National Assembly - 26 September 2008

                      FRIDAY, 26 SEPTEMBER 2008


The House met at 09:02.

The Speaker took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.


                          NOTICES OF MOTION

Mrs S V KALYAN: Speaker, I hereby move a motion without notice:

That this House –

 1) notes that the beginning of October marks the termination of
    Ramadaan, and that the first day of October marks the end of the
    fasting for the period of Ramadaan;

 2) recognises that Eid-ul-Fitr will be celebrated on this day and that
    this is a month characterised by the spirit of sacrificing and
    giving ... The SPEAKER: Hon member, is that a notice of motion?

Mrs S V KALYAN: It is a motion without notice, Madam Speaker.

The SPEAKER: I called for notices of motion. Are there any?

Mr I F JULIES: Madam Speaker, I hereby give notice that I intend moving the following motion:

That the House debates the merits of changing the status of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration into that of a Standing Committee so that it is able to effectively fulfil its mandate of holding government departments and their officials accountable for their failures and corrupt actions in future.

I thank you.

Mrs S V KALYAN: I hereby give notice that I intend moving the following motion:

That the House –

 1) notes the ruling in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on 12 September
    2008 supporting the establishment of a commission of inquiry into
    allegations concerning corruption relating to the arms deal; and
 2) resolves to call on President Kgalema Motlanthe to appoint an
    independent commission of inquiry, headed by a retired judge, to
    investigate whether any abuse of power, and/or corruption, and/or
    any other irregularities occurred during the arms deal.

Ms D KOHLER-BARNARD: I hereby give notice that I intend moving the following motion:

That the House debates the onslaught of crime in South Africa and what immediate steps can be taken to stem it.

Mr M WATERS: Madam Speaker, I hereby give notice that I intend moving the following motion:

That the House debates the Sixteen Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children and how we can resource our agencies properly.

                         WISHES FOR RAMADAAN

                         (Draft Resolution)

Mrs S V KALYAN: Speaker, I hereby move without notice:

That the House – (1) notes that the beginning of October marks the termination of fasting: Eid-ul-Fitr;

(2) recognises that this day signifies the end of Ramadaan, which has been a month characterised by the spirit of sacrifice and giving;

(3) further recognises that this period of celebration provides all Muslims with an opportunity to give thanks to Allah for the health, strength and opportunities in life he has blessed them with; and

(4) wishes the Muslim community well in their celebrations and also health and prosperity in the future.

Agreed to.

The SPEAKER: Are there any further motions without notice?


Mrs S V KALYAN: Madam Speaker, I move without notice:

That the House -

 1) notes that the 63rd session of the United Nations General Assembly
    resumed from Tuesday, 23 September 2008, until Thursday, 2 October
    2008, and that the theme for this year’s General Assembly is: The
    impact of the global food crisis on poverty and hunger in the world
    as well as the need to democratise the United Nations;

 2) further notes that the High-Level Event on the Millennium
    Development Goals, MDGs, convened by the Secretary-General of the
    United Nations and the President of the General Assembly took place
    during this session on 25 September 2008;

 3) recognises that both these meetings of Heads of State and
    governments provide a key opportunity to acknowledge that extreme
    poverty and hunger are increasing, that this affects the majority of
    the world’s population but is particularly pervasive on our African

 4) commends the UN General Assembly for the work it has done in the
    past with regard to promoting the rights of the poor; and

 5) calls on all member states to commit themselves to concrete steps to
    eradicate poverty and to promote conditions where everyone can be
    free from hunger and enjoy equal access to all resources in the

Agreed to.

The SPEAKER: We will now take members’ statements. Does any member of the ANC wish to make a statement?


                        (Member’s Statement)

Ms J L FUBBS (ANC): Thank you, Madam Speaker, and congratulations. Madam Speaker, the political developments of the recent past weeks have led many opposition parties into the mist of fantasy. And again these events have proved that the ANC was correct in its message to the people of our country and the world, that the processes relating to the installation of the new President would be executed in a careful and speedy manner.

We commend President Motlanthe on acting swiftly to reconstitute government, thus ensuring that stability is maintained in governance and service delivery. The ANC salutes the people of our country for not only not listening to the prophets of doom, but also for acting sensibly and with political astuteness.

We must assure the people and the world that the ANC and its government are as strong as ever and as committed as ever to the objective of realising a better life for all. PROPOSAL TO DISBAND GINWALA COMMISSION OF INQUIRY

                        (Member’s Statement)

Mnr A J BOTHA (DA): Agbare Speaker, aangesien die ANC oud-president Thabo Mbeki herroep het na aanleiding van ’n onlangse uitspraak van regter Nicholson dat hy onregmatig ingemeng het by die regsproses, versoek die DA president Motlanthe om die Ginwala-kommissie se verdere werksaamhede onmiddellik te staak.

Om dié ondersoek waarteen die DA deurlopend beswaar gemaak het verder te voer, sou teenstrydig wees met die regter se opinie en in stryd wees met die ANC se optrede, asook ’n verkwisting van geld.

Aangesien die Ginwala-kommissie, uit eie verklaring, reeds die opgelegde taak grootliks afgehandel het en ’n voorlopige verslag ook gereed is, versoek die DA dat dit beskikbaar gestel word. Dit sal nie alleen verhoed dat die belastingbetaler se geld totaal vermors is nie, maar die inligting daarin behoort die Parlement, sowel as die administrasie, by te staan om sulke dwalinge in die toekoms te vermy.

Dit is ook ’n gulde geleentheid vir die nuut ingehuldigde president Motlanthe om ’n sinvolle kommissie van ondersoek te gelas na die alomteenwoordige wapenskandaal. Hiermee sal hy die lei kan skoonvee sodat hierdie kanker wat in ons openbare lewe bly groei, vir eens en altyd oopgevlek word. Om volle geloofwaardigheid aan so ’n ondersoek te verleen, moet die President ’n afgetrede regter aanstel om ’n deurtastende geregtelike ondersoek te loods. Om verder te verseker dat daar geen sweem van twyfel bestaan nie, moet so ’n regter deur die hoofregter geïdentifiseer word. Ek dank u. (Translation of Afrikaans member’s statement follows.)

[Mr A J BOTHA (DA): Hon Speaker, since the ANC recalled former President Thabo Mbeki, as a result of the recent judgment by Judge Nicholson that he improperly interfered with the judicial process, the DA requests that President Motlanthe immediately suspends further proceedings by the Ginwala Commission.

To pursue this inquiry, against which the DA has continuously objected, would be inconsistent with the judge’s opinion and contrary to the actions of the ANC, as well as a waste of money.

Since the Ginwala Commission, by their own admission, has for the most part already completed the task for which they have been appointed and a provisional report is also ready, the DA requests that this be made available. This would not only prevent the taxpayer’s money from being totally wasted, but the information therein should assist Parliament as well as the administration to steer clear of such erroneous notions in the future.

It is also an excellent opportunity for the newly inaugurated President to call for a meaningful commission of inquiry into the omnipresent weapons scandal. With this he would be able to wipe the slate clean so that this cancer which continues to grow in our public lives, can be exposed once and for all. To lend full credibility to such an inquiry, the President must appoint a retired judge to conduct an in-depth judicial inquiry. To further ensure that there is not a shadow of a doubt, such a judge should be identified by the Chief Justice. I thank you.]


                        (Member’s Statement)

Mr A M MPONTSHANE (IFP): Madam Speaker, just this past Wednesday, South Africans of all persuasions celebrated Heritage Day. However, the IFP must condemn statements made by the Young Communist League, branding the annual Zulu Reed Dance as sexist and backward.

Yes, culture - any culture - is dynamic, but to brand the rich cultural heritage of the Zulu people, as expressed through the annual reed dance, as outdated, backward and sexist, is offensive. It is a clear demonstration of how out of touch the Young Communist League is with the real challenges facing our young people today.

We are duty-bound to defend our rich traditions, especially the reed dance, as a cultural instrument. It teaches young women to have pride in their womanhood. It is also a critical tool in the fight against HIV and Aids which is threatening the future of our young people and our country as a whole.

The apartheid regime taught black people to look down on their cultural practices. We have to break the cycle of mental oppression to become truly respectful of our tradition and practices, just as other cultural groups in South Africa celebrate and cherish their rich cultural heritage. I thank you.


                        (Member’s Statement)

Mr G D SCHNEEMANN (ANC): Madam Speaker, the City Deep Hostel in Johannesburg is currently undergoing a reconversion programme by the Johannesburg Social Housing Company at a cost of R137 million.

To date, 218 of the 664 units have been completed. The remaining units are under construction. The hostel used to consist of dormitory rooms which accommodated eight people per room. The new units now consist of one-, two- and three-bedroomed units and will provide much-needed rental accommodation in the area.

This hostel conversion programme is in line with the ANC Government’s commitment to convert hostels into homes in which families may live. All the residents we have spoken to have confirmed that their quality of life has been improved through the improvements already made to this former hostel.

The clause in the Freedom Charter which says, and I quote -

All people shall have the right to live where they choose, be decently housed, and to bring up their families in comfort and security …

… has become a reality for these residents of this former hostel.

The ANC believes that the provision of houses to all our people takes us forward to the achievement of the goal of a better life for all. Thank you. [Applause.]


                        (Member’s Statement)

MS P R MASHANGOANE (ANC): Madam Speaker, the Freedom Charter declares that –

Education shall be free, compulsory, universal and equal for all children; Higher education and technical training shall be opened to all by means of state allowances and scholarships awarded on the basis of merit.

In pursuit of these noble objectives, the ANC-led government in Mpumalanga and other provinces has made available bursaries to the province’s youth as part of the assistance given for the 2009 academic year.

The bursaries from the Department of Health and Social Development include bursaries for careers in medicine, pharmacy, radiography, physiotherapy, speech and hearing therapy, psychology, nutrition, nursing and social work.

The awarding of these bursaries will, apart from benefiting individual students, also contribute to our national effort to accelerate the programme of skills development.

The ANC calls upon the youth to take advantage of these opportunities and prepare themselves to contribute to the realisation of the goal of a better life for all. I thank you. [Applause.]

The SPEAKER: Nadeco? Absent. Azapo? Absent. I am aware that they are not at their seats, but for the sake of Hansard I must mention that they are absent so that that is captured for the nation. [Laughter.] The DA? The DA is present. [Laughter.]


                        (Member’s Statement)

Ms D KOHLER-BARNARD (DA): Madam Speaker, this may all be unfamiliar to the new Minister of Safety and Security, hon Mthethwa - for the appointment of whom I thus far give my deepest thanks and gratitude to the President - but according to the SAPS annual report, over 207 000 firearms and 165 000 bulletproof vests have been issued to SAPS members, and that’s more than enough to supply every member. And the question is: When DA members make visits to police stations in their constituencies, why do these stations report shortages of both?

Now time and again, the SAPS management has informed us here that there are no shortages. But the reality is, there are. Are our SAPS members’ lives being put at risk because of administrative bungling in the Ministry? And that is just one question I’m suggesting the Minister answers as a matter of urgency.

Other questions are: Is there any reason why he can’t follow the example from up North, where they have just fired McBride and also today fired the utterly discredited Selebi instead of paying him millions to sit at home? Why is it that our reservists are dangerously undertrained? Why, when the UN Office on Drugs and Crime points out to us that we are the drug capital of Africa, do we insist on scrapping the SAPS Narcotics Bureau? Indeed, going against international best practice, we have insisted on scrapping specialised units throughout the country.

The Auditor-General says we don’t actually have borders. Now that’s his problem, and what is he going to do about it? And as of March, the national backlog at the forensic science laboratories was over 10 000 samples - double that of the previous year. What is he going to do about that?

Now I thought, had the Minister bothered to be here, that he would appreciate a sample of the sort of questions I would want answers to. And here’s hoping he won’t be tempted to sink to the level of refusing to supply them, as did his absolutely incompetent predecessor! [Time expired.]


                        (Member’s Statement)

Mnu N B FIHLA (ANC): UMqulu weNkululeko owaqulunqwa ngabemi beli lizwe ngonyaka ka-1955 unyanzelisa urhulumente olawula ngentando yesininzi ukuba abantu bokhelwe izindlu ezisemgangathweni ukuze iintsapho zabo zikhuseleke.

Urhulumente seSixeko saseNelson Mandela Bay, okhokelwa ngumbutho wesizwe i- ANC, umaxhaphetshu uzama ukuphucula ubonelelo lwabahlali beSixeko ngezindlu. Kwindibano ebiintsuku-mbini ebibanjwe ebutsheni beveki le siyishiyayo iinkokeli zeSixeko bezidibene zigwadla iqhinga lokuphucula ubonelelo ngezindlu kubantu abahluphekileyo. Inkoliso yaba bantu bahluphekayo ihlala ematyotyombeni nakwiindawo ezithanda ukugutyungelwa ngamanzi ngexesha leemvula.

Esinye sezindululo zale ndibano ibikukuba, makuthi kufika unyaka ka-2014 kube kungekho nalinye ityotyombe kwingingqi yeSixeko saseNelson Mandela Bay. Thina singumbutho wesizwe, i-ANC, Siya kulifaka igxalaba kwiinzame zokuphucula ubomi babantu bakuthi. Ndiyabulela. (Translation of isiXhosa member’s statement follows.)

[Mr N B FIHLA (ANC): The Freedom Charter, which was formulated by the citizens of this country in 1955, puts the responsibility on the democratic government to provide people with decent housing so that their families can be secure.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, which is led by the ANC, is trying to improve the rate of the delivery of housing to the communities in this area. In a two-day meeting that was held early last week, the leaders of this area discussed strategies for improving housing delivery to the poor people. The majority of these poor people stay in informal housing in flood- prone areas.

One of the resolutions of this meeting was for the eradication of informal housing in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality before the year 2014. We, in the ANC, will support all efforts to improve the lives of our people. I thank you.]


                        (Member’s Statement)

Mr H J BEKKER (IFP): Madam Speaker, if the authorities and officials tasked with the maintenance and provision of water and water services continue on their current path, then the IFP fears that we are heading for a disaster, and maybe a water crisis.

Dr Anthony Turton, a senior researcher in the CSIR, says that not only is South Africa’s water quality deteriorating fast, but that there is a crisis with regard to engineering capacity coupled with this problem.

There is clearly a lack of capacity when it comes to the provision and maintenance of water and services. In rural areas such as Bushbuckridge and Jozini, where there is a dam that is completely underutilised, the people have to struggle every day to get the water needed just to perform their daily tasks.

Despite the efforts of the community and its leaders, support from relevant authorities has not been forthcoming. Now we hear that there is a looming crisis with regard to engineering personnel and that the quality of our water is deteriorating at a rapid rate.

It is clear that unless drastic measures are taken and more funding and resources are allocated to water services, we will be faced with a crisis. I therefore urge the Minister and other relevant authorities to increase their efforts in ensuring that all South Africans have access to good quality water, including the people who live in rural areas. I thank you.

                      MACUFE CULTURAL FESTIVAL

                        (Member’s Statement)

Mr S L TSENOLI (ANC): Madam Speaker, let me also add a word of congratulations to you.

In 1997 the Free State ANC-led provincial government launched a cultural festival known as Macufe, the Mangaung Cultural Festival, the aim of which was to open the Free State province to national and international cultural tourists. This year’s festival takes place from 3 to 11 October. We are reliably informed that problems that had beset the festival in previous years have been dealt with effectively. This year also promises to be one of the most impressive festivals the province has ever seen.

The festival has come to represent important heritage and economic landmarks for the city and the province, and even nationally. It has become a major attraction for artists coming to perform from all over the continent and internationally.

The ANC calls on all South Africans to actively support and work in partnership with the arts and culture community to conserve, promote and revitalise our national artistic and cultural heritage as they will be on display during the said week in Mangaung. I thank you.


                        (Member’s Statement)

Mr M WATERS (DA): Madam Speaker, the DA welcomes the decision to fire former Health Minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang. If we are all honest with each other, she should have been fired nine years ago. Tens of thousands of South Africans have lost their lives because of her ridiculous policy on Aids.

We hope that the new Minister, Minister Hogan, will bring a breath of fresh air into the Ministry, and we look forward to a constructive and fruitful relationship with her.

In order to undo some of the damage that has been done, we call on Minister Hogan to address some critical issues as a matter of urgency. We need a clear, sharp and simple message that firstly, HIV does cause Aids; secondly, Aids is no death sentence; and thirdly, people can live normal and productive lives while taking ARVs. The message must be spread.

The Minister also needs to ensure that our new President expresses these sentiments and that he is also seen as a champion of the Aids campaign.

Another huge challenge is human resources. We have over 46 000 vacant nursing posts and over 9 700 vacant doctors and specialist positions in the public sector. Regulations that are four-and-a-half years in the making, which would allow new nursing colleges to be opened, must be completed as a matter of urgency. We need to start actively recruiting doctors and nurses from other countries.

We also call on the new Minister to start forging positive relationships with the private health sector. The previous Minister had a closed-door policy with regard to the private sector, which closed down many opportunities to use their skills and resources to help the public sector.

The management of hospitals, where resources are often misspent and misallocated, is a critical area. [Interjections.] [Time expired.]


                        (Member’s Statement)

Ms M J J MATSOMELA (ANC): Madam Speaker, the Department of Health will soon launch the Masupatsela Youth Pioneer Programme. The programme will assist the youth to actively engage in efforts to improve their communities, as well as the lives of the people around them, while learning skills. They will be skilled in such areas as household profiling and registration of early childhood development centres.

The programme is aimed at developing the youth to act and conduct themselves as agents of change by giving them the tools to conduct community services. About 1 753 youths have been recruited for the programme to be launched in the Mpumalanga province. The pilot project is expected to promote social cohesion and a culture of activism and patriotism amongst the youth. Numbers of youths continue to be afflicted by social difficulties such as unemployment, vulnerability to crime, substance abuse and diseases. The ANC welcomes initiatives of this nature as part of the effort towards an integrated sustainable youth economic strategy. I thank you. [Applause.]


                        (Member’s Statement)

Ms M M NTULI (ANC): Madam Speaker, congratulations on your election. The Department of Sport and Recreation hosted a national sports conference during Women’s Month. The conference reflected on the progress made to achieve equity in sport in our country. It was attended by sports activists, administrators, players and other stakeholders in sport.

The 52nd ANC conference in Polokwane resolved that mass participation in physical activity and sports programmes must prioritise the involvement of girls, women and people with disabilities with a view to promoting equity.

The sports conference noted that whilst progress has been made by government in increasing levels of participation of girls and women in sports programmes, the same cannot be said of federations. Most federations are still male-dominated with no programmes in place to advance women’s involvement and participation. Funding from major sponsors is still directed to male sporting codes, whilst women receive little or no funding.

The women’s commission in the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee, Sascoc, has failed to get any programmes off the ground and neglected to play the advocacy and monitoring roles entrusted to it.

