House of Assembly: Vol7 - MONDAY 24 FEBRUARY 1986
The House met at 14h48.
as Chairman, presented the Third Report of the Standing Select Committee on Transport Affairs, dated 24 February 1986, as follows:
as Chairman, presented the Fifth Report of the Standing Select Committee on Home Affairs, dated 20 February 1986, as follows:
Bill to be read a third time.
That the Order for the Second Reading of the National Parks Amendment Bill [B26a and b—86 (GA)] be discharged and the Bill be recommitted to the Standing Committee on Environment Affairs and Tourism.
Mr Speaker, I move:
Mr Speaker, I would like if I may during this Third Reading debate to come back to a subject that was discussed both during the Second Reading debate and in previous years in regard to the question of the formula and the question of the level of services for own affairs insofar as this House is concerned.
One of the major issues which arose from the whole of the Constitution was the question of the division of funds in the first instance between general affairs and own affairs and, in the second instance, among the three Houses in respect of their own affairs. At the time when the Constitution was being considered, it was hoped that there would be a formula which would be announced, but at the time when the Constitution was introduced it was said the formula would come a little later. As I understand it, the hon the Minister has now said that he hopes to make an announcement, or somebody will make an announcement, in regard to the formula later this year during this session of Parliament. I hope I have correctly understood what the hon the Minister has said.
The problem that arises is that there is no doubt about the fact that the division of State expenditure is one of the major political and social issues confronting us. It has the potential not only for social and economic problems but also for serious political conflict. If we look at South Africa’s position today, we see that everybody is talking about the abolition of apartheid, but I believe that that is not really the issue because there is no question about the fact that apartheid will go in the end. The real struggle in South Africa is in respect of the exercise of political power and in respect of the division of wealth in South Africa. Therefore the issue of a post-apartheid society is the crucial issue we have to face, and the question of the division of State expenditure will always be a major factor in that issue.
If the Government is sincere—I accept the sincerity of the statement that has been made regarding equal quality of education for everybody in South Africa—and it is accepted that there will be a removal of discrimination in regard to the provision of all State services in South Africa, the crucial issue arises as to what sort of timetable there is. That is when the formula becomes important, because one wants to know within what period of time the removal of that discrimination in the system can be expected. I should like to hear the hon Chairman of the Ministers’ Council of the House of Assembly reply to that—specifically as to whether the removal of discrimination is in fact his Government’s policy.
There are to my mind two fundamental misconceptions which exist in South Africa. The first miconception is in the Black community, because in some way or another there is a belief in sections of the Black community that all that has to happen is that they have to be given political power and miraculously, overnight, their whole economic situation will change. The second misconception is in the White community where many people believe that one can solve the political problem of South Africa and give political power to people, either by sharing it or otherwise, and still retain the same economic privilege and the same economic position one has today. Both premises are complete and utter misconceptions, and the sooner people get down to the reality that political change will neither bring about a miraculous change in the economy nor leave it completely unchanged, the better. The two things will in fact go together.
What we have to face, sitting here now dealing with own affairs, are the implications of the abolition of discrimination in regard to the provision of services. One of the questions that has to be asked—there are a series of them—concerns the hon the Chairman of the Ministers’ Council and his Government. Does he believe that he can achieve an equality in the provision of services for all races without a reduction in the quality of services provided to the White community at the moment? Every community looks for an improvement of services in real terms, but does the economy have the capacity to provide the level of services which we enjoy today? Here one has to bear in mind that there are limitations relating to taxation, the availability of overseas capital, the conflicting demands of the public and private sectors on the available resources and, above all, the present high level of inflation which is eroding the whole machinery for creating wealth in South Africa.
At this point I think it is appropriate to mention a few things. I do not want to debate the Transport Services Budget, but I want to use it as an example. We have an inflation rate in South Africa which is close to 20%. The Transport Services Budget is being increased by approximately 11%. Salary earners are being given an increase of about 10%. One then has to ask oneself whether one is actually dealing with people who are the workers in the Public Service and the public as such in such a way as to ensure the maintenance of their standards. I am suggesting that what has happened—I think one can prove it with statistics—is that average real and disposable incomes have dropped over the past few years. I am restricting my remarks to White South Africans since we are discussing own affairs here in the House of Assembly. Here are some figures by way of illustration: Over a period of approximately 10 years up to the end of last year, the total inflation rate in South Africa was in the region of 203%. The average increase in White earnings was only 169,6%. This illustrates the fact that living standards are being reduced. With regard to disposable income, we find a situation in which a well-off person earned R1 200 per month in 1975. In order to keep up with the inflation rate, he would today have to earn close to R4 400 per month. What is worse is that 10 years ago, he only paid 14,5% in tax on his income. Today he pays 34% in taxation. His real disposable income has been eroded. He is therefore much worse off than before.
When we look at the economy as such, we find ourselves in a situation in which real income as well as living standards are on the decline. At the same time, however, the money has to be found in order to equalise social services. This has to be done on the part of the Government if in fact discrimination is going to be removed. The issue which then arises is how this is to be brought about and what the ensuing implications may be. Let me cite some examples of how this can be dealt with.
We deal with the education of Whites in this House. The question which the hon the Minister has to answer is firstly whether the standard of White education will remain the same. Will the amount of money that will be spent per White child remain the same? The question is whether the money spent will remain the same in real terms, not in nominal terms. If in real terms it is to remain the same, it has to increase by at least the percentage of the inflation rate. If this is the case, then one is going to find oneself in a situation in which the burden on the State will become increasingly heavy with regard to the provision of those social services. I am using education only as an example.
The way out of the situation is obviously the one which has already been indicated. Parents are going to have to make an increasing contribution towards the education of their own children. The 64 dollar question—if I may use the dollar terminology since its value does seem to decrease less than our own currency—which has to be asked is this: Is the White South African prepared to pay a premium in order to insure his future by paying more himself for the education of his children? Alternatively, is he going to demand that he keeps what he has? If he demands that he keeps what he has without making any sacrifices or paying any premiums, then he is going to expose himself to a very serious risk. The question that the hon the Minister of the Budget must answer is this: What is the policy of his administration? Are they prepared to ask the public of South Africa to make sacrifices for their future, to make real sacrifices to pay that premium? Is that part of the Government’s policy? Alternatively, are we going to cruise along in the fond belief that South Africa has got the resources to make everybody equal without any degree of sacrifice on anybody’s part?
I believe that now is perhaps the time when we should actually face the electorate squarely. I do not want to sound melodramatic by using Churchillian phrases but in wartime Britain the best way in which to unite the people was to say: “Look here, if you want to survive you have to have blood, sweat and tears.” One has to make sacrifices. Is the time not ripe for the hon the Minister to state in this House that sacrifices are required in order to survive in South Africa? The Whites are going to have to put more into it themselves, and somehow they will have to pay more if we as a people are going to survive in South Africa. Survival in South Africa for everyone living here is only possible if everyone is prepared to make his contribution. What I said about education applies equally to health services, pensions and every other State service. If we evolve a formula which does not offer a solution and fulfil the expectations of reasonable people within a reasonable period of time, we will be playing into the hands of those people in South Africa who want to destroy the entire system.
Mr Speaker, I do not doubt that the misapprehensions of the Whites on the one hand and the South African people of colour, as the hon member for Yeoville referred to them, on the other hand, is going to entail one of the greatest and most serious problems in the next decade in that both groups’ ideals will not only have to be realised, but will also have to be reconciled with one another. Something that emerges clearly from what the hon member for Yeoville said, is that there is no magic formula for the solution to our very involved problem. It is very clear from speeches made in this debate thus far, as well as from the political debate which is being conducted among the public, that in reality it involves three matters: The first is the question as to whether reform as we are experiencing it in South Africa today is progressing too quickly or too slowly; the second is the question as to what is really the best constitutional formula for an extremely involved heterogeneous population composition, unique in the world, as is the case in South Africa; and thirdly, as the hon member for Yeoville mentioned, there is the question of the redivision of wealth in this country. I shall refer to this question again later in my speech.
During the past few years the Government has committed itself irrevocably to the broadening of the democracy. What we are experiencing today and what we experienced last week when we debated the Part Appropriation of the House of Assembly, must be seen against the background of the first step we are taking in a new dispensation, which will require great wisdom and initiative of everyone in this country. Recently the State President said the following in connection with the development of the democracy:
All the people of South Africa will have to learn that our salvation lies in the concept “co-existence”. There is no alternative if we want to try to preserve peace and order. Unfortunately it is true that continued existence is not an automatic right, neither for us as Whites nor for any other group in this country. We shall have to work very hard for it. I believe our greatest task is to make every South African believe a better future awaits him and his children. This applies to all South Africans, whether they are White or non-White. This is the only recipe for peace, prosperity and progress in this turbulent country we have the privilege of living in. Reform may not only be spoken about, thought about and planned. It is in everyone’s interests that it be experienced. In this process the country will have to be managed and governed in such a way that everyone will realise we need one another, instead of wishing one another away and shooting one another, the solution some people believe in. In this connection the State President has stated clearly and repeatedly during the past few years that all groups and communities must get representation up to the highest level. There may not be domination. On the other hand, we must do exactly what we are doing in the Part Appropriation Bill—we must have autonomy over those things that are important to us as a group.
South Africa offers fantastic possibilities and exciting challenges. At least three prerequisites have to be complied with in order to realise the possibilities, confront the challenges and develop our full potential.
As I see it, in the first place the people of South Africa will have to be brought to the realisation that we are mutually dependent upon one another. All 30 million people in South Africa are climbing the same ladder of development. The best way to reach the top and to get a broader vision and to extend one’s horisons past what is immediate, is to help one another and push one another up the ladder. If, on the other hand, we are going to prevent one another from reaching the top of the ladder, no one is ever going to reach the top. No one will ever be able to achieve the deployment of the true potential of this country.
The second prerequisite is that the people of South Africa will have to realise that continued quarrels, quarrels between Whites, quarrels between the various races and an inability to take one another’s hands and help one another to climb the ladder, can easily result in the control of South Africa falling into the hands of foreigners. That is the exact objective of Russian imperialism. They see South Africa as one of the three or four cornerstones without which Russian world domination is not possible. The three cornerstones are the Middle East, Central America and Southern Africa. The internal situation in South Africa is a rich breeding-ground for the communist ideology. We shall have to show all the people in South Africa with deeds of reform that the new initiatives in South Africa will mean more to every South African than the false bright lights of the East.
There is a third prerequisite that has to be complied with before we can attain the full potential of our country. We shall only be able to attain it if there is a greater division of prosperity. In this connection I want to associate myself with the hon member for Yeoville. It is important, however, that there be prosperity before it can be divided. That is why private initiative and the informal sector in particular should be given the opportunity to create and distribute prosperity as freely as possible. The prospect of better living conditions and the experience thereof will make other groups in South Africa our kindred spirits and allies in the combating of the onslaught on South Africa. The little word “trust” is the basis of this—trust in our country and all its people; trust in co-existence and trust in our ability. There must be mutual trust between White and White, between White and Black and between us in this House and our colleagues in the other two Houses. Mutual trust is the most important weapon in the struggle for the survival of civilised, decent, Christian norms in this country. The crux of the matter is that what we demand for ourselves in the own Appropriation: Administration of the House of Assembly, we must be prepared to grant our fellow citizens in our country. If we want to do more than that, we shall have to apply the principle that we must pay for it ourselves.
I have tried to indicate the three prerequisites as I see them. Innate in all three of those prerequisites and in mutual trust is the basic principle—the reform of attitudes. If the will to understand one another, to comply with one another’s wishes and to be accommodating towards one another will grow between White and White and between White and non-White in South Africa, the more formal structures of reform will be easier.
What we are dealing with in this debate, viz the Part Appropriation Bill of the Administration of the House of Assembly, is only the beginning of a great reform effort in this country to make this country an eventual safe harbour for all its people.
Mr Speaker, in his short speech the hon member for Paarl spoke about reform and the broadening of the democracy. Now I want to ask the hon member whether he regards reform in South Africa from the point of view of the hon the Minister of National Education or from the point of view of the hon the Minister of Foreign Affairs. [Interjections.]
Surely both the broadening of democracy and reform, as regarded by the two factions in the NP, are unacceptable. According to the hon the Minister of National Education, reform means that all the individuals of South Africa form one nation, but only a White man can become President. The hon the Minister of Foreign Affairs says on the other hand that, taking certain reservations into account, a Black man can become President of South Africa.
The hon member for Paarl uses certain words and clichés without clarifying their meaning either to us in the House or to the members of the public. He simply does not tell us where the clichés and the words he uses are leading South Africa and its peoples. [Interjections.] If we take everything into account, therefore, it is clear to us that in actual fact the hon member has said nothing.
Mr Speaker, today, 24 February, is a special day for the hon members of the CP. On 24 February 1982 it was our full, undoubted standpoint to vote against the principles of power-sharing and abdication which were introduced quietly through the back door of the caucus by the present State President by means of healthy power-sharing with the Coloureds. The four years that have passed have been four golden years for the CP.
These were four golden years of struggle, intensification in principles, labour, idealism, future vision and ideals. In addition, the success we have achieved is proved to an increasing degree every day by our public support.
During this Third Reading of the Part Appropriation Bill: Administration of the House of Assembly—I am putting “House of Assembly” between inverted commas—it is clear that we must point out once again that the constitutional plans being introduced for South Africa by the Government, are collapsing in every sphere of society in a very subtle way à la Huntington and Crocker and so forth. How many of our trusting compatriots are not still being misled by the terminology of the hon members of the governing party?
It is still being said that the Whites have own affairs as well as self-determination. I now want to quote one of the more liberal academics on the meaning of self-determination. According to him, self-determination is more or less equal to independence. In his book Basiese Konsepte in die Politiek (H J Kotzé and J J van Wyk) he says:
That is what this learned gentleman writes.
I myself want to say, however, that what the Government presents to South Africa and the Whites as so-called own affairs, does not comply with even the elementary standpoint or view of what self-determination really is at all. [Interjections.] This is a bluff with which the hon the Minister of Constitutional Development and Planning, who is looking at me in such a friendly way, is continuing unceasingly. I want, however, to put a question to the hon the Minister and also to the hon the Minister of National Education who is sitting next to him. I should like to know where the hon the Minister of Constitutional Development and Planning stands. Does he stand by the hon the Minister of Home Affairs or by the hon the Minister of Foreign Affairs?
He stands on their shoulders.
The falseness of this kind of terminology is catching up with the NP. First the hon the Minister of Foreign Affairs says the self-determination the Government has for the Whites in South Africa can lead to a Black president in certain circumstances. He does not say how the Black president will be elected, much less how a White man can become president of the country again afterwards; yet he speaks of a Black president. I hear the hon the Minister of Agricultural Economics and of Water Affairs said in his constituency up in the Transvaal that the hon the Minister of Foreign Affairs said these things about a Black president because he was tired. Tired or not, the hon the Minister of Foreign Affairs said we would have a Black president. That is not all, however, in addition it is said it his personal point of view. There are many people in the governing party who have personal standpoints, such as the hon the Minister of Constitutional Development and Planning. I quote from a report in today’s The Citizen. It reads as follows:
The hon the MPC’s parliamentary colleague, the hon member for Kimberley North, is here. Does he agree?
No, man, make your speech.
That is a very good reply; I shall make my speech because I like making speeches. I shall still come to Kimberley, if my hon colleague will permit it, and I should like to know what the standpoint of the hon member for Kimberley North is. Does he stand by the hon the Minister of Foreign Affairs or by the hon the Minister of National Education?
No, he stands by Jan Brazelle.
The CP refuses to give up the Whites’ sovereignty. We refuse to take part in the NP Government’s bluff or to play along with their terminology and conditions. There are no own affairs. There is no freedom and no future for the White man or any other people under the NP. The CP stands for the true freedom ideals as they have been expressed throughout the history of our people through its leaders, a freedom with an own father-land, and a freedom for our people with justice towards other peoples.
Mr Speaker, I should like to reply to the hon member for Rissik but unfortunately my time does not permit this. In any case I do not think I can waste a minute, not even a few seconds, on a speech of no substance whatever. [Interjections.]
The hon member for Barberton tendered his apologies for his absence here today but I cannot allow the few statements he uttered the other day as regards agriculture to pass unqualified. He began by stating that, as there was no private member’s motion on the Order Paper as regards agriculture, he could arrive at no conclusion but that the weal and woe of South African farmers was no longer a Government priority. I told him at the time he ought to be ashamed of himself; I say it is a disgraceful remark. [Interjections.] Let us examine the hon member’s view as regards agriculture when he sat on this side of the House.
