recruitment teams sent abroad by us, we recruited approximately 600 engineers, technicians and electricians there. Then I may just add that the fifth recruitment team is abroad at the moment to make further attempts to recruit technicians and engineers. With the aid of our bursary loans we have encouraged our own staff here in the country to improve their qualifications. At the moment there are 90 bursary-holders, mainly in engineering, who are studying at our South African universities. Management, refresher and other special courses are being offered internally on a very large scale, for the purpose of making our staff absolutely competent for performing this great task.
But, Sir, that is not the only sphere in which we are performing this task. We have recently been concentrating on training more and more of our non-Whites to become efficient workers, to serve their own people and to help at other places. It would perhaps be interesting to the House to know what has been accomplished in recent years and especially of late. In this regard I just want to mention a few figures. In 1967 the total number of non-Whites in the service of the Post Office came to 14 188. By last year, in 1973, it had increased to 21 975. In this large number there are three sections which I want to single out in particular.
In the first place, I want to refer to the counters which we have in White areas, where the non-Whites who have to go to post offices in White areas can be served by their own people at their own sections. In 1967 only 18 non-Whites were employed in posts of this nature. By last year this number had already increased to 115. At the moment we are continuing to add to this number so that non-Whites may be served by their own people in White areas. This is one of the steps which really contributes to friction between the various peoples being eliminated.
Another sphere in which we have done much in recent times, is that of the training of telephone electricians. In 1967 we did not have a single non-White electrician. By last year we had increased the number to 69. This number, too, will yet be increased further.
Lastly, I want to mention telephone electricians in training at present. In 1967 we did not have a single non-White telephone electrician in training either. By last year their numbers had been increased to 157.
The hon. member for Orange Grove wanted to know from me whether we were making sufficient use of non-White labour. This is my reply to the hon. member: Yes, we are making sufficient use of non-White labour, with due regard to our needs, but also with due regard to the favourable labour relations between Whites and non-Whites which we must maintain in our departments. We shall continue to integrate these non-Whites in our organization and our machinery in an orderly manner. We shall make more and more use of their services, but always with all due regard to the White staff associations’ attitude in this regard.
This is not the only sphere in which we have ensured that we have the trained people to enable us to operate as a sound business undertaking. In view of our shortage of manpower, we also have proceeded to mobilizing women power. We have proceeded to making greater use of the services of women in the Post Office. We have proceeded to the training and the use of women as technical assistants, electricians and even as technicians. At the moment 1 083 female technical assistants and 93 female electricians are being employed, and nine women are being trained as technicians at present. From that you can deduce, Sir, that in this sphere of labour utilization we are exploring every avenue.
Another very important matter in connection with productivity and utilization is the attitude of the people in the labour corps. As regards the attitude of our labour corps, and specifically that of our White workers, who must to a large extent help to train these non-Whites, I want to give you the assurance, Mr. Speaker, that we have the most cordial attitude of trust amongst our officials. That is why I deplore the fact that the hon. member for Orange Grove now wants to make use of the question of wage increases so as, perhaps, to bring about confusion here. I have now been taken to task for having allegedly said nothing in connection with wage increases in my Second Reading speech. Now, let me make it very clear to the hon. members opposite that the Government’s understanding and goodwill with regard to the workers, in this case the Post Office workers, is unquestionable. This has repeatedly been proved by the wage increases granted to them from time to time. The Government is anxious to promote and protect the welfare of our people at all times. As a result of this attitude the Government has succeeded in creating one of the greatest assets which any country can have, and that is a stable, happy labour corps, which, in turn, has brought South Africa absolutely stable economic development. To maintain this economic stability which South Africa has, especially at a time such as the one in which we are living, where one experiences great uncertainty and instability on the international level, it is to my mind imperative for our workers in this country to conduct themselves with the greatest measure of self-discipline and self-control. I want to pay tribute to our Post Office workers because they are producing abundant testimony of this. We as the Government are fully aware of the increase in consumer prices, and it goes without saying that this Government will take steps at the proper time to effect those necessary adjustments. To expect a responsible Government to grant salary increases at this moment, shortly before an election, is absolutely irresponsible and politically immoral. To think that this Government with its record of taking the correct action has to indulge in something like that, is absolutely rejectable. Fortunately our workers have confidence in the Government, and they know that at a convenient time we shall take steps to effect adjustments.
As we have been taken to task here for not running the Post Office on business lines, I want to refer to another important aspect other than staff, namely what we are doing to provide buildings and accommodation in which our staff have to perform their tasks. I just want to bring home one single fact to the hon. members. As far as these matters are concerned, I can tell hon. members that we have already completed 133 major works to the amount of approximately R25 million. A further 68 telecommunications buildings are under construction at a total cost of approximately R24½ million. These are the steps which a business undertaking such as the Post Office is taking so as to fulfil its function.
Now I come to the other important sphere which comes under fire all the time, and this is the question of telephones. I want to say at the outset that what has been done by the Post Office in the sphere of telecommunications over the past five years is simply astoundingly good for a country such as South Africa when one compares it with any other country. During these five years we increased the number of telephones in this country by 46%. We heard in this debate what the hon. member for Orange Grove had to say. I would rather quote him, for then it would not be possible for one to put words into his mouth. In connection with the waiting list the hon. member said inter alia—
Later on, when he spoke Afrikaans again, the hon. member said—
The first “four years” was therefore not a misprint, because it was repeated.
I referred to 31 March 1970.
Now the hon. member can listen attentively to the following information which will be of interest to him and his side. As regards the number of waiting applicants, the position is as follows: In 1971, four years ago, the number of waiting applicants was 120 251.
Four years ago?
The hon. member may as well make a note of this, or get it from Hansard, for this information may perhaps be useful to him for a future speech. In 1972 the figure was 107 793. In 1973 it was 103 215. It is expected that it will be 93 000 this year. Now, is this question of four thousand more than it was? But what is the actual position in regard to the number of telephones that have been installed? In my Second Reading speech I said we expected to install 115 000 telephones this year. This is the largest number that has at any time in our history been installed in this country in one single year. But how does this compare with previous years? In 1971, 73 354 were installed; in 1972, 71 712 were installed; in 1973, 86 153 were installed; and in this year we expect to install 115 000. Is that not a size of progress and proof that we are tackling the matter with might and main and in earnest? But to the hon. Opposition, and specifically to the hon. member for Orange Grove, this is a sign of our being worse off. But because we took these steps and because the Post Office has been able to bring about this tremendous development in the sphere of telecommunications in these years, we are in the position that, in the five years since our becoming autonomous, we have installed 341 142 additional automatic exchange indicators. This has had the effect that in this time, in respect of which we must be tested with a view to the charge we find in the motion by the hon. member, 168 automatic exchanges were enlarged. We established 54 auto-exchanges and replaced 25 auto-exchanges. In addition we converted 37 manual exchanges to auto-exchanges. Surely that attests to an understanding of the situation and to progress. This development to which I have referred, had the effect that up to 30 September 1973 the length of trunk lines in our country increased from 2.46 million km to 6,5 million km. It showed such an increase, along with the service that was provided, that the percentage of telephones with direct dialling facilities increased from 15% to 81,7% in this time. At the same time the international circuits increased from 19 to 123, whereas overseas calls increased from 46723 to 611 204 per annum, i.e. 13 times more than it was when we started to become autonomous, a result against which the hon. member wants the House to test us and decline to pass this Budget because we have not been running these things on business lines.
But these are not the only spheres in which we have been active. We proceeded to extend the micro-wave network in this country so that it might be ready with a view to television. As far as television is concerned, I want to say that the Post Office has done its share to such an extent that it will in fact be possible to introduce television in this country in 1976. The Post Office has done its share and will do its share. Now, it is true that in carrying out these major tasks we did make use of contractors outside our own department. The hon. member for Orange Grove also referred to this when he first asked my by way of a question whether there had been a tender for the take-over of our system, and then again, by way of a remark here, whether there had been an application from a large overseas firm for taking care of maintenance on a contract basis. He said that he had been approached in that regard, but I just want to say that I have no knowledge of that. It is therefore very strange that the Post Office, which actually has to listen to and consider such a tender, was not approached whereas this hon. member was. In any case, let me, irrespective of whether the hon. member was approached or not, tell him what our attitude is in respect of such contracts. We give works out to contractors. Contracts were given out over the past few years. As much as R35 million was spent in this regard. In respect of the past year alone, i.e. 1973–’74, we gave out the following contracts: The installation of auto-exchanges, R10,5 million; telegraph exchanges, R250 000; the laying of cables, R3 050 000; the building of micro-wave towers, R2 500 000; the installation of power equipment, R700 000. We have therefore paid private institutions an amount of R17 million. However, it is one thing to give contracts of this nature out to private people and a totally different thing to get such private contractors to do maintenance work for the Post Office. The day one does that, one would really be allowing a Trojan horse to enter one’s city. Apart from the higher costs which this would entail, it would disturb one’s labour relations completely. If we are going to have the position where private contractors enter this sphere and are able to pay their people higher wages, for doing the same work, than those received by our own Post Office people—and the Post Office staff might even get less—one can imagine what tension one would have in one’s whole administration. For that reason the Post Office is simply not prepared to take the giving out of private work as far as that.
The hon. member for Orange Grove, in concluding, challenged us here to go to the polls. Let me rather quote his own words. I always like quoting a person correctly. He said—
Let me tell you that this Government is more than prepared and ready to go to the polls on our whole policy. The attitude of the Post Office is one of service to our country and to our people, and in order to render such service we shall continue to ensure that our staff are kept happy. With this attitude the Post Office will continue to render this service and to keep our workers happy. The nation is free to test us against this on 24 April. The hon. member for Orange Grove, in the event of his being a candidate by that time, would do well to test us in the constituency where he is going to stand for election. I have no doubts as to the result. When we meet again in this House in the latter half of this year, some of us will perhaps still be here. In the latter half of the year we shall perhaps look at one another again in this House, as I am looking at you at the moment. I believe that the attitude of the public with regard to the general policy implementation of this Government and various branches, be it the Post Office or whatever, will be such that the National Party will be big and strong when it returns to this House. The hon. member referred to a “disaster”. I think that what is going to happen this year will be a “disaster” for the Opposition, simply because the general public outside, the people to whom you want to go, are in such a state of revolt against your confused and negative policy that they, the electorate of the country, will see to it that on 24 April they will once again reject the United Party as it deserves to be rejected.
Question put: That all the words after “That” stand part of the motion.
Upon which the House divided:
Ayes—89: Aucamp, P. L. S.; Badenhorst, P. J.; Bodenstein, P.; Botha, G. F.; Botha, H. J.; Botha, L. J.; Botha, M. C.; Botha, P. W.; Botha, R. F.; Botma, M. C.; Brandt, J. W.; Coetsee, H. J.; Coetzee, S. F.; De Jager, P. R.; De Klerk, F. W.; De Villiers, D. J.; Diederichs, N.; Du Plessis, G. C.; Du Plessis, P. T. C.; Du Toit, J. P.; Engelbrecht, J. J.; Greyling, J. C.; Grobler, M. S. F.; Grobler, W. S. J.; Hayward, S. A. S.; Henning, J. M.; Herman, F.; Heunis, J. C.; Hoon, J. H.; Janson, T. N. H.; Jurgens, J. C.; Keyter, H. C. A.; Koornhof, P. G. J.; Kotzé, W. D.; Kruger, J. T.; Le Grange, L.; Le Roux, F. J. (Brakpan); Le Roux, F. J. (Hercules); Malan, G. F.; Malan, W. C.; Marais, P. S.; Maree, G. de K.; Morrison, G. de V.; Mulder, C. P.; Muller, H.; Muller, S. L.; Munnik, L. A. P. A.; Nel, D. J. L.; Nel, J. A. F.; Otto, J. C.; Palm, P. D.; Pienaar, L. A.; Pieterse, R. J. J.; Potgieter, S. P.; Prinsloo, M. P.; Rall, J. J.; Rall, J. W.; Raubenheimer, A. J.; Reinecke, C. J.; Rossouw, W. J. C.; Schlebusch, A. L.; Schlebusch, J. A.; Schoeman, B. J.; Schoeman, H.; Schoeman, J. C. B.; Smit, H. H.; Steyn, S. J. M.; Swanepoel, J. W. F.; Treurnicht, A. P.; Treurnicht, N. F.; Van Breda, A.; Van der Merwe, H. D. K.; Van der Merwe, S. W.; Van der Merwe, W. L.; Van der Spuy, S. J. H.; Van Heerden. R. F.; Van Tonder, J. A.; Van Wyk, A. C.; Van Wyk, H. J.; Van Zyl, J. J. B.; Viljoen, M.; Viljoen, P. J. van B.; Vorster, B. J.; Vosloo, W. L.; Wentzel, J. J. G.
Tellers: W. A. Cruywagen, S. F. Kotzé, P. C. Roux and G. P. van den Berg.
Noes—36: Bands, G. J.; Baxter, D. D.; Cillié, H. van Z.; Deacon, W. H. D.; De Villiers, I. F. A.; Emdin, S.; Fisher, E. L.; Hickman, T.; Hourquebie, R. G. L.; Hughes, T. G.; Jacobs, G. F.; Malan, E. G.; Marais, D. J.; Mitchell, D. E.; Mitchell, M. L.; Moolman, J. H.; Murray, L. G.; Oldfield, G. N.; Pyper, P. A.; Raw, W. V.; Smith, W. J. B.; Stephens, J. J. M.; Streicher, D. M.; Suzman, H.; Taylor, C. D.; Thompson, J. O. N.; Timoney, H. M.; Van den Heever, S. A.; Van Eck, H. J.; Van Hoogstraten, H. A.; Von Keyserlingk, C. C.; Wainwright, C. J. S.; Wiley, J. W. E.; Wood, L. F.
Tellers: H. J. Bronkhorst and W. M. Sutton.
Question affirmed and amendment dropped.
Bill read a Second Time.
Mr. Speaker, I move without notice—
Mr. Speaker, I move subject to Standing Order No. 49—
Mr. Speaker, before I come to the hon. Minister, I should like to associate myself with a remark of his as regards my hon. friend, the member for Harrismith, who will not be leading his group again next year, and wish him, seeing that he is going to rest now, everything of the best. I hope he finds a resting-place free of beetles and moles such as we have here.
Mr. Speaker, there are a number of things which the hon. Minister said and which I want to discuss with him. He complained that I had asked for particulars as to how he was going to spend the R325 million. Mr. Speaker, I did not ask for particulars. I asked for a general plan for the next 12 months. I asked for an explanation of certain major steps which could be taken, and for an indication of the anticipated decrease in the shortage of telephones. That is what I want; a broad outline as to how he expects the Post Office to look in, say, a year’s time. He is the last person who should come along and complain when people ask for particulars, because if one takes that esteemed Cabinet one by one and they start talking about our federal policy, then the first thing they want is particulars as to what is going to happen in five, ten, 15 or 50 years’ time. But if I were to ask for a few particulars concerning a period of nine or 12 months, then the hon. the Minister gets what I cannot describe as being anything other than the political pip.
The hon. the Minister spoke about finance. I do not think what he said was very encouraging. There is going to be a deficit of R11 million in the Post Office this year. I thought it was going to be a somewhat larger deficit, but there is going to be one. I want to say to him that it would have been a much larger one were it not for the fact that he had taken some of his revenue, of his gross profits, for capital expenditure. I say to him that it would have been much larger were it not for the fact that he had taken such a large part of his gross profits for capital expenditure. I say that he takes too much of the gross profits of the Post Office for capital works. Let me read to him what the Afrikaanse Handelsinstituut says in this regard. I quote from Volkshandel of May 1973 (translation)—
Sir, this is not only my policy, but it is the policy of the great Afrikaanse Handelsinstituut, and I think it is also the policy of the Federated Chamber of Industries and of Commerce in South Africa.
Sir, the hon. the Minister then tried to prove that certain figures of mine with regard to the shortages were wrong. He said that I had said that the shortage of telephones four years ago was down by 4 000. Sir, I stand by that. That is the figure which the hon. Minister gave me in this House in reply to a question last year. But do you know what he did then? He said four years ago was 1971. Let us do a small sum; let us help the Minister. Mr. Speaker, this year is the year 1974; one year ago was 1973; two years ago was 1972; three years ago was 1971, and four years ago 1970, and I gave him the figures for 30 March 1970 when the shortage was 90 800 and today it is 94 529, a difference of almost 4 000. Does the hon. the Minister admit now that I was right?
He cannot even handle a budget.
Yes, and he cannot even count between one and four.
In his speech Sir, the hon. the Minister had the last chance to give the country certain assurances, and he allowed that chance to slip through his fingers. The staff has the right to ask to be compensated for the rise in the cost of living. The hon. the Minister said we would exploit this matter for political purposes. I am prepared to give him this assurance: If he would stand up at the end of this Third Reading debate and announce substantial increases in the salaries and wages of the Post Office staff, then I promise on behalf of myself and on behalf of my party that we would not say that constituted political bribery. We ask this for the sake of the Post Office people.
Can you speak on behalf of your party?
Sir, he had a chance to indicate to the country what the financial position will be during the coming year, for which he is now asking R325 million. Was there an assurance from him, an assurance for which I asked, that tariffs will not be increased during the next 12 months? I repeatedly asked him that, and his silence indicates that it is quite probable that the country is going to face another increase in tariffs within the next 12 or 15 months. I asked him for an assurance that the shortage of telephones will be very substantially diminished during this next year for which he is asking R325 million. Surely it is a fair question to ask. Can the Minister tell us what he expects the shortage of telephones to be as at 31 March 1975? After all, he is asking us for R325 million of the taxpayers’ money, or at least he is asking for permission to spend that amount, and yet he cannot tell us what he expects the telephone shortage to be.
I mentioned, Sir, that of the close on 2 million telephones, no fewer than 400 000 have to be repaired and adjusted every year. Surely that is an unsatisfactory state of affairs. I want a reply from the hon. the Minister in that regard. I also want a reply from him on the South Atlantic Cable Company, in respect of which up to this moment, despite a previous request, he has not yet given the country the profit and loss figures for the past four or five years—a company which has paid no dividends whatsoever and which is now suddenly hovering on the brink of paying a dividend. He has given no indication as to the figure on which he bases this. He has mentioned money that was put into the capital account, but can he give me the assurance that that money was not put there for repairs, for depreciation and for matters of that nature? Obviously this figure cannot be regarded as profit; it is an ordinary business entry for depreciation, amongst other things.
Mr. Speaker, let us concede for the sake of argument that the Minister may have had some justification for confining himself to the present financial year in explaining why he wants money for the next financial year, however curious the logic might sound. Let us grant him that, but then I think it is time to point out what he Minister left unsaid even about this present financial year, and in this connection there are some things about which I think he should inform this House. I shall refer to the year 1972–’73 as the 1973 financial year and I shall refer to the 1973–’74 financial year as the 1974 financial year. I want to put the following questions to him: In the financial year of 1973 no less than R35 000 worth of plans had to be scrapped because buildings were altered at a late stage. During the year 1973—this is a curious item—the Post Office was fined R1 062 by a certain body. Sir, do you know who fined the Post Office? The Railways did; the Railways fined the Post Office R1 062, apparently for late clearance of goods. It is rather a strange state of affairs when one department starts fining another department for not doing its duty. Perhaps we could call in the Minister of Transport as a witness against the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications.
He left out of his survey for the present financial year the latest statistics in regard to motor accidents. In the 1973 financial year the Post Office was involved in motor accidents which resulted in a loss of R150 000, which was more than double the figure for the previous year. Is that rate continuing today, or has there been an improvement? We are entitled to know from the Minister. We are entitled also to ask the Minister about the postal services in regard to registered articles. In the 1973 financial year R43 000 had to be repaid in respect of registered articles which had not been received by the addressees, and that R43 000 for 1973 was almost twice as much as the R26 000 the previous year. Can he tell us whether that rate of increase is continuing; whether more and more registered articles are being lost and what the reasons are and what steps he has taken in order to improve the position in this regard? Sir, we have this position that for the next five months R325 million is being asked from us and yet we do not know what for. As far as the present financial year is concerned, he has not told us the full story to date, and as far as the past financial year is concerned he has come with a review and a tale of reminiscences of things past, almost reminiscent of the speech about his record made by the hon. the Minister of Transport. Is this an indication that the hon. the Minister will soon no longer be Minister of Posts and Telecommunications? He may, of course, possibly become Minister of Transport. There are some people who are tipping him for that post.
I thought the hon. member for Durban Point was going to be Minister of Railways.
Mr. Speaker, let me conclude by saying that what we have heard from the hon. the Minister is just not good enough; it is not good enough for the Post Office, not good enough for the staff, not good enough for the public, not good enough for the economy. Sir, how infinitely sad to see the great institution of the Post Office suffering under the maladministration of the picayune pismires who are ruling our country.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Orange Grove was so deep in contemplation—I do not want to say he was asleep—that when the Minister moved the Third Reading he almost did not stand up, and the Third Reading was all but concluded without a blow having been struck.
Before casting a backward glance at the ground covered by the debate on the Second Reading, I should like to make a few general remarks. In the first place I want to link up with what the hon. member for Bethlehem said in connection with the main speaker on the Government side, the hon. member for Harrismith. I also want to pay tribute to him for the period in which he acted as main speaker. He performed his task exceptionally well. We know the hon. member for Orange Grove has experienced frequent chastisement at the hon. member’s hands. The hon. member is not returning, but this is by his own choice. We should like to wish him good health and a pleasant period of recreation.
Now I come, secondly, to the hon. member for Orange Grove. For years he has been the Opposition’s main speaker on the Post Office and all its activities, but at this stage the hon. member does not know whether he is returning again. If he does not return, his own desire will not be dictating the decision; it will not be his wish or choice, but it will be the choice and wish of other people. At this moment the hon. member, and a few other hon. members sitting on that side of the House, are in the position where one could perhaps label them political hostages being held in nerve-racking captivity by the United Party’s Transvaal political terrorist leadership. What the hon. member’s surrender value is, as far as the Old Turks are concerned, I do not know, however, I myself really do hope the hon. member returns, and I am not being sarcastic when I say this, because we hope he will not find his political “orange grave” in Orange Grove. We have already grown accustomed to him. We are accustomed to his theatrical, arm-swinging attitude when he tries to speak here like some actor. We have grown used to the fact that the louder he talks the worse his case is. It puts one in mind of that old Dutch parson of whom it is said that in a marginal note next to a poor passage in his speech he wrote: “Here one would shout”. We know what we have in the hon. member, but we do not know what we would be getting in his possible successor, and I therefore say I hope he returns and I hope his arm-swinging in this debate has made sufficient impression to get him his seat back.
After the comprehensive and informative reply of the hon. the Minister to the Second Reading debate, I wondered what the hon. member for Orange Grove would say in his Third Reading speech. He simply juggled here with a few figures, and actually no more was said than during his Second Reading speech. Of course, in his main speech the hon. member for Orange Grove complained about the backlog in telephones, and his colleagues harped on the same strings. That is actually a harp with a false note since my colleagues on this side and the hon. the Minister have given adequate reply to those accusations. Sir, with a specific example I want to refute these allegations that too little has been done and that the installation of telephones is not taking place quickly enough. As an example I want to take Pretoria, and more specifically the Koedoespoort constituency. During the first three months of 1973 almost 7 500 new telephones came into service in and around Pretoria. The exchange at Queenswood, in the Koedoespoort constituency, was increased by 2 234 lines, and while the temporary automatic exchanges at Eldoraigne, Sinoville and Meyerspark previously supplied only 1 120 lines, there are now 6 371 lines. The Meyerspark exchange also provides for the needs of a portion of the Koedoespoort electorate, and it is on behalf of these voters that I should like to express my thanks to the Minister, to the Postmaster-General and the Administration.