The ANC calls on Sascoc, federations and sponsors to develop and support women’s programmes with the same enthusiasm they do with male codes. Thank you.


                        (Member’s Statement)

Mr G G BOINAMO (DA): Madam Speaker, once again, congratulations to you. The DA welcomes the recent arrest of 49 students on charges of arson and malicious damage to property at the Mafikeng Campus of the North West University. It is imperative that students who demonstrate their dissatisfaction by damaging public property are held accountable for their actions so that a clear message is sent out that violent protests will not be tolerated.

However, the DA is concerned about the fact that unrest at North West University has continued unabated for the past three months and has even resulted in the university campus having to be closed for two weeks.

Whilst the Minister of Education has announced recently that her department has instituted an independent and comprehensive evaluation of the affairs of North West University, it is clear that this step has failed to deal with the underlying problems that have caused the recent unrest at this campus.

The DA calls on the Minister of Education and her department to intervene in this situation as a matter of urgency and to take more concrete steps so that a lasting solution can be found. It is imperative that students who are eager to learn are once again able to attend classes in a nonviolent atmosphere. Thank you, Madam Speaker.


                        (Member’s Statement)

Mnuz V B NDLOVU (IFP): Ngiyabonga Somlomo. Somlomo neNdlu ehloniphekile ngithi angiphakamise ukubonga kumaKhansela onke asekurhuleni, ngokuthi axoshe uMcbride izolo ngesivumelwano samaKhansela. Lokhu kwenzeke ngoba kade kufanelekile. Konke ekade ekwenza wayekwenza kungafanelekile ngoba wayephuzile futhi edle utshwala emsebenzini, okungavumelekile.

Okwesibili ngithokoza kakhulu ukuthi amaKhansela akwazile ukuthi abumbane. Enze into eyodwa ukugeza igama lawo ukuze kuthi uma kuqhutshekwa ngomsebenzi wokuletha izinsiza laphaya ekurhuleni, bakwazi ukuthi bonke abantu bavikelekile.

Isithunzi samaKhansela sohlala sibukeka njalo uma bekwazi ukubhekana nalokho abafanele babhekane nako. Ngiyathokoza Somlomo. (Translation of isiZulu member’s statement follows.)

[Mr V B NDLOVU (IFP): Thank you, Chairperson. Chairperson and hon members of this House, let me say a sincere thank you to all the councillors of Ekurhuleni for firing McBride yesterday, following a resolution passed by councillors. This occurred simply because it had to. McBride did everything wrong because he was drunk. He was intoxicated while on duty, which is not allowed.

Secondly, I am extremely happy because the councillors were able to unite and do the one thing in order to clear their name, so that when they proceed with service delivery at Ekurhuleni they will at least know that all the people are protected.

The integrity of the councillors will always be maintained if they are able to carry out their mandate effectively. Thank you, Chairperson.]

                     PROBLEMS AT STATE HOSPITALS

                        (Member’s Statement)

Mr M WATERS (DA): Madam Speaker, the management of hospitals is a critical area where resources are often misspent or misallocated. We need to ensure that hospital managers have the necessary management skills and training.

We urge the Minister, as a matter of urgency, to give top priority to Frere Hospital in the Eastern Cape, where the CEO is a former ANC councillor with no management skills.

We also call on the Minister to release the full report on 142 babies that died in the Eastern Cape. I have lodged an application and an appeal under the Access to Information Act in this regard, and the appeal application expires this Monday, 29 September 2008. We hope the new Minister will release the report.

We also call on the Minister to release the full report into quality compliance in 27 state hospitals, of which the previous Minister only released an abridged version on Monday. Thank you. The SPEAKER: That concludes members’ statements. Are there any ministerial responses?


                        (Minister’s Response)

The MINISTER OF WATER AFFAIRS AND FORESTRY: Madam Speaker, let me also congratulate you on your appointment as the Speaker of this House; I have no doubt that you will perform that task with distinction, as you have already proven.

I would like to respond to the statement from the IFP on the issue of water in our country. I want to say that I have noted the issues that the hon member has raised, some of which are things that we have spoken about in this House. Water services are the domain of municipalities who have the constitutional right to reticulate water at local level.

As a department, we are the custodians of the nation’s water resources and we must see to it that these resources are used and managed in a sustainable manner for the benefit of all. I think we have gone a long way in ensuring that access to clean water and decent sanitation is available to millions of South Africans, but I would be the first to say that more work still needs to be done.

The issue of capacity at municipal level has been recognised by government. That is why we, together with the Department of Provincial and Local Government and other spheres of government, embarked on Project Consolidate to help those municipalities who have capacity problems.

I must say that 96% of municipalities in the country comply with our standard for good water quality but a few others do not comply, or are still not able to give the data required on which we can judge their compliance.

I am so concerned about this issue that in the past few weeks I hosted what we called a “municipal water indaba”, which all the stakeholders attended - over 1200 people, including mayors, premiers, municipal managers, engineers and water boards; everybody was there. We looked at how we could bring the rest of the municipalities on board.

The issue of skills is one of the binding constraints in addressing the problems in municipalities. We are addressing this in various ways, working with the Engineering Council of South Africa, the technicians and also through the recently established Water Affairs and Forestry Learning Academy.

It is correct, hon member, that there are dams like Jozini and others around the country, such as the Taung Dam, for instance, that are full to capacity but the communities around them do not have access to water. I have said before that these dams are being looked at in order to ascertain how we can establish the huge infrastructure that is required to get that water out of the dams, because they were built as single-purpose dams to cater for irrigation and farmers only.

We have worked with the provinces and have found money particularly for the Jozini Dam. We are now busy with infrastructure to get the water from the Jozini Dam to the communities around it.

With regard to Bushbuckridge, most of the problems in relation to the quality of water and accessibility in the area – over and above the fact that there is a serious shortage of water and the boreholes that have been used are drying up – are because of a municipality plagued by a lack of leadership and management, as well as fighting between Bushbuckridge Municipality and the Water Board.

We are attending to that matter. I can assure the hon member that we are as concerned as he is with regard to the problems of the quality of drinking water. [Interjections.]

The SPEAKER: Order! Hon Minister, the time has expired.

The MINISTER OF WATER AFFAIRS AND FORESTRY: I would like to invite the hon member to give the question in writing so that I can give a written reply to the rest. [Time expired.]


                        (Minister’s Response)

The DEPUTY MINISTER OF SPORT AND RECREATION: Madam Speaker, before I respond, I also need to congratulate you and to say something – or tell the House what happened last night when I got a phone call from somebody who said to me -

… dit lyk vir my net mooi vrouens word as Speakers verkies in Suid- Afrika. [… it seems to me that only pretty women are elected as Speakers in South Africa.]

I share that sentiment. Madam Speaker, the hon Ntuli correctly quoted from the Polokwane conference resolution. It is a correct resolution, Madam Speaker, and this is precisely why we are making progress in uplifting the levels of participation, firstly, through the mass participation hubs and programmes rolling out throughout the country; and secondly, also through mass participation in school sport.

For instance, tomorrow I hope and trust that we will be able to launch the rural 2010 tournament, which is a legacy tournament. We are involving under- 14 and under-18 boys and girls throughout the country with the aim of mobilising people towards 2010. It is very inclusive of the girl-child.

Madam Speaker, yes, inclusion of people with disabilities is something that we are very mindful of and we are directing some of our programmes to do that. After all, those of us who noticed what was happening in Beijing at the Paralympics, are sharing in the pride of this country for what our paralympians achieved there.

Whilst we want to acknowledge the existing sponsors and what they are doing, specifically for sporting codes like netball, which are female sports, we would also like to acknowledge other sponsors who are putting in money there. But, yes, we share in the concern that sponsors and money are not really equitably shared amongst all the sporting codes and we are fully in support of the notion that we would like to see that increase from sponsors. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

                     PROBLEMS AT STATE HOSPITALS

                        (Minister’s Response) The DEPUTY MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS: Speaker, the 52nd national conference of the ANC resolved that there should be an integrated youth development programme in order to improve on current youth development programmes and achieve integration to address the all-round socioeconomic aspirations of young people.

All government departments and provincial governments are involved in what is the most extensive national youth service programme targeting, as the former President said in the state of the nation address, about 55 000 young people. This programme is led by the Presidency itself and great progress is being made in this regard. Therefore, indeed, we should commend the Department of Health and the other departments that are involved in this programme.

Madam Speaker, I must also say that the Minister of Health was not fired. As the House knows, she has been redeployed to strengthen the Presidency.

Mr M WATERS: She was fired!

The DEPUTY MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS: The President of South Africa is not as parochial as the hon Waters would want him to be. I think it is important that we should say this: The President’s actions must not be misconstrued and distorted. These developments are part of continuity and change, and the new Minister of Health will be implementing ANC policies as the previous Minister of Health did. [Applause.]

We should not say that the new Minister of Health will be implementing her own programmes that she will be scratching from her head or that she will be implementing programmes that the hon Waters and the opposition will be placing before her. Thank you. [Applause.]


                       (Minister’s Responses)

The MINISTER OF EDUCATION: Madam Speaker, I join all members in congratulating you on your election as Speaker of the National Assembly.

It is correct that we should be concerned when students in our country take it upon themselves to destroy property and disrupt classes in our universities. I have said any destruction of property is regarded by me as a criminal act, and justice will follow. That is what is going to happen in this case.

The hon Boinamo is absolutely wrong to ask me to act when I don’t actually know the full facts of the case; hence my intention to investigate. This I will do through an independent team that will seek to find out why it is that we continue to have such problems at the Mafikeng Campus of North West University. The problems didn’t begin just this year; they have been in existence since late 2005, when I had to visit the university following various incidents. So, we are going to go into a full investigation as to what is it that causes the university to be so unstable and unable to manage its role of ensuring that our young people have quality educational programmes.

I also want to say that we are certainly very, very committed, as the ANC, to ensuring that the people of our country do have access to housing. We are also very committed to continuing to build proper communities and adequate shelter for all our people who lack such facilities.

I agree with the hon member who has said that young people must take up the opportunity of studying that is offered to them through the bursaries recently announced by the Mpumalanga Department of Education. We are very pleased that we continue to have a range of bursary and loan opportunities available to thousands of young people in our country, so that they develop the skills we so urgently need for South Africa.

Finally, allow me to say that I agree with the hon Fubbs that, certainly, our democracy has come through a testing time in a most reassuring manner. This points to the continuing maturity of the ANC as a political leader in this country, as well as the maturity of our democracy.

We congratulate President Motlanthe on the smooth way in which this process of transition has been handled. We also congratulate the people of our country on providing so much support to our party and government in their efforts to set in place a process of change that was trying and also indicated continuity into the future.


                         (Draft Resolution)

The DEPUTY CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Madam Speaker, congratulations. I move the motion printed in my name on the Order Paper:

That the House, in accordance with section 193(5) of the Constitution, appoints an ad hoc committee to nominate a person to fill a vacancy in the South African Human Rights Commission, the committee to –

 1) consist of 13 members, as follows: ANC 8, DA 2, IFP 1 and other
    parties 2;

 2) exercise those powers in Rule 138 that may assist it in carrying
    out its task; and

 3) report to the House by no later than 5 November 2008.

Agreed to.

                      CONSUMER PROTECTION BILL

                       (Second Reading debate)

The MINISTER OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY: Madam Speaker, chairperson and hon members of the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry, colleagues, members of the public, I would firstly like to congratulate Madam Speaker on her election. I further wish to congratulate the President on his election, and hereby also accept the appointment by the new President.

It is an honour for me to table the Second Reading of the Consumer Protection Bill in the NA. The purpose of this Bill is to promote and advance the social and economic welfare of consumers in South Africa. This Bill introduces general principles of consumer protection and serves as an overarching governing statement on consumer protection matters in South Africa. It seeks to regulate the commercial relationship between a supplier and a consumer to ensure fair and competitive markets.

The Bill replaces, in a new and simplified manner, existing provisions from five Acts. Some of the abuses this Bill seeks to address include unfair contract terms, misleading and fraudulent advertising, nonhonouring of guarantees, abuse of personal information, nondisclosure of terms and conditions and poor product quality.

The Bill addresses these challenges by adopting a rights-based approach aimed at asserting consumer rights when transacting with suppliers. This approach is internationally recognised and is based on the UN-adopted consumer rights, which include the following: the right to disclosure and information; the consumer’s right to choose; the right to product safety; the right to fair and reasonable terms and conditions; the right to fair value and quality; the right to privacy; the right to fair and responsible marketing; and the right to consumer education and redress.

These rights are designed in a manner that prohibits certain conduct upfront; encodes common law principles; provides for the establishment of effective redress mechanisms for consumers; recognises and supports the role of consumer NGOs; and promotes customer responsiveness in the public and private sectors. The Bill backs up these rights by giving consumers the right to receive documents that are written in plain and understandable language, prohibiting unfair contract terms and enhancing consumer choice by requiring disclosure and information with regard to prices, contract terms, product quality, safety, guarantees and warranties. Advertising, marketing and promotions have to adhere to certain standards, including that they should not be misleading, fraudulent or misrepresent any facts to the consumer about the benefits of a particular product, service or scheme.

Allow me briefly to outline a few more important provisions of the Bill. Firstly, the Bill provides for a system of product liability whereby any producer, distributor or supplier will be held liable for any damage in the form of death, injury, loss or damage to property and economic loss to the consumer or third party.

Secondly, the Bill promotes consumer activism. The DTI believes that having informed and active consumers will enhance market and price competition. The Bill proposes a partnership between government and civil society. Such a partnership recognises the need to build the capacity of the consumer nonprofit sector and equip it to provide face-to-face services such as legal advice, counselling and mediation.

To realise this vision, government needs to recognise consumer nonprofit organisations in law. The Bill provides for the accreditation of consumer protection groups and possible financial support for activities such as consumer advice, education, publications, research and alternative dispute resolution through mediation or conciliation.

Thirdly, in order to afford consumers improved redress, the Bill decriminalises certain conduct and subjects it to administrative sanctions. This is important because the research we conducted indicated that most consumers would prefer immediate redress such as refunds and replacements rather than criminal sanctions being imposed on the supplier. However, the Bill does provide for serious misconduct to be dealt with criminally and therefore subjects it to normal court procedures.

Fourthly, the Bill recognises that consumer protection is a matter that falls under the functional area of concurrent jurisdiction between provincial and national government in terms of Schedule 4 to the Constitution. To this end, the Bill provides for the Minister to consult members of provincial executive councils responsible for consumer affairs. It further sets out matters that provincial consumer protection authorities have jurisdiction over in respect of activities occurring or applications by persons carrying on business exclusively within their provinces.

The Bill provides for the establishment of the National Consumer Commission, which will absorb the current capacity that exists within the DTI in the Office of Consumer Protection. The National Consumer Commission will be made a statutory body with a mandate to proactively identify, investigate and prosecute contraventions of the consumer law before the National Consumer Tribunal. It will also implement national awareness and education programmes. It is important to note that the consumer tribunal will be a shared authority between the National Consumer Commission and the National Credit Regulator. Provision has already been made for the establishment of the consumer tribunal in terms of the National Credit Act. Therefore, DTI will not be establishing two separate tribunals.

The role of the courts will be to adjudicate all matters relating to alleged offences in terms of the Consumer Protection Act and will issue declaratory orders and consent orders, as well as adjudicating in all contractual matters. The decisions of the tribunal can be appealed against or reviewed by the High Court.

Consumers drive competitiveness and economic growth. Well-informed consumers stimulate innovation, better quality products and services and competitive prices. Fair trade is dependent on a sound consumer protection regime, ethical business conduct and compliance, and a vibrant civil society. Through this Bill, we seek to achieve this triangle of co- operation.

I would like to thank the members of the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry, who helped us steer the legislation to this point, for their valuable contributions. Thank you also to my colleagues and the officials for their assistance and inputs, and to the DTI team for their hard work. I commend this Bill to the House. Thank you, Madam Speaker. [Applause.]

Prof B TUROK: Madam Speaker, we have heard a very comprehensive report made by the Minister. I am going to try to deal with issues that perhaps need separate emphasis. I don’t want to repeat the legal questions that the Minister dealt with.

So, let me say, first of all, that this is a very far-reaching piece of legislation. It’s actually far more important than it appeared to be initially. What we are concerned with in the portfolio committee, which gave it a great deal of attention, is implementation. We have asked the department to provide us with a business plan so that all the good things that are said in the Bill are actually overseen by the committee, stage by stage. We don’t expect miracles immediately. But we do want to see that the department does implement the provisions of the Bill so that we don’t just have another good piece of excellent legislation, but something which is practical and is implemented.

Often when we talk about consumer legislation, we think of goods. We don’t often think of services, in particular the services of professionals. One of the issues I raised so many times with the department was about the services provided by professionals - doctors, lawyers, engineers and architects. We are all consumers of services. We are much more conscious of what we do when we go into a retail establishment and buy some goods which are defective. But what about the services that we all actually have access to? It is this aspect that I want to focus on in the few minutes available to me.

Let me first say, however, that this is a powerful piece of legislation and other laws will have to be amended in line with it. It is overarching. Other legislation will have to be brought into harmony with this legislation, which means amendments to quite a few other laws.

Where there is inconsistency between laws, we were informed by the department that the Act, which gives better protection to the consumer, will prevail. This is a very important provision. It indicates the seriousness with which the department views this legislation.

Let me talk about professions. Many professionals, like lawyers, doctors, accountants and architects are self-regulating. They come to Parliament to plead that they are doing wonderful work in regulating their own professions. Unfortunately, in many cases, what they are doing is not so much regulation; instead, they are protecting their professions by controlling entry, for example. There are professions, like medicine, where doctors tend to exclude new candidates and keep people out rather than bring them in.

Many professions, through their councils and adjudicating bodies, in fact look at themselves as being protectors of their profession rather than protectors of the public. That is why this Bill is so important, because it protects the public. So we want to ensure that the councils that regulate the architects, engineers, and so on, do not behave like an old boys’ club by restricting entry into professions and imposing long delays for consumers with complaints and procedures.

I happen to know quite a lot about the architecture profession because my brother was an architect and I grew up in a house where architecture was discussed all the time. I, myself, was a professional engineer, so I know something about how the professions operate. There is, to a certain extent, self-protection and not protection of the consumer.

So how will the consumer get a fair deal? The Bill, as the Minister explained, has comprehensive provisions. There is a commission and a tribunal to which the consumer can go directly.

So, what do we do about the professions which are self-regulatory? For example, the architectural profession has a council. Anyone who has a problem can go to the council, but he or she has to lodge a sworn affidavit. This means going to a lawyer to draw up a proper document, which then goes to the council.

The council will then take a long time before they reply – I believe it is 30 working days. Then one will get a reply from members of the profession, who may be far more sensitive to safeguarding the profession than to you as the complainant. So we do need an alternative system outside of professions which will protect the consumer. I think this Bill provides the framework for doing that.