There was still a White Government then.
The hon member for Kuruman should be quiet; I shall get to him soon.
It was not a multi-coloured one as it is now. [Interjections.]
When he was still a member of the board of the agricultural group, the hon member for Barberton’s view was that we should prevent the politicising of agriculture in this country at all costs. What did he do the other day? His entire speech on agriculture was an attempt at scoring a few political points as regards the relief provided to agriculture. I wish to state today—I challenge any hon member of the CP to prove the contrary—that never in the history of this country has more relief been furnished to farmers in difficult circumstances than at present.
On the contrary …
Never! I challenge the hon member for Lichtenburg to prove the contrary. [Interjections.]
I now get to the hon member for Lichtenburg. I am not aware of a single agricultural congress last year without a motion of thanks to the Government on its agenda for relief received from it. Does the hon member deny that?
The hon member said further we should carry out requests from organised agriculture. I then challenged the hon member to mention which requests from organised agriculture we had not complied with. The hon member does not know what is going on. I wish to request him again to rise in this House and tell me which requests from organised agriculture we have not complied with. This hon member from the Western Transvaal always has a great deal to say. [Interjections.] Things are not going well in his constituency; I wonder if he is aware of this. [Interjections.]
Do you know what is going on in your constituency?
A few members from the Western Transvaal—I am referring to the hon members for Schweizer-Reneke, Ventersdorp and Fauresmith—came to see me in October last year.
Only then? They should have done so long before.
I am attempting to explain a point. I know hon members are being hurt but I wish they would not exhibit this so openly. [Interjections.] The hon members from the Western Transvaal came to see me to sketch the position there. I then went into the matter and saw it was serious. I caused a special scheme to be designed to meet the needs of the Western Transvaal where the harvest failed again last year. The hon member for Lichtenburg did not make any representations to me or the Government for further relief measures in the Western Transvaal. We made R25 million available for a special scheme to enable farmers to plough and plant again. I am absolutely convinced the hon member for Lichtenburg is not even aware of this scheme. [Interjections.]
I wish to ask the hon member for Kuruman what additional relief he wants for stock farmers in this country.
I shall reply to you.
All right, let me put the question more simply. Does the hon member want more relief for stock farmers than they are being furnished with at present?
The farmers of South Africa should be cared for better. [Interjections.]
That hon member rises and says more relief should be granted to South African farmers. They politicise the entire matter of disaster relief but they lack the courage of their convictions to specify what type of relief it should be. They do not have the courage of their convictions to request the Government to institute a specific scheme so that we may know exactly what hon members of the CP want. All they do is make sweeping statements, leap up and say farmers should receive more relief but they cannot say what it should be. [Interjections.]
They say further we should involve organised agriculture in the matter. My colleagues and I meet the SA Agricultural Union every month—we had a long session with them only last Friday. The CP cannot teach us how to deal with organised agriculture because we grew up within it. [Interjections.]
The hon member for Barberton also said the Government could, for example, have acceded to the requests of the Maize Board as regards fixing the maize price. I wish to ask the hon member whether he advocates that the Maize Board should fix the maize price in this country. He need reply only with a “Yes” or a “No”.
I do not reply only by saying “Yes” or “No”. [Interjections.]
It is clear once again that they are making statements for outside consumption but, when confronted with the actual facts, they are afraid to reply.
You humiliated the farmers.
I shall leave the matter there. I now wish to issue a statement on the pasture emergency areas which refers chiefly to livestock grazing areas.
Since October 1985 good rains have fallen over practically all the grazing and cropping areas of the summer rainfall region which are currently still receiving emergency relief from the State as proclaimed areas in terms of one or more drought relief schemes.
Whereas the State has intervened in generous measure over the past seven to eight years to protect natural pasturage against further destruction in areas experiencing disastrous drought and to maintain the nucleus of a breeding herd for every farmer, the time has now come to terminate phased relief schemes which have served their purpose.
†In view of the fact that veld conditions have improved dramatically over virtually the whole of the country and since the administration of so many different schemes has put tremendous strain on the personnel resources of the Department of Agriculture and Water Supply, the Government is now convinced that all drought relief to stock farmers should in future continue only under the new schemes approved for stock farmers in the grazing and cropping areas. The relief scheme for stock farmers in the grazing areas that was initially launched on a trial basis in the Northern Transvaal has proved so successful that it has already been extended to other droughtstricken livestock grazing areas, while the drought relief scheme for farmers in the cropping areas was introduced in August 1984 in those districts where it was applicable.
*I now wish to announce that the proclamation or listing of all areas at present falling under one of the phase relief schemes or the new schemes for grazing or cropping areas will be lifted as from 1 April 1986 and that all further drought relief to stock farmers under the grazing or cropping schemes will be reconsidered only upon reapplication. With a few exceptions, district drought committees have already been instituted in all traditional droughtstricken areas—that is, also in those currently receiving phase help.
District drought committees, which make recommendations to the National Drought Committee, naturally play a key role in the operation of grazing and cropping schemes. These committees are expected to make recommendations on further proclamation or lifting of droughtstricken areas to the National Drought Committee and to take field conditions on a conservation farmer’s land as a criterion. I wish to lay the utmost emphasis upon the fact that future drought listing will take place according to the norm of the conservation farmer’s land.
†In those districts or portions of districts where the disastrous drought continues—assessed by the criteria laid down by die National Drought Committee—the local agricultural organisation is expected to apply to the district drought committee, before 31 March 1986, for proclamation of their area under the drought relief scheme for grazing or cropping areas. Applications of this nature are usually finalised within a week of their submission.
*In a few exceptional cases in which districts or parts of them presently receiving phase 5 relief have not received any effective rain by 1 April 1986 and in which stock still has to be fed on a continuous basis, the National Drought Relief Committee will be expected to decide on extension of phase 5 relief. I believe the Department of Agriculture and Water Supply will be able to rely on the full co-operation of organised agriculture in this matter as well.
In conclusion just the following. As regards those areas which already fall under the phase 5 scheme, it has been decided to maintain the present situation providing application is again made to the district drought committee or the National Drought Relief Committee. The areas concerned will then be properly demarcated. What will then happen, in fact, is that they will be removed from the phase scheme but will still be provided with the opportunity of again qualifying for phase 5 relief. Other areas are totally exempted and, if there are actually areas which have not yet received adequate rain, they should apply now to be taken into consideration for the new drought relief scheme.
Mr Speaker, the hon the Minister of Agriculture and Water Supply indicated at length that the National Party had done more for the farmers of South Africa during the past so many years than anybody had ever done for them before. I believe of course that that is absolutely true. Nobody else has had a chance to do anything for the farmers for the past 38 years except the National Party! [Interjections.] Mr Speaker, I do not believe that hon Minister can really claim credit for something which could not possibly be different. [Interjections.]
Furthermore, Sir, the hon member for Rissik raised the point that today was the fourth anniversary of the birth of the Conservative Party. Well, naturally, on anybody’s birthday one congratulates him. Might I suggest, however, that as one grows a little older one also becomes a little more mellow. Perhaps that will also happen to the Conservative Party. [Interjections.]
Mr Speaker, during Second Reading debate the hon the Minister of the Budget indicated that I had left my chin wide open, but that because he felt that I was not really such a bad fellow he was not going to give me a knockout blow. May I suggest to him that in the days when I was boxing—and I was at one time; about 40 years ago—I would hit a person if he left his chin open, irrespective or whether I like him or not. I feel therefore that it would be better if he were to do that in my case because I would know then what to expect from him. When people do not fight as hard as they can it makes it very difficult for me, especially in certain circumstances.
The thing that impressed me was the fact that everything that came from those benches was, in the hon the Minister’s own words, “constructive and positive”. However, everything that came from the opposition benches was destructive. Really, I cannot imagine that that would be so. After all is said and done, one only learns by people pointing out one’s mistakes. That is all we are doing. We are not telling those hon members what a wonderful bunch of chaps they are although we do say that if they do something correctly, we will support them. Unfortunately, one of the greatest drawbacks of hon members in the NP is that they do not have that greatest of virtues, humility. It would probably be very helpful if they did acquire that virtue to help them to realise that we on this side of the House can occasionally tell them something that is to the good of the country.
In so far as the local authority problems I raised presenting something of a problem in relation to the hon the Minister’s portfolio are concerned, he indicated that the hon member for Witbank had illustrated that the regional services councils were very largely going to solve those problems. Well, Sir, I really cannot see how this is going to happen. Whilst I accept the fact that regional services councils will take over many of the service operations from the local authorities, one is still going to have those local authorities with their domestic affairs involving the various race groups. Some of the people involved are going to be bona fide elected councillors and others not. Those who are not are going to have a say in the regional services councils disproportionate to their right owing to the fact that they are not genuinely elected councillors. I do not think it is going to work.
As far as hospitals are concerned, the hon the Minister indicated that he accepted the fact that own affairs was presenting something of a problem, and I appreciate his frankness in making that statement. Consequently I shall deal no further with the matter.
Another point I proposed raising was in respect of education. The hon member for Yeoville asked what the policy was. This policy was expounded at length last year and it means that at last year’s rates one is going to have to pay R300 per child at high school and R240 per child at primary school. These amounts will most probably also have to include inflation. It was also stated that 10% of the money that was to have been spent on White education would now be added to other education. The hon the Minister who was dealing with these affairs previously provided these figures. I want to warn the hon the Minister that this is going to place a heavy burden upon the White public of South Africa. Necessary changes are all very well but I do not believe we can afford to place these huge burdens on the back of the public. I could say a great deal more but, unfortunately, I do not have the time.
Mr Speaker, I should like to thank hon members who participated in the debate which was considerably calmer than at the Second Reading and this also enables one to reply more calmly and in greater detail.
I wish to express a word of exceptional thanks to the hon member for Paarl and my hon colleague the Minister of Agriculture and Water Supply for their participation in this debate as well as the important announcement made by the hon the Minister.
†Mr Speaker, before replying to hon members who participated in the debate this afternoon, there is one facet raised by the hon member for Pinetown to which I should like to reply. In general, he dealt with education in depth. Within the not too distant future there will be further opportunities for us to discuss this matter in future debates and my hon colleague the Minister of Education and Culture will then have the opportunity to reply to many of the aspects raised by the hon member. It is therefore not my intention to deal with education per se in depth on this occasion.
The hon member did ask one question to which I should like to reply now, more specifically as a result of what appeared in various newspapers after his speech and after certain interpretations had been given to my speech. I am referring to the question of centralisation in Pretoria.
*On this subject I should like to say that Government policy is, was and shall remain—just as it is the policy of the Ministers’ Council as regards own affairs for the House of Assembly—that decentralisation, delegation and devolution, wherever each of these concepts may be applied correctly, are important approaches and policies in our style of government.
I do not foresee that this approach as regards education in consequence of the transfer of the legislative power in education from the provinces will make such fundamental differences to the management of education as it is currently organised and that there will be any deviation from this principle that decentralised governmental institutions will still be recognised. Naturally moderate rationalisation will take place.
I do not wish to intrude on the terrain of my hon colleague but I think I saw in one of the newspapers that take-over would now supposedly mean the total destruction of other existing governmental structures and I wish to dispel that possible misunderstanding totally.
†The hon member for Yeoville has basically anticipated the debate which will take place when legislation is introduced and proposals are presented in regard to the formulae to which I referred in my speech and to which he too made reference. I do not think we should play this game of anticipating the debate without having the advantage of having the formulae or proposals before us. When we have them, then we can really have a meaningful debate.
But we are faced with some principles.
I should like, however, to make a few statements in reaction to his speech. Firstly, I am convinced that we can devise such formulae. We have made progress in regard to certain facets and we are very near to the point where we shall be able to announce them. Discussions are at present continuing in regard to other facets and we are still struggling to find the exact way along which we shall be able to attain our goal.
It remains the goal of the Government to attain equality of opportunity in all the fields to which the hon member referred. However, in working towards that goal we do not have only a simplistic choice between spending more on some items and less on others, which is basically the choice propounded by the hon member. Other facets come into play and of these I should like to mention two only.
Much can be attained through rationalisation. When we talk about education, we must bear in mind that one of the underlying causes of disparity in expenditure per pupil, for instance, lies in the teacher-pupil ratio in the classroom. That can be changed without in any way addressing negatively the standard of education of the Whites, for instance, where that ratio is the best.
I therefore want to say that we shall have to come forward with a package when we look at the problems with which the hon member dealt.
Secondly I should like to say that we must accept that the goal of equal provision in various fields cannot be attained overnight.
*We shall have to make haste and act expeditiously as this is urgent. These matters are excessively urgent among population groups which have a leeway to make up or conceive of this—no one is trying to argue away the fact that backlogs do exist. I should like to give the assurance that we on this side realise their urgency. Consequently we want to be seen to be moving with all speed to the most expeditious possible attainment of the objectives we have set ourselves but these cannot be achieved overnight. We shall also have to exercise patience and great understanding will have to be exhibited on all sides on how we may attain those important goals within the capacity of this country.
I do not believe the solution to these problems we have discussed is possible without sacrifice from all sides. If we in this country not only wish to ensure peaceful co-existence but also to achieve effective growth and a continuous upliftment of the quality of our life, there are a few matters all South Africans will have to see to. One of these is to be prepared for sacrifice. There will also have to be a preparedness to work hard and to think afresh on how matters are accomplished, on basic approaches, so that we may attain those goals methodically.
The hon member asked whether I could give the assurance that the standard of White education would not decline. My colleague the hon the Minister of Education and Culture’s predecessor, whose department earlier comprised an integral part of the activities of the Department of National Education, gave that assurance absolutely unequivocally on behalf of this side of the House.
South Africa cannot afford a lowering of its educational standards. If we wish to remain competitive internationally speaking in the world in which we live—that is a world which is demanding increasingly high standards as well as improved training and qualifications—and if we wish to ensure an adequate degree of progress and development here in South Africa, we should not alone maintain our highest standards and uplift those lagging behind to that level but also ensure that the heights already attained are carried to an increasingly high general level in order to face up adequately to the challenges confronting us. That is why no one need fear that the quality of education arising from these measures will in any way be at risk; our country cannot afford this.
The central theme of the hon member for Rissik’s speech was that the NP was guilty of playing a bluffing game. Let us ask who is actually bluffing whom. If I understand the CP standpoint correctly, its members are just as concerned about the right of self-determination of other population groups as about those of the White. If they are sincere about this, I wish to ask who is bluffing whom? They say in the same breath, although they put it slightly differently from what Dr Carel Boshoff does, that they are not going to cut off large parts of what they call “White South Africa”. Except for a little meaningful consolidation here and there, what they call “White South Africa” will continue in its present form. I see the hon member for Rissik nodding. His affirmative nod therefore indicates that it is a good summary of the CP standpoint. Let us ask who is bluffing who. Which inhabitants comprise the majority within the borders of that so-called “White South Africa” which they further describe as:
Which inhabitants comprise the majority in that state?
But you have answered that yourself.
He does not have the authority to give the answer.
I am not asking the hon member why; I am asking him who comprises the majority. That hon member’s reaction immediately concedes to me that the majority in that area today is not White. [Interjections.]
The point I wish to reach is that the proportion will be even lower in 20 years’ time; this they will also concede to me. Consequently my question is: How is the self-determination of the various Black peoples as well as that of the Coloureds and the Indians living within the White sovereign state to come into its own? [Interjections.] If we ask who is bluffing whom, I wish to state the hon CP members are creating the impression that their approach is based on the moral foundation that everyone will be able to fulfil himself politically within a sovereign own state. The vast majority of the inhabitants of all the other sovereign states, however, will not find themselves in the territory of that sovereign state as regards their living ambience, their lifestyle from day to day, from year to year and from generation to generation. [Interjections.] They are therefore bluffing the voters if they say anything other than that blatant White dominance will come into its own under their policy. [Interjections.]
That is not true.
This is the basis of that party’s policy and, if its members would only be honest enough to admit it, we would no longer see bluffing games in political debate in South Africa. [Interjections.] Then standpoint would be expressed against standpoint clearly and unequivocally. [Interjections.]
I shall leave the subject at that and the hon member’s involvement in it. It appears to me hon members of the CP prefer to shout. [Interjections.]
The hon member for Umbilo actually commented on speeches made last week. He produced no new arguments really justifying a reply but I wish to refer to one facet.
†He referred to the question of local government. I immediately concede that, among the other population groups, much development has still to take place before we shall have reached a situation where fully developed local governments will be part of their structures. I am not going to deal with that aspect now; it will not be appropriate within the framework of this debate.