During the first quarter of last year more than 34 000 new telephones were made available to applicants throughout the country. 14 000, or 41% of this number, were supplied on the Witwatersrand alone. Sir, the demand for telephones goes uninterrupted. It reflects the sustained economic progress in our country. In his Second Reading speech the Minister gave the statistics, on the one hand to indicate that there is still a long waiting list, but on the other hand to show with what speed telephone services are being provided to applicants—an expected 90 000 in this financial year.
With such a large network of telephone services, as we have in South Africa, one can naturally expect interruptions and obstructions in the service. This was also a matter that hon. members complained about. The natural elements like lightning, storms, downpours, etc., are very frequently the cause of such interruptions. I should like to pay tribute—and I am also doing this on behalf of other members on this side—to the engineers and technicians who work such frequent overtime, and at times sacrifice their Sundays, to repair telephones, thus causing subscribers as little inconvenience as possible.
One is glad that it is the policy to keep the quality of the telephone service at a high level. Last night the hon. member for Constantia said that by supplying a large number of telephones, quality was suffering in the process. Special teams are now being appointed, particularly in the large centres, to trace and repair faults in the telephone service in good time at the exchanges, i.e. to indeed keep the quality at a high level. While speaking of repairs to telephone services, of installations and of the speed with which connections are carried out, I should like to express my thanks to the Regional Director, Telephone Services, and his staff here in Cape Town for the service to us here in Cape Town, and to me personally. I believe all my colleagues will agree with me in this connection; the service they have furnished has always been excellent, and we appreciate it.
I should also like to refer to the service which the men and women give in the exchange here in the Parliament building. One wishes to mention their friendliness and willingness, and one also wants to mention the good Post Office service here. This is so seldom mentioned, and we consequently want to ask the Postmaster-General to convey to them that we notice and very greatly appreciate this willingness and excellent service on their part.
I should also like to express my appreciation to the Post Office staff as a whole for the excellent service and the spirit of loyalty and generosity they display. I do this without qualification, and not as some hon. members opposite, at times, with certain reservations. The Minister, the Postmaster-General and the Administration are congratulated on the excellent advance planning that has already been done, and also on the constant progress being made, particularly in the field of telecommunications services, which is one of the most important cornerstones in the infrastructure of our vast country. I should like to refer to the large increase in automatic exchanges to which the hon. the Minister also referred in his reply to the Second Reading debate. One could mention many positive aspects of advancement and progress in the Post Office and all its branches. I want to state that this growth and progress have taken place in spite of the oppressive labour question and the shortage of capital that exists. The hon. main speaker of the Opposition and other Opposition speakers cannot see any growth. The hon. member for Harrismith said that the Opposition is as blind as a bat where that is concerned, and I should like to associate myself with that remark. With their myopia and prejudice, their attempts at disparagement and their negative approach, hon. members are always looking with a magnifying-glass for possible weak spots in the organization and administration of the Post Office. They merely see sombreness and shadow, and that is why they will always remain shadows where that is concerned—whether shadow-Ministers or whatever.
We in this House, and the public as such, realize that the Post Office is responsible for the supply and maintenance of the communication system that is necessary to convey the written and spoken word. To carry out these manifold duties and obligations, on 31 March 1973 the Post Office had 61 244 persons of all races in its employ. There was an increase in staff of 19,8% over the past five years; in spite of this there is still a shortage of trained manpower. We acknowledge this, and for that reason miscellaneous efforts are being made to try to wipe out this manpower shortage, because we know that apart from the persons who retire or die, there are also certain persons who choose other fields, although recently those who choose another field have been much fewer in number than in previous years. As we know, the Post Office has a variety of posts that are offered, and these include interesting careers. When I was principal of a high school, it was a pleasure for me to welcome the recruiting officers of the Post Office to my school because I knew that pupils would be entering a good field in joining the Post Office. I do not know whether recruiting efforts are still being made and whether recruiting officers are still allowed to visit high schools. I understand that another policy has entered into things. I do want to make a recommendation to the effect that it would be a good thing if the Administration could consider getting retired teachers or exschool principals, for example, to assist them in recruiting pupils from the high schools for careers in the Post Office. I think such persons would be very advantageous as recruiting agents because they have the necessary experience and because they would be able to put the matter enthusiastically to high school pupils who wanted to enter one or other of the fields. It is also essential to sketch for them the many fringe benefits that exist. Frequently, alas, as a result of criticism by the Opposition about the Post Office and its Administration, people are dissuaded from choosing a field of vocation in the Post Office.
Now you are talking nonsense.
It is as I have said.
Hon. members of the Opposition, in the person of the hon. member for Orange Grove, were advocating higher salaries here throughout. In fact, it is one leg of the amendment they moved, and it reads—
That is a very popular theme, particularly on the eve of an election. The hon. the Minister would definitely not be disinclined to grant such increases if the necessary means are available and it is absolutely essential. The hon. the Minister also said this himself. A responsible Minister and responsible Government must first find the means, however. The hon. Opposition came with the popular slogan of salary increases. We now ask them where the extra finances and the extra means must come from. The hon. member for Orange Grove, with reference to this matter in connection …
You must supply more telephones; you will get millions in revenue.
Listen now, and do not make so much noise; in that way you could perhaps learn something. The hon. member said—
Is he now also going to link this to regular increases and post office tariffs, for example stamps, telephone calls, telephone rental and the installation of telephones? I am asking where else the finances must come from. In an almost inflammatory speech the hon. member for Constantia told us yesterday evening that he had gained the impression that the increase of post office tariffs the year before last was not necessary. If I am wrong, the hon. member must tell me. Will one ever be able to understand the U.P.’s mentality! On the one hand they advocate salary increases for officials, and on the other hand one of their good and prominent speakers on financial matters says that he gained the impression that that increase in tariffs was unnecessary.
I want to conclude by saying that in respect of this matter the Opposition is also blowing hot and cold. We know their general political policy, their desire to always blow hot and cold at the same time. This has also been our experience in this debate. The small group of members, who spoke about the Post Office and its activities, try to blow hot and cold by not being consistent.
Mr. Speaker, at the end of his speech, and also at the beginning, the hon. member for Koedoespoort tried to draw a little political nectar out of a flower that does not exist. It is completely unnecessary for me to go into the nonsense spoken by the hon. member in respect of blowing hot and cold, because I think that is a blatant error. Unfortunately the hon. member only has the English version of our amendment. He should rather look at the Afrikaans version, because he would perhaps understand it better. In the second leg it is alleged that the Post Office is not being run on recognized business lines as it ought to be. If it were administered like a proper business, geared to making profits and doing the utmost possible business, instead of profitable business operations being shunned, as the hon. member for Durban Central said yesterday evening, it would be possible to give salary increases, and many costs, which are unnecessary at present, would be obviated. In addition, increased salaries would be possible without the necessity of increasing tariffs at this stage. At present, however, the whole structure is distorted. After the blatant electioneering of the hon. member for Koedoespoort at the beginning of his speech, I can just tell him that since Mark Twain’s mantle has not fallen on his shoulders, he should not try making jokes. They fall absolutely flat. I think if there is one thing the hon. member for Koedoespoort is known for, it is for the fact that he has absolutely no sense of humour. I was also surprised to hear that the hon. the Minister had made such an election speech at the end of his reply to the Second Reading debate. He tackled the hon. member for Orange Grove, so to speak, about telephone shortage. The hon. the Minister can now argue with his figures as much as he wants to, but I promise the hon. the Minister that he can come to the voters of Florida today and speak to those people, particularly in the new extensions of Quellerina, Florida Glen and the Constantias, and ask them how long they have been struggling to get telephones, and they will tell him that they simply cannot get telephones. No statistics are going to give them telephones. Here I want to thank the Postmaster-General and his staff in all sincerity for the fact that they give full co-operation and always listen sympathetically. One understands that as a result of the present administration of the Post Office they simply cannot manage. For example, there are no cables; the backlog is too great. They try to help where they can and they always help when they can, but I have found that in these areas there are people who sit without telephones for years and who come and complain to me about it. I have previously spoken to the hon. the Minister about that and he gave me a long written answer, which I appreciate. The point is that the ultimate object of all activities of the Post Office should be to eventually give those people the service they must have. I think it is an excessively long time for a person to have to wait two or three years for a telephone. Last year I wrote to the Minister in that connection about two cases of people in Quellerina who had waited such a long time, and the answer is simply: “We cannot give them telephones yet”. I therefore say that simply mentioning those impressive statistics to us here will not satisfy the electorate. That does not give them telephones, and the service to even those who have telephones, is becoming increasingly poorer at this stage.
I should also like to deal with another aspect of the Post Office. The Post Office plays a multifarious role in South Africa. Apart from all the other roles the Post Office has to play in the technical and economic spheres, I also believe that it has a role to play in connection with good race relations. As a State body, it also bears testimony to the policy of the State, and it is a body which also does business overseas. To a certain extent, therefore, it also carries our image overseas. Therefore I find it of the utmost importance that the Post Office must convey an image of good race relations in South Africa. For that reason the Post Office can not afford, either, in this connection, to give offence to the other population groups in South Africa. This is not merely because of the impression this makes abroad, but particularly because of the impression made locally, that it is essential that the Post Office should take a very good look at its policy in this connection. To prove the importance of this aspect, and to underline my regret at having to mention this matter, I want to point out that when people are discussing politics in any conversation, the discussion always comes back to apartheid, and when they speak of apartheid, they mostly speak of petty apartheid. One of the first places that is mentioned when there is talk of petty apartheid with overseas people, with diplomats or with the people in one’s own constituency, is the Post Office.
That is so. The hon. member is one of those who does not even acknowledge that petty apartheid exists. [Interjections.]
He is a stranger in Pofadder.
Yes. The Post Office is one of the first bodies that is always mentioned. I do not believe that we in South Africa, or the Post Office, can afford that image. I do not believe, therefore, that we in South Africa can afford those aspects of petty apartheid in the Post Office that are totally unnecessary.
Mr. Speaker, may I put a question to the hon. member?
I do not want to answer questions now. Aspects of that are completely unnecessary, i.e. aspects that do not in any way advance the case of either the Post Office, South Africa, or the maintenance of any group in South Africa. If one looks, for example, at the post office in Florida, where there is a completely separate section for non-Whites, and the same people behind the counter serve both Whites and non-Whites, one finds capital expenditure involved which is completely unnecessary in the first place. The entrance of the non-Whites is on one side of the post office; it is not even the main entrance. Any non-White entering the building, actually feels he is entering the back door of the new post office. I think these things are absolutely unnecessary and ought to be eliminated.
Now the hon. the Minister says he has brought about an improvement in race relations. He mentioned to us the figures with respect to non-Whites who are trained and used in the Post Office. He spoke of the non-Whites behind the counters, serving people of their own race groups. I recall that a few years ago in a Post Office debate this hon. Minister said he would never allow non-Whites in the White areas to serve the public over the counters together with Whites. I now want to ask the hon. the Minister: “Is that still his policy? Does he stick to it? Has there been a policy change that has now suddenly come to the fore?” We have never taken note of that before. Or is the hon. the Minister now going to come forward with an explanation? I do not know what the explanation could be. Possibly the explanation would be that the non-Whites behind the counters are caged off from the rest of the post office staff. If that is the case, I think it is an equally great insult to partition these people off from each other as if one were afraid they would attack each other any moment. Is that the friction the hon. the Minister is speaking about? In his reply he said that the policy, which the Post Office has now implemented, was established to eliminate friction between the various race groups. This question of friction is, as far as I am concerned, a strange argument from the hon. the Minister. I concede that the hon. the Minister perhaps has a point in using non-Whites to serve their own people in the Post Office. There is, for example, a question of language and other factors. That is good; but in how many post offices can those 118 non-Whites serve, and what about the other post offices, where one of the first things people see when coming to South Africa is the two entrances leading to the same counter? In the post office here in Cape Town there is one counter for receiving parcels. There is only one window, and the two queues must stand next to each other. On the one side we have “non-Whites” and on the other side “Whites”. Whites and non-Whites may queue next to each other, but they may not stand in the same queue. What logic is there in such a principle? What friction has the hon. the Minister eliminated by means of this petty apartheid? What friction is there in respect of private bodies in the cities of South Africa where Whites and non-Whites are served at the same counter, where they enter the same shoe shop, sit on the same chairs and fit on the same shoes? What friction develops in those instances? If one now takes into consideration how many businesses and how many post offices there are in Cape Town or in Johannesburg, what would the relationship be between businesses and post offices? Probably not more than one post office for every 10 000 businesses, particularly in Johannesburg. Now, by means of petty apartheid, which is an insult to the people, the hon. the Minister wants to eliminate friction in one of 10 000 places! In the other 10 000 places everyone is served by the same people; in large shops, Whites are served by non-Whites, particularly by Coloureds. They stand in the same queues; they make use of the same counter, the same entrances and exits and the same lifts. Even in public service buildings we see today that the White/non-White signs on lifts have been removed. Why, then, is there no friction? No, Sir, I think that argument about friction definitely does not hold good. What, then, does the hon. the Minister really envisage, or is it just an indication of the hon. the Minister’s real political home in the H.N.P? Is that actually what the hon. the Minister is afraid of? Is that why he makes an election speech at the end of a Second Reading debate? The point I want to make is that if there is one post office for every 10 000 businesses, and the post office has petty apartheid, but all the others do not, the Minister is out of step because the South African public accepts that it is unnecessary to have separate counters and separate entrances. If the South African public were dissatisfied with that, they would not have supported those private bodies that did not offer separate facilities. Consequently, if they are satisfied with that as far as the private sector is concerned, to what greater degree would they not also be satisfied with it in the Post Office, and to such an increasing degree would the hon. the Minister be able to do without it. We have heard what all the non-White leaders of South Africa had to say in connection with petty apartheid—all the Black leaders, all the Indian leaders and all the Coloured leaders. They say it is one of the biggest bottlenecks in race relations in South Africa, and yet it is one of the things which could most easily be eliminated. Of all stumbling blocks or problems, it is the simplest to eliminate. It can be done with the minimum of effort and the minimum of cost. And it is the biggest bottleneck. It is something that could most easily bring about better race relations in South Africa. I want to challenge the hon. the Minister to make those moves, and he knows as well as I do, and as well as all the hon. members on this side of the House, that race relations would thereby improve, create a better image as far as we are concerned and be to our advantage in all respects. I challenge the hon. the Minister to take those steps today, not in the interests of party politics, Sir, but in the interests of South Africa and the future of our people, because when all is said and done, Sir, that is why we are really here. The object we must really strive for is not to make political speeches like the hon. the Minister made here. I am asking him, in all sincerity, to review this matter seriously, particularly in the light of the facts I have mentioned to the hon. the Minister here. As so many leaders have already said recently, I also think that we have little time and that it is of the utmost importance for us to solve these matters. We can no longer afford to play politics with the “lunatic fringe” which expects this type of thing. No, Sir, it is time for us to take the correct steps and to take them now, drastic steps, to take.
Mr. Speaker, I am not surprised that the hon. member for Florida is one of the favourites of Mr. Schwarz of the Transvaal. After his petty apartheid speech here this afternoon in the Post Office debate, it is very clear to me that he probably must have made this speech before, that is why he got a nomination. But I want to give him a bit of information. I recently drove through his constituency, the Florida constituency, and I am going to predict to him, though he is a fine young member, that he will probably hold the record for a member who began in the back benches and left from the back benches. If he would now like to prove his sincerity in connection with his plea about the abolition of petty apartheid, I request him in all sincerity to ask the hon. the Minister to erect a multi-racial post office in Quellerina with a Black postmaster. That would only hasten his exit from this House of Assembly.
I just want to refer briefly to something the hon. member for Orange Grove said. I have some sympathy for him, because his nomination still lies ahead of him. He mentioned the decrease in the number of staff members, as measured against the number of telephone calls that are made. He regards this as a step backwards in the staff position. It is a question of interpretation. I interpret it differently. If one can do more work with fewer people, this attests to greater efficiency as far as I am concerned. I want to quote from a statistical report which the Postmaster-General submitted for the year 1969–’70, and I am not going to bore you with figures for long, Sir. The staff position at the end of March 1971 is indicated and compared with the position at the end of March 1961. In 1961 there were 19 professional engineers for every 100 million calls that were made, and in 1971, 10 years later, there were only eight professional engineers for every 100 million telephone calls. In other words, each engineer did more than twice as much for the Post Office and for South Africa. The total staff complement in the Post Office, also measured against the calls, was 1 100 in 1961 and only 730 in 1971. I say this is a question of interpretation; the hon. member for Orange Grove says the figures are proof of deterioration. To my mind they attest to the utmost progress in the Post Office.
Mr. Speaker, permit me just to refer to an hon. member who led this group on the Government side as chairman. I just want to thank him for the good co-operation between him and me, as secretary, over the past few years. We wish him a very good period of rest and hope we shall be seeing him often in the future. Sir, while doing so I want to refer to what the hon. member for Berea jokingly said of him in relation to certain trees that stood on a pavement in Harrismith. It reminds me of a United Party tree that appeared in pamphlet form a number of years ago. It was the United Party tree; it was a pretty picture with the heading “saam groei ons: Together we grow”. I do not know what happened to that tree, but I have a vague suspicion that a “Schwarz”-broer got at that tree, and I can see it splitting and falling.
†Mr. Speaker, I wish to come back to the Rondebult system, if I may call it that. When the hon. the Minister replied to the Second Reading debate he looked towards my bench when I was not here; I was sitting right behind him as a good ex-postmaster should do. This Rondebult system, or self-delivery system, was installed in the Rondebult suburb of Germiston during December 1973. In referring to this system I wish to pay tribute to the hon. the Minister in the first place for having made it possible to introduce such a system. In the Third Reading debate last year he envisaged such a system, and then in October last year I met the Postmaster-General in that suburb. There was a bare piece of veld, and what I am going to say now will indicate to the House how quickly the Post Office staff can tackle and complete a job. Sir, two months later there was the most beautiful, the cutest little post office erected on this empty piece of land. Mr. Speaker, you should see this system If hon. members do happen to pass through my constituency—they are very welcome to do so—they should stop at Rondebult and go and admire this little post office. The engineers made a grand job of it. Since this is the first time this system has been introduced in South Africa, I would suggest to the hon. the Minister that this system should be referred to as the Rondebult system, because it was at Rondebult that the success of this system was assured because of the willingness of the public of Rondebult to support this little post office. This little building, a prefabricated steel construction mounted on a concrete base, houses 400 private post office boxes. There are approximately 400 stand owners in Rondebult. Every stand owner is entitled to a private box, and the service is free, except for R1 key money. Incidentally, the stand number of the owner coincides with the box number. There are stamp-vending machines, machines where you are able to change coins; there is a scale for weighing parcels, and there is also a tariff list for parcel postage, and there are two public call offices and a receptacle where you can deposit your parcel after having duly stamped it. As I say, Sir, it is really a very nice building and I appeal to the hon. the Minister not to wait too long before extending this system to other centres. As a matter of fact, in my own constituency, the suburb of Leondale, on the way from Alberton to Heidelberg, where they already enjoy postal delivery services, they have asked me to appeal to the Minister to provide this service there too, and also in the little Government village in the Germiston District constituency, where mostly pensioners live, they would welcome this service where they could obtain stamps, etc., after hours. Sir, the system is a complete success. I have been informed that during the first month this service paid for itself. I also have a few suggestions to make about this system. At present it provides a scale for the weighing of parcels, but this scale is not sensitive enough also to weigh letters, and I think the department should consider installing, in addition to the parcel scale, a scale with greater sensitivity which will be able to weigh letters, especially for airmail overseas. The other item that I think is missing in the system is that there should be a few bar-type stools provided, fixed to the concrete, where people can sit down and write their letters. That would help them.
*The other thing also needed in this system is that additional small change facilities should be created. You know, the Rondebult people are very devoted churchgoers, and on Sundays they call at the post office to get small change for the collection plate. The information I have is that those machines do not have enough change to provide for all these needs. [Interjection.] I can understand the hon. member saying “Oh no”. He probably does not go to church, or if he goes he does not throw small change into the plate. I conclude this telegram style speech of mine and express the hope that this Rondebult system will captivate the whole country to the great benefit of the Post Office and South Africa.
The description which the hon. member gave us of the Rondebult post office was interesting and we all look forward to that system being tried out in other parts of the country too. However, hon. members on that side of the House have somewhat of a donkey-cart mentality because they cannot realize that in spite of this Government having been in power since 1948, advances must take place in spite of the Government and not because of it; and they are somewhat amazed when they find that a department such as the Department of Posts and Telecommunications have men who get on with the job. And they are indeed doing a very good job of work of which we South Africans are justly proud. This is a phenomenon which hon. members opposite cannot understand, and they always think it is like manna from heaven coming from them. However, South Africa will go on in spite of the Government and not because of it.
Carry on, sergeant !
I also want to support the hon. member for Constantia. I also thought that the hon. the Minister did not give us enough detailed information about what he intended doing with this money he has. It was a very interesting dissertation he gave us on the work of his department, but the guts of this talk was not apparent until he came to the end of the Second Reading. We all know that the Department of Posts and Telecommunications is a State monopoly and it is quite right that it should be so. We are not like other States where they give out their telecommunications to private companies. I am one of those who firmly believes that telecommunications should be vested in the State. At the same time I am not so blind as to think that the State has all the brains. It is the duty of the State to see that the men who run these departments are fully equipped and can get on with the least political interference. Here the State should encourage the department to develop and project an image of businesslike progress and efficiency and a businesslike approach to problems. There must be more dynamics shown in their attitude.
Now, everybody here has in one way or the other, yesterday and the day before, referred to shortages of staff, bad service, delayed calls and wrong calls and bad postal delivery etc. I do not intend going over that again, and I do not intend bringing up the old hardy annual about telephones in the townships. The Minister has told us in the Second Reading what he intends doing, but I still feel that it is insufficient. After all, this is a business undertaking and the men running it should be paid on business lines. It is no good complaining, as some members have done, that the Post Office trains technicians only for the services of these men to be poached by private enterprise. Let us face the facts. Private enterprise is out for profit and if they run their businesses at a profit and still pay their men a decent salary, then the Post Office can do the same and pay their men a competitive salary compared with private enterprise. I was very interested to read about the in-service intensive training scheme which embraces all races, but I was somewhat disappointed to see that only 20 officers enrolled for courses in one or other of the Bantu languages. To think that in an organization where there are some 50 000 employees, only 20 of them are taking up a Bantu language, seems wrong, I should like to know from the hon. the Minister what he is doing to encourage the use of Bantu languages by White staff. After all, the Bantu are in the majority. That may not be so here down in the Cape, but those of us who come from the northern provinces know what the ratio is, and very often, particularly in Natal, if you cannot speak a Bantu language, you have had your chips. Not only that, but the fact that you can address the Bantu in their own language helps you a great deal because you can get more out of them than you would otherwise have done.