There is a section, section 54, which is particularly severe: a service provided to a consumer must be performed timeously; there must be no unavoidable delay; and quality must be adhered to. If there is anything wrong, the supplier of the service must remedy the defect, refund the consumer and provide a reasonable proportion of the price paid. For example, if an engineer builds a retaining wall and that wall falls down, the engineer or the architect must do the following: rebuild the wall or the house; fix what is defective; ensure that what was unsafe becomes safe; and compensate the consumer fully.

What is of the utmost importance is for the supplier of a service to keep a record of all discussions. Many of us have had discussions with professionals after which they said they didn’t mean this or that but meant something else. A professional is obliged by law to keep a record of any transaction so that if there is a complaint, as a consumer, you can actually point to the evidence and say, “You kept a record, bring that record before court and let us discuss that record properly”. There must be no “verneukery” [cheating]. This must all be done openly and properly. We’ve all had experiences with professionals who gave us a soft-sell and then there was no record afterwards. [Interjections.] I thank you, Madam Speaker, and I congratulate you. [Time expired.] [Applause.]

The SPEAKER: Thank you, sir.

Mr L B LABUSCHAGNE: Madam Speaker, likewise, my congratulations.

The SPEAKER: Thank you, sir.

Mr L B LABUSCHAGNE: For far too long the South African consumer has, to put it colloquially, been sucking the hind teat as far as consumer protection is concerned. This has been due to a variety of reasons; one is consumer passivity and the other is ignorance due to the mysterious plethora of occasional bits and pieces of fragmented clauses in unrelated legislation granting incidental protection to consumers.

These encompass uneven regulation, heavy regulation and even self- regulation. Coupled with discriminatory and unfair market practices, unsafe and low-quality products, limited redress, weak enforcement and the difficulty and expense of legal redress, it is therefore no wonder that the only practical avenue for help has often been the excellent consumer columns in various newspapers and the policies of certain large organisations which adhere to the old-fashioned principle of “the consumer is always right”.

This Bill, thus, seeks to address the aforementioned concerns and takes cognisance of modern trends in consumer development by doing the following: establishing a clear legal framework for consumer redress which is easily accessible to all consumers; promoting fair business practices; assisting consumers who are vulnerable due to low literacy, language barriers and low income, to name but a few; and promoting consumer awareness, access to information and responsibility.

The thrust of the Bill is the protection of the actual users of goods and services. In other words, it is the protection of individuals and small businesses that fall below the transaction threshold. The state and larger businesses are excluded and have to use their own muscle and finances to seek redress in common law and the courts.

Important matters which have been of concern to individuals and each one of us here sitting in this House, as individuals and consumers, are addressed in the Bill. These include the right to disclosure and information; the right to fair and responsible marketing; the right to fair and honest dealing; the right to fair terms; and suppliers’ accountability to consumers.

How many unsuspecting persons have been locked into unintended extended contracts, phone soliciting, spurious adverts, prizes that are substituted or loyalty awards that are never realised? I mean, how successful have you been with Voyager? Are services on time? Do tradespersons arrive? Are things delivered on agreed dates? Hopefully, those days will be something of the past.

I am pleased that the strict “liability without fault” clause has been amended as it is wrong, in principle, to be liable for something beyond one’s reasonable control.

The public hearings were extensive. It is hoped that all reasonable concerns were addressed and that some of the fears “waar die bobbejaan agter die berg gehaal is” [where problems were met half-way] will prove to be a chimera. In general, honest businesspersons will have nothing to fear.

The committee also discussed whether the concept of the so-called grey list or, as I call it, the “pasoplys”, should be incorporated. The committee, however, decided to leave this for regulation. This is a list of clauses in a contract that would, prima facie, be unfair. This is a successful practice in the European Union.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Time will tell whether there are any unintended consequences and whether the new institutions will have the capacity to fulfil their mandate. We must, however, grant them the benefit of the doubt.

No longer will unbridled caveat emptor and risk solely be the province of the purchaser. The DA supports the Bill. [Applause.]

Mr H J BEKKER: Thank you, Chair. The IFP believes that South African consumers for far too long have been at the mercy of people and organisations who engage in unfair and discriminatory practices. Because of a lack of awareness of their rights, it has been easy for consumers to be taken advantage of.

Consumers have been afforded little or no protection as the current legislation is outdated and fragmented. This Bill before us today will repeal the current batch of legislation and replace it with a single and much more comprehensive law, and this law will afford consumers better protection.

Misleading and dishonest advertising and business practices affect many consumers but, as is normally the case, those at the lower end must always suffer the brunt, and they are the people who are always worse affected.

In many rural and underdeveloped areas there are not many traders and products from which to choose. Consumers therefore have to take whatever they are given at whatever prices and conditions are on offer. These consumers are often sold products that are of an inferior quality at a higher price. They are at the mercy of the traders. This is a flawed state of affairs that must be changed.

I am therefore glad that this Bill will attempt to reduce the disadvantages experienced in accessing any supplier of goods and services by consumers, and specifically mentions those who live in remote or low-density population areas.

The scope of this Bill is vast and it covers a wide range of issues, such as consumer protection, the consumer’s voice as well as industry regulation. If it is properly implemented and monitored, then the various objectives will be reached and consumers will have better protection.

It is therefore very important to ensure that there is capacity within the department and other relevant authorities to ensure that this Bill is properly implemented so that it does have the desired effect. Once again I stress the importance of educating the public. The IFP will support this Bill. I thank you.

Mr H B CUPIDO: Hon Chairperson, the aim of the Consumer Protection Bill is to protect ordinary South Africans from unscrupulous credit providers and businesses. It endeavours to promote a rational and consistent framework for the regulation of consumer business interaction. The Bill is commonly portrayed as a Bill of Rights for Consumers. One of the basic consumer rights which the Bill seeks to defend is the right to honest dealing and fair agreements.

To achieve this goal the Bill contains widespread provisions, so-called Exemptions from Liability and Print. A key concern addressed by this multifaceted, extensive and ambitious Bill is the issue of plain language. This Bill states that all agreements for consumers must be in plain language, thus most, if not all, South African companies must be aware of what they say to their consumers and the way in which they say it. Companies ought to communicate with their consumers in a way that is fair and easy to understand.

All South Africans will very soon have the luxury to transact with more confidence, knowing that this new law will protect their consumer rights for everything excluding short- and long-term insurance. The ACDP is concerned about the removal of a clause regarding the labelling of food containing GMOs. The ACDP would like to see this clause reinstated. The ACDP believes that every consumer has a right to know what he or she is having and the ACDP will support this Bill. Thank you.

Mrs F MAHOMED: Chair, Ministers, Deputy Ministers, members and colleagues. In the name of God, most gracious, most merciful. Our new and young democracy has emerged from a country trapped in isolation towards integration into world markets.

Our developmental objectives took a strategic route to adequate legislative reforms. This was followed by a workable framework for creating an institutional base and then by an infrastructural support system which helped us to create a platform for real growth which enables job creation, skills transfer and competitiveness in order to meet global challenges.

Indeed South Africa is poised to develop to a higher trajectory with a higher GDP and per capita income, and this can only happen if, and only if, we implement our policies with precision and effectiveness. Our regulatory framework provides a good scorecard for positive growth. It is interesting to note that the total consumer credit market is estimated to be in the region of R362 billion, and this amount excludes the interest and the payments of finance charges that accrue to providers.

There is a huge amount of abuse in terms of the credit market, and consumers are abused in very many ways. Luckily, we have the National Credit Act, which aims to curb and regulate credit. However, if we need to develop a culture of savings so that people are not trapped in over- indebtedness, this will allow them enough liquidity and disposable income. That will enable them to exercise and manage their fiscal discipline for a mature and stable economic activity.

Whilst we have sound economic and fiscal policies, we still continue to struggle to guard our vulnerable consumers against abuse, especially women, the youth, the physically challenged and the old.

Chair, while I was preparing my speech I relived the experiences during the apartheid era, that is, pre-1994. In the racist South Africa, there was a time when the majority of black consumers were discriminated against on the basis of their colour. They were not allowed to try on garments they wished to buy in many retail chain stores, and I also want to say that there are still different forms of discrimination against consumers which persist.

Colleagues and friends, I want to cite another example which was reported to my constituency just recently. Many second-hand car dealers try to take a deposit for a particular car which is a particular colour and specific model. But when the consumer, especially a black consumer, arrives with the full payment, he or she is told that the car is sold and the consumer is forced to actually take another car, which is completely unjust and discriminatory. The secondhand car dealer does not even give back the money, and the vulnerable consumer is forced to compromise on the colour, model and type of car. There’s continuous abuse in this regard. I am happy to say that the Consumer Protection Bill aims to protect against this type of oppression, abuse and unjust exploitation by some unscrupulous dealers, retailers and wholesalers. This Bill gives consumers the right to choose.

Further, consumer exploitation expresses itself in unscrupulous marketing and advertising done by firms which results in conspicuous consumption of commodities by the masses of our people. This behaviour impacts on the social and material fabric of our society. We have also seen women and children being used to display their sexuality, which portrays women as objects or instruments in many advertising agencies. Now this translates to sexploitation and stereotyping of women and the vulnerable groups.

I am happy to say that the current Consumer Protection Bill categorically sets the standards for fair and responsible marketing and prohibits misleading, fraudulent and deceptive marketing. It also establishes standards for catalogue sales and regulates the use of trade coupons and the marketing of work-from-home schemes.

The Bill protects consumers and prohibits the proliferation of low-quality and unsafe products. The purpose of the Bill also provides for accessible, consistent and efficient systems where the aggrieved consumer would find redress through the commission and the tribunal. It makes provision for the rights to disclosure and information, which ensures that the consumer understands the terms and conditions of the transaction or the agreement entered into. Many instances have been reported where the contract has important information in small print and the consumer is often duped into accepting an agreement without fully understanding its contents.

We all know that the existing culture of various capital markets and wealth accumulation is based on increasing sales volumes at all costs, directed by the exclusive need to maximise shareholder equity. In this process the capital accumulation standards and quality of service are sometimes deliberately compromised and the basic rights of human beings occupy a secondary place.

This Bill aims to restore the human dignity of consumers by providing a legal framework to make a fair market just, accessible and efficient.

Access to information is clearly articulated in the preamble of the Bill. Therefore, it is the consumer’s right to access information which promotes sustainable and environmentally responsible consumption. Indeed, consumers should be protected against hazardous commodities or products which threaten their health or their safety.

Therefore this Bill hopefully makes provision for the labelling of genetically modified goods. This provision gives protection to consumers from dangerous and hazardous products which might be injected with hormones or contain pesticides or virus genes. It needs to be noted that GMO goods on sale without labels are actually very dangerous for consumers. I thank you.

Ms S RAJBALLY: Chairperson, while the MF is thrilled by the advancement made in the protection of consumers and the accessibility to goods, we believe that there are still factors that limit accessibility.

The Bill does, however, address the accessibility of goods and how low- income households of South Africa and even the minimal literacy category of residents have been considered. However, how efficiently can accessibility be applied in a country where the cost of goods is often unattainable to the very same group of people?

When we consider inflation and the ascending cost of living, that certainly does not match the growth of our people, so how are we to claim accessibility? How many would want to have access to the label of the product they cannot afford?

The MF is pleased with the Bill, but calls on the government to set margins on costs so as to also make goods accessible through affordability. The MF supports the Consumer Protection Bill. Thank you.

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): The hon D M Ramodibe? The hon Sisa Njikelana, you should have had confidence in me and told me that today you are Ramodibe. [Laughter.]

Mr S J NJIKELANA: Mphathisihlalo nebandla lonke … [Chairperson, and everyone present …]

The ushering in of this legislation is one of the culminating points of generations of various struggles led by the ANC to free our people from oppression, exploitation and underdevelopment of any form or character, thus reinforcing the rights of all citizens.

The Consumer Protection Bill seeks to fulfil one of the historic aims of the ANC, which is to destroy every vestige of the legacies of apartheid and replace them with an enabling environment where all shall enjoy equal rights - in this case consumer rights.

All along there has been no substantial improvement of consumer protection laws since 1989, whilst the South African consumption environment has changed significantly. This Bill further complements the National Credit Act as it reinforces the protection of poor people from wanton and unnecessary advertising and promotions.

Whilst the Department of Trade and Industry did its best to maximise consultations with different stakeholders for the past two years, vested interest held steadfast and did not relent until the last, because large conglomerates clamoured for certain exclusions during public hearings. The question is, why? Even the pattern of submissions during the public hearings exposed how this law has rattled vested and entrenched interests.

This legislation is a product of moulding a tapestry of obsolete and fragmented laws in the area of consumer protection. Such efforts seek to reinforce effective redress for consumer given the previous weak enforcement mechanisms and structures, uneven and fragmented regulation across sectors and legislation that is biased towards suppliers.

Untoward and corrosive methods of advertising that put unsuspecting consumers under undue pressure, have been addressed. Reservations about the Bill are therefore expected because it goes against the logic of accumulation of capital.

Promotion of consumer activism is one of the most outstanding features that has been introduced, and aims to empower ordinary people by affording them the opportunity to challenge violations of their consumer rights in an organised manner and engage with the state to promote consumer interests.

The apex nature of this law is another strong character that expresses its primacy because of its overarching nature, which addresses gaps in the consumer legislative regime as well as harmonisation with other sector- based consumer laws.

Since we live in a world of consumerism, let me also share my strong thoughts thereon because sustainable consumption and production are inextricably linked. No matter how much protection we may put in place, consumerism will always be a threat to responsible consumer behaviour. Both the DTI and the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry also need to closely monitor the cost of compliance as soon as the Bill hits the ground, because this was repeatedly raised as a matter of concern.

Consumption is an integral component of any economic cycle. Logic therefore guides that if this component is fraught with distortions, the ripple effect on the economy as a whole is rather too ghastly to contemplate.

Along with an unflinching commendation of the sterling work by DTI, the ANC supports the Consumer Protection Bill.

The MINISTER OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY: Chairperson, I would like to thank all the members for their contribution in processing this Bill through the committee and also for their participation in the debate.

I would like to accept the challenge by the hon Ben Turok in that we need to take this work to the next stage of how we are going to implement all of this. I think that is a welcome proposition. The issue around professional services has been raised because the problem is that they are intangible most of the time. It is not something visible one can hold and feel and see that it’s broken. I think that with the provisions that this legislation creates, we can enhance consumer interests in that area as well.

I would also like to assure the hon member from the ACDP that we have not removed the provisions that deal with GMOs or their presence in products. In section 24(6) of the Bill we actually provide for that. What we don’t do is to go into details, because there is existing legislation for GMOs. The disclosure that we are calling for must also be done in the context that there is existing legislation that regulates all matters that relate to GMOs.

Regarding the concerns which have been alluded to by the hon Ramodibe about the continued concerns of business, I think that one can say with great confidence that because of the way in which we process legislation in South Africa, our legislation is always balanced because it is based on a lot of consultation. We put out draft legislation for public comment, we go to Nedlac, but Parliament also has extensive processes for processing legislation; so one is confident that what we are doing here balances various interests in society.

Certainly one of the things that we are trying to do with this legislation is to rebalance the relationship between consumers and producers. Therefore, those concerns must be understood in that context.

I would like to thank you, hon Chairperson and all the hon members for supporting the legislation. Thank you.

                           COMPANIES BILL

                       (Second Reading debate)

The MINISTER OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY: Thank you once again, Chairperson, hon members of the committee, Members of Parliament and of the public. It is again an honour for me to debate the Companies Bill in the National Assembly today.

The Bill is aimed at overhauling the current regulatory framework for companies as enshrined in the Companies Act, Act 61 of 1973. The Bill is a culmination of a robust process that involved enormous consultation and intense debate and discussion among various stakeholders over a period of five years or so.

Allow me to outline for the benefit of the House the process that we undertook to arrive where we are today. The department began the process of reviewing the company regulatory framework in 2003 by first undertaking research. In June 2004, we published for comment a discussion document entitled, SA Company Law for the 21st Century: Guidelines for Corporate Law Reform, which became the bedrock for the Companies Bill as we have it today. Following thorough public consultations, including negotiations at Nedlac, on the discussion document, the process of actually drafting the Bill began in 2005. This resulted in the Cabinet’s approval for public comment of a draft Companies Bill in February 2007.

Following Cabinet approval, the DTI again embarked on a series of consultation workshops and meetings, as well as Nedlac negotiations in addition to the 132 written comments spanning over 2 000 pages that were received. Changes were effected to the Bill in line with comments received. Needless to say, when the Bill was introduced in Parliament in June 2008, the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry also organised public hearings and received written comments on the Bill, culminating in the adoption of the Bill by the committee a week ago.

The Companies Bill is a reformed piece of legislation that overhauls, in a number of ways, the philosophy that informed the Companies Act of 1973. The need for a review of the existing companies law regime was necessitated by, amongst other things, legislation that was outdated, highly formalistic, creditor-orientated and criminalising to a large extent; globalisation and the advent of democracy; the scourge of corporate failures and scandals pointing to weaknesses in corporate governance; rapid developments in the field of financial reporting standards; regulatory burdens, especially for small businesses; the need for increasing market transparency and simplification of company registration and maintenance.

Let me now turn to the major provisions of the Bill. The Bill provides for two types of companies, profit and nonprofit companies. A profit company may be a private company, public company, personal liability company or a company owned by the state. The emphasis here is on the simplification of the process of forming and registering companies. For instance, it is no longer a requirement for a person to reserve a company name first before registering a company. Registration can be done by assigning a number to a company so that it can begin trading while awaiting a company name.

Incorporation is done by the adoption of a Memorandum of Incorporation, which is the sole governing document or constitution of the company. All types of companies, large and small, will be required to prepare annual financial statements. This is done as a means of encouraging sound financial management, as well as promoting the sustainability of companies of all sizes. In order to reduce the regulatory burden on small companies, personal liability companies, owner-managed companies and those where all executive directors are shareholders of the company, will be exempt from the requirement to have their financial statements audited or reviewed.

Similarly, auditing is compulsory for public companies, whereas private companies only need to have their financial statements independently reviewed. The Minister, however, reserves the authority to require a private company to have its statements audited if it meets certain criteria.

The Bill, in line with the Corporate Laws Amendment Act, Act 24 of 2006, provides for the establishment of a Financial Reporting Standards Council, which will be responsible for the development of financial reporting standards, in line with international standards, and advising the Minister on their suitability before issuance.

The speed with which financial reporting standards are issued is of the essence, and the Bill provides for regulations to deal with this aspect. Since financial standards are an international phenomenon, the council will be a member of the International Accounting Standards Board that is responsible for approving and issuing international reporting standards.