The fact of the matter is that the population group whose interests we are now discussing in this House does have a fully developed system of local governments whose members are elected by the very same voters across the country who elect us. With regard to the own affairs of the House of Assembly, local government is one of the very important facets that need attention and that are being investigated at the moment as regards the date and method of its transfer to the Administration of the House of Assembly. Local government—also within the framework of the principle of the devolution of power, something about which we on this side of the House feel very strongly—will, in the future, play an increasingly important role in the administration of own affairs, with particular reference to the own affairs concept of having communities which make their own decisions and of granting them the authority to do so with regard to matters which, at this point in time, are not decided at that level. We therefore feel that local government is an important facet within our whole constitutional set-up, and that it should be expanded with regard to its power base in as many ways as possible.
*I should like to thank hon members for their participation in this debate. We on this side of the House are looking forward to a thorough thrashing out of the matters raised here during the discussion of the Main Budget.
Question agreed to.
Bill read a third time.
Introductory speech delivered at Joint Sitting on 19 February
Mr Speaker, I move:
This Bill provides for an additional appropriation of R297,406 million which brings the expected total expenditure for the 1985-86 financial year to R4 674,760 million—an increase of 6,8% on the original estimate of R4 377,354 million. The additional appropriation is required to defray higher expenditure which has arisen mainly from the decline in the value of the rand against other currencies and general cost increases. Particulars of the additional amounts required under the various subheads of the estimates appear in the estimates of additional expenditure that have been tabled. I will now briefly discuss the proposed additional appropriations.
An additional amount of R18,581 million is being requested for international commitments. Payments to other postal administrations and organisations in terms of international agreements are made in foreign currency at ruling exchange rates. As a result of the decline in the value of the rand an additional appropriation of R4,1 million is required for the hire of overseas telecommunications circuits, R43,392 million for payments to other countries for telecommunications and postal traffic and R4 million towards the development of communications satellite systems. Total expenditure is estimated at R261,100 million, R51,492 million more than the original appropriation of R209,608 million. Savings of R32,911 million on other subheads are being used to partly defray the additional expenditure leaving an amount of R18,581 million which must now be appropriated.
An additional amount of R124,265 million is being requested for the cost of loans and interest payments of which nearly R106 million is required for higher interest payments on foreign loans arising from the lower rand/dollar exchange rate, the general high level of interest rates and the standstill applying to the redemption of foreign loans. The balance of about R18 million is required for interest payments to the public resulting from a higher than estimated inflow of funds to the Post Office Savings Bank.
*An additional amount of R113,610 million is required for telecommunications expenditure. The increased expenditure results mainly from cost escalation on account of the less favourable exchange rate and higher GST. The rate of increase in the cost of telecommunications equipment is already 21% per annum and will increase further as the effect of the depreciation of the rand filters through.
It is necessary to increase the standard stock capital by R40 million from the present level of R189 million to R229 million to defray the ever-increasing prices resulting from cost escalation, and higher stock levels of catalogue items used for the maintenance and extension of the telecommunication system.
Finally, an amount of R950 000 must be appropriated for the Post Office’s contribution to Saswitch. This is a new item. Saswitch is a non-profit undertaking established by a group of banks and building societies with the aim, inter alia, of sharing automatic teller machines. The amount requested represents the Post Office’s share of the development costs to date. Further contributions will be made during the next few years to develop the system fully. Membership of Saswitch is particularly beneficial to the Post Office as Telebank facilities can be extended more rapidly in this manner.
No problems are foreseen in financing the additional appropriations requested despite the fact that revenue is expected to be some-what lower than the amount originally estimated. The higher than expected inflow of savings bank funds to which I have already referred will be sufficient to cover it without having to make special arrangements.
Finally, Mr Chairman, I should be glad if you would allow me to make an announcement concerning the salary of the Post Office staff. I am pleased to announce that the Government has approved a salary increase with effect from 1 April 1986 that would bring about an upward adjustment of approximately 10% in the salaries of individual Post Office officials. The adjustments also involve the consolidation of the existing allowances into basic salary. In addition, service bonuses which were reduced by one third during the current financial year will again be paid in full with effect from 1 April 1986.
I should like to express my appreciation the staff associations of the Post Office for their positive approach and the restraint displayed by them in the course of the negotiations for a possible wage increase. The Government must of necessity weigh salary relief against the financial means of the country, and the understanding and loyalty of the staff is indeed gratifying, particularly if regard is had to the fact that such relief has been outstanding for more than two years.
Second Reading resumed
Mr Speaker, the last time Parliament discussed an additional appropriation for the Post Office was in 1984. At that stage the Minister asked for an increase of 5,9%. In 1983 we also had a debate on an additional appropriation for the Post Office in this House and the Minister concerned then asked for an increase of 10%. This year the hon the Minister is asking for an amount of R297,406 million which represents an increase of 6,8%. Last year we had no additional appropriation for the Post Office.
The hon the Minister’s argument before this House was based on two main reasons. The first was to defray the higher expenditure arising from the decline in the value of the rand against other currencies. The second reason was the general cost increases. I think that is correct. I note with interest that the Postmaster General, in the report that was tabled a couple of weeks ago, when referring to the fact that operating expenditure had increased by 29,1%, said that this increase—
I assume that phrase rings somewhat familiar to hon members and to the hon the Minister. His argument now seems to become a little endemic. Why does the budget itself not make provision for the very factors to which the hon the Minister and the Postmaster General have referred?
I can readily concede that the value of the rand against other currencies is a telling factor and it is a reason why so many companies and so many individuals as well as public corporations have experienced great difficulty, financially speaking, in surviving this operations and have found themselves in dire straits.
What I cannot understand, however, is that this hon Minister is a member of the Cabinet with weekly liaison with his hon colleagues in the Cabinet, including the hon the Minister of Finance. Surely the Cabinet has a little more information than the average person or average businessman and is more alive to the fluctuations of the rand against the other currencies.
Surely there is some measure of control through the Reserve Bank as to the value of the rand against other currencies, particularly against the dollar. If this is the case, why is this hon Minister not better informed to be able to anticipate a little bit better and more accurately the value of the rand against other currencies?
Another factor I would like to raise is the protection afforded to many importers such as the Post Office. The Post Office is a large business undertaking and has to import a lot of capital goods and capital requirements from overseas. These firms cushion the effect of the exchange by taking forward cover. This has enabled them to ride the differences. It is true that on the standing committee—hon members and the chairman who is looking at me at the moment will remember this—we did have discussions on the advisability or otherwise of the Post Office taking forward cover.
At that stage we were advised that owing to the exigencies of the economic circumstances at that particular time it was not opportune to take forward cover, and I accept that. However, if the hon the Minister was doing his job, with his intimate knowledge of the situation from his colleagues in being able to anticipate the devaluation of the rand or otherwise, surely then the hon the Minister would be better equipped to advise the Postmaster General and his department on taking forward cover in order to cushion the effect of the devaluation or the lower valuation of the rand against the other currencies.
We must accept that what happened is a fact, but we do not accept the reasons why this happened because it would seem rather apparent to all that the drop in the value of the rand and the squeeze of the economy in the country was due to the speech made by the State President on 15 August in Durban. Had the State President gone ahead with the speech that he intended to make, had he even at that stage gone ahead and mentioned what he mentioned in subsequent statements, and indeed what he mentioned to this House on 31 January, then South Africa would not have faced the economic disaster that the country has faced ever since.
Let me turn to the schedule before us to which in terms of clause 2 we are obliged to relate ourselves.
Item 1.11 is the cost of loans and interest payments. Here the hon the Minister is asking us to approve an additional expenditure of R124 265 000. That is the amount he requires. One immediately thinks of the Leutwiler agreement which has just been reached and how it affects the country and, indeed, this very additional Post Office appropriation.
I think it is common cause that this is a very temporary arrangement that has been made with regard to the R14 billion which South Africa has to pay overseas. I think it is also common cause that an agreement has been reached with 30 banks which are the larger creditors, but that an arrangement must still be made with some 300 other banks with regard to the balance. Whilst we are grateful to Mr Leutwiler and the official, Dr Stals, accompanying him, for giving us this small moratorium and this little breather, it is nevertheless a very temporary arrangement. It is an arrangement that has to be looked at, as I see it, every year, because we have to take into consideration whether we are going to have to pay higher interest rates because of the settlement that has been reached.
I want to know directly from the hon the Minister who is asking us to approve of this additional appropriation for the Post Office whether in fact any of the loans which we have to repay—and which he is asking us to provide additional funds for—have been stayed by the moratorium due to the Leutwiler agreement or whether the 5% that South Africa has to pay must be paid on the loans that we have to repay in addition to the Post Office loans. When is that amount due and how will this affect the actual additional appropriation that we are dealing with now? The situation might change because of what we arranged earlier, but if it does not affect the additional appropriation, then certainly we will know whether the main budget will be affected by this moratorium and this change in finances when the hon the Minister eventually presents it.
We also have a situation with regard to the rand value which is changing almost from day to day, and which is now approaching the 50c mark—it is hovering as we all know around the 49c mark. This is certainly an increase in the value of the rand against the dollar since the time this additional appropriation was discussed, and in view of this very recent increase over the past couple of weeks, I should like to ask the hon the Minister how this affects the figures he has presented to us in this additional appropriation.
I want now to turn to the subheads in the estimates and deal firstly with the operating expenditure. In regard to the R18,5 million required for international commitments the hon the Minsiter advises that this is in terms of agreements made in foreign currency at ruling exchange rates. Is it not possible in future agreements with the people overseas with whom we negotiate to fix a rate so that we are not subject to the vicissitudes of the exchange rate?
My second question relates to the R43,3 million required for payment to other countries for telecom and postal traffic. This appears to be a little high in relation to the budget we have before us, and I should like the hon the Minister please to justify to this House in a little more detail the necessity for this additional payment.
I want to turn now to the R4 million which goes towards the development of communication satellite systems. Is this simply an amount payable in terms of an existing agreement or is there an increase in the existing agreement? Talking about satellites, I take it that we have settled for once and for all the question regarding acquiring a satellite of our own and that subsequent to the investigations of the Post Office subcommittee responsible we are no longer interested in such a satellite.
Let us turn to the item under Total Expenditure on this schedule. Total expenditure is R51,4 million more, which, according to my calculation, amounts to an increase of 24,5%. The hon the Minister referred in his speech to a saving of R32,29 million. Is this amount arrived at by deducting the excess expenditure of R28,8 million from the saving of R61,7 million? This gives us the difference of R32,9 million to which the hon the Minister referred. I would like to ask the hon the Minister to give details concerning the saving of R61,758 million. If my information is correct R30 million has been saved with regard to the acquisition of land and buildings. This money has not been spent in the current financial year. The saving further includes a depreciation of R19 million and a replacement cost of R10 million which altogether make up this total.
The next question which concerns us is the question of land and building projects which are not being proceeded with. How will it affect the overall estimated costs should we go ahead with these projects which we are bound to do at a later stage? Will we not have to pay more for them by postponing them? Alternatively, have we discarded them completely and shelved them indefinitely? I do not know what the projects are. Perhaps the hon the Minister can enlighten us. The net figure requested here is R18,5 million.
Whilst one appreciates a saving of the kind to which I have referred, an explanation is required as to whether we will not have to pay more in the long run in order to proceed with that which was initially intended. This is why I relate to the Leutwiler agreement and ask whether there is a direct connection which I assume there may well be. I would like to ask whether we did not have a moratorium on the total loan and whether in fact we are not obliged to pay the 5%. Furthermore, why should this loan not be subject to the agreement? If it is, how will this affect the additional appropriation? Do we actually require the money now?
The hon the Minister referred to the generally high level of interest rates. Does this mean that interest rates have increased over and above what was originally contracted for the loan? I can well understand and accept that R18 million is required for interest payments to the public because they have invested more money in the Post Office Savings Bank. This is indeed welcome when one considers the economic climate, the lack of cash and the fact that so many people are unemployed. It is indeed welcome that people deem it fit to invest their money with the Post Office. This certainly illustrates the confidence which the public have in the Post Office Savings Bank and in the tax-free returns they receive.
I would like to turn my attention now to capital expenditure and the item of R113,6 million. This again has been affected by the less favourable exchange rate and the higher GST. Dealing quickly with GST, it would appear that we were caught unawares. The GST increased from 10% to 12% during that financial year. I can accept that. However, did the hon the Minister have no indication whatsoever that the Cabinet intended to raise the GST from 10% to 12%? Could he not have taken precautions in order to ensure some sort of cushion effect in the form of a fund to provide the required amount? Is the hon the Minister saying that the R113,6 million is an increase over and above the original amount that he is going to spend or is this new expenditure at the higher rate? Perhaps an explanation in this regard would be in order.
We cannot blame the hon the Minister that the cost of telecom equipment increases at a rate of 21% annually. It will increase further, and this is due obviously to the exigencies of world currencies and higher prices. It also depends on fluctuations.
Let me now turn to the expenditure of R40 million required in order to increase the standard stock capital to R229 million. Of course the Post Office requires catalogue items to maintain and extend the telecom system. This I understand. However, what I do not understand is why it is necessary to have this as an additional appropriation item when it could have been included in the Budget. Surely there has been an increase in revenue as a result of the installation of the telephones and the extensions. The hon the Minister was kind enough to send us an invitation to celebrate the installation of the 4 millionth telephone. We have 4 million telephones, and according to the Postmaster General’s recent report 242 083 more telephones were installed during the year. Should the additional revenue that came in from installing those telephones not have cushioned the effect of this increase the hon the Minister is asking us to agree to as additional expenditure? There is the potential for even more revenue because there is a waiting list of 223 236 people who have applied for telephones. Of course that revenue will be available at a later stage only.
I have no objection to the expenditure of R950 000 which represents the contribution of the Post Office to Saswitch. We all note with satisfaction that the Post Office will link up with the banks and the building societies in the sharing of automatic teller machines. This is an essential service that the public appreciates and we can only encourage the hon the Minister in so far as this arrangement is concerned.
I should like to give attention to the financing of the Post Office. The hon the Minister said in his second reading speech that he expected revenue to be somewhat lower than the amount originally estimated. I am not sure that this statement is acceptable in view of the figures I have just given for the installation of telephones, the extensions provided and the list of people waiting to have telephones installed. Surely this additional revenue can be anticipated. On what grounds does the hon the Minister contend that revenue will be lower than originally estimated? I should be glad to hear from the hon the Minister why he thinks revenue will drop. Every year so far when we have dealt with the budget we have found that the revenue has exceeded the amount originally estimated. Year after year the revenue has been underestimated in the budget, and we have received more than expected. In the same way expenditure has always been overestimated so that in the end we always had a lower expenditure.
The hon the Minister referred to the 10% increase in the salaries of Post Office employees. While I appreciate that this increase is not included in the Additional Appropriation, the hon the Minister did refer to it. Since Post Office employees have not received any increase for a period of two years, there is no doubt that they will appreciate the 10% increase. I think it is well deserved. However, I do believe I should make the point here in the House that they have to cope despite the high cost of living and the high rate of inflation which is now running at 20,4% because of the inability of the Government to frame a proper economic policy. It is as a result of the Governments’ own actions that we have to contend with the inevitable consequences of its failure to provide a proper policy. Unless the Government does something about the rate of inflation which is still escalating year after year, we will sink into the greatest difficulties that this country has ever had experienced. Unless the Government tackles this problem of inflation, we are going to be in dire financial straits. I urge the Government to pay full attention to inflation. Although there has been a recent increase in railway tariffs, I would urge the hon the Minister seriously to consider not introducing any tariff increases when he announces the Budget on 3 March. Such tariff increases will exacerbate the problem.
The increase of 10% in salaries is applicable throughout the Public Service and therefore I do not think I shall take that matter any further.
In order to round off this discussion I want to refer to the speech made by the hon member for Umlazi when we dealt with the Additional Appropriation in 1984. I refer to col 1531 where he said that the question of supporting or otherwise the Additional Appropriation depended on three factors, namely whether the additional amount being requested was within reasonable bounds; whether the additional expenditure could have been foreseen and therefore could have been avoided; and thirdly, as a general criterion, whether this additional expenditure was in the interests of the Post Office administration as a whole, and whether or not it was to the advantage of the Post Office. I would like to add a rider to the third factor he mentioned and ask whether or not this Additional Appropriation is to the advantage of the public of South Africa. Whether or not it is to the advantage of the public, they still have to pay for it.
I want to throw this challenge right back into the face of the hon member for Umlazi and, if I may, into the face of the hon the Minister of Communications. I challenge them now to satisfy us in this House that the answers given to these three questions posed by the hon member for Umlazi, the chairman of the standing committee, will make us support the additional expenditure he has asked us to agree to today. Depending on these replies, the PFP will decide whether or not we are going to support them.