The second leg of our amendment was that the Government had failed to implement its undertaking to run the Post Office on business lines. I have a letter in my possession in which I am told that Ntokozweni, which is the post office for the Umlazi township, 134 telephones have been provided and that there were 67 telephones outstanding a few months ago. I have here a cutting from The Natal Mercury, dated 11 February 1974, and I quote—
I may just say that there are over 100 000 people in this township. I continue—
Unfortunately councillor Khanyile was not told in what year they would get those telephones. Now, since practically everybody else has pleaded for his own constituency, I should like to make an appeal to the hon. the Minister. After normal closing hours in that vast township of Umlazi you will not find a White person; they all disappear. There are thousands upon thousands of Bantu living there. I have had a great deal to do with Bantu townships in my life. All you hear is a hum; heaven help anybody who gets in the way of a taxi, whether it be private or licensed; the lighting is not what it should be. I should therefore like to plead that the telephone service be brought up to date there. At Ntokozweni, which is the post office for Umlazi, there is a blockage of calls. You can go and ask the magistrates, because they are in KwaZulu, and you can speak to the police, the Natal Bantu Blind Society and to the clinics, and they will tell you of the difficulties people have when trying to contact them, and how they in turn experience difficulties in trying to contact people in Durban. As I have said, there is a blockage there. No doubt the technicians could tell us what cuases that, but complaints are made almost daily about this.
Communications are vital to all of us if we are to succeed or if we want to survive not only in business or in the army or in the police, but everywhere else. I agree that advances have been made in the sphere of telecommunications, but they are not sufficient. In this connection we on this side of the House make an urgent appeal to the Government to employ business methods. Let them cut out the politics and get on with the job.
Mr. Speaker, this debate has thus far been very interesting. It was interesting to hear how the United Party speakers stood up one after the other and virtually fell over each other’s words to present themselves as spokesmen for the interests of the Post Office workers. Have they not yet learned that the Post Office workers—and this applies to any group of workers whatsoever in this country—do not judge a party on what is said just before an election, but on a party’s actions through the years? If one has to compare these two, on the one hand the present Government and on the other the United Party, the workers of South Africa know that the National Government’s record is a very good one because it has proved itself to be the workers’ friend. The United Party, on the contrary, when they were in our position, and even as an Opposition, continually had a mouthful to say whenever anything was done for the benefit of the workers.
Today they were actually insulting to the Post Office workers. They came here to advocate better remuneration for the Post Office workers. Why did they do so? Do they think the Post Office workers can be persuaded in that way to vote for them? I repeat that this is an insult to the Post Office workers. The drift of the words of the hon. member, who has just resumed his seat, was that the Post Office should be administered on business lines and that the Post Office workers should be remunerated on business lines so that they can do better work. I want to ask the hon. member whether he does not think that the people are still doing excellent work. Does the hon. member think there is room for improvement as far as their work in the Post Office is concerned? That is surely an insult.
The Minister asked that they be disciplined.
That is surely an insult, because we know our people who are doing that work. We know, after all, that they can be trusted and that under the most difficult of circumstances they only ask, as loyal South Africans, what is in the interest of this country, and always they only act accordingly. It is not necessary for the United Party and the Opposition to come and lodge pleas for them here because those people know who their friends are.
The hon. member for Florida came and harped on another matter here, that of so-called petty apartheid. However, he neglected to tell the House what he means by that. He neglected to say what the Post Office must do to eliminate that so-called petty apartheid to which he referred. The hon. member for Florida would be too scared to go and tell the voters in Florida what he proposed here in the House and what he means by that trend of thought of his. I want to say that I honestly believe that the Government’s policy is the best answer to all the problems whereby racial friction can be caused. As matters are being arranged at present, the Government’s policy is limiting racial friction to a minimum. I want to advocate very strongly that the hon. the Minister and the Government will not now, or in the future, consider yielding to the demands which that hon. member made. However, I want to challenge that hon. member to go to the voters outside the House and tell them that he asked that Blacks and Whites should stand in the same queue, that White ladies should be in the same queue as the Bantu when they go to the post Offices. Then we shall see how they are dealt with.
I want to say something about the labour situation in the Post Office. I want to say at once that I have a good deal of understanding for the problems the Post Office is faced with. Bearing in mind that there is a 20% shortage of technical and semi-technical staff in the Post Office, it is actually a compliment to the Post Office and its staff that in spite of the tremendous backlog—20% is a big backlog—it succeeds in furnishing this high standard of service we have today. It is a feather in their cap that they systematically contribute to the elimination of the backlog, particularly in the sphere of telecommunications. Because that is so, I want to say that we welcome the fact that the Post Office is succeeding, to an increasing extent in the technical sphere, to have the various national groups served by their own people. But this is a very delicate matter, particularly in South Africa with its exceptional composition of peoples.
I am glad the hon. the Minister again placed it beyond any doubt today that those Coloureds, particularly the Bantu, who are having in-service training and who are being trained in higher grades, will not now or in the future be used to replace Whites. Only a National Minister of a National Government can give such an undertaking to the White workers. But imagine, Sir, the hon. member for Hillbrow, or possibly his successor, the one of Black Declaration fame, having to be responsible for the administration of this department. Then the White workers, and also those within the Post Office, would have every reason to be concerned. We are very grateful today that we can stand here and say to a National Minister of a National Government that the White workers of South Africa trust him in this connection and will support him in the execution and the implementation of the policy laid down by the National Government and the National Party, which amounts to the fact that these people are in fact being used to serve their own people, but will never be placed in a position to replace White workers.
But because there is so great a shortage of trained technicians, this afternoon I want to champion a cause in connection with what the hon. the Minister said in reply to the Second Reading debate—I actually want to say champion further the cause for the greater utilization of women. We are living in 1974, and the emancipation of women has come to stay. As it is, in many areas of life women have already entered what has traditionally been the man’s territory, including the technical sphere. Quite rightly too, because they have already proved that they can be a success in this sphere. That is why I am gratified that the corps of female workers in the Post Office has increased in the past five years from 12 000 to 14 000 and that they are also being used already as technical assistants and in other technical fields for the maintenance of our telecommunications equipment.
But now, while they have already been found suitable for these particular fields, I wonder whether the time has not come for consideration to be given to more opportunities being created for them so that they may also enroll as apprentices and then be trained for a full-fledged technical status. I am convinced in my very being that if they get this opportunity there will no longer be such a shortage of trained manpower in the Post Office in future. But in the same breath I also want to advocate that if they get the opportunity, as they are already getting to a certain extent, they should also have the chance—I hope the hon. the Minister will also give us his assurance in that respect—of not only being used as ordinary artisans, but that they will also get the opportunity, at this particular level, to go for promotion posts. If it should happen that they are placed in control of men, this must be accepted as such. I honestly believe that those people will not leave the Post Office and South Africa in the lurch and I therefore want to lodge such a plea.
Mr. Speaker, the main speaker on the other side, the hon. member for Orange Grove, actually launched two big pleas. Firstly, he said that in general I should indicate by how much I am going to decrease the telephone shortage in the next 12 months, and secondly, he asked what salary increases I am going to grant. I am very sorry, but I cannot comply with any of those requests. Only an opportunistic, irresponsible party does such things. In this connection I want to say that the public and the workers can simply test us on our record. As far as the supplying of telephones is concerned, I have today furnished detailed data indicating the trend in respect of the installation of telephones. There was a record installation of 115 000 for the past year, and if the hon. member wants to know what the figure is going to be for the coming year, he is free to study that trend. I do not intend to mention any figures here. It is completely unnecessary. We are hard at work doing what we can, and our people know this. As far as salary increases are concerned, I stick to what I said here earlier. The Government is aware of the increase in the cost of living and will make the necessary adjustments at a suitable time.
A very important contribution to this debate came from the hon. member for Florida. He is, although a backbencher, an important person in the postal group of his party, because he is the secretary. According to the parliamentary recipe he is actually the deputy shadow Minister. Consequently the standpoints he adopts here are not simply restricted to his individual views or caprices, because he speaks in his capacity as an important member of the group. Therefore the view he expressed here today is of very great importance. And I think, too, that by virtue of those views the United Party as such has today displayed its true colours to us. I think that the speech the hon. member made here, in which he advocated that we should abolish petty apartheid for the sake of our image in the Post Office, that we should do away with the separate entrances, is characteristic of the phase in which the United Party finds itself at present. It is not only the attitude of the Harry Schwarz group, but through that mouthpiece also the attitude of the parliamentary United Party, because no one on that side contradicted him in this debate, which could in brackets, still go on till five minutes to five. Because this is a matter of such importance, it is necessary that I say firstly, that we, on the National Party side, do not know of anything called minor or major apartheid. We acknowledge only one matter and that is the maintenance of good national relationships in South Africa. In the process of the maintenance of good national relationships, we ensure that areas and points of friction are prevented, and eliminated and avoided where they occur. That is the way in which the National Party maintains its good national relationships here. Therefore, as far as we are concerned, there is no question of one’s being able to differentiate between certain actions that are supposedly minor apartheid and others that are major apartheid. As far as the United Party’s standpoint is concerned, particularly as the hon. member put it to us, it appears as if the public is saying that they do not want separate counters, but that they want the Blacks to share the same queues with the Whites. I would be very glad if the hon. member, who is courageous enough to state this here in the House, would go and state it, during the election campaign that lies ahead, firstly in his own constituency and secondly in the rest of South Africa. Since the hon. member professes that the public wants this, I want to ask him: “Go and ascertain this.” In a few months’ time we shall assemble again, and then we are going to speak about the same matter again, supposing the hon. member is here again.
He shall be here.
They have great confidence on that side! Supposing the hon. member is here, we should like to have an account from him about whether the Florida public want separate entrances to be abolished so that they can mix freely there. We would be glad if the hon. member would get a mandate from the Florida electorate. Since the hon. member is one of the zealous young members on the other side, who will probably be holding meetings at other places, I want to ask him to just get the mandate from voters in constituencies outside Florida too. He must tell us whether they want these separate entrances abolished, a system this Government maintains because we believe that it maintains good race relations. I am asking the hon. member and other hon. members on that side, who did not contradict him, whether they would have the courage to go to the voters and to state frankly to them that the separate entrances to the post offices should be abolished.
The hon. member asked me what was now my labour policy in connection with non-Whites and Whites working together behind the same counter. I do not hesitate to tell you very clearly that the non-Whites we use today as counter assistants—I have mentioned the figures to you—are there firstly to serve their own people. In those serving areas they are separate, and as long as this party rules there will be separate provision for those non-White counter assistants to work behind those counters. If the hon. member, with his Schwarz mentality, now wants to call it being “caged in”, let him call it what he wants to. If he now wants to use that slogan, he can say that the Whites are also “caged in”. The provision of separate facilities in post offices will be maintained for our workers, and there will be separate facilities for the non-Whites, just as separate counters will be retained by this Government. I now ask the hon. member to scrape together all the courage he can master and put his case, firstly in his constituency and secondly in the rest of the country, to get the mandate to change this.
Now I refer to the hon. member for Umlazi.
†The hon. member referred to the question of telephones in the Umlazi area. It is so that we have the very severe problem of telephones being damaged in those Bantu townships, and of course, we have to repair them. Nevertheless, as I have said in my previous contribution today, we do not discriminate and treat every case on its merits. But the fact remains that a lot of damage is being done in those townships.
The hon. member also made a plea for the learning of Bantu languages. It is our attitude to encourage our officials to study Bantu languages. We also encourage them by paying them a bonus of R160 if they qualify in any of these languages, because we regard it as very helpful in our country.
*The hon. member for Germiston District, who is actually half-and-half the father of our first self-service post office, wants us to move a little faster and already make available extra moneychanging machines and even chairs. I do not want to dampen the enthusiasm in any way, but I think we should first let the matter get into its stride. There is still the post office at Kempton Park and a third one that have to be equipped. When we meet here again in a few months’ time, I think we shall be in a better position to balance our books. Then we can decide whether we can make an extra chair or so available there. In the meantime, thank you very much for the hon. member’s interest.
The hon. member for Springs made a contribution in connection with the women in our service, and he expressed appreciation for that fact, which I should also like to underline. As hon. members could deduce from the data I have furnished today, we are making increasing use of women. They are extremely valuable auxiliary forces as far as we are concerned. There is every indication that we are going to make use of them to an ever-increasing extent. The hon. member furnished a plea that we should also have them trained as apprentices. The fact that they are already being trained as technicians, is actually an indication that one should send them through those initial courses. To be a technician requires very advanced training. I shall nevertheless go into the matter further. I cannot simply give the final word immediately, but I have every sympathy with the hon. member’s line of thought. With that I want to end and also just say: Thank you very much for everyone’s interest in this debate.
Motion agreed to.
Bill read a Third Time.
Mr. Speaker, I move—
This is a short but very important measure. Its main objective is to bring about a better trained and effective Defence Force. A thorough investigation of the present system of National Service was carried out by a committee of senior officers, and I hope that as a result of these proposals, we will have a more flexible system.
Over a period of nearly two years proper tests were applied to determine on a scientific basis the attitude of national servicemen. Officers, non-commissioned officers and parents were also consulted on various methods to improve the National Service system. Most of the recommendations of the committee were accepted by the Defence Staff Council after those recommendations had been considered by the Council. Consequently, I had discussion with representatives of the respective parliamentary defence groups in Pretoria who also accepted the proposals in principle. This amending bill deals mostly with these recommendations while at the same time I also propose a few other amendments which I believe to be of practical value.
With reference to clause 3, I wish to state that as a result of the intensification of the threat from across our borders, I have ordered an investigation into the effectiveness of training in the SADF, and the ability of the available manpower to cope with this task. The investigation disclosed that the present system is lacking in two respects. Firstly, the minimum period of ten months’ training and service presently exacted does not allow for a satisfactory standard of preparedness, and secondly, that the manpower is not available long enough for effective operational employment. These shortcomings can be solved in different ways, and I propose to deal with them. However, It is interesting, Sir, to note what another Defence Minister in Europe had to say a while ago on the question of national service. I want to quote from an official report of one of our representatives in that country. The Minister concerned dealt with the problems in connection with national service—they have a national service period of 15 months—and he said the following—
I quote this merely as a matter of interest because I think that we can also apply this principle to South Africa. I mentioned the fact that there were shortcomings. Perhaps the shortcomings can be solved as follows: Firstly, the initial training period in the Citizen Force must be for at least 12 months. At present only ten of a possible 12 months are exacted. Secondly, five camps of 13 to 19 days each. To ensure a high standard of training the camps may be done in consecutive years, and in so doing, members will complete their total service commitment within six years instead of the existing ten years. That is the ideal. The circumstances of the person and the requirements of the SADF, will of course have to dictate the position.
Effective combating of the terrorist threat and other threats requires well-trained, mature and experienced troops who can operate in small groups or as individuals. The manpower in the Permanent Force is inadequate and consequently it is imperative that a force-in-being be established. The proposed amendment provides for volunteers from among the trainees to undergo a single period of continuous training and service of 18 or 20 months’ duration. Preliminary inquiries disclose that a considerable percentage of trainees would prefer to complete their total commitments in one continuous period, and it is envisaged to compensate those who are selected, by way of gratuities upon completion of the extended service. Perhaps I should mention the percentages to which I referred. Thirty-three percent of the January intake elected to have 12 months’ training, 18% elected to have 18 months’ training, 37% elected to to have 24 months’ training and the remaining, 12% were students. I thing that these figures are very interesting because they show how the national servicemen themselves feel about the period of training. The force-in-being will be established from these categories, some of whom will also be employed as instructors after completion of 12 months’ training to assist the Permanent Force instructors in the training of the ordinary servicemen. The present system whereby contemporaries are employed as instructors is unfeasible as they are incapable of maintaining the necessary discipline. The force-in-being will eventually consist of more or less 5 720 trainees of the 18 months’ group and 2 350 of the 24 months’ group. As auxiliaries to the Permanent Force at Headquarters, 1 400 and 200 respectively of the two categories will be required, mostly for the Air Force. The above figures are based on the present circumstances and requirements. I think that as far as the Navy is concerned, we will only make use of the 18 months’ group.
The purpose of the amendment contained in clause 3(1)(c) is to acknowledge service in the merchant fleet as appropriate service as will be explained later, as well as for the acceptance of service already rendered in the Citizen Force in determining the duration of the service in terms of clause 3(1)(a).
As far as subsection (2) of this clause is concerned, the provision for extended service in subsection (1)(b) is extended to members who commenced their service on 1 January 1973. Test-checks were taken to determine the reaction to the new system and because of the popularity thereof, it was implemented immediately. That implementation is now being authorized by my proposals, should they be adopted. I should just like to add that I informed hon. members of my intentions in this regard by way of a circular.
In regard to this clause, I wish to refer hon. members to the circular in which I explained the contemplated amendments to the National Service System and copies of which were distributed amongst hon. members of both Houses. It also dealt with the position of students.
I now come to clause 2. In this clause provision is made for members of the Citizen Force to complete their total service commitments in a much shorter period than the existing ten years. The provision is also extended to serving members. Upon completion of service in the shorter period members are immediately transferred to the Citizen Force Reserve. This same principle will also apply, as a result of clauses 4 and 5, to commandos, because the provisions for the commandos in these clauses are the same as those for the Citizen Force in clauses 2 and 3. Service in the commandos was amended by Act No. 66 of 1972 to bring it in line with that of the Citizen Force. My remarks regarding the amendments of the Citizen Force in clauses 2 and 3 therefore also apply to these two clauses.
I now come back to clause 1. In 1973, by Act No. 26 of 1973, the definition of “service in defence of the Republic” was extended to include military service by a member of the SADF relating to the combating of terrorism. The object was to afford to members of the Permanent Force who were disabled as a result of such duty, the greater benefits of the War Pensions Act as provided for members of the commandos and the Reserve by section 145 of the Act. Section 145, however, was not amended and this is now being done in clause 8. The amendment in this subsection merely separates the various services which are regarded as service in defence of the Republic to facilitate the framing of the amendment to section 145 in clause 8.
The hon. member for Potchefstroom approached me because he is of the opinion that the word “ volk” is used in the wrong context in line 24 of the Afrikaans text of clause 1(b). I immediately made inquiries and found that the hon. member was supported in his views by leading authorities on constitutional law. After consultation with the terminologists of my department and the law advisers of the Department of Justice, it has been decided to substitute for the word “volk” the word “staat” and to amend the English text accordingly. The word used in the Afrikaans text before was “volk”, and the word used in the English text the word was “nation”. That has been the position since the Defence Act was passed many years ago. I cannot explain the reason for this, but I think the wording proposed here is an improvement.
Section 21(2) of the Defence Act provides that in determining the duration of a member’s service in the Citizen Force in terms of subsection (1) thereof, he may be credited with service rendered as a member of the Permanent Force, the commandos, the S.A. Police, the Railways and Harbours Police or the Prison Service. In the S.A. Navy there were already instances of members who had rendered very appropriate service in the merchant fleet but could not be credited therewith. The defect is corrected in clauses 2(b), 3(1)(c), 4(b) and 5(1)(c). The amendment in this subclause defines “service in the merchant fleet”.
I want to deal now with clauses 6 and 7. The official designation “Commandant General” is army orientated and is therefore no longer suitable to a defence force like SADF, where the chief executive officer may be a member of any of the three arms of the service. Moreover, the designation tends to cause confusion in Western military and diplomatic circles as regards the relative importance of the Commandant General and his subordinates, especially the Chief of Defence staff which, in some overseas countries, is the official designation of their highest military officer. In the British Defence Force the designation “Commandant General” denotes the chief of the Royal Marines which is but a component of an arm of their service. In most countries the designation is completely unknown as we know it in South Africa and in no way denotes the importance thereof. I can also tell hon. members that it has happened on many occasions in the past that letters have been addressed to the Chief of the Defence Force, “General So-and-so”, or “Admiral So-and-so”, and then the letter starts “Dear Commandant”. In changing the official designation of “Commandant General, SADF”, to “Chief of the SADF”, or in Afrikaans, “Hoof van die SAW”, it will bring the designation of the chief military executive officer in line with the designation of his subordinate commanding officers, viz. Chief of the Army, Chief of the Air Force and Chief of the Navy, and it will at the same time be indicative of the post he holds. I may add that I am making this proposal after many discussions during the course of the last five or six years and that I am making it at the unanimous request of the chiefs of the armed services.
Then I come to clause 8. As already explained in connection with clause 1(a), it was the intention in 1973 to afford members of the Permanent Force, disabled as a result of military service relating to the combating of terrorism, the possible greater benefits of the War Pensions Act, i.e. vis-a-vis the Workmen’s Compensation Act, to bring them in line with the Citizen Force, the commandos and the Reserve under similar circumstances. Due to an oversight, which I regret, only the definition of the term “service in defence of the Republic” was then amended, without effecting the necessary adaptions to section 145. All the amendments under this clause are consequential to the amendment in section 1 of the Act, with also a correction to the new number and year of the War Pensions Act as well as a consequential change of the designation “Secretary for Defence” to “Chief of the SADF”, in terms of clauses 6 and 7 already dealt with and section 83A of the Act whereby in 1969, under Act No. 3 of 1969, the Commandant General became head of the Department of Defence, after we abolished the post of Secretary for Defence.
These proposals, Sir, are the main amendments I have in mind to improve the National Service system. In conclusion, before moving the Second Reading, allow me to make the following short announcement: Some time ago I informed hon. members that we were in the process of producing a more advanced trainer aircraft at Atlas. I am pleased to be able to announce that the first proto-type has come off the production line, and test flights were carried out successfully yesterday. No further details will be made available.
Mr. Speaker, in the first place I want to say how glad we are to hear about our new aircraft. I hope the hon. the Minister will push aside the question of secrecy just a little so that a name may at least be given to it. We hope that that name will be announced shortly.
This Bill is once again the result of cooperation and consultation, and I want to express my appreciation for the very close consultations which the hon. the Minister and his Department had with the secretary of the Defence Group on this side and myself. He made available to us the complete report of the Malan Committee, on which the most important amendments which are being effected, are based. He made available to us not only the details relevant to this Bill, but the complete report.
Therefore I want to take this opportunity not only to express our appreciation to the hon. the Minister, but also to record a word of thanks and congratulations to the Malan Committee for the outstanding work it did. It was an investigation in depth which, to my mind, went to the core of the problem regarding our national service system. That committee made recommendations which are still going to mean a great deal to South Africa.
I want to start where the hon. the Minister left off. I refer to the designation of the Chief of the Defence Force. I am in complete agreement that the title “Commandant General” is not the correct designation. I do feel, however, that the word “chief” is a rather weak title for the chief of something as important as the Defence Force of South Africa. A chief is something one finds in every department. One finds a chief clerk, a chief in the field of education, and in this way the word “chief” is used in various circumstances.
One also finds a chief spokesman.
Yes, one also finds a chief spokesman. The word “chief” is not a word conveying the meaning of a top chief. It does not convey the meaning of a top dog. However, I must admit that I do not have a solution to this problem.
†The old title “Chief of General Staff (CGS)” was one which I believed always carried a lot of respect. He was the Chief of the General Staff; the General Staff was the top. However, today you have the designation “Chief of Defence Staff” which may cause confusion. “General Officer Commanding” is another possibility, but that too may cause confusion. The General Officer Commanding is usually the general officer in charge of a particular operation or theatre. If the title “CGS”, which I favour, is not acceptable, I still think we might look for a title with more status than simply “Chief”. I accept that we have “Chief of the Army”, “Chief of the Navy” and “Chief of the Air Force”, but in the Army we tend to abbreviate. We always talked of the “CG”; never of the “Commandant General”—“die KG”—the “CGS”—Chief of General Staff. You never use the full title. The term “CSADF” just does not make for easy use of words. “HSAW”, the Afrikaans abbreviation, is slightly better, but “CSADF” is a very clumsy abbreviation. I think that maybe in the next year or two we might think again to see if we cannot find a more appropriate title. However, we accept it as it is, failing anything more suitable than “Chief of General Staff”. That is a title recognized pretty well throughout the word. I am not making an issue of it, but I just have the feeling that the top officer of our Defence Force is not adequately reflected by the title “Chief”.