On corporate governance, the Bill provides for the appointment of an audit committee by shareholders of a public company. Nonexecutive directors are to be appointed as members of the audit committee, as they are deemed to be independent from the day-to-day running of the company. This is to maintain an arm’s length relationship between the audit committee and the company for purposes of ensuring objectivity.

Not only that, external individual auditors will be rotated on a five-year basis with a cooling-off period of two years. This is in line with international standards and is also aimed at enhancing the independence of auditors. Further, auditors will be held responsible for misdeeds they commit during the course of their duties and will not be allowed to contract out of their liabilities. Furthermore, executive directors are not allowed to receive loans from the company in terms of the Bill.

In order to facilitate and enhance shareholder activism, the Bill allows a shareholder to call for a shareholder meeting if such demand is supported by at least 10% of the voting rights. This low threshold will make it easy for shareholders to call for meetings, thereby enhancing the protection of minority shareholders. The Bill imposes certain specific requirements on the content of a Memorandum of Incorporation as necessary to protect the interests of shareholders in the company and provide a number of default rules, which companies may accept or alter as they wish to meet their needs and serve their interests.

In addition, the Bill allows for companies to add to the required or default provision to address matters not addressed in the Bill itself. But every provision of a memorandum of incorporation must be consistent with the Bill. In other words, a company cannot fundamentally contract out of the proposed Companies Bill. This principle is reinforced by the introduction of a general anti-avoidance regime to company law.

Although the company law duties of directors are incorporated in this Bill, the courts can still develop further jurisprudence based on common law and the tenets of this Bill. Companies are forbidden from indemnifying or taking insurance cover for their directors when it comes to breach of their duties.

Furthermore, directors’ remuneration should be reflected in the annual financial statements. This disclosure will encourage corporate governance. Executive directors are not allowed to receive loans from the company in terms of the Bill in order to maintain their independence and objectivity.

Access to information as enshrined in our Constitution and its Bill of Rights is also the cornerstone of this Bill. In this regard, and in line with the current regime, members of the public will have access to certain company records, such as the list of directors and shareholders of a company. Where there are disputes regarding such access, the tribunal will adjudicate without the necessity of going through the expensive court processes.

Similarly, trade unions will have the right to access the financial statements of a company, albeit through the commission and for purposes of exercising their right to initiate a business rescue process only. It is common cause that without such access, trade unions as one of the critical stakeholders in a company, will not be in a position to meaningfully initiate a business rescue process.

In an effort to encourage whistle-blowing, the Bill lists a number of stakeholders that can be approached by an individual for purposes of divulging information on the goings-on in a company. Such stakeholders include the board, auditors, company secretary and others.

The Bill allows a company, if it so chooses through its Memorandum of Incorporation, to introduce the concept of codetermination of a company where shareholders can appoint at least 50% of directors to the board and allow other stakeholders such as trade unions to appoint the remainder. Where the Memorandum of Incorporation does not provide for such, the default position of shareholders to appoint 100% of directors to the board applies.

The Bill also provides for the Minister to direct a board to appoint a social and ethics committee on account of the nature of the company’s activities, its size and on grounds of public interest. This is an innovative step towards triple-bottom-line reporting that allows companies to be cognisant of the social and physical environment in which they operate and to take these into account in their planning.

Another worthy introduction into our company legislation is the whole notion of business rescue, which builds on the current judicial management system. The Bill recognises the fact that judicial management under the Insolvency Act did not rescue companies from insolvency per se. When a company is liquidated, it has a negative impact on the economy with regard to employment, loss of production and loss of revenue from tax.

The idea behind business rescue, therefore, is an appreciation of the necessity to intervene at an early stage when a company is facing financial difficulties, but is not yet insolvent, with the sole objective of wanting to salvage, save or rescue it from certain downfall. A business rescue process can be initiated by various interested parties including trade unions, creditors, the board and shareholders.

Once a decision has been taken to initiate a rescue process, a business rescue practitioner has to be appointed. The practitioner has been given wide-ranging powers, including powers to suspend payments to creditors and to appoint managers.

Time and precision are of the essence when it comes to rescuing companies and as such the Bill specifies timeframes within which certain milestones have to be achieved, including the appointment of a business rescue practitioner, the finalisation of a business rescue plan, consultation with interested parties and finalisation of the whole rescue process. A new crop of professionals trained in business turnaround strategies will be appointed as business rescue practitioners, and this will have to evolve over time, in much the same way as we now have a profession of debt counsellors in terms of the National Credit Act.

Chairperson, I see that I’ve run out of time, so I have to perhaps stop here and whatever I may have not covered might be dealt with at the end of the debate, if time allows. Thank you.

Mr B A D MARTINS: Chairperson, hon Minister, Deputy Ministers of Trade and Industry and hon members, as a developing country, some of the critical challenges we face include dealing with how to make poor people better off through financing more investment; through better technology and improving production; and, very importantly, through improving their social systems, since inequality and ownership of assets such as land and income are a major impediment to the economic growth. It is in this context that the revision of company law has taken place.

South Africa faces exactly the same challenges in company law as other countries, namely, how to regulate both the biggest and smallest companies under a single Act. The ANC felt that reform was fundamental to South Africa’s future in the context of the pace of change in the global economy. The decision to review and modernise company law was based on the need to bring it in line with international trends and also to reflect on ways and means of making it possible for Africans and other black people, who were discriminated against under apartheid, to have easier access to engage in business.

Over and above this, the ANC realises that our country needs an economy that can sustainably meet the needs of all our economic citizens. This entails access to quality work and enterprise opportunities. Enterprises of all types and sizes will thus have to become adaptive, innovative and internationally competitive.

In realising this vision, a key role for government is to ensure that the regulatory framework within which enterprises operate promotes growth, employment, innovation, stability, good governance, confidence and international competitiveness.

The Bill before the House seeks to promote the competitiveness and development of the South African economy by firstly encouraging entrepreneurship and enterprise diversity by simplifying the formation of companies and reducing costs associated with the formalities of forming a company and maintaining its existence, thereby contributing to the creation of employment opportunities.

Secondly, the Bill must promote innovation and investment in South African markets and companies by providing a predictable and effective regulatory environment and flexibility in the formation and management of companies. Thirdly, it must do so by promoting the efficiency of companies and their management; and fourthly, by encouraging transparency and high standards of corporate governance, recognising the broader social role of enterprises.

Fifthly, the Bill needs to ensure compatibility and harmonisation with best practice jurisdictions internationally and, lastly, it is to introduce a new business rescue regime which improves on the judicial management system.

In conclusion, as company law provides the legal basis for corporate business entities to organise and galvanise the economy for wealth creation and social renewal, the ANC deems it important and necessary to support the passage of this Bill through Parliament. I thank you.

Dr P J RABIE: Chairperson, first and foremost, allow me again to congratulate the hon Minister on his reappointment as Minister of Trade and Industry, and also the two Deputy Ministers of Trade and Industry in their absence.

We can have the best commercial laws in the world, but if we do not have political leadership in this country we are bound to fail, and I would appeal to the Ministers to provide the proper leadership in these articularly very trying times. I think we need this; it’s of concern to all South Africans, and I hope we will be able to get guidance from them as we have done in the past.

This piece of legislation is the first major revision of the Companies Act of 1973. It takes into account many developments over the past 30 years and brings South African commercial legislation up to date.

During public hearings we received general support from the business, legal and accounting professions and organised labour regarding the core principal of this particular Bill.

The Nedlac report which was submitted to us during public hearings points out that this Bill will create more flexibility, corporate efficiency, transparency and predictable regulations. It also discriminates against unfair business actions and provides remedies and protects whistle-blowers and introduces the concept of a consumer ombudsman.

A number of South African companies have become global entities with primary listings on foreign stock exchanges. This Bill provides for the incorporation, registration, organisation and management of companies; the capitalisation of profit companies carrying on a business within the Republic; redefines the relationship between companies and their respective shareholders and directors; and provides for equitable and efficient amalgamations, mergers and takeovers of companies.

The DA supports this Bill because it attempts to promote transparency and improve the control of company directors and board members. It also enhances compliance and prohibits directors of companies from carrying on business recklessly with gross negligence or with intent to defraud any person or entity for any fraudulent purposes, or from trading under insolvent circumstances.

The Companies Bill seeks to ensure fewer cases of liquidations by amending the way in which liquidation takes place, by replacing the current method with a business rescue system. I think this is very noteworthy and it will definitely improve the chances of the many businesses which at the moment find themselves in dire economic stress, by improving their profit position. This is also an important step, viewed in the light of the present high unemployment rate.

During public hearings organised labour expressed concern regarding the inevitable job losses which occur when a business is liquidated. I believe that South African business has expressed concern regarding the number of imminent liquidations, and I think we will have to apply this particular Bill in this regard, hon Minister.

Another aspect of this Bill is that it will simplify the incorporation of companies and the memorandum and articles of association will be consolidated into one document called the Memorandum of Incorporation.

Thousands of South African and foreign businesses are struggling to break even, input costs are increasing, the cost of capital has increased and presently we are experiencing relatively high inflation and negative economic growth in some sectors of the economy.

Our present unemployment rate is also almost 30% and this is also reason for further concern. Schedule 4 of this Bill also provides for the conversion of close corporations to companies and will eventually replace the Close Corporations Act, Act 69 of 1984.

In a submission to the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry, the Banking Council of South Africa mentioned that the Close Corporations Act is a relatively simple piece of legislation of about 40 pages, compared to the Companies Bill of 224 pages, and this is definitely something I thought needed further investigation.

The DA, however, welcomes that the existing close corporations will be free to retain their current status until their members may decide to convert to a company. It is also important to note that this Bill provides for the indefinite continued existence of close corporations, but provides for the closing of the Act as an avenue for the incorporation of new entities.

Mr H J BEKKER: Chairperson, globalisation and changes have meant that the way in which business transactions are conducted and how businesses now operate is vastly different from what it was a few years ago. Businesses are no longer limited to operating within the geographic boundaries of their countries and the flow of resources across borders is now commonplace. Issues such as corporate governance, transparency and social responsibility might not have been as important in the past, and need to generate the greatest profit or maximum sales at any cost, which was the case in the past, is now no longer at the forefront.

These issues, coupled with the fact that we are trying to attract foreign investors in a very competitive global environment, means that it is necessary to create an environment that is conducive to investment and provides any potential companies or organisations wanting to invest in South Africa with a sense of certainty and professionalism. Doing business in South Africa must be on a par with international standards. A review of company law was therefore necessary.

Although this Bill proposes to repeal and replace the current Companies Act, many of the provisions of the current law are, of course, retained under the proposed new Act, but it will make things so much easier for people to have a comprehensive, compiled pack instead of always looking at amendments - and I can assure you there have been many amendments over the many years of the Companies Act.

Two categories of companies are proposed – those not for profit and those for profit. As far as the for-profit companies are concerned, one has private companies, personal liability companies, public companies and state- owned enterprises. This Bill provides for the closing of those that have been close corporations and which have fallen under that Act. The existing close corporations are still free to retain their current status until their members decide to convert to a company.

Sections of this Bill that I find of particular significance are those dealing with the promotion of transparency, accountability and governance of companies. The Bill realises that companies have a greater social responsibility to a wider public in their activities.

With this Bill the interests of workers also now receive more protection and their rights receive more recognition than was the case in the past when businesses became financially distressed. Now workers must be consulted regarding the development of a business rescue plan. It is important to be flexible and dynamic in an ever-changing business environment, and so we must ensure that the right foundations and laws are in place. The IFP supports this Bill. I thank you. Mr H B CUPIDO: Chairperson, company law in South Africa is old, outdated and does not address the needs of the new role-players, and therefore needed to be changed.

There happens to have been only one significant review of company law since the introduction of the 1926 Companies Act, namely in 1963, which culminated in the Companies Act of 1973. After a four-year review process undertaken by the Department of Trade and Industry, the Companies Bill has now seen the light. The Minister of Trade and Industry, the hon Mandisi Mpahlwa, stated that:

The decision of the Department of Trade and Industry in South Africa to review and modernise company law in this country was based on the need to bring our law in line with international trends and to reflect and accommodate the changing environment for business, both in South Africa and globally.

The ACDP is in full agreement with the statement by the hon Minister. Consequently, the objective of the Companies Bill is to simplify the company registration system; create flexibility in corporate finance; provide for better corporate governance and redress; reduce the compliance burden on companies; and decriminalise legislation for companies. Therefore, lawyers, directors, auditors, company secretaries, managers, shareholders and members of close corporations will all need to be re- educated on the changes to the Companies Act. The ACDP trusts that the Department of Trade and Industry will implement and monitor the re-education of role-players and stakeholders very closely. Parliament has received several submissions from the business community criticising large parts of the Bill, particularly the parts that deal with listed companies and accounting standards. Nevertheless, none of the criticisms so far seems to be aimed at the basic idea of how the Bill will accommodate small businesses. Even if businesses will no longer have a choice about company structure, companies below a certain size will not have to have their books audited annually as is currently the case.

The ACDP expects the Bill to remain applicable in the years to come and we also trust the Bill will not experience the common fate of falling into disuse, remaining unenforced, or being ignored by a corporate sector that is becoming increasingly prosperous.

The ACDP anticipates the Companies Bill to be consistent, effective, predictable, transparent, fair and understandable. We also expect it to provide flexibility and promote adaptability to an environment with fast- changing technologies, economic opportunities and social circumstances. The ACDP supports the Bill. Thank you.

Ms N P KHUNOU: Chairperson, hon Minister and hon members of Parliament, it is my honour to come and debate on this exciting day, a day after the President has been sworn in. I would like to congratulate the new Ministers, the incoming and the re-elected. This Bill has the huge task of monitoring more than three million companies and we were reassured, as the committee, that there will be the capacity to do so. And I hope that this will be one of the priorities as you implement the Bill, Minister. It shows our reinforced commitment, as the ANC, to wanting to change people’s lives.

Some of the things that are included in the Bill are shareholders’ rights and their activism. And one of the things that I really like about the Bill is that when companies are about to be liquidated, provision is made for business rescue, because when those companies are liquidated or have financial problems, the people that suffer the most are the employees. This Bill really addresses that.

But I would like to emphasise my points on SMMEs. Of the three million companies that I was talking about earlier on, some of them are in the informal sector and represent 46% of the South African economy. The other 54% are in the formal sector, where the majority of the entities registered are CCs. Close corporations are easy to register with the Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office, Cipro, and cost less in terms of registration and cost compliance with the relevant legislature.

The CCs will continue to exist and retain their current status until such time as their members may determine that it is in their interest to convert to a company. A CC is not required to have its books audited annually, but under the Companies Bill this requirement is a must and poses cost implications for CCs trying to convert to being a company.

The SMMEs and CCs are a vehicle to job creation and economic growth and this has been proved worldwide, but this objective will prove to be difficult after the converting, due to the high costs of running a company. I hope that you will be able to deal with that as you implement the Bill.

South Africa has a two-tiered economy; one being the first economy competing with other developed countries, and the second economy having only the most basic infrastructure. The formal sector based on mining, manufacturing services and agriculture is well developed. To curb the imbalances that exist in the economy, the more recent socioeconomic initiatives have been implemented to reach the goals set in Vision 2014 - that is, to halve unemployment and reduce poverty - and we were told by the department that SMMEs will be really taken into consideration.

The Department of Trade and Industry strives, as its main aim, to lead and facilitate access to sustainable economic activity and employment for all South Africans through its understanding of the economy, its knowledge of the economic opportunities and potential and its anticipation for the future.

The department also aims to speed up economic transformation and development, provide an environment that is conducive to investment, create a competitive economy, promote equity and sustain social responsibility, which is one of the points that the chairperson has emphasised. As much as SMMEs are still striving to get along and match up with the first economy, we have to ensure that we improve their skills in terms of knowing how to manage their books and finances so that they can compete later on with companies that are well known. The ANC supports the Bill. Thank you, Chairperson. [Applause.]

Ms S RAJBALLY: Chairperson, the long-awaited Companies Bill is certainly set to address a number of shortfalls in the sector and shed some new light on modernising company law in line with international standards.

The MF feels that, even in the light of this development, we need to keep a close eye on international development in this spectrum and the policies that make them fast-developing, affective, competitive and economically lucrative.

When we look at India, which is also a third-world country and severely challenged by poverty, we are impressed by their fast-developing and increased profitability. This is indicated by policy that serves to enhance investment and mobilise the local resources and skills. Accessibility with a view to installing and running achieving companies in South Africa is addressed in the Bill. But what remains an issue of concern is the accessibility to funds for these companies and the lack of oversight and guidance by government in terms of these companies.

If economic and social growth is one of our number one priorities, then certainly we need to be accountable for also securing the backbone of this economy. The Companies Bill remains a system that governs by contract, and in terms of this we also need to revisit our system of contract law that at times can also be extremely rigid and complex.

Beyond this, while this Bill certainly does service a large area of our economy, we need to make its improvements widely known and increase the accessibility to these advancements for our communities. The MF supports the Companies Bill. Thank you, Chairperson.

Mr D A A OLIFANT: Chairperson, let me take this opportunity to congratulate the Minister and his Deputy Ministers on their re-appointment, and all the other Ministers together with their Deputies, as well as the new ones, for their deployment. I wanted to congratulate the Speaker personally, but she is not here.

The strategy and tactics policy as adopted by the Polokwane conference on December 2007 states the following:

A national democratic society should be founded on a thriving economy, the structure of which should reflect the natural endowments of the country and the creativity that a skilled population can offer. It should be an economy in which cutting- edge technology, labour-absorbing industrial development, a thriving small business and co-operative sector, utilisation of information and communication technologies and efficient forms of production and management are all combined to ensure national prosperity. This is conditional on ensuring that the brain and brawn of all of society are brought to bear on all economic activities. It requires deracialisation of ownership and control of wealth, management and the professions.

It goes on to say that -

A thriving economy in a national democratic society requires as efficient a market as possible, shorn of racial and gender exclusions that characterised apartheid colonialism, and freedom from the barriers to entry and competition that economy endured under colonial capitalism. It will also require a state able to use its capacities to direct national development through fiscal redistribution, utilisation of state-owned enterprises and effective regulation. Based on the above, the ANC views corporate law reform within the context of a developmental state.

Therefore, the Companies Bill under debate needs to be understood within the broader transformation of the economy towards a more developmental and inclusive growth path. This Bill also allows business to fundamentally alter the way in which they conduct themselves. By this we are saying that companies must not see themselves as tools of unbridled and selfish accumulation of wealth for the shareholders only, but that they need to understand they are corporate citizens with rights and obligations within a national democratic society.

The Strategy and Tactics document further states that:

Social cohesion in a national democratic society will also depend on the extent to which the rights of those on the lower rungs of the socioeconomic ladder are protected. Such a society should proceed from the obvious premise that workers’ rights are human rights, and that these rights should find expression in law-governed measures to ensure decent jobs, job security and a living wage. Through legislation and other means, the state should manage the environment for fair and balanced relations between the employers and the employees.