Finaly, let me take the opportunity to express our thanks to Mr Ridgard, the Postmaster-General, and to his directors and staff, and wish them well in the task that lays ahead. I particularly would like, on behalf of my colleagues and myself, to thank the hon the Minister and the Postmaster-General for arranging the extremely interesting and informative tour during November last year, when we visited Hartebeeshoek and the various factories and organisations so closely related to the Post Office and to the intricate work of the Post Office. We were well informed about and, in fact, delighted and amazed at the work that is being performed.
I would be failing in my duty if I did not refer to the unfortunate incident that took place at Meyerspark when the post office was bombed last night and express our regrets and say that we unequivocally condemn all forms of violence. Violence is not going to get us anywhere with regard to the problems that are facing South Africa.
I have not ranged too wide in my discussion here today and have tried to confine myself to the provisions of the Bill and the Schedule that is before us. No doubt, when the main Post Office Budget is discussed on 5 March, we will have a full opportunity to deal with all of its aspects.
Mr Chairman, the hon member for Hillbrow referred to my speech two years ago when I laid down three criteria for a Part Appropriation. He repeated the three criteria. I believe that in the course of my speech I shall demonstrate that this Additional Appropriation complies with all three criteria.
I do not know whether the hon member meant it that way, but if I am correct in my judgement of the speech he has just made, the whole speech is a compliment to the hon the Minister and his administration, because he did not mention one example of misappropriation, injudicious spending or unrecovered revenue. No, in his whole speech the hon member merely indicated that the hon the Minister should have known better. That is the only real criticism he made. Before I begin with my actual contribution, I want to refer briefly to a few of the matters he broached.
The hon member says, because of his close liaison with the hon the Minister of Finance, the hon the Minister should have been better informed and should have had confidential information concerning the rand’s exchange rate. If we think back to a year ago, we shall remember that the rand was still worth 80 or 90 American cents. I do not think there is anyone in this House—indeed, there is probably no one in our country—who could have foreseen that the exchange rate value of the rand would drop to almost a third of that figure before beginning to rise again.
In addition the hon member made the incredible statement that the low value of the rand was the result of the speech made by the State President in Durban in August. That is far from the truth. The speech in Durban did, to be sure, have a certain effect on the exchange rate—before the speech the value of the rand was 45 American cents and the day afterwards it had dropped to 37 cents. But that is only a small part of the decline which has taken place during the past year. That speech did have other repercussions in connection with our foreign debt burden and the freezing of our debt obligations. To blame the full decline in the exchange rate of the rand on a single speech, however, is simply not consistent with the truth. The hon member then asked whether it was not possible to pin down a fixed exchange rate in the contracts for preparation? I do not know whether the hon member can give me any example of the concluding of such a contract in the past. I do not know of one, in any case. [Interjections.]
Sir, the hon member emerges with the strangest recipes for solutions to these problems. He suggests, for example, that the hon the Minister of Communications should have foreseen the increase in GST. The hon the Minister submitted his budget before the main Budget was submitted, however. In addition, does the hon member really think that the hon the Minister of Communications, even if he was aware of an impending increase in GST, would have let out the whole secret here during a preliminary budget?
In addition the hon member levelled criticism concerning the R950 000 which is being earmarked for Saswitch in this Additional Post Office Appropriation Bill. The hon member knows it is not really expenditure, but actually an interest-free loan since it is an amount which will be repaid. Least of all can the hon member level criticism in this respect.
I think, however, the most important deduction one can make from the speech of the hon member for Hillbrow, is that he makes the basic mistake of regarding an appropriation as a blueprint for a year’s planning. Surely no appropriation can be anything more than a mere forecast! Certain amounts can be forecast reasonably accurately in an appropriation and I should like to refer to one of these amounts. The hon member for Hillbrow did not even refer to it. I am referring to the fact that the Post Office’s real income for the past year has coincided almost exactly with the projected income. Indeed, there was a difference of less than 1%.
There are always unpredictable factors, however, that one has to take into account in drawing up an appropriation. These are unpredictable factors that can influence one’s income, and especially one’s expenditure, to such an extent that one may have no control over the real expenses during the year. I therefore want to make the statement that this Additional Appropriation is a reflection of unpredictable factors which had an influence on the Post Office, rather than any proof of inefficient action. In fact, I think it is an achievement for the Post Office that the whole extent of this Additional Appropriation is only 6,8% of the Main Appropriation Bill of the Post Office. If one takes into account the number of unpredictable factors during the past year that have had an effect on the Post Office’s income and expenditure, it is an exceptional achievement that the difference is only 6,8%.
I now want to refer to only five of these unpredictable factors which have exerted an influence on the Post Office during the past year. The hon member for Hillbrow has already referred to the exchange rate. I said that when we considered the Main Appropriation Bill of the Post Office last year, the value of the rand was still more than $0,80. If one takes into account the immense decline that has taken place during the past year, as well as the turning point which took place at the end of last year, one must concede that a drop of such a nature in the exchange rate must have an immensely dramatic effect on the organisation of a body such as the Post Office. The Post Office imports a large volume of components for central and other equipment, but exports little. A drop in the exchange rate such as we have experienced therefore not only affects the capital programme, but also the cost of servicing of foreign loans. This we see in item 1.5 and item 1.11 in the Estimate of Additional Expenditure for the year which ends on 31 March 1986. There was also a second unpredictable factor, viz the distribution and intensity of the unrest situation in the Black towns. It is true that unrest was already evident in the Black residential areas in February last year, but one could not have foreseen that that condition would deteriorate to such an extent that by July a state of emergency had to be declared in 36 magisterial districts. More and more post office activities affect the Black population directly, because the number of telephone and postal service users among the Black community is growing dramatically. The hon member for Hillbrow referred to the fact that the hon the Minister of Communications had handed the four millionth telephone to an Indian subscriber in Chatsworth, Natal on Thursday. This illustrates the fact that the activities of the Post Office are increasing to a great extent among the Black population. The unrest situation, of which the extent could not have been foreseen, caused delays, not to mention the direct damage to Post Office property, as we saw at Mobeni and in Pretoria recently. The post office revenue, particularly that from telephone calls, was influenced further by sabotage to lines and telegraph poles.
A third unpredictable factor was the continuing condition of recession in the country. A year ago nearly all economists agreed that an upswing would begin by the second half of 1985. Drought, the foreign debt crisis and other causes delayed the upswing by at least six months. Only now are we beginning to see the first signs of it. In part that explains item 3.3 of this Appropriation, viz the increase in Standard Stock Capital. In times of recession, a body such as the Post Office experiences that factories that supply products to it work under capacity and therefore deliver their orders earlier. Delivery of stock which was expected only next year, has been taken by the Post Office now, resulting in an increase in the stock, and therefore a necessary increase in the stock capital. Perhaps it is important for us to note that the upswing—it was expected at the time of the previous Appropriation, but only began to materialise six months later—must inevitably have a great effect on the correctness of the Post Office’s projected expenditure.
A fourth unpredictable factor on which the hon member for Hillbrow will have to agree with me, is the fact that foreign price increases totalled no less than an average of 21%. As a result of this, according to item 2.1 of the Appropriation, an additional amount of R113 610 000 had to be spent in respect of telecommunication equipment. The hon the Minister referred to this in his introductory speech as well.
In the last instance there is still the question of the increased general sales tax which stood at 10% at the time of the previous Appropriation. Naturally it was used in the drawing up of new estimates, which entailed an additional 2% in expenditure for the Post Office in the tax year in question.
If we look at all these unpredictable items, we are fortunate that there is so little deviation from last year’s Post Office Appropriation.
Before I conclude, I just want to refer to one important unpredictable factor which was to the advantage of the Post Office to a great extent, the effect of which was also felt in this Appropriation. I am referring to the recovery of the public’s savings pattern. As against an estimated saving of only R100 million, the real income was almost six times as much. Part of the interest payments under item 1.11—that is R18 million—is therefore for the increased interest payments to our domestic savers. That is an expense which the Post Office incurs with great pleasure.
It is not the first time the Post Office Savings Bank has come to the salvation of the Post Office, but in view of the fact that the Post Office Savings Bank is the Post Office’s largest internal source of loan capital, and that the exchange rate has played no role here, the salvation could probably not have come at a better time than it did this time.
We read of a country-wide return of a sense of saving in the public. That is to be welcomed. The Post Office Savings Bank has often been called the poor man’s bank, but I think we can do more to get a larger part of the public’s savings so that the Post Office Savings Bank will in time not only be the poor man’s bank, but also the bank of the family man and the wealthy man.
In this connection it is gladdening to note that the Post Office Savings Bank has begun to attract the larger investor too. The high interest-free interest rate offered by the Post Office, as well the immediate withdrawal facilities—unlike other investment spheres—is a particularly attractive situation for the larger investor.
I therefore think the Post Office can endeavour also to become the wealthy man’s bank in time. I think it has the ability to do so, because its tax-free return gives good value for money to the higher income group in particular. This applies especially at a time when other tax-free savings opportunities are diminishing.
At the moment the Post Office attracts only 3% to 5% of the population’s savings. I think we can increase this, but then we shall have to realise that banking has undergone revolutionary changes in the past few years. The Post Office may not lag behind as far as modem services, the availability of preferential facilities and tariffs for its best clients and the marketing of its savings facilities are concerned.
In that connection I want to praise the Post Office for the extremely great progress which has been made in this sphere this year. The inclusion of the Telebank service in the Multinet system is an example of this. The amount of R950 000 in the Additional Post Office Appropriation is the Post Office’s contribution to get this integrated Multinet system going. It is a great step forward.
Other noteable achievements have been accomplished as well. It is particularly gratifying that postmasters have been trained to act as internal consultants of the Post Office Savings Bank and that a system of management by objectives is being applied for the envisaged collection of investment amounts at individual post offices. It is true that the public has reason to trust a well-trained and knowledgeable postmaster more than any other investment consultant, because the public knows this man can give objective counsel and is not dependent on any commission in respect of an investment he does not get.
By expanding the Post Office Savings Bank, we can strive towards two extremely important ideals. We can impress upon our people the value of saving and we can restrict to the minimum the Post Office’s need for foreign capital and therefore its resulting vulnerability to foreign extortion.
It is a privilege for those of us on this side of the House to support this additional appropriation, since it is an appropriation in which no one can point a finger at any misappropriation, injudicious expenditure or unrecovered revenue. We should therefore like to support this Additional Post Office Appropriation Bill.
Mr Chairman, grant me, to begin with, the opportunity to congratulate the new Postmaster-General on his appointment. It is the first time he is attending a parliamentary session in his new capacity. We hope and trust that he will have a fruitful period and service and that things will go very well for him. We also trust that this department will go from strength to strength under his leadership. That is something that is very necessary.
The extra R297,46 million which is being applied for, is a considerable sum of money. It indicates a very unfortunate state of affairs. The calf has fallen down the well. Perhaps matters are even worse. Perhaps the calf has drowned already. I shall return to this later, Sir.
Lapa pushed it into the well!
From the hon the Minister’s Second Reading speech we can make no other deduction—indeed he says so himself—than that the main reason for the Post Office’s predicament is the poor relationship between the rand and the American dollar. We know that in fact that is the case. It is clear, therefore, that the hon the Minister had no other choice, and that in addition he is the victim of circumstances created by the Government’s policy. He personally is not solely responsible for the poor state of affairs; on the contrary, I believe he would like things to be different—good man that he is. [Interjections.] This whole condition was caused on the one hand by the Government’s handling of the country’s finances, and on the other, because of the Government’s inability to maintain justice and order and stability in South Africa. The hon member for Umlazi also referred to the unrest in the country. The unrest caused South Africa a great deal of damage abroad. I believe besides that if different action had been taken as far as the unrest is concerned, we would have suffered far less damage and the relationship between the rand and the dollar might have been much better. [Interjections.]
Foreign confidence is reflected directly in the exchange rate, as well as in investments by foreign bodies in the country. Almost every item that is requested is ascribed to the unfavourable exchange rate between the rand and the dollar. Now I want to know from the hon the Minister whether he has obtained insurance against a possible devaluation of the rand—if any such insurance is obtainable; I am not sure.
According to the hon the Minister, general sales tax is also a factor that has contributed to the amount of R113 601 million which is being applied for. In this connection I should also like to know from the hon the Minister whether it is correct that this department has to pay GST to the Central Government. If that is the case, it points to a completely absurd state of affairs. It is something which should not happen. It is merely another way of getting money out of the public and in that way milking them even further. I should therefore like to know from the hon the Minister whether it is not possible for him to draw the matter to the attention of the hon the Minister of Finance in order perhaps to make it possible for this department not to pay GST.
As a result of all these factors, every additional increase in next week’s budget will definitely be extremely unpopular. I therefore truly hope the hon the Minister will be able to submit a good budget to us.
We can only speak of the Post Office Savings Bank with praise. The Post Office Savings Bank has done a great deal, after all, and without that the requested amount would have been even higher. That is why I should like to appeal to all people who have money to save, to deposit their money in the Post Office Savings Bank if possible. It can also help them as far as their income tax is concerned.
In his Second Reading speech the hon the Minister made an announcement in connection with the increase of 10% which officials of the department are going to receive. The hon member for Hillbrow referred to it as well. On this early occasion I therefore want to address an earnest request to the hon the Minister please to refer this matter back to the Cabinet. I do not believe it is only up to him to consider this or decide on it. One comes to this conclusion because, according to Press reports, the hon the Minister of Transport Affairs told the artisan staff the Cabinet had made this decision as far as they were concerned. Naturally this also applies to the staff of this department.
The latest official inflation figure is 20,75%, and if everything continues at this speed, an inflation rate of 25% or even higher is imminent. We hope that will not be the case. Nor is it our wish. We rather want a lower inflation rate because our people are already suffering a great deal as a result of this. Anything we can do to force the inflation rate down will simply amount to a service to this country. Once the officialdom has paid income tax on the 10% increase, the increase is simply no longer 10%, depending on the salary that is earned. These officials render wonderful service to South Africa. The hon member for Umlazi has just referred to the fact that the public is also assisted in this savings section. That is something exceptional. It increases the status of the officials of this department, and it is a good thing.
I trust the hon the Minister, when he submits the main appropriation, will disclose the good news that the increase of 10% is being raised considerably.
Mr Chairman, it is worth noting that the hon member for Nigel has again made it clear to us that he does not have much of an understanding of the Additional Appropriation. As far as I am concerned, the Additional Appropriation has nothing to do with law and order. One cannot understand why the hon member wishes to imply that law and order was not maintained and that this gave rise to the need for the Additional Appropriation. The Additional Appropriation merely relates to increases in costs subsequent to the Budget passed by us last year.
I now want to come to the hon member for Hillbrow, but before I do so, I do just want to tell the hon member for Nigel, on the strength of his remark that the hon the Minister should have taken out insurance, and then in the same breath to saying that he does not know whether there is any such insurance, that I do not know why he said something like that to the hon the Minister. [Interjections.] If there is no such insurance, how must the hon the Minister say there is such insurance.
I wanted him to investigate the matter.
Why did the hon member not investigate the matter himself and then come to light with a proposal about how this could be done?
That is typical of the opposition in this country. They simply want to sow suspicion all the time. I shall be coming to that in a short while, but before doing so I want to refer to the hon member for Hillbrow. He says the hon the Minister should have entered into a fixed contract with the postal administrations abroad. It should have been a fixed contract in the sense that the tariffs could not be increased. I think that postal administrations abroad work on the same lines as our administration in the sense that each of them must go to its own parliament to request tariff increases. One can therefore not enter into such fixed contracts with other postal administrations because that is subject to approval by their parliaments. I think that is a fact we should take into account.
The hon member complained about the estimates not having been down all that well. The member for Umlazi has already pointed out…
Order! The hon member must refer to members as “hon members”.
Sir, my apologies.
The hon member said that our estimates had been too far off the budgetary mark. The deviation was 0,8% on an amount of R4,5 billion! I think it an exceptional achievement to have been able to make such a close approximation.
It is not all that well understood.
The hon member says it is not all that well understood; we shall therefore, at a later stage, have to explain to him how it works. In the meantime I think he should go and check the figures. The hon member for Umlazi also had something to say about that, and I think the hon member for Hillbrow should also go and have another look at that.
He said that before they would approve this Additional Appropriation they wanted certain concessions and also certain undertakings from the hon the Minister. That is the difference between this party and the opposition in Parliament. When we on this side consider a matter here, we always first equate this with the overall South African situation. Our first consideration is whether it benefits South Africa. If that is the case, we accept it as such and implement our decisions.