Coming to the main principle of this Bill, I want to say at once that we support and welcome this. We welcome the principle of extended service, which I believe is the heart of the proposed change in national service training. This extended service involves extending military training to 18 months or 24 months on a volunteer basis. It is in fact something that we have discussed before. Out of interest I looked up the debate on the Defence Amendment Bill in 1972 and found that I had said (Hansard, Vol. 37, col. 2231)—
Further on I said—
Further on I said—
Therefore we obviously welcome this provision. This is in fact the direction in which we have now moved. Here we have extended service for more than the four months which we suggested in 1972, but the principle of a continuous period of service on a volunteer basis is the same. I am more than pleased to hear today that 51% of the 84% concerned have chosen or have volunteered for extended service. Excluding the 12% who are students, it means that almost twice as many of those doing national service have voluntarily chosen extended service. We are fully in agreement and we add our enthusiastic support. I believe that volunteers make the best soldiers in any army and in this Bill the volunteer basis is brought back into our Defence Force. We accept that times have changed and that a longer period is necessary. I am glad that the hon. the Minister has gone beyond the suggestions we made by adding the inducement of a gratuity at the end of the 18-month and 24-month training periods. This means that not only is there the inducement of not having to do the periodic camps, but there is the cash inducement. A young man from a poor family which can perhaps not afford to educate him will have R3 000 after two years in the Army with which he can perhaps see himself through university. If he does not want to go to university he can buy his first motor-car or furnish a flat to get himself set up in life. This I believe is a tremendous attraction and I hope that it will be possible for more than the percentage who could be absorbed this year to be used on extended service later. In doing so we will gradually move towards the voluntary service system and have less of the 12-month plus periodic camps.
Turning to the periodic camps, I want to say that we have some doubt as to whether the additional two camps are in fact essential. When you draw plans on paper you can justify them, but I believe it would be better to have more of the 18 and 24-month servicemen instead of the additional two camps for which we are now providing. It is admittedly a shorter period with the reduction in the length of each camp from 26 days to 19 days, but none the less it is a commitment for five continuous years I would like to ask the hon. the Minister whether he will not consider reviewing this. I am not asking him to do anything in this Bill, but in, say, two years’ time we could consider again whether in fact it is necessary to have five years of camps instead of three years. A three-year period would mean that a man does his 12 months’ training and one camp every year for three years thereafter and be finished by the age of 22. In two years’ time we can see how this amendment is working but I believe that we will find that it may well be possible, because of the continued popularity of the extended service, to reduce this period.
I hope, too, that through this change in the system it will be possible to do away with one of the petty irritations which I believe does more harm to unit morale than anything else, namely the non-continuous parades. These are parades where a Saturday afternoon has to be given up to have a roll-call taken, a hair inspection, or a lecture on something which they have heard ten times before. It means a Saturday spoilt and really nothing achieved. Now that we are having a more intensive and longer basic training and a more intensive system of camps I hope that it will be possible for the non-continuous parades to be done away with so that only ceremonial parades may be retained that may be necessary to receive the freedom of a town or for retaining the right to march with bayonets fixed and flags flying, etc. I do not think that those parades are going to be so necessary now with men coming up every year for a continuous camp.
There is one problem we have, namely the retrospective provision in regard to men already in the service. The present law, before this amendment, is that a man does nine or ten months’ continuous training and then three camps spread over a period of ten years. Many of the men have done their three camps, but because they have to be on strength for ten years, they are still on unit strength. However they have completed the total continuous commitment which the present law applied to them. They have done what the law asked and have completed all their camps. But because they are still on unit strength this amending Bill makes them liable for a further two camps. There are others who have done two camps and who now, in 1974, are due for their third and last camp. They too, because they are on strength, will now have to do an additional three camps instead of the one to which they are committed. Many of these men, because of the spread period, are now 25 or 26 years old. Many of them have married and many of them have commitments. They have planned perhaps after they have finished their military training, to go into a particular occupation or a particular job. They may have planned to go overseas to continue studies. They may have planned to start a family, because now their commitments are over. Suddenly, retrospectively in effect, another two years are imposed on them. I hope that the hon. the Minister—I ask him to consider this—will be able to tell us that those who have completed their three camps, their full commitment, will not be required to do a further two camps, and that those who have done two and are now in 1974 due for their last camp under the existing law will then also be regarded as having completed their commitment. If we can agree on that, the hon. the Minister has our support for the whole of this Bill because that is the only provision on which we have serious doubts. Indeed, they are stronger than doubts; we are opposed to it because we feel that it is not a fair and a just provision to apply to a person who has already fulfilled the obligation which the law has imposed on him and which he has accepted as his full liability.
We welcome the pension provision. I do not know who, somewhere in the Department of Defence, has red ears at the moment of the slip that occurred last year when the definition was changed without section 145 being amended. I assume that the hon. the Minister has boxed somebody’s ears pretty effectively, so I shall take that no further.
The recognition of service in the merchant fleet is also welcome. As the hon. the Minister knows, I have been pressing for this for a long time. I corresponded last year with the Chief of the SADF and I am grateful that he has now agreed that this provision should be made. Service in the merchant fleet is very valuable to us in the navy in time of war.
I am glad to say that we can give our support to this measure, with the one reservation which will not prevent us, obviously, from voting for the Second Reading. We shall accept the Second Reading and, subject to the hon. the Minister’s reply on the point of retrospectivity, I hope we shall be able to support the Committee Stage and the Third Reading as well.
Mr. Speaker, in the circumstances in which our country and the whole world fine themselves it is definitely a happy day to be able to observe the obvious co-operation between the Government and the Opposition which we have in fact been observing today in the discussion of this legislation before the House. I suppose there is no need for me to say anything about the escalation of the threat against us. The members on both sides of the House who, thanks to the guidance furnished by the hon. the Minister and his department, are able to know where we stand in regard to these matters, have been conveying the gravity of the matter to this House. That is why I want to avail myself of this opportunity to thank the hon. the Minister and his department for having made a timely start, on yet another occasion, with the necessary steps which had to be taken for the sake of the security of our country. If we had not introduced the ballot system in the early ’sixties, if we had not introduced the national service system, as amended later on, in the late ’sixties, things would perhaps have been ugly for us today.
The legislation before us is connected with the threat against us. That is why the hon. the Minister also said in his speech that the big intention with this legislation concerning longer and better basic training and also the voluntary opportunity for extended service, was to establish a force in essence. Experience all over the world has shown us that the man handling the arms is becoming more and more secondary to the mighty technology which develops those arms. For that very reason the man handling such arms has to be well trained. The latest war in Israel has taught us that one cannot afford to tackle a well trained enemy if one’s own people who have to defend one’s country have not been trained as well or better. We have seen what has happened in connection with the terrorist onslaught on Southern Africa, which is escalating, and how, after the end of the war in the Far East, new arms techniques were transferred to this terrorist struggle as well. It would be fatal, in view of the possibility of such sophisticated arms being used by the enemy, to send any young man of South Africa into the veld without very, very thorough training. That is why I welcome the standpoint of the Opposition as expressed by the hon. member for Durban Point today.
There were times when we differed on the duration of training, but I do not want to go back to that today. I am glad about the note we have heard here; for all of us realize today that we cannot tackle the enemies we have by making use of badly trained men. I want to associate myself with what was said by the hon. member for Durban Point in regard to the way in which those serving on our defence committees, as well as all members of Parliament, have been kept informed by the hon. the Minister and his department, especially in respect of the development of the legislation we have before us today. I think this is an example which can be followed by many others; and I think it is as a result of that measure of consultation and guidance that that unanimity prevails here today. We have no misgivings or suspicion as to what is being envisaged by this legislation. Therefore I want to congratulate the committee of the Defence Force which carried out this investigation and those persons who were responsible for the opinion polls, on such a most thorough piece of work, such as has probably never been done in our country before in this regard.
If, in the eyes of certain people, this legislation does perhaps impose greater obligations on some of our young people, I want to say today that at the same time it makes provision for equal treatment for every national serviceman. In this way something is being eliminated—I do not want to call it an anomaly—something which has at times given rise to jealousy and also to other feelings on other occasions, because national servicemen were not getting the same treatment or did not have to go through the same training process.
The further advantage of this legislation is that it is of an elastic nature, that makes our defence so adaptable, depending on the threat against us, and that it also implies the possibility to transfer from one part of the Defence Force to the other, even from one branch of the Defence Force to the other, such as from the Citizen Force to the commandos.
Now, the hon. member for Durban Point said he had his doubts whether five follow-up camps were necessary after a basic training period of 12 months. He related this to the number of people who indicated in this opinion poll that they would want to report for extended service. But, Sir, I do want to point out to the hon. member that these national servicemen who are voluntarily reporting for extended service, are actually enabling the Defence Force to keep the Force basically in readiness with a view to the immediate threat, but that at the same time this must and may not prejudice the other continued tasks of our Defence Force, namely to retain training on a comprehensive scale and to keep a Defence Force which consists of a national army, as ours does, in readiness at all times. If we were to shorten this training period further and reduce those five camps in number, it would mean that the commandos and the Citizen Force would have to sacrifice some readiness. One must always take into account that something may happen in the future which will require the Defence Force in its entirety to be the best trained Defence Force one could wish for. And that is why one may not do something which will perhaps prejudice the readiness of one’s Defence Force in the aggregate. That is why I should like to draw the attention of the hon. member for Durban Point to this aspect. He also referred to national servicemen who were doing their training already, who, on 31 December 1973, had already done their basic training and who had already attended a few camps, and the extent to which this Bill might now affect them. I want to assure the hon. member—he and all of us have had discussions with the department and also with the hon. the Minister—that this matter can and will be put right administratively so as not to impose unnecessary burdens on people.
Now, Sir, I just want to say a few words in connection with the designation “Chief of the South African Defence Force”. The hon. member said he did not feel quite happy with the designation proposed by the hon. the Minister. Now I should just like to submit this to the hon. member’s consideration. The designation “Commandant General” has a strong sentimental significance to many hon. members in this House since it is a designation dating back to the times of the two Republics. I hope the hon. member will accept it that way. As the hon. the Minister said, circumstances have changed to such an extent that this designation does in fact no longer have any meaning today, because those Republics did not have, to mention an example, a navy. Now, if one has a chief of one’s defence set-up who has to deal with a navy and an air force as well, unlike the position in those days—especially as regards a navy—then the designation “General” simply does not go down any more and, as he also explained, only causes confusion. I now want to submit to the hon. member that the designation proposed by him may also be one which has sentimental associations for other members in this House.
I am pleased to hear the hon. member say it does not have any for him, but perhaps it does, unwittingly, have sentimental associations. I now want to ask the hon. member that we should give this designation a chance, a designation which keeps pace with the evolution of our own Defence Force and which is also related to the names of ranks lower than that of the Chief of the Defence Force, as was explained by the hon. the Minister. I believe that this designation will be accepted as it has already been accepted unobtrusively during the past year or so. It is a fine thing to be a chief. The hon. member is a chief speaker on defence on that side and he has a chief leader: what is more. I think he sometimes calls his leader “Chief”.
He has two chief leaders.
I cannot understand the hon. member’s objection in this regard. A designation has been suggested here, one which is practical, and for the sake of new circumstances we should all, slowly but surely, abandon sentiment. I should like to make an appeal to him and hon. members on his side: Let us accept this designation together and give it a chance.
Mr. Speaker, we support this legislation wholeheartedly.
Mr. Speaker, it sometimes happens in this House that when the Opposition agrees with legislation, we discuss that legislation at length. However, I do not intend doing so today, but I cannot allow this opportunity to pass without expressing my personal satisfaction in regard to the improvements and changes that have now been effected in our training scheme. We all helped to establish the old scheme and to have it approved, but the hon. the Minister said that it had not come up to our expectations. The hon. the Minister told us that the training was not such that we could make the best use of the soldiers, the privates, on the borders. We agree with that. What is the purpose of the training of a soldier? Surely it is to make him an efficient, enthusiastic and highly competent person, a person who can give a good account of himself on his own as well as in his team, a person who must be able to handle very intricate equipment under difficult circumstances. Under the old scheme circumstances arose which we did not expect, and apart from the fact that it was not effective, it also, to a certain extent, made our training unpopular with the young people. Strangely enough, during the past number of years we noticed that the men did not object to undergoing training for nine months or for a year, but the cause of friction was the ten years and the 16 years; these are fortunately being shortened now. Volunteers are now going to be given a chance to serve for 18 months and 24 months, and this appears to be a very popular change. Mr. Speaker, in these two years the young national serviceman is very useful to the State, but we must remember that the longer we can keep him there, the more useful he is to the State. For years I have been pleading in this House for a Permanent Force Brigade. The circumstances are such that we cannot maintain a large Permanent Force in South Africa. The Minister gave us the reasons why our proposal in this regard could not be agreed to; certain difficulties are involved here. But we have at least made a great deal of progress in that direction. We are now going to get a “force in essence” which is very close to that ideal. Sir, I am very sorry that I shall not be here to advocate this idea of a Permanent Force Brigade again on a later occasion, but I have no doubt, no matter what we may call the Force, that that idea will eventually produce the best results for us and for our Defence Force.
We do of course welcome the improvements and the changes that are being effected to the conditions of service of national servicemen, as well as the provision which is being made here for improved benefits for those injured on duty. As far as the new designation of the Chief of the Defence Force is concerned, I fully agree with the hon. the Minister and others that “Commandant General” is not the right designation, although I feel that the new designation is rather a mouthful. I should have liked to see another designation. At the risk of perhaps being called “verkramp”, I want to say that I am still very fond of the old designation “Chief of the General Staff”. I grew up and have grown old with that designation, and I have always felt, and other people have always felt, that when one refers to the Chief of the General Staff, one is referring to a big shot in the Defence Force. Sir, I want to suggest that the hon. the Minister should go yet a little further in this Bill. There is another rank, namely that of “Commandant”, in respect of which the designation is just as wrong as is the designation “Commandant General”, if not more so. I submit this to the hon. the Minister’s consideration for what it is worth. I hope that he will shortly cause the rank of “Commandant” to fall away too, for it is not a rank—it is a post.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank hon. members very cordially for the spirit in which they received this Bill, and to those hon. members who, quite some time ago, assisted in the discussions and put forward suggestions, I want to extend my hearty thanks for their co-operation. I have already extended my cordial thanks to the committee under the guidance of the Chief of the Army for their invaluable work. Those of us who had access to the summary of the recommendation and also saw in the actual report what methods they had applied so as to arrive at explicit conclusions, realize that this committee did a tremendous job of work. I think this redounds to their credit.
The hon. member for Durban Point started by referring to the official designation of the Chief of the Defence Force. Various proposals were put forward to me I may tell hon. members that the previous Commandant General started putting forward proposals in this regard because he, too, had already experienced problems with this official designation. But in our present command and control structure we have the post of Chief of Defence Staff, and I think that that particular post is of such a nature that we can no longer abolish it today; it is a co-ordinating post, and it is a post which is of extreme importance in the hands of the Chief of the Defence Force. To change the designation now would give it a wrong concept, and to use the designation “Chief of General Staff” would in turn cause confusion. The suggestion was put forward to us that the designation should be “Supreme Commander”, but I was opposed to that at once because “Supreme Commander” is to my mind an official designation which belongs with the State President. The State President must remain the Supreme Commander of the Defence Force in South Africa. That is why I did not want to touch it and why, after weighing the pros and cons for a long time, we came to the conclusion that “Chief SADF”, as it will be abbreviated, would be used in everyday language; then, I think, it will not be such a terrible mouthful. Personally, I have a great deal of sentimental feeling for the designation “Commandant General”. This is something which has deep roots in our history, but under modern circumstances one should not, simply for the sake of history and for the sake of traditions, cling to things which make it difficult for one to take one’s position in a modern world. The Chief of our Defence Force is a person who has to officiate beyond our borders from time to time, just as he has to do here in the country. For that reason we must define his official designation so clearly that people in the outside world will know with whom they are dealing.
Then the hon. member referred to the question of the voluntary element. I agree wholeheartedly with <u>h</u>im and the hon. member for Stellenbosch that the voluntary element is an important one, and in this Bill we set a higher value on the voluntary element. But, Sir, in this regard I do want to say something in passing which, I think, must be said, i.e. that employers in South Africa ought to show more goodwill towards the voluntary element in the Defence Force than they are doing at present. I want to mention two examples which are fine and praiseworthy. The first is that of the S.A. Railways which, with the permission of my colleague and friend the hon. the Minister of Transport, have proceeded to doing the same as is being done by the Chamber of Mines, namely to pay those volunteers, over and above what we are paying them when they are undergoing their training, their full salaries while they are serving in the Army on a voluntary basis. I think it is praiseworthy of the Railways and of the Chamber of Mines that they have proceeded to this step. There are other employers, too, who are beginning to move in that direction, but there are numerous employers in the country who should have done something in this regard a long time ago and have not done so yet. I hope all of us will help to inspire people in this regard.
Then the hon. member for Durban Point asked me, “Will the Minister review from time to time the clause dealing with the number of camps?” I want to tell the hon. member that my attitude in respect of this whole national service system, since its inception, has been that every provision of it must be reviewed from time to time. I do not consider this national service system to be a law of the Medes and Persians which has to remain unchanged for all time. If something does not work, it has to be changed. The Defence Force knows that this is my standpoint, and therefore they can at any time come forward with self-criticism and say that this thing does not work, that we must change it. The fact that we appointed this committee is proof that we were prepared to apply self-criticism. Therefore my answer to him is: “Yes, we will review it from time to time, and if it does not work we will change it.”
And if it is not necessary?
Yes. The hon. member for North Rand is advocating a bigger professional force. I want to tell him that I have no fault to find with that standpoint of his. I think what he says is true, namely that if one were to have a well-trained Permanent Force in the form of a brigade group, the set-up would be more effective for defending one’s country, but under South Africa’s particular circumstances of today it is very difficult to establish something of that nature. A brigade group manned by Permanent Force people would require a non-recurring extra item of expenditure of R38 million, and a national service force brings us a saving of R6 million per year, apart from the nonrecurring R38 million.
But if one did have such a Force, it could bring about savings in other spheres.
Yes, that could happen if one could find the people. Now, what we did here was to my mind a solution, in that midway between the idea of a permanent Permanent Force Brigade and the old system, we chose the middle course embodying the element of voluntary service, which will to a large extent solve our problems, in the direction of the Force in essence. Let me say at once that if the voluntary element had not been there, the Defence Force would not have been able to do its work. That is why we set very great store by the people performing voluntary service in both the Citizen Force and the commandos; and these people in the 18-months group and the 24-months group are going to render a tremendous contribution in the future. But we shall have to learn that if we in South Africa want to establish an effective Defence Force to look after not only the interests of our corps of officers and our non-commissioned officers and our instructors, but also the facilities and amenities of our men—I hope that Parliament as a whole will put its stamp on this, will put its imprimatur on it—our Defence Force is not only entitled to the necessary facilities, but that it is also our duty in South Africa to provide that Defence Force with the necessary facilities for performing its tremendous task. If one considers what it costs to train people today in the Navy, the Air Force and also in the Army, with the electronic progress that is being made, and if one sees to what extend one loses trained people because we are not doing small elementary things for them, then it is shocking. I hope that with this principle that we have adopted, i.e. to pay volunteers better, we shall also adopt the principle that soldiers of all three branches of the Defence Force should enjoy proper facilities in order that they may do their work.
The hon. member for Durban Point concluded by raising the question of the number of camps which were now being laid down with retrospective effect. I have had the opportunity of discussing this matter, and approximately 5 000 persons will apparently be affected by it. Scattered all over the country, it will mean more or less 50 persons per unit. I say “more or less” and I do not mention exact figures. It therefore seems to us as though it will not be a very big group that will be affected, the result being that it cannot prejudice the readiness of the Defence Force to any serious extent. The hon. member also raised the question during the course of our discussions. After very thorough consideration I want to say the following: No further training commitments will be placed on any national serviceman, excluding key personnel, who completes his third follow-up training period during 1974 However, if he does not complete his final training period in 1973, the difference between what that national serviceman has done and the new total of five years will still be required of him. The hon. member appreciates, of course, that in total five camps will be required of the leader group.
This new arrangement is applicable to 1974 or earlier completion, not so?
Yes. The hon. member for Stellenbosch rightly referred to the sophisticated arms that were also being used in a Southern African context already and especially after the war in Vietnam, when certain arms which had been used there successfully were gradually introduced into the battle for Southern Africa. Therefore I think that we should be so much the more anxious to ensure that the amount of training received by our people and the period of training should be as effective as possible, also in the combating of those more sophisticated arms to which the hon. member referred.
As I have already said, the hon. member for North Rand, in particular, expressed his joy at the fact that we were dealing here with a force in essence. He said that he would not be present here on a later occasion and that somebody else would, advocate it then. Perhaps the day will arrive when South Africa will have the manpower, and I personally hope that we shall move in the direction of a larger, more effective South African Defence Force which will not consist of specialist groups only. Although this is happening slowly, I must tell the hon. member, however, that we are moving in that direction by the establishment of the Reconnaissance Unit. We shall develop the Reconnaissance Unit gradually. It is a Unit of which we are very proud already, and we hope that it will reach greater heights.
Would the hon. the Minister say something about the interrupted Saturday parades?
In this regard we are dealing with an administrative matter which I shall take up with the Chief of the Army. I really believe that we shall be able to adopt an accommodating attitude. I think this is a question which we should take up with the commanders. I agree with the hon. member that wherever irritating administrative arrangements can at all be eliminated, this must be done. During the Israeli War we saw what people did to build up the morale of their troops. I think the classic example of this is that they gave permission to a soldier fighting at the battle front to go back and attend his wife’s confinement. This is the kind of thing which is calculated to build up the morale of the private and to eliminate irritations. This is in fact the basis on which this whole report rests. Administratively we are still going to implement many recommendations.
Motion agreed to.
Bill read a Second Time.
Mr. Speaker, I move—
Miss Sarah Goldblatt, administratrix of the literary estate of the late Senator Cornelis Jakob Langenhoven, and the other interested parties in his estate, have deemed it fit to assign to the Government of the Republic of South Africa the copyright in the “Vlagiied”, “Song of the Flag”, by the late Senator Langenhoven, which was written by him in both languages, as was done in the case of the National Anthem. This proposal met with the approval of the Government. It was the wish of Miss Goldblatt and of the other interested parties that the control over the copyright of the “Vlagiied” be exercised by the Department of Defence, and as far back as 7 September 1973 the Deed of Assignment of Copyright in the song was accordingly received by me, in my capacity as Minister of Defence, on behalf of the Government during the course of a function held in the Castle.
However, the late Senator Langenhoven’s last will and testament does not provide for the copyright in his literary works to be assigned to anybody else by his heirs, and therefore it is necessary to validate by legislation the assignment of the copyright in the “Vlagiied” too, as was done in the case of “Die Stem van Suid-Afrika.” The Bill under discussion makes provision for such a validation.