The King report, too, states that corporate citizenship is a commitment of business to contribute to sustainable economic development, working with employers, employees, their families, the local community and society at large to improve their quality of life.

In my own constituency, Atlantis, there are company bosses operating there who have never made contact with the community other than the workers that work for them. So there is no social responsibility towards the community of Atlantis at large.

Therefore, for the above statement to become a reality, the Companies Bill should, among other things, respond directly to the issues of sustainable development based on high growth rates, restructuring of the economy and socioeconomic inclusion. This is the development mission that the ANC seeks to achieve. And we call on business, be it the public or private sector, to play its rightful role in this regard. There can only be a win-win situation.

In conclusion, for the economy to be thriving and integrated, our country must draw on the skills and creativity of the whole population that South Africa can offer, as well as an increase in intense training programmes for the workers. We further need to build on South Africa’s economic endowments to create decent work for all and strive to eliminate poverty.

We further believe that this is possible through increasing productivity, which must be brought about by high production volumes, cutting-edge technology, labour absorbency, industrial growth, competitive markets and a thriving small business and co-operative sector and the utilisation of high- tech formation communication to ensure efficient production and management.

We, as the people of this country, must ensure that the Companies Bill is effectively implemented so that we can take responsibility for our own economy from now onwards and into the near future.

We just want to thank the Chair for his patience and understanding, because at times the Bill was so technical and he had to give us his guidance. The ANC proudly supports this Bill. Thank you, Chairperson. [Time expired.] [Applause.]

The MINISTER OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY: Once again, thank you very much, Chairperson. Let me also say that this piece of legislation will be as good as our ability to implement it. And in this regard the Bill does create adequate capacity for the implementation of the law. The Companies and Intellectual Property Commission formed out of the merger of the current Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office, Cipro, and the Office of Company and Intellectual Property Enforcement will be established to implement this legislation.

The Companies Tribunal will also be established for the purpose of adjudicating and resolving disputes between the commission and companies. As already mentioned, the Financial Reporting Standards Council will also be established in terms of the Bill for purposes of advising the Minister on the suitability of financial reporting standards before they are issued.

Let me also, before I run out of time once again, express my gratitude to the chairperson of the committee and to members of the committee because in recent months we have had major pieces of legislation that were all very big in volume, but in terms of issues that they were dealing with were very contentious pieces of legislation. And I really want to express thanks to the committee for the diligent work that they did in order to make sure that the Department of Trade and Industry actually concludes its legislative programme for this term of government. So, chairperson and members of the committee, thank you very much.

I also want to acknowledge the role that has been played by the officials from the department who have spent many hours and days on end because of the overlapping between the different pieces of legislation. I would also like to thank them all today for their contribution.

Let me also say that I was reminded, when the hon Khunou was speaking, that actually we need to see this Companies Bill, the consumer protection legislation we were debating earlier and also the competition legislation that was adopted in this house earlier, as all fitting together. They are meant to enhance the interests of the consumer and to ensure that it is possible for smaller players and new entrants to participate in the economy. And so we have got to see these things together.

Hon Khunou, let me re-emphasise that as we were crafting this legislation, one of the things that was foremost in our minds was to ensure that we can reduce the regulatory burden for small and medium enterprises. So we provide for them to issue financial statements, but we do not impose the obligation on them to be audited. And the Financial Reporting Standards Council will sort of issue a lower standard for small enterprises to adhere to. So we do cater for the needs of small enterprises. Chairperson and members, thank you very much. [Applause.]

Debate concluded.

Bill read a second time.


                       (Second Reading debate)

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Hon Chairperson, I will be introducing the Second Reading debate as already alluded to: the Financial Management of Parliament Bill. This Bill has been in the parliamentary system for the past five to seven years or so, and finally it is seeing its day.

Since the dawn of our democracy in 1994, this House has passed more than 1 500 pieces of legislation. This is the kind of policy explosion that is not only unprecedented, but has managed to ensure the eradication of colonialism, the dismantling of apartheid and the total transformation of our beloved country.

Our constitutional democracy has entrusted this institution with the enormous task of passing legislation, overseeing the executive, facilitating public involvement in the law-making processes, facilitating co-operative government and international relations.

Over the past 13 years, this institution has gone through four phases in discharging its constitutional mandate. Firstly, we had to enact progressive policies whilst eradicating the old policies of the previous regimes.

Secondly, our function had to be more one of compliance oversight as we wanted to ensure that the executive complied with the policies that had been passed. Thirdly, we had to pass on to the phase of performance oversight where we needed to ensure that policies were implemented.

Fourthly, as we approach the fourth Parliament, it is logical that we channel our energies, resources and systems towards impact oversight that needs to look at society and check whether all these policies and laws have an impact in ensuring that the people’s lives are getting better.

As public representatives, we should be bothered more with the outcome and impact of our policies in terms of changing the quality of the lives of our people. At the end of the day we are the custodians of this hard-earned democratic dispensation.

Why the need for this legislation? It is on the basis of the above analysis that we needed to put our house in order through the creation of efficient, effective and sound administration that will provide the necessary support to the core business of our institution. For a long time, there has always been a need to enact legislation that would regulate the administration and management of our affairs as Parliament. That legislation should be both relevant and applicable to our constitutional mandate and not compromise the principle of the separation of powers.

As the institution that seeks to ensure accountability, Parliament should be beyond reproach when it comes to issues of good governance. We cannot afford to haul departments over the coals for poor performance and adverse audit findings while we, as Parliament and as an institution, are culprits of the same poor management practices.

The Public Finance Management Act of 1999 was technically not meant for our sector and it compromised us in terms of the separation of powers and its failure to appreciate our own unique leadership and structural relationships. It is against this background that the Financial Management of Parliament Bill of 2008 became necessary. This Bill is purely meant for the administration and management of Parliament. It provides for good governance of the highest quality and a standard that is also efficient, effective and transparent.

The objectives of the legislation, just briefly, are as follows:

(a) to ensure transparency, accountability and sound management of the revenue, expenditure, assets and liabilities of Parliament;

(b) to ensure a consultative relationship between Parliament and the National Treasury conducted at a high level and based on respect for -

        i) the constitutional status of Parliament;
        ii) the constitutional requirements for the tabling of money

       iii) budget processes, standards of generally recognised
            accounting practice, uniform expenditure classifications and
            the Treasury norms and standards established in terms of the
            Public Finance Management Act; and

   (iv)      the fiscal policy of the national government;

(c) to provide the National Treasury with -

   (i) an opportunity to make comments on proposed annual budgets and
           adjustments budgets of Parliament;

   (ii)      information on the proposed annual budget and adjustments
           budgets of Parliament for inclusion in the national annual
           budget and adjustments budgets; and

   (iii)     regular information on expenditure by Parliament;

(d) to provide for parliamentary oversight of Parliament’s budgeting and expenditure through an appropriate committee of Parliament; and

(e) to establish norms and standards for managing the financial affairs of provincial legislatures.

The Bill therefore clearly stipulates how the structures of Parliament should relate to each other, as well as lines of accountability. This Bill outlines that the joint committee, which would need to be established according to the Rules, will maintain oversight over the administration of Parliament. It will do that through the consideration of strategic plans, budgets, reports, financial statements and other functions that may be prescribed in the Rules.

The Bill further reaffirms that the executive authority of Parliament rests with the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, who in turn are accountable to Parliament.

The Secretary to Parliament is the accounting officer of Parliament and is accountable to the executive authority for the financial management of Parliament. All officials with responsibilities under the Bill are required to act with fidelity, honesty, integrity and in the best interest of Parliament in managing its affairs.

The highlights of the legislation, therefore, will be as follows. Firstly, without doubt this Bill enforces the culture of planning outlined in our five-year strategic plan. This Bill will force the officials to embark on what is called activity-based budgeting. Currently we know that planning follows budgeting, instead of the other way round.

The Bill entrenches the culture of monitoring and evaluation of performances across all the programmes of Parliament. It is also worth noting that the Bill prescribes the establishment of the supply chain management system. Hon members will recall that the procurement of services from service providers is one of the thorny areas in the public sector which, if vulnerable or weak, could be exploited for corrupt activities.

The Bill also seeks to ensure accountability and transparency. It further mandates the executive authority to appoint an audit committee that will establish an audit charter, carry out investigations into Parliament’s risk and financial management and communicate any concerns to the executive authority and the Auditor-General. It is also important to note that more than half of the members of this audit committee will be members that are not in the employment of either the state or Parliament.

What does the Bill, therefore, mean for Parliament? The Bill consolidates and modernises Parliament’s regulatory framework. Good governance is not a matter of choice but it is now law. Issues such as underexpenditure, overexpenditure, wasteful expenditure, fruitless expenditure, unauthorised expenditure and many other ill practices of administration will no longer be tolerated.

The five-year strategic plan as prescribed by the Bill should support the vision of Parliament for that term. All resources of Parliament, whether financial, human, equipment or otherwise, should be channelled towards the goals that the institution seeks to attain over the term.

It is our wish that as we approach the fourth Parliament, the core business of Parliament should take the centre stage in the planning and allocation of resources. We should be careful not to create two empires within our own institution when the intended purpose was to have an administration that will support members in their role of making laws, oversight, public participation, co-operative governance, facilitation of international relations and other members’ interests. The Bill means that we should all stand together and ensure that the institution delivers on what the Constitution mandates it to deliver.

In conclusion, I wish to thank the committee section, the legal services and the Portfolio Committee on Finance under the leadership of hon Nhlanhla Nene, for their tireless efforts in the passage of this unique piece of legislation. Thank you. [Applause.]

Mr K A MOLOTO: Chairperson, hon members, today we are considering a Bill which has fundamental implications in the way Parliament has to manage and account for public funds.

It is worth reminding members that in the past Parliament’s financial management approach was regulated by the PFMA. This Bill removes Parliament’s financial management from the ambit of the PFMA. We took this decision, guided by the need to respect Parliament’s constitutional status. The principle of separation of powers between the executive and legislature guided and formed the drafting of this Bill. However, we need to indicate that the portfolio committee also took note of sections 216(1) and (2) of the Constitution, which emphasise the need to maintain uniform Treasury norms and standards across all organs of state and in each sphere of government.

We had to ensure that Parliament adheres to section 216. We had to strike a good balance between these two fundamental principles. We drafted a Bill that ensures that the executive authority, with the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Chairperson of the NCOP acting jointly, should be empowered to have a consultative relationship with the Minister of Finance with regard to the budget of Parliament. The executive authority is required to oversee the preparation of Parliament’s strategic plan, annual performance plans, budgets and adjustments. The accounting officer, who is the Secretary to Parliament, is responsible for the preparation of the plans and budgets I have just mentioned.

The executive authority of Parliament must act in accordance with the code of ethics contained in schedule 2 of this Bill. The Code of ethics requires members of the executive authority to perform their duties and exercise their powers with honesty and diligence and in accordance with the highest ethical standards. Members of the executive authority are required to act in all respects in a manner that is consistent with the integrity of their office.

They are also required to arrange their private affairs in a manner that will prevent real, potential or apparent conflicts of interest from arising and, if such a conflict arises, to resolve it in favour of the interests of Parliament and the public.

This Bill requires the executive authority to make regulations concerning the allocation and use of funds provided by Parliament to political parties. The executive authority must consult political parties represented in Parliament before making such regulations. These regulations empower the accounting officer to withhold funds allocated to a party if certain conditions are not fulfilled. The accounting officer has to receive adequate information concerning the ability of the party to manage and account for the funds given to it by Parliament. The accounting officer may also withhold funds from a political party in instances of a qualified audit report, until the party assures the accounting officer that adequate measures have been put in place to rectify the qualification.

The Portfolio Committee on Finance was of the view that institutional governance had to be strengthened in relation to supply chain management. Members of Parliament and employees of Parliament are prohibited from tendering for contracts with Parliament. Section 46 of the Bill reads as follows:

No contract to provide goods or services to Parliament may be awarded to — (a) a Member of Parliament or a member of the Cabinet;

(b) a member of a provincial legislature or a member of a provincial Executive Council;

(c) a municipal councillor;

(d) a person in the employ of the state whose participation in bidding for the contract may result in a conflict of interest; or

(e) any entity in which a person mentioned in paragraphs (a) to (d) is a director or has a controlling or other substantial interest.

It must be stressed that the regulations issued by the executive authority may come into effect only after they have been approved by Parliament. The executive authority may not issue written instructions that are not consistent with this Bill or its regulations.

This Bill makes a clear distinction between matters requiring disciplinary proceedings and those that need criminal proceedings in the event of a commission of financial misconduct by officials of Parliament and the accounting officer.

Section 49 of the Bill states that if the audit committee becomes aware of information implicating the accounting officer in fraud, corruption or gross negligence, it must report this promptly to the executive authority and the joint committee. We are placing before you a Bill which has good checks and balances in financial management. We request this House to agree to the passing of this Bill. It is a very good Bill. Thank you.

Mr S J F MARAIS: Chairperson, I want to start off, in the absence of the Minister of Finance, by sincerely congratulating him on his reappointment. In my view it was clearly in the best interest of our economy.

The Constitution determines the principle of separation of powers between the executive, including the National Treasury and Parliament which, among other things, implies that Parliament needs to be responsible for its own sound financial management.

Currently Parliament is subjected to the requirements of the PFMA of 2003 to a limited extent, the Powers and Privileges of Parliament Act of 1963, the Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislature Act of 2004 and the Exchequer Act of 1975. The Bill seeks to consolidate and regulate the financial management of Parliament in a single Act in a manner that is consistent with the constitutional status of Parliament and the constitutional requirements for tabling money Bills. In this process it is important that a high-level consultative relationship exists between Parliament and National Treasury.

Verder moet hierdie konsepwetgewing verseker dat alle inkomstes, uitgawes, bates en laste van die Parlement bestuur word op ’n deursigtige, effektiewe en verantwoordbare wyse volgens aanvaarbare nasionale finansiële bestuurspraktyke.

Die wetsontwerp maak voorsiening vir die aanwys van die persone wat verantwoordelik gehou sal word vir finansiële bestuur en ook dat die oorsig moet geskied deur ’n gesamentlike komitee van die Parlement. Baie belangrik is ook die norme en standaarde van toepassing op provinsiale wetgewers. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)

[This draft legislation must furthermore ensure that all of Parliament’s revenue, expenditure, assets and liabilities are managed in a transparent, effective and responsible manner according to accepted national financial management practices.

The Bill provides for the identification of those people who will be held responsible for financial management, and also that oversight is effected through a joint committee of Parliament. The norms and standards applicable to provincial legislatures are also very important.]

The following are further characteristics of this Bill. The Speaker of the NA and the Chairperson of the NCOP are jointly responsible and must comply with a code of ethics. The Secretary to Parliament is the accounting officer and accountable to the executive authority. An independent audit committee and an internal audit unit must be established and must maintain consistency with the internal audit functions of other organs of state. The process of reporting, auditing and proceedings in the event of financial mismanagement are clearly set out as well. Timeframes, requirements and processes are set out for the strategic and annual performance plans and the annual budget. Good governance guidelines are provided for the executive authority in establishing systems and procedures for the management of cash and investments, assets and liabilities, revenue, debtors, expenditure and supply chain management. The executive authority must also make regulations concerning the allocation and use of any funds provided by Parliament to political parties and Members of Parliament.

The Portfolio Committee on Finance went through a transparent process of vigorous deliberations to assure the legitimacy and credibility of the Bill submitted to this House. This is again a fine example of multiparty democracy and constructive shared responsibility to secure the best possible legislation.

I must extend my appreciation and compliments to the chairperson of the portfolio committee for allowing this practice, which is clearly in the best interests of Parliament and eventually the electorate of South Africa.

Hoewel die DA die oorsigrol oor die implikasies van hierdie wetgewing wil beklemtoon, is ons gemaklik met die proses wat gevolg is dat onduidelikhede en bekommernisse doeltreffend aangespreek en geakkommodeer is en dat die wetsontwerp nie teenstrydig is met artikel 216 van die Grondwet nie. Daarom steun die DA die aanvaarding van hierdie wetsontwerp. Baie dankie. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraph follows.)

[Although the DA wishes to emphasise the role of oversight over the implications of this legislation, we are comfortable with the process that was followed in that any vagueness or concern was addressed effectively and accommodated, and that the Bill is not inconsistent with section 216 of the Constitution. The DA therefore supports the acceptance of this Bill. Thank you very much.]

Mrs S A SEATON: Chairperson, the IFP would also like to congratulate all newly elected and re-elected members of the Cabinet and, of course, our Speaker. We would like to congratulate you all.

Today’s debate signifies the end of a process that started as long ago as 2005, when a draft Bill was published for public comment. Because of the complexity of the issues at hand, as well as concerns about constitutionality, the process took a long time, but I’m confident that the old saying of “Less haste makes less waste” applies in this case.

Parliament adopted the Public Finance Management Act in the late 1990s to give effect to the constitutional provision for transparency and accountability in all budget processes and effective financial management in the public sector.

The Act established a comprehensive framework to achieve these objectives and I am sure members would agree it has been one of the most respected and progressive pieces of legislation since the post-1994 period.

One of the cornerstones of South Africa’s constitutional dispensation is the separation of powers between the legislative, executive and judicial spheres. This fundamental check and balance is the fulcrum of most democracies as it protects citizens against the overwhelming power of the state.

Due to the separation of powers, the PFMA applies to the legislative sphere represented by Parliament and the provincial legislatures, only in a limited sense. When taken together with the fact that implementation and monitoring of the PFMA is an executive function, it is clear that the principle of the separation of powers is compromised in the absence of a dedicated Act that could consolidate and regulate the financial management of Parliament.

The Bill being debated today seeks to rectify that deficiency in the law. The IFP welcomes the Financial Administration of Parliament Bill and we will support it because, firstly, it recognises Parliament’s constitutional status; secondly, it establishes a high- level consultative relationship between Parliament and the National Treasury; thirdly, it will ensure the effective, efficient and transparent management of Parliament’s finances; and fourthly, it provides for oversight of budgeting and expenditure through a joint committee of Parliament.

The IFP does, however, have one major concern about the implementation of the legislation. Parliament will have to seriously strengthen its financial management systems and skills profiles in order to meet the requirements of the Bill. The IFP hopes that the necessary skills will be recruited speedily and that additional training of existing employees will be afforded a high priority by Parliament; if not, yet another piece of well-intentioned legislation may fail in the implementation stage. We really do believe it is essential that this be the situation. Thank you.

Mr S N SWART: Chairperson, the ACDP will support this Bill that seeks to ensure a consultative relationship between Parliament and the National Treasury, based on respect for, firstly, the constitutional status of Parliament; secondly, the constitutional requirements for the tabling of money Bills; thirdly, budgetary processes and other PFMA requirements; and, of course, the fiscal policy of the national government.