In the case of the opposition we find—judging by the CP’s reaction a short while ago and by the PFP’s reactions shortly before that—that they first look to the interests of their party or those of some or other group of people. That is the first thing they do before considering the matter which has been tabled and simply deciding the issue on merit.
We look to the interests of the people, those who have to pay those tariffs.
The additional amounts being budgeted for are presented to the voters as being catastrophic. The hon member for Hillbrow says we must go and tell the voters what is happening. If one presents these figures to the voters as being catastrophic, one is surely engaged in nothing but gossip-mongering. This serves to cast suspicion on every budget submitted here and to present the Government as being an incompetent government. If that is happening now, those parties are simply at it again, as they always are, casting suspicion on the Government. What I am saying is that it is not a good thing for South Africa’s image to have the opposition doing this. That is why we are asking hon members of the opposition, and in particular the hon member for Germiston District who can only sit there waving her little hand, to take note of the fact that each time the opposition tries to discredit the Government, they are detracting from this country’s image.
The budget deals with money that has to be spent. In my view those hon members did not look at these amounts at all. Let me now tell the hon member for Germiston District: Let us now look at these amounts. If we look at the facts, we firstly find that an amount of R18,5 million is being requested, an amount which, as other hon members have indicated, is payable to the postal administrations of other countries. This is an obligation we cannot escape from. We simply have to pay that money. Do hon members of the opposition want to say that we should not pay this money? Must we also be labelled a Third World state which does not pay its debt? Does the hon member for Nigel agree that this amount should be paid?
What are you talking about?
He does not even know what amount. Why is the opposition then opposing the payment of this amount which is listed in the Appropriation and which now has to be approved? Hon members of the opposition should rather focus their endeavours on building up this image of South Africa as a nation that pays its debts. Hon members in this Parliament, in particular, should build up that image. With them it should specifically be a matter of pride to be a parliamentary opposition which is as intent on having this country’s image remain main untarnished. They must not side with the extra-parliamentary opposition. They must not supply those people with the venom with which to harm this country. The outside world must be able to see that our parliamentary opposition is also proud of this country’s image.
Apart from the aforementioned amount of R18,5 million, an amount of R4 million is also needed for the renting of overseas communications channels. The hon member for Hillbrow must listen attentively to this, because I think his new leader would like to make use of these channels. He is, after all, known for that. So that debt has to be paid. Those are systems that we use and have to pay for.
According to the hon the Minister’s speech, a further amount of R4 million is needed for the use of the satellite systems. South Africa is involved in the most up-to-date communications technology. Does the hon member for Hillbrow not want us to pay that amount? If it is his standpoint that it is catastrophic to have this Appropriation, let me point out to him that the Appropriation embodies additional amounts that have to be budgeted for our contribution to the costs of the satellite systems. Our being able to use those systems is to our country’s benefit, because we live in a remote corner of the world. That is why we have to be able to share in those satellite systems.
If the CP and the HNP were to come into power, in my opinion we would not, in any event, be able to make use of those satellite systems, because we would be completely excluded. The Western world would not allow us to make use of those systems. They would exert increasing pressure on us specifically if those two parties were to come into power. [Interjections.] That is why it is important for us to share actively in these systems. [Interjections.] We can expect that kind of reaction from the CP, because they would never be concerned about anything like that. There in their “Boerevolkstaat” they would probably go on communicating by way of rumours. [Interjections.]
This Appropriation also includes R43,3 million as a payment to other countries for the telecommunications and postal services they render to our country. To hon members on that side of the House want to say that we should not pay this amount for services rendered? It would have a very adverse effect on our country’s image if we did not pay for such services, because those countries pay for the services we furnish to them.
Opposition members argue that the amount is what it is because of the poor rand. They are wanting to tell us that their policy would probably strengthen the rand. I do not know of any economist in this country who would be prepared to endorse their statements to that effect. So neither the HNP, the CP or the PFP can say that its policy would strengthen the rand. That economic sanctions against the country would increase if CP or HNP policy applied, is definitely true, that is why I just want to say once again that it would not be in South Africa’s interests if those two parties were governing our country; nor would it be in the interests of the Post Office. [Interjections.]
In spite of the poor economy—as other hon members have said, and I think the hon member for Nigel too—members of the South African public have specifically been investing in the Post Office because they get very good service there. The Post Office offers one of the best investment schemes in the country. Without much trouble one can withdraw one’s money very quickly, and one can invest relatively large amounts at fairly reasonable interest rates.
So in my view we were somewhat pessimistic in our acceptance of the budget at the time, thinking as we did that people would not be able to invest all that much. It is therefore also important for us to show the patriotic South African investors that we shall pay them the interest on the money they invest with us. All this budget is requesting is an additional amount for the payment of that interest.
I now want to ask hon members of the right-wing opposition if, by virtue of their opposition to this additional appropriation, they want to tell us they are not prepared to pay the South African investors’ money back to them. That is what is involved in this Appropriation, and it is with regret that one notes the CP’s opposition to this.
The higher capital expenditure, which can be ascribed to the changes in the exchange rate and other price increases, is accepted by every other company in South Africa. There are many hon members in those benches serving on the boards of companies in this country. I now want to ask them whether they have ever, on those boards, objected to the payment of such amounts. When they take their seats in Parliament to approve the budgets, however, they object. I really do think they should be consistent. [Interjections.]
The hon member for Umlazi has referred to the fact—and I want to agree with him—that the R1 million that Saswitch needs is probably the single million-rand sum that has been spent to the best advantage in the past year, because it has enabled the Post Office to participate in the teller services on a nation-wide basis. It has enabled the Post Office—without having to invest extra capital to procure tellermachines—to participate on a broader basis in the teller-machine service furnished to the South African public, and what is more this has meant revenue for the Post Office. So if we do not loan that amount to this organisation, surely it will be to the detriment of the Post Office.
That is why I want to tell hon members of the CP that one finds it regrettable that they object to these amounts being granted. To me it seems as if they have definitely not studied the budget. What is more, these teller bank facilities expedite the expansion of the Post Office, and surely we do want the Post Office to develop so as to reach all population groups in this country.
According to the hon the Minister the stock levels of the catalogue items had to be increased. When overseas prices increase, which is surely something that inevitably takes place in the course of the year, for example in the form of increases in transport and labour costs—the hon member for Hill-brow referred to that, saying he knew we imported large quantities of these components from abroad—the costs of the articles we import will, of necessity, increase. It is interesting to see, however, that these catalogue items we import are circulated twice a year. So they do not just lie there gathering dust; they are used. I want to congratulate members of the administration and tell them that it is far-sighted of them to obtain those items in advance if they see the exchange rate is weak, because otherwise we would have to pay more for them. That is the way a good official should operate. We therefore agree with the hon the Minister that the amount should be approved.
Lastly I want to tell the hon the Minister that it is a good thing that he was in a position to make provision for a salary adjustment of 10%. The officials of the Post Office are worth their salt, in my view, and for that reason we have pleasure in supporting this Appropriation.
Mr Chairman, I listened with great interest to what the hon member for Boksburg and other hon members had to say. I think there is one thing that we cannot escape here today, and that is the fact that we are looking at an increase of 6,8% on the original estimate for the Post Office budget for primarily one reason, namely the value of the rand against other currencies. In this Second Reading speech the hon the Minister makes mention of this fact no fewer than four times. He says it in his introduction; he says it when dealing with operating expenditure; he says it when he talks of costs of loans and of interest payments; and when he refers to the major amount of R113,61 million and mentions the less favourable exchange rate in so far as telecommunications capital expenditure is concerned and the cost escalation appertaining thereto.
I shall deal with telecommunications more fully a little later. However, I cannot help but think and ask the question, having listened to the debate going to and fro, whether we would be faced with this 6,8% if on 15 August last year we had not decided to go paddling in the Rubicon. [Interjections.] Somebody took his shoes off and decided to put his feet into the Rubicon and, as the saying goes, “schlepped” us all in with him and took us right up to our nostrils and left us there until 31 January at least.
Up the creek.
Yes, up the creek without a paddle and without a skiff to paddle in either. As a matter of fact, I wonder why he did not say: “Tea-break is over, get back on your heads.” Then the picture would have been complete.
Did you know that Caesar crossed it by a bridge?
Yes, we noticed Caesar on the bridge.
I submit quite sincerely that we would not have been faced with an increase of this magnitude were it not for that because I do not think that our rand would have suffered against the dollar and against other currencies as much as it has. I sincerely do not believe that and I do not think that is a fact that anybody can argue against. Having said that, we are, however, faced with the fact that this additional money is required.
We are faced with a second major point in the hon the Minister’s speech and that is the R1 million he is spending on Saswitch. I am happy to hear that everybody in this House agrees that money spent on Saswitch is money wisely invested. I think the future will prove the wisdom of this investment as more and more people become accustomed to banking by means of a computer, a friendly computer that does not just spit one’s card out but also returns a little cash when one presses the correct buttons.
The third major point in the hon the Minister’s speech is the increase in salaries. In all sincerity I want to say that I feel a sense of disappointment. I am sorry that the hon the Minister could not find at least 15% for the staff of the Post Office. I am sorry in these times that we live in that we could not do a little more. I am not asking for miracles; I am also not suggesting that there could have been miracles; I am certainly not suggesting the sort of thing that I believe the railway workers are looking for. However, I do sincerely believe it is a great disappointment. I am sure it must have been a disappointment to the hon the Minister too that he could not find that extra five per cent because I think that would have been well worth the finding. I believe the members of staff at the Post Office richly deserve at least that at this time.
Having said all that, let us turn our attention to the incident that occurred yesterday and that is the senseless destruction of a post office. Communications is the life-blood of any nation. To me it is a great sadness to live in a time when there is an element abroad in our society that seeks to destroy things that have such tremendous value in our everyday lives. I look with abhorrence on that sort of action. It will not solve any of our problems; it is not going to do anything for us. I therefore call on those people with all the sincerity I can muster to leave installations like that alone because these are installations, whatever society one wants for the future, that one will need more than anything else. In the present economic climate we must somehow maintain the systems and keep pace with developments in the electronic age in which we live. Twenty or thirty years ago one was quite a personality if one had such a thing as a telephone; one was definitely not part of the crowd. This was particularly true shortly after the Second World War. Today we take the telephone for granted. We expect it to be available in our homes, our offices and our factories and we expect it to be connected within a matter of hours when we move. None of us wants to see the old days again. None of us wants te see the days when people stood impatiently at counters begging for months on end for some means of communication, begging for telephone links in new suburbs and townships developing all around the country.
We want the best, but the question is: How do we get it? Obviously we can only get it by paying for it. So we get back to the old Catch 22 situation and the answer is easy—one simply raises tariffs until one can afford and maintain the best. However, I think there is more to it than that, and I should like to make an appeal to the hon the Minister and to the Postmaster General. I believe that the Post Office, the modem Post Office, is a different organisation from the one that the hon the Minister and I knew when we were kids—if I can use that expression. The Post Office has a status today that it has never had before.
The hon the Minister says long ago and I will agree with that. The Post Office has a status today which it has not enjoyed for many, many years. When one enters our new, modern, up-to-date and clean post offices today, one cannot compare them with the post offices of long ago.
What we need now is better productivity, not only in the Post Office but in all fields. We need more intensive training and, above all, better staff motivation. That is what we want. We want to see a better trained, better motivated and more productive staff at all levels.
Let us think of one little item, namely the queues in post offices. There we are behind the times. In banks or building societies one stands in a queue and awaits one’s turn to go to a counter, but we have not yet started to do this in the Post Office. I cannot understand why. In the major centres there is perhaps a reason because certain counters deal only with certain selected things—they only attend to telegrams, postage stamps, telephone accounts or whatever. However, there is no excuse for this in the smaller post offices or in the suburban post offices. I think this is something that we should start doing because there is nobody more frustrated than a person standing in a post office queue behind a little old lady—bless her heart—thinking that she is not going to take any time at all, and she then proceeds to buy one stamp at a time for each of 20 letters that she is posting off to different parts of the globe, and closes and opens her purse each time she buys one. That is her right, but I think this is something that should be looked at. [Interjections.]
This brings me to the business sector. Is the business sector contributing a fair proportion towards what it should be paying in respect of tariffs? I think this opens up a whole new field, because the business sector in the main uses the facilities provided by the Post Office and is able to claim this expenditure as a legitimate business expense, which the private sector cannot do. The business sector uses certain of the new electronic devices available at what I believe to be ridiculously cheap rates. I think this is something that we should do well to look at.
Finally, I think we should also move into more aggressive marketing. We have noticed of late that the Post Office has marketed itself. It is attempting to do so through the medium of television and Press advertising but we need a little more aggression, as they say in the advertising industry. A more effective marketing of available services is required. I do not claim to have the answers. I am trying to furnish a few ideas. I think that tariff increases will probably be inevitable. Equally inevitable will be our opposition to such increases. That is after all what it is all about.
I believe that we must apply ourselves to the creation of a think-tank of ideas. We must strive for the more effective and profitable use of the wonderful service that the Post Office provides. I repeat, communications and the maintenance thereof are the life-blood of the nation. We are privileged in South Africa to have a First World system of communications in a country which is to all intents and purposes a developing country within the African context. Let us reflect on that. We do take it for granted but it is quite incredible that we are able to dial virtually any point in our country here on the southernmost tip of Africa.
I should just like to tell the previous speaker that there are certain sentiments which he expressed which one can agree with. But there are other aspects of his argument in respect of which I will have to disagree with him.
I should like to start by associating myself with the welcome extended to the Postmaster General by previous speakers. We have got to know him well by now, and are convinced that he is going to make a very great success of this job. We extend a warm welcome to him.
It is probably not possible to prepare an appropriation in the form of a preprinted blueprint. I think that anyone who tries to do that, is going to get into trouble somewhere along the line. He is going to run into difficulties particularly in this fluctuating financial world in which we are living.
The preparing of an appropriation calls for more and greater knowledge and expertise than simply the ability to make an estimate of revenue and expenditure. This also applies to the amounts needed for unforeseen expenditure. But many other facets must be taken into account, particularly within the framework of the appropriation as a whole. Attention will have to be given to the actual revenue of the country, because this will give rise to many factors which can have a far-reaching effect on such an appropriation.
I want to give an example. At the moment the SATS is bowed down by the current negative growth rate of 0,5%. This happened for the simple reason that they budgeted for a positive growth rate of 1,5%. Their task was made more difficult by circumstances beyond their control, for example the expectations with regard to agriculture and mining, which were simply not realised. Expectations were not realised with regard to imports and exports either. That is why they are bowed down by this negative growth today.
The Department of Communications is providing a unique service in spite of the negative growth rate of 0,5%. The rate of growth is still reasonably sound, for example an increase of 22,67% in revenue; an increase of 1,9% in the number of staff; increases of 6,6% in respect of telephones and 8,3% in respect of people hiring telexes. The telegraph network shows a growth of 21,5%. The increase in respect of postal items is 4,7%. One can discern a good and sound growth rate in every facet of the Post Office.
The reason for this is that there is an increased demand for telecommunications and related services. Provision must be made for these essential services. But it must be borne in mind that this must be done in the face of rising costs and a less favourable rand exchange rate.
The total additional expenditure for which we are at present budgeting, with a few exceptions in respect of smaller amounts, can be ascribed to a cost escalation and a drop in the value of the rand compared with other currencies. The staff of the Post Office cannot be blamed for this. I think we all agree readily with that.
But it is a pity that, whereas the hon Minister made certain announcements in his Second Reading speech in connection with salary increases to officials and spoke very highly of the staff of the Department of Posts and Telecommunications, the hon member for Hillbrow—I warned him that I was going to quarrel with him today—saw fit to make certain statements to the Press. He did not criticise the Appropriation, but he referred to the announcement by the hon the Minister regarding salary increases and said the following:
The hon member for Umhlanga also almost put his foot in it as far as productivity was concerned. He also made a statement to the Press, but it was in a positive spirit. He in fact spoke highly of the productivity of the staff. He mentioned an increase of 15%, about which I do not want to quarrel with him. Also as far as I am concerned the post office staff are worth more than a 10% increase, but we simply do not have the means to give them that salary increase.
The hon member for Hillbrow went on to say that the hon the Minister should not use money from the appropriation with which to pay the increased salaries. In my opinion the statement by the hon member should be rejected for two reasons. What he says casts an undeserved reflection on the staff, in the form of a covert accusation that they are unproductive, and after all the hon member knows that is not the case.
In the second place he creates the impression that the increased salaries will now oblige the hon the Minister to introduce tariff increases, and he is not in favour of that. Consequently his statement can be interpreted as meaning that begrudges the staff a salary increase.