Since the “Vlagiied”, next to the National Anthem, probably occupies the highest place of honour in our national music, it is to my mind good and proper that the copyright in it should be Government property and that it should be with the Defence Force. For that reason I trust that hon. members will support this measure wholeheartedly.
I want to mention that the copyright in the musical composition of the “Vlagiied” was the personal property of Miss Goldblatt, which she was able to assign to the Government in her own right. That is why this measure only makes provision for the assignment of the copyright in the “Vlaglied” itself.
On this occasion, and I think I am speaking here on behalf of the whole House, I once again want to put on record the Government’s thanks to Miss Goldblatt and the other interested parties for this grand gesture.
Mr. Speaker, I want to identify this side of the House with the thanks expressed by the hon. the Minister to Miss Goldblatt. The Defence Force can be proud and the people can be grateful that the ownership of such an historical document or, rather, of such a piece of history, should be in the hands of the Government and, to be specific, in the hands of the Defence Force. We do of course support this Bill, and we want to identify ourselves with the words expressed by the hon. the Minister.
Motion agreed to.
Bill read a Second Time.
Mr. Speaker, I move—
The Bill I am introducing into the House today is not contentious. It is designed to facilitate the administration of the Electoral Law in so far as it relates to the compilation of voters’ lists and the holding of nomination courts. The Electoral Act was amended during the last parliamentary session to provide for the continuous registration of voters in place of the periodic (four-monthly) supplementation of voters’ lists.
Under section 8(5) of the Electoral Act, the voters’ lists are continuously kept up to date by inserting therein the names of new voters and deleting therefrom the names of voters who have died, moved to other addresses or who for other reasons no longer qualify for registration in the electoral divisions concerned. Section 27 of the Electoral Law (read with section 53 of the Constitution Act) is to the effect—
- (a) that in the case of a new delimitation of electoral divisions the Chief Electoral Officer shall cause to be compiled from the voters’ lists prepared on the basis of the last previous delimitation, voters’ lists for the electoral divisions according to the new delimitation;
- (b) that the voters’ lists which are compiled on the basis of the new delimitation of electoral divisions shall not come into operation until the next general election of members of the House of Assembly and of the provincial councils; and
- (c) that the voters’ lists compiled on the basis of the last previous delimitation of electoral divisions shall be the voters’ lists to be used in the case of by-elections that take place before the next general election.
This means in practice that whilst the existing voters’ lists are being transformed to the new delimitation, these voters’ lists must nevertheless be supplemented and further adjusted on the basis of the old delimitation by inserting therein the names of new voters and deleting therefrom the names of deceased voters, voters who have moved to other addresses and voters who no longer qualify for registration as voters. Furthermore, lists reflecting these insertions in and deletions from the voters’ lists compiled on the old delimitation, must be prepared and furnished to political parties.
Thus the supplementing and further adjusting of the voters’ lists, and the preparation of lists of insertions and lists of deletions must be continued with on the basis of the old delimitation, notwithstanding that a general election may be pending and that political parties are concentrating their campaigns on the basis of the new delimitation and are in fact no longer interested in the old delimitation.
Voters’ lists are now being compiled and updated by a computer. To compile and update the voters’ lists, simultaneously on the basis of the old and new delimitation of electoral divisions, involves complicated programming. This simultaneous compilation and updating of the voters’ lists on the basis of the old and the new delimitation is unnecessary if no by-elections are held before the next general election. It also takes some time to transform the voters’ lists from the old to the new delimitation of electoral divisions.
It is in these circumstances, Mr. Speaker, that it is proposed in clause one of the Bill now before the House to clothe the Minister of the Interior with certain directory powers. These powers are as follows:
- (a) The Minister may relieve the Chief Electoral Officer of the duty to supplement and further adjust the voters’ lists on the basis of the old delimitation by the insertion of the names of new voters and the deletion of deceased voters, voters who have moved to other addresses, etc., whilst he is busy transforming the voters’ lists from the old to the new delimitation. The date for this discontinuation of supplementing and further adjusting the voters’ lists on the basis of the old delimitation, and of compiling and delivering to political parties lists of insertions of the names of new voters and lists of deletions of the names of deceased voters, etc., shall not be earlier than the first day of the month following the month in which a delimitation commission starts its work. For instance, if a delimitation commission starts its work in June, then the Minister may direct the Chief Electoral Officer to discontinue the supplementing and further adjusting of the voters’ lists and the preparation of lists of insertions and deletions with effect from the first day of July.
- (b) The Minister may, secondly, direct the Chief Electoral Officer to resume the supplementing and further adjusting of the voters’ lists, and the preparation of lists of insertions and of deletions, now on the basis of the new delimitation, from a date to be determined by him, which date shall not be later than the first day of the month following the month in which the details of the delimitation are made known in the Government Gazette by proclamation by the State President. That is, if the proclamation is published in the Government Gazette in, say, February, the said supplementing and further adjusting of the voters’ lists, and the preparation of lists of insertions and of deletions will have to be resumed not later than the first day of March.
- (c) It is provided for in the proposed new section 27(4)(d) of the Electoral Law that the first supplementing and further adjusting of the voters’ lists on the basis of the new delimitation, shall at its resumption cover the total period from the date it was discontinued until the date on which the Minister directed that it shall be resumed. That is, to continue the examples given before, the Chief Electoral Officer shall include in the voters’ lists which he transformed from the old to the new delimitation, the names of all the new voters who registered at addresses in the new electoral divisions, since the supplementing and further adjusting of the voters’ lists were discontinued from 1 July. He will also have to delete from the voters’ lists, so transformed from the old to the new delimitation, the names of all voters who since 1 July died, moved to new addresses and who for other reasons no longer qualify for registration as voters.
- (d) In terms of the proposed new section 27(4)(e) the first preparation of the lists of insertions and of deletions on the basis of the new delimitation, shall at its resumption cover a period from a date to be determined by the Minister until the date on which the Minister directed it shall be resumed. Again, to use the examples I quoted before, the Minister may for instance direct that the first preparation of the lists of insertions and deletions shall cover the period from 1 to 31 January which means that these first lists of insertions and deletions, after the suspension thereof because of a new delimitation of electoral divisions, must be furnished to political parties not later than 21 February.
To compensate political parties for the period during which they were not furnished with lists of insertions and deletions because the preparation of these lists were suspended, it is provided in the proviso to the proposed new section 27(4)(e) that electoral officers shall furnish political parties with voters’ lists.
Using the examples I quoted before as a basis this means that political parties must be furnished with voters’ lists, now transformed to the new delimitation of electoral divisions and updated up to 31 December. The names of new voters who registered during the period that the supplementing and further adjusting of the voters’ lists were suspended, will be included in these voters’ lists. So, too, will the names of voters who died or moved from the addresses at which they were formerly registered or who for other reasons became disqualified for registration during this period of suspension, have been deleted from the voters’ lists so being furnished to political parties.
Because the very procedures I have described above have been followed on occasion of the recent delimitation of electoral divisions it is necessary to make the provisions of clause 1 of the Bill of retrospective effect from 1 November 1973. This is being done in clause 4 of the Bill.
Mr. Speaker, to sum up the rather complicated provisions of clause 1 of the Bill, it is, in short, to the following effect:
- (a) that the Minister may suspend the supplementing and further adjusting of the voters’ lists and the preparation and furnishing of lists of insertions and deletions to political parties, during the period that voters’ lists are being transformed from an old to a new delimitation of electoral divisions;
- (b) that the Minister may order that the supplementing and further adjusting of the voters’ lists and the preparation and furnishing to political parties of lists of insertions and of deletions, now based on the new delimitation, shall be resumed at the end of the aforementioned period of suspension; and
- (c) that political parties shall be furnished with copies of the new voters’ lists, fully supplemented and further adjusted on the basis of the new delimitation and updated to the end of this period of suspension in place of the lists of insertions and deletions which were not furnished to political parties during the period of suspension.
*Mr. Speaker, in clause 2 of the Bill it is proposed that subsection (6) of section 35 of the Electoral Act be deleted.
The said section 35 (6) provides that the place fixed for the holding of the nomination court for any electoral division must be within the boundaries of that division. Where two or more divisions are wholly or partly situate in one municipality, however, the nomination court concerned may be held at any convenient place in that municipality, and need not necessarily be held in the electoral division concerned.
In the Orange Free State and South-West Africa we have certain problems in this connection because in the case of simultaneous general elections in the Orange Free State, one nomination court will be held for a House of Assembly electoral division and the two provincial council electoral divisions, and in South-West Africa one nomination court will be held for a House of Assembly electoral division and the three electoral divisions of the Legislative Assembly. It will not be possible to hold the nomination court for one of the two provincial council electoral divisions in the Orange Free State, and for two of the three legislative assembly electoral divisions in South-West Africa, within the boundaries of the provincial council electoral division or the two legislative assembly electoral divisions, which will be contrary to the provisions of the said section 35(6) of the Electoral Act.
It is in the light of these practical circumstances that it is proposed in clause 2 of the Bill that the provision concerned be deleted. It is inconceivable that places might be fixed for the holding of nomination courts which, although outside the divisions concerned, as would necessarily be the case in the Orange Free State and South-West Africa, for example, would not be within the reach of all interested parties.
Mr. Speaker, clause 3 of the Bill provides that on the occasion of the next general election on 24 April 1974 of members of the House of Assembly and of members of the provincial councils and, in South-West Africa, of members of the Legislative Assembly, the requirement that before a voter will be allowed to cast his vote at a polling station, he will have to prove his identity by producing his identity document, identity card, driver’s licence or passport or a sworn statement by another voter, will no longer be applicable.
The provision requiring a voter to prove his identity by producing his identity card before being allowed to vote was placed on the Statute Book as far back as 1962.
However, this amendment of the Electoral Act was not put into operation at once and in 1964 the provision was supplemented by providing that if a voter could not prove his identity by producing his identity card, he could produce such other proof of his identity as the presiding officer of the polling station might consider satisfactory. Once again the provision did not come into operation at once, for the amending Act concerned, Act No. 51 of 1964, provided that the requirement that proof of identity was to be furnished by a voter would not come into operation until such time as it had been decreed by proclamation by the State President. Before the said requirement of proof of identity had been put into operation by proclamation by the State President, the provisions of the Electoral Act were amended last year by Act 79 of 1973, to provide that a voter will not be allowed to vote before he has proved his identity by producing his identity documents, identity card, etc.
When the provision requiring a voter to furnish proof of his identity was placed on the Statute Book in 1962, and was later supplemented by Act 51 of 1964, all the voters had not yet been furnished with identity cards, and in addition the Population Registration Act of 1950, in terms of which identity cards were issued, is not applicable to South-West Africa. It is for this reason that the said requirement compelling a voter to furnish proof of his identity was not put into operation at once and could not be put into operation before the amendment of the Act last year. The Population Registration Act of 1950 was amended in 1971 to make provision for the issuing of identity documents to replace identity cards.
At that stage the Identity Documents in South-West Africa Act, 1970, had also been placed on the Statute Book. In terms of this Act identity documents have been issued to the non-native population in that Territory since 1 February 1972. So at the stage when the Electoral Act was amended last year by Act 79 of 1973, to provide that a voter had to prove his identity by producing his identity document, identity card, driver’s licence or passport, etc., before a ballot paper would be issued to him, most of the voters were already in possession of either an identity document or an identity card, and considerable progress had been made with the issuing of identity documents to the inhabitants of South-West Africa.
However, this is the first time that the general election of members of the House of Assembly and of members of the provincial councils in all the provinces will be held on the same day, i.e. on 24 April this year. This is also the first time that the general election of members of the House of Assembly and of members of the Legislative Assembly in South-West Africa in the various electoral divisions will be controlled by one electoral officer. In the past the said general elections in South-West Africa did in fact take place on the same day, but the various elections in the various electoral divisions were controlled by different electoral officers.
Although no problems are anticipated with the holding of the said general elections on the same day, namely 24 April, there are uncertain factors and there are amended procedures which have to be tested. It is therefore felt that the provision requiring voters to furnish proof of identity at polling stations should rather not be applicable at the next general election on 24 April 1974. Here I may mention, too, that representations in this regard have been addressed to me by both major political parties, that they were unanimous on this matter, and that I consequently complied with their wishes. Furthermore, voters are not used to taking a document proving their identity with them when visiting a polling station. It is felt that voters should be gradually accustomed to this and that the provisions requiring voters to furnish proof of identity should therefore be gradually enforced during by-elections held after the next general election.
It is in the light of these considerations that it is proposed by clause 3 of the Bill to cancel the requirement that voters shall prove their identity by producing the documents concerned or a sworn statement by another voter when casting their votes at a polling station on polling day itself, on the occasion of the next general election of members of the House of Assembly and provincial councils and of the Legislative Assembly of South-West Africa.
However, I want to warn that it should be kept in mind that although it is no longer necessary to furnish identification in this way at the polling station itself, the presiding officer at a polling station may in fact request a voter in terms of the existing Electoral Act to prove his identity to the satisfaction of the presiding officer, as has always been the case in elections. This may happen when a candidate or his agent has made a sworn statement that the voter concerned is dead or is so incapacitated by sickness, absence or otherwise, that it is impossible that such person could be present at the polling station in the constituency concerned on polling day. This is the old system as our political parties have applied it over the years up to now. This will still apply on election day on 24 April this year. However, the requirement relating to the furnishing of proof of their identity by voters will still apply when they vote as absent voters or as special voters. It may be added here that in the case of absent voters it has always been necessary for an absent voter to be identified by a witness before he could vote as an absent voter. In terms of the new legislation the witness falls away and for that reason the identification remains essential for the postal vote as well as for the special vote under these circumstances.
Mr. Speaker, I trust that hon. members will agree that the Bill is not contentious, but is aimed at facilitating the administration of the Electoral Act in respect of the supplementing and further adjusting of voters’ lists in the case of the delimitation of electoral divisions and the holding of nomination courts in the case of simultaneous general elections. Furthermore it cancels, in respect of the general election to be held on 24 April, the provisions requiring a voter who votes at a polling station on that day to identify himself before a ballot paper is issued to him.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. the Minister, through his department, was good enough to raise this matter during the recess and to give an opportunity to those directly concerned with these matters to consult and to examine the proposals in this Bill. At that stage, we agreed in principle to what was going to be introduced into this House and we shall of course today support this measure which has been so introduced.
I think that the step taken is a wise one because it did relieve the responsible department, particularly the registration department, the computer programmers, of considerable difficulties which they would have faced had this contemplated legislation not in fact been acted upon before it was brought before this House. The circumstances have been rather difficult because of the dates on which certain events have taken place as provided for in the Electoral Act. For instance, we have the fact that a Delimitation Commission sat at the end of last year and that it came to certain conclusions. The fact remains, however, that the delimitation was only gazetted last Friday, 9 February. In the meantime, Sir, the department has been expected, because of the early election that has been announced, to have ready, even before the gazetting of the delimitation, the rolls in terms of that delimitation. I want to say, having visited the department during the course of last week in order to obtain certain information from it, that the people who were responsible for the drawing up of the programme have done a tremendous job of work. One finds that the department was running 24 hours a day to cope with the demands that were being made upon it. This has placed a very heavy burden on the limited number of specialists who are there to supervise this work. I do hope that the hon. the Minister and his colleagues—they will probably not have an opportunity to do so but we certainly shall after the general election—will ensure that when election dates are announced they are announced at a time which will enable the normal procedures to be carried out in terms of the Electoral Act without this undue burden being placed upon the staff.
They have no consideration for the Civil Service.
As I say, Sir, the position is that there are certain things that still have to be done. For instance, the hon. the Minister has referred to the question of the availability of voters’ lists. Time is growing short. The department was however able—and in this respect I wish to pay tribute to them again—at least to print from the computer the voters’ rolls as at 31 December, by the end of January, which is, I think, an achievement. These lists were printed with additions and deletions in regard to the changes in the voters’ rolls up to 31 December. They are at the present moment busy with the preparation of these lists. We have two stages: the one is the computer lists—the flimsies as we know them—and the second one, of course, will be the printed roll, and I would be grateful if the hon. the Minister could possibly indicate to us when these two sets of documents, the flimsies and the printed rolls, are likely to be in the hands of the regional electoral officers for distribution to the various constituencies.
Then, Sir, there is the other matter, which arises from the fact that the department will not have to attend to the unnecessary task of making deletions and additions prior to 31 December, the question of the amendments which always do come out for the roll before election day and the question of those being made available. I take it that they will be in a computerized printed form and not in the form of the printed issue of the voters’ roll. Sir, we on this side also accept the hon. the Minister’s reasons for the repeal of section 35(6) of the Act, which is necessary in certain areas of the country. Here again one hopes—and I am sure it will be done—that the utmost endeavours will be made by regional electoral officers to ensure that the nomination courts sit as conveniently as possible and as centralized as they can possibly be, because there are a certain number of procedures to be adopted, and in a heavily populated urban area it would be a waste of time and energy to have these courts spread out when they can be centralized in some convenient part of the city concerned. I am sure that that will be done, and with the deletion of subsection (6) there will be power now to provide for a centralized place of nomination on nomination day.
Then, Sir, there is a proposal which is being introduced into this Bill, which was not in the previous Bill which came before the House and that is in connection with the question of identity documents. I do believe that this is a wise step which is being taken not to insist at this stage that identity documents should be produced. The public in South Africa has still not got into the habit of carrying their identity documents with them. Mr. Speaker, I think if you were to ask hon. members sitting in this House how many of them have their identity cards in their pockets, you would be quite surprised to find how many of them do not carry their identity cards. I think the time will come when people will become accustomed to carrying their identity cards with them. There is also the difficulty at the moment that a large number of identity cards have been sent into the department in connection with applications for identity documents, and these cards, as well as drivers’ licences in many instances, are still in Pretoria. Here I attach no blame to the department for this, because I have been astounded to find how many files have had to be opened in Pretoria for people who have submitted their applications for identity documents and who have sent in their drivers’ licences and their identity cards. There has been some fault in the applications and the department has written to these people to ask for the additional information so that identity documents can be posted to them and no reply comes from the applicants. I think the growing number of files in Pretoria must be giving a headache to the officials and the Secretary in those cases where the applications for identity documents are not half-way through the process. Many people seem to be indifferent towards the necessity of carrying identity documents or having some form of identification with them. The hon. the Minister has now suggested that this document will not be used at the general election, and I am sure that many of us in the urban areas, where you may have 8 000 or 9 000 voters in one polling station, feel somewhat relieved when we think of the queues that would build up between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. because many people have not brought their identity documents with them. For that reason, I want to support the approach of the hon. the Minister that if we must test this procedure, the best way to test it is at a by-election and then we will get some idea as to whether we are guessing or not as to the difficulties that will arise. At an urban by-election, when the production of identity documents is enforced, it will enable us to see to what extent people in fact take notice of the need to carry identification documents, and to what extent difficulties will arise by the non-production of identity documents. But we will see what happens at any by election. I would just ask the hon. the Minister again whether he would be good enough to indicate when the rolls will become available. One other aspect is the cost of these rolls. When they are computer-printed the cost is pretty heavy. I take it the printed rolls will be back on the normal basis of charge levied in previous years, with the necessary adjustment for the increase in the cost of paper and printing.
I want to thank the hon. member for his support for this Bill. As I said in the beginning, it is not contentious. It is designed to enable the coming election to be conducted in the most practical way and to try to restrict to a minimum the problems in regard to all its facets. I am grateful to the hon. member for the thanks he expressed to the officials of the Department of the Interior, especially those departments which were involved in this and the men who handle the computer. I want to give him the assurance that I have personally written a letter to those men, expressing my thanks and appreciation to them for the outstanding work done by them in this very short time. We were really dealing here with a number of dedicated men who performed an enormous task thoroughly and in a very short period of time.
Now I just want to tell the hon. member this, and I am saying it in all friendliness. He is now suggesting that we should in future plan elections in such a way as to take the officials into consideration so that they need not work so hard. I understand this and I do appreciate it, but I just want to remind you of the fact that in Britain the election has just been announced for 28 February, with exactly three weeks’ notice.
But not after a delimitation.
I just wanted to refer the hon. member to this to show what the position is, but I would agree with him at once that our officials here have done a good job of work in a very thorough and efficient manner and within a very short period of time, for which we may all be very grateful.
The next question that was put to me was when these voters’ lists would be available. The voters’ lists which are being printed by the computer itself, the “flimsies”—to use that term—are already available for all the constituencies at present. For the printed voters’ lists we have to rely on the Government Printer, and he needs a certain period in which to print them. In terms of the Act they have to be available at least one month before the date of the election. So in terms of the Act they have to be available on 24 March. My department has indicated to me that they will in fact be available on 15 March at the very latest, but that the provisional lists on the basis of which the parties can do all the necessary organizational work and can go ahead with the organization and the registration are already available. The printed voters’ list itself will be available at the old price, on 15 March at the latest. It may even be a little earlier, but I would rather commit myself to 15 March. The provisional lists, the flimsies, are made available to the parties free of charge. In regard to the question of further amendments, which the hon. member inquired about, the further additions or deletions, etc., will still be done every month as it was done in the past, and these will be made available directly by the computer. Then the hon. member asked what the position of the nomination courts was. As I have already explained, when you have two provincial seats and one parliamentary seat in the Free State, you cannot find a place in that constituency where the nomination court may sit within the boundaries of all three. But it may be within the parliamentary boundaries and within the boundaries of one provincial seat. It is for that reason that we are introducing this amendment. From the nature of the case we shall hold the nomination courts at places that are convenient for all the various constituencies, where this is practicable. This is the aim of the department. I want to say something about the question of identification, about the requirement that a voter has to identify himself at the election. We are now suspending that for this specific election because representations have been made by both sides of the House, but also for other reasons, namely that we are introducing quite a number of new things on this occasion, such as the question of simultaneous elections, which requires two ballot papers to be issued, and quite a number of related things. In South-West Africa, too, one electoral officer now controls the elections of the whole constituency, the Legislative Assembly election and the Parliamentary election. Since we are already introducing quite a number of new things, it was deemed wise not to add this novelty as well, namely the production of identification documents at this election. I want to make it very clear—there must be no misunderstanding—that it is only on the election day itself that these identification documents will not be necessary. In the case of postal and special votes the applicant must identify himself fully, exactly as laid down by the Act. He must do so by means of one of those documents or by means of a sworn statement. [Interjections.] The reason for this is very clear. We have now disposed of the witness we used to have in the case of an application for a postal or special vote. So if this identification is no longer required, abuses may take place, and for that reason these two aspects remain unchanged.
The United Party supporters will still cheat. [Interjections.]
I must add that the provisions of section 80 remain in force, namely that if a political party or a person is convinced that a particular person cannot be present at the polling station, because he is dead or absent or injured, or for whatever reason, a person may be required to prove his identity at the polling station, and then the usual two questions which we all know and which it has been possible to ask voters through the years, must be asked by the electoral officer. That provision remains to prevent abnormal things from happening. I want to point out, however, that the electorate in South Africa must get accustomed to the fact that a voter will have to identify himself at elections. This is something which is done in all modern countries. Although I am suspending this type of identification for the coming election, it must be pointed out that it is only being suspended for this general election. If by-elections take place after the general election it will be essential and people will have to produce their identity documents. I want to appeal to the voters once again to take these identification documents with them to the polling stations in the event of by elections.