Now National Treasury will be able to make comments on proposed annual budgets and obtain information on such budgets and on parliamentary expenditure, as opposed to determining what that budget will be. So, National Treasury will play a much less significant role and, in fact, a joint parliamentary committee will provide the parliamentary oversight over the financial management of Parliament.

As far as the provincial legislatures are concerned, the norms and standards for managing their financial affairs are set out. We, as the ACDP, trust that the audit committee and internal audit committee will have enhanced capacities which, together with the joint parliamentary committee, will ensure, we trust, that we do not obtain qualified audits from the Auditor-General. The duty of oversight over our expenditure will now lie with us as parliamentarians and we will have full control over parliamentary finances while giving National Treasury merely a consultative role.

This will also enable us to exercise a more effective oversight function over the executive and ensure that, within the constraints of fiscal policy, we have the necessary resources to improve our oversight over the executive. The Minister of Finance will not have the final say over funds available. This is healthy in terms of the doctrine of separation of powers. Parliament’s consideration of its budget will now take a much more effective role and we will not merely be a rubber stamp, as was the case in the past. The ACDP will support this Bill. I thank you.

Mr R B BHOOLA: Chairperson, it is important, as a governing body that stringently dictates the importance to operate our democracy on a level of transparency and accountability, as envisaged by the national Constitution of South Africa, that we are an example of these policies. It is further necessary to map out the management of this so as to account for responsibility and security of the fulfilment of procedure.

The financial management of Parliament is crucial to the effective dealings of Parliament, but also serves as a skeleton through which the people can observe our accountability. It is suitable to indulge Bills of this nature that secure our operation and further account for accessibility and accountability.

The MF is pleased with the clarity that the Bill offers and with the defined status of the various role-players and their responsibilities. Further, we are pleased that reporting has been outlined and hopefully shall account for the effective management and spending of Parliament that shall fit our budget requirements and further enhance the running of the two Houses.

The MF is certain that, if effectively applied, this Bill shall have a pivotal role to play in the running of Parliament. We are, however, eager to know how the entire process will be overseen and its effectiveness measured. The MF will support the Bill. Thank you.

Mr D T GEORGE: Chairperson, the principle of separation of powers was one of the 34 constitutional principles agreed to at the multiparty negotiating process in Kempton Park in 1993. Enshrined in our Constitution, this principle limited the extent of the application of the PFMA to Parliament and the provincial legislatures when it was enacted.

It provided that any controlling or supervisory functions of the Treasury must be performed by the Speaker of the NA and the Chairperson of the NCOP, and in the provinces by the Speaker of the provincial legislature.

Mr J H VAN DER MERWE: Chairperson, on a point of order: Although the floor- crossing legislation has been scrapped, Mrs Seaton has crossed the floor to the ANC. [Laughter.]

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): That is not a point of order. Hon member, can you proceed?

Mr D T GEORGE: Chairperson, the Financial Management of Parliament Bill provides for the independent financial management of Parliament and consolidates the applicable regulatory framework into a single Act. In particular, it extends oversight to a joint committee of Parliament and clarifies the controlling and supervisory functions of the executive authority.

This Bill promotes good governance in the financial affairs of Parliament and sets norms and standards for provincial legislatures. It draws extensively on the PFMA and avoids Treasury oversight of Parliament’s budget. It sets out audit requirements, processes for planning and budgeting and reporting standards.

As accounting norms and standards evolve over time, a practical difficulty may arise in maintaining an alignment with the PFMA and thus standards applicable to other organs of state. The financial management of Parliament should therefore be considered an ongoing work in progress with continual improvements over time.

Parliament does not have any money of its own. It operates on funds entrusted to it by the people that it represents. To maintain the people’s trust, Parliament must manage its financial affairs at a standard befitting its status. This Bill facilitates achievements of this objective and the DA supports it.

Ms N N SIBHIDLA: Chairperson, hon members, allow me to participate in this discussion on the financial management of Parliament. As you might well understand, as a committee we have been engaged in this process for more than two years.

During the first, second and third quarter of the year, we conducted a series of public hearings with different stakeholders within and outside of Parliament. This legislative process has been one of the longest in the history of our committee since I joined it, and we are happy to present the Bill here today. As a committee, we are also pleased that this long process is at last coming closer to its finality - that is, of course, if we all agree on the proposals that have been brought before you.

The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa is explicitly clear and does not fail to express itself on the principles of separation of powers among the three arms of government. It is therefore important for us as a legislature to ensure that this constitutional provision is effectively put into practice at all levels without fail.

The financial management of Parliament, as outlined, also calls for this provision to be recognised, respected and appreciated in the same way as with the other two arms of government – that is our executive and judiciary. The legislative arm should then be accorded the necessary independence to administer and manage its own financial matters. In doing so, we should ensure that Parliament adheres to the internationally agreed and recognised norms and standards, which also thoroughly impress themselves on the principles of financial accountability and transparency.

The Public Finance Management Act, Act 1 of 1999, provides for the framework within which this can be achieved in national and provincial departments, as well as in constitutional institutions and public entities. However, the executive control over the implementation of the PFMA makes the regulatory framework inappropriate for Parliament and the provincial legislatures.

The Bill also seeks to consolidate and regulate the financial management of Parliament in a single Act and to provide a framework for the provincial legislatures. It also provides for the consultative relationship between Parliament and the National Treasury, and this has to be conducted at a higher level. In terms of this Bill, Parliament will be more empowered to negotiate, if not predetermine, its budget from the beginning until the end of the processes.

Members will note that this approach is consistent with the constitutional status of Parliament and the constitutional requirement for tabling money Bills. On top of this, the Bill introduces a clause which allows Parliament to retain funds allocated to it, but not spent in a particular financial year. Parliament will now not be required to return any money to the National Revenue Fund, but these funds shall be regarded as money derived from Parliament’s revenue sources.

One of our responsibilities as members of this House is to play an oversight role over the work of government as a whole, and this Bill proposes the establishment of a joint committee that will help Parliament play this role in a very effective way. This committee must, among other things, consider the drafts of the strategic plan, annual performance plans, budgets, adjustments budgets and draft revisions to the approved allocations from Parliament’s own funds that are submitted in terms of section 17.

It must also consider instructions issued by the executive authority in terms of section 37(5) and perform any other functions specified in this Act or by the Rules of Parliament or consistent with the objects of this Bill. In terms of clause 5 of this Bill, the executive authority is the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Chairperson of the NCOP acting jointly. They are also accountable to Parliament for the sound financial management of Parliament.

As I conclude, I would like to request that the House support this Bill and I hope that the oversight structures that are proposed in this Bill will do their work during the implementation of this Act. Thank you. [Applause.]

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Chairperson, I thank all parties for supporting this Bill. Probably from now on we will be hearing positive criticism emerging from certain quarters of society, where Parliament will be viewed in a different light as being able to carry out its oversight role as well as self-scrutiny.

We are responding to the question that has always been there, namely: Who oversees the overseers? I think this Bill is already responding to that criticism and the concerns that have been raised in the past.

The Office of the Minister of Finance is here. I hope that when we begin to look at putting the structures in place, issues of capacity will not constrain us in our quest to implement the Bill successfully.

I also think that this Bill will put Parliament in a better position to serve as a catalyst as the most important institution in society that plays a role in healing the divisions of the past and building a better life. All speakers who spoke here said that they were also looking forward to the implementation of the Bill.

On behalf of the Presiding Officers, we would like to thank all the parties for supporting the Bill, particularly the parliamentary oversight authority and the Chief Whips’ Forum that never gets mentioned. They would always ask, “Where is this Bill?” And the Joint Rules Committee would always ask, “What has happened to this Bill? Is history going to forget about it or what?”

Finally it has seen the light of day, and we hope that it will live to shape Parliament’s vision. Thank you very much.

Debate concluded.

Bill read a second time.

                       REFUGEES AMENDMENT BILL

(Consideration of Bill and of Report on amendments proposed by NCOP) Mr H P CHAUKE: Chairperson, let me take this opportunity to congratulate, in absentia, the Minister of Home Affairs on her reappointment. I see the Deputy Minister is here. I congratulate him on his reappointment as well.

Ladies and gentlemen, what we are dealing with today is a very small amendment that comes from the NCOP. In fact, this amendment was an omission by the drafters of the Bill after we had agreed that certain clauses needed to be amended accordingly. They missed this amendment as we had proposed in the portfolio committee. Therefore, the Bill came back to the House. What has been amended here is a line in clause 9 that deals with the responsibility of the director-general. So, as I have indicated, these amendments are not huge amendments.

The challenge is, as members will recall, that we dealt with issues of refugees for quite some time after the recent attacks on refugees. We appreciate the work that was done by the parliamentary task team in trying to forge a relationship with a number of stakeholders with regard to trying to arrange the whole question of the integration of refugees back into the communities they lived in before.

However, the bigger challenge which we will obviously have to look at is the entire refugee regimen in the country. I think what we lack here is a clear policy with regard to entitlement - when a refugee has qualified for refugee status, what is he or she entitled to? These are things that must be clearly specified so that whoever goes to Home Affairs requesting a certificate that qualifies them as a refugee knows what they are entitled to.

We know that one of the critical rights that are limited with respect to refugees is the right to vote. The problem is that the courts are the ones that currently instruct Parliament regularly on what has to happen. If you look at the current judgment as we deal with the issue of refugees, in Gauteng, for example, the court gave instructions that all refugee camps had to be closed and that there had to be only one refugee camp. This meant consolidating all the camps into one camp.

Another problem has been that between the time of the attacks and now, we have not seen any direct engagement with the communities in which these people previously used to live. We, as a committee, went to the Cyril Ramaphosa squatter camp in Johannesburg. I think, as we agreed with the chair of the task team, there is going to be a need to engage these communities.

If you consider the report on the findings of the task team, part of the problem is the lack of service delivery. This is an area that will not only need Parliament. It will need a number of stakeholders, including provincial government and local government. Councillors are very critical on issues of service delivery because when there is a contestation between refugees or asylum seekers or illegal immigrants and locals, it really creates a problem because they now contest for meagre resources that they receive on the ground.

Generally, what we obviously need to address is what should happen after the closing of these camps. A number of camps have already been closed, especially in Gauteng – you saw that yesterday. However, we are now creating squatter camps because the people whose tents we are now demolishing have nowhere to go.

What they are doing now is that they are going around collecting whatever they can and are creating their own squatter camps in that area - plastics and so on. It is going to be very difficult to remove them from that area again because once they are settled, they would want to stay there permanently. So, there is, in fact, a need for this engagement between stakeholders and communities in order to address the challenges communities are faced with.

I think that one of the things that can begin to help us is the Zimbabwean situation. Most of the refugees we dealt with were Zimbabweans. With the kind of stability and peace that we see now in Zimbabwe, the situation will really help us with regard to the inflow of migrants from Zimbabwe. But we will definitely have to look at how we, as Parliament, encourage economic development in that country so that it begins to ease the waves of migrants coming to South Africa.

The bigger problem is that we are not only looking at a small portion of immigrants who were attacked the last time. We have over 5 million illegal immigrants who are in the country. I think this is a problem. How then do we begin to address the issue of large numbers of people who do not have documents?

At the same time, we are dealing with issues of social ills like crime and all the other things that we have to deal with. We also have so many people in this country who don’t have the required documents. I think that the task team and the department, together with the stakeholders we are engaging with, will have to come up with a clear approach as to how we make sure that the majority of people who don’t have documents in the country are issued with documents.

We cannot run a country with so many people who do not have documents. This will create a very serious security problem for the country. This means we have to engage on these issues. If we have to do a mass registration at some point and maybe give these people a six-month permit, so be it.

What is crucial is that we need to capture these people somewhere. We need to have data for everyone who is in the country. We need to have data even for those who are in the country illegally so that when it is time for deportation, we have the relevant information on them. This is a challenge. This is something we will have to do as a matter of urgency.

On that note, we don’t have much to say. We only want to say that once this Bill comes into operation and once the President signs it, the challenge will again be on the department with regard to the harmonisation of systems. One of the problems we find is that a refugee may apply for a permit in Cape Town and be turned down. He will then go to Port Elizabeth and be given asylum there. The problem is that we are unable to trace this person because our systems, even now, have not yet developed to a point where we can trace anyone that has made an application and keep a record of everyone that has been given status in the country. I think these are some of the challenges we will need to focus on.

I want to thank you very much, members. I don’t want to take much of your time. It is Friday today, and we still have a lot of work to do. [Applause.]

There was no debate.


That the Bill, as amended, be passed. Motion agreed to.

Bill, as amended, accordingly passed.


                         (Draft Resolution)

The DEPUTY CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Chairperson, I move without notice:

That the House resolves that -

(1) in terms of section 2(5)(a) of the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers Act, 1998 (Act No 20 of 1998), upon the President’s retirement from office with effect from the day following the day that he vacated office, a taxable pension benefit be paid to him equal to 100% of the total annual remuneration (salary and allowance) payable to him the day prior to his retirement, such pension benefit to be increased annually in keeping with the pension increases granted to public office bearers;

(2) in terms of section 2(5)(b) of the said Act, upon the death of the President or a former President, with effect from the day of his death, a taxable pension benefit be paid to his widow equal to 50% of the pension benefit payable to the President or former President at the time of his death, such pension benefit to be increased annually in keeping with the pension increases granted to public office bearers;

(3) in terms of section 2(6) of the said Act, after the retirement of the President, the State shall contribute the full amount payable to a medical aid scheme in respect of membership of the scheme by the President or his widow or dependant as the case may be; and

(4) the resolution by the National Assembly of 5 November 1998 be amended in accordance with paragraphs 1(1) to 1(3) above, with retrospective effect from 5 November 1998.

Declarations of vote:

Ms S V KALYAN: Chairperson, the DA supports this resolution. It is, of course, in keeping with the stand that Members of Parliament have taken with regard to our own pension benefits. We sincerely trust that the new leadership will note this in the best interests of all Members of Parliament.

Mrs S A SEATON: Chairperson, the IFP supports this as well and looks forward to confirmation that pensions for Members of Parliament, as proposed by Parliament and supported by the former Speaker of Parliament, will now also immediately be approved by Cabinet.

Ms S RAJBALLY: Chairperson, the MF also endorses the sentiment expressed by the two hon speakers. We support this motion that the former President be given this kind of a pension. So, I think when the time comes, all of us can be covered. Thank you, Chair.

Motion agreed to.


Mr J B SIBANYONI: Chairperson, hon members of Parliament, this debate takes place when the eyes of not only South Africa and the African continent, but also those of the whole world are focused on our Parliament. This IPU topic, namely freedom of expression and the right to information, is of extreme importance. Wikipedia 2008, an online publication, defines freedom of expression as similar to freedom of speech. That is, freedom to speak, seek, receive and import information or ideas freely without censorship or limitation, regardless of the medium used.

Article 19, that is, the Global Campaign for Free Expression, issued an open letter calling upon all member states of the African Union to take all necessary measures to ensure, among other things, the protection of the right to freedom of expression. Freedom of expression has been hailed as the cornerstone of human rights and democracy as it plays a key role in the democratic process. The IPU associated itself with an expert organisation in the field of freedom of expression called Article 19, the Global Campaign for Free Expression. International and regional norms and standards in the field of freedom of expression and the intricacies of this fundamental right are important for the implementation and respect for all other human rights.

Concerning the protection of the right to freedom of expression, Ms Faith Pansy Tlakula, a South African attorney and the African Union’s Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, told the Committee to Protect Journalists, CPJ, that the African Union faces many challenges. She said:

The question is whether, among all challenges – democratisation, peace and development, postwar reconstruction – freedom of expression is going to be a priority.

She also said:

Of course it should be, as a precursor to the enjoyment of all the other rights.

Pavli, an attorney at the Open Society Justice Initiative in New York, reported that another issue of concern is the lack of political will. Tlakula also reported that there is hope that the future African court will give human rights decisions more teeth. She said that if cases are taken to the court, it will issue enforceable orders that will enhance the protection of human rights.

The AU’s new African Peer Review Mechanism is also a potential tool for the advancement of press freedom throughout Africa. This process involves a self-assessment by the country submitting to review - one that is supposed to be inclusive in civil society – and an assessment by an external team of AU experts. The team then draws up a report, including a programme of action for improvements. About half of the member states have now signed up for a review.

The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act 108 of 1996, provides in section 1 that:

The Republic of South Africa is one sovereign democratic state founded on the following values:

(a) Human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms.

These are some of the values upon which the South African state is founded.

As a cornerstone of democracy, our country has a Bill of Rights that is described in section 7(1) of the Constitution as follows:

It enshrines the rights of all people in our country and affirms the democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom.

The question I am trying to answer in this debate is the extent to which South Africa has implemented the UN and the AU Commissions’ reports. Currently, in South Africa, everyone has the right to freedom of expression. Section 16(1) of the Constitution says that this freedom includes the following: freedom of the press and other media; and freedom to receive or impart information or ideas.

The right to freedom of expression is recognised by our Constitution not only as a fundamental right, but also as a key to the realisation of all other rights. The free flow of information and ideas is recognised as one of the fundamentals of human rights and dignity. Thus, our country has gone a long way in implementing the resolution of the UN Convention on Civil and Political Rights, the AU Commission and other international conventions and human rights instruments. The ideas that are favourable and those that are negative to the state should be freely expressed. Members of the public should exert their rights as enshrined in the Constitution.

The right to freedom is not absolute. It is subject to limitations, as stated in section 16(2) of the Constitution, which provides the following:

The right in subsection (1) does not extend to –

a) propaganda for war;

b) incitement imminent violence, or

c) advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or
   religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm.

Toby Mendel of the Article 19 organisation also mentions that freedom of expression can also be restricted by “certain overriding public and private interests”.

Section 36 of the Constitution that deals with the “limitation of rights” is also applicable here. Thus, it is encumbent on the state to pass an Act of Parliament that limits the right to freedom of expression subject to this section of the Constitution. The limitation will be justified as it is stated in the section, as follows:

… to the extent that the limitation is reasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom, taking into account all relevant factors …

The Constitutional Court held that although the right to freedom of expression is very important and is of particular relevance in the context of broadcasting, it is neither paramount nor absolute.

The Promotion of Access to Information Act of 2000 allows members of the public to request access to information held by public and private institutions and gives effect to section 32 of the Constitution. Protest marches and other forms of speech and conduct may be regulated, but cannot be prohibited. The relevant legislation in this regard is the Regulation of Gatherings Act of 1995.

Judges should be publicly accountable. In the State v Mamabolo, it was held that some degree of limitation of the otherwise untrammelled right to speak one’s mind openly and fearlessly about public affairs has to be acknowledged.

By common law or legislation, relationships such as between client and lawyer or husband and wife are privileged. However, in our country, we had the client-attorney privilege being violated when certain documents were seized and removed from the offices of the attorney to the president of the ANC, Mr Jacob Zuma. We were surprised when the Constitutional Court saw nothing wrong in such an act. Another aspect of the right to freedom of expression that I would like to identify relates to the sub judice principle. Freely interpreted, this means “pending before a court of law.” In terms of this doctrine, there should be no comment on a matter or case that is pending before a court.