You are wide of the mark!
This kind of statement does not have a good effect on the morale of the officials, even when one takes into consideration that a few months ago the National Productivity Institute named them for the second time the most productive department in our country.
Now the hon member wants to draw blood from a stone. How is he going to do that? The hon member must tell us why he has adopted such a negative attitude. He should know better, because he is the chairman of his study group. He is a member of the standing committee and he serves on the committee of public accounts of the Post Office. He goes on every trip which is arranged. He has free access to all branches and has every opportunity to acquaint himself with what the officials of the Post Office are doing. In spite of this he makes statements of this kind to the Press.
Another example of this is that at the end of October the hon member went with us on a trip to Pretoria and its environs, which lasted several days. We visited all the organisations doing manufacturing work for the Post Office. We visited workshops and investigated the conditions under which the people work. On the evening of 1 November a hailstorm hit Pretoria while we were the guests of the hon the Minister. That evening 17 500 circuits serving a total of 35 000 telephones were out of order. Work crews had to work through the night, for two days in succession, to repair the damage. There was not a word of thanks for this. That is why I am thanking those people today. It was a job well done. I want to thank the officials for the 1 300 hours of overtime they worked.
We go on these trips to acquaint ourselves with what is going on in the Post Office. All facilities are at our disposal and all doors are open to us. I think there are few departments whose doors are really as open as those of the Post Office. But I gained the impression that the hon member for Hillbrow and the other hon PFP members went on these trips to ferret out the negative aspects as critically as possible. That is why they come back with so much negative criticism. I want to put it to the hon member that we must stop doing this and encourage the staff instead. They are productive enough, they are doing good work and we are proud of our staff.
We have also just learned from the chairman that the number of telephones in South Africa has passed the four million mark. It is perhaps interesting to know that the first telephone in South Africa was installed in 1882. It took precisely a century to pass the three million mark.
Another achievement we can consider is that in the past four years a further million telephones were installed. Therefore, whereas a million telephones were installed in the past four years, only three million were installed in the past century, in other words 25% of all telephones in South Africa were installed during the past four years. This is an achievement we can be proud of particularly as regards the officials. [Interjections.]
Relatively speaking this represents a ratio of 6,75 persons per telephone—based on our total population, including children. This is really an achievement. Perhaps at a later date, when we are discussing the Post Office Appropriation Bill, we can talk about the weal and woe of the people involved with telephones and the telephone system.
In conclusion I want to say that if it had not been for the cost escalation of the past year it would not have been necessary to exceed the appropriation. We want to thank the hon the Minister and the Postmaster-General and his staff for preparing the additional Post Office Appropriation Bill. They can rest assured of our whole-hearted support.
Mr Chairman, there will be many opportunities during the course of the next few weeks to debate Post Office matters and I have no doubt that my colleague, the hon member for Hillbrow, will respond to the points raised by the hon member Mr Vermeulen. So I will not get involved in the crossfire between these two hon members.
Like many other members today I want to deal with the reasons why the hon the Minister is coming to the House to ask for an additional number of “Rubicon” rands. Before doing so I first want to say a few things about the Post Office study group. There are two reasons why I am particularly pleased to be a member of the Post Office study group. The first is that I find the functions and activities of the Post Office both fascinating and interesting. I am interested in communications in general and telecommunications in particular. The current developments in telecommunications are both exciting and challenging. We are passing through a phase of rapid electronic changes and there are many new developments ahead of us. It is going to be fascinating therefore, interesting and challenging to be a member of the Post Office study group keeping abreast of all these changes.
The second reason why I am pleased to be a member of the study group is that I enjoy having contact with the officials of the Post Office. They are a group of dedicated professionals who are determined to provide the best service possible. Mr Ridgard and his men are always most helpful when one approaches them and I express my personal appreciation for their prompt and efficient attention to the matters and problems we refer to them from time to time. I must also—I am not sure it will do me any good—express my appreciation and admit that the hon the Minister is most helpful whenever I approach him with Post Office problems. I hope that that situation will remain.
Like my colleague, the hon member for Hillbrow, I appreciated the tour arranged by the hon the Minister last year, and I hope that he will continue to arrange visits and outings of this nature. The tour was well organised and most informative and I think it important that members of the study group be appraised of developments from time to time. [Interjections.]
I now wish to turn to the Estimates of Additional Expenditure and relate the schedule to the hon the Minister’s introductory speech which he delivered at the commencement of the Second Reading debate. Four out of the five items are directly attributable to the fact that the rand has weakened against the dollar. A number of the phrases that the hon the Minister used in his speech, pointed to this. In fact, each of the four items for which the hon the Minister wants increased expenditure, relates to the weakened position of the rand; and each time the hon the Minister refers to this situation. For instance, he talks about money that is, and I quote—
He also says:
He goes on to say:
Regarding capital expenditure, he mentions that an additional amount is required for telecommunications on account of the less favourable exchange rate. He then says:
Throughout the hon the Minister’s Second Reading speech, then, there was this refrain of the weakened rand against the dollar. So in spite of all the sterling work that has been carried out by the officials—and there can be no doubt about the finer work that has been done by those people—one can see how the political decisions taken by the Cabinet have affected the financing of the Post Office.
Of the R297 million “Rubicon rand” requested by the hon the Minister in this Additional Post Office Appropriation Bill, R950 000 is for the Saswitch programme. This represents a rationalisation of equipment and is to be welcomed as the consumer will benefit in the long run. However, all the other items, that is, the four remaining items, are as a result of the weak position of the rand vìs-a-vis the dollar. The hon the Minister is asking for R296 456 000 to meet a situation that is directly attributable to the actions of the Government of which he is a senior member. The hon the Minister has to finance almost R300 million of additional expenditure. So I hope that he will tell us in his reply how he will balance his books, bearing in mind the appeal from my colleague, the hon member for Hillbrow, that tariffs should not be increased. It is too simple to increase tariffs. Any businessman who simply increases his tariffs when costs increase, goes out of business. It has, however, become the fashion for the Government simply to increase tariffs when problems arise—and these are problems, moreover, that arise mainly because of political blunders.
What private enterprise do you know of that runs at a loss?
Just as the hon the Minister has asked me a question, so I want to ask him one as well. In reply to his question I say that there obviously are businesses of such a nature. Now I should like to ask him a question. Taking into account the almost R300 million that he is asking for in this Appropriation and also taking into account his experience in Post Office financing, I should like to ask the hon the Minister what advice he gave the State President prior to the “Rubicon Speech” delivered in Durban on August 15 last year. Did the hon the Minister point out to the State President, that if he made that “Rubicon Speech”, apart from cutting into the savings of all South Africans, apart from causing foreign bankers to lose confidence in South Africa, and apart from placing a financial burden on the shoulders of all South Africans, he would also be causing the Post Office to come to Parliament to request an additional R300 million in order to balance its books? I hope the hon the Minister will tell us what advice he gave the State President in those days and weeks prior to August 15. [Interjections.] If he did not advise the State President, Sir, and if the State President did not come to him as a colleague of long standing in whose advice he would, I understand, place great trust, what comment did the hon the Minister make after that speech was delivered? [Interjections.] The rand fell by 13%, I think it was, the next day and there was consternation on the money markets both here and abroad at the effects of that disastrous speech. Did the hon the Minister go to the State President and offer him any comment or advice? If so, we would very much like to hear about it because the Post Office is, after all, a major business which generates and handles a great deal of money. The hon the Minister is responsible for this money.
He did! He told the State President that pensioners would need R30 a month in future.
Because he deals with so much money, I think the hon the Minister owes the people of South Africa an explanation as to what he said to the State President before that speech or, if he made no comment then, as to what he said afterwards. [Interjections.]
Mr Chairman, the R300 million being requested here does, of course, seem to be a tremendously large amount. I can understand why the hon member for Johannesburg North is flinging one stone after another into the undergrowth, after all the disappointments the former Leader of the Official Opposition experienced in regard to the State President and the tape recordings. Now he is trying to draw the hon the Minister of Communications into the difficulties by attempting to find out from him what the State President said on certain occasions. There are many matters which are confidential and which we cannot simply tell anyone about right away. We keep many things to ourselves for the purposes of discussion, and in the process we know what we are doing.
What the hon member for Umhlanga said is very true. Increases are unavoidable. If they did not occur—however regrettable they may be—it would be a tragedy. No development would be possible. Tell me of even one company which is not increasing its capital expenditure and its reserves and is not trying to get that undertaking off the ground. Anyone who is not taking those steps is not a businessman. The hon the Minister of Communications and his staff are businessmen who want to administer the Post Office as a whole on business principles.
I also listened to what the hon member for Nigel said about the horse that had bolted and was now getting away, but I think the hon the Minister has been making so many efforts to rope the horse that it has not quite got away yet.
The hon nominated member Mr Vermeulen referred to the tremendous development that has taken place and also to the total net assets that have increased by 20%. Other figures prove the following: Revenue has increased by 22%; operating expenditure by 29%; capital expenditure by 18%; salaries and wages by 20%; staff by 2%; telephones by 6%; telex subscribers by 8%; data modems by 29%; and telex terminals by 18%. Trunk lines, measured in kilometres, have increased by 21% and the telegraph network by 14%. In addition the number of postal items dealt with by the Post Office increased by approximately 5%. If one looks at the growth points, one realises that eventually there also has to be an increase in expenditure.
Unpredictable, uncontrollable circumstances do crop up too; that is why the Post Office must be self-sufficient when it comes to finances. The hon the Minister may correct us, but I do not think his department is self-sufficient. The Franzsen Commission said that Government bodies should be approximately 50% self-sufficient. If my information is correct, the Post Office is something like 12½% self-sufficient, but the hon the Minister himself can give us further information about that.
What is strange is that although there is a decrease in economic activity, the Post Office is expanding. This is in contrast to the SATS, where activity has decreased and the organisation is no longer engaged in the number of transactions it should be engaged in. The business activities of the Post Office, however, are still on the increase and there is many-faceted development. So the Post Office budget must be flexible in order to meet the demand.
The telecommunications networks abroad require an amount of more than R4 million. The forwarding of mail requires even more money. Satellite links require R4 million. Then there are the loans which have to be repaid with tremendous interest. This probably amounts to approximately R124 000 million.
What is more, the hon the Minister must also bear in mind the clients of the Post Office and the Post Office savings bank to whom he must give a good interest rate. The hon member for Umlazi mentioned that the Post Office savings bank paid only 3% to 5% on investments. The other financial institutions still draw the largest investments.
I should also like to refer to Saswitch. An amount of R950 000 is now being voted for that. This is something new. We know that Multinet is a great success. Saswitch is a non-profit system established by a group of banks and building societies. It involves the shared use of automatic teller machines. The expansion of the teller bank facilities must be expedited, and now the Post Office must carry a portion of these development costs. In this the Post Office plays a key role:
Let me tell the House that these machines are the closest thing I have ever come across to a one-armed bandit. I find them extremely interesting. Often the machines do not have the necessary money to make a payment, particularly over weekends. My children always say to me: “You are probably going to play the machines again.” It is interesting to compare the operation of one machine with that of another. A teller machine is a wonderful invention.
I do want to congratulate the Post Office. The National Productivity Institute said the Post Office deserved the praise of the entire community for the success achieved in regard to productivity.
I want to refer to the price increases in catalogue material. The increase in GST was mentioned here. This relates, however, to the expansion of the telecommunications infrastructure which is of great importance. The hon the Minister had to save a situation relating to the public and private sectors. He had to curtail expenditure and expansion programmes.
In the previous financial year R1 300 million had to be spent on new projects. Telephone exchanges and related infrastructure elements had to be created. Careful replanning was done. There was strict financial planning and the capital expenditure was curtailed by R140 million. Yet the service rendered to the public was not adversely affected. In the poor economic climate the telecommunications services have to be expanded.
As far as I am concerned the telephone is still a wonderful instrument. In this morning’s Cape Times there was a report headed: “Accidents in the Rain at Exciting Killarney.” I quote: “Class C was won by Nico van Rensburg in a Nissan Stanza.” [Interjections.] I received this news by telephone because I could not reach my son. He said that he had towed the car from Johannesburg and that he would have to tow it back to Johannesburg. The telephone therefore saved me in that situation. [Interjections.]
Mr Chairman, taking stock of the Appropriation under discussion, I must say that without the outstanding team of officials that he does, in fact, have at his disposal—people who do so much for South Africa along commercial lines—things would have been very different today. Nine-tenths of the additional amounts being requested are, in my view, ascribable to action taken by the hon the Minister and the Government. Not that this is in any way an impeachment of the integrity or the competence of the hon the Minister, Sir. I have no fault to find with that. Just in passing let me say that three years ago this hon Minister, together with the Government, came to light with this diabolical tricameral system—an iniquitous system rejected by the whole world! [Interjections.] Of course it is rejected by the whole world! Two days after the 66,6% yes-vote in the referendum had been made public, the UN unanimously rejected the whole lot. Unanimously, Sir! [Interjections.]
Yes, the hon member for Standerton, who is being so vociferous now, would do well to enter this debate. [Interjections.] That is exactly what happened, Sir. What was the result? No confidence and no faith in this Government! Even the workers of the SA Transport Services adopted a motion of no confidence in their hon Minister. At a meeting the representatives of a total of 17 000 artisans adopted a motion of no confidence in the hon the Minister of Transport Affairs. I fear the motion of no confidence in the hon the Minister of Communications is on the way too. Just wait!
Sir, the world has no confidence in this Government and in this system as a whole. [Interjections.] As a result South Africa is regarded, at the moment, as being virtually bankrupt in the eyes of the world at large. They even had to appoint a judicial manager, in the person of Dr Leutwiler, to administer South Africa’s debts. If this parlous situation had not manifested itself, things would have been going well with us today.
What I want to say is that the affairs of the Post Office cannot be better, except for the fact that an inflation rate of virtually 21% is bedevilling it all. Where is the hon member for Vasco now? He was the one issuing all kinds of challenges the other day. Where is he now? How does he like an inflation rate of 21,75%? Our Western trading partners have an inflation rate varying between 3% and 4% whilst ours is higher than 20%. At the moment it could be even higher that 20,75%. All the relevant figures have not even been brought up to date yet. That is shocking! It is heart-rending! It is enough to make one weep! [Interjections.] It is all because of the hopelessness of this Government, and if this hon Minister had, at the time, stood up with us and told the Government “so far and no further”, that things simply would not work out, things would have been different today. The bench here next to me is still open and waiting. Let him come and take his seat here! [Interjections.]
Ah, just don’t start crying, oom Jan!
I have listened closely to the hon the Minister’s Second Reading speech. Subsequently I also read through it again. There are a few questions in connection with that Second Reading speech that I should like to put to the hon the Minister. As hon members know, of course, that an Additional Appropriation is such that one can only obtain more information about it by putting questions to the relevant Minister. The hon the Minister has already replied to certain questions and furnished certain information. There are, however, a few additional questions I still want to put to him. Before doing so, however, let me quote from his Second Reading speech in which he said the following, amongst other things:
He went on to say:
I now want the hon the Minister to inform the House on what sub-heads there was a saving of R32,911 million. I want him to inform this House today about where that saving came from. Did the saving relate to domestic or foreign transactions, or can it again be ascribed solely to the poor dollar/rand exchange rate? I also want to put a question to the hon the Minister in connection with the additional amount of R124,265 million being requested to cover the costs of loans and additional interest. Could the hon the Minister tell the House what the Post Office’s total foreign debt amounts to? What do our domestic loans amount to, and what amounts have, or have had, to be paid on these loans? Where they short-term, medium-term or long-term loans which the Post Office negotiated? The hon the Minister must please give us all that information. Has the Post Office experienced the same problems with the repayment and redemption of its debt as the Central Government and the hon the Minister of Finance, or are there perhaps other problems in this connection?
If the hon the Minister has not experienced any problems in this regard, why is such a large amount being requested? He must please inform us. I think everyone in South Africa ought to know what is going on here.
We have no problems with the State or the Post Office requesting more money for the furnishing of infrastructure; nor when it is a matter of creating job opportunities. We do not have any fault to find with more money being needed for the expansion of the services of the Post Office either, of course as long as this relates to the furnishing of a greater and more efficient service. When, however, all problems are attributed to the poor dollar/rand exchange rate, no one but the Government is responsible.