I can give the hon. member the assurance that identity cards which we have in our possession at the moment will be sent back in spite of this amendment. For the purpose of the other document photostatic copies are being made of the identity cards. The original identity cards are being returned to the voters in any case, so that they will in fact have those documents available. So we will not be responsible if a voter does not have his identity card with him.
I think I have now dealt with all the matters that were raised. In conclusion I want to say that I am glad that the hon. member came to the office of the Department of the Interior and had a look at the vast amount of work which is being done there and the number of files available there. This gives him an impression of what is really going on there and makes him more sympathetically disposed towards the work that is being done there and the problems which arise from it.
Will the various parties have off-prints like the master set from the roll that they are printing at the moment?
The flimsies are being printed at the moment. The final issue will be printed by the Government Printer and that will be available on 15 March.
No, the cards.
The cards are obtainable from the computer on payment of the required amount as soon as orders are placed and as fast as we can produce them.
Motion agreed to.
Bill read a Second Time.
Committee Stage and Third Reading taken without debate.
Mr. Speaker, I move—
As hon. members will have noticed, this Bill merely proposes a minor extension of the provisions of section 3 of Act No. 88 of 1964. None the less, in the present oil crisis the alteration is of great importance to South Africa, and it is essential that the proposed amendment be placed on the Statute Book as soon as possible.
†Briefly, it is the position that an account known as the Strategic Mineral Resources Development Account was established under Section 2 of the 1964 Act. In terms of Section 3 of the Act, moneys in this account may only be used for the promotion of prospecting and mining for strategic minerals in the Republic itself and for the recovery, refinement, etc., of such minerals. The expression “strategic minerals” includes natural oil and SOEKOR is financed from the account.
It is the position that SOEKOR has a share in the borehole at present being drilled in the sea in the Orange River delta, whereas arrangements are under way and have partly been finalized which should lead to SOEKOR undertaking drilling in the Zambezi delta.
*Hon. members will realize that these searches are of great importance to South Africa, but that because the Act provides at present that funds in this account may only be utilized in respect of searches in the Republic itself, none of these moneys may legally be utilized for searches outside the Republic, unless section 3 is suitably extended. So this is the motivation behind the envisaged alteration, and as a result of the energy crisis which is being experienced at present, it has been deemed fit to frame the extension of the existing provisions in sufficiently wide terms so that we may not be handicapped by an unnecessary limitation and may search for possible sources of oil also outside the Republic—in foreign territory, of course, only if there is full assurance that South Africa itself will be able to utilize the source of oil or benefit from it.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. the Minister for giving me insight into this Bill before it appeared here this evening. After studying the Bill and after listening to what the hon. the Minister has said, I want to tell him that we on this side of the House will support the passage of this Bill. It is good to know that the Republic, through its sponsored organization, will be able to take its place, perhaps by arrangement with other countries, and expand its present activities in the search and development of those strategic minerals which we need so badly. If we can do this both inside and outside our country, I am sure that everybody who is interested—every South African is interested at the moment—will appreciate that only good can come from the passage of this Bill. It is my hope that these ventures will be successful. We have not been terribly successful up to the present, especially in our attempts to find oil. I hope that with this further venture beyond our borders we shall at last be able to enjoy that which we expect to enjoy. With these words I wish this venture every success and I wish to thank the hon. the Minister for bringing it to our notice.
Motion agreed to.
Bill read a Second Time.
Business suspended at
Mr. Speaker, I move—
That the Bill be now read a Second Time.
Hon. members are already aware of the existence of a special account for the purchase of special equipment for the Defence Force as provided in terms of the 1952 Act. Provision for funds in this account is made under sub-head R of the Defence Vote in our Budget. In 1952 the then Minister of Finance motivated the establishment of the account on the basis of two specific considerations which applied at that time. These were that it would facilitate the procurement and acquisition of equipment and armaments for the Defence Force in two ways—
- (a) It would make funds available to purchase armaments as and when they became available; and
- (b) it would spread the costs of acquisition over a number of years, which would prevent the appropriation of large amounts in any one particular financial year should equipment suddenly become available.
Because the term “special equipment” was not clearly defined in the legislation of 1952 and because no definition of the term exists either, the purchases in terms of this specific sub-head of the Vote were limited to the purchasing of major equipment which involved large amounts and to goods which would be delivered over a period exceeding 12 months and for which the special approval of the Cabinet had to be obtained first. In 1967, with the approval of the Treasury, purchases from the account were extended so as to include expenditure incurred on certain modifications and modernization as well as spare parts for major equipment, which would normally be regarded as capital expenses, and which, in the normal course of events, also involved a waiting period of more than one year for delivery.
Circumstances which led to the creation of this account at the time, have changed to such an extent, particularly in the past few years, that it has now become essential for the South African Defence Force to be prepared at all times to face any threat to the Republic. In these particular circumstances it is also essential for the Defence Force not to be limited by technical considerations in the utilization of this account. These have had the effect of immediate needs arising often, ones which had to be satisfied. On the other hand, armaments and equipment might have become available at any given moment, armaments and equipment which had to be purchased at once and for which funds then had to be found from time to time.
Since the utilization of moneys in the present account is limited to the defraying of expenditure incurred in connection with the acquisition of special equipment for the South African Defence Force, this excludes, inter alia, the provision of urgent operational facilities.
The account which this Bill seeks to establish, will in future comprise only one item in the Vote. Hon. members will know that at present the account comprises seven items under the sub-head. All moneys, which had previously been included under the sub-head concerned, will now be allocated to this account and will be utilized for expenditure over a wider field than the limited field which applied under the old legislation. This field will include, inter alia, the old function for which the account could be utilized, i.e. the purchase of special equipment. It will also be extended for utilization in respect of special defence activities and purchases such as technical defence supplies, parts and related equipment for aircraft and ships, armaments and special construction works. As we see it, it will enable the Minister of Defence to exercise his general powers properly, but also, and in particular, his general responsibilities and functions in terms of section 76(1) of the Defence Act, Act No. 44 of 1957.
†Mr. Speaker, I should like to refer to clause 5 of the Bill. In terms of this clause certain expenditure under this Vote can, on the certificate of the Minister of Defence in collaboration with the Minister of Finance, be declared not subject to audit by the public auditor. Regarding this clause I should like to point out, however, that the account will still be audited to a satisfactory extent as some of the expenditure from this Vote will still be made public. In addition I wish to draw the attention of hon. members to the fact that all expenditure will be subject to regular internal audit by the Department of Defence and that, in cases where it is not feasible that the account shall be subject to audit, the Minister of Defence will issue a certificate to this effect. All expenditure will, however, be subject to the prior approval of the Minister of Finance and the Treasury will therefore be able to maintain a very strict control over such expenditure.
*Mr. Speaker, that covers briefly the provisions of the draft legislation.
Mr. Speaker, we shall support this Bill. It makes some radical changes to the existing situation, but the changes are acceptable to us. Clause 2, as the hon. the Deputy Minister has already told the House, extends, what at present in the main refers only to special equipment “such special defence activities and purchases as the Minister of Defence may from time to time approve”. In the context of what is happening in the modern world, we believe that it is necessary that this power be given to the Minister.
In so far as clause 5 is concerned. I have a personal problem because my instincts as an auditor are in conflict with my instincts as a citizen. I do not like to see the rights of an auditor given up under any circumstances, but this is not a new provision in our legislation. We have other instances where the auditor accepts certificates. For example, in the case of certain votes of the Prime Minister, the auditor accepts a certificate as being sufficient for his purposes. As in this case not only the Minister of Defence will decide whether the audit should be undertaken or not, but also the Minister of Finance in consultation with the Auditor-General, this clause is also acceptable to us.
There is one word of warning I would like to issue though. Going back to the last war—it is a long time ago, of course—one did find that, unless defence expenditure, particularly on the fabrication of equipment was very closely watched, an awful lot of money was being wasted. This happens particularly in times of emergency, when you want or have to have certain things in a hurry. Then you find everybody running around in all directions, paying the highest possible price for the equipment. We know that these things are urgent at times. You have to have them, and sometimes price is not important. But here we are dealing with public moneys.
As I say, we will accept the Bill and support it at its Second Reading, but we would issue a word of warning that there should be very strict control of contracts and the amounts involved.
Mr. Speaker, may I convey my thanks to the hon. member for Parktown for his support of this legislation. Let me say at once that I am one of those people who appreciate that when any deviation from the normal procedure in regard to the auditing of accounts occurs, there must be very pressing and vital reasons for this. I want to say, however, that personally I am perfectly satisfied that the Defence Force itself, by means of its internal controls, will take all possible steps to prevent irregularities occurring and to prevent us finding ourselves in a situation such as that to which the hon. member referred.
Perhaps I should just point out for the sake of general information that clause 5 does in fact contain safety-valves. These are, to be specific, firstly that the Minister of Finance will be the authority the Minister of Defence will have to approach in regard to that portion of the expenditure in the account which will not be subject to auditing. The procedure in the Defence Force itself in regard to the utilization of Defence Force funds in general is subject to the strictest measure of control, even over-expenditure. Personally I am satisfied that within the Defence Force set-up they do have these bodies and persons who are engaged in the determination of requirements and of defence force priorities. Furthermore, they are involved to such an extent in the determination of the conditions under which defence force armaments may be bought that we may, in general, be satisfied.
In conclusion I just want to say that as far as this account is concerned, we shall have no hesitation about informing hon. members opposite about the utilization of the account, when it is in the interests of the country to do so.
Motion agreed to.
Bill read a Second Time.
Mr. Speaker, I move—
That the Bill be now read a Second Time.
An analysis of the financial statements of the Accident Fund over the past few of the fund is steadily improving. In view years indicates that the financial position of this the Workmen’s Compensation Commissioner has made certain recommendations which, inter alia, entail increased compensation, increased pensions and a raising of the wage limit for the compulsory insurance of workmen. I have already tabled an explanatory memorandum on the Bill, and should now like to furnish hon. members with further particulars.
The present financial year of the fund extends from 1 January to 31 December of each year, while the assessment year extends from 1 March to the last day of February. In order to facilitate accounting functions in the office of the Workmen’s Compensation Commissioner now that it has its own computer in operation, it is being proposed that the definition of “financial year” be amended to extend over the same period as that of the assessment year. Clause 1(a) of the Bill gives effect to this. This amendment entails that section 22 of the Act, in terms of which the accounts of the Accident Fund are closed annually on 31 December, also has to be amended so that the closing of accounts takes place on the last day of February. Clause 5 makes provision for this.
Section 4 of the Act defines the dependants of a workman, and also terms any child a dependant. In section 40 provision is made for the payment of compensation to such dependants if the workman dies. In section 2, inter alia, a child is defined as a son or daughter under the age of 17 years. Since many children are still at school when they attain the age of 17 years, it is being proposed that the age limit be raised to 18 years. Clauses 1(b). 3 and 8 give effect to this proposal.
Clause 2 is aimed at raising the maximum wage limit for compulsory accident insurance to R7 260 per annum. At present employees whose earnings exceed R5 460 per annum are excluded from the scope of the Act unless the employer has made special arrangements with the Workmen’s Compensation Commissioner to cover such workers. The present wage limit was raised in 1967 from R3 120 to R5 460. Since that time wage increases over the years have caused many workers to fall outside the scope of the Act whereas previously they were included.
In recent times it has frequently happened that an injured worker did not fall within the wage limit owing to a recent wage increase and that he, or in the case of death his dependants, received no compensation. Overtime payments of a regular nature have also led to numerous workers being excluded from the scope of the Act. This situation causes financial embarrassment and gives rise to criticism. Most organizations support the increased wage limit and it is estimated that 55 000 additional workers will, under the Act, be assured with the fund alone.
Clause 4 deals principally with the expansion of the commissioner’s powers. The functions of the commissioner are defined in section 14 of the Act. Section 107(l)(i), read in conjunction with regulation 19, provides for the disposal of money not claimed within a prescribed period by the person entitled to it.
As hon. members are aware, compensation is transferred to the unclaimed moneys account only after every possible attempt has been made to locate beneficiaries. Consequently the percentage of moneys subsequently claimed by beneficiaries over the past 30 years the Act has been in operation is very small, and the amount in respect of Bantu now totals approximately R2 million.
After consultation with the Department of Bantu Administration and Development, the commissioner recommended that the Act be amended to provide that unclaimed moneys in respect of Bantu may be paid over to Bantu Administration for application in respect of disabled Bantu or their dependants. I should like to emphasize here, Mr. Speaker, that this payment will not simply take place automatically. The Commissioner will make quite certain that these are being applied for the correct and envisaged purpose. Those who do claim their compensation after it has been paid over, will of course always be entitled to payment. Such a statutory amendment will make it possible to apply unclaimed moneys, which normally flow into the Reserve Fund, in respect of indigent Bantu employees or their dependants.
Now I should like to deal with clauses 6, 7, 12 and 13 jointly, since the relevant sections of the Act make provision for the payment of compensation when workers are injured on duty. The compensation is calculated on the basis of certain formulae laid down in the Act. In the case of temporary disablement the compensation takes the form of periodical payments, while in the case of permanent disablement, lump sums or pensions are paid out depending on the degree of disablement.
In determining the compensation payable in terms of sections 38, 39, 84 and 85 of the Act the monthly earnings of a workman in excess of R200 are not taken into account. In other words, if a workman earns R300 per month, compensation is calculated on only R200 of such earnings.
To make the ratio of compensation to earnings in the case of workmen earning more than R200 per month more realistic, without causing commerce and industry, any appreciable additional financial burden, the commissioner recommended that the wage limit for calculation of compensation be raised from R200 to R247 per month. The effect of such an amendment would be to increase the maximum monthly compensation from R150 to R185-25, i.e. by 23,5%. According to available data approximately 200 000 workers who are insured with the Accident Fund will benefit from such an increase if an accident should happen to them.
I come now to clause 9, which deals with the adjustment of pensions. As hon. members know, all current pensions granted with effect from 1943 in respect of accidents occurring prior to 1967 were adjusted in 1970 in accordance with the formulae for the calculation of compensation which were then applicable and in terms of which the first R150 of the workman’s monthly earnings served as a basis of calculation.
After negotiations with the mutual companies and other risk-bearers also undertaking accident insurance, they agreed that existing pensions should be adjusted to a limited extent, and that this should be done in accordance with the formulae at present applicable, i.e. on a basis of R200 of the workman’s monthly earnings.
This will mean, therefore, that all pensions in respect of accidents prior to 1 August 1971 are recalculated and adjusted on the first R200 of the workman’s monthly earnings. Pensions in respect of accidents which occurred after 1 August 1971 are already being calculated on a maximum monthly earning of R200, owing to the Workmen’s Compensation Amendment Act of 1971.
Now I should like to furnish a few examples of the effect of the adjustments in respect of pensions for accidents prior to 1 August 1971. A widow whose husband died in an accident at work and whose earnings at the time of the accident were R200 per month, at present receives a pension of R45 per month. After the adjustment she will receive R60 per month. With one child she will receive R90, as against the present R67-50, with two children R120 as against the present R90 and with three children R150, as against the present R112-50.
A workman who is 100% disabled as a result of an accident prior to 1 August 1971 at present receives R112-50 if his salary at the time of the accident was R200 per month. After the adjustment he will receive R150 per month.
I want to emphasize, however, that not everyone will benefit equally from the adjustment since the workman’s wage plays a substantial part in the calculation of his pension. In this way, for example, a pensioner with a pension which is already based on a wage of R200 will not receive any increase, since he is already receiving the maximum, i.e. 75% of the first R200 of his monthly earnings, as pension.
It is estimated that this additional expenditure for the fund will amount to approximately R250 000 annually. The capitalized value of the pension increases will amount to approximately R2 million. At the end of 1972 a total of 6 929 persons (3 052 injured workmen and 7 877 dependants of deceased workmen) were receiving pensions from the fund. It is expected that approximately one third of the present pensioners will benefit from the envisaged amendment.
The amendment in clause 10 deals with the imposition of a penalty where an employer fails to report an accident. Section 51 of the Act provides that an employer shall notify the commissioner immediately, in the manner prescribed, if an accident should happen to a workman in his employ. An employer who fails to comply with this provision is guilty of an offence. Unreported accidents are a matter which is causing concern, and the following up of such unreported accidents is increasing. During the past three years more than 80 000 temporary files had to be opened for tracing such cases. The commissioner now recommends that an amendment be effected in terms of which a penalty may be imposed administratively if an employer fails to report an accident. I wish to draw the attention of hon. members to the fact that the Act already contains similar provisions where employers fail, within the prescribed period, to pay assessments or submit wage sheets.
Section 70 of the Act exempts certain employers from the payment of assessments to the Accident Fund in respect of workmen in their employ because they carry their own risk. In this way, inter alia, the State, including Parliament, the Transkeian Government and certain territorial authorities established in terms of the Bantu Authorities Act, 1971, are exempted.
The amendment in clause 11 is aimed at exempting a legislative assembly established under the Bantu Homelands Constitution Act, 1971 as well. In addition provision is being made for the exemption of the South African Bantu Trust.
Clause 14 deals with the date of commencement of the envisaged amendments. It will be observed that the increased compensation will only be applicable in respect of accidents which occur after the date of commencement of the Amendment Act. This was also the position in regard to previous amendments of this nature. Such a step is inevitable since it would not be practical to levy assessments with retrospective effect on employers every time increased benefits came into operation in order to obtain the necessary funds for accidents which happened prior to the date of commencement of the increased benefits.
For some risk-bearers, particularly the two mutual societies, viz. the Rand Mutual which undertakes accident insurance for the mines, and the Federated Employers’ Mutual which undertakes insurance for the building industry, it could entail financial embarrassment if the increased benefits were made with retrospective effect.
Even the Accident Fund would not be in a financial position to carry the increased benefits with retrospective effect. In addition workmen make no contributions to the accident fund, or to the mutual societies undertaking accident insurance. The revenue of the fund consists of assessments which are levied on employers in accordance with the claims experience and wages of every industry. In view of the above considerations it has always been the policy to refrain from making increased benefits with retrospective effect.
It is estimated that the total annual additional expenditure for the Accident Fund will amount to approximately R1 173 000. As far as Government Departments, Provincial Administrations, the South West African Administration and the South African Railways are concerned, an estimate was made on the assumption that the same percentage increase would arise as in the case of the Accident Fund. On this basis the additional expenditure for the Railways is estimated at R300 000 per annum, and for the other Government Departments, Provincial Administrations, etc., at a total of R117 650 per annum. The raising of the wage limit for inclusion as a workman does not of course affect Government Departments since all public servants are already covered by the Act regardless of their salaries.
As far as the revenue of the fund is concerned, assessments will be levied on the maximum of R247 instead of R200 of a workman’s monthly wage. However, the commissioner is of the opinion that the increased benefits which are being envisaged will not necessarily result in an increase of assessment rates.
Mr. Speaker, these then are in broad outline the amendments which are being contemplated, and I hope that they will meet with the approval of the House.
In the first place we on this side of the House want to thank the hon. the Minister for the comprehensive way in which he explained this amending legislation, and in the second place, too, for the White Paper which was made available and which made this legislation more comprehensible to us. We are not going to argue on a large scale about the adjustments being made here, but from this side of the House we would nevertheless like to draw attention to a few aspects of the Bill.
Sir, we are dealing here with an adjustment or amendment which is effected from time to time. If one considers the legislation, one sees that there have been many changes—in 1964, in 1967, in 1970, and so it goes on. Amendments are effected every three or four years. The first question which arises is whether it is not possible, as far as the payments are concerned and also the limits which are set here, in some way or another to effect these adjustments automatically. We should like to hear whether this approach to the matter is in any way possible.
Of course, what we have an indication of here, which is very clear, is an admission of the increase in the cost of living—not an admission of an increase in the standard of living, but of an increase in the cost of living. Now, we know that the Government is trying to hide this fact, and if one listens to the arguments which are frequently advanced from that side of the House, you would want to believe that the cost of living is in fact stable and has remained unchanged. But just to indicate what is at stake here, I want to mention that according to this legislation the highest limit is being raised from R5 400 per annum to R7 200 per annum. This is an increase of approximately R1 800, over a period extending just over three years. Sir, this is a 30% improvement or increase over a period of slightly more than three years. If this has to be an indication of the increase in the cost of living in this country, then we see it as a direct admission on the part of the Government of how the cost of living has soared. It is at the same time also an indication of the Government’s inability to curb inflation, and it makes us suspicious that this kind of amendment is being effected on the eve of a general election. The motivation in this connection is very clear. We know that we have here a Government which always has an eye on the ballot box, and here once again we have an indication of this.
In the same vein there is of course the compensation which is being paid here as well, and I shall refer to this again. This is being raised from R200 to R247, or 75% of these amounts. In our opinion this is an increase of approximately one-quarter, and it does not therefore keep pace with the increase which is being effected in clause 2, but I shall come to that again.
In this legislation there is no central principle which can be discussed in a Second Reading. What I intend doing is to follow the principle adopted by the hon. the Minister, viz. to refer to specific clauses, and if the hon. the Minister can help us with certain problems which we have in regard to some of these clauses, I think that this legislation can be piloted through quite rapidly.
There is no problem with the first clause. It is merely a technical amendment which is being effected, and we will not quarrel over it. As indicated we regard the second part of that clause as an improvement, for what it actually does is to raise the age limit from 17 to 18 years, and in this regard we have no fundamental problem. We fully endorse the sentiment as embodied in clause 2, for the effect of this clause is, if not to increase the number of workmen who are included under the legislation then at least to stabilize the number, for with the increase in the cost of living this is in fact an adjustment to correspond to reality. Therefore we have no problem there. We would have liked to have seen the highest limit being raised further. We realize of course that in this connection the position of the Government is in fact that of an agent, and that these arrangements are accepted by both the employers and their organizations, and the employees’ organizations, and that the position of the Government is actually to act as a kind of arbiter. One would just like to ascertain from the Minister what the advice of his department in this connection was, i.e. whether they thought that the adjustment made here was a realistic one or whether the Department of Labour would have liked to have seen a larger adjustment.
As far as clause 4 is concerned, the hon. the Minister furnished us with an explanation of the problems being experienced. We must admit that we do not like this kind of arrangement at all, which is so frequently being included in our legislation these days. What it really means is that the commissioner will in this case have the right to apply certain of these unclaimed moneys, particularly in respect of Bantu, for the general welfare of the Bantu. This is something we have heard about from time to time, but there is a great lack of clarity concerning this matter. How does one define the concept “the general welfare” of the Bantu? Is it merely an altruistic concept, or who has to determine it? The hon. the Minister indicated that the money which has already accumulated in this way amounts to approximately R2 million. That is of course not a very large amount, but one would have liked to have heard from the hon. the Minister who it is that determines what is meant by “general welfare” in this case. Could he indicate whether this money will be used only in the homelands, or not? We had the example of the profits on beer, in which case it was decided that these profits could be applied only in the homelands. We also heard a former Deputy Minister state that he did not want to establish too many amenities for the Bantu in the urban areas for they would then grow too fond of these areas and would not want to return to the homelands. That is the kind of motivation we received from that side of the House from time to time. We should like to know whether this money is going to be applied only in the homelands, or not. In addition I should also like to hear whether, with regard to the application of this money, the Bantu and the Bantu leaders will be consulted to any extent. This is something which one should like to hear from the Minister. Of course, the problem here is—and it is very clear what kind of problem the Department is facing—that some workers, and particularly the Bantu, frequently change their jobs and frequently move from one area to another, and it is difficult to trace them. Frequently the amounts of money involved are small, and officers do not really want to make an extreme effort to trace these people. But a large number of people are involved in something like this, and we should like to make certain that they will not be deprived of something to which they are really entitled.