Our media, both print and electronic, no longer respect this right. The media not only comment on the case, but also analyse the proposed evidence thoroughly and in detail. This then becomes trial by media. Due to time constraints, I will not elaborate on the negative effects of such behaviour by the media.

Members of Parliament are able to enjoy freedom of expression because it allows them to make just about any statement or speech they want within parliamentary precincts.

In conclusion, in South Africa, some individuals and sectors sometimes exceed the bounds of the right to freedom of expression. In this regard I have in mind Zapiro, the notorious cartoonist. The shocking, libellous and defamatory cartoon that he drew recently, in my view, cannot be said to be freedom of expression. Really, this is not the right that many of us fought for. This is not the type of right that many people left their homes, parents, wives and children and went into exile for. It is not the freedom for which many lost their lives or shed their blood or spent time in detention. I thank you, Chairperson. Ms M SMUTS: Chairperson, when Mr Julius Malema boasted this week that the ANC Youth League and he are not afraid to break new ground on any subject or to say what they think he sounded like a free-speech prophet in a land that has lately become too politically correct.

Mr Malema sets himself up as an exponent of the key concept in free speech. Free speech - to my hon colleague - is by definition not just for ideas or images with which we agree. We are going to be shocked sometimes, as the Constitutional Court has affirmed.

Now Mr Malema to me even invites echoes of Voltaire when he recites the Malema mantra: He is ready to die, alternatively kill, alternately eliminate. But for what? Not for the fundamental right of which Voltaire is famously credited with saying, ‘‘I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it’’.

In Mr Malema’s case, of course, he will die or eliminate for Mr Zuma, for power. He is a shock troop. He is not a free speech shocker like Jonathan Shapiro, who depicted him together with the communists and the unionist in the cartoon to which my hon colleague has just referred in which Iustitia is pinned down so that their leader may violate her - metaphorically speaking.

Mr Malema is now inflamed apparently with what he sees as victory. He bragged this week about how influential he and his league are: They influence even the courts, he said. Now that’s a dangerous delusion, but it proves Zapiro’s point. He has proved what Jonathan Shapiro was depicting in the cartoon, which we may find shocking but free speech includes shock.

Now both the DA youth and the Azayo chairman in the Western Cape have called the ANC Youth League’s activities ‘‘open incitement and intimidation of the judiciary and the whole nation’’.

The ANC Youth League are not alone, of course. They are striking at the foundation of the constitutional state which stands or falls with independent courts. They are doing that alongside the SACP and Cosatu.

Now I understand Mr Zwelinzima Vavi is reportedly not looking for a Cabinet seat, but the SACP will seek control, Julius will get his reward after the election and Parliament will be a sea of Julius Malemas, or his followers, and his communist counterpart - the Buti Manamelas - if South Africa does not stop them democratically. [Interjections.]

As Moeletsi Mbeki predicted in July, there will be an exodus, if we are not careful, of young, educated, black South Africans to the private sector. And the Malemas will run our laws and our lives if South Africa doesn’t act now.

And where is Mr Jacob Zuma in this grand plan, which Mr Moeletsi Mbeki has more recently predicted may lead to civil war after the ousting of his brother without due enquiry into Judge Nicholson’s inferences? Where is Mr Jacob Zuma? Well, clearly he is at the head of the grand plan doing what he does best, singing Umshini Wam. Whether he is the mascot or the master we shall see.

But here is the question: Why has there been no particular fuss about Umshini Wam, while poor Mr Malema is the one who attracted all the opprobrium for fulfilling one of free speech’s most useful functions, which is to tell us what our compatriots are actually thinking and planning? Did people think that Mr Zuma can … [Interjections.]

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): There’s a point of order, hon Smuts. Can you take a seat. What is the point of order, hon member?

Mr S J NJIKELANA: Chairperson, on a point of order: Is it parliamentary for this member to lambast citizens who cannot come here and defend themselves; is that parliamentary?

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): We will come back to that one. Can you continue, hon Smuts? Ms M SMUTS: Thank you, sir. Why has there been no fuss about Umshini Wam? Did people think that Mr Zuma can outsing and outdance any other politician even if he doesn’t specialise in speeches? Did they think it was nostalgia or that the song just signifies the credentials of one faction of the ANC as opposed to the other?

But with the two ANCs now visible, and the ANC Youth League CD about to be launched, the question is being asked - and we should attend to it - whether songs about machine guns and war are metaphorical or whether they are a problem. Now the CD, according to Afrikaans newspapers, contains a song about AK47s and machine guns, and according to the Independent Newspapers a song in Shona about Hondo, ‘‘war’’.

Of course, we can’t judge before we hear what the songs say, whether they are old-fashioned incitement to violence or not. But it is already clear that political backstabbing is no longer metaphorical in the ANC. In the Western Cape one member got it literally in the neck. [Laughter.]

There is another charge which many South Africans are quick to make - hate speech. And I would like please to caution everyone. Real hate speech is the stuff broadcast on Rwandan radio to incite Hutus to kill Tutsis. That’s hate speech. [Interjections.]

Remember, in South Africa hate speech can occur only on the grounds of race, ethnicity, gender or religion. There has to be a target group and the speech must constitute incitement to cause harm.

If an Afrikaner leader sang, “Ek is ‘n boer, bring my roer, sodat ek die Engelse kan skiet” “I am a boer, bring my weapon so that I can shoot the English], that would probably be hate speech. [Interjections.] [Laughter.] And there would be a problem if the Zuma camp targeted an ethnic group and if their song also incited harm.

But what is “harm”? We need to think about this carefully. It is not just emotional. It has to be real. There is a judgment which can help all of us at this time, which I recommend to you. It was written five years ago by Prof Kobus van Rooyen, now an Icasa councillor. He is sometimes Acting Judge. He was at the time writing a judgment for the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa in the case of The Human Rights Commission v The SABC. And that judgment serves us well now. It was on Mbongeni Ngema’s song AmaNdiya. [Interjections.]

It was banned for broadcast in isolation, but not in the context of current affairs programmes, on the grounds not only that it demeaned and polarised Indians, but because there was a likelihood of fear based on reasonable inference of risk to safety after a history of violence between Zulus and Indians long, long ago. Let us not lose free speech. Don’t let us lose free speech. But don’t let Malema loose when he incites violence either. [Applause.]

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Thank you, hon member. Before I call the next speaker, I just want to deal with the point of order as raised. The speaker who just left the podium did not attack Julius Malema at any point. She was just raising statements attributed to Malema in the engagement of the debate. Therefore it is parliamentary. Thank you very much. [Interjections.]

Mr M J BHENGU: Chairperson, freedom of expression and the right to information are two of the most important basic human rights in any democracy. Together with equality and the right to human dignity, among other things, these two rights form part of the fundamental human rights that are protected in South Africa’s Constitution.

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek and receive and impart information and ideas through any media, regardless of frontiers.

South Africa’s Constitution in section 16 states that everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including freedom of the press and other media; freedom to receive or impart information or ideas; freedom of artistic creativity; and academic freedom and freedom of scientific research. It is thus clear that freedom of expression lies at the very core of human activity, whether it is political in nature or not. The freedom to hold and express views, opinions and thoughts contrary to the status quo, or in support of it, is to democracy what petrol is to an engine, a central driving force which, if absent, leads to malfunction and destruction.

Of course, every right carries with it obligations and limitations which are consistent with the basic principles of democracy. In South Africa’s case, the limitations are spelt out in the Constitution, which states clearly that the right to freedom of expression does not include propaganda for war, incitement of imminent violence, or advocacy of hatred.

Democrats will accept these limitations as necessary to the survival of democracy and human rights, as it is common cause that a right cannot be absolute but must be tempered with commonsense boundaries.

This democratic Parliament has a proud tradition and track record of advancing and protecting freedom of speech in its debates, rules, procedures and provisions for public participation. Likewise, it has upheld, through the Promotion of Access to Information Act, the right of citizens to information held by the state which they require for protection of their own rights. It has also extended legal protection to whistle- blowers via the Protected Disclosures Act. Indeed, we therefore can be proud of this Parliament, and our experiences of the right to freedom of expression and the right to information may well serve as examples for other parliaments of the world to follow.

Mr S N SWART: Chairperson, the ACDP shares the view that the common good is best served by a free flow of information.

The Constitutional Court has emphasised the right to freedom of expression by stating that a democracy can operate fully only where there is a free flow of information that will provide people with sufficient information to allow them to make up their minds about whom to vote for.

The right to information, as set out in the Promotion of Access to Information Act, and together with the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act, has proved to be of invaluable assistance to citizens attempting to enforce their rights in both the public and private domains.

The media has a duty to investigate government activities and to be a watchdog for society. It has played a crucial role in exposing crime, corruption, mismanagement and nepotism, both in the public and private spheres. It is thus a crucial provider of information.

An example of this was the controversy surrounding the publication of the contents of the medical files of the former Minister of Health, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang.

Following a High Court application by the Minister, Judge Jajbhay found that the Sunday Times contravened the National Health Act, because it was in possession of certain records of the Minister of Health. However, in balancing the right of freedom of expression against the rights of dignity and privacy, he found that the public interest requires that the Sunday Times should have the right at least to comment on the unlawfully obtained health records.

He stated that -

The information, although unlawfully obtained, went beyond simply being interesting to the public, there was in fact a pressing need for the public to be informed about the information contained in the medical records.

In other words -

The overwhelming public interest points in the direction of informing the public about the contents of those records.

Alleged information about the improper behaviour of an important and controversial public member was thus found to be of the utmost public interest, and the interest of the public to be informed about this outweighed the Minister’s interest to have her dignity and privacy respected.

Media attention has often, in exposing corruption or other abuses of power, also exposed a politician’s fitness, or otherwise, to hold office. Politicians, like any other citizens, can however have recourse to the courts should the media overstep the mark, and they can sue for defamation.

However, what we cannot permit is government’s attempts to curb the freedom of the media following, in our view, the media’s attention focused on high- ranking political figures, including ANC President Mr Jacob Zuma, with reference to the cartoon that has been mentioned.

The threats to jail editors at the time of the incident involving the Minister of Health, the withdrawal of newspaper advertising and a consequent Polokwane resolution to introduce a media tribunal, as well as recent legislative amendments, all pose in our view a serious threat to the freedom of the press and the free flow of information.

It is the role of a free press to uncover the abuse of power by the custodians of our Constitution. This must be protected at all costs, even if it is at the expense of that custodian’s right to privacy. The rights to freedom of expression and access to information are crucial to ensure a healthy democratic order, and to expose and prevent state abuse. I thank you.

Ms N R MOKOTO: Chairperson, I want to greet the members in the gallery. Hon members, before I start my speech, I just want to extend a small reminder to the hon Dene Smuts on issues that she has expressed. The rights that you are expressing today are rights that were put in place by the ANC, the only democratic government in South Africa. You must realise that, prior to the dawn of democracy, for four decades South Africa was racially oppressed under apartheid and legislation for censorship was used as and when it was deemed necessary to oppress journalists, citizens and even political activists.

During that era, the media was prohibited from publicising information that was seen as criticising the government. Activists were detained and prosecuted for printing and voicing their views and opinions, especially during the period when the government declared a state of emergency.

During that period hon Dene Smuts was a member of this Parliament, which passed all those pieces of legislation, on the one hand. On the other hand, the government disseminated propaganda, distorted information and sometimes deprived the country of very important information which was in the public interest. The ANC-led government, voted in in 1994, ensured that there could be a democratic dispensation with a Bill of Rights, which allows people to freely express their views, to have free access to information and to ensure that there is freedom to speak, seek, receive and impart information or ideas freely without censorship limitations, irrespective of the medium used. You can run away, Comrade Dene Smuts, but that is a reality.

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): There is a point of order. Hon member, can you sit down. Press the button, we can’t hear you.

Ms M SMUTS: Chair, it is not so much a point of order as a request as to whether I may ask the hon member if she knows that I took part in the writing of that Constitution, that I was in the media in the old days and fighting the government on free speech. [Interjections.]

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Hon Smuts, you were still asking permission to ask a question. Let’s hear if the hon member accepts. Do you accept, hon member?

Ms N R MOKOTO: Chair, she has withdrawn her request.

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Ok, thank you, proceed.

Ms N R MOKOTO: Today all these rights that I’ve mentioned are in the Constitution. They are even outlined in the UN Declaration of Human Rights and also in the African Charter for Human and People’s Rights. Everybody has the right to freedom of expression, the right of access to free press and other media, to be able to receive information and impart new ideas, to express their artistic creativity and to have access to academic freedom and scientific research. This was not done in your government, hon Smuts. I will go back to my speech. [Interjections.]

Mrs S V KALYAN: On a point of order, Chairperson.

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Order! There is a point of order.

Mrs S V KALYAN: What government is the speaker referring to? Dene Smuts’ government? I mean, you know … [Interjections.]

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Hon Mokoto, they just want to know which government are you referring to? [Interjections.] Is it the past government; is the hon member referring to the past apartheid government? I think that is the point there.

Mr T M MASUTHA: On a point of order.

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Hon members, may we please just be in order a bit. I am still trying to make a ruling here, unless I’m out of order myself.

Mr T M MASUTHA: Chair, can we address you on that point?

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Are you addressing us on the point? Is it still a point of order - to a point of order?

Mr T M MASUTHA: Yes. What we are trying to say is that there is no point of order there. Just follow the rule. [Interjections.]

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): I am just making a ruling on that matter. I think you are out of order yourself.

Mr T M MASUTHA: All right. [Laughter.]

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): The speaker referred to the government of the past. Whether that government belonged to any of you is obviously immaterial in the debate, but the reference is to the government of the past. You may proceed.

Ms M SMUTS: [Inaudible.]

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): It’s part of the debate and in the debate people will ascribe certain things that do not belong to you. But she has not sworn at you, there was no swearing. She was just referring to the government of the past. Can we then proceed with the debate?

Mrs S V KALYAN: But on a point of order, Chairperson. I mean the speaker at the podium is misleading this Parliament by saying that the government belonged to the hon Dene Smuts.

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): We will look at that misleading aspect, and I will rule on it later. Can you proceed, hon member?

Mr T M MASUTHA: Can I address you on that point also, Chair? The only basis on which she can raise a point of order is if she insists that the speaker is deliberately misleading the House. Now since the word “deliberately” is not there, then she doesn’t have a point of order.

Ms N R MOKOTO: Chairperson, am I protected?

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Can you sit down; I will come back on both points of order that have been raised. Can the speaker be allowed to conclude her speech, and before the next speaker I will make the ruling on that matter. Thank you. [Interjections.] Order, please! Can we proceed with the business of the House?

Ms N R MOKOTO: Chairperson, I think that I must be given the freedom to express my views as the debate requires. What the opposition wants to achieve is a true manifestation of what used to happen in South Africa. I wish that that won’t be repeated. [Laughter.]

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Order! Allow the speaker to proceed, please.

Tshwanelo ya go bua le kgololosego ya tshedimosetso mo baaging ke e nngwe ya dintlha tse di masisi tse Molatheo wa rona wa Aforika Borwa o lekang ka bojotlhe go di netefaletsa baagi. Mo godimo ga moo puso e tshwanelwa ke go di sireletsa thata ka nako tsotlhe.

Ka 1946, United Nations General Assembly e amogetse tshwetso 59(1) e e netefaditseng gore kgololosego ya tshedimosetso e nna tshwanelo e e sirelediwang ka nako tsotlhe. (Translation of Setswana paragraphs follows.)

[The right to freedom of expression and access to information are among the critical issues of our Constitution. The Constitution is trying by all means to provide these rights to the nation, and ensures that the government protects them at all times. In 1964, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 59 (1), which ensured that access to information becomes a right that is protected at all times.]

This Resolution 59 further states that everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include the freedom to hold opinions without interference, freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print.

Bogolosegolo rona Maaforika Borwa re tswa mo pusong ya kgatelelo le kgethololo ya ditshwanelo tsa botho jaaka go ganediwa ga phasalatso ya dikgang le tshedimosetso. Bontsi jwa babegakgang le ba sepolotiki ba ne ba kgobotlediwa ka ntlha ya maikutlo le ditshwanelo tsa bona. Seo se ne se dirwa ka fa tlase ga melao ya tlhatlhobo le maemo a tshoganyetso le go tshwarwa go puso ya tlhaolele e neng e go dirisa go gatelela barukhutlhi ba go neng go twe ke matshosetsi mo tshireletsong ya setšhaba.

Mo nakong ya tlhaolele le kgatelelo, mokgatlho wa ANC o dirile dikatlanegiso tse dintsi thata mabapi le ntlha e ka maikaelelo a go fitlhelela kgololosego ya phasalatso le tshedimosetso ya dikgang mo nageng ya rona. Ga jaana mo temokerasing re itumelela maungo a kgaratlho ya mokgatlho wa rona ka re bona Molaotheo wa rona o tswelela go rotloetsa ntlha e go ya ka ditshwanelo tsa botho tse di anegilweng mo Molaotlhomong wa Ditshwanelo.

Molaotheo o tsaya tshwanelo e jaaka e e ka patelediwang, mme go gana go diragatsa tshwanelo e ke tlolomolao, mme go ka tlisa go sekisiwa ga setheo kgotsa motho yo o tlotseng molao oo. Kgwetlokgolo ya rona ke go bona baagi ba kgona go ranolola ditshwanelo tsa bona tse ba di neelwang ke Molaotheo, go ba falosa le go ba golola mo tsamaisong ya kgatelelo. Sekai, gore moagi a kgone go itse ditshwanelo tsa gagwe tse di mo molaong, o tshwanelwa ke go itse molao o o mo sireletsang le tiriso ya ona le gore ke dikgato dife tse a ka di tsayang go ikgolola mo kgatelelong e a ka tswang a lebagane le yone ka bomo kgotsa ka phoso.

Se se re raya se re moagi o tshwanelwa ke go rutwa ka ditshwanelo tsa gagwe go tswa kwa tshimologong go ya kwa bokhutlong, gore a di tlhaloganye e bile a kgone go di sireletsa ka metlha. Ke ka moo baitseanape ba reng tshedimosetso ke maatla kgotsa kitso. Se se tshwanetse go diragala ka loleme le le tlhaloganngwang ke batho botlhe mme e bile se diragadiwe ka tlhaeletsano e batho botlhe ba ka e fitlhelelang bonolo kgotsa ka bonako.

Re kgatlhegela kgato e puso ya Aforika Borwa e e dirileng go tlisa kgolagano le dipuisano mo gare ga puso le baagi ka mokgwa wa dipitso o o bidiwang izimbizo, “Integrated Development Plan forums”, go tsaya karolo ga baagi mo dikomiting tsa mebila, go etelela di “multipurpose community centres” le tlhaeletsano e mo diradiong le mo inthaneteng.