Let me now tell hon members that the rate of increase in the cost of telecommunications equipment is 21% per annum at present. This will increase further when the depreciation of the rand gradually filters through. The hon the Minister concedes that the said rate of 21% was exactly the same as the inflation rate. I also see this filtering through to an even greater extent. The hon the Minister is right in saying it is going to filter through. It is going to increase even more. The hon the Minister said:
It will too. The hon the Minister is quite right. I agree with him about that. The inflation rate is going to increase to levels even higher than this 20,7%.
I now want to ask the hon the Minister, since the Post Office cannot do so, what he is doing as a member of the Cabinet to combat inflation? This Government, the coalition Cabinet of which the hon the Minister is a member, has no interest in dealing inflation a mortal blow. [Interjections.] The high inflation rate also results in salary increases, which means, too, that the Government collects more taxes. The Government is therefore quite happy with this state of affairs. Let the inflation rate simply increase. The man in the street, however, must die of wretchedness and bankruptcy. [Interjections.] The hon the Minister is also requesting an additional R40 million for stock. Well, it is a good thing to ask for additional stock. However, must this stock, which is now being requested, be purchased before 31 March, or has it already been purchased? The hon the Minister says he wants to avoid further price increases, and in this connection let me ask whether the stock is of local or overseas origin. How much of our stock is produced locally these days and how much is produced abroad?
The policy I have advocated for the past two or three years is that we should have import substitution. How many of the items we import could not be manufactured in South Africa? With certain things this cannot be done because of the small quantities needed. In such cases it would cost much more to manufacture such items locally than it would to import them. That is a fact and we realise it. This does not mean, however, that a portion of the items imported cannot be manufactured locally. I should like the hon the Minister to elaborate on that a little more. [Interjections.]
The hon member for Boksburg said the hon member for Nigel did not know what an Additional Appropriation was. May I have the hon member for Boksburg’s attention please? His Whip is chattering away so that he cannot hear. [Interjections.] That hon member said that the hon member for Nigel did not know what an Additional Appropriation was. He then gave us such a terribly good lecture! I cannot understand how the State President could be so stupid as not to appoint that hon member Minister of Communications and of Public Works. [Interjections.] Or else he could be the Minister of Finance. To think that there is such brainpower in this House and we are missing out on it! [Interjections.]
I think the hon member’s talents could be employed to much better advantage. He should come to the fore a bit more. [Interjections.] The hon member said that if we were to criticise, we would thereby be detracting from South Africa. Where have you ever heard such a thing! [Interjections.] Let me tell the hon member that he should, in fact, rethink the role of an Official Opposition that does a proper job of criticising. According to him the State can waste money and hon Ministers can make little mistakes—like Mr Fanie Botha in the railway matter—but such things may not be criticised! [Interjections.] The Official Opposition is not only criticising this Budget. It is criticising everything. So if the State—not the officials, but the Government itself—is guilty of misspending and poor management—the poorest management one can imagine, which virtually misled the world—we may not criticise. So why is there an Official Opposition? What must we do? Must we all just stand here and say: “Yes, boss. You are wonderful”? I am not, however, going to say that to the hon member for Boksburg. [Interjections.]
The hon member for Swellendam says we must stop gossiping. That hon member’s own leader said in Tzaneen that we went round gossiping. What happened then? He apologised to me in this House for having gossiped. So the hon member must not talk about gossiping. [Interjections.] We criticise the Government, and I shall do so as long as I feel it is right. [Interjections.]
I myself have thanked some hon members of the NP and hon Ministers when they have done something good. If someone did something good—particularly that hon member for Boksburg—I would be the first to tell them: “Now you have done a good job.” Let me now tell the hon the Minister that it would gratify me if he could persuade the Cabinet to stop telling people—as was done in the case of the yes-vote—that the Western World will now stand by us, that there will be prosperity and that we will grow. Let me issue the warning that amongst the Blacks, Coloureds and Indians, and the outside world too, expectations have been created. What was the sequel? The sequel was these wretched bankruptcies we have had in recent years.
The hon member for Rosettenville is quite right—I thank him for spotting it—in saying that the Post Office has done well. As far as its revenue is concerned, the Post Office has grown in recent times. Why? The growth has taken place because bankruptcies have increased by more than 100%. Post Office workers now have to work themselves to death delivering all the summonses, notices, letters, etc, collecting money. [Interjections.] They must also send off telegrams, but one must be grateful to the Post Office for furnishing that service so that businessmen can collect their money. [Interjections.]
That is why I am concluding by thanking the Post Office and its staff for their fantastic service to South Africa.
Mr Chairman, the complaint from the ranks of the opposition parties, a continuous thread in all the speeches, was that the hon the Minister and his Post Office management had done some poor budgeting. The complaint is that they budgeted so poorly that the expenditure was 6,8% more than the amount budgeted for. To prove how well the hon the Minister and his management can budget…
How are things in Hercules?
No, I budget just as well, when it comes to my income, as does the hon the Minister and his top management. The hon member must just listen. [Interjections.]
We debated the poor expenditure budget, but no one said a word about the revenue budget. [Interjections.] In the Post Office revenue budget there is a deviation of 0,8%. To budget, and merely have a deviation of 0,8% from the budgeted amount, is in my view an example of excellent budgeting. Personally I am budgeting for a devil of a thrashing for the CP in Hercules, and I think I shall be 0,8% off the mark! [Interjections.]
With a view to proving how poorly the hon the Minister and the top management had budgeted, the hon member for Hillbrow alleged that the hon the Minister was a member of the Cabinet, that he therefore had inside knowledge and that he should have known that the exchange rate would weaken. He should supposedly also have known that interest rates would increase—because he is a Minister—that the prices of imported material would increase by 21% and that GST would increase by 2%.
Who increased the GST?
The hon the Minister of Communications did not do so. [Interjections.] The Post Office budget has nothing to do with what goes on in the rest of the State machine. [Interjections.] It is a business undertaking which does not owe the State a single cent and which the State does not owe a single cent either. [Interjections.]
The hon member for Hillbrow alleges that the hon the Minister should know everything. The hon the Minister knows a great deal, but unfortunately he does not know everything, because it is not humanly possible to know everything. [Interjections.] I can give the hon member the assurance that the one prediction with which the hon the Minister is going to be right on target is that in connection with the political future of that hon member and his party.
With the Hercules result.
Oh, no! There were complaints about the inflation rate of 20% or 21%, also from those hon members creating such a cacophony over there, like starlings in a fig tree. In the same breath and in the same debate, however, the hon member for Umhlanga says that we should have made the salary increase 15%. Surely one cannot, in the same debate, complain about the inflation rate of 20% and then ask for salary increases.
He did not; he did not say anything about inflation.
I am saying in the same debate. [Interjections.]
The only way in which the inflation rate can be curbed is by curbing demand. Increasing salaries by 15%, which would probably have been welcome, if it were possible, would at this stage not have decreased the inflation rate, but only have increased it.
Speaking about staff, let me say that I think that the staff of this department does deserve a special word of thanks and appreciation for the fine spirit in which they relinquished a third of their service bonuses.
Did they have a choice?
No, they did not have a choice, but all will remember the tremendous fuss made in those circles about the relinquishing of a third of the service bonus. [Interjections.] When the officials of that department sing “At thy will to live and perish, O South Africa, dear land” they would rather live for South Africa than die for it with such long, complaining faces. [Interjections.] Sir, I want…
Business interrupted in accordance with Rule 46(a)(ii).
Mr Chairman, now that the time for this debate has expired, I can peacefully proceed to make my reply to the long debate which took place here. At the outset, in spite of the contents of some speeches, I want to thank the hon members who participated. My thanks to the hon members for Hillbrow, Umlazi, Nigel, Boksburg, Umhlanga, Johannesburg North, Rosettenville, Sunnyside, Hercules and the hon member Mr Vermeulen. It was clearly discernible in most of the speeches that attention had in fact been given to the matter we have before us today, the additional appropriation. It is also clear that one should prepare himself for any speech made here. I want to thank hon members once again for participating in the debate.
In general I want to express my thanks to all hon members who thanked the top executive. During this debate I also wish to congratulate Mr W T B Ridgard on his first debate as Postmaster General, as well as the other members who have been added to the top executive and who are not all present here today, but who are coming to this House for the main appropriation. Perhaps it would be only right to mention that three of the four members of the top executive left within a question of fourteen of fifteen months. Only Mr Ridgard, the present Postmaster General, remained, but the other posts have also been filled. I think this is an indication of the calibre of the personnel we have in the Post Office. [Interjections.] One can take any undertaking as an example—I think the hon member for Johannesburg North was involved in Anglo-American—and see what would happen if one took away the top executive. What would happen to Anglo-American, for example, the next day? They would have to recall the hon member for Johannesburg North from Parliament to occupy his position! [Interjections.]
†He will have to return to his job and do some of the aggressive marketing that the hon member for Umhlanga was talking about. However, we are proud of the fact that we were able out of a staff of 90 000 to appoint a new Postmaster General and four other members of the top executive within a couple of months. We increased the number from three to four and that is why the top executive now has five members.
*I want to thank them for their support and for the way in which they are administering the affairs of the Post Office. I do not accord myself any praise for this. I am like old wine: I do not need any praise because I have been here for too long.
I want to tell the hon members of the Opposition that if they want to squabble, they can squabble, but. I want to thank the hon member for Nigel for the kind words he addressed to me from the opposition side. He should be careful though because there is an English idiom which says: “Be careful of the kiss of death.” [Interjections.]
After having made these few general remarks, I should like to discuss a few other matters. There is one deficiency which I noticed among hon Opposition members today. The concluding sentence in the speech made by the hon member for Sunnyside could serve as an example to all hon Opposition members. I had thought that he was in a destructive mood on the Post Office, but then he said that he thanked them for their brilliant service to the RSA. He spent all the rest of his time disparaging the undertaking, but at least he occasionally mentioned the top executive and said it was good.
He was disparaging about you!
It is no use disparaging a Minister. If a serious error is made, it is I who bears the responsibility. [Interjections.] It is no use praising my personnel for cheap political gain, for they are as loyal as can be. They know that their Minister will step into the breach for them if any problems arise. [Interjections.] It was only at the end of his speech that the hon member for Sunnyside said anything good, while other hon members spoke nonsense here about the so-called Rubicon speech.
†The hon member for Johannesburg North referred to the so-called Rubicon speech and asked me two questions. He asked me what I had said to the State President about this additional estimate before he made his speech.
Rubicon I or Rubicon II?
I think the hon member should keep quiet, because he does not understand what is happening here. Really he doesn’t.
He understands a lot better than you do!
I do not want to be insulting now, but I am not really confident that the hon members for Pietermaritzburg North and Port Elizabeth Central are able to advise me on what is happening here.
You badly need some advice from somebody!
If the hon member would just keep quiet for a while, he might find out what is happening.
†That hon member asked me two questions, but surely he realises that these additional estimates were only finalised and drawn up about a fortnight ago. How could I have envisaged an additional estimate before the so-called Rubicon speech?
You should have!
I should have? I find that a rather puerile argument for a man who went so far in business outside this House. Perhaps he is frustrated and feels that he should rather move into extra-parliamentary fields again.
Follow my leader!
Yes, perhaps he wants to follow his leader or play leap-frog where one jumps over the other’s back. [Interjections.] I think the hon member should really do a little better than that at a time like this. This is time for serious debate, not ridiculous debate.
*By now it has become a farce to cast the so-called Rubicon speech in the State President’s teeth. The State President has more matters and problems to help solve than any other president in the world. What did the Rubicon speech have to do with the weak pound against the dollar, or with the weak yen against the dollar? What did it have to do with the weak exchange rate of the German mark against the dollar? He went on with his absurd arguments as though it were only this Government that was responsible for the rand/dollar exchange rate. With his influence on the private sector, the hon member for Johannesburg North would make a greater contribution if he were to encourage the private sector, once and for all, to stand behind our country’s interests. He should rather stop setting up straw dolls and knocking them down himself. In that way he would make a contribution to this country. [Interjections.] The country would then be able to make progress. It is not necessary for him to take two steps backwards for every step forward we try to take.
†The hon member for Hillbrow asked a number of questions. Did the Minister in the Cabinet take cognisance of the position? In October 1984 the rand stood at 59 US cents. At end December 1984 it stood at 53 US cents. It is at this time of the year that I prepare my Budget. What could I take the value of the rand to be at that particular time? Was I to take the value of the rand as being 50, 40, 30 or 20 US cents? The hon member obviously assumed that the exchange rate used was 53 US cents as it stood at the end of December 1984. [Interjections.] We are now referring to the last Budget. The hon member quoted the Postmaster General’s report. He tried to use that as an example here. That report concerns the previous year. He was quoting history. He was quoting from a historical document. He was not referring to the present Budget. [Interjections.]
As far as the loans are concerned I would like to say that we have repaid our loans to the Treasury. The one main loan that we had overseas that fell due. Before that we rolled over two loans. We have no problems as far as our Budget is concerned because our loan repayments are accounted for in the Budget.
*I think the hon member for Sunnyside said that I must indicate how much the Post Office owed. The Post Office owes R2 070 million, repayable over a period of 10 years. We must pay back R207 million per annum in loans. We are making provision for that in the Budget. During this standstill we have already paid money into the Treasury. There is no problem with our financial position. We are able to meet our financial obligations. The hon…
Answer my question.
We have to repay what we have borrowed. We have to pay it back. There is no problem as far as that is concerned. The hon member also mentioned satellite development. The amount we have to pay has to be paid to Intelsat. The hon member wanted to know how we managed to save certain amounts. The fact is that we overspent in some areas. This brought us to the figure of R28,847 million. However, we also had savings of approximately R61 million. This accounts for the difference in the actual Budget. The net amount saved came to R32,9 million. We had savings of R0,320 million on accommodation. Services rendered to other departments brought about a saving of R0,365 million. The figure in which hon members are always interested is the one concerning telephone directories. Here a saving of R2 million was made. A saving of R19 million was made in respect of depreciation and R30 million was saved on land and buildings.
Apart from these savings, we did not cut down on our capital programme. In fact, some of it was advanced in the Port Elizabeth area. We advanced the building of the Post Office headquarters for that region. We put out a contract of about R9 million in order to help the building industry. These are all things that require some thought if one wants to keep the Post Office running, let alone allow the Post Office to be of service to the country itself.
The hon member asked why only a 10% GST was budgeted for. Does the hon member really think that I can pre-empt the Main Budget? That would mean that he could have gathered from my speech that I was budgeting for a 12% GST. Everyone in the country would then have known that that was what the Minister of Finance was going to announce. Even if I had known at that stage, it would have made no difference. This is something which is decided upon at a later stage because the Minister tries to see how he can balance his Budget.
May I ask the hon the Minister a question?
No, not now. My time is too limited to reply to a question now.
Some other hon members also mentioned it. On a budget of nearly R4 000 million we are out by 0,8%. We have to estimate how many telephones to install, how much revenue that will generate and how many calls will be made. It is an immense task and our calculations were out by only 0,8%. To what degree would the hon member like us to improve our budgeting? I would like to say that it is impossible to improve on that, unless one underbudgets which will result in a big surplus.
In connection with the increase in salaries the hon member mentioned the high cost of living and the high rate of inflation. The hon member contends that those problems are a result of the Government’s economic policy. The hon member also mentioned the rising costs of 21%.
*Other hon members also mentioned this figure. I think the hon member for Sunny-side also discussed the 21% increase, and simply linked it to inflation. Most of that equipment, however, comes from abroad, and has nothing to do with inflation. This is as a result of cost increases in countries where inflation is lower than in our country, but where the cost increase is higher as a result of higher salaries and higher production costs. They sell to us. We have to import most of our major equipment, and it is those costs that went up 21%. It has nothing to do with inflation.
†The hon member for Hillbrow thanked us for the tour on which he accompanied us. I am sure the tour improved his knowledge of the Post Office. However, I do not understand why the hon member does not state that this is a viable and well-run organisation which can compare with any telecommunications system in the world. Why is it necessary for me to hear such a statement in America? Why do the Americans tell me that we and the Canadians have the only two really advanced telecommunications services in the world, including their own? Why must I listen to all kinds of stories about Rubicons and other things that have nothing to do with the topic under discussion?
The hon member for Hillbrow said that he was “amazed and delighted” at what he saw.
I was talking about micro-chips. Does the hon the Minister know about micro-chips?
He only knows about Simba chips!
Order! If members are not going to stop interjecting, they will have had their chips! [Interjections.]
Mr Chairman, if he would only wait a while, he will have had his chips too! [Interjections.]
Mr Chairman, may I ask the hon the Minister whether the loans that the Post Office has incurred with overseas banks form part of the total loan debt of R14 billion?