As far as clauses 6 and 7 are concerned, as we understand them, the payments are being increased from R200 to R247, or by 75% of these amounts. We regard this as being totally inadequate in the world in which one is living today. Sir, we are not dealing here with the payment of a pension. We are dealing here with compensation to a person injured in an accident while on duty, something for which we think he ought to be properly compensated. As you can see from what is included in clause 2, the maximum salary here is approximately R600 per month. But as the hon. the Minister indicated, the compensation for which this legislation makes provision is only R185 per month. We on this side of the House regard it as completely inadequate. Clause 10 merely supplies a deficiency which existed previously.
Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, is an hon. member entitled to stand in the gangway and have conversations with other hon. members while a debate is going on? [Interjections.]
Order! The hon. member may proceed.
As far as clause 11 is concerned, the hon. the Minister indicated that certain groups would be excluded. Provision is accordingly being made in the legislation. The groups which will be excluded, are principally persons employed by the Bantu Trust and persons in the employ of the various legislative assemblies of the Bantu homelands. This sounds all very well, but we should like to hear from the hon. the Minister precisely how they are covered and what kind of cover they will have, for reference is being made here to Government officials and officers of Parliament, and so on. We should therefore like to receive detailed particulars on this specific aspect.
In general we shall support this legislation. It is in our opinion an improvement in this sense that more and more workers will be involved in and covered by the kind of cover which is being included in this legislation. Incidentally I should also like to say that we hope that the administration of this legislation can be made more streamlined. Our information is that it frequently takes from five to six months before a reply is received to a letter written in this connection. It takes a long time to have matters disposed of, and for that reason we should like to ascertain whether it is possible to make the administration more streamlined.
From time to time it has been indicated—in fact it has already been proposed—that attempts should be made to review the Workmen’s Compensation legislation and investigate whether it is in any way possible to make the legislation more adaptable to modern circumstances. We hope that the hon. the Minister will give us an indication of what he has in mind in this regard as well.
My hon. colleagues on this side of the House will analyse certain aspects of the Bill further, and try to obtain further reassurances from the hon. the Minister, but in the main we support the content of the legislation, and we shall support it in the Second Reading.
Mr. Speaker, although, as indicated by my friend, the hon. member for Hillbrow, we are going to support this measure, there are aspects of it which are not wholly satisfactory. The first aspect with which I want to deal and on which I want to add a few words to what the hon. member has said, is the provision in clause 4. For the first time the hon. the Minister is now asking that the Workmen’s Compensation Commissioner should be allowed to have the power to use unclaimed moneys which are due to Bantu workmen who have been injured, for the general welfare of the Bantu. My hon. friend from Hillbrow has asked certain questions about this, and I want to go further. This refers to “in the prescribed manner” and according to the explanatory memorandum it refers to Regulation 19. I must admit that I was a bit dilatory too, but when I did try to contact the department to find out what Regulation 19 was all about, I was unsuccessful. I put no blame on the department but that was the case. I wonder if, before we go any further with this Bill and before it reaches the next stage, the hon. the Minister will be so kind as to advise this House exactly what the provisions of Regulation 19 are, so that we can have some idea of what we are being asked to decide here tonight. The hon. the Minister came along and vaguely referred to Regulation 19 and vaguely referred to “in the prescribed manner”, to the use of money and in respect of Bantu “for the general welfare of the Bantu”. This is far too vague and I believe that we should have more detail about this matter before we can decide. This raises the whole issue of why we have unclaimed money. I am sure that all members of this House have at some stage or other received a Government Gazette with a tremendous list of unclaimed moneys, names and addresses of persons who have been injured on duty and who have for one reason or another not been traced. It is no secret that I was once an employee of the Department of Bantu Administration. When I go through these lists I find that by far the vast majority are Bantu people. To me it is rather inexplicable that the department is unable to trace them. I know that a percentage of them are foreign Bantu but I am afraid that I cannot speak about them because I do not know what conditions pertain in their countries. But I can speak about the Bantu in our own country. From my own experience in a Bantu Affairs Commissioner’s office—I am glad that the hon. the Minister of Bantu Administration and Development is here—I know that if his country officers are notified that there is money for Mandhlenkosi Ndlela, he can send out either a policeman or a messenger after having looked up the details of Mandhlenkosi Ndlela in his records. He then just puts the word out “Mandhlenkosi Ndlela woza e’ Nkantolu u landa imali e puma ku Hulumeni” which I shall interpret as “Mandhlenkosi Ndlela, come to the office because there is money for you. There is money that comes to you from the Government”. If he sends out this word, Mandhlenkosi Ndlela will appear. It has happened before and it does happen if people would only take the trouble to look for these persons. If Mandhlenkosi is not at home at his kraal, somebody knows where he is. Finally through the bush telegram and this tremendous intelligence system that the Bantu people have, Mandhlenkosi Ndlela gets the word. And one, two, three he is there to collect his money. I believe that this hon. Minister owes it to these people to explore every single avenue, every single possibility of tracing these people before the use of these prescribed terms and the use of this money for “the general welfare of the Bantu”. Before we approve this I think we need an undertaking by the hon. the Minister tonight that in fact the Workmen’s Compensation Commissioner does use every avenue and that the hon. the Minister does use the department of his colleague who sits next to him. Every effort should be made to trace these people.
We also have the question of compensation and how much compensation should be paid and how much is in fact paid to these unfortunate people who are injured. My hon. friend from Hillbrow has indicated that we are not happy with the limit which it sets, a limit which puts compensation at the maximum of R185 per month although that person may have been used to living at the rate of R600 per month. I know that there are employers who make up the difference, but not every employer is compelled to do so in terms of the Act. Does the hon. the Minister realize that at R185 per month he is putting a family man into the same category as those unfortunate workers on the Railways who are receiving less than R200 per month and who the hon. member for Uitenhage said must go to the Department of Social Welfare and Pensions? That is the situation; that is the position in which this hon. Minister under this legislation leaves these poor workers. At R185 per month they qualify for a family allowance. The Department of Social Welfare says this is a sub-economic and not an economic wage. That is why they are prepared to assist these unfortunate people. However, this hon. Minister pegs them although in an extreme case they may have been used to living at the rate of R600 per month. He is now going to keep them for 12 months down to the rate of R185 per month, if they go to the Minister’s department. This can be the case for a longer period if they have to be compensated for a longer period. I think that this hon. Minister must re-think this matter. He must really reconsider it. I do not know whether it is competent for us when we go into Committee to move an amendment in this regard, because I believe this would result in further expenditure and I do not know if we would be competent to move it. But I do believe that the hon. the Minister should go into this matter, if necessary before this Bill goes to the Other Place and before it is approved this session.
There is another aspect to this. Clause 10 now places a further onus on an employer and provides that an employer who fails to report an accident can now be subject to certain extreme sanctions. This is good and all very well, but I wonder if the hon. the Minister is satisfied that he has made provision for an anomaly that has existed up to now whereby certain workmen have been injured, have gone to hospital, have been treated and then found that their employers have neglected to pay the contribution or assessment they should have made in respect of that particular workman. He then finds that he is not covered by the provisions of the Act. I believe that it has happened recently in a few cases that workers found themselves in this position. This provision does not go far enough and does not cover those sort of cases. I wonder if the hon. the Minister will also consider that aspect, because this, I believe, is another aspect of the Act that must be covered.
While we are talking about the compensation that is paid and the cost to this fund of medical expenses and so on, I want to draw the attention of the hon. the Minister to a fact which was brought to my notice a little while ago and which I brought to the attention of the Secretary for Labour and the Workmen’s Compensation Commissioner. It is the fact that hospitals, including provincial hospitals and hospitals under the control of the hon. Minister of Bantu Administration and Development, are charging those whom they call “statutory patients”, that is workmen who have been injured and who are covered by the Workmen’s Compensation Act, fees in excess of the fees charged to private patients. In other words, this fund is being asked to carry a heavier burden than I believe it should be asked to carry. I fail to see any justification whatsoever for the charging of a higher rate for a statutory patient. As I say, I drew this to the attention of the Secretary for Labour and I received a letter from him in which he says—
In this regard I refer in particular to the Edendale Hospital, which is under the jurisdiction of the hon. the Minister of Bantu Administration and Development.
Don’t point at me.
I would never insult that hon. Deputy Minister, please!
I did not say that you were insulting me …
Oh, well, that is all right then. The reply I received was to the following effect:
Order! Will the hon. member explain in what way what he is saying now is relevant to the Bill?
With respect, Sir, we are dealing with the question of compensation and with the contribution of employers and of the cost to the fund resulting from the injuries received by a workman. The point I am leading up to is that if these excessive amounts which are being paid to hospitals in respect of injuries received by a workman, were reduced, then the hon. the Minister may perhaps consider increasing the amount which will be paid monthly to a workman instead of pegging him to this R185 per month. That is the reason for drawing this matter to the attention of the House. May I continue, Sir?
Yes, but keep it as short as possible.
I am just about finished now. To complete this paragraph—
Therefore, the Workmen’s Compensation Commissioner is aware of the situation. I feel—and I now must make the point I was leading up to—that the hon. the Minister must look into this matter. I do not believe that this fund should be burdened with these excessive fees which are being charged by hospitals, and that the money saved thereby should be made available to workmen over and above this limit of R185 per month which he now sets and which, as I have said, is sub-economic because anybody with a family who is earning R185 a month qualifies for a family allowance from the Department of Social Welfare and Pensions.
There is an aspect of this Bill which is inexplicable, and I think the hon. the Minister owes this House a more comprehensive explanation than he gave us when he introduced this Bill. Why do we now make the provision regarding the South African Bantu Trust retrospective to 3 October 1958? What has been going on in the last 16 years? Has there been an error? Has the amount been compounded? Has the South African Bantu Trust been paying contributions which it should not have paid or has it perhaps not been paying contributions which it should have been making? Should it have been paying assessments that it has in fact not been paying? Which way is it? I think the hon. the Minister owes this House an explanation. He comes here and blandly asks us to pass a Bill and make it retrospective to 1958, 16 years back, but he does not tell us why. He does not tell us what he wants this for. The question has to be asked: “How is this fund going to look after itself with this added burden in respect of the employees of the South African Bantu Trust and the employees of legislative assemblies established under the Bantu Homelands Constitution Act, who are not going to make any contributions and who are not going to be liable to pay assessments, but whose employees, if I understand the situation correctly are still covered by this Act in exactly the same way as civil servants are?” Any civil servant who climbs up a ladder to fetch a file from the top of the cupboard and who falls down and breaks his leg, is covered by the Workman’s Compensation Act and is entitled to compensation under that Act but the State makes no contribution except what is voted here through the Budget of the hon. Minister of Finance. Is the South African Bantu Trust going to make some contribution in a similar manner? Does the Transkei Legislative Assembly make such a contribution and will the other legislative assemblies to be established under the Bantu Homelands Constitution Act also make such contributions? I believe that the hon. the Minister has come here and told us a portion of the story. He should tell us the other portion. We should know before we are asked to pass these provisions. I sincerely hope that in his reply to this debate, the hon. the Minister will give us satisfactory answers to the questions which I have put.
Mr. Speaker, as two hon. members before me have spoken and indicated the support of this side of the House for this measure, there are one or two aspects I should like to bring to the notice of the hon. the Minister concerning this legislation. Firstly, I think it indicates the loss of the value of money when one sees that in 1964 the ceiling in terms of clause 2 of this Bill, whereby persons were covered by the Workmen’s Compensation Act, amounted to only R2 000 per annum while the legislation now before us proposes a 360% increase to a ceiling of R7 260 per annum.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. the Minister, realizing that this sort of legislation is based on the position of the employer, as to who initiates these amendments to the Act, and whether the Government plays its part in seeing that this form of legislation, which is a form of social security for our workers, is brought into line with present-day demands of a bustling young industrialized country, which leads to a larger number of employees seeking the security of measures of this nature and other measures that are administered by this hon. Minister. I feel that the whole question of the administration of the Workmen’s Compensation Act requires a very careful and serious reconsideration in the light of changing conditions. I believe, too, that the Government is responsible to provide the initiative to bring about such a situation to ensure that the workers are adequately covered by the various social security measures already on the Statute Book, measures which require amending and modernizing from time to time to meet the challenges.
Here I would also like to specifically mention certain aspects of this Bill. For instance, the hon. the Minister has indicated that in the definition of a child or a dependant, the age shall be increased from 17 to 18 years. We obviously welcome this provision. In terms of most legislation, the definition of a child is usually based on the age limit of 18 years. However, there are certain people who endeavour to provide further educational facilities for their children and dependants. I would like to know whether the hon. the Minister has given consideration to the possibility of a dependant not only being a dependant in terms of the Workmens Compensation Act, viz. under the age of 18, but also a person who, after attaining the age of 18 years, is a full-time student at any institution, be it a training college or a university, and whether such a person could still be regarded as a dependant for the purpose of the allowance, until such time as that child has reached the final stage of his education and is no longer dependent upon the widow or the workman who is receiving the compensation.
The question of unclaimed moneys has already been mentioned by the hon. the Minister and by my two colleagues, and I would also like to make some comment in this regard. It is very disturbing when we as members of Parliament receive Government Gazettes and see the large amount of unclaimed money that is standing to the credit of various workmen. I think the last Government Gazette occupied something like 99 pages of the names of persons to whom varying amounts of compensation were being owed. I realize, too, that various organizations try to assist in the tracing of these people. We know that steps are taken to ensure that these names are listed in the Government Gazette. But it would appear that there is not a great deal of success in tracing them. This gains further significance in view of the provisions made in clause 4 of this legislation which is before us. After a prescribed period, this money may be used for the sake of the welfare of Bantu people. However, I think it brings before this House the whole question of finding ways and means through which those unclaimed moneys can be reduced, and ways and means to ensure that these people receive the money that is due to them.
I would like to bring to the attention of the House certain steps that could be taken to minimize the amount of unclaimed money standing to the credit of various workmen. During the course of last year, the Durban Chamber of Commerce, in making a study of the position and trying to assist these people, made certain constructive suggestions which the hon. Minister could perhaps bear in mind and find ways and means of implementing. There is the question of the employee who terminates his employment, perhaps as a result of an injury or for some other reason and, in endeavouring to trace these persons most of whom, of course, are Bantu people, one finds that it is extremely difficult to do so unless one has proper records and addresses. In some cases employers have been encouraged to make proper notes and keep a record of the addresses of these Bantu people and, also in the case of Bantu, the names of their chiefs and the heads of their kraals. This facilitates the tracing of some of these people once they have left the employment of that particular employer. There is also the question of the person who has a claim due to him but who has terminated his employment. In such a case the employer should make an entry in his reference book stating that a claim was pending under the Workmen’s Compensation Act. If these facts were recorded, and if that person were to produce his book at some later stage—and invariably they have to produce their books—it would be noted in that reference book that that person had lodged a claim in terms of the Workmen’s Compensation Act. As far as I know, Sir, there does not appear to be any legislation prohibiting an employer from making such an entry in a reference book.
Secondly, where a claim had been accepted by the Workmen’s Compensation Commissioner and acknowledged by means of the usual green card which indicates a claim number, this card should be attached to the unemployment insurance card of the employee, if he terminates his employment with the employer whilst the claim is still pending. This too would mean that there would be a further record to the effect that that man was entitled to compensation in terms of the Workmen’s Compensation Act. I know that there are certain Bantu who are earning wages below the minimum laid down in terms of the Unemployment Insurance Act. This does present a problem. However, with the increases in wages that are being granted from time and time, an increasing number of Bantu will in due course fall within the purview of the Unemployment Insurance Act. I feel that if these suggestions are put into practice on a larger scale throughout the Republic it will be obvious that we shall have to have the co-operation of the employer so that these people can be traced. We know that this legislation has basically been provided for the employees by the employers. We know, Sir, that the Government must cooperate with the employers’ organizations so as to bring about a smoother functioning of this very important legislation.
In clause 4, mention is made of the question of unclaimed moneys in respect of Bantu people only, and therefore one must presume that the unclaimed moneys of other racial groups will be dealt with in terms of other legislation or else will revert to the Consolidated Revenue Fund or to some other fund once the prescribed period, which I understand is ten years, has elapsed.
Another aspect of this Bill which is indeed most important, covers the question of compensation. We know that a certain formula is laid down in terms of which compensation is calculated on maximum earnings. In terms of clauses 6, 7, 12 and 13, as well as from what the hon. the Minister has told us, we can ascertain, that there will now be an increase in the amount of compensation or pension paid to an injured employee. The calculation is made on the basis of the first R270 per month whereas in the past it was made on the basis of the first R200 per month. The first mentioned figure is the ceiling and basis of the formula in respect of those who become injured prior to a date still to be fixed.
In explaining the provisions of clause 9 the hon. the Minister indicated that certain benefits and pensions would be increased, and we on this side of the House certainly welcome this provision. We know, Sir, that the Act has been in operation since 1943 and that there are persons who are receiving compensation as a result of injuries sustained some 20 to 30 years ago. This means, Sir, that those people have to try to maintain a reasonable standard of living and, because of the tremendous increase in the cost of living, many of these people who are totally disabled and completely unable to obtain any form of employment as a result of their injuries and are receiving maximum compensation, are finding it increasingly difficult to survive. Certain adjustments took place with effect from 1 April 1970 on which date the formula was increased. Whereas certain persons who had been injured prior to this date were entitled to compensation in terms of the formula of R150 per month, those injured after 1 August 1971 received compensation on a maximum ceiling of R200 per month. In terms of this legislation those persons who sustained injuries and received compensation prior to 1 August 1971 will now be brought into line with the others by virtue of the fact that the ceiling of R150 per month is now to be increased to R200 per month. I should like to ask the hon. the Minister whether he will consider bringing all these persons into line so that they will receive compensation on a similar basis. In other words, will he consider increasing, at a later stage perhaps, the R200 per month that is payable to those persons who are being awarded compensation in respect of accidents prior to a fixed date, so that they will then also receive compensation in terms of the formula of R247 per month as contained in this Bill. We know, Sir, that the question of making certain legislative provisions retrospective, is a difficult one, particularly as far as the insurance aspect is concerned. I do feel, however, that this should be the aim of the Government and of the Workmen’s Compensation Commissioner so as to ensure that all persons receive similar compensation if they have similar injuries, irrespective of the date on which those injuries were sustained.
Now, Sir, the question of the date is certainly a most important one and I hope that during the course of his reply to this debate, the hon. the Minister will perhaps be able to give us some indication as to when it is hoped that this legislation will be promulgated in the Gazette and also some idea in regard to when it is hoped to bring these improvements into effect.
I should like finally to deal with clause 10 which provides that employers shall be subject to certain penalties if they fail to report an accident within 30 days of their being advised of such an accident or becoming aware of such an accident. I hope, Sir, that the hon. the Minister has given due consideration to this period of 30 days because it may happen in some instances that a person does not realize the seriousness of his injury and only brings it to the notice of his employer at a later date. I hope, Sir, that this particular penalty period, although welcomed, in that it makes it the responsibility of the employer to report such an accident within a period of 30 days can be extended; that the hon. the Minister will see his way clear to extend the period within which the employer is required to make such report. I realize that these provisions only serve as a basis for the penalty but I do hope that this particular provision will bring about a situation in which the employer will play a greater part in the smooth administration of the provisions of the principal Act which aims at providing relief for those persons who suffer serious injury during the course of their work. The Act is an extremely important piece of legislation throughout the Western world as it seeks to provide these employees with a degree of security in the knowledge that should serious injury befall them they will be cared for in terms of its provisions.
Mr. Speaker, I would just like to add to what has already been said about this amending Bill. I simply want to state that I have no objection to the Bill. I shall support it at the Second Reading. I have one or two suggestions to make at the Committee Stage, more particularly with regard to clause 4 of the Bill. I welcome the raising of the ceiling which is introduced in clause 2. Whatever other comments I have to make I shall make at the Committee Stage.
Mr. Speaker, in dealing with this measure and the many benefits for which it makes provision, we must bear in mind throughout that it is only the employers who contribute, and that determines our whole attitude. We could very easily plead for far higher grants here, and say that this benefit or that benefit is insufficient. In all fondness I want to say that this is the easiest thing to do. If you do not provide the money, if the State does not provide it, if the workmen do not provide it, if only the employers do, then it is very easy for those of us who are not involved to advocate that the benefits should be more. I ask that we be realistic. Let us deal with this matter in a spirit of very great realism. Exceptionally large benefits are being granted in this measure. I do not want to say that this is the end of the road; only a fool would say that, but at this juncture, practically speaking, this is as far as this Fund can go; and it is against this background that we will, unfortunately, have to assess certain of the pleas made here.
The hon. member for Hillbrow asked whether we could not adjust the benefits automatically. This sounds as if it could be very easy these days when we have computers; it will certainly save us a considerable amount of work in the Workmen’s Compensation office. But once again we are not the people who provide the money which has to be paid out according to that automatic calculation. We have to take the employers into consideration; we have to take these mutual societies to which I referred into consideration; we have to ask ourselves whether they are in a position to pay these increased benefits. On each occasion when the Workmen’s Compensation Commissioner wants to pay out increased benefits, he has to hold discussions with Rand Mutual and the other companies concerned, to ascertain whether they see their way clear to falling in with those proposals. If they do not agree to them, then one cannot adopt the standpoint of “We will go it alone”; after all, one has to take these people along with one, for it is a uniform fund.
An automatic adjustment would of course be of very great assistance to us as department. My department would really welcome this for it would be one mechanical operation; but this simply cannot be reconciled to reality, and for that reason I fear that we will not be able to apply it. We cannot force other people to pay amounts which are beyond their means. It is true that we would have liked to have increased this amount which we have now raised from R5 460 to R7 260 even further, but the same argument which I have just used applies here as well, because we have to do this in consultation with these people.
The question of the application of this money for the general welfare was also raised. Hon. members were particularly concerned about how this would affect the Bantu. First of all, let me just tell hon. members in how many cases during the past six months money due to Bantu was not claimed by them. This is also published in the Government Gazette, in terms of the requirements of the Act. During this period of six months in respect of which the figures have been published, there were only a small number of Bantu workers who did not claim the amounts due to them; this number was 5 523, which is really a small number if one takes into consideration the large Black workers’ corps.
But we would nevertheless like the money due to them to be paid out to them. I can understand that there will be concern. Some people are perhaps a little homeland conscious, and are afraid that we are going to steer everything in that direction. Hon. members need not be afraid that we will channel all this money in that direction. These unclaimed moneys are not channelled to any specific area. It is being given to those to whom it is due. One of the speakers asked me what we are doing to establish the whereabouts of these people. My department goes out of its way to trace these injured Bantu. To a large extent we obviously make use of the machinery of the offices of the Department of Bantu Administration, for they are the people who are on the spot. To a very large extent use is also made of the homeland governments. Of course we effect consultation with a view to the application of the money. The social welfare ministers concerned will be consulted, as well as the people who have knowledge of this matter.
The hon. member for Pietermaritzburg District also wanted to know more about regulation 19. Regulation 19 makes provision for how the money has to be distributed, but to our way of thinking the regulation does not define it well enough, and for that reason this measure will now be of assistance in making the payment of moneys even more satisfactory. We will of course take those organizations to which I referred into consideration, but the intention is that one would want these moneys to be applied in a judicious manner, and this will be defined in the amended regulations so that the money is not simply given to the Department of Bantu Administration, or so that the Commissioner cannot merely decide on this after sound consideration. Our intention is that it has to be further defined in a regulation, with all the provisions and the requirements which have to be complied with when the money is applied, so that one can obtain the greatest possible measure of control over it.