Kgato e e netefaditse dipholo tse dintle tsa tlamelo ya ditirelo mo baaging mme ya fetola megopolo ya batho ka puso le go tlhatlosa kamano magareng ga puso le baagi. Ka ngwaga wa 2000, Aforika Borwa e fetisitse molawana wa “Promotion of Access to Information Act”, o o rotloetsang phitlhelelo ya tshedimosetso, maitlhomomagolo e le go gatelela tshwanelo e mo Molaotheong wa rona mo karolong 32 go netefatsa gore puso le motho mongwe le mongwe ba tsaya maikarabelo a go fetisetsa tshedimosetso ya botlhokwa kwa bathong ba ba e tlhokang go sireletsa ditshwanelo tsa bona ka go farologana.

Mo Aforika jaaka naga e namile, Aforika Borwa ke e nngwe fela ya… [Nako e fedile.] (Translation of Setswana paragraphs follows.)

[South Africans have inherited a legacy of apartheid in which the government upheld discriminatory policies and ignored human rights policies by censoring news broadcasts and information. Most journalists and politicians were castigated because they fought for their rights and beliefs. This was done by the apartheid government through the use of censorship and other oppressive laws such as the state of emergency which was used to deal with the alleged political criminals who were regarded as threats to public security.

During the era of apartheid and oppression, the ANC made numerous recommendations on this issue, with the aim of promoting the right to access to information in our country. We are currently enjoying the principle of human rights that appears in the Bill of Rights of our Constitution.

The Constitution regards these Bills as rights, and failure to apply them is an offence which might lead to prosecution of the institution or person that committed the offence. Our main challenge is being able to see our people translating their rights into practical values which free them from oppression. For example, for a person to know his constitutional rights, he must know the law that protects him and its use, and what recourse to take to free himself from undeserved oppression.

This means that every person must be taught about his rights from start to finish, and this should be communicated in the language he can understand, so that he will be able to protect them at all times. This is the reason why there is a wise saying that knowledge is power.

We appreciate the step that the South African government has taken to establish communication and debates between the state and the community through meetings called izimbizo, Integrated Development Plan forums, community participation in street committees, spearheading multipurpose community centres and communication through radios and internet. This step ensured good results in respect of service delivery to the community and the promotion of relations between government and the community.

In the year 2000, South Africa passed the Promotion of Access to Information Act, which promotes access to information. The main objective is to enforce this right, which is in section 32 of our Constitution, to ensure that the government, and every person, takes responsibility for passing important information to the people who need it to protect their rights in different ways.

In Africa as a whole, South Africa is one of … [Time expired.]]

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Just before I call the next speaker

  • there was an initial point raised and we thought that hon Dene Smuts was going to ask the speaker a question, but instead when hon Dene was given the platform to ask for permission she proceeded to comment, and that was out of order.

Secondly, the second point on the matter of “misleading”, that was not a point of order. Only if you had said “deliberately misleading”, then it would have been a point of order. Therefore it is not a point of order to ask whether the remark was “misleading”.

Thirdly, it was out of order for hon Masutha to want to make another point of order whilst the Chair was trying to rule on the matter before it.

Lastly, whether the DA’s point on the reference to hon Dene Smuts’s government, was an issue of point of order or not: It is a point of debate and it is up to the DA in their next slots, or whenever they are in the proceedings of the debate, to raise the issue as a point of debate. Therefore, there was no point of order at all on that particular issue. Thank you very much.

Mr H P CHAUKE: On a point of order, Chairperson, it is really unparliamentary for hon Doman to have referred to the hon Dene Smuts as having served in a particular parliament. It is unparliamentary and it must not be accepted because you are reminding, you are evoking the ghosts that are laying somewhere and you are bringing them to life. It is not correct. [Laughter.]

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Order, hon member! It is not a point of order at all, hon member. Thank you. [Interjections.]

Ms S RAJBALLY: Chairperson, may I call for a point of order now that I am going to speak?

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): You are protected, hon Rajbally.

Ms S RAJBALLY: Chairperson, upon the introduction of our democracy the issues of freedom of expression and the right to information were clarified by the supreme law of our land, the national Constitution of 1996. It is clear that from our Constitution we might enjoy absolute freedom of expression as long as it does not infringe upon the human rights of another; and the system of transparency that we are operating upon then caters for access to information.

The question we should, however, ask ourselves is how effectively this has been applied and whether the Constitution has been manipulated by a monopoly of power in instances. However, a big dilemma hangs over the matter of freedom of expression. While some may consider freedom of expression as a right, others may consider it as an imposition. So while it is lawful, it sets the scale of right and imposition.

However, the right of access to information should have no measure, and as a government for the people and by the people, every citizen has a right to information. A measure in this regard will be considered a deprivation and an injustice to the people.

The MF, however, feels that in changing times our Constitution is required to be rigid to serve as the backbone of our developing democracy. We should not allow for it to be flexible, as this would threaten the maintenance of our human rights and mean the possibility of an autocracy. The MF supports the freedom of expression, and the access to information, for as long as it does not impose on others. I thank you.

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): In the gallery we have schoolchildren who have been listening and observing the debate. I hope they are learning something from this robust debate.

Mr K K KHUMALO: Chairperson, this debate is about the freedom of expression and the right to information. It is an Inter-Parliamentary Union debate that took place at a conference in South Africa that we held. The debate is about guiding various parliaments in terms of how they then execute and protect freedom of expression and the right to information.

When listening to Ms Dene Smuts, one might actually think that the discussion was much more about the DA and ANC Youth League, and one could be misled because of the reference to Mr Julius Malema. The debate is about how we are going to establish particular institutions that guide and protect the right of information and freedom of expression.

Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, which includes freedom of the press and other forms of media; the freedom to receive and impart information; freedom of artistic creativity; and the freedom of academic scientific research. Freedom of expression is the cornerstone of democracy. It is necessary for strengthening accountability, transparency, participation and the rule of law. Openness, transparency, and accountability - all these buzzwords of contemporary political discourse - will mean nothing if there is no free access to information.

Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, and the touchstone of all the freedoms on which the UN is consecrated. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 says, and I quote:

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Chairperson, in the past weeks we’ve seen a cartoon and were told that if we tried to correct it, we would be interfering with freedom of expression. It was a cartoon showing four, if not five, men with bad intentions towards a woman lying there. I must say, that cartoon was quite bad; it was in bad taste. It was drawn by Zapiro.

The problems that we are dealing with in terms of rape in our country are not a joke. This is something that we should deal with very seriously. Secondly, one cannot attack or discriminate under the guise of freedom of expression.

It could be easy for one, in terms of one’s culture, to refer to Mr Ben Skosana as Ben because he was your garden boy, or whatever, but if Ben is a father of children and a wife, you should call him uncle, mkhulu, or something like that. That is how we look at it in terms of actual cultural expression and protection. [Applause.]

It might also be that you can call anybody here by name because they are in a political party, but in terms of my culture, and the way I express myself, you should respect all elderly people.

If hon members can recall, yesterday when the IFP leader, Prince Buthelezi, was addressing Mr Ben Martins, the hon member said: “You are my elder, I respect you and also take what you say.” He didn’t say, “You are an IFP leader and I am not going to listen to you because I do not care,” because he was showing respect. So freedom of expression must also entail the manner in which we relate to one another, black or white, in every part of the country. That is how we are looking at it. [Applause.] [Interjections.]

Mr Andrew Chigovera, who was then the Chairperson of the African Committee on Human Rights when addressing the Geneva Conference in 2005, said, and I quote: “The right to information is vital for the consolidation of democracy.”

One of Parliament’s crucial objectives is to ensure that the South African public, in rural and urban areas and as a whole, have access to information. We wish to encourage the various parliaments that are part of the union to take a leaf out of the book of the South African Parliament in order to encourage communities to attend public hearings and committee meetings in terms of accessing information; to make petitions to parliamentarians about problems they are having; to go to various parliamentary democratic and constituency offices; to attend the Women’s Parliament, the Youth Parliament and the People’s Assembly; and to visit Parliament’s website to check information. This is the right to information.

What are the instruments for making freedom of expression and the right to freedom effective? I must say that radio is one of the most effective tools of communication. Radio in the morning and in the afternoon is one of the most powerful tools of communication because people who are going to work in buses and taxis listen to the radio. We must therefore make sure that the majority of people have access to radio so that we can communicate the decisions of government, Parliament and our many institutions through this instrument.

Insofar as television broadcasting is concerned, we all know that television sets and licence fees are quite exorbitant, and it is not easy for everybody out there to access television. We therefore would like to request this Parliament and many other parliaments to make resources available in order for the poor people to watch television.

Twenty or twenty–five years ago, there were only eight or 10 televisions in one street or one section, and communities would all go and gather in the small dining room of one particular house or another to watch TV. Now things are changing, and we should make sure that we provide for our people.

In terms of Internet connectivity, it is quite clear that in terms of the Living Standard Measure, LSM 6 to 10, people must have access to the Internet and computers. We must then try to make sure that public schools are connected, so that they are also able to have access to parliamentary debates, discussions and documentation in order to move forward.

With regard to the issue that has been raised on this platform by the opposition party, in particular Ms Dene Smuts, I must say that we should respect newspapers. Newspapers should also give and accord to citizens the right to reply in the event that someone has been attacked or shown in a bad light, or if the impression has been created that they are criminals, when they do not have the opportunity to reply.

If they are not given the right to reply, you must then agree that there should be a media appeal tribunal, which would assist the citizens to be able to complain. We do not believe that the press ombudsman’s office is properly resourced to be able to deal with all the types of complaints that we are receiving. In terms of that, it should be done. [Interjections.] Charles Bronson, I was not addressing you. [Laughter.] It is quite clear that this media appeal tribunal must be established to protect citizens, and to give everybody the right to reply. Secondly, most of our publications are in English – those that are national. It is quite clear that in some instances, such as the media in the Western Cape, they are clearly biased towards the Democratic Alliance and against a lot of other parties.

It is important that we encourage media diversity and development by supporting community radios and community institutions in such a way that they can take up all the issues affecting various communities. This is how one can deal with freedom of expression.

Lastly, it is unfortunate that most of the legislatures are not accessible. They are either remote or detached, and are not acting in accordance with the original, traditional methodologies in respect of how things should be done. We therefore have the responsibility as parliamentarians to make them accessible and to make sure that we speak our languages.

I must say that I was impressed by hon Mokoto. Hon Mokoto, when you speak your Setswana, you are very powerful and you are good; and you also make the opposition start listening to the interpretation. So there was no chance to heckle you or to do anything to you! [Interjections.] So, you should continue to speak like that because they won’t even get a chance to attack you. [Interjections.] Chairperson, I thought you would protect me. The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): It is part of heckling, hon member; just proceed.

Mr K K KHUMALO: It is just that it is unfortunate that during this time of the day, some people are crazy. No, let me not say “crazy” because it’s unparliamentary! Round about Friday lunchtime, we know where some of these members are coming from! We know they didn’t spend a lot of time in the House. We are not going to say it, but we know where they were. [Laughter.]

The Daily Sun is a major newspaper supported by the majority of people and it is important as Parliament that we should be able to put some of the ATC material in there. People out there should know what people are doing. We should also be able to broadcast these activities on all community radios, so that freedom of expression and the right to information are enjoyed by everybody. I thank you. [Applause.] [Interjections.]

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): The speaker has already left the podium. Whatever point hon members wanted to raise, it is too late.

Hon members, I think this useful debate, as robust and heated as it has been, will really help the delegation that is going to represent Parliament in Geneva in October at the Inter-Parliamentary Union. I think they will take along the Hansard so that they can take up the useful points that came from all the people who contributed to the debate.

Debate concluded.

The House adjourned at 12:54. ____



National Assembly and National Council of Provinces

The Speaker and the Chairperson

  1. Bill passed by Houses – to be submitted to President for assent
(1)    Bill passed by National Assembly on 26 September 2008:

      a) Refugees Amendment Bill [B 11D– 2008] (National Assembly – sec
  1. Classification of Bill by Joint Tagging Mechanism (JTM)
(1)    The JTM in terms of Joint Rule 160(3) classified the following
     Bill as a section 76 Bill:
      a) Financial Management of Parliament Bill [B 74 – 2008]
         (National Assembly – sec 76(1)).
  1. Withdrawal of Bill
The Minister of Public Works withdrew the following Bill on 23
September 2008:

(a)     Expropriation Bill [B16 – 2008] (National Assembly – sec 75).


National Assembly and National Council of Provinces

  1. The Speaker and the Chairperson

    (a) Report and Financial Statements of the Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC) for 2007-2008, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2007-2008 [RP 206-2008].

    b) Report of the Auditor-General on an Investigation into procurement at the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development – June 2008 [RP 162-2008].

  2. The Minister of Defence

    a) Report and Financial Statements of Vote 20 – Department of Defence for 2007-2008, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information of Vote 20 for 2007-2008. [RP 238-2008].

  3. The Minister of Transport

    (a) Report and Financial Statements of the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) for 2007-2008, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2007- 2008 [RP 130-2008].

    b) Report and Financial Statements of the Airports Company South Africa Limited (ACSA) for 2007-2008, including the Report of the Independent Auditors on the Financial Statements for 2007-2008.

    c) Report and Financial Statements of the South African Rail Commuter Corporation Limited (SARRC) for 2007-2008, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Group Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2007-2008 [RP 230-2008].

    d) Report and Financial Statements of the Road Accident Fund (RAF) for 2007-2008, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2007-2008 [RP 226-2008].

  4. The Minister of Social Development

    a) Report and Financial Statements of Vote 17 – Department of Social Development for 2006-2007, including the Report of the Auditor- General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information of Vote 17 for 2006-2007 [RP 152-2008].

    b) Report and Financial Statements of the National Development Agency (NDA) for 2007-2008, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements for 2007-2008 [RP 56-2008].

  5. The Minister of Communications

 a) Report and Financial Statements of the  National  Electronic  Media
    Institute of South Africa for 2007-2008, including  the  Report  of
    the Auditor-General on the  Financial  Statements  and  Performance
    Information of 2007-2008.
  1. The Minister of Public Works

    a) Report and Financial Statements of Agrément South Africa for 2007- 2008.

  2. The Minister in The Presidency

    a) Report and Financial Statements of Vote 7 – Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) for 2007-2008, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information of Vote 7 for 2007-2008 [RP 213-2008].

  3. The Minister of Housing

    a) Report and Financial Statements of Servcon Housing Solutions (Proprietary) Limited for 2007-2008, including the Report of the Independent Auditors on the Financial Statements for 2007-2008.

  4. The Minister of Arts and Culture

    a) Report and Financial Statements of the Performing Arts Centre of the Free State (PACOFS) for 2007-2008, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2007-2008.

    (b) Report and Financial Statements of the National Library of South Africa for 2007-2008, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2007- 2008 [RP 222-2008].

  5. The Minister of Trade and Industry

    a) Report and Financial Statements of the Small Enterprise Development Agency for 2007-2008, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2007-2008.

  6. The Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism

    (a) Agreement between the Government of the Republic of South Africa and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) serving as the Secretariat for the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) on the hosting of the Twelfth Session of ANCEN in Johannesburg from 7 to 12 June 2008, tabled in terms of section 231(3) of the Constitution, 1996.

    (b) Agreement between the Government of the Republic of South Africa and the United Nations Environment Programme regarding the Fifth Session of the Conference of Parties to the Nairobi Convention and the Eighth Session of the Conference of Parties to the Abidjan Convention in Johannesburg from 5 to 8 November 2007, tabled in terms of section 231(3) of the Convention, 1996.

    (c) Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Republic of South Africa and the United Nations Convention on Migratory Species on Conservation and Management of Atlantic Ocean Marine Turtles, tabled in terms of section 231(3) of the Constitution, 1996.

    (d) Global Environment Facility Trust Fund Grant Agreement between the Republic of South Africa and International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, acting as an Implementing Agency of the Global Environment Facility on the Western Indian Ocean Marine Highway Development and Coastal and Marine Contamination Prevention Project, tabled in terms of section 231(3) of the Constitution, 1996.

    (e) Agreement between the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Government of the Republic of South Africa on Cooperation in the Field of Tourism, tabled in terms of section 231(3) of the Constitution, 1996.

    (f) Agreement between the Government of the Republic of South Africa and the French Republic on Cooperation pertaining to Tourism, tabled in terms of section 231(3) of the Constitution, 1996.

    (g) Agreement between the Government of the Republic of South Africa and the Republic of Angola on Cooperation in the Field of Tourism, tabled in terms of section 231(3) of the Constitution, 1996.

  7. The Minister of Minerals and Energy

    a) Report and Financial Statements of Vote 29 – Department of Minerals and Energy for 2007-2008, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information of Vote 29 for 2007-2008 [RP 229-2008].

    (b) Report and Financial Statements of Mineral Technology (Mintek) for 2007-2008, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2007-2008.

    (c) Report and Financial Statements of the South African Diamond and Precious Metals Regulator for the nine months ended 31 March 2008, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for the nine months ended 31 March 2008 [RP 179-2008].

    (d) Report and Financial Statements of the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) for 2007-2008, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2007-2008 [RP 205-2008].

    (e) Report and Financial Statements of the Electricity Distribution Industrial Holdings (Pty) Ltd (EDIH) for 2007-2008, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2007-2008 [RP 234-2008].

(f)    Report and Financial Statements of  the  South  African  Diamond
      Board for 2007-2008, including the Report of the  Auditor-General
      on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2007-
      2008 [RP 178-2008].

  (g)   Report and Financial Statements of the State Diamond Trader  for
      the seven months ended 31 March 2008, including the Report of the
      Auditor-General  on  the  Financial  Statements  and  Performance
      Information for the seven months ended 31 March 2008.
  1. The Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry

    a) Report and Financial Statements of the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA) for 2007-2008, including the Report of the Independent Auditors on the Financial Statements for 2007-2008.


National Assembly

  1. Report of the Portfolio Committee on Finance on the Protocol Amending the Convention between the Republic of South Africa and the Kingdom of the Netherlands for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital, dated 16 September 2008.

    The Portfolio Committee on Finance, having considered the request for approval by Parliament of the Protocol amending the convention between the Republic of South Africa and the Kingdom of the Netherlands for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income and on capital, recommends that the House, in terms of section 231 (2) of the Constitution, approves the said Protocol.

  2. Report of the Portfolio Committee on Finance on the Convention between the Republic of South Africa and the Kingdom of the Netherlands for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital, dated 16 September 2008.

    The Portfolio Committee on Finance, having considered the request for approval by Parliament of the convention between the Republic of South Africa and the Kingdom of the Netherlands for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income and on capital, recommends that the House, in terms of section 231 (2) of the Constitution, approves the said Convention.