What I can tell the hon member is that our loans amount to R2 070 million to be repaid over a period of ten years. I cannot answer the hon member’s question off-hand, but I presume it must be included in the R14 billion which is owed to overseas banks, because that is the amount the Government really has to pay. The amount this department owes overseas banks is R2 070 million. We can debate this matter again when we discuss the Post Office Budget.
*The hon member for Umlazi is chairman of the standing committee, and as usual made an excellent contribution. Actually he has already replied to the questions of the hon member for Hillbrow. Inter alia he raised the interesting point that we have already installed 4 million telephones in this country. The hon member Mr Vermeulen went even further. If one examines the statistics which he mentioned, one will find that it is really something to be proud of. He mentioned that we had installed a million telephones during the past four years, while we had, during the previous period of almost 100 years, installed only three million telephones. The number of telephones installed rose by 25% within four years. He was talking about this department which budgets so badly and is so useless that it cannot really do its work. It is amazing what comes to light if only one would be honest and candid.
Let us keep politics out of the discussion of the Post Office Budget. In the past I have requested hon members not to drag politics into this discussion. If hon members wish to discuss politics—this is something I very seldom have an opportunity to discuss in the Department of Public Works—I shall be only to glad to do that too. But then the hon members must be prepared to take what is then going to be dished out to them.
The hon member discussed the situation in the country. When was the country ever in a poorer situation than it was last year? It had nothing to do with the Government.
Of course, it has everything to do with the Government!
Here we have a very clever hon member, who has just said that it had everything to do with the Government. The hon member is speaking incorrectly about the Government. The hon member himself suffered from the drought. It had nothing to do with the Government. The Lichtenburg district, which falls in the hon member’s constituency, received a great deal of drought aid from this “bad” Government. They received a great deal of money, which we are still having to fork out now. [Interjections.] The hon member ought to be grateful.
Was there ever a time when we were worse off than last year? Our interest rates rose; a moratorium on the repayment of our loans was introduced and the rand exchange rate was extremely unfavourable. It did rain at the beginning of 1986, but the hon member did not say at the time that the Government brought the rains. Not that anyone would say that, because it was merely a blessing. There was also an improvement in the interest rates, the hon member did not refer to that. Success was achieved in other spheres as well.
Why did the hon member for Johannesburg North not refer to the success we had overseas with Dr Leutwiler’s negotiations with the banks? Now the hon member is treading carefully, and referring to the short-term and the long-term solutions. No bank in the world would have entered into that agreement if our economic position had not been sound. The hon member knows that. There is no country in the world that can repay all its loans at short notice. Neither America nor any other country, can do that. If they had been in our position, they would have been worse off than we are today. Once again it is only the Government which is made out to be the villain of the piece. Most of these stories are only being told because some hon members are trying to poach a few votes. The hon member for Sunnyside is an expert in this sphere. He is searching everywhere for votes. I can assure him today that he will not get them from the Post Office personnel. [Interjections.]
The hon member for Umlazi referred to the savings bank services. He made it clear that we had only budgeted for R100 million because we had received R100 million the previous year and only R50 million the year before that. And now, during a time of problems and unrest, the man in the street saved R560 million with the Post Office. What fool would save with the Post Office if he did not have absolute confidence in that organisation? The man in the street therefore has confidence in the Post Office, and the hon members of the Opposition parties do not speak on his behalf. The hon member for Umlazi also raised other matters, but I do not wish to go into all of them. I just want to say thank you to him for the way in which he, as chairman of the NP study group, stated his case.
The hon member for Nigel, when he gets an opportunity, always says nice things about the Post Office, and therefore I do not like to quarrel with him.
An hon member asked why we were introducing such a large additional budget and had to obtain so much money from the people. According to the Post Office Act, my department is a business undertaking. We are dealing with a business undertaking in the true sense of the word, and not with a department. It is only a department because I serve on the Cabinet as a Minister. Once we have to approach the hon the Minister of Finance, hat in hand, to subsidise us for one thing or another, we may as well forget about the Department of Communications being a business undertaking, and make it a department such as the Department of Public Works for example. In such a department I approach the hon the Minister for money. He gives it to me and I spend it. The hon members ought to be proud of the Post Office because it is being run like a business undertaking.
There was a saving of R560 million, inter alia because of better marketing methods and because our postmasters are receiving better training. As has already been mentioned in this House, each of them is a consultant. Each of them is able, in his own right, to give the people economic advice, and he singles out suitable people in the community. Every postmaster is expected to set up objectives. One certainly cannot find better business administration, under the leadership of extremely competent personnel, than one finds in the Post Office.
Reference was also made to the 10% salary increase. I shall explain to hon members how the salary increases became a reality. I held talks with the top executive about what increase was within our means. After that the Postmaster General spoke to representatives of all our associations. There is not one member in the Opposition benches who speaks on behalf of the members of the Post Office Association—not one. The associations talk directly to the Postmaster General or to me. The associations accepted the 10% increase and said that they realised that we would do whatever we could for them. I said during the discussion of the Main Budget that we were going to return this year the third which we subtracted from the thirteenth cheque last year. [Interjections.] We are consolidating the salaries and we are going to give them a 10% increase. They are perfectly satisfied, Sir. All the personnel members are completely satisfied.
One of the hon members proposed that they receive a 15% increase. I should like to give them a 15% increase.
†However, the hon member for Umhlanga must then tell me where to find the other 5%. After all, that extra 5% entails an additional amount of between R50 million and R60 million. Where do I find that money, Sir?
*It is easy for a person to recommend solutions or to make other proposals, but then one must at least accept responsibility for the solution.
The hon member for Boksburg spoke about a number of matters. Inter alia he thanked us for the 10% increase in salaries. He also expressed an opinion on the development of the automatic teller machine mechanisms, and I thank him for doing so.
†The hon member for Umhlanga also raised the question of the Rubicon speech of August 15th. This hon member usually does much better than that in the House, Sir. Still, I think the hon member was talking with his tongue in his cheek.
I have already dealt with some of the issues which were raised by the hon member for Johannesburg North and which boiled down to much the same things that the hon member for Umhlanga said.
I want to appeal to the hon members rather to adopt a positive attitude. Let us rather try to get the affairs of the rest of the organisations in the country running like the affairs of the Post Office. [Interjections.] Of course we too have our problems. There is no organisation in this country which is not experiencing any problems. The opposition parties would, however, do well to sit down and think about what they can do to help solve these problems. The problems certainly will not be solved if one of the opposition parties becomes the government. In fact, the opposition parties have absolutely no hope of becoming the government. So let us rather try to work out ways in which the opposition parties can help to solve the problems. Now that, I would say, is a positive outlook! [Interjections.] Certainly, they will not help to solve these problems by leaving Parliament and joining extra-parliamentary organisations. The opposition will not grow stronger as it gets smaller; not at all.
Nevertheless the hon member for Umhlanga very validly expressed sadness at the fact that some lunatic, some deranged person, placed a bomb in a telephone booth in front of a post office. Some completely innocent person could have gone into the booth to make a telephone call and been killed. The person who places a bomb in a post office achieves very little because we will be back in business within a few days. He is not proving anything except how sick the society we find ourselves in can sometimes be. Such an action should nevertheless be condemned. No person with a reasonable sense of duty to the country would put a bomb in a telephone booth, except a member of the ANC. [Interjections.] Why, then, does the Official Opposition expect us to talk to the ANC as they did? [Interjections.]
You are bringing politics into the Post Office.
If we wanted to bring politics into the Post Office, there are lots of soft, underbelly parts where I can come in too. [Interjections.] So let us rather keep politics out of this matter.
Years ago John Vorster put a bomb in a post office.
It is a pity the hon member for Pietermaritzburg North wasn’t inside at the time.
†The hon member mentioned the problem of the queues in post offices. I must, however, tell the hon member that three days ago we instituted a test in the post office at Parow. One has to take care when selecting a post office at which this test can be carried out. At any rate, the lady assistants behind the post office counters can actually do a hundred different jobs. I submit, with respect, that the tellers in the banks do only about three or four different jobs. They cash cheques or take in deposits or refer clients to people who can advise them should such people, for instance, want to make a big investment. The banks do not handle as many different transactions with the public as we do. We handle, inter alia, the issuing of motor-car licences, postal orders and stamps, and the payment of accounts. We are trying to implement methods that will make our affairs more orderly and also improve our business turnover. The methods that have been suggested are being implemented and we hope they work well.
The hon member also raised some other important issues about which the Post Office is actively doing something, namely, better productivity, intensive training and staff motivation. I would go so far as to say that I would like to see another organisation in the country—and I include the private sector—with more motivated staff than we have. We may perhaps have a few black sheep here and there, but on average we have the most motivated staff in the country. We have intensive training courses and regular seminars, such as the one I mentioned designed to involve postmasters in the active marketing of our investment opportunities. We offer training to our technical staff. A few months ago I opened a training school for 500 Black technicians at Soshanguve. These prospective technicians enjoy a well-run training facility, beautiful quarters and a pleasant working atmosphere right in the middle of the troubled area. I agree with the hon member that we should do more aggressive marketing. There is always room for improvement and I thank him for his interest in those particular fields. He said that tariff increases were inevitable; as far as that is concerned, we shall have to wait and see.
*The hon member Mr Vermeulen raised a very interesting point in connection with productivity. Last year the National Productivity Institute singled out the Post Office as the most productive organisation in the country, the private sector included. The NPI regularly conducts inquiries together with us because we have the only department whose work load can be measured. We know how much mail is sorted, how many postage stamps are sold and how many calls go through the exchanges. In the mail sorting sections, for example, our girls work on a bonus system with the new electronic codes. Every letter which is processed, counts as a plus for her, and in the end she is paid more if she has sorted more than a certain number of letters. We use incentive measures, just as is being done in the business community.
The hon Mr Vermeulen also referred to the 35 000 telephones in Pretoria, which were out of operation owing to heavy rains. The telephones in Pretoria’s central business district were only out of action for three days. On Monday everything was working again. The staff bought fans at shops in order to dry out the exchange because it cannot be heated on the inside. They also cleared the lines, and this all happened over a weekend when other people gad about and some also get up to mischief if they do not have opposition. I have already dealt with the historical aspects which the hon member raised.
†I have dealt with all the arguments of the hon member for Johannesburg North that I feel need to be dealt with. He said that political decisions had perhaps undone the good work of the officials. This country has many political decisions ahead of it which will have to fit in with what South Africa can afford and the expectations of its people. It is no use trying to make a decision so bold that one eventually finds one has no following. The hon member knows that to be a very difficult situation. I have already dealt with the question of the National Productivity Institute which the hon member mentioned.
*The hon member for Rosettenville made the very good point that, if one also takes the additional appropriation into account, we are 12,5% self-sufficient. We cannot remain at that figure. We shall fail if we do not return to 30% or more. In my opinion we shall have to go even further than the 50% which the Franzsen Commission recommended, that is if we want to keep out of the clutches of foreign loans. The hon member also had a few pleasant things to say about productivity.
In the end the hon member for Sunnyside praised all of us, but he took a very strange route to arrive at that point. He spoke about the diabolical tricameral system. The last point I want to make in regard to politics in that this diabolical system was introduced with a two-thirds majority of the White voters of this country. It is the hon member’s task to try to change their minds. He must try to overturn that two-thirds if he can. [Interjections.] He must do so in a way which does not try to invalidate the importance and power of this Parliament. [Interjections.] In addition, I am going to give him a reasonable chance. If he adheres to the truth for 90% of the time, he can do what he likes with the other 10%. [Interjections.]
There is another thing I want to say about the speech made by the hon member for Sunnyside. He wanted to know how self-sufficient we were and how much we still had to purchase abroad. I want to tell him that the Post Office established the electronic industry in South Africa. We have long-term contracts with suppliers who employ thousands of people. We have some of the best technology ever developed in this country. We created Sames, which has now been privatised. We saw to it that companies amalgamated to manufacture optical fibre, the real powerline of the Post Office in future.
We are establishing and maintaining industries in this country, but for that we need money. If we had to cut back on our contracts tomorrow, we would not be prepared for the next boom in South Africa. I wonder what the hon members of the PFP and the other parties would say if we were not prepared for the upswing.
I want to conclude by referring to the speech made by the hon member for Hercules. I already replied to some of the matters which he raised here. He expressed fine words of thanks and appreciation to the staff of the Post Office. He explained certain matters directly to hon members, in reply to their speeches, and I think they can learn a lot from what he said.
I conclude by once again conveying my thanks to the Postmaster General, the top executive and every member of the Post Office staff. We are proud of our organisation and I feel that hon members in this House should not try to do anything to destroy that pride. If one can be proud of one’s Post Office, one can truly be proud of one’s country as well.
Question agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Bill not committed.
Bill read a third time.
Mr Chairman, when the House adjourned last Thursday evening I was dealing very briefly with the question of extending the scope of package tours to this country.
The point I was trying to make was that the Tourism Board should give consideration to the idea of including this country as part of a package tour rather than a complete package deal in itself for the tourist who comes to South Africa; in other words one would be looking at including countries such as Swaziland, Lesotho, Malawi etc in a wider package deal.
It is essential that we realise when we look at the tourist industry in this country that other countries on our borders have tourist attractions to offer similar to those that we have in South Africa. I am referring particularly to wild life and game reserves. Generally speaking, I believe this country can be very proud of the variety of tourist amenities it has to offer travellers from abroad.
Sir, I also want to touch very briefly on the question of promoting tourism within the country. In this regard our country has unlimited potential but I should point out, that there appears to be a tendency in the hotel industry towards pricing itself off the local tourist market. This is due not only to the high hotel tariffs but also to the excessive mark-up on the prices of those essential liquid refreshments that are associated with the pleasantries of travel. This all points to the need for the various sectors of the tourist industry to adopt a positive and adventurous approach to the marketing of tourism. The Board has an important role to play in this country at the present time, and, we in these benches wish it well in its endeavours.
Mr Chairman, I want to disagree somewhat with the hon member for Mooi River. I believe that we in South Africa must be very careful not to always repeat parrot-fashion that the country has unlimited possibilities in virtually every sphere of life.
As far as tourist matters are concerned there is definitely a tendency to give preference to every Tom, Dick and Harry who wants to enter the country, as well as to people in the country who are not White, and simply to inundate our coastal resorts. These people are increasingly restricting the enjoyment which the White man has and has had. But I shall return to this matter later, Mr Chairman. [Interjections.]
The purpose of the Bill under discussion is to enable the Tourism Board to acquire a greater amount of more comprehensive information. But one wants to ask whether the country’s money is not already being spent in a reckless way. Why have two commissions—the Knobel Commission and the Wim de Villier Commission—been appointed, for example? These commissions were appointed by the hon the Minister of Transport Affairs. But the SA Transport Services convey by far the greatest number of all tourists in South Africa, and it goes without saying that what is done there will affect the responsibilities of this hon Minister. For that reason we want to ask him to talk to his hon colleague in the Cabinet about this. This amounts to unnecessary expenditure.
In the second place, Mr Chairman, I want to ask why two study groups were sent abroad. Two study groups were sent to England, Austria, Germany, the USA and Canada to collect information, although there are already offices of the Tourism Board in all those countries—with the exception of course of Austria. Over and above that there are also the embassies of the Department of Foreign Affairs which are active in those countries. What additional information could the members of the two study groups collect over and above the information which the Department of Foreign Affairs could have collected itself in all those countries, with the exception of Austria? That is to say when they are not engaged in making all manner of calls for Black state presidents.
Mr Chairman, one is inclined to gain the impression that there is a tendency to create opportunities for civil servants—good civil servants—to go abroad at Government expense to duplicate work being done there. It was totally unnecessary to send those two study groups abroad.
In the second place, Mr Chairman, I want to ask why there is an office of the Tourism Board in Harare. The Zimbabweans know one road better than any other. That is the road to South Africa—the so-called “chicken run”. Why is there an office of the SA Tourism Board in Harare? There is virtually nowhere else in Africa where the Zimbabweans can go on holiday. Whether they want to flee the country or go on holiday, they head for South Africa!
Why, Mr Chairman, is there an office of the SA Tourism Board in Milan? I should like to know from the hon the Minister how much benefit South Africa can derive from an office of the Tourism Board in Milan. If he wants to put this to the test, I challenge him to do so, Mr Chairman. I challenge him to close that office for a year and see whether it makes any difference whatsoever to the number of tourists from Italy visiting South Africa. Let him do that! Let him do that with that office! Then he need not incur the expense of collecting information. The answer, Mr Chairman, is self-evident. [Interjections.]
But there is another very important matter, Mr Chairman. There is another very important reason why the Bill under discussion is essential. However, I shall still get to that.
In accordance with Standing Order No 19, the House adjourned at