What do you really have in mind?
I must say that I have to deal with this matter in consultation with those people. I cannot merely disclose facts across the floor of the House, for I may perhaps furnish only half a reply, and one should like these moneys to be applied properly. The hon. member could possibly, by way of a question in an ensuing session, inquire what the regulation is. This would perhaps be the best way, after we have given proper consideration to the matter.
What about the amendment?
The amendment gives us the machinery by means of which we can determine this. You will then have the opportunity, as I stated to the hon. member, to inquire during the next session, if you are still here, how we have determined this.
As regards the question of public servants and officers of Parliament, they are of course covered by the State. The State accepts its own risk. The hon. member also put a question to me in regard to the Bantu Trust. He wanted to know whether we have suddenly discovered that it exists. No, it is not only now that we have discovered for the first time that its exists. Actually it has up to now been regarded as a part of the Department of Bantu Administration, and because it has been regarded as such, it has been accepted that the Bantu Trust, as do all the other Government departments, bears its own risk, and it has not yet fallen within this framework.
It therefore did not make any payments?
No, the State does not make payments. It bears its own liabilities and responsibilities.
As regards the question of claims …
When the claims are submitted they are accounted for in the same way. In fact they are accounted for according to the pattern of the Accident Fund, but the State bears the responsibility for that.
The hon. member also asked whether we could not make the administration more streamlined. That is all very well; we are working on this all the time. Our computerization process, which we have introduced during the past few years, has contributed a great deal to streamlining our administration. We are also making extensive use of bonus workers in the department. In any case we are constantly endeavouring to streamline the administration.
The hon. member for Pietermaritzburg District was also concerned about the question of reporting an accident. He wanted to know what the consequence would be if the employer reported or did not report it. Fortunately the Act lays down that if an accident occurs it has to be dealt with as an accident, i.e. whether a workman was involved, or whether the employer has paid assessments in respect of that employee, makes no difference. If a workman has been involved in an accident, his employer is held liable by us. Whether he has paid or not, he has to accept responsibility for that workman, and in addition to that there is the additional penalty. Thus, there is no escaping it. However, we do have a problem—I mentioned the figure 80 000—for we have to open files on employers who did not inform us of these cases. It is to get those people to co-operate a little that we are forced to make the penalties heavier.
Can you explain what the position of an employee is whose employer has not made any contributions?
Such an employee is covered. In the first place it is the position that if he is a workman who had an accident, he receives compensation. If his employer has not paid, the employer is assessed and taxed by us; he has to pay in respect of his employee.
The workman is therefore covered by the Act, not so?
Yes, he is covered completely by the Act. Naturally we want to know about those things, and that is why we must have administrative penalties so that the employers will inform us. It will also be of advantage to them to pay their assessments, for in many cases that would be far cheaper than these enormous amounts which they will suddenly have to pay out of their own pockets.
As far as the question of the date is concerned, I want to point out that it will be determined as quickly as possible after the prorogation of Parliament; that is, after this Bill has been passed by both Houses of Parliament. I want to give the assurance that we shall dispose of it as rapidly as possible.
The hon. member also expressed the hope that we would obtain greater cooperation from the employers. I just want to add that this represents my idea on this matter as well.
I received a note which was actually sent to me for the information of the hon. member for Umbilo. In it is stated: “If he is a student, the fund cannot be expected to subsidize him”. This therefore deals with the hon. member’s inquiry concerning a student who is older than 18. The employers cannot accept responsibility for the education of children. This is a standpoint of the employers which one will probably have to accept. The Workmen’s Compensation Commissioner, from whom this note was received, is of course far more conversant with these matters. There is another note as well which I also received for the information of the hon. member. It reads: “We cannot make compensation with retrospective effect, for it will cause financial embarrassment to certain risk-bearers”. That is the same point I made in my speech.
I think that with this I have dealt with the matters which were raised.
Motion agreed to.
Bill read a Second Time.
Mr. Speaker, I move—
At present persons whose earnings are in excess of R4 264 per annum are excluded from the scope of the Unemployment Insurance Act, and as soon as a worker earns more than this amount, he is no longer a contributor to the fund and cannot build up further credits for the purpose of unemployment benefits. This maximum wage limit came into operation on 1 November 1971.
A maximum wage limit is prescribed in the Act because only workers under that limit are regarded as persons for whom provision has to be made for assistance by means of the Unemployment Fund. Owing to wage increases it is, however, necessary to review the maximum wage limit from time to time.
Consequently representations from various trade union federations have recently been received insisting that the maximum wage limit be raised so that persons who previously fell within the scope of the Act, but who have ceased to be contributors owing to wage increases, may once again continue to be.
The representations received were referred to the Unemployment Insurance Board for examination and recommendation. For the information of hon. members I could just mention that this board is a statutory body in terms of the Act on which both employers and employees are represented, and one of its functions is to investigate and make recommendations to the Minister on any matter connected with the Unemployment Insurance Fund.
At its meeting on 15 August 1973 the Board recommended unanimously that the maximum wage limit be raised to R5 460 per annum. In addition it was recommended that the amount with which the present wage limit is raised be included in the existing group 14, which is the highest wage group. This group will then include persons who earn more than R3 406 per annum up to a maximum of R5 460 per annum. No change in the existing grouping, contributions or benefits is being contemplated.
The raised wage limit will bring most persons who were excluded as a result of wage increases within the scope of the Act again.
The precise financial effect of the contemplated amendment is not easily calculated since no indication can be given of how many contributors will once again be brought within the scope of the Act. As far as the State is concerned, the additional expenditure is estimated to amount to approximately R200 000 per annum, since the State, in terms of section 29(2), has to make a contribution equal to 25% of the total amount paid out by employers and employees in contributions to the Fund. In addition section 29(1) provides that temporary workers in the Public Service shall also contribute to this Fund.
I think it is desirable that the amendments be put into operation as soon as is practicable since they are in the interests of the workers. I therefore trust that this measure will meet with the approval of the House.
Mr. Speaker, like the previous measure with which we have dealt, this one is indeed, as the hon. the Minister has also indicated, a recognition of inflation. No amount of camouflage or rationalization can hide the fact that what we are concerned with here is a visible manifestation of the erosion of the buying power of money. What this provision does, as the hon. the Minister has indicated, is to raise the limit for White workers by a substantial amount of about R1 200 per year. He has indicated that he is not in a position to indicate to us at the moment how many new workers will be affected by this new provision. I think one’s guess must be that percentage-wise the figure will probably remain static. As the limit has been pushed up, it will of necessity include more people than is the case at the present time. We are also pleased that as far as non-White, or rather Bantu, workers are concerned that their salary limit has not been changed at all. I think that again the assumption must be that more Bantu workers will in fact qualify in future than is the case right at the present time.
One does not want to prolong the issue any more than is necessary, but I think in a sort of affluent society like our own the question probably arises why one should have a measure of this kind at all. Quite obviously at the moment, judging by what the hon. the Minister himself has told us, there is no unemployment in South Africa. Therefore this is largely an academic measure. I think it is necessary that one should however briefly review the reasons why one should have a measure of this kind. Firstly, I think unemployment insurance means protection for workers who might lose jobs through no fault of their own. This obviously is something that one must take care of. Secondly, I think it stabilizes the purchasing power of our society and it limits the snowballing effect that we might get as a result of recession. Thirdly, it helps to bridge personal income particularly where there is transfer of people from declining to growth sectors in our economy. I think this provision is important too because it inhibits the growth of a militant trade unionism. Furthermore, I think it promotes a responsible attitude on the part of management because they cannot hire and fire people as they might like to, in terms of this provision. It obviously is necessary for them to introduce stability into their labour pattern and not just to have indiscriminate hire-and-fire practices. I think this kind of provision also discourages the establishment of mushroom enterprises because the State here imposes certain restrictions. Hence you cannot just have a number of little enterprises that grow up like a mushroom and then disappear the following day. I think that above all else this kind of provision helps to provide a certain minimum measure of economic security and in this way it helps to combat petty theft and crime and so many other things which are often so prevalent in our society.
I am concerned, however, in looking at this legislation, about the sort of benefits that are paid in terms of it. As I understand it, what is involved here—and I am merely giving the limits—is that a worker who earns between R234 and the increased maximum of R5 460 per year can claim, for a period of unemployment of two to six weeks, benefits which seem to me to range from R2 to R20 per week. Now this, by whatever standards you might approach it, is obviously completely inadequate. It might have been adequate 50 years ago, particularly in the case of the Bantu when they were living in a tribal society, but now they have become urbanized and certainly this kind of compensation I think all of us must regard as being completely inadequate. I am not suggesting that we must be as generous as they are in the United States of America. I happen to know that in many fields there your unemployment benefits approach 90% of your basic wage that they pay for periods of up to 18 months of unemployment.
I have two other issues that I want to mention and these deal with the question of the desirability of having a State-controlled fund. One wonders if the situation has not arisen where a greater degree of decentralization might be indicated, where companies, under the general provisions of the State, should operate their own unemployment insurance tailored to meet their own particular needs. I do not know what the strength of this fund is at the moment. The hon. the Minister can perhaps help us in this regard. The last time I looked at it I think the fund stood at R300 million. It therefore seems to me that we have here a vast amount of money which could be used in any decentralization exercise of this kind.
Finally, I wonder if it is necessary in terms of this provision to continue with certain discriminatory provisions, because we have always understood from the Government that their policy is one of separation with equality. I find, for example, in looking at this legislation and the way this fund operates that, the waiting period for Whites between claiming and receiving their insurance is from two to four weeks and for non-Whites it is in fact from five to six weeks. I also find, and the hon. the Minister can correct me if I am wrong, that in the case of Whites they must sign every week, while in the case of non-Whites they must sign each and every day. These seem to me to be discriminatory measures which are unnecessary.
We believe that in this legislation the Government is facing reality and is making an upward adjustment in terms of the buying and purchasing power of money. We believe this is in the interests of the workers of South Africa and in view of these considerations we would be happy to support this measure.
Mr. Speaker, I too shall support the Second Reading of this Bill. I fully agree that the ceiling should be raised, because obviously the value of money has dropped considerably. Also unemployed people will clearly find it very difficult indeed to make out on the low amounts referred to by the hon. member for Hillbrow, and it is necessary to increase the number of people who can claim those benefits. I, too, am glad that the floor has not been raised. Indeed I believe that the R10-50 per week which is presently the lower limit for the claiming of unemployment insurance should be changed and that people earning less than this should also be allowed to claim. Quite obviously the man who is most going to feel the pinch of being unemployed is the man living on the breadline and below it, because that man is unable to save anything to fend off the dread days when he might find himself minus a job. Sir, I am glad that the hon. the Minister has resisted the temptation to raise the floor in this Bill. I imagine, a certain amount of pressure might well have been put on him to do so, and I hope that he will at some future time take into consideration the very grave difficulties that face people earning less than R10-50 per week when they find themselves unemployed. Sir, in principle I have no objection to this Bill at all and I shall support it at the Second Reading.
Mr. Speaker, I have sympathy for the hon. member for Hillbrow, who spoke about the large amount of employment which is available; there is almost no unemployment. Under this Government we have virtually no unemployment. Now one could ask oneself: “Why then have such a fund?” Even though we have virtually no unemployment under this Government—and this position will continue—this fund does at least make provision for sick benefits and maternity benefits as well. These are benefits which are not to be scorned. Even though we are not beset by unemployment, it is still necessary for the workers’ sense of security. This fund creates for him a very essential sense of security. The fact that the fund stands at R169 million—that is the figure which the hon. member asked me for—provides the worker with a feeling of security. For that reason one is grateful for the fact that this fund has developed to such an extent. The hon. member asked whether it should remain a State-controlled fund, meaning that we should now disintegrate it again. As you know, Sir, this fund developed from small toadstool funds. This fund developed from those small funds with the co-operation of employers and trade unions, and I think it would be a retrogressive step to dismantle it again. With this fund we have established something of real note, having the advantages to which I have already referred briefly. Consequently I really think that it would not be the right thing to dismantle and decentralize it again. In fact, the workers will not want that. I can give the hon. member the assurance that, if we were to lend support to such an idea here, the trade unions in this country would be up in arms, to say nothing of the employers’ organizations. For that reason I think that we should retain this fund, which is in fact a great insurance fund for the workers.
Do you expect an employment catastrophe?
It must serve as permanent security. The only catastrophe which could arise, would be if the United Party were to come into power, and then this fund may still be very necessary. Fortunately, as practical people, we do not foresee many difficulties.
Motion agreed to.
Bill read a Second Time.
Mr. Speaker, I move—
It is customary, when Parliament sits twice a year, to introduce Bills of this nature during the second session, because they are usually a summary of a considerable number of amendments to a number of different Acts. It is therefore very likely that hon. members may wonder why we have come to the hon. House with a measure of this nature at such an early stage this year.
As hon. members have undoubtedly heard, it became possible for the Government during the recess inter alia to increase the bonus payable to war pensioners with a further 5% with effect from 1 October 1973. In the first place, therefore, it is necessary to legalize the authorization of this increase as soon as possible. This is being done in clause 1 with retrospective effect from 1 October 1973.
What is more, clauses 3 and 4 seek, for reasons I shall indicate in a moment, to disestablish the Cape Widows’ Pension Fund and the joint pre-Union fund with effect from 1 April 1974, i.e. with effect from the 1974–’75 financial year. For administrative reasons it is therefore essential that the legislation disestablishing these funds be passed before the commencement of the new financial year. Hence, too, the necessity of the early introduction of this Bill.
I assume, too, that hon. members would like some information on the provisions underlying this Bill and consequently I want to deal briefly here with those provisions for the information of the House.
I have already dealt with clause 1 and, except that hon. members may want to know what relief is being contemplated for war pensioners this year, I do not think they have any need for any further elucidation in the present context. I do not want to comment on the question of further relief because it is definitely the prerogative of the hon. the Minister of Finance to deal with that, if and when necessary.
It may be pointed out that the principles contained in clause 2 are nothing new, since compensation for injury on duty and associated matters is already recognized practice, and authorization to make regulations in that regard already exists in the Government Service Pension Act, 1965. As members are aware, however, that Act was extensively repealed last year with the consolidation of five public service pension funds.
What is more, the existing statutory provisions in the present context make no provision for such compensation to members of the former Provincial and Territorial Service Pension Fund or police reservists injured in the course of duty. As far as the latter are concerned, it has happened that a police reservist was killed or seriously injured in the course of his duty. As matters stand at present, there is no statutory authorization for compensation in such cases. Moreover, as far as I was able to establish, the policies of insurance companies at present contain a clause in terms of which policy holders forfeit their additional benefits for permanent disability if the said disability arises from military or police duty.
I want to assume that hon. members on both sides of the House agree with me that we should now attend to this matter. The system requires revision and, since it is so closely related to the pension privileges of officers of the State, it is fitting that we also take the necessary steps now to ensure that justice is done in this connection.
Hon. members are aware that the designation of the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs was amended with effect from 1 February 1974. In addition it was revealed that the definition of “officer” and “employee” in clause 2 was too wide and that this could result in some persons who, for example, sustained injuries prior to their entering the Public Service and to whom the War Pensions Act is applicable as a result of such an injury, being excluded from compensation payable in terms of this scheme. Consequently I intend introducing the necessary amendments during the Committee Stage in order to rectify these matters.
The Cape Widows’ Pension Fund was established under Act No. 32 of 1895, and although that Act was repealed by the Cape Pension Laws Revision Act, 1968, this pension fund was maintained in terms of the latter Act. However, the assets of this fund have now dwindled to R378 479, and since an annual amount of R174 855 is being paid out in pensions, the fund will only be able to meet its obligations for approximately two years. For the sake of interest, I could just mention that the fund at present has 531 pensioned widows, and 140 members. The average age of the members is approximately 87 years while the youngest widow is approximately 44 years and the oldest widow approximately 97 years of age.
As far as the joint pre-Union fund is concerned, there are at present 216 members who are still receiving pensions. The assets of the fund, as on 31 March 1973, amounted to R339 969-39, and since the fund pays out an annual amount of approximately R203 771 in pensions, the fund only has sufficient assets to meet its obligations for approximately 20 months. As soon as the assets of these two funds are depleted, the pensions payable to the members will in any case have to be paid from Revenue in terms of existing law.
Under all these circumstances hon. members will agree with me that the two funds no longer justify all the work and cost involved in their administration, and we may as well proceed at this early juncture to pay the pensions from Revenue. Under the new dispensation pensioners of the two funds will not be prejudiced in any way, and as hon. members have probably observed, their rights to their pensions are suitably protected in terms of clauses 3 and 4.
That, Mr. Speaker, is in short what this Bill deals with.
Sir, we have listened with interest to the Second Reading speech of the hon. the Deputy Minister and we on this side of the House are convinced that the rights of the members of the two funds which are to be disestablished in terms of this legislation will not be diminished. We believe that this measure will facilitate the administration of the pensions payable to the beneficiaries of the funds, and we therefore support the Second Reading. We support this Bill in principle. However, there are certain observations that we would like to make in regard to this legislation. Firstly, there is an improvement in the bonus that is to be paid to persons receiving war disability pensions in terms of the Special Pensions Act of 1962 and the War Pensions Act of 1967. This bonus is being increased from 35% to 40% with retrospective effect from 1 October 1973. Sir, we have had a tremendous increase in the cost of living in South Africa, and we believe that due consideration must be given to the plight of those persons receiving war pensions, whether they be ex-servicemen themselves or widows or dependants of servicemen who died during the war. Our only regret, of course, is that there is only a small increase in the bonus. This is a bonus which is based on the basic pension paid. This increase in the bonus will therefore not result in a substantial increase in the actual amount received by the pensioner. However, any alleviation that is going to be forthcoming for these people will obviously receive the full support of this side of the House. We believe that it is in the interest of these people that they should receive this increase with retrospective effect from 1 October 1973. We know that in the case of other pensions such as social pensions they were increased with effect from 1 October 1973, and therefore it is only fair and just that this increase should be paid with retrospective effect.
Then, in regard to clause 2, the hon. the Minister has indicated the necessity for this clause under which regulations will be made concerning the compensation that is to be paid to certain persons in the employ of the State in the event of their death or if they are injured on duty. Here again we support the principle. I think at this stage it is appropriate that we should pay tribute to those persons who give up their time to serve in the Police Reserve Force. These people are playing a vital part in the security of this country, and it is only fair that they should have full cover in the event of their death or in the event of injury in the course of their duties. Sir, there have been cases in the past where members of the Police Reserve have lost their lives. I know of one case where a police reservist lost his life and left certain dependants, and it was found that there was no provision in terms of which his dependants could receive some form of compensation. The only avenue that was open to the dependants of this reservist was to petition Parliament and to refer the case to the Select Committee on Pensions. Consequently we welcome the provision whereby regulations can be made to extend protection for the dependants and for members who are serving in the Police Reserve. I am only sorry that it is not possible to make provision whereby this could be retrospective perhaps to the date when the Police Reserve was instituted, so that if there are cases where people received injury as the result of service they could receive the benefits provided for in terms of the regulations. However, it appears that such persons who have received such injuries will still have to submit a petition to Parliament as the only avenue to obtaining some relief and compensation.
Clauses 3 and 4 set a fixed date, 1 April 1974, on which these two funds are to be disestablished, i.e. the Cape Widows’ Pension Fund and the Pre-Union Fund. The hon. the Deputy Minister indicated that there were only a small number of people receiving benefits from these funds. However, as the result of various allowances and bonuses that have been paid there has been a heavy drain on both these funds, which means that they are rapidly diminishing funds and there is no alternative but for these funds to be disestablished and for the money owing to these people in the way of annuities to be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund. The hon. the Deputy Minister did give an indication of the amount involved as far as these funds are concerned. I would like to ask him what the position is with regard to the Cape Widows’ Pension Fund. We know that legislation was passed (Act 15 of 1968), whereby provision was made for the continuation of this fund and certain aspects of the administration of the fund were attended to. If one refers to the schedule of this Bill one notes that this Act, Act No. 15 of 1968, is to be repealed entirely on the passing of this legislation. I have looked at Act 15 of 1968, and in section 8 of that Act provision is made for an actuarial valuation to be made during 1970, on 31 March 1970, and every five years thereafter. It would appear at this stage that the disestablishment of this fund is taking place prior to the actuarial valuation required in terms of the Act. My question then to the hon. the Deputy Minister is whether an actuarial valuation has indeed taken place prior to the stipulated five-year period laid down in the 1968 Act, which is on the Statute Book, and which will only be repealed when this Bill becomes law. It would appear that in terms of the annual report of the Department of Social Welfare and Pensions there has been a deficiency in this fund, and as the hon. the Deputy Minister has indicated, the fund is diminishing at a rapid rate and therefore it is necessary that it be disestablished at this stage, prior to actuarial valuation. However, it is important to know whether an actuarial valuation has taken place or will take place, but I cannot see it taking place before the fixed date provided for in this legislation, which is 1 April 1974.
There are some widows who regard this Cape Widows’ Fund with jealousy, and I know there are certain beneficiaries under the fund who feel that when this fund is disestablished there should be some compensation, or some sort of bonus, to the surviving beneficiaries. No such provision is of course made in the Bill before us. I merely mention this fact to indicate that there are people who are receiving benefits in terms of this fund. This fund has indeed remained a unique type of fund and although legislation has from time to time been passed repealing particularly pre-Union legislation, this fund has survived right up until 1974.
I hope that the hon. the Deputy Minister will appreciate that there are widows receiving benefits from this fund and who feel that this is part of their security. They feel that their security may in some way be threatened by the passing of this legislation. However, I should like to reiterate what I said earlier on. We on this side of the House are satisfied that their rights are fully protected and that they will continue to receive their pensions. The only difference will be that those pensions will be paid from the Consolidated Revenue Fund and not from these diminishing funds as in the past.
We believe that this legislation has become necessary, as has been indicated by the hon. the Deputy Minister. We feel that the widows’ pension rights are protected in terms of this legislation. Therefore we support the Second Reading of this Bill. The hon. the Deputy Minister has indicated that he intends moving certain amendments to clause 2 during the Committee Stage. A notice to this effect already appears on the Order Paper. We have studied these proposed amendments and we feel that altogether this is a good Bill which deserves the blessing of this House because it brings about benefits which are much needed by a group of deserving citizens.
Mr. Speaker, in the first place I want to point out that the bonus which is payable in the case of war veterans’ pensions is of course not only the 5% mentioned in this Bill. In terms of the 1973 Budget a bonus of 10% is also payable. During October a further 5% was granted. In that year therefore the bonus amounted to 15%. This Bill makes provision for only 5% because the remaining 10% was authorized last year.
In reply to the hon. member’s question concerning the Cape Widows’ Pension Fund I want to inform him that this fund was assessed actuarially on 31 March 1970, but the report was only received in 1972. The feeling of the department is that there is no sense in having this fund reassessed now. On 31 March 1970 the fund already showed a deficit of R525 000, which was then made up from revenue. As the hon. member rightly commented, this Bill ensures that the rights of the widows will be fully protected, so that there will be no prejudice to them whatsoever.
Motion agreed to.
Bill read a Second Time.
On the motion of the Minister of Defence the House adjourned at